Mormonism is nothing short of crystal clear when it comes to its ideals surrounding the family unit. Mormon doctrine is unapologetically exclusionary in its practices and policies regarding people in same-sex relationships. As a queer woman with Mormon roots that run deep, this is no secret to me.
So, when my fiancee and I announced our engagement, we were shocked to realize that almost all of our wedding guests are Mormon, and they can’t wait to be a part of our “I Do’s”.
As the RSVPs trickled in, my fiancee and I were surprised that many people who we had assumed would want no part in our wedding (due to their devout Mormon beliefs and lifestyles), had actually found a way to show support, love and acceptance to two women in love.
It turns out, the LDS Church has never officially prohibited its members from attending gay weddings. There is plenty of room to assume that non-attendance is the stance. Especially since Mormon bishops are prohibited from performing same-sex marriages. But there is no formal policy regarding individual church member’s attendance.
The narrative surrounding this lack of explicit policy is simple: Individuals and families should pray and ask God what is right for them in regards to attending same-sex weddings. Given the hard stance Mormonism takes on same-sex relationships (namely that they are only second to murder in the severity of sin), I assumed that if my LDS friends and family asked their God if they should come to my wedding that the answer would be no.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I dug deeper into our pile of RSVPs, a less surprising reality hit me. The Mormons who are choosing to come to my lesbian wedding are mostly young, liberal, millennials. While there are a few exceptions to this observation, it is definitely a trend that appears on my wedding guest list. This trend might give a clue as to why a church that has such an extreme view on homosexuality would hold off from telling its membership that they shouldn’t attend a gay wedding.
Mormon retention rates for young adults is on the decline. Pew Research along with other prominent study results have proven as much. Mormonism is backed into the same corner that many Christian denominations are: Stick to traditional beliefs and lose young membership. Or modernize policies and upset the perception that God is unchanging.
Taking this dilemma into consideration, Mormon leaders are actually trying to be practical in withholding an explicit “yay” or “nay” policy regarding same-sex wedding attendance. Either way, they would upset a large proportion of their membership.
And yet, this lack of clarity has very real consequences for the other side of the divide: People who do not attend their loved one’s weddings for fear of godly disapproval.
Jennifer Bement, a 2017 graduate of BYU-Idaho, is a master’s student at Boston University in the School of Education.