Sunday, December 8, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson 45: The Family is Ordained of God

From top left: Sumatran elephants, a family, bluefin tuna, Sumatran tiger, hawk-billed turtle
Take a look at the small collage of photos above and see if you can work out what they all have in common.

Answer: Well all of the above are an endangered species!
Many, many species of animal have gone extinct over the years and the pictures above show 4 more animals that are listed as critically endangered. Critically endangered is the highest level of endangerment before extinction. Many people don't care. Many people see plenty of other animals and do not realize the impact the loss of a single species can have on their local environment and surrounding habitat.
Similarly, families are also critically endangered. What was once considered a pillar of society is now often considered a nuisance to careers and a hindrance to individual pursuits and dreams. And the traditional moral code that once held families together is being eroded at an alarming rate. What was once universally accepted as evil is now considered the norm and that which was once considered good and moral is now considered by the masses as intolerant and evil.
Broken homes and uncommitted relationships are increasingly the norm. Having come from a broken home myself I have seen the effects first hand in the lives of my siblings and myself.
"Never before, at least not in our generation, have the forces of evil been so blatant, so brazen, so aggressive as they are today. Things we dared not speak about in earlier times are now constantly projected into our living rooms. . . .
The home is under siege. So many families are being destroyed” 
(Gordon B. Hinckley, “Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 98,99).
Why are we seeing the family unit crumble so much? What is causing it? And does it really matter? 



In 1995, Gordon B Hinckley, President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints presented a proclamation to all the world entitled "The Family". Today's lesson will explore some of the principles declared within this proclamation and their importance to society today.

To obtain your own free copy of "The Family" just click on the picture of the proclamation to the right and you will be taken to a link where you can print your very own personal copy.


When President Hinckley first presented this inspired proclamation he used the terms "to warn and forewarn" to describe its purpose. What do you think that means? Why did he use two words that seem to mean exactly the same?
I am not sure but I sense there is something in the use of both words together. One seems stern and a fulfillment of legal obligations, the other seems to imply a merciful heads up and opportunity to prepare and change.

Paragraph 1 teaches us that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God" and that "the family is central to the Creator's plan." Meanwhile society teaches us that any marriage is ok between man and woman or man and man or woman and woman. While all are free to choose, this paragraph clearly indicates that the only marriage that God ordains is between a man and a woman. That does not mean that He loves others any less. It just means that is the only kind of marriage to which he gives his blessing.
Why does God only ordain/bless marriages between a man and a woman? As we read on I believe we will find that answer.

Paragraph 2 reminds us that "all human beings are created in the image of God and have a divine nature and destiny". As we summarize each paragraph and principle ask yourself how these principles have been eroded in society over time. How powerful would that be if everyone in society was aware of and believed in their own divine nature and destiny!

Paragraph 3 tells us that "sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for families to be united eternally". Do you love your family? Do you remember your marriage vows? If you were married outside of the temple of God did you notice you were married "until death do you part". If you want the fulness of an eternal rather than a temporary temporal marriage you will do whatever it takes to become worthy to enter a temple of the Lord and be sealed for all eternity to your family rather than just until death do you part.

Paragraph 4 reminds us of the first commandment given to the first parents - "multiply and replenish the earth" and tells us that this commandment remains in force. And we are also reminded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
What damage has been done to society that is warned against in these reminders? Amazingly sociologists and governments are starting to realize, maybe a little too late, that children from single parent and broken families are statistically more likely to end up in poverty, in crime and in broken homes and broken relationships later in life than children in traditional family units. This does not condemn single mothers but rather the fathers who abandon them. This does not condemn the loving parents who strive and struggle despite their circumstances to provide for their children, it merely shows that there is a better more successful, more ideal way. In 1995, 25% of children were born out of wedlock in the US. By 2011, this statistic had risen to 40%. This incredible rise in children born out of wedlock has been seen all across the world. Same sex marriages while very possibly filled with love, deny and abuse the sacred power of procreation granted them.

Paragraph 5 continues on the subject of the power of procreation and "affirms the sanctity of life" and declares "the means by which mortal is is created to be divinely appointed".

Paragraph 6 notes that "husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children". Notice the order in which these two solemn responsibilities are listed. Husbands and wives priority is each other and then their children.
Does this lessen the importance of our children? I believe rather than lessen the importance of children it magnifies the importance of caring for and loving our spouse. Often in the hustle and bustle of caring for the children couples neglect their own relationship. In all families the rules of airplane emergency should apply. When the air masks drop we are instructed to put the air masks on ourselves first and then our children. Why? We are told it is because if we do not save ourselves the children will be helpless. In the perspective of a family unit, it is once again an affirmation of the importance of that sealing relationship between man and woman.

Paragraph 7 gives married couples 9 principles of a successful marriage. Can you find them? One of those principles is prayer. We are often told, the family that prays together stays together. Have a little look at 3 Nephi 17:11-23. This is a beautiful example of family prayer. I wonder if our families feel like this each time we pray. Often times I think we forget to pray or we pray only as a function rather than with the Spirit of prayer and with real intent.
“It is a simple thing to pray, yet how generally this duty is neglected. Parents forget to call together their households and invoke upon them the blessings of God; they are too often in a hurry, or are perplexed so much with the affairs of life as to forget the obligations they are under to the Almighty.”                                      Joseph F. Smith

In 1999, 3.5 years after the proclamation, the First Presidency once more touched the topic of families with a letter addressed to the members of the church (click on picture to left to read the full letter). In it they once more advised families to give "the highest priority" to family prayer, family home evening and wholesome recreational activities.

Why do you think the Lord felt the need to remind the Saints of this focus just 3.5 yrs later? How are we doing in following this instruction? Notice we are to give the highest priority to these things. Where does that put work, tv, school or bed in the pecking order? I wonder if we even realize how many times we put off or hurry these priorities for things that are of lesser importance and what damage it does to the safety of our family and the defences of our children.

Paragraph 8 Do you remember when you got in real trouble with your parents? I don't mean just a little - I mean real trouble. How did you know? For me I always knew because my mother would call me not only by my name but my middle name also. Well in the scriptures the Lord has a code word to let us know when it is past the point of just friendly reminders. "Wo, wo!" There are a few double "wo's" and I believe there may even be one reference in the Book of Mormon that is a triple "wo". Well now read paragraph 8. Notice there are 2 warnings. I believe the Lord is letting us know this is beyond gentle reminders.

Paragraph 9 I find the last paragraph intriguing. The Proclamation is to all the world but the final paragraph calls to two specific groups of people only - responsible citizens and officers of government. It calls on them to "promote measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society"

As Latter Day Saints we have a duty to promote the family from within and throughout society. Despite the wave of malicious and brazen attacks against the family we must and can stand strong by living the principles taught within this proclamation.


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