Church Commentary Defends Traditional Marriage
Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Strong, stable families—led by a father and mother—remain the anchor of society.
That is the firm conclusion set forth in a recently published, detailed commentary titled “The Divine Institution of Marriage.” The Church posted the commentary on mormonnewsroom.org on January 11.
In 1995 the Church published its definitive “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which declared clear truths about marriage:
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
Several challenges to the institution of marriage have arisen since the publication of the family proclamation. The news of the day in the United States and other nations is largely focused on the legal recognition by several governments, at both national and local levels, of same-sex marriage—formal unions between two individuals of the same gender.
The Church’s recently published document on the matter reaffirms its position that marriage remains the lawful and exclusive union of a man and a woman.
It also addresses several other related issues. For one, it reaffirms a “single, undeviating standard of sexual morality.” Intimate relations, it declares, are acceptable to God only between “a husband and a wife who are united in the bonds of matrimony.”
The document also defends marriage between a man and a woman “as an issue of moral imperative.”
The vital importance of marriage, it notes, was established and ordained of God before the beginning of the world. In Matthew 19:4–5, the Lord declared, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”
The document also establishes the crucial role that traditional marriage has played, and must continue to play, if children and families are to be protected and moral values propagated. “Because the issue of same-sex marriage strikes at the very heart of the family and has the potential for great impact upon the welfare of children, the Church unequivocally affirms that marriage should remain the lawful union of a man and a woman.”
The document goes on to define marriage as “far more than a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations.” Rather, marriage is the defined institution for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults.
The document also cites studies that show that a husband and wife, united in a loving and committed marriage, generally provide the ideal environment for protecting, nurturing, and raising children. “This is in part because of the differing qualities and strengths that husbands and wives bring to the task by virtue of their gender.”
Many advocates of same-sex marriage, the document notes, argue that traditional standards of sexual morality have changed and that “tolerance” requires that these new standards be recognized and codified in law.
“If tolerance is defined as showing kindness for others and respect for differing viewpoints, it is an important value in all democratic societies. But as Elder Dallin H. Oaks has observed, ‘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.’”
The document also questions how same-sex marriage would affect religious freedom. Policies to ensure there is not discrimination against same-sex couples “have placed serious burdens on individual conscience and on religious organizations.”
Same-sex marriage and antidiscrimination laws, for example, have “already spawned legal collisions with the rights of free speech and of action based on religious beliefs.”
Challenges facing religious freedom include calls that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not accept same-sex marriages.
The document also asks for civility and kindness between people on all sides of the marriage debate. “Church members are to treat all people with love and humanity. They may express genuine love and kindness toward a gay or lesbian family member, friend, or other person without condoning any redefinition of marriage.”
The document concludes with a familiar call to action from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”