Friday, November 6, 2015

"Suffer the Little Children..."

At the behest of several friends who are seriously struggling with the leaked new instructions from the Church's Handbook of Instructions (A policy guide for local leaders), I'm going to venture a response to the announcement and its implications. 

First, by way of open disclosure, you should know, Dear Reader, that this blog entry is an attempt to deal with a difficult, complex, and largely misunderstood issue intelligently, fairly, and reasonably... so if you are looking for fiery emotional vitriol, you will be sorely disappointed.  And if you LEAVE fiery emotional vitriol in the comments, you will be sorely deleted.

Some have suggested with varying degrees of hysterics, histrionics, hand-wringing and not a small amount of weeping and wailing that the Big, Bad Church is now not only hateful and homophobic, and but is Satanically Cruel in denying salvation to little children of gay couples.

Here's a news flash. 

The Big, Bad Church has ALWAYS  decried homosexuality as a serious moral sin.  Always.  That's never changed.  The only thing in that area that HAS changed is that a) the Church has made their love and concern for those affected by Same Sex Attraction much more clear and noticeable, and b) their alarm over the increasing acceptance of this practice in our society... something which would have been unheard of even 30-40 years ago.

"But condemning innocent children and babies?  Seriously?  How cruel and heartless!   Those little children didn't do anything wrong!"

This is where the proverbial wheels fall off the critics of the Church who are attempting to turn this issue into a rallying cry for wholesale apostasy.  This announcement has nothing whatsoever to do with "punishing" children of same-sex parents.  In fact, it's exactly the opposite.

The reality is that baby blessings are not salvific in nature.  In other words, a baby blessing has nothing whatsoever to do with babies being saved or not.  It is an opportunity for the father of that child to give it a father's blessing, and to announce the baby's name as it will appear on the records of the Church as a "child of record."  Being a "Child of Record" is not the same as being a member of the Church.  That only occurs when the child is baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... just like everyone else.

The prophet Moroni made it very clear in the Book of Mormon that babies are saved in the Kingdom of God, as they are innocent.  That hasn't changed.  They are still pure, precious, and entitled to Celestial glory should they die before the age of accountability.  Nothing in this announcement changes that.

So what changed?  Children of same-sex couples (who, by the Lord's standard, are living in serious moral sin and if married, apostasy) cannot receive this blessing, and when eligible, have higher standards to meet for baptism because of the circumstances of their home environment... just like a child of polygamist parents, which the Church also considers to be serious moral sin, and apostasy.  

The concern is that the influence of parents living in serious moral sin may have created beliefs and attitudes in the child that are contrary to the Lord's standards of righteousness.  This is the situation with children of polygamist families as well.  Since gay marriage has now become the law of the land, it is no surprise that this policy has been extended to them as well.

For those who question why innocent children "should be held to a higher standard" regarding baptism, there is extensive scriptural precedent.

Throughout history, particularly as documented in the Old Testament (see, for instance, 1 Sam 15), innocent children were actually slain "for the sins of the fathers," presumably because had they been left to grow up in the toxic and unrighteous environment they were in, they may have been worse than the parents who raised them in rebellion against God... and taking their lives as innocent children, where they were assured of salvation, was actually a blessing for them and a merciful act of a loving Heavenly Father.

While this is not the same situation in severity, of course, and no one is advocating mercy killings of children of same-sex parents, it very much is in principle... and the concern is reasonable and prudent.

Let me try to put this in a secular situation that might make more sense.

Let's say that a certain employee, who has worked for General Motors all their career, decides to go to work for Ford Motor Company.  During all of their years at General Motors, they have been taught and indoctrinated about how evil and deficient Fords are.

The hiring manager at Ford, knowing of the employee's background at General Motors, might reasonably be more cautious and probing in the hiring and interview process no matter how much they wanted the employee to join them, perhaps even referring the hiring decision to the CEO for approval, to ensure that Ford's interests are not being compromised by someone who might believe that Ford Motors is, in fact, evil and deficient.  They are not rejecting the employee from being hired... they are simply being cautious throughout the process.  Without this caution and due diligence, the employee might have caused serious damage to Ford from within, and may have poisoned the reputation and quality that Ford may have worked long and hard to create.  The employee could have caused serious damage to other employees, "poisoning the well," so to speak, regarding the other employees commitment to Ford.

This is precisely what the Church is doing with children being raised (and perhaps indoctrinated by) same-sex parents... just like those children being raised (and perhaps indoctrinated by) polygamist families.   The Church has not only a right, but a sacred obligation, to protect itself and its members.  No one is denying salvation to anyone.  Rather, the Brethren, in an action that they had to have known would cause negative emotions, had the courage to do what the Lord directed them to do to protect His Church, rather than take the "easy way out" and do nothing.