The Mormon Church has updated its definition of apostasy to include same-sex marriage, according to Salt Lake City’s ABC affiliate, KUTV. The teaching was included in Handbook #1, a church document that is only available to priests and other church leaders. After a screenshot of the document was leaked online, a LDS church spokesman confirmed that it was accurate:
It’s important to note that being in a same-sex marriage is placed higher on the list than formally leaving the church, the literal dictionary definition of apostasy.
As KUTV points out, the Mormon Church had been grappling with questions related to its LGBT members following the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit states from denying marriage rights to same-sex couples, and this document shows that they’ve decided to double down on their previous policy of exclusion. As they wrote, “The legalization of same-sex marriage following the Supreme Court ruling in June raised the question of whether there might be room for monogamous, legally married, same-sex couples in the church. The new definition appears to close that door.”
But that’s not all. From the Salt Lake City Tribune:
As for children, a separate section of the handbook says that natural or adopted kids of same-sex parents, whether married or just living together, may not receive a naming blessing.
The policy also bars children from being baptized, confirmed, ordained to the church priesthood or recommended for missionary service without the permission of the faith’s highest leaders — the First Presidency.
To get that permission, the policy states that a request must be made through a mission president or a regional church leader, and only after two requirements are met. Those requirements are that a child is committed to living church doctrine and “specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage,” is 18 “and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”
It’s bad enough for your religion to preach that homosexuality is an abomination that’s incompatible with the faith, but this extra step is cruel and unusual. The Church has just decreed that children, through the mere accident of being born or adopted into a same-sex household, are less-deserving participation in the faith, and must actively denounce their parents in order to take part in the religion’s core rites of passage. In other words, it isn’t just immoral to be gay or lesbian; it’s immoral to not hate gays or lesbians. This runs counter to the Church’s previous insistence that members are welcome to feel however they wish about same-sex couples and that they respect the Supreme Court’s decision, even if the Church itself would not allow same-sex marriages to be performed on Church property.
As I’ve written before, as long as the Mormon Church adheres to the law, it’s up to them how they want to approach same-sex relationships. It isn’t this atheists place to force them to change. But I will say that Mormons who care about “the values of love and service” may want to think twice about what it means to be affiliated with a Church that preaches this kind of clear immorality. If there’s one thing we know about the Mormon Church, it’s that their primary concern is presiding over a steady increase in the number of Mormons — in this life and the next. Until their anti-LGBT doctrines come with a cost, which is to say until they lead to a net decline in Church membership, they won’t see any reason to change.