Every June, the LGBT community and its supporters engage in a month-long celebration of “Gay Pride Month”, filling social media with rainbow profile pictures, flying rainbow flags, and gay pride festivals and parades. Support for same-sex marriage and this form of serious sexual sin is visible even with some of those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court overturned the sovereignty of over two-thirds of the States on the issue of marriage. These majority states had made it clear—by voter initiated referendums—that natural marriage (the union of one man and one woman) is what defines marriage. In short, unelected justices overturned voice of the people, making same-sex marriage legal. Like those in the Book of Mormon, we observed “that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws … which the Lord commanded … and they saw that their laws had become corrupted” (Helaman 4:22) and “this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions” (Alma 2:3).
Some members of the Church have also been “drawn away after the persuasions” of the world and support same-sex marriage. However, they may not fully recognize that their support for it inadvertently supports serious sexual sin. These relationships are (and always will be) incompatible with the doctrine and standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To this point, we may be asking ourselves, “What is it about this sin that many seem to be so comfortable with supporting, accepting and affirming, but not others?”
With the weight of our culture bearing down upon us, some members of the LDS church have been convinced to believe that same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships are somehow different, excusable and more acceptable than any other sin. By separating it from the list of more pedestrian and culturally-inappropriate sins (pornography use, drug and alcohol abuse, adultery, co-habitation, etc.) people feel justified in accepting and even condoning it. Perhaps this is how some in the Church feel okay—perhaps even noble—about supporting same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships. People are making special allowances for this sin that they would never make for any other sin.
Same-sex marriage as a protected class of sin.
Pause for a moment and consider if there is any other sin (sexual or otherwise) that is so widely accepted or affirmed by some members of the Church as same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships. The next time you come across a conversation in support of gay marriage, same-sex relationships or behavior, try substituting the sin with another sin in its place and see how it changes things. Substitute [adultery/pornography/alcoholism/drug addiction] into any LDS conversation when an individual is supporting or affirming same-sex marriage or behavior and see how quickly it changes things. It’s an interesting exercise—you’ll find that it doesn’t work and shows how desensitized we have become to this particular sin. Sadly, some are making special allowances and support for same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships that they would never make for any other ones. It’s difficult to find anything in comparison and nothing is granted so much leniency. Why is this so?
For this LDS audience, we are taught by prophets, apostles and the scriptures that sexual sin is among the most serious of all sin. All types of sin are not equal—sexual sin is treated with more weight. Yet even knowing this, perhaps going with the flow is easier and less risky than speaking truth. We may not want to come across as unpopular so we avoid difficult conversations with fellow Church members when these issues are brought up. We’re often unsure (or perhaps afraid) of how to teach the doctrine and standards with kindness. We may be afraid of being called intolerant, hateful or bigoted (when this is not true). Surely we must be sensitive, kind and never harsh when teaching the very clear truth about sin and the Lord’s standards as parents, leaders and teachers in the church. Yet if we do not teach this issue with absolute clarity, we neglect it at the peril of allowing false doctrine to be accepted in our families, classes or callings.
Of this, Elder Christofferson taught:
There’s no kindness in misdirecting people and leading them into any misunderstanding about what is true, what is right, what is wrong, what leads to Christ and what leads away from Christ.
As members of the Church, we are responsible to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to illuminate the great blessings that flow from heeding God’s commandments as well as the inevitable consequences of ignoring them. We invite you to pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths of the gospel. (link)
As one reader commented: “I pray that in our efforts to be “non-judge mental” we don’t condone the behavior. As a recovering alcoholic (33 years) and a member of the church, I realized how I could browbeat my family into not judging me and it almost killed me. Stand your ground, love the sinner, but don’t enable them to continue down Satan’s path.”
Same-sex marriage is institutionalized sexual sin.
Important side note before proceeding: Many members quote the Salt Lake Tribune article discussing an interview that Elder Christofferson had on KUTV (link), indicating that it is “okay for members to support same-sex marriage”. However, they use words of an apostle to dismiss the absolutely crucial connections to the doctrine and standards, missing what Elder Christofferson also teaches in that same interview. He never once said that “gay marriage is okay” but that there are “differing opinions” on the subject. There is, however, always the hope and expectation that, at some point, one will come into alignment with the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We cannot use this brief remark from an news article as a license to support serious sexual sin and twist the words of an Apostle. Let us not use this to justify homosexual activism or support for gay marriage when our doctrine eternally and will forever oppose it. Rather, let us teach true doctrine and eternal principles.
An accurate understanding of Church doctrine is crucial in order to remain fully grounded in the gospel while living in a society that is so deeply opposed to it.
With new laws and changes in public policy bringing it to the forefront, we are seeing an increase of support for same-sex marriage within our wards and stakes (particularly within the rising generation and their peers.) Herein lies the doctrinal deception and great misunderstanding by so many wonderful members of the Church: supporting and affirming same-sex marriage and homosexual behavior is supporting and affirming behavior that involves serious sexual sin. In the case of same-sex marriage, it necessitates excommunication and has been declared as an act of apostasy by prophets of God.
In The Church Handbook of Instructions, The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles directs that a disciplinary council is mandatory for members in same-sex marriages and lists same-sex marriage as an act of apostasy and that “adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council.” (link)
Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught “same-sex marriage as particularly grievous or significant, serious kind of sin that requires Church discipline” (link), while also noting what President Dallin H. Oaks taught about it: “Applying the First Presidency’s distinction to the question of same-sex relationships, we should distinguish between (1) homosexual (or lesbian) “thoughts and feelings” (which should be resisted and redirected), and (2) “homosexual behavior” (which is a serious sin)” (link).
This direction and counsel should give us reason to pause and carefully examine exactly what we are supporting or affirming. It’s something that may be difficult to understand, particularly for youth or young adults of the Church who are immersed in it as part of their culture. Yet we will need to help them to understand, ever patiently and lovingly, that warning and teaching about sin is, indeed, “preaching what we practice“.
In summary, a good rule of thumb for dealing with difficult issues is this: If it’s where the Church doctrine and the prophets and apostles stand, then it’s where we need to stand. The Lord’s side of the line is always the right side of the line.