“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.1
The family, the most fundamental institution of society, is under attack from all sides. Adultery, divorce, cohabitation, child and spouse abuse, homosexuality, abortion, teen pregnancies, pornography, disobedient children, economic struggles, an increasing unwillingness among married couples to bear and rear children—all these and more are proof that the adversary understands very well the central role the family plays in the destiny of God’s children.
“Because of the importance of the family to the eternal plan of happiness,” said Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Satan makes a major effort to destroy the sanctity of the family, demean the importance of the role of men and women, encourage moral uncleanliness and violations of the sacred law of chastity, and to discourage parents from placing the bearing and rearing of children as one of their highest priorities.”2
Even in such circumstances, we need not fear. God is with us. In the end good will conquer evil. In the here and now, however, we must take our place on the front line in this war that began in the premortal world and do all we can to preserve and protect the sanctity of the family.
The first thing we can and must do is prepare ourselves and our children for the temple ordinances that seal families together eternally. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “From the moment of birth into mortality to the time we are married in the temple, everything we have in the whole gospel system is to prepare and qualify us to enter that holy order of matrimony which makes us husband and wife in this life and in the world to come. … There is nothing in this world as important as the creation and perfection of family units.”3
Temple marriage is the beginning of a new entity that can endure forever—an eternal family. It is therefore most important that husband and wife keep the covenants they make in the house of the Lord. President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: “Marriage according to the law of the Church is the most holy and sacred ordinance. It will bring to the husband and the wife, if they abide in their covenants, the fulness of exaltation in the kingdom of God.”4
“The fulness of eternal salvation is a family affair,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The gospel plan originated in the council of an eternal family, it is implemented through our earthly families, and has its destiny in our eternal families.”5
“Birth into a family was the way God chose to send His spirit children to earth. Marriage and family relationships are the central means He has prepared to achieve His purposes. We learn the lessons of life, not in an Edenic garden, but in a context where we face challenge, opposition, hardship, and temptation (see 2 Ne. 2:11).”6 Thus, we should not fear the troubles of our day but should view them as an environment in which faith can be strengthened and obedience refined. As Elder Joe J. Christensen, former member of the Presidency of the Seventy, observed, “How many truly great individuals do you know who never had to struggle?”7
The family is the primary support structure in God’s plan to help us resist evil, overcome weakness, and work out our salvation. For this reason we should do all we can to strengthen the family in these days of confusion and opposition.
As Satan and his emissaries work to tear down the family, many people are losing sight of the joys and blessings a strong and loving family can offer. In this gathering gloom, the teachings and ordinances of the restored gospel shine as a unique beacon of hope. As we build our families upon the gospel’s firm foundation, our light will shine brighter and attract those who are seeking hope and happiness in a deteriorating world that offers neither.