In the October 1995 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley introduced “The Family: a Proclamation to the World,” which he described 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.” After reading the proclamation, President Hinckley said:
We commend to all a careful, thoughtful, and prayerful reading of this proclamation. The strength of any nation is rooted within the walls of its homes. We urge our people everywhere to strengthen their families in conformity with these time-honored values.“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” General Conference, October 1995
It’s easy to focus on the global declarations and warnings in the document, including the affirmation that heterosexual marriage is ordained of God and that gender is an essential element of our identity. But as I have pondered the proclamation recently, I have paid more attention to the practical guidance it gives to help me strengthen my own family relationships.
The Book of Mormon begins with the troubled family of Lehi and Sariah and ends with a father and a son: Mormon and Moroni. Many of the sermons in the book are delivered not to large congregations but to immediate family members, sometimes with an audience of one. The Book of Mormon provides guidance about how to be an effective parent, about what parents should teach their children, and about healing broken relationships. Many of the principles about family taught in the Book of Mormon are echoed in the Family Proclamation.
Here are some lessons I have learned from the Proclamation, with related blog posts:
- Marriage is intended to be permanent and durable, a complete union of two people, not a temporary or tentative arrangement (paragraph 1): “Marriage Is Ordained of God”.
- Before we were born, we made important decisions about whether to follow our Heavenly Parents and accept their plan for our progression (paragraphs 2-3): Premortal Life.
- Parents are responsible not only for the physical well-being of their children but also for their emotional and spiritual well-being (paragraph 6): Maintenance.
- Parents need to build a home environment that is conducive to growth, and they need to provide feedback and guidance to their children (paragraph 6): The Nurture and Admonition of the Lord – Enos 1:1.
- Women have capabilities and perspectives which men cannot replicate and which are essential to the accomplishment of God’s purposes (paragraph 7): Daughters of Christ.
- A home without forgiveness, repentance, respect, and compassion can be a lonely place, even if it is full of people (paragraph 7): The Places of Your Dwellings Shall Become Desolate – 3 Nephi 9:6-7.
- We ought to dedicate our best efforts to our most important relationships (paragraph 8): “Especial Care”.