LDS Church adds more clarification to same-sex marriage policy in Handbook 1
(KUTV) Membership or priesthood privileges for children who are already baptized and living primarily with a same-gender couple won't be affected by the recent updates to the Handbook 1, according to the LDS church's statement issued on Friday.
In light of recent policy updates involving same-sex couples and the children who live with them, the LDS church issued a statement meant to help those with questions better understand Handbook 1.
"Members understandably had specific questions about how the announced change might affect their loved ones," wrote Michael Otterson, Managing Director of LDS Church Public Affairs in a statement on Friday.
In a separate letter issued from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it also clarified that decisions about future ordinances or participation for children in these circumstances should be made by local leaders who should primarily consider the "best interests of the child," according to the statement.
The new statement from the First Presidency in part states:
The provisions of Handbook 1, Section 16.13, that restrict priesthood ordinances for minors, apply only to those children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. As always, local leaders may request further guidance in particular instances when they have questions.
When a child living with such a same-gender couple has already been baptized and is actively participating in the Church, provisions of Section 16.13 do not require that his or her membership activities or priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld. Decisions about any future ordinances for such children should be made by local leaders with their prime consideration being the preparation and best interests of the child.
Read the LDS Church's statement from the First Presidency in it's entirety here:
Last Wednesday, the church released an internal instructional document to worldwide leaders stating that children living in a same-sex household may not be blessed as babies or baptized.
The church explained Friday why they did not issue a church-wide announcement.
"Because the letter was an instructional document to leadership throughout the world, and not a Church-wide announcement through LDS.org or through Church Public Affairs, there was no additional information or context on the usual Church websites."
The change detailed what was considered apostasy within the church. In addition to the previous definitions of apostasy, the new version declared members who "are in a same-gender marriage" qualify as apostate. Leaders were required to pursue church discipline for anyone who meets these definitions.
The news caused LGBT advocates to issue statements and ask what this development now meant for them.
As questions from the general public arose about each specific case-by-case scenario involving children who live in a same-gender marriage household, the church issued a video a day later with a church spokesman interviewing Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about what the changes meant.
The video saw more than 440,000 views alone on the church's newsroom YouTube channel.
In the statement on Friday, used the example of the situation to stress the dangers of "drawing conclusions based on incomplete news reports, tweets and Facebook posts without necessary context and accurate information."
"If there's one thing that virtually all Christians agree on, it's Jesus Christ's tender love of children. Both the Bible and Book of Mormon deliver touching accounts of His love for 'little ones,' blessing them and forbidding His disciples from keeping children from Him.
Otterson said last week an instructional letter from Church leadership that addressed the sensitive and controversial topic of respond to same-sex relationships "sparked a wave of inquiries from Church members. Most of the questions were about children."
Handbook 1 and its purpose described by church spokesman: