On November 13, the LDS church released a clarification to the infamous new policy that restricts ordinances and participation of children of gay parents. Par for the course, the LDS church decided to redefine a word to appear to be doing one thing while doing another. This wasn’t a clarification (the action of making a statement or situation less confused and more comprehensible). This was a reduction in scope. It was a modification to those who the policy targets.
I took the liberty of modifying the original policy text to account for the “clarification”.
Policies on Ordinances for Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship
The following additions to Handbook 1 have been approved by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for immediate implementation.
- A new section in Handbook 1, 16.13 will be added as follows:
Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship
A natural or adopted child of whose primary residence is with a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.
A natural or adopted child of whose primary residence is with a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows:
A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of whose primary residence is with a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:
- The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.
- The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.
When a child living with such a same-gender couple has already been baptized and is actively participating in the Church, [these] provisions do not require that his or her membership activities or priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld. Decisions about any future ordinances for such children should be made by local leaders with their prime consideration being the preparation and best interests of the child.
As you can see, all they really changed was which children this policy applies to (those whose primary residence is with a parent living in a same-gender relationship), and allowing the possibility of these children to continue to receive ordinances and ordinations if they have already been baptized.
Contrary to the claim that this is a clarification, this really just adds more confusion. For example, what does “whose primary residence is with a parent who is living in a same-gender relationship” actually mean in cases where parents have joint custody? What criteria are local leaders to use when considering the preparation and best interests of the child? The church still left unanswered what “disavows” really means. Can it just be they say they won’t live in a same-gender relationship, or do they have to say their parent’s relationship is an abomination? Do they have to say that to their parents, or just the church leader?
Truth be told, the policy change is still atrocious, unfairly targets a group of children, and will strain familial relationships. The only thing the LDS church clarified is that the LGBT community is really not welcome.