“Seeing Yourself in the Family Proclamation,” Liahona, September 2020
Seeing Yourself in the Family Proclamation
While everyone’s family circumstances are unique in some way, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” contains eternal principles that provide an ideal to aim for as we strive to reach our divine potential. The following pages include insights that can help us understand the inspired principles of the family proclamation better. If we apply those principles in our circumstances to the best of our abilities, we will be blessed as we press forward toward eternal life.
1. Each of us is part of an eternal family with a divine purpose
No matter what our earthly family looks like, each of us is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” who love us. As part of this eternal family, our divine purpose is to “progress toward perfection and ultimately realize [our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.” (Unless otherwise noted, quotations come from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”)
We all have a divine nature and destiny
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17).
2. Our mortal family helps us reach our eternal destiny
God gave us families to help us learn and grow as we seek to “progress toward perfection” and inherit eternal life. “The family is central to the Creator’s plan,” and though no family is perfect, God can help us progress with the family we have.
My family was enough for His purposes
By Miranda Gaubatz, Utah, USA
My family is not what you would call the “ideal” family. My parents split when I had just turned 11, so I was raised by a hardworking, dedicated single mother. I felt like we stuck out like a sore thumb in sacrament meeting.
As a teenager, I remember sitting in a lesson on “The Family: a Proclamation to the World,” getting emotional as I listened to a youth leader testify of the family and coming to gain my own testimony that my little family was divinely approved and could provide everything I needed during this mortal existence.
Even with that knowledge, I dreaded taking the required Eternal Families class a few years later at Brigham Young University. I didn’t want to sit through class after class hearing about my “less-than-ideal” family. But my professor started our first class with this statement: “We preach the ideal but live in reality and rely on the Savior’s Atonement to make up the difference.”
I know that the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan. Even families that are less than ideal, like I experienced as a teenager, can help us learn and grow. The Savior Himself was raised by an earthly stepfather. I’m so grateful that Jesus Christ can take our “not ideal” families and make them enough to fulfill His purposes for us.
3. “Family” can mean more than just parents and children
There are many family relationships that can be sacred stewardships. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and others can be uniquely influential. “Extended families should lend support when needed.” Fostering these family connections can bring needed support and become prized relationships.
You can bless your family in many roles
By Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
The scriptures are full of examples of righteous men and women who made a significant difference in the lives of their extended family. Abraham changed Lot’s life as his uncle. Joseph of Egypt saved his brothers and their families. As adults, sisters Mary and Martha blessed each other and their brother, Lazarus. Ruth, as a daughter-in-law, sustained Naomi and then was eternally blessed in return by Naomi’s counsel. Elisabeth and Mary supported each other as cousins through the challenges surrounding their pregnancies. Even Zoram, who was not related by blood, was such a faithful support to Nephi that he and his children were adopted as if they were family. This broader view of family is so important to so many who have so much to give but feel cut off because they don’t have the nuclear family they want.
4. You can make a difference in starting or restoring an eternal family
“Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” Unfortunately, sometimes marriages end, families fall apart, or the links in the chain of an eternal family are broken. Through these “sacred ordinances and covenants,” it is “possible for individuals to return to the presence of God” regardless of their family circumstances. With God’s help, making and keeping those sacred covenants to the best of your ability can help you create, repair, or strengthen your family, in hopes of one day uniting them eternally.
5. Marriage is a partnership that requires faith and prayer
The family proclamation affirms that husbands and wives “are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” But becoming true partners in marriage can be a challenge. Our upbringing, culture, education, financial circumstances, experiences, and more can affect how we approach relationships and how we manage our families. The proclamation teaches that “successful marriages and families” are established through faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, and other principles as we counsel and work together to meet our individual circumstances.
6. The potential for parenthood is part of God’s plan for becoming like Him
One of the ways we can become more like our heavenly parents is by experiencing parenthood ourselves. “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.” While getting married and having children doesn’t always happen according to our plan, that doesn’t mean it isn’t part of God’s plan. For many of us, preparing in faith and waiting on the Lord is an important part of becoming.
Infertility and Our Ward Family
By John McMullin, Alberta, Canada
My wife, Gennie, and I always wanted a lot of kids. Always. But after a year of trying, we met the medical definition for infertility.
At first, there was a lot of prayer. Every night we would hold hands and ask Heavenly Father to bless us with the child we had prepared for our whole lives. We fasted every month, sometimes more. Every month we weren’t pregnant was even harder. Not only was there no child for us to love, it seemed there was no answer to our prayers. It felt like God had heard us asking for what we had wanted our whole lives, and He had said no.
We began to question our worthiness. It was easy to believe He had kept His spirit children to be born into more faithful households.
Attending church became difficult. It was hard to hear about how others’ prayers had been answered, and how much Heavenly Father loved them.
Two things kept us going. First, we had made covenants to the Lord and to each other when we were sealed in the temple. We belonged with each other, and we were determined to be together both now and in the eternities.
The second was our ward family. We were blessed to have leaders who knew infertility personally. Gennie had a ministering sister who also had experienced infertility and talked openly about the difficulties of being childless at church. We were struggling, but we knew others in our Church community had fought the same struggle.
We still don’t have a lot of answers. We still don’t have children, even after working with medical professionals. We don’t know Heavenly Father’s reasons, but because we have our covenants, and because we have a ward family that accepted and supported us, we’ve had the time to develop more patience and faith (see Hebrews 12:12–13).
We look forward to being parents. And while we wait for that happy day, we have a place to belong here in the Church.
7. The power to create life is given and guarded by God
In the proclamation, the Lord’s Apostles “affirm the sanctity of life.” Because life is sacred, God has given commandments regarding the giving and taking of life. How we respect that power has far-reaching effects for good or evil on ourselves and on society.
8. A parent’s responsibility is God-given
To help us become like Him, God has given many of us both the opportunity and the responsibility of parenthood. We are accountable to Him “for the discharge of these obligations.” But we can also count on His help in seeking happiness and success in marriage and family life as we strive to raise our children in love and righteousness and support them through their challenges.
9. We can stand up for God’s plan for His family
From before the beginning of the world, it has been our role to promote the Father’s plan for His family and defend it against disintegration from within and attacks from without. “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family.” Understanding why and how is essential.