In the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in dialogue concerning the LGBT community from political, social, and religious perspectives. I feel that, overall, these discussions have increased understanding and awareness for members of our society and our church who have felt misunderstood and even persecuted. However, as legal action has been taken and the topic of gay marriage has become more heated, I have witnessed these discussions turn away from inclusion and, instead, towards divisiveness. I can’t help but ask myself why this is? With all of the modern revelation we have received from the First Presidency and other church leaders concerning this topic, how are we confused on where the Church stands? How are we confused about the guidance and direction we have received from our Prophet and the Apostles when The Family: A Proclamation to the World really couldn’t be any more clear?
I have found myself abstaining from conversations about this topic online, for many good reasons, but also because I felt in myself a small amount of fear. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I was afraid to be pegged as “intolerant” or “closed-minded”, or worse: “unloving or uncaring”. I was afraid of having the love that I have for my friends and family who are LGBT questioned. I know where I stand and I know what I believe, so why am I afraid?
Somehow, the media (and especially social media) has made us believe that gay marriage is solely an issue of love. I am sure you have seen the hashtag “lovealwayswins” or something similar. This assumes that if you oppose gay marriage, you must oppose love. This is simply untrue! This is not an issue of love, but an issue of believing in absolute truth. It is a very unpopular thing to believe in any type of absolute these days. The term “relativism” has popped up in countless conference talks and Ensign articles over the past 20 years (just search that term on www.lds.org and you will see what I mean). One of my favorite quotes about moral relativism comes from Elder D. Todd Christofferson in October, 2014:
“Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. …To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff.”
A more ancient example comes from the book of Alma Chapter 30 where we read of the teachings of Korihor:
13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.
14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.
Does this not sound eerily similar to what we are hearing today from people who support gay marriage?
As I have had discussions about morality with friends and family from all walks of life, I realized that the moral code I choose to live by does not stem from fact. Actually, there are hardly any empirical “facts” that support a God or absolute truth at all. How can there be? Even historical evidence is re-interpreted regularly and anything can be spun to support a plethora of desired conclusions. I realized that I had to admit that my beliefs were just that: beliefs. I also realized that beliefs are not any less real than the “facts” presented by others. We are all interpreting the evidence we have to build our own personal belief system. Nobody has any more proof than anyone else, even though society may present it differently. Yet truth does exist! The most important question is: Where am I going to turn for that truth?
As Alma 32:21 states: “And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”
We all have to make this choice. Are we going to have faith in the things of God and in the spiritual light we have received through the power of the Holy Ghost, or are we going to have faith in the things taught by men? All is faith and all are beliefs. We, as members of the Church, are choosing to believe in a God who requires things of us. This God teaches that absolute truths exist, that there is an ultimate right and wrong. Our faith is just as real and true as anything else in this world.
How can we believe a truth that causes those we love to suffer? How can we look our friends and our family in the eye and tell them that the way they are choosing to live is wrong? Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk on this exact subject in October of 2009 in his talk titled “Love and the Law“. Here is my favorite part:
“If a person understands the teachings of Jesus, he or she cannot reasonably conclude that our loving Heavenly Father or His divine Son believes that Their love supersedes Their commandments. Consider these examples. When Jesus began His ministry, His first message was repentance. When He exercised loving mercy by not condemning the woman taken in adultery, He nevertheless told her, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). Jesus taught, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires. If anyone thinks that godly or parental love for an individual grants the loved one license to disobey the law, he or she does not understand either love or law.”
The doctrine that we have received is clear. If we believe that a Prophet of God exists as the head of our church, we know where God stands on this issue. As Elder Packer stated in October 2010 General Conference:
There are both moral and physical laws “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world” that cannot be changed. History demonstrates over and over again that moral standards cannot be changed by battle and cannot be changed by ballot. To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day. … We cannot change; we will not change the moral standard. We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God. If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must needs perish.
If you don’t have a testimony of this principle, I urge you to study the words of the scriptures and of our modern Prophets. Read through the links provided here and read through the myriad of resources provided on www.mormonsandgays.org and www.mormonyouth.org on the topic of gay marriage. I add my simple testimony of the truthfulness of the doctrine of marriage being between a man and a woman to the overwhelming, consistent testimony that we have received on this subject from our church leaders.
Author Cindy Gunderson is the mother and homeschooler of 4 very active (but fun!) children. She is also a music teacher and the CFO for her husband’s optometry business. She and her family love living in beautiful Colorado.