How will the members of your quorum, group, or Relief Society act on Elder Oaks’s invitation to “teach [and] live by” the family proclamation, at home, in the community, and at church? Invite them to share ideas with each other. It might also help to search the message for some doctrinal statements from the family proclamation. How do these statements help us respond to “current challenges to the family”? Section IV of Elder Oaks’s message contains some examples of such statements.
The family proclamation begins by declaring “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.”
Watch: The Family is Ordained of God Women from around the world testify of the blessings of the family in God’s plan. (5:30)
Watch: The Family is Central to the Creator’s Plan Various people express their thoughts on the importance of the family. (3:21)
It also affirms that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
See: D&C 76:24
‘The scriptures record, “And I, God, created man … ; male and female created I them.” Moses 2:27 See also Moses 2:28 Moses 3:5 This was done spiritually in your premortal existence when you lived in the presence of your Father in Heaven. Your gender existed before you came to earth. You elected to have this earth experience as part of His plan for you. The prophets call it “the plan of mercy,” Alma 42:15 the “eternal plan of deliverance,” 2 Ne. 11:5 “the plan of salvation,” Moses 6:62 and, yes, “the great plan of happiness.” Alma 42:8 You were taught this plan before you came to earth and there rejoiced in the privilege of participating in it.’ Richard G Scott, General Conference, October 1996)
It further declares “that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
‘I have had the feeling that if we could just encourage our people to live by three or four covenants everything else would take care of itself. …
The first of these is the covenant of the sacrament, in which we take upon ourselves the name of the Savior and agree to keep His commandments with the promise in His covenant that He will bless us with His spirit. …
Second, the covenant of tithing. … The promise … is that He will stay the destroyer and open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings that there will not be room enough to receive them. …
Three, the covenants of the temple: Sacrifice, the willingness to sacrifice for this the Lord’s work—and inherent in that law of sacrifice is the very essence of the Atonement. … Consecration, which is associated with it, a willingness to give everything, if need be, to help in the on-rolling of this great work. And a covenant of love and loyalty one to another in the bonds of marriage, fidelity, chastity, morality.
If our people could only learn to live by these covenants, everything else would take care of itself, I am satisfied.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, quoted by Bishop Keith B. McMullin, Ensign, May 2001, 61)
‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, April 2013)
The proclamation affirms the continuing duty of husband and wife to multiply and replenish the earth and their “solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children”: “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.” It solemnly warns against the abuse of spouse or offspring, and it affirms that “happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The benefits of religion for the family have been proclaimed for centuries. Proverbs 22:6 tells us: “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
However today parents are much less likely than in previous decades to:
- teach children to pray
- take them to Church
- discuss the scriptures are religious principles with them.
The results are apparent in the form of disintegrating family values.
‘We are to teach our children the principles and doctrines of the gospel. We need to help them have faith in Jesus Christ and prepare them for baptism when they are eight years old. [See Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28 We must be faithful ourselves so that they can see our example of love for the Lord and His Church. This helps our children feel joy in keeping the commandments, happiness in families, and gratitude in service to others.’ (David F Evans, General Conference, April 2012)
Finally, it calls for the promotion of official “measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”
‘The family unit is not only fundamental to society and to the Church but to our hope for eternal life. We begin to practice in the family, the smaller unit, what will spread to the Church and to the society in which we live in this world and what then will be what we practice in families bound together forever by covenants and faithfulness. We can start now to “promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family.” I pray that we will. I pray that you will ask, “Father, how can I prepare?” Tell him how much you want what it is that he wants so much to give you. You will receive impressions, and if you act on them I promise you the help of the powers of heaven.’ (Henry B Eyring, BYU Devotional, November 1995)