LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson Did NOT Say that it is Okay for LDS Members to Support Same-Sex Marriage

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Even though the partial transcript I made of an interview with LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson is a few months old, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, the post has received a considerable number of views during the last three days. Most of these visits are coming from Facebook conversations to which I do not have access, but I imagine that the transcript is being used in debates by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reacting to the Supreme Court’s action.

I think it is clear from the parts that I have transcribed that Elder Christofferson did NOT say that there is nothing wrong with members of the church supporting same-sex marriage. He said that expressing personal support for same-sex marriage in social media would not be cause for discipline (as long as it wasn’t part of an organized effort to undermine the church).

At the same time, he was clear that the doctrine of the church will not change regarding the law of chastity and the sinfulness of homosexual actions and behaviors (which an official statement by the church in reaction to the ruling reaffirms). And he implied that the church would try use persuasion to try to teach members that their support of same-sex marriage is contrary to God’s will.

In other words, unless I have misunderstood his words, members who support same-sex marriage are in error. They are rejecting the doctrines of the church and the teachings of the prophets. But unless they make a concerted, organized effort to damage the church or undermine its teachings, the church will tolerate their erroneous views in the hope that over time they will be persuaded to repent.

It is also important to recognize that the words of a single apostle in an extemporaneous interview carry less weight than official communications and policies established by the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles in unanimous agreement. So Elder Chistofferson’s words should be given requisite weight, but not treated as necessarily definitive.

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7 Responses to LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson Did NOT Say that it is Okay for LDS Members to Support Same-Sex Marriage

  1. J. Max Wilson

    A clarification I made to a friend :

    I think that it is possible to be against same-sex marriage because the relationship itself is sinful, but to still politically support its legalization because you don’t think it is possible to impose religious views of sin on others in a pluralistic society. (I think that there are good, secular reasons to be opposed the legalization– see http://discussingmarriage.org — but that is a different issue.) I don’t have a problem with that and don’t think that it is a serious error for those who belive that way. It is reasonable even if I think it is wrong.

    But it seems to me that many LDS members who support same-sex marriage do so because they don’t believe homosexual actions are sinful. They celebrate sin. And that is a grave error even if it does not warrant excommunication.

    I think members who say they support legalizing same-sex marriage are fine as long as they are careful to clarify that they do not support same-sex marriage itself because it is immoral. But I don’t often see that kind of careful articulation.

  2. I see two problems with authors take. #1 He seems to be uncomfortable with it as he finishes making note that we must also keep in mind this an an unofficial off the cuff speaking that we should not hold Elder Christofferson or the Church to. He seems to want it both ways. #2 He is also missing a crucial quote from that two day period where Elder Christofferson said ““There hasn’t been any litmus test or standard imposed that you couldn’t support that if you want to support it, if that’s your belief and you think it’s right,” – which adds weight that he is making this point on more than one occasion. I would end saying the author and I are not far apart. The Church certainly does not support SSM. But I do think they are allowing its members to support it individually without it affecting membership at all. They seem to be shifting by making it closer to 100% a political issue more than a religious one and seem to be focusing more with this issue within the Church and letting go of it outside the Church.

  3. J. Max Wilson

    Thanks for your feedback, Bill. The separation of issues into 100% political or 100% religious is a false compartmentalization. Most political issues have moral and religious components as well. Pretending that they can be easily separated is a dangerous oversimplification. To expand upon what I said above, in a pluralistic society, some things that are wrong are tolerated because government is dangerous and prudence suggests that it is better to risk some wrong for the sake of protecting against tyranny. But that doesn’t stop them from being wrong. It just means that it is imprudent to use government to suppress them.

    So I agree with you that members of the church may justifiably support the legalization of same-sex “marriage” for these kinds of reasons. But at the same time they should be lamenting the wickedness of our society and sad about the consequences of sin that will surely bring unhappiness to individuals and societies that celebrate it.

  4. LB35

    I am an executive secretary for my stake presidency. Yesterday we received a letter from the First Presidency that is to be read by all bishops/branch presidents in the US and Canada on July 5 or 12 with all adults and youth “in a setting other than sacrament”. Time for answering questions and discussing the contents of the letter is to be included.

    Although it does not go into detail about “supporting same sex marriage” in the context of Elder Christofferson’s comment, one line suggests that you have understood correctly, Max. It says “…we must also exercise tolerance and respect toward others’ rights but do so without condoning behavior that goes contrary to the laws of God.” I think that supporting same sex marriage constitutes condoning behavior contrary to God.

  5. Lamoni

    It saddens me that our society has reached a point where we now mandate that every state must issue same sex “marriage” licenses. My preference would have been to maintain the definition of marriage that we have always had throughout history because it is central to families and strong families strengthen society as a whole.

    However, as a second option, I would have much preferred the libertarian approach and remove the government from the business of issuing marriage licenses. They could honor marriages issued by any religion which would in turn make some same-sex marriages ‘legal’ if a few churches decided to issue same-sex marriages. This solution would raise a lot of questions that would need to be answered, but the point would be that it would have been impossible for 5 judges to alter the definition of marriage for the entire country.

  6. helmigr

    There is no wisdom in trying to read between the lines of Elder Christofferson’s statement. We know right from wrong, we know what the Church’s stance is on the matter, and which side of the issue we’re on. Anything beyond that is merely an attemp to rationalize and justify personal leanings, in my opinion. Loving the person while denouncing the act is a Christ-like approach to this – again, in my opinion.

  7. I used to be under that same belief that I did not think that it was never my place to tell my neighbor what they could or could not do. Abortion for example. I am against it. While I would hope that it never happens and that other options would be pursued, I would have a hard time voting on legislation that would tell someone else they couldn’t feeling like I was no moral authority.

    However. As a member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints I did take upon me the name of christ. Who is the moral authority. It is his work I’ve undertaken to complete. This is especially true of those of us who bear the priesthood. We are supposed to be a beacon to the rest of the world. The family proclamation calls on us to defend the family. It is our work to promote morality and persevere the moral fiber of our society. If we do not do our part we will bring about “the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” We can and should be loving to all of heavenly father’s children, but not accepting of all their practices.

    In my personal opinion, and with it and a dollar you can buy a drink at McDonald’s, church members who support ssm or its legalization are in error. They are failing to remember whom they serve. Whose name they bear. Whom they are to stand as a witness of at all times and in all places and in all things. If my personal views are ever not in line with the doctrines of the church, or teachings of the prophet I know i need to pray and study to get them that way. So I can have the same knowledge, testimony, and personal witness of that truth. I am either standing for truth and righteousness, as I covenanted to do, or I am not.

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