Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nine Facebook Truths About the Church's New LGBT Policy

This is written in direct response to, which I'll quote and refute.

I wish what these people could understand is that we, who are arguing against this policy, are ironically trying to help the LDS Church.  I don't want people to be baptized in it.  The LDS Church will never be the same with this policy and has no chance of ever recovering if it keeps it.

But I see this policy as hurting people and families, as it already has, and hurting others long in the future.  We don't want that to happen. 

I'd like to apologize for being more snarky than normal.

Truth #1 These Changes Punish Children

"The most pervasive myth you’ll hear about these changes is that they punish children. All people can receive all the ordinances of salvation and exaltation."

If all people can receive all the ordinances of salvation, children under 18 of gay parents are not people because they cannot receive any ordinances of salvation.

"And all children can attend all church activities and events. There is no degree of punishment that exists in these new changes."

It makes second class citizens of children of gay parents.  They cannot take the sacrament and would automatically become social pariahs.  If they wanted to attend church, the church has now made it infinitely harder for them to wanted to.

"Children must simply wait until they can legally make their own decision to join the Church, rather than relying on their parent’s approval. While a parent in a same-sex relationship could theoretically approve of their child’s baptism, questioning their motivation to do so would be prudent since they have so prominently rejected the teachings of the Church."

What's different between non-members allowing their children to be baptized?  Shouldn't their motivations be questioned too?  They've statistically rejected the teachings of the Church.  Shouldn't Mormon parents have their motivation questioned too?  Maybe they are just doing it so that they look good to other members.

Are all motivations of LGBT parents bad?  If it's a concern, then why not allow questioning of their motivation, and go from there, instead of assuming all motivations are bad.  Many parents allow their children to choose for themselves.  Many LGBT parents who were previously married to a still Mormon spouse would allow their children to attend church.  Plenty of LGBT people still believe in the church, and feel guilty enough over that!

"These changes could also help protect children. While some same-sex couples adopt, many children of same-sex couples come from divorce. In these situations, custody battles can be fierce. In most places in the United States, if one parent tries to destroy the relationship of their child with the other parent it is considered “custodial interference” which is grounds to change the custodial agreement."

This church policy can become custodial interference, because children have to "move out of their gay parents household".  This means that the gay parent may not be able to have joint-custody rights with the Mormon parent, without upsetting the religious backdrop that child may have grown up in.  This could punish children who grew up in the church, but can no longer continue with their ordinances because their parents divorced.

"Because the Church continues to affirm that heterosexual marriage is the ideal, there could potentially be judges in the United States—perhaps, even, very many judges—who would categorize a child joining a church that rejects their parent’s new relationship as custodial interference. This could take that child away from the parent who belongs to the Church or rearrange their custodial arrangements significantly in ways that would harm the child."

It's unclear which relationships this is talking about.  No judge would remove a child from their parents home in any kind of marriage.  Not without a lot of lawsuits, backlash, and general upset. 
"All children, of course, continue to be welcome at all church activities, including primary, and Sacrament meeting. And in following the example of the Savior, all children are entitled to blessings of comfort and healing."

Welcome is a relative term.  When policies are created that exclude a certain class of people, those policies will become justifications for exclusion and mistreatment. 

Truth #2 Treats LGBT People Worse Than Other Sinners

"There are others who insist that these new changes set sins of homosexuality as more serious than other sins. Again this is not true. Adultery and fornication are both grounds for excommunication. Up until the legalization of same-sex marriage, those who participated in same-sex relationships could receive church discipline under either of these other grounds."

Adultery and fornication are not automatic grounds for excommunication.  Same-sex relationships do not require a church disciplinary council for the same.

"Some have also suggested that requiring the children of LGBT couples to wait until they are adults to be baptized treats those parents worse than parents who are engaging in other types of sins. But this policy is the same that exists for children of polygamous couples, or children of parents opposed to the Church."

Why even have this standard at all?

If the argument is safety, then it assumes that LGBT parents are going to harm their children if their children convert.

If the argument is being able to keep their covenants, then why allow children of non-Mormons to be baptized before 18?  For that matter, why allow children of Mormon parents under disciplinary action to be baptized?

"So this policy does not carve out special punishments for LGBT parents, but rather extends existing policies to cover their newly legal marriages."

This policy extends far beyond those in legal marriages, and seems to extend to those where only one parent is gay.

Truth #3 Violates the Church’s 2nd Article of Faith

"This myth is a common one shared by sofa philosophers critical of the Church’s new decision. The second article of faith reads, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.”"

Us sofa philosophers know that the second Article of Faith is wrong.  Obviously black people have been punished for nearly 6000 years for Cain's transgressions, because they couldn't get the blessings of the gospel extended to them in this life.

"This myth relies on the first myth that the Church is somehow punishing children of gay Mormons. 
But it also fundamentally misunderstands the second article of faith. Most other Christian denominations believe that all people are born inherently evil and fallen because of Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit. Latter-day Saints reject this doctrine and believe people are only responsible before God for the sins they themselves commit."

This quote seems to misunderstand LDS doctrine, as in the church we are born fallen, but because of Christ we all have the chance of redemption, upon condition of accepting the church.
"The new policy does not change this doctrine in any way."

How long until this policy will be used to justify those children born into gay marriages as being lesser, because they were less valiant in the preexistence? 

"This policy protects children in specific family situations from a variety of repercussions by requiring they wait until they are an adult before joining the Church."

These repercussions of a gay's child are mostly imaginary.  Do you really think that any of that will happen?  Oh, they aren't imaginary you say.  Well then, what about the repercussions we're suggesting, that this policy will be used to justify bigotry and intolerance?  That's the much worse repercussion.

Truth #4 Requires Children to Reject Parents

"Some opponents of the Church continue to spout this claim even though it is patently false. In order for children of gay Mormon couples to be baptized, they must simply affirm the Church’s teachings about sexuality and marriage. To quote the new handbook change, “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.” They do not need to say anything about their parents."

Well, except for the fact that they have to move out of their parents home and completely disavow their lifestyle.  You left that part out -- THEY HAVE TO MOVE OUT OF THEIR PARENTS HOME TO BE BAPTIZED.  Why wouldn't they be able to live with their parents?  That's incredibly extreme.  Not even when their parents retire, are sick, or generally need help?

It may not be "disavowing" per se, but it has a similar extreme effect.  

"This is the same standard expected of every convert who has a parent that still smokes when to be baptized they must specifically agree to the word of wisdom. Children in this situation must simply recognize the Church’s teachings on sin."

Except you can be baptized as a child when your parents smoke.

"There are those who believe that identifying a behavior as sinful is equivalent to rejecting the people who engage in that behavior."

That's not the argument any of us are making.  Everyone lives in a home where someone disagrees with others on some level.  Normal people don't force others to move from their homes just because they disagree.

"But those people fundamentally misunderstand Latter-day Saint doctrine about the atonement and identity. Those who perpetuate this myth are often those who believe sexuality is the primary factor in personal identity."

No, we're against you using this as justification to treat people improperly and create a secondary class of citizens, of children who have done nothing wrong!

Truth #5 Places Newborn Children in State of Apostasy

"The LDS Church has a very long-standing policy of not allowing children to be baptized without both parents permission. This policy existed, presumably, to prevent families from being destroyed by contention over the issue. The Church in its focus on family would rather children grow up in a stable home environment than be baptized under any circumstances."

Then why the change? Why not allow the same thing for the children of LGBT people?  They can give their consideration just the same.

If you were really focused on the family, you'd realize that every family was different and stop trying to put everyone into the same box.  You'd allow people to make choices for themselves, instead of trying to force a decision on them.

"This policy is a way of putting the stability of these children’s families first. A goal that presumably most detractors of this policy would laud."

This is not about stability.  Stability occurs when we can adjust to changing circumstances, such as having one parent divorced, and being able to decide to allow your child to be baptized in a church.  This takes away stability because it takes away options for children to continue in the church.  You don't have to force an issue to provide stability -- isn't that what council from Bishops are for?

"Children from same-sex unions are asked to wait until adulthood to join the Church. This is far different than categorizing those children as sinners or apostates. If somehow children from same-sex families were apostate or inferior the Church would not be so welcoming to them as soon as they become adults."

But it is different than the categorization of those children from the children of sinners and apostates.

What we're asking for is equality - why are sinners and apostates children able to be baptized, but not those of gay believing members?

Also, we have yet to see this effect play out.  You cannot claim that the church will be welcoming when they become adults.

Truth #6 Church is Depriving Itself of LGBT Members

"This myth comes from those who essentially do not believe in sin. They believe that our behavior should be dictated by our innermost self and not by God. To these individuals, rejecting a behavior is the same as rejecting an individual. This twisted sense of reality leads to this myth."

"God has always had behavioral standards including those for sexual conduct. God’s church would consequently support those standards. Saying that the Church is depriving itself of LGBT members is as foolhardy as saying the Church is depriving itself of cohabitating members, polygamous members, or alcoholic members. Individuals can deprive themselves of the blessings of the Church by refusing to follow the commandments, not the other way around."

Waaaiiiitt.... SO THIS ISN'T A MYTH?  Did I read that correctly?  This a myth because it's completely true?

Please, follow your own advice and "take the steps necessary to fix the damage from this error".

Truth #7 This Hurts Me Personally

"This comment is most pervasive because it is the most difficult to unravel. This rhetorical approach has become crucial in the campaign to normalize and then legalize same-sex marriage, because we are not accustomed to telling other people their feelings don’t matter."

"As a result this myth has become a bludgeon to silence those who believe in right and wrong.
If someone talks about how this hurts them, they may sincerely think that, but it is also political theater, a learned response from mimicking the rhetorical style of those who’ve had so much political success on this issue."

"Now let’s be clear, many people are feeling pain because of this decision, especially those whom the policy directly affects or who have family members this affects. The myth is that our personal emotional response should change Church policy."

Can people feel the Holy Ghost that tells them this policy is wrong?

The justification for the church is almost always that feelings do matter.  It's hypocritical to say that they don't now.  (Before you call me a hypocrite, let me say that even feelings about the Church do matter.  Whether those feelings are indicators of actual, unmutable truths of the universe is an entirely different question.)

People are feeling pain.  If they are in pain, why should the Church try to not reassess its policy?  It feels wrong and creates pain because it creates injustice only towards a certain class of people (innocent children), without regard to all the other classes of people that should have been considered.  It creates pain because it is short-sighted.

If the Church was creating harm and it created an emotional response, then why shouldn't those emotions help influence Church policy?  Emotions are vital and are every part of being human.  Hunger, fear, and needs are all emotions.  You cannot discount emotions as being a vital part of the equation to influence Church policy.  Only heartless leaders could possibly ignore the emotions of their members and not weigh that into policy decisions.

"Sharing feelings on this issue as though they affect the rightness or wrongness of the policy is a logical fallacy. This comes under the category of argumentum ad passiones. While you may feel whatever you want about this policy change, your feelings do not affect whether or not this change was correct. When people talk about their pain as a way of ending a conversation it is little more than emotional manipulation."

If your feelings do not affect whether this change was correct, why was the change even made?  You've justified this policy justified under "argumentum ad passiones" because you have said that it is done to prevent pain, but then pain can't be used to remove the policy?

Assuming that the one and only truth comes from a set of mortal, fallible men is a logical fallacy.

Truth #8 The Church Lost and Should Move On

"This myth comes from those who are still focussed on the recent Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges. They argue that gay marriage is now legal, so the Church should stop fighting it. This myth doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The Supreme Court decision does not dictate how churches should behave."

Are you insinuating that this whole policy change is so that the Church can fight the Supreme Court decision?  Whoa.

"This myth also relies on the idea that the Church should base its decisions on popular trends.  If anything, this action is a response to protect the Church from the recent Supreme Court ruling. By categorizing same-sex relationships as apostasy, the Church puts itself in a strong legal position should a same-sex couple sue in order to be married by a bishop or in the temple."

If this was to prevent lawsuits, why allow the Church to now be sued if it doesn't allow a child to be baptized to keep peace in the home?  It feels like they've opened the door to a whole new set of lawsuits and decisions.

Truth #9 These Changes are Eternal Doctrine

"Some who have tried to defend the Church have fallen to a different myth. They try to look at these changes as part of the eternal doctrine of the family that will never change.
"These changes are to policy, not doctrine. Policy changes in the Church on a regular basis to best protect the Church and respond to ongoing revelation. This policy may be long-lasting or it may be short-term. These changes are only to be administered by church leadership, so direction on these matters can change and often do.
"Eternal families are essential Latter-day Saint doctrine, and same-sex couples frustrate that plan in a way that few other things can, but how baptism policy responds to that reality is not so nearly set in stone."

None of these addressed that there are now changes to eternal doctrine - namely that those children are now baptized at 18 instead of 8. That "policy" was based on scripture.

Also, did you just say, "These changes are only to be administered by church leadership, so direction on these matters can change and often do"?  That's why we're arguing about this.  Because of your point, right thereWe believe there is injustice, some of it short term and some of it long term.

What you may not understand is that we really are trying to help you.

We're screaming at you, pleading with you, laying our best arguments before you, because we think this is going to hurt you and others in both the short-term and in the long-run.  It isn't us that we're worried about.  Nor is it the children of gay people who aren't members.  It's rare that the non-members are arguing for your church to keep members, and your members are justifying removing members.  It's for your own members.  It's so that you don't categorically start mistreating people because of a this foundation and justification to do that.  That policy will hurt us all - not just you, your church, or us.  We're pleading with you to listen.  Please listen.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Is it love?


These adorable kids are not allowed to be baptized in the LDS church if their parents are gay.

It's because the LDS church has confirmed that you cannot be a member of its church if your parents are gay.  At least, not easily.  You have to move out of their house and disavow them.

This policy is hypocritical because the same policy doesn't apply to *children* of parents who aren't married, parents who don't pay tithing, parents in jail, parents who aren't Mormon. How are they any different?

I cannot fathom any way this could possibly be seen as loving.

It will be used to justify families breaking apart. It directly states that you should disavow parents who are gay (and implies any family members). That's not love.
It institutionalizes treating others differently, not because of their beliefs but because of people they associate with - both of which I think are wrong.

What's the next step? Will you have to stop being my friend because I disagree with this policy? Should you remove your parents, siblings, or children from your home because they think differently?

You are always welcome into my home, whoever you are, whatever you think. Why shouldn't any "loving policy" have similar humanity, empathy, and compassion?

The common arguments in defense of the church are --

1) "The church does the same for children of polygamous parents."

There are legitimate safety issues here, since many polygamous communities in/around Utah have super-authoritarian communities that the kids can easily be exiled from or worse. This is similar to the church and Muslim parents, where there again are safety concerns.

But with gay parents? Are there safety concerns? Is it really equivalent?

Why can you be baptized with polygamist and muslim parents after 18, but not gay parents?

2) “This stops kids and parents from being divided.”

If you really wanted to keep parents and kids together, then why not allow those of parents with mixed marriages to have their children baptized? (Has the rule been clarified for them? eg. one parent in church, other parent out and gay) There's bound to be divorced parents (one of which is gay) that allow their children to go to church, be baptized, etc for the sake of keeping the peace with the ex spouse.

3) "This is to prevent kids from experiencing conflict between what their parents teach them and what the church teaches.”

Does this hold up for baby blessings?

Many parents allow their children to be baptized into religions that they may themselves not believe in. If this was truly an argument, maybe they should ban children of gay parents completely from attending the church?

4) “This enables children to make the decision at a time when they can better understand things.”

Eight year olds make eternal promises -- maybe that should stop too until they are eighteen?