As I’ve pondered the new policy regarding baptism of children with gay parents, I have come to a few conclusions. By reading and pondering the scriptures, it is easy to know where this policy comes from and how it ought to be received.
To understand more about this situation I recommend a few other blog posts. Rock Waterman has done a wonderful job with his series called on marriage, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. This series was a perfect lead up to the policy leak and his post called, The Hidden Reason For The Policy Change On Baptisms.
I also thought this letter, about the shifting stance the church has taken on gay issues called, Mass Exodus From The LDS Church, was extremely well thought out and worth the time to read. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the church has clearly waffled.
And finally a great post by Bill Reel called, Duty Bound to Reject It, considers some of the issues I have pondered in the past few weeks. Bill gave a fantastic interview with John Dehlin, and that can be found on the Mormon Stories Podcast: Episode 596.
Baptism is Essential
All of us are in the same predicament. Because of the fall we have become, “carnal, sensual and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God.” (Moses 6:49) Because of this separation, God provided a means to overcome this fallen nature. God taught this concept to Adam our first father:
But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent.
And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.
And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you. (Moses 6:50–52)
As we can see, baptism has been a necessary salvific ordinance from the beginning. The Lord has stated the importance of this ordinance again and again, “And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptized, shall be damned.” (D&C 112:29) Not receiving baptism will damn you.
Baptism is a witness to the Father that you desire to serve Him (Mosiah 21:35) and keep His commandments. (2 Nephi 31:14) Repentance and baptism by water is entering in at the gate, “and then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:17–18) Even Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. (2 Nephi 31:5) The importance of this doctrine cannot be understated.
The Sins of the Parents
This ordinance is essential because of our sins and our fallen nature. We inherited our fallen nature from Adam and Eve because of the fall. Adam understood and felt the effects his transgression, but he must of wondered why all needed to repent. Adam inquired of the Lord about the reason that all men must repent and be baptized.
And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.
Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world. (Moses 6:53–54)
This gives us our first key to understanding this new policy. “The sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.” God spoke this as a revelation directly to Adam. These verses are the inspiration for Article of Faith 2, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”
Agents unto Themselves
God continued to reveal knowledge to Adam that he was lacking. He explains why all need to repent, and how each of us become separated from God. He makes known why each individual must repent and what the consequences are if they do not repent.
And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.
Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time. (Moses 6:55–58)
This is the second key to understanding the policy. As the Lord says, “wherefore they are agents unto themselves.” Each child is given agency, the knowledge and ability to choose for themselves based on God’s law and commandments. “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.” (2 Nephi 2:16)
All are Accountable
Once a child reaches the age of accountability at eight years old, they can choose to be baptized. Because of their young age, the parents are legal guardians and stewards for the child. Therefore the parents must give consent for a child to be baptized. If a child desires to be baptized, but one or both parents object, the child cannot be baptized. The parent(s) who withhold baptism from their child will be held accountable for such actions. As the original D&C section 101 stated:
It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband, neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband. All children are bound by law to obey their parents; and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that husbands, parents and masters who exercise control over their wives, children, and servants and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin. 1835 Edition of D&C Section 101:4
This gives us a third key to understanding the new policy. Anyone who exercises control over a child to prevent them from embracing the truth will be held accountable for that sin. This is why the Lord gives such a strong warning for those who might attempt to abuse their Priesthood. Such will have an “amen” added to their “priesthood.” (D&C 121:34–40)
Hung by a Millstone
Christ was vehemently opposed to such purveyors of a false priestcraft. “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” (Luke 11:52) It is a dangerous thing to trifle with the souls of men and hinder those who attempt to enter in the gate of repentance and baptism. The Lord warned those who would dare trifle with children.
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1–6)
The Rock of Revelation
The biggest question in the Latter Day Saint mind should be, “why have they introduced a new policy rather than a revelation?” Are the leaders not sustained as revelators? While pondering this and reading what Christ said about baptism I had my own epiphany. When Christ came to the Americas He declared His doctrine to the remnant in Bountiful. He said:
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
It sounds just like what He taught Adam through revelation in the beginning. All need to repent, believe in Christ, and be baptized. It sounds pretty straight forward. It makes you wonder why they were disputing and contending over the manner of baptism and who qualified for baptism. (3 Nephi 11:28–30) Understanding the Doctrine of Christ is another key to understanding the new policy. (see also: 2 Nephi 31, 2 Nephi 32)
As Christ finishes declaring His doctrine He leaves a warning to those who declare that they speak for Christ. It is a warning for those who “declare Christ’s words” and “establish His doctrine.”
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
If we recognize any who declare “more” or “less” than what He has declared, “the same cometh of evil.” It ought to cause one to ponder if this new policy is “more” or “less” than what Christ has established. It ought to cause you to ponder whether a person needs to do any of the following:
“Develop faith in Christ, live the principles of moral worthiness, live the Word of Wisdom, commit to pay tithing, receive all the missionary lessons [lessons 1–4 on the Teaching Record and associated commitments], meet the bishop or branch president, attend several sacrament meetings.” (“Statement on Missionary Work,” First Presidency letter, 11 Dec. 2002) Preach my Gospel.
Should they have to accept the restoration through Joseph Smith, or profess belief that the [current Church President] is a prophet of God? Is all of this adding to the Doctrine of Christ? If it is adding to His Doctrine, then those who declare this and establish it as His Doctrine are built upon a sandy foundation. In other words, they are not built upon the rock, the rock of revelation.
As Joseph Smith said, “Jesus in His teachings says, Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. What rock? Revelation.” (TPJS, p.273) The Lord has made it very simple, again He declared, “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.” (D&C 10:67–68)
Receiveth it With Gladness
It is amazing to see those who upon hearing the Doctrine of Christ immediately refute the simpleness of the way by promoting church doctrine. They cannot accept how simple and easy Christ’s way really is. By pondering how simple it is, you will come to realize that Christ’s Doctrine cannot be contained within an organization. By abandoning the organization, the Lord can now do His strange act. The concept of this simple doctrine taken to the rest of the world uninhibited by an organization to manipulate and control it, will be the stone cut out of the mountains without hands.
How do you receive this stone? “And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.” (2 Nephi 28:28)
Are you receiving revelation? Do you recognize that the church has been built upon sand for several years? Is your foundation weak because you have relied and built your faith upon the wrong things?
The Lord Worketh Not in Darkness
Another issue that seems to slip past most people is the fact that this policy was leaked. Someone on the inside leaked the information to John Dehlin before it was secretly slipped into the new edition of the secret church handbook of instructions.
Yes, that’s right, this policy was not going to be made public. Bishops and Stake Presidents were going to receive the new handbooks and begin acting as “Judges in Israel” using a standard that not only hasn’t been approved by common consent, but most members don’t even know it exists.
Is this how God works? Why has the church supplanted the scriptures with a new policy manual written by lawyers? They are even preaching to church leaders to stick to the secret policy manual because there is “safety in the handbooks.”
Latter Day Israel is no different than Ancient Israel. The pharisee’s had not only the written torah, but they had an oral torah.
To be continued…
Ten keys to understanding the LDS Church’s new policy on Baptism
- “The sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children.” (Moses 6:54) Doesn’t matter if they are gay or straight, their sins don’t pass on. Children are not accountable nor responsible for their parents choices.
- “They are agents unto themselves.” (Moses 6:56) They have right, nay the responsibility to choose for themselves.
- “Husbands, parents and masters who exercise control over their wives, children, and servants and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin.” (Old D&C 101: 4) Anyone, including parents, church leaders, or institutions who prevent children from embracing the truth are exercising unrighteous dominion (D&C 121:34–40) and will have to answer for their sin.
- Offending a child who believes in Christ is worse than being drowned by placing a millstone around our neck and drowning. (Matthew 18:1–6)
- The Doctrine of Christ is simple: All need to repent, believe in Christ, and be baptized. (3 Nephi 11:31–34)
- Adding to or taking away from His Doctrine means you are built upon a sandy foundation, and not built upon the rock of revelation. (3 Nephi 11:39–40)(D&C 10:67–68)
- Those who are built upon the foundation of personal revelation will receive the Doctrine of Christ with gladness. (2 Nephi 28:28)
- The Lord worketh not in darkness, no secret handbooks
- The policy was leaked, it was to be a secret. Secret handbooks
- All are welcome to come unto christ, become as a little child
Because this doctrine is so important, Christ declared it with clarity.