Hello Brothers and Sisters. I am so thankful for the opportunity to speak today. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Rachel Douglas, and I am leaving on Wednesday to teach the people of Costa Rica about the gospel.
Twenty years ago this month the First Presidency released the Family: A Proclamation to the World. This proclamation not only defends the family, it defends the very plan of salvation that God created for us, his children. It outlines our purpose here on this earth, his heavenly plan for us, and the heavenly unit of families. Families are the very center on what this gospel is about. The Family: A Proclamation to the World was designed to counter and warn against the attacks on the family. President Gordon B Hinckley stated, “With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world 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.” For this talk I have come up with 7 basic doctrines from the Family: A Proclamation to the World.
The first basic doctrine we can learn is that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. Marriage is the beginning of a new family unit, and as such it is very important. Gordon B Hinckley stated, “When you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Selfishness is the great destroyer of happy family life. If you will make your first concern the comfort, the well-being, and the happiness of your companion, sublimating any personal concern to that loftier goal, you will be happy, and your marriage will go on throughout eternity.” President Monson once said, “Our most cherished friend is our partner in marriage. This old world would be so much better off today if kindness and deference were daily a reflection of our gratitude for wife, for husband.” My great-grandmother recently passed away, but I will always think of her when I think of an eternal marriage. She had been living with my grandmother for part of the year and so I grew close to her. As she approached the end of her life she would tell me about my great-grandfather. Though he had passed away twenty years ago, before my parents wedding, I grew to know and love him through her stories. She would tell me about a dream she would have, where she was at her wedding dancing with him, and he would sing their song in her ear. Her love for him was a testament to me of a marriage that would go through the eternities. I knew that she loved him as much on the day she died as on the day she married him. I saw that God truly ordained marriage between man and woman because of how they complemented each other and were truly happy.
The second doctrine is that the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan. God saw what joy we can have in families. Aren’t we all family? We call each other brothers and sisters in the gospel, and we call our God, Father. L Tom Perry said, “We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic unit of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values—but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God.” The family is central to the Lord’s plan.
The third doctrine is that gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Once when my little sister Kirstin was in kindergarten, she had a school assignment to go home and write what she wanted to be when she grew up and why. She cried and cried when my parents told her that she could not be what she wanted. You see, Kirstin wanted to be a daddy. (Don’t worry, she now knows why this is impossible and is content to someday be a mommy instead.) Gender is an important part of who we are. We each have a purpose based on how God created us. In Genesis 1:26-27 it states, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” God created us as His sons and daughters. He wants us to return to him and even goes as far as to say in Moses 1:39, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” God’s entire plan for us is centered on the fact that he wants us to learn, grow, and become exalted so that we can return to him. As little children we sing “I am a Child of God, and He has sent me here, Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with thee someday.” God created a plan for us centered on learning within family units to return to him. He wants us to come back to him. That is our purpose.
The fourth basic doctrine is that the Plan of Happiness enables family relationships to continue after death. L Tom Perry once said, “What the restored gospel brings to the discussion of marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity.” We as latter day saints don’t just focus on getting through life, we focus on making relationships and strong family bonds that will last, not only until the kids are out of the house or until ‘death do us part’, but for time and all eternity. Our perceptive on family is unique because we understand that families can be together forever. I have seen in my own life a testament of how this eternal perspective does strengthen families. In my family we have had trials, as most families do. I have learned from my family’s trials that we are eternal. We will never turn away from each other. That marriage and family is truly the strongest bond in the world. My parents have taught me that even though sometimes life is hard, and sometimes it’s really hard, it is worth it to value our family above all else. That is my testimony of eternal families. In primary we all sang, “Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father’s plan. I always want to be with my own family, and the Lord has shown me how I can.” The Lord has truly created a Plan of Happiness that centers around the family because that is where we find joy. It is called the Plan of Happiness for a reason. He wants us to be happy! And I have never been happier then when I spend time with my family! Never!
The fifth basic doctrine is that God’s commandment for husbands and wives to have children remains in force today. Little children are truly a blessing from God and it is our responsibility to bring them into the world. My grandchild-hungry mother would be fast to agree with Boyd K Packer when he said, “The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth has never been rescinded! It is essential to the plan of redemption and is the source of human happiness.” He is right! As my mother often reminds my sister and brother-in-law, children are a blessing and believe me, she wants them right now!
The sixth doctrine is that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are legally married. The creation of mortal life is a sacred and important part of Heavenly Father’s plan. This is something that is being attacked a lot in our day. One of the most important titles we have given to our Lord and Savior is the Creator. And through Heavenly Father’s plan, we are allowed to share in his creating power. President Boyd K Packer said, “The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan, it is the Plan of Happiness; It is the key to happiness.” In 2 Nephi 2:25 it states, “Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they might have joy.” This profound statement reflects the reason that we are here. Adam fell that man might be. We know that after Eve ate the forbidden fruit she would be cast out and separated from Adam. In this, life on earth would have ended with Adam and Eve. And so Adam made a choice to fall, so that life could continue on this earth! So that man might be! And God blessed us that we might have joy in this. It is the reason we are here, and is the reason that procreation is so important. We find joy in bringing new life into this world. You can look upon the face of every new mother and father to see the evidence of the joy that creating a new mortal life can bring. These children are sacred and beautiful. It is why in a world that is growing to approve infidelity, sexual relations before marriage, and abortions, we must stand tall and be not moved in opposing this matter. God has stated that the creation of mortal life is sacred and I believe with all my heart that it is so.
The seventh and last doctrine is that happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Teaching your children of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice is your responsibility as parents. While you feed your children food to nourish their bodies so they can grow physically big and strong, you must also spiritually feed their spirits so that they can grow spiritually strong and steadfast. The Church has put into effect many practices and teachings to help you teach your children of Christ. There is family home evening, family prayer, family counsel, family scripture study, and going to church together. I remember as a little kid sitting down to read the Book of Mormon together and my father calling the Gadiaton Robbers dirt bags. I remember saying family prayer every night as we knelt in a circle. And I remember simply talking about our everyday problems in family counsel. Though at times we did neglect to do these, I will never forget that in fact we did do them! And I am thankful that we did, because I know that those early years are where the roots of my testimony are. Another statement from the Proclamation to the World is that “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” I have already discussed how principles of prayer in my home helped me as a child learning of turning to my Father in Heaven. And though all of these are great principles, I don’t have the time to focus on them all. So I would like to focus on three of them that I have learned the most from in my life. Work, wholesome recreational activities, and repentance. I grew up on a farm and so work was a principle that I learned early on. I cannot remember a day when I was not expected to help out in some way, whether by moving sprinkler pipe, helping my dad maintain a tractor, or picking up rocks in the field (And yes that was indeed a job I had to do). We often worked from sun up until late into the night. And these long days of working with my family served to strengthen our bonds more than anything else. We grew to know that we could count on each other, (though in a household with only one son and four daughters the most common phrase my Dad would say was “I wish my brothers were here”. I guess that is just a testament to the family bonds that were grown when they worked on the farm together. Working together was hard, and I remember yelling at my brother and sisters more on the farm than anywhere else, I also know that those are some of my fondest memories because we were together. Another principle that brought my family together was wholesome recreational activities. Now, as I said before, I grew up on a farm and so some of our activities will probably sound a little different to some of you. I remember one day in particular when we sat in the bucket of my dad’s track hoe and he turned in circles, going up and down, dipping into the canal. I can’t remember having so much fun in my entire life. I also remember something we did everyday together. At lunchtime, after working on the farm all morning, my uncles, my father, my grandparents, and us kids would sit on my grandmother’s floor and watch Matlock as we ate our lunches. This is a fond memory I have as a little kid of my family simply doing fun, wholesome activities together. These everyday activities brought my family together in that we found joy in simply being together. To this day our annual family campout is one of my favorite activities of the year, simply because we all get together and find joy in that. The last principle that I have learned about a lot in my family is forgiveness. My family has made a lot of mistakes. We have fought, and made many dumb decisions. But I have learned that forgiveness is the only answer to truly finding happiness in these circumstances. In seeing how my family forgives, I have learned and have an incredibly strong testimony of the atonement. I know the strength of the atonement because of how it heals my family. As we repent and forgive each other, I see how Christ suffered so that my family can be whole and full of love! He truly loves us enough to die for us. For my family! That is what my family has taught me!
Never before has the family come under as much attack as it does in our day. The Family: A Proclamation to the World was written to warn us of the dangers of the attack on the family. Near the end it states, “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” We must stand strong in defending the family.