We just had our stake conference this last weekend and I always look forward to all of it. This time our stake presidency sent every family a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. Can you believe that came out more than 15 years ago? My stake presidency sent a letter along with the Proclamation, encouraging us to re-read it and to teach our children about it. “Study line by line its precepts, then gather your own ‘children of Israel’ and teach them again the importance and blessings inherent in following the Lord’s precepts and Divine Pattern for all generation.” So this is the topic of my next family home evening lesson. Of course, there are many, many books written on the subjects addressed in the Proclamation, but I will choose a few scriptures and quotes to study along with it.
We know that the world all around us sees these truths as old-fashioned and even ridiculous. That is the world that is talking to our children, and even us, every day. We must do our best to combat it with divine truths.
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
It is important for us to teach our children that a family (husband, wife and children) are “essential to His eternal plan”, not just something to try if it fits into their career path someday and not something to run away from.
Today I was listening to the April 2008 General Conference addresses that I checked out from the library. One of them just happened to be on this topic and I’d like to include a few excerpts from it.
Wise men have provided a legacy of learning from the past. We must hand down to future generations a foundation of faith in the family, as defined by Deity. (See D&C 49:15–17.)
We should never forget that freedom and happiness in all aspects of life come by understanding and living in harmony with eternal gospel principles. They provide a sure foundation upon which to build a productive and happy life."
Kenneth Johnson, April 2008 General Conference
I am not only trying to teach my children to be good children, but to one day be strong adults and followers of Christ, and excellent husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. It is so critical for them to learn that now as they are growing. It is difficult when all around them, people are divorcing and some are telling them that it’s okay. I have several divorced, still single, friends and another of my friends just told me last month that her husband is leaving her. So much pain! It just makes me want to scream, “ENOUGH!” so I can’t imagine how it hurts our Heavenly Father to see it all.
Quoting the Proclamation, President Packer commented “We warn”—we don’t often use that word, but it’s appropriate here—“We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
Boyd K. Packer, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity, February 9, 2008
We need, I need, to teach our children that strong warning.
"I confess I do not claim the wisdom nor authority to definitely state what is 'just cause.' Only the parties to the marriage can determine this. They must bear the responsibility for the train of consequences which inevitably follow if these covenants are not honored. In my opinion, “just cause” should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship which is destructive of a person’s dignity as a human being.
At the same time, I have strong feelings about what is not provocation for breaking the sacred covenants of marriage. Surely it is not simply 'mental distress' nor 'personality differences' nor 'having grown apart' nor 'having fallen out of love.' This is especially so where there are children."
James E. Faust, "Fathers, Mothers, Marriage", Ensign, Aug. 2004, 2–7
“There is something deceptive about [the phrase ‘irretrievable breakdown’]. The passive, impersonal structure, the dry legalities of the language, conceal a lie. It suggests that a marriage has an independent organic existence. It exonerates us by portraying us as merely the clinicians pronouncing the body dead. But at what precise point does the breakdown of a marriage become irretrievable? The moment we declare it so, and no sooner. And the marriage doesn’t just break down. We disconnect the life support. While it requires will to make a marriage work, it also requires a quite horrifying act of will to bring one to an end.”
John Taylor, “The Death of a Marriage.” Sunday Telegraph (Austrailia), 30 May 1999, 13.
I cannot afford to tiptoe around these facts, hoping that my children will remember the firsthand pain divorce causes a family. I pray that I will be inspired to teach them what they need to know and that the truths will become a part of them, written in their hearts.
“The power of our doctrinal vision of family future is strong enough that it will outweigh whatever sacrifice and pain we may need to bear during our days of family present…There really is a deep connection between the hard things of life and the best things of life.”
Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Heart: Marriage and the Joy of Human Love, 63, 66.
Being a mother is absolutely one of the most difficult things I can imagine myself doing, but it is all worth it, knowing that I can be with my children eternally, bound in love forever and ever. I am thankful for the opportunity I have had this past week to review again The Family: A Proclamation to the World and feel the Spirit witness to me of its truth.