The LDS Church’s Policy on Gay Parents and their Children
As Seen through the Lens of love*
One of my Lithuanian students sent a note the night of the terrorist attack on Paris expressing appreciation for an essay I had written after 9-11 titled, “America’s War on Terrorism: One Latter-day Saint’s Perspective,”1 and informing me that there would be a special Pietà or ceremony of mourning in Vilnius during what she called a “week of God’s mercy.” I wrote back, “These periodic episodes of madness, as troubling as they are, do not cancel or contradict the essential rightness or goodness in the world, especially when we understand that they break God’s heart as well as our own. Broken hearts mend and become more tender.” That’s pretty close to how I have felt the past several weeks as so many of my fellow Latter-day Saints have been in pain over the Church’s new policy on gay and lesbian parents and their children.
That policy ,which labels such parents as “apostates” and places strict limits on their children in relation to baby blessings, baptism, confirmation, ordination to the priesthood and mission calls—in other words most of the cardinal rights and rituals of membership in the Church–has caused what scientists refer to as “a disturbance in the field.” Although this term has specific meaning within both physics and psychotherapy,2 I am using it herein to describe any significant disruption in the social and emotional fabric of the LDS church, a disturbance of the normal healthy functioning of the organization. While such disturbances are predictable, they are none-the-less challenging and can be wrenching both to the organization/system and to its constituent parts—individual members–as is clearly the case with regard to LGBT members and their families and friends affected by the Church’s new policy change.
I have experienced (and endured) a number of such disturbances in the field of my faith from the time I joined the Mormon Church as a ten-year-old boy at the end of the Second World War. Some of those disturbances have been part of the necessary process of developing a mature faith; others have been a result of my own inadequate and sometimes failed attempts to live as fully a Christian life as I have hoped; but most of those disturbances have resulted from policies, practices and positions instituted by the Church that have resulted in psychic and spiritual discord. This has been particularly true of policy or positions that have been injurious 0r harmful to others, including the Church’s ban on priesthood and temple ordinances for blacks of African descent, the unequal treatment and marginalization of women, and, more recently, policies relating to LGBT members.
*For some of the ideas expressed in this essay, especially those relating to the nature and characteristics of energy fields and the importance of love in establishing and restoring coherence, I am indebted to my friend and colleague, Dr. Raymond Trevor Bradley, and his revolutionary work as articulated in his forthcoming book, The Lens of Love: Holographic Eye of Universal Consciousness (copyright 2015, Raymond Trevor Bradley).
All systems (including all organizations and cultural groups) constitute fields that have their own intrinsic order, integrity and coherence. As social scientist Raymond Trevor Bradley explains, “In human systems, such system integrity is based in love and our success in expressing that love as a coherent wave field of energy that radiates literally from our hearts out into the world in all directions. Such coherent heart-generated energy travels like the coherent light from a laser, virtually without limit.”3 However, by its very nature, any coherent system can become incoherent through the influence of negative energy, causing a “disturbance in the field.” As Bradley explains, “Negative emotions, such as fear and anger [which likely lie at the heart of the new policies on LGBT families, in spite of assurances to the contrary], generate an erratic, disorganized wave field of energy, again from the heart,4 which is the most powerful generator of electro-magnetic energy in the human system. By its very nature, such an incoherent field of energy has short duration and limited reach.”5
Although the disruption, disturbance and damage in a flied or system may be limited, its effects can be felt within the system or field for some time, as I feel will be the case with the new policy changes. It is only through love that order and coherence ultimately can be restored, which is why the response to the new policy changes must be grounded in love and why non-loving responses (angry, fearful, defensive, and protective) will not only prolong the pain and suffering, but will delay the restoration of order and coherence.
Viewed from this perspective, this most recent disturbance to the field of Mormonism might be thought of as a failure of love, resulting from our refusal to see all of God’s children as equal, all as “alike unto him” (2 Nephi 26:33). As Bradley reminds us, “True love is equal and embraces all, without class, creed, color, life circumstance or life-choice. That is God’s truth, the truth that Christ willingly gave his life for on the Cross. Holding the truth of the wholeness of love is not only the Christian and ‘right’ thing to do, but is to be aligned with the reality that will prevail as the system ultimately purges itself of all untruths and the sources of anything less than whole, unconditional love.”6
As Latter-day Saints (members and leaders) we have covenanted to manifest Christ-like love “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:0). It is such love alone that makes it possible for us, with God’s help, to heal all disturbances in the field of faith. We do this by remaining in the wholeness of love, and, in so doing so, empowering the coherence of love not simply to endure, but to prevail. As Bradley notes, “Even if we succumb out of fear to unloving, divisive and destructive action, the wholeness of love will still ultimately prevail, for this is the power of God’s love, whether manifested directly from him or through us.”7 This is the essential message God reveals to us through to the prophets and our own hearts; this is the truth for which Christ gave his life. Thus, as leaders and members, as followers of Christ, there is only one question for us to ask at this critical time: ”What is the most loving thing we can do?”8—the most loving toward our fellow saints (including those who don’t agree with us), the most loving toward our leaders (even when we may have been hurt by their decisions) and, especially at this time, the most loving toward our gay brothers and lesbian sisters and their families.
Today there is immense pain in Mormonism. Addressing that pain depends on our individual acts of courage, sacrifice, and, especially, love. It is amidst that pain where much of the most important work of repairing, healing and transforming through love is to be done. But there is also the larger realm, the Church beyond the individual broken heart; beyond the sin and insensitivity with which each of us must contend in trying to make the gospel and the Church work in our lives, our families and our congregations; and beyond the madness and mystery that characterize disturbances in the field of faith. That field of complexity, of challenge, of difference, even of uncertainty is where Christ calls us to labor with him. It is as if he saying to us, to use the words of Rumi, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”9
1 “America’s War on Terrorism: One Latter-day Saint’s Perspective,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 36:1
2 The term is used in physics with reference to electromagnetic waves (see “Fundamentals of Physics/Electromagnetic Waves” at https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Fundamentals_of_Physics/Electromagnetic_Waves). It is more controversial in medicine and psychotherapy (see “Defining the Terminology of Nursing” at http://www.nanda.org/DEFINING-THE-KNOWLEDGE-OF-NURSING-Priorities-for-Terminology-Development-_b_7.html). See also Steven H. Cooper, A Disturbance in the Field: Essays in Transference-Countertransference Engagement (London: Routledge, 2010). I use the term herein both as metaphor and to suggest its relevance to any energetic field. See also Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s novel, Disturbances in the Field: A Novel (New York: Open Road, 2005)
3 E-mail personal communication with Raymond Trevor Bradley, Sunday, November 22, 2015.
4 For a discussion of the role of the heart in establishing coherence, see Rollin McCraty, et al, The Coherent Heart Heart–Brain Interactions, Psychophysiological Coherence, and the Emergence of System-Wide Order, .http://www.heartmathbenelux.com/doc/McCratyeal_article_in_integral_review_2009.pdf. Footnote added by
8 This might be thought of as Raymond Bradley’s mantra. It is a question he asked me over a decade ago when I was facing a significant interpersonal challenge and one I have returned to many times since.
9 Rumi, “There is a field,” http://www.elise.com/quotes/rumi_-_there_is_a_field.