This month, we at the Mormon Channel are focusing on the divine, eternal role that fathers can play in our lives.
Think about the various television shows, movies, and video games you have seen with male characters in husband or father roles. Many times these roles are diminished to portraying men who are uninterested, disloyal, or distracted. It is rare to find inspiring examples of this divine and important title.
L. Tom Perry said, “Today’s media … have been relentless in their attacks—ridiculing and demeaning husbands and fathers in their God-given roles” (“Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling,” April 2004 general conference).
However, the scriptures give us great examples. First, in the New Testament we read a snapshot of the Savior’s relationship with Heavenly Father: “[Jesus] kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:41–43).
In the Book of Mormon we have the account of Alma, the father, praying with faith that his son would come to know the gospel. His prayer was answered while Alma the Younger was going about to destroy the church:
“And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, … the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, …
“And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them. …
“… Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith” (Mosiah 27:10–12, 14).
When Alma the Younger recovered from this experience, he was a changed man.
It is helpful for us to remember that Satan has devised a plan to destroy the family and seeks to diminish the role of fathers. A family needs a father to anchor it together.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states that “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.”
We know that there are many inspiring stories of fatherhood and husbands found in our communities and churches, like this one from Larry M. Gibson:
“My father taught me a significant lesson when I was young. He sensed that I was becoming too enamored with temporal things. When I had money, I immediately spent it—almost always on myself. One afternoon he took me to purchase some new shoes. On the second floor of the department store, he invited me to look out the window with him.
“‘What do you see?’ he asked.
“‘Buildings, sky, people’ was my response.
“He then pulled this coin from his pocket. As he handed it to me, he asked, ‘What is this?’
“I immediately knew: ‘A silver dollar!’
“Drawing on his knowledge of chemistry, he said, ‘If you melt that silver dollar and mix it with the right ingredients, you would have silver nitrate. If we coated this window with silver nitrate, what would you see?’
“I had no idea, so he escorted me to a full-length mirror and asked, ‘Now what do you see?’
“‘I see me.’
“‘No,’ he replied, ‘what you see is silver reflecting you. If you focus on the silver, all you will see is yourself, and like a veil, it will keep you from seeing clearly the eternal destiny Heavenly Father has prepared just for you.’
“‘Larry,’ he continued, ‘seek not the things of this world but seek … first … the kingdom of God, and to establish [His] righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:38 [in Matthew 6:33, footnote a]).
“He told me to keep the dollar and never lose it. Each time I looked at it, I was to think about the eternal destiny that Heavenly Father has for me.
“I loved my father and how he taught. I wanted to be like him. He planted in my heart the desire to be a good father, and my deepest hope is that I am living up to his example” (“Fatherhood—Our Eternal Destiny,” April 2015 general conference).