If anyone had a question as to how important family is in the plan of happiness, there should be no question after an overview of the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:... (the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals). All had chapters on family, six of the nine had multiple chapters on this subject. Of course, the next two chapters in this manual also deal with aspects of “family.” The next is “Family Responsibilities” and following that is “Eternal Marriage.” Be sure to wait for material appropriate for these lessons. In some aspects, the same can be said for the next chapter, “The Law of Chastity.”
Material for all of these chapters can be found in Joseph Smith, chapters 20 and 42; for Brigham Young, chapters 24 and 46; in John Taylor, chapter 21; For Wilford Woodruff, chapter 16; for Joseph F. Smith, chapters 4, 33, 39, and 43; for Heber J. Grant, chapter 22; for David O. McKay, chapters 14, 15 and 16; for Harold B. Lee 12, 13, 14 and 15; and for Spencer W. Kimball, chapters 18, 19 and 20. These can all be found by going to the new “lds.org” then click on “Go to Classic LDS.org” (lower left corner), then click on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” The manuals are all found at the bottom of this page.
For this subject especially, the new website “lds.org” is wonderful. On the first page, there is a link in the upper right-hand corner, “Search all LDS.org” which, if you type in “family” leads to wonderful material.
1 - - The Importance of Families
The prophets have spoken at length of the importance of families. President Joseph F. Smith:
The very foundation of the kingdom of God, of righteousness, of progress, of development, of eternal life and eternal increase in the kingdom of God, is laid in the divinely ordained home.
There is no substitute for the home. Its foundation is as ancient as the world, and its mission has been ordained of God from the earliest times. … The home then is more than a habitation, it is an institution which stands for stability and love in individuals as well as in nations (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 346, 382).
President McKay taught:
There is nothing temporary in the home of the Latter-day Saints. There is no element of transitoriness in the family relationship. To the Latter-day Saint the home is truly the basic unit of society; and parenthood is next to Godhood. The secret of good citizenship lies in the home. The secret of instilling faith in God, faith in his Son, the Redeemer of the world, faith in the organizations of the Church, lies in the home. There it is centered. God has placed upon parents the responsibility of instilling these principles into the minds of children. Our schools, our Church organizations, and some worthy social institutions are all helps in the upbuilding and guidance of the youth, but none of these—great and important as they are in the lives of our youth—can supplant the permanence and the influence of the parents in the home (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 155-6).
In addition to the wonderful quote from President McKay in this section, he also said:
It is possible to make a home a bit of heaven; indeed, I picture heaven to be a continuation of the ideal home (Improvement Era, 51:618, 1948).
President Kimball explained:
The family is the basic unit of the kingdom of God on earth. The Church can be no healthier than its families.
From the beginning, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has emphasized family life. We have always understood that the foundations of the family, as an eternal unit, were laid even before this earth was created! Society without basic family life is without foundation and will disintegrate into nothingness.
Our political institutions … cannot rescue us if our basic institution, the family, is not intact. Peace treaties cannot save us when there is hostility instead of love in the home. Unemployment programs cannot rescue us when many are no longer taught how to work or do not have the opportunity to work or the inclination, in some cases, to do so. Law enforcement cannot safeguard us if too many people are unwilling to discipline themselves or be disciplined (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 204-5).
President Ezra Taft Benson taught powerfully:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views the family as the most important organization in time and all eternity. The Church teaches that everything should center in and around the family. It stresses that the preservation of family life in tiem and eternity takes precedence above all other interests.
The Church was created in large measure to help the family, and long after the Church has performed its mission, the celestial patriarchal order will still be functioning (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 489, 491).
President Joseph Fielding Smith stated:
There is no substitute for a righteous home… The family is the unit in the kingdom of God. Outside of the celestial kingdom there is no family organization (Doctrines of Salvation, 67).
President Smith also spoke on the importance of putting family first:
There is no substitute in wealth or in ambition for the home… To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 386).
President McKay counseled wisely on this subject:
One of our most precious possessions is our families. The domestic relations precede, and, in our present existence, are worth more than all other social ties. They give the first throb to the heart and unseal the deep fountains of its love. Home is the chief school of human virtues. Its responsibilities, joys, sorrows, smiles, tears, hopes, and solicitudes form the chief interests of human life.
When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he that moment starts on the downgrade to soul-weakness. When the club becomes more attractive to any man than his home, it is time for him to confess in bitter shame that he has failed to measure up to the supreme opportunity of his life and flunked in the final test of true manhood. … The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 148-9).
President McKay was famous for this on priorities:
No other success can compensate for failure in the home (CR, April 1964, 5).
President Joseph F. Smith said something quite profound about the importance of the home:
The typical “Mormon” home is the temple of the family, in which the members of the household gather morning and evening, for prayer and praise to God, offered in the name of Jesus Christ. … Here are taught and gently enforced, the moral precepts and religious truths, which, taken together, make up that righteousness which exalteth a nation, and ward off that sin which is a reproach to any people (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 346).
Concerning President Smith’s comparison of temple and home in the above quote, It is worth noting that the Bible Dictionary, under “temple” states the following:
…it [the temple] is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.
In this section is stated, “After Heavenly Father brought Adam and Eve together in marriage…” (p. 207.
The heading to Genesis 2 which reads, “Adam and Eve are married by the Lord.”
President Lee expands on this:
Let us consider the first marriage that was performed after the earth was organized [Adam and Eve]…
Here was a marriage performed by the Lord between two immortal beings, for until sin entered the world their bodies were not subject to death. He made them one, not merely for time, nor for any definite period; they were to be one throughout the eternal ages. … Death to them was not a divorce; it was only a temporary separation. Resurrection to immortality meant for them a reunion and an eternal bond never again to be severed (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 110).
President Woodruff’s statement concerning marriage is prophetic for our day as well:
The institution of marriage, in some communities of which we read, is falling almost into disrepute. It is alleged that there is a growing tendency in this direction among us. The cause is, doubtless, traceable to the increase of wealth and the disinclination of young men to take upon them the burdens of a wife and family (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 164).
The rest of the sentence quoted earlier reads, “After Heavenly Father brought Adam and Eve together in marriage, He commanded them to have children (see Genesis 1:28)” (p. 207).
Concerning this commandment, Elder Dallin H. Oaks proclaimed:
This commandment was first in sequence and first in importance. It was essential that God’s spirit children have mortal birth and an opportunity to progress toward eternal life. Consequently, all things related to procreation are prime targets for the adversary’s efforts to thwart the plan of God (Ensign, Nov 1993, 72).
President Woodruff added:
It is the duty of these young men [in] Zion to take the daughters of Zion to wife, and prepare tabernacles [physical bodies] for the spirits of men, which are the children of our Father in Heaven. They are waiting for tabernacles, they are ordained to come here, and they ought to be born in the land of Zion instead of Babylon (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 164).
Still another from President Grant:
The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth, so that the legions of choice spirits waiting for their tabernacles of flesh may come here and move forward under God’s great design to become perfect souls, for without these fleshly tabernacles they cannot progress to their God-planned destiny (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 202).
President McKay also taught:
[The purpose of marriage] is to bear children and rear a family. Let us keep that in mind. Hundreds are now saying, and hundreds more will say—“How can I marry and support a bride in a manner with which she has been accustomed? How can I get an education and support a family? I cannot even find a place in which to live.”
These are practical questions. … I am willing to recognize these and other difficulties and meet them, keeping in mind what the Lord has said that “marriage is ordained of God for man.” [See D&C 49:15.] And I repeat that the very purpose of marriage is to rear a family and not for the mere gratification of man or woman (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 137).
In this section is stated:
“He [Heavenly Father] has revealed that one of the purposes of marriage is to provide mortal bodies for His spirit children. Parents are partners with our Heavenly Father (p. 207).
Perhaps this has to do with what President Kimball said about the family:
Family life is the best method for achieving happiness in this world, and it is a clear pattern given to us from the Lord about what is to be in the next world (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 204).
In this section it also reads, “Every new child should be welcomed into the family with gladness” (p. 207). President Joseph F. Smith seemed to agree:
The richest of all my earthly joys is in my precious children. Thank God!
When I look around me, and see my boys and my girls whom the Lord has given to me,—and I have succeeded, with His help, to make them tolerably comfortable, and at least respectable in the world—I have reached the treasure of my life, the whole substance that makes life worth living (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 295).
President Smith lived the law of plural marriage. He joyously declared:
I am blessed today with thirty-five children… I have today over eighty-six grandchildren. … I am rich; the Lord has given me great riches in children and in children’s children. … I love them. I know them all. I never meet them but what I kiss them, just as I do my own children (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 381).
The next sentence in this section reads, “Each [new child] is a child of God” (p. 207).
Every child must be taught that he is an offspring of divine parentage and that it is the business of every child to learn to act like a son or daughter of God so that in time of need he might pray and be entitled to receive favors due a faithful child (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 124).
At the bottom of the page is suggested that in the home “sacrifice” can be learned (p. 207).
Happiness comes from unselfish service. And happy homes are only those where there is a daily striving to make sacrifices for each other’s happiness (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 130).
At the bottom of the page is suggested that in the home “self-control” can be learned (p. 207). President McKay had this to say about that:
The next contributing factor to your happy marriage I would name is self-control. Little things happen that annoy you, and you speak quickly, sharply, loudly, and wound the other’s heart. I know of no virtue that helps to contribute to the happiness and peace of the home more than that great quality of self-control in speech. Refrain from saying the sharp word that comes to your mind at once if you are wounded or if you see something in the other which offends you. It is said that during courtship we should keep our eyes wide open, but after marriage keep them half-shut.
Marriage is a relationship that cannot survive selfishness, impatience, domineering, inequality, and lack of respect. Marriage is a relationship that thrives on acceptance, equality, sharing, giving, helping, doing one’s part, learning together, enjoying humor.
Minimize the faults, commend virtues. After the first thrill of the honeymoon is worn off, couples begin to see frailties, idiosyncrasies which they had not noticed before. Responsibilities of motherhood come to the woman. Difficulties in paying debts come. And so we become prone to find fault. Let us learn to control ourselves in that respect (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 149-50).
At the bottom of the page is suggested that in the home “service” can be learned (p. 207). President Joseph F. Smith encouraged this:
There is no happiness without service, and there is no service greater than that which converts the home into a divine institution, and which promotes and preserves family life (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 34).
President Lee exclaimed:
Every child must be given sufficient experience to learn that unselfish service brings joy and that the work one does for which he is not paid is that which produces the greatest happiness (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 124).
A very important question asked at the end of this section is, “Why is the home the best place to prepare for eternal life? (p. 209). The prophets add greatly to an understanding of this question, which is certainly worth discussing. From President Joseph F. Smith we learn:
They [our children] are born without knowledge or understanding—the most helpless creatures of the animal creation born into the world. The little one begins to learn after it is born, and all that it knows greatly depends upon its environment, the influences under which it is brought up, the kindness with which it is treated, the noble examples shown it, the hallowed influences of father and mother, or otherwise, over its infant mind (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 298-9).
President Heber J. Grant added:
There is no question but that impressions made upon the minds of little innocent children and young boys and girls have a more lasting effect upon their future lives than impressions made at any other time. It is like writing, figuratively speaking, upon a white piece of paper with nothing on it to obscure or confuse what you may write.
We may think that the impressions we make may not be lasting, but I can assure you they are. I am sure that a testimony borne by a teacher to little children, under the inspiration of the living God, is a difficult thing for them to forget (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 204-5).
President Lee also stated:
The Lord said that the power was not given to Satan to tempt little children, “until they begin to become accountable before me” (D&C 29:47). This very significant statement follows: “That great things may be required at the hand of their fathers” (D&C 29:48). Now, that means parents. Why is it that the Lord doesn’t permit Satan to tempt a little child until he comes to the age of accountability? It’s in order to give parents their golden opportunity to plant in the hearts of little children those vital things except for which, when that time of accountability comes, they may have waited too long
In a time that we have been told would be much as in the days of Noah, we must help our young to learn how to make right choices, to grow in justified self-esteem, especially when they can be under the direct influence of the home, where family love can make repentance both possible and significant. The environment of our young outside the home and Church will often be either empty, so far as values are concerned, or it will contain ideas that contradict the principles of the gospel (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 121-2).
The last question in this section reads, “How can we help the youth of the Church understand the sacredness of the family and the marriage covenant?” (p. 209). The answers to this question will help with President Lee’s desire:
If [young people] would resolve from the moment of their marriage, that from that time forth they would resolve and do everything in their power to please each other in things that are right, even to the sacrifice of their own pleasures, their own appetites, their own desires, the problem of adjustment in married life would take care of itself, and their home would indeed be a happy home. Great love is built on great sacrifice, and that home where the principle of sacrifice for the welfare of each other is daily expressed is that home where there abides a great love (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 111).
President Lee added:
Let your hearts be turned to your children, and teach your children; but you must do it when they are young enough to be schooled.
Great accomplishments are required of fathers and mothers before Satan has power to tempt little children. It is the responsibility of the parents to lay a solid foundation by teaching Church standards by example and by precept (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 125, 43).
2 - - The Eternal Family
Joseph Smith was the prophet through whom the doctrine of eternal marriage was introduced. Appropriately, this is an excerpt from one of his letters to Emma:
“Remember that I am a true and faithful friend to you and the children forever. My heart is entwined around yours forever and ever. Oh, may God bless you all” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 239).
From another letter from Joseph to Emma:
“This day I have been walking through the most splendid part of the city of New York. The buildings are truly great and wonderful, to the astonishing of every beholder. … After beholding all that I had any desire to behold, I returned to my room to meditate and calm my mind; and behold, the thoughts of home, of Emma and Julia, rush upon my mind like a flood and I could wish for a moment to be with them. My breast is filled with all the feelings and tenderness of a parent and a husband, and could I be with you I would tell you many things” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 241).
This crowning doctrine may have also comforted President John Taylor in his trials of being separated from his family:
On 1 February 1885, John Taylor went into voluntary hiding to avoid persecution by federal authorities. …he…knew that his hiding would likely separate him from most of his family for the remainder of his earthly life. Nonetheless, throughout this time, he remained ever concerned for their well-being. “Say unto them I remember them always,” he told his nephew Angus M. Cannon just prior to his death. “I love them individually, and never cease to plead with God for them (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 191).
President Woodruff also declared:
We should prize our families, and the associations we have together, remembering that if we are faithful we shall inherit glory, immortality and eternal life, and this is the greatest of all the gifts of God to man [see D&C 14:7] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 165).
President Joseph F. Smith added:
If I can prove myself worthy of an entrance into the kingdom of God, I want my children there; and I propose to enter into the kingdom of my God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 298).
President Smith also discussed the scope of this doctrine:
I have the glorious promise of the association of my loved ones throughout all eternity. In obedience to this work, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I shall gather around me my family, my children, my children’s children, until they become as numerous as the seed of Abraham, or as countless as the sands upon the seashore. For this is my right and privilege, and the right and privilege of every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who holds the Priesthood and will magnify it in the sight of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 386).
President Lee expressed hope thusly:
Any couple married in the temple who are true to their covenants will grow dearer to each other, and love will find a deeper meaning on their golden wedding anniversary than on the day they were married in the house of the Lord. Don’t you mistake that.
Those who go to the marriage altar with love in their hearts, we might say to them in truth, if they will be true to the covenants that they take in the temple, fifty years after their marriage they can say to each other: “We must have not known what true love was when we were married, because we think so much more of each other today!” And so it will be if they will follow the counsel of their leaders and obey the holy, sacred instructions given in the temple ceremony; they will grow more perfectly in love even to a fulness of love in the presence of the Lord Himself (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 112-4).
3 - - Loving Family Relationships
The first question in this section asks, “How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?” (p. 209). The answers to this question should support the counsel of the following two prophets:
Let us live so that the spirit of our religion will live within us, then we have peace, joy, happiness and contentment, which makes such pleasant fathers, pleasant mothers, pleasant children, pleasant households, neighbors, communities and cities. That is worth living for, and I do think that the Latter-day Saints ought to strive for this (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 340).
Make your homes joyous. And let your children see that you love one another, that they may grow up with the same feeling, and be led from principle to honor their father and mother. These are the kind of feelings that will elevate us (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 197).
Most appropriately, the first idea mentioned in this section is, “Husbands and wives should be thoughtful and kind to each other” (p. 209). This, of course, is where all successful families start. An example from the life of President and Sister McKay is poignant and yet so sad when lacking:
Sister McKay once related the following experience:
“I accompanied my husband to a dedication of a meetinghouse in Los Angeles. We stopped on Wilshire Boulevard to get our car washed. I sat on a bench and the President was standing over by the car. Suddenly at my elbow I heard a tiny voice say, ‘I guess that man over there loves you.’ Surprised, I turned and saw a beautiful boy about seven years of age with dark curly hair and large brown eyes. ‘What did you say?’
“ ‘I said, I guess that man over there loves you.’
“ ‘Why, yes, he loves me; he is my husband. Why do you ask?’
“ ‘Oh, ‘cuz, the way he smiled at you. Do you know, I’d give anything in the world if my Pop would smile at my Mom that way (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 143).
The heading on the chapter on family in the Joseph Smith manual indicates where Joseph first learned the value of “Love at Home”:
“The sweetest union and happiness pervaded our house. No jar nor discord disturbed our peace, and tranquility reigned in our midst” (Lucy Mack Smith) (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 479).
In this section it also states:
They [husbands and wives] should never do or say anything to hurt each other’s feelings. They should also try to do everything possible to make each other happy (p. 209). President McKay’s advice is helpful:
God help us to build homes in which the spirit of heaven on earth may be experienced. You and I know that that is possible, it is not a dream, it is not a theory. We may have that sweet companionship between husband and wife which grows dearer and dearer as the troubles of life come on. We can have homes in which children will never hear father and mother wrangle or quarrel. God help us … to build such homes, and to teach our young men and young women who are anticipating home life, to cherish such an ideal (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 150).
In this section is taught, “Parents need to show they are interested in what their children do and express love… (p. 210). President Joseph F. Smith agreed:
More can be accomplished for good by unfeigned love, in bringing up a child, than by any other influence that can be brought to bear upon it… I know that is true; and this principle obtains in every condition of life. … Govern the children, not by passion, by bitter words or scolding, but by affection and by winning their confidence.
If you can only convince your children that you love them, that your soul goes out to them for their good, that you are their truest friend, they, in turn, will place confidence in you and will love you and seek to do your bidding and to carry out your wishes with your love. But if you are selfish, unkindly to them, and if they are not confident that they have your entire affection, they will be selfish, and will not care whether they please you or carry out your wishes or not, and the result will be that they will grow wayward, thoughtless and careless (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 299).
President Lee shared a wonderful example of expressing love:
I had an experience that taught me something as a grandfather. It was the night of [a Church] dance festival up at the stadium, and my daughter’s two oldest … were giving her a lot of bad time, as she called it. So I said, “How would you like it if I take your two boys up to the stadium to the dance festival?”
She said, “Oh, Daddy, if you’d do it, I’d be so happy.”
I didn’t know what I was getting into. … As that spectacle began, I didn’t know there was so much difference between a seven-year-old and a five-year-old. The seven-year-old was entranced by that spectacle down on the football field. But that five-year-old, his attention span was pretty short. He’d squirm and then he’d want to go and get a hot dog and he’d want to go get a drink and he’d want to go to the toilet, and he was just on the move all the time. And here I was sitting in the front with the General Authorities, and they were smiling as they saw this little show going on and as I tried to pull my grandson here and there, trying to make him behave.
Finally, that little five-year-old turned on me and with his little doubled-up fist he smacked me to the side of the face and he said, “Grandfather, don’t shove me!” And you know, that hurt. In that twilight, I thought I could see my brethren chuckling a bit as they saw this going on, and my first impulse was to take him and give him a good spanking; that’s what he deserved. But, I’d seen his little mother do something. I’d seen her when he was having a temper tantrum and she had a saying, “You have to love your children when they’re the least lovable.” And so I thought I’d try that out. I had failed in the other process. So I took him in my arms and I said to him, “My boy, Grandfather loves you. I so much want you to grow up to be a fine big boy. I just want you to know that I love you, my boy.” His little angry body began to [relax], and he threw his arms around my neck and he kissed my cheek, and he loved me. I had conquered him by love. And incidentally, he had conquered me by love.
A successful mother of sons and daughters will tell you that teenagers need to be loved and be loved the most when they are the least lovable. Think about it, you fathers and mothers (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 131-2).
President McKay’s son shared a wonderful example of “expressing love”:
President McKay in turn had a powerful influence as a loving father. When one of his sons, David Lawrence, was a young boy, he accompanied his father in a horse-drawn carriage. “We forded a swollen river in a thunderstorm,” David Lawrence later recalled, “and got caught between that river and a mountain torrent. I thought the end of the world had come, and started to cry. Father held me on his lap in his arms all night until we were rescued in the morning. It’s hard to disobey a man who loves you and puts his arms around you” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 153).
In this section we read, “As family members we can help each other feel confident by giving encouragement and sincere praise“ (p. 209). President Lee gave this wonderful example:
I recall an incident in my own family where one of my young granddaughters was being criticized by her father for not properly taking care of her room, making her bed, etc., etc. And then with considerable feeling she said, “Well, Daddy, why do you only see the thing to criticize and never see the good things that I do?” This brought the father to some serious reflections, and that night he placed under her pillow a letter of love and understanding telling her of all the things that he admired in her, and thus began to bridge over the hurt that had been implied by his constant criticism with no approval for the good things (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 132).
4 - - How to Have a Successful Family
Just before the tremendous quote from President Lee in the first paragraph of this section, He said:
Parents who are too busy or too tired to be troubled with the innocent disturbances of children and push them aside or out of the home for fear of their disturbing the orderliness of immaculate housekeeping may be driving them, because of loneliness, into a society where sin, crimes and infidelity are fostered. What will it profit a father, otherwise worthy of the Celestial Kingdom, if he has lost his son or daughter in sin because of his neglect? All the pleasurable uplift societies in the world, social or religious, will never compensate the mother for the souls lost in her own home while she is trying to save humanity or a cause, no matter how worthy, outside of her home (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 134).
Then following the quote mentioned, President Lee said, “We must never forget that” (ibid.).
Concerning Satan’s plan to destroy the family, President John Taylor warned:
Wolves never watched with greater cunning and more ravenous hunger a flock of sheep and lambs than the people of your wards and stakes are now being watched by those who are ready to devour them. Are you awake to this danger, and do you take every precaution against it? (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 197-8).
President Woodruff also warned us about Satan:
I have long been satisfied that the devil was making great exertions to drive a wedge in between parents and children, trying to inspire and instill into the minds of the sons and daughters of the saints those corrupting notions that will prevent them from following the footsteps of their fathers and mothers (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 167).
President Kimball prophesied why concern is needed and detailed how parents can take measures:
The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us.
The evil one knows where to attack. He is going to attack the home. He is going to destroy the family. That’s what he wants to do. … Let us make up our minds he will not do it in our families.
We find these evil forces almost everywhere we go. Exposure is almost constant. We track them into the home from the school, from the playground, from the theater, the office, and the marketplace. There are but few places we go in our everyday world where we can escape them.
If we would escape those deadly thrusts of the evil one and keep our homes and families free and solidly fortified against all destructive influences so rampant about us, we must have the help of the very founder and organizer of this family plan—the Creator himself. There is only one sure way and that is through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and being obedient to its profound and inspired teachings. Surely we must be made to realize that the purchase price of a family hearth free of such evil influences is the keeping of the commandments of God.
As parents read the newspapers and magazines and see what the world is trying to teach their children, they should become all the more determined that their children not be damaged by such sin and error. Parents should then provide the home life, the discipline, and the training that will offset and neutralize the evil that is being done in the world. As children learn of the ugly things in the world, they must also learn of the good things in the world and the proper responses and proper attitudes (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 208-9).
This may be a good place (as well as several other places - - repetition is good) in this lesson to introduce the following crucial phrase from the “Family Proclamation”:
Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This document, invaluable for this and the next three lessons can be found on the new “lds.org” website. Click on “Menu” on the top, then it is in the top of the second column, under “Family.”
Awareness today of Satan’s plan is crucial. A current prophet, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, has warned:
Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed at whatever is most important to the Father’s plan. Satan seeks to discredit the Savior and divine authority, to nullify the effects of the Atonement, to counterfeit revelation, to lead people away from the truth, to contradict individual accountability, to confuse gender, to undermine marriage, and to discourage childbearing (especially by parents who will raise children in righteousness) (Ensign, Nov 1993, 72).
Here are some good introductory statements for the 8 suggestions to help have successful families in this section. First is given by President Kimball:
A true Latter-day Saint home is a haven against the storms and struggles of life. Spirituality is born and nurtured by daily prayer, scripture study, home gospel discussions and related activities, home evenings, family councils, working and playing together, serving each other, and sharing the gospel with those around us. Spirituality is also nurtured in our actions of patience, kindness, and forgiveness toward each other and in our applying gospel principles in the family circle. Home is where we become experts and scholars in gospel righteousness, learning and living gospel truths together (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 210).
Second, President Lee plead:
Strengthen your family ties and be mindful of your children. … Be sure that the home is made the strong place to which children can come for the anchor they need in this day of trouble and turmoil. Then love will abound and your joy will be increased (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 131).
Number 2 in the list of suggestions for having “happy, successful families” is:
Have family prayer every night and morning. Pray together as husband and wife (p. 210). President McKay offered the following counsel:
I regard it as an incontrovertible fact that in no marriage circle can true peace, love, purity, chastity, and happiness be found, in which is not present the spirit of Christ, and the daily, hourly striving after loving obedience to his divine commands, and especially, the nightly prayer expressing gratitude for blessings received (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 150).
Number 2 in the list of suggestions for having “happy, successful families” is, “Teach children the gospel…” (p. 210). In the heading of the chapter on children, President Joseph F. Smith declared:
We should cherish our children, bring them up in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and teach them virtue, love, and integrity (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 295).
Heber J. Grant added:
The Lord has said it is our duty to teach our children in their youth, and I prefer to take His word for it.
I pray that the Lord will give to the parents of the youth an understanding and appreciation of the dangers and temptations to which their children are subjected, that they may be led and guided to encourage their children, to direct them, to teach them how to live as the Lord would have them live (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 202, 4).
President Lee also stated:
Heaven would not be heaven until we have done everything we can to save those whom the Lord has sent through our lineage (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 125).
President Joseph F. Smith plead:
Above all else, let us train our children in the principles of the gospel of our Savior, that they may become familiar with the truth and walk in the light which it sheds forth to all those who will receive it.
I would like my children, and all the children in Zion, to know that there is nothing in this world that is of so much value to them as the knowledge of the Gospel as it has been restored to the earth in these latter days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. There is nothing that can compensate for its loss. There is nothing on earth that can compare with the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 302, 350).
Of course, # 2 in the list of suggestions for having “happy, successful families” in completion reads, “Teach children the gospel every week in family home evening” (p. 210). As expected, the prophets strongly agree with this.
Family home evenings in this last dispensation actually started in the home of young Joseph Smith:
My father’s religious habits were strictly pious and moral. … I was called upon to listen to prayers both night and morning. … My parents, father and mother, poured out their souls to God, the donor of all blessings, to keep and guard their children and keep them from sin and from all evil works. Such was the strict piety of my parents.”
William also said: “We always had family prayers since I can remember. I well remember father used to carry his spectacles in his vest pocket, … and when us boys saw him feel for his specs, we knew that was a signal to get ready for prayer, and if we did not notice it mother would say, ‘William,’ or whoever was the negligent one, ‘get ready for prayer.’ After the prayer we had a song we would sing; I remember part of it yet: ‘Another day has passed and gone, We lay our garments by.’ (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 36).
President Joseph F. Smith initiated what we now have as the formal program:
In 1915 President Smith and his Counselors introduced a weekly home evening program to the Church, urging parents to use the time to instruct their children in the word of God. Later, when describing the home evening program, President Smith called for families to “spend an hour or more together in a devotional way—in the singing of hymns, songs, prayer, reading of the Scriptures and other good books, instrumental music, family topics, and specific instructions on the principles of the Gospel and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society and the nation” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 345).
The chapter heading in his manual on this subject reads:
Family home evenings strengthen love within the family and faith in the heart of each family member (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 345).
This program was introduced with powerful promises:
If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 348).
President Smith made a good suggestion about family home evenings:
Formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family participate in the exercises (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 348).
President Hinckley was five years old when President Smith introduced this program. His parents demonstrated the advice previously given by President Smith. He remembered:
"The President of the Church has asked us to hold home night. So we're going to have home night." This pronouncement was greeted with moans from children who weren't anxious to be corralled into another meeting, but from that time forward Monday evenings were reserved for family. Bryant or Ada would give a lesson and then urge their children to perform—something that elicited smirks, guffaws and sometimes out-and-out laughter. The children weren't natural performers, and asking one of them to sing in front of the others was, as Gordon said later, "like asking ice cream to stay hard on the kitchen stove. It took us a long time to reach the point where we could sing together without giggling. It must have been disgusting to my parents the way we giggled."
But Bryant and Ada persisted. The family had regular family prayer and often listened to the faith-promoting incidents from Bryant’s seemingly endless reservoir of stories. Though some family home evenings were less tolerable than others, the net effect was positive. Those simple gatherings created strong bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters—a critical element in the unification of their blended family (Gordon B. Hinckley: Go Forward with Faith, 34).
President Kimball expressed gratitude for this program early in his life:
As a youth, and with my wife and children in our own home, I remember our beloved family activities. Heaven was in our home. When each person did something, whether it was sing a song, lead a game, recite an article of faith, tell a story, share a talent, or perform an assignment, there was growth and good feeling (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 203).
President Kimball taught:
By committing ourselves to having the regular and inspirational family home evening and by carefully planning the content of that evening, we are sending a signal to our children which they will remember forevermore. When thus we give our children of our own time, we are giving of our presence, a gift that is always noticed (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 211).
President Kimball continued with a wonderful analogy:
I like to compare the home evening, family prayer, and other associated activities of the Church for the saving of the family, when they are conscientiously carried out, with an umbrella. If the umbrella is not opened up, it is little more than a cane and can give little protection from the storms of nature. Likewise, God-given plans are of little value unless they are used.
The umbrella spread out makes the silken material taut. When the rain falls, it runs off; when the snow falls, it slides off; when the hail comes, it bounces off; when the wind blows, it is diverted around the umbrella. And in like manner, this spiritual umbrella wards off the foes of ignorance, superstition, skepticism, apostasy, immorality, and other forms of godlessness.
It is my prayer that we shall all spread our spiritual umbrellas for protection of our families
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 211-12).
President Lee added:
Greater emphasis on the teaching of the children in the home by the parents was brought forth in what we call the family home evening program. This was not new. … In the last epistle written to the Church by President Brigham Young and his Counselors, it was urged that parents bring their children together and teach them the gospel in the home frequently. So family home evening has been urged ever since the Church was established in this dispensation (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 125).
Number 3 suggestion is “Study the scriptures regularly as a family” (p. 210). What better way to teach the gospel, as President Kimball stressed:
We need to strengthen and protect our families by teaching and living the gospel in our homes (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 203).
Part of suggestion # 4 is “outings” (p. 210). President Lee encouraged:
Every child must be taught to use profitably his leisure time and that play is not an end in itself. It is but the rehearsal for the part he is to play in his mature life (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 124).
In addition, President Taylor exemplified this idea:
President Taylor was a loving and devoted husband and father. Of him, his son Moses W. Taylor wrote the following: “He had a strong desire to keep his children under the family influence and provided play grounds for us. Even when he was past seventy years of age he would join us in our games. He provided a large sand pile for the little ones and if I have ever had any better time in my life than I did digging in the sand, I have failed to recognize it” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 191).
President Smith added:
We may well give our sons and daughters some time for recreation and diversion, and some provision in the home for satisfying their longing for legitimate physical and mental recreation, to which every child is entitled, and which he will seek in the street or in objectionable places, if it is not provided in the home (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 299).
Concerning “work projects” in suggestion # 4, President Joseph F. Smith encouraged:
Labor is the key to the true happiness of the physical and spiritual being. If a man possesses millions, his children should still be taught how to labor with their hands; boys and girls should receive a home training which will fit them to cope with the practical, daily affairs of family life (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 301-2).
Number 5 suggestion is, “Learn to be kind, patient, long-suffering, and charitable…” (p. 211). President Lee shared the following:
I remember a little boyhood experience. We had pigs that were tearing up the garden, causing great mischief on the farm. Father sent me two miles to the store to get an instrument so we could ring the noses of the pigs. We had great difficulty rounding them up and getting them in the pen, and as I was fooling around with this instrument that I had been sent to purchase, I pressed down too hard and it broke. Father would have been justified in giving me a scolding right there, after all the effort and money wasted, but he just looked at me, smiled, and said, “Well, son, I guess we won’t ring the pigs today. Turn them out and we’ll go back tomorrow and try it over again.” How I loved that father, that he didn’t scold me for an innocent little mistake that could have made a breach between us (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 132-3).
President Lee added an important aspect to these ideas:
I had a troubled couple that came in just the other day. They have a sixteen-year-old daughter who is the oldest in the family and she is causing a lot of trouble. They were about to give up. I quoted what Brother Marvin J. Ashton said, that home is not a failure so long as it doesn’t give up (see Conference Report, April 1971, p. 15). Now, that’s true. The home must continue to love and to work with [young people], till we get youth past that dangerous age. No home is a failure unless it quits trying to help (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 134).
Included in suggestion # 6 concerning “Attend Church meetings” would be included Fast and Testimony meeting. In addition to this meeting, President Lee counseled:
Our children should hear, in the privacy of the home, the testimonies of their parents. How wise is the father or grandfather who takes occasion to bear his personal testimony to each of his children, individually! (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 124).
The last question in this section asks about efforts of “family councils” that “make a difference” (p. 211). President Kimball helps on this:
Concerning the governing of our families, we have been correctly taught that the family council is the most basic council of the Church. Under the direction of the father and mother, who should also counsel together, family councils may discuss family matters, discuss family finances, make plans, and support and strengthen family members.
Only by properly planning and charting our family life can we guide our children and keep them free from the pitfalls that lead to sin and destruction, and put them on the pathway to happiness and exaltation (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 207-11).
Terrific counsel for a guiding principle for family council was given by President Woodruff:
Let us all look at home, and each one try to govern his own family and set his own house in order (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 168).
A treasure of information about family councils can be found at “lds.org” and typing in “family council” in “Search all LDS.org” in the upper right corner.
While the following quote from President Kimball would fit many places in this lesson, I like it as a concluding statement because it ties everything into the title of this lesson:
God is our Father. He loves us. He spends much energy trying to train us, and we should follow His example and love intensely our own children and rear them in righteousness.
How long has it been since you took your children, whatever their size, in your arms and told them that you love them and are glad that they can be yours forever?
Oh, brothers and sisters, families can be forever! Do not let the lures of the moment draw you away from them! Divinity, eternity, and family—they go together, hand in hand, and so must we!
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 212).
Now that is an exclamation point that needs to be taken seriously!!!