Question: Isn't the Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage hypocritical, considering that they used to ban black from holding the priesthood until 1978?

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Question: Isn't the Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage hypocritical, considering that they used to ban black from holding the priesthood until 1978?

The Law of Chastity is doctrine with scriptural precedent, whereas the priesthood ban was a practice that was always said to be temporary

President McKay taught:

There is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse. There is no doctrine in the church of any kind pertaining to the negro. We believe that we have a scriptural precedent for withholding the priesthood from the negro. It is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice someday will be changed. And that's all there is to it. (Sterling M. McMurrin affidavit, March 6, 1979. See David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Greg Prince and William Robert Wright. Quoted by Genesis Group)[2]

The priesthood ban was not based on a choice

Just because a black man was denied the priesthood before 1978, does not mean he did anything wrong. It was a practice that was applied to all black men and had nothing to do with the choices of the individual person. Being black was not a choice that he made. Following the law of chastity is a choice. Everyone can follow the law of chastity, regardless of sexual orientation. If someone chooses to have sexual relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage, that is a worthiness issue and is a choice that they are making.

It was prophesied that the priesthood ban would be reversed

It was prophesied that the priesthood ban would be reversed, whereas we are told the law of chastity would always be in place.

For example, in reference to black people, Brigham Young taught:

"The time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more."[1]

The prohibition on homosexual behavior has repeatedly been declared as a never-changing standard.

President Hinckley taught:

Prophets of God have repeatedly taught through the ages that practices of homosexual relations, fornication, and adultery are grievous sins.[2]

A cursory review of the historical record confirms his view:

1983

Likewise, make it clear to your students what the gospel cannot do. Once individuals or nations have departed from the prescribed path, their behavior may be legalized, but it cannot be and will not be legitimized by the Lord. For example, the gospel can cure, but it cannot condone, homosexuality. It can cure mortals from the need to pursue heedless abortion, but once they have left the straight and narrow path, it cannot guide them through the dark thicket of inconsistent alternatives which lie on either side of that path.[3]

2012

Do not tamper with the life-giving powers in your body alone or with members of either gender. That is the standard of the Church, and it will not change. As you mature, there is a temptation to experiment or explore immoral activities.[4]

2013

Marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fulness of life on earth and in heaven. God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued. Not if you want true joy.....Regardless of what civil legislation may be enacted, the doctrine of the Lord regarding marriage and morality cannot be changed.[5]
What we do know is that the doctrine of the Church—that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married—has not changed and is not changing.[6]
Outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman, all uses of our procreative powers are to one degree or another sinful and contrary to God’s plan for the exaltation of His children…. [L]aws 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.[7]
Central to God’s plan, the doctrine of marriage between a man and woman is an integral teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will not change." “If it is being suggested that the church’s doctrine on this matter [same sex marriage] is changing, that is incorrect. Marriage between a man and a woman is central to God’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. As such, traditional marriage is a foundational doctrine and cannot change.[8]
But 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.[9]

2015

When pressed on whether he’s leaving any room for movement [on same sex marriage or acts] in the future, Christofferson simply said, "No."[10]

2016

There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing—and what needs to change—is helping Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.[11]
Central to God’s plan, the doctrine of marriage between a man and woman is an integral teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will not change:

As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The Church also affirms that God’s law defines marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.

Only a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife should have sexual relations. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same sex, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family.[12]

2019

These changes [to policies regarding same-sex marriage and children raised in such marriages] do not represent a shift in Church doctrine related to marriage or the commandments of God in regard to chastity and morality. The doctrine of the plan of salvation and the importance of chastity will not change.[13]

2020

McKay Coppins, a Latter-day Saint writing for The Atlantic, quoted Russell M. Nelson (then president of the Church):

But while some of these changes have been celebrated as signs of progress, Nelson has not budged on key issues. When I asked him what he’d say to LGBTQ people who feel that the Church doesn’t want them, he told me, “God loves all his children, just like you and I do,” and “There’s a place for all who choose to belong to his Church.” But when I asked whether the prohibition on same-sex relationships might someday be lifted, he demurred. “As apostles of the Lord, we cannot change God’s law,” he said. “We teach his laws. He gave them many thousands of years ago, and I don’t expect he’ll change them now.”[14]

2022

President Dallin H. Oaks:

Those who do not fully understand the Father’s loving plan for His children may consider this Family Proclamation no more than a changeable statement of policy. In contrast, we affirm that the Family Proclamation, founded on unchangeable doctrine, defines the kind of family relationships where the most important part of our eternal development can occur.[15]

The priesthood ban needed to be reversed so all of God's children could have the blessings of the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, whereas the Law of Chastity, as it stands, already allows all people these blessings.

Scriptural precedence

  • Jesus Christ taught that marriage is between a man and a woman, whereas He did not teach blacks would not receive the priesthood. (See Christ's teachings on homosexuality)
  • The Law of Chastity has scriptural precedence, whereas the priesthood ban did not.

It's cruel to create a false expectation that the doctrine will change.

As a final contention, it is cruel to create a false expectation that the doctrine will change. Creating such just fosters more disappointment, depression, possible suicidality, etc. in the person with same-sex attraction each time they hear that the Church's doctrine won't change. It's advisable that we, as members of the Lord's Church, not make promises that can't be kept. We need to "mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort." That is true; but we also need to "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death[.]"[16] As Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught, "[t]here’s no kindness in misdirecting people and leading them into any misunderstanding about what is true, what is right, what is wrong, what leads to Christ and what leads away from Christ."[17]

Notes

  1. Brigham Young, Speech given in Joint Session of the Utah Legislature, February 5, 1952 in Fred Collier, The Teachings of President Brigham Young (Salt Lake City, UT: Collier's Publishing, 1987), 43.
  2. [1]
  3. Neal A. Maxwell, "Those Seedling Saints Who Sit Before You," CES Symposium on the Old Testament, August 1983, https://si.lds.org/library/talks/ces-symposium-addresses/those-seedling-saints-who-sit-before-you. [Note that here Elder Maxwell follows usage of homosexuality that was then current, especially among Church leaders: they saw homosexuality as behavior not as an orientation. Thus homosexual sin can be cured—for homosexual temptation or orientation is not a sin. (Though it is a burden for many that might be lightened or removed in accord with the Lord’s will.)]
  4. Boyd K. Packer, “How To Survive in Enemy Territory,” address on the centennial of Seminary program, 22 January 2012, http://seminary.lds.org/history/centennial/eng/how-to-survive-in-enemy-territory/.
  5. Russell M. Nelson, "Decisions for Eternity," general conference, October 2013 [footnotes make it clear he is speaking of same-sex marriage; these have been omitted here.
  6. Dallin H. Oaks, “Leadership Training: Chastity and Fidelity,” video, [1:01–1:14 timestamp] https://www.lds.org/pages/lt/hwb84sun4af0o2tjwwyt?lang=eng.
  7. Dallin H. Oaks, “No Other Gods,” general conference, October 2013, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/no-other-gods.p27.
  8. Church statement, cited in Tad Walsh, “LDS Church responds to inquiries about Harry Reid comment,” Deseret News (7 November 2013), https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865590140/LDS-Church-responds-to-inquiries-about-Harry-Reid-comment.html. See also “Church Responds to Inquiries on ENDA, Same-Sex Marriage,” press release (11 November 2013), http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-inquiries-on-enda--same-sex-marriage
  9. Dallin H. Oaks, "No Other Gods," Ensign (November 2013), https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/no-other-gods?lang=eng.
  10. Daniel Woodruff, "LDS apostle explains church's evolution on LGBT issues, says members' politics may differ from doctrine," KUTV (14 March 2015), http://www.kutv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Tonight-at-10-LDS-apostle-opens-up-on-evolution-of-church-s-support-for-new-antidiscrimination-law-102821.shtml#.VQZN9i6zFQB.
  11. Dallin H. Oaks, “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” https://mormonandgay.lds.org/articles/love-one-another-a-discussion-on-same-sex-attraction.
  12. “Church Leaders,” <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/topics/gay/leaders?lang=eng> (21 October 2020). This comes from the Church's official website on same-sex attraction and the same statement remains there today.
  13. Church Newsroom, "April 2019 General Conference News and Announcements," (3 April 2019), https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/first-presidency-messages-general-conference-leadership-session-april-2019#oaks
  14. McKay Coppins, “The Most American Religion,” <https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/01/the-most-american-religion/617263/> (18 December 2020).
  15. Church News Staff, "President Dallin H. Oaks: ‘Divine Love in the Father’s Plan’," Church News, April 3, 2022, https://www.thechurchnews.com/general-conference/2022-04-03/president-oaks-april-2022-general-conference-gods-love-salvation-eternal-marriage-248346.
  16. Mosiah 18:9.
  17. "Church Provides Context on Handbook Changes Affecting Same-Sex Marriages," <https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/handbook-changes-same-sex-marriages-elder-christofferson> (21 October 2020).