The recent comments by Dallen H. Oaks an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have received a lot of press, much of it negative. As most of us know the Mormon Church was in favor of proposition 8 in California and aggressively backed it. The proposition won and with it the opportunity for Gays to be legally married and enjoy all of the same rights as heterosexual couples was denied. From the outside looking in, and especially these days with Gay Rights as publicized as they are, that just might not seem fair. However, from the view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints this is not the case.
The last time I checked, the Constitution of the United States allows its citizens to believe the way they want to and to have the freedom to speak up. That has not always happened, but when it hasn't the law has, or should have stepped in to rectify that right. When I was in my teens in California during the early 70's everyone knew about gays, but the topic was one of overall reproach in our country. The last thing anyone would do at that time was to "come out of the closet"! The only place that anyone knew that gays lived somewhat out in the open was San Francisco. About the time that 1976 and 1977 rolled around the Gays were beginning to come out and fight to be heard and accepted for who they were. I went overseas for those two years, and when I returned I was amazed and shocked at the change in perception of a practice that had been virtually taboo before I had left. I remember the Gay Bashing that went on in San Francisco and the rest of the state. Certain hateful individuals felt compelled and justified in pulling someone gay off the street and beating them, sometimes to death. Through all of this the Gay community was peaceful, and never seemed to react in anger. I admired them for that. As time has gone on Gays have been more and more accepted in society as a whole.
That was about 30 years ago. Since that time a change has steadily come about concerning Gay Issues. Instead of a lifestyle that in the eyes of a general society is not acceptable and can actually damage our way of life, gay relationships are a casual topic of conversation and readily acceptable in a number of states. For the purpose of the writing I am doing here I will not label that change at this time as good or bad for society. We will just say that before this time it was not acceptable in any state, and that today the Gay lifestyle is accepted by some of our states as equal to the marriage of a man and a woman.
The United States of America is a free country. Gay or straight all are welcome here and we should be able to voice our opinions freely. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes this as much as any organization in our Country. What they do not believe or condone is any effort to over power these rights by circumventing the law. America was built upon the precept of a people lead government, free elections, laws that are voted on and then passed by a majority. They believe that issues should be heard and then decided on by the people. They have always positively promoted good world citizenship within the ranks of their membership by admonishing them to study issues and vote in respective elections. Once decisions are made, individuals are asked to follow those laws or be subject to the penalties that coincide with them. All of these things are accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At times this belief has caused the Church to experience bitter persecution. They have shouldered that burden and have paid the price.
The Mormon Church has solid unchanging beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. They have had a lot of opposition concerning these beliefs, but they have not swayed or veered from them, as a church. Their opposition to gay issues happens to be one of those items that they truly believe stems from God. The following is what they believe as far as the institution of marriage is concerned. This was drafted and placed before the world in 1995 so that there would be no question as to the stand that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has taken concerning marriage and the family.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World
The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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.
All human beingsÃ¢Â€Â”male and femaleÃ¢Â€Â”are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wivesÃ¢Â€Â”mothers and fathersÃ¢Â€Â”will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
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.
This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
After reading this it becomes apparent why the Mormons are opposed to Gay Marriage and to the changing of the law which would make that a part of our society. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has never shied away from proclaiming what they believe. This particular issue happens to be at the center of their faith. Because of this they, as a church, felt compelled to take a bold stand for Proposition 8 and do what they could to see it passed. They succeeded in their attempt and because of that they have faced stringent and at times violent opposition from a group that once professed peace. What else could have been expected from the Mormon Church with their professed beliefs that are tied to God as published.
I guess the real question lies in society. Maybe there is no God and because of that the church is holding back these wonderful new concepts that will strengthen us and help us to grow as a people and a society. Maybe the idea of a husband, wife and children is an outdated concept as far as what society is built upon, and what makes it strong. Maybe the evolution overall in society and the morals we originally built this nation upon are progressing for the better and can then surely be seen by a drop in crime, in the good things we have gained in the media, and in our neighborhoods. Maybe, just maybe addictions have gone down in the last 30 years and we are a happier people with more individual freedoms. We should all look at these "real" indicators and see what we think.
Is it also possible that there has been a decline in society and that the family situation from divorce and other accepted issues have hurt us as a people and have helped in the moral decline of our communities? Is there good and evil and if so, how can we recognize it? Is there a God and did he give us commandments that were steadfast and eternal or is that all a lie? The point here is that the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints will not change. They won't. At the same time the church as a body teaches us to love one another and to help all of those in need. It teaches that we are all brothers and sisters on this earth and that we need to help each other along the way. It teaches as is stated in this proclamation that the family is the cornerstone of society and of eternity and the family as designated by God includes husband, wife and children.
It is possible to love others and not accept their lifestyles. It is also apparent that we can see if our "progression" in ideas and moral values has made us better, stronger and happier as a people, by the results. I spent two years in Switzerland, Austria and Germany from 1976 to 1978 on a mission for the Mormon Church. I hated to leave because of the love that I felt for the people there. Not just the people I taught and that accepted what I had to say but all of them. The members of the Mormon church do not consider themselves perfect, in fact far from it. We believe where much is given much is required. We also believe that we have the guidelines given to us from God that show us the way to be happy and free from the burdens of this earthly existence and that it is our privilege to share those with the world. With that knowledge we also know that the greatest gift given to all men and women is to choose which direction we head in this life. What we choose to do with our time here will determine our future with God. Mormons do not dislike the gay community, they are our brothers and sisters. We do not however agree with or condone their lifestyle and we will do whatever we can within the limits of the law to protect what we believe to be the sanctity of marriage.