“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.”
~The Family: A Proclamation to the World
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was given to the world in 1995 by President Gordon B. Hinckley. At the time, the family, the institution of marriage, and morals in general were already starting to deteriorate in society. In fact, they had been for many years. But in the last 21 years since it was given, it has been happening at an alarming rate. There are many reasons for this that, while all are important to address, are not what I want to focus on today. Instead, I want to talk about how wonderful it is that families can be forever.
In Chapter 32 of Successful Marriages and Families, Daniel K. Judd reiterates part of the Plan of Salvation. He teaches, “During [the] premortal period, a grand council was held where God, our Heavenly Father, presented the ‘plan of salvation’ to all of His children. The plan presented by our Father included many of the doctrines involved in the plan of salvation, including the doctrine of eternal families and the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (p. 338).
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches us that “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.”
This “divine plan of happiness” or “Plan of Salvation” that we learn about is unique doctrine to our Church. Through it we can know where we came from, what our purpose is here on Earth, and where we go when we die. Through this, we can also know that families can be eternal.
When the gospel was restored by Joseph Smith, all of these sacred ordinances that allow us to progress and gain eternal life were restored! Elder Parley P. Pratt (who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the early days of the Church) shared his feelings about learning about the doctrine of eternal families. Part of what he said was, “I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved with—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feelings, which would life my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean” (Successful Marriages and Families, p. 343). How beautiful this is! The doctrine of eternal families can magnify love in a marriage and love within a family.
Judd also taught that “God and His plan are eternal. He instituted marriage and family in the beginning. God created the earth, the garden, and our first parents in order to create families for all of His children to be born into and experience mortal life—especially mortal family life” (Successful Marriages and Families, p. 344).
I have a strong testimony that families and marriage can be eternal through the sacred ordinances and covenants that we make in the temple. I have a testimony that our Heavenly Father loves all of His children. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, into the world to atone for our sins so that we could be able to return to Him. He loves us so much that He has given us the opportunity to have our own families and be able to be with them for eternity. I have a testimony that these blessings are available to everyone. No matter what your circumstance is, you can always come unto the Savior and prepare to go to the temple so that you can be with your family for eternity. I know that the doctrine of celestial marriage is some of the most beautiful doctrine in the gospel. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet and was called to restore the church upon this earth so that we could have these blessings in our lives. I also know that President Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet on the earth today and that we can learn the will of the Lord through his and his disciples’ teachings. I know that our Savior lives, loves us, and wants us to feel the joy that comes from having an eternal family. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
If you want to learn more about our church, or if you are a member and have any questions at all, you can go to lds.org or mormon.org. There, you can find a treasure trove of information and also find the resources to help you contact members and missionaries alike!
I hope that you have been able to learn more about “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and how its teaching can apply to you and your family!