The Family: A Proclamation to the World

FDREL 200 – The Eternal Family

Brigham Young University – Idaho

Capstone Assignment

by Joi

This blog represents my capstone assignment for my religion class this semester at BYU – Idaho. I’m excited to be taking a class that will be focusing on The Family: A Proclamation to the World. 

The Family

A Proclamation to the World

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 

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

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

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

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” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and 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.

 

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What is the proclamation?


Twenty years after the introduction to The Proclamation, prophets and apostles refer to the Proclamation as a A clarion call


Doctrines outlined in the proclamation apply just as much today as they did in 1995 when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the document. The Proclamation reflects the doctrine on the family as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the Proclamation is  “a stern warning in a world where declining values and misplaced priorities threaten to destroy society by undermining its basic unit” (“What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Oct. 2005 general conference).

As I have worked through each assignment this semester, focusing on the doctrines and teachings of this prophetic document, I have come to more fully appreciate the blessing of having a prophet upon the earth to warn and guide the children of God.  

The words in this document may offend some. To those who take these truths to be hard, I quote the Prophet Nephi, And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us (1 Nephi 16:3).  It is difficult for some to hear truth. The adversary has worked tirelessly to replace truth with lies that he might lead the children of God to destruction.

We live in a world where many want to live by their own ideas, rather than by the laws of God. It is my personal witness, that if an individual were to open their heart, and give this document careful consideration, the Spirit of truth will touch your heart and help you to gain your own witness of this prophetic document. 

 

 

 

UPDATE:  12/1/15   During my morning personal study, I reviewed this conference talk. Elder Martino was the visiting authority during a recent restructure of my local stake. He left my stake with a beautiful blessing and message during his visit. I was excited to hear him speak this past General Conference. I’m sharing his talk here, on this page, because the message in this address on finding answers, is helpful and applicable to anyone’s desire to know of the truthfulness of the words of The Proclamation.

The Importance of the Family Unit

20159eae1705b013ebc800ad895fe97eMy goal is to take each paragraph of the proclamation and devote a post to each principle. Before I begin delving in deeper to the document itself, I want to include a post about why we would even need a proclamation, or any letter for that matter on the family.

Three years before the proclamation was first delivered at the  1995 General Relief Society meeting, President Ezra Taft Benson wrote an article for a recurring section or our Church magazine; The First Presidency Message for July 1992 was entitled, “Salvation – A Family Affair”.

President Benson stated, “The family is the most effective place to instill lasting values in its members. Where family life is strong and based on principles and practices of the gospel of Jesus Christ, these problems do not as readily appear.”

What problems was he referring to?  President Benson answer’s that perfectly when he explained, “Because some parents have departed from the principles the Lord gave for happiness and success, many families throughout the world are undergoing great stress and trauma. Many parents have been enticed to abandon their responsibilities in the home to seek after an elusive “self-fulfillment.” Some have abdicated parental responsibilities for pursuit of material things, unwilling to postpone personal gratification in the interest of their children’s welfare.”

I was curious to see how the family is viewed outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A little internet search brought me to a New York Times article by one of my favorite authors, William Bennett.  In his article he stated, “The family is the nucleus of civilization and the basic social unit of society. Aristotle wrote that the family is nature’s established association for the supply of mankind’s everyday wants. Research clearly shows that the institution of the family is the first form of community and government and, as Michael Novak said, the first, best and original Department of Health, Education and Welfare.” Bennett went on to say that “for a civilization to succeed, the family must succeed.”

You might find, if you read the article, there those who take issue with Bennett, but he certainly isn’t the only one to make this claim on the cruciality of the family unit. If time presented itself (and I hope it will one day), I’m sure I can provide statistics that are weightier.  For now, and for the purpose of this post, the family unit is the most important unit in the preservation of societies.

From the front cover of the World Family Organization:

“The Family is the basic unit of society and as such should be

strengthened. It is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support.  In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the Family exist. The rights, capabilities and responsibilities of Family must be respected.”

Paragraph 1 & 2

“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.”

 The Family -- An Heritage of the Lord

It is a gift to me to know that we are all spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father.  I have no doubt of my origin and divine nature.  I know that we are all created in the image of this Father.  I know that my gender and yours was not a random chance. I have always been a girl and a daughter of God.  That will never change.

Tad R. Callister said made this impactful statement in an address at Brigham Young University,You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!”

 




Just as God created the earth as a place for you to live and gain experience, He created you. And gave you a body of flesh and blood in the likeness of His glorified body. In the Old Testament God said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Jacob declared that he had seen God “face to face”(Genesis 32:30). Moses also spoke with God “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11). In the New Testament, when the resurrected Christ appeared to His Apostles, He told them, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

Paragraph 3

Families Can Be Together Forever“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.’

During the course of my life I have met many people who are not members of my faith, but with whom I share one common dream — that of being with family in the next life.  In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this is a keystone doctrine.  Everything we do in the Church is in support of and for the family unit.

  Covenant Marriage  Elder Bruce C. Hafen, in a conference address in 1996 teaches about the difference between a contract marriage and a covenant marriage.  While some may question the validity of this old and out dated address, these principles are timeless laws and grounded in the eternal laws of God.  Elder Hafen taught,  ” When troubles come, the parties to a contractual marriage seek happiness by walking away. They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they’re receiving what they bargained for. But when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through. They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God. Contract companions each give 50 percent; covenant companions each give 100 percent.

(Here’s the link   to the whole address in case my embedded video does not work. )

Paragraphs 4, 5 & 6

“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.”

In an address entitled, “Why Marriage, Why Family” Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.

Why Marriage Why Family

I have had the privilege of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life.  I grew up being taught the value of motherhood. Of all the landmark events of life from primary to young women’s to a mission; motherhood was the period of time I looked most forward to. I’m grateful for parents and church leaders who helped prepare me for this sacred calling. No accomplishment in my life has brought more joy that being a mom.

Paragraph 7

“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.”

In the D&C 68: 25 it states, “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”

The responsibilities of parenthood cannot be taken lightly. The word of the Proclamation are clear, “Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” We are the best source of clarity and understanding for all the conflicting messages our children receive out in the world. We need to be, as Elder Bednard taught, “more diligent and concerned at home” with stewardships we bear as parents. Our children need to know of our love for them, our testimony of the gospel, and they need our time and attention.  

Watch this short presentation of Elder Bednar’s talk More Diligent and Concerned at Home




Elder Robert D. Hales taught, “No matter how evil the world becomes, our families can be at peace. If we do what’s right, we will be guided and protected.”  What a wonderful promise we can put our confidence in as we walk the path of parenthood, with all its joys and challenges, here in mortality. We are doing the work of the Lord. No other position or title we hold will be greater than that of ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad.’ 

To read or listen to Elder Hales’ whole address — you can access it here 

 





I want to include two links to this post on the topic of parenting.  These articles first appeared in the Ensign (The Church’s adult magazine) in March and then in April of 1975.  What good are articles 40+ years ago, you ask? The reason these articles still hold value today, comes from the timeless truths they contain. Principles of right and wrong do not go out of date. No matter what the world does to distort values, God’s laws will never change. 



This except from part 1 maybe inspire you to read both articles:

 The Lord identified four characteristics of successful parents when he described the Saints who would inherit the earth in these last days. (See D&C 45:56–59.) First, they are wise. Second, they have received the truth. Third, they have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide. Fourth, they have not been deceived. Seventy-three years before the first coming of Christ, the prophet Alma declared that the ministry of the priesthood was to prepare the minds of the people, “that salvation might come unto them, that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.” (Alma 39:16.)”

“Principles of Parenting” by Neil J. Flinders can be read in their entirety by following the links

Part 1  and Part 2