Monday, May 23, 2016

Love and Appreciation for Family

Love and Appreciation for Family

My talk assignment today is Love and Appreciation for family.
As you probably all know, the lord has restored the gospel to the earth to be exercised as a family.  As Heavenly Father is our Spiritual Father, Jesus Christ and literally everyone else are our brothers and sisters.  That makes for a really big family. Many may not believe that yet, and many suspect it, but we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints know it.  We order life events and teachings in the home and in the church around family.   We have Family Home evening, chaperoned events like dances and outings, scouts, camping, pot lucks, sports and so on for the strengthening of our personal family, ward family, church family and rest of the world.
I have brought non-members, friends and family, to Sacrament meeting and afterwards almost to a fault their first comment was about how noisy they thought the service was.  So many children gurgling, laughing, crying, crawling under the pews, and climbing over their parents to visit with the folks in the next pew back.  I tell them, probably the same thing you have, we are a family oriented church, and Sacrament is sacred to us and the children learn as they age and get better behaved, that this is the one meeting not to miss if we can help it.  I’m not the least bit apologetic for our noisy kids and actually a bit proud of it.
One of the things I think that brings about appreciation is not taking our family for granted.  As I was growing up, my mom and dad were not LDS and all I knew about the Mormons was the story about the Sea Gulls eating up all the locus in that old 1950s movie.  I wish my parents had been LDS; perhaps I might have made some of my life decisions differently.  “I love you,” never passed the lips of my parents that I recall.  When visiting my mom sometime after having joined the church, on parting to go home I told her I loved her.  The effect was immediate, a double-take and a returned, “I love you too.”  It is true you don’t have hear you’re loved by your parents to know you are, but it means so much more when the endearment is given.
As a young man in my 20’s, I hadn’t given much thought and what little thought I did give about my mom and dad was shaded a little negative.  There are volumes written about raising a good family by just about every physiologist that ever put pen to paper.  There is plenty of good stuff in those words that helps us to raise socially responsible children.  As a kid and young man, I didn’t know any of that.  I held a grudge against my mom for making me go to bed early after telling me I could stay up and watch “Rebel without a Cause.”  I held that grudge for decades and I still haven’t seen the movie.
It truly wasn’t until I had a job as a Correctional Counselor in the Federal prison system in Texas that I came to realize what a wonderful, patient, long suffering pair of parents I had to have tolerated my shenanigans.   After joining the church that sense of appreciation for my parents was deepened and reinforced. 
The prophets and apostles pass on the Lord’s desire for us to understand this family unit all the time.  Because of the way of the world and our government leaders over the past decade, the turning away from gospel principles that have been traditionally recognized by all churches has brought Prophets and Apostles to feel the need to proclaim an open letter to the world concerning us and our family.
There are nine paragraphs.  I’ll go through this proclamation paragraph by paragraph.  

The Family

A Proclamation to the World
The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

Elder David A. Bednar explains:  The eternal nature and importance of marriage can be fully understood only within the overarching context of the Father’s plan for His children. “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … has a divine nature and destiny.” 3 The great plan of happiness enables the spirit sons and daughters of Heavenly Father to obtain physical bodies, to gain earthly experience, and to progress toward perfection.
“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” 4 and in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary.

2. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
In Moses 6:8,9 “8 Now this prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and a genealogy was kept of the children of God. And this was the book of the generations of Adam, saying: In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
 9 In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God.
For Issue of Gender -President Packer taught: “The plan of happiness requires the righteous union of male and female, man and woman, husband and wife. … A body patterned after the image of God was created for Adam, and he was introduced into the Garden. At first, Adam was alone. … But alone, he could not fulfill the purposes of his creation. No other man would do. Neither alone nor with other men could Adam progress. Nor could Eve with another woman. It was so then. It is so today. Eve, an help meet, was created. Marriage was instituted.”
3. In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
Joseph Smith tells us in D&C Section 130 verse 2: 2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.
Although we will certainly rejoice in the eternal fellowship of close friends, the associations that will mean most to us are family relationships that have been sealed eternally in the house of the Lord through priesthood ordinances.
President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988), First Counselor in the First Presidency, taught: “In our upward climb, this mortal experience through which we are now passing is a necessary step. To obtain perfection, we had to leave our pre-earth home and come to earth. During the transfer, a veil was drawn over our spiritual eyes, and the memory of our premortal experiences was suspended. In the Garden of Eden, God endowed us with moral agency and, as it were, left us here on our own between the forces of good and evil to be proved—to see if, walking by faith, we would rise to our high potentiality by doing ‘all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]’ “
Thus we know that through these teachings of church leaders that the family is central to accomplishing these things.  We want to return to our Father in Heaven and live again with him there and more over we want our children, grandchildren and their children and so on nearly endlessly to join us there. Emphasis mine.
4. The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Genesis 1:27,28: 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, …”
5. We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
“Under the accepted plan,” explained President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Adam and Eve were sent to the earth as our first parents. They could prepare physical bodies for the first spirits to be introduced into this life.
“There was provided in our bodies—and this is sacred—a power of creation, a light, so to speak, that has the power to kindle other lights. This gift was to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage. Through the exercise of this power of creation, a mortal body may be conceived, a spirit enter into it, and a new soul [be] born into this life.
“This power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we find the fountains of happiness. It is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and significant power. …
6. Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and 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.
Elder O. Leslie Stone of the First Quorom of the Seventy taught: The home is where we learn what is right, what is good, and what is kind. It is the first school and the first church. The best way to prepare a child for a happy and righteous adult life is to strengthen him during his child life. And happy is the family where this most important trust—that of properly raising the children of that family—is their greatest concern.
Equal to the responsibility we have to provide food and shelter and the necessities of life is the responsibility to set the right example for our children in all that we do.
Let us remember that the parent in the home influences the behavior patterns, the habits, the opinions, and the beliefs of the children. Most behavior patterns are established early in life, and it is an extremely difficult, slow task to change them later in life.
Additionally, on the negative side he said that among delinquent parents are these:
Those who quarrel in the presence of their children;
Those who pollute the home atmosphere with vulgarity and profanity;
Those whose daily home life does not conform to their Church pretensions;
Those who fail to teach obedience to their children;
Those who neglect to teach their children religion by saying, “Let them grow up and choose for themselves,” thus failing in the discharge of a parental responsibility.   

7. The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, 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. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
There are a number of important points, some of which we have already discussed. Here is a short recap.
1.      First is the foundation: God prompts families.
2.     Marriage is between man and woman.
3.     Children are entitled to be born into a lawfully wedded and faithful family.
4.    Fathers are to preside over the family with the priesthood for protection and substance and shelter.
5.     Mothers nurture their children and reinforce the gospel principles in the home.
6.    And extended families and fellow church members have a responsibility to assist families when they suffer damage, be it death, illness or a falling away.  

8.     We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
By Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander Of the Seventy:
“It is a frightful thought to be in a condition in which there is no choice and no personal accountability. Yet there are many who find this alternative attractive. For me, one of the most obvious characteristics of an anti-Christ is the teaching that one need not be accountable for his sins. Nehor falsely testified that “all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life” (Alma 1:4).
We know that to be false.
On my Google + account I follow a political group.  There are thousands of people in the group but it seems that there is a handful of people that continually post.  From what they say, I can see the eroding factor in the family, we call it a disintegration, but they look at under the mantle of equal rights.  They rationalize that within the confines of being “good” people that two men or two women can raise children to no ill affect.  I submit to you that is not true.
Many of them vilify Christians and the doctrine of family and marriage.  Many Christian religions cater to this perversion of God’s will.  Brenda and I had the opportunity to attend an alternative lifestyle marriage between two women after it became law in Illinois to do so.  It was held in this very old lovely cathedral style church in downtown Elgin.  It was officiated by two Ministers, a man and a woman that tag-teamed the ceremony.  The ministers motivation to practicing a ceremony so contrary to the scriptures, even only the Bible they profess to adhere to is beyond my understanding.
We were not there as a show of support for the marriage, but because one of the people getting married was a family member and went as a show of love for her.  In any case, it was painful to watch as our spirits were hurting at the outward display of God’s will being circumvented and lionized by the government of Illinois.   Which takes us to the last paragraph. Emphasis mine.

9.      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.
Joseph Smith in a meeting said:  “There is one more thing I wish to speak about, and that is political economy. It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ’Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it, as well as for a man who has no influence to use his. From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get. In relation to politics, I will speak as a man; but in relation to religion I will speak in authority.”

I had, early this month, the opportunity to have a gospel principled discussion with our daughter that lives in Pennsylvania.  She had just recently changed to a non-denominational church because the church she was attending was more than teaching politics, but mandating compliance to vote the preachers way on issues of the day.  He was vigorous in his sermons on the topics so much so by telling them they would go to hell if not in alignment with his views, which according to him were God’s view.
We as church members have been told over and over what is right in God’s eyes and to participate and vote our conscience.  No church leader will raise up here and tell you to vote for Trump or Sanders even though sometimes some of us might wish they would.  Away from the pulpit, I suspect that anyone would be happy to let you know how they feel about current events if asked.  Even as Joseph Smith strove to make the church understand that for the church he was the authority and for politics’ he was speaking for himself.
We know, as we have related in this Proclamation on the Family, what the Lord expects of us.  When we study the issues of the day and go to the ballot box or exercise our influence where it has effect we will align our thinking and actions in accordance to our knowledge of the restored gospel and how it relates to the family. 
In this is the way love and appreciation can be cultivated in the family.