Homosexuality Legal in the USA: Response of The Church of Jesus Christ: Doctrine won’t change

Homosexuality Legal in the USA: Response of The Church of Jesus Christ: Doctrine won’t change despite society

us_supreme_court_religious_freedom

Homosexuality is now legal in all of the United States of America as of June 2015. The Church of Jesus Christ issued this statement from the Lord, reminding America and the rest of the world that while the ways of man change, the ways of the Lord remain constant. Here is the statement, but I Nate Richardson likewise add my witness that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and can be an eternal relationship of felicity if done in the Lord’s way. Here is that Lord’s statement affirming we respect everyone yet continue to teach the doctrines he has revealed about family:
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/…/supreme-court-decision-will…

OFFICIAL STATEMENT — 26 JUNE 2015Supreme Court Decision Will Not Alter Doctrine on Marriage
SALT LAKE CITY —
The Church issued the following statement Friday:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court’s decision does not alter the Lord’s doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice.”

The Church has outlined its doctrine and position on marriage in the document The Divine Institution of Marriage. ( at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/…/the-divine-institution-of-m… This document is posted below, I have highlighted key phrases therein.)

Here is an official letter from the First Presidency http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/top-church-leaders-counsel-members-after-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-decision?cid=HP_FR_7-3-2015_dPAD_fMNWS_xLIDyL2-1_

: NEWS RELEASE — 30 JUNE 2015

Church Leaders Counsel Members After Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision

SALT LAKE CITY —

The following letter from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is being read in Church meetings across the United States and Canada beginning Sunday, July 5. (The Church issued this brief public statement immediately after the court’s decision on June 26, 2015.)

Click to download a PDF version of the introductory letter, statement and background material

© All rights reserved.

Full introductory letter, statement and background material below:

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

OFFICE OF THE FIRST PRESIDENCY

47 EAST SOUTH TEMPLE STREET, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH 84150-1200

June 29, 2015

TO: General Authorities; General Auxiliary Presidencies; and the following leaders in the United States and Canada: Area Seventies; Temple, Stake Mission and District Presidencies; Bishops and Branch Presidents

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

Enclosed is a statement by the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in response to the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States. The statement also pertains to the situation in Canada. Local leaders are asked to meet with all adults, young men, and young women on either July 5 or July 12 in a setting other than sacrament meeting and read to them the entire statement.

Also included is background material which may be helpful in answering questions that arise.

Stake presidents are asked to see that bishops receive copies of this letter and the enclosures.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas S. Monson

Henry B. Eyring

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

RESPONSE TO THE SUPREME COURT DECISION LEGALIZING SAME‐SEX MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES

June 29, 2015

Because of the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court and similar legal proceedings and legislative actions in a number of countries that have given civil recognition to same‐sex marriage relationships, the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints restates and reaffirms the doctrinal foundation of Church teachings on morality, marriage, and the family. As we do, we encourage all to consider these teachings in the context of the Plan of Salvation and our Heavenly Father’s purposes in creating the earth and providing for our mortal birth and experience here as His children.

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. “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). 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 vital to eternal salvation.

A family built on marriage of a man and a woman is the best setting for God’s plan of happiness to thrive. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage between a man and a woman, and the family that results from their union, as privileged institutions. Sexual relations outside of such a marriage are contrary to the laws of God pertaining to morality.

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 invite all to review and understand the doctrine contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

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.

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree. We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same‐sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. Indeed, the Church has advocated for rights of same‐sex couples in matters of hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment, and probate, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.

The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ 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.

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 all to pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths God established in the beginning, and that wisdom will be granted to those who are called upon to decide issues critical to society’s future.

THE COUNCIL OF

THE FIRST PRESIDENCY AND

QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES

OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER‐DAY SAINTS

Background Material for Bishops and Branch Presidents

On the U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Same‐sex Marriage

The Church has provided a statement dated June 29, 2015, prepared by the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same‐sex marriage in the United States. The response reaffirms the divinely‐revealed reasons and proper doctrinal context for the Church’s unequivocal position regarding matters of morality, chastity, marriage, and the family. As the response notes, the Church’s teachings on these subjects are grounded in the scriptural declarations of God’s eternal plan for the salvation and exaltation of His children and are framed in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” While the statement stands on its own, below is additional information that may be helpful to you in responding to questions that may arise.

For much of human history, civil laws have generally been compatible with God’s laws. Unfortunately, there have been notable exceptions to that pattern. For example, it is legal in the United States to perform an abortion on an unborn fetus. However, this practice is not morally acceptable before God. (See Handbook 1, 17.3). The consumption of alcohol, while contrary to God’s law, is legal in most nations of the world, but the physical and social toll for doing so is a painful matter of record. So, too, with issues of unchaste sexual behavior, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual in its orientation. As the First Presidency has previously said and as this current response affirms, “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” (First Presidency letter on “Same‐ Sex Marriage,” January 9, 2014).

What is the Church’s Policy on Homosexual Relations?

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance. “If members engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth.

“While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. “If members feel same‐gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances” (Handbook 2, 21.4.6).

Does the authorization of same‐sex marriage affect my right to religious freedom?

Our individual right to religious freedom is protected by the First Amendment to the United States’ Constitution and by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As we exercise that right, we must also exercise tolerance and respect toward others’ rights but do so without condoning behavior that goes contrary to the laws of God. “While we strive for the virtue of tolerance, other commendable qualities need not be lost. Tolerance does not require the surrender of noble purpose or of individual identity. The Lord gave instruction to leaders of His restored Church to establish and maintain institutional integrity—‘that the Church may stand independent’ (D&C 78:14)” (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” April 1994 general conference). How do I respond respectfully to those who consider the Church’s position on this matter unchristian? Our objection to same‐sex marriage is not based on animosity toward anyone, but on our understanding of God’s purposes for His children. For us, the issues are not simply “tolerance” and “equality.” The issues are the nature of marriage and the consequences of redefining a divinely established institution. In addition, redefining marriage in the law can have profound consequences for society, particularly for children. Mothers and fathers matter, and they are not interchangeable. “On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should . . . be good listeners and show concern for the sincere belief [of others.] Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. We should be wise in explaining our position and, in doing so, ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Loving Others and Living with Differences,” October 2014 general conference).

What if I have reservations of my own regarding the Church’s position on this subject?

“Members who . . . have doctrinal questions should make a diligent effort, including earnest prayer and scripture study, to find solutions and answers themselves. Church members are encouraged to seek guidance from the Holy Ghost to help them in their personal lives and in family and Church responsibilities.

“If members still need help, they should counsel first with their bishop. If necessary, he may refer them to the stake president. “. . . Stake presidents who need clarification about doctrinal or other Church matters may write in behalf of their members to the First Presidency” (Handbook 2, 21.1.24).

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

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TOPIC

The Divine Institution of Marriage

Introduction 

In 1995, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which declares the following truths about marriage:

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. . . .

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.[1]

Since the publication of that statement, there have been many challenges to the institution of marriage. Prominent among these challenges has been the recognition by several national governments and some states and provinces that same-sex marriage—formal unions between two individuals of the same gender—are the equivalent of traditional marriage. Yet God’s purposes for establishing marriage have not changed. One purpose of this document is to reaffirm the Church’s declaration that marriage is the lawful union of a man and a woman.

Another purpose is to reaffirm that the Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are acceptable to God only between a husband and a wife who are united in the bonds of matrimony.

A third purpose is to set forth the Church’s reasons for defending marriage between a man and a woman as an issue of moral imperative. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage derives from its doctrine and teachings, as well as from its concern about the consequences of same-sex marriage on religious freedom, society, families, and children.

A fourth purpose of this document is to reaffirm that Church members should address the issue of same-sex marriage with respect and civility and should treat all people with love and humanity.

The Vital Importance of Marriage

Marriage is sacred and was ordained of God from before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ affirmed the divine origins of marriage: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”[2]

From the beginning, the sacred nature of marriage was closely linked to the power of procreation. After creating Adam and Eve, God commanded them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,”[3] and they brought forth children, forming the first family. 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 divinely given. Misuse of this power undermines the institution of the family.[4]

For millennia, strong families have served as the fundamental institution for transmitting to future generations the moral strengths, traditions, and values that sustain civilization. In 1948, the world’s nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirming that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society.[5]

Marriage is far more than a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage is a vital institution for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. Throughout the ages, governments of all types have recognized marriage as essential in preserving social stability and perpetuating life. Regardless of whether marriages were performed as a religious rite or a civil ceremony, in almost every culture marriage has been protected and endorsed by governments primarily to preserve and foster the institution most central to rearing children and teaching them the moral values that undergird civilization.

It is true that some couples who marry will not have children, either by choice or because of infertility. The special status granted marriage is nevertheless closely linked to the inherent powers and responsibilities of procreation and to the innate differences between the genders. By contrast, same-sex marriage is an institution no longer linked to gender—to the biological realities and complementary natures of male and female. Its effect is to decouple marriage from its central role in creating life, nurturing time-honored values, and fostering family bonds across generations.

In recent decades, high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births have resulted in an exceptionally large number of single parents. Many of these single parents have raised exemplary children. Extensive studies have shown, however, that a husband and wife who are united in a loving, committed marriage generally provide the ideal environment for protecting, nurturing, and raising children.[6] This is in part because of the differing qualities and strengths that husbands and wives bring to the task by virtue of their gender. As an eminent academic on family life has written:

The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers to child rearing is unique and irreplaceable. . . . The complementarity of male and female parenting styles is striking and of enormous importance to a child’s overall development.[7]

In view of the close links that have long existed between marriage, procreation, gender, and parenting, same-sex marriage cannot be regarded simply as the granting of a new “right.” It is a far-reaching redefinition of the very nature of marriage itself. It marks a fundamental change in the institution of marriage in ways that are contrary to God’s purposes for His children and detrimental to the long-term interests of society.

Threats to Marriage and Family

Our modern era has seen traditional marriage and family—defined as a husband and wife with children in an intact marriage—come increasingly under assault, with deleterious consequences. In 2012, 40% of all births in the United States were to unwed mothers.[8] More than 50% of births to mothers under age 30 were out of wedlock. Further, the marriage rate has been declining since the 1980s. These trends do not bode well for the development of the rising generation.

A wide range of social ills has contributed to this weakening of marriage and family. These include divorce, cohabitation, non-marital childbearing, pornography, the erosion of fidelity in marriage, abortion, the strains of unemployment and poverty, and many other social phenomena. The Church has a long history of speaking out on these issues and seeking to minister to our members with regard to them. The focus of this document on same-sex marriage is not intended to minimize these long-standing issues.

More recently, the movement to promote same-sex marriage as an inherent or constitutional right has gained notable ground in recent years. Court rulings, legislative actions, and referenda have legalized same-sex marriage in a number of nations, states, and jurisdictions. In response, societal and religious leaders of many persuasions and faiths have made the case that redefining marriage in this way will further weaken the institution over time, resulting in negative consequences for both adults and children.[9]

A large number of people around the world recognize the crucial role that traditional marriage has played and must continue to play if children and families are to be protected and moral values propagated. Because the issue of same-sex marriage strikes at the very heart of the family and has the potential for great impact upon the welfare of children, the Church unequivocally affirms that marriage should remain the lawful union of a man and a woman.

Unchanging Standards of Morality

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that God has established clear standards of morality for His children, who are accountable before Him for their behavior. Such standards cannot be changed by the reasoning, emotions, personal interests, or opinions of mortal beings.[10]Without the higher authority of God, as revealed in scripture and by His prophets, secular society will flounder and drift.

Many advocates of same-sex marriage argue that traditional standards of sexual morality have changed and that “tolerance” requires that these new standards be recognized and codified in law. If tolerance is defined as showing kindness for others and respect for differing viewpoints, it is an important value in all democratic societies. But as Elder Dallin H. Oaks has observed, “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.”[11]

The Savior taught that we should love the sinner without condoning the sin. In the case of the woman taken in adultery, He treated her kindly but exhorted her to “sin no more.”[12] His example manifested the highest love possible.

In addition to using the argument of tolerance to advocate redefining marriage, proponents have advanced the argument of “equality before the law.” No mortal law, however, can override or nullify the moral standards established by God. Nor can the laws of men change the natural, innate differences between the genders or deny the close biological and social link between procreation and marriage.

How Would Same-Sex Marriage Affect Religious Freedom?

As governments have legalized same-sex marriage as a civil right, they have also enforced a wide variety of other policies to ensure there is no discrimination against same-sex couples. These policies have placed serious burdens on individual conscience and on religious organizations.[13]

Same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws have already spawned legal collisions with the rights of free speech and of action based on religious beliefs. For example, advocates and government officials in certain states have challenged the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs and place children only in homes with both a mother and a father. As a result, Catholic Charities in several states was forced to give up its adoption services rather than be forced to place children with same-sex couples.[14]

In the United States, the First Amendment right of free exercise of religion is coming under pressure from proponents of same-sex marriage. Some of these proponents advocate that tax exemptions and benefits should be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not accept such marriages.[15] The First Amendment may protect clergy from being forced to perform same-sex marriages, but other people of faith have faced and likely will continue to face legal pressures and sanctions. The same will happen with religiously affiliated institutions and educational systems. For example, a Georgia counselor contracted by the Centers for Disease Control was fired after an investigation into her decision to refer someone in a same-sex relationship to another counselor. In New Jersey, a ministry lost its tax-exempt status for denying a lesbian couple the use of its pavilion for their wedding. New Mexico’s Human Rights Commission prosecuted a commercial photographer for refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. When public schools in Massachusetts began teaching students about same-sex civil marriage, a Court of Appeals ruled that parents had no right to exempt their students.[16]  (*WHAT DREAD TERROR I NATE RICHARDSON SAY!)

Similar limitations on religious freedom have already become the social and legal reality in several European nations, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws protecting the status of same-sex couples be made uniform across the European Union.[17] Where same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, it inevitably conflicts with the rights of believers, and religious freedom is diminished. (*WHAT DREAD TERROR I NATE RICHARDSON SAY!)

How Would Same-Sex Marriage Affect Society?

The possible diminishing of religious freedom is not the only societal implication of legalizing same-sex marriage. Perhaps the most common argument that proponents of same-sex marriage make is that it is essentially harmless and will not affect the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage in any way. “It won’t affect your marriage, so why should you care?” is the common refrain. While it may be true that allowing same-sex marriage will not immediately and directly affect existing marriages, the real question is how it will affect society as a whole over time, including the rising generation and future generations.

In addition to undermining and diluting the sacred nature of marriage, legalizing same-sex marriage brings many practical implications in the sphere of public policy that will be of concern to parents and society.[18] When a government legalizes same-sex marriage as a civil right, it will almost certainly enforce a wide variety of other policies to enforce this. The implications of these policies are critical to understanding the seriousness of condoning same-sex marriage.

The all-important question of public policy must be: what environment is best for the child and for the rising generation? While some same-sex couples will obtain guardianship over children, traditional marriage provides the most solid and well-established social identity for children.[19] It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation. By contrast, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage may, over time, erode the social identity, gender development, and moral character of children. No dialogue on this issue can be complete without taking into account the long-term consequences for children.

As one example of how children will be adversely affected, the establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably entail changes in school curricula. (*WHAT DREAD TERROR I NATE RICHARDSON SAY!) When the state says that same-sex marriages are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, public school administrators will feel obligated to support this claim.[20] This has already happened in many jurisdictions, where from elementary school through high school, children are taught that marriage can be defined as a legal union between two adults of any gender, that the definition of family is fluid, and in some cases that consensual sexual relations are morally neutral.[21] In addition, in many areas, schools are not required to notify parents of this curriculum or to give families the opportunity to opt out.[22] These developments are already causing clashes between the agenda of secular school systems and the right of parents to teach their children deeply held standards of morality.

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, independent families are vital for political and religious freedom.

Civility and Kindness

The Church acknowledges that same-sex marriage and the issues surrounding it can be divisive and hurtful. As Church members strive to protect marriage between a man and a woman, they should show respect, civility, and kindness toward others who have different points of view.

The Church has advocated for legal protection for same-sex couples 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 traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.”[23] In Salt Lake City, for example, the Church supported ordinances to protect gay residents from discrimination in housing and employment.[24]

The Church’s affirmation of marriage as being between a man and a woman “neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.”[25] Church members are to treat all people with love and humanity. They may express genuine love and kindness toward a gay or lesbian family member, friend, or other person without condoning any redefinition of marriage.

Conclusion

Strong, stable families, headed by a father and mother, are the anchor of society. When marriage is undermined by gender confusion and by distortions of its God-given meaning, the rising generation of children and youth will find it increasingly difficult to develop their natural identities as men or women. Some will find it more difficult to engage in wholesome courtships, form stable marriages, and raise another generation imbued with moral strength and purpose.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with many other churches, organizations, and individuals, will continue to defend the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, because it is a compelling moral issue of profound importance to our religion and to the future of society.

The final words in the Church’s proclamation on the family are an admonition to the world from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “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.[26]

This document is a revised and updated version of “The Divine Institution of Marriage,” first published by the Church in 2008 (.pdf file).

References

[1] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

[2] Matthew 19:4–5.

[3] Genesis 1:28.

[4] See M. Russell Ballard, “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 41–44.

[5] United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III), Dec. 10, 1948.

[6] David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York: Basic Books, 1995); Maggie Gallagher and Joshua K. Baker, “Do Moms and Dads Matter? Evidence from the Social Sciences on Family Structure and the Best Interests of the Child,” Margins Law Journal 4:161 (2004); Mark Regnerus, “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research 41:4 (July 2012): 752–70; Regnerus, “Parental Same-Sex Relationships, Family Instability, and Subsequent Life Outcomes for Adult Children: Answering the Critics of the New Family Structures Study with Additional Analyses,” Social Science Research 41:6 (Nov. 2012): 1367–77; W. B. Wilcox, J. R. Anderson, W. Doherty, et al., Why Marriage Matters, Third Edition: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences (New York: Institute for American Values and National Marriage Project, 2011); M. E. Scott, L. F. DeRose, L. H. Lippman, and E. Cook, Two, One, or No Parents? Children’s Living Arrangements and Educational Outcomes around the World(Washington, D.C.: Child Trends, 2013; worldfamilymap.org/2013/articles/essay/two-one-or-no-parents); Andrew J. Cherlin, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009).

[7] David Popenoe, Life Without Father (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 146.

[8] See J. A. Martin, B. E. Hamilton, M. J. K. Osterman, et al. Births: Final Data for 2012. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol. 62, no. 9 (Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2013).

[9] See Sherif Girgis, “Check Your Blind Spot: What Is Marriage?” Marriage, Feb. 15, 2013; thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/02/7942/; Lynn Wardle, “The Attack on Marriage as the Union of a Man and a Woman,” North Dakota Law Review, vol. 83 (June 2008): 1364–92; David Blankenhorn, The Future of Marriage (2007); Lynn Wardle, ed., What’s the Harm? Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families, or Society? (2008); R.R. Reno, “The Future of Marriage,” First Things, Jan. 2013, 3–4; Richard Neuhaus, “Disingenuousness and Clarity,” On the Square, May 30, 2008; firstthings.com/onthesquare/2008/05/disingenuousness-and-clarity.

[10] See Dallin H. Oaks, “No Other Gods,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 72–75.

[11] Dallin H. Oaks, “Weightier Matters,” Ensign, Jan. 2001, 17.

[12] John 8:11.

[13] See Douglas Laycock, Anthony R. Picarello Jr., and Robin F. Wilson, eds., Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, Emerging Conflicts (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008).

[14] See usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/Catholic-Adoption-Services.pdf

[15] See Jonathan Turley, “An Unholy Union: Same-Sex Marriage and the Use of Governmental Programs to Penalize Religious Groups with Unpopular Practices,” in Laycock, Picarello, and Wilson, eds., Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, 59–76.

[16] Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (New York and London: Encounter Books, 2012), 62–64.

[17] See Roger Trigg, Equality, Freedom, and Religion (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe,Report 2012 (Vienna, Austria, 2013); “European Parliament Resolution on Homophobia in Europe,” adopted Jan. 18, 2006.

[18] See Girgis, Anderson, and George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

[19] See endnote 6.

[20] Charles Russo, “Same-Sex Marriage and Public School Curricula: Preserving Parental Rights to Direct the Education of Their Children,” University of Dayton Law Review, vol. 32 (Spring 2007): 361–84.

[21] Gerry Shih, “Clashes Pit Parents vs. Gay-Friendly Curriculums in Schools,” The New York Times, Mar. 3, 2011, page A21A; John Smoot, “Children Need Our Marriage Tradition,” Public Discourse, June 13, 2013; thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/06/10344/; Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide, Toronto District School Board (2011).

[22] Parker v. Hurley, 514 F. 3d 87 (1st Cir. 2008); Fields v. Palmdale School District, 427 F.3d 1197 (9th Cir. 2005).

[23] mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-same-sex-marriage-votes.

[24] See mormonnewsroom.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/statement-given-to-salt-lake-city-council-on-nondiscrimination-ordinances.

[25] mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-same-sex-marriage-votes.

[26] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 102.

STYLE GUIDE NOTE:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.

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FROM THE CHURCH NEWSROOM, an additional resource pertaining to the above articles. From http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/homage-to-the-home-why-society-needs-strong-families

COMMENTARY — 6 MAY 2013

Homage to the Home:
Why Society Needs Strong Families

SALT LAKE CITY —

“In the coming decades, success will accrue to those cultures that preserve the family’s place.” Joel Kotkin [1]

A house in want of order

We hear it all the time: “The family is the basic unit of society.” But do we, as a society, really think about what that means? The bonds between husband and wife, parents and children, are so firmly planted in history and experience that we often take them for granted — until, as happens from time to time, those bonds break down. As a solid body of research shows, there is no replacement for the way this institution creates and develops human relationships. Family is no longer, nor ever has been, something that is simply “granted.” As anyone who has tried it knows, raising a family and sustaining a marriage are challenging things to do. However, at stake is not only the health of the individual family but also the prosperity and future of society.

Social scientists agree that not all is well with family and marriage. A report on a recent national survey captured the mood: “America’s parents are anxious.”[2] And as the report shows, anxiety about family decline taps into “a larger perception that our communities are less safe, our work ethic has slipped, and American religious and spiritual life has ebbed.”[3]

The institutions of family and marriage are wearing down. Marriage rates continue to decline[4]: the average couple marrying today has a 40-50 percent chance of divorce or separation.[5] Cohabitation is increasingly commonplace[6] and when children are involved results in more break-ups than marriage.[7] Around 41 percent of all births take place outside of marriage[8] and for the first time more than half of births to women under 30 occur outside marriage.[9] The institutions that are meant to provide security have become a source of insecurity. As many as 44 percent of those in the millennial age group agree that marriage is becoming “obsolete.”[10]

But what does this portend? The health of marriage also has economic implications. According to Pew Research, “married adults have made greater economic gains over the past four decades than unmarried adults.”[11] In addition, children in single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty.[12] But children in two-parent families around the world tend to have better educational outcomes than those living with only one parent or without a parent.[13] Of course not all families are alike, and it takes mutual commitment and community support for even the best of them to work.

Marriage and children, now and in the future

While society is blessed by the contributions of virtuous citizens from all walks of life, research indicates that married people tend to be happier, healthier, and more productive, and they provide the best environment for raising children.[14] Children raised by their own married biological parents experience less poverty, less drug and alcohol use and less crime and delinquency; they gain more education; they are more likely to marry; and they have better mental health compared with children from other family arrangements.[15]

The presence of children in families and societies summons responsibility for their care, encourages productivity, creates an orientation toward the future and pulls individuals outside of their own needs. Though not every couple has children, whether by choice or by circumstance, children remind us all that human flourishing goes much deeper than the happiness of the present. Fortunately, in the United States most children born to married couples will grow up in an intact family.[16] What one spiritual leader said years ago still holds true today: the greatest work we will ever do is within the walls of our home.[17]

But what happens when children no longer become a normal part of life’s plans and patterns? The answer is not just smaller families, but smaller populations. Birth rates have been falling in many places around the world, including the United States. Declining birth rates are making it hard for many Asian and European countries, for example, to replace one generation with another. A report called “The Rise of Post-Familialism” — a condition in which “the family no longer serves as the central organizing feature of society” — describes “a huge population” of people around the world “who have no offspring.” Choosing not to have children, these people “may be less focused on those things necessary to assure a better future for the next generation.”[18] The state of the family figures into a whole spectrum of societal problems, including demographic, economic and sociological.

Stable families as cooperative unions

One might think that family matters are entirely personal, detached from the surrounding society. Does one person’s family or marriage really affect anyone else’s? The answer is a resounding yes. None of us lives in isolation. A report on the state of marriage in America put it this way: “Marriage is not merely a private arrangement; it is also a complex social institution. Marriage fosters small cooperative unions — also known as stable families — that enable children to thrive, shore up communities, and help family members to succeed during good times and to weather the bad times.”[19]

David Brooks of the New York Times goes further, explaining how maximizing personal freedom does not necessarily give people what they want. Rather, he argues, individuals are better served “when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice — commitments to family, God, craft and country.”[20]

None of us is born a mere individual. We come to this world with a network of pre-existing relationships, bonds and obligations, both familial and civil. Eighteenth-century statesman Edmund Burke affirmed that society acts as “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”[21] As Orthodox rabbi Meir Soloveichik sees it, family works in much the same way: “Marriage is about continuity and transmission.”[22] The hard, humble work of building and strengthening family relationships is worth undertaking, not only for ourselves but also for the common good.

If these trends remain unaltered …

If current trends continue, what will the family look like 10, 20 years down the road? What kind of future awaits our children, our young people, our neighborhoods and civic relationships? These are serious problems that need to be addressed — not when crisis boils over completely, but now. Projections are notoriously difficult for social scientists to make. The future is not set in stone; society falls into slumps and climbs back out of them. However, given the current trajectory the future looks pretty bleak for many American children.

Demographer Joel Kotkin sings a similarly somber tune: “It’s time for us to consider what an aging, increasingly child-free population, growing more slowly, would mean here. As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees—basically their parents—and working-age Americans … creating a culture marked by hyper-individualism and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes.”[23] Calling family “truly indispensable,” Kotkin says that strengthening it is “a case we need to make as a society, rather than counting on nature to take its course.”[24]

This discussion on family is much more than a numerical exercise; it’s about the lives and hopes of real people. These societal drifts need not be our destiny. Yet, as one commentator recently noted, such pervasive trends “can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.”[25]

[1] Joel Kotkin and Harry Siegel , “Where Have All the Babies Gone?” The Daily Beast, Feb. 19, 2013.

[2] Carl Desportes Bowman, James Davison Hunter, Jeffrey S. Dill, Megan Juelfs-Swanson, “Culture of American Families,” Executive Report, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, 2012.

[3] Ibid.

[4] U.S. Census Bureau, “America’s Families and Living Arrangements,” Current Population Reports, 2011, Table A1.

[5] Paul R. Amato and Stacey J. Rogers, “Do Attitudes Toward Divorce Affect Marital Quality?”Journal of Family Issues 20 (1999): 69-86.

[6] Sheila Kennedy and Larry Bumpass, “Cohabitation and Children’s Living Arrangements: New Estimates from the United States,” Demographic Research 19 (2008): 1663-92. Also, recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services similarly demonstrate the growing trend of cohabitation. See Linda and Richard Eyre, “The Cancerous Curse of Cohabitation,” Deseret News, Apr. 24, 2013.

[7]Kay Hymowitz, Jason S. Carrol, W. Bradford Wilcox, Kelleen Kaye, “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” 2013, 10.

[8] Elizabeth Wildsmith, Ph.D., Nicole R. Steward-Streng, M.A., Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D., Child Trends, Research Brief, “Childbearing Outside of Marriage: Estimates and Trends in the United States,” 2011.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Joel Kotkin and Harry Siegel , “Where Have All the Babies Gone?” The Daily Beast, Feb. 19, 2013.

[11] Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, “Women, Men, and the New Economics of Marriage,” Jan. 19, 2010.

[12] Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012,” Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2012.

[13] Laura H. Lippman, W. Bradford Wilcox, “World Family Map 2013: Mapping Family Change and Child Well-Being Oucomes,” An International Report from Child Trends.

[14] See Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially (2000).

[15] Ibid.

[16] W. Bradford Wilcox, “The Evolution of Divorce,” National Affairs, Fall 2009, 88.

[17] Harold B. Lee, Strengthening the Home, pamphlet, 1973, 7.

[18] Joel Kotkin, Anuradha Shroff, Ali Modarres, Wendell Cox, Zina Clapper, “The Rise of Post-Familialism: Humanity’s Future,” 2012, 1, 24.

[19] Institute for American Values, The National Marriage Project, “The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America” 2012, Executive Summary.

[20] David Brooks “The Age of Possibility,” New York Times, Nov. 15, 2012.

[21] Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.

[22] David Brooks “The Orthodox Surge,” New York Times, Mar. 7, 2013.

[23] Joel Kotkin and Harry Siegel , “Where Have All the Babies Gone?” The Daily Beast, Feb. 19, 2013.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ross Douthat, “More Babies, Please,” New York Times, Dec. 1, 2012.

STYLE GUIDE NOTE:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.

Here is the article on Marriage at the Church Newsroom: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/marriage

TOPIC

Marriage

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes marriage is sacred and was ordained of God before the foundation of the world. This doctrine is laid out in a document of the Church called “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It states:

“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.”

© All rights reserved.

For Latter-day Saints, marriage is eternal. The relationship between husband and wife does not have to end at death. This long-term perspective explains why the Church emphasizes marriage and family relations. Temple ordinances, Sunday worship, social activities and material resources all point to the well-being of the family. The Mormon community is only as strong as its homes. The family is the heart of society as well.

For millennia, strong families have served as the fundamental institution for transmitting to future generations the moral strengths, traditions and values that sustain civilization. Strong, stable families, headed by a father and mother, are the anchor of society. But not everyone chooses or has a chance to get married. Every family looks different, and society is strengthened whenever people commit to care for those under their charge.

Marriage is far more than a contract that ratifies the affections and obligations between a man and a woman. It is also designed to help parents rear children and teach them to become responsible adults. Throughout the ages, governments of all types have recognized marriage as essential in preserving social stability and perpetuating life.

For more information, see the following:

The Divine Institution of Marriage

Homage to the Home: Why Society Needs Strong Families

Here is an official Church statement on the matter from 2014 from the Church Newsroom: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage

OFFICIAL STATEMENT — 10 JANUARY 2014

Church Instructs Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage

SALT LAKE CITY —

Following recent court actions bearing on same-sex marriage, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles today sent the following instructions and guidance to congregational leaders throughout the United States. Leaders were asked to share this information with their members in appropriate settings.

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.

(Lea las instrucciones en español.)

Here is The Family: A Proclamation to The World: (see https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng)

THE FAMILY

A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of theChurch 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 BEINGS—male and female—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 worshipped 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 their divine destiny as heirs 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” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—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.

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