Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

 

21.4 Policies on Moral Issues

 21.4.1

Abortion

The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when:

  1. 1.

    Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.

  2. 2.

    A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.

  3. 3.

    A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

Even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.

Church members who submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion may be subject to Church discipline.

As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion.

 21.4.2

Abuse and Cruelty

The Church’s position is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse or are cruel to their spouses, children, other family members, or anyone else violate the laws of God and man. All members, especially parents and leaders, are encouraged to be alert and diligent and do all they can to protect children and others against abuse and neglect. Members who have abused others are subject to Church discipline.

If leaders or teachers become aware of instances of abuse, they should counsel with the bishop. Instructions for the bishop are provided in Handbook 1, 17.3.2.

 21.4.3

Artificial Insemination

The Church strongly discourages artificial insemination using semen from anyone but the husband. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.

Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved. Single sisters who deliberately refuse to follow the counsel of Church leaders in this matter are subject to Church discipline.

 21.4.4

Birth Control

It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear. The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.

Married couples should also understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a way of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.

 21.4.5

Chastity and Fidelity

The Lord’s law of chastity is abstinence from sexual relations outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Adultery, fornication, homosexual or lesbian relations, and every other unholy, unnatural, or impure practice are sinful. Members who violate the Lord’s law of chastity or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.

 21.4.6

Homosexual Behavior and Same-Gender Attraction

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

If members engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth.

While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.

If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances.

 21.4.7

In Vitro Fertilization

The Church strongly discourages in vitro fertilization using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.

 21.4.8

Occult Affiliation

Church members should not engage in any form of Satan worship or affiliate in any way with the occult. “Such activities are among the works of darkness spoken of in the scriptures. They are designed to destroy one’s faith in Christ, and will jeopardize the salvation of those who knowingly promote this wickedness. These things should not be pursued as games, be topics in Church meetings, or be delved into in private, personal conversations” (First Presidency letter, Sept. 18, 1991).

 21.4.9

Pornography

The Church opposes pornography in any form. Indulgence in pornography damages individual lives, families, and society. Such indulgence drives away the Spirit of the Lord. Church members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination, and use.

The booklet Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts provides counsel on how to avoid and overcome problems with pornography.

 21.4.10

Same-Gender Marriages

As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.

 21.4.11

Sex Education

Parents have primary responsibility for the sex education of their children. Teaching this subject honestly and plainly in the home will help young people avoid serious moral transgressions. To help parents teach this sensitive and important information, the Church has published A Parent’s Guide.

Where schools have undertaken sex education, parents should seek to ensure that the instructions given to their children are consistent with sound moral and ethical values.

 21.4.12

Single Expectant Parents

Church members who are single and pregnant are encouraged to go to their bishop. By virtue of his priesthood office and calling, he can counsel with them as they make important decisions that affect their own well-being and that of the child. He can also help them begin the process of repentance, where appropriate. Instructions for the bishop are provided in Handbook 1, 17.3.12.

When a man and woman conceive a child outside of marriage, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, the unmarried parents should be counseled to work with LDS Family Services to place the child for adoption, providing an opportunity for the baby to be sealed to temple-worthy parents. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses both the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity.

If LDS Family Services is not available in the area, leaders should encourage the placement of the child for adoption with a temple-worthy couple through a local licensed agency. LDS Family Services may be of assistance in identifying reputable, licensed adoption agencies. Licensed agencies are designed to protect the interest of the child, screen adoptive couples before placement, and provide needed supervision and counseling.

Birth parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of a sense of obligation to care for one’s own. Additionally, grandparents and other family members should not feel obligated to facilitate parenting by unmarried parents, since the child would not generally be able to receive the blessings of the sealing covenant. Further, unmarried parents are generally unable to provide the stability and the nurturing environment that a married mother and father can provide. Unmarried parents should give prayerful consideration to the best interests of the child and the blessings that can come to an infant who is sealed to a mother and father (see First Presidency letter, June 26, 2002).

If an expectant parent decides to parent the child, Church leaders and other members should treat the parent and child with care and compassion and seek to strengthen parenting skills. LDS Family Services may help in these circumstances. Leaders encourage the parent to have the child given a name and a blessing (see 20.2).

For information about whether a pregnant young woman should attend Relief Society or Young Women meetings, see 10.12.4.

LDS Family Services has established a toll-free help line for single expectant parents and others to obtain help regarding pregnancies and related matters (1-800-537-2229). The help line is available in all areas of the United States and Canada. Members and nonmembers may call it directly or call the local LDS Family Services office. If leaders do not know the number of the local office, they may call the help line or go to itsaboutlove.org. That Web site provides helpful information for those who are single, pregnant, and considering their options.

 21.4.13

Sperm Donation

The Church strongly discourages the donation of sperm.

 21.4.14

Suicide

It is wrong to take a life, including one’s own. However, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts. Only God can judge such a matter.

The family, in consultation with the bishop, determines the place and nature of a funeral service for a person who has died under such circumstances. Church facilities may be used. If the person was endowed, he or she may be buried in temple clothing.

 21.4.15

Surgical Sterilization (Including Vasectomy)

The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.

 21.4.16

Surrogate Motherhood

The Church strongly discourages surrogate motherhood.