A “mass exodus” of Mormons? Maybe. But here’s why I’m not among them.

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LDS resignationsEvery day this week, I have logged on to social media and seen people announce that they’re resigning their membership in the LDS Church, or at least thinking about it.

In some cases, these defections have not been surprising — people who have been inactive for a long time but allowed their names to remain on the official rolls either from inertia or because they didn’t want to upset their families.

Now that the Church has changed its policy on LGBT members and their families, classifying anyone in a same-sex relationship as “apostate” and barring their children from the rites of baptism, ordination, and mission service, these inactive Mormons have been galvanized into cutting the cord once and for all.

But in a surprising number of other cases it has not been people I expected. Some of them have been very active in the Church and have testimonies of its basic principles. Last week they were fully engaged, and now they are leaving.

How many people are we talking about?

“Mass exodus” is likely an exaggeration. One fact we do know is that in Salt Lake City, an attorney who has offered to facilitate church members’ resignations for free has been flooded with requests and expects to be filling 1,400 of them. Just for his practice, in just that one city.

We also know that the LDS Church Mass Resignation Facebook group shows that 1,100 people have declared their intention to attend its event tomorrow afternoon at City Creek Park in Salt Lake.

It’s not a stretch to imagine that a few thousand people will officially resign from Mormonism in the coming weeks because of this change in policy — and that far more will simply stop attending and quietly drift away, like the Oregon family I profiled earlier this week. Because their son is no longer eligible for his priesthood ordination, the entire family is stepping away from the Church, even though they do not at this time plan to officially resign.

And that’s just what’s going to happen in the short term. The bigger problem for the LDS Church is the much larger number of people who are staying, but without the assurance we might have had before that everything is well in Zion. Many of us are shaken and bruised.

It’s not just progressive Mormons, either. This week I have heard from TBMs (“true blue,” or conservative, Mormons) who are upset that the new policy seems to target children for things that are not their fault. Those people may agree with the line that’s being drawn in the sand about LGBT adults and their same-sex relationships, but they don’t approve of stigmatizing those members’ minor children.

I have heard that last Sunday in one ward, a visiting stake president who defended the policy was bombarded with angry questions from stalwart members who did not agree. To say that public arguments with ecclesiastical leaders don’t normally happen in LDS church meetings is an understatement. These are unusual times.

And I have heard that even as conservative Mormons are holding fast despite their own misgivings, their young adult children are disgusted. Since people in their twenties are far more likely to approve of same-sex marriage and homosexuality than people in their fifties and older, the policy’s fallout will be reverberating years from now as today’s Millennial generation looks back on this as a watershed moment, a breach of trust.

I want to make clear that I despise this new policy. It is not only misguided; it feels cruel.

But I am not leaving the church over it.

I am staying, not because I am naïve about institutions, but because I am cynical about them. And that cynicism has been my salvation during the 22 years I have been a Mormon.

I do not expect my church to be perfect. I expect, rather, that the institution will be most concerned with acting in ways that will further itself as an institution. It’s what institutions do.

But the church is so much bigger, so much more, than an institution. So when I say the church is not perfect, please be assured that I’m not holding to some facile rhetoric of “The church is perfect, but it is run by flawed individuals!”

No, the church is not perfect, and never has been. The church is those flawed individuals. It is us. There is no magical institution outside of ourselves, no foundation that we get the luxury of imagining we do not pour.

And so whenever we say things like “the church is tainted” or “the church is wrong,” we need to know that what we are actually saying is, “we are tainted” and “we are wrong.”

I understand the impulse to leave, and for many it is unquestionably the right decision. There are some people, including many LGBT Mormons, for whom the church has become such a toxic place that they need to stop coming in order to preserve their own mental health and their children’s self-esteem. I’m often amazed that they have had the courage and dignity to stick around as long as they have.

But those of us who are not directly affected by this policy and would only be leaving because of overall fatigue and the pain of guilt by association have the opportunity to change the institution — which is, once again, us at the end of the day — by staying inside it. By raising our voices and calling attention to those who are hurting, and by being vocal in our praise when something is of good report.

What has bothered me most about this week’s leavetakings is the pervasive language of purity and contamination. Some of the people who are leaving say they must go because they have been tainted by association. They cannot be seen as being in compliance with this new policy.

The problem is that this is exactly the same logic that appears to be motivating the leaders of the church: to have purity at all costs. When we are compelled by a drive for purity rather then a mission to love and to be inclusive of others — including those who disagree with us — we easily fall prey to separating ourselves from them, even demonizing them.

I am reminded of Roger Williams, whose desire for purity and an untainted church led his circle to grow ever smaller, so that at one point in his tumultuous career as a religious leader he was able to take communion only with his wife. Everyone else had fallen short of his impossible standards. They became a church of two.

Williams eventually changed his mind, and I pray we will too. I hope we will realize that whenever we point a finger at “the church,” we are also pointing it at ourselves.

And if there is any hope of making the church more inclusive, it must begin with making our own hearts more inclusive.

 

 

 

  • DougH

    John 6:66-69: From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

    “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

    Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

  • Tortdog

    Good post.

  • Tortdog

    I am not sure if you are comapring this situation, John, to abandoning the Christ. Eventually, it was the right thing to do in leaving the “original” church. Mistakes by good intentioned priesthood leaders does not compare to apostasy against the Lord. Yes they are his representatives but when they err I would not liken a discordant view as akin to objecting to the Son of God.

  • HarryStamper

    The church may not be perfect but the Lord himself is well pleased. D&C1:30 I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually

  • D. Fletcher

    Perfect. Thank you.

  • Sarah Kay

    As someone who is fatigued and inactive within the last year due to different issues, I found the necessity to speak out in opposition to this atrocious policy this, and not resign. I suppose I’m hoping for the day when the toxicity I’ve experienced lessens and I am able to worship lovingly in the church of my youth. I want that place to be home when I am able to return. And so thank you. I enjoy and respect your perspective.

  • Tah

    The great thing about sending in a letter, is after you do it once you can do it over and over again.

  • Miguel Knochel

    I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you, I’ll Wait With You.
    For those trying to stay but disagree with the new policy, especially young people who feel they have no voice in the church, and no power to change this — consider joining the peaceful movement among the saints in the church called “I’ll Wait With You.”
    Parents can wait to bless their babies as a symbol of solidarity for children of gay parents who are excluded from this. Children can choose to delay their baptisms and ordinations. Young people can choose to delay their missions. The delays could be a year, or two years, or until the policy is changed. This protest is peaceful, and should be done prayerfully and thoughtfully. We’re just starting this today — @illwaitwithyou was created today on Twitter. You can use the hashtag #illwaitwithyou on social media to get this going.

  • Andy Lord

    This post is a failure in both logic and common sense. You say that people who in good conscience feel compelled to leave a church that is promoting a “misguided,” “cruel” policy that you yourself “despise,” are doing so because they are “compelled by a drive for purity.” Nonsense. The drive for purity exists among the people promoting the policy, not those objecting to it. My question to you is: what could the church do to drive you away? What’s the moral breaking point at which you will feel “compelled by a drive for purity” to leave the church?

  • Susan Kate

    Well said. What concerns me is that staying will become a path of least resistance and with time our raw emotions will be enveloped by routine and forgotten. This moment has brought to the surface much hidden anguish and need for reflection and growth/change. In patience our momentum might be lost and I believe we can affect change by engaging in dialogue and action. For many in the Church, especially women, our avenues of engagement are severely limited. One woman on a committee? Two talks in four sessions of conference? No ultimate authority–visible or private. We are the mothers, the hands and heart, the front line looking into the eyes of those in grief and we must make ourselves heard–however we can. For me there is no judgement. There is hope and courage and vision.

  • Observer

    Please watch Elder Christopherson’s interview. Whether you agree or disagree with the Church’s doctrinal stand on same-sex marriage, the Church respects the right of same-sex couples to raise their children as they wish. It would be a no-win situation to have young children being taught opposing principles at church and different principles at home. They are free to decide when they are adults.

  • Susan Kate

    There is no judgement of the individuals but there is judgement of the policies. And I feel it is imperative that we hold the instituion accountable even as we seek to forgive and move forward.

  • Chizzy

    I watched this “clarification” video. It did not clarify anything and when a policy runs contrary to Christ’s own teachings, there has to be a reasoning given to expect faithful members to believe something that contradicts what Jesus taught us, we need to know why. Even if that reasoning is, “We don’t understand why the Lord has revealed this to us, but he has.” That is more helpful than telling people, “Trust us. It’s for your own good that we do something hurtful to you.” And I am a TBM.

  • Jared Farish

    I am amazed, but not surprised, by the backlash that has occurred because of this policy. To sum up, all of the objections seem to be that these people are offended by this policy because it is hateful towards them. It is hateful, apparently, because it means that practicing gays and lesbians may no longer live in sin AND still receive the blessings of the church. Why is this hateful? I assume that people became Mormons because they had faith in the doctrines of the gospel. Those doctrines have always included a rejection of homosexuality, in all its forms. Why is it different now, simply because that doctrine will be more strictly enforced?
    Also, I am amazed at what is NOT being said. Think about what it means to have a living prophet. Everyone is concerned because the “church” is changing it “policy” & maybe it will someday “evolve”. If you really believe in living prophets, you know that isn’t how it works. If you don’t believe, why do you care about this issue…

  • Yawp

    There is an assumption from others that if you are associated with the church and not openly vocal against it there is compliance. And is it not, especially when we are asked to raise our hands to the square to sustain all of our leaders? Is it even possible to be in this church but not of it? My husband posted on Facebook that he was a “closet Christian” and was afraid to vocalize in public these days to even admit that for fear of being judged – and the amount of angry comments and hate mail he received – and even I received for not “shutting him down” was astounding. Because I sit on the fence and don’t vocalize any opinion concerning mormonism on any issue and have for years my LGBT friends and former mormon friends are disgusted by even my passive association with it. How are we to reconcile any of this? When both sides are so angry that even my longest and deepest friendships become threatened?

  • Mike

    There are members in the quorum of 15 that do not support this policy change. We are validated in our heartbreak. I am fervently praying that one of them will speak up even risking a fate similar to that of John W. Taylor or Matthas F. Cowley. As it takes faith to blindly follow the brethren, it likely takes faith to follow personal revelation and speak up.

  • Tineke

    Jana, I always appreciate your insights and agree with you and a whole lot of things. But this time I firmly disagree. I find that there is a huge difference between the mormon communites that I have been part of and the institution. When you say the church is no better than we, It’s members are you are selling most of us short. It is my expereince that the bulk of the members are so much better than the church (the institution) is. The huge outcry from regular members over this new policy proves it. In my communities I have always felt loved, accepted and respected. But in the institution I have no voice, no influence – even more so because I am a woman. Maybe leaving the church is my only possibility to make a statement. Even then I have no illusions about how much influence that will have. But maybe, just maybe if there are enough of us.

  • Tineke

    Also, I will always be willing to reach out to those who hurt (inside or outside of the church.) but is it really wise and loving to help them stay in an institution that is so harmful to them and clearly does not want them?

  • Ron

    Great Post Jana. Thank you!

  • Mike

    There are members in the quorum of 15 that do not support this policy change. We are validated in our heartbreak. I am fervently praying that one of them will speak up even risking a fate similar to that of John W. Taylor or Matthias F. Cowley. As it takes faith to blindly follow the brethren, it likely takes faith to follow personal revelation and speak up.

  • Sharee

    Have any of you read this?
    http://gaymormonguy.blogspot.com/2015/11/waiting-on-lord-same-sex-adoption.html?m=1

    It might change your minds about this new policy being cruel to children. It is actually just the opposite.

  • Thanks Jana. As I wrote in the comments of my own blog, My idea of Zion is so much more inclusive–one that welcomes all of God’s children. Thus, I use my personal authority to love without conditions and be radically inclusive. And I’ve never felt more Christian.

    As for the contrasting “purity” vs. “compassion” approach, Marcus Borg’s “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith” opened my eyes. One of my favorite quotes in the book is the following:

    “Compassion, not holiness, is the dominant quality of God, and is therefore to be the ethos of the community that mirrors God” (Borg, p. 54.)

    In other words, “an interpretation of scripture faithful to Jesus and the early Christian movement sees the Bible throu

  • Ron G

    I personally am not religious or affiliated with any church. My beliefs are probably most close to those of Theravada Buddhism.

    So, here’s my take on this. A religion is meant to be “the standard”, that “thing” to which you can look for guidance to keep you centered in the midst of an ever-changing tide of beliefs, values, ethics, and morals. When that ever-changing tide is viewed as the standard to which the religion/church must adhere, then it (the religion) has utterly lost its purpose.

    A religion is not followed so that it can change its doctrines and views per the supposed enlightenment of the times, but so that we can keep to a chosen path when all else around us is lost in its sophistry and changing desires.

  • Danny S

    Ok, Jared, let me point out what to most people is obvious. The backlash is the perception that the policy attacks the CHILDREN of these parents. That the CHILDREN are being judged for the sins of their parent(s). Get it? Hope that tiny insight helps you to be less amazed. Just curious, had you lived in the middle ages, would you have agreed with the church at that time that witches, heretics, and apostates should be burned? Just wondering what level of craziness it takes for a believing member to jump off the train.

  • Larry

    The policy is intentionally and maliciously attacking gay parents through ostracizing their children. By making them suddenly less qualified for priesthood than the overwhelming majority of mormons solely on the basis of their parents background. Of course it attacks them. It singles them out in a way virtually other children in the sect are. All done with the expectation that such children will publicly attack their parents as a precondition to acceptance in the sect.

    The LDS has always actively sought to harm gays whenever it was in their power to do so. The upside to the policy is that it clears away any notion and propaganda that the church has any desire to treat gays or people who sympathize with them, as human beings. They are declaring their bigotry in the most obvious way possible. “No gays allowed, we don’t want to get cooties from people who live with them” No ambiguity here. Good to have such things out in the open.

  • Marion F. S.

    Thank you Jana for this post. I do not want a “church of two” and am glad that you remain.

    I feel for, and with those that say “all SHOULD leave”. Go in peace, I do not know my tomorrow, maybe you will be there to comfort me if I am compelled to leave. But I still hope and work for a day when our fe/male hands bless all, and baptize everyone that desires to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

    I sorrow for those who have been singled out “to be thought less of”, by our church. Here it is quite literally so – by driving them away/not letting them in we can mind LGBTQ people and their families less. – Is that what we want?

    I often see a wish to do good, to promote truth, and to be true to oneself whatever path is chosen: to stay or to leave. But I agree: “The church is those flawed individuals. It is us.” And that is a sobering thought, an important call to service and to speak up. – And a call for introspection.

  • Jana, beautiful piece. I’m not sure Church leaders were necessarily motivated by a desire for purity so much as a desire for clarity. The concept of “apostasy” relates directly to the idea of “doctrine.” And the Church is here underlining a doctrinal stance that should surprise no one.

    How or why this should relate to children in the way leaders have decided still baffles me. That is the most painful aspect of this.

    But your point about purity stands nonetheless. Thank you for your willingness to roll your sleeves up and get a bit messy.

  • Bob

    Jana, I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now. I have always appreciated your candor, your wisdom, your passion. This is one of my favorite posts yet. Bless you. And keep them coming.

  • Mumski

    Perhaps some just found the ‘timing’ convenient. After all, tithing settlement begins at the end of the month…

  • Wayne Dequer

    There are many with genuine questions and concerns about this policy change and a few individuals who are purposely trying to inflame emotions to forward their own agendas and increase polarization. The swirling interactions and currents thus generated make these difficult waters in which to navigate right now. Today the waters have become a little clear with a letter of clarification from the First Presidency at https://www.lds.org/pages/church-handbook-changes?cid=HP_WE_11-11-2015_dPFD_fCNWS_xLIDyL1-A_&lang=eng .

    Members of the LDS faith have 2 great responsibilities: 1) To comfort those that mourn and minister with compassion to All, 2) To sustain our leaders called by inspiration and revelation. We should Not expect or demand them to be inerrant, infallible, and/or perfect. We should pray for them trusting their basic goodness enough to take time to also pray for understanding about this policy and giving our feelings time to clarify.

    We can and should do both.

  • Wayne Dequer

    (Continued) We can and should do both, although jumping to just one or the other is tempting. (my source for the idea of these two responsibilities was Neal Rappleye “Learning How to Be a Latter-day Saint: An Opportunity” at http://www.studioetquoquefide.com/ ).

    I think we should remind ourselves that the core doctrines of the restored gospel teach that because of the our Heavenly Father’s Great Plan of Happiness and Salvation and atonement of Jesus Christ that All of humanity will have opportunities to understand and consider the gospel, be baptized, and receive All of God’s blessings.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    The brethren are empowered by the knowledge that the vast majority of Mormons will do the easy thing, and simply roll over and accept whatever they do.

  • Tonya

    The Lord has spoken through the mouth of His servant period. The structure of the church is perfect, we are flawed. All Heavenly Father has to work with is imperfect people. When I raised my hand to sustain these men as representatives of the Lord’s church, I made that promise to my Father. Has any stopped to think this is about the children? To not drive a wedge between them and their families, which is against God’s plan to do that. So that they don’t have to choose from their families that take care of them and their beliefs until they are old enough to make that decision for their self. Love the sinner, not the sin. It’s the Lord’s way, not man. It is sad those that are leaving, that already seem to have had a weak testimony of the true gospel.

  • Tonya

    The Lord doesn’t bend His ways to make man happy. We need to do all we can to follow His laws. Like Saul of the old testament learned, we can’t change the Lord’s commandments to suit our own wants.

  • Larry

    OK, if you are such a traditionalist and wish to uphold the eternal message of the Bible, please stop posting and remain silent, as all women must do when men talk of the Bible.

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
    1 Timothy 2:12

    “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak”
    1 Corinthians 14:35

    Your rules. You said you can’t change Lord’s commandments to suit your own wants.* 🙂

    *Of course hypocrisy is a feature of religious belief, not a downside. It allows people to adopt fact free, contradictory and self-serving points of view without ever worrying about being consistent or rational.

  • cwandrews

    Once again, I’m disappointed by a toe-in-the-water approach to an LDS issue from Jana. It’s easy to disagree, and even wax on a bit about your reasons to stay with the LDS Church (good on you, btw).

    Here’s my question: What do you want the Church of Jesus Christ to look like? Are we talking about policy by synod? Should we bring democratic voting mechanisms into leadership selections, or possibly some kind of party system?

    Whatever the answer, it will invariably place popular opinion of man ahead of revelation. Once that were to occur, then the Mormon church becomes just another institute of Man.

    Revelation is hard…always has been, always will be. God forbid something as hard as polygamy comes along. Ten years ago this wouldn’t have caused even a small ripple.

  • HarryStamper

    I remember a long long time ago, Jana and her friends said the samething. She said Father, why are you kicking out our brother Lucifer and all of our other brothers and sisters? Michael and Gabriel made a video to help explain, some got the message, offers didn’t, that’s when Jana started her first blog. Should we join Lucifer or stay? Better to stay and prove Father wrong. Since that day people continue to listen to the wrong voice…but you will be as the gods knowing good and evil…etc etc etc

  • Jen

    You don’t get it. The wedge is just delayed until 18. It is a wedge, just a delayed wedge, should the child deicide to “disavow” the relationship that raised him/her. It isn’t sad that people are leaving, it is likely really GOOD for the people that are. It’s sad that so many members often have to be put in the apologist position to defend something they love. At a certain point, people can’t take it anymore, because well, it doesn’t feel Christ driven at all. I would never presume anything about the strength of their testimony, that’s wildly narrow minded. There is a reason there isn’t just one religion on the earth… one size does not fit all. Let them go without your pity, and find peace.

  • HarveyP

    This writer’s life seems like a huge contradiction.Denounce the church and its leaders and teachings incessantly yet faithfully attend every week. I guess I just don’t understand what she really wants out of life.

  • lfg

    The policy has already been modified. Please see the new First Presidency letter at lds.org, especially the third and fourth paragraphs. There are still some serious concerns to be addressed, but this is welcome news nevertheless.

  • Ladybug

    I have numerous family members who are directly affected by this clarification of doctrine, and the policy which has now been published and henceforth shall be implemented. It has been a time of much introspection for me. I do not fool myself by thinking that anything which I may say here will “change the minds of, or have influence over, anyone else”, I simply wish to share my feelings, my testimony of those things which I know within my heart…The timing of this policy being revealed, was a result of the need for it, as a result of the recent changes in “the laws of the land”. I am learning and growing in my empathy for those who are trying to come to an understanding of “how they fit into Father’s plan” as they have a sincere desire to be a part of his Kingdom on Earth, and yet struggle with same gender attraction. Like many, I am yet still, earnestly seeking for personal confirmation regarding All aspects of this policy, but I do have an undeniable testimony of our living…

  • Harold North

    “After a while the Gentiles will gather to this place by the thousands and Salt Lake will be classified among the wicked cities of the world. A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the result will be financial bondage.” – Heber C. Kimball

  • Ladybug

    ….Prophet. There may be others in leadership positions within the structure of the church, who have and will make mistakes, some may have need for severe repentance as a result of their misuse of stewardship. But I also know that this is the Lord’s work…..The Lord will NEVER allow “His Prophet” to mislead or guide “His church” astray.

    I also feel that “this” is just a “glimmer” of what is coming…..Those “last days” are Now! There will be a rush of revelation, much more that the Lord will be revealing to His children in the days approaching the return of our Savior. If we do not hold fast to our testimonies of our Prophet, His spokesman, we will not be prepared to joyfully greet our Brother.

  • Andy, I think you misunderstood her post. She wasn’t trying to say that people who are leaving are the ones making a drive for purity. She is saying that church leaders are going for purity and that is driving folks off. Those who are leaving are doing so because their conscience tells them to do it. The “purity drive” is coming from leadership. At least that is how I read it.

  • Kelly

    On the flip side, to stay in a church in order to change it is the wrong reason to stay. More and more, it seems to me, Jana, that your goal is to alter the church to suit your specifications. You are trying to build the church in YOUR image. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, this is a policy, and totally changeable. I get that. But you have a problem with the doctrine itself, and I get the impression that you believe it to be your job to work towards changing that doctrine. You don’t get to do that. Our job is not to change the church. Our job is, through humble faith, to allow the church to change us. We all have our stumbling blocks, and yes, this policy is very hard for a great many people. But if the rules change, they will do so in GOD’S time, and in God’s way. Your own agenda notwithstanding. And no amount of pissing and moaning from disgruntled members is going to change that. IF it changes, it will be when we are humble. Not angry.

  • Kelly

    Well said, Ron! And thank you for your take on this, especially as a non-member.

  • Actually, what they have done is exactly opposite. Instead of letting parents decide how to raise their children, they are stepping in and telling them they *cannot* raise them as members in the church. Today’s letter from the First Presidency explaining the changes refers to other restrictions, including that minors are not baptized without parent permission. That is a policy that respects parents’ wishes. This new policy seems to assume that parents who are in a same-sex relationship do not have the ability to make proper decisions for their children and the church must step in, out of “love”, and make that decision for them. It is the only case I know of where the church categorically rejects parents’ wishes. The First Presidency letter restricts the cases covered by this policy, but it still interferes in the ability of gay parents to raise their children as they wish.
    (The letter: https://www.lds.org/pages/church-handbook-changes?lang=eng)

  • No, the anger is not because gays and lesbians are being targeted, but because their children are being denied the blessings of church membership that most of us value and appreciate.

  • It is not the church’s job to make those decisions. It is the parents’ job. It is their right to decide if they can navigate those difficult waters with their children and to make it work for their family. The church may have the legal right to interfere in a family’s decisions this way, but I do not believe it has the moral right to do so.

  • Mike

    There are times when so called doctrine needs to be changed. You cant have it both ways. You cant say they will have all the blessings coming to them just not until they are 18 and tell everyone else how important the holy ghost is in their lives from a young age. The racist doctrine banning back people from the priesthood and temple was wrong and needed changing. This is a policy and needs changing.

  • Wendilynn

    They aren’t being denied. They are being asked to wait. I wish when people reported on these things they would report it properly. There is a big difference between denied and asked to wait. Waiting till you can stand on your own feet. Many people have had to wait for a baptism or ordination for a variety of reasons. My children would have had to wait if their non member father had been the least unwilling to have them take part in LDS ordinances. This is not a new policy. I’m sad that families are choosing to walk away instead of teach their children about faith and patience.

  • DougH

    Tortdog, it wasn’t a matter of it eventually being the right thing to do to leave the original Church, but that the original Church had ceased to exist even if an outward form was left. Yes, in many ways this new policy is a “hard teaching,” even if it is truly in accordance with God’s Will. But unless you believe that this means that the Church is no longer God’s Church, then to turn away from it is also to turn away from God. It was not easy for the first generation of the restored Church to accept the practice of polygamy. It was not easy for the generations of Blacks that stayed with the Church through the over a century that the ban on Black priesthood holders was in effect. Either way, THIS is God’s Church.

  • ron

    With all the politicking on what the policy means I am so thankful for living prophets in the church that are available to assist the lower lay clergy on a case by case basis helping bishops uphold the comandments as well as show compassion to those in need. Our church definetly cares about individual needs and the prophet guides our church by revelation.

  • Fred M

    I also believe in a living prophet. But I do not deny him his agency. Who knows exactly what “lead astray” means, but he can definitely make mistakes and teach things that are false. Prophets throughout history have, including some of our own (Brigham Young taught that dark skin was a curse, a teaching which is now disavowed). Follow the prophet, but verify through the spirit!

  • MJC

    Thank you Jana. As always, your perspective, courage, & faith are appreciated. I have been sick not just over the pain this is causing but st the sense that leaving feels like all I can do at this point. But maybe not–can’t remember if you were at the Midwest pilgrims retreat w/Chieko Okazaki when she said every time one of us leaves, the circle gets smaller. It’s so hard with a policy like this not to think that a smaller circle is exactly what the brethren want, but I cannot believe it’s what Christ wants. Thank you for helping me see that staying and maintaining integrity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  • ron

    Such a mean and over generalized comment. If you agree it must be because you rollover. Im speechless!

  • ron

    …Wrestle the moral authority away from the priesthood and make it indistinguishable from false religion.

  • ron

    Proof?

  • Mike

    My sweet grandpa is one of them.

  • Marian Easthope

    Well said. This very carefully crafted letter has the appearance of being sensible and emphatic. It falls apart after a few paragraphs right here: “But those of us who are not directly affected by this policy…”
    WE ARE ALL DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY THIS POLICY!!!! The world is affected by this policy. What I read is that she is bothered, slightly upset, but not outraged or disheartened. You are correct to ask: What is the moral breaking point then?

  • Alison

    maybe there’s a concerted effort to lower the number of Mormons to 144,000.

  • Jimmy Fowler

    My great grandpa was once called into the prophet’s office and asked 9f he had a testimony. He answered, “I have a testimony in the gospel;but the church has a bunch of damn fools in it.” Reckon this applies to the people who think kids can’t be baptized if one of their parents are gay.

  • david

    But the prophets have been wrong in the past and it took the members expressing concerns for the “revealed doctrine” to be changed. Adam God theory was taught by Brigham Young several times during general conference (the prophets words during conference are scripture right?) and it and the blood oath were included in the temple endowment but later removed and “disavowed” by the church after several prominent members rose up and rejected it. Brigham Young was wrong and so maybe Monson is too. Just because a prophet declares something to be “divine revelation” doesn’t mean it is.

  • david

    Elder Maxwell said, “It never ceases to amaze me how gullible the Latter-day Saints can be.”
    lds.org

  • david

    quoting kimball, really?!
    “Women are made to be led, and counselled [sic] and directed. If they are not led, and do not make their cables fast to the power and authority they are connected with, they will be damned,”

    “If any of you will deny the plurality of wives and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned…”

    “I think no more of taking another wife than I do of buying a cow.”

    “It is the duty of a woman to be obedient to her husband, and unless she is, I would not give a damn for all her queenly right and authority…”

    and on and on and on…..

  • david

    But prophets HAVE led us astray. Brigham Young taught Adam God theory several times during conference and later prophets had to “disavow” the church of that doctrine. What else does a prophet have to do to lead us astray if doctrine given from him to the church during conference doesn’t count? Honestly, I want to know because I struggle with things like this.

  • david

    amen

  • Delbert

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. The same apostles and prophets I have loved for years and who have inspired me are the ones who felt like this policy was right. Do you think it was easy for them to do? I assure you they prayed fervently to God to let them know what was right at this time. I have a firm testimony that these men have been called of God and their purpose is to stand as a witness of Christ and lead the church as directed by God and Jesus thru revelation. I can’t even fathom leaving this church that has men how receive revelation from God. Rather than impulsively leaving try understanding why God feels this is the right policy.

  • David

    maybe they are just wrong. It could be that simple.

  • james

    Did you feel empathy when writing this Andy? Compassion, not “purity” or logic, allows us all to transform, to stand closer to God. Would you agree that winning at debate is a short lived triumph?

  • jim

    It can be painfully dark and frightening to do the right thing Jared. Fear becomes rigidity becomes Judgement becomes Doctrine becomes Offensiveness (now) becomes Defensiveness (now) and finally becomes Antiquity.

    Church leadership would be wise to face its fear of true love and acceptance–rather than continuing to demonize a population attracted to the same sex. Look inward to the bitterness by which it defines itself.

    Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception. In one or two generations this will be done regardless. That is just the way of things.

  • Leavetaking. It’s what pioneers do.

  • ron

    Names?…verifiable claims?…prove it.

  • ron

    Especially when they think civil law will change gods law.

  • ron

    By the same token Maybe their right. I believe in the lords pattern of revelation. His spirit has borne witness to me that the apostles words are true.

  • Charo

    I am surprise at how members of the church are reacting to these policies against gays and no one said anything about the 181-year curch policy about denying blacks of the priesthood and of the blessings of the gospel in general. The church already admitted that it was no doctrine and that it was a result of general, cultural posture of the US against slavery and negroes. The could also be considered religious discrimination and for all the wrong reasons. Thousands of children have lived and died, without the blessing of living the fullness of the true gospel. This is interesting and I believe worth analyzing.

  • Charo

    I agree with the fact that we will be judged by our ations and by our true belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Further than that one has to admit that men/women are deeply flawed to be able to carry the work of God on earth. We must protect our faith in God himself and be in close contact with our inner moral compass to make the right decisions about our lives.

  • Charo

    Can anyone help me with insight on:
    Has homosexualism been proved to be a result of a) nature, (being born that way) or, b) nurtured, (acquisition as a result of exposure). I have tried to research this issue but so far, I cannot find any reliable source that brings light. I remind you that churches based their treatment of the homosexual issue on the “choice of lifestyle” notion and not on the fact that people cannot make decisions.

  • Elder Anderson

    Charo: I might be able to help, but don’t want to re-invent the wheel. You mentioned you’ve done some research. What sources have you already read on this topic?

  • trytoseeitmyway

    “Discordant view?” Through understatement you misrepresent the issue raised by your interlocutor. The issue is not holding a discordant view – any of us may do that. The issue is leaving, quitting, resigning, along with (in many of those same cases) expressing disdain and even hatred. That’s the issue. Go ahead and justify that.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    See, there is nothing atrocious about it. As the Church leaders are at pains to observe, the same policies have been in effect for decades with respect to polygamous families. And yet we never heard a peep out of you for all that time about the supposed atrociousness of the policies. The only reason you think any of this is atrocious is that you think that same sex coupling ought to be treated for all doctrinal and ecclesiastical purposes as equivalent to husband-wife marriage. But, you know, that’s Just. Not. So. Those relationships aren’t equivalent to marriage in the eyes of God and won’t ever be, despite your pop-culture influenced political viewpoints. I hope that clears this up for you.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Genuinely silly comment. Displaying no empathy by the way.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    1. No you’re not. 2. The video said and explained much more than you’re acknowledging.

  • Scheherazade

    A disappointing response from Jana.

    Some might call her inability to claim this policy change as her own tragedy, an expression of insensitivity, blindness, or a failure of empathetic imagination. I call it psychologically explainable.

    Whether she knows it or not, Jana conducted a cost-benefit analysis, and concluded that staying in the church benefits her more than leaving would.

    I have no doubt that she was sincerely “livid” about the church policy, but, on balance, what she derives from the church (including personal relationships, professional advantages, and so forth) outweighs the psychological disruption of discovering that her church was capable of this kind of policy and practice.

    In order to reduce the internal tension created by this policy (manifest as anger, sorrow, or confusion, depending on the person in question), she managed to convince herself that she was staying in order to try to change the church. She might even believe it.

  • Chizzy

    Thanks for being judgmental and hateful. That’s what we all need in the Church right now. People like you telling faithful members that aren’t. Good luck explaining that to Jesus some day.

  • Chizzy

    I think Jana and myself and less interested in making the church in our image and more in Christ’s image. This policy runs contrary to his teachings and the spirit of love he exudes. So if this is truly inspired and from Christ, we need a little more explanation than what they’ve given.

    If it was 1970, you would be arguing that Black men still shouldn’t have the priesthood. Something that clearly was wrong and went against the teachings of Jesus then and now and has been acknowledged by the Church as false teaching. And you would be telling people like us that we are trying to make the church in our own image. So instead of being self righteous, why don’t you respect the thoughts of others enough to note that the church is not perfect?

  • Tortdog

    One is certainly left with no alternative when the LDS Church, through errors wrought by its earth leaders, make mistakes. Those blacks who were robbed of the opportunity to receive blessings rightfully theirs had no alternative. So who pays that price … the price of cutting people off from blessings that they should have received and whose lives could have been enriched but for a good-intentioned but harmful policy?

    While I do not advocate leaving the Church over this issue (or any issue, as per the prophecies of old), to be bothered by this policy and not embrace it I see no harm, and in fact perhaps some wisdom and a taste of tolerance that the Christ would have. The First Presidency itself went out and “clarified” the policy (though children who have not yet embarked on the LDS journey are clearly left out).

    I am speaking more to the Jana’s, and pushing back against other LDS who have a tendency to condemn a discordant view rather than a more tempered path.

  • jim

    Agree, though at least I know was being flippant, careful not to robotically quote memorized, cultish, antiquitious concepts that I falesly believe to be my own actual thoughts. My hope was to merely point out the blatant hypocrisy of judging and denying others, all while cloaked in the teaching of Jesus. Do you not see this?? Amazing (not grace).

    Let’s both have some fun. Instead of being “at pains” to observe outdated hateful beliefs, let’s look into the near future–after the keepers of judgement have all risen to their elevated place (an exclusionary ecclesiastical club…i.e. Heavan) and simply pray that younger generations can avoid working so very hard to deny others true equality.

  • I’m not resigning, I’ll just wait to be excommunicated. The people that the Church rejects need a home so they too may have the same hope in Christ. If they gets me kicked out, at least I’ll know I’m following the Lord. They can kick me out of the Church but they cannot remove me from the Kingdom.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Not sure how anyone was supposed to know you were being flippant, or why you imagine flippancy to be appropriate to the context. Oh well. I would respond to your other comments but now I have to figure you’re just being flippant, so why bother.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Judgmental and hateful? Hmmm. I think you meant insightful. But maybe to you, they mean the same thing. Too bad.

    En passant, “TBM” is a pejorative term. As a genuine self-description, it fails because the “t” (for “true”) is redundant for a believing Mormon. The phrase derives from a term, “true believer” coined by Eric Hoffer in the early ’50s as a disparagement for American Christians.

    Substantively, it is illogical for you to assert your faithful adherence to Mormon teaching while you say things like “[the] policy [announced by the First Presidency] runs contrary to Christ’s own teachings” and when you express such a dishonest, factually wrong interpretation of statements made by an apostle of Jesus Christ. I called that hypocrisy to your attention. You’re welcome.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I’m baffled by your bafflement. Possibly you need to think through the practical realities of this. A same-sex couple, by definition living in sin and apostasy (if either is a member of the Church) sends their “child” (actually that couple has no natural child, but you knew that – there is some third person involved who probably has his or her own hurt to deal with) to Church to be baptized. Why? What is the logic of that? The child will be taught at Church (if indeed the faux parents bring the child to church ever afterward – again, why?) where the child will be taught that homosexual relations are contrary to the law of chastity. The child is taught at home that the faux parents’ “lifestyle” is normal and natural and perfectly OK. Can’t you see how this sets up inevitable conflict? Are you really that baffled? Or just befuddled?

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Nice. Good comments.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    This is possibly a bit overdrawn.

  • When all is said and done, that’s the REAL QUESTION, isn’t it Tineke? The odd”logic”of holding on to an institution that has clearly rejected both you AND your children…wow.

  • Cynicism towards institutions – shedding illusions – has been what’s helped me stay in the Church too. The less I expect of it the less disappointed I am. And these days I don’t expect much of it at all.

    It behaves like an institution because it is one. It is a product of culture, and the culture that hosts it has more stupidities than can be counted. And that has been a problem from the very start. I remember vaguely the Brigham Young quote about the danger of prosperity to the settlers in Utah, that because of their prosperity they might kick themselves out of the Church – instead, people have stayed in the Church as they have been corrupted by wealth, and as a result the Church has been very much of the world without members being willing to admit it. I think the sexual (and political) hyper-correctness and harsh condemnation of sexual sin come from an unconscious awareness of this and a desperate desire to find something that we can be really different about.

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  • Scott

    This was a wise policy. It’s actually not new but it was recently codified. Good for the church to hold to their beliefs. It’s actually meant to provide a healthier family environment until the child leaves home. Exceptions can be requested through proper priesthood channels. As far as members resigning, let them go. The church baptizes nearly 400,000 new members each year. While it would be nice for these LGBT folks to repent as well as their supporters and start following the living prophet, I for one won’t be shedding any tears as they go. Many thousands of baptized members go inactive each year and many thousands of less active members become more active. It’s a natural cycle.

    Unlike the priesthood issue the LDS Church will hold firm on this because its a mortal sin. Either repent or get out. The church will be healthier once these folks are gone. And when they mature and are ready to come back the church will be there with open arms.

    Now to the proud and the wicked -…

  • Scott

    Don’t know what you’re reading but nothing you cited was “disavowed”. Funny.

  • David

    Bragging about baptisms-guess you cant/wont do the math. Here is another perspective for you. Increased number of missionaries by aprox. 50% translates in 5% increase in converts. Not really an effective use of church or teen resources.

  • David

    Oh, another ignorant mormon. Maybe you go search ld$.org and see for yourself how the chuch said these teaching of thr prophet during conference we wrong or maybe you really believe that “when a prophet speaks, the thinking is done” and by extension that adam is god, the equal rights amendment is evil, the civil rights movement was a communist plot to take over the country… (all easily found on byu.edu and lds.or).

  • David

    the church will hold firm…
    Blacks and priesthood 1949
    “The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.”
    First Presidency, The First Presidency on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949
    Commandment NOT policy.

    Blacks and the priesthood 2015 essay:
    “Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy”
    Policy NOT commandment.
    Opps, withholding the priesthood wasn’t really a commandment but a policy and policies can change. Once all of the 15 bigots die and are replaced by younger men and ideas, you will see that the position on the ” mortal sin” will soften/change. It’s happened many times in the past and…

  • If you want to stay in the church that discriminates against little children unless those children vociferously disavow their parents as evil – you go right ahead. You seem pretty smug – good luck with that. I hope you are called to Sunday school positions where you’ll have to look your second-class membership Right In The Eyes.

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  • Memba

    I am late to this discussion. But once again, I agree with Jana and I am able to live with whatever cognitive dissonance I feel about LDS issues because I accept that the church is imperfect.

    I didn’t see anyone mention this, but it really troubled me when I heard quotes from the Deseret News saying, “most of these people (who resigned) were inactive already”. To me, the implication of this is also to say, ” no big loss–the worth of souls is great in the eyes of God–unless they are inactive, and then their worth is less great. Don’t let the door hit your butts on the way out, you slackers”.

    I find it hard to believe that our church can allow opinions and ideas like this to be professed about any of God’s children (the LDS church owns the Deseret News). Are we really discounting the worth of souls because they are inactive, gay, children of gays, etc.? Do we really believe that God somehow loves these children less than us wonderful chosen people?

    Doesn’t seem…