Mormons Clarify New Policy on Children of Gay Couples: No to Baptism, Yes to Blessings

Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

On Friday, the Office of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a clarification to its new policies on same-sex marriage, which leaked last week. The guidance is addressed to various groups within the Mormon church, indicating that the hierarchy is aware that, as my colleague J. Bryan Lowder reported on Wednesday, thousands of adherents are preparing to leave the church over the new rules.

Church authorities are also apparently cognizant that many non-Mormons are shocked that the new policies require children of parents in same-sex relationships to disavow “the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage” if they wish to participate in the rites of their faith. The letter serves as a primer on LDS doctrine, noting that since the church believes families to be eternal “in nature and purpose,” it is “obligated to act with that perspective for the welfare of both adults and children.” It emphasizes that children can avoid being punished for who their parents love if they quit the parental home. It also notes that if the child has already been baptized when they find themselves residing with a gay couple, then “membership activities or priesthood privileges” will not be curtailed.

The letter ends with a reminder that the new policy does not mean that children of same-sex parents should be expelled or shunned:

All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love. They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities. All children may receive priesthood blessings of healing and spiritual guidance.

That’s good to hear, but given how much else will be denied to them, it’s hard to take too much comfort in those words.