There are many things in this gospel and in this church that I do not understand. I do not understand why the Lord asked the early Saints to experience the trial of polygamy for a time. I do not understand why it is so much more difficult for a Muslim to be allowed to be baptized than someone of another religion. I do not understand the ins and outs and the whys of temple sealings when divorces and deaths come into play. I do not understand why the Lord has allowed people to experience certain trials and temptations in this life. I have a lot of “I still don’t understand”s.
Sometimes my confusion gets resolved and my questions get answered, but sometimes they don’t. It’s hard. Some days I go to church or an institute class and everything makes perfect sense, and other days I walk out still just wishing I could wrap my head around all the details of God’s plan and His church’s policy that I just don’t get.
Today, there is something new I do not yet understand: I do not understand the new church policy regarding the baptism of children of same-sex couples.
When I saw the articles about this handbook policy change begin popping up, my brain started confusingly shouting at me: “But what about loving and accepting everyone?” “The worth of every soul??? “what about the age of accountability?” “the second article of faith? The one saying that man shall be punished for HIS OWN sins???” “But what about the blessings that accompany the covenant of baptism? Why should they not have those?” “What about baptism being essential for exaltation?” “HUH?!?!?”
And that is when I stopped reading comments and stepped away from my computer to pray about what I know. Here is what I found:
I know my Heavenly Father. I know that He loves me and all of His children, and that He will not allow a mistake to be made in policy that stops someone from reaching their eternal potential. He is too merciful for that.
I know that covenants are a key part of the plan of salvation. While making those covenants is necessary, keeping them is even more important. I know that our loving Heavenly Father wants us to make those covenants when we are ready to keep them, and that He does not ask us to make them before we are fully prepared. When I went through the temple for the first time, I remember thinking “WOW. This is BIG.”. So often we remember this significance when it comes to temple covenants, but do not apply the same weight with baptism. Baptism involves making promises and THEY ARE BIG. This policy could serve as a powerful reminder to all missionaries and church members that we are not baptizing to gain numbers, we are baptizing to gain disciples. We are helping people grow closer to God, helping them to learn and grow and become more Christlike by taking that first essential step in getting to the Celestial kingdom… but it is just the first step, not the end goal. Our job is not yet finished, maintaining those covenants throughout our life is essential or we will be worse off, not better.
I know that Heavenly Father wants to protect and teach His children, and that He is looking for opportunities to do just that.
I know that God is not vengeful. Heavenly Father does not punish us unless it is necessary, earned through our own choices, and ultimately helps us grow. God’s “punishment” always has a purpose.
I know that families are an essential part of the plan of salvation, and that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
I know that Heavenly Father is aware of our circumstances, and that HE IS FAIR. This is why the church requires parent permission for anyone under the age of 18, and spouse permission for any baptism. I believe God knows how much we can handle and that if He believes the opposition is too strong for us to maintain those covenants, He will not ask us to make them. If there would be too much mental and emotional strain on a young child from living with and loving parents who are sinning and cannot stop sinning except by ending their relationship and thus dissolving their family… I do not believe God would ask that young child to willingly take that on. He is merciful and fair and He knows what we can handle. I believe he knows that it is not fair to ask a child living in a home that so directly conflicts with the teachings of the gospel (and cannot be as easily resolved as having both parents marry one another) to be attending our church and living the gospel at the same time. This an “all-in” church, with constant dedication, commitment, and testimony required. It is a lot to do and while it is a blessing, it can be hard, and I would imagine that difficulty to be unimaginable if your home life was centered entirely around something so fundamentally contradictory to church doctrine. I do not believe that for a young child, God would declare that fair.
I know that I am not meant to understand everything at this point in time. I am not God, and until I am ready to take on all of the responsibilities of running my own world, I am not privilege to every bit of his knowledge.
I know that this is the only true church upon the Earth, and I have received confirmation after confirmation that it is led by a prophet of God.
I still do not fully understand and not know every bit of why this policy was put in place. I cannot say that I have a testimony of this particular policy, or that I was rejoicing when it was revealed. But I can say that these are the things that I know, and until He gives me more light and understanding, I will choose to trust that He has given me enough.