The Proclamation on the Family: Transcending the Cultural Confusion

Permanent commitments to marriage and parenthood are anchor threads of society.
—Elder Bruce C. Hafen
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The Proclamation

  • In June 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We have wonderful people, but we have too many whose families are falling apart. … I think [this] is my most serious concern.”
  • Three months later President Hinckley presented “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
  • The importance of this serious prophetic warning is ever more obvious today as conditions have worsened.
  • We will explore what this means for each of us, but we will first consider how culture ended up where it is today.

Universal Love Story

  • The universal love story began with Adam and Eve and is central to the plan of happiness.
  • The joys of human love and family belonging give us hope, purpose, and a desire to live better.
  • They make us long for the day when we will take the hands that have held ours and enter the Lord’s presence.
  • Permanent commitments to marriage and parenthood are like two anchor threads running through the design of our social tapestry.

A Culture Shift

  • Advocates began using potent individual-liberation ideas to challenge laws that had supported the interests of children and society in stable family structures.
  • Legal changes accelerated a larger cultural drift that no longer saw marriage as a relatively permanent social institution.
  • Marriage began to be interpreted as a temporary, private relationship without considering how divorce damaged children or society.
  • The personal autonomy theory of the first U.S. pro-same-sex marriage case in 2001 simply extended the same individualistic legal concept that had created no-fault divorce.
  • When people see man-woman marriage as just a matter of personal preference rather than as society’s key social institution, then many would now say that individuals should be free to marry as they choose.
  • This is the result of losing track of society’s interest in marriage and children.
  • God expects us to treat others with compassion and tolerance but not to endorse or promote conduct by altering a legal concept—marriage.
  • Marriage’s historical purpose was to promote society’s interest in having biological parents rear their own children in stable homes.

Effects on Marriage and Children

  • As divorce rates, births to unmarried parents, and single-parent households have increased, children affected are three times more likely to have serious behavioral, emotional, and developmental problems than children in two-parent families.
  • When children are dysfunctional, society becomes dysfunctional.

Turning Our Hearts

  • One tattered golden thread in the unraveling social tapestry reflects the heart of the problem: the children.
  • The child-parent tie matters so much that God sent Elijah in 1830 to “turn the hearts” of the fathers and the children toward each other (Malachi 4:6; D&C 110:15).
  • In today’s world those hearts seem to turning away from each other.
  • If we could care more about our children and their future, people would marry before having children and sacrifice much more to stay married.
  • Children would be raised, whenever possible, by their biological parents.
  • Ideally, there would be no elective abortions or unwed births, but of course some exceptions are needed.
  • “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
  • Building a good marriage is not easy—it is not supposed to be.
  • The gospel’s eternal perspective, as taught in the scriptures and the temple, can help us transcend the modern marital chaos until our marriages are the most satisfying, sanctifying, yet demanding experiences of our lives.

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