Lesson 1: Coming Forth of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

In September 1995 the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a proclamation to the Church and to the world titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). This prophetic declaration teaches of the divine role of the family in God’s eternal plan. This lesson will help students better understand why latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators issued this inspired document.

Background Reading

  • “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129.

  • M. Russell Ballard, “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 41–44.

Suggestions for Teaching

Mosiah 8:15–17; Moses 6:26–27, 31–36; 7:16–21

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was written by seers

Ask a student to read Moses 6:26–27 aloud, and invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about the hearts, ears, and eyes of the people.

  • How did the Lord describe the wickedness of the people?

  • What does it mean when people’s “hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off”?

Ask a student to read Moses 6:31–34 aloud.

  • If you were Enoch, what would you find reassuring in the Lord’s words?

  • What do these verses teach about how the Lord empowers His prophets?

Give students a moment to read Moses 6:35–36.

  • What was Enoch able to see when he washed the clay from his eyes?

  • What might the clay represent? (The clay might be a symbol of worldliness. Ask students to consider what they might be able to see if worldly things were washed from their eyes.)

  • How does verse 36 help define what a seer is? (Answers should include the following truth: A seer is able to see things that are not visible to natural eyes. Consider asking students to cross-reference verse 36 with Mosiah 8:15–17.)

To further define a seer, display the following statement by Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872–1952) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and ask a student to read it aloud:

Elder John A. Widstoe

“A seer is one who sees with spiritual eyes. He perceives the meaning of that which seems obscure to others; therefore he is an interpreter and clarifier of eternal truth. … He is one who sees, who walks in the Lord’s light with open eyes [see Mosiah 8:15–17]” (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham [1960], 258).

Suggest that students write some of this definition in their scriptures next to Moses 6:35–36. Explain that seers are also prophets.

Summarize Moses 7:16–21 to help students understand what happened to those who accepted Enoch as a seer and followed his words.

  • How do these verses illustrate the importance of giving heed to modern prophets and seers? (Make sure students understand the following doctrine: Prophets help us see things from God’s perspective, and we are blessed as we trust their words.)

Read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“Brothers and sisters, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the proclamation to the world on the family, which was issued by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995 [see ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129]. It was then and is now a clarion call to protect and strengthen families. …

“The proclamation is a prophetic document, not only because it was issued by prophets but because it was ahead of its time. It warns against many of the very things that have threatened and undermined families during the last decade and calls for the priority and the emphasis families need if they are to survive in an environment that seems ever more toxic to traditional marriage and to parent-child relationships.

“The proclamation’s clear and simple language stands in stark contrast to the confused and convoluted notions of a society that cannot even agree on a definition of family” (“What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 41).

  • What do you think Elder Ballard meant when he said that the family proclamation was “ahead of its time”?

  • How does the family proclamation confirm your belief that the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators?

Testify that because Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to become like Him, He sends us prophets and seers.

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”

Coming forth of the family proclamation

Make sure each student has access to a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (lds.org/topics/family-proclamation). (You may need to provide a print copy for students who need it.) Encourage students to bring a print or digital copy of the family proclamation to each class session throughout the course. Explain that “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was first presented to the Church by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) on September 23, 1995, at a general Relief Society meeting.

  • What does the title tell us about the intended audience of this proclamation?

  • Why do you think this proclamation was issued to the entire world rather than just to Church members? (As students respond, write the following truth on the board: God calls prophets to declare His truths to all His children.)

Explain that since the Church was organized, Church leaders have issued only five proclamations. One was issued by the First Presidency, one by the Quorum of the Twelve, and the others by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve together. Proclamations are reserved for statements of great importance. (If students ask about these five proclamations, refer them to Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], “Proclamations of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” 3:1151, eom.byu.edu.)

Tell students that before reading the family proclamation, President Hinckley expressed some reasons why Church leaders felt impressed to publish this important document. Display the following statement by President Hinckley, and invite a student to read it:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“I need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 99).

  • What do you think President Hinckley meant when he said that “the moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken”? (You might want to point out that moorings are ropes or chains that hold objects in place.)

  • How would you describe what has happened to society’s “moral moorings” since 1995, when President Hinckley spoke about serious moral decline?

Display the following paragraph from President Hinckley’s address. Give students a moment to read it and note words and phrases that further explain the problems that Church leaders were seeing in the world and the reasons they issued this proclamation.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“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,” 100).

As students share what they identified, write their responses on the board. The board might look like this:

What problems did Church leaders see in the world?

Sophistry passed off as truth

Deception concerning standards and values

Allurement and enticement to be like the world

What are some reasons Church leaders issued this proclamation?

To warn and forewarn

To declare and reaffirm standards, doctrines, and practices taught by current and former Church leaders

  • What is “sophistry”? (Sophistry is false reasoning that is presented as truth.) How have you seen false ideas taught as truth in connection with the family? (You might refer to D&C 89:4 as an example of sophistry.)

  • What can we learn about the responsibilities of latter-day prophets and apostles from President Hinckley’s statement? (Student responses should include the following truth: Prophets have a sacred responsibility to declare the Lord’s “standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family.”)

Assign students to take a few minutes to look over the family proclamation and identify some of the answers it provides to modern questions about the family. After sufficient time, ask students to share what they found. Because other lessons cover the proclamation in detail, do not spend a lot of time on this activity.

Testify of the following truths: The family proclamation is full of inspired answers to society’s problems. The proclamation is a firm anchor for individuals and families in a world of shifting values.

Explain that after President Hinckley read the family proclamation, he declared:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“We commend to all a careful, thoughtful, and prayerful reading of this proclamation. The strength of any nation is rooted within the walls of its homes. We urge our people everywhere to strengthen their families in conformity with these time-honored values” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 101).

  • What does it mean to you to prayerfully read the family proclamation?

  • In what ways have the principles found in the family proclamation influenced your feelings about marriage and family?

Help students consider and share how they might apply President Hinckley’s encouragement to learn and apply the doctrines and principles found in the family proclamation (for example, memorizing parts of the proclamation). Write the students’ responses on the board, and invite them to prayerfully consider how they can strengthen themselves and their families by applying “these time-honored values.”

Student Readings