Homes Can Be Holy Places of Gospel Learning
Contributed By Carole M. Stephens, Relief Society general presidency
- Parents are the prime gospel teachers for teaching children the gospel.
- Homes become holy places when individuals and families take responsibility for gospel learning.
- We are all learners and teachers.
“Teaching and learning are eternal principles. We are all learners and we are all teachers.” —Carole M. Stephens, Relief Society general presidency
Our family recently enjoyed a memorable vacation to the eastern United States. The journey began in New York City with its bright lights, baseball, and theaters. After a quick stop in Niagara Falls, we set our sights on Church history.
After visiting Harmony, Palmyra, and Kirtland we gathered together for one last family meeting before departing for home. Everyone was invited to share a memorable experience. After several family members had shared, five-year-old Maggie said, “My favorite place was the Sacred Grove.”
I asked her if she would like to tell us why. She was quiet for a moment. We could tell by her expression that she was deep in thought. Her sweet mom recognized that she was struggling and encouraged her, saying, “Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words, isn’t it?” Maggie replied, “Yes, it is, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just something I felt there.”
A sweet spirit filled the room and penetrated our hearts. I was filled with gratitude as a scripture entered my mind: “Having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught” (1 Nephi 1:1).
Teaching and learning are eternal principles. We are all learners and we are all teachers. For instance, we learn in the scriptures and from the words of prophets that we received our first lessons in the world of spirits. President Henry B. Eyring taught: “You were tutored by Him before you came into this life. You learned that our Father had a plan of happiness. … This plan is marked by covenants with [Him]. You learned that the way back home to Him would not be easy” (Henry B. Eyring, “Daughters in the Covenant,” Ensign, May 2014). Knowing that the journey back to our heavenly home would not be easy, our Father’s plan provided for us to be born into families where we would continue the process of learning and teaching.
In the most recent general conference, Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, taught, “When all is said and done, the home is the ideal forum for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ” (“Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children,” Ensign, Nov. 2014).
In the Bible Dictionary we learn, “A temple is literally a house of the Lord. … A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.” Our homes can become holy places where seeds of testimony are first planted in the heart of the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our homes provide safe places to continue to nurture the feelings Maggie experienced, “these swelling motions” of the “good seed” (Alma 32:28) that had found place in her heart. Our homes become more holy throughout our lives as we continue to create opportunities to feel and be taught by the Spirit.
Our homes become holy places when we as individuals and families take responsibility for our own gospel learning.
As righteous parents earnestly embrace their roles as spiritual leaders in their homes and set the example, our homes and families will be strengthened as we set aside the things of the world and prioritize time to “seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10), giving highest priority to prayer, family home evening, and gospel study; learning to live the gospel in our home; and daily interactions with others.
It was Enos who said, “The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart” (Enos 1:3). There is no question who Enos’s prime gospel teacher was.
And the 2,060 “very young” stripling sons of Helaman “had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” (Alma 56:46–47). And they affirmed, “We did not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48).
These righteous parents understood an important pattern taught by the Savior in 3 Nephi 17, when He taught, “I perceive that … ye cannot understand all my words. … Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds … , and I come unto you again” (3 Nephi 17:2–3).
Gospel learning begins in the home and is reinforced at Church as we prepare spiritually with ears to hear and hearts to understand and feel the Spirit and we participate in the learning and teaching.
We are all learners and we are all teachers. Maggie was the teacher that day.
Though she couldn’t explain it, with her childlike faith she powerfully taught us what it looks like to have the courage to trust the feelings the Spirit plants in the hearts of diligent learners.
And the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1–3).