Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, December 8, 2017

“The Family Is Ordained of God”

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The family is central to God's plan for us in our journey to return home.  The family was central in the pre-existence, and importance is eternal.  Our priority hear on earth is to keep the family sacred, to preserve it, protect it and to carry it back home to live as eternal families in great peace and happiness.  

How do we protect and maintain the importance of the family living in the world as we do today.  We face difficult circumstances and even near impossible struggles in doing so.  President Gordan B Hinkley In September 1995 said:  I need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken. So many of the youth of the world, and likewise so many of their elders, listen only to the seductive voice of self-gratification. You single young women face tremendous challenges, and we know it is not easy for you. I cannot say enough of appreciation for your determination to live by the standards of the Church, to walk with the strength of virtue, to keep your minds above the slough of filth which seems to be moving like a flood across the world. Thank you for knowing there is a better way." (Ensign, Nov 1995, p98)

This talk by President Hinkley was given in 1995 at the General Women's Conference; now think of the change in time, think of how different things have become today, in rearing, protecting and guiding families.  It was no coincidence that The Family: A Proclamation to the World, was given that same day in 1995 to the world for a testament, leadership and guidance in a fading society where good has become bad and bad had become good. It is a proclamation by which we can find guidance, support and help from the Lord, in following the great commandment of family.  

"With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history." (Gordon B Hinkely Ensign, Nov 1995, p98)

The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” contains the Lord’s teachings regarding the family, given through the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. By following these teachings, we can strengthen and unify our families now and prepare to live as eternal families.  This is how we make it, This is how we protect and maintain, this is our we return home with honor with our families, by adhering to these teachings and fighting the good fight.  

The family is central to God’s plan
The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was presented by President Gordon B. Hinckley at the general Relief Society meeting in September 1995. Since that time, it has been reprinted in many languages for Church members and others throughout the world. It has also been presented to government leaders in many lands.  Why does the Church do this?  Because the family is under attack.

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “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” (“Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 5).

The Family A Proclomation (click this link for reference)

"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." (Proclamation, paragraph 1)

The proclamation states that marriage and family are “ordained of God” and “central to [His] plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”  

D&C 49:15-17. Marriage is ordained of God

To understand the importance of the Proclamation, we need to remember that the great plan of our Heavenly Father was worked out before the foundation of this world was laid. The pattern for populating the earth and working out our eternal salvation is the same pattern practiced by our Heavenly Father, that of marriage and family.

President Charles W. Penrose"It is a very great privilege to dwell on the earth in this last dispensation. I believe with all my heart that this has been arranged by our heavenly Father. I believe in the doctrine of predestination—not that doctrine as it is taught in some of the so-called 'Christian' sects, but I believe in the doctrine taught in the old scriptures [Acts 17:26] as well as the new, that before the foundations of the earth were laid, plans were prepared in regard to the peopling of the earth and the accomplishment of the divine purpose in sending the sons and daughters of God to dwell on the earth in the flesh. I believe in the doctrine taught by the Apostle Paul, on Mars' Hill, 'that God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell upon the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation.' [Acts 17:26.] So that we did not come here by chance but by design." (Confernece Report, Oct 1913, p15.)

Why is the family central to God’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children?

D&C 131:1–4  In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.  He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

1 Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

The proclamation states that we are all spirit children of God, created in His image.  This is backed by Genesis 1:26-27.

"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." (Proclamation, paragraph 2)

Genesis 1:26–27 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

What does this doctrine teach about our potential?  We have the potential to become like Heavenly Father.  

How does the knowledge that you are a member of Heavenly Father’s family affect the way you feel about earthly families? Families are surely sacred, for they were with God before the world and will be after...  

How can this doctrine strengthen us? When we understand these principles, we realize that we are not a product of evolution, but sons and daughters of a wonderful and loving Heavenly Father whose sole purpose is the bring about "the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). When we come to this knowledge and understanding, our lives are changed as we seek to keep the commandments and follow the pattern which he set, though the world would teach otherwise. 

Sacred ordinances make it possible for families to be together eternally (Proclamation paragraph 3)

What does this paragraph teach about the purpose of mortal life,  how can our earthly experience help us in our eternal progression?

 In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped 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 his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.

This mortal existence is part of the plan that prepares us for eternity. We gain experiences living mortal life that are necessary for eternal life. As Amulek from the Book of Mormon taught, "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32).

Elder Melvin J. Ballard taught that until a person "learns to overcome the flesh, his temper, his tongue, his disposition to, indulge in the things God has forbidden, he cannot come into the celestial kingdom of God-he must overcome either in this life or in the life to come. But this life is the time in which men are to repent. Do not let any of us imagine that we can go down to the grave not having overcome the corruptions of the flesh and then lose in the grave all our sins and evil tendencies. They will be with us. They will be with the spirit when separated from the body. The spirit only can repent and change, and then the battle has to go forward with the flesh afterwards. It is much easier to overcome and serve the Lord when both flesh and spirit are combined as one. . . . Every man and woman who is putting off until the next life the task of correcting and overcoming the weakness of the flesh are sentencing themselves to years of bondage, for no man or woman will come forth in the resurrection until they have completed their work, until they have overcome, until they have done as much as they can do." (quoted in Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 3: 256)

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.  (Proclamation, paragraph 3)

One of the greatest blessings of the restored gospel is understanding that families can be together forever.  For me this takes on great personal significance as three of our five children have died in childhood or early adulthood.  Without this knowledge, life, for me, would be hopeless...we can be with all of our loved ones, our parents, our grandparents, our children, all we must do is follow the guidelines, live the commandments and forever is possible, life doesn't end at death do us part.  It is difficult for me to comprehend eternity without having those who are most dear to me, with me.

Elder Eldred G. Smith: "The fundamental purpose for which this earth was created was to establish individual families forever. The family is the only organization which is eternal." (Conference Report, Apr 1965)

What is necessary for a marriage and family to be eternal?  A couple must receive the sealing ordinance in the temple and keep the covenants that are associated with that ordinance.  As part of the Restoration, necessary priesthood keys have been restored making that eternal binding a possibility.  

President Joseph Fielding Smith:  "Not only was marriage instituted by the Lord to endure eternally, but it also naturally follows that the same is true of the family. The plan given in the gospel for the government of man on this earth is typical of the laws governing in the kingdom of God. Is it possible to imagine a greater source of sorrow than to be left in the eternal world without claim on father or mother or children?" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:65)

How should the promise that we can live eternally with our families affect the way we treat family members now?  We should treat them as Christ would treat them.  If we are not loving and respectful to each other here on earth, why would anyone want to be with us for eternity.  

The power to create mortal life is sacred (Proclamation paragraph 4)

 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.(Proclamation, paragraph 4)

What has God commanded regarding the use of the power to create mortal life?  It is to be used to multiply and replenish the earth.  

Why is obedience to this commandment important?  "God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force."

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve taught:  “Children are the inheritance of the Lord to us in this life and also in eternity. Eternal life is not only to have forever our descendants from this life. It is also to have eternal increase. …“We can understand why our Heavenly Father commands us to reverence life and to cherish the powers that produce it as sacred. If we do not have those reverential feelings in this life, how could our Father give them to us in the eternities?” (“The Family,” Ensign, Feb. 1998, 15)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: The body is an essential part of the soul. … We declare that one who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life. … In sexual transgression the soul is at stake—the body and the spirit” ( Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 99–100; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 76)

Parents have a sacred duty to care for each other and teach their children (Proclamation paragraph 6) 

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” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to 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.

What can married couples do to strengthen their love for each other?

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “When you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Selfishness is the great destroyer of happy family life. If you will make your first concern the comfort, the well-being, and the happiness of your companion, sublimating any personal concern to that loftier goal, you will be happy, and your marriage will go on throughout eternity” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Dec. 1995, 67)

What are parents responsible to teach their children?

President Joseph Field Smith: "Parents are commanded to teach their children to understand the principles of the gospel from their earliest childhood; to teach them to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins and to pray, before they reach the age of accountability, so that they will know why these ordinances and principles are essential parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (D. & C. 68:25-28.) If parents neglect this important duty then the sin will rest on the parents." (Answers To Gospel Questions, 2:89)

Mosiah 4:14–15 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.  But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

D&C 68:25–28 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.  For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.  And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.  And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.

D&C 93:40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

How have you benefited from your parents’ teachings?

What is the role of the Church in teaching children?
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children. The Sunday School, the Primary, [Mutual,] and other organizations of the Church play a secondary role” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 332)

Successful marriages and families are based on righteous principles (Proclamation paragraph 7)

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.

The proclamation teaches that “happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”   And that “successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Which of these principles have been especially important in your marriage and family?

President David O. McKay"The number of broken marriages can he reduced if couples realize even before they approach the altar that marriage is a state of mutual service, a state of giving as well as of receiving, and that each must give of himself or herself to the utmost." (Conference Report, Apr, 1964)

According to the proclamation, what are the primary responsibilities of fathers? 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.

What does it mean to “preside … in love and righteousness”?

President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church, taught that fathers “must preside as Jesus Christ presides over his Church—in love, in service, in tenderness, and in example” (Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 68; or Ensign, May 1976, 45)

“Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as the head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to the God of heaven, who is our Eternal Father(Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 78–79; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 60)

President Howard W. Hunter said: “We encourage you, brethren, to remember that priesthood is a righteous authority only. Earn the respect and confidence of your children through your loving relationship with them” ( Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 69; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51)

D&C 121:41–46.  No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;  By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.  Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

What primary responsibility does the proclamation describe for mothers? Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“If there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home. It is here that truth is learned, that integrity is cultivated, that self-discipline is instilled, and that love is nurtured. …
“Sisters, guard your children. … Nothing is more precious to you as mothers, absolutely nothing. Your children are the most valuable thing you will have in time or all eternity. You will be fortunate indeed if, as you grow old and look at those you brought into the world, you find in them uprightness of life, virtue in living, and integrity in their behavior” (“Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 99)

When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,” that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you or, more correctly, because of you.

You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.
Remember, remember all the days of your motherhood: “Ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.”

Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.”  You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And it will make your children whole as well. (Jeffery R Holland April 1997 general conference  ) 

What about working moms or single moms?  
“There are some women (it has become very many, in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries. The greatest job that any mother will ever do will be in nurturing, teaching, lifting, encouraging, and rearing her children in righteousness and truth. None other can adequately take her place” ( President Gordon B. Hinckley Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 69)

Why is it important for parents to help each other as equal partners?  Husbands and wives who work together as equal partners are united in their efforts. They will support one another and draw upon one another’s strengths and talents. Every married couple can receive the guidance of the Lord in deciding how to support one another in their responsibilities. They can make decisions based on divinely revealed principles and the unique strengths and abilities of each partner.

Mothers and fathers truly are “laying the foundation of a great work.” The everyday tasks of raising children may sometimes seem small and insignificant, but “out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” As fathers and mothers work together to fulfill their sacred responsibilities, their families will receive great blessings from the Lord.

Recognizing and avoiding abuse

The proclamation warns that those “who abuse spouse or offspring … will one day stand accountable before God.” Church leaders have spoken out against abuse of any kind. The following quotation from President Gordon B. Hinckley to priesthood brethren can be applied to both men and women:
“Never abuse your wives. Never abuse your children. But gather them in your arms and make them feel of your love and your appreciation and your respect. Be good husbands. Be good fathers” (“Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, June 1999, 2).

Strengthening families is everyone’s responsibility (Proclamation paragraph 8 and9)

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.

The proclamation concludes by warning of the serious consequences of family disintegration and by calling upon all people to strengthen the family.  

What can we do as individuals and families to promote stronger families in our own communities?  Strengthen our own families,  be active in our communities, states, and nations calling for "those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family." Vote for and support those who support the institutions and laws which preserve the family; and most important teach the truth, teach and share the gospel to all those we come in contact with.  

President Gordon B. Hinckley told a gathering of mayors and other public officials: “To you men and women of great influence, you who preside in the cities of the nation, to you I say that it will cost far less to reform our schools, to teach the virtues of good citizenship, than it will to go on building and maintaining costly jails and prisons. … But there is another institution of even greater importance than the schools. It is the home. I believe that no nation can rise higher than the strength of its families” (“U.S. Conference of Mayors,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 109).

Why must families be strong in order for nations to survive?

President Joseph Fielding Smith: "The thought of a nation without the family unit as its fundamental foundation; where all the citizens are, comparatively, strangers to each other, and where natural affection is not found; where no family ties bind the groups together, is one of horror. Such a condition could lead to but one end-anarchy and dissolution." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:66)


Think about your families, your entire families as a whole and consider the following questions: Do all my family members sense my love for them? Are we striving to live as an eternal family? What can I do to strengthen my family?

“The plan of the Father is that family love and companionship will continue into the eternities. Being  in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family so that all can righteously endure to the end in mortality and dwell together throughout eternity. It is not enough just to save ourselves. It is equally important that parents, brothers, and sisters are saved in our families. If we return home alone to our Heavenly Father, we will be asked, ‘Where is the rest of the family?’” (Robert D Hales Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 88; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 65)

Conference Reports
Doctrines of Salvation
Teachings of Spencer W Kimball
Answers to Gospel Questions

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