This site is to help 'Strengthen Families' throughout the world. "We pledge to support efforts to protect traditional marriage, life, religious freedom, parental rights and to STAND for The Family.”
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His house key is in the lock. He’s home from work and about to step inside. In the kitchen, real life is scattered all around. The baby is crying. The three-year-old just poured milk—not in a glass but all over the counter. The seven-year-old needs some daddy attention. And dinner isn’t ready.
With a deadline at work tomorrow, a head buzzing from rush-hour traffic, and a Church meeting tonight, he’s hoping she will greet him with some relief.
Hearing him come in, she is glad a relief party has arrived! But when she sees his face fall as he looks around, she defends herself: “Look—I work all day too. I’ve been with these kids nonstop, and I really need a break. Will you please fix this macaroni and cheese and help with the kids?”
In the heat of her request, his hope evaporates into exasperation, and he is about to react.
At this crossroads of their busy day, these two have some choices.
Will they use this moment to practice being the kind of companion each has covenanted to become? Or will each one default to past conditioning—familial and cultural? Certain attitudes and ideas have crept into the very air they breathe, challenging them as they try to work with each other rather than against each other.
Suppose he grew up with a father who was a dominant husband and a mother who was a subordinate wife. The cheery husband calls out, “Honey, I’m home!” as he strides through the polished front door. The calm wife—not a hair out of place and wearing fresh lipstick and a starched apron—greets him with, “Your dinner is ready, dear. Take off your tie and sit down.” Everything is in its place.
Suppose his parents believe that a wife’s first duty, as one U.S. church wrote recently in its creed, is to “submit graciously to her husband.” And suppose they believe that a husband’s duty is to give directions—leading out, assigning tasks, and expecting results.
Now suppose she grew up with parents who aligned themselves with women’s liberation. Her mother is grateful to live in a day when women no longer feel pressured to conform to a rigid, self-sacrificing role that seems to deny their sense of self.
Perhaps her mother, even her father, would say that a smart wife keeps boundaries around how much of her time and self she will give to support her husband and children because she first needs to look out for herself and her personal priorities in this new age of female freedom.
Correcting these two extremist attitudes, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches a husband-wife concept that clearly differs from bothhouseholds where this hypothetical couple grew up. It states that fathers “are to preside” and “to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families,” while mothers “are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Fathers and mothers are to “help one another” fulfill these duties as “equal partners.”1
Our young husband’s parents believe the old idea that women are fullydependent on their husbands. Our young wife’s parents believe the new idea that women are independent of their husbands. But the restored gospel teaches the eternal idea that husbands and wives areinterdependent with each other. They are equal. They are partners.
The incorrect idea in Christian history that wives should be dependentbegan with the false premise that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a tragic mistake and that Eve was the primary culprit. Thus women’s traditional submission to men was considered a fair punishment for Eve’s sin.2
Thankfully, the Restoration clarifies Eve’s—and Adam’s—choice as essential to the eternal progression of God’s children. We honor rather than condemn what they did, and we see Adam and Eve as equal partners.
The modern liberationist idea that married people are independent of each other is also incorrect. It typically claims that there are no innate differences between men and women or that, even if some differences do exist, no one has the right to define gender-based roles.
In some ways, the excessive selflessness of the dependent wife allowed and perhaps even encouraged male domination. In reaction to this, the radical wing of the women’s liberation movement swung to the other extreme of independence, moving past the possibilities ofinterdependence. This cultural motion, and emotion, pushed some women from being overly selfless to being overly selfish—causing them to miss the personal growth that can come only from self-chosen sacrifice, which makes possible a woman’s ability to thrive from nurturing all within her circle (see John 17:19).
The concept of interdependent, equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel. Eve was Adam’s “help meet” (Genesis 2:18). The original Hebrew for meet means that Eve was adequate for, or equal to, Adam. She wasn’t his servant or his subordinate. And the Hebrew for help in “help meet” is ezer, a term meaning that Eve drew on heavenly powers when she supplied their marriage with the spiritual instincts uniquely available to women as a gender gift.3
As President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said, men and women are by nature different, and while they share many basic human traits, the “virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come [more] naturally to a woman.”4
Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to “rule over” Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. A ruler can be a measuring tool that sets standards. Then Adam would live so that others may measure the rightness of their conduct by watching his. Being a ruler is not so much a privilege of power as an obligation to practice what a man preaches. Also, over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with,not ruling over. If a man does exercise “dominion … in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121:37; emphasis added), God terminates that man’s authority.
Perhaps because false teachings had twisted original scriptural meanings, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) preferred “preside” rather than “rule.” He said: “No woman has ever been asked by the Church authorities to follow her husband into an evil pit. She is to follow him [only] as he follows and obeys the Savior of the world, but in deciding [whether he is obeying Christ], she should always be sure she is fair.”5 In this way, President Kimball saw marriage “as a full partnership,” stating, “We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners” but rather “a contributing and full partner.”6
Spouses need not perform the same functions to be equal. The woman’s innate spiritual instincts are like a moral magnet, pointing toward spiritual north—except when that magnet’s particles are scrambled out of order. The man’s presiding gift is the priesthood—except when he is not living the principles of righteousness. If the husband and the wife are wise, their counseling will be reciprocal: he will listen to the promptings of her inner spiritual compass just as she will listen to his righteous counsel.
And in an equal-partner marriage both also bring a spiritual maturity to their partnership, without regard to gender. Both have a conscience and the Holy Ghost to guide them. Both see family life as their most important work. Each also strives to become a fully rounded disciple of Jesus Christ—a complete spiritual being.
The covenant of eternal marriage is necessary for exaltation.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that for too long in the Church, the men have been the theologians while the women have been the Christians.7 To be equal partners, each should be both a theologian and a Christian.
When Elder Maxwell learned in 1996 that he had leukemia, the diagnosis was discouraging. He had worked for years on making himself “willing to submit” (Mosiah 3:19) to the Lord’s will. If it was time to face death, he didn’t want to shrink from drinking his bitter cup.
But his wife, Colleen, thought he was too willing to yield. With loving directness, she said that Christ Himself earnestly pleaded first, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Only then did He submit Himself, saying, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Elder Maxwell saw his wife’s doctrinal insight and agreed. As a result, they pleaded together that his life might be spared. Motivated by their determination, Elder Maxwell’s doctor found a new medical treatment that prolonged his life for several years. Elder Maxwell was grateful that he was not the only theologian in their marriage.8
In an equal-partner marriage, “love is not possession but participation … part of that co-creation which is our human calling.”9 With true participation, husband and wife merge into the synergistic oneness of an “everlasting dominion” that “without compulsory means” will flow with spiritual life to them and their posterity “forever and ever” (D&C 121:46).
In the little kingdom of a family, each spouse freely gives something the other does not have and without which neither can be complete and return to God’s presence. Spouses are not a soloist with an accompanist, nor are they two solos. They are the interdependent parts of a duet, singing together in harmony at a level where no solo can go.
Each gives abundance to the other’s want. As Paul wrote,
“For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
“But by an equality, that … your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13–14).
Temple marriage covenants do not magically bring equality to a partnership. Those covenants commit us to a developmental process of learning and growing together—by practice.
That couple we saw at the kitchen threshold share a commitment to the promise of eternal family unity. But equal partnerships are not made in heaven—they are made on earth, one choice at a time, one conversation at a time, one threshold crossing at a time. And getting there is hard work—like patiently working through differing assumptions about who was bringing relief to whom that night or any of thousands of nights like it.
As milk drips from the counter, she holds a box of macaroni and cheese in her hand, he faces a deadline and a meeting, and both feel the pull of weariness on their faces. How would people in a covenant, balanced relationship handle such a moment, and how could the next few moments help create an equal partnership?
Young wife, do you see in him someone who has worked all day to bring sustenance to your table? Young husband, do you see in her someone who has worked all day to make nourishment of that sustenance? Can you both see beyond the doing of the day and remember the inestimable worth of the being to whom you are married?
Thresholds of Love
After a lifetime of practice and patience together, what will your last earthly threshold look like? Will it look and feel something like that of John and Therissa Clark? In 1921 John Haslem Clark of Manti, Utah, wrote what became his last journal entry:
“The folks have been here today, but have gone to their homes. The clatter of racing feet, the laughter and babble of tongues have ceased. We are alone, We two. We two whom destiny has made one. Long ago, it has been sixty years since we met under the June trees. I kissed you first. How shy and afraid was your girlhood. Not any woman on earth or in heaven could be to me what you are. I would rather you were here, woman, with your gray hair, than any fresh blossom of youth. Where you are is home. Where you are not is homesickness. As I look at you I realize that there is something greater than love, although love is the greatest thing in earth. It is loyalty. For were I driven away in shame you would follow. If I were burning in fever your cool hand would soothe me. With your hand in mine may I pass and take my place among the saved of Heaven. Being eight years the eldest—and as the years went by and I felt that the time of parting might be near—it was often the drift of our thought and speech: how could either of us be left alone. Alone, after living together for 56 years. I scarcely dared think of it and though a bit selfish comforted myself thinking [that] according to our age I would not be the one left alone.”
Another handwriting then appears later on the same page. It is Therissa’s voice, gently closing John’s journal:
“Almost two years and a half since the last writing, and its following events are so sad, so heartbreaking for this, his life’s companion that this pen has been laid down many times ere this record is made. Loss and loneliness [are] ever present and will be with me to the end. … Will time soften this sadness, will I be able to leave the Old Home and not feel that he is waiting for me, calling me? I am only content at home where I feel that he is watching over me, his presence always with me.
“On March 11, 1923, John Haslem Clark passed away after an illness of only one week. He seemed so like himself, talking and active. We had no thought that the end was near until he passed into unconsciousness a few hours before his death. Oh, may we all be as clean and pure, ready to go before our Maker.”10
We do not know the details of John and Therissa’s life as they crossed over the thresholds of their days. But we do know how 56 years of daily conversations finally shaped the kind of people they became, the kind of love they knew.
If our young couple could only know that this love is what they could feel and understand at the end of their lives, what wouldn’t they give! They’d listen more and choose better, over and over, day after day, crossing after crossing. They would learn, by patient experience, that “work is love made visible.”11 They would realize as the years pass that their marriage is helping them become better disciples of Jesus Christ, even becoming a little more like Him. Then they would understand as they cross the final threshold of mortality that the extent to which they have become one with Him is the extent to which they are one with each other.
I testify of the great blessing of children and of the happiness they will bring us in this life and in the eternities.
As we look into the eyes of a child, we see a fellow son or daughter of God who stood with us in the pre-mortal life.
It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God. We believe in families, and we believe in children.
When a child is born to a husband and wife, they are fulfilling part of our Heavenly Father’s plan to bring children to earth. The Lord said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1 Before immortality, there must be mortality.
The family is ordained of God. Families are central to our Heavenly Father’s plan here on earth and through the eternities. After Adam and Eve were joined in marriage, the scripture reads, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”2 In our day prophets and apostles have declared, “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”3
This commandment has not been forgotten or set aside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.4 We express deep gratitude for the enormous faith shown by husbands and wives (especially our wives) in their willingness to have children. When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.
Years ago, Elder James O. Mason of the Seventy shared this story with me: “The birth of our sixth child was an unforgettable experience. As I gazed on this beautiful, new daughter in the nursery just moments after her birth, I distinctly heard a voice declare, ‘There will yet be another, and it will be a boy.’ Unwisely, I rushed back to the bedside of my absolutely exhausted wife and told her the good news. It was very bad timing on my part.”5 Year after year the Masons anticipated the arrival of their seventh child. Three, four, five, six, seven years passed. Finally, after eight years, their seventh child was born—a little boy.
Last April, President Thomas S. Monson declared:
“Where once the standards of the Church and the standards of society were mostly compatible, now there is a wide chasm between us, and it’s growing ever wider. …
“The Savior of mankind described Himself as being in the world but not of the world. We also can be in the world but not of the world as we reject false concepts and false teachings and remain true to that which God has commanded.”6
Many voices in the world today marginalize the importance of having children or suggest delaying or limiting children in a family. My daughters recently referred me to a blog written by a Christian mother (not of our faith) with five children. She commented: “[Growing] up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood. … Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.” She then adds: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”7
Having young children is not easy. Many days are just difficult. A young mother got on a bus with seven children. The bus driver asked, “Are these all yours, lady? Or is it a picnic?”
“They’re all mine,” she replied. “And it’s no picnic!”8
As the world increasingly asks, “Are these all yours?” we thank you for creating within the Church a sanctuary for families, where we honor and help mothers with children.
To a righteous father, there are no words sufficient to express the gratitude and love he feels for his wife’s incalculable gift of bearing and caring for their children.
Elder Mason had another experience just weeks after his marriage that helped him prioritize his family responsibilities. He said:
“Marie and I had rationalized that to get me through medical school it would be necessary for her to remain in the workplace. Although this was not what we [wanted] to do, children would have to come later. “I explained that I wanted to become a doctor. There was no alternative but to postpone having our family. Elder Kimball listened patiently and then responded in a soft voice, ‘Brother Mason, would the Lord want you to break one of his important commandments in order for you to become a doctor? With the help of the Lord, you can have your family and still become a doctor. Where is your faith?’”
Elder Mason continued: “Our first child was born less than a year later. Marie and I worked hard, and the Lord opened the windows of heaven.” The Masons were blessed with two more children before he graduated from medical school four years later.9
Across the world, this is a time of economic instability and financial uncertainty. In April general conference, President Thomas S. Monson said: “If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions.”10
Elder Kimball’s piercing question, “Where is your faith?” turns us to the holy scriptures.
It was not in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve bore their first child. Leaving the garden, “Adam [and Eve] began to till the earth. … Adam knew his wife, and she [bore] … sons and daughters, and [acting in faith] they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.”11
It was not in their Jerusalem home, with gold, silver, and precious things, that Lehi and Sariah, acting in faith, bore their sons Jacob and Joseph. It was in the wilderness. Lehi spoke of his son Jacob as “my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness.”12 Lehi said of Joseph, “Thou wast born in the wilderness of [our] afflictions; yea, in the days of [our] greatest sorrow did thy mother bear thee.”13
In the book of Exodus, a man and woman married and, acting in faith, had a baby boy. There was no welcoming sign on the front door to announce his birth. They hid him because Pharaoh had instructed that every newborn male Israelite should be “cast into the river.”14 You know the rest of the story: the baby lovingly laid in a little ark made of bulrushes, placed in the river, watched over by his sister, found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and cared for by his own mother as his nurse. The boy was returned to Pharaoh’s daughter, who took him as her son and called him Moses.
In the most beloved story of a baby’s birth, there was no decorated nursery or designer crib—only a manger for the Savior of the world.
In “the best of times [and] … the worst of times,”15 the true Saints of God, acting in faith, have never forgotten, dismissed, or neglected “God’s commandment … to multiply and replenish the earth.”16 We go forward in faith—realizing the decision of how many children to have and when to have them is between a husband and wife and the Lord. We should not judge one another on this matter.
The bearing of children is a sensitive subject that can be very painful for righteous women who do not have the opportunity to marry and have a family. To you noble women, our Heavenly Father knows your prayers and desires. How grateful we are for your remarkable influence, including reaching out with loving arms to children who need your faith and strength.
The bearing of children can also be a heartbreaking subject for righteous couples who marry and find that they are unable to have the children they so anxiously anticipated or for a husband and wife who plan on having a large family but are blessed with a smaller family.
We cannot always explain the difficulties of our mortality. Sometimes life seems very unfair—especially when our greatest desire is to do exactly what the Lord has commanded. As the Lord’s servant, I assure you that this promise is certain: “Faithful members whose circumstances do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, [as] they keep the covenants they have made with God.”17
Scott Dorius told me their story. He said:
“Becky and I were married for 25 years without being able to have [or adopt] children. We moved several times. Introducing ourselves in each new setting was awkward and sometimes painful. Church members wondered why we [didn’t have] children. They weren’t the only ones wondering.
“When I was called as a bishop, ward members [expressed] concern that I did not have any experience with children and teenagers. I thanked them for their sustaining vote and asked them to allow me to practice my child-raising skills on their children. They lovingly obliged.
“We waited, gained perspective, and learned patience. After 25 years of marriage, a miracle baby came into our lives. We adopted two-year-old Nicole and then newborn Nikolai. Strangers now compliment us on our beautiful grandchildren. We laugh and say, ‘They are our children. We have lived our lives backwards.’”18
Brothers and sisters, we should not be judgmental with one another in this sacred and private responsibility.
“And [Jesus] took a child … in his arms [and] said …
“Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth … him that sent me.”19
What a wonderful blessing we have to receive sons and daughters of God into our home.
Let us humbly and prayerfully seek to understand and accept God’s commandments, reverently listening for the voice of His Holy Spirit.
Families are central to God’s eternal plan. I testify of the great blessing of children and of the happiness they will bring us in this life and in the eternities.
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
We call upon all families everywhere to put family first and to identify specific ways to strengthen their individual families.
We are currently experiencing major thunder storms across America. And let us never forget the refugee centers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas that where devastated and displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina were staying as they began to try to put their lives back together. Their stories and situations are tragic and poignant in many ways, but in all that I heard, what touched me the most was the crying out for family: “Where is my mother?” “I can’t find my son.” “I’ve lost a sister.” These were hungry, frightened people who had lost everything and needed food, medical attention, and help of all kinds, but what they wanted and needed most was their families.
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Crisis or transition of any kind reminds us of what matters most. In the routine of life, we often take our families—our parents and children and siblings—for granted. But in times of danger and need and change, there is no question that what we care about most is our families! It will be even more so when we die and leave this life. Surely the first people we will seek to find there in the spirit world will be father, mother, spouse, children, and siblings.
Is your life’s mission statement for mortality “to build an eternal family?”
Here on this earth we strive to become part of extended families with the ability to create and form our own part of those families. That is one of the reasons our Heavenly Father sent us here. Not everyone will find a companion and have a family in mortality, but everyone, regardless of individual circumstances, is a precious member of God’s family.
It was then and is now a clarion call to protect and strengthen families with a stern warning to the world where declining values and misplaced priorities threaten to destroy society by undermining its basic unit of society, the family.
Many of the very things that have threatened and undermined families during the last decade reminds us of the priority and the emphasis families need if they are to survive in an environment that seems ever more toxic to traditional marriage and to parent-child relationships.
The confused and convoluted notions of our society cannot even agree on a definition of family, let alone supply the help and support parents and families need such as these:
“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”
“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
“Husband and wife have a 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.”
“The disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
The simple truth is that the family is “the fundamental unit of society.”
We call upon committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to the importance of The Family and to commit ourselves to live by God’s commandments and proven principles and precepts as we are all part of God’s family.
Public opinion surveys indicate that people everywhere in the world generally consider the family as the highest priority; yet in recent years the broader culture seems to ignore or misdefine the family. Consider some of the changes of the past decade:
Many larger national and international institutions that used to support and strengthen families now try to supplant and even sabotage the very families they were created to serve.
In the name of “tolerance,” the definition of family has been expanded beyond recognition to the point that “family” can be any individuals of any gender who live together with or without commitment or children or attention to consequence.
Rampant materialism and selfishness delude many into thinking that families, and especially children, are a burden and a financial millstone that will hold them back rather than a sacred privilege that will teach them to become more like God.
And yet most parents throughout the world continue to know both the importance and the joy that are attached to natural families. Suzanne and I have done much traveling and met friends, families, and parents on several continents and find that the hopes and concerns of parents are remarkably similar throughout the earth.
In India a concerned Hindu mother said, “All I want is to be a bigger influence on my children than the media and the peer group.” And a Buddhist mother in Malaysia said, “I’d like my boys to be able to operate in the world, but I don’t want them to be of the world.” Parents from all different cultures and faiths are saying and feeling the same things we are as parents of eight sons and twenty grandchildren.
The family is the basic unit of society, of the economy, of our culture, and of our government. And as Latter-day Saints, we know, the family will also be the basic unit in the celestial kingdom after this life.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our belief in the overriding importance of families is rooted in restored doctrine. We know of the sanctity of families in both directions of our eternal existence. We know that before this life we lived with our Heavenly Father as part of His family, and we know that family relationships can endure beyond death.
We live and act upon this knowledge, and invite the world to join us. Parents who place a high priority on their families will gravitate to their Churches because it offers the family structure, values, doctrine, and eternal perspective that they seek and cannot find elsewhere.
Our family-centered perspective makes us Latter-day Saints strive to be the best parents in the world. It gives us enormous respect for our children, who truly are our spiritual siblings, and it causes us to devote whatever time is necessary to strengthen our families. Indeed, nothing is more critically connected to happiness—both our own and that of our children—than how well we love and support one another within the family.
We believe the Church is a crucial “scaffolding” that helps build the individual and the family. The Church is the kingdom of God on earth, but in the kingdom of heaven, families will be both the source of our eternal progress and joy and the order of our Heavenly Father. When we have completed this life, we will be released from our jobs and occupations but if we are worthy, we will never be released from our family relationships.
One of our past Prophets, Joseph F. Smith said: “There can be no genuine happiness separate and apart from the home, and every effort made to sanctify and preserve its influence is uplifting to those who toil and sacrifice for its establishment. Men and women often seek to substitute some other life for that of the home; they would make themselves believe that the home means restraint; that the highest liberty is the fullest opportunity to move about at will. There is no happiness without service, and there is no service greater than that which converts the home into a divine institution, and which promotes and preserves family life”. (Teachings of Presidents of theChurch: Joseph F. Smith , 382).
Now, one may ask, How do we protect and preserve and strengthen our homes and families in a world pulling so hard in opposite directions? Let me make three simple suggestions:
Be consistent in holding daily family prayer and meet as a family weekly which will invite the Lord’s Spirit, and which provides the help and power we need as parents and family leaders. Read the scriptures and other good books and our Church magazines that have good ideas for things to do as a family. Also take the time to share spiritual stories and your testimonies together where parents and children can express their beliefs and feelings to each other in a private and personal setting.
Teach the gospel and basic values in your home. Establish a love for reading the scriptures together. Too many of our parents are abdicating this responsibility to the Church. While seminary, auxiliaries, and Sunday School meetings are important as a supplement to parental gospel instruction, the main responsibility rests in the home. You might want to choose one gospel subject or a family value and then watch for opportunities to teach it. Be wise and do not involve children or yourselves in so many activities out of the home that you are so busy that the Spirit of the Lord cannot be recognized or felt in giving you the promised guidance for yourself and your family.
Create meaningful family bonds that give your children an identity stronger than what they can find with their peer group or at school or anyplace else. This can be done through family traditions for birthdays, for holidays, for dinnertime, and for Sundays. It can also be done through family policies and rules with natural and well-understood consequences. Have a simple family economy where children have specific chores or household duties and receive praise or other rewards commensurate to how well they do. Teach them the importance of avoiding debt and of earning, saving, and wisely spending money. Help them learn responsibility for their own temporal and spiritual self-reliance.
In today’s world, where Satan’s aggression against the family is so prevalent, parents must do all they can to fortify and defend their families. But their efforts may not be enough. Our most basic institution of family desperately needs help and support from the extended family and the public institutions that surround us. Families, aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins can make a powerful difference in the lives of children. Remember that the expression of love and encouragement from an extended family member will often provide the right influence and help a child at a critical time.
The Church itself will continue to be the first and foremost institution—the “scaffolding,” as it were—to help build strong families. The Church has great concern about the well-being of your families, and thus you will see increasing efforts to prioritize and to focus on family needs. Put family first and identify specific ways to strengthen you individual families.
Public institutions need to examine themselves and do less that might harm families and more that will help them.
The media must offer more that promotes traditional family values that is uplifting and supportive of families and less that popularizes immorality and materialism.
The government and political leaders need to put the needs of children and parents first and to think in terms of family impact in all legislation and policy making.
Internet providers and Web site creators need to become more responsible regarding their potential for influence and to adopt the conscious objective of protecting children from violence, pornography, filth, and sleaze.
Educational entities need to teach universal values and family and parenting skills, supporting parents in their responsibility to raise children to become the leaders of families in generations yet to come.
Church members need to reach out in love to neighbors and friends of other faiths and include them in the use of the many resources their Church has to help families. Our communities and neighborhoods will be safer and stronger as people of all faiths work together to strengthen families.
It is important to remember that all larger units of society depend on the smallest and most fundamental unit, the family. No matter who or what we are, we help ourselves when we help families.
We hold up like a banner the proclamation to the world on the family and as we live and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will fulfill the measure of our creation here on earth. We will find peace and happiness here and in the world to come. We should not need a hurricane or other crisis to remind us of what matters most. The gospel and the Lord’s plan of happiness and salvation should remind us. What matters most is what lasts longest, and our families are for eternity.
Evidence from a wide variety of sources supports the truth that marriage shaped by eternal principles is the path to greatest happiness and well-being in this life.
“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God,” declared the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”They went on to say that marriage is “essential to [God’s] eternal plan,” with husbands and wives under “solemn responsibility to love and care for each other.”
Then in 1999 President Gordon B. Hinckley reemphasized the crucial role of marriage with his admonition that “God-sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman has been the basis of civilization for thousands of years. There is no justification to redefine what marriage is.”Yet people keep trying to redefine it to legitimize worldly philosophies or to serve their own agendas. Increasingly, believers in God-ordained marriage are called on to defend the institution from those who say it is irrelevant or passé. Parents often find themselves looking for ways to demonstrate the importance of marriage to their children who are bombarded by pressures from the world and, all too often, from their friends and associates.
A few decades ago, a proclamation on marriage and its validity would hardly have seemed necessary. Alternative definitions of marriage didn’t exist, and there were no movies, television shows, books, or other media products promoting alternative lifestyles. But any examination of marriage today requires consideration of a divorce rate over 50 percent and a high acceptance in some areas of cohabitation, which enables couples to forgo commitment for a living-together arrangement that lasts, on the average, two years.Some now call marriage just another lifestyle choice and even question whether it needs to exist between a man and a woman. One respected reviewer has commented that family studies textbooks often “downplay the value of marriage,” employing warm platitudes to describe nontraditional unions and reserving heavy criticism for conventional marriages.
Not surprisingly, a recent study conducted by prominent social scientists David Popenoe and Barbara Defoe Whitehead found that young people in the United States today are increasingly apprehensive and pessimistic about marriage. They display a remarkable increase in acceptance of out-of-wedlock childbearing, single parenting, and living together before marriage. No wonder the number of people getting married in the United States has dropped so markedly.
Is the traditional definition of marriage urged by “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” a lost cause? Is it true that the proclamation’s high ideals are merely anachronisms befitting earlier times? When the question arises, should defenders of the family concede that marriage is simply their personal preference?
A growing body of academic research and a burgeoning group of scholars in family studies are saying a firm “no” to all of those questions. Informed by an abundance of objective, highly respected studies of various countries, races, and economic classes, many social scientists now affirm that marriage is of great advantage to the well-being of men and women in a myriad of ways. In assuring happiness, a lasting marriage proves more beneficial physically, mentally, and economically than exercise programs, medical treatments, therapy sessions, or financial investments. Of course, statistics merely reflect general tendencies, and there are many exceptions. Conversely, unhappy marriages run a complex gamut—from the dissatisfied couples for whom the present marriage, though flawed, is better than the alternative, to partners who inflict harm on each other. Thus the following recital of benefits applies to happy marriages, the ideal that so many people still seek.
Findings reaffirm that marriage relationships need to be built on righteous principles—“a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other,” in the words of the proclamation. It is clear that marriages based on righteous principles are the kind of marriages that lead to lasting happiness.
Of course, academic studies deal in objective statistics and trends, not exceptions. While happily married people may enjoy an advantage in the statistics, this does not mean a devoted husband or wife will automatically escape problems common to all human beings—illness, financial strain, anxiety, and so forth. Neither do the statistics indicate that single individuals—widowed, divorced, or never-married—cannot be happy or achieve meaningful lives with physical, emotional, and economic stability. As many never-married, divorced, or widowed Latter-day Saints have discovered, reliance on the Lord brings spiritual and other compensations that research cannot quantify.
What the current research does offer to a secular world is objective evidence to support the teachings of God through the ages by the mouths of His prophets. These studies enable beleaguered defenders of traditional marriage to add proof to moral and religious convictions when they are called on to defend marriage in a modern society that often rejects it as an institution, discounting or denying its moral basis. Moreover, the findings reported here can help couples appreciate the subtle but powerful blessings that can be theirs as they build their marriages on righteous principles.
Health and Longevity
Overall, married people live longer, a statistical reality that is true across many different cultures, societies, and demographic groups.Typically, married people suffer less from illness and disease and are better off when they do fall ill.In fact, even illness recovery rates for married individuals are much higher than in the unmarried population.Married men and women also exhibit fewer risk-taking behaviors such as drunk driving, smoking, or drug abuse and have lower rates of suicide and alcoholism.
Some researchers argue that all of these benefits result merely from selectivity: the likelihood that already healthy individuals are selected into marriage. However, since research shows that positive health changes often take place after marriage, many individuals lean toward a causal,rather than a selection, theory: marriage itself causes good things to happen with one’s health.
Why? One psychology professor theorizes that the constant companionship between a husband and wife creates a “tranquilizing effect” which lessens the chances of disease, assists in recovery, and offers motivation to stay alive and well.Other analysts see a “safety net” that encourages healthy behavior: spouses remind each other to eat well, establish regular sleep patterns, and see the doctor periodically.
Men, in particular, benefit from such a safety net. While a woman’s statistical chance of dying decreases gradually over time once she marries, a man almost immediately upon marrying experiences a sharp statistical decrease in the hazard of dying. Researchers point to the improved lifestyle many men encounter in marriage, one which counteracts such tendencies as irregular meal and sleep habits and a lack of social integration.
For those concerned only with eating right and exercising to stay healthy, marriage researcher John Gottman offers a suggestion that aptly summarizes the research: “Remember,” he says, “working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club.”
Mental Health and Peace of Mind
In general, married people exhibit lower rates of depression and suffer significantly less from psychiatric disorders.Married people also enjoy higher general well-being than any unmarried segment of the population. One researcher says, “No part of the unmarried population—separated, divorced, widowed, or never married—describes itself as being so happy and contented with life as the married.” These findings extend across racial, national, and socioeconomic class boundaries.
How to explain the correlation between marriage and happiness? Researchers point to several reasons, prime among them being the spiritual connection marriage offers to a couple’s deepest values. In many cultures, a wedding usually means not just a legal tie but also a sacred vow before God and a religious community. The union between man and wife, according to John Gottman, often brings “a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together.”The deeper this shared spiritual meaning, the better the marriage, and the happier the people involved.
Some observers see a lasting marriage as offering a solid anchor in today’s rapidly changing, complex society. Men and women participate simultaneously as parents, in careers, in the community, and in hobbies. In marriage, social scientists suggest, people can successfully bring all of their different roles together: husbands and wives can discuss children’s problems, discuss work, and plan strategies for the future of family and career within a stable union which offers a secure base in a complicated world.
Marriage also can promote mental well-being by offering an extended social network. Spouses may be able to lean on the spiritual and emotional resources of two families, in effect doubling their support system in both bad and good times.Marriage can contribute to happiness by satisfying the deep human need for emotional closeness, providing a constant companion with whom to raise a family, go to church, and pray. It can also provide someone to take on the tasks one spouse is not good at—perhaps financial planning or cooking, for example—allowing each to focus on his or her strengths. This may sound simple, but experts say the “labor specialization” that comes in marriage works, and it does have an impact on peace of mind.
Research findings show that marriage and financial security are interconnected. Getting and staying married offer strong economic advantages. Generally, married couples are better off financially and save more than divorced, never-married, and widowed households. Per capita, they tend to invest greater amounts for education or retirement.
Typically, married women are better off economically than single women. Much of that financial advantage comes because a husband, in general, has greater earning power in today’s society. When a marriage dissolves and there are children involved, the results can be devastating because single mothers are at a greater economic disadvantage.But men also lose financially with divorce; a man’s financial well-being is greatly diminished, and later remarriage usually does not bring recovery.
Obviously, not all single or divorced individuals face economic difficulties, just as not all married couples are well-off or frugal. But the economic security that a stable marriage generally offers doesn’t mean being able to remodel the house every few years. It means greater access to food, clothing, health care, and education. It can also mean a secure life away from unsafe areas.
Studies unequivocally show that current levels of poverty result more from family structure than from economic factors. Where there is only one parent—usually a single mother—there is often poverty. Conversely, a stable, two-parent family, as the Progressive Policy Institute declares, “is [a] child’s best protection against poverty.”
Evidence defies the deceptive notion, prevalent in society, that marriage is sexually repressive and that affairs outside of it are fulfilling. This lie persists from years past and is perpetuated by a constant stream of movies, television, and books depicting the staple tale of the philandering husband or wife looking for excitement outside an affectionless marriage. However, this media image of sex, according to a researcher involved in a landmark study on the subject, “bears virtually no relationship to the truth.”
The truth lies much closer to the proclamation’s strong affirmation that “the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” Those who abide by this moral code are much better off than those who don’t, according to consistent findings of research published in sources such as The Journal of the American Medical Association and The National Health and Social Life Survey.
Faithfully married people report being extremely satisfied with the physical intimacy in their relationships, more so than all other sexually active people. Married men and women are least likely to associate sex with feelings of fear, anxiety, or guilt.Also, unmarried couples who abstain from premarital sex are less likely to separate or divorce after marriage. Further, studies show that brides and grooms who have practiced chastity are less likely to have attitudes about marriage that contribute to adultery, divorce, and lower satisfaction with a married partner.
Conversely, says the research, those who abuse the sacred powers of procreation through premarital sex or living together ultimately find that the benefits of marriage do not extend to them.
While the late 20th century saw an enormous proliferation in the number of men and women living together without a marriage license, research data clearly show that cohabiting couples experience greater conflict, lower-quality relationships, less stability, and less equality for the women involved. Women who live with a man outside of marriage also experience much higher levels of depression and economic insecurity and are more likely to be forced into sexual relationships against their will. Both men and women involved in a cohabiting relationship report lower levels of sexual satisfaction, with infidelity a prime problem.
Further, when cohabiting couples do marry, they display very high divorce rates throughout the world, with one study finding that individuals who cohabit tend to marry, divorce, and then live with someone again. The marriage phase can often be marked by drunkenness, adultery, and drug abuse, and the cohabiting phase by a distinct separateness in handling finances, spending free time, and envisioning the future.
What of remarriage after divorce? Judging from the statistics, it does not generate all the benefits of a first marriage. Remarriages may be marked by higher instability and higher divorce rates than first marriages. However, remarriage after the death of a spouse tends to avoid these statistical hazards, and the stepfamily challenge for those whose spouses died is not as daunting as that faced by post-divorce stepparents.
Yet to say that remarriages are statistically more difficult than first marriages does not mean that they are not preferable to remaining single or to other alternatives to marriage. Perhaps those who think it might be easier just to start over rather than deal with the challenges of a difficult first marriage should consider the statistics before getting divorced.
A Responsibility to Love and Care
While research studies clearly demonstrate that the satisfaction level of people in good marriages is high, the data hardly guarantee perfect physical health, constant happiness, complete financial security, or blissful intimate relationships. What the research reveals is general trends, and the findings also show that those positive trends are muchmore likely to flourish in a healthy marital atmosphere.
And just what is a “healthy marital atmosphere”? Studies of successful marriages indicate that it includes the following vital elements:
Religious commitment is a high predictor of marital happiness and promotes other qualities central to the success of a marriage.
Happily married couples realize that marriage and family life can be difficult. When problems arise, they tend to stay committed and sacrifice their own desires for the good of the family.
Successful couples have a good understanding of one another, defend each other, and respect each other’s opinions and choices.
Successful couples realize that family life may be difficult and burdensome, but despite the challenges of marriage, divorce is not viewed as a helpful option. A realistic couple refrains from imagining, when problems arise, “Oh, no! I haven’t married the right person after all!” or “If only we can manage to just stay in love!” Couples in love have problems, and the list of crucial characteristics of successful marriages does not include having found the perfect spouse or sustaining the emotional intensity of the honeymoon.
Even successful marriages deal with their share of “unsolvable” problems: fundamental differences in personalities, desires, and goals that are not going to be changed or solved. But lasting marriages succeed even in the face of “unsolvable” problems through forgiveness, compromise, tolerance, patience, and acceptance.
Lasting marriages successfully solve “solvable” problems—arising over everything from work schedules to trip locations—through discussions marked by “soft” beginnings void of harsh accusations. To calm escalating feelings, they also rely on “repair attempts”: tactful humor, conciliatory comments, or soothing gestures.
Successful marriages require maturity. Thus teenage marriages are much more likely to end in divorce than marriages formed when partners are more mature.
Happy marriages avoid tendencies that religious leaders have preached against through the ages: narcissism, adultery, worldliness, and contempt for God-given values.
Finally, studies show that lasting marriages rely on a deep friendship marked by positive feelings rather than negative ones. Feelings are important. As one writer states, “Because our actions reflect the whole climate of our minds, everything that contributes to that climate—which means all of our thoughts and actions, however ‘inconsequential’—is potentially of great importance.”Positive thoughts, according to a lead researcher on marriage, contribute to a positive overflow in marriage that helps couples deal successfully with stressful tragedies as well as daily annoyances.
It is indeed a solemn responsibility to show the love and care needed to build this kind of successful relationship, for ultimately many of the blessings of marriage spring from our ability to share love.
The Glue of Society
Affection, security, and a long life with health and happiness—obviously, this is the marital ideal. Not all marriages will reach it, and not all marriages can or should be preserved. But couples who completely abandon the ideal pay high costs, including increased physical, mental, and emotional problems for themselves and tragic consequences of divorce for their children.Society suffers, too, from the loss of the ideal, because marriage not only strengthens communities and benefits economies, but also ensures responsible sexual union by keeping parents attached to their children.
In many ways, marriage is the glue holding society together. Even more important, it is an eternal principle that all of us—whether single or married—need to uphold and defend. It benefits not only husbands and wives but the entire world.
This should come as no surprise, since it was ordained and blessed by God Himself.
The Foundation of Happiness
“Happiness at home is most likely to be achieved when practices there are founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women,” Ensign, May 1999, 39–40.
The Capacity to Love
“The deeper our own mental, emotional, and spiritual reserves are, the greater will be our capacity to nurture and love others, especially our companion.” Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, “A Union of Love and Understanding,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 48.
A more extensive treatment of these findings is in David C. Dollahite, ed., Strengthening Our Families: An In-depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family (2000).
In the world today, The Family is under attack by the forces of evil and wickedness and many things long held sacred are ridiculed. The family is where children are nurtured, educated, and learn values. The family is where individuals turn to first in challenging moments, including financial disaster, health crises, and many other key life transitions. And yet, the family is also under attack in ways that are unprecedented. More than one third of American children currently grow-up without a father in the home. More than half of American adults are not married, cohabitation is at record levels, and the average marriage age is move later and later.
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. “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.”
We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our homes. We remind you that parents are to preside over their own families.
We hope that by providing you with family helps, members of your family will be assisted and encouraged to build stronger and better families and homes. We hope it will cause a conscious and sustained effort in building an eternal family unit, and we all will be reminded to focus our attention on the most important organization the Lord has established here on earth.
Family activities include (1) writing personal and family journals, (2) holding family councils, (3) establishing and maintaining family organizations for the immediate and extended family, (4) personal interviews between parents and children, (5) writing to relatives and missionaries, (6) genealogy, (7) visiting relatives and those who are ill or lonely, (8) charity work, (9) reading stories to children, and (10) singing Church hymns.
“Monday nights are reserved for family home evenings. We encourage members to set aside this time to strengthen family ties and teach principles and values in their homes.
We also counseled parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.
May it be our resolve this year to build a gospel-centered home, a safe harbor from the storms of the adversary. Let us again remember the promises and instructions from the Lord to His children:
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
“Light and truth forsake that evil one.”
“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”
When you see things that are NOT RIGHT, take a STAND and STAND UP! When others are forcing their ways and ideas upon you and you family that are NOT appropriate, SPEAK OUT! When you hear or see something on the TV, radion, internet or your computer that is inappropriate, SHUT IT OFF! Sometimes silence isn’t golden . . . it’s YELLOW! So OPEN YOUR MOUTHS for GOOD!
If we will do these things, we will be helping to TURN THIS WORLD AROUND! Let’s all be like the people of Enoch who love one another and were of One Heart. They became a ‘ZION People’ and were known as “The Happiest People that ever lived!” Let’s do the SAME!
“And the Lord called his peopleZion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”Moses 7: 18
Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love within marriage.
In the world today, Satan has led many people to believe that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable. But in God’s sight, it is a serious sin. It is an abuse of the power He has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder and denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:3-5).
Sometimes people try to convince themselves that sexual relations outside of marriage are acceptable if the participants love one another. This is not true. Breaking the law of chastity and encouraging someone else to do so is not an expression of love. People who love each other will never endanger one another’s happiness and safety in exchange for temporary personal pleasure.
When people care for one another enough to keep the law of chastity, their love, trust, and commitment increase, resulting in greater happiness and unity. In contrast, relationships built on sexual immorality sour quickly. Those who engage in sexual immorality often feel fear, guilt, and shame. Bitterness, jealousy, and hatred soon replace any positive feelings that once existed in their relationship.
Our Heavenly Father has given us the law of chastity for our protection. Obedience to this law isessential to personal peace and strength of character and to happiness in the home. Those who keep themselves sexually pure will avoid the spiritual and emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage. Those who keep themselves sexually pure will be sensitive to the Holy Ghost’s guidance, strength, comfort, and protection and will fulfill an important requirement for receiving a temple recommend and participating in temple ordinances.
“And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who createdheaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.”Mosiah 4: 2-3
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife with a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. A husband and wife together with children comprises a family. The family unit is fundamental not only to society and to the Church but also to our hope for eternal life. God has told us that families are forever!
Eternal life means to become like God, or our Heavenly Father, and to live as families in happiness and joy forever, and in knowing that He wants the best for us, His children. It will require His help beyond our powers as it does with all parents. If we as parents have feelings of inadequacy, we can turn to our Heavenly parents just like our earthly parents who are always ready to provide help.
A little child feels safe hearing the words “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God”. The child would know that the love of both a father and a mother is part of the eternal pattern, the pattern of happiness. The child would also feel safer knowing that God will help the mother and father resolve differences and to love each other if only they would ask for his help and try.
Suzanne and I tried to raise good down to earth normal children the way it says in Proverbs, to “Trainupachildinthewayheshouldgo: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We always spent time together and taught them to work as well as to have fun playing and to be responsible young men.
Suzanne and I had good principles taugh to us by our parents as we both grew up but even though childen have been taught well, one never knows how the children will turn out. They have their freedom to choose as well. I had no idea that my music career would have such an impact and effect upon my children and be such a part of my eight sons lives. Even when they were young, Suzanne and I after returned from an evening out, found our sons watching old videos on TV of me and my brothers singing as a barbershop quartet only to hear them copying and singing the harmonies as well! Bob Hope discovered them when he was doing some TV shows at our Television Studios in Utah and asked them to be on his television Special. Out of that came an interest by Walt Disney Productions to make a family televison pilot for a TV series. Here is a taste of what they created:
Oh what responsibility we as parents have for those children of God that we bring into this world especially today when there is so much evil and wickedness. The things that we do and say as parents, the example that we give them to follow, the life style we provide them at home and even the music and media that we watch will ALSO affect our children. And, if we are not careful, who knows how they will turn out!
“And the childrenof Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.”Judg. 21: 24
. The Family Research Council (a World Congress of Families Partner) has just published “The Jewish Roots of Family Values,” an issue brief by World Congress of Families Communications Director Don Feder.
In the publication, Feder discusses the foundation for family values in Jewish Scripture – Torah and Talmud – and the way these virtues are reflected in traditional Jewish life.
He calls Genesis (from Chapter 12 to the end) “the story of a Jewish family – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and their children and grandchildren. Here the importance of marriage and procreation for human happiness is illuminated, as well as the relationships of husband and wife and parent and child.”
Feder says the importance of childbearing to traditional Judaism may be seen in the way birthrates rise among American Jews based on their level of observance – from 1.86 children per family among all Jews, to 3.3 for modern Orthodox, 6.6 for traditional Orthodox and 7.9 for Hasidic Jews.
Finally, Feder discusses the ways in which Jewish family values came to dominate the West through Christianity. The way this commandment is kept by observant Jews may be seen in the Jewish birthrate in the United States, which rises with the level of commitment to Jewish living-from 1.86 children per woman among all Jews to 3.3 for modern Orthodox, 6.6 for traditional Orthodox and 7.9 for Hasidim–approximately twice the Mormon birthrate. Along with marriage and procreation, Judaism emphasizes the relationship of parents and children and the sexual ethic that lies at the heart of Judeo-Christian morality. “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” (Exodus 20:12) is uniquely placed in the Decalogue.
The first four commandments involve mankind’s obligations to God (know that the Lord is God, keep the Sabbath, etc.). The later commandments involve our responsibilities to our fellow man (don’t steal, don’t kill and so on). The fifth is often called the bridge commandment, in that it refers to our obligations to both God and man. By honoring our parents, we honor God as well. As transmitters of the Law, parents are God’s surrogates.
The sages tell us to “revere” our parents. The Torah contains a prohibition against cursing both God and our parents. The Bible prescribes the same penalty for both. In his essay, “The Family In Judaism: Past, Present and Future, Fears and Hopes,” Rabbi David Rosen notes: “That Talmudic texts also refers to Rabbi Joseph who, when he heard his Mother’s footsteps as she approached, would declare, ‘I rise before the Divine Presence which is approaching.’”
The Talmud also says there are three partners in the creation of a child–the mother, the father and God. Honor is due to parents in recognition of their role in generating life, because of their sacrifices in raising a child to maturity and for the part they play as teachers of the Law.
The Shema, Judaism’s quintessential affirmation of faith, begins: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them diligently unto thy children…” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
Teach them to whom–to your neighbors, your friends, your siblings? Teach them to your children. In Judaism, learning (study) is a religious obligation More than rabbis, parents are given the primary responsibility for imparting Divine wisdom.
In the parent/child relationship, obligations flow in both directions. An old rabbinic adage holds: “A man should spend less than his means on food, up to his means on clothes, but beyond his means in honoring his wife and children, because they are dependent on him.”
Children honor their parents, and their father blesses them in turn. In traditional Jewish homes, as part of the Friday evening meal, the father gives a benediction to his sons (“May God make you like Ephraim and Menasseh,” Joseph’s sons adopted by Jacob) and his daughters (“May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah”). A husband also praises his wife by reciting “A Woman of Valor” (Proverbs 31). According to Jewish tradition, this was Abraham’s eulogy for his beloved wife, Sarah.
The foundation of family life is sexual morality, and here the role of Judaism was revolutionary in the ancient world.
In the pagan world into which Judaism came with its right-and-wrong, to speak of sexual morality was a non sequitur-like talking about “moral aerobics” today. Sex was about power relationships–the strong forcing themselves on the weak – and nothing else. There was no code of conduct, just a carnal law of the jungle.
By contrast, Judaism said the God of Israel is to be served by emulating Him–through righteousness and holiness. “I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). Thus did the Torah introduce the idea of sexual ethics.
A Jewish circumcision, performed eight days after birth, is referred to as the covenant of circumcision. Removal of the foreskin is called a sign of the covenant sealed in the flesh. But who actually sees this “sign”? The answer is that it’s a sign for the individual himself.
In “Being Jewish: the Spiritual and Cultural Practice of Judaism Today,” Ari L. Goldman alludes to this when he writes of the Brit Milah (Jewish ritual circumcision, performed on the eighth day say after birth), “Some see in the act a message of sexual restraint.”
The rabbis said the reason the skin is removed from the male appendage (rather than another part of the anatomy, where the sign would be visible to others) is because it is with this organ that the male is most likely to sin.When a Jewish man sees the mark, he should remember the covenant and keep the law, including the mandate to “be holy.“
In his monograph “Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality,” author and Jewish lay scholar Dennis Prager explains: “Judaism placed controls on sexual activity. It could no longer dominate religion and social life. It was to be sanctified — which in Hebrew means ‘separated’ — from the world and placed in the home, in the bed of husband and wife. Judaism’s restricting of sexual behavior was one of the essential elements that enabled society to progress (by allowing the family to flourish). Along with ethical monotheism, the revolution begun by the Torah when it declared war on the sexual practices of the world, wrought the most far-reaching change in history.”
In “Kosher Sex,” available online at Judaism 101, author Tracey R. Rich observes:“Sex is permissible only within the context of a marriage. In Judaism, sex is not merely a way of experiencing physical pleasure. It is an act of immense significance, which requires commitment and responsibility. The requirement of marriage before sex ensures that sense of commitment and responsibility.”
Leviticus sets forth a series of prohibited sex acts, including incestuous liaisons, rape, bestiality and homosexuality. Again, Prager says, “The one continuous exception [to the acceptance of same-sex relations in the ancient world] was Jewish civilization–and a thousand years later, Christian civilization. Other than the Jews, ‘none of the archaic civilizations prohibited homosexuality per se,’ Dr. David E. Greenberg notes. It was Judaism alone that about 3,000 years ago declared homosexuality wrong.”
Not just wrong, but an “abomination” (or “detestable,” depending on the translation)–a term of censure the Torah reserves for the most severe transgressions, including the ritual prostitution practiced in pagan temples and child sacrifice. Moreover, the Jewish Bible identifies homosexuality as a Canaanite practice and one reason the land was taken from them. Unlike many of the Torah’s laws, the prohibition on sexual immorality, including homosexuality, applies to all of humanity, through the Noahide Code. 4
Prager goes on to say, “Judaism cannot make peace with homosexuality because homosexuality denies many of Judaism’s most fundamental principles. It denies life (not life but death comes from sodomy), it denies God’s expressed desire that men and women cohabit, and it denies the root structure that Judaism wishes for all mankind, the family.“
Some fail to appreciate how profoundly Christianity was influenced by Jewish morality. Judeo-Christian ethics is more than a catch phrase. It denotes the Jewish roots of Christian morality, which became the foundation of Western civilization.
In her Newsweek story (“He Made Us All Jews,” December 18, 2006), Lisa Miller wrote: “The Jewish family values that were prevalent in first-century Judea, the values of Mary and Joseph and the young Jesus, became the values of Christianity, and of the regions of the world in which Christianity has long been a critical force…. . And so the growing Jesus would have come of age in a world that cherished procreation, family ties and the history and theology of Israel, including immersion in the Scriptures (with their emphasis on sexual morality and holiness) and the ancient stories of God’s deliverance of his people.”
Thus did the Jewish worldview come to dominate the West.
I suppose one could say that the traditional (or natural) family is a Jewish invention. Except, it was the God of Israel, not Israel itself, who ordained the family. Here, Jews, and later the Christians, served as the Divine transmission belt.
This is one of the ways in which all of the families of the earth have been blessed through the Jews.
World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs observes: “Don’s monograph reflects the diversity of World Congress of Families. As our International Secretary, Dr. Allan Carlson, likes to say, the Congress is a coalition of orthodox believers – who don’t necessarily believe in the same thing. The WCF leadership includes Catholics, Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Mormons, Jews, Russian Orthodox and other adherents to traditional faiths who are united in their recognition of the role of the family in the divine scheme and its centrality to civilization.”
Increase your understanding of the Lord’s purpose for families and of the blessings He makes available to them.
On September 23, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th President of the Church, read the following proclamation in a general Relief Society meeting. This inspired proclamation, titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” has become the Church’s definitive statement on the family:
“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 worshiped 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 his or her divine destiny as an heir 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.
”The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare 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.
“We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
”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. 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.
“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” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).