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Mormon Leader: We Strengthened Antigay Stance Because God Told Us To

Russell Nelson
Russell Nelson

Russell Nelson, who stands to become the Mormon Church's next president, cites God's will for its stepped-up opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Mormon Church, perhaps not surprisingly, is citing a higher authority to explain why it strengthened its antigay doctrine late last year: none other than God.

As the church's two highest governing bodies, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, considered the impact of the Supreme Court's landmark 2015 marriage equality decision, church president Thomas Monson had a revelation of "the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord," Russell Nelson, who is next in line for the presidency, told young Mormons in a speech at Brigham Young University's Hawaii campus Sunday night, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Based on that, the church late last year revised its leadership manual to add same-sex marriage to the definition of apostasy -- rejection of Mormon teachings -- and deny baptism to any child whose primary residence is with a same-sex couple.

"Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation," said Nelson, who is head of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson."

The process for leaders of the church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when considering policy changes is that "the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively," Nelson said. "And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord's will."

The speech, aimed particularly at millennials, marked the church's first public explanation of the antigay policy, the Tribune notes. When it was announced last November, it disappointed many LGBT and supportive Mormons, and it led some to renounce their membership. Even before then, though, the church opposed same-sex unions and expected members with same-sex attractions to remain celibate.

Nelson's speech at the Mormon-affiliated university was also beamed around the world and live-streamed on the Internet, the paper reports. In addition to talking about the policy on same-sex marriage, he told his audience that the Second Coming of Christ is near and that they should help the world prepare for it. He further recommended that those with questions about any matter of faith put them to God in prayer and seek out the words of Mormon leaders, such as Monson, who is considered a prophet.

"You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet," he said. "But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever his prophet has proclaimed."

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