“Applying the Simple and Plain Gospel Principles in the Family,” Ensign, May 2004, 38–40
In the general Relief Society meeting in September of 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared: “I believe our problems, almost every one, arise out of the homes of the people. If there is to be reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home. It is here that truth is learned, that integrity is cultivated, that self-discipline is instilled, and that love is nurtured” (“Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 117; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 99).
Among the old and sacred values to which we should return are the plain and simple principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These should be firmly established in our homes to ensure happiness in family life.
President Wilford Woodruff declared: “The Lord has a great many principles in store for us, and the greatest principles which he has for us are the most simple and plain. The first principles of the gospel which lead us unto eternal life are the simplest and yet none are more glorious or important unto us” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, 1 Apr. 1857, 27).
It is precisely because these principles are plain and simple that many times they are not considered when there are challenges to face that affect family life. At times we have the tendency to think that the more serious the problem, the bigger and more complex the solution should be. That idea can lead us, for example, to seek help from people or institutions outside the home when in reality the most effective solution will come by applying the glorious principles of the gospel in our homes in the small actions and duties of everyday life. The scriptures remind us “that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declare that “successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (Liahona, Oct. 1998, 24; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
By analyzing these principles, we can see that the majority of them are related to and complement each other and that the power that makes it possible for them to be incorporated into our lives comes from the atoning sacrifice of our Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ.
These principles, once applied, will act as a light that will illuminate each member of the family and, in a progressive way, will lead us to integrate other related values and principles which will strengthen family relationships. We know that “he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).
If we succeed in establishing and maintaining our families by applying these principles, we will be able to observe the powerful impact that these will have in situations that affect our homes day by day. Any hurts caused by the friction of living together will heal. Offenses will be forgiven. Pride and selfishness will be replaced by humility, compassion, and love.
The principles that we choose to incorporate into our lives will determine the spirit that we contribute in our relationships with others. When we adopt a principle, its influence radiates from us and can be felt by others.
Now more than ever, when we see that the family is at the center of attacks from the forces of evil—as in the days of the prophet Mormon, when “the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land” (Morm. 1:19)—it is necessary for us as parents to incorporate these principles into our lives in order to radiate their influence and for this influence to be perceived by our children.
I would now like to show how these principles can be put into practice, forming part of a process that will put the effects of the Atonement within the reach of individuals and families. This process begins with the first principle of the gospel, faith.
In a world of changing values where evil is called good and good evil (see Isa. 5:20), the words declared by Mormon fill us with hope and confidence by teaching us that Jesus Christ “claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing” (Moro. 7:28).
That faith that causes us to cleave unto every good thing comes by hearing the word of God (see Rom. 10:17), and this word is heard with more power in family home evening lessons and in family scripture study. There is no better place to build faith than in the home, where the lessons and practical applications are realized and lived day to day.
It is in the home that one learns that faith is intimately related to the Atonement, “this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:15).
Without the effects of the Atonement in our lives, it would be impossible to develop the type of faith necessary for repentance, and so we would remain outside the marvelous plan of mercy since “only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption” (Alma 34:16).
Repentance, that change that takes place in the heart, that is born of love for the Lord, that leads us to move away from sin and to submit to His will, can “become effective and accepted by God” “only through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Repent, Repentance,” 206).
Once God has accepted repentance, the process that we are describing leads us to participate in ordinances and the covenants associated with them, such as baptism and confirmation. The renewal of these covenants is brought about when we regularly and worthily partake of the sacrament, and then the remission of our sins is realized.
After receiving a remission of sins and striving to retain it through obedience to the commandments, we will receive, as described in the book of Moroni, meekness and lowliness of heart, which will allow the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter will fill us with hope and perfect love, love that will be maintained by the diligence we give to the principle of prayer (see Moro. 8:26).
The person who obtains meekness and lowliness of heart and who enjoys the company of the Holy Ghost will have no desire to offend or hurt others, nor will he feel affected by any offenses received from others. He will treat his spouse and children with love and respect and will have good relationships with everyone he associates with. In occupying positions of leadership in the Church, he will apply the same principles as he does in the home, showing that there is no difference between the person he is when within the walls of his own home and the person he is in his relationship with the members of the Church.
Principles like faith, repentance, love, forgiveness, and prayer, lived in the process I just described, become the best vaccine to combat the disease of sin, which can manifest itself in families in different ways, such as immorality, pride, envy, contention, abuse, and other practices that affect family relationships and that result in pain, deception, and the breakup of family ties.
The decision to incorporate them into our lives and the opportunity to begin the process whenever it may be necessary depends solely on our agency. It is a simple process that is within the reach of all. It is based on the fundamental principles of the gospel that have been and continue to be applied successfully by all those who put their trust in the Lord.
It is our duty to continue teaching them to a world that needs them more all the time, because:
“Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance” (2 Ne. 26:27).
I share with you my testimony that these principles are true. I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to incorporate them into our lives. I know this because I am striving together with my family to live in accordance with them. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.