Smaller on the Inside

boulder2There is a stone sitting on my heart. I want to disgorge it, to reject it in a peptic tide of embodied catharsis, but it stays, stuck, somewhere under my breastbone, and each time I shift, in vain attempts to find a more comfortable position, it only hurts more.

I am an adult convert to the Mormon church. My conversion was baffling and truly painful to my family, and I understand why— but I believed in the expansive vision I had when I was looking for a home for my soul. The ideas that compelled me step into the warm waters of the baptismal font were expansive; an open canon, personal revelation, a new vision of Eve, recognition of the divine feminine, prophetic guidance, eternal progression, absence of hell, everlasting hope and the reality of continued individual worth beyond death. I fell in love with that expansive cosmology and theology. I still love that part.

The vision I caught of my faith sustained me through some of the darkest years of my life, and has granted me a vein of richness, adding depth to my tapestry for which I would be far poorer not having experienced.

As is the nature of all light, there is also a shadow. My family is vitally important to me, including the five members of my family who are gay. For years, I have attempted walking the razor’s edge, precariously balancing the expansive vision I had for my faith with the frequent words and occasional actions in my church which caused dissonance in the face of my love for my family—all of my family.

I believed what I was taught at church;  I was entitled to revelation for myself, that I was to pray and ponder and decide my own position on things—indeed, that wasn’t just a recommendation, but a requirement. Our minds and our agency are so precious, so invaluable, even God does not violate them. So I found peace in the dissonance. I didn’t need to be like everyone else, and they didn’t need to be like me. God loves everyone. Family matters.

I was naïve.

In light of the stone bruising my heart, and bruising the hearts of so many people I love, I have no interest in discussions of tests, faithfulness or obedience. I am neither a goat, a tare, nor chaff; I am a child of God— so is every member of my family, your family, and the entire family of mankind. In the Gospel, I am nowhere called to set aside my own conscience, to follow blindly. If words mean anything, and they do, then I am practicing exactly what I was taught at church- which is to pray and ponder and listen to the Sprit, and that God loves everyone.

I have realized that what I thought was an expansive place for everyone is, in fact, contracting. We actually have the theology and the tools to make room for everyone at the table—it’s so achingly, wonderfully, beautiful and is so laden with potential. It’s that theology that drew me to choose this as my home. But I am realizing the church is only great and spacious from the outside. Unlike Mary Poppins’ bag, the Weasley’s tent, or the Doctor’s callbox, at least for now, it’s actually smaller on the inside.

To the detriment and loss of us all. And so the stone remains, bruising and breaking my heart.


  1. I believe that the Lord is trying the faith of his people. I don’t understand what has been done recently. I am trying to not jump to my own (or others conclusions). I am trying to be a humble student. I do have faith that as I pray to God with a humble heard, he will give me contentment and teach me new things.

  2. Love sister. I abide in this stony place with you. I don’t know what to do.

  3. So achingly and painfully true. This policy amendment simply baffles. Thank you, Tracy, for this.

  4. Thank you for expressing so beautifully the scrambled wounding and confusion I feel, too. The tremors go deep and wide.

  5. N8, please don’t blame God for this. That He does not constrain the agency of his servants does not mean that the bad decisions they make can be laid at His doorstep.

    Your faith is being tried only in that you suffer whenever our ecclesiastical officials make a serious mistake. Witness the pain and affliction experienced by those on the receiving end of the priesthood ban.

    This, of course, is a problem inherent in all religions, governments and other organized groups of individual. Indeed, it is the defining characteristic of our earthly existence. But that does mean God countenances these mistakes or is insensitive to those who suffer as a result.

  6. Michael (one of the gay ones) says:

    One step forward. An enormous leap backwards. Love you, always have always will.

  7. I love you, too, Michael, and will always stand with you.

  8. I’m a lifelong member of the church, and I too have felt that bewildering tug between the infinite reach of our doctrine and the stifling little spaces in which we sometimes live and force one another to live.

  9. Mike Harris says:

    It hurts my heart that people don’t see this policy as an act of love and protection.

  10. I really hate it when things like this (and the priesthood ban, and any number of other things) are dismissed as “trials of faith.” I don’t believe in a God who plays sociopathic gotcha games to see if we will follow Church leaders or our consciences.

  11. There is nothing loving or protective about denying babies blessings nor innocent children baptism. Words mean things. We don’t get to redefine everything to make ourselves more comfortable.

  12. Beautiful, Tracy. Just perfect.

  13. Mike Harris says:

    I don’t think the stance that the Church is “redefining everything to make ourselves more comfortable” holds water. If ever there was a church that had teachings and policies that would incur the disfavor of man…being peculiar isn’t the easy or comfortable road.

  14. It hurts my heart when people try to attribute positive qualities to something with which they have no personal experience.

    I wanted to join the church when I was 16, but my Catholic parents were very opposed and would not give their consent. Thus while I attended church and seminary on my own for two years, I had to wait until I was 18 to be baptized. I understood this. However, if my parents had given their consent, but the church had said I still couldn’t be baptized until I was 18, because of their sins, and because they wanted to avoid the conflict between what was taught in our household and what was taught at church, I would have taken it as a huge, offensive affront. I would have seen it as an affront to my agency, and an affront to the doctrine I had just been newly taught and cherished that we are not punished for the sins of others. And I would have taken it as patronizing that I couldn’t possibly handle the conflict between church and home — I did handle it then, and I continue to do so. Was/is it tough? It was — but the Lord supports and sustains who He chooses.

    It hurts my heart when an apostle of the Lord says nothing will be lost in having people wait until they are 18 to be baptized. Having attended church with and without the constant companion of the Holy Ghost, I would respectfully tell him that there is a difference. A big difference. And I would tell him that such an idea directly contradicts our precious doctrine.

    Finally, it hurts my heart when some members argue that the only people who are upset by this policy change are those using it as a smokescreen for their pro-gay marriage agenda. I am fairly conservative on this front. What I am truly upset about is the way the policy contradicts the precious doctrines that I accepted, nay even exulted in, as a child, and places an unnecessary bar to other children coming onto Him.

  15. “If ever there was a church that had teachings and policies that would incur the disfavor of man…being peculiar isn’t the easy or comfortable road.”

    True, but I don’t think that’s the kind of “comfortable” being referred to. Rather, the easy and comfortable mentality is to adopt a black-and-white worldview, rather than think critically about these issues and navigate the contradictions that are inevitable in an organization led by fallible men who are treated as infallible.

  16. Noooo! But yes.

  17. Beautifully expressed. I’d almost forgotten all of the positive possibilities the church used to offer. But I’m coming to an understanding of it’s smallness now. Thank you for your words, and peace to your family.

  18. “We actually have the theology and the tools to make room for everyone at the table—it’s so achingly, wonderfully, beautiful and is so laden with potential. It’s that theology that drew me to choose this as my home.”

    Same here, Tracy. I appreciate this honest piece. And I echo Katie M. above, as I also was Catholic before joining the LDS Church.

    In the wake of the policy change, I’ve seen a few people share on Facebook an article about Pope Francis where he said not to hesitate to baptize the children of same-sex couples.

    I find it interesting because I think that is a wonderful, welcoming attitude. However, I strongly disagree with Catholic baptism theology. I wholeheartedly agree with LDS baptism theology, but I’m having a hard time with this policy in how it’s applied.

  19. “It hurts my heart that people don’t see this policy as an act of love and protection.”

    Michael, it baffles me that anyone can take that seriously. How can you say that it’s loving to say to a child, “We’re going to prohibit you from coming here so that we can talk trash about your parents freely.” I suppose it could be construed as marginally less hateful than saying “We’re going to talk trash about your parents, so come to the front of the room so we can say it to your face.” But just because someone might think one of those things is less hateful than the other, that doesn’t mean that either of them fall anywhere near the word “love.”

  20. Tracy, just sending you my deepest love and commiseration. I can’t rationalize this away. It is wrong. When my midwife’s apprentice was excommunicated for polygamy (along with a small group of other people), I understood. They all knew the church’s current teaching on polygamy. I still loved her, but I didn’t question her excommunication. Then I heard her little boy, who was my J’s age, wasn’t allowed to be baptized until eighteen and only then with a disavowal of polygamy. It made me squirm a bit uncomfortable, seemed so unfair, wrong even. Still I was sure the church had its reasons.

    I guess I am not as empathetic as I thought because when I heard that my not-yet-existent grandchildren could not join the church a huge gaping hole appeared in my soul, not just a sad moment. It can happen to “them” and it’s unfair, unkind, kind of paranoid really, but when it happens to me and mine—that’s another matter entirely.

    I’ve got my daughter who has long since left the church and she’s fine. All of my post-Mormon friends are sad or outraged, but not heart-broken. This is a special kind of pain for those who are trying to stay, trying to let their children stay.

    I’ve got three friends who are sending in their resignations. So many of the people I admire are leaving. I’m just reminded in the last days that we would beg to have the Savior return. I’m beginning to wonder if that phrase from the Bible means something more than we thought it did. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Even the “elect” are heartbroken over this. And it just keeps coming in different ways.

    There’s nothing fro me to do but cry and turn to the Lord. Where else could I go? This is it. His church. His authority. “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

    I believe God can and will fix this. I just have no idea how. Or how I’m going to live with myself as I watch innocent children being excluded in the meantime.

  21. Mike Harris,
    I agree that we should be careful about looking to the world for affirmation. That said, there is nothing loving in this. It is, to quote a scripture, solemn mockery before God to call denying chidren the Gift of the Holy Ghost an act of love. There is no covenant for them to violate, no sin in them loving their parents.

    Nor, for that matter, is the justification appropriate. Homosexuality is not apostasy. Gay married couples are not apostate. There is no love here, only willful misunderstanding.

  22. Thanks for expressing this so perfectly, Tracy.

  23. The Lord’s holy prophets have spoken. They have counseled us that this policy was brought about because some adults seek to live contrary to God’s plan and thus a big conflict for the child and family life.

  24. This a handbook with a policy. This is not “Thus sayeth the Lord…” This is not scripture. It’s a line in a handbook that got changed, and in which whomever made the call vastly misunderstood the modern age and the dissemination of information. And it’s a policy that has tremendously dramatic repercussions; repercussions that are contra our own teachings.

    And policies change all the time.

  25. I love it Tracy. Just love it. So much heartache. So much confusion. And even more sad given the real power our theology has to truly fill the world like the stone cut out of the mountain.

  26. Tracy,
    The Lord’s prophet has spoken. Elder Christofferson is a prophet, and he has spoken officially in behalf of the church. You can choose not to accept the facts but they will remain and are already established as doctrine.

  27. Doctrine like “no cooking in the kitchen at your church building” doctrine?

  28. Rob, we are all aware of your black-and-white worldview regarding prophetic infallibility. Not all of us see it that way.

  29. When one policy contradicts other policies, which do we follow? I am thinking erring on the side of “love one another” and Moroni 8:17, which is, in fact, scripture, is the better option.

  30. How many different versions of ring ceremonies after temple weddings have to go around before one can realize that Handbook 1 is a changeable thing indeed? Not revelation. Are ring ceremonies okay right now or are you a faithless apostate for wanting one? I lost track.

    It is a serious, serious thing to deny children baptism. The sins be upon the heads of those who get in their way. How many different lectures can we get about not procrastinating the day of our repentance and just ignore that principle when it comes to these kids? They can go camping, join scouts, bake bread, and make cards with the others, but when it comes to the things that matter—the heart of the gospel… They can wait. It’s not right. It is placing a stumbling block in the way of those who need our acceptance and love the most.

    This policy is not revelation. It’s not even a letter signed from the First Presidency like the Prop 8 letter was. I am not denying God or his prophet by saying this is a mistake. I am affirming him as the God of mercy and salvation, the God who does not visit the sins of the parents on the heads of the children (anymore), God our father who loves these children all the more because they are in situations that makes it harder to live up to the church ideal.

    My God is a fixer of broken things and people. He’s going to fix this.

  31. Rob Osborn says:

    God will fix the problem, hence the policy change. It’s sad that so many point the finger at the church when it is the sinners who won’t change.

  32. It’s sad that so many would rather paint God as jerk than admit the possibility that the church didn’t foresee some of the problems of this policy and would take the matter to God for a solution, allowing God to fix it.

  33. Rob Osborn says:

    I agree we should love all. I have neighbors who are gay. I still love them as children of God, I just disagree with their choices knowing it will limit their progression. The church policy isn’t asking us to shun children of gay couples. It’s in place to allow power to be with the child to protect them in their circumstance until they can come of age and choose for themselves. I honestly know no gay married couple who wants their child to grow up in the LDS church teaching that what they are doing will dan them to hell. How does that go-“yes Johnny, we want you to go to church and learn about families, mom’s and dad’s and their proper place in eternity together while what we do is damnation, oh we love you”…thus, why the policy is as stands.

  34. Every last damn one of us is a sinner, Rob. EVERY. ONE. Dissonance in what children are taught at church has never mattered before- we have always taught to the ideal, and been aware that almost no one fits. Dissonance is part of living in a fallen world. And what of my five children, who have gay family members? This is a terrible policy that was poorly thought through, and is against basic tenets of our own faith.

  35. It really is. A week ago, if you’d ask any Mormon if this was possible, not a one would have said “yes”.

  36. Rob, take a break. You’ve declared your testimony from the rooftops. Move along.

  37. Rob, there are plenty of circumstances in which gay married couples might want their children to attend Church. There are other examples, but notably divorced mixed-orientation couples consisting of an LDS parent and a married gay parent who have joint custody and had agreed to raise the children in the Church. This is affecting real people. You can’t just claim this policy doesn’t matter because it doesn’t apply to anyone. There was already a policy in place protecting children of parents who are against the Church from the conflict – the policy requiring parent permission for baptisms of children of nonmembers. This policy is literally only affecting children whose parents WOULD have supported their baptisms.

  38. Mike Harris says:

    Tracy, Is same gender marriage morally wrong?

  39. No. To me it is not. But I respect the ability of my church to regulate themselves and decline to sanction same-sex marriage in our chapels and in our temples. That is totally the purview of churches.

    I actually find same-gender marriage a place where faithful gay Mormons could have continued to live church standards- while the church would not solemnize such marriages, they could still encourage their members to live the law of chastity, keep the word of wisdom, keep the commandments, find a partner and commit to each other legally and lawfully. We could have welcomed such families and kept them in our fold, while still having a firm stance about our own doctrine. A church does not have to approve of all of a people’s actions to love them and welcome them unto Christ.

  40. John Mansfield says:

    Apostasy and restoration are concepts at the core of the LDS church’s claims for its existence. They are at the core of the Book of Mormon, with Nephi looking to the future and Mormon looking back. Apostasy and the withdrawal of priesthood isn’t only personal; it has been inflicted on nations, including the children and generations unborn. It’s an awful thing that in Jacob’s dreary parable leads the master of the vineyard to weep as he orders his servants to pluck off branches and throw them in the fire. The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the potential for profound unhappiness.

  41. Tracy, it is not as personal for me as it is for you, but I recognize that small hard something that has lodged in my heart as well. We are all hoping for something better in terms of an explanation,and haven’t heard it yet. You have a beautiful way with words to describe your feelings and emotions.

    Also, the fact that I know some folks in the LGBT community doesn’t give me any special insight to speak for them about whether or not they are hurt, anymore than being a member of the church gives me any particular insight into why the church implemented this policy. I can only speak for myself, and that this policy change is a hard thing for me to wrap my head around. For now, it has come down to me and my Heavenly Father, and so far, all I have gotten is a sense of peace that somehow, someday, this too will pass, whether by a further policy change, or greater understanding, I don’t know. So I am hanging on to those things of which I have a firm testimony, and trying to take the long view. Somehow, someday, this too will pass.

  42. “other children do not have to renounce their parent’s sins, grievous as they might be, in order to be baptized”

    Can you even name something aside from SSM that is considered by the Church to be a sin, but it not considered by others to be a sin? You don’t ask someone to renounce the actions of a parent who has murdered because -no one- believes it to be acceptable. This supports polygamy as a similar case, as both society and the Church believe it to be wrong, so there is very little pressure against asking someone to renounce it before baptism.

    That is not to say it’s a good reasoning for barring anyone from baptism, but this particular argument isn’t sound.

  43. Frank, that is an interesting perspective. Thanks.

  44. The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the potential for profound unhappiness.

    Now there’s a missionary message if ever there was one.

  45. “Can you even name something aside from SSM that is considered by the Church to be a sin, but it not considered by others to be a sin?”
    Word of Wisdom violations, not paying tithing, not attending Mormon church regularly, not attending Mormon temple worship regularly, not getting married in the Mormon temple, pre-marital sex (nowadays). This is not an exhaustive list.

  46. John Mansfield,
    That’s not wrong, but homosexuality and/or gay marriage are not apostasy. Something is not apostasy simply because it is declared such in a handbook. The word has an actual meaning.

  47. “The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the potential for profound unhappiness.”

    Something to ponderize. And bumperstickerize.

  48. Frank Pellett and john f:

    No one but Mormons believes coffee/tea drinking to be a sin. Baptismal candidates need not confirm to their interviewer and the First Presidency that coffee/tea drinking is, in fact, a grave moral wrong. They only need to promise not to drink those things. Even if Mom and Dad will have three cups a day.

    Few people believe that failing to give 10% of your income to a church is wrong. Baptismal candidates need not confirm to their interviewer and the First Presidency that failing to tithe is, in fact, a grave moral wrong. They only need to promise to pay their tithing. Even if Mom and Dad never will.

    In modern America, fewer and fewer people believe that premarital sex is wrong. Baptismal candidates need not confirm to their interviewer and the First Presidency that premarital sex is, in fact, a grave moral wrong. They only need to promise to live the law of chastity. Even if Mom or Dad is cohabiting.

  49. Sorry, John C. beat me to the punch — I write too slowly.

  50. So back in the day when we were still banning our black brothers & sisters from the priesthood and the temple, teaching that they were fence-sitters or less valiant in the preexistence, that interracial marriage was contrary to God’s will, that our brown brothers and sisters might be made “white and delightsome”if they were righteous enough, that blackness was the mark of Cain or the curse of Ham – we refrained from baptizing black children so they wouldn’t be hurt by the teachings they got at church, right?

    But this time is different, of course.

  51. Melissa, that’s exactly it. There was no care for the dissonance for those children. None whatsoever.

  52. Baptismal candidates need not confirm to their interviewer and the First Presidency that coffee/tea drinking is, in fact, a grave moral wrong. They only need to promise not to drink those things. Even if Mom and Dad will have three cups a day.

    So well said, Jake.

  53. John C/Jake Cox – none of those have any social cost one way or the other. Also, in the Church, they’re not excommunicable offenses. That’s why we only have polygamy as a precedent.

  54. mikerharris says:

    Tracy, This isn’t about a policy. Your assumption or premise is that same gender marriage is ok. My assumption or premise is that of the Church–that marriage is only between a man and a woman. That stance isn’t new.
    Your heartache must of started much earlier, no?

  55. *must have*

  56. As someone who has pursued my own doubts with the church, I would never begrudge anyone their own doubts. I don’t however have those same doubts about this issue. From the moment I saw the controversy pop-up on social media I felt I understood exactly both the logic and emotion behind this decision.

    Baptizing a child in a family whose only path to repentance is breaking up the family seems like a disaster in the making. Imagine the parent who in seeking a remission of sins decided on the only course available, divorce. How would a child reconcile an already difficult situation (divorce) coupled with the Savior’s doctrine of repentance? It would seem to a child, like Christ himself had played a role in the dissolution of his parents marriage. I can understand why the Church would want to avoid that situation.

    I keep seeing a recurring point of contention with those who find this policy misguided. Citing scriptures about doctrinal inconsistencies regarding punishing children for their parents actions. This of course supposes that it was the church who put these children into the current contradictory situation in the first place. I have yet to see same-sex parents accept any responsibility for putting their children in a situation where they would have to make a decision no child is truly equipped to make; God or parents? Any child of same-sex relationship who is compelled to search out Christ and his gospel will eventually have to face the contradiction between their parents life and the commandments of God. This policy offers a buffer to those children against that choice.

    In addition, the Second Article of Faith, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” has little bearing outside of our accountability at judgement day. In a very real sense we all suffer from Adam’s transgression. We suffer mortality, disease, pain, sadness, because of Adam. We are subject and punished (if you consider those things punishment) for his decision. Moreover, each of us suffers or is punished for the choices that others make. My car insurance increased by ten dollars a month simply because I moved to a different city, because apparently the drivers here can’t afford or don’t buy insurance. If I smoke, my daughter will be punished by my second-hand smoke. It is important not to take the scriptures out of context, the Second Article of Faith refutes the idea of original sin, that we are all born with sin, not that people don’t suffer for the decisions of others.

    It would be false to think the Church is trying to punish anyone, especially children. It would be just as false to think that the Church is responsible for putting kids into a situation where family and God’s plan is placed in opposition. The only punishment God truly considers a punishment is separation from his presence through sin. The abrogation of this policy would place children under covenant to disavow their parents actions or live in contradiction to those covenants. The Church’s policy rather than punishing children for their parents actions, mitigates the deleterious forces same-sex parents are forcing upon their children.

  57. Frank,
    Pre-marital sex isn’t excommunicable? I admit that I believe the usual punishment is disfellowship, but I think excommunication is on the table. I’ll bow to the wisdom of people who know something about church discipline in this, though.

    You don’t have to assume gay marriage is okay to think the policy is unfortunate. Again, you just have to realize that gay marriage is not the same thing as apostasy. You’re not causing anyone heartache so much as you’re causing people headaches.

  58. “It would be false to think the Church is trying to punish anyone, especially children.”
    Well, last week the church wasn’t preventing them from getting baptized and this week they are, so I don’t know how false this can actually be understood to be. The behavior didn’t change over the weekend; the penalty did.

  59. John C –

    Wrong. Last week the Church wasn’t protecting children from their same-sex parent’s decisions, this week it is.

    Either way, your attempt to translate a time-table into intent is ill conceived. Its like saying laws against cyber-criminals can’t be punished because we didn’t have those laws in the 90’s.

  60. Let’s move on.

  61. Hook 'em Horns says:

    Every General Conference it seems like the Brethren are speaking about their fallibility. It’s refreshing to hear Apostles of the Lord admit that they can and do make mistakes. They are human like the rest of us.

    In the the future (the near future), they will hold this policy up as one of those mistakes.

  62. Is the picture of the rock that fell onto the road in the canyon near the Rocky Mountain Vault a few years ago?

    (trying to move on)

  63. Some, including in this thread, have suggested that this policy doesn’t matter much because it won’t directly affect many people. Even if the policy’s direct effects are muted (a proposition that I highly doubt based on my own circle of acquaintances), that doesn’t mean it won’t have any effect at all. All rules serve an expressive function. They contain group judgments about certain types of behavior. What is the expressive function of this new policy? It’s not simply that we think gay marriage is wrong. There are lots of things we clearly think are wrong and yet we don’t label those who engage in these things “apostates” and “presumed apostates” (my gloss on the child policy). Rather, the message is that we think that gay marriage is so wrong that we don’t even want people who might be sympathetic to it in our midst. I realize, of course, that the policy doesn’t say that you can’t attend. But the “apostate” label has always carried with it implicit shunning. We want to identify who is an apostate so that we can treat them differently (whether by considering them and their ideas with a skeptical eye, or, in the extreme, avoiding interaction altogether). In this sense, the analogy to the polygamy policy is entirely apt — the polygamy policy was I think fairly clearly intended to prevent polygamy from ever taking root again, and we adopted some pretty strong medicine to get there. Perhaps this was necessary in light of our history with polygamy and our legal obligation to get rid of it for good. But we don’t have a similar history with gay marriage. In the end, I can’t help but think that what we’ve done here is basically create a new implicit belief test for Mormonism. There aren’t many of these, and most of them are only preconditions for temple attendance. What’s more they’re pretty foundational — Do you believe in the restoration? Do you believe in the prophet? For baptism, the only real belief test is whether you have faith in Jesus Christ. The new implicit belief test is whether you think that gay marriage is sinful. What’s more, it seems to be a precondition not just for a temple recommend but for membership itself. That is a truly astounding proposition. And it naturally implies that any member who publicly expresses doubt about the sinful nature of gay marriage is not welcome and perhaps, in the extreme, guilty of an excommunicable offense. One would think that such a development would be troubling to anyone, regardless of one’s position on gay marriage as a matter of public policy.

  64. it's a series of tubes says:

    Pre-marital sex isn’t excommunicable? I admit that I believe the usual punishment is disfellowship, but I think excommunication is on the table.

    For unendowed members, fornication is typically dealt with via informal probation, formal probation, or (at the extremely harsh end) disfellowshipment.

  65. “I can imagine this being a very confusing thing for an investigator who has just finished learning from the missionaries that a wonderful, distinguishing characteristic of the Restored Gospel (a fundamental principle even) is that one is only accountable for one’s own sins”

    They will be particularly surprised when they see this isn’t the case in the Temple.

  66. I am deeply uncomfortable with attributing any part of this policy to “love.” The Church has said that it is out of “love” for the children that they’re being protected from the cognitive dissonance between what they might hear in Church and experience at home. While I suppose would could construe that distinction as differing degrees of condemnation, that doesn’t equal love. Basically, the distinction being made, and being called “love,” is that rather than inviting a kid to primary and talking trash about her parents in front of her, we keep her from coming to primary so we can talk trash about her parents in her absence. One could perhaps make the case that the one is somewhat more considerate than the other, but that doesn’t make it love.

  67. it wasn’t intended to be a defense. There are more than enough bad arguments on both sides. I particularly dislike the AofF 2 argument, as it seems to come as a surprise to people that it doesn’t always mean “no effects from parents decisions”. Despite good intentions and hopes that it could mean more, for major things it’s been pretty limited to “original sin” only.

  68. MikeInWeHo says:

    “…….gay marriage is so wrong that we don’t even want people who might be sympathetic to it in our midst.”

    I fear that zjg is correct. Time will tell soon enough, I suppose. The possible implications of this policy change are enormous for many of the people reading this. Will members who support LGBT equality lose their TR?

  69. MikeInWeHo, if that happens, I am prepared. I will answer truthfully and let the consequences follow- just like I learned in Primary.

  70. Tracy, much love.

  71. Frank: “John C/Jake Cox – none of those have any social cost one way or the other.”
    Tell that to those in the tea drinking nations Britain and Japan, or the coffee drinking folk in Germany, Italy….
    There are indeed social costs. Not on the same scale, but costs none the less.

  72. Please wait! This would have likely been much different had the policy not been leaked. Training would have been given, snags and questions sent back up the line, and corrections and clarifications sent back down. Our Church is big. My ward, though small in number, has non-members and ex’d members and members joining together in worship and fellowship. The Spirit is felt and there is room for growth. All this IS in line with policy and structure. The leaders are taught to make this room.

    Please, …wait, but mostly, work The structure is only that and is less full and alive without you.

  73. romanticmind says:

    It seems to me that lately the goal of the church is less to follow Christ and thereby incur disfavor in society, but rather to make choices that simply incur disfavor. Moreover, I see many of my beloved fellow members pointing at society’s opinion of the Church’s actions and saying “Look, the church is unfavorable in society, just like prophets have always said it’ll be! What we’re doing must be right!” Something is not right just because it makes other people upset.

  74. To paraphrase from elsewhere, this policy sounds more like apostasy than gay marriage sounds like apostasy. Apostasy, like all words, actually has a meaning- words mean things. My church is now denying the foundational importance of our own core principles of baptism and the gift of the holy ghost as a means of coming unto Christ, in order to appease a policy that is simply a line in a handbook. Not revelation, not doctrine, not scripture. Policy. You can spin that any way you like, but WORDS HAVE MEANING.

  75. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    “This would have likely been much different had the policy not been leaked. Training would have been given, snags and questions sent back up the line, and corrections and clarifications sent back down.”

    I really don’t believe that. I believe that this would be no different than if it was time for a new edition of the Handbook to be published and the old paper handbooks would have been pulled out of their shrinkwrap and thumbed through for the first time by unsuspecting Bishops who gulped as they realized what they are now required to do.

  76. Rigel is right. By Thursday evening, all the electronic editions of the handbook had been updated. Anyone with access on their computer or phone could see it. That’s hardly a leak. I think they badly misjudged the Saints’ concern over things like this, and now we are seeing post-hoc damage control.

  77. My dear friend’s daughter and her wife just had a beautiful, sweet smelling, wobbly new born baby boy. Their son. The baby blessing was arranged; the bishop was going to their home to give the blessing.
    It has been cancelled.
    The Grandmother weeps. The mothers are stunned to the core. Their beautiful, sweet smelling, wobbly son has been rejected at 2 months old.
    The missionary work and good will, that that simple name and a blessing would have generated will not be realized.
    I struggle to make the policy work in my mind, to find the love in it. I know it could have been better written, less harsh, less unkind, more compassion and still accomplished the same objective.
    I will give myself and the church time. Time to soften the edge on this policy, time to soften the edges on my jagged heart.

  78. Good question about the temple recommend–if gay marriage is now apostasy, will Mormons who support gay marriage (or even just those in gay marriages) lose their temple recommends?

    Perhaps the baptism thing is just a sideshow, and the real purpose of the change is to purge the Church of anyone sympathetic to gay marriage by stripping them of their recommends. Then the leadership wouldn’t have to worry about pressure from the membership, because only the conservatives would be left.

  79. John C. and Tracy M., re: the meaning of “apostasy,” I think the Church, for better or (probably) worse, uses the word “apostasy” to mean different things in different contexts. In terms of Church discipline, “apostasy” seems to mean something more akin to traditional definitions of “heresy.” E.g., the handbook definition of apostasy is something along the lines of “repeated, clear and open public opposition to the Church, its leaders and its doctrine” (this phrase from the Church website). In that sense, something certainly could be a “heresy” “simply because it is declared such in a handbook” and the change re: church discipline seems pretty straightforward to me considering the Church’s definition of apostasy in the context of church discipline.

    For comparison, see this blog post about the heresy of gay marriage in the Catholic context: (“If…Church teaching that marriage can exist only between a man and woman is taught not just infallibly…but as being divinely revealed…, then, a Catholic’s obstinate denial of such a truth is canonically “heresy” (Canon 751) punishable by excommunication (Canon 1364 § 1), an automatic one at that….”)

  80. Eve of Destruction says:

    Apostasy is not the same as heresy. In March 2015, Elder Christofferson stated that LDS people are allowed to believe that same-sex marriage is right and even to speak in favor of it on social media, despite the church teaching the opposite. So even though it’s not in concert with what the church teaches, it’s not a “heretical” belief. Per Elder Christofferson’s March statement, supporting same-sex marriage only becomes apostasy if the person is participating in a deliberate, persistent, organized attempt to pull others away from the church. When it comes to the new policy, there are same-sex married-or-cohabiting people who actively want their children to receive LDS ordinances, who are presenting them or allowing them to be presented for blessings and baptism, and the policy says no the church will not bless or baptize your little children because *you* in your apostasy are actively trying to pull those same children *away* from the church? It’s opposite-land.

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