“Strong Families Key to Future, President Hinckley Tells Colorado Forum,” Ensign, July 2003, 75
Strengthening the family is of “paramount importance in building bridges for the future,” President Gordon B. Hinckley told an audience of 6,500 people at the University of Denver in Colorado on 22 April. Society cannot destroy the family—with the values on which it must be based—without undermining the strength of a nation, he said.
“In my judgment the greatest challenge facing this nation is the problem of the family, brought on by misguided parents and resulting in misguided children,” President Hinckley said. “The family is the primary unit of society. I believe it was designed by the Almighty. A nation will rise no higher than the strength of its families.”
The address was part of a yearlong series sponsored by Colorado State University and the University of Denver. “Bridges to the Future: American History and Values in Light of September 11th” is an exploration of American values, said University of Denver Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie. Other speakers have included former U.S. Senator John Glenn, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, and columnist George F. Will.
Chancellor Ritchie told the Church News that President Hinckley was invited to participate in the series because of his international reputation and the forum organizers’ desire to learn more about the values he teaches.
Mentioning the recent war in Iraq, President Hinckley noted that there is still much work to do in winning peace around the world. “But,” he added, “there are bridges which we must build not only outside but also within our nation, important bridges, without which there will be increasing national decay.”
President Hinckley explained it is not the place or the “real estate,” but rather the parents who determine the quality of a home.
“As we contemplate the future I see only a small chance of improving our value system unless we can strengthen the sense of responsibility and acceptance of the vital truth that fatherhood and motherhood carry with them tremendous and lifelong obligations,” he said.
President Hinckley noted several factors that have brought difficulties to many families, including pornography, illegal drugs, divorce, and the “fruits of unbridled sex.” He then offered advice on how to improve and strengthen families, explaining the family home evening program and encouraging families to look to God.
“I submit that if we will work to turn the families of America to God, if they will recognize Him as our divine Father, as the Ruler of the universe, as the Giver of all good, something wonderful will happen,” he said.
If we, as individuals and parents, will use our energies to bring about a practice in the home of good reading, including the reading of the scriptures, of a desire for education, of an attitude of civility one to another, President Hinckley said, then can a nation that is a military leader become a moral light to the world.