Parents React to the New Handbook
November 13, 2015
The leadership of Affirmation is united in communicating a message of love to all those who have been so deeply affected by the announcement of the changes to the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions that will exclude the children of gay couples from membership in the Church. We know that God loves all of us, and we mourn with those who mourn because of this new policy.
LGBT Mormons and their family and friends throughout the world have expressed grief, shock, disbelief and spiritual confusion. Parents and family of LGBTQ Mormons have responded with messages of comfort and love:
Jill Rowe: “My heart is hurting tonight as the church I love has taken a stand about my LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Four years ago one of my six children told me he was gay. It’s been quite a journey since then of prayers and tears. I have received many answers but the most profound is just to love. Love. It’s not as simple as we think. We need to open our heart and minds to each other. We need to be the love.
My family has become stronger through the last four years. I feel like now we are a family forever because we know how to love a little bit more. As our family grows so will our love.
I love my son. I know he was created by God just like I was. I know God is aware of him and loves him. This is the religion I choose to follow. Christ loved all.
To know his fate breaks my heart. He knows he does not have a place in the church and it’s been made clear that his future spouse and children don’t either.
I will continue to stand for my convictions. I believe all should be welcome in Christ’s church.”
Gretchen and Chuck Terry: “My husband and I will support our two gay sons and their partners in all areas of their lives- including marriage and children ! Paramount for us is that all of our children are healthy and happy and free to choose the path that brings them peace and joy!”
Yvette: “Romans 8:38-39 (KJV): ‘For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come ,nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
As I Thought about the church’s recent additions to the church handbook that impact lgbt families, this scripture popped into my mind. It seemed to express the feelings I believe our savior has for his LGBT children – that absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God and the love of your Savior! It also expresses the solid unchanging love that I have for my son. Nothing will ever come between the love that I have for him …just as the scripture says. My relationship with God is the first and foremost compass that I use to guide my life.”
An anonymous parent: “Here’s the thing: nothing can keep you from the love of Christ. No organization, no person. Know that you are loved, and Christ stands with you, not with an organization who would try to separate you from him.”
Neca Allgood: “Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” My heart is breaking that a church policy could be used to deny some children the opportunity to embrace the Gospel.
An anonymous parent: “My knee-jerk reaction was anger. But then these scriptures came to mind: John 3:17 ‘For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.’ John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ I also thought of the scripture in Samuel that talks of how the world looks at our outward appearance, but the Lord looks at our hearts. He knows us. Each one of us personally. He knows our loved ones and children. He suffered our pains. He is perfect, but his church is not. Because it is lead by imperfect people. His message was and still is LOVE. Not shame, not condemnation, not exclusion, but pure LOVE. One more Psalm 54:6 ‘In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.'”
Shauna Malia Ikahihifo: “This new policy change has left me heartbroken and confused. But, as I lay weeping in my bed, the words of a primary hymn came into my mind:
“You don’t have to push a handcart
or leave your family dear
Or walk a thousand miles or more
To be a Pioneer
You do have to have great courage
Faith to conquer fear
And work with might
For a cause that’s right
To be a Pioneer”
I will be a Pioneer! Holding onto the faith I have in a merciful, loving, compassionate God and in the atoning sacrifice of His precious son! I will hang onto the faith I have that my sister is made in the image of our Heavenly Parents, just as I am. And that God has a plan for her and everyone of my LGBT brothers and sisters! And I will work with might for this righteous cause, until all members of my Church have gained such a testimony!
Come what may, you have an ally in me, forever and always.”
An anonymous parent: Rabbi Kushmer taught-“The task of any religion is to teach us whom we’re required to love, not whom we are entitled to hate.” Sister Chieko Okazaki said – ” A family with a gay child is not a failed family. It is a family with a member who needs special love and understanding and who has love and understanding to give back.” These quotes express so eloquently the feelings that are in my heart. I express my love to all my LGBTQ friends and loved ones who are reeling – there are many Moms who want to run out and give you hugs and tell you that you are wonderful just the way you are.”
Susan Mikesell: “I don’t have an LGBT+ child. But I have two children. I cannot imagine not loving them any way God put them here on this earth. For this reason, and for the love of others that God puts in our heart if we just open ourselves to it, for those who have been blessed with LGBTQ+ children, I stand with you and them. I love you. You are all in my heart as I weep and feel it break inside. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple: Love one another as I have loved you. I cannot understand those–especially those who lead–choosing to complicate it. And I will never understand this latest. I choose Christ. And because I do, I choose to walk with you and talk with you.”
An anonymous parent: “You and others before you have brought beauty to this world. Let who you are shine bright cancel out the actions of those that are too frightened to see beauty.”
Jenny Gile: We are so very proud of our son, who has been a shining example to others of what true Christ-like unconditional love. His heart is big and warm and he selflessly serves others, not even completely understanding that he is serving. I see no greater example than him. This new policy tears at the core of our family. A church administration now says that he is false, a sinner and unworthy of God, which we know to be completely false. When I move on to the next realm of existence, I would rather have to answer to the Savior for my actions against this policy than to have to try and explain why I didn’t emulate his example to “Let the children come unto me”.
Denee Tyler: There is nothing that man can do that will affect my deep and abiding love for my children. I carried them for nine months inside my body, my blood is their blood, my heart is their heart. I am not afraid to rise up and say that this new “policy” is terribly, terribly wrong. I’m not afraid to call it what it is: hate, intolerance, discrimination, bigotry, and homophobia. Love WILL win. It may just not be in this church.
An anonymous parent: “I hope all the same things for all of my children. I hope they all find a life path that leads them to joy, happiness, love, and fulfillment. I hope they find opportunities that allow them to reach their full potential. I hope they know God loves them. And I hope they know I love them and will never, no never, forsake or reject them. My arms are now, and will always be open and ready to embrace them.”
Gay parents have reacted too:
An anonymous gay dad: “This is a terrible thing for divorced gay fathers in sharing the raising of their children. My 17 year-old could not come live with me under the current guidelines without possibly giving up his priesthood ordinations or mission. This puts more undue pressure on children when they try to remain close to both parents and forces them into a choice they never had to make before. This totally breaks my heart!!! How could the Church we love do something like this. You know I’ve been a member all my life…when I came out, I was dropped like a hot potato and there was no outreach or communication…they didn’t know how to deal with me except to keep me excluded. I could live with that and still follow the gospel but this is starting to cross the line for me.”
Troy & Ryan Mitchell-Hales: “We have always maintained our faith in Jesus Christ. We have worked hard to support our two children on missions and with their temple marriages. We love our grandchildren with all our hearts. Leaders of the Church have once again placed another barrier between us and our family. Should children be forced to choose between loving their parents and the Church? The answer is a resounding NO! Jesus Christ would not make this kind of judgement. He loves all mankind.”
An anonymous gay dad: “There is no church on earth that is worth the loss of a precious life or sacrifice of the loving relationship of a parent with a child. I refuse to let any religious dogma destroy my union with my children, even if they don’t yet comprehend the same. There is a very distinct difference between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the man-made and politically managed institution we refer to as the Church.”
Nathan Kitchen: “This change in church policy squarely affects my family. To force a child to disavow and repudiate their parents’ relationship in order to be included in the church is very abusive to children. It is spiritual violence to withhold blessings, service and even salvation unless they turn on their same sex parents. The church now has firmly placed herself between me and my children forcing an either/or decision using the threat of damnation to pressure my children. My children are not lesser than any child of a heterosexual relationship. Even if I am excommunicated if I ever marry and am no longer a member of the church. My children will still suffer the consequences of a father in a legal and loving same sex union by being treated differently and suspect until cleared at the highest levels of church leadership. This demeaning social stigma is exactly what Justice Stevens wrote about when he said: “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same- sex couples.” These changes are a harmful and humiliating edict for me and my children and will only be seen in the immediate future by typical members of both society and then church as animus towards legal same sex couples every where. Dear Brethren, have you any decency?
As a loving believing member who loves and believes in the church despite her flaws, I am in tears for my family. My sexual orientation effectively places a “Star of David” on their Sunday clothes. I am in tears.”