The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' temple is pictured in Salt Lake City on Jan. 27, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MORMON-RAPE, originally transmitted on May 10, 2016.

Mormon leader reaffirms faith’s opposition to gay marriage

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A top Mormon leader reaffirmed the religion's opposition to same-sex marriage on Saturday during a church conference — and reminded followers watching around the world that children should be raised in families led by a married man and woman no matter what becomes the norm in a "declining world."

The speech by Dallin H. Oaks, a member of a top governing body called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, followed a push in recent years by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to uphold theological opposition to gay marriage amid widespread social acceptance while trying to foster an empathetic stance toward LGBT people.

The Mormon church is one of many conservative faith groups navigating the challenges that arise from trying to strike the right balance.

"We have witnessed a rapid and increasing public acceptance of cohabitation without marriage and same-sex marriage. The corresponding media advocacy, education, and even occupational requirements pose difficult challenges for Latter-day Saints," Oaks said. "We must try to balance the competing demands of following the gospel law in our personal lives and teachings even as we seek to show love for all."

Dallin H. Oaks, a senior of member of the Mormon's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


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Oaks acknowledged that this belief can put Mormons at odds with family and friends and doesn't match current laws, including the recent legalization of gay marriage in the United States. But he told members of the nearly 16-million member faith watching around the world that the religion's 1995 document detailing the doctrine — "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" — isn't' a policy statement that will be changed.

He lamented that more children in the United States are raised in families led by unmarried mothers.

"Even as we must live with the marriage laws and other traditions of a declining world, those who strive for exaltation must make personal choices in family life according to the Lord's way whenever that differs from the world's way," Oaks said.

After the Utah-based Mormon church received backlash in 2008 for helping lead the fight for California's Proposition 8 constitutional ban on gay marriage, religious leaders spent several years carefully developing a more empathetic LGBT tone.

That was interrupted in 2015 when the church adopted new rules banning children living with gay parents from being baptized until age 18 and clarifying that people in same-sex relationships are apostates. That policy drew harsh criticism from gay church members and their supporters, who considered it a major setback from recent progress.

A year ago, church leaders updated a website created in 2012 to let members know that that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness and may never go away. But the church reminded members that having gay sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that will not change.

Brittany Krallis Stapf, a lifelong Mormon who lives near Spokane, Washington, with her husband and sons, was among church members who were disappointed in Oaks' speech. In a phone interview, Krallis, 36, said she's teaching her sons, ages 12 and 9, to be inclusive and loving to everyone and stick up for LGBT members.

"My heart was pounding. It is very difficult to hear an apostle give a speech you feel contradicts the message you're trying to teach your children," Krallis said.

She said she knows many Mormons from her generation who share her hope that church leaders will eventually soften on the issue.

"Social change comes first," Krallis said. "At times, it's followed in the church."

The twice-yearly conference is proceeding without church President Thomas S. Monson, 90, who is dealing with ailing health. It's the first time in more than a half century that Monson hasn't spoken at the conferences. Before becoming church president in 2008, he served on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles starting in 1963.

Monson has scaled back conference participation in recent years, and in May, church officials said that he was no longer going regularly to meetings at church offices because of limitations related to his age.

Church presidents serve until they die.

Monson is the first church president since 1994 not to attend and make at least one speech. But prior to that, it was fairly common for presidents to miss conferences toward the end of their lives.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, one of Monson's top two counselors, said Monson was watching from his home. "President Monson, we love you very much," Uchtdorf said.

Also missing will be Robert D. Hales, 85, a top leader who was hospitalized in recent days.

Church leaders use the conference to deliver spiritual guidance to members and sometimes announce church news.

Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, briefly denounced racism during a speech on the importance of humility. Cook reminded members that the religion's signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, declares that "we are all alike unto God," and said anyone who claims superiority based on race, sex, language or economic class is morally wrong and doesn't understand God's purpose for his followers.

Cook's message echoed a church statement delivered in August condemning white supremacist attitudes as "morally wrong and sinful" after a protest over a Confederate War monument in Charlottesville, Virginia, descended into deadly violence.

The religion still deals with questions about their views on race, in part because the faith banned men of African descent from the lay clergy until 1978. The church now disavows the theories of the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, which led to the ban.

Mormon leaders also cautioned about the pitfalls of social media, where the carefully crafted images of an altered reality lead people to end up envious and discouraged and in constant search of more followers and likes.

Jeffrey R. Holland, a member the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, warned members not to let the pursuit of Christ-like perfection lead to ulcers, bulimia, depression or lowered self-esteem.

"Let's strive for steady improvement without obsessing over what behavioral scientists call 'toxic perfectionism,' " Holland said.

Comments

  1. Just gotta love that Mormon love.

    “Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, briefly denounced racism during a speech on the importance of humility. Cook reminded members that the religion’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, declares that “we all are unlike unto God” and said anyone who claims superiority based on race, sex, language or economic class is morally wrong and doesn’t understand God’s purpose for his followers.”

    Briefly.

    And except for those icky gays.

  2. As long as the straight (?) white “christian” male keeps his superior position of moral authority. Ugh…smh

  3. Would be more effective coming from a group who believes in Christ. From this perspective, it’s pointing fingers for people not to look at their wrongs.

  4. First the LDS U-turned on Polygamy

    Later the LDS U-turned on blacks being active in the cult

    Don’t hold your breath, but guess what unexpected revelation from god will surface when the money pipe slows down.

  5. Sandi – got news for you.

    Mormons do believe in Christ.

    A different version of Christ than yours of course, but no more risible than yours – and yes – their’s is very, very risible.

  6. Dear Givethedogabone,
    We know that Christ is not risible. Hopefully you will know before you die that Christ is not risible. If not, then you will know shortly thereafter. You may be risible but Christ is not.

  7. No. They don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. They put divinity on Him, not realizing He had it all along and is actually God. They don’t worship the real Christ – hence, they are a cult.

  8. No you don’t “know” – you hope, you believe, you are sure/convinced/doubtless but “know” you don’t. Misrepresenting your guesses as certain knowledge is morally unacceptable, it risks (is designed to?) falsely impressing those who are more trusting than I.

    Although, if you read my comment carefully, you will note that I didn’t say that Christ is risible – I said that both of two versions of Christ are risible, as are many (all the?) others.

    an aside – do you always upvote your own comments?

  9. Not my fight – as I said both creeds are risible.

    Having said that though – the trinity is one of the silliest but most necessary work-arounds ever made up. I’m pretty sure that it took very little time to realise that it wasn’t the cleverest bright idea ever – but hey, we were in a fix and it sounded good at the time. Now we’re stuck with it so we’ll just persecute anyone who sees through it.

    I’m often told that Sir Isaac Newton was a Christian as if his intellectual ability justifies faith – he rejected the trinity!.

    As to cultishness – theologically christianity is technically a cult of judaism isn’t it?

  10. Strictly speaking, it’s a Jewish heresy, not a Jewish cult. But who’s counting?

  11. Interesting – I’ve long understood that a theological cult was typically a group who extended another religion’s scripture/object(s) of adoration.

    Thus LDS qualifies through elevating JS’s writings to par with the Bible, Christian Science through Science and Health etc.. I thought that adding the rest of the Bible to the Torah qualified xtianity.

  12. Risible as in “Provoking laughter through being ludicrous”.

    Risen as in ” took the rise out of someone” = “to make someone react angrily by saying something that will annoy them”

    take your pick

  13. Regarding Christ, Givethedogabone said;
    “….you don’t “know” – you hope, you believe, you are sure/convinced/doubtless but “know” you don’t…..”

    Dear Givethedogabone;
    We will both know for sure after death, but we can also know before death. When you get close to death, especially if you die slowly and find yourself on the last day of your life lying there in pain, alone, hopeless, guilty, thinking back and fearing the end.

    Then you might even learn before death whether Christ is risible, or you may surrender to Christ and save your soul.

    If so, then maybe we’ll meet in Heaven. I won’t be one of those good souls who gets a big mansion, I will just be happy to be there.
    May God Bless,

  14. Either or both. A cult is just the religion that isn’t in power.

  15. In theological terms “cult” is a sect. It’s only negative when the dominant cult uses it to denigrate the lesser cults.

  16. Faith through fear of misery on earth?! What kind of bait is that to lure converts? I had a couple of Mormon women tell me at my own front door that the misery of my newly diagnosed MS would all be over …when I died. WTH?! I never let those lovers of fear and pain on earth cross my threshold…ever.

  17. Dear NavyLady,

    I was responding to Givethedogabone who is prone to disrespecting God and those who believe in Him.

  18. Maybe the believers of your god should stop disrespecting the gods, faiths, agnosticism, and atheism of others…ever think of it that way?
    Rather early in my life I grew tired of the wasteful and unrealistic confines Christianity placed on me due to my sex but…I never cast aspersions on that or any other faith until attempts were made to confine me and others under the auspices of “creating disciples” at any cost.

  19. There is a basic misunderstanding by Mormons and people outside the faith alike in thinking that the standard of marriage will be changed by the LDS Church. Ever. This general conference focused on sanctification and being prepared to stand confidently in the presence of God. Celestial marriage is the standard for sanctification, and no other form of union will do. Sanctification is for the most dedicated believers among us, those willing to make any sacrifice. The worldly standards for relationships are just simply something else entirely. So we can all be kind. We can accept that everyone chooses the way they want to live. We can all respect the life choices of others and live together in harmony. But for those who desire to sanctify themselves, the standards cannot change. They are eternal.

  20. This is so sad.

    We only have one life that we know of, and no good reason to suspect any others. What a waste of that life to spend it cowering before an imaginary deity.

    You say “we can also know before death” but give no explanation – I think you are wrong – care to enlighten me?

    Save my soul? – pray tell me sir why you believe that anyone has a soul – what evidence do you have to justify the belief or, failing evidence, what rational process leads to an inescapable conclusion that “souls” are anything other than invention.

    “When you get close to death” – how does stage four prostate cancer grab you. My demise is not imminent but it is certain, and the cancer will surely get me if nothing trumps it.

    I’ve given some thought to the heaven thing – it doesn’t appeal.
    As I see it it can only work in one of two ways – either each of us has our own virtual heaven which we populate with sanitised versions of those we get on with whilst struggling to find ways to avoid the tedium that will set in soon after arrival** or – we all get a frontal lobotomy and cease to be “me” – just zombiefied acolytes satisfying the megalomania of a psychotic God; and not caring because we can’t.
    How do you imagine it working for you?

    **I’m lead to believe that this is, sort of, not a million miles from the LDS view of heaven.

  21. Serious question – so what constitutes a sect then?

  22. Just do go doing irony unless you really want to thought British.

  23. Nothing disrespects your god so much as the relentless attacks on other Christians who don’t believe exactly what you do.

  24. Do??? – Should have been don’t of course!

  25. Well it seemed possible – you do seem to believe some rather unlikely things after all.

  26. They’re kind of interchangeable, depending on whose talking. A cult technically is more dedicated to a particular deity or specific aspects of a deity. A sect is usually separated by doctrine and exclusion. A cult can be inclusive, so long as one worships the deity–usually in the same manner. A sect may worship the same deity but demand certain ways of acting. There is hardly any difference.

    A sect is usually defined by its differences within a larger group. Like different denominations. Denominations just have a formalized name for their sect.

    A cult can be the one and only group dedicated to a particular deity. Like the worship of Ishtar. But another group of worshipers of Ishtar could relegate the being to a particular structure, such as a temple. Then they would be the temple cult of Ishtar, whereas another sect may be the mountain cult of Ishar, though they may not formally call themselves those, but only to define themselves according to their worship.

    In this case “sects is bad” only if its different sects (hetero sects). Same sects are just fine.

  27. The most serious offense is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

    Second is murder, or the shedding of innocent blood.

    Third is violation of the law of chastity, which says that sexual relations are to occur only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully married to each other.

    Somewhere after that comes dishonesty.

    (NOTE: Those are God’s laws. Those who wish to argue or jeer would be better served by arguing with or jeering at the One who made the laws, rather than with someone who merely repeats them.)

    Having said all of that, here is a hypothetical scenario:

    Thieves and liars band together and hijack the adjective “daring” the way the homosexuals have hijacked the adjective “gay.”

    They hold “daring pride” parades and rallies.

    They demand that everyone accept their actions as “an alternative lifestyle” because they were “born that way.”

    They demand an end to laws against theft and perjury, calling such laws “a violation of civil rights.”

    When a preacher takes his text from the Ten Commandments and says “Thou shalt not steal,” they accuse him of hate speech.

    Now then:

    I wonder how many people who accept current conditions would reject the hypothetical scenario.

    Those that would are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

  28. The key words are harm and consent. Gay people do not harm anyone, and consent is not an issue either.

    We didn’t “hijack” the word gay, it has a long long history. On the other hand, religion has hijacked the word “morality”, and wants the civil laws to consider purely theological concerns like sin to represent both morality and crime,

  29. I hereby give my permission for you to plagiarize me.

  30. No, the key words are “Will you obey God’s laws, or will you disobey God’s laws?”

  31. Only if one believes there is a god, that he has laws, that your version of his laws are the same as anyone else’s, that you understand his laws, and whether in a secular society we have to pay any attention to what you believe.

    If you cannot understand the difference between consenting adults in a mutually satisfying relationship and people who use threats and violence to take property belonging to others, then you don’t need religion, you need ethics and empathy.

    That you think the two are the same is part of the problem, and we gay people are going to continually object as loudly as we can to your application of that label, as well as the concomitant attacks on our right to live as free and equal citizens in a secular society.

    the issue is not your religious beliefs, but what you (not you personally) do with them, and justify harm, including both lies and social disadvantagement, to others as god’s will, or as I like to call it, godswill. If you– now I mean you personally– want to talk about morality, then let’s talk about that.

  32. I would respect their church’s right to oppose such things and not have ceremonies for it. However the LDS puts a great deal of money, time and resources into attacking the very civil laws and rights to it. So they get no respect. They act as the worst kinds of bigots. So malicious that they cannot abide by the notion that their beliefs do not need to be shared by others. To hell with that.

  33. Ultimately nobody cares what your church believes here. They respect that. Where they are up in arms is how your church campaigns to attack civil liberties of others and coerce the civil law to their beliefs.

  34. Actually, the Mormons will forever be remembered for their totally historic and vital support of California’s initial Proposition 8 vote.

    That was a key moment for America itself, and the Mormons paid a helluva price, just to stand up for the right thing. Lotta Christian churches fell down, but the Mormons stood up. Unforgettable courage.

  35. You’ll get THE rainbow when you pry it form my cold, dead hands. God’s rainbow? What silly nonsense.

  36. It’s no accident that they chose the rainbow. Christ said some very interesting things about the times of Noah and so did the Midrash and the Talmud.

  37. Which is why they can be reviled as a church. They crossed the line from merely keeping with their beliefs to trying to force them on others and bend the law to their sectarian will.

    They paid the price for their bad behavior and political lobbying. A great way to lose respect for a church is for them to get entangled in partisan politics.

    It takes no courage to support discrimination and bigotry. I have zero sympathy for anyone who “suffered” from the poor impression such efforts leave on the public.

  38. Mormons strove to support Prop 8, yes, but they spent less money than the Catholics. The names of Mormon supporters were published publicly, and some were fired from their jobs, ostracized by their neighbors. Note that it was Mormons and not the Church that spent money, although the Church encouraged their participation. In the end, analysts found that all the money spent on both sides of the issue was a wash. People had already made up their minds, and very few were influenced by these campaigns.

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