The Doctrine of the Not Canonized Family Proclamation

Family Proclamation Because “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is not canonized, some LDS members feel they are free to either reject its teachings or interpret it at will. For example, the family proclamation teaches that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Some who disregard the proclamation as doctrine support and even advocate for same-sex marriage. Some go so far as to believe the doctrine of marriage will change. They feel that although the teachings in the proclamation pertain to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), the world at large should not be held to the same standard.

However, the proclamation teaches eternal, unchanging doctrines canonized in the standard works of the Church and affirmed by the consistent teachings of modern prophets and apostles.

What is Doctrine?

In the first place, the proclamation is strongly supported by the established criteria for “what is doctrine” as explained by the Church. Since the proclamation is firmly rooted in established doctrine, it is not necessary that it be canonized for members to uphold its teachings with confidence. LDS leaders, for over 20 years, have used the family proclamation as the gold standard by which they teach and establish the official position of the Church on the doctrines of marriage, family relationships, and gender identity. Prophets of God speak on His behalf; therefore, members sustain them as they uphold the doctrines declared in the proclamation. As members sustain and defend the proclamation, families are strengthened. The family proclamation meets all authoritative criteria for what constitutes LDS doctrine.

Some members refuse the family proclamation as doctrine because it is not canonized. However, the proclamation is built upon doctrines canonized in the standard works of the Church. In the Books of Genesis and Moses, we learn about the purpose of life, the eternal marriage relationship, and God’s plan for His children centered in the family. What is taught in the proclamation is strongly supported by the established criteria for what is doctrine. In an important commentary published on the Mormon Newsroom titled: “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” it explains that “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.” (Italics added for emphasis) Since prophets of God speak on His behalf, members sustain them when they uphold the proclamation as doctrine.

Elder David A. Bednar teaches that, “In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles 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.” This keynote sentence of the proclamation teaches us much about the doctrinal significance of marriage and emphasizes the primacy of marriage and family in the Father’s plan. Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave.” Because the family proclamation is firmly rooted in instituted doctrine it is not necessary that it be canonized.

The family proclamation meets all reliable benchmarks for what comprises Mormon doctrine. Consequently, regardless of whether LDS members hold any personal viewpoints contrary to its teachings and counsel they are, nevertheless, bound by covenant to uphold it. In doing so, they sustain God’s chosen servants and strengthen families everywhere.

Indeed, because the family proclamation is not canonized, some members feel they are at liberty to either ignore its content or unravel it as they wish. Nevertheless, it is beyond reproach that the proclamation meets the standards of what constitutes LDS doctrine. Its teachings and counsel are firmly proven in the standard works. Therefore, covenant members of the Church are called to stand with God’s prophets and apostles, in support of this inspired document, as they continually declare these eternal truths to strengthen the family as God has ordained. Because the family proclamation is firmly established in immovable LDS doctrine, it is not obligatory that it be canonized. With this understanding, it is well-defined that the proclamation clearly teaches eternal, unchanging doctrines canonized in the standard works of the Church and affirmed by the consistent teachings of modern prophets and apostles.

 

Works Cited:

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1991.

“Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” Mormon Newsroom, May 4, 2007. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign, Jun 2006, 82-87

Kathryn Skaggs

Kathryn Skaggs

Mormon Women Stand, Founder. Kathryn's online work includes blogging at 'A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman' sharing personal thoughts about Mormonism, traditional marriage, family and some current events. She is a pioneer in using social media to "noise abroad" the gospel of Jesus Christ. She particularly enjoys gathering like-minded members to join her in standing for truth and righteousness. Kathryn has been married to her eternal companion, Bob, for 38 years and together they have raised five children. Currently, they are enjoying their 13 grandchildren.
Kathryn Skaggs

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This entry was posted in Family, Family Proclamation, LDS Doctrine and tagged , on by .

About Kathryn Skaggs

Mormon Women Stand, Founder. Kathryn's online work includes blogging at 'A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman' sharing personal thoughts about Mormonism, traditional marriage, family and some current events. She is a pioneer in using social media to "noise abroad" the gospel of Jesus Christ. She particularly enjoys gathering like-minded members to join her in standing for truth and righteousness. Kathryn has been married to her eternal companion, Bob, for 38 years and together they have raised five children. Currently, they are enjoying their 13 grandchildren.

9 thoughts on “The Doctrine of the Not Canonized Family Proclamation

  1. David

    “it is beyond reproach that the proclamation meets the standards of what constitutes LDS doctrine”
    Not so, it clearly does not meet the criteria for doctrine. If the we were to apply the standard you are using here to other topics/’doctrines’ that have been taught, some very suspect and incorrect teachings would be considered doctrine. You cannot pick and choose which teachings to apply the criteria for doctrine. The process has been revealed and anything less or more is not of god.

    1. Kathryn Skaggs Post author

      I stand by what I said. You can pick apart past teachings, but today the brethren are very focused on making sure the doctrine of the Church is well established by how they go about establishing it through their consistent and unified teachings.

  2. Josh

    While I agree with virtually everything in this post, I do hope that the proclamation becomes canonized, and soon! While it’s true that it doesn’t HAVE to be canonized, since practically everything in it comes from what already is canonized, we know that the Lord uses repetition to make important things very clear. I can thing of few things that would send as clear a message to the church and the world than to canonize this proclamation. That’s between the Lord and His authorized servants. But I hope. I really do.

    1. Kathryn Skaggs Post author

      I often think the same thing, Josh. But then I remember how important agency is to the Lord, and how He doesn’t like to “command us in all things.” I also have come to appreciate the great blessing our faith and obedience to His living prophets’ is to our lives. More than anything, I desire to be one who has “ears to hear.”

  3. Rachelle

    The men who signed it were speaking (writing, acting – take your pick) as Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ that had ALL been sustained as “prophets, seers, and revelators”. Therefore the Lord already decided they were “prophets”…individuals are just trying to decide if they will follow their teachings and thus follow the Lord. I see this every time there is a point taught that is hard for someone – they whine “was he speaking as a man or as an Apostle (or Prophet)?” A wise Stake President once counselled me : “The Lord has spoken – they ARE Apostles and Prophets. You need to decide if you are going to follow them.” Canonization isn’t necessary but should be done to shut the whiners up – but in these last days “even the very elect” will be fooled by Lucifer….

    Great job Kathryn!!!

  4. Dale Wight

    Thx for this. I wish all members were familiar with the standard of scriptures, official declarations and proclamations and the Articles of Faith as what constitutes doctrine binding upon the members of the Church. It would preclude erroneously supposing that we are not bound by the Proclamation about the family.

    It also would free those who suppose we are bound by:
    * talks in General Conference
    * articles and lessons in Church publications
    * essays in the “Church News” supplement
    * heartfelt testimonies in local meetings
    * recruiting promises by BYU’s coaches
    * etc.

  5. Lauren Layton

    Can you give me some examples of how “Its teachings and counsel are firmly proven in the standard works”? You say several times that the Proclamation is upheld by scripture, but I can’t think of any examples of this.

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