LDS Kids Punished for “Sins” of LGBTQ Parents

LDS Temple, Salt Lake City

LDS Temple, Salt Lake City

I grew up Mormon, and I’m dispirited by a new policy announced last week:

Mormon children of same-sex couples can no longer be blessed as babies, baptized, ordained to the priesthood, serve missions or join the LDS church until they turn 18. And only then if they leave their homes and disavow their parent’s same-sex relationship.

The Salt Lake Tribune writes about Nick Literski, a gay man from Seattle, who feels physically shaken by the news.

He left the Mormon church when he came out as gay in 2006. But his 17-year-old daughter, who lives with her mom, is preparing for a mission that she hopes to serve in a couple of years.

Nick supports his daughter’s desire to serve but says,

That may be impossible now (because) she now can’t serve a mission unless she ‘disavows’ her own father’s life — basically convinces a (churches authority) that she’s sufficiently disgusted by me.

I’m heartsick. It’s so incredibly unfair to put her in this position.

As I said, I grew up Mormon, but left because of inequalities that didn’t sit well with me.

The LDS faithful have, in the past, been encouraged to fight against gay rights and women’s rights. And for years, blacks were denied the ability to hold priesthood. (The LDS church has since reversed the ban on black-held priesthood.)

Mormon mom for gay marriage

Mormon mom for gay marriage

But this new code is especially confusing since members have never before been punished for other’s behavior — a move which runs counter to the spirit of the church’s 2nd “Article of Faith” which says:

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

Some say it’s not a “punishment.” But feeling left out of so much would feel like one to many kids. “” talks about her parent’s breakup after her dad came out as gay. She says at The Exponent,

Don’t, for one second, think you (the church leadership) would have been protecting me from anything — not being allowed to be baptized would have been a source of deep sorrow and shame for me. Not to mention what this would have done to my mother, who was and is a committed member of the church. This would have absolutely broken her heart. To add that burden on her after all that she carried…there are no words for that cruelty.

Religion News Service columnist, and Mormon, Jana Riess, wonders why children born out of wedlock, or children of rapists and murderers, may be baptized and blessed, but not kids with same-sex parents?

Growing up Mormon I listened as Sunday school teachers taught the Golden Rule and told me to be kind to others. “If you see a child who with no friends, go over and talk to her or him…”

What about that?

I’m with Mormon feminist, Maxine Hanks, who says,

My heart breaks…

I hope the strange, sudden policy change was due to gaps in communication and will be remedied. I can’t imagine it reflects a consensus among leaders — since it refutes other recent statements and progress in compassion, policy, intent, and thinking.

I hope the truth and pain of personal harm will be voiced and heard, and I hope our focus will be on solution and healing.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 11, 2015, in feminism, LGBT+, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. The LDS Church has had the same policy for children of polygamist unions. So this isn’t a new philosophy or a stretch.

    • This policy is worse than for polygamist families. Because in practice it works very differently.

      Polygamist children are rarely — if ever– raised inside LDS churches.

      The likelihood that they will want to join the LDS church won’t come, likely, until they are much older. Probably sometime in their teens.

      So they won’t have to:

      . feel like they are left out of having received a blessing at birth
      . be denied the opportunity to be baptized at eight years old, when all of their friends are getting baptized
      . be denied the opportunity to get the priesthood at age 12 when all of their friends are being ordained into the priesthood

      Also, polygamist parents won’t have to deal with the anguish of their children being left out of all that.

      Where there are situations where a child is raised inside the Mormon church by an LDS parent, but who has a polygamist parent outside the church, then the policy should change because it would be just as hard on the children.

      And here’s a situation where a child’s polygamist parents tried to get him involved in what they thought would be a more humane LDS church, but he was treated like a pariah: http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/3186680-155/allred-i-was-a-pawn-in

      “I was branded with a scarlet letter, the biggest kid in my grade with giant hearing aids and a funny way of talking. On top of all that, if there is one thing a Mormon doesn’t like, it’s a polygamist Mormon. The bullying and constant feeling of being “less than” among my classmates was brutal. This happened because I was paying the price for the choices and actions of my ancestors. I was being punished for my father’s sins, and not my own: a direct conflict of the Second Article of Faith… I was a pawn in the church’s grown-up version of bullying and intimidation, and now the children of gay people are, too.”

      Sad and disgusting!

      And if there is any other reason why polygamist children feel marginalized and lesser-than by LDS policy, then the policy should change for them too. For they are also being punished for the actions of others.

      How do you think these children raised inside the Mormon church will feel being constantly marginalized? That has got to be hard on your self-esteem.

      I was raised inside the Mormon church as a child of a divorced, single mom. And with how family-oriented the church was, with a focus on a nuclear family containing a father, mother and children, I constantly felt marginalized. Like I was a bit of an outsider and didn’t really fit in.

      And they continue to ban female priesthood, which also made me feel left out, surrounded by male leadership. Not to mention how I felt when the boys my age got the priesthood but I couldn’t. Or when my little brother got the priesthood but I couldn’t. Boys mature later than girls, too, which made the policy seems even crazier. I grew up feeling like my church was telling me that men were better than women, and it felt like a betrayal.

      (Meanwhile, in the New Testament Paul writes a letter thanking several church leaders, one third of whom are women. One is called an apostle and another is called a deacon. Plus, Paul — and The Book of Mormon — both say that all are one in Christ/alike unto God, male and female.)

      Both of those experiences that I just talked about contributed to my personal alienation from the church, and harmed my own self-esteem.

      But what these kids will experience will be even worse because they will be even more marginalized than I was.

      Church leaders are so “inside the circle” that it may be hard for them to imagine what it is like to be raised in a marginalized way, so I guess they don’t have a lot of empathy, having lacked that experience.

  2. I have many friends and family who are mormons and some even gay or lesbian. It was always strange to me that they wouldn’t “be themselves” at LDS church or among other members of family specifically the elderly. They hid themselves and acted like a male or female and coming out was out of the question. I was confused at first because I thought mormons accepted anyone until I found out about the black priesthood issue and not allowing them until recent years to hold priesthood. I always wondered why I would never run into a black missionary even, rare indeed.

    Religions are free to limit who they want in their circle just as Muslims have their own limitations and taboos. While the Mormon church is firm on condemning homosexuality, I don’t feel that it should condemn the children of those individuals. Those children are born into this world and didn’t ask for the sins of their parents. They should be able to still become members of the church and get all benefits as “normal” children. If they are secluding the children then they are going against what they teach and preach about love thy neighbor of the golden rule to do unto others what you would want to be done unto you. From the Bible John 8.7 where Jesus tells the accusers of a woman of adultery, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

  3. It’s a shame this is going on – and hurting families. As a Catholic, I have to remind myself often that it’s the institution and those running it that are doing the excluding and punishing and not God- and I find it is the same with many religions.

  4. No i do not think that those kids should be looked at differently for things, that they are not able to control. They can’t help their parents choices or they way they are they are just children that are living life normal just like kids with straight parents.

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