Its been a long time since I have posted a blog. Specifically I have waited to comment on the LDS church's decision to include same-sex couples in the exclusive group of people in the world, who are immediately considered to be apostate. One of the gut punching blows in this new addition to church policy is the restriction of children being baptized. For those who don't know, the people who are also restricted from baptism under their countries legal age of adulthood are Muslims, Polygamists and people whose parents who are not members, refuse their dependents baptism to occur. I say gut punching because this policy is hard to stomach and hard to believe. My first reaction was over all shock at the decision and to be honest I was confused. I have asked myself these questions over and over again all weekend. Here are the hard thought out, soul tearing conclusions I have come to. Please keep in mind these are all of my own opinions and in no way reflect the official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints.
Why would these blessings be denied?
The blessings of baptism are so great. And lets be honest what eight year old really fully understands what they are getting into when they go though the motions of being baptized? Now that's not to say that there aren't eight year old's who fully understand their baptismal covenants. But under that same argument does it matter what eight year old child, regardless of family setting, has the ability and capacity to deny and fully understand their families disapproval or acceptance when they are or aren't baptized? For me I would not have been baptized when I was eight. Similarly there are people who prepare to go on a mission regardless of there spiritual worthiness often do so because its what they are supposed to do and again go through the motions. Outside of the church, when you get into converting people who are Muslim or a Polygamist or even in a polyamorous relationship for that matter, a same sex cohabitant relationship or marriage children who wish to be converted must wait till they are eighteen in the US and have special permission from a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles. This rule means that one must wait till they are the legal age of their country so they may denounce their family's way of life safely. I don't know about you but that would suck being an eighteen year old, especially being eight. The mental destruction that can happen is so detrimental to an individual and therefore disrupts a family. In my opinion, the church has decided to include children in this category for this purpose. The church puts a huge emphasis on the family functioning at its best. The LDS church has expressed on several occasions that the Family is central to the plan of happiness. I believe that a family regardless of religion or sexual orientation should function for the benefit of all involved and while I do believe that all people are entitled to these blessings, I cant help but agree that a child who is baptized in one of these situations, I believe, can cause detrimental consequences to the family as a unit and the child's mental well being.
What did Jesus say?
One of my most favorite scriptures is John 13:34, 35. "A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35) By this small all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Obviously this meas that we all need to love one another as Christ him self loves us. In Matthew 8, 8-13, Matthew tells the story of how Christ healed a Centurions servant. For those who don't know a Centurion can be compared to a modern day Lieutenant in the military. The Centurion came to Christ and said (8)"Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak they word only, and my servant shall be healed." One of the things that I marvel about this Centurion is that he was considered a Gentile and was not eligible for baptism during Christs mortal ministry. However Christ him self said to the man and the men that followed him, (10) "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Christ him self said that this man was extremely faithful for only wanting the lord and knowing that by Christ saying so his beloved servant would be healed. Christ went on to say (11) "And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." In this scripture I think he is speaking of a latter day, in which men and woman from all over the world shall come to know the blessings Abraham, or in other words our day and age. He then goes on to say (12) But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be a weeping and gnashing of teeth." But wait... didn't he also say in Luke 18:16 "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." if we keep reading after the parable of the rich man in Luke 18:29,30 "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, (30) Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." Christ loved all men during his life on earth and continues to love all people in his everlasting life. He also reserved the right to baptize people who he felt would not be able to, for what ever reason, live up to in mind body and spirit, their covenants and obviously continues to do so. However he never ever ever ever ever excludes someone from the blessings of his gospel. The Centurion had to wait till Peter's ministry to be baptized so he could fulfill his covenants not because of anything he did or what he believed but because the lord set a standard. So to must people in out day painfully and woefully wait to fulfill the lords modern day standard and like the scripture in Luke they too shall obtain the kingdom of god.
How do I feel and What do I think?
I believe that in 1820 a boy named Joseph Smith saw God our eternal father and his son our savior and redeemer Jesus Christ. My testimony is not one that came from my parents, a church leader, or any of my close friends. While there council was listened to and more often than not, not followed my belief in Joseph Smith Jr.s testimony and prophetic restoration of Christs mortal ministerial church, was formed at the end of the stinging whip of sacrifice, and through the Refiners fire did I emerge wanting to believe in a God that could and does answer my prayers specifically for me and knows and loves me specifically. Because I believe in Joseph and the love that I have for my church, and the sustaining vote that I offer up every six months in General Conference for all of the local and general authorities of the church, I stand by their decision. God loves all his children and wants them all to receive the blessings of eternal life. But this does not mean that I do not ask WHY these things happen. I think that the placement of same-sex marriage under apostasy does not mean that the leaders of the church think that same-sex couples are murderers or rapists. It means that the lords standard has not been met. And to me that is sad. It is sad there the lord doesn't allow all people to partake in the blessings equally. The lord does things in his own time and in his own way, based upon eternal principles. One of these principals is known as free agency or in other words our ability to do and believe what we want, however it does not mean that we dictate our consequences for our actions. The lord also does that based on eternal principals.
In my time as a Morman I have been called a sheep without the ability to build my own opinion. I have been called so many things that differ from what I truly am. A man who believes in a loving god who has formed his own beliefs through thorns and thistles, through tears and trials. I have suffered through losing close friends and making enemies along the way. The only thing that has ever remained constant is that I know with a surety that this church is lead by men called of god, who respond to his words and teachings. They do what he asks. They are always ready to be spit on and scourged by the modern day opinions that dictate popular positions because they believe in what they are fighting for. Joseph was tared, feathered, hunted and murdered, for what we believe. What ever your beliefs are I hope you have the same conviction that he did and stand up for what you believe in. Because at the end of the day all that matters is what is between you and God.
(PS Sarah wasn't awake to edit this so sorry if the grammar stinks)