This is part of a series of perspectives and resources for LDS Church teachers and participants who are looking for ways to teach and learn that invite LGBT individuals, their families and friends to liken the scriptures unto themselves and apply the gospel in their lives.
By Richard Keys
Priesthood/Relief Society Lesson 14: “Marriage and Family—Ordained of God”
Approximate Scheduled Teaching Date: Sunday, July 19
This lesson contains the following remarks that may be difficult from some LGBT individuals to hear when attending:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views the family as the most important organization in time and all eternity. The Church teaches that everything should center in and around the family. It stresses that the preservation of family life in time and eternity takes precedence above all other interests.” (p. 182)
“There can be no satisfactory substitute for the home. Its foundation is as ancient as the world. Its mission has been God-ordained.” (p. 182)
“In the record of that first marriage recorded in Genesis the Lord makes four significant pronouncements: first, that it is not good for man to be alone; second, that woman was created to be a helpmeet for man; third, that they twain should be one flesh; and fourth, that man should leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife. (See Genesis 2:18, 24)” (p. 183)
Below are suggestions/comments from the LGBT Mormon community on ways to address this topic:
The above-stated remarks include wide-sweeping comments regarding the family (everything, no satisfactory substitute, etc.). Such comments can be very discouraging to LGBT members, families, and allies. However, one can take heart from Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ statement:
“As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this same thing in another way. When he was asked how he governed such a diverse group of Saints, he said, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.’ In what I have just said, I am simply teaching correct principles and inviting each one of you to act upon these principles by governing yourself.” (Dallin H. Oaks, CES Broadcast—The Dedication of a Lifetime; see also Ensign, June 2006)
While the definition of a family may seem rather rigid in the Church’s image (father, mother, and children), the reality is much different. Typically, the average ward has only about 30% of the families on record that fit that profile. There are so many singles, divorced, single mother with children, divorced with children,
widow/widower, etc., which are different from the model standard. You may wish to check with your ward clerk for an approximate percentage of ward families that are actually married father and mother, sealed in temple, with children, all of whom are members or children of record.
Such a statistic may bring the matter close to home in class discussions, but, as always, any comment should be used as guided by the Spirit and not to create a win-lose situation.
It is not good for man to be alone. This sometimes helps facilitate further insight when we help others realize that gays and lesbians don’t want to be alone, either. You can share some of the realities of the challenges of mixed-sexual-orientation marriages. Why set us LSGBTQ folk up to be alone in this life or in potentially very unsatisfying marriage relationships?
I read through the entire lesson and found almost 95% of it applicable to me and my same-sex relationship family. The admonition that it is not good for man to be alone is so powerful a message in my mind. I also believe that for me the admonition to multiply and replenish the earth is something I can do in a slightly different way by taking care of adoptive and foster children whose parents (those who multiplied and replenished) are not appropriately caring for them. The suggestions made in this lesson on how to improve your marriage and family unity are superb and really very inspired! We can pray more together, share more, and set goals to increase our spirituality and growth together. I hope those giving the lesson focus on the content of this lesson and not on the politics surrounding the definition of marriage.
I 100% agree that marriage is ordained of God and that the growth that two people do together is exponential to the growth that may take place when one lives alone. I would hate to think that I lived my life on this earth and did not take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to share my life with someone else. I know people in the Church say that we should see ourselves like single heterosexual people who never find someone to marry but that is not a fair comparison. Heterosexuals who are not married still have the HOPE they will find someone and create a family together. Without hope there is DESPAIR and that often leads to depression, acting out in unhealthy ways and sometimes even suicide. Let’s help extend the blessings of growth that come from a marriage relationship to all who seek it and let’s support them as they grow together.
I was relieved to see that the lesson did not directly attack gay relationships as a source for “the attacks on the family” but that it focused primarily on HOW to create a successful marriage. I think the teachings in this lesson are very applicable to my same-sex marriage and look forward to sharing my perspectives in Church this Sunday. I would strongly recommend LGBTQ married or partnered individuals and their allies attend this Sunday School lesson and bring visibility to their lives by sharing what they have in common with heterosexual marriages.