[Admin Note: The following post is currently posted over at Patheos.com. For those who have not visited Patheos, you can read about the site in this review at Times and Seasons, and of course visit Patheos yourself and see their content. They are also running an opposing view point by Nate Oman. If you are so inclined to comment, please do so over at Patheos, as I have closed comments for this post over here.]
There are many religious-based reasons to support the institution of Man-Woman marriage. Most of Christianity looks to traditional biblical support, including both Old and New Testament sources – and there are many others. For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it goes beyond biblical precedent. One of the core doctrines that sets us apart from other Christian denominations is the principle of continued and direct revelation between man and God. It was the Rock upon which Christ (Matthew 16:17-19) built His Church both during His earthly ministry and at the inception of the Restoration of His Church in modern time.
The core document describing the doctrinal foundation of Mormon belief about men, women, family, and marriage is The Family: A Proclamation to the World. LDS believe this document is divinely inspired from modern Prophets, Apostles, Seers, and Revelators, whom we believe speak for God on earth. Some, with good reason, sustain the Proclamation as scripture, meaning “the will of the Lord, the mind of the Lord, the word of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4). Such proclamations are rare. This one was issued in the united and unanimous voices of the Quorums of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency, the highest governing bodies in the Mormon Church.
1. Its principles are vital to the happiness and well being of all families;
2. Marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God, and essential to His eternal plan;
3. The family is central to God’s eternal plan for mankind;
4. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose;
5. We are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth;
6. Power of procreation is to be used only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife;
7. Children are entitled to be born into the bonds of marriage and be reared by both a mother and a father;
8. The disintegration of the family will bring well-prophesied calamities upon individuals, communities, and nations.
These Divine guidelines are plain, precious, easily understood, and unambiguous. They form the basis of why Mormons believe marriage is reserved for men and women only. Expounding on the Proclamation, the Church has noted that marriage is much more than just a civil contract between any number of consenting adults forming a genderless union:
Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. While governments did not invent marriage, throughout the ages governments of all types have recognized and affirmed marriage as an essential institution in preserving social stability and perpetuating life itself. Hence, regardless of whether marriages were performed as a religious rite or a civil ceremony, 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. A husband and a wife do not receive these benefits to elevate them above any other two people who may share a residence or social tie, but rather in order to preserve, protect, and defend the all-important institutions of marriage and family.
These revealed teachings are fundamental to the core Mormon religious beliefs about men, women, marriage, and the family. As such we hold those beliefs to be the most protected of beliefs under our constitutional system of government. Yet, our very right to maintain and assert these beliefs has come under vicious assault from genderless marriage militants, who would deny Mormons the most fundamental and protected of rights – Free Exercise of Religious Belief.
Compromising on genderless marriage compromises the most core and fundamental Mormon religious beliefs. Yet there is an unabated assault on those religious values by a certain segment of society, hostile to anything but full societal acceptance of a lifestyle that millions, not just Mormons, believe is contrary to God’s laws and divine design for the family.
This hostility to well-established religious belief and its free exercise was clearly evident in the Proposition 8 campaign, including its lead-up and aftermath.The Church and its leaders have urged compassion, understanding, and tolerance. Mormons for the most part heed that counsel and are compassionate, understanding, and tolerant individuals; however, in return the other side requires Mormons to sacrifice and compromise their most fundamental religious beliefs and doctrines by acceptance of a lifestyle clearly at odds with modern revelation on men, women, marriage, and the family. The insistence on the sacrifice and compromise of such core and fundamental foundations to Mormon belief will continue to keep both sides living in separate realities with little common ground.