“Let Us Build Fortresses,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 23
In our world of escalating crisis, where the fraternal wars, corruption, secret combinations, and immorality are reminiscent of the wickedness described in the Book of Mormon, Satan has intensified his efforts to destroy the family by corrupting the youth and robbing childhood of its innocence.
Our youth are especially vulnerable as the enemy cunningly utilizes every means at his disposal, including the mass media and changes in constitutional law, to deceive them. He bombards our homes with enticements of destructive and harmful products and morals through television, videos, press, books, etc.
We as Latter-day Saints and all good people anywhere must conscientiously screen what comes into our homes. Parents have the inalienable right and the responsibility to educate their children. No inappropriate outsider should be allowed to dictate our family’s values nor what our children are being taught.
The gospel is based on the principle of agency, and our Heavenly Father has made us responsible for raising our families in such a way that they can be saved and return to his presence. In section 68 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 25, the Lord tells us, “Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, … the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” [D&C 68:25]
In medieval times, great fortresses were built around castles or cities to protect them from enemy attacks. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites built fortresses to defend their families against their enemies. We must make of our homes fortresses to protect our families against the constant attacks of the adversary.
I am not suggesting that we isolate ourselves from the world by digging deep moats or constructing barriers several meters high around our homes, but rather that in our family councils, under the influence of the Spirit, we establish the activities, entertainment, books, friendships, rules, and habits that will constitute our fortresses. Our fortress consists of teaching our children the gospel through the scriptures, establishing the habit of reading them every day as a family, and basing a large part of our conversations on them. It means kneeling together daily to pray and to teach our children the importance of direct, personal communication with our Heavenly Father.
Our fortress is erected by showing our children, through our example, that the principles and teachings of the gospel are a way of life which helps us find peace and happiness on this earth and provides the strength necessary to withstand the trials and tribulations that come into our lives. We must teach our children to avoid compromising themselves with inappropriate fashions and negative practices of the world by simply saying no when confronted with them.
Creating a fortress requires the family to counsel together in weekly family home evenings, where they make decisions and agreements.
In ancient times, a fortress required regular inspections to ensure that no weak spots developed that an enemy could take advantage of, and guards in the watchtowers ensured that no enemy could approach undetected. In other words, once a city was fortified, a constant effort was made to maintain the fortress so that it could serve its purpose.
By establishing a security system of our own, we can prevent the enemy from finding and exploiting weaknesses in our family fortress through which he could gain access to, and harm, our most precious treasure, our family.
One of the watchtowers on our fortress can be the regular habit of a father’s interview with each member of his family. Personal interviews are an important resource in maintaining the integrity of our fortress. Through them, we become better acquainted with our children, learn about their problems and concerns, and establish open communication and trust that will enable us to foresee any danger, help them make decisions, and support them during difficult times. As parents, our Heavenly Father has given us the stewardship of caring for and protecting our families. It is a responsibility that we cannot and must not delegate.
In Doctrine and Covenants section 93, verses 39 and 40, it says:
“And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.” [D&C 93:39–40]
A loving interview guided by the Spirit can give direction to our children’s lives, bring about necessary adjustments or changes, and may even result in miracles.
I wish to share with you a very special family experience. This is an interview I had with my grandson. Several years ago, when I was preparing myself spiritually in prayer to interview one of my daughters, I felt inspired to interview Kemish, my grandson who was a little over three years old and was living with us. Kemish was a bundle of energy and could not stay quiet for more than a minute, always running, jumping, and playing. So I let that feeling pass, thinking that I would wait until he was a little older and able to pay attention.
Several months later, while praying, the feeling came again; only this time it was stronger, and I heeded it. I went to Kemish and told him, “Tomorrow, you and I will have an interview.” The next day, at the beginning of the interview, I told him that during an interview we had to look each other in the eye and remain seated all the time, among other things. It was a real miracle; Kemish sat and stayed quiet for almost ten minutes. But more marvelous than that, however, was that I got to know his thoughts and feelings. The thing that worried him the most was when he could get a two-wheel bicycle. When I explained to him that he would have to wait until he was a little older, he understood perfectly. He then told me the story he had learned about Nephi and his brothers. But the greatest thrill for me, as his grandfather, was when he told me that he knew who Jesus Christ was and bore his testimony of the Savior to me. Nowhere could you ever find more truth and purity than in the testimony of a three-year-old boy.
I can picture an interview with my Heavenly Father before coming to this earth—an interview in which he called to me and spoke to me, showing me what he had in store for me. It must have been a tender interview with a loving Father who was about to let his son go for a time. I anxiously await my next interview.
I know we have a loving Father who is waiting for us. I know that he instructs us through his Only Begotten, our Savior and Redeemer. I know that his church and his gospel are real fortresses which will give peace and security to our most precious treasure on this earth, our family. Of this I testify in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.