Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Sermon: The Family, A Proclamation to the World

I missed church this morning (because I slept in). As a result, I find myself spiritually hungry. So often, I find myself longing to follow the path that leads to ultimate enlightenment. That path is probably different for everyone yet we all seek for the same God even if we give him different names and seek HIM in different ways. My absence from church led me to the internet where I found solace in reading The Family, A Proclamation to the World. A YouTube VIDEO with the words of the proclamation coupled with soft music had me in tears.

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.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

New eyes reading this may find the vernacular, strange. The implications of its words, strange. Yet new eyes must admit the beauty of families being united eternally unless, of course, your family life is not worth preserving in this life (much less eternity). The proclamation was given by then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, at a General Relief Society (LDS Womens Organization) meeting in October 1995. In March of 1995, The Council of Families in America sponsored by the Institute for American Values released MARRIAGE IN AMERICA, A Report to the Nation. The executive summary briefly outlined some of the disadvantages of divorce and unwed parenthood. "It has created terrible hardships for children, incurred unsupportable social costs... We must reclaim the ideal of marital permanence and recognize that out-of-wedlock childbearing does harm."

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. 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 an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). 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.

My life and who I am is a direct result of my parents gentle (well, sometimes not so gentle) rearing of my siblings and I. My father was raised by a young widow. She was not single by choice and would have loved it if my grandfather was right next to her through the difficulty of raising seven children. My mother was the oldest girl of 16 siblings, who helped her mother (a young widow also) in rearing her brothers and sisters. I know that my mothers-mother would not have chosen to be a single parent either. In this day, I find that so many young women choose to raise children on their own. What are the benefits of doing so? What has been the result?

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. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

Even though we live in a world that may scoff at the idea of set roles for men and women, I wholly believe that the roles are necessary. Men and women are different, anatomically, emotionally, spiritually, we are different! Yet these roles help to build a strong family unit. Strong, moral families build strong, moral neighborhoods, thus building strong, moral communities, in effect strong, moral nations and a moral world. What I love about this portion of the Proclamation is that it clearly states, "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Does the preservation of marriage automatically mean that children will do better? Absolutely not! Abusive marriages are just as detrimental to the well-being of children as single-parent homes are.

What is essential to a productive, loving marriage is that both husband and wife believe in the moral obligation that the marriage contract implies and the roles that are associated with the title. Though past civilizations used marriage as a political and/ or economic alliance, we don't necessarily need to practice that today. If at the foundation of your personal belief system is the concept of eternal marriage, how willing are you to fully participate in maintaining a peaceful home?

I am humbled that I have been blessed with parents and siblings that have preserved the family unit, our family unit, even through these difficult times where the marriage bond is under attack. I really did have a wonderful childhood and I am grateful that my parents put in the hardwork to remain together through all these years. I cannot imagine NOT having had my father as an active participant in my childhood and my daily life. I see children in these parts of the United States who don't know their father's, never see their father's, and have no clear definition of the role of a father.... and the cycle continues.

I grew up with this stuff but for "new eyes" and people who didn't grow up with strong family values, this would seem foreign. What I say to you is to experiment upon the word. You've tried your way. Has it brought happiness or sorrow? Try something different and base your judgements on the results thereof.

No comments: