Two problems I have with the family proclamation

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Despite the fact that The Family: A Proclamation to the World has never been canonized, many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints treat it like scripture.

Whether it is scripture is a topic for another day. What I want to discuss is a couple of things I find problematic in the proclamation.

My understanding, based on the rhetoric of mainstream Mormons is that this proclamation is a response to efforts to legalize marriage equality. If that premise is true, I don’t think that those who drafted the document completely thought through how the wording would affect Mormon past.

Consider this from the first sentence:

. . . marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God . . .

Does that mean marriage between a man and more than one woman is not ordained of God? What about marriage between more than one man and one woman?

Does that mean plural marriage is unordained of God? Does it mean the current practice of sealing a man to more than wife is unordained of God?

What about this sentence from the seventh paragraph?

Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.

Does that mean plural marriage is not essential to God’s plan?

If plural marriage is not ordained of God and is not essential to his plan, why did as a church practice it at all?

If plural marriage is ordained of God and is essential to his plan, then how does it fit into the wording of this proclamation?

9 thoughts on “Two problems I have with the family proclamation

  1. I think your logic is flawed. Polygamy is not a marriage between a man and a group of women, it is several marriages between a man and a woman. Or, if it is a plural marriage of a woman, then just flip the genders around. A polygamy enthusiast would say that each of the plural marriages are between a man and a woman and they are each ordained of God.

    Before you think this is somehow a defense of polygamy, I’ll let you know I think polygamy is absurd.

    I just don’t think your argument holds any water.

    1. That’s certainly one way to justify it.

      Still waiting for your explanation of why my logic is flawed though.

      Also, which argument specifically of mine don’t you think hold any water?

  2. I agree with Brian T. that each marriage contracted is separate and distinct. Think of the widower who remarries the widow. They both have distinct first marriages, yet for sealing purposes, eventually we’ll seal them together so that widow will be sealed for time and eternity to husbands 1 and 2, and the wives 1 and 2 will be sealed to widower for time and eternity. Each relationship is district. I agree, as expressed by many past leaders, that plural marriage is not essential to God’s plan. There are obviously millions of couples who will never experience either plural marriages nor serial marriages. I think you are proof texting the words a bit.

  3. The flaw I was intending to point out is that you seem to think plural marriage is, for example, one man married to a group of women, when that is not the case. As I wrote, the man has several marriages between him and one woman. That’s the flaw I saw as I read it, and that makes it so the argument does not hold water.

    Also, you misinterpreted what I wrote. I didn’t provide any justification for plural marriage.

    1. I’m not convinced that what I said is a flaw, or at least, I’m not convinced that your interpretation of polygamy logistics is more correct.

      I didn’t misinterpret what you wrote because I never claimed you were justifying plural marriage.

  4. It seems to me that looking at the Family : A Proclamation to the World as solely as a response to marriage equality sells the proclamation short. As I see things, it may be an effort to preserve religious freedom that gives the Proclamation a slightly broader application.

    If the day ever comes when religious liberty is attacked on this doctrine it puts in the “canon” or at least an official text we have a precedent to doctrines regarding marriage and family. Not some vague interpretation of scripture but a formal document.

    If the Proclamation does ever become scripture I think it is premature to guess at God’s purpose in the document. It reminds me of Isaiah’s words … 2 Nephi 25:7 It’s full purpose might not be evident for many years.

    7 But behold, I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness; in the which I know that no man can err; nevertheless, in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.

    Worrying about the plural aspect of marriage seems a bit of a red herring because the proclamation was written in a time when plural marriage is not sanctioned and marriage is not generally understand in plural terms today. However it is an interesting historical question.

    But there are also some gems in the proclamation. I love the line “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

    1. I agree that that the Proclamation as a response to marriage equality sells it short. Unfortunately, that’s all it seems to be used for lately. I can’t remember the last time, for example, that someone used the Proclamation as proof that divorce is evil.

      Oh, I’m not worried about the plural aspect of marriage. Just commenting on the word choice given that the definition of marriage in the LDS church over the last 185 years has been relatively fluid.

      Completely agree with your last point. I’ve even tossed around the idea of that as a future blog topic. It seems that sentence is often overlooked.

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