Sacrament Talk – Family

Eternal Family

Eternal Family

This is the talk I was asked to give on the family – there might be some mistakes because I was editing it right before I gave it…lol. Also not long before church was to being, I was informed that one of the speakers wasn’t going to be there so I needed to speak for about 20 minutes – I’ve never spoken for that long before and had to bulk up my talk quickly…

I want to tell you a story about my parents.

I t takes place some years ago when they met each other and fell in love. They decided to start a family, but were later devastated when their first born daughter died only hours after being born. Out of her death grew a desire to find answers to why their baby had been taken from their lives and would they ever see her again.

This desire led to searching through different religions, trying to find one that answered their questions about families, and what happens after they die and how to stop the pain of death that still pulled at their heart strings.

About 6 years and another child later while being stationed in the Philippines, my parents were getting ready for the arrival of another child. They were introduced to a pair of special young men who taught them the concepts of eternal marriage and families. These were concepts that had troubled my mother constantly since she had lost her first child. Learning about the plan of salvation and eternal families was a miracle for my mother.

While this didn’t completely take away her pain, it did bring her comfort and knowledge that she would be united with the daughter she lost.  In later years they would go through the same trial again when another one of their daughters died.  This time though they knew about eternal families and had the peace that their family would one day be reunited again.

My parents joined the church not long after I was born, and soon after that we traveled to Salt Lake City and along with my older sister we were sealed together for time and all eternity.

While this story of mine might not be unique it highlights something important, even though my parents were not members of the church, family was very important to them and is what brought them to find the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Russell  M. Nelson said in a March issue of the Ensign,

“Also pivotal to God’s plan is the family. In fact, a purpose of the plan is to exalt the family. The earth was created so that we as premortal spirit children of our Father in Heaven could come to the earth and obtain physical bodies. We are here to be tried and tested. We are here to “choose liberty and eternal life, . . . or to choose captivity and death”. And best of all, we are allowed to fall in love, to be married, and to invite children into our families.”

But why is the family so important? Why does our church put so much emphasis on having a family?

On a whim I did a search for Jesus on the church’s web site – I just wanted to see how many results came back and there were over 24 thousand. The next search I did was for Family- this came back with over 27 thousand results. This would seem to indicate that family is an important factor in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the November 1982 Ensign, President Ezra Taft Benson, explained in a talk titled “Fundamentals of Enduring Family Relationships”

He says…

“Today we are aware of great problems in our society. The most obvious are sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, drug abuse, alcoholism, vandalism, pornography, and violence.

These grave problems are symptoms of failure in the home—the disregarding of principles and practices established by God in the very beginning. “

In his talk he lists three fundamentals for a happy, enduring  family relationship, and this is the backbone of my talk today.

  1. 1. A husband and wife must attain righteous unity and oneness in their goals, desires, and actions.

In Genesis 2:24 [Gen. 2:24] we are taught, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

In an Ensign article from Matthew O. Richardson he breaks down that verse and uses the words of prophets and other leaders to explain it.

Leaving – President Spencer W. Kimball taught that “couples do well to immediately find their own home, separate and apart from that of the in-laws on either side. President Kimball counseled, “Parents who hold, direct, and dictate to their married children and draw them away from their spouses are likely to regret the possible tragedy.” Some may wonder what possible “tragedy” awaits such couples. While it could be something as severe as divorce, perhaps the real tragedy is forfeiting a form of marriage the couple might have had, had they only enjoyed the opportunity to leave appropriately.

Cleaving – The term cleave, as used in Genesis, is derived from the Hebrew dawbak, meaning “cling, adhere, stick, catch by pursuit” or “follow close.” When the Savior speaks of cleaving to one’s wife in Matthew 19:5 [Matt. 19:5], the source word of cleave is from the Greek poskallah, meaning “glue or join.” By scriptural definition, then, we find that God expects us to “cling” to our spouse or to “stick” with him or her. But it should also be understood that this is not a one-time event but a condition that lasts throughout a couple’s marriage. President Hinckley has taught on several occasions that one’s spouse should be treated in special regard. He said that a husband should regard his wife “as the greatest treasure of his life.” In Matthew 6:21 [Matt. 6:21] we read, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (see also 3 Ne. 13:21).

Becoming One – Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole.” Unity in marriage is not achieved simply by kneeling at an altar and accepting a spouse. It requires effort for a couple to become one. Marital unity doesn’t mean that spouses agree on everything. It also doesn’t mean they have to spend every minute of every day together, think the same thoughts, and order the same meal at restaurants. Rather than relying on our interpretation of what “one flesh” means in marriage, it would be well to consider this divine concept as taught in the scriptures.

One Flesh – Paul taught the concept of unity to the Corinthians by using the body as an illustration. “For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). Paul taught that in spite of obvious differences in the various parts of the body, “the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:21). In summary, he taught “that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:25). It is easy to see the application of this metaphor to marriage. Neither spouse is more important than the other. Undoubtedly, individuals bring varying talents into their marriage, just as they each have differing roles, tasks, and functions. But using Paul’s perspective, one can say, “For marriage is not one member, but two. And the husband cannot say unto the wife, I have no need of thee: nor the wife again to the husband, I have no need of thee.” We may likewise conclude that there should be no schism in marriage but that husband and wife should have the same care one for another. To create such a relationship, President Kimball suggested, couples should realize that “each must accept literally and fully that the good of the little new family must always be superior to the good of either spouse.”

My wife and I have been married for 11 years now. We’ve had our struggles, but we’ve started realizing that where we want to be is going to take a combined effort and only if we’re on the same team. This applies to all facets of marriage.

In our marriage we realize that sometimes we are not on the same wavelength or path, and as a result things become tougher than they really should. But we find that when we are united on a common goal, it’s much easier to work towards it and overcome it.

President Benson also mentions that

Fidelity to one’s marriage vows is absolutely essential for love, trust, and peace. Adultery is unequivocally condemned by the Lord.

Husbands and wives who love each other will find that love and loyalty are reciprocated. This love will provide a nurturing atmosphere for the emotional growth of children. Family life should be a time of happiness and joy that children can look back on with fond memories and associations”

What are some the messages that we are being bombarded with through TV, movies and books? What has been presented as the norm?

Among other things, it’s that berating, degrading, and demeaning our spouses and children is fair game, and usually humorous to our friends and colleagues.

Some time ago, when we were first married and my wife still worked, she would come home upset and disgusted by what her coworkers would talk about when there was time to sit around and chat. They would get together and talk about their spouses in degrading ways, and often left her wondering why they were even married.

But here’s the question for us as Latter Day Saints, would we talk about our eternal spouse that way? The person that we are suppose love with all our heart, do they deserve that type of infidelity? Are we vigilant in what we say and do when it comes to our families?

President Spencer W. Kimbal l said that we should have “total fidelity in marriage” and to me that means in all aspects of it, not just physically but in our behavior and how we speak about our spouses and families.

  1. 2. Nurture your children with love and the admonitions of the Lord.

I’m glad President Benson says “Rearing happy, peaceful children is no easy challenge in today’s world”, and I’m sure some of you know this first hand. But he does go on to say that it can and is being done, so there is hope.

President Benson also says “Above all else, children need to know and feel they are loved, wanted, and appreciated. They need to be assured of that often. Obviously, this is a role parents should fill, and most often the mother can do it best.”

M. Russell Ballard gives 5 ideas for how to gain that happy and enduring family:

1. Full and equal partnerships. Men and women joined together in marriage need to work together as a full partnership. However, a full and equal partnership between men and women does not imply the roles played by the two sexes are the same in God’s grand design for His children. As the proclamation clearly states, men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles. These roles complement each other. Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths. These stewardships, equally sacred and important, do not involve any false ideas about domination or subordination. Each stewardship is essential for the spiritual progression of all family members, parents and children alike.

Family stewardships thus must be understood in terms of obligations and responsibilities—and in terms of love, service, and interdependence. Men who attempt to dominate their wives, who seek to exercise unrighteous dominion without regard to spousal counsel and sensitivities, simply don’t understand that such actions are contrary to God’s will.

2. Fathers. The proclamation states, “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.” They teach their families the gospel and lead in kindness, following the counsel found in section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 121:34–36).

Fathers perform priesthood ordinances and give priesthood blessings, including father’s blessings to their children. They pray for and with family members, collectively and individually. They set an example of respect and love for their eternal companion and mother of their children. In all things they follow the example of the Savior and strive to be worthy of His name and His blessing. Fathers should seek constantly for guidance from the Holy Ghost so they will know what to do, what to say, and also know what not to do and what not to say. They serve the family and the Church in the spirit of love and enthusiasm, by example preparing family members to serve—especially preparing sons to serve as worthy missionaries.

3. Mothers. The proclamation teaches that “mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Nurturing refers to parenting behaviors such as warmth, support, bonding, attachment, recognizing each child’s unique abilities, and attending to children’s needs. Nurturing in and of itself is more important in the development of a child than is any particular method or technique of child rearing. It hardly needs saying that nurturing is best carried out in a stable, safe, family context.

A mother’s nurturing love arouses in children, from their earliest days on earth, an awakening of the memories of love and goodness they experienced in their premortal existence. Because our mothers love us, we learn, or more accurately remember, that God also loves us.

Today there is significant pressure in our materialistic world to have and spend more money. Unfortunately, this draws married mothers to work outside the home in order to provide a second income. As husbands, wives, and children recognize the difference between basic necessities and material wants, they lessen family financial burdens and contribute to helping mothers be at home. Decisions about working outside the home are difficult ones and need to be made prayerfully, keeping ever in mind the counsel of the living prophets on this complex issue.

4. Principles for marriage and families. From the proclamation we learn that “successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” Parents should work to create loving, eternal connections with their children. Reproof or correction will sometimes be required. But it must be done sensitively, persuasively, with an increase of love thereafter lest the child esteem the parent to be an enemy (see D&C 121:43).

It can be equally destructive when parents are too permissive and overindulge their children, allowing children to do as they please. Parents need to set limits in accordance with the importance of the matter involved and the child’s disposition and maturity. Help children understand the reasons for rules, and always follow through with appropriate discipline when rules are broken. It is important as well to praise appropriate behavior. It will challenge all of your creativity and patience to maintain this balance, but the rewards will be great. Children who understand their boundaries through the consistent application of important rules are more likely to do well at school, to be more self-controlled, and to be more willing to abide by the laws of the land.

5. Family councils. As you would expect to hear from me, one of the best tools we have as parents is the family council. I cannot emphasize enough its importance in helping to understand and address challenges in the family. When members of one family began to feel unusual contention invading their home, they called a family council to discuss the situation. The father and then the mother explained to their children what they had observed and asked how each felt about it. The mother and father learned that since their two oldest children had left home, one to be married and one to go to college, an unfair burden of responsibility had been unwittingly shifted to the two oldest children remaining at home, and they were becoming resentful. By counseling together and listening to what their children were feeling, the family made a more equitable distribution of responsibility among the children, resolving much of the frustration and tension in the home.

I recognize that there are as many kinds of family councils as there are different kinds of families. Family councils can consist of one parent and one child, of two parents and several children, of just two parents, or of just siblings, and so on. Regardless of the size or makeup of the family council, what really matters are loving motivation, an atmosphere that encourages free and open discussion, and a willingness to listen to the honest input of all council members—as well as to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.

My wife and I both agree that letting our children know that they are loved is one of the most important aspects in raising our children. While we don’t know everything, we do know that if children don’t find love in their homes they will try to find it anywhere they can, which can lead to sadness and sorrow.

While I struggle with my kids at times, luckily I have a wonderful wife who helps me remember what the goal is and how to try and reach it.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” it says

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”

With children in school and then homework, how much quality time is left during the day to spend with our children? Are we doing all we can to help them learn and understand the gospel and feel loved? I know this is an area where I can do better – but luckily my wife has done a great job, and my kids love listening to gospel stories and learning about the gospel.

As our children have grown and our lives have become more hectic spending quality time together get’s harder – I’m sure some family’s have even more trouble finding time when everyone is at home together.

Some years ago, when we were living in Logan I had to commute to my job – at one point I was driving for about 2 hours each way to work. That left little time for the family. But through different circumstances– the Lord has blessed my family with me working only 10 minutes away and having a lot more time together. Along with Family Home evening, we try to have an additional game night per week, and we try to have dinner together every night so we can talk about our day to each other.

  1. 3. Parents must prepare their children for the ordinances of the gospel.

President Benson says

“The most important teachings in the home are spiritual. Parents are commanded to prepare their sons and daughters for the ordinances of the gospel: baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordinations, and temple marriage. They are to teach them to respect and honor the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Most importantly, parents are to instill within their children a desire for eternal life and to earnestly seek that goal above all else.

Eternal life may be obtained only by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

When parents themselves have complied with the ordinances of salvation, when they have set the example of a temple marriage, not only is their own marriage more likely to succeed, but their children are far more likely to follow their example.

Parents who provide such a home will have, as the Lord has said, “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, … a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119.) Regardless of how modest or humble that home may be, it will have love, happiness, peace, and joy. Children will grow up in righteousness and truth and will desire to serve the Lord.”

In a few months Ethan will be 8 years old and in another 9 months after that Alexander will be old enough to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. I am grateful that I am worthy enough to participate in these ordinances with them and am excited for them to enter into these new chapters of their life.

We all want to succeed in raising righteous children and to have an eternal family, but it won’t happen without sacrifice and work. This happens by example and commitment to the gospel.

I want to testify that I know an eternal family is key to God’s plan, since we are created in the image of Heavenly Father and everything is patterned after him then it only makes since that marriage and family is part of the plan. In order for us to have that eternal family we need to work on our examples as parents and help our children to understand how much they mean to us. We also need to be worthy enough to be sealed to them.

I want to leave you with a quote from Joseph F. Smith.

“The home is what needs reforming. Try today, and tomorrow, to make a change in your home by praying twice a day with your family. … Ask a blessing upon every meal you eat. Spend ten minutes … reading a chapter from the words of the Lord in the [scriptures]. … Let love, peace, and the Spirit of the Lord, kindness, charity, sacrifice for others, abound in your families. Banish harsh words, … and let the Spirit of God take possession of your hearts. Teach to your children these things, in spirit and power. … Not one child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training, were in harmony with … the gospel of Christ.”

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen…

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One Response so far.

  1. Tony says:

    I loved it! Full of principles and GA quotes. All makes for a great, enlightening, and encouraging talk, even for someone who is still somewhat of a young adult. It makes me motivated to prepare for my future family :D
    .-= Tony´s last blog ..Out Of The Mouths Of Babes =-.

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