Words of the Prophet: Love at Home
by President Gordon B. Hinckley
President Hinckley speaks out on parents, children, and the blessings of family.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Ex. 20:12). It is an unusual statement. It is different from all of the other commandments. Each of the other nine is a commandment without a promise. The fifth is a commandment and a promise. To me that is tremendously interesting—and meaningful. Whatever relationship, I first asked myself, is there between honoring one’s parents and living long upon the land? Is it likely that we will live longer if we honor father and mother?
I am convinced that Jehovah knew whereof He wrote when His finger traced those words, with that remarkable promise.
I am not here to say that in every case life will be lengthened and its quality improved simply by the process of honoring one’s parents. But I do say, and without hesitation, that there is safety, there is protection, there is reward, there is happiness and satisfaction that come of respect for the counsels of one’s parents who wish the very best for every son and daughter. Well did the writer of Proverbs say, “A foolish son is grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him” (Proverbs 17:25) (from Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 203).
The fruits of a good home
We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention. To me there has always been something significant in the description of the prophet Elijah’s experience following his contest with the priests of Baal. The scripture records that “a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks … But the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:11–12).
The voice of heaven is a still, small voice; likewise, the voice of domestic peace is a quiet voice (from Ensign, June 1971, 72).
Every child, with few possible exceptions, is the product of a home, be it good, bad, or indifferent. As children grow through the years, their lives, in large measure, become an extension and a reflection of family teaching. If there is harshness, abuse, uncontrolled anger, disloyalty, the fruits will be certain and discernible, and in all likelihood they will be repeated in the generation that follows. If, on the other hand, there is forbearance, forgiveness, respect, consideration, kindness, mercy, and compassion, the fruits again will be discernible, and they will be eternally rewarding. They will be positive and sweet and wonderful. And as mercy is given and taught by parents, it will be repeated in the lives and actions of the next generation (from Ensign, May 1990, 70). (The Ensign is a Mormon magazine.)
Can we make our homes more beautiful? Yes, through addressing ourselves as families to the source of all true beauty. Can we strengthen our society and make it a better place in which to live? Yes, by strengthening the virtue of our family life through kneeling together and supplicating the Almighty in the name of His Beloved Son.
This simple practice, a return to family worship, spreading across the land and over the earth, would in a generation largely lift the blight that is destroying us, and it would restore integrity, mutual respect, and a spirit of thankfulness in the hearts of the people (from Conference Report, Apr. 1963, 129). (Conference is a semi-annual meeting in which Mormons from all over the world come together to hear the prophets.)
The family’s contribution to the community
The strength of any community lies in the strength of its families. The strength of any nation lies in the strength of its families. Strong family life comes of strong and clear religious understanding of who we are, and why we are here, and of what we may eternally become. Strong family life comes of the perception that each of us is a child of God, born with a divine birthright, and with a great and significant potential. Strong family life comes of parents who love and respect one another, and who love and respect and nurture their children in the ways of the Lord. These are undergirding principles of our teachings as a church. To the degree that we observe these teachings, we build strong families whose generations will strengthen the nation.
These are families where there is daily prayer with an acknowledgment of God as our Eternal Father and of our accountability to Him for what we do with our lives.
These are families where parents and children counsel together. These are families where education is encouraged and where children build upon the strengths of one another (from Ensign, Nov. 1990, 54).
The promise of the temple
A loving Eternal Father, with concern for His children, has made possible a continuation of sacred relationships. Declared the Lord to His chosen Twelve, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
That same power, to bind in heaven what is bound on earth, is in this church today. It is exercised in holy temples, and there, under the authority of the priesthood of God, father and mother and children are sealed together under a covenant and in a relationship that time cannot break and death cannot destroy (from Ensign, July 1972, 73).
The strength of family love
Be true to your parents and your heritage. Regrettably there are a few parents who act in a way that does serious injustice to their children. But these cases are relatively few. No one has a greater interest in your welfare, in your happiness, in your future than do your mothers and fathers. They are of a prior generation. That is true. But they were once the age that you are now. Your problems are not substantially different from what theirs were. If they occasionally place restrictions on you, it is because they see danger down the road. Listen to them. What they ask you to do may not be to your liking. But you will be much happier if you do it (from Ensign, May 1996, 92–93).
Why do we have this proclamation on the family now? Because the family is under attack. All across the world families are falling apart. The place to begin to improve society is in the home. Children do, for the most part, what they are taught. We are trying to make the world better by making the family stronger (from Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 209).