By tradition, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, children are baptized by their father at eight years of age. Sometimes they are baptized by their grandfather, an uncle or an older brother. But it is usually a family event, because families are important to members of the LDS Church, the Mormons. So important that the LDS Church teaches that families are eternal. Because the Church teaches that families are forever, the Mormons believe that couples should be married in an LDS Temple by a man who has been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, the priesthood which holds the keys to marriage for time and all eternity. Then the children born to a couple married under that covenant are sealed to their parents as an eternal family.
In LDS theology, eternal families actually predate life on earth. The Mormons believe that prior to the creation of the universe, all human beings were born in a pre-existant spirit world as unembodied children of heavenly parents. After life in the spirit world, folks await an opportunity to be born into the physical universe for the purpose of obtaining a physical body. This belief is why LDS families are often very large, to give as many children as possible from the spirit world the opportunity to be born into an LDS family on earth.
In addition to their baptism at eight years of age, most children born to LDS families are given a name and a blessing as an infant, soon after their birth. This ritual is also usually performed by their father or another male member of their family. The name and a blessing is commonly given during the regular worship service of the local LDS congregation, a ward or a branch.
However, earlier this past week on 5 NOV, KUTV in Salt Lake City announced that the LDS Church will not allow the children, biological or adopted, of same gender couples, legally married or cohabiting, to receive a name and a blessing at birth, nor baptism at eight years of age. Additionally, to receive baptism into the LDS Church, the child of a same gender couple must be of legal age (18 to 21, depending on the nation), must stop living with their same gender parents and must disavow same gender marriage to a General Authority. The final decision to allow the baptism is made by the First Presidency of the church in Salt Lake City.
In addition to the instructions regarding the children of same gender couples, the change in policy has formally added same gender marriage or cohabitation to the LDS Church’s list of sins defined as apostasy. Anyone who is considered an apostate is subject to immediate church discipline which may include excommunication. other actions considered apostasy include joining another church and advocating its teachings, or repeatedly advocating any teaching contrary to LDS doctrine.
On Friday, the LDS Church released a 10 minute Church produced video interview with a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains in the video why the LDS Church has taken this abrupt and unexpected step.
The policy has caught many folks off guard and has thrown GLBT parents into shock at the abruptness of the policy change. KUTV, interviewed a gay father living with his partner who is acting as a spokesman and an advocate for other GLBT parents. He is reporting that the policy not only applies to the children who are the sole custody of same gender parents, but appears to include the children in shared custody situations. The man has reported that he was contacted by a parent whose shared custody child was scheduled for baptism this weekend and has now been told that the baptism will not be taking place.
This new policy also drastically changes the adolescent and young adult lives of the children of same gender parents, especially young men who usually are ordained to the first office of the Aaronic Priesthood at twelve years of age. Also young adult men and women who usually go on missions for the LDS church soon after high school graduation. To be allowed to do so under the new policy will require that they also leave their same gender parent’s home, disavow same gender marriage and receive approval after an interview with a General Authority of the church.
This story was gathered from various reports at KUTV.
The images and video are copyright by Intellectual Reserve.
The main image is the LDS Temple in Manti UT, built 1887-1888