Over the last week I have watched as many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated the courts DOMA ruling. Ranging from fond comments on "how far we've come" to out right praise of the court; I found the exuberance rather curious.
Following the numerous posts and debates over the subject I found nearly all of the debate missed some very important issues. In nearly every case the parties were debating the immediate impact of ruling on adults and local laws and no one asked LDS supporters of same sex marriage how they could explain the issue’s theological implications. It is true that many individuals alluded to this issue, but no one really asked the terrible questions which arise when one examines the doctrine of the eternal family in contrast to the impact of temporal same sex marriage.
Here I aim to broach some of these questions as if I were to write a letter to my imaginary cousin.
I am deeply interested in your feelings on the DOMA ruling. I could see from your Facebook posts that you were apparently very pleased with the idea of continued same sex marriages in California. I know you served your mission in the LA area and have friends there.
You and I have been close for most our lives. Recently our paths and opinions have diverged in a way neither of us ever thought possible. You have asked me just why I am opposed to same sex marriage and I don't feel I have ever done justice to that question. I will try in this letter to flush out more of my thinking for you to understand. At the same time I will ask some things of you here which you will not like. Just as I know your questions on my judgment of marriage is not a judgment of me, please know that my questions of your judgment is not a judgment of you. I have never felt any malice to you, even in our deepest disagreements. I do, however, want to introduce some issues for you to consider concerning the marriage debate and the conflicts I perceive it causes with the faith you and I share.
In the past when this tender subject has been touched upon by you have often become angry saying "You’re not God! I don't have to explain myself to you!" That statement would be true if the ideas you were asking me to accept and tolerate affected you and only you. However this issue is different. You and your associates are pushing for a course of action that will affect millions of lives and alter society forever. Given the sweeping impact of the philosophy you advocate, you do owe an explanation concerning how you believe this will affect the nation and future generations. If you cannot explain why this is a good thing in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then all the secular arguments in its favor are useless. If it is bad in the light of the Gospel, it cannot be good for society. To this point all you have given me to consider is secular arguments and a convenient interpretation of "love thy neighbor."
For the sake of background I would like to lay out what I understand to be a disturbing trend in the Church that seems to arise often in relation to the Church’s stance marriage.
In its response to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ruling the Church states “Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children.”
At the very same time many Latter-day Saints celebrate Same Sex Marriage (SSM) and its accompanying social revolution. I feel the dichotomy astounding. It seems that many Latter-day Saints treat the Church as a mere temporal institution on some issues (the ones they don’t like) and God’s Kingdom on the parts they do like, as found in the words of Joanna Brooks, “… thousands of progressive LDS women and men today call ourselves “Mormon feminists” — rejecting parts of Mormonism that promote inequality while holding to affirming elements of our tradition.”
These words I feel are written as if the Kingdom of God, and His doctrines were a buffet from which we are free to pick what we like and what we don’t like. This is a fallacy in every way. In the end either people like Mrs. Brooks are correct, and the Church is wrong in its actions and doctrine, or people who think the way she does are wrong.
The Family a Proclamation to the World
This state of affairs follows on the heels of an apostolic defense of marriage that is unbroken from the time of Adam to Thomas S. Monson. This doctrine is most recently and clearly outlined in The Family: A Proclamation to the World and countless other addresses.
No matter the intellectual acrobatics one might undertake to avoid it, marriage is God’s eternal standard and it is His to define. Any action or philosophy we may espouse to the contrary in this ignorant present can only be seen as the whining of a petulant child or the height of arrogance. A few weeks ago, Elder L. Tom Perry said, “For man to substitute his own rules for the laws of God on either end of life is the height of presumption and the depth of sin.”
I know, you have told me before that “the Church is a politically and ideologically diverse body." However, I cannot see how that excuses those who seem to have rejected the Prophet’s lead on the issue of marriage.
No, it does not and cannot. The existence of a diversity of ideas does not mean that all ideas are equally valid. It means that no small number of saints have placed their own temporal hubris over the wisdom and council of God’s Prophets.
As you have pointed out, the Lord wants us to be a Zion people, of one heart and one mind.Such a state requires we are obedient as a body of Saints. The Lord has said "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.