The exclusion policy and the will of God: two years later

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A little over two years ago, Russell M. Nelson was speaking to a group of young single adults during a broadcasted fireside. During part of his remarks, he discussed the “will and mind of the Lord” and used the 2015 policy of exclusion as an example of the “will and mind of the Lord” in action.

I’ve been contemplating his remarks on this second anniversary, and I have a few thoughts, some of which I’ve expressed elsewhere over the last couple of years.

First, here are his remarks. I have left them intact, but have added bold for emphasis.

This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries. Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter. Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process, and so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation.

Something I didn’t pick up on previously is that Nelson doesn’t explicitly state that the policy of exclusion was itself the “will and mind of the Lord”. He states only that Monson had declared the “mind of the Lord and will of the Lord”. The “will and mind of the Lord” could have referred to something else but related to the policy of exclusion.

Perhaps Nelson chose this specific wording as a type of dogwhistling, signalling to his followers that the policy was revelation direct from God but worded vaguely enough to provide him some wiggle room to deny it in the future.

Let’s assume, however, that he meant to indicate that the policy of exclusion was a direct revelation, as many true blue Mormons defend. There are some loose ends that have yet to be tied up.

For example, when the church experienced significant backlash after the policy of exclusion was leaked to the press and it gained international attention, why did it use D. Todd Christofferson to participate in the crafted and scripted video interview? Why the 4th least senior apostle? Why didn’t Monson participate in the interview? Especially if it indeed was him who received the so-called revelation?

On that note, why in the two years following did we never hear from Monson on this topic? Not even once. If it was a revelation, wouldn’t he want to introduce it to the church? That’s what Joseph F. Smith did. That’s what Spencer W. Kimball did, and his was also a policy change.

Actually, that brings up another point, it seems strange that if Monson received the “mind of the Lord and will of the Lord” on this matter, why publish such direct revelation in such a discrete manner? Why publish it as an addendum available to only stake presidents, bishops, and higher up leaders then distribute it using an private, limited mailing list? Shouldn’t a new revelation be announced in General Conference, to the entire church, then have all of us vote on it as was the case with Official Declaration 1 and Official Declaration 2?

On the topic of Monson’s silence, why was it left to Nelson to couch the policy of exclusion as a revelation? Why didn’t Christofferson recall the meeting of the 15 during his interview? I mean, if he “during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation”, surely he wouldn’t have forgotten such a moment.

Finally, why introduce the policy of exclusion then? Why wait until 2015? It’s just coincidental that the United States Supreme Court, just months before, had ruled that same sex marriage must be legal in all of the United States? 21 countries had already legalized same sex marriage prior to the United States doing it. The first country legalized it 15 years before the United States did.

And to top it off, the countries that legalized it before the United States had a combined LDS membership of over 2.6 million. Another way of looking at it is that in 2015, when the United States legalized same sex marriage, nearly 1 out of every 5 members of the church lived in a country where same sex marriages had already been legalized. 

So why is it that for all these years, gay married Mormons in 22 countries could have their children baptized and weren’t automatically considered apostate? Gay married Mormons in one of those countries, as noted above, had been able to baptize their children for 15 years without any problem. In fact, gay married Mormons had been able to freely baptize their children for over a decade in 4 countries.

Why is it that now that the United States makes same sex marriage legal the church needs to take a stand by further alienating an already oppressed segment of its membership? And the United States doesn’t even contain a majority of church membership.

Two years later, and we still don’t have answers to these questions. All we have is the church sponsoring LoveLoud, while their teenagers are still dying.

2 thoughts on “The exclusion policy and the will of God: two years later

  1. It seems to me…

    The title of your post seems to capture the situation correctly. It is a policy. The exclusion policy seems to be based on an understanding of doctrine but applied at the level of policy. Because of our understanding of the doctrine of marriage and chastity we must do something… what shall we do? Let’s create a policy.

    Marriage is very central to LDS theology and I am not surprised when the response to families practicing FLDS style plural marriage is the justification for a current response for children of parents involved in same sex marriages. The church has a huge interest in defining what marriage is and what it is not. I have no ideas regarding the timing of the policy though.

    The former priesthood exclusion exclusion seemed to be a policy based on something we weren’t quite sure about which turned out not to be doctrine at all. If this new policy is revelation it seems to be a small r revelation rather that a big R Revelation. Perhaps we can say it is not canonical.

    If you get a chance to read Tom Christofferson’s book That We May Be One this exclusion policy still seems to be a sore point with Tom despite his recent reconciliation with the LDS church. Just like the priesthood exclusion policy this recent exclusion policy based on a parents marriage arrangement may also be something we will regret when judged by our future understanding.

    After making a plug for Christofferson’s book the overwhelming feeling I had reading it is that despite out differences we can all be nicer to those who disagree with us or are different than us. It makes such a difference.

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