Op-Ed | Failing Christ’s Great Commission and LDS Policy Change

Our Heavenly Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, are divinely invested in the lives of humanity. From a Mormon perspective, God’s sovereign will is to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of all mankind (Moses 1:39). From a Christian perspective, the call to preach the Gospel of Christ is to go unto all the world, calling men unto repentance, baptizing them and making them disciples (See, Matthew 28:16-20). Prior to the death of Christ, the disciples were called to preach and be witnesses unto all those who were Jews. It was not until after Christ’s death and bodily resurrection that Peter received a vision to preach also unto the Gentile nations. This is contained in Acts chapter 10.

First, we must understand the historical and cultural context of this passage. Peter is a Jew and majority of the early Christians were from various parts of Israel and were Jew’s themselves. However, as Luke writes to Theophilus about the history of the Church and the acts of the Apostles within the early First Century, we find that Peter’s vision goes against Jewish dietary laws. The command to “kill and eat” of those things which were forbidden now are made clean by God. In this gesture, God revealed to Peter that the Gospel message no longer was for the Jew only, it is meant for the gentile nations as well. This started with Cornelius and his household.

The vision is not the most perplexing issue here of the passage. What is at the heart of this passage is the reality of God’s divine sovereign Grace to bring salvation to someone and their household. Let us go back and look at Acts 10:1-8. Cornelius honored and prayed to God, he honored and supported the impoverished people through alms. Because of his prayer, an angel of the Lord appears and blesses Cornelius. We then jump down to where Peter is in the house of Cornelius and notices the household possesses the Holy Spirit. Peter proclaimed an interesting statement:

Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:44-48, ESV)

Established on the day of Pentecost, the gospel of Jesus Christ began with the Jew’s first and then was permitted to be preached to the Gentiles. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simply the power of redemption from the fall. Christ fulfilled the aspects of the law and we are no longer subject to the laws, we are subject to the grace of God.

A new policy to address and clarify the Mormon Church on same-sex relationships and children reared in same-sex homes.

So, where is this going? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has recently confirmed a particular policy change within one of their handbooks. This policy change clarified the Church’s position with regards to Same-Sex Marriage and cohabitation. This alone may have caused some criticism from those who support same-sex marriage. This is not the issue at stake. Along with this policy change of clarifying the Mormon position on same-sex marriage, another policy came about. This policy essentially relates to the children (biological or adoptive) of same-sex couples. According to this policy, an individual under the age of 18 is not allowed to receive the ordinances of baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit, serve in specific callings, receive the Aaronic priesthood (for young men at age 12), participate in youth activities where many young men and women attend the temple to perform baptisms for the dead.

This does not mean they are prevented from attending services within a local ward. They may receive some limited temporal and spiritual blessings. However, the policy specifically denies them full participation in the Church where regular members of their age may receive and enjoy.

The other side of this controversy lies within the scope of a specific group of people. Children who are reared in same-sex households. This is how the policy is worded, this is how the policy is stated. Children in same-sex homes may not be able to receive baptism and other temporal and spiritual blessings until they reach the legal age of 18, and then it is determined by the First Presidency after a mission President, Bishop, Stake President or branch leader petitions for the child to be allowed participation in these saving ordinances. However, children who are brought up in a home where the mother and father are cohabitating may very well be allowed to receive the ordinance of baptism, priesthood callings, the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.

It is quite apparent this policy has created a stir of controversy. And, rightly so. It appears to be discriminatory and in violation of the Sovereign will of God. What is God’s will? To draw all men unto Christ in order for them to repent and receive baptism in His name in order to be filled and sanctified. There is no specific qualifier or condition imposed, except for one to come and repent of their sins and to deny themselves of the ungodliness that is inherent in all people from the fall.

Justifying denied temporal and spiritual blessings

Many devout members of the Mormon faith truly want to follow their leaders and believe them to be men called of God. The problem here is when does one come to a determination of whether or not someone is specifically speaking in harmony with the revealed authority of God’s word; or when they are presenting heretical teachings and policies.  Do not misunderstand this, policies are good and a means to meet our own needs of safety as individuals and a culture. A church ought to have specific policies and procedures in place for the collective body of believers. However, these policies (much like their teaching) must align with and be in harmony with the teachings of Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The problem with the policy change is compounded even more with the justifying perceptions of individual Mormon believers. As previously stated, there is a sense of infallibility placed on the current leadership of the Church. This perception is based on the idea that the Leaders speak for God and that when they speak, majority of a person’s doubts and questions ought to rest on whether or not they have a strong testimony or faith in God and God’s chosen leaderships.

Another problematic component is the false attribution of the wheat and the tares. This is ignorant of proper scripture interpretation and perverts the original intent of the message. A third issue at hand is that any person who dares to question the reality of a statement put forth by the first presidency of the Church is one who lacks a testimony, or is struggling and has a lack of faith in understanding Christ’s teachings.

These, and many other factors in justifying the policy change as honorable and respectful of family, misses the mark completely. They not only show the blindness of an individual, it shows a lack in appropriate critical, rational and logical thinking. One reason may be fear induced. Another maybe associated with a sense of cognitive dissonance.

We must call the policy for what it truly is – heretical in preventing one to come unto Christ

Whether you are a Mormon or an Evangelical Christian, any policy that prevents someone from coming to Christ for salvation is against the mission and divine purpose of the true and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is the Gospel? That Christ was sent by the Father to redeem fallen humanity from sin and death.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through the supposed divinely inspired men who claim to speak in authority of God essentially created a policy that denies an individual to come unto Christ. This is not scriptural, it is not even in accordance with the mission and purpose of the Mormon Church (previous to this policy change).

Jesus Christ proclaims: “I am the way the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:6). Christ also proclaims that when we come to him, we come to him as we presently are, not as we want to be with good works, or come without denying ourselves of our sinfulness. In fact, he calls all who are heavy laden and labor to seek rest in him (see Matthew 11:28).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about policies, it is not about obedience. It is not even about how good one is able to do in their own lives. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of genuine relationship. It is one built on trust, faith and hope. Through Jesus Christ, we enter into a divine relationship with Him and the Father. We are justified because of the atonement of Christ. We are saved by God’s divine and Sovereign Grace.

If you are a Mormon and you have read this article, and find that you disagree with the statements here, I ask you to take into consideration the following. Imagine you reach a point in your life, you live in a situation that is beyond your control and you decide to step out in faith and pray to God. Through that prayer, he hears you and you walk in to attend a Church and that Church asks for you to continue to come, however, because of their policy, they are not able to allow you to become a full member and are denied baptism and essential blessings. How soon will you find yourself turned away from God and what will happen if you move through your life without having a real saving relationship with Jesus Christ? While you will be held accountable, how much more will that Church be held accountable for turning you away from the reality of Christ’s redeeming power and love?

Christ will never place conditions on someone’s salvation. When he calls you to repent and draws you unto him, the promise is that He will save you and dwell within you. He will sanctify you as he has justified you. This is the promise of Scripture. No man can take away the saving power of Jesus Christ. It is Satan that wants to prevent humanity from coming unto a real saving relationship of a Sovereign and merciful God.

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