Monday, November 9, 2015

The Recent LDS Policy Change Regarding Members in Same-Sex Marriages, and Their Children

Okay. It's time. I've had all weekend to think about this, and I have concluded that in order to try to live a life of integrity, I need to say something about an issue that weighs heavily on my heart.
Many of you are aware that last Thursday word got out that there had been a change to the leadership protocol ("Handbook, Part 1") that is used to guide local and regional leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--that is, my church. There are two major aspects to this change:
  • Church members in same-sex marriages are now defined as being in a state of apostasy (which usually results in excommunication).
  • The child of a parent or parents in a same-sex marriage may not be blessed in church as an infant; nor may this child be baptized, receive the priesthood, or apply to serve as a missionary, until the child reaches the age of 18, lives apart from said parent(s), and disavows the notion of same-sex marriage.
The policy change has been defended on the grounds that it protects the children of parents in same-sex marriages from being in the untenable position of Church members under the parental authority of parents who have been defined as apostates.
Frankly, I could not possibly care less about the official justifications.
I have read a great deal over the last few days of the pain that this policy change is causing in the lives of Latter-day Saints, pain that serves no godly purpose. That is what matters to me. In being confronted with all this pain, I have had come to mind repeatedly the principle of the English common law: "Silence is assent." I will not assent to this--so I will not be silent.
In pondering these issues, I have come to understand that the Church's policy on homosexuality and same-sex marriage is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of its own scriptures. The same thing happened with the policy of restricting the priesthood from people of African lineage, a policy that remained in effect until 1978--when (1) the leadership finally understood that they had misconstrued the LDS scriptures on this matter for well over a century, and (2) the president of the Church asked for revelation concerning the matter.
Consequently, yesterday I started writing a book on this matter. I hope to have it finished by the end of the month, or certainly by the end of the year. It is one of my two major projects during this period (the other being earning a living).
In this book, I plan to to make the following things clear:
  1. There is nothing in the New Testament Gospels, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Pearl of Great Price (that is, the major part of LDS scripture) that condemns homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Jesus simply did not state anything about this, in ancient or modern times.
  2. The condemnation of homosexuality in the Hebrew Bible is, for Mormons, all under the umbrella of the Mosaic Law, which the LDS consider to have been fulfilled in Christ, and which the LDS do not consider binding today.
  3. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul condemned some aspects of homosexuality. It should be noted that Paul wrote several things that reflected the customs of his time--like saying that women should not speak in church. If homosexuality were really an issue for the Lord, the LDS would expect to hear it in terms of direct, explicit divine revelation received by the likes of several prophets recognized by the LDS, such as Enoch, Peter, Nephi, or Joseph Smith--none of whom had anything to say directly about this topic.
  4. The LDS people need a "thus saith the Lord"-type of revelation on this subject. We need the president of the Church to ask for explicit, in-the-Lord's-voice guidance on this matter. We need the leadership to understand that, when that revelation comes, it may well reverse a half-century and more of LDS policy on this matter, including prior statements of the First Presidency (as happened with the priesthood revelation of 1978).
This is what is in my heart now. I realize that my position on these issues may cost me the friendship of some of you who read this. That will sadden me. But I cannot be quiet about something that causes so much pain to so many people--half a million to a million Latter-day Saints, and now their children, as well.
Should any of you feel moved to do so, I would appreciate your prayers.
- - - - - - -
Readers are welcome to comment on this post, below.
I invite you to become a “follower” of this blog through the box in the upper-right-hand corner of this page, to be informed of future posts.
I discuss the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ in my book, The Rise of the Mormons, and discuss another important issue in my book, Latter-day Saint Women and the Priesthood of God (both available here.)
Visit the page of “That Mormon Guy Mark” on Facebook.
Visit Mark Koltko-Rivera’s website.
Mark Koltko-Rivera’s LDS bio.
Copyright 2015 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.


  1. So, your problem isn't with the policy, it is with the "Proclamation to the Family" and the churches doctrine all together.

    1. One of my problems is most definitely with the policy. However, behind that problem is another, more serious one: what is being bandied about as "doctrine" is not based on the scriptures or current revelation.

      The "Proclamation on the Family" was composed by committee; it was most certainly not dictated by revelation.

  2. I look forward to hearing more Mark...


Remember the rules, please: no profanity, and no personal attacks, especially on those who have made Comments.