"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God…. The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" ("The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught, "Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities" (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
Families are part of Heavenly Father's plan of salvation. When God implemented His plan for the happiness of His children, the Father commanded Jehovah (Jesus Christ) and Michael (Adam) to create this earth. God needed a place to send His spirit children in order for them to obtain physical bodies and to be tested in order to prepare them to become like Him. God created Adam and Eve and performed their marriage ceremony there in the Garden of Eden while they were still immortal. This means that their marriage is for eternity. God commanded them to have children (see Genesis 1:28) because providing physical bodies for God's spirit children is one of the purposes for marriage. Men and women are partners with Heavenly Father in creating eternal families. God sends His spirit children to earth to receive mortal bodies and to experience life on earth. Bringing children into the world is the way that parents help Heavenly Father to carry out His plan.
In a recent address Jean A. Stevens addressed this subject. She said, "Our Father in Heaven, in His great wisdom and love, sends His spirit sons and daughters to this earth as children. They come to families as precious gifts with a divine nature and destiny. Our Heavenly Father knows children are a key to helping us become like Him. There is so much we can learn from children." (See Ensign, May 2011, p. 10.)
Sister Stevens gave several true stories about "how children can bless our lives with their innocent yet powerful examples of Christlike attributes". Her first example was Todd, a two-year old who went with his mother to "a special art exhibit of beautiful paintings of the Savior. As they walked past these sacred images, she heard her little boy reverently saying the name `Jesus.' She looked down to see him folding his arms and bowing his head as he viewed the paintings." Little Todd knew how to show humility, reverence, and love of God.
The second example was "a 10-year-old boy in
. "As we waited for sacrament meeting to begin, he noticed the oldest member of the branch [congregation] arrive. He … quickly went to her side, offering his arm to steady her faltering steps. He assisted her to the front row of the chapel, where she could hear." This young boy knew the importance of kindness and service. Armenia
The third example was Katie, a young girl of Primary age, who had great influence on her family. "She attended Primary and was drawn to the teachings of the gospel. With growing faith and testimony, Katie left a note on her parents' pillow. She wrote that the gospel truths had found a `home in her heart.' She shared her longing to be close to her Heavenly Father, to be obedient to His commandments, and to have their family sealed in the temple. The simple testimony of their sweet daughter touched her parents' hearts in a powerful way. Katie and her family did receive sacred temple ordinances that bound their family together forever. Katie's believing heart and example of faith helped bring eternal blessings to her family." Katie taught her family what was most important because she had a "sincere testimony and desire to follow the Lord's plan."
The fourth example was six-year-old Liam who "battled aggressive brain cancer" for the past year. He endured two difficult surgeries followed by radiation treatments. Liam was required to "be all alone and lie absolutely still" during the treatments, but he "did not want to be sedated because he disliked the way it made him feel." Liam said that he could hold still without sedatives if "he could just hear his dad's voice over the intercom." The father offered "words of encouragement and love" to Liam whenever he became anxious. "Liam, although you can't see me, I am right here. I know you can do it. I love you." Little "Liam successfully accomplished the 33 required radiation treatments while holding perfectly still…. Through months of pain and difficulty, Liam's contagious optimism has been a powerful example of meeting adversity with hope and even happiness" and has inspired many people with his courage.
My last example happened in my own family. One of my daughters called after her children were in bed on a recent Monday night. For whatever reason, her family had not held their regular family home evening, and her five-year-old daughter was whining to have family home evening - even though it was already after 9:00 and the other children were already in bed. When she asked to speak to me, I asked her what was making her unhappy, and she explained. I told her that I was home alone and suggested that she hold family home evening with me over the telephone. I asked her to sing her favorite Primary song, which was "I Am A Child of God," and then I told her the story of Joseph Smith's first vision when the Father and the Son appeared to him. She sang another song, "Jesus Wants Me for A Sunbeam" and told me the story of the three little pigs. I convinced her that it was time for her to go to bed, and she was happy when we said "I love you" and "goodbye."
Children, in their innocence and humility, have great faith. A righteous king named Benjamin explained in the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ why the natural man must become like little children: "And even if it were possible that little children could sin they could not be saved; but I say unto you they are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins.
"And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
"For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (See Mosiah 3:16-18; italics added.)
Children with their believing hearts and childlike faith can strengthen entire families. Their examples can soften our hearts and lead us to humility and the willingness to make the necessary changes in our lives. They can help us become more like Christ. Children strengthen families and help them to be successful and eternal.