When a person in a position of authority harms others, that is abuse. When abusers tell victims, “I only hurt you because I love you,” that is gaslighting.

Regarding a rule excluding children of LGBT parents from baptism — a hurtful and vindictive action — LDS President Russell M. Nelson recently stated that church leaders acted out of a loving desire to promote harmony between LGBT parents and their children.

This explanation rings false, given Mormon leaders’ history of taking harmful actions against the gay community.

Nelson hides behind a distinction between policies — subject to revision by church leaders — versus unchanging divine laws. These categories seem to be fairly plastic, however, based on church PR needs: In 2016, he called the exclusionary rule a revelation of God’s will, but now he says it is a changeable policy.

Ultimately, actions speak louder than words. LDS leaders have taken a positive step in halting some of their harmful treatment of LGBT people. The abuse is ongoing, however, until they admit their mistakes, sincerely apologize for the destruction they have caused, discontinue the gaslighting and welcome LGBT people into the church in full equality.

Until then, their deeds reveal their claims of “love” to be a lie.

Edward Jones III, Salt Lake City