Monday Morning Theological Poll: Canon Conundrum Edition

Does it matter if the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is ever canonized?

Justify your answer below.


  1. Left Field says:

    I’m bewildered by most of the choices. Or maybe it’s just the question I don’t understand.

  2. Allison says:

    Back when the proclamation was first announced, like many others, I thought it was a nice statement. However, even then, fresh off my mission, I didn’t consider it a revelation, or an amazing, thus-sanity-the-Lord statement. I’ll admit that about 10 years later, I kind of wanted a framed copy on my wall (line all my other Mormon friends), but now, I’m glad I never did that and while I think it has some beautiful points – like families are great! – it has unfortunately caused too many church members to think silly things like “Families are great IF they are lead by active, CJCLDS heterosexuals. Otherwise, they are just fooling themselves. Sad!” I chose the second option, by the way, that if the proclamation is canonized, I have to reckon with it. At least more than I do now, I suppose.

  3. Allison, Thanks for your comment. Sometimes auto-correct gives us something unusual to think about. Now I’m thinking about “thus-sanity-the-Lord statements.” :)

    John C., I believe the Proclamation on the Family as far as it is translated correctly. Your last option goes too far for me, but is the closest option to the fact that canonization would make no difference to my belief. I’d vote against canonization. It would cause too many additional problems for some. Maybe it could be revised first — kinda like the never canonized JST or the [sort of?] canonized JS changes to his early revelations now appearing in the D&C. It wouldn’t seem wise to canonize it without also adopting and using a procedure for de-canonization — maybe like dropping the Lectures on Faith or the 1835 Sections 101 and 102 (including the Statement on Marriage) from the D&C. Maybe Section 132 could be revised while we’re at it. :)

  4. D Christian Harrison says:

    Does it matter? Hell yes, it matters. Should it be? Hell no, it’s dreck.

  5. Yes and no.

    No because “canon” means a general rule, principle, or standard by which things are judged or compared. By that definition the Proclamation is canon already and it’s hard to imagine a process that could make it more so.

    Yes (it matters but I don’t care) because “canon” also mean a sacred writ. We don’t have a well-established process for sacralizing a writing. Everything I have heard argued seems over- or under-inclusive. But I think the history and purpose of the Proclamation would leave a lot of us puzzled at the meaning.

    Yes (it matters and I do care) because the “every word = word of God” contingent need nothing more for themselves but would use any sort of canonization process as a cudgel to enforce conformity and durability.

    But my most heartfelt opinion is the Proclamation needs significant revision—a rewrite—and will be an embarrassment in time without one. For that reason, the less formalization (in present form) the better.

  6. It matters because the canon of scripture is still a category that matters, even if it gets a little fuzzy with things that are in the canon that we mostly ignore (like the Song of Songs, or like the polygamy aspect of section 132) or things that are not in the canon that we like to talk about a lot (like the proclamation). But, that said, canonizing it wouldn’t, I think, make much of a difference in the short term to the way the proc is treated in the church. Though it might extend its life span.

  7. hartwellft says:

    I remember when it came out. Our last child was a teenager. My first thought was where was this 20 years ago, it is of no use to me now. That is pretty much how I still feel about it. It presents the ideal, perhaps, but families and situations differ so, no one can really meet all it demands. Canonize it and it becomes one more thing we can feel we failed at.

  8. Again, your options leave me with no answer. I would like you to list this: No. The family proclamation contains some text that just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Specifically, it claims that husbands and wives are equal partners, but it also claims that the husband presides in the home. Well, the only way to reconcile those two ideas is to redefine “equal,” which, of course, the Brethren have tried to do, without convincing me. There’s some other stuff in it that is questionable, and if you tried to nail them down on these questions, I think they’d have a hard time substantiating the claims in the text.

  9. Jared Livesey says:

    Maybe the question ought to be “is ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ literally true?” Whichever way one chooses to answer, one’s answer renders the Proclamation’s status vis-a-vis canonization irrelevant.

    True statements don’t have to make sense to be true – advanced mathematical proofs being an example – because whether they make sense to us or not may simply be a function of our own ignorance, which may or may not be vincible. True statements simply cannot self-contradict, nor contradict things which are known to be true.

  10. I voted, “Yes. We have an established process for accepting something as scripture and exceptions shouldn’t be made.” The church should stop treating it like scripture until it’s canonized. And they should try to canonize it and anyone with a conscience should vote opposed.

  11. Welp, the trolls done found us.

  12. GEOFF -AUS says:

    If it were canonized it would indicate to me that the leadership had taken another leap to the tight politically, and I would expect much more obedience tests to come. I would probably be exed.
    I was wondering the other day whether the leaders could continue to say gay marriage is a moral issue, but members voting for Trump is not something we should question?

  13. Rockwell says:

    “Welp, the trolls done found us.”

    I’m perplexed by this comment… Unless there are several comments removed by admins? The comments that are showing do not seem inconsistent with other threads on BCC. It’s true that one might expect a little more support for the family proc in a forum that is primarily for believers, but it BCC tends to be anti-homophobic, which leads to a certain antipathy towards the family proc.

    I don’t classify myself as a believer, but I hope that doesn’t make me a troll. I try to include that caveat when I think it matters, which is not very often because I usually try to base my comments on reasoning rather than faith.

    I don’t like any of the voting options and did not vote. It would matter if the family proc were canonized because it would be harder to undo. I do not believe the family proc to be inspired: I don’t even think it’s very good, and a few small bits are actually bad. At one time I believed it, but no longer. Does that make me a troll? I don’t know, but if it does, then I don’t understand the goals of this community.

  14. Loursat says:

    The entanglement of the proclamation with church leaders’ position on same-sex marriage is, I think, one of the best reasons to be very reluctant to canonize the proclamation. It presents itself as a statement about families, but it originated in church leaders’ concern about same-sex marriage, and it has been constantly used as a cornerstone of rhetoric about same-sex marriage ever since. At this point, the document’s covert meaning about homosexuality is just as important as what it says overtly about families.

    It is a weakness of the proclamation that it was crafted as a tool for the fight against same-sex marriage. The church’s teachings about family reach far beyond the context of discussions about same-sex marriage. An authoritative statement about our doctrine on families ought to be developed with the full scope of the doctrine in mind. That can happen more effectively if we take a lot of steps back from our preoccupation with same-sex marriage. If, from a more complete perspective, it still seems like a good idea to make a proclamation on families, then let’s do it. I doubt that the current version of the proclamation fits the bill.

    I agree with other commenters that the way many leaders speak of the proclamation right now seems to make it practically indistinguishable from a canonized document. But that can change. Time will mold our perspective as wisdom accrues. It’s harder for that healthy process to happen if we start binding a not-fully-baked proclamation in our books of scripture.

  15. The other Chad says:

    Active for all of my 60 years. Currently on a mission. Politics drove me from one ward and have nearly driven me from the church. Canonizing this political statement would be the final straw.

  16. Troll comment referred to the President Benson option getting 100 votes in less than an hour. That was unusual and, I’m assuming, the result of trolling.

  17. Rockwell says:

    John C, that makes more sense. But that was also one my favorite answers, and I might have voted for it had it started with “Yes, but…” instead of “no”

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