Yesterday, Nov. 5, from the deepest, darkest cavity of LDS headquarters, where not even Christ himself can venture, came a pestilent, homophobic plot to alienate and embarrass the children of same-sex couples. Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, upper-crust gentlemen whose righteousness, if not their sexuality, is unquestionable, uttered in hushed, muted whispers the details of their devious plan to purge queerness from the ranks of Mormon youth. They emerged, after much hand-wringing, fist-waving and head-shaking, with a divine amendment to the official Mormon Handbook, that states that no child of a same-sex couple may join their sanctimonious club until he or she reaches the age of 18, and until they absolutely disavow “the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.”
Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the Church, justified the amendment by saying, “While [the Church] respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”
Hawkins’s tepid explanation, however, is missing a crucial premise because this new policy targets the innocent children of same-sex couples, not the culprits of promiscuous cohabitation themselves.
I think it’s worth noting the severity of homosexuality as perceived by the LDS church. Considered among the most vile of sins, it is listed in the Handbook as a “serious transgression,” alongside “murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others … and deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities.” Ignoring the powerful feeling of repulsion that wells up in me as I contemplate these crooked comparisons, I can’t help but notice an obvious fallacy in the Church’s line of thinking. After all, they welcome the faultless children of murderers and rapists with open arms, and no little one whose parents have abandoned them would ever be barred from participating in Mormonism. So why, then, would children of same-sex parents be prevented?
I suspect it is because, unlike other sins, Mormons view homosexuality as incurable, and potentially infectious, and the wise Elders fear that many of their young people, if exposed to the queer virus, might succumb to its symptoms. The consequences of such an outbreak would very likely shatter the carefully-constructed veneer of the perfect Mormon family. In short, it would taint the Church’s brand image.
The LDS Church has declared that they alone possess a map to God-hood, and nowhere on that divinely plotted path is there room for one to stray into homosexuality. The Church’s whole pitch is based around the notion that they can teach us wayward mortals how to transcend sin and attain eternal perfection, and that means maintaining immunity from the perversions of homosexuality. Yet church Elders need look no further than their own hearts to recognize the dubiousness of this assumption. Rather than acknowledge the supposedly God-forsaken passions pulsing violently beneath the saintly, shallow surfaces of so many of its members, the Church denies them entirely and expects its members to do the same — at all costs.
The greatest costs of this unnaturally tenacious denouncement of homosexuality? A loss of clarity, loss of reason and compassion. The greatest benefit, on the other hand, is the preservation of its brand image as one founded on traditional, Christian family values. Yet as our national consciousness continues to evolve toward greater tolerance, love and equality for all, church Elders are seized by the fear that this sentiment will permeate their ranks and inspire hordes of closeted Mormon boys and girls to step out of the shadows. Therefore the Elders rebel vehemently against the ways of the world, invoking temporal intimidation and eternal damnation against all those who would dare to defy the church’s specious promise to the world that it is made up entirely of good, heterosexual families.
Thus, it was fear and self-loathing, not divine insight, that inspired church Elders to defy the wisdom of Christ and deny the blameless children of same-sex couples entry into their sect. They are waging war, not against an ethical transgression, but against an idea — the idea that homosexuality is indeed a natural, socially acceptable phenomenon. This battle calls to mind a similar one that the church once fought against the idea that black people possess the same moral and intellectual capacities as white people. The church finally waved the white flag on the black issue in the ‘70s, and I wonder how long it will take them to end their hateful aggression against the LGBTQ+ community. While I pray that reason and mercy compel church leaders to surrender soon, I am greatly distressed by the thought that this newly-enacted policy disallowing membership to children of same-sex couples will cruelly and unnecessarily victimize masses of innocent kids.
My worry lies less with the most obvious implications of the Handbook amendment — I don’t imagine many children, upon reaching the magical age of 18, will be eager to denounce the parents who’ve loved and nurtured them for their entire lives in order to join a cult of accusatory homophobes. Rather, I am concerned for the health of the social environment which this policy cultivates. It sends a message to all Mormons, and all Utahns, that same-sex couples are no better than murderous rapists and that even their children are unworthy of acceptance. I can only imagine the damage that attitude will inflict on peace-loving same-sex couples and on their blameless babies.
Furthermore, my heart aches and fears for the closeted children born into the LDS church, who are inextricably entrenched in LDS culture and whose lives will be marked by a constant suppression of their innate sexual desires and by an intentional denial of unconditional self-love. These tormented souls will serve as petri-dishes for a uniquely penetrating kind of pain, which will only continue to proliferate and spread until church Elders release their agonizing members from the self-imposed, socially reinforced states of purgatory to which rampant homophobia currently subjects them.
I will leave you with a few insights drawn directly from the Good Book that appear relevant to this discussion. The first one is eternally etched on the Ten Commandments: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land.” Clearly, this amendment to the LDS Handbook encourages, nay, requires God’s children to rebuke His divinely consecrated commandment, which cannot be good. Additionally, from the lips of Christ himself came this sagacious advice, which I sincerely hope the Church will heed: “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” If the LDS Church is true, and if its leaders earnestly believe in it, then they would do well to welcome all children into their earthly empire, lest they arrive on the other side of eternity only to find their names conspicuously absent from God’s list of preferred guests.