The Mormon Church has a long history of defending unpopular teachings that are counter-culture; apparently that’s not going to change anytime soon. During this year’s General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks reaffirmed the Mormon Church’s belief that same-sex marriage violates the teachings of Jesus. That means, of course, according to Elder Oaks, the ideal home for children must include two heterosexual parents.
Previously a justice on the Utah Supreme Court, Elder Oaks’ bio on the LDS website states that he “has served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since May 1984.” Using his authority as a member of one of the governing bodies of the Mormon Church, Oaks affirms in his speech that “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” published in 1995, is still authoritative. He warns against believing that the proclamation is just policy that can be changed.
Oaks opened his speech by pointing out that Jesus’ apostles “frequently used the image of the world to represent opposition to gospel teaching.” Using the words of the Apostle Paul, he then encouraged his fellow Mormons to “be not conformed to this world.” Quoting James 4:4 he said, “whosever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
Those words served as his platform to quote LDS President Thomas S. Monson who declared, “It is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to [Mormon] standards.”
Oaks quickly moved to his sharp admonishment that, “those who strive for exaltation must make personal choices in family life according to the Lord’s way whenever that differs from the world’s way.”
Reminding the audience that as the Mormon Church continues to follow the “Lord’s way” it will naturally buck current social trends, Oaks cautioned:
We have witnessed a rapid and increasing public acceptance of cohabitation without marriage and same-sex marriage. The corresponding media advocacy, education, and even occupational requirements pose difficult challenges for Latter-day Saints. We must try to balance the competing demands of following the gospel law in our personal lives and teachings even as we seek to show love for all.
Oaks understands that this commitment to traditional marriage and households will come with an increasing social cost. As he says, “Inevitably, the actions of those who try to follow God’s plan of salvation can cause misunderstanding or even conflict with family members or friends who do not believe its principles. … Every generation that has sought to follow God’s plan has had challenges.”
The Mormon Church and Elder Oaks recognize that challenges do not justify compromise. Oaks points out that “Whatever the cause of conflict with those who do not understand or believe God’s plan; those who do understand are always commanded to choose the Lord’s way instead of the world’s way.”
Adherence to the teachings of the Mormon Church must be accompanied by “love for all,” Oaks stressed.
Dallin Oaks’ call for compassion and empathy from members of the Mormon Church as they seek to adhere to LDS teaching will undoubtedly be ignored or dismissed by critics.