Friday, November 6, 2015

Children Think

When I was eleven years old, my dad was a stake missionary, and he would take me with him on his assignments. It was happy times for me. I loved being a missionary with my dad.

We visited a family, a single mom and her kids. Her name was Sister Martinez. She was black. She had a son named David, who was eleven years old, like I was. David was kind of shy, but I immediately liked him and wanted to be his friend.

I was eleven years old, so I was getting ready for priesthood ordination, and the first thing I thought of in relation to David was how important it was for him to get ready to be ordained too. And when I brought that up with my dad, that was when he had to explain to me: David will not get ready to be ordained. He can't be ordained. Because he's black.

There's no reasonable way a father can explain to his son why something like that is the way it is. I was eleven years old, and somehow I still hadn't learned to dislike someone or think they were less than me because their skin was a different color.

Dad couldn't explain it, and he didn't really even try. I was left to try to figure this one out for myself. A tall order for an eleven-year-old, even one getting ready to be ordained a deacon.

That one took me a few years, and a lot more maturity.


Mormon parents now get to explain to their children:

Why that little baby can't be blessed.

Why that eight-year-old child can't be baptized. (Doesn't matter how much she loves the Gospel.)

Why that eleven-year-old boy can't be ordained.

Why that nineteen-year-old young woman can't go on a mission.

I'm sure a lot of people are thinking they won't have to deal with this, because those children aren't going to be seen around church any more. But that's not the way the human heart works. By the logic of 1974 Mormonism, 11-year-old John never should have looked into the beautiful face of 11-year-old David, and wonder why the one should be ordained a deacon and the other not.

We are all interconnected, and the edicts of Handbooks don't change that.

And children do think about these things.


  1. Thanks for your insights, I always enjoy reading your thoughts and opinions. I wish this wasn't something we would have to even talk to our children about. How do we even begin to teach "everyone is welcome to join us and experience the joy of the Gospel- except them." Time to figure out how to find peace right now in the midst of this troubling news. Thanks again - Tracey

  2. I agree. Children do think about these things and feel about them. I think this is not a good chess move for the church in a time when retention of youth is a concern. Just my opinion.

  3. Thank you for this post. It was beautiful.

  4. I've been having a really hard time with this policy. I feel like the leaders of the church are now asking me to discriminate against the innocent - to treat them (and you) like outcasts. You can look through our window, but unless you're willing to leave your same sex parents, you can never come in. And really, why would (after 18 years of discrimination) would they want to join? What's their incentive? I don't even want to do missionary work - how can I ask people to come join a church (if they are indeed qualified) that would shut the door on the innocent - or extend compassion, "Come sit on our screened porch and eat of our bread - but you can't join us in the dining room. Sorry." I am having such a problem with this. It doesn't feel like it coincides with what the Savior taught. Am I wrong?

  5. It is discriminatory, there's no question about it. But we have examples of other similar sorts of discrimination in the scriptures.

    Read Mark 7:26-30, and let me know what you think. This story relates to a larger New Testament narrative in which the Gospel was not initially seen as applying to Gentiles, but then eventually it was opened up to them. (See Acts 10.)

    To me it is clear that a core principle in scripture is that God is no respecter of persons... Check out D&C 1:35, which is particularly interesting to me, since this idea that God is no respecter of persons is contrasted with a world in which the devil has "power," and in which it is acknowledged that the hour of that principle "is not yet." It seems like a reasonable interpretation of scripture suggests that discrimination and inequities exist in the Church because we've not yet fully cleared ourselves of the dominion of the devil, which thrives on inequities and divisions.

    I have never had equal status in the Church... My excommunicated status existed long before this policy was spelled out. So I think we as a Church are yet to come to full terms with LGBT experience, just as the Church in the meridian of time really had to struggle with the implications of the Gospel spreading outside the nation of Israel...

  6. you have such remarkable faith; it's pretty awesome - how blessed our world would be if we all had that kind of faith