There has never been a greater need for strong families and homes.
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This week, the World Congress of Families meets in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the ninth meeting of the Congress and the first to be held in the United States. It is appropriate that the milestone would take place in Utah, a state so firmly committed to the centrality of family.
In his opening remarks at the Congress, Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, noted that in today’s world “marriage and children are increasingly marginalized.”
Elder M Richard Ballard
That reality is ironic, perhaps tragic, when, more than ever, we know more and more about why marriage is central to a decent, humane and robust society.
Recently, writing in National Review Online, family scholar W. Bradford Wilcox noted: “It’s been a rough two weeks for the family-structure denialists, those progressive academics, journalists, and pundits who seek to minimize or deny the importance of marriage and family structure. That’s because three new pieces of scholarship — a journal, a report, and a study — were released this month that solidify the growing scientific consensus that marriage and family structure matter for children, families, and the nation as a whole.”
The journal he is referring to was a special issue of The Future of Children, published by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. It includes half a dozen scholarly articles about marriage and family.
In that issue, Dr. David Ribar of the University of Melbourne argues “the advantages of marriage for children’s wellbeing are likely to be hard to replicate through policy interventions other than those that bolster marriage itself.” In another important article, Dr. Wilcox and his colleagues describe how “growing individualism and the waning of a family-oriented ethos, the rise of a ‘capstone’ model of marriage, and the decline of civil society” have contributed to a “retreat from marriage and the growing class divide in marriage.”
Dr. Wilcox was also a co-author, with Robert I. Lerman of the Urban Institute and Joseph Price of Brigham Young University, of the recently released report “Strong families, prosperous states: Do healthy families affect the wealth of states?” published by the American Enterprise Institute. The report explains: “Higher levels of marriage, and especially higher levels of married-parent families, are strongly associated with more economic growth, more economic mobility, less child poverty, and higher median family income at the state level in the United States.”
In addition, “The share of parents in a state who are married is one of the top predictors of the economic outcomes studied in this report. In fact, this family factor is generally a stronger predictor of economic mobility, child poverty, and median family income in the American states than are the educational, racial, and age compositions of the states.”
Highlighting one particular result: “Violent crime is much less common in states with larger shares of families headed by married parents, even after controlling for a range of socio-demographic factors at the state level. … This is noteworthy because high crime rates lower the quality of life and real living standards and are associated with lower levels of economic growth and mobility.”
The study Dr. Wilcox referred to was conducted by MIT professor David Autor and his colleagues. Dr. Wilcox explains that the study showed:
… that less-advantaged boys are floundering in school and society — and more so than their less-advantaged female peers — in part because, compared with more-advantaged boys, they are less likely to grow up in a married home with their father. In particular, compared with their sisters, less-advantaged boys “have a higher incidence of truancy and behavioral problems throughout elementary and middle school, exhibit higher rates of behavioral and cognitive disability, perform worse on standardized tests, are less likely to graduate high school, and are more likely to commit serious crimes as juveniles.”
One big reason for this growing gender gap in educational, behavioral, and social outcomes between less-advantaged boys and girls is that boys are often hit harder by the absence of married parents and of a father than are girls, according to Autor’s new study.
With all of this, it is clear that marriage still matters, and strengthening marriage and family remain important social priorities.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Dave Buer. Thanks for listening.
This post is a transcript of the Sutherland Soapbox, a weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations. The podcast can be found below.
“We men sometimes identify ourselves by titles. Many of us have multiple titles … and each says something important about our identity.
One’s title may be a doctor, dentist, lawyer, teacher, a farmer, a craftsman, or a soldier.
There are titles that describe our roles in families such as son, brother, husband and father, f ather-in-law. And now in my life, with 24 grandchildren, a grandfather!
In my career in the entertainment business I became known by titles such as singer, entertainer, writer, publisher, producer.
And how about in the church where we are known as a home teacher, an elder, a high priest, an ordinance worker, a bishop, a stake president, a patriarch, or a general authority, or just…. “Brother”.
What ever it is . . .we must ask:
What is my potential as a religious man
to bless my family and give service to others?
We must look outward as we become our potential in EACH title we bear.
A doctor can prescribe medicines and do surgery but also share faith and trust in the Lord as he or she operates on an individual…by giving his patients hope that they will be made well.
A lawyer must negotiate and can be tough at times. But, he still can remember to be Christ like in dealing with others, their mistakes, and be fair as much as possible … yet at the same time like Heavenly Father himself, adhering to the laws of the land. He must be just . . like Heavenly Father will when we keep the commandments, and at our final judgment day.
A teacher must teach. My grandfather who was a Principal at a High School said, “If a Student hasn’t learned, The Teacher hasn’t taught” So, if a student hasn’t learned, the teacher should show patience and love especially to those innocent and young minds and teach them correct principles. Some students may need more time and teachers who teach with a conscience. They should also be responsible and wise and never teach anything that is ‘of the world’ or ‘un-Christ like’ even though it may be in the text books!
A farmer can use God’s creations of seeds, and plants and waters to bless lives everywhere. As he plants, cultivates and harvests the various foods that are prepared for others consumption he can pray over his fields and make sure there are not any toxic or hurtful items used or mixed in with the good . . . always in his heart likening the scriptures to that of the harvest… and to God’s harvest of His children.
A craftsman can take extra care using in his work seeking inspiration in creating works that portray the beauty of God’s creative works of wood, glass and metal or other elements of the earth. He can also inspire others to do the same with patience and understanding.
Or as a soldier, who fights for justice and the cause of freedom, be willing to give his or her life for the cause of liberty and the truths which we believe . . . with faith and trust in the Lord, and a prayer in his heart, that he or she will be protected from harm.
But the ultimate goals and titles that each of us men should have are to be, and to act like, is a:
1. ‘Son of Heavenly Father‘.
No matter what else we are or do in life, we must never forget that we are God’s literal spirit children. We were His children before we came to this world and were created spiritually before we were created physically. And, we will be His children forever more. This basic truth should change the way we look at ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and at life itself.
2. ‘Disciple of Jesus Christ‘.
While Jesus is away, we must be like Him and reach out to others as He would if He were here.
3. ‘Healer of Souls‘.
Jesus gave us The Priesthood of God to act in His behalf, to bless and heal the sick, to cast out the adversary, and to comfort those who are in need.
4. Heir of Eternal Life‘
Because of Jesus Christ, we all will live again after we die and be resurrected. By keeping his commandments, and seeking His ways, we can become heirs to God’s Kingdom and live forever.
I was blessed growing up to have come from a loving home with goodly parents that loved us and taught us to work, to pray, to learn, and to have fun. We were taught the gospel and yes, we loved music. Our parents helped us learn to read music and play various musical instruments and to stay the course of good music as we performed ‘in the world’ but, not ‘of the world’, and never on Sunday when possible.
We decided at a very young age to always be strong and to never give in to temptations . . . even though we saw so much of it around us, especially when we moved from Happy Valley in Utah to California where we performed on a weekly TV Series.
We were often called the “clean cut” Mormon boys from Utah. We were told, “You will never make it in show business because you are “too clean cut”. And, “Too Goody Goody!” How about those titles!
Names never hurt us, and it was actually a compliment.
As we spent the next 7 years trying to live up to our potential as young ‘Mormon’ entertainers‘and ‘musical’ priesthood holders” in making our music reflect the goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. We always had a word of prayer before every performance praying that ‘someone’s heart might be touched and become interested and investigate the gospel of Jesus Christ’.
We weren’t going to change our lifestyle and beliefs as we got into Show Business and the recording industry, but with our music, we would try to reach more young people of our age.
We left the Andy William’s show and about starved for the lack of work during the following year while we tried really hard to get a hit record. The Lord truly blessed us with a number one hit record and we promised Him we’d never change. Making promises and covenants to God really work!
After we had a few more hit records, we wanted to musically ‘say something’ to ‘make a difference in the world’, so with much fasting and prayer, we wrote, with the help of the Holy Ghost, an original album of music called “The Plan”. The Plan of Life, with songs like “Before the Beginning”, “Are You Up There”, a repentance song directed to Jesus called, “Let Me In… Let Me In Your Arms Again” and a song about our day called, “It’s Gotta Be The Last Days”. This album caused many young people to search their hearts and to come unto Christ.
Just like in our many businesses and occupations with our various titles, there are always ways and opportunities to bring people to the Lord. Purposely, we should bring into our work and casual conversations truths and principles of the gospel besides delivering quality work that might make someone realize the work of the Lord through us!
Become the title of “Disciple of Christ” …. not only in title, but in action, and let others know that we are so blessed to also be titled: “A Child of God”, a “Son of Heavenly Father”, one who the Lord knows in these latter days!
If you see someone who is in need or is in need of a blessing, Be “A Disciple of the Lord”, and tell them you’ll pray for them and put their name on the temple prayer rolls. Be “A Saint” and the Hands of the Savior until He returns by reaching out to those in need; those who are lonely or looking for a place to belong. Be “A Friend”. Be “A Healer of Souls” by visiting the sick and the afflicted. Be “A Father” to that young person that doesn’t have one by putting your arm around him or that teenager that has chosen wrong things, and as ”A Savior of Mankind”, like Jesus, help influence him or her to come back to the Lord and not go the way of the world. When we ‘Give Service To Others’, we are in the service of the Lord.
Let us not forget our ancestors who have gone on and need our help. Bear the titles as “Indexers, Researchers, Genealogists, and Ordinance Workers” and help fulfill the prophecy of “Turning the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Genealogy is one of the most favorite hobbies today! Families can be together, forever!
Men, most importantly, we must bless our families. We all are “Heirs of Eternal Life” and if we can save but one soul, how great will be our reward. Let’s make sure the first one we bless and save is our own life! And then, that of our children’s and grandchildren! Yes, we men have ‘Titles’ of being “Providers” and “Protectors” but we must also spend TIME with our families and grandchildren and let them know they are loved and that they are also ‘heirs to eternal life‘ in Heavenly Father’s mansions on high.
Be “Teachers” and “Missionaries”, and teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Read the scriptures to them. Be ‘a sermon’ instead of just preaching one. We must be “Leaders” and let our lives be the example of how they should be, especially in our later years of life, showing that life is good, and that all things are possible if they believe in Christ.
The title that I hope I am most remembered for and successful in, is that of being a good “Husband”, and “A Good Father“. Plus, a “Great Grandfather“! It is then, that I will have peace of heart… much more than any worldly title or award could give, and know that my family and I will be together forever for all eternity – with the title of: “An Eternal Family“!
That is how our potential as a priesthood holders can bless our families and give service to others!
I know that Jesus is the Christ and that His Church is here on the earth today with a Living Prophet. I pray for everyone who has a righteous desire in their hearts to be better, to learn more, to not block the opportunity of knowing about God’s ‘Plan of Salvation‘ with questions like, “Who am I?, “Why am I here?, and “Where am I going? If any would like to know more, please let me know and I will be glad to share!
In the days since Utah’s Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was struck down, Utah voters have not taken to the streets in angry protest. Some national media are concluding that Utahns are not “too upset about it” and that even “in a red state, even in a state that’s the second most religious in the country, people are OK with this.” But there’s a better explanation.
Contrary to popular portrayals, supporters of traditional marriage are not the angry, hate-filled bigots they have been stereotyped to be. Utahns have shown in word and deed that you do not have to be against anyone to affirm the purpose of marriage — to unite children with the man and woman who made them. As one Utahn told the LA Times, “we have a message to the gay and lesbian people who live among us—we don’t hate you, it’s nothing like that. But we believe what we believe. And our conviction is strong.”
Contrast that respectful response to the angry mob that hurled insults and threats at 6-year old Ruby Bridges while U.S. Marshals escorted her to an all-white elementary school after federal courts ruled that “separate but equal” schools were unconstitutionally discriminatory. Although the gay-marriage movement is often analogized as the “civil rights issue of our day,” Utahns did not support Amendment 3 to discriminate against gays and lesbians, and their response to it being struck down shows that.
Rather than taking to the streets during the Christmas holiday, supporters of traditional marriage gathered with their families. And for most of them, the overwhelming reaction to the news about Amendment 3 was one of sadness, not anger at gays and lesbians.
Sadness for what it means to redefine — to change — the meaning of marriage from its transcendent roots across cultures and time as the union of complementary halves — the Biblical “one flesh” — to a fundamentally genderless institution.
Sadness that society would assume children don’t need a mother and a father. This, in spite of the fact that decades of our best research show that children not raised by their married biological parents (e.g., divorced, step-parent, cohabiting) have, on average, twice the levels of risk for problems. And though there are few scientifically rigorous studies of same-sex parenting, larger sample studies suggest similar cause for concern.
Sadness that in changing the age-old purpose of marriage from uniting men and women, society undermines the pillars of marital prevalence, permanence and monogamy, each vital to creating a bond strong enough that “a child’s heart can rely upon it.” For though many gay and lesbian couples earnestly desire a marriage of fidelity and commitment, some advocates admit, “We lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change”
Sadness that we who are concerned about redefining marriage are publicly branded as bigots whose sole motivations are animus and malice against gays and lesbians.
Sadness that as a result, religious believers must violate their conscience or have civil claims brought against them. Take Cynthia Gifford, who rents her farm for private events. She has gay employees and once hosted a birthday party for a young man with lesbian parents. She is clearly not prejudiced. But Gifford is now being sued because she politely declined, for religious reasons, to host a same-sex marriage. Other business owners have already been punished in other states, including, for example, Oregon, New Mexico, and Colorado. A judge in New Mexico called it the “price of citizenship.”
We are conscious in writing that some may read these words and ask, “But what about the sadness that I have felt for so many years? For my loneliness and fear of being rejected before I told my family and friends that I felt attracted to the same sex? For the insults and the jokes and the careless insensitivity at school, at church, at work, and, worst of all, at home? For the noisy harangue that ‘those people’ — me — were destroying society? For tempting, debilitating thoughts that I was never good enough and that God did not love me?”
To any who may ask such questions themselves or on behalf of a loved one, we emphatically agree that must change. You or your loved ones deserve better. All are owed dignity and respect. We are grateful that much of the prejudice and mean-spirited attitudes we witnessed in our youth have diminished significantly. We also recognize that there is a long way to go.
But changing marriage is not the way. Let us work together and find the path that is. With all of the love that we can muster, we say with a clear conscience: To be for marriage, you do not have to be against anyone. There is something unique, special, and sacred about the legal union of a man and a woman. Amendment 3 codified that principle in Utah’s Constitution. To be for it, Utahans need not be against anyone.
(Michael Erickson is an attorney. Jenet Erickson is family science researcher. They live in Salt Lake City.)
Gov. Mitt Romney spoke this week at the 103rd national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
What was the biggest applause line for Gov. Romney? It was the strong stance he took for marriage, when he said:
A study by the Brookings Institution has shown that for those that graduate from high school, who get a full-time job, and wait until 21 before they marry and then have their first child, the probability of becoming poor is two percent. And if those factors are absent, the probability of being poor is 76%,” said Gov. Romney, “Here at the NAACP you understand the deep and lasting difference that family makes. […] Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country and that must be our goal. As President I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage.
“Any policy that lifts up and honors The Family, is going to be good for the country, and that must be our goal.
As president I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage.”
By Michael A. Memoli – February 22, 2012, 6:43 p.m.
When the issue of contraception came up in tonight’s Republican debate, it offered the front-runners an attempt to finesse their positions on social issues to address seeming weaknesses.
For Mitt Romney, that meant taking a hard line againstPresident Obama and his administration’s decision to mandate that all employer insurance plans cover contraception — even those that are offered by religious institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities.
Needing to make up ground among those conservatives who have of late turned to Rick Santorum, Romney accused Obama of undermining religious freedom.
“I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama,” he said.
Rick Santorum was then asked to explain his statement to an Iowa blog about the “dangers of contraception.”
The former Pennsylvania senator has been dogged this week by the increased scrutiny that followed his rise in the national polls, particularly concerning his hard-line views on social issues.
His answer showed an effort to soften the edges a bit, and fuse it with an economic message, saying the poverty rate is five times higher in single-parent homes.
“The bottom line is that we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing,” he said. “How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically?”
He added: “Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.”
The actual question, submitted from a CNN viewer, asked which of the GOP hopefuls “believes in birth control.” The crowd booed it lustily, and Newt Gingrich kicked off the exchange by denouncing the media for a double standard in posing the question now.
“There is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes. But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign — not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide.“.
He was referring to a vote Obama cast in the state Senate in Illinois.
“If we’re going to have a debate about the extremist on these issues,
It is President Obama who … voted to protect
doctors who killed babies who survived the
abortion,” he said.
There was not universal agreement — Gingrich also attacked Romney for requiring religious hospitals to provide rape victims with emergency contraception, a stance Romney said he did not take. And Ron Paul slapped Santorum for voting to fund a federal program that provides family-planning healthcare to the poor, including to Planned Parenthood.
Santorum replied that the funding was contained in larger appropriations bills, and that he also proposed counter-funding for abstinence programs.
The Family – Is The Way
In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. Families lie at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan. This statement from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” declares the responsibilities of parents to their families:
“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.”1
Christmas is a special time for families with children. Here is a video that asks children what Christmas means to them.
On Christmas Day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
W offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
Jesus was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1: 3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10: 38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
“He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice.
He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift
in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth. We anxiously await His return to earth once again.
Before you open the gifts under the Christmas tree this year, may we all pause as families and give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who not only makes Christmas possible, but gives eternal life for all.
At home, with our families, we can learn self-control, sacrifice, loyalty, and the value of work. We can learn to love, to share, and to serve one another.
Husbands and wives should be thoughtful and kind to each other.
They should never do or say anything to hurt each other’s feelings. They should also try to do everything possible to make each other happy.
As family members we can help each other feel confident by giving encouragement and sincere praise. Each child should feel important.
Parents need to show they are interested in what their children do and express love and concern for their children. Children should likewise show their love for their parents. They should be obedient and try to live the kind of life that will bring honor to their parents and to their family name.