There is no question there is an attack on the family. Just scan the headlines of any news outlet and you’ll find startling evidence of the strategic ways the adversary is trying to destroy this most beautiful and basic of human relationships.
How do we counteract all of these attempts to redefine the traditional family out of existence? The Family: A Proclamation to the World tells us: “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.”
We start right where we are: in our own homes, in our schools, in our communities. We teach the truths, live the truths, taught in the Proclamation. Our examples will speak louder than any words we might say but at times words are necessary to defend truth. If we have our examples to back up our words others are more likely to listen.
Elder Holland so wonderfully stated in a CES Devotional,
You never “check your religion at the door.” Not ever. . . someone in life. . . has to live his or her religion because otherwise all we get is a whole bunch of idiots acting like moral pygmies.
It is easy to be righteous when things are calm and life is good and everything is going smoothly. The test is when there is real trial or temptation, when there is pressure and fatigue, anger and fear, or the possibility of real transgression. Can we be faithful then? That is the question because “Israel, Israel, God is calling.” Such integrity is, of course, the majesty of “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” —right when forgiving and understanding and being generous about your crucifiers is the last thing that anyone less perfect than the Savior of the world would want to do. But we have to try; we have to wish to be strong. Whatever the situation or the provocation or the problem, no true disciple of Christ can “check his religion at the door.”
With all of the attacks on the family now is not the time to “check our religion at the door.” Is it daunting to face opposition, especially when it may very well come from our own families or friends? Yes!
Elder Holland also stated, “While not wishing to offend those who believe differently from us, we are even more anxious not to offend God, or as the scripture says, “not offend him who is your lawgiver” —and I am speaking here of serious moral laws.”
This echoes our family motto given by Pres. James E. Faust a few short months before The Family Proclamation was given, “May we dedicate our lives to serving the Lord and not worry about offending the devil.”
This past March Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said, “Few of us will ever have to face an angry mob, but there is a war going on in this world in which our most cherished and basic doctrines are under attack. I am speaking specifically of the doctrine of the family. The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes of the family are being questioned, criticized, and assaulted on every front.” She then issued a challenge to be defenders of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
We need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places—even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant.
And so we make a stand, I make a stand, to defend the family.
Defend the family in our homes.
We have a responsibility to teach our children the commandments of God. The Proclamation calls it a sacred duty and so it is. The best way to teach them is through our example and steady study of the gospel ourselves.
Doing our duty to God as parents and leaders begins with leading by example—consistently and diligently living gospel principles at home. This takes daily determination and diligence.
For youth, there is no substitute for seeing the gospel lived in our daily lives. The stripling warriors did not have to wonder what their parents believed. They said, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (see Alma 56:47–48). Do our children know what we know? (Robert D. Hales, Our Duty to God)
It’s not hard to weave the doctrines of the gospel into our every day conversations. Is it difficult to teach by example that we must take a stand when those doctrines are being attacked? It can be especially when it is other family members who believe differently than we do. But defend those doctrines we must.
Defend the family in our schools.
In the September 2012 issue of the Ensign one gentleman shared an experience he had in defending the doctrine of marriage and family. The private school, where he taught in Massachusetts, had adopted a diversity curriculum, which opposed the principles in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” His initial attempts to stand for truth was met with opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, and ridicule. Eventually he was asked to explain his concerns to the entire faculty and staff in a meeting. He explains what happened, “As I spoke, I felt the Spirit fill me with peace and power. I bore witness of God’s great love for His children and of their divine nature, amazing potential, and eternal worth. I taught that God’s commandments demonstrate His love because they provide the path to the greatest happiness. And I declared that Jesus Christ can heal wounds of both nature and nurture.
Before I knew it, my 30 minutes of allotted time had passed. I backed slowly away from the podium, gathered my papers, and looked up. A sacred stillness filled the room. Some people were smiling and others were crying. Teachers who held opposing views thanked me for my courage and conviction. One colleague confessed that she had been touched by a “special spirit” as I spoke. Others told me they had never heard such a sensitive and respectful articulation of such beliefs and that my words had helped them see that the school’s curriculum needed to change.”
We can take the same stand, gather the same courage, to speak out when attacks on the family are being made particularly in regards to what will be or is being taught to our children by others. Most of the time, though, it will be through our everyday interactions with other parents and teachers that we can show our love of families.
Defend the family in our communities.
There are many good things communities do to protect and help families – awareness campaigns for domestic abuse, free child-rearing classes, community family days. Participating in those helps to promote families. So does just going about our daily lives with our families shopping, going to sporting events, attending concerts or plays. When others see us with our families we are making a statement that they matter and are important.
Shortly after I had my tenth child I was out shopping and realized he needed his diaper changed. While I was in the restroom changing him a middle-aged woman walked in and started cooing over him. “He is so adorable! How old is he?”
I replied that he was two weeks old.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, “so tiny! Is he your first?”
I took a big breath, looked her square in the eyes, smiled really big and said, “No. He’s my tenth!” I braced myself for the reaction I knew would come. It is the same response I’ve had from almost every stranger I’ve met since my fourth child was born.
“Tenth? Don’t you know what causes this?” As if all of a sudden this cute tiny baby was now a disease.
“Sure. A lot of prayer and an answer from God that another blessing should come to our family.”
“Good Lord,” she cursed.
I smiled again, “Yes, the Lord is good, isn’t He?” Disarmed by my comment she turned and left.
I had no idea that day I would be called on to make a small stand and defend my family. I am so glad I did! It wasn’t the first time and definitely hasn’t been the last, especially now that #11 has been added. But you know what else has happened just as many times? Good comments, encouraging remarks from total strangers. They too are helping to promote and defend the family when they compliment a tired mother and brighten her day in earshot of others. It is a small, simple, effective way to strengthen and fortify the families in your community.
If we do right and talk right and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then when the Savior cuts short His work in righteousness, says time is no more in this last, great dispensation and then comes in His glory, He will find us—you and me and all of us—doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our Church and our society the best way we can. When He comes, I sowant to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me: “Jeffrey”—because He knows all of our names—“I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself, and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could. (Jeffrey R. Holland, Israel, Israel God is Calling)
What can you do? Start right now, where you are, and take a stand to defend the family. Never check your religion at the door.
Be sure to visit We Talk of Christ and A Thing Called Love for more articles celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Family Proclamation! Don’t forget one easy way to share your testimony of the Proclamation and join the celebration is to share your photos on social media using the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation and explain why.
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