Twenty years ago, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah. A careful review of this inspired document shows its guidance is needed today more than ever.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” remains “a clarion call to protect and strengthen families,” according to Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who says it is also “a stern warning in a world where declining values and misplaced priorities threaten to destroy society by undermining its basic unit” (“What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Oct. 2005 general conference).
Doctrines outlined in the proclamation apply as much or more today as they did in 1995 when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the document, which proclaims to the world the importance of the family.
Like a Banner
Since then, prophets and apostles have repeatedly stressed the importance of the doctrines and principles in the proclamation. Elder Ballard, for example, encourages Latter-day Saints to hold up the proclamation like a banner. As Church members live and share what it teaches, he says, they will fulfill the measure of their creation on earth and will find peace and happiness now and in eternity.
Elder Ballard counsels parents everywhere to get a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and to compare the simple, clear, prophetic language with the convoluted notions of the family often proffered by society today.
“Read it and strive to align your marriage and your family to its inspired, revealed direction from the Lord,” he says. “Then be the very best and act the very best you can. God will give you strength beyond your own as you strive daily to fulfill the most sacred mortal responsibility He gives to His children. Listen to the voice of the Spirit and the counsel of the living prophets. Be of good cheer. God did not place you on earth to fail, and your efforts as parents will not be counted as failure unless you give up” (“The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood,” Mar. 2006 Ensign and Liahona).
Three Things Worth Reflection
The significance of the proclamation begins with the title, says President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency.
“Three things about the title are worth our careful reflection. First, the subject: the family. Second, the audience, which is the whole world. And third, those proclaiming it are those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators,” he says. “All this means that the family must be of tremendous importance to us, that whatever the proclamation says could help anyone in the world, and that the proclamation fits the Lord’s promise when he said, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ (D&C 1:38).”
By studying the proclamation, families throughout the world can realize there are greater possibilities for happiness through celestial marriage than through any other relationship.
“The family unit is fundamental not only to society and to the Church but also to our hope for eternal life. We begin to practice in the family, the smaller unit, what will spread to the Church and to the society in which we live in this world, which will then be what we practice in families bound together forever by covenants and by faithfulness,” President Eyring says.
President Eyring emphasizes that the proclamation warns, “For those who fail to respond to its truths, the result will be more disastrous than simply lack of peace in this life or absence of happiness.”
He also teaches that the proclamation was ahead of its time because it warns against the very things that have undermined and threatened families in recent years. He quotes the prophetic warning and call to action with which the proclamation ends:
“We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
As Eternal as the Kingdom of God
The proclamation teaches that the earth was created and the Church restored to enable families to be formed, sealed, and exalted. It teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan.
“When a family is sealed in the temple, that family may become as eternal as the kingdom of God itself,” says President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (“Celestial Marriage,” Oct. 2008 general conference).
Be More Diligent at Home
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encourages Latter-day Saints to be “more diligent and concerned at home,” because parents will be held accountable for rearing their children in love and righteousness. Parents have the responsibility to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of their children while they teach them to love, serve, and obey the commandments and the laws of the land. (see “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Oct. 2009 general conference).
“Fulfilling these obligations is the key to protecting our families in these last days,” says Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (“With All the Feeling of a Tender Parent: A Message of Hope to Families,” Apr. 2004 general conference).