A critique of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World"

It is very difficult to pin any doctrines down on Mormonism these days. For instance, Gordon B. Hinckley recently said that the doctrine of God once being a man is now only a couplet rather than a doctrine (even though virtually every Mormon prophet has proclaimed it as true).

The only non-ad hominem rebuttals I receive for this website are usually something along the lines of, "That statement you used is only one Mormon prophet's opinion. It isn't doctrine." So for this page, I've chosen something which is without a doubt current Mormon doctrine. It is a recent proclamation which I think is very poorly worded. The proclamation is not only poorly worded, but I think strictly adhering to it as written will be very detrimental to the LDS church and its members.

The following is a critique of one of the seemingly few official church policies. I've only included the portions of it below which I specifically respond to. The entire text can be found here on the church's own official website. My comments are in italics.


All human beings--male and female--are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.

If the church continues to claim there is a Heavenly Mother, why are people excommunicated or otherwise disciplined in the church for believing, teaching about, or otherwise using the doctrine?

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

What does this say about the portion of the population who are born neither male or female? Does this make such people "unessential"? Are the lives of people born androgynous without purpose as far as the LDS church is concerned? Do people with larger levels of estrogen or testosterone have a larger eternal identity? Does the church believe that people born with one Y and two X chromosomes are in fact not really individuals? In the church's view, what exactly are such people then? Per D&C 132, gender appears to only have purpose in the next life for those people who enter into the new and everlasting covenant of plural marriage. How can it therefore be said to be eternally essential?

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.

This is a very dangerous statement! Not only is the world already overpopulated (and levels are continually on the rise reaching VERY dangerous levels in the next century), but commanding people to have children who can't afford them, aren't responsible, or otherwise in a situation in which children shouldn't be created is reprehensible. Do the church leaders still really believe in a literal Adam and Eve as this statement suggests? If such a literal interpretation is still being used of the scriptures then many other difficult to honestly answer issues are raised.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.

I interpret this statement in two ways. First, according to the church leadership, sex is a divine act. Second, and what troubles me more, is what this is implying about the topic of organic evolution. What exactly do the general authorities think about the fact of organic evolution when they claim that reproduction is divine rather than a given for the necessity of continuation of life? Does this mean that God divinely extincts species he has something against? Why did God bother creating those forms of mortal life which are now extinct?

Husbands and wives--mothers and fathers--will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

Why the need to threaten? Can't families be good to each other because in doing so they can be happy? Why not discuss those aspects instead of focusing on the punishments that people will receive? What sort of morality is this teaching if actions need to be based on fear of punishment? (although the Bible isn't a good source for authority in my opinion, 2 Timothy 1:7 contains a contradictory teaching)

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.

Where does the Bible or Book of Mormon say this? The Bible says just the opposite, in some places (again it is contradictory), on the subject. (see 1 Corinthians 7:38 and Matthew 10:35)

Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does this say about families who are far happier outside of such a dogma? What does this say about families who are founded on such teachings but are still very unhappy?

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.

Is this really "divine design" or an outdated tradition that fathers are the presiding providers? What does this do for a mother who loses a providing husband due to death, illness, or divorce and then has no career, skills, or education to fall back on but a bunch of kids born by way of commandment to provide for? What does this mean for a mother who wants out of a marriage (for any reason including abuse) but is forced to stay in such a situation because she is no longer in a position to provide the necessities of life for herself (and children)?

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

Why can't fathers be just as responsible for the nurturing of their children? This "doctrine" is damaging to the way in which orthodox LDS men nurture their children. Many LDS fathers (subconsciously or otherwise) do less nurturing with their children after hearing such official statements than they otherwise would based on their own reasoning and instincts.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

Again with the warnings and threats? Whatever happened to teaching correct principles and letting people govern themselves?

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.

Are we now living in a theocracy? In light of other recent activities, this statement is, in part--if not in full, an attempt to have the government treat homosexuals as second class citizens. Why is the church so threatened by the lifestyles of others? If the church leaders and members don't want to practice homosexuality, they don't have to. Why the need to force views and personal morals on others through the laws of the land when these others aren't harming or infringing on the rights of anyone? Didn't the church and its members object (for exactly the same reasons) when under fire for practicing polygamy a century ago? It is almost illegal for the church as a non-tax paying entity (501(c)3 organization) to continue to attempt to influence any sort of legislation. (Note that 501(c)3 corporations can lobby but they then have to pay taxes on the contributed amounts--hardly what members expect their tithing dollars to be used for.) See the "LDS Chronology Of Involvement In Same-Sex Marriage Politics" and recent half million dollar donation for more on this issue.

See also my additional comments here, here, and here
and Chris Kimball's Study of the Proclamation on the Family.


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