Saturday, November 13, 2010

New church handbook softens stance on homosexuality

This weekend the church is releasing its new 2010 Church handbook of instructions.  The last version was from 2006. The Salt Lake Tribune notes in an article that the church has softened it's stance on gay issues gay issues, now excluding text that homosexual thoughts and feelings should be frowned on:
in the previous 2006 edition, that same-sex relationships "distort loving relationships" and that gays should repent of their "homosexual thoughts or feelings."

It also says that celibate gay Mormons who are "worthy and qualified in every other way" should be allowed to have "callings," or church assignments, and to participate fully in temple rituals.

... David Pruden, president of Evergreen International, a support group that helps gay Mormons live by church standards [notes:]  'Sometimes in the past, when a gay Mormon told his bishop he was struggling with same-sex feelings, the local leader would immediately call a "disciplinary council," Pruden said. "They didn't understand something that was foreign to them."'

Copies of the handbook have been circulating on the Internet over the past week, providing a sneak peak of the text, which will be discussed in a worldwide leadership meeting today.

According to this site (which provided pdfs of the handbooks) the size of the handbook has grown over the years:

  • 1899:  14 pages
  • 1900:  23
  • 1901:  43
  • 1902:  38
  • 1903:  28
  • 1904:  32
  • 1905:  34
  • 1906:  34
  • 1908:  34
  • 1909:  41
  • 1910:  36
  • 1913:  52
  • 1921:  63
  • 1923:  63
  • 1928:  86
  • 1934:  111
  • 1940:  159
  • 1944:  272
  • 1963:  146
  • 1968:  125
  • 1976:  125
  • 1978:  194
  • Early 1990s:  250
  • 1998:  336
  • 2006:  372 (only Book 1 was republished this year; 372 is the total of book 1 + book 2)
  • 2010:  403 pages

Some items from the new handbook include:

  • When a member is called to be a missionary, they should speak in a sacrament meeting before leaving.   However other members of their family and friends of the missionary should not be invited to speak.
  • "It is recommended that only immediate members of a missionary's family should meet them at the airport to pick them up upon their return from a mission."
  • "A disciplinary council should not be held to discipline or threaten members who do not comply with the Word of Wisdom, who are struggling with pornography or self-abuse, or whose transgressions consist of omissions, such as failure to pay tithing, inactivity in the Church, or inattention to Church duties."
  • "A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church meetings or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single."
  • "The Church strongly discourages artificial insemination using semen from anyone but the husband.  However this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife.   Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.   Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved."
  • "A member who has undergone an elective transsexual operation may not receive a temple recommend"
  • "If a member commits adultery while still married, then marries the person with whom they committed adultery, then they must wait at least 5 years before they can apply to be sealed."
  • "Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.  Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching and welfare and compassionate service."

1 comment:

Amy said...

It's nice to know that people who commit adultery and destroy a family have to wait five WHOLE years to be sealed together. (Does this mean that committing adultery is five times as bad as having a civil ceremony when you are otherwise worthy?) Whereas gay couples who long for a monogamous committed relationship get no chance whatsoever. It's always good to know what type of relationships the LDS church will "rubber stamp" -albeit reluctantly- and what types of relationships they refuse to rubber stamp under any circumstance.
Stupid church.