Time since D&C 164
The hot-button topic at the 2010 World Conference was LGBT inclusion. Many people wanted the church to globally recognize LGBT marriages and ordain LGBT people to the priesthood, while others wanted the exact opposite of that.
What would become Doctrine and Covenants 164 was introduced for consideration for canonization on April 11, 2010 and it was canonized 3 days later. With this section we created a new level of polity in our church: National Conferences. This was seen as the balance which could be struck with allowing LGBT-affirming nations to be so, while also allowing other nations to continue “working on it” within their own cultures to get to that point. The World Church leaders absolved themselves of creating church-wide policies and instead left it up to individual nations to recognize the worth of LGBT folks.
This is how long it has been since we canonized D&C 164:Countup
Time Between D&C 164 and National Conferences
After the canonization of D&C 164 there was not clear direction about how to proceeded with these National Conferences. It wasn’t until 2012 that basic guidelines were released. During that time, LGBT folks were still denied access to the sacrament of marriage and access to the priesthood. Eventually the National Conferences did happen in several nations, and our God-given rights were recognized at them.
This is how long we waited between the canonization of D&C 164 and the National Conference so we could finally have out God-given equal rights recognized in our church:
April 14th, 2010 – March 31st, 2014
3 years, 11 months, 17 days
April 14th, 2010 – June 1st, 2013
3 years, 1 month, 18 days
Time since Interim Policies were implemented
While its great that our rights were finally recognized at these National Conferences, there was a catch: our rights were only seen as “Interim” policies. Synonyms for “Interim” include “temporary”, which doesn’t feel fantastic that my rights could be described as “temporary”. In the secular world, LGBT folks have a history of having their rights systematically recognized only to have them voided, and many LGBT folks are worried that we may also lose our rights in the church.
This is how long it has been since we implemented those Interim Policies:
Several other nations have also implemented Interim Policies. A full map of these nations can be found here. Its also important to note that a majority of church members live in affirming nations.
Time since Official Policies SHOULD have been implemented
Luckily, there was a clear direction forward to move the Interim Policies to Official Policies: they were supposed to undergo a 2-year revision period and then be implemented as Official Policies. Our rights were finally recognized in the church, and we had access to the sacraments and the ability to be ordained.
However, somewhere along the way the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve had a miscommunication about how exactly to transition the Interim Policies to Official Policies; both thought that it was the other’s obligation to finalize these policies. Unfortunately, this miscommunication led to the 2-year revision deadline being missed and the revision being de-prioritized and largely forgotten about on a world-church level.
This is how long ago those 2-year revision periods ended, and the Official Policies still haven’t been revised or implemented yet:
Time left until promises are broken again
LGBT advocates in Community of Christ LGBT tried for 5 years to get these to be Official Policies, but were given the run around from members of the Council of Twelve, the World Church Secretary, Mission Center Presidents, and the First Presidency. We had exhausted the official avenues for our equal rights to be officially recognized. Finally, on November 23rd, 2021 Harmony’s President, Parker Johnson, spoke about this need for Official Policies at his ordination service, and said that there was a petition asking for the First President to speak on this topic. It was a remarkably eloquent and peaceful protest, and over 500 people signed this petition.
It turns out that this was also an effective protest, because the First Presidency publicly responded to Harmony on December 9th, 2021 in a letter that can be read here. Among other things, the First Presidency clarified that this responsibility lies with the Council of 12. On or around December 17th, 2021 Harmony was approached by the apostles for the USA and Canada and were told Harmony would be working as active consultants to review and provide input on their respective policies. On March 9th, 2022 Harmony announced that the apostles had tentatively promised to have the revised policies completed and implemented by December 31, 2022.
Since that time, however, there has seemingly been no movement to finally make these Official Policies, and based on the last decade I am not holding my breath that this will actually happen. I would rather be pleasantly surprised then have my misplaced optimism destroyed. I created this webpage as a sort of accountability tracker to see if this promise are kept or broken.
This is how much more time the Apostles have before they break another promise to the LGBT community and continue to marginalize us through inaction.Countup
What I’d like to see
On January 9, 1979 the First Presidency counseled:
“The person who would interpret the scriptures for guidance to others must assume personal responsibility to act in faith on behalf of the welfare of those who hear, always striving to be cognizant of their needs and the exigencies of the situation. … If it is detached from life, then truth has only the appearance of truth, but it lacks the living character of the truth which is also the way and the life. It is recognized that there are dangers involved in the concept of living truth but to abandon its demand is to ignore the meaning of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.”
We received the revelation of D&C 164 over a decade ago, yet over 10 years later LGBT folks still do not have Official rights in Community of Christ. Matthew 15: 7-8 rings too loudly in my ears for comfort: “Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”. If we want to keep espousing that we are a welcoming, inclusive, and affirming church, then the church’s world leaders cannot keep systemically ignoring the LGBT community. We and the church need to shuffle off the shackles of bureaucracy. We need to finish this holy work NOW.