I admit I breathed a small sigh of relief when this last General Conference ended without the Proclamation on the Family being presented to be added to the D&C. It seemed like it might have been an opportune time: the first annual (April) Conference following all the twentieth anniversary celebrations last year. So I was glad that it didn’t happen, but it occurs to me now that the question of the Family Proclamation getting canonized might be less about when it happens and more about who makes it happen.
When or if the Family Proclamation gets officially added to our scriptures probably depends strongly on who is President of the Church. President Hinckley, of course, was running the Church when it was released, but he was never as big a proponent of it as other members of the Q15 have been. President Monson hasn’t been either. But the next three men in line–President Nelson, Elder Oaks, and Elder Ballard–are all big fans. They are particularly prone to use it to make anti-gay and pro-rigid gender roles arguments. In any case, President Monson doesn’t look well at all, and it looks likely that at least Nelson and Oaks will become Church President, possibly pretty soon. When they do, I wonder if either one of them will move to canonize the Proclamation to better cement its long-term influence.
What could stand in their way? Certainly the members won’t. I think most members like the Family Proclamation just fine. Even if we didn’t, there’s not really a way such a sentiment could be expressed in the Church, as Elder Oaks reminded us this last Conference. Church leaders want to hear us saying “amen” to them or to hear us shutting up. Possibly other members of the Q15 could put up a roadblock, though. Rumor has it that Elder Holland is sympathetic to LGBT people, so he or other similarly-minded members might push against it happening. Elder Holland is getting more senior in the quorum too, so he might actually be able to stymie such an attempt if the famous rule that nothing is done without unanimity is actually honored. Another possible obstacle is precedent. We’ve had it for twenty years without canonizing it, so that’s precedent-setting for not doing so. There’s also the precedent of not adding much to the D&C in the last century plus.
A related question is whether it matters if the Proclamation gets canonized or not. As someone (I think at BCC, but I don’t recall who) pointed out in a discussion I read, it’s already treated in most ways as though it’s part of the canon. It hangs in many members’ homes. It gets quoted every Conference, probably more than any book that’s actually in the canon. Primary children learn snippets of it as their “scripture” of the month. BYUI students are required to take an entire course on it. If you look it up on lds.org, it comes with a pop-up to remind you of just how very important it is, something that I’ve found nowhere else on the site. So for right now, I think the person at BCC is probably right that it makes little difference whether the Proclamation gets canonized or not. Taking a longer-run view, though, I suspect it does matter. When GAs eventually come around to making changes like ordaining women and allowing people married to a partner of the same sex to stay in the Church, a canonized Proclamation would stand in the way and slow down both their process of changing their minds and their ability to make changes to Church policy. Even if it doesn’t make a difference in the present, then, I’m really hoping against canonization for the Proclamation.
What do you think? Will the Proclamation be canonized, and if so, who will get it done? Will it matter either in the present or in the future?