The Family: A Proclamation to the World was given to us in 1995. The issuing of this proclamation by the Church set us on a path that will forever separate us from the modern beliefs of the world. As the world moves further and further away from the behavior standards the Lord has given us, we will certainly become increasingly peculiar to the world at large.
War on families
Whether or not we perceive it in our daily lives, there is a war against families being waged every hour of every day. It is well established that the family is the basic unit of society. It is in the family that all of the values of one generation are passed on to the next generation. It is here in the family that our children learn respect, obedience, belief in God, and reverence for tradition and for the elderly.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “Why do we have this proclamation on the family now? Because the family is under attack. All across the world families are falling apart. The place to begin to improve society is in the home. Children do, for the most part, what they are taught. We are trying to make the world better by making the family stronger” (“Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign,Aug. 1997, 5).
The Lord is bent on uniting us as a people. There is power in unity, as we see in the power of the Godhead. They are united in all things. At the tower of Babel the Lord said that the tower represented the danger of the people being able to do anything they set their mind to, since they all spoke the same language and were united in what they wanted to accomplish. Since they were setting their hearts on evil, he confounded their language, causing them to separate into smaller groups.
This simple change in the language barrier set up by the Lord has caused it to be very difficult for the people of the earth to come together and unite with each other. Only in great righteousness does this unity happen across cultures and languages.
When families are united as a group, cities, states, and countries become more powerful. It is in the family, united in all things that the values of their local community, state and country are deliberately taught. If values are not deliberately taught, they start to erode and slip away, leaving Satan and his ilk to drive wedges and division into the relationships of the people. The family is the key to preventing this from happening.
This is why there is a war being waged on the family. But it is not a direct war. No one is coming into your home and taking your children away from you. No one is directly proscribing what you are to teach your children. Instead the media is teaching your children to disrespect authority (you) and to do what they want. The schools are teaching, and acting on the belief that they are the moral authority for teaching the next generation. The parents, in the school’s opinion, just get in the way of their indoctrination endeavors. Politicians actually state publicly that it is the government’s job to raise our children, not the duty of the parents.
Purpose of families
Eternal life is based on life as families. All gods have families. It was in a family we were raised, and we will raise our children as a family in the eternities. If Satan can destroy the family here, he will prevent many of us from being able to experience the joy and happiness of being in a family in the eternities.
The proclamation declares that we are all spirit children of heavenly parents. As such we have the potential to become like our heavenly parents. Where is that potential realized? Does it happen in the schools, public halls, or in political parties? No, it can only be realized through the deliberate teaching of values from parents to children in the home.
The Lord has blessed us with many technologies that can bless our lives, but evil and conspiring individuals are quick to exploit any new invention for monetary gains and to corrupt anyone they can with programs, entertainment, music, and time wasters. These are brought into our homes through our computers, tablets, phones, and other devices. It is up to the parents to teach responsible use and to give adequate warning to the children about the dangers of these things.
There are so many ways we can use our electronics to benefit our families. We have indexing that can be done online as a family. There are family histories and the preparation of names for the temples. There are service opportunities we can harness through the Internet that will allow us to work together and help others that were more difficult to access in the past. The website www.justserve.org is one such opportunity. It is sponsored by the Church and allows Church members to join with the whole local community in serving others in many ways.
There is only one way in which a family can become an eternal unit, and that is through the ordinances and covenants found in the temples. Not only do we need to make and keep these sacred covenants to ensure our ability in the future to keep and expand our family, but we need to teach our children about the importance of these covenants, and instill within them a desire to go to the temple and make those covenants for their own family.
Temple covenants are like any family value. They have to be deliberately taught, purposefully nurtured, and openly valued if the next generation is to receive them as a blessing instead of unwanted obligations. Satan and others are doing their level best to make these blessings seem like a burden. We have to actively demonstrate to our children how these blessings bring joy to our lives so they will want to seek these blessings for themselves.
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Council of the Twelve Apostles taught this:
“Children are the inheritance of the Lord to us in this life and also in eternity. Eternal life is not only to have forever our descendants from this life. It is also to have eternal increase. …
“We can understand why our Heavenly Father commands us to reverence life and to cherish the powers that produce it as sacred. If we do not have those reverential feelings in this life, how could our Father give them to us in the eternities?” (“The Family,” Ensign, Feb. 1998, 15).
The importance of fidelity
One of the most important things parents can do in the sacred calling of rearing children is to demonstrate what it means to be faithful to their companion. Where else will a child learn such an intimate lesson if not from their own parents?
To be faithful is to treat one’s spouse as the one and only person to whom we give complete devotion and faithfulness. By faithfulness I mean to be honest and faithful to his or her position as your eternal companion. When I am faithful to my wife, for example, I am always watchful and careful about how I refer to her, both privately and publicly. I don’t put myself in positions where I might slip into temptations with someone else. This means I am not alone with other women, take rides with another woman where it is just the two of us, and I never go alone on trips with another woman. My amorous thoughts are reserved for my spouse alone. I treat my spouse with respect at all times, and demonstrate that respect to my children.
How will a young lady or a young man learn how they are supposed to treat their future spouse if they don’t have a good example of what marriage is supposed to be in the family in which they are raised? It is difficult, as we see from all the broken families in our neighborhoods, and perhaps in our own broken family. Only the Lord can help us begin to make up for the deficit of not having had a whole and functioning family growing up. This is why it is so important that we set a good example if we have the opportunity to do so.
Duties in the home are not the same as gender roles. Both men and women, for example, can take out the garbage, mow the lawn, or change a diaper. But the Lord has specifically told us that it is the men’s role to provide for the necessities of his family, to protect them, and to preside over the family in love and righteousness. The primary function of the mother in the home is the nurturing of the children.
Just because there is a division of God-given responsibilities in the home, it doesn’t mean that one person is better or more important than another person. Husbands and wives are equal and need to work together in the rearing and teaching of the children. Both of them exert their own special influences on the children based on their gender.
For example, it has been my experience that whatever the father refuses to eat at the table the children will often refuse to eat as well. If the mother cooks something and the father refuses to eat it, that undermines her influence with the children and causes them to be disrespectful to her, just as her husband is being disrespectful. There are times when one needs to just smile, swallow then express gratitude for the delicious food, even if the salt content is pickling your insides. That is all part of being faithful to one’s spouse. It is a small sacrifice that brings great benefits.
And the wife who praises her husband who is doing his best to provide, but is not quite able to make ends meet, creates a happy home for the children, and demonstrates her faith in her husband and their partnership by doing everything in her power to make every penny count and to stretch each dollar to the breaking point. These are just little habits that a husband and wife can do to show their children their devotion to each other and to their children.
Our most important responsibilities in this life are centered in our efforts to establish and maintain a healthy home environment. It is the pattern of eternity to live as families, and it is necessary for the safety of our states and our nations to have and maintain strong family units.
It is in the family where the values of good citizenship are taught. It is in the family that gender roles are taught and developed. It is in the family that righteous behavior is best demonstrated and learned, and it is in the family that fidelity is best learned.
Our eternal happiness is based on family relationships, and our ability to create and successfully pass on the values of an eternal family will greatly affect our worthiness to have a family in the hereafter.