Sunday, October 12, 2014

God’s Laws Do Not Change

This past week the Supreme Court refused to hear the cases from five states that had laws prohibiting same sex marriage overturned. This decision allowed the lower courts rulings overturning same sex marriage in those states to stand. From the beginning marriage as defined by God has been only between a man and a women. Relationships between people of the same sex have always been a sin and because men change the law of the land to allow it, do not change the fact that it is a sin. Just two days before the Supreme Court’s failure to rule, Elder Dallin H. Oaks had this to say about men changing the law does not change God’s laws.

“In public, what religious persons say and do involves other considerations. The free exercise of religion covers most public actions, but it is subject to qualifications necessary to accommodate the beliefs and practices of others. Laws can prohibit behavior that is generally recognized as wrong or unacceptable, like sexual exploitation, violence, or terrorist behavior, even when done by extremists in the name of religion. Less grievous behaviors, even though unacceptable to some believers, may simply need to be endured if legalized by what a Book of Mormon prophet called “the voice of the people” (Mosiah 29:26). (“Loving Others and Living with Differences”, Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, October 2014)

The scripture Elder Oaks referred to states:

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people. 
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Mosiah 29-26-27)

Though the outcome is the same, I don’t not believe at this time that the majority of the people are choosing evil. This is an example of the judicial branch changing the law that the people of these states have legally passed defining traditional marriage as it has always been, only between a man and a woman.  President Thomas S. Monson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Lord’s Prophet today, said:

“Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change.” (“Stand In Holy Places”, Thomas S. Monson, General Conference, October 2011)

Dallin H. Oaks had this to say one year ago in General Conference:

“There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and childbearing. These pressures have already authorized same-gender marriages in various states and nations. Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness.
“Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable.” (“No Other Gods”, Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, October 2013)
Here is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ official response to the court’s overturning the Utah law defining marriage only between a man and a woman:

"Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We urge you to review and teach Church members the doctrine contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
"Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.
"Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the Church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there.’ (Church Instructs Leaders on Same Sex Marriage)

While it is clear that just because the courts have decided against defining marriage to be legal only between a man and a women, it does not change God’s law; that is not going to change. But now that it appears that same sex marriage is legal for now, so what do those who oppose the ruling do? The Twelfth Article of Faith of the LDS Church says that we believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”  So how do we as members of the Lord’s Church respond? Elder Dallin H. Oaks had this to say last week in his General Conference address:

“Why is it so difficult to have Christlike love for one another? It is difficult because we must live among those who do not share our beliefs and values and covenant obligations. In His great Intercessory Prayer, offered just before His Crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His followers: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). Then, to the Father He pleaded, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (verse 15).

“We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is “like leaven,” whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence (see Luke 13:21Matthew 13:33; see also 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices. But the Savior also taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (see John 14:15).

“On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

“When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation.” (“Loving Others and Living with Differences”, Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, October 2014)

While we should not be forced to abandon our beliefs and we will not be forced to perform same sex marriages, we must be civil in recognizing the marriages that are now legal. We must never be demeaning or disrespectful towards the beliefs of others. The constitutional right to believe applies to everyone. The eleventh Article of Faith states:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

The Lord has said in our day:

Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever. (Doctrine and Covenants 35:1)

Until the time when the Lord comes again on the earth to reign as King of Kings and all bow the knee and become subject to his laws we are committed to obeying men's laws as long as it does not interfere with our constitutional right to exercise our religious freedoms.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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