On September 23, 1995, in a general Relief Society meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley introduced “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This proclamation from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declares to the world the Lord’s standards and doctrines concerning the family. The proclamation also provides counsel for strengthening families and a warning about the consequences of the disintegration of families.
Note: Make sure each student has a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This document can be found on page 129 of the November 2010 issue of the Ensign or Liahona, in the Duty to God and Personal Progress booklets, in True to the Faith under “Family,” and on LDS.org. You can also find a copy of the family proclamation in the appendix of this manual.
Before class, list the following words and phrases on the board:
Begin class by asking the following questions:
By the raise of hands, how many of you have had questions or know someone who has had questions related to one or more of the issues on the board?
Where can we find the Lord’s instructions on these topics?
Distribute copies of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” to students. (You may want to invite students to number the paragraphs in the proclamation so they can follow along easily when you refer to different paragraphs.) Explain that President Gordon B. Hinckley announced this proclamation on September 23, 1995, in a general Relief Society meeting. Just before President Hinckley read it, he stated some of the reasons why the world needs the truths it contains. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Hinckley. Ask the class to listen for reasons why the world needs this proclamation.
“With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, 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” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 100).
Why was this proclamation issued to the Church and the world?
Explain that when we study “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” we can receive answers to many questions regarding the family. To help students identify doctrines that will help them more clearly understand the subjects listed on the board, invite five students to take turns reading aloud from paragraphs 1–5 of the proclamation. Ask the class to follow along and look for doctrines that relate to the topics on the board. Stop after each paragraph to allow students to report what they have found. Invite students to mark the doctrines they find on their copies of the family proclamation.
As students report, invite them to write on the board the doctrines they identify. Students might identify and write the following doctrines:
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God [paragraph 1].
The family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan [paragraph 1].
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose [paragraph 2].
The plan of happiness enables family relationships to continue after death [paragraph 3].
God’s commandment for husbands and wives to have children remains in force today [paragraph 4].
God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are legally married [paragraph 4].
The creation of mortal life is a sacred and important part of Heavenly Father’s plan [paragraphs 3 and 5].
As students report each doctrine they have identified, use one or more of the follow-up questions below to help them understand the doctrine better.
How does this doctrine relate to the topics listed on the board?
Why do you think it is important to understand this doctrine?
How can understanding and believing this doctrine influence the decisions you make?
If students do not mention any of the doctrines listed above, help students locate and discuss them.
Invite students to think about what they would like their future families to be like.
What types of activities, characteristics, attitudes, and beliefs do you think will bring happiness to your future family?
Divide students into small groups. Invite each group to read paragraphs 6–7 of the family proclamation aloud together. Invite them to look for things that can help them achieve happiness in their families. After sufficient time, ask the following questions to the whole class:
How is happiness in families most likely to be achieved? (Students should identify the following principle: Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may want to suggest that students mark this principle in their copies of the family proclamation.)
According to paragraphs 6 and 7, what are some principles that help families find happiness? (Consider inviting a student to write students’ responses on the board.)
Invite students to discuss the following questions together in their small groups. Provide each group with a copy of the questions, or write the questions on the board.
Note: Because of the sensitive and individual nature of family relationships, do not invite students to discuss the following activity aloud. Instead, encourage students to reflect on these teachings individually and ponder how they can improve.
After the groups have had time to discuss the questions, ask students to ponder which of these teachings they live in their families and how doing so has added to their families’ happiness. Invite students to consider which of the teachings in the proclamation they could live better in an effort to bring greater happiness to themselves and their families. You might invite students to write down a goal of how they plan to better live these teachings in their families.
As time permits, choose two or more of the following questions to discuss as a class:
According to the last half of paragraph 7, what are the responsibilities of fathers? In what ways have you seen your father or other fathers fulfill these responsibilities?
According to the last half of paragraph 7, what is the primary responsibility of mothers? In what ways have you seen your mother or other mothers fulfill this role?
What does it mean that these responsibilities are given “by divine design”? (They were established by our Heavenly Father.) Why do you think this is important to understand?
Which phrases in paragraph 7 help us understand how fathers and mothers are to help each other? (Students should identify the following principle: Fathers and mothers are obligated to help each other as equal partners in their family responsibilities.)
Why do you think it is important for mothers and fathers to understand that they are equal partners?
Invite students to share how they have seen mothers and fathers work together as equal partners.
As students discuss the need for fathers and mothers to support one another, you may want to direct their attention to the following sentence near the end of paragraph 7: “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.” Assure students that the Lord is aware of these circumstances and that He blesses parents and families as they strive to fulfill their obligations.
According to the final sentence of paragraph 7, who else can assist mothers and fathers in their responsibilities? (Extended family members. You might point out that children may also help their parents.)
Explain that every family has its own difficulties but that every family can live the teachings of Jesus Christ and find happiness.
Invite a student to read aloud paragraphs 8 and 9 of the family proclamation. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen if we do not fulfill our responsibilities in our families.
What will happen if we neglect our family responsibilities? (Students should express that the Lord will hold us accountable if we do not fulfill our responsibilities in our families. They may also point out that the disintegration of the family will lead to calamities.)
What responsibilities do you think children have in the family?
Invite students to ponder how they are fulfilling their responsibilities in their families. If you invited them to record a goal to better live a teaching from the family proclamation in their families, encourage them to seek the Lord’s help as they seek to accomplish their goals.
Conclude by asking a few students to share their testimonies of any of the truths taught in this lesson. You may also want to share your testimony of the doctrines and principles in the family proclamation.