While some within and without the Church will disagree with the Church’s position regarding same-sex marriage, President Nelson’s comments this week at BYU help give some insight into the motivations behind some recent policy adjustments. For those who have been patient with this process, the perspective and transparency President Nelson offers may be especially appreciated. It also may be helpful for those wondering why the Church would make an adjustment that seems like a retreat. Below is an excerpt from his talk, “The Love and Laws of God,” given at a BYU devotional on Sept. 17, 2019. The video and text are available at BYU.edu.
Though we of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cannot change the laws of God, we do have the charge to “build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations.” Thus, we can
adjust policy when the Lord directs us to do so. You have recently seen
such examples. Because the Restoration is ongoing, policy changes will
Perhaps I can illustrate this
through policy adjustments regarding those who identify themselves as
lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) and their children. (I
realize that other initials could be added to this acronym, but LGBT
should suffice for the purposes of this message.)
policy announced in November 2015 related to the advisability of baptism
for the children of LGBT parents. Our concern then, and one we
discussed at length and prayed about fervently over a long period of
time, was to find a way to reduce friction between gay or lesbian
parents and their children.
Because parents are the primary
exemplars for their children, we did not want to put young children in
the position of having to choose between beliefs and behavior they
learned at home and what they were taught at Church. We wanted to
facilitate harmony in the home and avoid pitting children and parents
against each other. Thus in 2015, the policy was made to assist children
and their parents in this circumstance, namely that children being
raised by LGBT parents would not automatically be eligible for baptism
at age eight. Exceptions to this policy would require First Presidency
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have
continued to seek the Lord’s guidance and to plead with Him in behalf of
His children who were affected by the 2015 policy. We knew that this
policy created concern and confusion for some and heartache for others.
That grieved us. Whenever the sons and daughters of God weep—for
whatever reasons—we weep. So, our supplications to the Lord continued.
also took note of LGBT parents who sought permission from the First
Presidency for their children to be baptized. In nearly every case where
the LGBT parents agreed to teach their children about—and be supportive
of—the covenant of baptism, the requested exception was granted.
a result of our continued supplication, we recently felt directed to
adjust the policy such that the baptism of children of LGBT parents may
be authorized by bishops without First Presidency approval, if
the custodial parents request the baptism and understand that a child
will be taught about sacred covenants to be made at baptism.
also determined that LGBT parents may request that a baby be named and
blessed by one who worthily holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is
important that these parents understand that ward members will contact
them periodically, and that when a child who has been blessed reaches
eight years of age, local leaders will recommend that the child be
Finally, we also clarified that homosexual immorality
would be treated in the eyes of the Church in the same manner as
Though it may not have looked this way to
some, the 2015 and 2019 policy adjustments on this matter were both
motivated by love—the love of our Heavenly Father for His children and
the love of the Brethren for those whom we serve.
Because we feel
the depth of God’s love for His children, we care deeply about every
child of God, regardless of age, personal circumstances, gender, sexual
orientation, or other unique challenges.
This may be welcome information on a sensitive issue that many of members of the Church care about. Even for those who object to the original policy from 2015, understanding the motives behind it as well as the reasons for the more recent adjustment may be helpful.