30) CHURCH: Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exist to support the family? Or does the family exist to support the Church?

Prophetic Statements

Joseph F. Smith

#1:

“In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount. To illustrate this principle, a single incident will perhaps suffice. It sometimes happens that the elders are called in to administer to the members of a family. Among these elders there may be presidents of stakes, apostles, or even members of the first presidency of the Church. It is not proper under these circumstances for the father to stand back and expect the elders to direct the administration of this important ordinance. The father is there. It is his right and it is his duty to preside. He should select the one who is to administer the oil, and the one who is to be mouth in prayer, and he should not feel that because there are present presiding authorities in the Church that he is therefore divested of his rights to direct the administration of that blessing of the gospel in his home. (If the father be absent, the mother should request the presiding authority present to take charge.) The father presides at the table, at prayer, and gives general directions relating to his family life whoever may be present.” 1

#2:

There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. The authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.” 2

#3: 

Parents Should Be Consulted. One of the first duties that a young man owes in the world is his duty to his father and mother. The commandment which God gave early in the history of the Israelites : “Honor thy father and thy mother,” was accompanied with a promise that holds good to this day; namely: “That thy days may be long upon the land’ which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

With obedience naturally comes that respect and consideration for his parents that should characterize a noble youth. They stand as the head of the family, the patriarch, the mother, the rulers; and no child should fail to consult them and obtain counsel from them throughout his whole career under the parental roof.

This feeling should be respected by the Church. Hence officers who desire to use the services of a young man in any capacity for the business of the Church, should not fail to consult the father before the call is made. We have instances where young men have even been called to fulfil important missions ; their names having been suggested to the Church by bishops of wards, or by presidents of quorums, without the father having been consulted whatever. The parents have been entirely overlooked. This is neither desirable nor right, nor is it in conformity with the order of the Church, or the laws that God instituted from the early times. The Church is patriarchal in its character and nature, and it is highly proper and right that the head of the family, the father, should be consulted by officers in all things that pertain to the calling of his children to any of the duties in the Church. No one understands as well as the father, the conditions that surround the family, and what is best for his children; his wishes should therefore be consulted and respected.

Our elders would justly think it wrong to baptize a wife without the consent of her husband, and children without the consent of the parents. So also, it is improper for any officer’ in the Church to call the children in any family, as long as they are under the care and keeping of the parents, to receive any ordination, or to perform any calling in the Church, without first consulting the parents.

The family organization lies at the basis of all true government, and too much stress cannot be placed upon the importance of the government in the family being as perfect as possible, nor upon the fact that in all instances respect therefore should be upheld.

Young men should be scrupulously careful to impress upon their minds the necessity of consulting with father and mother in all that pertains to their actions in life. Respect and veneration for parents should be inculcated into the hearts of the young people of the Church — father and mother to be respected, their wishes to be regarded — and in the heart of every child should be implanted this thought of esteem and consideration for parents, which characterized the families of the ancient patriarchs. God is at the head of the human race; we look up to him as the Father of all. We cannot please him more than by regarding and respecting and honoring our fathers and our mothers, who are the means of our existence here upon the earth.

I desire, therefore, to impress upon the officers of the Church the necessity of consulting fathers in all things that pertain to the calling of their sons to the priesthood, and to the labors of the Church, that the respect and veneration which children should show for parents may not be disturbed by the Church, nor overstepped by its officers. In this way harmony and good will are made to prevail; and the sanction of the families and the family life, on which the government of the Church is based and perpetuated, will thus be added to the calls of the holy priesthood, ensuring unity, strength and power in its every action. 3

#4:

It is not merely a question of who is perhaps the best qualified. Neither is it wholly a question of who is living the most worthy life. It is a question largely of law and order, and its importance is seen often from the fact that the authority remains and is respected long after a man is really unworthy to exercise it. This authority carries with it a responsibility, and a grave one, as well as its rights and privileges, and men can not be too exemplary in their lives, nor fit themselves too carefully to live in harmony with this important and God-ordained rule of conduct in the family organization. Upon the authority certain promises and blessings are predicated, and those who observe and respect this authority have certain claims on divine favor which they cannot have except they respect and observe the laws that God has established for the regulation and authority of the home. “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” was a fundamental law to ancient Israel, and is binding upon every member of the Church today, for the law is eternal. The necessity, then, of recognizing the patriarchal order and authority of the home rests upon principle as well as upon the person who holds that authority, and among the Latter-day Saints family discipline, founded upon the law of the patriarchs, should be carefully cultivated, and fathers will then be able to remove many of the difficulties that now weaken their position in the home, through unworthy children.” 4

Harold B. Lee

#1:

It seems clear to me that the Church has no choice—and never has had—but to do more to assist the family in carrying out its divine mission, not only because that is the order of heaven, but also because that is the most practical contribution we can make to our youth—to help improve the quality of life in the Latter-day Saint homes. As important as our many programs and organizational efforts are, these should not supplant the home; they should support the home.”

Unlike some in the world, we do not want to engage in worship of youth by imitating them and by being so anxious for them to like us that we compromise our own integrity and individuality. Nor do we want to be like others in the world who, because of the actions of a few young men and women, would forsake all the young. As in all things, the teachings of the Master must guide us. We must be wise, not naive. We must love even those who abuse and misuse us. We must be uncompromising as to principle, but quick to love and to forgive. We must be ready always to give others, including the young, reasons for our own deep commitment to the Savior and his kingdom. 5

#2:

“Priesthood leaders … are to strengthen the Church-to see that all Church members do their duty and that the auxiliaries do their utmost to do what that word … implies. An auxiliary is to be an aid to the priesthood in watching over the Church and also an aid to the home, under the direction and … cooperation [of] the priesthood.” 6

#3:

“If there should ever come a time where … [Church] efforts should be so inclusive as to take all the time of the child … it would be a tragic thing. … Ours should be a conscious every day effort … to reinforce and to strengthen the homes which are our Heavenly Father’s first line of defense.” 7

Spencer W. Kimball

“The mission of the Church to its members is to make available the principles, programs, and priesthood by which they can prepare themselves for exaltation. Our success, individually and as a Church, will largely be determined by how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home. Only as we see clearly the responsibilities of each individual and the role of families and homes can we properly understand that priesthood quorums and auxiliary organizations, even wards and stakes, exist primarily to help members live the gospel in the home. Then we can understand that people are more important than programs, and that Church programs should always support and never detract from gospel-centered family activities. …

“Our commitment to home-centered gospel living should become the clear message of every priesthood and auxiliary program, reducing, where necessary, some of the optional activities that may detract from proper focus on the family and the home.” 8

Ezra Taft Benson

It has been truly stated that “salvation is a family affair . . . and that the family unit is the most important organization in time or in eternity.” The Church was created in large measure to help the family, and long after the Church has performed its mission, the celestial patriarchal order will still be functioning. This is why President Joseph F. Smith said: “To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman . . . ” and President McKay added: “When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he, that moment, starts on the downgrade to soul weakness.”

And this is why President Harold B. Lee said only yesterday, “The Church must do more to help the home carry out its divine mission.” (Conference Report, October 1970, p.21)

Each father in the Church is establishing, or should be establishing, his patriarchal order, an order that will extend into the eternities. (Priesthood [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981], p. 138.)

Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity 9

Gordon B. Hinckley

“We must work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.

“If we fail in our homes, we fail in our lives. … Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting.” 10

Russel M. Nelson

#1:

All Church activities, advancements, quorums, and classes are means to the end of an exalted family. To make this goal possible, our Heavenly Father has restored priesthood keys in this dispensation so that essential ordinances in His plan can be performed by proper authority. Heavenly messengers—including John the Baptist; Peter, James, and John; Moses, Elias, and Elijah—have participated in that restoration…. Celestial marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other relationship. The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. (Ensign, Nov 2008, 92–95)

#2:

Priesthood offices, keys, callings, and quorums are meant to exalt families (see D&C 23:3). Priesthood authority has been restored so that families can be sealed eternally. So brethren, your foremost priesthood duty is to nurture your marriage—to care for, respect, honor, and love your wife. Be a blessing to her and your children. (Ensign, May 2006, 36–38)

Supporting Statements

The Home and the Church, Handbook 2: Administering the Church

God has revealed a pattern of spiritual progress for individuals and families through ordinances, teaching, programs, and activities that are home centered and Church supported. Church organizations and programs exist to bless individuals and families and are not ends in themselves. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers seek to assist parents, not to supersede or replace them.

Priesthood and auxiliary leaders must endeavor to strengthen the sacredness of the home by ensuring that all Church activities support the lives of individuals and families. Church leaders need to be careful not to overwhelm families with too many Church responsibilities. Parents and Church leaders work together to help individuals and families return to our Father in Heaven by following Jesus Christ.

Boyd K. Packer

#1:

During the Vietnam War, we held a series of special meetings for members of the Church called into military service. After such a meeting in Chicago, I was standing next to President Harold B. Lee when a fine young Latter-day Saint told President Lee that he was on leave to visit his home and then had orders to Vietnam. He asked President Lee to give him a blessing.

Much to my surprise, President Lee said, “Your father should give you the blessing.”

Very disappointed, the boy said, “My father wouldn’t know how to give a blessing.”

President Lee answered, “Go home, my boy, and tell your father that you are going away to war and want to receive a father’s blessing from him. If he does not know how, tell him that you will sit on a chair. He can stand behind you and put his hands on your head and say whatever comes.”

This young soldier went away sorrowing.

About two years later I met him again. I do not recall where. He reminded me of that experience and said, “I did as I was told to do. I explained to my father that I would sit on the chair and that he should put his hands on my head. The power of the priesthood filled both of us. That was a strength and protection in those perilous months of battle.” . . . .The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children might be happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.

Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 11

#2:

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children might be happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.

Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). 12

#3:

The ministry of the prophets and apostles leads them ever and always to the home and the family. That shield of faith is not produced in a factory but at home in a cottage industry.
The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father. 13

#4:

The center core of the Church is not the stake house; it is not the chapel; that is not the center of Mormonism. And, strangely enough, the most sacred place on the earth may not be the temple, necessarily. The chapel, the stake house, and the temple are sacred as they contribute to the building of the most sacred institution in the Church—the home—and to the blessing of the most sacred relationships in the Church, the family. 14

#5:

Bishops, keep constantly in mind that fathers are responsible to preside over their families.

Sometimes, with all good intentions, we require so much of both the children and the father that he is not able to do so.

If my boy needs counseling, bishop, it should be my responsibility first, and yours second.

If my boy needs recreation, bishop, I should provide it first, and you second.

If my boy needs correction, that should be my responsibility first, and yours second.

If I am failing as a father, help me first, and my children second.

Do not be too quick to take over from me the job of raising my children.

Do not be too quick to counsel them and solve all of the problems. Get me involved. It is my ministry. 15

L. Tom Perry

President Harold B. Lee … said the Church is the scaffold with which we build eternal families 16….

There are two principal reasons why I appreciate President Lee’s metaphor for the Church—as scaffolding for our eternal families. First, it helps me understand what the Church is. Second, and equally important, I understand what the Church is not.

The Church as scaffolding is perhaps best represented by the statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith about his role as the leader of the Church. He said: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” Eternal principles are the scaffolding the Church provides. These eternal principles are embedded in the doctrines of the Kingdom of the Eternal God, and reflected in His eternal plan of happiness. We meet as members of the Church to teach and learn from each other the principles of righteousness and receive saving ordinances so the scaffolding is steady and stable as we build our eternal families.

Notice that the Church is not meant to do the work of parents—it guides the work of parents. The Church offers an eternal form. As builders of eternal families, we are reassured by promises that if we build according to this eternal form, our efforts can provide the safety and protection we seek for those we love most.

My young friends, your challenge is to use the Church as scaffolding to build a family that is … spiritually strong. 17

M. Russel Ballard

The family is where the foundation of personal, spiritual growth is built and nurtured; the Church then is the scaffolding that helps support and strengthen the family. 18

Bruce R. McConkie

From the moment of birth into mortality to the time we are married in the temple, everything we have in the whole gospel system is to prepare and qualify us to enter that holy order of matrimony which makes us husband and wife in this life and in the world to come.

Then from the moment we are sealed together by the power and authority of the holy priesthood—the power to bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens—from that moment everything connected with revealed religion is designed to help us keep the terms and conditions of our marriage covenant, so that this covenant will have efficacy, virtue, and force in the life to come. 19

References:

  1. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 287.
  2. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Deseret Book Company, 1968). pp. 286–87.
  3. Improvement Era, Vol. 5, p. 307; Feb., 1902. 20Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Deseret Book Company, 1968). pp. 201-203
  4. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Deseret Book Company, 1968). pp. 358-361
  5. Harold B. Lee, “Preparing Our Youth,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 3;
  6. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, comp. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 263.
  7. “Primary Fundamentals for Primary Workers and Parents,” Children’s Friend, Aug. 1950, 342.
  8. “Living the Gospel in the Home,” Ensign, May 1978, 101.
  9. President Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 48.
  10. In Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 109–10; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 100.
  11. Boyd K. Packer. “The Power of the Priesthood,” April 2010.
  12. Ensign, May 2010
  13. Ensign, May 1995, p.7
  14. Family Togetherness—the Core of the Church, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1963, 10
  15. Boyd K. Packer. “Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Own Way,” April 1978
  16. see The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 267
  17. The Church: Scaffolding for Our Lives,” Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, 24 January 2012
  18. LDS Church News, 1996, 04/13/96
  19. Conference Report, April 1970, p.26

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