Don’t adjust the brightness on your phone; you read the headline right. The Mormon Church, which was so vehemently and virulently anti-LGBT that they helped pass California’s old Proposition 8 — a ban on same-sex marriage — a little more than a decade ago, has reversed its stance on homosexuality and will no longer label members of that community as “apostates.” In the same announcement, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also said that children of same-sex couple will now also be able to have their children baptized.
It’d be an understatement to call this a tectonic shift of a reversal. In the past, the Mormon Church has helped keep the Boy Scouts of America on an anti-LGBT platform as well, but as of today, that position has changed. Today’s announcement doesn’t completely reverse the discrimination and judgment, but it goes a long way toward hopefully, eventually, completely reforming the church’s views on homosexuality and non-binary people.
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In a written statement, the church admitted they “consider [same-sex] marriage to be a serious transgression,” but they are not going to be treated as outcasts. So, yeah, they’ll still judge them as if they have a right to judge them, but at least they won’t excommunicate them.
“Previously, our Handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy,” the church said in a statement. “While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way.” (CNN)
The announcement certainly contains a lot of commendable things, like the Mormon Church’s desire to “to reduce the hate and contention so common today.” Then again, if they wanted to eliminate and not just reduce it, maybe they could even stop treating homosexuality as immoral. But hey, that’s just me being a 21st century adult, so don’t mind me. And, just because they’re being less intolerant of homosexuality, that doesn’t mean they’re going to suddenly have a 21st century take on sex in general.
The church said that its doctrines on marriage and salvation, of which marriage is an integral part, will not change. LGBT Mormons are expected to be chaste, according to church teachings.
Still, as much as the announcement leaves much room for improvement, the church should still be praised for not punishing children anymore. After the age of eight, a child of a same-sex couple can still be baptized. Of course, they’ll then be indoctrinated into thinking their loving parents are sinners, creating all kinds of potentially paradoxical feelings and emotions in the kid,but hey, at least an invisible guy in space will be happier, I guess.
In a less cynical reading of things, this move can be seen as a very positive one, because any time a religious organization takes a more liberated stance on a social issue, that’s good for the group that was being persecuted. It’s not that making a change now wipes out all the bad they’ve done and makes us all forget how hard they fought to keep gay marriage banned in the United States; it’s that they’re taking a step, however small and long overdue, toward making their church a part of the world we live in now, not the world they want to force us to live in.
Now it’s time for other big religious organizations to step up and do the same thing. There are certainly sects and individual churches among the various religions in this group that are more open and tolerant. But on the large, the major religions in this country, the Christian-flavored ones particularly, have taken officially anti-LGBTQ stances in some form or another that need to be addressed. If the Mormon Church can reverse its stance this much after spending years fighting it, there’s hope for all of them.
My own theory is that as Boomers leave us, more and more churches will take the same stance. The simple demographics of the situation are that the younger the American, the more okay they are with LGBTQ people being treated like living, breathing human beings. So stories like these should become more common as the older, more entrenched discriminatory views literally die off.
Only time will tell though.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.