The Proclamation on the Family in the Age of Marriage Equality

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles “solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” 


In short, the concept of family is essential to the Plan of Salvation. An unbroken line from Adam down to each individual is truly important to those in the LDS faith. The Proclamation on the Family outlines the ideal version of that unbroken chain. The specific call to action in the Proclamation is to promote those measures to maintain and strengthen the family. The Proclamation outlines the LDS ideal of family and warns that those who, “violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” There is no condemnation of those who fail to live up to the ideal, there is no damnation for those that fail to apply the ideal to everyone, but there is a prophetic warning to individuals who violate it and in no way is there endorsement of any family not outlined in the ideal. 

Families come in many shapes and sizes and while they may not fit the ideal that does not mean that they are no less important than another’s family. From a secular perspective an intact family of any shape or size is better than no family, and while it may not conform to the ideal of “traditional marriage” their nobility is no less important. Here both sides would expect some sweeping claim that same-sex marriages and families are ok and in some way tolerated by the church but the truth is far more nuanced. The article “The Divine Institution of Marriage” outlines that “a wide range of social ills [have] contributed to this weakening of marriage and family. These include divorce, cohabitation, non-marital childbearing, pornography, the erosion of fidelity in marriage, abortion, the strains of unemployment and poverty, and many other social phenomena.” More pointedly the article also provides a section titled “Civility and Kindness”:

The Church acknowledges that same-sex marriage and the issues surrounding it can be divisive and hurtful. As church members strive to protect marriage between a man and a woman, they should show respect, civility, and kindness toward others who have different points of view.

The Church has advocated for legal protections for same-sex couples regarding “hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional right of Churches.” In Salt Lake City, for example, the Church supported ordinances to protect gay residents from discrimination in housing and employment.

The Church’s affirmation of marriage as being between a man and a woman “neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.” Church members are to treat all people with love and humanity. They may express genuine love and kindness toward a gay or lesbian family member, friend, or other person without condoning any redefinition of marriage. 

It would be disingenuous to make the point that a progressive can claim that the Church is “ok” with same sex marriage, mostly because it isn’t true but it is safe to say that the Church does not condone the scurrilous accusations and marginalization of another’s family. The topic is nuanced and so should be the discussion around it.

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