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(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) President Henry B. Eyring speaks to open the morning session of the 183rd LDS General Conference, Sunday, October 6, 2013.
Leaders say Mormons cannot condone same-sex marriage
First Published Oct 06 2013 12:18 pm • Last Updated Mar 02 2014 02:49 pm

Human laws may change to include same-sex marriage, but moral laws don’t, two high-ranking Mormon leaders said Sunday.

God meant marriage for a man and a woman, they said. Anything else is sin.

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Two others weighed in on the contentious issue of women and the all-male LDS priesthood, rejecting the push to ordain women.

On the second and final day of the LDS Church’s 183rd Semiannual General Conference, apostle Dallin H. Oaks bemoaned America’s dropping birthrates, later marriages and rising incidence of cohabitation 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."

These pressures "have already permitted same-gender marriages in various states and nations," Oaks told 20,000 Mormons gathered in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and millions more watching worldwide via telecasts and the Internet. "Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness."

An LDS eternal perspective does not allow Mormons "to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them," said the apostle, a former Utah Supreme Court justice. "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."

The LDS stance against same-sex marriage might be misunderstood, elicit "accusations of bigotry" or trigger "invasions of our free exercise of religion," he said. But "we should remember our first priority — to serve God — and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited."

Apostle Russell M. Nelson, a former surgeon, echoed Oaks’ sentiments about same-sex marriage.

"Marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan," Nelson said. "Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fullness of life on Earth and in heaven. God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood or misconstrued."

Two fellow apostles, Neil L. Andersen and Quentin L. Cook, discussed the role of women, possibly prompted by a movement known as Ordain Women, which has been asking why women are barred from the LDS priesthood.

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Saturday night about 130 women and some men arrived on Temple Square and asked for admittance to the conference’s priesthood session, which is open only to males age 12 and above. The women were rejected.

"We sometimes overly associate the power of the priesthood with men in the church," Andersen said. "The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all — men, women and children."

A man, he said, "may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift."

Andersen noted that some may "sincerely" wonder why, if the power and blessings are available to all, the priesthood must be administered by men.

"Gender is an essential characteristic of both our mortal and eternal identity and purpose," the apostle said. "Sacred responsibilities are given to each gender."

Maybe one day God’s reasoning on this will be more clear, Andersen said. "With time and eternal perspective we will see things ‘as they really are’ and more completely understand his perfect love."

Until then, he said, "sincerely asking for and listening to the thoughts and concerns voiced by women is vital in life, in marriage and in building the kingdom of God."

Cook said he was "unequivocally ... thrilled with the educational and other opportunities that are available to women," but he also decried what he called "philosophies that criticize or diminish respect for women who choose to make the sacrifices necessary to be mothers, teachers, nurturers or friends to children."

"If we allow our culture to reduce the special relationship that children have with mothers and grandmothers and others who nurture them," Cook said, "we will come to regret it."

Adrian Q. Ochoa, of the Quorum of the Seventy, cautioned his listeners "not to view filthy images or give your attention to the false accusers of Christ and the Prophet Joseph Smith."

Both actions, Ochoa said, will results in "the loss of the Holy Ghost and his protecting, sustaining power. Vice and unhappiness follow."

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