Sunday, January 26, 2014

Families Are Essential

There is a primary song that our children have grown up singing it is titled “Families Can Be Together Forever”. They sang it at church, in our family home evenings and many other times. Our children are grown now and have families of their own and now our grandchildren are singing the same song. The words are:

Families Can Be Together Forever
1. I have a fam'ly here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.
2. While I am in my early years,
I'll prepare most carefully,
So I can marry in God's temple for eternity.
Fam'lies can be together forever
Through Heav'nly Father's plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.
What a wonderful message that song has; families are eternal and continue on after this life is over. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we are taught that families are an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan for his children. Elder Jeffry R. Holland once said: “of all the titles God has chosen for Himself, Father is the one He favors most…” (“Personal Purity”, General Conference, October 1998). That title of “Father” testifies that we all are part of his family and are His children. In The Family: A Proclamation To The World it says:

“We, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

“ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

“IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

In those thee short paragraphs we learn some important truths about ourselves and our families:

1.              Marriage between a man and a women is ordained of God.
2.              We are all created in the image of God and are his children.
3.              Gender is not something that can be changed if we don’t like it, but is an eternal characteristic of who we are and always will be.
4.              We were part of an eternal family before we were born and families can endure beyond this mortal experience we find ourselves in.

These are eternal truths that will remain true in spite of all the posturing by politicians, popular opinion, activists, or learned individuals. They are unchangeable and eternal and man with his limited wisdom and understanding of divine laws cannot alter them nor comprehend them. In a 1998 general conference address, Elder W. Eugene Hansen had this to say about the impact of social reform through government programs:

“These are sobering words, particularly in light of the adversary’s continuing assault on traditional values and the impact it is having upon the family. It becomes obvious that much needs to be done to reverse trends that continue to place the family at risk.
“In desperation, society turns to the secular. Social programs are spawned. Government agencies are enlisted to provide public funding and programs in an attempt to change the destructive trends. While some spotty successes are observed, general trends remain alarming. I submit that if real and lasting change is to occur, it will come only as we return to our spiritual moorings. We need to be listening to the counsel of the prophets.” (“Children and the Family”, General Conference, April 1998)
The foundation of the family continues to be eroded as we use government funding to fix the problems of society. The answer is not in public programs, but in returning to the fundamentals contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and obedience to the commandments of God. Strong families, with a father and a mother that are committed to righteous principles are essential to the survival of any nation. Anyone that honestly seeks to study fallen societies of the past will see their destruction begins with the undermining of the family as the foundation of that society.

The only place where the sacred responsibility of brining children into this world is by a man and women that is married. As God’s children we are to live chaste lives before marriage and then after we are married we are to be totally committed to our spouse and lives based on fidelity. The scriptures say that we are to leave our fathers and mothers and cleave unto each other become one. (Genesis 2:24). Again we see this principle taught in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:

“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. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

“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.”

Families that have a mother and a father is the ideal family; however, as it said above through death, disability, or other circumstances families are not always ideal and we must be willing to help those families who are not “ideal”. In families where one of he spouses is missing others can provide assistance where needed. Home/visiting teachers, primary leaders, young women leaders, priesthood leaders, and neighbors can help single parents when they need us. There are also many families that only have one parent where that parent is able to provide all that the family needs and does not necessarily need our “help”. We must respect them and be there if they ask. Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke of growing up in a family without his father:

“The theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints centers on the family. Our relationship to God and the purpose of earth life are explained in terms of the family. We are the spirit children of heavenly parents. The gospel plan is implemented through earthly families, and our highest aspiration is to perpetuate those family relationships throughout eternity. The ultimate mission of our Savior’s Church is to help us achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom, and that can only be accomplished in a family relationship.
“No wonder our Church is known as a family-centered church. No wonder we are distressed at the current legal and cultural deteriorations in the position of marriage and childbearing. At a time when the world seems to be losing its understanding of the purpose of marriage and the value of childbearing, it is vital that Latter-day Saints have no confusion about these matters.
“The faithful widowed mother who raised us had no confusion about the eternal nature of the family. She always honored the position of our deceased father. She made him a presence in our home. She spoke of the eternal duration of their temple marriage. She often reminded us of what our father would like us to do so we could realize the Savior’s promise that we could be a family forever.” (“Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church”, General Conference, October 2005)
The proclamation concludes with this challenge to us all:

“WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

To read the full text of “The Family: A Proclamation To The World” go to:

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