I read it right before I went to sleep last night–which wasn’t a good thing.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not baptize a child under 18 who is the child of a same-sex couple either married or co-habitating. Once the child turns 18 and is no longer living in that household, he or she can seek approval then.
That meant I couldn’t sleep for at least an hour because I wasn’t in a very good mood. My first response?
How dare they.
And then the morning came–and I had a memory that struck me out of nowhere.
I started learning about the church when I was 18 and I still lived at home. I was still several months away from college, my parents were active in the Pentecostal church, and I was raised so anti-Mormon that we hid in closets when those black-tagged visitors would knock on our door. Needless to say, it was scary when the day came to tell my father that I wanted to be Mormon.
Although my mom was more accepting of the idea, my dad was a tough nut to crack. He wasn’t happy with me going to church or reading the Book of Mormon and we fought like cats and dogs. The missionaries refused to come over to teach lessons when they weren’t welcome–they even sadly told me I couldn’t be baptized quite yet–because they “aren’t in the business of pitting me against my parents”. Now, they didn’t push me away, mind you. That’s important to note. Every time I showed up at church they made sure to do whatever it took to answer my questions and give me whatever literature I requested. Each sunday they’d even meekly ask, “Is your father ok with us coming over this week, perhaps?”
Although I itched to be baptized–it was respect. I see it now that within a church that strives to make families eternal, the last thing they’d want to do is baptize a young girl still living at home with parents who could potentially kick her out, disown her, or be driven even further from the gospel. My parents weren’t like that of course, but it was the missionaries’ jobs to do things the right way. Some time later on, after my parents agreed to have them over for dinner, and after we were all eventually baptized and even went through the temple together, one of my missionaries said to me, “I always had the faith that YOUR faith would make it all alright.”
And I repeat that memory in my head now with the controversy being stirred up by those within, and outside of, our great church of Christ. Just like me, the church is striving to protect these beautiful children who live within a home that is contrary to God’s will. Does that make the LGBT bad people? Of course not! There are Gay and Lesbian parents who are loving and wonderful and raise such good kids. Our church has gone the extra mile to make sure that they know that. They are loved and valued beyond comprehension! But the fact remains that the child’s home and church would be very different from one another. The things the children would be learning–the covenants the child would be taking on–would mean that their very living condition is out of alignment with the gospel. We can all agree on that. The child would eventually have to choose between the parents’ or the church’s doctrine. And that doesn’t support the gospel OR families.
Sooner or later the teachings might pit the child against his or her own parents. There might be fights. A lack of trust. Or maybe the child, defensive of his or her parents, would grow bitter against the church and leave or retaliate, which would be much worse than never having been baptized in the first place. There are a barrage of things that could lead to a slippery, dark slope.
We aren’t in the business of baptizing members just to leave them gasping and flailing for air. Baptism is sacred–very, very serious. Those who are baptized and eventually go through the temple make promises and covenants that last eternity. Now, seven years later, and looking back upon my journey to where I am, I understand why my missionaries did it they way they did. Because of how they did it, my family was united. There was love. My dad died a priesthood holder with a temple recommend at his bedside. My decision to go to BYU-Idaho was a happy one. There was peace and understanding with my decision.
If someone, younger than 18 and still living at home, takes that all on without support–there will be horrible repercussions. And that doesn’t just go for the LGBT community. There are a hundred other circumstances. My husband, who served in Africa, said that same policy was practiced among the children there who had Muslim parents. Because of the threat to the children’s safety (because of religious law) and the lack of support, it was simply off limits to baptize a child without parental consent.
I’m not a spokesperson for the church. In fact, I keep deleting and re-writing lines of this blog because I don’t have an agenda and I don’t want to sound like I do. I don’t know everything. Sometimes things hurt me, like they do you, and sometimes my perspective is so narrow that I have to get on my knees to ask for His perspective instead.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me,” I kept saying in my head last night. And I realize now that the church, which is founded upon Christ, never said they should not. We believe that Christ loves all children, from conception to last breath. And we believe that regardless of skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, intelligence, or religion he loves so unconditionally and wholly that there will be a day when everyone will have a chance to say “Yes” to him and commit to him, whether it’s in this life or the next.
This policy is not to keep the children away. It is to make sure they have a sure chance of not only coming, but staying.
I don’t know everything, and sometimes I wish I did. Because it takes a while for me to swallow doctrine at times. I’m the type of person who gets angry first about things and then thinks later. I know it should be reversed, but I’m only human. As a convert to the church, sometimes I sway to the liberal side of things, and the only way to rein me in is to show me why certain policies are there for the exact reason I’m passionate about. To protect. To defend. To lead in righteousness. When I open my eyes and broaden my look at things I more easily see that the very things that seem harsh or hard to take are the very things that protect the family, protect eternal principles, and protect the Lord’s flock.
So many covenants we make as LDS members, we realize the grave nature of them. We’ve all heard the expression, “To reject the Lord after knowing the full truth, it would be better if you weren’t even born.”
So why would we play with the fire?
Christ leads and guides this church and inspiration and revelation in our day is to make sure our standards stay high, even when the world’s becomes low.
I’m humbled that during the times when I’m doubtful or unsure, He fills in the blanks. He reminds me to pray. To trust and have faith that His love and His perspective is so much greater than my own.
I at least know that much.
And for now, that is enough.
UPDATE: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to policy change in this powerful video: