WHY has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) become so involved in encouraging the passage of California’s Proposition 8?
I can’t officially speak for the church, but as a life-time member, I’d like to offer some thoughts that might give you some insight into the ‘WHY’. My remarks aren’t meant to win your agreement with the church’s position, but rather to help you understand the WHY. To do so, you will need to understand some basic points of Mormon doctrine:
- First, you should know that the Church has officially stated: “The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) 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 family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.”
- Sincere men and women faced with the challenge of same-sex attraction may well ask, “Why would God make marriage to be only between a man and a woman?” The Church offers this explanation: “For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary . . . . The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness.” And, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Thus, marriage between two people of the same sex is, by its very nature, limiting.
- One must also understand that the church teaches that marriage is meant to be eternal and families are meant to be forever.
- It also helps to understand that Mormon doctrine, as well as scripture, speaks not only of ‘heaven’, but of several degrees of glory within that heaven. The Church’s focus tends to be on encouraging people to aspire to the highest degree of the glory, where people have the opportunity to eternally progress in terms of learning, growing, and continuing to work towards one’s potential. In addition, their marriages can be of an eternal nature - as opposed to ‘until death do you part’.
- Consequently, eternal marriage, along with the subsequent rights to the powers of procreation (providing mortal bodies for God’s spirit children who are waiting for their turn at mortality), are held in high esteem. They are necessary for the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom. Anything that detracts from that opportunity is limiting to a person’s progress.
- To anyone who believes as Mormons do, it would be selfish and uncaring towards others to agree with government condoning an alternative form of marriage. This is why the church is involved in Proposition 8 - to foster a society wherein people can be open to reaching their highest potential according to our Heavenly Father’s plan. It is not done out of a wish to limit anyone’s personal freedom. To the contrary, by this way of thinking, government validation of anything less, actually takes away freedom, rather than providing it.
Now, consider this analogy: A concerned and loving parent encourages a child to go to college. It is not because people who don’t go to college aren’t as good, or that they could’t possibly be happy without a college degree. People who don't go to college are still of just as much value as those who go to college, and they may also be happy. But that parent wants to assure that the child has as many opportunities as possible for personal growth and to pursue his potential. Not going to college could close doors and limit options. Earthly parents want only the best for their children, as does our Father in Heaven, for us.
But what if - for example - the ‘state’ allowed the selling of college degrees? Would it really be worth anything? Or would it simply deceive a lot of well meaning people into thinking that there’s a viable option to the hard work of going to college - only to find out later that their degree was of limited value (it looks good) but was otherwise meaningless? Additionally, the fact that the state condoned it, could potentially mislead a lot of good people into thinking it was something of value, when they might have otherwise made better choices.
Perhaps there would be no harm in the degree, itself. The harm would be done by the fact that it would take the place of something of greater value.
(For additional information, or to read about some of the legal consequences to society, of legalizing same-sex marriage, check out the following website: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institiution-of-marriage.)