The Vatican recently announced a policy change in which it would ease the way for those dissatisfied with the more liberal Anglican stance on Gay Marriage and Women in the Priesthood to become Roman Catholic. For instance, an individual baptized into the Anglican church may not have to have a second baptism to become Catholic. More interesting, for a member of the LDS church is the new stance on married priests. One of the biggest differences between Anglicans and Catholics has traditionally been over the issue of priesthood celibacy. Anglican priests can and are married, while Catholics are not allowed to do so. The unique thing about the Vatican decision is that they are now institutionally allowing those priests that have been wed to remain so and still become members and priests in the Catholic church.
This decision got me thinking about how the LDS church could make a similarly pragmatic decision in regard to Gay Marriage. Right now, Missionaries and members face a serious challenge, especially in states where Gay Marriage has been legalized such as Massachusetts. Some gay couples have been together for over 20 or 30 years and have now been happily married for years. If these individuals are taking and believing in the missionaries lessons, they are unlikely to be willing to break off a long term and legally recognized union—and it would be cruel and wrong if it asked them to do so. Do we write these individuals off as lost causes, or can we find some practical way to accommodate them. Could the church allow these individuals to become members of the church while allowing them to remain in their legally sanctioned marriages? Sexuality for a priest is viewed as a rather large transgression in Catholicism quite similar to the way that we view homosexual relations and out of marriage relations. Could we as the Catholics are now doing, forbid the formation of new marriages and unions between same sex members, but recognize those unions that are already formed in order to bring individuals into the church?
Unfortunately, we have a culture where deviations from a very norm are scorned and treated with disregard. There would have to be a cultural change in our congregations to make this a viable option. Yet, it seems to me that there isn’t really a better way to try to reach out to these individuals that are already in long term relationships and marriages, and that to fail to do so is to fail in our duty to spread the gospel to others.
Is this a viable solution? Would the church be compromising on its values if it allowed the recognition of such marriages. Any thoughts?