A recent PRRI poll shows that more and more LDS (especially younger LDS) “favor” or “strongly favor” allowing same-sex couples to marry legally:
Obviously, the key point in the wording is that it focuses on the legality of “allowing” SSM.
There’s a lot to be said for the libertarian approach of not caring what two consensual adults do, or if the state allows them to be married. But for those of us who lived through Prop 8 here in California, I can only say that the idea that we can somehow divorce the “legality” of SSM with the “morality” of SSM is a new development and one that would have been great to hear 10 years ago.
As with abortion (and, in the early 1930s, drinking alcohol), the Church only seems to achieve peace and clarity on this distinction after it has had its hat handed to it by the public and the courts. This approach to the issue is an adaptation (or, dare I say, “evolution”) that works to preserve some semblance of the original doctrinal claims in the face of a radically changing society (and laws).
While the present numbers (and muddled wording of the survey) are interesting, it is far more interesting to imagine what the future holds. What will the Church look like if the coming generations adopt much more tolerant views towards homosexuality, including homosexual sex inside monogamous homosexual marriage?
I suspect the first impulse will be for the Church to try and minimize the damage by just not talking about it anymore. For example, after losing in the USA and seeing the tide shift in other parts of the world, we don’t see any more massive and concerted efforts by the Church to rally the time and money of members to fight it. It’s not talked about much at all anymore. And it will be talked about less and less, to create as few points of conflict as possible.
That may be enough to appease some members, but I suspect there will be enough friction that it won’t ever be relegated to the same back burner as abortion and legal alcohol sales, because SSM (and homosexuality) is a fundamentally different issue. Leaders may think it’s simply a doctrinal hot potato that they just have to keep juggling, but I suspect it’s more of a doctrinal hand grenade, and time is running out.