Thursday/Friday Theological Poll: Family Futures Edition

What do you think is the most likely fate of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”?

Vote above; comment below.


  1. Five years ago I would have voted for canonization. Now I think the last is most likely. What a difference a few years makes…

  2. I voted for the last because there was no option for “Use it as kindling.” I think the general membership by and large will continue to display it in their living rooms and puff up their chests, and use it to bully other members.

    However, I am firmly in the pro camp for “If you could Hie to Kolob” Wonderful hymn, and I believe the concept to be doctrinally sound. I am not saying others have to/should/etc, but I definitely do.

  3. Dave K. says:

    What Jeff said.

  4. Stephen says:

    No new doctrine was introduced with the document as far as I know. It seems to me the brethren were just bearing testimony to the world of what they knew about the family. Do you really think the doctrine behind it will change? It won’t.

    I think you can accept it as doctrine while also being sensitive to those of our brothers and sisters who struggle with same gender attraction.

  5. Observer says:

    I have to agree with Stephen (#4).

    The Family: A Proclamation to the World didn’t really say anything new, much like The Living Christ didn’t say anything new. Both are simply formal restatements of the Church’s teachings and positions on their respective subjects.

    As such, there’s no need to canonize it, and similarly no basis to disavow or de-emphasize it.

  6. Snyderman says:

    It may not have said anything that had not been said before, but I think it’s the most official declaration against gay marriage as well as for gender roles. In that sense, there could be de-emphasis. I think that the Church might already be heading in the direction of de-emphasis of those teachings.

  7. To a certain degree, it may not matter how the leadership uses the Proclamation. What will matter is how the membership responds (or doesn’t) to it. Nothing prevents us from welcoming and fully accepting folks with alternative family connections.

  8. Seth R. says:

    Why are all but one of the options “de-emphasis?”

  9. Seth R. What other possible options do you think there are besides canonization, or de-emphasis? The fact that something that is not canon is emphasized ad-nauseam is a problem (to me). So it either makes sense to make it official or let it go the way that the dinosaurs people used to ride have.

  10. Look to the bottom, Seth. Also, feel free to suggest alternatives.

  11. How about, a follow-up question asking what will you do if it’s canonized? What will you do if it’s rebuked? De-emphasized?

  12. Good question.

  13. Capozaino says:

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

    “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as *equal* partners.”

    I always thought these two statements could be considered new, depending on how literally you interpret “gender” and “equal.” If “gender” means “sex” and “equal” means “haha, just kidding you guys,” then I agree there is nothing really new in there.

  14. Seth R. says:

    Well, the bottom option didn’t seem like something I could get behind either.

    Why not just let it continue as uncanonized, yet highly emphasized doctrine – like Heber J. Grant’s enforced ban on alcohol and tobacco? The bans on alcohol and tobacco aren’t canonized either. But no one can reasonably suggest either is “de-emphasized” or “unclear doctrinal status.”

  15. The senior couple missionaries in my singles’ ward are deeply conservative Mormons of a certain age. I’ve gone several rounds with him in particular about the gender roles mandated by the Proclamation. It is his honest belief that women working outside the home is a social plague comparable to pornography, abuse, or rivers of blood.

  16. Seth,
    For better or worse, we claim that those bans are found in D&C 89. We still haven’t identified the scripture on which we might base the Proclamation.

  17. Mark Brown says:

    Since nobody can name any of the other six proclamations that have been issued by the church, I’m inclined to think this one will also eventually be forgotten.

  18. Seth R. says:

    John, the BANS are not contained in scripture. The bans are inferences drawn from scripture.

  19. If it was going to be canonized, it would have likely already happened. I see it continuing to be favored by the majority of church members, but in ten years, probably not as prominent. I voted for the last option. I think it certainly lacks the gravitas for canonization, and can’t see how you would structure that argument for inclusion based on scripture we currently have.

  20. How about an option for “No real emphasis on the Proclamation itself, but emphasis on the doctrines contained therein,” which seems to be what’s happening now?

    I dunno, I really don’t see the problem with it. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be an anti-same sex marriage document, but it doesn’t mention same sex marriage at all. I’ve heard it’s supposed to espouse rigid gender roles, but it only mentions men and women’s “primary responsibilities.” This does not mean that men and women cannot do anything outside of those responsibilities. It also states that men and women ought to be equal partners, which I find many conservative LDS families don’t seem to realize.

    So… what’s the problem with it again, exactly?

  21. No need to canonize it when it gets quoted in GC more frequently than any section of scripture of similar length. I voted for the last option, I would like to see it fade the way previous proclamations have.

    On the topic of D&C 89, I will continue to insist that the text itself says to drink wine and beer, though I’ve never had either. I am out of compliance with the text.

  22. Certainly in today’s usage (since its publication through today) there continues to be discussion of it and applicaiton of it. It is oft cited in conference, including by men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators. And, though the bloggernacle too great notice of Elder Packer’s calling it revelation and then having his words edited (by himself or others) to call it counsel, most people didn’t.

    I suspect most members see it as inspired and not surprising in any way, and will continue to use it in that way. It’s certainly conceivable that it will fade from prominence, but only when people stop quoting from it so regularly in conference. (It seems to me in today’s world, conference talks are far more reviewed and repeated than even 10 or 15 years ago, so they have great influence on what is forgotten and what is not.)

  23. Snyderman says:

    A few thoughts, Ben:

    1) No, the Proclamation does not mention same sex marriage. It does, however, mention marriage: specifically that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” By implication, then, other forms of marriage are not ordained of God.

    2) While the statement on a mother’s role includes the language “primarily responsible,” the statement on a father’s role contains no such language. Furthermore, the father’s role is sexist: preside, provide, and protect. Because obviously the husband and wife will be equal partners as long as both of them remember that the husband is the one that presides. Plus, thank goodness the husband is there to protect, because otherwise the wife would be all sorts of victimized.

    3) Furthermore, these “primary responsibilties”–if they can accurately be described that way–are by “divine design.” So what does it say about those people who don’t adhere to the pattern laid out in the Proclamation? Well, among other things, it means they are not following “divine design,” which means they’re not following God.

    So I think there is a good deal more rigidity there than you say.

  24. Central Standard says:

    I think it will go the way of the resin grapes that seemingly every Relief Society made in the ’70’s….

  25. CarminaB says:

    “Resin grapes”!!! Great comparison and I hope it happens that way. If the Proclamation goes away, then the general authorities can stop trying to explain that ” when a mother has to work because of necessity….. etc”. NO family is alike, I live in Provo and I would say most women in my ward work outside the home, necessity or not, I don’t know and it’s none of my business. Some days, my kids drive me insane and I wish I could work outside the home and get away. I am waiting for my toddler is older and I don’t need to pay child care. I always felt “less than” at church when I joined as a youth, because my mother was divorced and there was a lot on emphasis on “priesthood”, my mom got fed up with that notion and other peculiarities and left the church.

  26. John C., I’m so happy you brought forth a poll from your font of wisdom and goodness and shared it with your flock. Blessings be upon you and your house!

    I went with the last one, thinking of the phrase “calling and election made sure” which I heard 20 years ago, but haven’t heard recently. Or the mass migration to Missouri, or other faith promoting rumors. ;)

  27. Butch Bowman says:

    John C. (#16) makes a very good point. While the Proclamation is certainly based on well-established Mormon doctrines a la the Gospel Principles manual, it is difficult (for me anyway) to find a good, concrete basis for many of its statements in the scriptures themselves. This has made it easier for many of us (or at least several) to rethink it in the wake of Prop. 8 and marginalize its significance.

    Of course, if it had been presented to the Church from the get-go as a real revelation from God to Pres. Hinckley, we would have much greater difficulty doing this. But it wasn’t. And it’s not surprising, since finding ANY such revelation since the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. is…well…questionable.

    So anyway, at this point, it seems to me that the Proclamation was not so much an inspired document as an attempt by the Brethren to solidify the Church behind an orthodox statement of family values in order to shield the Church itself from the onslaught of societal change. As has been mentioned, this was effective for a time, but in the last few years some (or at least several) have begun to rethink things.

    And since it’s not an actual revelation, it is unlikely to be canonized. However—as has also been mentioned—many in the Church will continue to beat others over the head with it. And it seemed like such a nice, little Proclamation….

  28. “And it’s not surprising, since finding ANY such revelation since the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. is…well…questionable.”

    Butch, are you saying that there haven’t been any revelations to the church or church leadership since JS’s death? Or just none that have been written and canonized? Because you’d be wrong on both counts. Hope this doesn’t shatter your liberal faith. Perhaps the correlation system can inoculate you from such folk doctrines! :)

  29. I’d be willing to entertain the notion that nothing since revelation given to Joseph Smith was *actual* revelation. I am a hardcore Smith-ite though. I actually describe myself as a Joseph Smith Mormon most of the time.

  30. Butch Bowman says:

    Don’t worry, “huh?”. I’m okay. The point of the comment was to raise the question of what would constitute a revelation for the Church today. The men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators are certainly inspired men of God, but they do not prophesy, see or revelate in the same way Joseph did. With the Proclamation, they seem to have wanted to produce something akin to a revelation, but they couldn’t bring themselves to call it one. Because it wasn’t.

  31. KaralynZ says:

    Surprisingly I agree with EOR, after learning some of the things Brigham Young changed when he took over, I now thing that God speaks directly (“THUS SAITH THE LORD”) a lot less than we assume he does.

  32. The poll needs another option. I think it will eventually be added colloquially to the same status as ‘The Origin of Man’ or the ‘King Follett Discourse’. Basically, it won’t be canonized because what it says is “already contained in scripture” but it also won’t be disavowed or de-emphasized.

  33. DRC,
    The last option is the one you are looking for. Also, the is very little in the Proclamation that is supported by scripture. As Seth pointed out, that doesn’t necessarily matter, but there you go.

  34. Ah! I’m with DRC. I didn’t realize that was my option. I thought that last category meant “quaint, honored although dishonorable, embarrassing” — when what I was hunting for was “doctrinal, not in need of canonization because it summarizes existing doctrine.” I know that many here don’t agree that that’s what it does, but that’s the option I was looking for.

  35. Naismith says:

    I agree with the first half of #13. When I joined the church as a feminist in the 1970s, I spent a lot of time looking for information about whether we chose our gender when we came to earth. This seemed to finally answer that question.

    Equal partners, while a great concept, did not seem as revolutionary as the eternal nature of gender. It had been discussed a lot prior to that.

    I love the PotF. I think it is incredibly empowering for mothers. It is a clear rebuttal to those who would claim that a father has the final word over the family, by stating that she, not he, is primarily responsible for the nurture the children. Considering what a huge percentage of a couple’s effort involves nurturing if they have children, it definitely levels the playing field for women.

    I have been employed most of the time I have been a mother, and I respect the right of every family to come up with their individual adaptation through the stewardship that they hold. You don’t have to be a reactionary like the missionary described in 15 to appreciate the document.

    I don’t have an opinion about what will happen to it.

  36. Nick Literski says:

    I think it’s most likely to go the way of the revelation on celestial marriage. In other words, the text will stick around, but it will be “officially” reinterpreted in order to match changed doctrinal teachings. For example, while the proclamation says “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of god,” the text is currently interpreted as a condemnation of marriage between two persons of the same sex, even though the document actually doesn’t explicitly say that. Someday in the future, the LDS church will end its official condemnation of same-sex couples, and leaders will speak as if the proclamation never dealt with the subject of marriage equality at all.

  37. Snyderman says:

    Naismith, I’m not sure that stating that the mother’s primary responsibility is nurturing the children means that she has the final word. I don’t think that logically follows. It could mean that, but I think it could mean other things as well. I think it follows much more logically that the “presider” (i.e. father) has the final word.

  38. Seth R. says:

    Problem is that “preside” means something completely different in a Mormon doctrinal sense than it does anywhere else in human society.

    If you think that “preside” means “I have the final word” – then according to the D&C, you’re doing it wrong.

  39. We had this discussion on another thread (I can’t remember which one) but I at least was never sufficiently convinced that preside in the Proclamation means anything different than it does everywhere else in the universe. One of the countless reasons I advocated using it as kindling in an earlier comment.

  40. Snyderman says:

    And if that’s how you read my comment, you’re doing it wrong. I did not say that preside means having the final word, or even that it should. I simply said that “My primary responsibility is nurturing the children; therefore I have the final word,” does not follow as easily as “I preside, therefore I have the final word.”

    On that note, though, although any “presider” who goes out of his/her way to “have the final word” is doing it wrong, whenever there is uncertainty, you go to the “presider.” For example, if there’s ever a question about what is appropriate during Sacrament meeting, you ask the person presiding at the meeting (the bishop). And in answering, the bishop is in fact doing it right. So it’s not a huge leap to think of the “presider” as having the final word, though that is certainly not all it means or even what it primarily means.

  41. No, that’s still doing it wrong.

    Preside doesn’t mean you’re the tie-breaker when there isn’t any agreement between you and your wife. Preside means that if there’s disagreement, you keep at it until there is genuine agreement, and if there isn’t – you don’t do it. The D&C makes this quite clear – and our Church organization and culture is designed to attempt to foster this kind of approach. If there are failures, they are due to people smuggling in assumptions about power and authority from the outside culture into the LDS system.

  42. Seth R. How can preside mean if you don’t agree you keep at it? Can you point me to where in the Doctrine and Covenants such an odd (and loaded) word is used to mean just kidding we’re all equals?

  43. I looked with the Gospel Library app and nothing that suits the meaning you are saying came up for me so I want to see what is missing.

  44. Snyderman says:

    Perhaps I should’ve been clearer with my example. I didn’t say disagreement, I said uncertainty. For example, let’s say you’re in charge of the music for Sacrament meetings and you want to do a special musical number. Thing is, the song isn’t from the hymn book or Primary songbook and so you’re not sure whether it would be appropriate. Who would you ask in order to find out? Answer: the bishop, the person who presides over Sacrament meeting. And in answering your question, the bishop is doing his job correctly. That’s what I meant by my example. And how it’s then not such a huge leap to think that the “presider” has the final word.

    Also, Doctrine and Covenants 28:10 states: “Thou shalt not leave this place until after the conference; and my servant Joseph shall be appointed to preside over the conference by the voice of it, and what he saith to thee thou shalt tell.” Just another example that shows the leap from “preside” to “have the final word” is not such a big one.

    And just to be clear, I have not once said this leap is correct, only that it makes a certain sort of sense. I can understand how people will think this. And you really need to make a stronger case for your argument, Seth R, because I think it could be a good and strong one, but you’re not doing it justice right now. A better one might look something like this:

    1. Start by stating that presiding as a bishop over a ward or as the Prophet over the Church is a fundamentally different sort of presiding because there is no “equal partner” involved.
    2. Explaining what “preside” then means for the family context.
    3. Giving specific scriptural (or even General Conference) examples of people intending “preside” to mean exactly that.
    4. Taking the argument one step further to explain how such an understanding leads to a more Christlike family.

    I think such an argument is certainly possible, and I think you may be trying to get at that, but so far your argument has been: “No you’re doing it wrong, because the Doctrine and Covenants says otherwise.” This is, for me, not a very compelling argument.

  45. Naismith says:

    Re. 37, I did not say that the mother gets the final word. I agree with Seth R that mostly there shouldn’t BE a tie-breaking vote, that a couple should work together to consensus as equal partners. What I was trying to say is that the empowerment in the PotF is IN OPPOSITION to the father-knows-best attitude that some people had prior to that (hopefully not since). That the mother’s input is at least as important as his because of her assigned responsibility, NOT less than his because he happens to be the conduit through which priesthood power flows into their home. Like any other responsibility, it means that she, not he, will one day have to account for how the children were nurtured. And as a result of her stewardship, sometimes she, not he gets revelation about what should be done.

    When there was an earthquake in Argentina in early 2010, it was Sister Laycock, not the mission president himself, who was warned about the need to prepare the missionaries. He took it seriously and went with her as they travelled to every apartment in the mission, preparing the missionaries. Did he feel emasculated by the fact that she had received the revelation? My guess is no, that he was pretty used to her getting revelation about the well-being of their children, so he took it in stride.

    My husband has come to appreciate that as well, and while I guess it could be seen as me claiming the final word on occasion, I like to think of it as both of us acknowledging my stewardship:) One of those rare times when I chose not to “keep at it” was when a daughter was expecting her first baby. I woke up one Saturday knowing that I had to get out there, even if she was not due for almost three weeks. I went into work to get things in shape, found a substitute teacher for church, and took a flight out on Sunday. My husband told me that I would be stuck there for weeks waiting and was not in favor. I arrived there Sunday evening, and at 6 a.m, she had to go to the hospital. Things would not have gone quite as well if I hadn’t been there, so we all ended up being grateful for the inspiration.

    I wouldn’t say that preside means something TOTALLY different in the church than out. The concept of “servant leadership” which is taught in secular settings fits very well with LDS teachings. And most of the items mentioned in comment 44 have actually been addressed, for example in Elder Oaks’ Oct 2005 general conference address, “Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church.”

  46. EOR,

    D&C 121:41-42

    41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

    If the only basis for priesthood authority is by persuasion, that means male priesthood-holders have no power to decide things by fiat.

    This is a pretty central verse EOR, and it’s implications and meaning are more than clear.

    You can’t decided things as a Priesthood holder without agreement. That is more than clear from this key, and often-quoted passage on Priesthood authority.

  47. Well, here is where the major impasse is coming in then. You think the Proclamation is claiming men preside by virtue of their Priesthood authority, whereas I think the Proclamation claims they preside by virtue of their genitals. Head if household, father knows best, etc etc etc…

  48. Ugly Mahana says:

    “Preside by virtue of their genitals.”

    This is a crude and insulting phrase. I hope that you intended to apply such reasoning to the prophet, because negligent thoughtlessness along these lines gets nowhere.

  49. Ugly Mahana if you think genitals are crude and insulting then I cannot help you. If clinical terms have such a strong effect on you that might be something to examine.

    The Proclamation discusses gender at length so it is neither crude, insulting, inappropriate, etc to discuss these things here.

  50. Ugly Mahana says:

    EOR, neither you nor those who signed the Proclamation were discussing genitalia.

    The proclamation discusses parenting and alludes to the full scope of relationships between husbands, wives, and children. Your assertion that this is mere biology is a reductive comparison that is not useful. I have no quibble with you setting forth your disagreements with those sections of the Proclamation you think wrongheaded, but the statement to which I do object was either an insult or a non-sequitor. It grabs one’s attention, but sheds no light on your argument.

  51. Ardis E. Parshall says:

    EOR, Ugly Mahana is right, and you should recognize both the crudity and the insult if you have ever had your own life and being reduced to your own genitalia by anyone using the four-letter word for female genitalia. That you use a clinical term to get past BCC’s spam filters makes little difference — you have still made the same crude and insulting reduction.

  52. Seth R. says:

    EOR, I won’t flat-out claim what you’re thinking is wrong. But it might be useful for you to present quoted text from the Proclamation that you believe ties the use of Priesthood to gender so we can all look and judge whether this appears to be the case.

  53. Seth R. says:

    I will disagree that gender can be boiled down to genitals. That is a rather crude assertion I think.

  54. After reading Ardis’ comment it seems to me that people think what I was saying is essentially that men are boiled down to their genitals. This is not what I was saying. I used genitalia to say that (in opposition to Seth’s belief that preside is used in the Proclamation to denote Priesthood) that I believe it references men presiding solely because they are men. I will explain that further in a minute.

    I hope that this was the issue and that people do not seriously think saying genitalia is crude. I found it more than a little odd that people were saying so which is what caused me to examine subsequent comments more closely.

    I also want to clarify that *I* do not, have not, will not ever say that gender is boiled down to genitalia. The impression that The Church has consistently given (by excommunicating or attempting to “fix” transgendered individuals) is that gender and sex are one in the same. I do not believe that is the case, but the Proclamation is a document authored by The Church so I had to address it on its own terms.

    Finally, the reason I believe the Proclamation uses preside in “the world’s” way is because the Proclamation is addressed to the world. It is not a Proclamation solely directed at Church Membership so I do not think that it holds logically that the insertion of the term preside refers to presiding in a Priesthood sense. I believe (as I referenced in my #47 comment) that it is a throwback to a Norman Rockwell-Leave It To Beaver-Father Knows Best throwback. The man presides because he is the “head of household” not because he is the Priesthood holder.

    There, now that has been cleared up.

  55. Ardis E. Parshall says:

    If you say so.

  56. Rachel Esplin Odell says:

    I’m with Seth R (14), DRC (32), and Ardis (34); I vote for the nonexistent option of, as Ardis puts it, “doctrinal, not in need of canonization because it summarizes existing doctrine.” I agree that this option is substantively different from any of the existing options, including the last one. In other words, it does seem that the question and options are phrased in a way that is biased against the Family Proclamation as doctrine.

  57. Danny-boy says:

    I’m not terribly “up” on the developing attitudes of the LDS Church and its members towards LGBT people and gay marriage. I’m aware of the basic history and contours of the debate up until about Prop 8. There were some suggestions above that the LDS Church’s attitude towards gay marriage is softening. Can someone fill me in on maybe what has happened in this regard since the Prop 8 battle in California? Or point me to a reference that discusses it? I would appreciate it.

  58. Coming late to the discussion – should something be canonized that isn’t revelation? And, if this proclamation was revealed, to whom was it revealed?

  59. Clair has the right idea, imo

  60. Danny-boy says:

    There is precedent for canonizing non-revelation. D&C 134 would be one example.