Published: Tuesday, Oct. 5th, 2021
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well known for opposing same-sex marriage, but an essay published this week by Emily Kaplan for the Washington Post speculates that their stance might change… possibly soon.
Soon? Consider us skeptical, but intrigued. Kaplan’s essay, “The Rise of the Liberal Latter-day Saints,” is placed behind a paywall, so we’ll summarize:
Faced with an increasingly outspoken group of liberal-leaning younger members, Kaplan says that the LDS Church is having an “identity crisis” that may lead to a change in doctrine.
Young Mormons are disagreeing with older members over all kinds of things -- politics, baptism policies, ordination for women, unpopular mandates against alcohol and coffee. Most frequently, and perhaps most loudly, members disagree over the rights of LGBTQ+ church members and their families. Kaplan notes that at least 20% of church members born after 1997 do not identify as heterosexual.
In response to this growing dissonance, the Mormon Church must decide whether to keep doctrine as it is, or evolve alongside the values and beliefs of younger members and finally embrace same-sex marriage. If it doesn’t, younger members say, people will simply leave the Church.
“An organization is not needed for me to have a proper relationship with God,” a 24 year old BYU graduate told Kaplan about his decision to identify as an inactive member.
Kaplan ends her essay with a quote from Religious Studies Professor Patrick Mason (of Utah State University) who suggests that change is already in the works:
“People have already started to do the work to sketch out a theological rationale that would allow for the kind of revelation that allows for women’s ordination, for same-sex marriage, all kinds of things… What was once possible then becomes probable.”
Right now, the Mormon Church believes that acting on “same-gender attraction” is a sin - clarifying by saying that it welcomes gay and lesbian members, so long as they remain chaste.
This seems fairly unsustainable if the poll Kaplan cites is accurate, and nearly a quarter of Mormons under 24 openly identify as LGBTQ+. But it’s difficult to predict whether or not the LDS Church will be willing or able to change, no matter how necessary it seems.
What is certain is that many people will choose to leave a denomination that no longer represents their values and beliefs, in order to find spaces that support and honor them.
And in fact, they already are leaving in large numbers, and not just from the Mormon Church. Membership is down dramatically in every large religious denomination in the country, including the UMC and Catholic Church, as people leave discriminatory institutions, and their outdated policies, behind.
These individuals increasingly choose to identify as nondenominational, non religious, or spiritual but not religious, as they find more personalized, authentic, and accepting approaches to community. It’s one of the reasons that interest in online ordination, and nondenominational interfaith churches like American Marriage Ministries, are on the rise.
We hope that discriminatory churches can shift their thinking and embrace their LGBTQ+ members and allies fully (and ordain women! Come on!), because they have a long way to go.
American Marriage Ministries will always advocate for marriage equality, celebrate love, and offer ordinations for free online to all adults, regardless of their race, gender, sexual identity, income, or ability. And we’ll continue to practice universal acceptance, welcoming members of any religious or nonreligious background - providing they agree to our simple tenets of respect and dignity for all people.
By doing so, we help to ensure that all couples are able choose a loving and respectful wedding officiant, without putting up with the discriminatory b.s. encountered far too often in other religious organizations.
AMM helps parents, siblings, grandparents, mentors, and best friends become ordaiend minister to officiate weddings for the couples they love. Because all people have a right to marry, and to be married by someone that celebrates their love -- without judging it!
Find out more by reading Who We Are.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!