Lesson 28: Promoting the Family as the Fundamental Unit of Society

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

Modern prophets have declared: “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). This lesson will help students understand how they might follow and defend this prophetic counsel.

Background Reading

  • Thomas S. Monson, “Be Strong and of a Good Courage,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 66–69.

  • Dallin H. Oaks, “Balancing Truth and Tolerance,” Ensign, Feb. 2013, 24–31.

  • L. Tom Perry, “Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 39–42.

  • “Transcript of News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination” (Jan. 27, 2015), mormonnewsroom.org/article/publicstatement-on-religious-freedom-and-nondiscrimination.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 43:9, 30, 45, 48

Our duty to defend the doctrine and moral foundations of the family

Prepare students for this lesson by telling them that it focuses on our responsibility to defend the family. Share the following statement by Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy:

Elder Bruce D. Porter

“The Church is a small institution compared with the world at large. Nevertheless, the Latter-day Saints as a people should not underestimate the power of our example, nor our capacity to persuade public opinion, reverse negative trends, or invite seeking souls to enter the gate and walk the Lord’s chosen way. We ought to give our best efforts, in cooperation with like-minded persons and institutions, to defend the family and raise a voice of warning and of invitation to the world” (“Defending the Family in a Troubled World,” Ensign, June 2011, 18).

  • What are your thoughts about the responsibility of Latter-day Saints to defend the family in today’s world?

Tell students that at various times, the Nephites found their religious freedoms and family values threatened by the Lamanites. By studying their experiences, we can learn principles that can be likened to our day. (Likening the scriptures to ourselves is a scripture study skill that you can emphasize in this lesson.) Explain that one experience of the Nephites is recorded in Alma 43.

Write Alma 43:9, 30, 45, 48 on the board, and ask students to search for words and phrases that help us understand the importance of defending family values and religious freedoms in today’s world. Suggest to students that they mark these words and phrases.

  • What words and phrases show the importance of defending our family values and religious freedoms? What principle did you learn about the importance of defending our family values and religious freedoms? (Answers should include the following principle: We have a sacred duty to defend and promote our family values and religious freedoms.)

  • Why do you think it is important for Church members to promote and defend the family in their communities?

  • How can we promote and defend the family using social media?

Display the following statement by Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder L. Tom Perry

“We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will” (“Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 42).

  • According to Elder Perry, what should we declare about the family?

  • What have you observed others do to stand up and affirm the importance of the family or to defend against attacks on the family? (Point out that defending the family includes raising a strong family as well as publicly defending the family when needed.)

Share the following experience told by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Neil L. Andersen

“Recently, I spoke with a Laurel from the United States. I quote from her email:

“‘This past year some of my friends on Facebook began posting their position on marriage. Many favored same-sex marriage, and several LDS youth indicated they “liked” the postings. I made no comment.

“‘I decided to declare my belief in traditional marriage in a thoughtful way.

“‘With my profile picture, I added the caption “I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.” Almost instantly I started receiving messages. “You are selfish.” “You are judgmental.” One compared me to a slave owner. And I received this post from a great friend who is a strong member of the Church: “You need to catch up with the times. Things are changing and so should you.”

“‘I did not fight back,’ she said, ‘but I did not take my statement down.’

“She concludes: ‘Sometimes, as President Monson said, “You have to stand alone.” Hopefully as youth, we will stand together in being true to God and to the teachings of His living prophets’” (“Spiritual Whirlwinds,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 19–20).

  • What experiences have you had with promoting and defending the family?

  • What effect did your words or actions have on others?

Testify that we can have a positive influence on our communities and further the purposes of our Heavenly Father’s plan as we promote and defend measures that strengthen families.

Alma 46:10–13, 16; 48:7–13

Defending the family with God’s help and with respect toward others

Tell students that chapters 46 and 48 of Alma record that the Nephites were again threatened by the Lamanites. Divide the class in half. Ask half of the class to study Alma 46:10–13, 16, and the other half to study Alma 48:7–13. Ask students to identify how we might follow Captain Moroni’s example in appropriate ways to promote measures that maintain and strengthen the family. After sufficient time, help students liken these passages to our day by asking the following questions:

  • How might the efforts of Amalickiah and his followers be likened to the efforts of those who are attacking the family today?

  • What can we learn from Captain Moroni’s actions? (Help students understand the following principle: When we seek God’s help and strive to use all of our own resources, we will receive wisdom and strength to defend our families, our religion, and our freedoms.)

  • What are some appropriate ways in which we might promote measures to strengthen and defend families?

Consider using the following statements by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to supplement the discussion of the preceding question:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Let us be involved in good community causes. There may be situations where, with serious moral issues involved, we cannot bend on matters of principle. But in such instances we can politely disagree without being disagreeable. We can acknowledge the sincerity of those whose positions we cannot accept. We can speak of principles rather than personalities” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 131).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“When believers promote their positions in the public square, they should always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of those who do not share their beliefs. Believers must always speak with love and show patience, understanding, and compassion toward their adversaries. Christian believers are under command to love their neighbors (see Luke 10:27) and to forgive (see Matthew 18:21–35). They should also remember the Savior’s teaching to ‘bless them that curse [them], do good to them that hate [them], and pray for them which despitefully use [them], and persecute [them]’ (Matthew 5:44)” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Balancing Truth and Tolerance,” Ensign, Feb. 2013, 30–31).

  • How do you think you might practice the principles taught by President Hinckley and Elder Oaks?

Emphasize the following principle: As we promote measures to defend and strengthen the family, we should show respect to others and tolerance toward their opinions.

Promoting measures that strengthen the family

Display the following statement and ask a student to read it aloud:

“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Tell students that in January 2015, Church leaders held an official press conference during which they called upon government officials to pass laws that would protect religious freedoms and guard the sanctity of the family. Explain that although Church leaders were specifically addressing the defense of religious freedoms in this statement, their words apply to defending family values as well. Many religious freedoms are directly related to the family, such as the sanctity of marriage.

Share with students the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks as a summary of what was presented at that press conference:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asserts the following principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and on fairness for all, including people of faith:

“1. We claim for everyone the God-given and Constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.

“2. We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.

“3. We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values.

“4. We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Transcript of News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination” [Jan. 27, 2015], mormonnewsroom.org/article/publicstatement-on-religious-freedom-and-nondiscrimination).

  • What did you learn from this statement that can help you promote measures that strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society? (As part of this discussion, emphasize that raising children in the ways of the Lord, supporting other families, magnifying Church callings, and strengthening our communities are all measures that promote the family.)

Invite students to consider what they might do to promote measures that strengthen and defend the family.

Student Readings

  • Alma 43:9, 30, 45, 48; 46:11–16; 48:9–13.

  • Dallin H. Oaks, “Balancing Truth and Tolerance,” Ensign, Feb. 2013, 24–31.

  • L. Tom Perry, “Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 39–42.