On occasion I've heard active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormons) when discussing the issue of same-sex marriage, share the opinion that they believe the church will eventually accept it and, like other periods of LDS Church history, will be found to have been on the wrong side of the debate. In fact some believe that this is inevitable. End of story.
Granted, this misguided (IMHO) understanding of Mormon doctrine is only found among a very small percentage of active members of the LDS Church. Certainly they are entitled to their own opinion -- I just happen to strongly disagree. I say "doctrine" because the position of the LDS Church on homosexuality is more than a policy, it is based on the eternal doctrine of marriage and the perpetuation of the family throughout eternity. This is of no small consequence.
I've had countless opportunities to share and discuss my thoughts and feelings about traditional marriage as opposed to same-sex marriage, and in doing so have felt the sting of those who consider my views to be based in hate. Living in California, and going through the ongoing Proposition 8 trial, puts me fairly close to the issue and somewhat sensitive to the ongoing conversation. Most likely you are already aware of this, but in a string of court cases to overturn the 2008 vote that banned same-sex marriage in California, just this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. This last ruling will most likely move proponents of Prop 8 to take the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court for a final judgement.
In response to the ruling The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued this official statement posted on the LDS Newsroom:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today’s decision. California voters have twice determined in a general election that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We have always had that view. Courts should not alter that definition, especially when the people of California have spoken so clearly on the subject.
Millions of voters in California sent a message that traditional marriage is crucial to society. They expressed their desire, through the democratic process, to keep traditional marriage as the bedrock of society, as it has been for generations.
We recognize that this decision represents a continuation of what has been a vigorous public debate over the rights of the people to define and protect the fundamental institution of marriage. There is no doubt that today’s ruling will intensify the debate in this country. We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.
Personally, I want to say thank you. For the many members of the LDS Church who have hearkened to the words of living prophets, on this matter, who have stood firmly in the face of great opposition in standing for traditional marriage, this is a very important statement and message.
It requires great faith and courage for those of religious convictions to stand fast to their beliefs, while the majority around them, even some within the church, oppose their position. And yet, past prophets have foretold of this time in order to ready the saints of God, in these latter-days, for the work that they were born to do.
In 1978 Elder Neal A. Maxwell shared these prophetic words, that perhaps to many at the time, seemed afar off...
Video: Elder Maxwell on Same-Sex Marriage, Family, Abortion and the Secular Church
"Your discipleship may see the time come when religious convictions are heavily discounted. A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus and not to get uppity about it. This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain people's opinion because those opinions grow out of religious opinions. Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending towards those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values. In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to nullify the opinions of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments.If people, however, are not permitted to advocate, to assert, and to bring to bear in every legitimate way, the opinions and views they hold which grow out of their religious convictions, what manner of men and women would we be anyway? Our founding fathers did not wish to have a state church established nor to have a particular religion favored by government. They wanted religion to be free to make its own way. But neither did they intend to have irreligion made into a favored state church. Notice the terrible irony if this trend were to continue. When the secular church goes after its heretics, where are the sanctuaries? To what landfalls and Plymouth Rocks can future pilgrims go?"
You can read the entire address entitled: Meeting the Challenges of Today
Those are some stunning prophecies, don't you think? And if you take the time to read the entire speech you will find that Elder Maxwell, if he were alive today, might very well be shocked to find that some of what he thought would most likely never happen, is happening.
This brings me back to the beginning of this post and to the speculation, by some, that the LDS Church would ever change its position on the definition and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Based on revealed doctrine I feel confident that this will never happen. Instead I believe that we, as members of the church, will need to strengthen our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, accept that going forward our position may not be a part of mainstream society any longer -- and be ever willing to stand for that which we believe, in the face of potentially even more difficult circumstances.
May I share with you some of my favorite quotes from Thomas S. Monson, whom I sustain as a living prophet of God, from the October 2011 General Conference:
"Also evolving at a rapid rate has been the moral compass of society. Behaviors which once were considered inappropriate and immoral are now not only tolerated but also viewed by ever so many as acceptable."
"Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The ten commandments are just that -- commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel."tDMg
"As the winds of change swirl around us and the moral fiber of society continues to disintegrate before our very eyes, may we remember the Lord's precious promises to those who trust in Him: "Fear thou not; I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yeah, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Mormons Value Traditional Marriage
Same-Sex Relationships and Marriage Equal to Heterosexual Marriages and Relationships. Really?
Not Anti Gay? Prove it!
The Family: A Proclamation to the World