Casey Paul Griffiths
From Doctrine and Covenants Minute
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was first introduced by President Gordon B. Hinckley in the Relief Society session of the October 1995 general conference. President Hinckley offered this introduction to the proclamation:
With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history. I now take the opportunity of reading to you this proclamation.1
In a talk given over twenty years later, President Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Twelve at the time the family proclamation was issued, provided a detailed explanation for how the family proclamation came into being:
The inspiration identifying the need for a proclamation on the family came to the leadership of the Church over 23 years ago. It was a surprise to some who thought the doctrinal truths about marriage and the family were well understood without restatement. Nevertheless, we felt the confirmation and we went to work. Subjects were identified and discussed by members of the Quorum of the Twelve for nearly a year. Language was proposed, reviewed, and revised. Prayerfully we continually pleaded with the Lord for His inspiration on what we should say and how we should say it. We all learned ‘line upon line, precept upon precept,’ as the Lord has promised (D&C 98:12).2
President Oaks referred to the creation of the family proclamation as a “revelatory process” and noted that the First Presidency made “further changes” before the final document was introduced by President Hinckley.3
In the years following the proclamation’s introduction, it has become a touchstone for Latter-day Saints in a world of continuously shifting values with regard to the family. President Oaks called the family proclamation “the Lord’s reemphasis of the gospel truths we need to sustain us through current challenges to the family.”4 On the proclamation’s twentieth anniversary, Bonnie L. Oscarson, the Young Women General President, noted, “Little did we realize then how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today’s world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the Internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators. The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world, and I testify that the principles set forth within this statement are as true today as they were when they were given to us by a prophet of God nearly 20 years ago.”5
1. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” October 1995 General Conference.
2. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Plan and the Proclamation,” October 2017 General Conference.
3. Oaks, “The Plan and the Proclamation.”
4. Oaks, “The Plan and the Proclamation.”
5. Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Defenders of the Family Proclamation,” April 2015 General Conference.
Casey Paul Griffiths
From Doctrine and Covenants Minute
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
In a CES fireside given just a month after the family proclamation was first introduced, Elder Henry B. Eyring noted that in the entire history of the Church up to 1995, the Church had only issued four proclamations. (One more has since been issued in 2020 on the two hundredth anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision.) Elder Eyring then added, “Three things about the title are worth our careful reflection. First, the subject: the family. Second, the audience, which is the whole world. And third, those who proclaimed are those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. That means that the family must be as important to us as anything we can consider, that what the proclamation says could help anyone in the world, and that the proclamation fits the Lord’s promise when he said, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ (D&C 1:38).”1
The truths in the family proclamation do not represent doctrinal tenets that are only believed by Latter-day Saints but eternal truths that apply to all men and women. The family is not seen as a useful social construct but as the basis for understanding our relationship to God and all people. In addition, marriage between a man and a woman is upheld as central to God’s plan. On this doctrine, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson taught the following:
For anyone to attain the fulness of priesthood blessings, there must be a husband and a wife sealed in the house of the Lord, working together in righteousness and remaining faithful to their covenants. This is the Lord’s plan for His children, and no amount of public discourse or criticism will change what the Lord has declared. We need to continue to model righteous marriages, seek for that blessing in our lives, and have faith if it is slow in coming. Let us be defenders of marriage as the Lord has ordained it while continuing to show love and compassion for those with differing views.2
“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”
Latter-day Saints believe that each person is a son or daughter of a Father and Mother in Heaven. No formal revelation exists explaining the teaching of a Mother in Heaven, though Joseph Smith taught the doctrine informally during his lifetime. For example, Zina D. Young, a member of the Church during the early Restoration, spoke with Joseph Smith just after the death of her own mother. Filled with grief, she asked Joseph, “Will I know my mother when I get over on the other side?”
“Certainly you will,” came the instant reply of the Prophet. “More than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.”
“And I have then a Mother in Heaven?” Zina asked.
“You assuredly have,” Joseph replied. “How could a Father claim His title unless there were also a Mother to share that parenthood?”3
Just a few months after Joseph Smith’s death, two poems that mentioned a Mother in Heaven appeared in the Church newspaper Times and Seasons. Both were written by close associates of Joseph Smith. The first poem, “Come to Me” by William W. Phelps, reads as follows:
Come to me; here’s the myst’ry that man hath not seen;
Here’s our Father in heaven; and Mother the Queen;
Here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be;
Here’s eternity—endless; amen: Come to me.4
A few months later, a poem by Eliza R. Snow entitled “My Father in Heaven” (which later became the hymn “O My Father”) appeared in Times and Seasons. The following stanza of this poem includes the doctrine of a Mother in Heaven:
In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare;
Truth is reason—truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.5
The First Presidency in 1909 further supported the teaching of a Mother in Heaven by declaring that “all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and literally the sons and daughters of Deity.”6
In 1991, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught the doctrine of Heavenly Mother in a women’s session of general conference: “Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.” He also gave a simple note of caution, saying, “However, in light of the instruction we have received from the Lord Himself, I regard it as inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven.” He then added, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”7
The teaching of a Mother in Heaven was further established when the family proclamation used the phrase “heavenly parents” to describe the nature of the relationship between men, women, and Deity. In 2019, the Young Women theme was changed to emphasize the doctrine of Heavenly Parents. Every Sunday, the Young Women declare, “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and destiny.”8
While there is still much that we do not know about Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, the teaching of a Divine Woman and Man at the head of the universe goes back to the roots of the Restoration. This inspired doctrine continues to inform the way Latter-day Saints see all men and women and their eternal potential. President Dallin H. Oaks has taught, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”9
“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
In the years since the family proclamation was given, the discussion surrounding gender has intensified and expanded. Over time, gender has come to refer to a social construct, while sex refers to the biological characteristics of a person’s body. In 2020, Church leadership issued a clarification that “the intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation is biological sex at birth.”10 Using these terms, the family proclamation teaches that gender is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity in the premortal existence, in mortality, and in the next life. Elder Bruce D. Porter taught, “The differences between men and women are not simply biological. They are woven into the fabric of the universe, a vital, foundational element of eternal life and divine nature.”11 Elder David A. Bednar also spoke of the importance of gender, saying it “in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary.”12
When individuals experience feelings of incongruence between their biological sex and their gender identity, they may identify as transgender. The Church does not take a position on why some people identify as transgender, though it urges its members to reach out with love and understanding to all people, regardless of gender identity.
The Church handbook provides the following counsel: “Transgender individuals face complex challenges. Members and nonmembers who identify as transgender—and their family and friends—should be treated with sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love. All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of the Church.” The Church handbook also adds that “most Church participation and some priesthood ordinances are gender neutral. Transgender persons may be baptized and confirmed . . . They may also partake of the sacrament and receive priesthood blessings. However, priesthood ordination and temple ordinances are received according to biological sex at birth.”13 Church leaders counsel transgender members against elective or medical surgeries to reassign gender and against social transitioning. Transgender individuals who do not pursue these forms of transitioning and are worthy can serve in Church callings, hold temple recommends, and receive temple ordinances.14
“In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. 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.”
The third paragraph of the family proclamation provides a brief outline of the plan of happiness (Alma 42:8). One of the most important revelations given to the restored Church is that life does not begin at birth nor end with death. Abraham was shown in vision “the intelligences that were organized before the world was” (Abraham 3:22). An 1833 revelation to Joseph Smith teaches men and women that “ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit . . . Man was also in the beginning with God” (D&C 93:23, 29). At present, we only know basic details about our premortal existence, but the scriptures testify that we lived with God and chose to come to mortality, accepting the challenges and trials we would face during our mortal lives (Abraham 3:22–25).
Most Christians believe that because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, they will find life after death. Latter-day Saint doctrine adds more knowledge to this conversation about what will happen after death. Joseph Smith taught that the “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2).15 Family relationships are linked to many of the most meaningful and joyful moments in life. We do not transcend these relationships when we leave this life; instead, these relationships become the basis for our eternal life.
In one sentence, the family proclamation teaches the purpose of life: the sons and daughters of God “accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.”16 Latter-day Saints accept the eternal nature of the spirit while testifying of the importance of receiving a body while we are here on earth. Although some Christians speak of the body as a prison, the revelations given to Joseph Smith teach that the opposite is true. Separation from our bodies is a kind of prison and “spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy” (D&C 93:33–34).
The final sentence of the third paragraph teaches where we can access the keys to eternal life and eternal families: the temple. Sacred temples are where all the elements of mankind’s premortal, mortal, and postmortal choices come together. In the holy temple, ordinances teach men and women about their divine origins, the purpose of life on earth, and the covenants necessary to gain exaltation. Temple ordinances allow for the creation of eternal families, both for living participants or for those who have already passed on to the next life. Latter-day Saints believe that all people will eventually have the opportunity to accept these ordinances, whether in this life or the next.
“The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
Bringing children into this world and helping them progress is one of the most profound experiences of this life. Parenthood allows a person on earth to understand God more fully by participating in the same work our Heavenly Parents engage in. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were given two commandments when they were placed in the Garden of Eden. The first was to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Moses 2:28). The second was to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Moses 3:17). The prophet Lehi taught that Adam and Eve could not have children while they remained in the garden (2 Nephi 2:22–23). Eve and Adam, seeing they could not keep both commandments, wisely chose to obey the first commandment and to transgress the second commandment. The family proclamation affirms that God’s commandment for His sons and daughters to have children is still in place.
While upholding the value of bringing children into this world, Church leaders also recognize what an important and deeply personal decision it is to have a child. Elder Neil L. Andersen taught, “When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.”17
In discussing the blessings of having children, Church members must take great care to not marginalize those who may be unable to have this blessing during their mortal lives. In regard to these trials, Elder Andersen taught the following:
The bearing of children is a sensitive subject that can be very painful for righteous women who do not have the opportunity to marry and have a family. To you noble women, our Heavenly Father knows your prayers and desires. How grateful we are for your remarkable influence, including reaching out with loving arms to children who need your faith and strength. The bearing of children can also be a heartbreaking subject for righteous couples who marry and find that they are unable to have the children they so anxiously anticipated or for a husband and wife who plan on having a large family but are blessed with a smaller family.18
Those who do not receive the opportunity of raising their own children in this life still play an important role in raising and influencing the children in their wards and branches. In addition, those who remain faithful in this life will receive all the blessings of the gospel, including the blessing of children, in the next life.
“We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”
This paragraph speaks briefly of the sanctity of life and the means by which mortal life is created. For married couples who have difficulty conceiving naturally, the Church supports alternative methods, such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. If the parents are already sealed, children who come into being using these methods are considered to be born in the covenant.19 However, because the process of conception is divinely appointed, the Church counsels against surrogate motherhood.20 The Church also counsels against artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization when using genetic materials from anyone other than the husband or wife.21
As for affirming the sanctify of life, the Church also upholds the human rights of the unborn. Abortion can be allowable in a very specific set of circumstances, such as if the child is the product of incest or rape. Abortion may also be allowed if the child suffers from serious defects or if the life of the mother is in danger. Even in these circumstances, Church leaders counsel individuals wrestling with this question to seek guidance from their families, their priesthood leaders, and the Spirit of the Lord to determine the right course of action. Abortion for personal or social convenience is strongly condemned by the Church.22
Church leaders have also recognized that many women who receive abortions do so because they are not yet ready to raise children. In these cases, the Church advocates adoption. Speaking on both abortion and adoption, President Russell M. Nelson taught the following:
Why destroy a life that could bring great joy to others? There are better ways of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. When a life is created by sinful behavior, the best way to begin personal repentance is to preserve the life of that child. To add another serious sin to a serious sin already committed only compounds the grief. Adoption is a wonderful alternative to abortion. Both the baby and the adoptive parents can be greatly blessed by the adoption of that baby into a home where the child will be lovingly nurtured and where the blessings of the gospel will be available.23
In upholding the sanctity of life, the Church also advocates strongly against euthanasia, or deliberately ending the life of a person who is suffering from an incurable disease. Life is a precious gift, and God determines those who are appointed unto death (D&C 42:48). However, discontinuing or forgoing extreme measures for a person at the end of his or her life is not considered euthanasia. In all matters linked to the sacred nature of life, extreme caution and sensitivity is called for. The gift of a mortal life is one of the greatest gifts God can offer His children.
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
The sixth paragraph of the family proclamation focuses on the responsibilities that parents have toward their children. In the scriptures, the Lord clearly expresses the value of mothers and fathers in raising children. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord taught the early Saints that “inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents” (D&C 68:25). Additionally, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob described the ideal home as one in which “husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children” (Jacob 3:7).
A home with a loving father and mother is the ideal environment for raising children. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “When all is said and done, the primary place in building a value system is in the homes of the people.”24 This arrangement is vital not only for healthy families but also for healthy societies. On this principle, Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught the following:
A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.25
“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, 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. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”
In an 1831 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared that “marriage is ordained of God unto man” (D&C 49:15). Similarly, in this paragraph of the family proclamation, modern prophets and apostles testify that “the family is ordained of God.” This tenet is key to understanding the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. As President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is properly known as a family-centered Church. But what is not well understood is that our family-centeredness is focused on more than mortal relationships. Eternal relationships are also fundamental to our theology. ‘The family is ordained of God.’ Under the great plan of our loving Creator, the mission of His restored Church is to help the children of God achieve the supernal blessing of exaltation in the celestial kingdom, which can be attained only through an eternal marriage between a man and a woman (see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–3).”26
Happy families center their lives around the teachings of Jesus Christ. However, these teachings, so simple and well-known, are often overlooked or neglected in the hectic pace of family life. To create a consistently Christ-centered home, the family proclamation counsels us to use the basic principles of “faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”27
The seventh paragraph also outlines the responsibilities of fathers and mothers within families. The proclamation shares the Lord’s expectation that fathers will preside over their families in love and righteousness, protect them, and provide for their needs. Mothers are primarily responsible for the care and nurture of children. The proclamation also declares that “in these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”28 This qualifying statement asks fathers and mothers to equally share the burdens of each role. A mother can and must preside, protect, and help provide for her children. A father plays an essential role in the nurture and care of his children. The Church handbook advises, “Parents work in unity to fulfill these responsibilities . . . they make decisions together in united and love, with full participation of both.”29
The words of the family proclamation avoid being too prescriptive in stating the roles of fathers and mothers. Instead, the proclamation suggests that both parents make their families the top priority of their lives. For many different reasons, mothers may work outside the home. Speaking on parental roles, Elder Quentin L. Cook taught the following:
Women are confronted with many options and need to prayerfully consider the choices they make and how those choices affect the family. . . . These are very emotional, personal decisions, but there are two principles that we should always keep in mind. First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.30
The proclamation also directs fathers to “preside in righteousness.” This direction does not mean that fathers dominate or make every decision in the home. Instead, the Lord’s model of leadership is to guide others “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41–42). Fathers are expected to view leadership with the understanding that “he that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all” (D&C 50:26).
The father and the mother serve as co-presiding officers within a family. As Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “Since the beginning, God has instructed mankind that marriage should unite husband and wife together in unity. Therefore, there is not a president or a vice president in a family. The couple works together eternally for the good of the family. They are united together in word, in deed, and in action as they lead, guide, and direct their family unit. They are on equal footing.”31
The final sentences of the seventh paragraph note that “disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.” The number of these circumstances is rising as the demographics of the Church change. In the April 2021 general conference, President M. Russell Ballard noted these changing demographics: “Brothers and sisters, more than half of adults in the Church today are widowed, divorced, or not yet married. Some wonder about their opportunities and place in God’s plan and in the Church. We should understand that eternal life is not simply a question of current marital status but of discipleship and being ‘valiant in the testimony of Jesus.’ The hope of all who are single is the same as for all members of the Lord’s restored Church—access to the grace of Christ through ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’” (Article of Faith 3).32
Good relationships are important not only with our immediate family but also with our extended family members, who can be a crucial source of love and support in difficult times. In addition, the Church is designed to act as an extended family to provide assistance when needed. Any member of the Church is part of this extended family that is always willing to give help.
“We warn 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. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
The eighth paragraph of the family proclamation includes a direct warning to those who “violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities.” These violations of God’s law destroy individuals, harm families, and can even destabilize whole societies. Elder Dale G. Renlund warned against those who flagrantly violate the laws of God, particularly the law of chastity:
No accountability for any choice sounds like the ultimate freedom. If we can avoid most worldly consequences by being discreet and careful, what is the harm? Against this backdrop, the law of chastity seems old-fashioned, prudish, or unnecessary . . . God’s laws are not negotiable. He allows us to disregard them, but we are not free to create our own rules for the eternities any more than a person is free to create his or her personalized laws for physics. God wants us to be a qualified heir in His kingdom. To expect His heavenly inheritance while following a different course than He has outlined is naïve. . . . We are free to choose our own course in life, but we are not free to choose the outcome that comes from following our own rules, no matter how many times someone says we can. Heavenly Father is not to blame when we do not receive blessings connected to the law of chastity because of disobedience.33
The Church also directly condemns physical, sexual, emotional, or any other forms of abuse. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “A husband who would never dream of striking his wife physically can break, if not her bones, then certainly her heart by the brutality of thoughtless or unkind speech. Physical abuse is uniformly and unequivocally condemned in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If it is possible to be more condemning than that, we speak even more vigorously against all forms of sexual abuse. Today, I speak against verbal and emotional abuse of anyone against anyone.”34
Abuse can bring about the “calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets,” and these calamities come in many forms. When the word calamity is invoked, we often think of earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. But the dissolution of a family, the abuse of a child, or the shattering of a home can also be tremendous calamities. If enough families crumble, the societies they live in will crumble as well. The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days was intended to save as many people from calamity as possible. The Savior declared, “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments” (D&C 1:17, emphasis added). According to this statement by the Lord, keeping the commandments can help us avoid calamity.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
The family proclamation ends with a call to action. We are sometimes led to believe that the circumstances surrounding the disintegration of the family are beyond our control. However, though we may not be able to solve every problem, we can make a difference. We can help save our own families by teaching the gospel in our homes and by living it in our lives. We can be responsible citizens in the nations we live in by supporting leaders and laws that help and strengthen families. We can advocate for truth even when it is unpopular among the worldly. We can seek allies from women and men of goodwill and unite with them to defend and promote the family.
There are many challenges facing the disciples of Jesus Christ and their families, and it may grow more difficult to speak out on moral issues, but we have a covenant obligation to defend the truth. President Russell M. Nelson taught, “The day is gone when you can be a quiet and comfortable Christian.”35 Latter-day Saints can have hope that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can find peace in this life and hope for the next life. President Howard W. Hunter offered this assurance and warning: “If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. . . . If our lives are not centered on the Savior and His teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.”36
Two years after the family proclamation was given, Gordon B. Hinckley shared a prophecy in general conference. He said, “I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.”37
1. Henry B. Eyring, “The Family,” CES fireside, November 5, 1995.
2. Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Defenders of the Family Proclamation,” April 2015 General Conference.
3. Susa Young Gates, History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1911, 15–16.
4. W. W. Phelps, “Come to Me,” Times and Seasons, January 15, 1845, 783.
5. Eliza R. Snow, “My Father in Heaven,” Times and Seasons, November 15, 1845, 1039.
6. “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, November 1909, 78.
7. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, November 1991.
8. “Young Women Theme,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org, emphasis added.
9. Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 84; see “Mother in Heaven,” Gospel Topics Essays, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
10. General Handbook, 38.6.23, emphasis in original.
11. Bruce D. Porter, “Defending the Family in a Troubled World,” Ensign, June 2011.
12. David A. Bednar, “Gender is an Essential Characteristic of Eternal Identity and Purpose,” Liahona, October 2008.
13. General Handbook, 38.6.23.
14. General Handbook, 38.6.23.
15. Instruction, 2 April 1843, as Reported by William Clayton, p. 67, JSP.
16. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
17. Neil L. Andersen, “Children,” October 2011 General Conference.\
18. Neil L. Andersen, “Children,” October 2011 General Conference.
19. General Handbook, 188.8.131.52.
20. General Handbook, 38.6.22.
21. General Handbook, 21.4.7.
22. General Handbook, 21.4.1.
23. Russell M. Nelson, “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless,” Liahona, October 2008.
24. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” October 1993 General Conference.
25. D. Todd Christofferson, “Why Marriage, Why Family,” April 2015 General Conference.
26. Dallin H. Oaks, “Truth and the Plan,” October 2018 General Conference.
27. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
28. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org, emphasis added.
29. General Handbook, 2020, 2.1.3.
30. Quentin L. Cook, “LDS Women Are Incredible!,” April 2011 General Conference.
31. L. Tom Perry, “Fatherhood: An Eternal Calling,” April 2004 General Conference.
32. M. Russell Ballard, “Hope in Christ,” April 2021 General Conference.
33. Dale G. Renlund, “The Divine Purpose of Sexual Intimacy,” Ensign, August 2020.
34. Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Tongue of Angels,” April 2007 General Conference.
35. Russell M. Nelson, “Disciples and the Defense of Marriage,” Ensign, August 2015.
36. Howard W. Hunter, “Fear Not, Little Flock,” Brigham Young University devotional, March 14, 1989, 2, speeches.byu.edu.
37. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Look to the Future,” October 1997 General Conference.