So gay marriage is legal now in Utah. At least for a moment, until the appeals begin. The Church’s response, not surprisingly, is to hope for the ruling to be overturned:
This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.
But this was just the response on day one. Longer term, I wonder how hard the Church will fight this. I mean, if they spent so much money (mostly technically out of members’ pockets rather than directly, but still) and time and goodwill to fight gay marriage in California, how hard will they fight when it’s in their own backyard? Or maybe Utah should be considered their front yard.
(An aside: I feel odd calling the Church “they.” I feel like I should be able to say “we.” I’m a Mormon. I attend and participate. But I have zero voice in or influence over what the general Church leadership does, so in this circumstance, I think it makes sense.)
I think there’s a better way, and it comes out of Elder Oaks’s talk in October Conference. He tells us:
man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior. For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.
His intent here is clear, I think. He’s pointing out that even if laws change to allow gay marriage, the Church will still oppose it, so members shouldn’t take cues from secular laws in deciding what’s right and wrong. But the point he’s also making, perhaps unintentionally, is that it doesn’t matter if all the laws change. The Church is fine being out of step with the laws. The GAs will be happy to give a bunch of talks where they dismissively call them “so-called” laws. So given this, why doesn’t the Church take a page out of this talk and just drop its opposition to legalizing gay marriage?