Top LDS Church Spokesman Explains Handbook Used by Leaders

The Mormon Newsroom published the following commentary, written by Michael Otterson, Director of Church Public Affairs, to help members and those interested understand the Handbook used by leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

If there’s one thing that virtually all Christians agree on, it’s Jesus Christ’s tender love of children. Both the Bible and Book of Mormon deliver touching accounts of His love for “little ones,” blessing them and forbidding His disciples from keeping children from Him. 
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the family is reverenced and children are its centerpiece. Yet last week an instructional letter from Church leadership addressing the sensitive topic of how to respond to same-sex relationships sparked a wave of inquiries from Church members. Most of the questions were about children.

Resist the 'Rainbow Veil' and Let God Be God

I can't begin to tell you how much I love this post, published on the Public Discourse, "Rending the Rainbow Veil: How to Make Your Church a Safe Space for Christians with Same-Sex Attraction", by Jean Lloyd. The familiar cry of Martin Luther King, "I have a dream" has long been my own for gay Mormons who desire with all of their hearts to find a safe space within LDS congregations as they strive to keep covenants.

Considering the current controversy surrounding the recent update to the Church handbook in regard to same-sex couples and their children, now more than ever Mormons must step-up and work harder to show forth love to those most affected. This is our challenge as those claiming to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. We must learn to love better while at the same time stand firm with our doctrine and the inspired counsel and direction of Prophets and Apostles on the topic of homosexual behavior.

Proving Ourselves Against Opposition

I’ve really enjoyed studying the Doctrine of Christ this week for my Book of Mormon religion class. The BYU-Idaho Pathway program is changing my life. I seriously feel like I’m living my life backwards and feel so grateful to have this inspired opportunity (because of technology) to seek higher education at this stage of my life.

I’m grateful to know that learning is a life-long endeavor because knowledge is a thing of eternal worth. I will say, however, that this experience is teaching me better what it means to be humble. We are at our most humble when we are teachable – and these days, I am definitely that, as I desire to better understand and know my path going forward.

Which is why, I believe, finding a deeper understanding to the application of the “Doctrine of Christ” was so meaningful to me as I studied, in particular, 2 Nephi Chapter 31 this week.

The Doctrine of Christ is intended to set us on a qualified course, guided by the Holy Ghost, back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. After Nephi had, painstakingly, taught each required step along this path (faith, repentance, baptism, receive HG) he taught us how to proceed from that point forward.

Breaking News: Church Provides Official Clarification about Children of Same-Sex Couples

The Mormon Newsroom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released the following video making important clarifications about the recent handbook updates regarding the children of same-sex couples:

"In a video interview Friday in Salt Lake City, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed the Church’s position on marriage and outlined handbook changes in Church policy affecting same-sex couples and their children. The interview will help Church members, the media and the public better understand the context and purpose of the changes, which have been discussed extensively in the news media, on social media and elsewhere.

Insight into new LDS Church policies on same-sex couples and their children

A guest post by Michael Terrence Worley in response to recent news reports that, according to new LDS Church policy children within a same-sex marriage (or household) may not be baptized (or blessed). I expect to hear more from the Church on the matter as clearly this is being blown out of proportion by those critical of the Church. Note: Church Spokesman, Eric Hawkins, has confirmed that this is the policy of the Church.

Update 11/6/15: The Mormon Newsroom has released a video interview with Elder D. Todd Christopherson clarifying the new policy in regard to the children of same-sex couples.

Update 11/13/15: The Church has made further clarifications by providing commentary on the Mormon Newsroom, including a letter from the First Presidency. 

Cue "Bill Nye" voice...

General Conference: Same Message Different Responses

This past week in my BYU-I Pathway religion class, I’ve been focusing on “visualization” while reading the Book of Mormon each day. The way it works is that not only do you try to imagine what you’re actually reading (bring it to life), but you also try to place a similar scenario into modern life (yours).

One of the most beautiful examples of “visualization” I have ever witnessed (probably because I am studying the skill) just happened to be during General Conference this past weekend.

Elder Claudio R. M. Costa taught that one of the ways we can make the Sabbath day more holy is by sharing scripture stories with our children. He said, “I believe that starting a tradition of telling the stories of Jesus to our children and families is a very special way to keep the Sabbath day holy in our homes.” Note that he said, “telling.”

He then explained, “I love to read scriptural passages about His sinless life, and after reading the scriptures which tell about the events experienced by Him, I close my eyes and try to visualize these sacred moments that teach me and strengthen me spiritually.”

Lehi: A Great Family Patriarch

For those of you who follow me on my WBMW Facebook Page, you might recall that I shared my decision to participate in the BYU-Idaho Pathway Program this year. I’m happy to report that so far (about two weeks in), it’s been a very positive experience. In my religion course, by assignment, I prayerfully read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes each day and record personal insights. I also have the opportunity of attending weekly “Gatherings” with other Pathway students in my area to discuss course material where we both teach and learn from each other. I can’t tell you how wonderful it has been to be immersed in the scriptures, once again, similar to when I was teaching seminary a few years ago. I love it!

Now, what I didn’t tell you (because I had no idea) was that as part of the Learning Model used in Pathway we are to find a creative way to teach what we have learned outside of class (I think weekly). Blogging is on the approved list of how to accomplish this assignment. Can you believe that? Now I don’t know if my instructor will allow me to use this platform on a regular basis but I really hope so. I can’t think of anything more awesome than to bring two things I love together (learning the gospel and writing), and by assignment get to share with all of you. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Video: What to Do When Kids See Internet Pornography?

It's not if, but when our children will be exposed to Internet pornography. I think this is a fear that most parents have a great concern about because it's nearly impossible to shield children from everything they may come in contact with online -- as much as we do our best to protect them. So I want to share with you this fantastic video on so you and your kids are prepared.

The video does an excellent job of teaching children what to do when they come upon pornography on the Internet. I think this is a great resource for a Family Home Evening to hopefully hit this issue before the fact and arm your family. And if it's already happened, then hopefully this will open a door for discussion.

Video description: "The challenges that children face today related to pornography are tremendous, but armed with the right information about what to do when they encounter it, they can successfully overcome the challenge and lead safe, happy lives."

Church Warns Members About Julie Rowe's "Prepper" Book: A Greater Tomorrow

A concern that I've had for quite sometime is the hyper-interest in prepping for a doomsday scenario by many good members of the Church. One reason for this heightened activity is due to a number of spurious pieces of literature (books) gaining traction as highly credible. What's most disturbing is that these books, and their authors, are often treated as more enlightened than the inspired council of Prophets and Apostles on the topics of emergency preparedness and the Second Coming.

One particular book written by a member of the Church, Julie Rowe, has caught the attention of the CES Department of the Church (those who oversee LDS Seminary and Institute programs) and because of its growing influence among these so-called "Prepper" Mormons (I believe), a need to make a bold statement about its credibility has become necessary. This caution has been issued to all seminary and institute personnel throughout the Church:

Publication Caution: A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil Additional Information: [August 31, 2015] In 2014, Spring Creek Book Company published A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil by Julie Rowe (see shaded box for Amazon’s description of the book). Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her book is not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them. The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.

Bottom line, the book "A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil" by Julie Rowe is considered by the Church "spurious materials in circulation" and likely should be avoided.

Legalizing Assisted Suicide: Where does LDS Church Stand?

legalizing assisted suicide californa
Today in my home state, "The California Assembly approved legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives, sending the proposal to the state Senate that is expected to endorse it" as reported by the Associated Press. The idea of assisted suicide just sickens me. Apparently lawmakers voted 42-33 after concluding what is said to have been a "lengthy and emotional debate" where many "invoked their religious faith in arguing for and against the legislation."

You may recall the Brittany Maynard case that brought the issue to the forefront of mainstream America. Maynard, a California resident, had terminal cancer. Before taking her own life, she spent her last days advocating for the legalization of assisted suicide, or the right-to-die. She held that she was forced to move to Oregon (no choice) where she could legally take her life. She believed that she had that right and so should you. So much so, that the legacy of her short life is that government is greater than God.