During the recent October 2017 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of Twelve Apostles gave a talk titled, “The Plan and the Proclamation.” In it, he framed some of the current trends and laws of today’s society as coming from “the world,” while Latter-day Saints who are truly converted and actively seeking eternal life and exaltation are those who reject the world in favor of God’s plans for us. Key among the things that “the world” is embracing more and more and that Latter-day Saints should reject are “cohabitation without marriage, same-sex marriage, and the raising of children in such relationships.” In this battle with “the world,” Elder Oaks makes reference to the fact that throughout history many family members have understood God’s eternal plan differently, causing conflict. “Such conflict is always so. . . . But whatever the cause of conflict with those who do not understand or believe God’s plan, those who do understand are always commanded to choose the Lord’s way instead of the world’s way.” In short, if Latter-day Saints support same-sex marriage or in any way condone cohabitation outside marriage and raising children in such homes, it is God’s call to them to stand up for eternal values about family and marriage and God’s plan rather than acquiesce to individual or societal pressures.
In the second half of the talk, Elder Oaks shares background and assures Latter-day Saints of the “inspiration” and “revelatory process” at work throughout the writing and revising and releasing in 1995 of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” He then lifts its teachings up as having been “the basis of Church teaching and practice for the last 22 years and will continue so for the future.” He then urges all to “consider it such, teach it, live by it, and you will be blessed as you press forward toward eternal life.”
Elder Oaks’s talk and its clear stance pitting “converted” Latter-day Saints and those seeking eternal life against “the world” and those church members who have come to believe that the church should change its teachings and stance on same-sex marriage (including rejecting the November 2015 “Policy” that doesn’t allow children from same-sex parented homes access to ordinances until after they reach age 18 and speak out against their parents’ relationship) has caused quite a bit of consternation among many Mormons. Some have found the message of this talk “the final straw” in their ability to stay engaged with Mormonism in a meaningful way, while many others have felt depressed and deflated, recognizing that because of this talk it will be harder for them among family members who aren’t at the same place they are with regard to LGBTQIA issues or to sit in their wards as allies and those who are convinced that these marriages and families should be fully supported within the Church. They hope they might find peace in this time of turmoil, this “new normal” in the church that has and will for some time to come be affected by the stances and tone Elder Oaks took in this talk.
In this two-part episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by three wonderful and insightful active church members — Laura Root, John Gustav-Wrathall, and Richard Ostler — to discuss this talk and its messages and ramifications. How have they been personally affected by its contents and the interactions they’ve had with other Latter-day Saints since its delivery? How are they finding the strength and courage to remain firm in their personal convictions about these issues that differ from that of Elder Oaks and many in their close circles? What perspectives do they draw on that give them comfort and hope for eventual change within Mormonism on various issues related to same-sex relationships and gender identity? And much more!
Please listen and then share your experiences, questions, and comments in the designated section of the Mormon Matters podcast blog!
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Plan and the Proclamation,” October 2017 LDS General Conference address
Mormon and Gay, LDS Church’s official website sharing its teachings about lesbian, gay, and bi-sexuality, as well as featuring stories of gay Latter-day Saints
Family Acceptance Project, a website featuring the results of various studies and presentations of stories of family dynamics and how they affect the health and well-being of gay children
One result from the ongoing work of the Family Acceptance Project is a booklet created specifically for LDS families.
To order this booklet, click here
Laura Compton, “From Amici to ‘Ohana’: The Hawaiian Roots of the Family Proclamation,” 15 October 2015, article posted on Rational Faiths blog
Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Packer Talk Jibes with LDS Stance after Tweak,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 October 2010 (shares details of the editing to Elder Packer’s talk between conference delivery and its publication several days later)