Baby blessings, as the first ordinance a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints receives, is the time when a person is given the name as it will appear on the records of the Church - sometimes, as in the case of my brother John Robert, the names differ from those on birth certificates - and a blessing.
Giving a baby a name and a blessing is separate and distinct from baptism, which happens at age eight, but it operates as the best parallel to christenings in other Christian denominations.
It was a joyous time for my family, and wonderful to see the growth and strength of the new parents.
The weekend also raised an issue over which there is heated disagreement within my family: my decision to accept the invitation to speak at my dear friend's civil union in March, recorded here. Many members of my family believe my choice was wrong, that in speaking and expressing love to my friend and her partner, I was also condoning their decision.
The disagreement raised for me a broader issue: how does my Church and its membership communicate unconditional love to homosexuals within and without the membership of our faith while, at the same time, standing firm and immovable in articulating the doctrine of traditional marriage?
I am not the only one considering these issues. I was touched to read here of 400 Latter-day Saints marching in Salt Lake City to express love for the LGBT community and to watch this video of gay Brigham Young University students being honest with their challenges:
Unlike what the author of the Slate article surmises, the doctrine of heterosexual, eternal marriage is part of an eternal plan and isn't changing any time soon. As in, ever. Although it may seem to the outside observer that the issue tracks blacks and the priesthood circa 1978, it doesn't (this is worthy of its own blog post - early blacks in Joseph Smith's time where given the priesthood, as I understand it). Men and women by divine command are to marry, procreate, and become even as God is.
Does this mean that those who have feelings that diverge from this plan are bad and sinful? No! Does it mean we need to love them and accept them less? No! Does it mean that, in that love, we can change eternal doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ or that we can convert sin into righteousness? The answer here is also an emphatic, but empathetic, no.
This creates incredibly hard realities. Without going into all of them, I would like to focus on one that I experience: how do I communicate and express love to those inside and outside of the Church of the LGBT community while also maintaining and communicating the Lord's standards? For those who read this blog who have an atraditional sexual orientation, what is your answer - how do we do this?
Is the answer in communicating both of these messages, but not necessarily at the same time? As in, there was a season for Proposition 8 and there is a season for speeches at civil unions and marches in SLC? Is there a percentage - 90-99% love, 10-1% "this is what we believe"? Must I be a bigot if I believe in and stand for traditional marriage? What would the Savior have me do, and what was the example that he set?
I encourage comments and discussion here - I don't believe this is something we have gotten quite right as a Church. But perhaps we can get there through more open exchange.