Twenty years ago I sat with my sisters-in-law on a pew at the Church watching the General Relief Society session being broadcast to our stake center. I remember the questions I had in my heart and the overwhelming feelings I had of inadequacy. I was one month away from giving birth to my first child. How could I, a young seventeen-year-old girl, be a good mother? As I listened to President Gordon B. Hinckley read the words of The Family: A Proclamation to the World peace came into my heart. I knew that prophetic document would be the guide my husband and I could follow in raising our children and teaching our family. All these memories came flooding back as I listened to Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, speak of the truths and principles contained in the Family Proclamation. Sister Oscarson said,
“Little did we realize then, how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today’s world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators. The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world and I testify that the principles set forth within this statement are as true today as they were when they were given to us by a prophet of God nearly 20 years ago.”
Sister Oscarson issued a bold challenge to all the women of the Church “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and the importance of homes as sacred places even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant.”
A few years after President Hinckley read the Proclamation, a ballot measure came before Nevada voters whether to change the state Constitution to read that “only marriage between one man and one woman” would be recognized in the state. Because we knew the importance of standing for family, my husband and I became involved in making phone calls to our neighbors and others encouraging them to support the ballot measure. It was scary for me! Yet, as each phone call was made I could feel the guidance of the Lord in what to say and how to respond to negative comments. It felt good to be able to defend and share the doctrine of marriage in a small way to my community. Little did I know then how many times I would need to defend the doctrine of marriage, family, and home over the ensuing years.
In order to defend the Family Proclamation we need to understand it. We can do that by studying it, memorizing it, and teaching it to others. While many of us are not experiencing what the proclamation describes because we might be single, divorced, widowed, married to non-members, or any other myriad of circumstances, it is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for that ideal the best we can. As Sister Oscarson stated, “If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan.”
Sister Oscarson shared three principles of the Family Proclamation that really need defending:
- Marriage between a man and a woman.
- Elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers.
- The sanctity of the home.
All three of these principles intertwine beautifully. As we sanctify our homes and make them places of refuge and holiness our children will recognize the importance of mothers and fathers and understand that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s ideal for us. They will be ready to defend the Family Proclamation right along with us. “Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness.” With this statement Sister Oscarson is reminding us how sacred our homes should be and, thus, how critical it is for us to safeguard our homes and families.
Sisters, are we ready to defend The Family: A Proclamation to the World? Are we prepared to teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor or title than that of mother and father? Do you elevate through your actions the term “homemaker”?
Though it will get harder and harder, I willingly accept Sister Oscarson’s challenge to be bold in defending the Family Proclamation. Will you accept?
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