Despite what some see as a shift in tone over recent years, a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose practitioners are known as Mormons, reiterated the faith's opposition to same-sex marriage at a biannual conference in Salt Lake City Saturday, reports the Associated Press.
Although many lay Mormons have softened their opposition to homosexuality in recent years -- several contingents have marched in LGBT Pride parades around the country -- Apostle Neil L. Andersen reminded the faithful that God's plan was for one man and one woman to be united in marriage at the Church's national conference Saturday.
"While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not," said Andersen, an Apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve, the second-highest governing body of the church, according to the AP. "He designated the purpose of marriage to go far beyond the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of adults, to more importantly, advancing the ideal setting for children to be born, reared and nurtured."
Andersen also encouraged his fellow Mormons to remain steadfast in their convictions against what he said is an increasingly forceful pro-equality movement on social media. He reported a story about a Mormon woman who shared her opposition to same-sex marriage on Facebook, then refused to take her comments down, even after backlash on the social networking site.
Similarly, Andersen expressed special concern for church members who "struggle with same-sex attraction." The AP reports Andersen said he admires those who confront such a "trial of faith, and stay true to the commandments of God. But everyone, independent of their decisions and beliefs, deserves our kindness and consideration," he said. Mormon doctrine dictates that attraction to someone of the same sex is not a sin, but acting upon those attractions is sinful. The church therefore mandates that gay and lesbian Mormons live a celibate life to remain in God's good graces.
By some estimations, the Mormon Church has been undergoing a shift toward acceptance of LGBT people and marriage equality, especially after the Church was a key proponent and force behind passing California's Proposition 8, which revoked marriage equality in that state. While many Mormons have been working to repair family relationships damaged by that activism, the issue has once again boiled up as a federal judge struck down Utah's ban on marriage equality last December, resulting in more than 1,300 same-sex couples wedding before the U.S. Supreme Court eventually placed a stay on that decision in January. The Republican governor and attorney general of the heavily Mormon state appealed the decision, and are set to argue their case against the freedom to marry in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver later this month. The Mormon Church, along with several other conservative religious factions, filed a 42-page brief in that case supporting the state's anti-equality stance.