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Elder Ballard Addresses Importance of Traditional Marriage at World Congress of Families

Apostle speaks of need for understanding, love and compassion

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke Tuesday morning at the ninth World Congress of Families being held in Salt Lake City. Several thousand participants have gathered at the Grand America Hotel for the four-day meeting, which features 185 speakers comprised of scholars, researchers and religious leaders.

“Society, law and popular opinion may change, but we know that society’s version of the family cannot and will not substitute for God’s purpose and plan for His children,” said Elder Ballard in his opening remarks as he outlined “how completely linked [Mormon] theology is to the traditional family.”

“In today's world, where marriage and children are increasingly marginalized, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not stand alone in identifying the traditional family as one of its most important doctrinal elements,” he said, adding that Pope Francis, the Southern Baptist Convention and other churches and prominent Christian leaders have also promoted traditional families.

Elder Ballard explained the Church’s position on marriage, which was outlined 20 years ago in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” He said, “This doctrine explains our strong position on the family. We also believe we are to reach out to all people with understanding, love and compassion.”

The proclamation, issued by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, states, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and … the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

Elder Ballard also stressed the significance of temples to Mormons. “Temples are very important to Latter-day Saints because in them couples are married for ‘time and all eternity,’ not just ‘till death do you part.’”

“We must rally all the support we can to strengthen and protect our faiths, families and freedom. Some are actively trying to strip us of these rights,” he said.

Elder Ballard also encouraged those in the audience to “extend a hand of fellowship to those with whom we disagree.” He cited the Church’s support of recent legislation passed by the Utah Legislature that protects LGBT people from being fired or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. The legislation also protects religious freedom.

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“By engaging in compromise and extending love to all God’s children, who are our brothers and sisters, we can create a peaceful, diverse tapestry of ideals and beliefs,” Elder Ballard said. “Remember, married or single, that, in the end, we are each a unique part of God's grand plan.”

The global World Congress of Families has been held in previous years in Sydney, Madrid and Amsterdam.

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