"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
November 04, 2015
Many Faiths Speak in Support of Traditional Marriage, Family
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Latter-day Saints seeking to explain the “why” of the definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman have a lot of support from other faiths in Not Just Good, but Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship between Man and Woman (Plough Publishing House 2015, 164 pages, $12).

The compilation of 16 speeches by participants at the Vatican’s Humanum colloquium in Rome in November 2014 strengthens the LDS position with what the Church has long been saying. But it’s not just the Church saying it.

The range of faiths is wide — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu — and the thought both logical and quotable.

Gerhard Cardinal Muller writes in the preface about the colloquium: “The mere existence of such a broad-based gathering, and the obvious goodwill among the participants, is already an affirmation that the joyful truth of the complementarity of man and woman in marriage is not a sectarian proposition or a belief limited to one or another religious group. Rather, the great religious traditions of the world together recognize that the truth of marriage is something written on the human heart by a loving Creator.”

He further states the initiative’s conviction that “the union of husband and wife in marriage offers a vital contribution to the flourishing of spouses, children, communities, and whole societies.”

Rev. Russell D. Moore of Southern Baptist Churches calls marriage and family “matters of public importance, not just of our various theological and distinctive ecclesial communities” and asserts that “marriage, and the sexual difference on which it is built, is grounded in a natural order bearing rights and responsibilities that was not crafted by any human state, and cannot thus be redefined by any human state.”

President Henry B. Eyring’s touching tribute to his wife is included in the essays, but there are plenty of other substantive arguments and testimonials beyond the sole Latter-day Saint voice.

Pope Francis leads boldly with “Family is an anthropological fact — a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it with concepts of an ideological nature that are relevant only in a single moment of history and then pass by. We can’t speak today of a conservative notion of family or a progressive notion of family. Family is family! It can’t be qualified by ideological notions. Family has a strength in and of itself.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks affirms, “Marriage and the family are where faith finds its home and where the Divine Presence lives in the love between husband and wife, parent and child.” Noting what he calls “the collapsed of marriage,” he declares, “Our compassion for those who choose to live differently should not inhibit us from being advocates for the single most humanizing institution in history. The family – man, woman, and child – is not one lifestyle choice among many. It is the best means we have yet discovered for nurturing future generations and enabling children to grow in a matrix of stability and love.”

Scottish professor N.T Wright argues sagely, “The biblical picture of man and woman together in marriage is not something about which we can say, ‘Oh well, they had some funny ideas back then. We know better now.’ The biblical view of marriage is part of the larger whole of new creation, and it symbolizes and points to that divine plan.”

Tsui-Ying Sheng offers her Taoist view on oneness in marriage: “Though yin and yang look opposite to each other, they can’t exist independently.... If there is no yin, yang can’t appear alone. Likewise, if there is no yang, yin won’t exist. That’s the thought of coexistence, complementarity, and reciprocity. They form a perfect unity with two in one.”

She shares the example of her and her husband having two children, now in their 20s and adds, “We think children have the right to complete family love coming from their father and mother... Now it’s their turn to find their other half, to organize their family, and to carry on the responsibilities of maintaining the vitality of our family and the flourishing of human society.”

Wael Farouq explains the Arabic language has no separate words for husband, wife, or married couple; all are indicated by a single word, zawj, meaning “two persons different from one another, bound together, who cannot manage without each other.”

Therefore, he writes, “marriage is not only a legal frame for a sexual relationship. It is a form of existence, an experience of mutual completion, a space for the emergence of God’s love and his compassion for the world.”

Farouq also makes a good point here: “People assume that the simple existence of a person’s desire for something gives this person the right to strive for its fulfillment.”

Evangelist Rev. Rick Warren comments, “Our culture has accepted two lies: that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle you must hate them or are afraid of them, and that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.”

“Truth is truth no matter who doubts it ... and just because we break God’s laws, that does not invalidate them.” He states unequivocally, “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. There are many other kinds of relationships, but those aren’t marriage.”

As antidotes to current trends, Warren urges affirming God’s word and celebrating healthy marriages. Anabaptist Johann Christian Arnold sees the spiritual community as a safeguard to marriage.

“As a pastoral team, my wife and I have seen that marriage is vulnerable without a fellowship of believers who seek each other out for strength, support, and advice.” Noting that “God’s plan will not always be welcomed,” he declares, “The family is the bedrock for the survival of the human race ... The false teachings about marriage cannot be reversed by words alone. Children and young people need to see God’s love and truth in action.”

Not Just Good but Beautiful is an excellent resource for many reasons, not the least of which is its capacity for helping to strengthen existing marriages. A highly recommended, thought-provoking read.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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