Chapter 29: The Importance of the Family

Doctrines of the Gospel Teacher Manual, (2011), 101–103


Introduction

If it is available, you could show the filmstrip Families Are Forever (stock number VVOF3131) to introduce this chapter and to set the tone of the discussion.

Ideas for Teaching

  1. A.

    Families are ordained of God.

    1. Who established the institutions of the home and family? President Spencer W. Kimball told us that our Father in Heaven was the one who established families (see Supporting Statements A on p. 78 of the student manual; or Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 324). We enjoyed family relationships in our premortal existence, and God’s divine plan dictates that we live, learn, and grow in families in this our second estate. President Joseph F. Smith commented on the origin of families when he wrote “There is no substitute for the home. Its foundation is as ancient as the world, and its mission has been ordained of God from the earliest times.” (“Home Life,” Juvenile Instructor, 1 Mar. 1903, p. 144.)

    2. Some of your students will not have the opportunity to marry while in mortality, so you should use sensitivity as you emphasize early in the lesson that not every faithful Latter-day Saint will have the privilege of rearing a family in this life. You might discuss President Kimball’s promise that those who remain unmarried through no fault of their own will receive a fulness of blessings in eternity (see Supporting Statements A on p. 80 of the student manual; or Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 294–95).

    3. After Adam was placed upon the earth, God said that “it was not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18). Why is it not good for a man or a woman to be alone? List some possible reasons why God provided Adam with a “help meet for him” (v. 18). Point out that Adam and Eve are prototypes for the rest of mankind and that the Lord’s instruction to Adam and Eve regarding marriage and families applies to all the human race. Emphasize that eternal progression ultimately cannot occur without an eternal partnership between a righteous man and a righteous woman. The Apostle Paul taught that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11).

    4. Read and discuss Matthew 19:4–6. Use this passage of scripture to emphasize the following important principles about eternal marriage:

      1. 1.

        God created both male and female for an important purpose.

      2. 2.

        Children should eventually leave their parents to begin a new family with their mate.

      3. 3.

        The husband is to “cleave to” his wife (v. 5).

      4. 4.

        Husband and wife are to become “one flesh” (v. 6).

      5. 5.

        Those whom God has joined together in marriage should not be lightly “put asunder” (v. 6; see also vv. 7–10).

      Ask the students what they think it means for a husband to “cleave to” his wife. Among other things, it means that a husband should be dedicated to the happiness, growth, and eternal advancement of his beloved wife. She should come first in her husband’s life: Church work, occupation, clubs, sports, and even other family members should be lower in priority for him.

      Discuss what it means for a husband and wife to become “one flesh.” Emphasize that unity and harmony between husband and wife come only through much effort and through a variety of means. A married couple should strive for unity and harmony physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and intellectually.

    5. You may wish to cite selected quotations from President Kimball, President David O. McKay, and President Harold B. Lee in Supporting Statements A on page 78 of the student manual to help you stress the proper place of home and family life in the priorities of Latter-day Saints (see Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 324; McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 5; Lee, Strengthening the Home, p. 7).

    6. What was God’s commandment to Adam and Eve concerning children after he placed Adam and Eve upon the earth? He told them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Moses 2:28). This charge is given to every couple sealed in eternal marriage in the temple. Read in Supporting Statements A on page 79 of the student manual President Spencer W. Kimball’s teaching that bearing and rearing children is the most important responsibility of marriage and that we should do all in our power to bring children into our home (see Conference Report, Melbourne Australia Area Conference 1976, p. 21; untitled fireside address delivered at San Antonio, Texas, 3 Dec. 1977, pp. 24–26).

  2. B.

    Husbands and wives should love and support one another.

    1. The Lord established the pattern for a husband-and-wife relationship; the Apostle Paul compared a husband’s responsibility toward his wife with Christ’s responsibility toward the Church (see Ephesians 5:22–33; Colossians 3:18–19). Would the Savior ever belittle or harm the Church in any way? Should a husband, then, belittle or harm his wife in any way? A righteous husband would love his wife “even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). You might invite the students to discuss President Spencer W. Kimball’s commentary on Ephesians 5:25 in Supporting Statements B on page 80 of the student manual (see Conference Report, Stockholm Sweden Area Conference 1974, pp. 46–47).

    2. What duties or responsibilities does a husband have toward his wife? List on the chalkboard the students’ responses. If your students do not offer them, you might want to include some or all of the following:

      1. 1.

        Love your wife with all your heart (see D&C 42:22).

      2. 2.

        Cleave to her and to no one else (see D&C 42:22).

      3. 3.

        Provide for her temporal needs (see D&C 83:2).

      4. 4.

        Do not ridicule or embarrass her.

      5. 5.

        Lead your wife and family with righteous use of the priesthood (see D&C 121:36).

      6. 6.

        Exercise persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness, and unfeigned love in your marriage (see D&C 121:41–42).

      7. 7.

        Let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly (see D&C 121:45).

      8. 8.

        Support your wife in all her righteous endeavors, including her Church callings.

      9. 9.

        Be a full partner with your wife in rearing the children.

    3. What responsibilities and duties does a wife have toward her husband? List on the chalkboard the students’ responses. If your students do not offer them, you might want to include some or all of the following:

      1. 1.

        Submit yourself to your husband in righteousness as you would submit to the Lord (see Ephesians 5:22; Supporting Statements B on p. 80 of the student manual; or Kimball, in Conference Report, Stockholm Sweden Area Conference, pp. 46–47).

      2. 2.

        Do not ridicule or embarrass him.

      3. 3.

        Support your husband in his priesthood callings.

      4. 4.

        Provide your husband with comfort and tenderness (see D&C 25:5).

      5. 5.

        Share with your husband the duties of rearing the children.

    4. Soon after the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society, he gave its members the following counsel on how the women could be better wives to their husbands:

      “Let this Society teach women how to behave towards their husbands, to treat them with mildness and affection. When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet a smile instead of an argument, or a murmur—if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings; when the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace of affection and kindness.” (History of the Church, 4:606–7.)

    5. You may wish to discuss the duties of husbands and wives as outlined in “On the Duty of Husband and Wife” (Elders’ Journal, Aug. 1838, pp. 61–62; or Supporting Statements B on p. 81 of the student manual).

  3. C.

    Parents are responsible to teach, discipline, provide for, and care for their children.

    1. What responsibilities do parents have toward their children? List on the chalkboard the students’ responses. If your students do not offer them, you might want to include some or all of the following:

      1. 1.

        Provide for their temporal needs (see D&C 83:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; Mosiah 4:14).

      2. 2.

        Provide a good example (see Proverbs 20:7; Jacob 3:10).

      3. 3.

        Teach them the principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures (see D&C 68:25–28).

      4. 4.

        Teach them to love one another and to refrain from quarreling with each other (see Mosiah 4:14–15).

      5. 5.

        Teach them the consequences of sin (see Mosiah 4:14; 2 Nephi 9:48; Alma 42:29–30).

      6. 6.

        Teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness (see Mosiah 4:15; Alma 38:15).

      7. 7.

        Teach them to be humble and to overcome pride (see Alma 38:11, 14; 42:30).

      8. 8.

        Teach them to bridle their passions (see Alma 38:12).

      9. 9.

        Teach them how to work (see Alma 38:12; D&C 42:42; 68:30–31).

      10. 10.

        Teach them how to pray, and hold regular family prayer (see D&C 68:28; 3 Nephi 18:21; Alma 34:21).

      11. 11.

        Discipline them with love (see Proverbs 19:18; 23:13; D&C 121:41–44).

      12. 12.

        Put your house in order when there are problems (see D&C 93:43–44, 50).

      In detailing the temporal things parents do for their children, President Kimball asked, “But what do they do for their souls?” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 332; or Supporting Statements C on p. 81 of the student manual). Emphasize that as important as a child’s material needs are, his or her spiritual needs are even more critical. Use other quotations from Supporting Statements C on pages 81–82 of the student manual to reinforce your discussion of the responsibilities of parents toward their children.

    2. You might want to discuss the fact that all parents make mistakes but that it is important to keep trying. Elder Howard W. Hunter counseled us that parents should not consider themselves failures, nor should they ever give up on their children (see Supporting Statements C on p. 82 of the student manual; or Conference Report, Oct. 1983, pp. 92–93; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, pp. 64–65).

  4. D.

    Children should honor their parents and be obedient to them.

    1. What responsibilities do children have toward their parents? List on the chalkboard the students’ responses. If your students do not offer them, you might want to include some or all of the following:

      1. 1.

        Respect and honor your parents (see Doctrinal Outline D 1 on p. 78 of the student manual).

      2. 2.

        Be subject to your parents (see Doctrinal Outline D 2 on p. 78 of the student manual).

      3. 3.

        Do not rebel against your parents.

      4. 4.

        Encourage your parents in righteousness.

      5. 5.

        Show and express love to your parents.

      6. 6.

        Be as self-reliant as you can.

      7. 7.

        Care for your parents in their old age.

      8. 8.

        Help with your brothers and sisters, and be a good example to them.

    2. What does it mean to “honor your parents”? Should a child do something wrong because his parents requested it? To honor means “pay worthy respect to (by some outward action)” (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “honour”). Regardless of our parents’ weaknesses, the best way to honor them is to express our love for them and to keep the commandments of God.

Conclusion

Ask the students to evaluate individually where they now stand with respect to family life. Challenge unmarried students who are living at home to contribute to the peace, happiness, and progress of each family member. Challenge them further to prepare in every way to assume the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood. Challenge unmarried students who are living away from home to express love to their families through letters, telephone calls, and visits. Challenge married students to build the righteous habits of successful family living early in their marriage—it is much easier to strengthen good habits than to break bad ones.