Traditions of the Fathers

Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 34–38


Doctrinal Overview

The family that we are born into or grow up in is where we learn the “traditions of our fathers” (Enos 1:14; see Proverbs 22:6). Traditions are knowledge, customs, practices, and beliefs handed down from generation to generation. Fathers means male and female ancestors on both the mother’s and father’s lines.

Some children are fortunate to have righteous parents who teach them good family traditions. Nephi begins his record, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents …” (1 Nephi 1:1). Enos starts his book in a similar way: “I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it …” (Enos:1:1).

Other children are not as fortunate. Doctrine and Covenants 93:39–40 explains how poor traditions can lead children toward unrighteousness: “And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”

Principle

Parents have the responsibility to establish traditions founded in light and truth and then pass them on to their children.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Traditions of the Fathers” (337–38)

“The Tradition of Their Fathers,” Elder Marion D. Hanks (339–41)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Family history assignment. Discuss the definition of tradition given by Elder Marion D. Hanks in the student manual (337, 339). Refer students to the written assignment on family history that they were asked to complete for today’s class (see p. 18 in this manual). Have the class share their findings from part 1 about events in their ancestors’ lives that can influence their own marriage. (Typical events might include joining the Church, moving to a new country or city, breaking out of poverty, getting an education, going on a mission, being the first to marry in the temple.) Discuss how knowing about these events might affect their marriages.

Next have a few students share from part 2 of the assignment what they learned about similarities between themselves and their parents or grandparents. Briefly discuss the idea of “family traits,” and point out that marriage partners may need to make adjustments as they begin their own family.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Discuss the scriptures in “Examples of False Traditions” (student manual, 337). Where might we find similar things happening today?

Review the scriptures and counsel in “Overcoming False Traditions” (338). How can we ensure that we will pass on a heritage of light and truth? Review Elder Boyd K. Packer’s counsel about overcoming a cycle of abuse or neglect. What did Elder Packer say victims of abuse should do?

Note: To be prepared for questions about abuse, review Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk, “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse” (student manual, 5). Lesson 17, Respecting Your Spouse, covers the subject of abuse in detail.

Handout 5. Distribute handout 5, “Family Traditions,” found at the end of this lesson (pp. 37–38). Ask students to individually add to the list of traditions in the first column of each chart. Then have them fill in the husband’s and wife’s family traditions as much as they are able.

Divide the class into groups of two or three (try to get a male-female mix) and ask them to compare their lists of family traditions. Explain that the traditions a husband and wife bring to a marriage may or may not be compatible. Have each group:

  • Identify cases where the husband’s and wife’s traditions are compatible and those that may cause conflict.

  • Consider the traditions in light of their knowledge of the plan of salvation.

  • Suggest righteous traditions the couple might want to establish or carry forward.

After about ten minutes ask a few of the groups to share what they learned from the exercise. Encourage engaged and married couples to fill in the rest of their charts together.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Ask: What do you think is the most frequently quoted scripture on marriage? Have students look up Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31; Moses 3:24; and Abraham 5:18. Read Genesis 2:24 together.

  • What does it mean to leave your father and mother? (Among other things, it means couples are faced with establishing new traditions.)

  • How can couples resolve differences or conflicts?

  • What does it mean to “honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12; see 1 Nephi 17:55).

  • Does this commandment end when we marry?

Read and discuss several of the scriptures under “Maintaining Righteous Traditions” (student manual, 337). Ask questions similar to the following:

  • What did Nephi and Enos say about the traditions they learned from their parents? Why?

  • What are some ways we can insure that we teach righteous traditions to our children?

Conclusion

Review the following points:

  • The family we grew up in is where we learned the traditions of our fathers (see Proverbs 22:6).

  • Some traditions are founded in the plan of salvation. It is our responsibility to identify and hold fast to these.

  • Other traditions go contrary to the plan of salvation. It is our responsibility to identify and not pass on these (see Mosiah 25:12; Alma 3:11; Alma 37:9).

  • Other traditions are neither right nor wrong but can still be a source of conflict. Couples should work together to decide which of these to pass on.

  • Understanding and following the scriptures and the teachings of prophets helps us know what is important to hold fast to and what is not (see 1 Nephi 3:19; 5:21; 2 Nephi 25:26; D&C 68:25).

Note: Remind students to complete the student readings before each class.