Church Instructs Leaders on same-sex marriage

The Church put out this statement today on same-sex marriage.

Some highlights:

Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We urge you to review and teach Church members the doctrine contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

And this:

Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the Church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there.

And this:

Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.

I am sure we will have further discussions on this issue in the coming days.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

28 thoughts on “Church Instructs Leaders on same-sex marriage

  1. What almost seems a little sad is that the paragraph starting, “Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not ….” needed to be said at all. I can almost imagine without that being said, at some point (even with it?!) some more liberal crusading (as opposed to the leaners) members in leadership positions actually pushing for a bishop to perform a ssm wedding in a church, etc.

  2. I look at this as signs of the times and more of this kind of nature or should I say, “un”natural, stuff is coming our way. It has been prophesied and we need to know where we stand.

  3. Sadly, there are many on the bloggernacle who don’t consider The Proclamation to be a statement of church doctrine.

  4. I suggest those who reject The Proclamation on the Family as doctrine are hoping that it never becomes canonized. They are hoping it is merely an official statement that will be overturned in a later, more enlightened age.

    However, in advance of such a potential future time, it seems rather foolhardy to ignore a statement that was issued with the signatures of the entirety of the Church Presidency and Quorum of Apostles in service at the time.

  5. Chris mentions the need to protect ourselves within our doctrine and our buildings, from “liberal crusaders.” I wish this always had been the perspective. Instead, we ourselves have been conservative crusaders, seeking to politically influence and enforce conservative religious marriage codes upon society as a whole, even while that society was openly rejecting them.

    There is little difference between the liberal crusaders seeking to enforce their marriage standard upon all people and forcing religions to adopt same-sex marriage, and the conservative crusaders seeking to enforce their marriage standards on all people by sponsering marriage amendments which forbid all same-sex marriages, even when popularly demanded. Its a winner take all position. Both positions are fundamentalist, and seek to compel those who disagree to live by their own standards. “My kingdom is not of this world, if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”

  6. Nate, you missed the point of Chris’ comment. He is talking about liberal crusaders *within the Church trying to change Church doctrine.* You would have no problem with the Church pushing back on liberal crusaders within the Church (according to your oft-stated but inconsistent philosophy). (Note, he is referring to “Church officers will not…”)

  7. Nate when you know God and know what life is for it would be kind of strange to vote against the purpose of this life or not seek to persuade others to do so. Its not comparable to voting for everyone to be forced into baptism as some might allege. Rather marriage and its purpose serves a deeply fundamental purpose for all of humanity. We cant unravel that from our beliefs if we actually are converted to the principle at its core by the spirit of revelation. To put it another way its not a crusade to build a wall around a city and keep it as it was when invaders are threatening.

    We should always be willing to put our beliefs out there, argue for them in the court of opinion and hope the rest of society will see wisdom from the Lords pointofview.

  8. Nate,
    As far as I am aware, the church has never sought to “politically…enforce conservative religious marriage codes upon society as a whole, even while that society was openly rejecting them.”
    The two proposition votes in CA, for example, show that the society, as expressed by majority votes, did NOT reject the conservative marriage codes at issue. Only the exceedingly narrow branch of society (a few lawyers and judges) openly rejected those popular majorities.
    Or maybe you were referring to Utah. I am sure that the conservative crusader Sonia Sotomayor is taking all of her cues from the church office building in staying the ridiculous lower court ruling. The popularly elected Governor is probably close to the majority opinion in his actions.

  9. I think the full source says this is to be shared with members, not just leaders. I wonder if it will be read over the pulpit in sacrament, and if so, how many of our “progressive” members will clinch their teeth in disagreement. I’m a bit surprised there hasn’t been more posted about the stay and this letter on other blogs.

  10. I feel for some of my “progressive” friends in the church. I have a feeling that this issue will eventually be the cause of their leaving the gospel behind.

  11. Agreed Michael P. I have already seen it happen to many people. Following the Lord is not always easy. It seems to me that the Church has issued this statement, and reminded members of the Church’s policy on this issue in recent General Conferences, precisely because this is the time to choose sides.

  12. “Only the exceedingly narrow branch of society (a few lawyers and judges) openly rejected those popular majorities.”

    And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges. — Alma 10:27.

  13. You know, to hear some folks talk, gay marriage was the norm and sodomy was seen as morally acceptable up until the nasty Mormons went around imposing their conservative-whack-job agenda on the country in the late 1990s.

  14. “My kingdom is not of this world, if my kingdom were of this world …”

    Nate, I’ve heard you say this so often I wonder if it’s become a hobby key of yours, a particular understanding of the Gospel that you trumpet and no longer balance with other Gospel principles and the current teachings of God’s servants.

  15. That quote doesnt mean we neglect the democratic process either. The BoM should pretty clearly answer that. I also agree that we shouldn’t try to bring to pass the lords will by fighting. Now by persuasion… Well thats part of what we call democracy.

  16. I would argue that through the D&C and the modern day prophets God has actually commanded us to be righteously involved in politics and to seek leaders and preserve, protect, and defend our constitutional rights. To stand aside and let the world fall apart would be contrary to our role as a beacon on the hill and a light unto the world. As we continue to fight, the choice between God and the world will become more and more stark.

  17. “…..those popular majorities.”

    Not any more, at least not here in CA. I see this latest statement from Church leadership as more-or-less acknowledging that the political controversy over gay marriage will soon be over. The polling data when looked at by age group is just amazing. So the question now is: What happens next.

    Anybody else see it that way?

  18. Mike,
    With respect to current polling data in CA, you are undoubtedly correct. However, the latest word from the voters continues to be -no same sex marriage in CA-, the courts have just usurped the will of the people. This is still not a settled issue in CA because the US Supreme court could erase every lower court ruling and reinstate Prop 208 fully and completely. (could but unlikely to do so)
    In Utah, the polling data and the express meaning of the Utah constitution, is counter to the recent federal court ruling. As for what happens next, politically, I look for some attempt at backlash from the hard-right in Utah and other conservative states. This may only be more blue-slips against all but the most strict constructionist/originalist judges, but may spread to state policies to. For the church, this statement plus more Family Proclamation talks is probably the extent of the reaction.

  19. El Oso:

    “This is still not a settled issue in CA because the US Supreme court could erase every lower court ruling and reinstate Prop 208 fully and completely.”

    Assuming you mean Proposition 8, not quite. While it’s true that the US Supreme Court could decide that a state’s policy of recognizing only man-woman marriages does not violate the 14th Amendment, and that decision would reject the reasoning of Judge Walker’s decision to invalidate Proposition 8, the judgment in Perry (the Prop 8 case) would not be retroactively vacated. Rather, the Supreme Court’s decision would allow California to pass Proposition 8 or a similar state constitutional amendment again.

  20. Mike, societal trends tend to come and go. 100 year ago, banning alcohol seemed all the rage. They even passed a Constitutional amendment to do so. A little more than a decade later, the amendment was overturned by another amendment. Universal acceptance of abortion seemed inevitable in 1978 — now many states are restricting abortion.

    If I had to bet, I would say that acceptance of same-sex marriage will increase in the short term. What will happen long term? Not sure, but I am sure of what the Church’s position is. So, that is my rock in these confusing times.

  21. Chris: “That quote doesnt mean we neglect the democratic process either. The BoM should pretty clearly answer that.”

    The relationship between the church and democracy is very different in the US than it was in the BoM. In the BoM, Democracy was originally instituted by the church itself, which was the dominant cultural force in the society. It was a homogeneous society which waged political and cultural wars against singular forces which arose from time to time, like the king men.

    In the US however, democracy is the heritage of Enlightmenment philosophy, which opposed the authority of apostate Christianity and derived its authority from the revolt of the people against the state and church authorities. It is also highly pluralistic, wherein the LDS church is a tiny minority among hundreds of other sects and cultural traditions.

    Our current position is much more similar to early Christian church than the BoM church. Rome held the ultimate authority (modern democratic authority is the child of Helenism, same as Rome). The Jewish majority was apostate (same as modern Christianity being apostate.) Jesus and his followers were a small minority (same as the LDS are today.)

    It is within this context that Jesus and Paul taught their followers that their kingdom was not of this world,” that they should “render unto Cesaer…” that “slaves should obey their masters,” that “whoso compels thee to go a mile, go two.”

    In other words, the church was a small docile member of a larger Gentile authority, which may or may not make them slaves, feed them to lions, take away their coats, compel them to go miles, etc. The Christian focus was not on this world, but on the world to come. Any democratic participation would have been innacted with the understanding that they were a separate and singular voice with a much different mission. They influenced society not with votes, but by preaching and taking “one from a city, two from a family,” by saying “come follow me.”

    The problem with Proposition 8, and any kind of similar religious activism, is that it mistakes our pluralistic, apostate, helenistic society, for a homogeneous BoM society gradually slipping into apostasy. That was a mistake, which is why Proposition 8 will not be repeated, and why the church will gradually move away from any kind of political activism on this front.

  22. Eh, then consider the D&C as was pointed out. Or instead of considering the Mormon BoM prophets, or the restoration ones, consider the current ones 🙂

  23. As a Libertarian, I would prefer government get out of people’s private business and affairs. Let marriage be conducted by personal contract, as a religious event.

    If government must be involved, then I wish it to be at the lowest level possible, allowing for the voice of the people to decide issues in their locale. Then, if someone disagrees, he/she can always move elsewhere among like-minded people. This also helps to protect religion from the state imperialism.

    That said, I fully agree with the doctrines in the Proclamation on the Family, and fully support the current stance of the Brethren. This is a moral issue and one of religious freedom for both sides of the issue.

  24. Nate, I read Chris’ larger point as being that if society, as a whole, chooses evil, then that society–especially a society located on the American continent–is on a path to destruction unless it can be persuaded to turn from its degenerate ways.

    On your distinction between the BoM versus primitive Christianity: maybe I’m missing something, but doesn’t your distinction really boil down to the notion that the Church should only impose its will on nonbelievers if it wields the political clout to do so?

  25. “…societal trends tend to come and go.”

    I agree completely Geoff B. It will be interesting to see how things unfold. History tells us a lot. The modern “gay” movement has its origins in Weimar Germany (Magnus Hirschfeld, et. al.), but that movement was completely wiped our by the end of WW2 and nothing re-emerged until the 1950s in America. It’s actually a fascinating history regardless of one’s position on the topic.

    It never ceases to amaze me how intelligent, well-meaning people can interpret history in such different ways.

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