Compassion Over Condemnation

A new policy update for the Church of Jesus Christ hopes to share more love with members of the LGBTQ community


photo by Katie Golden

Rachel Morrell, Junior Co-Editor

In 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly called “Mormons” or “the LDS Church,” released a statement characterizing same-gender marriage by members as an “apostasy,” meaning that they are removed from church records and regarded no longer as members. In addition to this classification, the children of same-sex marriages could not be blessed as infants or baptized at the normal age of 8 but had to wait until they were at least 18 years of age and disavow same-sex marriage. This controversial policy hurt many members of the Church and divided their families, and many members renounced their religious affiliation. More recently, though, on April 4th of this year, the Church announced that it was updating the 2015 policy, now allowing children of same-sex marriages to be blessed and baptized at appropriate times.

This new change institutes a policy that does not change Church doctrine or standards regarding marriage and the law of chastity, but instead shifts the view of same-gender marriage. Now, same-sex marriage by a member will no longer be characterized as an “apostasy,” but rather as a “serious transgression.” Church members who identify within the LGBTQ community can still hold membership within the Church and have their children blessed as infants and baptized at the age of 8.

We can all try a bit harder to show compassion to everyone, regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity, or life choices.”

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency in the Church said the policies should help affected families.

“Our members’ efforts to show more understanding, compassion, and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of good will,” Oaks explained. “We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today. We are optimistic that a majority of people — whatever their beliefs and orientations — long for better understanding and less contentious communications. That is surely our desire, and we seek the help of our members and others to attain it.”

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am overjoyed at this new policy change. In the past when I have shared my religious beliefs, many friends have assumed that I “hate gay people and disregard them as people.” This is the exact opposite of my views. Because of the 2015 controversy, many ex-members and negative media have presented the Church as evil, selective, and hateful towards many groups.

Ironically, the negative societal views of my church contradict our core beliefs. The Church teaches that we should all be Christ-like in serving our neighbors, be humble and obedient, and love all people equally, regardless of their choices or backgrounds. The 2015 policy was an effort to protect children of homosexual marriages from issues or contention between the expectations of the Church and their parent’s beliefs and feelings, but this new change’s inspiration comes from an “eternal perspective,” kindness, and civility.

Personally, I have a member of my extended family who identifies as bisexual. When she came out, unfortunately around the same time as the 2015 policy, it was rough and heartbreaking to watch her slowly withdraw herself from the Church and no longer attend Sunday meetings and other Church events because of feeling like she was rejected and didn’t belong. My family and I still constantly reach out to her in an effort to share our love for her, but the Church and her personal life are still touchy topics for everyone.

The main reason I am writing this piece comes from my personal shock and confusion when many religious groups show hate and common disrespect to people within the LGBTQ community. I often question why people can say they follow Jesus yet express their hate towards people in harmful, degrading ways. I do understand and respect that all people are entitled to their beliefs, but they are also responsible for their own actions. Can we all hold our beliefs and respect others at the same time?

My personal rationale regarding the respect of people stands as “you might not agree with what they are doing, but they are still people. Show them the love and respect you would want.” Jesus didn’t condone sin, but he helped the sinners be better people and still showed them the compassion that they deserved.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I support and stand for the overall message of showing compassion and respect to everyone, regardless of religious beliefs or morals. Now, I’m not saying that we should all change the basic principles or values of specific religions and look down upon denominations that have different standards of same-sex marriage. Rather, as a human population, we can all try a bit harder to show compassion to everyone, regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity, or life choices.

Read more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints here and about the policy change here.