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Senior Mormon apostle Russell M. Nelson gave the LDS Church's hotly debated policy about gay couples and their children extra emphasis when he declared the action came as the result of a revelation from heaven to the faith's prophet.

Nelson's sermon — delivered in Hawaii in January 2016 and which became nearly as controversial as the policy itself — was included in a new online "Doctrinal Mastery" manual for seminary teachers.

But no more. A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has confirmed that the Nelson illustration has been removed from the lesson on "prophets and revelation" — as Mormon authorities continue to develop the new online training for teachers who instruct Mormon high-schoolers.

What the deletion means remains an open question.

LDS blogger Jana Riess, writing for Religion News Service, notes that this particular lesson taught that "as the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ continues to lead and direct his church through his prophets and apostles. He reveals laws for all of God's children and guides his church through these ordained servants. God's laws include doctrine, principles, commandments, ordinances and covenants, as well as church policies and practices he reveals through his prophets."

The "policies and practices" reference drew the attention of observers, who pointed to the new gay policy, among other things, and Nelson's speech in which he proclaimed that the clampdown reflected "the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord" given to LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson.

"Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation," Nelson said. "It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson."

Mormons revere the 15 men who lead the global faith — the governing three-member First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — as "prophets, seers and revelators." Nelson, who turns 92 on Friday, is the head of the quorum and next in line to lead the 15.6 million-member church after Monson, who recently marked his 89th birthday.

Those 15 leaders announced a policy in November 2015 that deemed gay Mormon couples "apostates," subject to possible church discipline, and generally barred their children from baptism until they turn 18.

David Noyce and Peggy Fletcher Stack