SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Just because the nation may change its laws to "tolerate legalized acts of immorality" does not make those acts any less spiritually damaging, senior Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer said Saturday (April 6) at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 183rd Annual General Conference.
"The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality," Packer said, "does not reduce the serious spiritual consequences that result from the violation of God's law of chastity."
Packer, president of the Mormons' Quorum of Twelve Apostles and next in line to take over the church's reins, didn't specifically mention gay marriage, but his comments came amid controversy on the issue nationwide and a significant swing in public and political opinion toward favoring such same-sex unions.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering two cases on the matter, one concerning whether to uphold California's Proposition 8, which Mormons heavily backed to limit marriage to unions between men and women, and the other on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which also defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
In addition, the Boy Scouts of America recently announced it is weighing whether to lift a long-standing ban on allowing openly gay members and leaders in the organization. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the nation's largest sponsor of Scouting.
"Tolerance is a virtue, but, like all virtues, when exaggerated it transforms itself into a vice," said the 88-year-old Packer, speaking from his chair rather than from the pulpit. "We need to be careful of the'tolerance trap' so that we are not swallowed up in it."
(Lisa Schencker writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.)