LDS Church adds same-sex marriage to definition of apostasy

Image: MGN

UPDATE: 11/13/2015 11:30 a.m. - LDS Church adds more clarification to same-sex marriage policy in Handbook 1

(KUTV) The LDS church has clarified to its leaders that being in a same-sex marriage is considered a form of apostasy.

The update came to what is known as Handbook 1, which is used as a guide for administering in the church, and is only available to LDS bishops and stake presidents.

A screen shot of the updated definition posted on image-sharing website Imgur was confirmed to be accurate by a spokesperson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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"Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the Church in many varied circumstances throughout the world. The Church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages," wrote LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins in a statement to 2News Thursday afternoon. "While it 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."

RELATED: LDS church issues letter to members in response to same-sex marriage ruling

What's new?:

In addition to the previous definitions of apostasy, the new version declares members who "are in a same-gender marriage" qualify as apostate. Leaders are required to pursue church discipline for anyone who meets these definitions.

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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.

A statement released earlier this year from the church drew the line on not permitting those in the LGBT community to use church facilities for activities or ceremonies associated with same-sex marriages.

Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the Church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there.
We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civilityeven when we disagree.

One place the update was shared online was from former Mormon John Dehlin, who was excommunicated from the faith earlier this year and is the founder of Mormon Stories Podcast.

The update includes the following language:

The contents of Handbook #1 is not generally made public, but rather reserved only for those leaders who are in such leadership positions.

Dehlin, the former member called the move by the church "a very sad day for Mormonism."

"No one should be forced to choose between their faith and loving companionship," Dehlin wrote in part in a longer statement he posted on Facebook that detailed how he felt this action would threaten legally married LGBT Mormons and cause more to face the disciplinary council process. "We are all diminished by this unfortunate action. As the LDS church continues to paint itself into a corner, it risks becoming increasingly irrelevant to the developed world."

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