New Domain!

We are excited to tell you that we have a new website! Please continue the conversation at:

http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com

Don't forget to update your links!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marriage: Between a man and a woman

If you're anywhere near the state of California, and maybe even if you're not, you probably recognize this hot topic: Proposition 8, establishing the legal definition of marriage.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made its position on this issue very clear. In fact, the Church has held a strong stance on this point for many years, even before it became an issue in the courts of our country. In 1995, the Church issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World as its official position emphasizing the importance of the family as the basic unit of society and its role in God's plan.

God has ordained marriage between a man and a woman. This is a central part of God's plan for his children. The First Presidency has explained how closely marriage and procreation go together: "Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults." (The Divine Institution of Marriage) Obviously, a couple does not have to be married to employ their procreative powers, but it is much more preferable that children be born to parents who have made a commitment to one another and are thus more likely to raise their children within the loving circle of a stable family. And of course, there are couples who marry who do not have children. But, it is the Lord's will that children be born into families, with a mother and a father united in the bonds of matrimony.

The government traditionally recognizes marriages not because two people love each other but because, in most cases, they become a family (see article by Adam Kolasinski for more information). Were love the only issue, would we extend the same benefits to every boyfriend and girlfriend? The best environment for children to grow is one in which they have both a mother and a father, with their inherent differences that complement one another. Of course there are single parents out there, but I emphasize that a child's emotional, physical, and psychological needs are best met when they are raised by a loving mother and a responsible father. As a society, we should not encourage or foster anything but the best environment possible for our posterity.

Church leadership encourages voters to be active in politics, but does not advocate one party above another. We believe strongly that everyone can and should make an informed decision for themselves. I believe the Church supports Proposition 8 for a number of reasons, one of which is the protection of freedom of religion for those churches that do not believe the legal definition should be expanded to included same-sex marriages.

If the government recognizes same-sex marriages, churches which believe such marriages are not ordained of God could well lose their tax-exempt status. Furthermore, if a church or its minister believes homosexual marriages are wrong and refuse on that basis to perform same-sex marriages, it is likely that they would be subject to lawsuits alleging discrimination. Isn't it the right of every U.S. citizen to exercise their freedom of religion? We feel that it is our right to recognize marriage according to our doctrine, and don't want the government to have power to interfere with that right. Legally, failing to pass Proposition 8 has huge consequences.

The social consequences would be even more widely felt, as it's almost inevitable that homosexuality would be added to elementary school sexual education curricula, as has been done in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Many people believe such actions involve much more than just sexual education or teaching children about socially acceptable types of family relationships. These matters are also part of religious beliefs and, yes, family values. Are we really ready to allow our government to refuse to allow parents the right to decide what their children should learn about these issues, or when their children are mature enough and have the prior understanding necessary for such information to be presented to them?

For those who argue this is a hugely intolerant position to take, let me emphasize that Proposition 8 is not an offensive measure: it's a defensive measure. It is not intended to root out an evil in our society, but to defend the divinely established institution of the family from being politically disenfranchised. Passing Proposition 8 is not going to strip away rights from homosexuals, who are still allowed the rights of civil unions and domestic partnerships. I'd also like to share a quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the twelve apostles, regarding tolerance. He says,

"Tolerance obviously requires a non-contentious manner of relating toward one another’s differences. But tolerance does not require abandoning one’s standards or one’s opinions on political or public policy choices. Tolerance is a way of reacting to diversity, not a command to insulate it from examination."
You see, being tolerant and holding certain standards are not mutually exclusive of one another. We do not want to be misunderstood here: the gospel message is one of unconditional love. But we claim the right to remain a people who stand for values that we believe to be right and consistent with God's will.

There are numerous economic, financial and legal reasons to support the traditional family, but I do not want to stray from the purpose of this blog (providing information about Mormonism to non-members) and turn it into a political arena. Rather, I feel that this is a strong stance taken by the Church because it pertains to our doctrine. The family and its inherent nature are a core part of our beliefs. I hope that this article clarifies our position and reasoning.

It is our duty as citizens to tell our government what our standards are and determine what our society accepts. We live in a republic where the will of the people is carried out by their elected representatives. If most people in California want to protect the definition of marriage in their state then it ought to be upheld. A handful of judges do not have that right. If you live in California, be sure to register to vote and protect the traditional family. Encourage friends and family in California to do the same.

Resources for this topic:
http://www.preservingmarriage.org
http://www.protectmarriage.com
http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage
http://tech.mit.edu/V124/N5/kolasinski.5c.html

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You say the purpose of this website is "...devoted to giving non-Mormons, especially those who are just curious, a short tour of the Mormon mind."

Perhaps you should invite your readers to learn that there are many faithful members of the church who are opposed to eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

Diana said...

Dear Anonymous-
I would be interested to hear your reasoning.

Dear Blog-
I am very grateful for the proclamation to the World. In fact, I just hung it up on my wall today. It truly is a testimony of Heavenly Father's awareness of the world and everything that has happened, and will happen. He will always provide direction.

Ben said...

I am glad that you brought this up, because it gives our readers a chance to see that members of our Church do not just follow blindly as many assume.

Sure, there are members of the LDS Church who will vote no for proposition 8. They do not agree with the stance that the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 Apostles have taken. They are free to do so, they have the God-given right to do so and no one will deny them that right. However, we the contributors to this blog, will always stand with the governing body of the Church. We have a firm conviction that God speaks to his prophet on the earth and that prophet relays that information to us, especially in circumstances such as these. Might I add one scripture that defines how members should uphold the prophet of our Church:

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." Doctrine and Covenants 1:38

Anonymous said...

I admire you contributors to this blog. In the past I've found that my LDS friends who are opposed to prop 8 have been much more vocal about it...
Until recently, when many of my friends have been blogging in favor of it (and taking a lot of negative hits for it)
Keep up the good work!

Joel McDonald said...

I've found that my LDS friends who are opposed to prop 8 have been much more vocal about it...
Until recently, when many of my friends have been blogging in favor of it (and taking a lot of negative hits for it)


Could this be due to the LDS Church taking away the opportunity for them to think for themselves on this issue? I mean, the Prophet spoke, the thinking was done for the church...right?

As for the blog: Some of what was argued has been shown, through legal precedent, to be misinformation distributed as propaganda for the the support of Proposition 8.

I respect the right of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to believe what they want to about homosexuality and enforce whatever standards and regulations they deem necessary upon the members of their church. After all, every member has the right to decide whether they want to continue to be a member of that church. Latter-day Saints are free to worship however they may as long as their worship does not infringe upon the freedom of others to worship or not worship.

Where the line is drawn is when religious institutions feel it necessary to lobby support for a political agenda, especially an agenda that does absolutely nothing but degrade a minority by politicizing the religious beliefs of those institutions. The current push by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have their members in California support an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman crosses that line.

It is very probable that the issue will one day be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States based on the 14th amendment of the Constitution which denies states the power to abridge the privileges of citizens or to deny them equal protection under the law. This is the same amendment cited by the court in its ruling on school desegregation.

Thaddeus said...

Could this be due to the LDS Church taking away the opportunity for them to think for themselves on this issue? I mean, the Prophet spoke, the thinking was done for the church...right?

Do we have to take the opposing viewpoint just to prove that we thought for ourselves? This allegation is offensive. Our decisions are our own and we are accountable for them.

In becoming informed on issues such as these we read the news, listen to opposing arguments, discuss alternatives, and listen to what authorities on the topic have to say. Latter-day Saints just put great stock in the counsel of the prophet.

It is very probable that the issue will one day be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States based on the 14th amendment of the Constitution which denies states the power to abridge the privileges of citizens or to deny them equal protection under the law.

I don't recall marriage ever being considered a basic Constitutional right. Government has a long tradition of restricting marriage. If we are to grant similar rights to same-gender couples, then what about polygamists, children, siblings, first cousins, and singles? All these have consistently been denied marriage "rights." Surely they deserve 'equal protection under the law,' too.

Ben said...

Dear Joel:

We, as Christians of whatever denomination, Mormons included, in taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ covenant to act as he would act, say what he would say and do what he would do, regardless of what others may say. The Bible (and Mormon doctrine) is pretty clear that marriage between man and woman is ordained of God. So, it is not too much of a stretch to see where God would stand on an issue such as this.

I believe that God has once again called a prophet. As the scripture I quoted in my previous comment says, “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Therefore, for me there is no separation between what the prophet of the LDS church says and what God would say. You are free to disagree, but that is what I believe and I will always stand with the prophet on any issue. Why? Because time after time as I have heeded his counsel, looking back I see that he was right. More importantly though, in my heart and mind I know that he is a prophet of God. Thus, why would I pick and choose what I will accept and not accept as prophetic counsel?

A prophet is just that, someone who prophesies. He can see down the hall and a little around the corner. What he says is not in the classical Biblical language “Thus saith the Lord God . . .”, but there is a reason that the prophet of the our church, the LDS church, is speaking up on this issue. If it were Abraham speaking I bet would you perk up and listen.

In addition to the great links that Megan posted with her original post, David Bednar (A member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles) explains very well the governing body of the church’s opinion. You can watch it on YouTube at this URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhi6Ky66gQw

Anonymous said...

http://mormonsformarriage.com/

Ben said...

The last post that contains the link for mormonsformarriage IS NOT the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' opinion or stance on the issue of gay marriage. The person who has created that blog supports a view that differs from the prophet and other general leaders of our church.

Once again this demonstrates that our members do not just blindly follow our prophet. We all decide were we will stand--with the prophet or with someone/something else.

Angela Hawes said...

According to California Law, same sex Domestic Partnerships are entitled to ALL THE RIGHTS that a married couple is (ie taxes, healthcare, fair housing etc). This law is still in full tact.

Proposition 8 does not infringe on any of these rights. It simply defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Therefore, the argument is not about "rights" (as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), but about a label. Whether you call it a "domestic partnership" or "marriage" is irrelevant with regards to rights.

Furthermore, allowing same gender marriage infringes on the constitutional rights of churches with regards to marriages, adoptions, tax exemptions etc.

Anonymous said...

I believe the best solution is for the separation of church and state. Marriage is a religious covenant, and should be left to churches and the individuals who choose to commit to a particular church's teachings. The state should provide ONLY civil unions (to consenting adults- gay AND straight), without redefining marriage. I am LDS and I want the freedom to practice my religion, and want others to have that same freedom ..."to worship how, what, or where they may."