Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Am a Defender of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World"

In 1995, a very important proclamation was read to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" by the current prophet of the church, President Gordon B. Hinckley. The words of this proclamation are sacred, and a testament to the world that prophets do receive divine revelation in our day to help people come closer to God. Now 20 years later, the leaders of the Relief Society, Young Women's, and Primary organizations of the Church celebrated this anniversary by centering their talks on this important document last night at the General Women's Meeting. One leader in particular, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, challenged every person to be defenders of the Proclamation to the Family and boldly declare its teachings. I felt inspired to do just that, because I know that this proclamation was a revelation to all the world on the importance of the family. Sister Oscarson asked us to focus on three parts of the proclamation: marriage between and man and woman, elevating the roles of mothers and fathers, and acknowledging the sanctity of the home and homemakers.

First, marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. In the very first paragraph of the proclamation, it reads:

"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."

I know this to be true. Right now the world thinks differently on this issue. But I know that God's laws do not change, and that if we are to see families thrive in our society, this important commandment needs to be obeyed. The proclamation further states:

"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."

I know that this is God's plan for his children on the earth. And that's all I'm going to say on this topic!

Second, we need to elevate the roles of mothers and fathers. I loved the story she shared of her daughter discovering it was career week at her child's school, and how she submitted an application to present for the career of "mother/homemaker." After the school did not call her, she called them, and asked if she would be permitted to attend. She was, and her presentation was such a big hit with the kids that the following year she was asked to give it to 6 classes. She elevated the role of mother in this simple act. As mothers we are asked to do a lot for our children. Even if I had a job outside the home, parenting would not be my secondary job, it is my primary job. And really, when it comes down to it, what I am doing all day, every day, for my children and family, is small acts of service. Service that often seems repetitive, mindless, even boring, but absolutely essential to the work of the family. In another talk given that evening, I heard something that really stood out to me: "Families are the Lord's workshop on the earth to help us live and learn the Gospel...strong families don't just takes real work." Fathers and mothers have to work constantly to keep their family strong. And this work is tiring, but so rewarding. Right now, in the thick of this draining work, it's hard to see the rewards of our efforts. But they are there, waiting to be recognized. The proclamation reads:

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

If we are teaching our children these things, then our Heavenly Father is pleased.

Third, we need to acknowledge the sanctity of the home. In her talk, Bonnie Oscarson said,

"Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness." 

Now this is not an easy task. The temple is clean, white, pure, and quiet, no voices above a whisper, usually. My home is the complete opposite: loud voices, screaming, a crying baby, dirty floors and countertops, dusty shelves. But I don't think that means we aren't making our homes holy, because it's hard to stay on top of these things when you have young children (well, for me it is!) What we choose to view in our homes, listen to, read, and how we treat one another are indicators of the holiness that can be found, because they create the spirit. If a home has the holy spirit, it's undeniable. I have been to homes where I could feel it, just setting one foot inside the door. I'm not sure what others would say about my home, but I do know that I have lots of work to do in this area. I want my home to be a refuge from the world where my children feel safe and loved, cared for and listened to. The saying is true that the mother is the heart of the home. My challenges as a mom have greatly robbed me of the joy and peace I want to feel, and in some ways I feel like Satan is winning the battle, that he has trapped me in bitterness. But I can break free of this and see the sunshine again, as long as I strive for it. The proclamation reads:

"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."

This is how we can find happiness in our families, how our homes can feel sacred and holy. If we are making the gospel our foundation, then we will have sanctity in our homes. I know this to be true.

The proclamation on the family is succinct and to the point. It lays out every important, inspired aspect necessary to having a happy family. It outlines what God ordains the family to be, and how we can please Him in what we do in our families. I know that "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" was written by a prophet from our days, and that if we abide by its precepts, we can have more peace in our families and homes. This is my defense on the proclamation, and I declare it boldly.

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