Changes the Church can make without changing doctrines to improve the condition of its LGBT members

The following list is 12 suggestions that the Church could implement immediately without changing any doctrine, that would greatly improve the situation for LGBT people in the ranks as well as their families.

1) Promote a campaign against suicide of our young gay people that includes cooperation with secular mental health groups and the LDS social services and others. Make full use of the Family Acceptance Project research and brochure.

2) Really advocate for families accepting their gay and lesbian children, even when they choose same sex relations. Address the huge problem of homeless LDS LGBT teens. There should be a campaign against ostracizing gay family members, especially teens, and there should be a responsibility on the parts of the ward to care for these homeless teens. Encourage Mormon families to take in homeless teens through foster care.

3)  Build a campaign against bullying and hate speech in our communities and in our congregations.

4) Stop all affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America unless they change their policy of excluding gays, so that gay youth in our wards won’t be excluded from YM activities.

5) Nuance the message about the sin of homosexual activity. The church can give very helpful messages to its LGBT members who might choose same sex relationships. It should be emphasized that monogamy is better than promiscuity, and that safe sex is more moral than unsafe sex. And young people should be encouraged to maintain their other moral values even if they are choosing same sex relations, especially regarding substance use. (The current system basically throws these people out without helping them develop a moral compass for the real world.)

6) Stop all excommunications and disfellowships for homosexuality.  Make same-sex relationships a temple or priesthood worthiness issue only.

7) Stop asking about homosexual relations as part of the baptismal interview. Allow individuals in committed same-sex partnerships or legal marriages to be baptized without requiring first presidency approval. Limit worthiness restrictions to temple and priesthood privileges.

8) Stop the practice of annotating the membership record of members with a history of homosexuality. Stop restricting their callings unless there is a current worthiness issue. Stop equating homosexuality with pedophilia and acknowledge pedophilia’s real causes (and that it is primarily perpetrated by heterosexuals).

9) Help identify factors that make mixed-orientation marriages succeed or fail and use that information in making suggestions to people who are contemplating this course based on real research that shows the chances of success. Acknowledge the role that might be played by relative bisexuality, level of aversion to opposite sex, age, and relative acceptance of one’s homosexuality as well as other coping mechanisms.  Also implement guidelines advising their potential straight spouses about the risks involved, and the chances of success.

10) Also help people who are ending mixed orientation marriages that are unsustainable to break smoothly with less damage to both spouses and their children.  The involved bishop”s approach should be:

a) Recognize that the couple is in this predicament because they were following the (often bad) advice of church leaders, so they shouldn’t be blamed if it isn’t working.

b) Both partners need support through the process. Neither one should be demonized or ostracized.

c) The bishop should have a role in helping them create a productive relationship around parenting and resolving the divorce in a way that is as positive as possible.

d) The bishop should also be sensitive to the extra pain that both partners are having as they have to address the homosexuality issues within their extended families.

e) The bishop should try to retain both partners as members of the ward or the new ward(s) where they may reside.

11) Start treating transgender people with empathy. Allow them membership in the church regardless of their operative status. Allow them to be baptized without any special permission. Stop equating them with murderers by including them in this group that is restricted from baptism with permission of the first presidency.  Limit worthiness restrictions to temple and priesthood privileges.

12) Modify the role of BYU Standards, so that it is not so punitive. Remove the witch hunt and anonymous tips model. Never hold academic records or transcript of student who are forced out of BYU or who leave BYU.

15 comments for “Changes the Church can make without changing doctrines to improve the condition of its LGBT members

  1. EdwardJ
    April 2, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Excellent list!

  2. Miriam Hyde
    April 2, 2013 at 10:01 am

    This is really wonderful, but I doubt they’ll be OK with the baptism piece…

  3. spiderlady
    April 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

    What an excellent, common-sense list of real changes that can easily be made. If only the COB would listen…

  4. Wendy Montgomery
    April 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Daniel – this list left me in tears! How amazing would our wards and stakes be if these were implemented as standard policy? With every suggestion I read, I was saying, “YES!!!” in my head. How many more LGBT members would we still have among us if this is how we treated them? This gives me hope!

    • cmck0810
      April 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      I would love to see this an more happen but honestly I feel like they will host the winter Olympics in San Diego before any of it actually happens

  5. Jacob
    April 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Will the suffering, the tears, and the blood of those who have ended their lives ever be enough? How can it be, the very institution that’s suppose to relieve these people of their suffering is causing it! What a shame.

  6. seth michael
    April 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    regarding #6 and #7 on the list: any individual who participates in extramarital sexual activity runs the risk of excommunication, being disfellowshipped, or probation, regardless of whether the relations be heterosexual or homosexual. in order to follow these two recommendations the church would have to abandon the doctrine that extramarital sex is a serious sin.

    • Daniel Parkinson
      April 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      A sin can still be serious and not result in excommunication and disfellowship. A lot of Bishops and Stake Presidents won’t hold church courts for fornication because they realize it drives the young people from the church.

    • Erik
      July 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      I agree with Daniel that many heterosexual sexual sins don’t immediately result in excommunication. There is a stigma against homosexuality. I wonder if these points could also include the idea that no action would be taken against those in a monogamous, legal homosexual marriage.

      I’m interested to know if you (Daniel) would add/change anything due to the Supreme Court decision during the last month.

      • Daniel Parkinson
        July 13, 2013 at 9:53 pm

        Erik, I will respond to your response here in a new thread, since this wordpress theme makes responses to responses unreadable :) so see below.

  7. Anonymous
    April 3, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Thank you for your completely viable, unapologetic list. I personally appreciate the comments on mixed-orientation marriages. They are intensely complicated and the church too often demonizes the gay partner, especially the women. Very well articulated. Thank you so much.

  8. Cary C
    April 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Sooooo sensible! Thanks for crystallizing this into one powerful list.

  9. Dan
    April 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

    We should be nice and treat people with respect. They are our brothers and sisters. However, the LDS church will never recognize homosexuality as morally correct. Whether society likes it or not, this will not happen. God will not give in to man made doctrines so one small percentage of people can feel good about their situation. I like how they say this list will not require any doctrinal changes, number 5 sticks out like a sore thumb. Safe Sex is better than Promiscuity? So does this mean I won’t be excommunicated based on whether I wear a condom and have one sexual partner at a time? The only acceptance the church has is sex between a man and a woman that are lawfully married. The destroyer will give false advice and make deep sin look accepting if we follow these simple steps that “don’t require doctrinal changes”. I feel sorry for those who fall for these tactics used by satan to fool you into a further tolerance for homosexuality. I am not condoning the ostricizing of homosexual people. they are humans and should be loved like any other person. I know people are born with homosexuality tendencies, yes, God made them that way but it is a test for us to overcome. I was given cancer but It was a test for my faith in God. God gave me that test.

    • Daniel Parkinson
      April 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Can you agree with me that being monogamous in a same-sex relationship is better than being promiscuous? If not then there is no point discussing this further. If you do agree, then don’t you think the church could help gay people learn that? Gay people don’t choose celibacy very often. The vast majority of them will choose to have a sexual partner. It seems like it would be in everybody’s best interest to encourage them to use the highest morality available to them in that situation. I think most of us agree that safe-sex is more moral than unsafe-sex, and that monogamy is more moral than promiscuity. That’s what I mean by nuanced. There is a difference between sins. It is worse to murder than to assault. Adultery is worse than fornication, which is worse than masturbation. It doesn’t help our young people to equate things that aren’t equal.

  10. Daniel Parkinson
    July 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Erik in response to how the DOMA decision would impact my list: it is hard to say. The church really does need to decide how to deal with couples who are (same-sex) married. It is relevant to point 5 (nuance the message about degree of sinfulness) and point 6 (stop the excommunications). I would also hope that it could stop being a worthiness issue (for temple or priesthood ordinations) if someone is monogamous within a legal marriage. But I think that this would be a more difficult step for the church to take than the other points that I listed, all of which I think could be implemented with little controversy.

    The good news is this: point 4 is no longer as relevant, now that gay youth can participate in Scouting. I would still hope the church would encourage the BSA to also allow adult leaders who are gay which would be related to the issue of Point 8 (annotating membership records and restricting callings to LGBT people).

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