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On November 15, 2022, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that it would back the proposed federal legislation to safeguard same-sex marriages. While this is presented to show support for the LGBTQ community, there is a lot more to this backing of the Respect for Marriage Act.
In a statement to the public, the Church said:
The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints related to marriage between a man and a woman is well-known and will remain unchanged.
We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
We believe this approach is the way forward. As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.
While the LGBTQ community celebrates this as a step forward for the Church, there is actually a lot of nuance to WHY the Church would give its support on such a bill.
President Dallin H. Oaks said church leaders realize that their positions on fundamental matters frequently provoke opposition, including “Satan’s most strenuous opposition.”
“Consequently, he seeks to oppose progress toward exaltation by confusing gender, distorting marriage and discouraging childbearing,” Oaks said. “However, we know that in the long run the divine purpose and plan of our loving Heavenly Father will not be changed.”
The bill would require the federal government to recognize a marriage if it was valid in the state where it was performed and guarantee that valid marriages are given full faith and credit in other states.
The senators also indicated the new version of the bill would clarify religious freedom protections, including language confirming that nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to provide any services or facilities for a marriage.
What is important to note is that this "new version" would protect religious organizations' ability to NOT have to provide marriage services that are not in accordance with their doctrine, ie: Latter-day Saints temples would NOT have to accommodate LGBTQ marriages as that goes against Latter-day Saint doctrine.
Sen. Mike Lee, however, remains unconvinced the changes go far enough in protecting the rights of institutions that may oppose same-sex marriage.
“Any potential threat to religious liberty must be met with a thorough and thoughtful defense,” he said through a spokesperson. “Current law, coupled with the Respect for Marriage Act, leaves certain religious organizations, educational institutions and individual exercise of religious beliefs more vulnerable to attack. I am actively working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to shore up those vulnerabilities.”
Patrick Mason, a professor of religious studies at Utah State University, said the church's position was both a departure from and continuation of its past stances — respecting laws yet working to safeguard religious liberty and ensuring they won't be forced to perform same-sex marriages or grant them official church sanction.
“This is part of the church’s overall theology essentially sustaining the law of the land, recognizing that what they dictate and enforce for their members in terms of their behavior is different than what it means to be part of a pluralistic society,” he said.
Regardless if you believe that the Church is doing this as a way forward on LGBTQ rights, or as a way to protect their religious liberties, the most important aspect of all of this is that we focus on the Gospel and living it, especially in these crazy times.
Richard Ostler, author of Listen, Learn, and Love, writes:
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!
** The opinions and views expressed herein belong solely to Tyler Carpenter and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of Cedar Fort, Inc.