LDS Church Drops LGBT Policy on Baptism

The move came after 41 months

The long night has finally ended for LGBTQ members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the church announced it will no longer regard same-sex couples as “apostates.” Instituted in November 2015, Russell M. Nelson, the present church president, brought forward a policy which not only deemed same-sex couples as apostates but also forbade their children from all baptisms and baby blessings.

About three and a half years have passed since then, and the intervening years were harsh for both the institution of the church and for its gay members. The strict rules led to soul searching within many church members, and a significant number its members resigned their membership of the institution. Many believers felt a sense of betrayal and a few committed suicides.

Dallin Oaks, the church’s First Presidency member, announced the new developments on April 4. In his statement, he admitted the Latter-day Saints Handbook previously characterized gay marriage as apostasy and although the church continues to hold strong views on this subject, gay marriages will henceforth no longer be regarded as such for Church discipline purposes.

Instead, such an event will be regarded as par with immoral conduct linked to heterosexual relationships. The rationale behind this move, as per the church is to reduce the amount of contention and hate present in the modern world. The change signals an attempt by the church to heal the fissure and marks a broader effort by the new president of the church to push the church nearer to standard America. The decision, which Elder Oaks delivered, pauses a little distance away from the church doctrine of regarding any sexual activity between members of the same sex as a sin. The announcement comes at a time when the church has started to prepare for its General Conference. All church members are eligible to attend the event scheduled this weekend.

The speed of policy reversal, 41 months, mirrors the turbulence this policy and its subsequent implementation brought to church members. Presidents and bishops were also affected. According to Oaks, there will be no requirement to take permission from the First Presidency when it comes to the baptism of children whose parents identify as transgender, bisexual, gay or lesbian.

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