Research and The Family ProclamationQuality research can provide evidence for that which is good
Why is research included in the annotated Family Proclamation?
Why has research on marriage and the family been included on this site? We believe that good scholarship can complement or confirm the clear, repeated, united teachings of the prophets. Quality scholarship and research won’t contradict eternal truth and doctrine. Because “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is based on unchangeable, incontrovertible eternal truths, the goal of this site is to support (not debate) the proclamation.
The Harmony of Faith and Reason
In an address delivered at a Brigham Young University symposium titled “Some Thoughts on the Gospel and the Behavioral Sciences” Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:
More work can be done in converging scholarship and scriptural truths … and much more bridge-building can be done than has been done—without compromising the concepts contained in the revelations of God. … God has sent consistent and repetitive messages concerning human behavior through Jesus Christ, and through prophets, emphasizing again and again certain key principles. The very repetitiveness of those messages lets us know much about man’s nature, especially in view of God’s perfect love for us and his perfect knowledge about us. …
We can listen with both the ears of scholarship and scripture. “True believers,” as Alma used the term, are also true scholars. Theories based on relativistic ethics are congenitally and fatally flawed, and these have created the greatest confusion around the very issues that matter most.
The bridge between revealed truth and the world of scholarship is a critical element of this site. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that these essential doctrines must be presented academically, as well as spiritually:
A commitment to truth requires the rejection of some things as well as the acceptance of others. … The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not “data rich and theory poor.” These patches of profundities … are, of course, interconnected in a spiritual ecology in a system of law which can and must be much better presented to the thoughtful people of the world than we have yet done. … We will need to be at least as diligent as the children of this world are in pursuing their research and in advancing their values, … [and] LDS behavioral scientists must extract both the obvious and hidden wisdom embedded in the value system of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prominent scholar Ryan Anderson also explains that we have a responsibility to show the world the harmony between faith and reason:
When faced with modern relativism, we have the obligation to propose with the apostle Paul the more excellent way. We will face this challenge everywhere our lives take us: in government service, in the marketplace, within our families, and in service to the church. We must be prepared to defend truth as never before. … When faced with secularist ideologies, we have the responsibility to show the world the harmony of faith and reason. And this only intensifies … [in] a world that is simultaneously hungry for and resistant to your message.
In a culture that is so confused about morality, and with so many people hurting from false teachings, helping people see the truth is one way of loving our neighbors. … Bad philosophy needs to be answered by good philosophy. Bad science needs to be responded to with good science—this is true with the science of embryology and the social science of marriage and the psychology of gender identity. … Even if your professional vocation will never bring you anywhere near these debates, you need to continue the learning … and prepare yourselves for the discussions at the office water cooler and at Little League games, being ready to help your neighbors understand the reasons for the truth.
The only way to persevere in living out the truth of the natural law is to know and love the natural lawgiver.
Today’s debates simply extend a faulty anthropology to a new domain: Whether it be debates about abortion or assisted suicide, same-sex marriage or gender identity, they all challenge three truths right on the first page of the Bible: that we are made in the image and likeness of God, that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other.
We now need to defend these truths using every discipline that can reveal the truth about man. In addition to John Paul’s Theology of the Body, we need a philosophy of the body, and a psychology of the body, and a sociology of the body. We need you. We need philosophers and theologians. Psychiatrists and psychologists. Biologists and sociologists. And we need artists and saints, because our defense of the truth can never be merely an intellectual exercise.
Ryan Anderson, PhD