The Proclamation turned 20 this month. And, once again, some will wonder if it will become scripture in next month’s General Conference. After 20 years, there are many that seem to treat it as scripture, and the Church seems to welcome us doing so. Yet after all this time, it still is not scripture, and thus not doctrine.
To be honest, I take the Proclamation less seriously every year. The excitement of it died out with every update to our scriptures with no vote to add it. Why not? I’ve pondered this question and wonder if it is because it is not needed or if it is because of the controversy it will add referring to transgender people.
The Proclamation states that:
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
Is this to say that some people are, in fact, born the wrong sex? That discovering our premortal gender identity is important? Perhaps the fact that we came from a premortal world is the reason transgenders exist. If someone has the soul of one sex, yet is born in a mortal body another sex, the fact that “[g]ender is an essential characteristic of individual[s]” would explain why they seek to become the other sex – they wish to be what they are.
This is merely conjecture, as we have no real revelation on the topic. We are still waiting for our leaders to receive divine guidance from the open heavens. At this point, it is still a mystery if they have failed to ask, or if the Lord has failed to answer.
I could see some members getting worked up about this idea. These are the same members worked up about other religions defining marriage differently than we do, and the same people worked up about the idea of selling cakes to people partaking in those weddings.
I personally believe that the Proclamation is needed while we wait for that revelation to help shield transgender Christians from certain members of the Church. This doesn’t mean is needs to become scripture, merely that it should be utilized as a defense for the defenseless in the mean time. After all, what Christian would be okay with the bullying and high suicide rate of this group of people?
The question becomes, will our leaders realize the power behind their own Proclamation? Or, will they side with the more vocal, and bigoted, members, as we’ve done throughout our history?
I also worry that the idea “that marriage between a man and a woman,” as the opening paragraph states, might be seen as a rejection of polygamy – a practice we LDS Mormons still enjoy beyond the veil. It is a practice the Lord expects us to return to, once it becomes legal in the worldly courts. Our leaders have been hiding this fact recently, and making the Proclamation scripture could reject, or at the very least contradict in some eyes, sections of our Doctrine and Covenant, and the First Official Declaration – where we declared we would follow the law of the land, ceasing polygamy for man, as the Lord asked us to do temporarily.
But the most likely reason it could never become scripture is due to the fact that the final paragraph could be taken as a rejection of our doctrine – freedom of religion, and the separation between Church and State.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” – The Family: A Proclamation To The World
This is clearly asking “citizens and officers of government” to follow our God’s commandments rather than the law of the land. We cannot ask for the ending of the separation between Church and State. It violates our scriptures!
And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them. And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
“I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.” – D&C 98: 4-10
It could be argued that the final paragraph of the Proclamation is merely asking us to insure that “the wicked” do not rule us. However, the Proclamation speaks of things such as sex outside of marriage, something our courts has deemed unconstitutional for the government to become involved in. And, we have been commanded to follow the Constitution, and thus both enjoy the protections of the separation of Church and State and limit our influence, as a religion, for the same moral and Constitutional reasons.
While the Proclamation has some good summaries of LDS leadership’s understanding of our scriptures, it is not revelation, it is not new and it is not doctrine. There are many questions left unanswered by this document and it does, in fact, open a few new questions. It was a great PR move in 1995, but never really addressed anything substantial or meaningful. One can only hope that it will lead to actual revelation from the Lord at some point, as we are in such desperate need for it presently.
Image: The Family: A Proclamation To The World.