Using the 1995 Proclomation on the Family as a catalyst, the August and September 2015 Ensign magazines featured more than half a dozen articles related to youth and family. Here are some of the key quotes culled from those issues.
President Thomas S. Monson: “Stand as a Light” (pp. 4-5)
“I plead with parents and leaders of our youth to help them stand firm for truth and righteousness. Help open wide to their view the gates of learning, of understanding, and of service in the kingdom of God. Build within them strength to resist the temptations of the world. Give them the will to walk in virtue and faith, to be prayerful, and to look to heaven as their constant anchor.”
“To our youth, I say, our Heavenly Father loves you. May you feel also the love which Church leaders have for you. May you ever have a desire to serve your Heavenly Father and His Son. And may you always walk in truth and stand as a light among God’s children.”
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Russell M. Nelson: “Disciples and the Defense of Marriage” (pp. 34-39).
“Disciples of the Lord are defenders of traditional marriage. We cannot yield. History is not our judge. A secular society is not our judge. God is our judge!”
“The greatest guardians of all virtues ae marriage and family. This is particularly the case with the virtues of chastity and fidelity, both of which are required to create enduring and fully rewarding marriage partnerships and family relationships.”
“Male and female are created for what they can do and become—together. It takes a man and a woman to bring a child into the world. Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. Men and women are distinct and complementary. Children deserve a chance to grow up with both a mom and a dad.”
“You will likely encounter increasing debate about the definition of marriage. Many of your neighbors, colleagues, and friends will have never heard logical and inspired truths about the importance of marriage as God Himself defined it. You will have many opportunities to strengthen understanding of the Lord’s side of that argument by the eloquence of your examples, both as individuals and as families.”
“The Apostle Paul foresaw our circumstances when he said: ‘In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, . . . despisers of those that are good, . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.’ Then he concluded: ‘From such turn away’ (2 Timothy 3:1-5).”
“The future of marriage and of countless human lives will be determined by your willingness to bear solemn witness of the Lord and live according to His gospel.”
“God is the Father of all men and women. They are His children. It was He who ordained marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Marriage was not created by human judges or legislators. It was not created by think tanks or by popular vote or by oft-quoted bloggers or pundits. It was not created by lobbyists. Marriage was created by God!”
“True intimacy, as planned by our Creator, is experienced only within the sacred union of a husband and wife because it is enriched by truth and ennobled by the honoring of covenants a husband and a wife make with each other and with God.”
“Social and political pressures to change marriage laws have resulted in practices contrary to God’s will regarding the eternal nature and purposes of marriage. Man simply cannot make moral what God has declared to be immoral. Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God.”
“Proclaim your love for all human beings, “with malice toward none, with charity for all.’ They as children of God are our brothers and sisters. We value their rights and feelings. But we cannot condone efforts to change divine doctrine. It is not for man to change.”
“God loves His children. And if they love Him, they will show that love by keeping His commandments (see John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2; D&C 46:9; 124:87), including chastity before marriage and total fidelity within marriage.”
“The burden of discipleship is heavy. As disciples of the Lord, you will stand as defenders of marriage. And as you are true and faithful, not only will He help you and protect you (see D&C 84:88), but also He will bless your families (see Isaiah 49:25; D&C 98:37).”
Jan Pinborough (Church Magazines): “Lighting our Children’s Path with Gospel Standards” (pp. 42-46)
“Today’s children are taking their earthly journey when every day the world is becoming a little less filtered, a little cruder and more contentious. Morally, it’s a very murky time in the world’s history. And many are losing their way. So parents need to be armed with a spiritual equivalent of the camp leader’s flashlight—the standards and teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel standards give children safety, security, and direction. They help them find their way to the temple.”
“We can only share a light that we already have. Our children watch us with unblinking eyes, and they know when our commitment to gospel standards is genuine.”
“Gospel standards bless, empower, and protect children, now and throughout their lives, and the best time to begin teaching them is early on, when our children are eager to learn from us and less susceptible to peer pressure.”
“Cara Kennedy of Indiana, USA, hung a ‘My Gospel Standards’ poster at eye level in her home so her children would see it often and learn the standards from a young age. Eventually she wrote a song about the standards, which includes the words, “When people say, ‘Why do you do this?’ When people say, ‘Why don’t you do that?’ I stand up tall and simply say, ‘These are my gospel standards!’” Some of Sister Kennedy’s nieces and nephews have also learned the song, and when they sing it, they shout that last line and throw their fists in the air!”
Emeritus Seventy Bruce C. Hafen, “The Proclamation on the Family: Transcending the Cultural Confusion” (pp. 50-55)
“What are your greatest concerns?” a newspaper reporter asked President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) in June 1995, as he turned 85. He replied: “I am concerned about family life in the Church. We have wonderful people, but we have too many whose families are falling apart. … I think [this] is my most serious concern.” Three months later President Hinckley publicly read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It was no coincidence that this solemn declaration was issued precisely when the Lord’s prophet felt that, of all the subjects on his mind, unstable family life in the Church was his greatest concern. Later he added that the greatest challenge facing both America and the rest of world “is the problem of the family, brought on by misguided parents and resulting in misguided children.”
“For many years society generally supported this inborn longing to belong. Of course, families had problems, but most people still believed that “tying the knot” of marriage created a relatively permanent family unit. And those knots held the fabric of society together, with “hearts knit together in unity and in love” (Mosiah 18:21). In recent generations, however, the fabric has increasingly frayed as we have experienced what some writers call “the collapse of marriage.” Many people outside the Church no longer see marriage as a source of long-term commitments. Rather, they now see marriage and even childbearing as temporary personal options. Yet permanent commitments to marriage and parenthood are like two anchor threads running through the design of our social tapestry. When those threads fray, the tapestry can unravel and we can lose the plot of the universal love story.”
“Historically, laws maintained a workable balance between social interests and individual interests because each element plays an important role in a healthy society. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. courts began to interpret family laws in ways that gave individual interests a much higher priority than social interests, which knocked the legal and social system off balance. This change was but one part of the transformation of American family law—the biggest cultural shift in attitudes about marriage and family life in 500 years.”
These legal changes accelerated a larger cultural drift that no longer saw marriage as a relatively permanent social institution but rather as a temporary, private relationship, terminable at will—without seriously considering how divorce damaged children, let alone how it damaged society. Before long, judges’ doubts about society’s right to enforce wedding vows gave married couples the false impression that their personal promises held no great social or moral value. So now, when marriage commitments intrude on personal preferences, people are more likely to walk away. They see marriage as a “nonbinding commitment,” whatever that contradiction means.
“Reflecting these new attitudes, courts expanded the parental rights of unwed fathers and began to give child custody and adoption rights to unmarried individuals. This uprooted the long-established preference that family law had given, whenever possible, to the married, two-parent biological family. Both experience and the social science research had clearly shown—and still show—that a family headed by married, biological parents almost always provides the best child-rearing environment. But over time, the unwed-parent cases contributed to, and were influenced by, skyrocketing rates of unmarried cohabitation and births outside marriage.”
“Talking about no-fault divorce leads logically to a brief comment about same-sex marriage. This has become a difficult and poignant topic, even though only 17 years ago, no country in the world had legally recognized same-sex marriage.”
“…when people see man-woman marriage as just a matter of personal preference rather than as society’s key social institution, it’s little wonder that many would now say of same-sex marriage that individuals should be free to marry as they choose. That’s what can happen when we lose track of society’s interest in marriage and children. Clearly God loves all of His children and expects us to treat one another with compassion and tolerance—regardless of private conduct we may or may not understand. But it is a very different matter to endorse or promote that conduct by altering a legal concept—marriage—whose historic purpose was to promote society’s interest in having biological parents rear their own children in stable homes.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court relied on the personal autonomy theory, among other legal theories, when it ruled on June 26, 2015, that state laws may not “bar same-sex couples from marriage.” Thus same-sex marriage is now legal in every U.S. state. Significantly, however, the court’s majority opinion also “emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”
“One tattered golden thread in the unraveling social tapestry reflects the heart of the problem: the children—bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh. Something true, even holy, about posterity—children and procreation and eternal bonds of affection—resonates deeply within the mystic chords of our collective memory.”
“The child-parent tie matters so much that God sent Elijah in 1836 to “turn the hearts” of the fathers and the children toward each other. If those hearts do not so turn, He said, “the whole earth [will] be smitten with a curse” and “utterly wasted” before Christ returns (D&C 110:15; Joseph Smith—History 1:39; see also Malachi 4:6). In today’s world, those hearts do appear to be turning—but away from, rather than toward, each other.”
“Nonetheless, the children of divorced or unwed parents have about three times as many serious behavioral, emotional, and developmental problems as children in two-parent families. By every measure of child well-being, these children are far worse off. And when children are dysfunctional, society becomes dysfunctional. Here are some examples of that dysfunction, acknowledging that some elements in such general trends may have multiple causes.”
Seventy Allan F. Packer, “Heavenly Father’s Fixed Standards” (pp. 68-71)
“God’s standards are fixed, and no one can change them. Individuals who think they can will be greatly surprised in the Final Judgment.”
“Standards for salvation are called commandments, which are given by our Father in Heaven. These standards apply to all parts of our lives and at all times. They are not selectively applied at a certain time or in a certain situation. The commandments define the tolerances required to qualify for exaltation.”
“God has established what we must do and the standards we must meet. Something quite remarkable is that He gives us the moral agency to decide whether to accept and meet those standards. However, there are consequences to our decisions. He gave us agency, but He does not give us the authority to change the standards or the consequences of our decisions.”
“There are those in the world today who are striving to dismiss or change the standards established by God. This is not a new phenomenon.”
“We must not be deceived or give heed to those who would attempt to convince us that God’s standards have changed. They have no authority to change the standards. Only the designer, Heavenly Father, can change the specifications.”
“God has promised that He will help us as we strive to meet His standards. Just as we wouldn’t willingly fly in an airplane made with substandard parts, we shouldn’t accept or practice substandard behavior. Only by knowing, understanding, and living the doctrine of Christ can we qualify for exaltation.”
Apostle M. Russell Ballard, “The Lord Needs you NOW!” (pp. 26-31)
I want you to understand the position of the Church on marriage as given us by our Heavenly Father through the scriptures and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” That inspired document states: “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.”
I quote from a statement issued to Church leaders in 2014 and ask you to read carefully: “Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We urge you to review and teach Church members the doctrine contained in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World.’”
I also know that some of our youth struggle to understand how to explain the doctrine surrounding family and marriage and still remain kind, gentle, and loving toward those who do not agree. You may be afraid that you will be labeled as a bigot and as being intolerant. You may know someone who struggles with same-sex attraction or has made a decision to live in a same-sex relationship. Your love for that person as a son or daughter of God can create an inward struggle as you try to love and support him or her and still stand for the Lord’s eternal plan of happiness.
Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that “the experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including [those with same-sex attraction].”
The Church does not teach or advocate shunning or other unchristianlike actions. We must love and strive to help others to understand that no one should ignore or discount the commandments of God.
I know some of you worry about being misjudged, ridiculed, and even harassed if you stand up for Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church. I understand your concerns.
Lori Cluff Schade, “Blessing our Children by Improving our Marriages” (pp. 34-39)
Research on marital quality and children suggests that a high-quality marriage promotes a sense of emotional security, enhancing children’s general well-being. In my clinical practice, I am a witness to the reality that children are deeply affected by parents’ marital quality.
have a conviction that Heavenly Father wants us to have excellent marriages of the highest quality and that He will guide us in our efforts to improve those relationships for the benefit of our families. Happy marriages supply profound blessings for us and for our children.
Emeritus Bruce C. Hafen, “The Temple and the Natural Order of Marriage” (pp. 40-45)
“When a confused culture confuses us about what marriage means, we may give up on ourselves and each other much too soon. But there is hope. The temple’s eternal pattern can help us overcome the modern chaos.”
“Thus, the temple has the power to etch God’s natural laws of marriage and family life into our hearts.”