The Traditions of Our Fathers

The Traditions of Our Fathers

During the past four years, my wife Marcia and I have had the opportunity to visit many different lands with many different cultures. Our travels have taken us from the United States to New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and now the Philippines.  As we have met the wonderful Saints in all these nations, a pattern described in the Book of Mormon has become clearer to us. According to my count, the phrase, “traditions of our fathers,” is used in the Book of Mormon 20 times. On some occasions the phrase is used to describe the good traditions of their fathers that led them to have faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ (see Alma 30:13–14).  However, many of the references point to “wicked traditions of our fathers,” that led the people away from the teachings of God (see Alma 23:3).

For each of us, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must analyze those traditions that we find in our families and in our culture and determine whether those traditions lead us towards God’s teachings or away from them. The culture we are striving to develop is the culture of Jesus Christ.

Because the “traditions of our fathers” can have such a powerful influence on future generations, we must develop traditions in our families, wards and branches that will help our children and grandchildren see the path that leads to eternal life and stay on that path. 

The 2013 Philippines Area Goals help us understand the need to “Save the Rising Generation.” We do that as we teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes and in our wards and branches. However, one of the most effective ways to teach them is to establish righteous traditions that will allow them to develop a culture of righteousness.  Those traditions include tithing, daily prayer and scripture study and family home evening. It also includes a family tradition that we always attend our meetings on Sunday as we keep the Sabbath day holy. 

There are other family and ward or branch traditions that we can develop that will lead our rising generation into safe and peaceful paths. One of those is a tradition of full-time missionary service.  Marcia and I have found many families in our travels that have a tradition of missionary service in their family.  The grandparents served missions, the parents served missions and now, because of the “righteous traditions of their fathers,” the children are serving missions. In our family home evenings we can develop a tradition when our children are still very young, that “in our family, we all serve full-time missions.” This righteous tradition will lead to unimagined blessings.  When families have a tradition of serving missions, the heavens open up to them and the Lord showers His goodness upon the children and grandchildren.  If your family does not have this tradition, today is the day to start. Set a goal in your next family home evening that all family members will serve full-time missions. It will bless your children and your children’s children for generations to come. 

Wards and branches can also develop a tradition of full time missionary service. Many years ago Marcia and I moved to a stake where there were very few young men serving full-time missions.  When we arrived there were 12 serving from the entire stake.  As time went by, we watched good stake presidents develop a tradition in the stake that every, worthy, able young man would serve a full-time mission. This tradition led to a surprising increase in those who were serving. Over a period of about 15 years, this stake went from 12 full-time missionaries serving to over 60. If you asked me how it was done, my answer would be that they developed a righteous tradition that in that stake, everyone served. This righteous tradition changed the Stake for good and it changed families for eternity.

There is another righteous tradition that we must develop in our families, wards and branches and that is the tradition of marriage. Marriage is ordained of God (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Marriage brings more joy and happiness to our lives than anything else we can do. However, in every culture there are wicked traditions of our fathers that keep us from getting married. Those traditions include parents who expect their adult children to support them, instead of marrying; traditions that dictate that a young person can’t marry until he or she is set for life with employment; traditions that supporting younger brothers or sisters is more important than establishing an eternal marriage relationship. All of these traditions of our fathers are keeping our rising generation from fulfilling the measure of their creation and finding joy here in this life.

Therefore, just as we establish righteous traditions for prayer, scripture study, and missions, we must also establish righteous traditions in our families, wards and branches to marry. We encourage temple marriage and we establish traditions in our families that after serving a full-time mission our next goal is to marry the right person, in the right place, with the right authority. We establish traditions in our wards and branches that we honor those young men and young women who return from missionary service and seek to be married in the temple.  We encourage them to find a spouse and then we work to help them make their marriages be successful. It must become a righteous tradition for our rising generation here in the Philippines.

Because traditions can influence generations for hundreds and even thousands of years, it is critical that we establish traditions of righteousness. A decision you make today to establish a righteous family tradition can have lasting effects on generations to come.