The original official statement by the church is at http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage. It was published a part of its campaign in support of an initiative on the California ballot in the Novemeber 2008 election ("Proposition 8"), which would amend the California constitution to define marriage as being a relationship only between one man and one woman.
Quotations are from the church's statement, in blue; comments are by Richard Packham, in black.
"The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference."
COMMENT: The church admits that granting gay couples the same probate, hospitalization, and fair housing rights does not necessarily infringe on the "integrity of the family." What "family" are they talking about. The church seems to think of "the family" as an abstract. It is not. There are as many "families" as there are households of people living together.
Precisely how would allowing a gay couple to enter into a civilly sanctioned relationship, identical to what any heterosexual couple now can enter, infringe on the "constitutional rights of churches"? No church is presently required to perform a wedding ceremony for any couple (gay OR straight) who demands one, nor would allowing gay couples to obtain a marriage license change that fact.
And there are presently a number of churches who DO exercise the right to perform marriages for gay couples. The proposed amendment would indeed infringe on THEIR "constitutional right" to perform such marriages.
"The Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a husband and a wife united in the bonds of matrimony." COMMENT: Here we see clearly that the church's opposition is based on its OWN beliefs about morality, and it admits here that it is trying to impose ITS morality on all citizens. If the church were being logical and consequential, it would be proposing a constitutional amendment making premarital sex, adultery, masturbation, and watching R-rated movies a crime, since these are also against its "undeviating standard of sexual morality." The church admits here that it is not the legal relationship of marriage they are talking about, but what sexual acts married people engage in.
"Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people." COMMENT: Again, the church implies that failure to pass the amendment would prevent a man and woman from marrying. That is absurd. This comment also smacks of the old "Some of my best friends are Jews/Negros/Italians." "We should love them, but they aren't entitled to be treated the same as us."
"The Divine Institution of Marriage
"Marriage is sacred, ordained of God from before the foundation of the world. After creating Adam and Eve, the Lord God pronounced them husband and wife,..."COMMENT: This may be a correct statement of Mormon theology, but why should Mormon theology bind non-Mormons? It is a misstatement of scripture as well. It does not say in Genesis (or in the Mormon Book of Moses) that God "pronounced them husband and wife." God CREATED Eve, but it was ADAM who first referred to Eve as his wife, and the word used in the Hebrew text is 'ishshah' which also means merely "woman" (204 occurrences in the Old Testament!). No marriage ceremony by God can be implied. God gave Adam a female, just as Adam later undoubtedly put a bull with the cows, with no ceremony.
The church also neglects the obvious fact that "marriage" has existed in all cultures, and it has generally been (even in Old Testament times) basically a civil contract, enforced by the civil law. It was often a purchase of the bride by the husband. To what extent does the Mormon church want to base modern marital practices on the many different customs of the world's cultures? Nowhere in the Bible do we see a marriage ceremony that is clearly a religious ceremony. (Isn't the Wedding at Cana the only actual wedding mentioned? And it mentions nothing about the religious doctrine on which it is based, or even that it was presided over by an ecclesiastical authority.)
Of course the first couple consisted of a man and a woman. But why does one conclude that that is the ONLY form of matrimony or family? Other forms of marital relation soon were practiced (and apparently sanctioned by God); Lamech was the first polygamist (Gen 4:19) - the patriarchs had multiple wives as well as concubines, and David's wiveS were specifically given to him by God (2 Samuel 12:7-8). (See references to Biblical polygamy at http://packham.n4m.org/bible.htm#POLYGAMY.)
" 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. " COMMENT: Here again, the church is basing it stance on its own theology, and assumes that it should impose that same theology on all citizens. Nowhere in scripture does it say that "children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony." It might be granted for the sake of argument that it is BETTER for a child to be raised by two parents, but why should it make any difference as to whether those two parents are a male and female, or two males, or two females, so long as they "honor marital vows with complete fidelity"? The church seems to want to curse some children to being raised by two same-sex parents who have been PREVENTED from taking marital vows. How does that help the child?
“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” COMMENT: Gender is indeed an essential characteristic of one's identity. But the church seems ignorant of the fact that gender is not always easy to identify, as extensive scientific studies have shown The church's stance is based on its interpretation of the Bible. Science shows that interpretation to be over-simplistic. Why should a simplistic and incorrect view of gender identity influence civil legislation?
Intersex Society of North America: http://www.isna.org
Intersex Society of Utah - http://www.relationshiphealth.org/intersex_society_of_utah.htm"
The church's statement also contradicts Paul's statement (Galatians 3:28) that there is "neither male nor female" in Christ.
"Marriage between a man and a woman is central to the plan of salvation. The sacred nature of marriage is closely linked to the power of procreation. Only a man and a woman together have the natural biological capacity to conceive children. This power of procreation – to create life and bring God’s spirit children into the world – is sacred and precious. Misuse of this power undermines the institution of the family and thereby weakens the social fabric." COMMENT: Again, the church is implying that all citizens should be bound by their theology, their Mormon "plan of salvation." Yes, only a man and a woman can produce another human being. But how does that fact imply that only a man and a woman should have the right to marry? If the ability to procreate should be taken as a requirement for a marriage license, then any woman past menopause or any infertile or impotent man should be denied a marriage license. Would the church support such a requirement? If by "misuse of this power [to procreate]" is intended to refer to the non-procreative sexual acts of gays or lesbians, or to the masturbation by a solitary person, the church has failed to point out exactly how those acts have any effect on the existing families of the kind of heterosexual couples the church approves of. What absurdity, to imply that the specific sexual acts of others, in private, has an effect on families who are not present!
And the church also implies that by forbidding gay marriage, it will lessen the occurrence of such sexual acts? That is absurd. Those gay couples who wish to solemnize their relationship are not going to be engaging any more frequently in the "misuse of the power [of procreation]" than they are now doing.
"Strong families serve as the fundamental institution for transmitting to future generations the moral strengths, traditions, and values that sustain civilization." COMMENT: That certainly is true. One way to strengthen a family is to allow the parents to marry each other and thus affirm their commitment.
(several paragraphs on the advantage of children having two parents - a male and a female - over only one parent or two parents of the same gender) COMMENT: One may concede that two parents are better in general for a child than a single parent. But if one wishes to legislate on that basis, then the government should take children away from a single parent and give them in adoption to a family with two parents. Does the church advocate this? I don't think so. This would also be an unwarranted generalization, ignoring the fact that some children are better raised by a single caring, responsible parent than being raised by a husband and wife who are neglectful and uncaring. (Remember, the uncaring husband and wife were not denied a marriage license!)
The same objection can be made to the argument that a heterosexual couple are always better parents than a same-gender couple. Why can't a same-gendered couple, committed, loving, caring be better parents (even without a marriage license) to children than a hetero couple who are neglectful, uncaring and unloving (but who have a marriage license)?
Basically, the church is arguing that only potentially ideal parents should be allowed to marry and have children. But it is advocating only one standerd for that ideal: two parents of different gender. Nothing about emotional stability, financial responsibility, intelligence, health, age, education. No, the church has not undertaken to promote legislation along those lines. Does that sound like hypocrisy?
If the church is consistent, it will insist on modifying the California constitution to require all couples planning to marry to pass certain tests to determine their suitability as parents, their commitment to become parents, and to empower the state to remove their children from their home if they turn out to be poor parents.
The church mentions the "high rate of divorce" as having a bad effect on the raising of children. The church should be reminded that those were all divorces of heterosexual couples who had obtain a marriage license. Requiring the marriage license (and allowing it only to hetero couples) obviously has not "strengthened the family."
"In recent years in the United States and other countries, a movement has emerged to promote same-sex marriage as an inherent or constitutional right. This is not a small step, but a radical change: instead of society tolerating or accepting private, consensual sexual behavior between adults, advocates of same-sex marriage seek its official endorsement and recognition." COMMENT: This is a mis-statement and a distortion. The movement is not to "promote same-sex marriage as an inherent ...right" but rather to "promote marriage as an inherent right of all, regardless of sexual orientation." Allowing same-sex couples to marry after having tolerated their "private, consensual sexual behavior" is no different than allowing heterosexual couples to marry after having tolerated their immoral but "private, consensual sexual behavior." In both cases, society benefits from the commitments made by the parties to a more stable relationship, with rights and obligations. Allowing something is not an "endorsement." The law allows many things without it being taken as an "endorsement": disowning a child in one's will; going bankrupt; selling one's house for less than it is worth; speaking critically of the government; divorcing one's spouse, consuming alcohol, becoming obese (to mention only a few examples).
Seeking equal rights is the right of every citizen, and one must wonder why anyone or any group would find that to be immoral or wrong. Except from bigots.
"Court decisions in Massachusetts (2004) and California (2008) have allowed same-sex marriages. This trend constitutes a serious threat to marriage and family. The institution of marriage will be weakened, resulting in negative consequences for both adults and children. " COMMENT: Again, the church treats "marriage" and "family" as abstract notions, subject to general attack. How is any individual family or any specific married couple going to be affected by allowing Jack to marry Jim, or Sue to marry Alice, thus requiring them to take on the responsibilities of marriage?
If one wishes to treat "marriage" and "family" as collective notions, there are certainly greater threats to them than the prospect of individual gays being allowed to marry each other. The present problems of these institutions are not the result of gays forming permanent relationships. The barn is burning down, and the church is objecting to the neighbor building a shed.
"The people of the United States – acting either directly or through their elected representatives – have recognized the crucial role that traditional marriage has played and must continue to play in American society if children and families are to be protected and moral values propagated." COMMENT: If marriage is such a desirable thing, why not open it up to all? "Traditional marriage" has been between a man and a woman only because that has been its traditional form. Its traditional form was also that the man "owned" the woman and was her master, and that she had no rights of her own. We have abandoned that notion of "traditional marriage." It was also traditional in Old Testament times that a man had more than one wife. Western society (except for the 19th century Mormons) long ago abandoned that view of "traditional marriage." "Traditional marriage" in 19th century Utah was polygamy. Even most Mormons have abandoned that view of "traditional marriage." We have also, as a society, abandoned the "traditional" view of slavery, denial of women's right to vote, and the inferiority of other races. We have abandoned those "traditional" views because we ultimately, as a society, realized that they were morally wrong. It is now time to realize that everyone should have the right to marry the person whom they love and to whom they wish to commit their lives. Injustice, in whatever form, is immoral.
"Forty-four states have passed legislation making clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. More than half of those states, twenty-seven in all, have done so by constitutional amendments like the ones pending in California, Arizona, and Florida." COMMENT: Until the mid-19th century, half the states in the United States permitted slavery (including the Territory of Utah). Did that make slavery moral? (Remember that slavery was also condoned by many passages in the Bible.) Until the 1960s many states had laws that discriminated against Blacks and banned marriages between persons of different races. Did the fact that those laws existed make them right?
One of the disadvantages of our democratic system is that the majority can easily persecute and discriminate against minorities. That does not make it right.
"In contrast, those who would impose same-sex marriage on American society have chosen a different course. Advocates have taken their case to the state courts, asking judges to remake the institution of marriage that society has accepted and depended upon for millennia." COMMENT: As shown above, the institution of marriage in the United States is NOT anything that has existed "for millennia." It has changed radically just in the last two hundred years: wives have been given more rights; bans on interracial marriages have been held unconstitutional; grounds for divorce have expanded.
Advocates of allowing same-sex marriage are making the same argument that advocates of allowing interracial marriage made (and opponents are making the same arguments that the opponents of interracial marriage made) - not to "remake" the institution, but to "expand" it. Allowing same-sex marriage will not reduce or infringe on any rights of heterosexual marriages. To imply that it would is a disingenuous scare tactic.
"Those who favor homosexual marriage contend that “tolerance” demands that they be given the same right to marry as heterosexual couples. But this appeal for “tolerance” advocates a very different meaning and outcome than that word has meant throughout most of American history and a different meaning than is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior taught a much higher concept, that of love. “Love thy neighbor,” He admonished. Jesus loved the sinner even while decrying the sin, as evidenced in the case of the woman taken in adultery: treating her kindly, but exhorting her to “sin no more.” Tolerance as a gospel principle means love and forgiveness of one another, not “tolerating” transgression.
"In today’s secular world, the idea of tolerance has come to mean something entirely different. Instead of love, it has come to mean condone – acceptance of wrongful behavior as the price of friendship. Jesus taught that we love and care for one another without condoning transgression. But today’s politically palatable definition insists that unless one accepts the sin he does not tolerate the sinner. "COMMENT: Here the church makes clear that its objection is not to granting legal rights (and the term "marriage") to same-sex couples, but rather to their "transgression" - namely, their "private, consensual acts between adults." Why is the church not pursuing just as actively a legal ban on "fornication" between an unmarried adult male and an adult female? The notion of "sin" should play absolutely no part in the laws of a secular society.
"As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has explained, "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." COMMENT: The implication is that advocates of gay marriage are asking heterosexuals to abandon the standards by which they live their own lives, or to change their personal opinions. Not at all. Advocates of allowing gays to marry realize that bigots will always be bigots. They are only advocating that their bigotry not be made into law. Their attitude is tolerance for bigotry (in private), but that the attitude of the law should "live, and let live," "with liberty and justice for all."
"Legalizing same-sex marriage will affect a wide spectrum of government activities and policies. Once a state government declares that same-sex unions are a civil right, those governments almost certainly will enforce a wide variety of other policies intended to ensure that there is no discrimination against same-sex couples. This may well place “church and state on a collision course.” COMMENT: Perhaps, when it comes to legislating "morality," the church and state SHOULD be on a collision course. Our society has already come far (on the right path) in making certain kinds of discrimination unacceptable (discrimination because of race, nationality, sex, age, sexual orientation). Opponents of the laws against such discrimination have used the same "slippery slope" arguments, and predicted widespread destruction of society. Rather, our society (and millions of formerly discirminated individuals) has benefited from reducing the amount of discrimination, finally establishing in reality the idea that "all.. are created equal" and "God is no respecter of persons."
And to refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry is a form of sexual discrimination. Formerly, a woman was barred from voting, from entering certain professions, from certain other legal rights simply because she was a woman. Today, Jane, because she is a woman, is barred from marrying the person she loves and with whom she wants to establish a home, simply because she is a woman, and the person she loves is also a woman. If Jane were a man, there would be no problem. That is clearly denying Jane a right that she would have if she were a man. That is classic sexual discrimination. In any other situation, such as a job application, if she were refused with the explanation "Sorry, you can't, because you are female!" she would be entitled to legal redress. But not at the marriage license desk.
(listing of possibility that churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriages, universities to provide married housing to same-sex couples, etc.) COMMENT: These arguments are similar to the arguments that were raised in favor of continuing discrimination because of race or sex. Do opponents of same-sex marriage feel that it was wrong to stop racial discrimination? Has the reduction in racial discrimination caused the terrible things predicted by its opponents at the time?
"The experience of the few European countries that already have legalized same-sex marriage suggests that any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally." COMMENT: To characterize the expansion of the right to marry as a "dilution" is a distortion. Whatever the changes in the way marriage looks in the European countries (its "weakened stability") cannot be attributed solely to their allowing gay marriage. Those changes are the result of many other complex issues in society, having nothing to do with same-sex marriage. And marriages and families are suffering "weakened stability" in many societies where same-sex marriage is not allowed (such as Utah). This is an example of "circular reasoning," or "begging the question": same-sex marriage is immoral, says the argument, and countries that have allowed it are therefore contributing to the immorality in their country. In other words, allowing same-sex marriage has the result of allowing same-sex marriage.
"Aside from the very serious consequence of undermining and diluting the sacred nature of marriage between a man and a woman..." COMMENT: As far as the government should be concerned, marriage should not be considered "sacred." The government has no place in deciding what is "sacred" or not. The fact that marriages can be solemnized in an entirely non-religious way (by court officials or court clerks) shows that it is not inherently "sacred."
"When a man and a woman marry with the intention of forming a new family, their success in that endeavor depends on their willingness to renounce the single-minded pursuit of self-fulfillment and to sacrifice their time and means to the nurturing and rearing of their children. ... two individuals of the same gender, whatever their affections, can never form a marriage devoted to raising their own mutual offspring." COMMENT: This argument implies that the ONLY legitimate purpose of marriage is to raise children that are the "natural offspring" of both parents. Such a characterization does not reflect the "traditional" marriage, which has always allowed infertile couples to marry, to adopt children who are not their "natural offspring", to allow a single parent with a child to marry and provide a step-parent.
Of course a same-sex couple cannot successfully raise their "mutual offspring," simply because, by definition, they cannot have "mutual offspring," but it is a gross lie to thus imply that a same-sex couple cannot successfully raise children, whether adopted, or the offspring of one of them. Hundreds of examples of such successful same-sex families could be cited, and allowing those parents to marry would only give additional stability to those successful families.
One should not forget that probably a majority of homosexual men and women were raised in "traditional families" by a father and a mother.
(objections to altering school curricula to acknowledge same-sex marriage and same-sex attraction) COMMENT: Whether opponents of same-sex marriage are willing to admit it or not, the fact remains that a small but significant number of children are affected by society's refusal to acknowledge the existence of homosexuality, either by having gay relatives and friends, or by having same-sex feelings themselves. The Mormon church tacitly acknowledges that a significant number of its members have these problems, and has been unable to accept them on equal footing with its heterosexual members. The result of this refusal to acknowledge and deal acceptingly with it has caused tremendous emotional suffering in its devout gay members, who are made to feel that there is something "wrong" with them, and - according to church doctrine - unless they become "straight" and marry a person of the opposite sex in a Mormon temple - they will be denied the highest exaltation in Mormon heaven. This burden of guilt and shame has contributed to the high suicide rate among young Mormons.
Perhaps it is time that society validates those natural sex feelings, rather than condemning them and demonizing them. For those who are born with a natural attraction to those of the same sex, it is time that we should say, "You're OK."
"These developments will create serious clashes between the agenda of the secular school system and the right of parents to teach their children traditional standards of morality." COMMENT: Parents (and churches) always have the right to teach their own standards of morality to children, regardless of what they may learn in school. The schools do not teach the necessity of prayer, the observance of the Sabbath, the sinful nature of mankind. And that is only right. That is for parents and pastors. The parents are at liberty to teach at home things of a moral nature that contradict what the children may hear at school. It has always been that way, and always will be.
"Finally, throughout history the family has served as an essential bulwark of individual liberty. The walls of a home provide a defense against detrimental social influences and the sometimes overreaching powers of government. In the absence of abuse or neglect, government does not have the right to intervene in the rearing and moral education of children in the home. Strong families are thus vital for political freedom. But when governments presume to redefine the nature of marriage, issuing regulations to ensure public acceptance of non-traditional unions, they have moved a step closer to intervening in the sacred sphere of domestic life. The consequences of crossing this line are many and unpredictable, but likely would include an increase in the power and reach of the state toward whatever ends it seeks to pursue." COMMENT: There is so much illogic in this paragraph that it is hard to know where to begin. Yes, the walls of a home should provide a defense against detrimental social influences. But to allow Jack and Jim to marry is entirely outside the walls of a heterosexual family. The governmental influence that should be kept outside the walls is the intrusion into private relationships between consenting adults. The present situation is a good example of government's interference "in domestic life", in that it forbids same-sex couples from having the same familial rights as others. The government should not interfere in those relationships and ask "are you of different genders?" but be gender-neutral in issuing marriage licenses. End the government interference!
"Strong, stable families, headed by a father and mother, are the anchor of civilized society." COMMENT: Such a statement implies that a family can ONLY be strong and stable if it is headed by a father and mother. That is patently false, and marginalizes and denigrates other families (single-parent families, childless families, same-sex couples with children). It also marginalizes and denigrates as NOT contributing to civilized society those single persons who are no longer part of any family. It is a statement of bigotry and willful ignorance of the facts.
"the rising generation of children and youth will find it increasingly difficult to develop their natural identity as a man or a woman..." COMMENT: The implication is that a child's "natural identity" is to become a man or woman attracted ONLY to the opposite sex. For an estimated five to ten percent of children today, that is NOT their "natural identity." For that poor minority, they will find, under a law forbidding them to marry according to their inborn desires, that THEY will find it difficult to develop their "natural identity."
SUMMARY:This attempt by the Mormon church to justify its massive program in opposition to California's Proposition 8 is based on its own theology and its own code of morals, which it wishes to impose on others.
It is based on false science, misinterpretation of facts, mis-statements of the history of marriage and families, unwarranted conclusions, and a confusion of the separate roles of government and religion.
It assumes that allowing same-sex marriage would have an effect on the "institution" of marriage. There is no such thing; it is an abstract notion. No presently existing individual marriages would be affected.
It wrongly characterizes the possibility of same-sex couples marrying as "weakening" the family, whereas it will strengthen those families which are now headed by same-sex couples (but without benefit of marriage). It would result in MORE marriage, not less. It would stabilize those same-sex families.
The arguments presented against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples are almost identical to the arguments which were presented over the years against women's suffrage, equal rights for blacks, no-fault divorce, removing the bans on interracial marriage, banning sexual discrimination in the workplace, and other social advances. The arguments made no sense then, and they make no sense now. The dire consequences predicted by those improvements in society have not materialized, and neither will the dire consequences prophesied for same-sex marriage materialize.
For the Mormon church's argument to be consistent, it should also be striving to enforce its own theology and ideas of morality on society by:
Until the church takes just as strong a stand on these "moral" issues, it brands itself as supremely hypocritical.
- banning work on Sunday;
- criminalizing the sale or consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco;
- requiring everyone to pay a 10% tithe to their respective churches;
- forbidding anyone to marry who is not fertile;
- making masturbation, fornication and adultery a crime;
- making consensual private sexual acts between persons of the same sex a crime;
- prohibiting persons of the same sex from living together as a "couple."
See also the website "Mormons For Marriage", for views of many Mormons who are opposed to their church's stance on the issue.
Another website by devout Mormons opposing their church's position on gay marriage is "Latter-day Saint Doctrine and the Case for Civil Same-Sex Marriage".
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