There is no question there is an attack on the family. Just scan the headlines of any news outlet and you’ll find startling evidence of the strategic ways the adversary is trying to destroy this most beautiful and basic of human relationships.
How do we counteract all of these attempts to redefine the traditional family out of existence? The Family: A Proclamation to the World tells us: “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.”
We start right where we are: in our own homes, in our schools, in our communities. We teach the truths, live the truths, taught in the Proclamation. Our examples will speak louder than any words we might say but at times words are necessary to defend truth. If we have our examples to back up our words others are more likely to listen.
Elder Holland so wonderfully stated in a CES Devotional,
You never “check your religion at the door.” Not ever. . . someone in life. . . has to live his or her religion because otherwise all we get is a whole bunch of idiots acting like moral pygmies.
It is easy to be righteous when things are calm and life is good and everything is going smoothly. The test is when there is real trial or temptation, when there is pressure and fatigue, anger and fear, or the possibility of real transgression. Can we be faithful then? That is the question because “Israel, Israel, God is calling.” Such integrity is, of course, the majesty of “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” —right when forgiving and understanding and being generous about your crucifiers is the last thing that anyone less perfect than the Savior of the world would want to do. But we have to try; we have to wish to be strong. Whatever the situation or the provocation or the problem, no true disciple of Christ can “check his religion at the door.”
With all of the attacks on the family now is not the time to “check our religion at the door.” Is it daunting to face opposition, especially when it may very well come from our own families or friends? Yes!
Elder Holland also stated, “While not wishing to offend those who believe differently from us, we are even more anxious not to offend God, or as the scripture says, “not offend him who is your lawgiver” —and I am speaking here of serious moral laws.”
This echoes our family motto given by Pres. James E. Faust a few short months before The Family Proclamation was given, “May we dedicate our lives to serving the Lord and not worry about offending the devil.”
In the April 2015 General Conference Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said, “Few of us will ever have to face an angry mob, but there is a war going on in this world in which our most cherished and basic doctrines are under attack. I am speaking specifically of the doctrine of the family. The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes of the family are being questioned, criticized, and assaulted on every front.” She then issued a challenge to be defenders of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
We need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places—even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant.
And so we make a stand, I make a stand, to defend the family.
Shortly after I had my tenth child I was out shopping and realized he needed his diaper changed. While I was in the restroom changing him a middle-aged woman walked in and started cooing over him. “He is so adorable! How old is he?”
I replied that he was two weeks old.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, “so tiny! Is he your first?”
I took a big breath, looked her square in the eyes, smiled really big and said, “No. He’s my tenth!” I braced myself for the reaction I knew would come. It is the same response I’ve had from almost every stranger I’ve met since my fourth child was born.
“Tenth? Don’t you know what causes this?” As if all of a sudden this cute tiny baby was now a disease.
“Sure. A lot of prayer and an answer from God that another blessing should come to our family.”
“Good Lord,” she cursed.
I smiled again, “Yes, the Lord is good, isn’t He?” Disarmed by my comment she turned and left.
I had no idea that day I would be called on to make a small stand and defend my family. I am so glad I did! It wasn’t the first time and definitely hasn’t been the last, especially now that our eleventh child has been added to our family.
Our society has shifted to a place where children are becoming less valued, less wanted, more of a burden than a blessing. Oh, the first one or two a family welcomes into their home are celebrated but three, four, five or more and a couple is walking on dangerous ground. And people aren’t afraid to let you know it. The world is focusing on the wrong thing. Satan has sold them the lie of overpopulation.
In a BYU Devotional this past February Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke about this very topic.
“It is fairly common in today’s world, in another paradigm shift, to trumpet alternative choices in a positive way that are in direct conflict with this plan and are unfavorable to marriage and family.
To mention a few:
- The choice for both women and men to put education and careers ahead of marriage and family.
- The choice to purposefully have no or few children or to terminate pregnancy when inconvenient.
- The choice to engage in immoral conduct as a substitute for the sacred institution of marriage.
“The adversary has targeted women and painted motherhood as a dead–end road of drudgery. He has targeted men and painted fatherhood as unimportant and fidelity as “old–school.” (Quentin L. Cook, A Banquet of Consequences)
Elder Cook then spoke about a worldwide decline in fertility rates and population where countries are not having enough children to replace those who are dying, what is called “demographic winter.” He illustrated the problem with those present in the Marriott Center.
Later in the same address Elder Cook reiterated the importance of family and children.
“With respect to the number and spacing of children, the health of the mother must be considered, and the decision should be made prayerfully by husbands and wives. Such decisions should never be judged by outsiders. Some faithful Saints are not able to have children or have the opportunity to marry. They will receive every blessing at the ultimate banquet of consequences.
“Nevertheless, Lucifer has supported abortion and convinced many people in a horrific paradigm shift that children represent lost opportunity and misery, instead of joy and happiness.
“As Latter-day Saints, we must be at the forefront of changing hearts and minds on the importance of children.”
How can I be on the forefront of changing hearts and minds on the value of children? By testifying of their importance, especially when an unfavorable comment is made about how many children my husband and I have. It took several years before I realized a positive response was much better than arguing or no response at all when negative comments were made. I am not a combative person by nature but I did not want my children to think they were a burden or that we didn’t like having a big family. Since most of the comments were made in their presence I wanted them to hear me defending our choices and showing my love for them to strangers. My husband and I sat down and wrote out positive responses to the basic comments we received and I reviewed them until they became second nature. Has it made a difference? I don’t know about the strangers I interact with but I do know it has made a difference for me and my family. I’ve also come to notice the good comments, encouraging remarks from total strangers. They too are helping to promote and defend the family when they compliment a tired mother and brighten her day in earshot of others. It is a small, simple, effective way to strengthen and fortify families.
I am very aware of my shortcomings, my faults, and my lack in some areas so it amazes me that despite all of my failings God still trusts me and my husband to take care of these souls sent to us as our children. In the Family Proclamation we read, “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.” Oh, I am so thankful for a wonderful husband who stands by my side encouraging me, sustaining me on my less than perfect days! To be honest, that means every day. It makes all the difference in the world to have him there. I love motherhood! There is so much I have learned about myself and about the Lord through serving my family and my children. There is much I have learned defending the value of family and children.