SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church "will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman," according to an official statement issued Friday morning after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal throughout the nation.
The church's full statement:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."
In January, senior church leaders held a landmark press conference to call for civility and respect for all sides in the debate. They also called for clear legal protections for both religious freedom and for gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing and employment.
Friday's statement by the church also directed people to "The Divine Institution of Marriage," a topic page on its Mormon Newsroom website where the church outlined its doctrine and position on marriage.
That document quotes the church's 1995 Proclamation on the Family and says "the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage derives from its doctrine and teachings, as well as from its concern about the consequences of same-sex marriage on religious freedom, society, families and children."
Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ said in the Bible that marriage between a man and a woman was ordained of God before the creation of the world. The Family Proclamation says that "the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of his children."
In fact, the church's doctrine is that the central purpose of the creation of the earth was to provide a place for God's children to live in families with both a father and a mother.
"Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established," senior church leaders said in a January 2014 letter to local leaders.
"God’s plan was — and is — that his children come to this earth through marriage between a man and a woman, who are to procreate, form a family and teach children to choose the good part in a world with real moral choices and consequences," said Elder Marcus B. Nash in a speech about LDS doctrine on the earth and the environment.
Elder Nash, a member of the church's Quorum of the Seventy, said it is impossible for Latter-day Saints to consider the environment without considering the purpose of the creation and of families led by a father and mother.
The "Divine Institution of Marriage" topic page on MormonNewsroom.org also provides the church's responses to several of the arguments made for same-sex marriage, including those about the rise of divorce, the fact some parents will not have children and the claim that same-sex marriage is harmless to heterosexual marriages and society.
"In view of the close links that have long existed between marriage, procreation, gender and parenting, same-sex marriage cannot be regarded simply as the granting of a new 'right,'" the document says. "It is a far-reaching redefinition of the very nature of marriage itself. It marks a fundamental change in the institution of marriage in ways that are contrary to God’s purposes for his children and detrimental to the long-term interests of society."
The church did not comment Friday on the immediate or long-range implications for religious liberty after the Supreme Court's decision.
However, church leaders have commented many times in the past, including in "The Divine Institution of Marriage" and in the 2014 letter to local church leaders.
The marriage document explores how the legalization of same-sex marriage in other nations has impacted religious freedom and expresses concern about the long-term impact.
"The First Amendment may protect clergy from being forced to perform same-sex marriages," it states, "but other people of faith have faced and likely will continue to face legal pressures and sanctions."
The 2014 letter from senior church leaders to local leaders said "church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there."
The document calls for civility by all parties in the debate and concludes, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with many other churches, organizations, and individuals, will continue to defend the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, because it is a compelling moral issue of profound importance to our religion and to the future of society."