“As we look into the eyes of a child, we see a fellow son or daughter of God who stood with us in the premortal life,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God. We believe in families, and we believe in children.”
Elder Andersen used gospel doctrines and principles to teach about children and about the responsibility of parents during his October 2011 general conference address.
Part of Heavenly Father’s Plan
“When a child is born to a husband and wife, they are fulfilling part of our Heavenly Father’s plan to bring children to earth,” Elder Andersen said. “The Lord said, ‘This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ Before immortality, there must be mortality.”
The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches that the family is ordained of God. “Families are central to our Heavenly Father’s plan here on earth and through the eternities,” Elder Andersen said. “After Adam and Eve were joined in marriage, the scripture reads, ‘And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.’ In our day prophets and apostles have declared, ‘The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
“This commandment has not been forgotten or set aside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We express deep gratitude for the enormous faith shown by husbands and wives (especially our wives) in their willingness to have children.”
Grow Closer as You Sacrifice
“Across the world, this is a time of economic instability and financial uncertainty,” Elder Andersen said. He quoted President Thomas S. Monson: “ ‘If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions.’ ”
Act in Faith
He also quoted President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985, twelfth President of the Church), telling how in an interview with a young man who was pondering about delaying having children so that he could become a doctor, he asked the piercing question, “Where is your faith?” To find the answer to President Kimball’s question, Elder Andersen said, we must turn to the holy scriptures.
“It was not in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve bore their first child,” he said. “It was not in their Jerusalem home, with gold, silver, and precious things, that Lehi and Sariah, acting in faith, bore their sons Jacob and Joseph. It was in the wilderness.”
He said that Moses was a child born in faith at a time when children were being killed by Pharaoh. “There was no welcoming sign on the front door to announce his birth,” he said. And even the Lord Jesus Christ was born in humble circumstances. “In the most beloved story of a baby’s birth, there was no decorated nursery or designer crib—only a manger for the Savior of the world.
“In ‘the best of times [and] … the worst of times,’ the true Saints of God, acting in faith, have never forgotten, dismissed, or neglected ‘God’s commandment … to multiply and replenish the earth.’ We go forward in faith—realizing the decision of how many children to have and when to have them is between a husband and wife and the Lord. We should not judge one another on this matter.”
Blessings Will Come
Speaking to those unable to have children, Elder Andersen noted that, “We cannot always explain the difficulties of our mortality. Sometimes life seems very unfair—especially when our greatest desire is to do exactly what the Lord has commanded. As the Lord’s servant, I assure you that this promise is certain: ‘Faithful members whose circumstances do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, [as] they keep the covenants they have made with God.’”
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stressed the importance of faithful young adults as role models who, after marriage, pass their gospel knowledge on to their children.
“Against [a] backdrop of spiritual decay,” he said in a devotional message, “you young adults of the Church enter the stage. You have a firm foundation of faith. You are role models, both in courtship and in marriage. You know what’s right and what’s wrong! You hold the line! You know the Lord’s teachings. And you will teach them to your own children and grandchildren. You are the ‘Hope of Israel, Zion’s army, Children of the promised day.’ You have far more spiritual power than we did at your age. As you go forward on life’s battlefield, you are numbered with ‘the covenant people of the Lord, . . . scattered upon all . . . the earth; . . . armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory’ (1 Nephi 14:14). We are very, very proud of you!
“As Sister Nelson and I look back, we can honestly say that our family and membership in the Church are most important to us. How thankful we are that we heeded the counsel of Church leaders to marry in the temple, to invite children into our family, and to serve the Lord! If we had placed our education ahead of our family, we would not be so blessed now. Education was a lengthy process for us. Earning two doctor’s degrees took me a long time. Then we struggled through many more years of surgical specialization. I did not send a bill for surgical services until I had been out of medical school for more than 12 years! By then we had five children. But somehow we managed.”
A Privilege and a Duty
In a First Presidency Message published in the June 2000 Liahona and Ensign magazines, President Thomas S. Monson shared a message on the privilege and duty given to husbands and wives to create families. “I think it is significant that Jesus loved these little ones who so recently had left the preexistence to come to earth,” he said. “Children then and children now bless our lives, kindle our love, and prompt our good deeds.
“Is it any wonder that the poet Wordsworth speaks thus of our birth: ‘Trailing clouds of glory do we come/From God, who is our home.’
“Most of these little ones come to parents who eagerly await their arrival, mothers and fathers who rejoice to be a part of that miracle we call birth. No sacrifice is too great, no pain too severe, no waiting too long. . . .
“It is our solemn duty, our precious privilege—even our sacred opportunity—to welcome to our homes and to our hearts the children who grace our lives.”