I have another friend, met her a few years ago. She is still learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is taught by our church. She was baptized as a child but spent her young adult years away from church activity and now desires to learn it as an adult. She was meeting with the missionaries to learn the gospel as it is meant to be taught, not the cultural church she knew as a teen in Utah.
Her ex-husband and father of her children is not a member of the church. She left her family and support group in Utah when this man began beating her and her children. The sister missionaries she was learning with knew and understood the violence and resulting fear the children had for their father, and when the older daughter turned 8 they continued to love and teach but didn't bring up the issue of baptism. They understood her baptism would require permission from her father and contact with that man would result in pain not permission. But missionaries rotate through and the incoming missionaries, although aware of the history, refused to acknowledge the fear. They repeatedly encouraged the mother to seek permission from her ex for her daughter to receive the saving ordinance of baptism. "If only she had more faith!" After her daughter had multiple break downs for fear her mom would reach out to her dad this darling family stopped coming to church.
A third friend, the dad is neither abusive nor Christian. The divorce terms state that the child could not receive religious ordinances of ANY kind until he was 18. This boy comes to church with his mom, her husband and his half sisters. He is plenty old enough now to choose not to come, but he does, because he believes it. He has watched all his cousins (and there are a lot) get baptized and he stands by and watches. He is only 18 months younger than two of his cousins, and he watches as they participate in the blessing and passing of our Sacrament (Communion) and prays his dad will change his mind. And now these cousins are on their missions. And he is left behind.
Broken families are not uncommon, Requiring permission from both parents before minor is baptized is a sign of respect to the family. Morally and legally it is the right thing to do.
The church respects that the family is primary to a child's upbringing and that the church is to serve as a support system.
So it is with the recent addition to the Church Handbook of Instruction (note instruction not law) that children of a parent living in a same gender relationship may not recieve a Name and Blessing as an infant or be baptized until they are 18.
The media and a relatively small number of others take issue with this. They say The LDS Church is punishing children for what LDS doctrine views as 'sins of the parents'. They say this instruction is anti-family.
But lets face it, families can get messy. Especially when they are broken. My examples above were messy enough without bringing into fact that The LDS Church teaches that homosexual ACTS are a sin.
Lets introduce your to another family. I am friends with their adult son.
While he was on his mission his parent's marital issues, to which I am not privy reached a breaking point. The mom desired to leave the church. She never truly believed, she was always just there because it was Utah culture. The father, in an effort to save his marriage, formally left the church with his wife and their 6 minor children. As in all decisions made for the wrong reason, the marriage still failed. He was kicked out and she moved her girlfriend in.
Now lets suppose that the father, who still believes the Gospel teachings of The LDS Church decides to come back to church. Can you even imagine the mess that would ensue if he decides to start trying to re-baptize his children? His two adult children would be supportive and excited to have their father and younger siblings start worshiping with them again. The mother and her soon to be wife, who has been helping to raise the younger children (but is down right frigid to the adult children) for a few years now would strongly opposed. These poor kids would get stuck in the middle. They love their older siblings, sibling in laws, father, and friends at church. They also love their mother and step mother who oppose the church. They have enough confusion having a dad and two moms while living in a very small and conservative town. Do we really need to add the additional confusion of committing at age 8 to a church, who teaches, their mom's who love them, are living in sin! I think NOT! We don't even want to make it an option for the biological parents to argue about.
To be clear, anyone is welcome to worship at a Mormon Church. The principle being taught is to LOVE all men regardless of their particular brand of sin. It does not say we have to condone the sin. Each person has the ability to choose how or if they interpret that command.
I fully believe this instruction was meant to eliminate the option for families to use the church as a weapon against each other and to protect children from having volunteer teachers undermine (purposefully or ignorantly) what the child is being taught at home.
A church is meant to bring people to Christ, therefore the LDS Church has rules and commandments, that if followed bring one closer to Christ. You do not need to be free of sin to come to church. You don't have to obey all the rules (I swear like a cop, and that is not Christlike). You don't have to be perfect. BUT the Gospel is perfect and it sets high standards to which we aspire.
It is also important to note key doctrinal differences from the Mormon church and other churches.
1. Infant Name and Blessing: While comparable to Christening, this ordinance places the child on official church roles. It is not uncommon for a baby to be blessed as an infant because the culture or grandparents want/expect it. The parents have no intention of raising their child in the church but their child is now a 'Child of Record' which means that every so often a church teacher or leader will come looking for the child to see if the family is interested in returning to church. It sounds annoying to the family, but its just as much work for the teacher or leader.
2. Baptism isn't just about salvation: Mormon Baptism is a saving ordinance. Just like baptism in any church. It is a formal acceptance of Christ as your Savior. It also makes you an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A membership number is created and key milestones attached. Name, birth date, address, languages spoken, baptismal date, disciplinary action (yes we have it but only for serious sin), missions served, temple ordinances, etc. This number is also used for record keeping of tithes and offerings for tax purposes.
It also means that for the rest of this child's life on church records they will have other members assigned to watch their back. It's called Home and Visting Teaching, and when done properly provides every member of the church with a support system. This is great if you want a Mormon support system, but if you don't, its pretty annoying to everyone. You can tell them to go away, but that is still one more visit the assigned teacher has to record and one more hassle the assignee has to deal with. It's like ELLA ENCHANTED, her blessing became a curse.
3. We don't believe in Original Sin: We believe Adam and Eve sinned when they partook of the fruit, we just don't believe we are guilty of that sin at birth. We believe that children are alive in Christ, that they have no need for baptism until they are of the age of accountability. Our church has set that age at 8. Kids that die before age 8, or never reach an intellectually age of 8, have no need for baptism. The Atonement of Christ encompasses them fully, because they are HIS precious children.
"Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."" ~ (Matthew 19:14)
God is perfectly just. He can not condemn a person if they have NOT HAD the opportunity to be baptized. By forbidding a child from getting baptized until they are living on their own and mature enough to distinguish their parents choices from their own, the church is protecting them from condemnation. This may read as though a child is condemned for the sins of their parents, which we already discussed is contrary to the belief of our church. But it is incredibly difficult for a child to reject his parents, especially loving parents*.
A small detour inference:
If gay parents can not naturally have children, it stands to reason that unwanted children will not exist in the LGBT family. A couple will not go through the red tape, hardship, and expense to adopt or use AI to become unwilling parents!
An example an be found in 1Nephi 4:4-9
4 For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.
5 But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.
6 Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.
7 Wherefore, because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever.
8 And it came to pass that after my father had made an end of speaking to the sons and daughters of Laman, he caused the sons and daughters of Lemuel to be brought before him.
9 And he spake unto them, saying: Behold, my sons and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters of my second son; behold I leave unto you the same blessing which I left unto the sons and daughters of Laman; wherefore, thou shalt not utterly be destroyed; but in the end thy seed shall be blessed. (emphasis added)
Lehi, a Book of Mormon Prophet circa 600 BC, knew his older sons had wickedness and hatred in their hearts and were teaching their children wickedness and hatred. Before he died he blessed his grandchildren that God would show mercy to these children as they were never taught truth. In the end of the record we see that the descendants of these two sons are not destroyed, but the wicked descendants of the righteous sons are.
I go to church at The Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day saints not because the church and it's people are perfect, in fact a lot of them drive me insane with their hypocrisy and shallow ways. I continue to attend because I have read the Principles of the Gospel and have a strong belief that the teachings (not the people) are perfect.