Strengthening the Family: What Is a Family?

We were all nurtured in the family of our heavenly parents before we came to earth. We came into the world as children of a mortal family.

Our Father gave us the opportunity to build families here on earth according to His plan of happiness (see Alma 42:8). We know what that plan is. The plan has been taught to us in the scriptures and by latter-day prophets. It has been reaffirmed in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued by men called of God as prophets, seers, and revelators.

This proclamation makes it plain that a family is formed when a man and a woman marry. When sealed in a temple of the Lord, this family unit has the potential to be eternal—to endure beyond mortal life. Because of these temple ordinances, children added to this family are sealed to their parents forever.

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” explains that our gender is a part of our eternal identity and that gender is important to the family roles we play in mortal life and in eternity. The proclamation also explains that by divine design husband and wife have different but equally important roles in the family, even though their eternal objectives for the family are the same. It is a primary responsibility of the father to be the provider for the family. A mother’s primary role is to be the nurturer of the children. Working together, a man and a woman complement each other.

Sometimes circumstances make it difficult or impossible for some to live according to this heavenly pattern. When that happens, our Father will honor and bless their efforts to live by the principles involved in building eternal families. If they are parents, He will strengthen them in their righteous efforts to build everlasting ties with their children. If they have not had the opportunity to marry, He will bless them, as they live His teachings in faith, with the abundant blessings that can come to righteous individuals. Everyone can look forward to and prepare for the day when he or she may be part of an eternal companionship with a family of his or her own.

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” identifies building blocks that form the foundation of eternal families: “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

In a world that more and more does not recognize the divine design in family life, it is increasingly important for beloved spirit sons and daughters of God to be true to their eternal destiny by following the principles set forth in the proclamation. To help them do this, the Liahona and Ensign will print in coming months a series of articles based on principles from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The proclamation can be found in its entirety on the page facing this article.

Introducing the Family Proclamation

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“The world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken. …

“… With so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, before reading “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” in “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 99–100.