What’s Family Home Evening for, Anyway?

Christine and Steve, an active Latter-day Saint couple, were not holding family home evening with their children. Christine felt she could not do it alone, and Steve felt that with all the teaching his children were getting in church they did not need it. Finally, however, because of promptings from leaders, Steve announced to his family that beginning Monday they were having family home evening.

From the manual he chose a family home evening lesson that looked easy. He began by having the family members open their Bibles to Matthew 22. He then asked Lisa to read verses 36 through 39. [Matt. 22:36–39] (Lisa and Greg were the young teenagers of the family.)

Lisa found the place. “Oh, no,” she moaned, “How boring!” I know these verses by heart.” She began to chant them in a singsong way.

“Don’t think you’re so smart,” chided Greg. “I know them too.” He chanted with her. As they reached the last sentence: “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” each was trying to speak louder than the other.

Lisa said to Greg, “Why can’t you be still? Daddy didn’t ask you; he asked me.” They continued throughout the discussion to take verbal jabs at each other. The home evening was neither a successful nor a happy experience.

When Christine and Steve were alone, he said, “You see, our children don’t need home evening; they have already learned the principles of the gospel.”

The next evening, Christine said to her husband, “I called Sybil Blake today. She and Mark are really enthusiastic about their family home evenings, and their children are about the same ages as ours. Recently they used the same home evening lesson we used, and some of their children also knew those Bible verses by heart. The reason they chose that lesson was because they were noticing some bickering among their children and they wanted to do something to encourage their children to show more love to each other.

“In their discussion, each one in their family, including Sybil and Mark, recalled a time when his or her behavior showed a lack of love. Then each role-played how he would have acted had he been showing love. They concluded that each of them could live Christ’s law of love more perfectly, and each worked out some specific changes he or she was going to make. She says that since then they have all tried harder, and the results have been rewarding.”

Steve had been listening thoughtfully. “I understand what you’re saying,” he said. “We don’t judge our need for home evening by how well we know the gospel, but by how well we live it in our home. Christine, let’s have that same family home evening lesson next Monday. You help me prepare it. Both Lisa and Greg certainly showed last night how much they need it, too.”

“You’re right,” agreed Christine, then added with a smile, “and I can think of times when you and I have shown we need it, too.”

The experience of Steve and Christine reveals a common problem. Latter-day Saints know the laws of God in a general way. But family members need to apply those laws in such a way that home becomes a haven of love and happiness. That is what family home evening is for.

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker