Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Family is of God

The primary purpose of families is to lift each other. The Family: A Proclamation to the World makes this clear and lays out how that should be done. Surely, God ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman because "the nature of male and female spirits is such that they complete each other" (We'll Ascend Together). Corinthians explains, "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.  For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God" (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). Men and women need each other in order to be exalted. It is rather disheartening and alarming that much of our society has chosen to reject or ignore this eternal truth.

But no individual or family here on this Earth is perfect. I wonder if when we read about the divine nature of families and family responsibilities in The Proclamation, if we are looking judgmentally outward rather than humbly inward.

"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" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

I believe no family can truly thrive or continue in the next life if not based upon these sacred, eternal principles. A marriage between a man and a woman in the temple does not automatically create an eternal family. It is only in living by these sacred principles of faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreation that a marriage can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise and be perpetuated beyond the grave. And I think we ALL fall short of living this way in our families from day to day. A marriage that has not been sanctified and given to God has no real power in this life or the next, for it is by Him that marriage and families were ordained.

When I have so much to improve day to day in my own marriage, it can be much easier and briefly satisfying to criticize others who appear to be doing worse in their families than I am. It is all too tempting to try to lift ourselves up by putting others down. But this is not and has never been the Lord's way. The only way to be lifted ourselves is to lift those around us. This does not mean that we condone sin at all, but that we choose to see the good in others and their lives rather than what might be lacking.

The place to begin and focus on defending the family is not necessarily in the political or social sphere, but in our very own homes. Political and social activism are surely necessary, but the only family whose eternal success we are responsible for is our own. I have and will continue to support measures that protect the traditional family because I believe that is the only healthy way to build a society. But I can not allow myself to be so distracted by identifying the natural man in others that I forget to see it in myself. Only the Savior can know the individual struggle we all labor under. I want only Him as my judge in this life and at the last day. How can I claim to "love my neighbor as myself" if I do not allow them the same opportunity? Love unfeigned, courageous example, and testimony is what will soften hearts and improve our society.

We are ALL children of a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to return to Him. How I treat my fellow spiritual brothers and sisters on this Earth can either demonstrate or deny my love for Him. I hope to continue to improve myself and my own family first while lifting those around me.

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