The family unit is not only fundamental to society and 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 and what then will be what we practice in families bound together forever by covenants and faithfulness. We can start now to “promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family.”; as stated in the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, were a family. In the Family Proclamation, we read, “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. The history of Israel begins with the family of Abraham. He is highly esteemed of the Lord as a father and teaches his children Family & Individual Happiness: Home-centered, Church-supported properly (Gen 18:17-19). We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
The Family Proclamation also asserts that “We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”
Latter-day revelation confirms all that the Bible teaches about the family and adds the most important truth that through the gospel of Jesus Christ the family can be sealed together in a permanent relationship for time and all eternity (D&C 132). There is only one place where there will be families—the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. That is where we will want to be. To help us get there, the Family Proclamation counsels us that “Happiness in family life” (and individual life) “is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our placement in a family, however challenging, is known by a loving Heavenly Father. We can know that a way is prepared for us to do all that will be required for us to qualify for eternal life. The promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ is sure: “But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and the Spirit beareth record. Amen.” [D&C 59:23–24]
That peace will come from the assurance that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has worked in our lives and from the hope of eternal life that springs from it.
Nephi and Enos are great examples of this truth. We learn many things about Nephi from 1 Nephi 1:1. First, he is appreciative of righteous parents. Second, he emphasizes the positives in his life. After mentioning that he has “seen many afflictions” in his days, which is an understatement, he immediately tells us that he has been “highly favored of the Lord” in all his days, thus underscoring the kind of lives positive personalities enjoy.
For perspective, we might just take a quick look at a few of the “many afflictions” in Nephi’s life up to this point. He was nearly murdered four times by his own brothers (1 Nephi 7:16, 1 Nephi 16:37, 1 Nephi 17:45, 2 Nephi 5:4). Laban tried to kill him and his brothers (1 Nephi 3:25). They spent eight difficult years in the wilderness. He had much opposition in building the ship (1 Nephi, Chapter 17), plus being tied up on the ship (1 Nephi, Chapter 18).
In spite of such afflictions, Nephi focused on the great blessings he had received from the Lord, which included “a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God.”
As for Enos, we will be reminded that the teachings of righteous parents often come to bless their children long after the teachings were given.
“Behold, I Enos knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me … in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it…Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.” (Enos 1:1,3)
It appears that Enos was quite concerned about his standing with God. Thus, his thoughts of an adventurous day hunting turned into a deep yearning to be forgiven of sins and be clean before his Maker.
We cannot control what others choose to do, and so we cannot force our children to heaven, but we can determine what we will do. And we can decide that we will do all that we can to bring down the powers of heaven into that family we want so much to have forever.
Nephi and Enos believed that they “may be the children of [their] Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:45)
Elder David A. Bednar taught, “We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end. Rather our personal responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become who the Master would have us become. And our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming.” (Ensign, May 2019, p102)
Like Nephi and Enos, their homes or specifically their parents provided that ultimate setting.
I close with President Gordon B. Hinckley’s teachings uttered two years after the family proclamation was announced. He said: “I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.” May that be so for you and me. ◼︎