Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: What does your faith say about marriage?
A man and a woman
Elder Donald D. Deshler, of the Seventy, North America Central Area, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: An important document of our faith is “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Written by modern-day prophets, this proclamation begins: “We ... solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
Thus, foundational to God’s divine plan for the human race are marriage, children and families.
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While we share much in common with other faith traditions regarding the sanctity of marriage, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that God’s plan includes additional elements of great significance.
These were succinctly summarized by one of our Apostles, Elder L. Tom Perry: “We believe in a pre-mortal life where we all lived as literal spirit children of God our Heavenly Father. We believe that we were, and still are, members of his family.
“We believe that marriage and family ties can continue beyond the grave – that marriages performed by those who have the proper authority in his temples will continue to be valid in the world to come.
“Our marriage ceremonies eliminate the words ‘till death do us part’ and instead say, ‘for time and for all eternity.’ We believe ... heaven will be built around families and extended families.”
Finally, marriages are about the love and happiness of the adults; of primary consideration are the children who come into families and what is in their best interest in helping them grow and progress.
The work of building strong families is not only a labor for this life but for eternity.
Rev. Duke Tufty, Unity Temple On The Plaza: I believe every person has the God-given right to define marriage as they choose, but no person has the right to impose their definition of marriage on others – especially when said definition holds discriminations, exclusivities and inequalities that are unfair to others.
For one group of people, marriage is recognized as legitimate by the federal government, and they are given more than 1,100 benefits. Yet at the same time (before the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage), for another group of people, marriage isn’t recognized, and they are deprived of these benefits.
How can that kind of inequality be rationalized, justified and deemed legal? It’s as if there is a mindset that says the right of marriage can be whisked away to some private club and made available to members only.
I believe marriage is an out-picturing of love that has gone to a depth of intimacy where people choose to live the rest of their lives together. Agreements, commitments and vows are exchanged, and in many cases there is a grand celebration with family and friends to honor the love that lies between them.
I have done more than a thousand weddings, and the love I have witnessed at the altar is beautiful, sacred and true, whether it is a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage.
Love does not discriminate, deny or withhold. It is like the sun or the rain that falls equally on all people. Love and marriage are every person’s inalienable right.