The Divine Institution of Marriage: A Summary

Introduction

The original document The Divine Institution of Marriage runs to 3,884 words. This summary attempts to reduce the word count to 1,000 while still giving you the essential reasons why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in favor of Proposition 8.

The Church has accepted an invitation to participate in ProtectMarriage and has asked that Church members “do all [they] can to support the proposed constitutional amendment.” At the same time the Church does not condone any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women.
The First Presidency.

Marriage is Between Husband and Wife

Jesus said:

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? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. (Matthew 19: 4-6)

Only a man and a woman together have the natural biological capacity to conceive children. Marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. Married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared. Co-habitation under any guise or title is not a sufficient reason for defining new forms of marriage.

Extensive studies have shown that in general a husband and wife united in a loving, committed marriage provide the optimal environment for children to be protected, nurtured, and raised. This is not only because of the substantial personal resources that two parents can bring to bear on raising a child, but because of the differing strengths that a father and a mother, by virtue of their gender, bring to the task.

Constitutional Amendments

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.

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.

Six out of eight state supreme courts have upheld traditional marriage laws. Only two, Massachusetts and now California, have gone in the other direction, and then, only by the slimmest of margins — 4 to 3 in both cases.

Because this question strikes at the very heart of the family, because it is one of the great moral issues of our time, and because it has the potential for great impact upon the family, the Church is speaking out on this issue, and asking members to get involved.

Tolerance

Tolerance as a gospel principle means love and forgiveness of one another, not “tolerating” transgression. Instead of love, it has come to mean condone — acceptance of wrongful behavior as the price of friendship. But today’s politically palatable definition insists that unless one accepts the sin he does not tolerate the sinner. We can express genuine love and friendship for the homosexual family member or friend without accepting the practice of homosexuality or any re-definition of marriage.

Threat to Religious Freedom

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 has already happened with adoption services in Boston. Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished.

Affect on Society

The real question is how it will affect society as a whole over time, including the rising generation and future generations. Marriage is fundamentally an unselfish act: legally protected because only a male and female together can create new life, and because the rearing of children requires a life-long commitment, which marriage is intended to provide. Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners, for it is not the purpose of government to provide legal protection to every possible way in which individuals may pursue fulfillment. By definition, all same-sex unions are infertile, and two individuals of the same gender, whatever their affections, can never form a marriage devoted to raising their own mutual offspring.

The legalization of same-sex marriage likely will erode the social identity, gender development, and moral character of children. Is it really wise for society to pursue such a radical experiment without taking into account its long-term consequences for children?

Government no Right to Intervene

When the state says that same-sex unions are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, the curriculum of public schools will have to support this claim. Beginning with elementary school, children will be taught that marriage can be defined as a relation between any two adults and that consensual sexual relations are morally neutral. Classroom instruction on sex education in secondary schools can be expected to equate homosexual intimacy with heterosexual relations. 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.

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. 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. 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 identity as a man or a woman.

Course of Safety

The final line in the Proclamation on the Family is an admonition to the world from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve: “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 is the course charted by Church leaders, and it is the only course of safety for the Church and for the nation.
Rickety signature.

Comments

  1. You state: “Threat to Religious Freedom
    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 has already happened with adoption services in Boston.”

    This is not true. Under state contract/funds, Catholic Charities had been quietly placing foster children in need of adoption with adoptive parents based on the needs of the child – and occasionally with a gay or lesbian couple. Cardinal O’Malley objected, and ordered Catholic Charities Adoption Program to start discriminating against gays/lesbians in considering potential parents for children in need. The Cardinal also asked the state for an exemption to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The state said, basically, if you want state funding under the contract you agreed to, you have to comply with state laws against discriminating with state funds. Cardinal O’Malley chose to end the contract and stop receiving state funding. Their entire state Adoption Program and staff were transferred to a private Adoption Agency which has continued to serve the needs of children awaiting adoption.

  2. Thank you for your comment. As you know I placed of summary of the document on my website. Here is the sentence we are discussing placed in context:

    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.” [Maggie Gallagher, “Banned in Boston: The Coming Conflict Between Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty,” The Weekly Standard, 15 May 2006. Link to website.]

    The prospect of same-sex marriage has 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 already are challenging the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs and only place children in homes with both a mother and a father. As a result, Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped offering adoption services.

    Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. [Jonathan Turley, “An Unholy Union: Same-Sex Marriage and the Use of Governmental Programs to Penalize Religious Groups with Unpopular Practices,” in Douglas Laycock, Jr., et al., eds., Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008, forthcoming)] Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership. [Marc D. Stern, “Gay Marriage and the Churches, paper delivered at the Scholar’s Conference on Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, sponsored by the The Beckett Fund, 4 May 2006]

    Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU. [“European Parliament Resolution on homophobia in Europe,” adopted 18 January 2006] Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished.

    [End of quote]

    It is as you say, Boston Catholic Charities had placed a small number of children with same-sex couples. Once the Vatican ordered this practice to cease, it was discontinued. I think the point is that the state will be able to interfere with religious liberty in a number of areas. Hence the involvement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. It is a very important issue so members are willing to donate time and money. The Weekly Standard article to which I linked to above has some interesting reading on the second page of the website. Comments like: “The impact will be severe and pervasive.” and “This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations.” I will probably be blogging more about this later.

Speak Your Mind