|Same-sex Marriage Letter|
|Written by The First Presidency|
|Tuesday, 26 May 2009 10:22|
A growing number of nations, states, and provinces have begun to allow same-sex marriage. Others are considering it. Consequently, the First Presidency has received several inquiries about whether Community of Christ ministers may officiate in same-sex marriages in places where it is legal.
Obviously, this is a complex issue, with leaders and members of the church holding a great diversity of opinion. It is our hope that this communication will clarify the church's position for the present time.
The First Presidency, in consultation with other World Church leaders and the Standing High Council, is considering what the most-helpful process may be for engaging the church in a consideration of issues about church policy and homosexuality. We believe the only way to move through such a process with integrity is to continue to abide by the church's policies and procedures as long as they are in place. Three of the most significant documents informing the church's policy on marriage are World Conference Resolution 1182, Doctrine and Covenants 111, and the section in the "Administrator's Handbook, 2005 Edition" on "Legal Elements of Marriage and Termination of Marriage," point #4, page 59.
World Conference Resolution 1182 repeatedly uses language referring to marriage as being between a husband and wife. The "Church Administrator's Handbook" states on page 59:
The language of WCR 1182 does not provide authorization for ministers of the Community of Christ to perform marriages between two persons of the same sex, even in jurisdictions where such marriages are legally valid. The resolution does, however, provide for the recognition of legally valid marriages. Thus, a same-sex marriage may be entered into the church records as a legal fact, just as in other instances where the church recognizes legally valid marriages that it may not choose to solemnize.
Doctrine and Covenants 111 refers to marriage as being between a man and a woman. Though Doctrine and Covenants 111is not a revelatory statement, its preface states that "the church knows no other law of marriage than that which is set forth here."
In summary, no language in these guiding documents provides for same-sex marriage. To allow Community of Christ priesthood to officiate in same-sex marriages, when our policy does not allow it, during a time in which the church still is sorting through this divisive issue, would only cause further division and reduce participation in the discussion process.
As stated above, the First Presidency believes the only way to engage with integrity and fairness in church-wide discussions on this difficult issue is to abide by the policies of the church as long as they are officially in place, even if the policies themselves are under debate. Consequently, we want to be clear that Community of Christ priesthood members are not authorized by the church to officiate in same-sex marriages, even where it is legal to do so.
It is the responsibility of all church officers, staff, pastors, and priesthood to be aware of and adhere to church policies pertaining to this issue. Presiding officers and mission center leaders, please provide this information to all pastors and priesthood in your areas of responsibility.
We understand that this communication will be greeted warmly by some and will be frustrating to others. Still, we believe it is vital for us to consistently honor the current policies as stated by the World Conference and interpreted by World Church leaders.
Please be assured of our heartfelt appreciation for your ministry and leadership, especially as we deal with difficult matters that touch us all.
In Christ's Peace,
The First Presidency
CC: Standing High Council