It’s the 15th anniversary today of the presentation by President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Proclamation to the World on the Family, a document that, as stated in September’s Visiting Teaching message, “has become the foundation for Latter-day Saint beliefs about the family, a statement to which we can hold fast and know that by living its precepts, we are strengthening our families and homes.”
More specifically, the proclamation can help both Mormons and those not of our faith to reflect on and understand Mormon belief about topics such as the following:
- Pre-mortal life
- Our divine identity and potential
- Our belief in Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother (“heavenly parents”)
- God’s eternal plan for us
- Why Mormons believe in having children
- The divinity of the power of procreation and of the marital sexual relationship
- The sanctity and eternal importance of human life
- The rights of children to be born within the bonds of matrimony
- The duty parents have to their children and to each other
- The importance of marital fidelity
- Gender roles
- Equal partnership in marriage
- The blessing of extended families
- Principles for happy family living
- The importance of chastity
- The evils of abuse and neglect in family relationships
- The essential role of healthy family life in helping to protect individuals, communities, and nations
- The invitation to take action to both maintain and strengthen the family as society’s foundational unit
Although those not of our faith may not believe in all our doctrines, the proclamation still contains principles that can help any family. There are things all of us can do to strengthen our families, no matter what our beliefs may be.
Of course, not all families will match the description in the proclamation. In a worldwide broadcast in 2008 that focused on the proclamation, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained why our leaders teach the ideal knowing full well that some lives — perhaps many lives — don’t match that ideal.
It is precisely because many don’t have, or perhaps have never even seen, that ideal and because some cultural forces steadily move us away from that ideal, that we speak about what our Father in Heaven wishes for us in His eternal plan for His children….
We who are General Authorities and general officers are called to teach His general rules. You and we then lead specific lives and must seek the Lord’s guidance regarding specific circumstances. But there would be mass confusion and loss of gospel promises if no general ideal and no doctrinal standard were established and, in our case today, repeated. We take great strength in knowing the Lord has spoken on these matters, and we accept His counsel even when it might not be popular.
The ideals as taught in the proclamation are given as guides, as something to strive for. But then we look to God and work with those in our families to try to do the best we can with wherever we are.
To our readers everywhere: We invite you to give the proclamation a read, whether Mormon or not, and find something, even one thing, that you feel resonates with something you can do to help improve your own life and your family’s life.
Resources that might be of interest related to the proclamation include the following:
- The Worldwide Leadership Broadcast mentioned earlier
- Mormon Channel’s Q&A on the September Visiting Teaching message. MP3 includes many quotes and clips from teachings of our leaders on the importance of the family and how to implement the principles of the proclamation in our lives.
- M. Russell Ballard, The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World
- Henry B. Eyring, The Family
- M. Russell Ballard, What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest
- Julie B. Beck, Teaching the Doctrine of the Family
- Cheryl Esplin, We Believe the Family Is Ordained of God
- Cynthia Doxey, Singles and the Proclamation on the Family (the title of this article even acknowledges that those who aren’t currently married can still find ideas in the proclamation to implement in their lives)
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What principles in the proclamation resonate with you?