Families are under attack like never before. But we can learn how to fortify our families, in the Lord’s way with help from the doctrine of the Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Did you know:
- “1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” [Link]
- Fresno criminal justice attorney reports: “Males exposed to domestic violence as children are more likely to engage in domestic violence as adults, and females are more likely to be victims as adults.” [Link]
- “Couples who report feeling high levels of financial strain are three and a half times more likely to be involved in domestic violence compared to couples who report feeling low levels of financial strain.” [Link]
We are not left to figure life out on our own. Understanding church doctrine will help us to fortify our families in the Lord’s way, starting all the way back with Adam and Eve.
ADAM AND EVE
Eve, for so long, has been blamed for negative attitudes against women, yet the Church teaches something else. Dallin H. Oaks said, “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.” [Link]
Because of Eve’s choice, mankind has paired with the Gods to enact Heavenly Father’s plan. We now can prove ourselves by our faith and obedience. With a power only of God are we able to procreate, live as eternal families, teaching this everlasting doctrine to new generations. Teaching His doctrine is the most important thing we can do as innocent spirits come into our homes. We have been commanded to “be fruitful and multiply” with the explicit, and divine, purpose of training children in the Lord’s way that they may “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.” [Link]
Working as husband and wife is not always easy. The natural man insists on earthly solutions that include pride, aggression, imperfection, and ego. But this is not the Lord’s way. He uses words like unity, forgiveness, submission, and devotion. It is likely the word “submission” that causes the greatest consternation, but because God is a god of order, submission is essential for order in the family. The Savior, Himself, offers the greatest lesson in submission.
MEN–USING THE PRIESTHOOD WELL
In General Conference, Gordon B. Hinckley once reflected, “I cannot understand how a man who holds the holy priesthood and who has entered into sacred and binding covenants before
the Lord could justify abandoning his responsibilities for his wife of eighteen years and the five children who exist because of him and of whose flesh and blood and heritage they have partaken.” [Link]
Because of the responsibility of the priesthood on his shoulders, the husband and father leads his family, thus serving those who depend upon him. “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [Link] The Lord’s way is to serve those who are submissive to you.
The example and doctrine has been set in place, yet the evil influences of the world still encroach, inviting failure and pain. L. Tom Perry spoke emphatically, “I stand before you today to accuse many of the husbands and fathers who are within the sound of my voice and throughout the world of failing in your … responsibilities … from the lack of your leadership in the home.” [Link]
Camille Fronk Olson, a BYU Ancient Scripture professor, once quoted a pastor speaking on “mature masculinity” who said:
“Mature masculinity expresses itself not in the demand to be served, but in the strength to serve and to sacrifice for the good of the woman. . . .
“Mature masculinity does not have to initiate every action, but feels the responsibility to provide a general pattern of initiative. . . . For example, the leadership pattern would be less than Biblical if the wife in general was having to take the initiative in prayer at mealtime, and get the family out of bed for worship on Sunday morning, and gather the family for devotions, and discuss what moral standards will be required of the children, and confer about financial priorities . . . etc. . . .
“Mature masculinity recognizes that the call to leadership is a call to repentance and humility and risk-taking. . . . In a good marriage decision-making is focused on the husband, but is not unilateral. He seeks input from his wife and often adopts her ideas.” [Link]
Is it possible that unity could be achieved if men presided with mature masculinity and women submitted to righteous priesthood protection? Men must use their priesthood better than ever before, making themselves more available to their wives, their children, and the spiritual safeguarding of their homes. But sisters too must step up. Where motherhood is being downplayed, as LDS women, we need to up-play our role as Mothers in Zion.
Twenty-nine years ago, Ezra Taft Benson, then prophet of the Church, warned mothers against “postpon[ing] having your children” and that “the counsel of the Church has always been for mothers to spend their full time in the home in rearing and caring for their children.”[Link] This was not a popular idea then, and it is much less so today. He asked, “Now, my dear mothers, knowing of your divine role to bear and rear children and bring them back to Him, how will you accomplish this in the Lord’s way? I say the Lord’s way, because it is different from the world’s way.” [Link]
The Church has re-issued Mother Education lessons, that used to be taught in Relief Society many years ago, making them available online. These lessons teach the Lord’s way in valuing motherhood, raising children, and strengthening families. Where the world would preach that motherhood is burdensome and to be avoided, or compromised, with the seduction of self-improvement, as members of the Church, women understand that the commandment to replenish the earth “has not been forgotten or set aside.” [Link] Lest some women think motherhood is a dead end life of drudgery, rest assured, the Brethren have spoken incontrovertibly about the need for righteous women to teach, train, and lead in the home.
And what of mothers who are raising children alone? Or women who have no husband or children? Boyd K. Packer said,
“We talk a lot about families. Sometimes in bitterness, you will want to say ‘all this talk about families, but I don’t have a family, and …’ stop there! Don’t add that extra phrase, ‘I wish they would stop talking so much about families.’ You pray that we do keep talking about families; about fathers and mothers and children and family home evening, temple marriage and companionship and all of the rest, because all of that will be yours. If we stop talking about it, then you, among all others, will be the losers.” [Link]
Because of our Heavenly Father’s Plan, families will always be an eternal unit meant for everyone. That is why every single worthy person, male or female, will receive all of the rites and blessings the gospel offers, whether in this life, or the next. Each son and daughter of God will have an opportunity to accept and receive every ordinance, every rite, every blessing offered by their loving Heavenly Father. It can be a long, agonizing wait for some, but the promises have been made and those promises will be honored. In the meantime, because of their nurturing natures righteous women, who are single, can reach out to those who need righteous examples. And in our day, these women are sorely needed!
Sheri Dew, as a single sister in the Church, has spoken many times on the importance of being a mother in Zion. “As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. … Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else. … Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy. I repeat: We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.” [Link]
FORTIFYING FAMILIES THE LORD’S WAY
Handbook 2 is a guide, not only to train leaders in their callings, but also to train parents in their homes. Within its pages parents will find many encouraging ideas that will help fortify the family. These guidelines help parents to stay focused as ultimately they “have the vital responsibility to help their children prepare to return to Heavenly Father.” And if this commandment is not obeyed, “the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” 18 Thomas S. Monson admonishes, “There are those who dismiss these responsibilities, feeling they can be deferred until the child grows up. Not so, the evidence reveals.” [Link]
As stated in The Family: A Proclamation, “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.” When a man and a woman come together, making vows to one another and to their children, they are more likely to follow the Lord’s way in creating a safe environment.
Single mothers can provide a similar environment when they take the lead, instituting regular family prayer and study in the home. It is also most helpful to have faithful home and visiting teachers attending and supporting these households. These single mothers need to see that priesthood power is just as available to them as in any other home. Her own desire for, and power to have, heavenly aid in her home will never be denied.
The Plan of Salvation is the Lord’s way of bringing his children back home to His kingdom. He has given us commandments, leaders, and organizations to help us traverse the world’s plastic subterfuge. He has given all of His children power to traverse this world in relative happiness, as well as the promise to inherit “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers” [Link] in the world to come.
Husbands, love your wives! Wives, love your husbands! Train your children with love! Let Spencer W. Kimball’s heartfelt words ring in your ears. “Oh, brothers and sisters, families can be forever! Do not let the lures of the moment draw you away from them! Divinity, eternity, and family–they go together, hand in hand, and so must we! [Link]