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LDS Church clarifies handbook changes on same-sex marriage

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released changes to “Handbook 1,” a manual to help leaders of the Church manage their congregations, on Friday, receiving backlash for blunt discipline surrounding same-sex marriage — which the Church is now explaining.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve for the LDS Church, had a video interview to clarify some of the changes including why same-sex marriage is considered a form of apostasy in the Church and why children of same-sex couples aren’t able to receive baby blessings or be baptized while living with their same-sex parents.

“We regard same-sex marriage as a particularly grievous or significant serious kind of sin that requires Church discipline,” Elder Christofferson said in the interview. “It means the discipline is mandatory; it doesn’t dictate outcomes, but it dictates that discipline is needed in those cases. It’s a statement to remove any question or doubt that may exist. We recognize that same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States and some other countries and that people have the right if they chose to enter into those and we understand that. But that’s not a right that exists in the Church — that’s the clarification.”

“It means the discipline is mandatory; it doesn’t dictate outcomes, but it dictates that discipline is needed in those cases. It’s a statement to remove any question or doubt that may exist.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson, LDS apostle

As for children of same-sex couples being kept from becoming members of the Church, Elder Christofferson said that law was made to protect the children in their innocence.

“When, for example, there is a formal blessing and naming of child in the Church, which happens when a child has parents who are members of the Church, it triggers a lot of things,” Elder Christofferson said. “First a membership record … and that is likely not going to be an appropriate thing in the home setting where they are living as children where their parents are a same-sex couple. We don’t want there to be a complex that would engender. We don’t want the child to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different. And so on with the other ordinances on through baptism.

“There’s time for that if when that child reaches majority he or she decides that’s what they want and they can make an informed, conscious decision about that. Nothing is lost to them in the end if that’s the direction they want to go.”

Elder Christofferson related children of same-sex couples to children coming out of polygamous families in that children will need to denounce the practice of same-sex marriage, knowing the act as a sin, just as polygamous children have to denounce polygamy in order to join the Church. However, they don’t have to denounce their parents.

Watch the whole interview above.

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