Saturday, January 5, 2013

"The Family" Part 4

"The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

The importance of reproduction is biologically obvious. Its method has required man and woman until recently. Bearing and raising children outside of a two parent family has negative consequences for individuals and society. Casual sex has negative consequences for individuals and society. That God does not want these consequences for his children seems totally straightforward. This proclamation was made in this historical context, and could be completely correct in its context. I see many reasons to support these teachings.

I also see reasons for re-evaluating some assumptions closely tied to these teachings. When children are cloned, or born through technology to two women or two men instead of a man and a woman, will we claim they don't have souls, aren't really children of God, or are born in sin? Are we truly willing to condemn these children or their loving parents? How different, really, are these situations from in vitro fertilization? We no longer imagine that birth control is sinful, yet it was once preached against as if there were a doctrinal mandate to condemn it.

We should exercise caution in employing new technologies to create life (the powers of procreation, and creation, ARE sacred, and we must show we can use them with wisdom, love, and foresight if we are to show ourselves ready to assume the role of gods). We should also remember that God speaks to his children all over the world--including in revealing science, if our prophets are to be believed. I think it will be easier to go to God for further light and knowledge on the subject than to justify as eternal doctrines meant for a specific historical and cultural environment.

I do have one problem. I do not believe that sex is only healthy and beautiful between a man and a woman. I have known too many homosexuals (one would be enough) in loving, committed relationships who show too many fruits of happiness, goodness, and love to hang on to my absolute, black and white prejudices against homosexual sex. The lawfully wedded part I think is very important to individual and societal well-being. I want to advocate for continued recognition of the value of family in our legal system. This is why I view gay marriage advocates as my moral allies. This is why I apologize to my LGBT sisters and brothers for the pain caused by the condemnation they have experienced because of our implementation of some doctrines we espouse as Latter-day Saints.

This paragraph of "The Family" is one I'm not sure I could endorse as scripture. I'm not sure I would raise my hand to the square to vote it into our canon. But I might. While many Latter-day Saints are uncomfortable with my reading of "The Family", it is explicitly part of our scripture and doctrine (much clearer than the total absence of canonized, scriptural condemnation of gay marriage) that scripture is given to us according to our language and understanding, in a specific cultural context, and with the possibility that new revelation will supersede it (as it has with parts of every other book of scripture in our canon). I'm ok with scripture being flawed, so I might vote yes and pray for the day when our leaders will seek and reveal more light and knowledge on the subject. There is already so much of good in it.

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