“Lesson 26: Accountable before God,” The Eternal Family Teacher Manual (2015)
“Lesson 26,” Teacher Manual
Prophets and apostles have warned that “individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). This lesson explores how these serious violations of God’s law will bring consequences in this life and the next. It also emphasizes that the Atonement of Jesus Christ provides hope and healing to the repentant.
Remind students that in previous lessons they have learned about important family responsibilities, including the following: (1) husbands and wives should love and care for each other, (2) children should be reared in love and righteousness, and (3) parents should provide for the needs of their family.
What might happen in a family if spouses and parents neglected these responsibilities?
To help students discover what modern prophets have said about the importance of fulfilling family responsibilities, ask a student to read aloud paragraph 8 of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Emphasize the following principle: “Individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”
What does it mean that individuals who commit these offenses will stand accountable before God? (At the Judgment Day we will stand before God and be accountable to Him for sins we have not repented of; see Revelation 20:11–15; 2 Nephi 9:15–16.)
Display the following statement by Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy:
“Our accountability to God, as our Father and Creator, is one of the most basic lessons of the gospel” (“The Path of Growth,” Ensign, Dec. 1999, 15).
How does the principle of accountability to God for our actions help us to grow spiritually?
Write the following words on the board as headings to three columns:
Violating Covenants of Chastity
Abusing Spouse or Offspring
Failing to Fulfill Family Responsibilities
Divide the class into thirds. Invite one-third of the class to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:22–25, another third to read Matthew 18:1–6, and the last third to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:39–44. Ask students to match their scripture passage to the correct heading on the board. Ask them also to look for words and phrases that teach about the serious nature of these offenses. After sufficient time, invite students to share what they learned. (As students respond, write the scripture references under the appropriate headings.)
What words and phrases in these passages teach about the serious nature of the offenses?
Consider pointing to each heading on the board and asking the following questions in connection with each offense. As students respond, write their answers under each heading.
What are some attitudes or behaviors that, if not controlled, could lead a person to commit this offense? (For example, answers for the offense of abusing spouse or offspring could include impatience with others, a tendency to criticize others, and believing incorrect stereotypes about men or women.)
What counsel would you give to someone who demonstrates these attitudes or behaviors?
How can a Church member overcome these attitudes or behaviors? (As students share their answers, help them understand that as we practice gospel principles such as repentance, Christlike service, empathy, patience, and forgiveness, we can draw upon the enabling power of the Atonement.)
Testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ provides the means for individuals and families to succeed and enjoy abundant lives. However, we all make bad choices, and some of them can have far-reaching effects on ourselves or on others. Fortunately there is hope.
Explain that some Church members are victimized by others—such as an unfaithful spouse or an abusive spouse or parent—and the victims wonder what they can do about their circumstances. Ask a student to read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“If you have been abused, Satan will strive to convince you that there is no solution. Yet he knows perfectly well that there is. Satan recognizes that healing comes through the unwavering love of Heavenly Father for each of His children. He also understands that the power of healing is inherent in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his strategy is to do all possible to separate you from your Father and His Son. Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help” (“To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 41).
Why does Satan try to convince those who have been abused to believe that there is no solution to their problems?
What can be the results when people believe there is no hope or solution to their problems?
Share the following testimony and counsel from Elder Richard G. Scott:
“I testify that I know victims of serious abuse who have successfully made the difficult journey to full healing through the power of the Atonement. After her own concerns were resolved by her faith in the healing power of the Atonement, one young woman who had been severely abused by her father requested another interview with me. She returned with an older couple. I could sense that she loved the two very deeply. Her face radiated happiness. She began, ‘Elder Scott, this is my father. I love him. He’s concerned about some things that happened in my early childhood. They are no longer a problem for me. Could you help him?’ What a powerful confirmation of the Savior’s capacity to heal! She no longer suffered from the consequences of abuse, because she had adequate understanding of His Atonement, sufficient faith, and was obedient to His law. As you conscientiously study the Atonement and exercise your faith that Jesus Christ has the power to heal, you can receive the same blessed relief. …
“Healing may begin with a thoughtful bishop or stake president or a wise professional counselor. If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t decide to fix it yourself. Serious abuse can also benefit from professional help” (“To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse,” 40–42).
How might Elder Scott’s inspired counsel help someone who has suffered abuse?
Display the following statement from President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent” (“The Reason for Our Hope,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 7).
How does the Atonement of Jesus Christ provide hope and healing? (As students share their responses, help them understand the following principle: All who follow Jesus Christ and His teachings can obtain healing and everlasting peace through His mercy and grace.)
To teach students how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help individuals who abuse others or harm them in other ways, read 2 Corinthians 5:17–21 together as a class.
What does it mean to become “a new creature” in Christ? (Possible answers include the idea that in response to our diligent obedience to the Lord’s commandments, He blesses us with gifts of the Spirit, which are divine attributes. These gifts produce fundamental changes in us, and we become new creatures who are more like God.)
According to verse 21, how does this happen? (Jesus was completely without sin, but He took upon Himself our sins so that upon condition of our repentance, we could become righteous through Him. He became a substitutionary sacrifice for us. As we repent and seek to follow His example, we can draw upon His power to help us become new creatures.)
What is the meaning of the word reconciliation in verse 18? (“Reconciliation is the process of ransoming man from his state of sin and spiritual darkness and of restoring him to a state of harmony and unity with Deity. Through it God and man are no longer enemies” [Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (1965–73), 2:422].)
Ask students if they know any individuals who have experienced the hope and healing made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Invite a few students to share their examples if they feel comfortable and if the examples are not too personal.
Share the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in [the parable of the laborers in the vineyard; see Matthew 20:1–15], but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines. …
“So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor” (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 33).
Invite students to record what the Holy Spirit has confirmed to them today.