Posted on 11 Comments

Do You Disagree with the Exclusion Policy? (Part 6)

In November 2015, the Church issued the PoX, or Policy of Exclusion.  The Exclusion Policy prevents children of gay parents from being baptized or further ordination in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In our last interview with Kurt Francom, we’ll get his opinions, and my opinions, and you’ll find out they are in disagreement quite a bit. It’s also a wonderful way in which we model that people can disagree but still maintain good friendships, even in Sunday School.  So, this is an important conversation, and I hope you check it out.

GT:  But at any rate, I mean we make such a big deal about a child being baptized at the age of eight. It’s in the Doctrine and Covenants. I mean it’s scripture. And Jesus said it’s better than a millstone be hanged around the neck than to offend these little ones. Okay. Now the church leaders are, number one, they’re ignoring this apparent Doctrine and Covenants scripture when it comes to children of gay parents. Number two, they seem to be ignoring the second article of faith: we are punished for our own sins, and [not for] Adam’s transgression and some people try to say, “Well, it’s just Adam.” No, I should not be punished for your sins. You should not be punished for my sins. My children should not be punished for my sins. I mean, we all have free agency, right?

GT:  If my child can’t get baptized at age 8, because I’m gay or whatever, that’s not right. That just feels wrong to me. And I know that a lot of people say, “Well, when they’re 18, they can do it.” Then why doesn’t everybody get baptized at age 18? If it’s so important that we’ve got a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that they’re supposed to be baptized at age eight, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal.

Kurt:  Right.

GT:  And there are people between the age of 8 and 18, even that get baptized and fall away from the church, so why would we think that a kid who doesn’t get baptized at eight is suddenly going to get baptized at 18? Especially given that they have to repudiate their parent’s relationship. That logic doesn’t make any sense to me.

Kurt:  Yeah. And, wrestle with it. It breaks my heart when people wrestle with it to the point where they just completely separate themselves. Am I in favor for the policy or against it? I see both sides and I’m just trying to maintain in patience as we figure that out.

GT:  I’m trying to be patient too, but it’s hard.

Kurt:  Yeah, I know. But we need you there on Sunday. We need you to have influence and keep battling there. And I’m not trying to dodge it. I just, I see the struggle in that question. But at the same time, we just have to step back. And part of the greatest thing about being a leader, being a bishop is you have so much empathy for bishops after that. You have so much empathy for apostles after that, for leaders. These are difficult decisions and is the policy the best answer? Maybe, maybe not. But, they have the keys to direct, and they are directing, doing the best that they can. Whether it is exactly right or exactly wrong, or their lack of action in the bishop interview issue is exactly right, or exactly wrong, they’re doing their best to direct. And I think all things considered. We’re moving in the right way and nobody will ever regret having patience, more and more patience with their leaders, and holding on and in the wrestle.

Kurt:  And I love that scripture about Jacob wrestling with the angel or with God. And he got to a point that he refused to let go until God blessed him. And so you must refuse to let go until God blesses us and brings greater light and knowledge and then while doing that realize that these leaders are doing the best they can and they deserve some patience.

Check out our conversation, as well as our other conversations with Kurt…

The Church says children of gay parents can't be baptized. Does this conflict with D&C 68:25?
The Church says children of gay parents can’t be baptized. Does this conflict with D&C 68:25?

222: Should the Church Modify Bishop’s Interviews?

221: Results of Faith Crisis Research

220: “We’ve Got to Have These Difficult Conversations”

219: Ministering to the Faithful & Faithless

218: Is it Bad to be Called LDS or Mormon?

11 thoughts on “Do You Disagree with the Exclusion Policy? (Part 6)

  1. There are a lot of nuances to this policy that many people do not seemingly think about. Most of the responses that I have seen are emotional responses.
    The first point is that none of the children that will be effected will be in danger spiritually in that decade between eight and eighteen. Whatever happens to them, say one be believing and wishing to be baptized but dies before he or she reaches the age of eighteen, the transgressions would be upon the heads of those who are in the wrong. If it be the first presidency, they will bear the blame and punishment for those sins, of all such children. If it be the parents that are wrong, they will be the ones that pay the penalties. Without taking a poll of the First Presidency, I am positive that they are well aware of the consequences if they have spoken for the Lord when the Lord did not tell them to so speak. The policy is not a knee jerk reaction by the First Presidency. They came to this decision after a lot of fasting and prayer. It is worth noting that a similar policy was already in effect for children of parents engaged in polygamous relationships. For some reason there has not been the same level outrage over that policy.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not going to change the doctrines in respect to homosexual acts nor will it back down from the principles nested in the family proclamation. In fact the leadership seems to be doubling down on those principles. The best option, in my opinion, would be for all of us to work harder to help those with Same Sex Attraction feel welcome in our chapels and not to give them a false hope that sometime down the time line the leaders of the church will do an about face and say they were wrong. That is not going to happen.

    Glenn

  2. I tried to comment once before but it disappeared. Will try once again and if it disappears will get put on my tin foil hat.

    I am afraid that the responses to the policy have been more emotional than thoughtful. From the very first many of those who have posted opinions against the policy have felt that it was a knee jerk response to the legalization of same sex marriages with the Supreme Court decision that it is a right. I do not believe that to be the case.
    The spiritual progression of no child in that decade between eight and eighteen will be hindered. If a child dies between those ages believing and wishing to be baptized, the transgressions of that child will be upon the heads of the party in the wrong. If the First Presidency spoke for the Lord when the Lord did not command them to do so, the burden will fall upon them. If it be the parents, the burden will fall upon the parents.
    I am sure that the First Presidency is even more aware of those possibilities than I am. And I am equally sure that they did meditate, discuss, and pray long and fervently over the matter. It was not a knee jerk reaction.
    Now can you see a couple in a same sex marriage telling their child that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one true church and they are officially apostates but they want him or her to get baptized anyway?
    Or telling their child that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one true church but the First Presidency is wrong about same sex marriages?
    There are other even less savory possibilities.
    But there is one thing that is pretty much not in doubt. The church will not change its stance on homosexual acts and same sex marriage. It will continue to promote the Family Proclamation and will double down on that.

    Glenn

  3. Glenn, welcome! I think this is the first time you’ve commented here, so I had to approve the comment manually. I think your future comments should be ok as long as they don’t have more than 2 weblinks.

    Here’s an unemotional comment. I’m wondering if you would comment on this. D&C 68:25 says

    “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”

    If the gay parents are teaching the child “the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old,” then I think the sin of the child not being baptized can no longer be on the heads of those parents, but upon the originators of this policy. Why does this policy clearly violate scripture?

    (I’ve yet to have anyone explain why this policy does not violate that scripture.)

    Also, we preach that the Gift of the Holy Ghost (“baptism of fire”) may even be more important than baptism. Why would we deny the Gift of the Holy Ghost to an 8 year old that not only desires baptism, but the parents desire it too? Is the baptism of fire meaningless? (Because that’s what this policy seems to imply, IMO.)

  4. I will add that I am not in favor of the exclusion policy for children of polygamists. I believe the lack of outrage is because (1) people didn’t know about it, (2) it’s been around for several decades. I think children of polygamists shouldn’t be discriminated against either.

  5. I have totally settled on my opinion, although I’ve given a lot of thought to this issue. I lean toward agreeing with the policy for Gay and Polygamist children, that we should also not actively be proselyting to such children of such families trying to put them at odds with the fundamental unit of family stability that they currently understand. That feels wrong to me. But I sometimes also think that if the parents are perfectly aware of these things, and the child has been coming to church of their own accord for example, and the parents still give permission, then maybe this caveat could be made to the policy.

    At the same time, is it really right to put an 8-year-old under covenant with God, that again puts them at odds with their core unit of stability in which they are raised. Is that really psychologically healthy as they develop and grow and truly begin to understand the deeper implications of this reality? Perhaps 8 years of age is the age of accountability in most situations, but perhaps there are tough enough situations that 8 years of age is not truly sufficient to put that kind of covenantal responsibility on a child. Would that be a breach of our responsibility to protect the well-being of the child first and foremost? I think it is certainly possible.

    Furthermore, in such a tough predicament where the child cannot obtain the baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost he/she desires due to the reasoning above, would God withhold his Spirit from a yearning child? Withhold the blessings of a remission of sins and the companionship of His Spirit? I cannot believe in such a God. If the spirit can rest upon Cornelius prior to baptism, the Lord clearly can clearly chose when someone merits such a blessing and offer it. I cannot imagine any other outcome for a desirous child in this situation. I believe they will be watched over and no blessing will be withheld from them because of it.

  6. *I have NOT totally settled on my opinion

  7. There are lots of 8 year olds in less than ideal situations: alcoholic parents, parents are felons, live together outside of marriage, smoke, do drugs, inactive, child abusers, etc. If we think there is no problem with children of those parents, then why are children of gay parents, likely with active, strong testimonies are stained with their parents sins? I would argue that the gay parents often have more stable homes than some from hetero homes.

    Now, arguing whether 8 is the proper age of accountability is another case. But my position is that if the D&C says 8 is the correct age, who is anyone to make exceptions if children of child abusers or drunks aren’t disqualified?

  8. RickB, I got your comment in an email, but I’m not seeing my comments nor your response actually published here. I’m assuming it needs to be approved like the commenter above?

    I can’t see what I actually wrote, but my purpose was to suggest that beyond simply the church teachings being opposed to an action of the parents – abusive behaviors, alcohol or drug use, etc. that you mention – this seems like it could be qualitatively different. That is – the church is opposing the very fabric and foundation of their psychological security as children – the rightness or the wrongness of the existence of their family unit at all. That to me is something very different.

    “..who is anyone to make exceptions if children of child abusers or drunks aren’t disqualified?”

    Well, I would think the Prophet and the sustained leaders of the Church, right? Is that not the very purpose of ongoing revelation? Addressing new caveats as they arise particularly in our time or era seems like the central role of a Prophet to me.

  9. Also, I just noticed you mentioned stability. I was referring to the psychological stability of the child, or where the child finds that stability – their family. I agree homosexual parent homes can provide this stability, which is why undermining it before a child can grapple with the difficult nuances could be very psychologically destabilizing and risky. You might even call that abusive to do so knowingly and intentionally before a person is mentally ready to handle such a challenge to something so central to their growth and development.

  10. I’m not sure why I need to keep approving comments–that’s weird. Usually after the first one goes through, the rest get through provided there aren’t weblinks. Must be some sort of a bug.

    The comments are appearing on my blog–maybe your cache isn’t working. Might want to try “incognito” browsing to see if that helps.

    If the prophet is going to propose a new revelation that contradicts scripture, then add a new section to the D&C, and remove the old bad one by Joseph Smith that is in error. Don’t slide it into the Bishop’s Handbook as a policy secretly, as this one was done. It wasn’t a revelation, it was a personal prejudice. We see prophets, such as Job (against Nineveh) and Brigham Young (against blacks), had personal prejudices. I think current prophets have personal prejudices that preclude good revelation. And this policy clearly violates D&C 68 and AoF 2. If it doesn’t, please explain why.

    Also, explain why denying kids to have the gift of the Holy Ghost somehow protects them from gays better than a drunk parent. Kids are resilient, and I think it is unfair to say this situation is different. Kids are smarter than you give them credit for, and I think reasoning such as justifying gay parents as different than drunk parents is not a credible excuse to deny baptism of water and fire to a child. It sounds like we are not suffering the children to come to Jesus, which is another reason why this policy is so misguided and wrong. If not, then explain how it doesn’t violate scripture. None of the hierarchy are willing to do that, because I think they understand the policy is unscriptural but are allowing there personal prejudices in and calling it revelation. I don’t believe it is revelation until I see something canonized and 68 and AoF 2 de-canonized.

  11. A few comments got lost following a server crash. Sorry about that. But I am glad to have the website back up and running.

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