As sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called upon to do extraordinary things. The world is in turmoil, but the Lord has not left us alone as we battle attacks made on the family. Inspired words of prophets and apostles continue to guide us, and we are blessed with a timely and pertinent declaration: The Family: A Proclamation To The World. There have been some wonderful words spoken by our leaders regarding this document, the perilous times that we live in and what we can do to stand up for the principles and doctrines which teach truth about marriage and family.
In a talk called “Defenders of the Family Proclamation” by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, she says:
“When President Gordon B. Hinckley first read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” 20 years ago this year, we were grateful for and valued the clarity, simplicity, and truth of this revelatory document. 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.”
We now live in a world that promotes pornography and prohibits prayer, a time where evil is called good and good is called evil, darkness is falsely labeled as light, and we are asked to balance truth and tolerance. Most of what is being pushed as “politically correct” is actually “spiritually incorrect” and counterproductive to God’s plan of happiness for his children. What is cunningly shaped as “pro-freedom” and “pro-choice” is, in all actuality, “anti-accountability”. Much of the attack on family is being strategically accomplished through the wording of ideas, which become written into laws and solidified into policy. These agendas influence the morality of society, and this ultimately affects our families.
We must be careful, discerning and live close to the spirit. Satan is the author of all lies. He is cunning and strategic. None of what he promotes leads to happiness or eternal salvation. His purposes are plainly manifested in the commotion and mass confusion he has created. His goal is to destroy the family, derail the plan and ultimately destroy humanity, making men miserable like unto himself. He is accomplishing this by introducing small lies that attack the very essence of who we are. The truth regarding marriage and family is being lost in his push for promiscuity. Male and female roles are downplayed as old fashioned. Ideas about sexuality, gender and the God-given identity we all possess is now entangled with human rights and huge political fan-fare.
However, within The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we are given basic truths that iron out all debate surrounding these issues. We need to know and love these doctrines. We need to trust the Lord and become familiar with the “whys” behind these truths so that we can defend what the Lord has instituted. It’s important that we contrast these eternal truths with the fleeting ideological world trends presented by the media and teach our children how to discern between truth and error. Truth hinges upon truth. If we are able to hang onto these truths, building upon each one, however unpopular they may be within the world, we will be anchored as the flood of ideas and philosophies of men sweeps over the earth.
One of the great challenges we face as we defend the family is being caught between standing up for our beliefs and being labeled as intolerant. Tolerance goes both ways and though our views of marriage and family may not coincide with the world’s views, we can still defend with courtesy and compassion. The stakes are high and our commitment to God’s plan is vital to not only our salvation, but the salvation of our brothers and sisters. We must courageously defend what we know. God is counting on us.
Let’s take a look at some of the comforting truths contained in the Proclamation. There are several, but here are 10 basic doctrines we can trust:
- Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
- The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
- All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God.
- Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.
- Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
- God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.
- The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
- We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
- Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.
- 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.
No matter our circumstances, we can defend these doctrines. Sister. Bonnie L. Oscarson also said in her talk “Defenders of the Family Proclamation”:
“Life rarely goes exactly according to plan for anyone, and we are very aware that not all women are experiencing what the proclamation describes. It is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for the realization of that pattern the best we can.
Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of us is equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We should remember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of our righteous desires and will honor His promises that nothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keep their covenants. … It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson gave a talk in General Conference, October 2015, entitled “A Plea to My Sisters”. I remember during his talk the spirit speaking right to my heart of things that I, just a young mom of five with no professional training, could do to defend the family. Little did I know the opportunities the Lord had in mind for me were right around the corner. None of these opportunities have been comfortable or convenient, but the Lord has blessed me with courage and abilities. I have felt His love as I have defended His truth, His gospel, His plan. I have felt the spirit whisper to my heart, “It’s okay. I am with you. Keep defending”, and I have felt my testimony of the Lord’s eternal plan for families strengthen. I have been given words to say in moments where I didn’t have any and have been able to articulate in what seemed to be impossible debates. I have watched confrontational people leave our conversations with understanding despite conflicting opinions. I have witnessed people of all different religions, cultures, lifestyles, beliefs, backgrounds, experiences and family situations rise up to defend the family and work together in unity. There is hope and much good being done, but we need everyone, especially members of our Church who know and understand the Lord’s plan, to defend the doctrines of marriage and family.
I believe there are three things we can do to defend the family:
- Stand up against government policies that threaten and weaken the family. Sign petitions, write letters, leave comments on social media, attend meetings, study political agendas, become involved and educated on these issues so if an opportunity arises you can speak out with confidence. Also, be informed on what our Church leaders have said on how to handle these issues. There are some great articles by Elder Rasband and Elder Oaks that can help us to navigate the political arena with a calm influence and a spirit of fairness.
- Build up the walls of our own home. Do what we can to raise our children and grandchildren in righteousness, regardless of our circumstances. Start with what we can control and make our home a haven from the world. Be discerning and protect our own little flock of sheep. …We can teach our children the doctrines of marriage and family as well as tolerance and respect for those with differing views.
- Inform others. “It is Saturday morning in the Lord’s scheme of things, and we go complacently about our work, concerned with the ordinary cares of life. But many of us carry a restless, anxious feeling. … We have heard the prophet and the apostles raising a voice of warning. ‘Come out of the valley,’ they are saying. ‘Come to higher ground. Come away from the flood of mischief, and evil, and spiritual disaster.’ And I repeat, it behooves every man who has been warned, to warn his neighbor.” (President Boyd K. Packer)
Sisters, the Lord is with us as we courageously defend the truths within “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. This is not a proclamation to the Church. It is a proclamation to the entire world. As covenant women, we have a responsibility to defend the Lord’s doctrines. God’s plan of happiness is what the world is searching for, and we can point the way.
Sara Lyn Baril is a wife, mama of 5 great kids ages 8-18 and a published LDS songwriter from Alberta, Canada. She’s passionate about her family, the gospel and loves to share her testimony through song. She has two albums to her credit, oodles of sheet music and a house-full of kids who never stop singing! When she has time between mountains of laundry, her kid’s activities, church calling, and music, she blogs at To Lift and Inspire.