The Book of Mormon begins with a family. The Lord commands Lehi, a prophet in Jerusalem whose life is in danger, to “take his family and depart into the wilderness” (2 Nephi 2:2). During their journey, he teaches his children the gospel, he urges them to keep the commandments, and he warns them when their behavior is leading them away from happiness. Above all, he and his wife Sariah love their children—all of them.
Throughout the rest of the book, gospel teaching in families is a major theme:
- Jacob records a sermon he gave to his people (Jacob 2-3), but his son Enos tells about his own personal conversion, which was prompted by the teachings of his father (Enos 1:3).
- King Benjamin teaches his sons before he teaches his people (Mosiah 1). When the people come to hear him, they sit in families (Mosiah 2:5).
- Alma the Younger is called to repentance by an angel because his father prayed for him (Mosiah 27:14). When he falls into a coma for three days, he is saved when he remembers his father’s teachings about Jesus Christ (Alma 36:17).
- We read three sermons Alma delivered to the church (Alma 5, 7, 9-13), followed by three sermons he delivered to his sons (Alma 36-37, 38, 39-42).
- When the Savior visited the American continent, He commanded the people: “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21).
- Jared and his brother lead their families to a promised land by praying for them and following the answers they receive (Ether 1-2, 6).
- Moroni shares with us a sermon given by his father in a synagogue, followed by two letters his father wrote to him (Moroni 7-9).
Gospel teaching within the family is a constant theme in the Book of Mormon. Here are some principles I see in these examples:
- We can teach the gospel to our children in many ways: in conversations, in letters, in prayers, and when they hear us teaching other people.
- We should never give up on our children, even when they fail to respond to our teachings.
- The size of the classroom is not an indication of its importance. A one-on-one interview can be as important as a sermon to a large audience, and it demands the same care and attentiveness.
- Teaching the gospel is more than communicating facts. It is inspiring good works and warning against sinful behavior. It is more focused on doing and becoming than on knowing.
Today, I will strive to be an effective teacher in my family. I will strive to follow the examples of great parents in the Book of Mormon and to take seriously my responsibility to teach the gospel to my children.