We Must Rescue the Home
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“We Must Rescue the Home,” Ensign, Dec. 1979, 65

We Must Rescue the Home

Isn’t it ironic that in an age when we are learning almost feverishly about what is most ecologically sound, what are the most efficient and economic ways to produce energy or protein in order to help other human beings, that we should be so incredibly blind when it comes to pursuing those processes that are best for the production of good human beings?

Beef cattle foraging on a poor range may require as much as 20 pounds of food in order to produce a pound of gain, but chickens with a good balanced diet may produce a pound of gain for every two pounds of feed. The one approach is many times more efficient than the other, just as (so far as human goodness is concerned) the social and spiritual sum of our political, educational, and economic institutions is usually not sufficient to offset the deficits in the home.

Analogously, we have far too many lonely humans foraging on deficient “homesteads” and too many governmental programs that attempt abortively to substitute a less efficient system of helping humans than the home; it is the home that we must rescue, repair, and sustain. Only when homes are full of truth, warmth, and trust can our other institutions perform their tasks, and when too many homes are defective, then the deterioration becomes contagiously inter-institutional, affecting schools and governments.

If we are really concerned about the most economical way of achieving happiness for ourselves and/or our fellowmen and about those skills that are needed in successful human enterprises, then we should seek these gains through the family, with the help, of course, of other institutions. Otherwise, we shall always be investing dollars and hopes in less efficient ways of helping mankind. Just as the wheel does not have to be reinvented perpetually, we do not have to reinvent the family, a divine institution.

How much more research does the world need before we can accept parents as pivotal and before we focus on the family without apology and half-heartedness? Of course, there are rogue parents just as there are rogue policemen. Of course, there are some people, through no fault of their own, who do not marry. Of course, there are some who, through no fault of their own, experience defective and broken homes. But these exceptions are not reasons for abandoning this remarkable resource, the family. The family is the tilt point for a vast number of souls who can go either way—to alienation and anger or to sweetness and service.

Alas, it may prove true that those who do not believe in God, who is a loving parent and who is the father of the human family, will also never be quite able to accept the eternal importance of the institution of the family, except as something that is socially useful. How important it is, therefore, that we remain at our posts as sentries over doctrines and teachings like that concerning the family, even if the world in its mistaken, but sincere way, seems to be headed in entirely different directions!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy
Brigham Young University devotional address