General Conference and Same-Sex Marriage: a Personal Analysis

Introduction

I’ve decided to digest what I learned from General Conference that I believe is applicable to the ongoing conversations about same-sex marriage, same-sex activity, and the Church’s role in valuing and defending traditional marriage and family. It is hard (if not impossible) to argue that the leaders of the Church were silent on the matter this past weekend, or that their words are irrelevant to how we should feel and act concerning the matter.

I’m far from perfect at this, but I generally agree that we abuse the teachings of prophets when we use them as weapons to alienate those with whom we disagree. When teaching and sharing Gospel truth, it should never be done with a warring heart, and using the teachings of prophets and apostles as weapons is certainly the outgrowth of a heart at war. So that’s not what I intend to do in this post. If it comes across otherwise, at least know what my intent is. Remember that I don’t mean it that way.

So instead of sharing what others should have learned, I’ll share the important truths that I learned, and I sincerely hope that others will consider these truths as well. I’m going to try my very best to confine my entire analysis to specific quotes from this conference (with three deviations/exceptions only)—because I hope that by doing so, I can sidestep any criticisms that the messages I’m sharing are out-of-date (as if prophetic teachings have a built-in shelf life).

Gender Complementarity Is Essential to Marriage

One of the repeated teachings of prophets and apostles is that marriage is a priority here on earth and an essentiality in the world to come (for those who wish to enjoy all the blessings God has to offer His children). Further, it has been repeatedly taught that marriage is in its very essence a relationship between man and woman. This basic idea can be termed the gender complementarily of marriage. That is, that a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, cannot make a marriage, at least in the eyes of God by the very definition of the term.

This past General Conference, we saw a prophetic reaffirmation of this core doctrine. Elder Ballard reaffirmed it by saying, “Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman.” In other words, neither man nor woman can fulfill their divine potential in the eternities without the other. A man cannot fulfill that divine potential with another man, and a woman cannot fulfill that divine potential with another woman. To build an eternal family, a man needs a woman and a woman needs a man. Elder Bednar reiterated this same doctrine:

After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said “it was not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18; see also Genesis 2:18), and Eve became Adam’s wife and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other. The means by which mortal life is created is divinely appointed. “The first commandment … God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today.

To me, it is significant that two apostles this past conference reiterated the essentiality of both genders in a marriage relationship, and both asserted that the Plan of Happiness can only come to complete fruition in the eternities through a relationship between a man and a woman.

Law of Chastity Forbids All Same-sex Sexual Relationships

Another repeated teaching of prophets and apostles is that same-sex activity—whether participated within a legal marriage or not—is a moral sin. This is a slightly different doctrine than the gender complementarity of marriage. Someone could believe, for example, that exaltation in the eternal worlds requires a man and a woman without believing that two men are committing moral sin by having sex with each other within a civil marriage. But once again, this past General Conference, it was reaffirmed quite strongly that the law of chastity forbids all sexual relationships between members of the same sex, regardless of their marriage status.

Elder Bednar said, for example, “[M]arriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.” He followed by stating rather forcefully, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan.” The message is clear: sex is not just reserved for marriage, it is reserved for marriage between man and woman.

Elder Packer made a similar claim. He said, “The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity.” While he does not directly reference same-sex activity, few us who know Elder Packer believe that this wasn’t foremost on his mind. I take this to mean that while legalized same-sex marriage may become the norm, we should not treat sexual activity between members of the same sex—inside or outside of civil marriage—any less seriously as a moral sin. Legal and societal approval does not lessen the seriousness of the sin. Even if it becomes legally recognized and socially normal, we should not condone or celebrate it.

Finally, Elder Perry also reaffirmed this doctrine. He said:

The doctrine of the family and the home was recently reiterated with great clarity and forcefulness in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It declared the eternal nature of families and then explained the connection to temple worship. The proclamation also declared the law upon which the eternal happiness of families is predicated, namely, “The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”

In conclusion, sexual relationships between members of the same sex are forbidden by God, regardless of the marital status of the participants. This was specifically reiterated by three apostles during General Conference. I take this to mean that this subject has weighed heavily on the collective minds of the leaders of the Church.

Violation of the Law of Chastity Is Spiritually Destructive

Another point that was repeatedly emphasized in General Conference was that violating the law of chastity—which, we learned, forbids all same-sex sexual relationships—brings upon us serious consequences. Elder Bednar said,

Violating the law of chastity is a grievous sin and a misuse of our physical tabernacles. To those who know and understand the plan of salvation, defiling the body is an act of rebellion (see Mosiah 2:36–37; D&C 64:34–35) and a denial of our true identity as sons and daughters of God. As we look beyond mortality and into eternity, it is easy to discern that the counterfeit companionship advocated by the adversary is temporary and empty.

Further, President Packer said, “We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are most spiritual. The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded.” He also referred to the adversary’s attacks on the family and on our commitment to the law of chastity as lethal “snakes in the garden.”

Our Eternal, Divine Nature Should be Central to Our Self-Identity, Not Our Sexual Orientation

There are many who teach those who experience same-sex attraction to view and understand it as part of their core identity. Our society conveys the message that “gayness” or “straightness” is a central part of who we are—a critical feature of our unique individuality. Being “gay” can become a central part of our self-concept and self-identity. There are two dangers to this, both of which were addressed in General Conference:

(1) Those who take seriously church doctrines can sometimes feel deeply ashamed and self-hateful if they experience same-sex attraction. They can begin to feel that their very essence, their core identity is itself a moral transgression, or that they are an embarrassment to God for having those experiences.

I would like to deviate from my focus on this General Conference, and quote an article written by Elder Holland in 2007. In the article, Elder Holland reported saying to a young missionary who experienced same-sex attraction, ““You serve yourself poorly when you identify yourself primarily by your sexual feelings. That isn’t your only characteristic, so don’t give it disproportionate attention. You are first and foremost a son of God, and He loves you.” It is through this lens that I interpret the following passages from this General Conference.

In his talk Elder Bednar said, “We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.” He is saying here that our self-identity should be first and foremost as moral agents and children of God. I also believe that President Uchtdorf’s talk in Priesthood meeting is relevant to this subject. He suggested that priesthood holders hold four titles as central to their self-identity: son of Heavenly Father, disciple of Jesus Christ, healer of souls, and heir of eternal life. He said, “One title that defines all of us in the most fundamental way is son of Heavenly Father.” I’m assuming this applies to women as well—the most fundamental self-identity woman should have is daughter of Heavenly Father. No other self-identity should get in the way of this.

I take this to mean that experiences of same-sex attraction, or “being gay” (a terminology I personally don’t like, but will use when necessary to communicate) should be way down the list of things that factor into our self-concept and self-identity. We should see our selves as loved children of God, disciples of Christ, healers of souls, priesthood holders, heirs of God, brothers, sisters, friends, servants, etc. We should prioritize all of these roles in the formation of our self-identity, and minimize the role of “being gay” in the way we see ourselves. At least, that’s how interpret these specific teachings from this past General Conference—again, using the prior words of Elder Holland as a reference point for my interpretation.

(2) Many have decried the doctrines of the church as a war against our inherent nature as individuals. For example, many argue that by teaching that same-sex sexual relationships are sinful, we are teaching people that they cannot be who they really are.

I feel as though we have been taught in this past General Conference that this is simply not true. Another reason to minimize the importance we place on same-sex attraction in the formation of our self-identity is that same-sex attraction is product of our fallen nature, not our divine nature. Elder Bednar said,

As sons and daughters of God, we have inherited divine capacities from Him. But we presently live in a fallen world. The very elements out of which our bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death. Consequently, the Fall of Adam and its spiritual and temporal consequences affect us most directly through our physical bodies. …

I find it hard to imagine, given the context of Elder Bednar’s talk and his specific mention of the law of chastity as forbidding all non-heterosexual sexual relationships, that he is not including same-sex attraction in these comments. The matter of wether or not same-sex attraction is genetic, inborn, or a learned (albeit unconsciously and non-deliberately) behavior is inconsequential—in all cases, we can still consider it a product of the fall, a temptation resulting from our fallen nature that we must resist. We should not consider same-sex attraction part of our divine nature, nor should we expect it to persist through resurrection and exaltation. This is not the same thing as saying it is sinful to experience these things—it is simply saying that we experience them only because of the fall. Further, Elder Bednar said:

The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord (see Mosiah 3:19)? That is the test. Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are here on the earth to develop godlike qualities and to bridle all of the passions of the flesh.

We must decline indulging the fallen parts of our nature. We must refuse to act on temptations of the flesh when those temptations would lead us from God and our divine inheritance. Focusing on our divine nature will help us do this. Elder Bednar taught:

[T]he “man [or woman] of Christ” (Helaman 3:29) is spiritual and bridles all passions (see Alma 38:12), is temperate and restrained, and is benevolent and selfless. Men and women of Christ lay hold upon the word of God, deny themselves and take up His cross (see Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; D&C 56:2), and press forward along a strait and narrow course of faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to the Savior and His gospel.

Seeing ourselves first and foremost and children of God and disciples of Christ will negate the false teaching that refusing to act on same-sex attraction is a denial of our core identity, because we will not interpret the fallen parts of our nature to be essential to our identity.

These Doctrines Will Not Change

Many, many of my friends and associates have argued that a shift in these doctrines is inevitable, given the shifting values of our society. Part of this is because of the civil rights metaphor that is being used as a lens through which many of us make sense of the issue. Many assume that the Church will adapt its doctrine to accommodate the unique desires of those with same-sex attraction, and eventually permit and celebrate same-sex unions as equally holy and divine—in the same way that the Church eventually bestowed the priesthood on men of African descent, contrary to the prior expectations of many. I’ll admit that at times, I feared that these arguments may very well have been right.

This past General Conference absolved my fears completely. I witnessed not one, not two, but several personal reaffirmations to my soul that the LDS Church will remain resolute in teaching the doctrines of chastity and the importance of traditional marriage. One could say that it was a running theme of the conference.

Elder Bednar, for example, said, “The doctrine I have described will seem to be archaic and outdated to many people in a world that increasingly mocks the sanctity of procreation and minimizes the worth of human life. But the Lord’s truth is not altered by fads, popularity, or public opinion polls.” He also said (to use this quote again), “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan.” He specifically declared that this standard is undeviating, and will not be softened in the face of change cultural norms and public opinions.

A similar sentiment was expressed in President Packer’s comment: “The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity.” While I earlier interpreted this to mean that the prohibition against same-gender sexual relationships holds even in the context of civil marriage, I also interpret it to mean that the Church’s doctrine is not going to change in response to the changing laws of the land.

Elder Hales, in the Priesthood meeting, also said, “Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change in the social and political winds of our day.” I believe this is an additional reaffirmation that those who expect the Church’s doctrines regarding chastity to change to accommodate same-sex relationships are wrong to do so—the Church is not going to change its doctrines on these matters.

Elder Perry also declared that the doctrines of chastity are not going to change. Immediately following his reaffirmation that the law of chastity forbids all sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman, he said,

God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes. Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not changeThey are immutable and unchanging. … Surely there could not be any doctrine more strongly expressed in the scriptures than the Lord’s unchanging commandments and their connection to our happiness and well-being as individuals, as families, and as a society. There are moral absolutes. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. These things do not change. … May we ever be a light on the hill, an example in keeping the commandments, which have never changed and will never change.

Bold? Yes, very bold. For some good fun, I recommend listening to this talk, and hearing the tone of Elder Perry’s voice. I personally felt that it was a booming, bold, stern warning to all who imagine to themselves that the Church will someday abandon its commitment to traditional marriage and the law of chastity.

We Are Strongly Invited to Choose to Stand with the Church on these Matters

I believe this General Conference was an invitation to all members of the Church everywhere to remain strong and resolute on matters of the family and chastity. I interpret it as a call not just to behavioral fidelity to the church, but also attitudinal fidelity. I noticed, for example, a nuance in this quote from Elder Bednar: “How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.” I believe that he is teaching that our attitudes towards the law of chastity—not just our behavior—will factor into both our mortal happiness and eternal salvation.

There were multiple references to the doctrine of moral agency, and we were reminded by President Packer that moral agency is the ability to choose between right and wrong. Elder Perry reminded us that we are at war with the adversary:

Today we find ourselves in another war. This is not a war of armaments. It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children. … Each choice you and I make is a test of our agency—whether we choose to be obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God is actually a choice between “liberty and eternal life” and “captivity and death.”

I interpret this to mean that we cannot maintain neutrality. When we fail to choose “liberty and eternal life,” when we fail to stand with the doctrines of Christ, we are choosing to aid the adversary and his attempts to thwart the happiness of God’s children. Elder Perry further invited all of us to stand with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in defending the law of chastity in this day of change. He said:

In a world where the moral compass of society is faltering, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers, nor should its stakes and wards, its families, or its individual membersWe must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important to keep but acknowledge all of God’s commandments. We must stand firm and steadfast, having perfect confidence in the Lord’s consistency and perfect trust in His promises.

To pick and choose is to choose wrongly. There is no way to aloofly but righteously remain neutral on these matters.

The world will disapprove of our beliefs and practices in this regard. But we must not let social pressures deter us from defending the truths we hold sacred. We must not compromise, negotiation, or try to “make peace” with those who despise our doctrine in any way that changes the central truths we adhere to. Consider this lengthy snippet from Elder Hales’ talk in priesthood meeting:

In the strength of the Lord we are able to stand against any philosophy or creed that denies the Savior and contradicts the great, eternal plan of happiness for all of God’s children. We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of that eternal plan. Remember Nehemiah, who was charged with building a wall to protect Jerusalem. Some wanted him to come down and compromise his position, but Nehemiah refused. He was not intolerant of others; he simply explained, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease … ?”

Sometimes we become the lightning rod, and we must “take the heat” for holding fast to God’s standards and doing His work. I testify that we need not be afraid if we are grounded in His doctrine. We may experience misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation, but we are never alone. Our Savior was “despised and rejected of men.” It is our sacred privilege to stand with Him! 

Be assured that all of the prophets before us stood strong in their day: Nephi performed the curious work of the Lord despite the buffetings of Satan and the persecutions of Laman and Lemuel, his brothers. Abinadi testified of Christ in the face of suspicion, scorn, and certain death. The 2,000 stripling warriors defended their families against those who despised gospel values. Moroni raised the title of liberty to preserve his people’s families and religious freedom. Samuel stood on a wall and prophesied of Christ’s coming while rocks and arrows were assailing him. The Prophet Joseph Smith restored the Savior’s gospel, sealing his testimony with his blood. And Mormon pioneers stood strong in the face of withering opposition and hardship, following a prophet in their great trek and settlement of the West. These great servants and Saints of God were able to stand strong because they stood with the Savior. …

My beloved priesthood brethren young and old, let us glorify God’s name by standing strong with our Savior, Jesus Christ. I bear my special witness that He lives and that we “are called with a holy calling” to participate in His work. “Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved.” Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change in the social and political winds of our day. I declare, as did the Apostle Paul, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, [behave] like men, [and] be strong.”

I interpret Elder Hales’ remarks to be a bold invitation to remain strong in the face of social opposition, to remain resolute in the defense of truth, even if others claim that this will land us on the “wrong side of history.” In a panel discussion same-sex marriage on BYU campus this week, one of the panel speakers made a comment that fascinated me, which I think is relevant here. I quote imperfectly, but to the best of my memory (this is deviation #2):

There is a post-Christian myth that attempts to supplant the Divine judge of the living and the dead with the more impersonal judge of history itself. We talk as if history can separate the sheep and the goats, or as if we can find ourselves on the left hand or the right hand of history, as if history is the judge of our moral stature and the passage of time the final judgment. We assume that societal consensus is also superior at discerning the worth of any moral position, and that future societal consensus is  a perfect metric against which we can measure our current moral worldview. I just don’t see how this is a Christian worldview, and I find no basis for it in scripture.

Finally, as further evidence that we should stand with God in the defense of the law of chastity and the central importance of traditional marriage, I could quote the entirety of President Monson’s Sunday morning talk on obedience. Here’s a small snippet of it:

There are rules and laws to help ensure our physical safety. Likewise, the Lord has provided guidelines and commandments to help ensure our spiritual safety so that we might successfully navigate this often-treacherous mortal existence and return eventually to our Heavenly Father. Centuries ago, to a generation steeped in the tradition of animal sacrifice, Samuel boldly declared, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” In this dispensation, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that He requires “the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

I feel as though I have learned this General Conference that true conversion means that we “lay down the weapons of [our] rebellion, [and] not fight against God any more” (Alma 23:7).

Conclusion

I believe that we should take seriously Elder Perry’s warning against picking and choosing which commandments we will support, live, and teach. Now, I know that many of us are not fully persuaded of every doctrine or every teaching of the Church. This is not a condemnation of those who wonder or have unanswered questions. We are all growing in our testimony. I find no fault in those who have not yet been fully convinced that the Church’s doctrines on chastity are true. I feel as though I’ve learned, however, that there is a proper way to respond to these doubts when they arise: fan the flame of faith. Elder Holland, in by far my favorite talk in recent years, said:

In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. … The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.

When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.” That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.

Here’s what I interpret from this that is relevant to the present issue: If I have doubts about the exclusive sanctity of heterosexual marriage, if I have doubts about the current definition of the law of chastity, that’s ok. We all have ways in which we can grow, we all have further witnesses to obtain from God. But I should not rationalize rebellion against God’s servants on these grounds. When I openly teach a gospel that contradicts the Gospel taught by those we believe to be God’s prophets, I am not starting from a position of faith. I am not being true to the knowledge I do have. While I may not be fully persuaded that the doctrines in the Proclamation on the Family are true, if I am persuaded that the men who signed it are prophets and apostles, that should be enough for me to patiently wait for further spiritual witnesses, rather than allying with other ideologies and contrary doctrines.

I’m reminded of the scripture in the Old Testament (deviation #3): “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). This is not a statement that I must never ask questions, never have doubts, never wonder—it is simply a statement that if I believe the church is led by prophets and apostles, my loyalties should lie with them even if I haven’t been fully persuaded of some of the details.

Based on what I heard in General Conference, I would feel very uncomfortable with celebrating the possible defeat of Proposition 8 in the Supreme Court, and I would feel very uncomfortable advocating in favor of same-sex marriage in any way. Further, I would feel very uncomfortable believing or expecting the Church to amend its doctrines on this matter in any way—and I would therefore find myself straddling a threatening, widening gulf if I were to try to maintain a support for same-sex marriage as well as a loyalty to and testimony in the LDS Church as the Restored Church of Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, I want to state that these are my own personal interpretations of the messages shared by prophets and apostles this General Conference about these particular issues. The issues I’m referencing are the issues described above in the headers in this article. Please don’t argue with me on different, unrelated topics, and please don’t accuse me of self-righteously condemning everyone who disagrees. This is just my personal take on what I felt was communicated during General Conference that might be relevant to the ongoing discussion related to same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage.

54 thoughts on “General Conference and Same-Sex Marriage: a Personal Analysis

  1. LDSP, this is an OUTSTANDING post. I think you have summarized and presented my takeaways from Conference on this subject better than I could ever have done myself.

  2. I agree. Completely. I posted late last night on my own blog, with a near similar summation. I stand with you, my friend — with what I also feel to be my own opinion of what was clearly taught at General Conference by men whom I sustain as prophets of God.

  3. I appreciate the thorough nature of the post. I feel that I experience a very different conference. That is okay! Heck, I sat right next to Kathryn for two of the sessions and I am sure she and I interpreted the entire experience differently. I think statements about standing in holy places could very well have nothing to do with gay marriage at all.

    Of course, I have stopped reading gay marriage into everything as a matter of keeping myself sane. Maybe I am just one of those apostates Rameumpton wrote about the other day. :)

  4. I would generally keep my spelling quibbles to myself, but since the word is central to your discussion, I’d change to “complementarity.” The concept has nothing to do with giving compliments to anybody, but with achieving completeness.

  5. Recently, it seems as if there is one speaker in conference who offers one snippet directed at the bloggernacle. A while back it was Elder Christofferson talking about those who use words such as “exegesis.”

    This time, i think Elder Holland was talking to some of the bloggernacle crowd with: “Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!”

  6. I disagree that the meaning of “complementary” is achieving completeness, though that is certainly the etymology. But I agree with his spelling quibble.

  7. “I think statements about standing in holy places could very well have nothing to do with gay marriage at all.”

    Separated from the cultural and social context of the last ten years, sure.

  8. I am on a pretty short leash here, so I will not snark back. I think The Church is also worried about issues like pornography, modesty, the Sabbath, and a range of other matters. Standing in holy places also has to do with being in the temple and attending Church and priesthood meetings. The Church, and for that ratter righteousness, is concerned with many issues and matters.

    I am glad that conference made y’all more comfortable in your social and political convictions. I was comforted by the spirit of conference as well. I got to attend two session in the Conference Center with my son. We listened to the Sunday sessions in our vehicle as we travelled the reverse path of the pioneers back to Casper, WY.

    Were some of the talks (and the reference above) talking about gay marriage? Sure, I assume so. However, I think they are not JUST about gay marriage. Some thoughts.

  9. “Not very surprising, because this is all Mormon doctrine 101.”

    Indeed! Which is why I’ve been sincerely surprised to see so many of my active LDS friends questioning these very doctrines.

  10. “Were some of the talks (and the reference above) talking about gay marriage? Sure, I assume so. However, I think they are not JUST about gay marriage.”

    I never said they were. In fact, at several instances I only said that same-sex marriage is bundled with and included in their comments—not that their message was only about same sex marriage.

    While there were a couple of talks (Elder Perry and Elder Bednar) who specifically addressed same-sex marriage, same-sex activity, and same-sex advocacy, many others clearly folded that topic into a bundle with other issues and concerns. But that doesn’t make my analysis incorrect or even slanted, since I was specifically stating that I am drawing on comments I believe are relevant to (not exclusively relevant to) the particular issue at hand.

    When Elder Hales includes in his discussion about standing in holy places a reassurance that the doctrines of the church are “sacred and will not change in the social and political winds of our day,” even though we “may experience misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation,” I have to ask myself: “What doctrines might people think will change because of shifting political and social winds? On what issues are we facing misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation?” There are many, yes—but same-sex marriage rises to the foreground as the most salient current issue that qualifies. So while he was certainly referring to many issues, I have no doubts that same-sex marriage and same-sex activity were bundled into those comments in a prominent way.

  11. I would never disagree that such teachings could very well have application to a range of many of the things you’ve listed, but to suggest that to stand in holy places had nothing to do with resisting gay marriage, when the Church just finished filing an amicus brief to SCOTUS, admonishing the federal courts to uphold marriage in California, which Prop. 8 passed; that only marriage between a man and a woman would be recognized in my state, is to ignore a very significant matter, in my opinion.

    Seeing as the First Presidency does not see this issue as political, nor do I. I, like them, see it as a moral issue and therefore put it in the same category as you have placed, within your above list: pornography, modesty, etc. But even more so, because I raise the bar and see its implications as even greater in its ability to deconstruct the eternal family at an alarming rate.

  12. Thank you for a thorough and enlightening writeup. I also saw these same teachings coming through clear as day. We had a *terrible* discussion on same-sex marriage in my ward the week before conference. It was disheartening to hear expressions from both political sides which diverged so far from the doctrine. So, maybe the pump was primed for me to hear this message so resoundingly, but nevertheless I felt the confirmation of the spirit about these matters.

    It was fascinating to see the church leadership tackle so many of the popular issues head-on. I heard multiple answers to the questions of ordaining women, gay marriage, and gender inequality. So timely!

  13. Seeing as we believe that there are no laws or commandments given by God to us that are temporal, but are only spiritual, there will necessarily be natural and negative consequences to follow from the breaking of said commandments. However, people and governments have rarely (or ever) deviated from what they want to do until those negative consequences are made manifest later on. Since one of the great touchstones of our government is the idea that “all men are created equal”, and the concept of equality before the law in general, I don’t know how one argues against marriage equality in our secular courts, where “thumping the Bible” (as Bill O’Reilly puts it) and an appeal to spiritual authority is about all one can do. The Book of Mormon states that one should only be judged according to one’s crimes (as opposed to being judged for one’s beliefs), thereby putting all people on “equal grounds”. We have decriminalized homosexuality, so I guess the question is, should that not have happened? How does one justify criminalizing homosexuality?

  14. I don’t believe the matter is about “equality,” but about definition. I’m fully persuaded by the argument that we are not offered with a choice of expanding the pool of eligible applicants to the institution or not, but with a choice which definition of marriage we will embrace as a society.

    You can disagree, but I personally find it hard to believe that, after this weekend, Latter-day Saints can sustain these men and prophets, seers, and revelators, but argue that they are wrong-headed on these issues.

    Further, no one here (or this past weekend) has argued that we should criminalize homosexual conduct. That would fall under, “Please don’t argue with me on different, unrelated topics.” Move along.

  15. “We have decriminalized homosexuality, so I guess the question is, should that not have happened? How does one justify criminalizing homosexuality?”

    Mark N, nice try, but you know very well that LDSP’s post has nothing to do with that at all.

  16. Thanks for the insightful analysis LDSP. I’m in agreement that this really was focused on the issue of homosexuality. It is one of the premiere issues of our day, one driving many to apostasy. I appreciate that you want to try and make ground for people who are feeling ambivalent about the issue, that you don’t want to have a “warring heart” or use the words of the apostles as weapons in a fight over this.

    But this IS a war, and you quoted Brethren who said as much: “the family is under attack.” “We find ourselves in a war…not of armaments, but a war of…words.” “We must not make peace with anyone who despises our doctrine…”

    And there doesn’t seem to be any comfortable ground for people, unlike yourself who are “not fully pursuaded.” Where is their room to doubt when prophets say things like: “We must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important…we must not compromise, negotiate, make peace…” ? It was sensitive of you to try and use Elder Holland’s old talk to reassure those who are less certain, but that message is a rare one. Most of the quotes you gave are “like a two edged sword,” dividing the sheep from the goats. After conference there is less room for doubt, less room for ambivalence, less patience for those who disagree, more feeling “very uncomfortable” for any who are harboring doubts about these issues. That is the message I think most fence sitters will take. So you’ve got an uphill battle if you want to try to spin this as “not a condemnation” of those who are not fully convinced.

  17. “Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!”

    Liking it.

  18. Sorry, not trying to sidetrack things here. I’m just wondering how one argues spiritual values in secular courts. Can it be done?

  19. To further clarify, if we are, as nate has stated, that “We find ourselves in a war…not of armaments, but a war of…words”, the battleground where this war of words will take place is in the courtroom. Can we win this war of words?

  20. nate,

    Interestingly, Elder Holland’s talk that I quoted at the end was from this conference too. =) I do agree that, at this point, lines are being drawn in the sand—the Church will not be a comfortable place for those who believe same-sex activity is not sinful (in or outside of marriage), or who do not support the Church’s efforts to defend and prioritize traditional family. Will they be welcome and embraced? Sure, just as anyone will and should be embraced in a Church that is not a playground for the righteous, but a hospital for sinners. But their conscience will be sorely afflicted if they persist in dissent on these matters, and they will find themselves straddling an ever widening gulf between the compartmentalized segments of their worldview.

    Mark,

    Certainly! Check out Sherif Gergis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George’s book, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: a Defense.” The book grew out of a law review article that is now one of the most widely read and cited articles in the journal. Further, their work was showcased as the most prominently cited work in defense of Proposition 8 in the Supreme Court hearing. And they’re downright convincing, and use solely secular arguments. So, yes, it is possible.

  21. Mark, I’m also reminded of this quote from Elder Maxwell:

    “Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, “summer is nigh” (Matt. 24:32). Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat!”

  22. Also, I don’t believe the battleground is entirely, or even predominantly, in the courtroom. The battleground is the hearts of everyday members like you and me. Satan is not after the hearts of judges and magistrates, but after the hearts of you and me. After all, civil law and societal norms are a reflection of the moral belief systems of ordinary citizens. The only reason, I believe, he is fighting part of this battle in the courts is that public morality is sometimes shaped by and informed by civil law.

    Let’s let Christ and His servants conquer our hearts, and incline our hearts towards loyalty to the Church’s teachings on the matter. Let’s not take up arms against the Lord’s servants, and find ourselves not only on the battleground (despite not being in the courtroom), but on the wrong side.

  23. One more thing I would like to add, I do see the roots of a very positive change in the church’s approach. It seems the prophets have moved beyond trying to defend current traditional marriage laws in the US and the world, giving up on the laws of the land altogether, acknowledging that they will change, while the laws of God remain constant.

    This makes us more isolationist, just like the early Christian church, less intoxicated by the illusion of America’s divine mandate for it’s apostate puritanical crusades. America was created by Gentiles, and it is the land of Gentiles, and the true Saints have always been separate from them.

    So how should we preach to the Gentiles? By saying we are in “a war of words” with them? By claiming that “secularism is encroaching” when the truth is that America was always “secular” because it was always apostate?

    Someday, we are going to figure out what Paul and the early Christians figured out: “They without the law are free.” We don’t condemn the Gentlies, we invite them to consider a new way, and if, God deigns to touch them with His spirit and confirm them the truth of any of our doctrines, then maybe they can join us in our peculiar ways.

    “Choose you this day” is the rallying cry to the Saints, not the Gentiles. But the Saints think we are judging the Gentiles, those who have not the law. This obviously is unfair to the Gentiles, so the Saints harbor doubts about their judgemental prophets. But when the prophets can clarify that they preach repentance to the Saints, and invite the Gentiles with “come follow me,” then maybe there won’t be such bitterness about the issue. Let the Mormons follow their peculiar, monastic path in peace, like Quakers, inviting all Gentiles to follow Christ, and crying repentance to covenant breakers, but not to Gentiles.

  24. “One more thing I would like to add, I do see the roots of a very positive change in the church’s approach. It seems the prophets have moved beyond trying to defend current traditional marriage laws in the US and the world, giving up on the laws of the land altogether, acknowledging that they will change, while the laws of God remain constant.”

    I’ll have to disagree on this one. I see no indications that the Church has given up the effort to encode traditional values into civil law—particularly since they submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court two months ago in defense of Proposition 8. I simply don’t see any indication that they wish to throw in the towel. They may recognize that some cultural movements seem inevitable, but I don’t think they’ve backed down, and if they do back down for that reason, that’s not something to celebrate. I believe (and I think they believe too) that our civil law and our societal norms can and should reflect traditional family values, and if they don’t, it’s something to lament.

  25. Then now do you explain the fact that the church has stood on the sidelines as countless states and governments have enacted same-sex marriage legislation since Prop. 8? It’s one thing to “submit a brief” or some kind of public statement, but where are all the vigorous follow-up battles to Prop. 8, the statements from the pulpit, invoking the increadible resource of the Saints time, effort, and money? The church has all but given up the fight. Maybe they are questioning the value of the Prop. 8 crusade to begin with. “My kingdom is not of this world, if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.”

    Maybe we are remembering that “traditional values” are not LDS values, and that the US once went to war with the Mormon polygamy over their apostate traditional values.

  26. The Church has not significantly involved itself in any political campaign on this issue, before or after Proposition 8. I believe the Church was setting an example on this one occasion, inviting us to follow in their footsteps. Considering the repeated statements from the church over the past 4 years since Proposition 8, their belief in that traditional civil marriage law should be preserved has been communicated loud and clear. They just know that we sometimes have to take initiative and act in response to their very clear stance, and they used Proposition 8 as a showcase to demonstrate how and to propel us to action.

    Considering their very clear and repeated stance on Proposition 8 as recently as this year, I have to reject any implication that they are second-guessing their involvement. If they were, why defend their involvement in the Supreme Court? Why continue to support and advocate for it even now? There is zero evidence that they are second-guessing their involvement, and mounds of evidence that they are not. Elder Holland, in a recent CES fireside, very forcefully indicated that the Church is never planning to retreat to the wilderness again, and that now, in this final dispensation, it is our time to turn around, face the enemy, and stand our ground. He said very forcefully that we are to remake the world, not retreat from it.

    Further, prophetically, it was California’s law, not any other state, that made its way to the Supreme Court. Perhaps that was divinely designed.

  27. “I believe the Church was setting an example on this one occasion, inviting us to follow in their footsteps.”

    So do you believe that the Saints in other States and countries have sinned by not proactively following in the footsteps of their Califoria brethren? This was supposed to be the pattern to follow? We have really dropped the ball then.

  28. Who knows but what the brethren were inspired to support prop. 8 for reasons unknown to us as of yet. One thing is for sure, we’ve got a better handle on who’s for us and who’s against us with regard to this issue.

  29. “who’s for us and who’s against us” — I would state it slightly differently. A person who does not understand or has not captured the messages of the modern-day prophets can change. Part of the purpose of writing a post like this is to state in very clear language where modern-day prophets stand on moral issues, partly at least to help people change or convince people standing on the fence which side to choose. But it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that there will be an increasing divide over time between the people who support the Savior and the people who don’t. This particular battle may be one of dozens that take place, but Satan’s trick is to constantly try to convince the very elect that the prophets are wrong on some things and therefore must be wrong on a lot of things. This conference reminded me of the importance of choosing to follow the prophets, no matter how difficult it may appear.

  30. Amen! Thank you for this. I am very grateful for this. Faithful latter-day Saints must continue to spread the words or the apostles. Faithful latter-day saints will recognize the Prophet spoke about Obedience. It’s funny watching some of the less-faithful latter-day saints claim “Love” to divert other LDS from obedience.

  31. The context of the quote Monson cited is that the prophet Samuel was chastising Saul for keeping the best animals alive instead of completely annihilating a people and all of their children and livestock.

    Samuel would go on to murder and physically rend the king of this now-genocided people, whom Saul had taken prisoner.

    Monson also cited the example of Abraham and Isaac, in which the former decided to commit an act of human sacrifice in order to please a God who had promised him that his descendants would be numberless. Rather than forfeit the promises that had been made to him, he chose to go ahead and kill his own child.

  32. Yes Taryn,

    And in 50 years, you’ll provide an example of how heartless faithful LDS are by being obedient to God in understanding the Law of Chastity. There’s probably a crowd around that will applaud you for instructing Latter-day Saints to not be faithful to God and His authorized prophet. But that crowd is not here.

  33. I am a very faithful member of the church, and have served in almost every single calling a woman can. I have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and His atonement and teachings.

    I have questions about same-sex marriage, and hope someone here can help explain the answers.

    It is my understanding that 4-5% of the population is gay. Of those, some are very promiscuous, but I don’t know the percentage. The people I know who are gay are in long-term committed relationships. They certainly suffer disdain from some people who are cruel, but they try to forgive such and continue to live good lives. None of the gay people I know have had or adopted children. Even though multiple studies are showing no apparent harm from same-gender parents. There is, however, considerable ridicule and bullying of children from same-gender families.

    I’ve been pondering and studying how the church teaches gay people to remain separate and single throughout mortality. This is so lonely for these people that LDS gay people I know are depressed and at times, suicidal. If they remain alone, they are not having families, so I don’t understand how that helps fulfill the Plan of Happiness. They are not married and not multiplying and replenishing the earth. I genuinely don’t understand why the church forbids them happiness in this life by saying gay marriage attacks the family…… I mean, if they were married and had children, they would be keeping the first two commandments given in the garden. Adam and Eve are among the 95% who are heterosexual. But would the Savior not include those who are a small minority that desire to live righteously by being married, faithful and committed to the gospel?

    I just haven’t been able to scripturally see how being gay is a condemnation. I do see where prophets and apostles condemned lasciviousness and riotous living among homosexual and heterosexual people alike. I also have serious concerns about trying to require lifelong celibacy. Indeed, we dispute such a requirement demanded of other religions because it thwarts the PofH, and creates issues of abuse in many cases. Sinle heterosexual church members are always hopeful that tomorrow they may meet their true love and be married. But gay people have no such hope, which, again, creates unspeakable depression, anxiety, and may lead some to acting out criminally. “Married” gay couples do not experience these terrible problems. Isn’t that healthier and more supportive of healthy society than enforced celibacy? I look at the Catholic priests who couldn’t handle celibacy whether they’re gay or straight. It’s unnatural to deny a drive given to man by God, isn’t it? How is celibacy furthering the PofH?

    The more I study this issue the more it seems that there is truly no love offered gay people. How my friends have suffered with trying to feel they aren’t freaks, perverts, and the dregs of society. They are such a minority that they’ve been vulnerable to the worst treatment from the rest of society. Some of my friends have begged me to pray with them to pray the gay away, and to be healed of depression through the atonement. But the gay stayed and the depression kept returning, largely because they are so rejected by society.

    In deep sincerity, it seems cruel to say you can’t meet anyone to walk through life with. You can’t show any affection. Babies die from the lack of love Nd affection. Are adults any different? Look at all the ills of people who are “different” and are rejected continuously, or pushed aside without genuine relationships to support and sustain them. The consequences create expensive tolls on society both temporally and spiritually. It seems to me that supporting a virtuous lifestyle whether gay or straight would be what Jesus would do. He made no comments rejecting this either in Judea or to the Nephites. He also gave no revelation to Joseph during the restoration.

    I’m not trying to thwart the leaders of our church, nor be disagreeable to anyone here. I’m still trying to understand how gay people can be so threatening to marriage. If we say they can’t marry, how does that help keep marriage safer? If we do let them marry, how does this threaten the 95% of straight marriages? The gay couples I know have never done anything threatening my marriage in any way. They just live quiet Christian lives and are wonderful, decent people.

    Can any of you answer my questions and concerns. Over the years two Bishops have tried answering, saying they don’t have the answers, so they follow the Brethren. I love our leaders, but, “I don’t know” seems very disquieting when our policy is so harsh to these good people. I need your help so that I might be able to “see” the reasoning and clarification of how our policy supports the PofH, rather than thwarting it for minority.

    Thank you your time and help.

  34. With all due respect, I’m not sure how the above post doesn’t answer all of your questions. In the eternal view, and in line with the plan of salvation, we understand that eternal families only exist where there is a union of man and woman. Several statements to that effect where made in General Conference. Thus, the church can never make allowance for heterosexual couples and their families because it thwarts the progress of those involved.

    Please to not take this as me trying to put words into your mouth, but it appears the conflict, for you, comes between a disagreement between your interpretation of scripture and the statements of the living oracles of God. Is that true? If it is, I would suggest you side with living prophets.

    I hope that provides some context to the idea, because in the words of our current leaders, sexual acts outside of marriage (by either hetero or homosexual partners) is a sin. That’s not going to change.

  35. Anonymous,

    First of all, we are moral agents. We cannot pin responsibility for our sinful or criminal behaviors on a lack of marriage. There is today a societal myth that our sexuality is like a pressure cooker that inevitably explodes if we don’t find release for it. This myth is not true. This is a product of our sex-conscious, pornography saturated culture. Desires have to be fed in thought and action. If we feed sexual desires by constantly thinking about it, making it a central part of our lives, viewing pornography, constantly wishing and craving it, eventually we will give in and commit sin. But the pressure builds as a consequence of our own choices of thought and action—it doesn’t build on its own. If we don’t attend to it, if we don’t let it continually plague our minds, if we aren’t constantly turning our thoughts to it, if we eschew pornography and masturbation and other ways of titilating our minds, the pressure simply doesn’t build in the same way. We have agency in these matters—and our moral agency extends to our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.

    Second, I’m not sure that same-sex attracted people are alone in this struggle. My sister has schizophrenia and that will prevent her from finding a spouse in this life. Combine this with a deep and lasting depression and bipolar disorder, and she experiences loneliness at times the depths of which I can’t even imagine. I’m convinced there are many, many, many others in similar situations, who face a likely prospect of a life of celibacy due to factors that have nothing to do with same-sex attraction. I’d be willing to bet that the number of those who face potential life-long celibacy due to factors unrelated to sexual orientation is at least comparable, if not equal to or greater, than those who experience same-sex attraction.

    But do we really want to believe that the Plan of Salvation is broken for all of these people? Do we really want to believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the gift and companionship of the Holy Spirit are insufficient to carry those who face this through to the end of their lives? Do we really want to claim that marriage (and the sexual/emotional union that accompanies marriage) is the only conduit through which someone can find meaning and joy in their life?

    It seems that fundamentally, the issue resides on the sufficiency of Christ—and His atonement and the companionship of the Holy Spirit—to bring us lasting peace in a way that marriage alone never can. A marriage without Christ cannot bring lasting, true joy and peace, and a person can find lasting peace through Christ without marriage. Marriage is one of the many blessings and privileges of mortality to be sought by all who qualify—but like every blessing and privilege, not every seeker will be able to obtain it (in the same way that some couples don’t have children, or my sister won’t find marriage, or some worthy individuals are simply unable to serve a mission for health reasons, etc.). To hang our hats of happiness and peace on sexual and emotional intimacy and union, rather than Christ, is one way of viewing Him as insufficient.

    We talk about the Plan of Happiness as if the purpose of mortality was to be happy all the time. The truth is that no one, regardless of their mortal circumstances, is happy all of the time. We all experience periods of loneliness and sorrow and heartache. Walking in the footsteps of Christ means traveling through our own Gethsemanes.

    I want to testify that the power of Christ and His atonement is real. He really does offer solace, companionship, and enabling grace to all of us, despite our unique challenges and circumstances. No one, wether married or single or life-long celibate, can find lasting peace or happiness without Him. And those who walk with Him, wether married or single or life-long celibate, may experience periods of temptation and sorrow and loneliness (after all, Christ experienced all of those things), but they will never find themselves without an immense wealth of enabling grace and power to draw on.

  36. Anonymous, I agree with the comments above and I would like to add a few things of my own. You write:

    “I’ve been pondering and studying how the church teaches gay people to remain separate and single throughout mortality. This is so lonely for these people that LDS gay people I know are depressed and at times, suicidal. If they remain alone, they are not having families, so I don’t understand how that helps fulfill the Plan of Happiness.”

    I want to concentrate on your description of people as “gay people.” As this post and the prophets clearly say, we are much more than our sexual desires. It is the world that tries to classify people and pigeonhole them. In reality, sexuality is much more complex than this. There is a spectrum of people with different sexual desires, and these desires can and do change over time. Personally, I have two very good friends who said they were “gay” and in fact had same-sex relationships for years and are now happily married to a person of the opposite sex. In each case, it was embracing the Atonement created the possibility for change.

    I am not disputing that there are people who only have attraction to the same sex and may never feel attraction to the opposite sex ever in their lives. This does indeed happen. But your 4-5 percent number is wrong (the true number is around 2 percent), and when you start looking at the universe of all people with same-sex attraction and then start subtracting people who may be able to overcome such feelings, the number becomes very small indeed.

    I guess I would say to these people: you are more than your sexual desires. All of us have different challenges to overcome. I personally know several people who are hugely obese with food addictions. These addictions have made it nearly impossible for these people to lose weight, and because they are so overweight they have self-esteem issues and have not been able to get married. Why would a loving God give these people this weakness? I think the answer is obvious: we all have different challenges to overcome, and this also applies to people with same-sex attraction. Are there people with SSA in the Church who will never be able to overcome this issue and may never get married? Yes. There are also people with mental illnesses, food addictions and other problems who will never be able to overcome these issues. Yes. What is the solution for these people? Faith in the Lord and His goodness and that in the long term they will be able to live with the Lord in happiness if they keep the commandments.

  37. Geoff, that’s an excellent point. I think the issue surrounds how we deal with the divide between ideals and realities. One solution, which is often proposed by the world, is to adjust the ideal. The doctrinal solution is the atonement of Christ. With that dichotomy, things begin to be a bit clearer, and we can discern that the first way of managing the conflict is likely rooted in pride, because it requires no change or submission of individual will and is anti-Christ. The latter, then, relies on humility, faith, and submissiveness.

  38. “There is today a societal myth that our sexuality is like a pressure cooker that inevitably explodes if we don’t find release for it. This myth is not true.”

    Amen.

  39. Thank you to each of you who tried to answer my questions. I sincerely appreciate your time and effort on my behalf. You gave good points supporting your opinions and the church’s stand on this, but no explanations of HOW same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage or the PofH. I hear where you’re coming from……but still, no answers. I’ll continue praying and searching, and supporting our leaders. Again, thank you.

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