You didn’t think the Church would pass up an opportunity to fight gay marriage, did you?
The 2019 Come, Follow Me curriculum is now available on the Gospel Library app and on the Church’s website. As Dave B pointed out last week, the curriculum is home-based. Sunday School classes for youth and adults as well as Primary classes are meant only as supplements to home study. As such, Sunday School and Primary teachers are meant to first consult the home manual, Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, prior to preparing their lessons. Gospel Doctrine and youth teachers then use Come, Follow Me–For Sunday School. Primary teachers use Come, Follow Me–For Primary. The lessons are all pre-scheduled, with study periods beginning each Monday (probably for Family Home Evening) and ending on Sunday.
For the week of May 13-19, church members will study Matthew 19-20, Mark 10, and Luke 18. In this lesson, we learn about marriage, the story of the rich young man, and the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. The marriage section in the home manual has two sections, one about marriage between men and women being ordained of God and the other about divorce. In that first section, the manual states, “You may know people who disagree with or oppose the Lord’s standards regarding marriage.” It then recommends a video to learn how to share your opinion and disagree respectfully. The video, “Everyday Example: When Beliefs Are Questioned,” shows arguments and tentative resolution between two women who disagree about gay marriage. In the video, one of the women specifically attacks the Church’s involvement in the public sphere on the issue.
The Sunday School version of the same lesson also covers gay marriage, though it is more explicit later in an additional resources section. In the main body of the lesson, you get something similar to what’s in the home manual (minus the video). First, a vague assertion, “Increasingly, the world’s views on marriage diverge from eternal truth.” Later it also covers the idea of sharing beliefs with those who disagree. “Consider inviting class members to role-play how they might explain our beliefs about marriage to someone who believes differently.”
The “Additional Resources” section, however, gets more specific. First, there’s an excerpt from 2014 instruction to Church members by the First Presidency following the temporary legalization of gay marriage in Utah. But that’s not the most interesting part. It’s when we get this:
The Lord expects us to show love and compassion to those who advocate or participate in something other than God’s plan for marriage, such as cohabitation or same-sex marriage (see mormonandgay.lds.org). True compassion includes doing our best to lovingly and patiently invite them to follow God’s plan, which is the only plan of true happiness. To embrace or endorse alternatives to God’s plan is more harmful than helpful.
So while the Church is encouraging “love and compassion” towards those who believe differently, we are to “lovingly and patiently invite them to follow God’s plan.” We invite cohabiting heterosexual couples to marry and married gay couples to divorce. Gotcha.
However, there’s a good chance most members will never see this last statement. It’s not in the home materials, and a Sunday School teacher could opt to focus only on the main marriage materials or stories like the rich young man or the laborers in the vineyard. Only if a Sunday School teacher pulls from the extra marriage material will youth or adults hear it. But it’s still in an official church publication, and that lends a certain weight.
What do you think about the way the Church has incorporated the fight against gay marriage into the new Come, Follow Me curriculum?