There has been a recent media maelstrom about the LDS Church's new policy regarding children living with a parent in a same sex relationship. (In short, it states that children living in a house with a same sex couple cannot become members of the church and/or receive a baby blessing.) It has mostly blown over now so hopefully I do not ruffle any feathers. I have waited to comment until the vitriolic comments had subsided a bit. I have had a few people ask me my thoughts on the matter since, if anyone should be able to relate, it should be me. I thought I would include them here so that, (someday), they will be printed off for my boys to have. It may help them and, maybe, it will help you or someone you care about.
For those who are unaware, my parents divorced due to my mom starting a relationship with another woman. Starting at age 7, I lived in a home with a same sex couple for the majority of the time until I left for college. My mom had a few partners during that time and things were rocky throughout. This was in the 80's and 90's in Northern Minnesota in a town of 8000 people. My mom's choices did not make my middle school years any easier. I've talked to her about it and she says she never felt judged but I definitely did. One of the only places that I didn't feel like a second class citizen was at our Lutheran Church. (Thank heavens for St. Andrew's!) Most importantly, I had friends there that cared for me and smoothed the rocky road. (Ice cream, anyone?) Church and the friends I made there were my refuge.
That being said, I struggled when I first heard the new policy from the church I now am a part of and love so dearly. At breakfast I had tears in my eyes as I told Doug, "That would have been me. I would have been excluded!"
The whole drive to and from school drop off, (which is about an hour), I wrestled with it. I thought of how important and valuable St. Andrew's was in saving me from the chaos surrounding me. (Note: I'm not saying every child with same sex parents/caregivers has sucky childhood or they need saving! That was the case for me.) I thought of how detrimental to those kids it could be if they weren't able to fully affiliate with the church. Having people with high moral standards was vital to me making right choices throughout high school and college. I hurt for those kids who wouldn't be able to have full affiliation with the church.
I should note that, never did my testimony of the truth of the church or the inspiration of its leaders ever waiver during this struggle. When I first read it, I prayed about it and I knew it was right. I just needed to find the right perspective. As I wrestled during the drive, I prayed to find that perspective. By the time I had arrived at home, I still did not understand but I felt a calm reassurance that it was correct and answers would come in their time.
Within a day, there was an interview released with Elder Christofferson. (It is included in the link at the top of this post.) In it, he states,
It originates from a desire to protect children in their innocence and in their minority years. When, for example, there is the formal blessing and naming of a child in the Church, which happens when a child has parents who are members of the Church, it triggers a lot of things. First, a membership record for them. It triggers the assignment of visiting and home teachers. It triggers an expectation that they will be in Primary and the other Church organizations. And that is likely not going to be an appropriate thing in the home setting, in the family setting where they're living as children where their parents are a same-sex couple. We don't want there to be the conflicts that that would engender. We don't want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different.
Therein I had my answer. Looking back to all of my experiences I'd had with St. Andrew's helping me during those formative years, that was a church environment that was very accepting of same sex couples. What would the story have been if the church was not accepting of my mom's lifestyle? What would that have done to an already strained mother-daughter relationship? I knew that the new policy wasn't so much about the church denying blessings to children but about granting same sex couples autonomy from a church that teaches against their lifestyle. I had found the perspective I needed.
Typing this, I feel like I should have some big closing or something but I don't. That's really it. I struggled. I prayed. I didn't waiver. I prayed not to waiver. I got an answer. You can too.
I know that Heavenly Father and the Savior love us so much. I know they want us to understand but I also know that sometimes we don't. That's where faith comes in. Faith to pray for answers. Faith in your leaders. Faith to move forward and be not offended.