The Doctrinal Importance of Marriage and Children

Russell M. Nelson

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


Russell M. Nelson

Dear brothers and sisters, we thank you for your faith and devotion in the work of the Lord. We are very grateful for each of you.

In the Church, we stress the significance of marriage, children, and the family because we know the doctrine. And we, as leaders of the Church, know that the adversary incessantly aims attacks at the family. In the past 50 years the birth rate has dropped in nearly every nation of the world. Marriages are being postponed until later in life, and families are getting smaller, even in the Church.

Our task to defend the family is not an easy one. Trends in the world diminish the significance of the family. Sadly, the sacred powers of procreation are desecrated by many people. And the divinely designed nature of marital intimacy is tarnished by the addictive, pernicious, and poisonous plague of pornography.

In reality, we are raising our children in enemy-occupied territory. The homes of our members must become the primary sanctuaries of our faith, where each can be safe from the sins of the world.

Our Master depends upon us to live according to His truth. Please teach our members that marriage is ordained of God. It is doctrinally based and eternally significant. The Lord has taught:

“From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

“And they twain shall be one flesh” (Mark 10:6–8).

Three times in sacred scripture the warning is made that “the whole earth would be utterly wasted” at the Lord’s return if certain conditions were not in place (see D&C 2:3; 138:48; Joseph Smith—History 1:39). In each instance, that warning relates to the condition of the human family without the sealing ordinances of the temple. Without these ordinances of exaltation, the purposes of creation would not be realized.

The work and glory of God—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man—comprise the foundation on which we stand as leaders in the Church. In 1995 the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles issued our historic statement “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” In addition, two of our previous worldwide leadership broadcasts pertained to the family: February 2006, Supporting the Family; and February 2008, Building Up a Righteous Posterity. Last year, we issued Handbook 2: Administering the Church. As you know, the first chapter of that handbook teaches of the sacred nature of the family. Please use these excellent resources as you teach and counsel our members.

Teach that family relationships start with the love of a husband for his wife, and of a wife for her husband. Marriage brings two very different and imperfect people together. Husbands and wives deal with their imperfections best with patience and a sense of humor. Each should stand ready to say, “I’m sorry! Please forgive me.” And each should be a peacemaker.

Each personal imperfection is an opportunity to change—to repent. Repentance, at any age, provides needed progress. It leads to a mighty change of heart, which leads to a love of God and your neighbor, especially that neighbor to whom you are married. Repentance includes forgiveness, and forgiveness is a commandment. The Lord said, “I … will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10). When repentance is complete, you even forgive yourself.

Differences of opinion occur between husband and wife. But one’s objective in marriage is never to win an argument, but to build an eternal relationship of love.

Marriage is sanctified by family prayer morning and night and daily scripture study. Marriage is stabilized by careful financial planning, avoiding debt, and living within a budget with willing obedience to the Lord’s law of tithing. Marriage is energized by making prime time together. Marriage is protected by an absolute commitment to make it successful.

Remind each married bearer of the priesthood that his highest duty is to care for his wife. She enables him to qualify for his greatest blessings. And when the children leave the nest, a husband and his wife will have each other in what can be a wonderful and exciting phase of life together.

Teach that parenting is a joint venture. The father exercises his leadership with light and love, never in any degree of unrighteousness. The mother provides the intuition, the inspiration, and the nurture that come from her so naturally.

Together they obey the Lord’s commandment to teach the gospel to their children. Jesus wants children to come unto Him, “for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Parents are responsible for that teaching, with assistance from the Church. Helpful instruction on the relative roles of family and Church is found in Handbook 2, section 1.4.

Brothers and sisters, I am very grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides light to guide us in this world darkened by immorality, iniquity, and infidelity. It teaches us to love all of God’s children, some of whom struggle with gender issues or other conditions that may not be fully understood. We need to help and encourage them and their family members without, of course, condoning sinful behavior.

Jesus knew the will of His Eternal Father, who declared, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The Atonement of Jesus Christ enabled both of His objectives to be realized. Thanks to the Atonement, immortality became a reality for all who would ever live. Thanks to the Atonement, eternal life—life with our Heavenly Father—became possible for all who would qualify. To qualify, one develops faith, repents, is baptized, receives the Holy Ghost, and endures to the end. That end includes the endowment of the temple and its sealing ordinances. The Lord so taught His prophet:

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it” (D&C 131:1–3).

God’s plan of happiness is perfect. As we teach it in our homes, quorums, councils, and classes, we bless all with love, hope, peace, and joy, here and hereafter. I so declare, along with my declaration of love and appreciation for you.

Now we will have the privilege of being taught by President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We will be blessed by his instruction.

God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church, led today by President Thomas S. Monson. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.