“The Role of Families in God’s Eternal Plan,” New Era, Sept. 2020, 2–5.
The Role of Families in God’s Eternal Plan
From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University Education Week on August 19, 2003.
I encourage you to read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and strive to align your family and future marriage to its inspired, revealed direction from the Lord.
As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I participated in the process of drafting “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It was a remarkable experience for all who were involved. As we travel the world, we see things—both within the Church and outside the Church. We were troubled by much of what we were seeing. We could see the people of the world wanting to define the family in ways contrary to God’s eternal plan for the happiness of His children.
In the midst of all that was stirring on this subject in the world, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles could see the importance of declaring to the world the revealed, true role of the family in the eternal plan of God. We worked together to craft a proclamation that would make the Lord’s position on the family so clear that it could not be misunderstood.
Since the proclamation came out in 1995, time has overwhelmingly proven its prophetic insight. As a church we are more focused than ever in supporting and strengthening the family.
Satan’s Attacks on God’s Plan
We lived as Heavenly Father’s spirit sons and daughters before this mortal existence. In a grand premortal family council, our Heavenly Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and peace of His children was presented. We understood that we would come to this earth to live as families, and through the sealing authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood we could live throughout the rest of eternity as families.
Satan wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, so he attacks God’s plan for His spirit children. He uses differing lifestyles in an attempt to replace the marriage of one man to one woman. He also works to drive a wedge of disharmony between a father and a mother. He entices children to be disobedient to their parents. He makes home evening and family prayer seem inconvenient. He suggests family scripture study is impractical and not doable. That’s all it takes, because Satan knows that the surest and most effective way to disrupt the Lord’s work is to diminish the effectiveness of the family and the sanctity of the home.
What we do and what we teach in our homes and in our families matters. With the help of the proclamation, let me share with you how we can build happy and secure families.
Marriage and Parenting: A Full and Equal Partnership
Men and women joined together in marriage need to work together as a full and equal partnership. However, this does not imply that the roles played by men and women are the same in God’s grand design for His children. As clearly stated in the proclamation on the family, men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally sacred and significant roles. These roles complement each other and are essential for the spiritual progression of all family members—parents and children alike.
Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. The proclamation states: “Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”1
To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths. The proclamation teaches that “mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”2
It is within the family that divine potential is best realized for both men and women. The blessings and responsibilities of parenthood permit mothers and fathers to act in a new physical and spiritual relationship that draws them within God’s purposes for their lives.
When members of one family began to feel unusual contention invading their home, they called a family council to discuss the situation. The father and mother explained to their children what they had observed and asked how each felt about it. The mother and father learned that since their two oldest children had left home—one to be married and one to go to college—an unfair burden of responsibility had been shifted to the two oldest children remaining at home, and they were becoming resentful. By counseling together and listening, the children shared what they were feeling, and a more equitable distribution of responsibility was made, resolving much of the frustration and tension in the home.3
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of family councils in helping to understand and address challenges in the family. Regardless of the size or makeup of the family council, what really matters are loving motivation, an atmosphere that encourages free and open discussion, and a willingness to listen to the honest input of all council members—as well as to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.4
Family councils can be a blessing in the lives of families and individual family members in this life and through the eternities. Through them we can draw closer to our families and closer to God.
Inviting the Spirit into Our Families
There are many things we can do to improve our families and each individual who lives within them as we move forward together toward fulfilling the Creator’s eternal plan for us.
Let me quote again from the proclamation: “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”5
In all that we do, we must always remember that the voice of the Spirit is an essential component—and it is a still, small voice.
Let the spirit in your home reflect the attitude of the still, small voice. It is this spirit that will imbue us with sufficient spiritual strength to feel confident and patient in our family relationships. Remember, also, there is great power in prayer. I strongly encourage personal and family prayer, which are important in building strong families. I encourage you to read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and strive to align your family and future marriage to its inspired, revealed direction from the Lord. Then, be the very best and act the very best you can. God will give you strength beyond your own as you strive daily to prepare for the most sacred mortal responsibility He gives to His children. Listen to the voice of the Spirit and the counsel of the living prophets. Be of good cheer, and the peace of the Lord will abide in your heart and overflow into your home and family.