Same-sex marriage has become an issue in many states in the United States. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gotten a lot of bad press by pushing against other churches and the government for allowing such practices. Where is this coming from? We have no new revelation that we are aware of. Therefore, we must turn to the scriptures to see what the Lord’s will is in this matter.
Firstly, the Law of Moses states that men are not to have sexual relations with other men.
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” – Leviticus 18: 22
This chapter goes on to condemn women lying with animals, but oddly does not speak to women lying with other women. With polygamy being under the Law, it may be okay for women to lie with their sister wives, we do not know.
We gain more clarity on the issue just a few chapters later:
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” – Leviticus 20: 13
The list of sexual sins in this chapter, and chapter 18, is clear:
- Adultery is defined as a man lying with another man’s wife (not a man lying with an unmarried woman or a prostitute – Genesis 38: 12-26)
- A man may not lie with his father’s wife (his mother or not)
- A man may not lie with his daughter
- A man may not lie with his wife’s mother
- Neither man nor woman may lie with an animal
- A man may not lie with his sister, his father’s daughter, nor his mother’s daughter (no full or half sisters)
- A man may not lie with a woman on her period or he must go through the same steps to become clean again
- A man my not to take the wife of a relative (this obviously does not count the commandment to take a bother’s wife after that brother dies if he had no son – Deuteronomy 25: 5-10)
This is very clear language and seems to account for everything, but women lying with women.
Deuteronomy 23: 17 points out that Israelite women are not to sell their bodies for sex in the ancient cult of of prostitution, or in other words women were not to save their virginity only to sell it for the Lord Yahveh nor for any other god. The sale of the woman’s virginity was to be to the woman’s future husband. (Prostitution was still done in ancient Israel by women with no other mean of financial support.)
Israelite men are not enter into sodomy, which is to have sexual relations for any reason other than to have children. However, this is in relation to entering the congregation. Thus, after a purifying ritual, they could enter and not be seen as sinning. For Latter-day Saints, this would be like a smoker quitting cigarettes to get a temple recommend, or paying tithe at the end of the year to make up for missed tithing. Being human, a ban from consensual sex between married people would not last universally as a law.
Looking at the rest of the Old Testament for proof of homosexuality being a sin, the Topical guide lists Isaiah 3: 9, as it references Sodom, of Sodom and Gomorrah, but this verse refers to being openly okay with sin, not same-sex relations. In fact, Ezekiel 16: 49-50 lists the sins of Sodom as:
- fullness of bread (an over abundance of food, but not sharing it)
- abundance of idleness
- not helping the poor and needy
- being haughty
While none of these speak of same-sex marriage, one may conclude that if the act of two men having sexual relations was a sin, then there would be no logical point to their marriage being okay. Though to be clear, a carful reading of the Law only forbids male-to-male prostitution. There was no law for women marrying women, as there was for men entering into polygamy, so it is easy to conclude that polygamy was fine, but women marrying other women was not. However, under the Law women were seen as property, not as beings that could own property. It is unclear if women needed to be married in a polygamous relationship or not to have a sexual relationship, as the Bible is completely silent on the topic. But men wouldn’t likely marry other men as the men are the property owners, not the owned.
Looking at the New Testament, Paul speaks against Gentile men unnaturally lusting after other men in 1 Corinthians 6: 9, 1 Timothy 1: 10, 2 Timothy 3: 3, Romans 1: 27. He does not talk about women having sexual relations with other women, and why would he? The Law he has been raised under doesn’t mention it. He also doesn’t condemn men that naturally are attracted to other men. He is likely referring to men that have sexual relations with other men for other reasons beyond natural feelings that were encouraged by the Greeks and Romans.
It should be noted here that Jude does also bring up Sodom and Gamorrah (or “Gomorrha”) in verses 6 and 8, but interestingly he is comparing them to “the angels which kept not their first estate,” mentioned in verse 6. This leads one to question if the “fornication,” “strange flesh,” and “filthy dreamers” that ” defile the flesh” are referring to the idea of our relationship to God as a marriage. There are other examples in the scriptures of adultery or fornication being general terms for sin as when we chose evil over good we are leaving our first love, so to speak.
Though to be fair, the men in the city were going to do some bad things to the servants of the Lord if they had their way. Looking at all the evidence, it just seems clearer that God is more concerned with the list form Ezekiel as the city would have been far less likely to want to “know” the angels in Lot’s house had they been humble and willing to help the poor and the needy.
Back to the topic at hand, from everything found on this topic in the Bible, it is clear that God is only talking about same-sex relations between two men, and even there only as prostitution and men as property. In addition. nowhere in the Bible does it talk about forcing the Law of Moses on other nations or religions. Yet, this is what the LDS Church aims to do.
To be clear, as the Scriptures are the doctrine of most religions, it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the organization) that wants the government to stop same-sex marriage, not the religion itself.
However, this is excluding any modern revelations. What then does our modern scriptures say? Does the Book of Mormon or other modern revelations ask us to stop same-sex marriage or relationships outside our faith or about women entering into same-sex relationships? No. Our modern scriptures say nothing about women having same sex relations, or anything about defining marriage outside of our own faith. In fact, the religion itself is clear that we, as a Church, may ONLY define marriage for ourselves and that the government has no right to define marriage for any religion.
Our 11th Article of Faith states:
“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
Doctrine and Covenants 49: 18 states that “marriage is ordained of God unto man.” Thus, it is a religious ordinances, not one of man. If a religions states their god(s) accepts same-sex marriage, then we – as Americans and as Christians – should respect that faith. It does not mean that we should also embrace it, but rather that we should not forbid them, based on our own faith.
As a Church, we abandoned polygamy not because it was a sin, but because we have been commanded by our God to obey man’s laws.
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” – 1 Peter 2: 13-16
Yet, here we are now rejecting the Lord by doing evil unto others that was done unto us. If other faiths accept same-sex marriage as we accept polygamy, then why should they be forced to reject their religion just as we were forced to reject ours?
Yet our leaders reject the will of the Lord as He has said to us:
“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.” – Doctrine and Covenants 98: 4-9.
And we have committed to this saying,
“We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” – Doctrine and Covenants 134: 2
The Constitution is clear in this mater, as the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Thus, we have every right to reject same-sex marriage and no right to make our religious practices a rule of law. Let every man and woman define marriage for themselves, by their own conscience and enter into their own covenants with their own god(s).
Anything that happens outside of our religion is none of our business. To LDS Mormons, marriage is a sacrament to the Lord and thus if other faiths want to allow for male homosexuals we, as a Church, cannot stop them. It is literally like going into a Protestant or Catholic church and telling them that they can’t use wine in their communion because we use water. Or, like passing a law to force all churches to baptize by immersion. The government has not forced us to marry nonmembers in our temples, so the idea that they would start now seems absurd.
We have no new revelation about this, and if we do it is not binding on the Church as our leaders have not given it to us for a vote. Thus, we have no right to condemn lesbian relationships particularly in polygamist relationships nor can we tell other churches not to allow same-sex marriage though it should not be allowed in the LDS religion unless new revelations tells us otherwise.