News from Affirmation

Affirmation Responds to the New Handbook of Instructions

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released an updated version of the Church Handbook of Instructions.

The new instructions add being in a “same-gender marriage” to the list of behaviors defined as “apostasy,” making a disciplinary council mandatory for anyone who is legally married to a member of the same sex.

Furthermore, it forbids the child (natural or adoptive) of a gay couple (legally married or cohabiting) from receiving a name and a blessing in the Church. A child of a gay couple cannot be baptized or confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service unless they are of legal age and do not live with their parents, and unless, in an interview with a Church leader they disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.

The leadership of Affirmation has received a flood of reactions from LGBT Mormons, and their family members and friends including grief, shock, disbelief and spiritual confusion.

Many LGBTQ members of the church have striven to keep the faith, some of them even raising their children in the Church, with a flame of testimony that reaches even for the crumbs that fall off the table.

This is a difficult event to witness, but Affirmation stands where we always have. We reaffirm the divinity and dignity of all God’s children and all families and the potential that each of them has to fully love and support one another through this world and the next. We stand in solidarity with all those children, individuals, and families being pushed away, and we mourn with those deeply harmed by this policy.

Still, we look to the future with hope. Mormons increasingly see us for who we are without condemning us for our sexual orientation. Despite the pain caused by this new policy, there’s a better way forward than lashing back. It rests on the fundamentals of the Gospel, including the First and Second Great Commandments and the Golden Rule. Forcing children to disavow the love of their parents as the price for acceptance by the Church runs contrary to everything the Church has taught us about the nature and the purpose of family.

We have endured many things in the past as a Mormon people and pray that we may endure this too, with the love of Christ, and the support of our friends and families within Affirmation, the Church, and our communities. We ever hope and pray for a day of greater acceptance, not too far distant, than that reflected by the current Church handbook.

*****

Affirmation invites anyone who feels so moved to join LGBT Mormons, their families and friends throughout the world in a day of fasting, prayer and vigil on Sunday, November 8. Join the event on Facebook, in order to find out if a vigil is being organized in your area, and how you can participate or help:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1666722256939689/

Affirmation Board of Directors

10 thoughts on “Affirmation Responds to the New Handbook of Instructions

  1. This is a milk toast, pathetic response by people living in fear and in magical thinking consistent with adolescence that their inaction, their silence and their continuing allegiance to the monster and abuser in their lives will somehow ameliorate their pain.

    Evil is being done by the Church. Affirmation exists to stand firm and proud and without shame to speaking truth to evil. To show the LGBT human struggling with faith and the pain they have suffered by being faithful members of the church.

    We are not adolescents and the leadership of Affirmation must begin to speak as adults, as activists, as representatives of the Savior that we show our pain; that we are shameless in our truth that we are worthy of life, love, and family.

  2. Apostate, dissenter, turncoat, defector, traitor. I found out today that this is what I am in the eyes of the LDS church. I was raised in this church, I have loved this church. When I left the LDS faith it was after many years and months of deliberating, praying, and believe it or not–temple attendance. After months of sincere prayer, I knew that the time had come. I left with intent, but not with an ounce of anger or bitterness or hatred. For many years after I gave up my membership, I attended church with my children—I went every other week, I sang the hymns. I went to Young Women in Excellence and New Beginnings. I helped my children write their talks for sacrament meeting. I tried to encourage and support them in their faith because I never felt it was my place to decide what they ought to believe. Today, despite my support I found out that if my children want to remain as members in good standing they have to renounce me. My youngest is 16 but if any of my children were under 8 they would not be able to be baptized if they were living with me. I have no idea how this will affect my daughter who is leaving for a mission in 6 weeks.
    The truth is, I do not believe in some of the basic tenets of the Mormon Church. I am a lesbian and I live with my partner. I do not obey the Word of Wisdom nor do I think that drinking coffee makes a person less worthy. I do not believe that Joseph Smith was prophet or that he was told by God to take other wives. I believe that the Book of Mormon has some really great lessons in it but I don’t accept it as “the most perfect” book ever written nor do I believe it was received by divine inspiration. Given these beliefs I understand that I can’t be a Mormon. I get it. It’s fair. When I wrote my letter asking that my name be removed from the records of the church I did so understanding that it was a reasonable thing to do. That said, I am not a traitor to the faith of my father. I believe in being honest, virtuous, benevolent and trustworthy. I believe in the Golden Rule and I believe in loving my fellow beings. I don’t lie, I don’t do drugs, I am not sexually promiscuous. I don’t cheat on my taxes or steal supplies from work. I drink a little wine but then again so did Jesus, Nephi and Joseph Smith so I feel like I’m in good company there. I am not perfect, but I am an honest, decent, kind person and I live the way I do because it’s what my parents taught me was right, it’s what the church taught me was right and I believe it.
    I take issue with some of the doctrines of the LDS church, but I am not its enemy. Most of my family and some of the best people I know, the best people I have ever known, are Mormon. I love them. I respect them and I respect the things they believe. My heart breaks to know that the church does not respect me. I am beyond dismayed to know that my loving, respectful, monogamous relationship with my partner is considered by the church to be in the same category as child abuse, murder and rape.*(Excerpts from the Handbook changes are below.)
    Fox 13 news reported the following,
    The LDS Church says the concern is that the expectations of church attendance, baptism, priesthood ordination and other ordinances would put the child in a very difficult position, considering the parents could not be church members. And, the teachings in the home most likely would not be consistent with LDS Church doctrine.
    This may well be true. There are some doctrines espoused by the church that I do not believe and would not teach in my home—but this has nothing to do with my sexuality. It has to do with my agency to believe what I choose to believe. The same thing could be said for devout Jews, Baptists or Muslims whose children want to become Mormon. If those parents have no objection to a child of age being baptized, a 15 year old Baptist could convert to Mormonism despite the fact that the parents could not be members, nor would they teach in their home doctrines that are entirely consistent with those of the LDS church.
    I cannot, therefor, accept the argument that the church has instituted this policy in order to protect the children and I cannot help but find their assertion that “all are welcome” to be highly disingenuous. But more than this, I am grieved that the LDS church has not actively adopted policy that leads to division and conflict in the family and which seems to punish children for the choices of their parents. It would seem to me that these new policies are not at all loving, forgiving or Christ-like, but then again, what do I know? I’m an apostate.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful response to such heart-breaking news this week. My family has long loved and supported the LGBTQ community and have had much turmoil in practicing our mormon faith, while feeling at peace with all it’s teachings. For so long, we have had the approach of “we’ll practice the things we hold to be true, and look beyond the things that are not true for us”. We’ve prayed long and hard and believed we found a sense of piece. When news comes out, like that of Thursday’s handbook change, we find our selves deeply disappointed and beyond saddened. It is hard to continue exercising our faith with the bounds of mormon doctrine. The Heavenly Father and Savior I have come to have a deeply intimate and personal relationship with, would not ask his children to practice and exercise their faith in Him this way. I continue to pray that we can all find peace and love in our communities, our faith, and our ways of life- whatever they may be.

  4. This is a beautiful statement. Thank you Affirmation for a positive and bridge building response to this difficult situation.

    Brad

  5. Does the Church have a way to respond and express your feelings to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It seems your always supposed to take it to your local leaders and your voice is never heard. Your then considered difficult, need to repent or resign etc…..I love the Savior and the Church, all the good it does, what ever happened to following the Spirit, Personal Revelation etc. Is the Church becoming like Scientology and ISIS…Should we all be stoned. I don’t have a spouse, but am I still an Apostate at heart…What happened to the Saviors teachings, Suffer the little Children…Have the leaders not watched there Videos or enjoyed the Art/Paintings. Yes, I’m depressed, despondent and wonder if all life teachings and values mean anything…What does all the wonder talks just ring hallow….President Holland, I two went on a mission at 28, after 6 years in the USMC. I came home because of SSA/SGA/Gay Issues. I then went through a Church Court , reapplied and served and honorable two year mission. I still consider it the greatest experience of my life. Coming home at thirty I have battled this all my life. Gave up love, relationships and am still a lonely, desperate 61 year old man…Has the Savior forsaken me, am I without Promise…Were to I go for peace….and all like me. The policies of the Church have destroyed so many lives, like Stuart Matis. For so long I felt I was the only one that was Gay and LDS..

  6. My heart aches for my gay brothers and sisters and the hurt they are going through, but I have just clarification about your statement. You statement says that the church “requires children to disavow the love of their parents as the price they pay for acceptance into the church.” That is not what the new guidelines say. It requires children to acknowledge that their parents same sex lifestyle is not in keeping with the church’s doctrine on marriage. Elder Christofferson clarified that in his interview available on line at the church website. There’s a vast difference. Sometimes not understanding what is really said and intended causes so much additional suffering.

  7. I am appalled that more comfort and support is not being sent forth from Affirmation, to all the Queer membership in the Mormon Church and the Millions of former and transitioning members.

    The Church on Nov. 5, launched an all out war on all TLGBQIA people. This is not a doubling down on bigotry, this is an All-In nervously viscous and decidedly Un-Christlike attack on us. It is war! The Church has called my family Apostates and INFIDELS. The Church has called my three daughters inferior scum…..UNWORTHY to partake of the Sacrament, or be baptized, or serve missions.

    Millions of us Queer people now live fully the Law of Chastity. This was the last tool of defense the Church used to stay in the Closet about it’s bigotry and hatred of us. Now we are legally married an Chastity abiding families, but the Church decided to go to war against us in an effort to Exclude us.

    What happened to the Church Motto of “FORBID None to come into me”. Jesus, and no God would look favorably on such EXCLUSION. There is not an ounce of righteousness in any of this new attack.

    How can Affirmation stand neutral in the face of such monumental unrighteousness, and Un-Christlikeness, targeted only upon TLGBQIA people? How? What is the purpose of Affirmation. We are being stunningly DISAFFIRMED.

    I ask that Affirmation, with all due respect, reconsider it’s weak response to this abhorrent viscous dissaffirmation of the entire community that Affirmation purports to protect and comfort. Please.

    Leahnora (Leah) Isaak
    Transgender Mormons and Allies
    Lifelong Mormon

  8. I wish Affirmation would start a thread for members of the Church who have troubled consciences over the the Church’s opposition to gay marriage and the hurtful new Church Handbook policies. I appreciate Affirmation’s commitment to find a “better way forward” and “endure” with the support of friends and family. However, there are many Saints searching for ways to object to the Church’s stance within a framework of continuing belief in the basic doctrines of the Restoration. We have no desire to resign our membership or to picket Temple Square; but we can’t remain passive either. I believe there’s an alternative path, one that has been endorsed by the Deseret News — it’s called “conscientious objection.” The following comes from my blog, mormongrail.com

    There’s a question – really a plea – circulating on the internet in the wake of the Church’s “clarified” policies toward gay marriage and treatment of children living within gay families: “What should I do if my conscience tells me these policies are wrong?” Many folks are considering simply leaving the Church they love, egged on by intolerant members.

    I would beg these concerned members to consider another option – the time-honored mechanism of “conscientious objection.” It’s a route I’m taking because I can’t ignore my conscience again. I can’t stand by, morally mute, while good people are discriminated against for religious reasons; while people of conscience in the Church are shunned and vilified for speaking up; and most of all, while people I love are accused of committing “grievous sins” and labeled as apostates for choosing to be married. Some wonderful young people have committed suicide out of despair.

    I don’t want their blood on my hands. I can’t stand by while this happens, like the “Good Germans” who looked the other way while their Jewish friends and neighbors were hauled off to the death camps. My conscience won’t let me. I did it 40 years ago, when I ignored conscience and cowardly stood-by while good people had the courage to object to the prohibition against black men holding the priesthood. It was a soul-searing experience that informed much of my subsequent life and activity within the Church. I’ve waited four decades for the opportunity to repent of my moral failure.

    Before going further, I need to offer a disclaimer: Elder D. Todd Christofferson said members are free to disagree with the Church as long as they don’t attempt to garner public support for their position. Let me be clear: I am in no way advocating any course of action or response. I’m just pleading for people to listen to their conscience as well as to the Brethren. And I want people to understand alternatives for constructive dissent. The zealots among us would shout “Just leave!” and “Good riddance!” (in a Christ-like manner, of course).

    The term “conscientious objection,” according to the Church-owned Deseret News, refers to a refusal to participate in military service because of moral or religious opposition to war. While the Church today has no official position on conscientious objectors, former First Presidency member J. Rueben Clark reportedly offered tacit support for young men who chose not to serve in World War II on religious grounds.

    The News said conscientious objection “is an appropriate term anytime conscience conflicts with the performance of societal mandates and duties. The society that genuinely cherishes freedom of conscience should expect and accommodate more, rather than less, conscientious objection,” the paper said.

    Does the term “society” include religious societies as well? I have little doubt the Church “cherishes freedom of conscience,” so shouldn’t it “accommodate more, rather than less….” The 11th article of faith states: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how,, where or what they may.” I believe Joseph Smith would appreciate, even applaud, the concept of conscientious objection.

    In that Spirit – and following “the dictates of my own conscience” – I submit several types of conscientious objection in response to the Church’s policies toward the gay community:

    1. Meet with the Bishop and express your concerns. Information flows up the chain of command. I’m sure Church leaders are carefully monitoring members’ reactions to the new policies.

    2. Voice your support for pro-LGBT organizations and anti-discrimination laws, just as the Church has done. Consider joining and donating to organizations like Affirmation, which is a powerful voice for LGBT individuals and their friends and families.

    3. In public prayers, ask the Lord to guide the leadership of the Church without referring specifically to the policies.

    4. Remind members to read the Church essays on tolerance and religious freedoms.

    5. Go out of your way to welcome gay couples and their children to church. Don’t remain silent if well-meaning-but-clueless members make insensitive or inappropriate comments in Sunday School or other meetings.

    6. During the annual ward conference, either abstain when asked to sustain the brethren or raise your hand in opposition. You’ll probably be invited to discuss your action with your Bishop.

    7. Voluntarily turn-in your temple recommend to the bishop or stake president, explaining you can’t “in good conscience” respond affirmatively to the question about sustaining Church authorities. Ask to be released from Church callings. This is a highly painful approach; anyone who chooses this way must be prepared for the consequences. Each month when the Ward Council reviews members’ status, the conscientious objectors will be noted. Maybe the Church will even create a new category along with active, less-active, non-member, etc.

    These alternatives are preferable to going inactive or simply leaving because conscientious members can do much more good with their mere presence inside the Church

    A good friend of mine once paid me the ultimate compliment after I recounted my angst about the Negro Doctrine: “Your problem is that you love people too much.” And, yes, my love extends to my LGBT brothers and sisters

  9. I am just getting more and more confused. I didn’t know the church now had all of these gay members who have blogs and such on church websites etc. I am more confused and ready to walk away from the church all together. The church has openly gay members living in openly gay relationships with not only no church discipline but employed by this same church. I know of members in ward’s past who were excommunicated for having affairs etc. Yet now it is like the church is embracing homosexuality. Confusion is of the devil and this one true church gets more confusing every year.
    Ben

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