The No-Longer Policy: Where Do We Go From Here?


Today’s guest post comes from Christian Kimball, a longtime friend of By Common Consent.

First, let’s celebrate getting things right. Whether it takes 4 years or 30 years or 100 years, correcting past mistakes is a good.  Let’s recognize and even celebrate the virtue of continuing revelation—the Church’s ability to change, which we tout as a distinctive feature.

Second, let’s recognize that real people have been hurt over a clear mistake.  The harms are wide-ranging, from agonizing over doctrine and institutional loyalty, to seeing loved ones leave the Church, to unrelenting pain in the LGBTQ community, to suicide.  I can witness from personal knowledge that the Policy of Exclusion caused some to feel there were no good options and no viable future for them in this life.  Others internalized the Policy as “you are irredeemably broken.” None of that is good, for anybody.  Reparations, restoration, apologies, corrections, and ongoing improvements are all in order (even if they seem impossible).

Third, our Bishops and Stake Presidents have been put through an Abrahamic test. I am of the opinion that those who acted on the Policy, who refused baptism and who excommunicated couples, failed the test and should now begin a period of mourning, repentance, and attempts at restitution.  But I am also one who views Abraham as failing his test, when he took Isaac up to the altar instead of saying “no, not me.”  I expect the fallout discussion to last for years. Next time there is a gospel conversation about obeying direction that doesn’t feel right or goes against personal principles, I expect the Policy will come up as a real world experience that happened in living memory, within a short time frame. I expect at least a generation of challenging self-reflection and shaken and troubled local leaders.

Fourth, the Policy’s reversal has challenged our collective ideas of “revelation” alongside the near infallibility halo our culture casts over our religious leaders. I believe if the Church had internalized the virtual certainty of public disclosure, there would have been recognition that the Policy was a mistake before it was promulgated. As November 2015 happened, I believe there was almost immediate widespread recognition that the Policy was a mistake. I believe the recognition was early enough that we have just lived through 39 months of puzzlement about how to fix it.  I view now-President Nelson’s foray into assigning the “revelation” label was a trial balloon for the “shore it up” method of fixing a problem. Once that failed, pragmatic reality required the Church to immerse itself in nuanced and involved dialogue in order to seek consensus at the highest levels as well as some amount of membership support.  Hopefully, this illustrates that there really is a “sustaining” that happens in our faith.  Sustaining occurs less through formal raising hands at a conference (which has become rote enough to have lost almost all meaning), but endures in the hearts and minds of the people.  I judge that the saga of the Policy has caused at least a generation’s worth of “damage” to the leadership halo effect.  Ultimately, I believe this correction is good and healthy, because it returns our expectations closer to the reality of our earthly Church leaders’ day-to-day life and work.

Finally, the work to heal the damage is far from done and what remains is urgent.  The Exclusion Policy seemed like a response to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (decided June 26, 2015) which guaranteed the fundamental right to marry to same-sex couples. The Obergefell decision could have been predicted 10 years earlier. Not the date or the case, but the ultimate outcome. The trend line was clear in a series of cases in the federal courts, and a series of decisions by state legislatures in the United States, and by changes to laws in other countries. Same-sex marriage was coming.

Notwithstanding the writing on the wall, the Church seemed ill-prepared for it.  It seemed to me (and this was a source of overwhelming frustration and anger to me personally) the Exclusion Policy as implemented was the worst choice, the most damaging, the least Christian, of all the Church’s reasonably conceivable options.

In my opinion the Policy was a failure because the Church failed or refused to grapple with the deep underlying question of marriage itself. If two men marry, before God and country and friends and family, are they married in the Church’s eyes? Not the question “Will the Church perform the marriages?” Not the question “Will the Church encourage or recommend or celebrate the marriages?” But the very basic question “Does the Church respect the marriages?” In essence, is same-sex marriage a real marriage?

Until the Church finds a way to say yes—the marriage is real, the couple is legally and lawfully married, they are a family, and their children belong—until then, we have a problem.

It might be objected that respecting marriage is a far out progressive point of view, inconsistent with any mainstream thought or principle in the Church. I acknowledge that I have held the philosophical and pastoral view that marriage should be respected for more than 20 years, privately and publicly, and during most of that time I would have accepted the “inconsistent with mainstream thought or principle” charge.  However, Judge Posner’s 2014 opinion in Baskin v. Bogan, 766 F.3d 648 (7th Cir. 2014) (regarding same-sex marriage in Indiana and in Wisconsin), convinced me that respect for marriage is now a mainstream view in the country, and should be in the Church, because it’s about the children, because it’s about family. As Judge Posner wrote:

Consider now the emotional comfort that having married parents is likely to provide to children adopted by same-sex couples. Suppose such a child comes home from school one day and reports to his parents that all his classmates have a mom and a dad, while he has two moms (or two dads, as the case may be). Children, being natural conformists, tend to be upset upon discovering that they’re not in step with their peers. If a child’s same-sex parents are married, however, the parents can tell the child truthfully that an adult is permitted to marry a person of the opposite sex, or if the adult prefers as some do a person of his or her own sex, but that either way the parents are married and therefore the child can feel secure in being the child of a married couple. Conversely, imagine the parents having to tell their child that same-sex couples can’t marry, and so the child is not the child of a married couple, unlike his classmates.

For the couple, for the family, for the children, it is imperative that we respect the marriages.

In sum, let us celebrate the correction of an error. Let us seek apologies and remorse and repentance for harms done. Let us ponder and learn from our mistakes and find hope for the future. But let us not believe the work is done. Until all marriages are fully and honorably respected, the correction of the Policy will be no more than a superficial salve.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash


  1. Thank you. The desire to marry, make covenants, and establish a home is one of the most hopeful things that humans can do. I support marriage in all its forms, and pray for the day that our church will, too.

  2. Thank you for distilling my general frustration, disillusion, and confusion into something succinct and cogent.

  3. Quote modified for church use:

    “Consider now the emotional comfort that having eternally married parents is likely to provide to children sealed to same-sex couples. Suppose such a child comes home from church one day and reports to his parents that all his Primary classmates have a mother and a father, while he has two mothers (or two fathers, as the case may be). Children, being natural conformists, tend to be upset upon discovering that they’re not in step with their peers. If a child’s same-sex parents are eternally married, however, the parents can tell the child truthfully that an adult is permitted to be sealed to a person of the opposite sex, or if the adult prefers as some do a person of his or her own sex, but that either way the parents are eternal married and therefore the child can feel secure in being the child of an eternally married couple. Conversely, imagine the parents having to tell their child that same-sex couples can’t be sealed, and so the child is not the child of an eternally married couple, unlike his classmates.

    Until we have a doctrine that shows that LGBT people have a place in the Plan of Salvation, rather than simply being “broken straight people”, we will continue to teach children that their parent’s marriage is lower class, as we do now in emphasising “eternal sealed families” as a better option than civil marriage. Until we have parity with eternal marriage, we will continue to have 3 distinct classes of marriage in our church – the lowest law, the lower law, and the higher law.

  4. May we also celebrate the Bishops and Stake Presidents who didn’t fail the test. Though they couldn’t perform the ceremonies, my Bishop and Stake President are on record for having advised, taught, and counseled families to embrace, attend, and support their family weddings. They even taught 5th Sunday lessons on it. They worked within their bounds to keep all families together.

  5. cat: I concur. I know of more than a few Bishops and Stake Presidents who publicly announced that the Policy of Exclusion would not be enforced under their stewardship.

  6. I often wonder how the membership of the 21st Century Church would have reacted to Jesus’ instructions to the Apostles regarding the Gentiles. I can imagine some leaker revealing the contents of the conversation between Jesus and the Apostles recorded in Matthew 10:5, to proclaim that the Jesus-followers have a policy of exclusion against Gentiles and Samaritans. Commenters would note that such a policy would come as no surprise, given what Jesus and his followers have said about Gentiles, comparing them to dogs (Matthew 15:26). The discussion and debate would continue, until a little over a year later, when the now-resurrected Jesus tells the Apostles that, actually, they should go to all nations. Some portion of the Church membership would hail the change and not think twice about what it means. Another portion cry that the change wasn’t good enough, that the Apostles ought to apologize for the previous policy, and go further by accepting Gentiles as Christians as is, without any of this circumcision business (perhaps later to claim that their protests led to Peter’s later vision of a sheet). Still another group would go further, and point to the quick change in instruction as evidence that Jesus never was the Messiah, and that the Apostles never received revelation from God at all.

    Speaking of marriage, what’s the Church’s obligation to recognize legally contracted marriages in arrangements other than same-sex marriage? Does the Church (or any institution) have an obligation to accommodate the living arrangements of all children? Does Judge Posner feel that the Constitution(TM) protects the feelings of children who must go to school and feel uneasy that he has a dad, a mom, and a mama? Was the POX: Polygamy Edition also a mistake? (Has it even changed?).

    Personally, I’m open to accepting the idea that the prior policy was a mistake, and that we have now made efforts to correct that mistake. Revelation can sometimes act like adult supervision in a youth-run program: God will let us make mistakes and even approve our suboptimal solutions, but He won’t let us make catastrophic mistakes, and He’ll step in to make sure that our mistakes don’t last too long. But I don’t think this policy is “obviously” a mistake. The Church defaulted to a position it has long had with respect to other marriage situations. The scriptures practically provide the roadmap for using strict rules as preparation to adopt a more nuanced approach.

  7. Anita Davis says:

    I have a remaining question. On the eternal and broadest level, is not procreation one of the highest values of our God, not just of our church leaders? If it is, then those who frustrate the progress of that goal would need to bear some responsibility for that. Maybe homosexuals need no further condemnation or punishment than the inability to produce a child who shares the DNA of homosexual “parents”. I don’t know. I’m just wondering. I believe all of God’s children have a place in salvation, but we understand in the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that there are at least three (with one of those divided into another three) degrees of glory. Perhaps in a way of speaking there are as many degrees of glory/happiness/productivity as there are people. There’s room for everyone in this plan. Perhaps if one chooses to align him/herself with the highest values of our Father, one may attain a “higher” mansion.

    Oops, one more question. More and more “handicapped” individuals are rejecting the word “handicapped”, basically because it sets a standard of normalcy which isn’t realistic as far as they are concerned. Asperger’s syndrome has been put forward by some as an evolutionary step forward and upward. It’s all a matter of definition, is it not? Maybe homosexuality is a similar case. I don’t know that a definitive answer to this question will be found until the resurrection, when every risen body will be perfected. I will have no root canals then, I hope. You will have no metal and nylon knees, you hope. But, will “idiot savants” be changed to be more like the majority of the population? Will blacks be whitened, or the other way around? Will women be raised with bodies that conform to 21st century movie star standards, or will we relearn another definition of “beauty”. Will people with same sex attraction be risen with a hetero attraction, or will we all be risen with a much wider sense of what perfection is?

    In my humble opinion, questions regarding homosexuality will continue to be unanswered, full of nuance, and bones of contention, etc. for many many years to come. Hopefully we can all remain loving and patient until things become more clear.

  8. Bob Powelson says:

    Sexual conduct/relations between people of the same sex is wrong. This goes back to the time of Abraham and lot. God destroyed two cities which had developed a culture of homosexual sex.

    Adultery and fornication have long since been forbidden (the Ten Commandments for a start).

    Same sex attraction is not an major matter unless it is acted upon. Unmarried sexual conduct is also forbidden. Take two examples:

    1. My wife died young (age 57); I did not remarry and therefor I am celibate.

    2. A good friend of mine (now deceased) was an active gay for many years. He finally dropped out of that world. He did not marry but remained celibate, regained his full church standing and was a temple attender.

    This will never change in the LDS church. Yes, we can become more tolerant and kinder to those who err that way, but that does not include active homosexual conduct. Anyone who thinks otherwise is trapped in heavy duty self delusion.

  9. “Until all marriages are fully and honorably respected”

    What’s your opinion on the “legitimacy” of Muslim and LDS fundamentalist marriages?

  10. Anita Davis: Then what about the adopted children of heterosexual couples? My in-laws only children were all adoptee’s. They never could conceive of their own. Because they couldn’t pro-create them, do they not count in God’s eyes?

    Bob – I realize it gets taught that 2 desert cities were destroyed by God because of homosexuality but the book of Ezekiel has God giving a different answer. Ezekiel 16:49 states, “Behold this was the iniquity of the sister Sodom pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.” No where in there does it list anything of a sexual nature.

    I guess I will stick with my self delusion.

  11. Aussie Mormon says:

    DSC’s last paragraph is somewhat similar in concept to the wrong roads and revelation article and video that Matthew Holland wrote and Elder Holland narrated several years ago.

  12. I disagree that it’s a forgone conclusion that it was a mistake. As a parent of a non-straight child, the policy actually helped me for various reasons.
    I support the change because despite the policy, I knew the church would change in this area. In fact, having the policy and then changing it, I believe, will help people except the next change.
    However, there are so many people who are completely unaware of the policy And unaware of the change in policy. People who don’t live in Utah, don’t get on social media, and don’t have discussions with family or friends who are members, can easily be unaware of this. My husband is one of those people.

  13. Ack. I meant “accept.” Blame the text to speech.

  14. nobody, really says:

    Bob Powelson:
    The Book of Jasher is a fascinating read. It’s probably medieval in origin. It’s an alternate telling of Genesis – kind of a history of the clothing of skins made for Adam in the garden. One of the most interesting chapters covers Sodom and Gommorah. There’s an account of how beggars would come to town and people would give them gold, but by law nobody was allowed to give them food. The beggars would slowly starve. When they died, the people would go retrieve their gold. A young girl made the mistake of slipping food to one beggar. The people couldn’t figure out why the beggar wouldn’t die, so they had him followed. When they found the young girl, they staked her to an anthill and coated her in honey.

    It’s made pretty clear that those two cities were destroyed because the people had elevated cruelty to an art form. The book isn’t canon by any means, but it’s been sold at Deseret Book, and we all know that anything sold at Deseret Book has the full faith and endorsement of the for-profit arms of the Church Office Building.

  15. Bob Powelson says:

    Sodom and Gomorrah are not the only scriptural sources of scriptural condemnation of homosexual sex. Even Jesus in case of the woman caught in adultery, stopped the stoning BUT said go and sin no more.

    Deseret Book sales? I bought my first Harry Potter book at Deseret. Great book.

  16. Anita Davis–procreation is in no way tied to worthiness. If it was, there would be no pregnancies resulting from rape, or from sex between partners who are unmarried, and there would be no infertility among people married in the temple. This is one reason why not having children does not automatically equal being selfish and frustrating the plan of salvation.

    Also, I know you are only speculating about what human attributes might change in heaven, but I want to note that it is hurtful to imply that people with any one skin color in this life will have a different skin color in a “perfected” state.

  17. Truckers Atlas says:

    Aussie: Holland’s message in the talk/video you reference really irks me. He’s saying that the Lord’s “easiest way” to get them on the correct road was to let them go down the wrong path. Oof. Damn. So what about all the damaged hearts that came from the priesthood ban on blacks or the POX? Could those errors really have been the Lord’s best way at guiding us?

    (I’m thinking out loud. Thanks for bringing Holland’s message to the fore).

  18. Thanks for all the comments. A few reactions:
    >I think parity in the civil marriage category is necessary and doable . . . overnight even, with the requisite will. I suspect this is already the on-the-ground practice in many places. On the other hand, doctrine and practices relating to status in the eternities for individuals and marriages would require going back to first principles including the nature of God. I think that is a very different size project.
    >I too have heard of Bishops and Stake Presidents who worked to minimize the effects of the Exclusion Policy within their scope of influence. I am grateful for and respectful of them, and am moved to honor them. However, I am not sure they want to be called out or named, and I am struck by a question about praising someone for doing their job.
    >Occasionally people will bring up multi-person (more than two) relationships. Sometimes it comes across as a “what about” rhetorical challenge or a slippery slope argument. I am not interested. But to the extent the questions are genuine, my current thinking is to approach this kind of question through the lens of defining “family” with issues of legitimacy and dependency, inheritance and belonging—matters that are not defined in isolation but have to be situated in a culture and a legal system. I suspect I would find some cases where the meaning of “family” is sufficiently coherent and sufficiently supported by a sufficiently large social structure to be respected. And other cases where the meaning of “family” is incoherent or transient or idiosyncratic, or where the surrounding social structure is too small to warrant respect.
    >With respect to revelation and correctness, I am bemused by arguments that speak of “flexible dogmatism” (a coinage I attribute to my brother and he attributes to a friend). Flexible dogmatism is the idea that the Church can renounce past policies and practices, even past doctrines and theologies, but it cannot renounce the rightness of past policies at the time they were in effect. Flexible dogmatism is a common practice in rationalizing the Church. I think it is sorely tested (I believe to the point of breaking) by 180-degree turns in just a few years.

  19. @christiankimball, I’m fine if active members have their own opinions and share that they think the church has it wrong, and at the same time are as open to recognizing their own limitations as a mortal being as well.

    “Until the Church finds a way to say yes—the marriage is real, the couple is legally and lawfully married, they are a family, and their children belong—until then, we have a problem.”

    “Until all marriages are fully and honorably respected, the correction of the Policy will be no more than a superficial salve.”

    How is though that you justify teaching publicly as an absolute that which is in open opposition and rebellion to united declarations of the sustained prophets and apostles of the church?

  20. “or where the surrounding social structure is too small to warrant respect”

    I really struggled to understand the point you’re making, but this was especially confusing. By too small, do you mean uncommon? The way I am interpreting this, your reasoning is open to a lot of criticism, so I want to get clarification before offering more thoughts.

  21. I was on the record against the policy from day 1, burned into the internet record on BCC and elsewhere.

    So this isn’t the whataboutism you claim.

    I find reasoning your reasoning (at face value) to be mortally abhorrent.

    In certain regions a few decades ago you would declare “I am not interested” in the plight of an interracial couple barred from marriage, because of a lack of “sufficiently large social structure to be respected” according to your reasoning.

  22. Christian, I had no intention of announcing the names of the Bishop’s or Stake Presidents. I just wanted to make a broad knowledge of leaders that I know of and others I have heard of who publicly, in their respective wards and stakes, took a stand because they cared more for the families and individuals impacted by the initial policy than they did for their own status. My apologies if it came across as wanting to give names or publicly honor them specifically. Though I did thank my personally in my area.

  23. Jonathan Cavender says:

    “I am also one who views Abraham as failing his test, when he took Isaac up to the altar instead of saying ‘no, not me.'”

    And here, in a nutshell, lies the main issue. If you don’t recognize any moral authority greater than yourself, you become your own god. If you think that the prophet is wrong when the prophet disagrees with you, then you become a law unto yourself. If those things we desperately want are justified and no sin because of how desperately we want them, then there is no need for the good news of the Gospel. C. S. Lewis, once again, had it correct in “God in the Dock:”

    “The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.”

    If your view of God is such that He commands and you consider that command and, so long as it matches with your perception of what you think or believe (and doesn’t contradict your political or social views), you might follow it then you are not obeying any commandments regardless of what you do. You are drawing conclusions and acting on them and if they happen to match what God wants you to do then congratulations to God — He got that one right. If, on the other hand, God asks you to do something that doesn’t match your current political worldview or the current political trends (formed in the last six years or so) or if God’s truth doesn’t match your “lived truth,” well then God must be wrong on that one and shame on Him.

    Or maybe He is right and He is just being tricky by giving commandments people are supposed to ignore. Of course, that leaves us not knowing which commandments to obey and which to ignore again, but we can still use our own reasoning — which, of course, leads to us making all our conclusions based upon our own reasoning and becoming a law unto ourselves again. Do you see the logical problems once you take this point of view? Every road your reasoning takes displaces obedience as a virtue and makes you as a law unto yourself. I know not save the Lord commanded it becomes I will if I decide I agree with the commandments or I will once God stops messing around and finally understands what I understand about this (and no, I am not conflating the Brethren with God — though the sophistry against following our Church leaders is similar — as the topic of this response is Abraham). Worship of reason displaces worship of God. Or, in scriptural terms:

    “When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.”

    I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, man, but it ain’t good. God is pretty clear what happens to those who use reasoning and clever sophistry to justify disobeying God and putting their meager minds above the moral judgment of the Almighty. What would have happened if Abraham had thought that he was wise, and hearkened not unto the counsel of God to sacrifice Isaac? The next line is pretty clear.

    “And they shall perish.”

    Fortunately Abraham acted with a little more trust in the Lord.

    “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

    He didn’t know how it would work out, but he trusted the Lord. He went up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, and he went up the mountain with faith he and Isaac would come back down again because God promised Abraham seed through Isaac. Somehow, someway Abraham knew it would all work out. With us today God has promised, if we make Abrahamic sacrifices, that this refining will ennoble us and prepare us for a blessing greater than we can currently imagine. To use our meager intellect to rationalize our way clear of obedience to avoid these difficult sacrifices is to sit at the base of the mountain and deny ourselves the chastening and refining necessary to fit us for Heaven. Instead, when we obey even (especially) when it is hard or against our nature our reason we do so because we trust the Lord and His promises. We know that if we “go yonder and worship” God will somehow (in this life or the next) make a way for us to “come again” down the mountain with all the blessings He plans to give to us.

  24. GEOFF -AUS says:

    I expected when gay marriage became legal in America that the church leaders would accept that they had put a lot of effort, and credibility into fighting it but had failed, and would recognise/ accept it. Their story was they were defending straight marriage. In the time of the pox it has become obvious that gay marriage is not damaging straight marriage. So what are they going back to?
    Again I expected when the pox was recinded it would be to recognise gay marriage. When I read the statement “Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way.” I thought that was what had happened. Serious transgression.
    Christiankimball, I don’t see the problem you do with treating gay marriage equally, including in the temple. Would you like to explain the problems you see?
    I live in a country where to oppose gay marriage is about as acceptable as being a racist, which is much less acceptable than in the US. One of our internation Rugby team has just been sacked for tweating that a list of sinners including gay couples, were going to hell. He was a mormon but is now assemblies of God.

  25. Another set of replies:

    >That Abraham was wrong (“failed the test”) is, to my understanding, a minority view. I call it out as such. I believe it a legitimate view and I know I am not alone. Most of all, the Akedah is HARD and I resist any suggestion that there is an obvious right, or wrong, view on the subject.

    >My thinking about marriage and family requires community—the ideas only make sense in context. When I think about community for this purpose, common practice is state (like the State of Utah) or nation. Or, on a different dimension, church or religion. At smaller groupings, I think the concepts don’t work at an individual household level. That would define away community in my terms. I am skeptical they can work in a town or village or kibbutz (for examples) except in sharp isolation. But if it were proposed that Utah County with over 600,000 people have its own rules (and a reasoned approach to the federal-state-county boudary issues), I don’t know the answer.

    >I can only keep my head straight by separating legal and philosophical discussions. I think miscegenation laws were abhorrent (philosophical). I think they had to be fixed in the courts and legislatures at the state and national level (legal). I think Reynolds was wrongly decided (legal). But I am not in favor of any form of polygyny I know about (philosophical; essentially that I am highly skeptical of “hub-and-spoke” structures in practice, and I find them morally repugnant on behalf of women in particular and the autonomy of individuals in general).

    >Regarding a broader practice for temple marriages and sealings in the modern Church, I would like to see it happen (philosophical). However, I believe to get there we have to address gender essentialism including our anthropomorphic gendered image of God. I do think we should take that on (philosophical), but believe it to be a different size project than respect for civil marriage (legal).

  26. The Nov. 2015 “Policy” was a reaction to the Supreme Court decision, and at least within the church, seemed to be more of a public statement on the court’s decision than a “solution” to a problem that really didn’t exist (listen to the recent Mormon Land podcast on this topic with Greg Prince).

    But, as a friend noted, the effect was quite interesting. One could argue that the Policy raised the general consciousness of this topic within the church, perhaps much more so than it would have been had the status quo remained. Suddenly, you had members who would otherwise be supportive of the church’s LGBT positions say, “wait, they won’t let kids get baptized? Don’t know if I like that.”

    And so, you had a broad-based, leftward shift within the church on this issue, and I don’t think that would have happened *to this degree* without the Policy.

    God works in mysterious ways.

  27. Today’s email from points to an April 11 notice from the Correlation Department that “To reflect changes announced by the First Presidency prior to April 1, 2019, Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops (2010) and Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010) have been updated on and in the Gospel Library app.”

    “[P]rior to April 1” means the update doesn’t yet include the changes to the November 2015 policy announced April 4. I wonder when it will become clear what those April 4 changes are. There have been multiple conflicting interpretations of the policy change announcement — just as there have been multiple conflicting and often inaccurate or significantly incomplete summaries of the November 2015 policy itself. I have wondered whether the major change to the policy made by the “clarification” letter was itself ever included in Handbook 1. Even in his January 2016 speech, RMN failed to make clear whether he was talking about the 2015 policy as written in the Handbook 1 or as significantly modified by the “clarification” letter. Now, of course, it doesn’t matter — same-sex marriage or “similar relationship” having apparently been moved from the procedural category of mandatory disciplinary councils for so-called “apostasy” to the category of disciplinary councils that “may be necessary.” It will be interesting to someday see what the new policy actually is — assuming someone will “leak” it.

    I’m happy to celebrate the April 4 change so far as I understand it, even if it turns out not to be as broad as might be hoped, Still, “[r]eparations, restoration, apologies, corrections, and ongoing improvements are all in order (even if they seem impossible).” One of the best ways to teach repentance may be to model it. That could be done by an organization; it is not limited to individuals.

  28. christiankimball

    It seems like you’re deliberately obfuscating what you’re talking about. You are talking around the issues, rather than addressing them. Of course it is best to separate philosophical, moral, and legal reasoning, which is why it is curious that you cite Judge Poser. The quote you provide is not legal reasoning, which isn’t surprising since Posner gave up on legal reasoning in favor of moral reasoning a long time ago. But his moral reasoning applies to more than just the children of gay parents. It also applies to people in polyamorous relationships. “Dignity” arguments are poor legal reasoning for that reason. It’s almost impossible to find a workable limiting principle.

    I still have no idea what you mean by marriage requiring community, or why that is relevant. Perhaps if you addressed the concrete issues, that would help. The Church will soon have a temple in Kenya, where It is legal for any man to marry multiple women throughout the country. Should the Church recognize such marriages or not?

    Why would you find polygyny per we morally abhorrent? It’s not hard to imagine a system in which people are free to enter and exit such relationships. There are examples in the world right now. If you make decisions based on stereotype, then same sex relationships were morally repugnant because they were not typically committed relationships, notwithstanding some notable counter examples.

  29. *Judge Posner (Freudian slip, I suppose)

  30. I cannot agree to that the prior policy was a “clear mistake”. Therefore, I reject the arguments that follow from it.

  31. “Maybe homosexuals need no further condemnation or punishment than the inability to produce a child who shares the DNA of homosexual “parents””

    Oh wow, for a blog with LGBTQ+-accepting permabloggers, I am disgusted at the homophobia in the comments. Also as a father who was unable to reproduce naturally with my spouse and who adopted a son, I am deeply offended. I suppose God was punishing me and my wife, just like God must punish those evil “homosexuals” for being biologically predisposed to be that way (so God I guess is punishing them for being the way that He created them to be?). Go to hell, Anita Davis. Homophobic bigots like you in the church drive people away from the church and the LGBTQ+s to suicide.

  32. While I applaud the Church’s softening of the November 2015 policy (though I wish it had come with an apology and an acknowledgment of the hurt it caused), I don’t think this shift marks progress towards equality for gays and Church acceptance of gay marriage, just progress towards being less harsh and exclusionary. I believe some of the Church’s issues with gay marriage are because they don’t work within the hierarchy of the Church.

    In the church hierarchy, there is only ever One Man In Charge of a priesthood unit (the OMIC Principle). There is only one bishop of a ward. His wife does not hold equal authority, and neither do his counselors. For a bishop to find an equal, he has to look sideways to another ward. Within the priesthood unit of his own ward, the bishop does not have an equal. This OMIC Principle holds true through all the quorums of the ward, down to the deacon’s quorum president. The deacon’s quorum president is firmly in the hierarchy. He is below the bishop, but still over everyone in his quorum; no one is his priesthood equal. If you go up, you see the same pattern. A stake president is equal only to another stake president in a different priesthood unit, and so on through Area Authorities and to General Authorities, and up to the prophet. The Quorum of the Twelve may hold all the priesthood keys that the prophet holds, but the prophet is still the OMIC.

    The family is the most basic priesthood unit in the Church. The husband/father is the One Man In Charge. He is supposed to treat his wife as an equal, but he remains the family patriarch. (How the father handles his authority can vary widely from family to family.)

    Polygamy did not violate the OMIC Principle. Adding wives did not make them equal to the husband in the priesthood hierarchy.

    Gay marriage violates the OMIC Principle. If two men marry, which one is in charge? If two women marry, neither one is in charge. In any priesthood unit, someONE has to be in charge – emphasis on the ONE. (I’m a single mom, so technically I’m in charge of my family right now, but that’s just a stopgap. I lose that position if I marry a man.)

    Gay marriage up-ends the Church hierarchy; it does not work in the Church’s authority structure. Equality between men and women, and between men and men, and women and women, would be a necessary precursor to any genuine consideration of religiously sanctioning gay marriage. I don’t see the Church getting there any time soon. It’s made some cosmetic changes towards equality, but nothing that makes any real changes to the hierarchy.

    That lack of equality hurts a lot of people for a variety of reasons.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    JR, thanks for commenting on the dates. I saw the recent announcement about numerous HB updates and wondered whether the PoX reversal was included; I agree with you based on the dates that we don’t have that specific language yet.

  34. Melinda,
    Decades ago the church leaders specifically taught that priesthood within church positions is hierarchal. But that is not true in marriage. They were very clear about it.

  35. Diane,
    That answer is a little too pat. For decades, wives have been covenanting obedience to their husbands in the temple. If you want to argue that recent changes have made marriage a little less hierarchical than before, that would be more persuasive. I grew up watching a very hierarchical marriage, and never heard anything at church to make me think my mother’s deference to my father’s priesthood authority was out of step with church teachings. Different marriages work differently, so if you’re accustomed to more equality, then our experiences differ.

    My observation is still accurate. If you want to replace “man in charge” with “presiding priesthood holder”, the principle still holds true. “Presiding” has a much more flexible definition, so perhaps that fits better in a family context. In any priesthood unit, including the family, there is only one presiding priesthood holder. In a ward, it’s a bishop. In a quorum, it’s the quorum president. In a family, it’s the husband. If the wife is her husband’s equal (and that varies depending on the family dynamics), she is still not a presiding priesthood holder. Even if her husband truly treats her as an equal, you still can’t have two people presiding in a priesthood unit. I don’t want to go off on a tangent about what “presiding” means. That’s been discussed a lot. My point is, there is only one “presider” in a priesthood unit.

  36. Eric Facer says:

    “I cannot agree to that the prior policy was a “clear mistake”. Therefore, I reject the arguments that follow from it.”

    It is attitudes such as these that inspired the South Park folks to write the following line for Elder Kevin Price in the “Book of Mormon” musical: “I BELIEVE that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people!”

  37. Anonymous says:

    Are you saying you actually know of a specific example of someone who committed suicide over the policy? Or do you just kind of assume that probably somewhere the policy contributed in part to someone’s decision to end their life, statistically speaking? I don’t doubt that it has, but I am not a fan of FUD arguments.

  38. GEOFF -AUS says:

    In Australia we are 16 hours ahead of Utah, so we watch conference videos the following weekend. I am watching Sunday am with talks of love and zion.
    All are alike unto God, black and white, bond and free, male and female, gay and straight.
    All are not alike unto the leadership of the church, as Melinda points out, and as our discrimination against gays shows.
    If we claim to be loving as Christ, but not see that we are refusing to love, because we discriminate against women and gays. We can not become a zion society until we can love as God does. When all are alike unto the church leaders we will be able to love as God does and approach a Zion society.

  39. Anonymous: A careful qualifier regarding suicide was lost in editing, in trying to be very careful about suicide comments in all respects. I do not have first hand knowledge about anybody. I have strong second hand knowledge, and (like you say) the statistical probability. It is clear that many people are concerned and believe, and I judge that enough by itself to include suicide in the “harms done” list (but should be appropriately qualified).

  40. RockiesGma says:

    Dear BCC bloggers, sorry to interrupt this thread but I don’t know how else to contact you. Did any of you see the Wall Street Journal article, Saturday (yesterday), front page with continuation of a two full page spread on pages A12-13? It’s about a cluster of suicides in Herriman, Utah and is a troubling, but important read. I’m hoping one or more of you will read the article and post your thoughts, concerns and suggestions to help. Same with commenters. Glory, these poor kids who feel so overwhelmed with the pressure to look, act, and be perfect, and the rejection they feel when they drift away from that pressure. This article has haunted me all day….my heart breaks for them and all their loved ones. Please note that while suicide has doubled from 2007-2017 nationwide, it has tripled in Utah! If this gospel offers the plan of happiness, why are our young people killing themselves? Oh glory, something is terribly wrong.

  41. Perhaps we can convince some Democractic presidential candidate to include in his/her platform a requirement that the Church fund reparations. Then we can set some other funds up for those whose ancestors were pushed out of Missouri or Illinois. From there we can demand one for those whose ancestors died fighting slavery, or the Nazis. Let’s make sure someone pays, cash preferably.
    Why do I feel like I have entered some high school discussion? The New York Times is correct: the left is destroying itself with its ridiculous positions and Trump will be re-elected because of it.

  42. Eric Facer
    I also reject the central premise of this post. I see no reason to assume the original policy was a mistake at the time it was given. If you choose to see it that way, that is your choice. It is not mine.
    As for the rest of the post, I just cannot buy into it. Why don’t we just form a mob and demand the General Authorities be lynched. Why don’t we all stand up and demand our feelings never be hurt or anyone we deal with ever hold an opinion that differs from ours.
    I do not believe the Church will ever allow the sealings of same sex couples because I do not believe God wants it. Sealings that actually last into eternity exist to create new spirit families and populate new worlds. According to the only pattern we have been provided here for people, that requires a male and a female. If there is another pattern available in eternity for His children, I will wait for Him to reveal it. If it affects me personally, I will approach Him in fasting and prayer, until I receive an answer. That is the pattern He has revealed. I have found it works for me in obtaining additional light and revelation. Agitating and demanding reparations seems juvenile in the extreme.
    I believe God will give us answers to our questions regarding LGBTQ issues if we seek them. I believe He is already doing so as we pursue scientific research. But I believe many people who post here are going to deny that research. I have seen it already when someone includes in a comment conclusions that violate the politically correct way of thinking even though the latest research concludes exactly that.

  43. Joseph Stanford says:

    @responses to Anita Davis: I want to second those who have answered her as a person with thoughts she is working through. I regret labeling, shaming, and shunning, which do not open dialogue and impede possibilities to change mind or heart.

  44. Commenters think they’re being righteous and have it all figured out when really they’re just being cruel.

    Go ahead and disagree with Chris, but do remember that people who actually have to live with this have to deal with your cruelty here and at church, We would respect you a lot more if you admitted that there’s a lot we don’t know.

  45. Hedgehog says:

    Rockies Gma, that was an interesting read. What struck me was the reference to marijuana use in several of the cases mentioned. It has for some years been understood here in the UK that its use can precipitate mental health problems (in particular the strong sort known over here as skunk), especially in developing teenage brains, where it has been linked to depression and psychosis. A recent Radiowest podcast discussed this issue, and indicated that this understanding is strongly resisted in the US.

  46. Procreation is a blessing. I wasn’t talking worthiness. If we consciously walk away from a blessing, it may not be a sin, but it is unwise.

  47. Jonathan Cavender says:


    Reading your post and the unmerited accusations of “cruelty” from those who disagree with your position reminded me of a Babylon Bee article from Friday:

    “‘I Disagree With Your Ideas,’ Man Says In Hateful Call To Violence”

    NEWARK, NJ—Everyone thought local man Peter O’Brien was a civil, friendly, and tolerant guy. He seemed normal. He seemed agreeable. He never disagreed with anybody or contradicted their ideas. In short, he was a perfectly well-adjusted member of society.

    That is, until yesterday, when O’Brien blasted a coworker with these shocking words: “I disagree with your ideas.”

    The hateful call to violent attacks on his coworker allegedly occurred during a lunch break. O’Brien just let the words hang in the air, not apologizing, not offering any clarification to the inciteful hate speech.

    “Ex-excuse me?” his friend stammered, aghast.

    The hateful, violent monster replied coolly, “I disagree with those ideas you just articulated. I still respect you as a person. But I don’t think your position is logically sound.”

    O’Brien’s former friend called an HR rep to report the blatant incitement to violence. HR called security. Security called the cops. The cops called the FBI. The FBI called INTERPOL. Finally, a coalition of international police forces arrived to apprehend, isolate, and execute O’Brien right away for calling for violence on an innocent bystander.

  48. You know nothing about my “position,” Jonathan.

  49. Melinda, perhaps you are too young to remember Pres. Kimball’s teaching that wives are only to follow their husband’s leadership when he led in righteousness and that the judgement as to his righteousness was left to her. Checkmark on any power play on his part. Pres. Kimball also taught that any man who told his wife she had to follow him because he held the priesthood needed to be tried in a church court for His membership. I am sorry your parents seem to have been unaware of the prophet’s teachings.

  50. Diane, that was incredibly patronizing.

    From President Kimball: “And now, my beloved brethren, may I say something about the great priesthood responsibility of fulfilling our role of patriarch in the home. This role becomes more vital with each passing day, as new challenges to the strength and sanctity of the home arise. The family is the basic unit of the kingdom of God on earth. . . . Brethren, as patriarchs in your homes, be worthy watchmen. . . .” (President Kimball, 1978). If this is the talk you based your comment on, I didn’t see him saying a man should be tried in a church court for his membership; the relationship with the wife didn’t come up in this talk. Find me a quote, and then tell me your ward regularly has 5th Sunday lessons on that topic. I doubt I’m the only person who is unfamiliar with Pres Kimball’s teaching that you refer to. Given the number of Bloggernacle discussions about what it means to preside in a home, I don’t think the issue is as cut and dried as you claim.

    My original comment still stands. You’re not really saying the patriarch of the home holds no priesthood authority whatsoever, are you? Perhaps the wife does not owe him automatic obedience, but that doesn’t mean he has no priesthood responsibility or authority in the home. I think you’re conflating a demand for total obedience with priesthood authority, and that’s not right. I’ll agree that a wife does not owe total obedience to her husband. But he’s still got priesthood authority and responsibility and presides over his family.

  51. Rockies – I am intimately connected with the events of the WSJ article. I’m on vacation but will try to post later some appropriate comments.

  52. lastlemming says:

    You’re not really saying the patriarch of the home holds no priesthood authority whatsoever, are you? Perhaps the wife does not owe him automatic obedience, but that doesn’t mean he has no priesthood responsibility or authority in the home.

    Responsiblity, yes. Authority, no.

    I have a particular example in mind to illustrate the difference, but it would undoubtedly be deemed a threadjack, so I will refrain.

  53. Melinda,
    I certainly never meant to be patronizing and am still trying to figure out why you think I was.
    The quote comes from a book President Kimball wrote. I am afraid my books are in a storage shed in another state right now so I cannot look it up. But I know I taught it more than once in Relief Society, not fifth Sunday, when I taught on priesthood. And yes, I am trying to say the priesthood authority a man has in his home is strictly limited by his wife’s deciding if what he says is following what God wants, that she was to make that judgement. President Kimball went on to add that women needed to be fair when they made that judgement. He was very specific about how it all worked. And the veto right was hers. He also told women to be full partners with their husband’s and definitely not silent partners.

  54. Melinda, found the President Kimball quote.
    “We have heard of men who have said to their wives. ‘I hold the priesthood and you have got to do what I say.’ Such men need to be tried for their membership.”

  55. Small correction, change “need to be” to “should be”.
    Trying to type on phone, not good at copying text.

  56. A#4,
    I do not think people are trying to be cruel, but they are pushing back at some of the statements the author just blinded assumed are “clearly” true. When someone starts with assumptions others do not agree with, they start there in their comments. In other words, how does hey just know the prior policy was clearly a mistake? Where is his reasoning to support it? Please, author, do not just use the opinions of prior posts as all the proof you need.
    Also, when someone begins by demanding reparations from the church for a policy change, it is hard to take any argument they make seriously.
    And may I assure you A#4, I have read comments you posted on another post that made assumptions about how many LGBTQ people another commenter knew or had spoken with about the issue of the church policy that were cruel and, as I know the person, completely untrue. But you made them as if you were the all-knowing God and knew the woman’s life story. The person you attacked took the gay partner of another gay friend as her date to their work Christmas party so he could attend back when it was unacceptable for a gay man as a date. She hired a gay secretary and made sure he was given opportunities at work. She had a gay couple as neighbors and ward members. And her last boss was a formerly LDS gay man who she introduced to the bishopric so he would know who to call if he needed help, since he was living alone far from home and had both spiritual and health issues. Your telling her she should actually get to know some gay people was out of line.
    She feels differently about this issue than you do and you do not have the right to verbally attack her for disagreeing with you. I know these are emotional issues, but we can still discuss them better than this. If you actually wish to persuade, you will need to.
    Perhaps a post on where do we go from here to make our LGBTQ friends and neighbors feel our concern would be a place to start.
    Of course, that presupposes goodwill on both sides, something I did not find at work the day after gay marriage became legal and my lesbian boss announced that now they were going to force the Mormons to recognize gay marriages.

  57. Renae, there are many reasons to be frustrated and angry about this issue. You and I have identified a few of them in this discussion. But until things are better for the young people in our church, I will continue to challenge the prevailing narrative.

  58. To those mocking the suggestion of reparations made in the OP, consider the fact that such a suggestion isn’t actually asking that much financially of the church. Between the November 2015 policy and the present, there have been approximately 2,400 suicides in just the state of Utah. Of course, a smaller number have been of teens and an even smaller number have been of LGBTQ+ LDS teens. So even if we were talking about 1,000 people in that period (and the number is probably quite a bit less), and the appropriate reparation amount were say, $50,000, that’s only $500,000 that the church would be paying in reparations. This is a drop in the bucket considering the fact that the church is valued at about $40 billion and in 2018 donated $150,000 to suicide prevention in Utah and an additional $25,000 to Affirmation for suicide prevention (so in a sense the LDS church does feel a sense of financial obligation to prevent suicides of LGBTQ+ LDS teens).

    I also find the extrapolations about how talk of reparations in the context of the LDS church stems from reparations ideas flung around in liberal circles and the Democratic Party and are a representation of extremeness and reasons to vote for Trump in 2020, when Romney in 2012 and Trump have proposed astronomical multi-trillion dollar increases in defense spending (even beyond what the Pentagon has asked) and given the fact that the Republicans passed a tax bill that will increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Trump’s proposed tax plan in 2016, while campaigning, would have cost the US government $5.9 trillion in revenue over a decade. And this is an actually proposed plan by a presidential candidate.

    OK, I guess you’re right that the Democrats are the extremists in voicing mostly non-support for an idea for slavery reparations which no current Democratic presidential has actually put together an actual proposal to try to pass while president. I mean, all those tax-payer dollars are much, much better spent padding the pockets of billionaires (we all know it will trickle down one day) and building an already overbuilt military (just shout Iran! or Muslims! on a crowded battleship or on the floors of Congress and…enough said). Thank God we have our dear leader Trump to help alert us to Obama possibly not being born in the US and to praise those “very fine people” marching in Charlottesville chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” in protest of taking down a statue of the non-traitor true American hero and patriot Robert E. Lee.

  59. As a local leader the day after the exclusion policy was made public I met w my stake president and told him about my disagreement. I didn’t ask to be released but left it up to him, and he conferred w SLC and ultimately decided to keep me. I have close friends who immediately left the church and I had ward members who accused me of apostasy.

    I have wondered many times since then about my Abrahamic test and whether I passed, failed, or squeaked by with a C-. But I agree that the damage has been done to this generation’s perception of prophetic infallibility; it sure has for me.

  60. The word “reparations” is not limited to payment of money, despite Oxford Dictionaries. Check at least Merriam-Webster. There can be other ways of making amends — or attempting to do so. (Christian’s post acknowledged that “reparations, restoration, apologies, corrections, and ongoing improvements … may seem impossible.) Some of the comments here have seemed to me to be more interested in quibbling about a word choice than thinking about whether there is some way to make amends for the damage done between November 2015 and April 2019, e.g. to families who had baptisms, ordinations, or mission calls de-railed at the last minute in November 2015, or to “this generation’s perception of [trust in?] prophetic” reliability in declarations of “revelation,” or to those married same-gender couples with children who were happily and actively participating in their wards prior to November 2015, or to the wards who lost those peoples’ support and participation. I don’t know what’s possible in any making of amends, but it would seem that pretty much nothing is if it is not considered. I wonder what consideration has been given to it.

    After all, it is pretty clear from the “clarification” letter alone, that either (a) the drafter of the original November 2015 policy did not give careful consideration to its language as to affected children, or (b) the first presidency quickly changed the policy, after public outcry, by limiting that part of the policy to children whose primary residence is with a parent in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. It remains to be seen what change (or correction) is made to the language of Handbook 1 on the subject.

    I’m not able to imagine any reliably effective way of making amends to those negatively affected by the 2015 policy. The best I have imagined would be an apology for human drafting errors, for the clumsy “roll out” of the policy in 2015 and its unexpected effect on already planned ordinances and missions, for reliance on the “as used here” language to differentiate Mormon-speak policy on “apostasy” from English language “apostasy,” and/or for any misperception of or mis-speaking about revelation with respect to the 2015 policy — followed by local efforts to reach out to those negatively affected, to whatever extent they may be willing to accept such reaching out. Perhaps others have better imaginations than I do.

    Maybe I have misperceived the intent of some commenters I’ve seen as quibblers; that would not be an entirely new thing on my part. But, in any event, I prefer to read the post’s laundry list of possibly impossible actions with respect to the policy changes in light of this modifying part of the post’s conclusion: “Let us seek apologies and remorse and repentance for harms done.”

  61. Diane,
    Thank you for the apology. You didn’t mean to be patronizing; I didn’t mean to imply that a priesthood holder in the home is a dictator.

    I believe we’re not that far apart. Despite decades of attending Church (I am old enough to remember Pres Kimball), I had not heard that quote before. However, your statement: “And yes, I am trying to say the priesthood authority a man has in his home is strictly limited by his wife’s deciding if what he says is following what God wants, that she was to make that judgement.” I agree with this. My point was that a priesthood holder does have the responsibility to preside in his home; family patriarch is somehow or another connected to the priesthood.

    lastlemming: “Responsibility, yes. Authority, no.” I agree.

    This has been kind of a threadjack, so I’ll bow out now.

  62. lastlemming says:

    I know it’s time to wind this up, but I can’t let John W’s math stand unchallenged.$50,000 in reparations to 1,000 victims comes to $50,000,000, not $500,000. Many, many drops in the bucket.

  63. [Way late and yes, time to wind up]
    JR, thank you for defending my use of “reparations.” I do use the word in the older sense of “repair” for which cash is a last resort, not first to mind. It might have been better to recognize the modern usage and political connotations. On the other hand, I am aware that many readers don’t see a problem to fix in the first place (I have heard Obergefell referred to as a “victory for Satan” in some corners). This piece was not purposed to persuade or change minds on that score. That would be a very different work. I all along expected that “correcting past mistakes” or “clear mistake” would be as far as some people would get before setting this aside.

  64. Eric Facer says:

    “I all along expected that ‘correcting past mistakes or ‘clear mistake would be as far as some people would get before setting this aside.”

    It would be nice of those who made the mistake would acknowledge their error and apologize, but, as you intimate, the odds of that happening are on par with me winning the lottery.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Christian.

  65. Christian, thanks for clarifying reparations.

    And oh oops. Yes I meant $50,000,000. Late night when I wrote the comment. Even then, it is a relatively small amount compared to what the church is raking in. If the church paid it over time on a monthly basis it would be less of an expense even at the same amount. And according to leaked Kirton-McConkie documents, the church has doled out as much $400,000 in reparations for a rape victim who was raped as a15-year-old by a Sunday school teacher.

    I am not saying that monetary reparations have to happen, but if the church choose to do so, it is perfectly feasible and is not an entirely absurd proposition.

  66. Love this. As a Bishop i audibly cheered when I first heard the policy would be rescinded.

  67. I got the original policy letter a few hours before it hit the rest of the world. It was very troubling and I spent the whole day disturbed by it. At the time I was listening to Doctrine & Covenants during my commutes. The day after the policy letter I listened to Section 74. This was an answer to my troubled spirit. I listened to it several times, then read it when I arrived at work. Since then I have used it every time I have had to talk to somebody also troubled by it. Verse 5 is the key. The apostle gave a commandment, not of the Lord, but of himself.

    This gave me a precedence to argue church policies are temporary and intended to solve a unique problem being faced, but may not actually be from the Lord. Later when it was announced as Revelation I was troubled again, but had no good answer to bind me up.

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