It seems like the organization of the family naturally occurs, like it is an instinctive way of life. Could it be? Could the organization of the family be something more than just a social invention? Absolutely it can! I witness that it is ordained of God, and families are meant to be an eternal organization, not just for the short time we are here on earth. Where did I learn this sacred truth? Well, let me tell you…
What Do Mormons Believe About Families?
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) and it seems like almost every lesson that we have in Church focuses on one of two things: Jesus Christ or the family. In a sacred document titled The Family: A Proclamation to the World we read:
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
“Central to the Creator’s plan” are extremely powerful words. To be central means that everything revolves around it.
Why Are Families Important?
On Mormon.org, in the section titled, “Why is family so important to Mormons” we read:
Our families provide a setting for much of the growth we experience in life.
In our families we love, serve, teach, and learn from each other. We share our joys and our sorrows. Family ties may bring us difficult challenges, but they also give us strength and some of our greatest happiness .
For me personally, my family means everything to me! I still go to my Mom and Dad, and my siblings, to share my joys and my sorrows. They are there for me, and they sustain me. They help me, by their example, to be a better follower of Jesus Christ. Now that I have my own family, that reservoir of strength has expanded in heavenly ways. My love has been multiplied with each new family member who enters my life. I never thought I could love somebody so much before I met my husband. And then I was astonished when we had our first child and my capacity to love was enlarged even more. I know that will continue to happen as each new family member comes.
What if I Don’t Have a Family?
You may be asking yourself, “what about me, I don’t have a family?” Pay attention to how you feel as you read the story of a Mormon woman, who served in a leadership position for the Relief Society organization:
For almost 17 years now [The Family: A Proclamation to the World] has reinforced that our most significant responsibilities are centered in strengthening families and homes—no matter our current circumstances. Barbara Thompson, [former] second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, was in the Salt Lake Tabernacle when President Hinckley first read the proclamation. “That was a great occasion,” she remembers. “I felt the significance of the message. I also found myself thinking, ‘This is a great guide for parents. It is also a big responsibility for parents.’ I thought for a moment that it really didn’t pertain too much to me since I wasn’t married and didn’t have any children. But almost as quickly I thought, ‘But it does pertain to me. I am a member of a family. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a niece, and a granddaughter. I do have responsibilities—and blessings—because I am a member of a family. Even if I were the only living member of my family, I am still a member of God’s family, and I have a responsibility to help strengthen other families.’”
Fortunately, we are not left alone in our efforts. “The greatest help,” says Sister Thompson, “we will have in strengthening families is to know and follow the doctrines of Christ and rely on Him to help us” (“Guardians of the Hearth,” Ensign, Feb. 2012).
Will Sister Thompson ever receive a family of her own? Of course she will–whether in this life or the next, she will get her family! How is this possible? Enjoy these words by the Mormon apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, “As prophets have repeatedly taught from this pulpit, ultimately “no blessing shall be withheld” from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Because She is a Mother” Ensign, May 1997).
What Can we do to Strengthen the Family?
The Boston Globe was interviewing the late Mormon prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, about The Church of Jesus Christ, and he said this:
We have a family home evening program once a week [Monday night] across the Church in which parents sit down with their children. They study the scriptures. They talk about family problems. They plan family activities and things of that kind. I don’t hesitate to say if every family in the world practiced that one thing, you’d see a very great difference in the solidarity of the families of the world’ (interview, Boston Globe, 14 Aug. 2000).
I witness that each time we do family home evening; we leave with an increased awareness of God and His love for us as His own family.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World also teaches specific things that families can do to be strengthened:
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. 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. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
Can Families Be Together Forever?
Yes! Yes! A resounding, YES! Families are designed to be forever. And like Elder Holland said, if you are faithful, no blessing will be withheld from you, including that of an eternal family. Mormons believe that you have to participate in sacred ordinances, which are only available in Mormon temples, in order to be qualified for an eternal family. It is in those sacred edifices that you prove your faithfulness to God, by being worthy to make and keep sacred covenants with Him (two-way promises); anybody can get a recommend if they 1) are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ and 2) keep the commandments of God. So yes, even you could go to the temple if you really wanted to (send a message to me in a comment, and I will be sure to let you know how!)
This is exciting stuff, my friends! Can’t you just feel the power and the urgency for establishing and strengthening families and homes? This is the work of God, and it is not only important but it is vital to our souls! Please, please, find out more by meeting with Mormon missionaries. And really, if you want to learn more, comment on this page and I will respond to you the next time I am on my computer! You are a child of God, and He needs you to join Him in the great cause of the family. And he greatly desires for you to enjoy all of the great blessings that He has available—including having an eternal family—in fact, that is why He does what He does. I know this to be true—with all of my mind and with all of my heart.