Church Directive on Same-Sex Marriage Presents Utah Member Challenge
Utah -- Conservative Mormons are not taking liberal activist's recent grab to legalize same-sex-marriage in their state lightly; nor should they. And today, the Mormon Newsroom confirmed that The First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints have distributed the following official directive to priesthood leaders throughout the United States, requesting that the information be shared with members:
On December 20, 2013, a federal district judge in Salt Lake City issued an order legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, striking down century-old state laws and a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman. The United States Supreme Court has put that ruling on hold pending consideration of the issue by an appellate court. During the interval between the district court ruling and the Supreme Court stay, numerous same-sex marriages were performed in Utah. Legal proceedings and legislative action in some other states and countries have given civil recognition to same-sex marriage relationships.
As we face this and other issues of our time, we encourage all to bear in mind our Heavenly Father’s purposes in creating the earth and providing for our mortal birth and experience here as His children. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:27–28). “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society. Strong families, guided by a loving mother and father, serve as the fundamental institution for nurturing children, instilling faith, and transmitting to future generations the moral strengths and values that are important to civilization and crucial to eternal salvation.
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.”
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.
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.
While these matters will continue to evolve, we affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree.
As members of the Church, we are responsible to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to illuminate the great blessings that flow from heeding God’s commandments as well as the inevitable consequences of ignoring them. We invite you to pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths of the gospel, and that wisdom will be granted to those who are called upon to decide issues critical to society’s future. (Source: Mormon Newsroom)
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I should confess, that being from California and having been through the entire Prop 8 saga, it is somewhat cathartic observing Utah's own battle to preserve traditional marriage when not only did the governor use his authority to say to liberalism within his own state not so fast but then to have the LDS Church make the most comprehensive, public statement to-date on its firm, doctrinal commitment to continue to stand for marriage only between a man and a woman; this time to include instructions to priesthood leaders throughout the United States on the legalization of same-sex marriage.
You might recall that in California when we had a similar-type "grab" my governor actually refused to do his job and instead assisted the cause! It's still shocking to me that he got away with refusing to defend the voice of over 7 million voters who in good faith went to the voting booth and exercised the greatest privilege and power within a free society (to vote) and allowed those votes to be totally disenfranchised; unbelievable!
But it got worse... No one in the state with legal authority stood up against such tyranny; enabled by an extremely liberal society with the aid of both national and liberal media.
In that situation it was very difficult for conservatives to express opposition without, most, being bullied to silence - and with the eventual help of the President of the United States when he flipped on his commitment and personal belief to uphold traditional marriage; as a Christian, of course. If you recall, SSM at that time was legal in only a few states, and yet liberalism's broad, political influence determined that it was not politically correct to oppose it; nationally!
Sidebar: (During the time I was writing this post, my great state, good ole California, announced that 'it' will honor the same-sex marriages that took place in Utah so that couples can apply for federal benefits; Google it.)
Christians of all faiths, along with others who acknowledge moral absolutes are today referred to as "bigots" in the same fashion as were those who opposed the civil rights movement - and by the politically correct of today said to be " on the wrong side of history". Not for a moment have I bought that one and I hope you haven't either.
The position that people of faith find themselves in currently is not motivated by hate, but rather has everything to do with putting love of God above perceived social justice within an ever-increasing immoral society. There's no question, whether you believe in moral absolutes, or not, that more and more people are pushing to live in ways never before considered socially acceptable, or thought to be 'good'.
The state of Utah and its citizens, predominantly faith and values oriented, are perhaps in one of the most critical positions (more than any of the rest of us will ever be), to defend, not only moral absolutes in society, but also freedom of religion; leaving a legacy by which future generations will depend upon.
As children of covenant, we have a moral obligation to oppose all things contrary to God's will, even if it opposes our own ideologies. We also need to take seriously the important work to preserve the principle of religious freedom upon which this nation was founded.
The right to Freedom of Religion, the first freedom in the Bill of Rights, enabled the gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored on this continent and, as prophesied, with the aid of technology is on a fast-track of being fulfilled. Each one of us, as members of the Church, are privileged recipients of the sacrifices made by those who have gone before us, in the blessing it is to worship and live what we believe to be true and in accordance with God's will.
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we will continue to stand or sit down in silence, convinced that the only reason we stand is to keep change from happening. If that's what you believe about why we make covenants to "stand for truth and righteousness in all things and in all places", perhaps it is time to understand who benefits when we keep our covenant to do so; even in the midst of a battlefield where friends and foes are dropping all around us.
My advice: resist the multitude of voices, wherever and however they come, be it friends, family, entertainment, social media, media, politicians, pop culture, etc., and even other Church members convinced that the battle for righteousness is over and religion, your religion, lost; now go home, shut-up and stop embarrassing yourself.
Instead, continue to hold-fast to the words of Christ, which come to those who keep their covenants, thus qualify for the constant direction of the Holy Ghost - Who confirms all truth, which God has deemed to provide through personal revelation, scriptures and His Prophets; key to not becoming lost on forbidden paths.
From ongoing personal observation, there is a clear connection between the vast majority of those within the Church who are in support of what moral liberalism advocates (some firmly believing that doctrines will change in order to accomodate SSM within the plan of salvation) and rejecting the counsel and direction of the Prophet on this matter; and others. I know I'm going to get flack for saying that and so be it.
It's not difficult to see for yourselves that all active members of the LDS Church are not unified on the issue of SSM being oppositional to God's plan. However, that does not mean that those willing to stand with God and His Prophet are prohibited from acknowledging that fact and publicly. On the other hand, we are admonished to love one another, as God loves us. I believe we can do both and in fact, I believe that is one of the great challenges of discipleship in these last days.
My personal example of how I am to stand for truth and righteousness in the midst of living amongst so many differences, everywhere, is simple; even if seemingly juvenile: follow the prophet, he knows the way.
And so, to my member friends and readers who live in the great state of Utah, take courage and make the choice to not be silent, but rather use your voice, now, in support of a living Prophet, who directs the affairs of the Church under the direction of our Savior.
Don't miss my 2013 year in review: 2013: A Year of Division, Liberalism and Hastening the Work!