Dear Brethren and Sisters:
We counsel the Latter-day Saints to observe more closely the commandment of the Lord given in the 68th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“And again, 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 hands when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents;
“For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized;
“And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of hands,
“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” [see D&C 68:25–28].
The children of Zion should also observe more fully the commandment of the Lord given to ancient Israel and reiterated to the Latter-day Saints: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” [see Ex. 20:12].
These revelations apply with great force to the Latter-day Saints, and it is required of fathers and mothers in this Church that these commandments shall be taught and applied in their homes.
To this end we advise and urge the inauguration of a “home evening” throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord. They may thus learn more fully the needs and requirements of their families, at the same time familiarizing themselves and their children more thoroughly with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This home evening should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture reading, family topics, and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society, and the nation. For the smaller children, appropriate recitations, songs, stories, and games may be introduced. Light refreshments of such a nature as may be largely prepared in the home might be served.
Formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family should participate in the exercises.
These gatherings will furnish opportunities for mutual confidence between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, as well as give opportunity for words of warning, counsel, and advice by parents to their boys and girls. They will provide opportunity for the boys and girls to honor father and mother and to show their appreciation of the blessings of home so that the promise of the Lord to them may be literally fulfilled and their lives be prolonged and made happy.
We request that the presidents of stakes and bishops throughout the Church set aside at least one evening each month for this purpose and that upon such evenings no other Church duties shall be required of the people.
We further request that all the officers of the auxiliary organizations throughout the Church support this movement and encourage the young people to remain at home that evening and use their energies in making it instructive, profitable, and interesting.
If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.
JOSEPH F. SMITH
ANTHON H. LUND
CHARLES W. PENROSE
“We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.
“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.”
The First Presidency: Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust (letter, 11 Feb. 1999; printed in the Ensign, June 1999, 80).
Discuss ways family life in your community has changed in the past 90 years. Invite family members to find the counsel and the promise in this article. Explain why this message is even more important today than it was in 1915.
As husband and wife or whole family, read and discuss the counsel on pages 7–19 of this magazine. List ways you want to improve your weekly family meetings. Hold a family council using ideas from Elder and Sister Ballard (pp. 14–19).
Ask family members to complete the sentence “A family council is …” Study Elder and Sister Ballard’s counsel, looking for ways to finish this sentence.