SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – More states and nations may legalize same-sex marriage, but human laws cannot “make moral what God has declared immoral,” a top Mormon leader said Sunday.
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, in an address at the Mormon church’s biannual general conference in Salt Lake City, said the faith’s stance against same-sex marriage might be misunderstood or prompt accusations of bigotry.
But he urged members to remember that their first priority is to serve God, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ policies are based on God’s decrees, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
An LDS eternal perspective does not allow members “to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them,” Oaks said. “And unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has declared to be unchangeable.”
Some 20,000 Mormons gathered at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and millions more watched worldwide via telecasts and the Internet to hear Oaks’ remarks on the final day of the two-day conference.
Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, bemoaned America’s declining birthrate, later marriages and rising cohabitation.
He cited the changes as evidence of “political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and child-bearing.”
The Mormon church teaches that same-sex attraction is not a sin, but acting on it is.
“Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” the church website states.
Church President Thomas S. Monson spoke about the death of his wife, Frances, in May and about the challenges of facing mortality with strength and grace. Monday would be their 65th wedding anniversary.
“Her loss has been profound,” said the 86-year-old Monson, considered a prophet of the 15-million-member church. “She was the love of my life, my trusted confidante and my closest friend. To stay that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings.”
His faith has helped him deal with the loss, he said.
“The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure,” Monson said. “A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter or shall I finish? Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured and then have overcome.”