Often when we think of calamities foretold in the Latter-days, we think of earth quakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, war, and financial collapses. These are all calamities and all foretold of in the scriptures. Yet there has been one calamity in the Latter-days that overshadows all others. It has caused the most pain and heartache for the most people. That calamity is the break-down of the family.
Consider the words found in D&C 1:17-22:
17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
The Lord, knowing the calamity that should come in the latter-days, gave the people the prophets beginning with Joseph Smith and commandments. He gave the people prophets that they might not take counsel from man or the arm of flesh—that faith may increase and that the everlasting covenant may be established.
When looking at the consequences following the break-down of the family, we can assume that the Lord was, in part, referring to the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. We can also assume that the Lord meant all other covenants established through the restoration of the Priesthood to bless the children of men.
In 1995, modern day prophets gave clear commandments concerning marriage and the rearing of children in The Family: a Proclamation to the World.
The variations on marriage accepted in our day, preached in our schools, established by laws and taught by professionals have brought devastating effects upon millions and millions of children and adults. As people put their trust in the laws and professionals who say that marriage does not have to be what God declared, they lose their faith and turn from God.
An older statistic from 2004 found that only 45% of teens lived with their married biological parents. That’s more than half of all children born in the United States that don’t make it to adulthood with married parents. The reasons behind this are clear: the divorce rate of first marriages, depending on the education of the parents, ranges from 30% to 50% . Subsequent marriages end in divorce of rates up to 70%. More than 40% of children are born out of wedlock either to single mothers or to cohabiting couples. With the advent of gay marriage, more children will be growing up living away from at least one of their parents.
These statistics are more than numbers. They are real people, real children of God who have been pained and abandoned because someone in their family chose not to keep the commandments of God. Children who suffer through divorce are more likely to experience:
- Lower academic success.
- Behavior problems as children.
- Greater chance of incarceration for committing crimes as a youth.
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Teenage sexual activity.
- Illness more frequently and slower recovery from sickness.
- Child abuse.
- Psychological distress and clinical depression.
- Emotional scars tend to follow children into adulthood and children from divorced families are more likely to divorce themselves.
Adults who suffer through divorce are more likely to experience:
- Early death. Of married adults, single adults, and divorced adults, those who are divorced have the shortest life expectancy.
- Health Problems. The health consequences of divorce are so severe that a Yale researcher concluded that “being divorced and a nonsmoker is slightly less dangerous than smoking a pack a day and staying married.” (Harold J. Morowitz, “Hiding in the Hammond Report,” Hospital Practice (August 1975), p. 39)
- Mental Health problems such as clinical depression, hostility, and self-loathing.
- Difficulties with personal growth and forming positive relationships with others.
Obviously these consequences are not the fault of the children or both spouses. Often times faithful spouses are the victim of their husband and wife breaking the marriage covenant and committing adultery. Children are always the victims.
The Lord gave the commandments about marriage and family because He understands perfectly the consequences and He desires the happiness and exaltation of His children. The Family Proclamation outlines how a couple can have a godly marriage and rear children in a way that would increase love and happiness for the entire family.
Many in the world would say that this Proclamation is just there to shame those who do not have the ideal family. Many say that the Family Proclamation hurts children who for whatever reason do not live with a married mother and father. Many say that the Family Proclamation belittles or shames those who would promote alternative families and hurts the chances of adults at finding happiness.
The knowledge of the world that says children are just as well off with a parent that breaks a marriage, commits adultery, and abandons family is a lie and children know it. Children carry the emotional pain of their parent’s action into adulthood often repeating the same problems. The pain of children does not come from the commandment of God that says “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.” The pain that children suffer instead comes from one or more of their parents disobeying these commandments.
The knowledge of the world says adults are better off acting on their lustful desires even if it means divorce, fornication, adultery, or engaging in same sex or polyamorous relationships. The prophets have said otherwise and science confirms the words of the prophets. Social science studies have found that adults who cohabitate, divorce, or live in same sex relationships have more health problems and a shorter life span. The knowledge of the world will say that these problems come from people who discriminate or acknowledge the commandment of God that says, “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.” But the scriptures teach that greater distress comes from sin, because, “wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10)
The Family Proclamation is God’s eternal plan for His children. It is the plan of happiness and it is the only way to happiness in this life and exaltation and eternal lives in the next.
Many people have already been hurt by the consequences from sin either their own or that of their close family members. President Boyd K. Packer has offered these beautiful words of hope and healing:
Our spirits are damaged when we make mistakes and commit sins. But unlike the case of our mortal bodies, when the repentance process is complete, no scars remain because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The promise is: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).
When we speak of marriage and family life, there inevitably comes to mind, “What about the exceptions?” Some are born with limitations and cannot beget children. Some innocents have their marriage wrecked because of the infidelity of their spouse. Others do not marry and live in single worthiness.
For now I offer this comfort: God is our Father! All the love and generosity manifest in the ideal earthly father is magnified in Him who is our Father and our God beyond the capacity of the mortal mind to comprehend. His judgments are just; His mercy without limit; His power to compensate beyond any earthly comparison. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). (Boy K, Packer, The Plan of Happiness, Apr 2015)
The Lord knowing the calamity that should come in the latter-days gave the people prophets that they might not take counsel from man or the arm of flesh—that faith may increase and that the everlasting covenant may be established. God gave us The Family: A Proclamation to the World to ensure our happiness and to keep us safe from the calamities foretold in the scriptures.
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