11) FAMILY: Is the family the basic unit of society and should it be sustained by government. Should the community and social experts have responsibility for raising families?

Prophetic Statements

Heber J. Grant

I have had some of the most insulting letters that ever came to me, condemning me for not being in favor of the Townsend Plan (original name of Social Security), and that I must be ignorant of the plan. I am not ignorant of the plan… it is in direct opposition to everything I have quoted from Brigham Young and from the revelations of the Lord. The idea of allowing every man and woman who has reached the age of sixty years and wishes to retire from working to get $200 a month from the government! There is nothing truer than Brigham Young’s statement, that we should give nothing to people, unless they are not able to work, without requiring them to do something for it. 1

Harold B. Lee

I have asked myself if the failure of children to take care of their aging parents, when they come to a day of want and are in need of sustenance, is due to the failure of parents, in the day gone by, to teach those same children to avoid the curse of idleness,a nd to be responsible in righteousness before our Heavenly Father. Unless we teach our children today correct principles, they . . . will be thankless and without the natural affection necessary to cement this society upon a firm, determined foundation. Yes, it seems to me that in very deed, the welfare plan has been a kind of turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children, that we might be prolonged upon this land which the Lord our God has given us. 2

Suppose that tonight a telephone call comes to the father of a family where he is at work, bringing him the distressing word that his little son has ben hit with an automobile and has been rushed to the hospital, critically injured. This family is making only a very low income, just barely enough to keep the family together with food and the essentials. Now there faces the family immediately a doctor bill, a hospital bill–how in the world are you going to handle it?

I fear if I should ask you that question and have you answer it here, most of you would say: “Well, we will call on the fast offering funds.” And that is not the way the welfare program begins, and that is where we make our error. In the first place, we start out with the individual himself. We do not move from that point until we have helped the individual to do all he can to help his own problem. Now, sentiment and our emotional sympathy might push us to other conclusions, but that is the first, and then we reach out to the immediate relatives of that family. We are losing the family solidarity, we are losing the strength that comes from family unity, when we fail to give opportunity and to help to direct a way by which immediate relatives of that family can come to the aid of their own. 3

Ezra Taft Benson

The function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property, and anything more or less than this is usurpation and oppression. 4


Mosiah 20:11
And it came to pass that the people of Limhi began to drive the Lamanites before them; yet they were not half so numerous as the Lamanites. But they afought for their lives, and for their wives, and for their children; therefore they exerted themselves and like dragons did they fight.

1 Timothy 5:8
But if any [man] provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

  1. Heber J. Grant, General Conference October 1936.
  2. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, pp. 307-308; Conference Report, April 6 1946, pp. 67-72.
  3. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 309; Relief Society Magazine 33, December 1946, pp. 809-817, 841-842.
  4. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, “Americans Are Destroying America,” April 1968, pp. 49-54.
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