Home is the very best place for us to practice and prepare for the challenges of our life here on earth as well as for the blessings of eternity. There is nothing that we can do here on earth that is of greater significance or importance than what we do in our homes and with our families. What we do in our homes is important because it prepares us for the challenges of everyday life; it is equally or even more important because it prepares us for eternal life. Family relationships are the most important relationships on earth or in heaven.
President David O. McKay, the ninth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home. This thought was echoed by President Harold B. Lee, the eleventh President of he Church who taught: "… the most important of the Lord's work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home."
Homes and families are important to the Lord's servants here on earth because they are important to our Heavenly Father. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why so much emphasis is put on homes and families.
"The ministry of the prophets and apostles leads them ever and always to the home and the family….
"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"
(Ensign, May 1995, 8).
Home and family life are important because it is a safe place for us to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ. Parents can best teach their children the importance of keeping the commandments of God and living His gospel. We read in the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, about a time when there was peace among the people who lived upon the American continents. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, He visited his followers living in the
. They learned his gospel and lived its
"And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
"And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift….
"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
"And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God"
(4 Nephi 1:2-3, 15-16).
Loving and righteous parents teach important principles everyday by using ordinary experiences such as those shown in the following experience of a young Latter-day Saint man.
"The Book of Mormon … is where you find the best discourse on serving ice cream in a truly righteous family. Actually it doesn't talk much about ice cream…. But it does teach you a lot about proper technique in serving ice cream.
"Maybe you could understand better if I told you how I used to serve ice cream and then explain the difference.
"Since I am a teenager, when dad or mom would ask me to serve everyone some ice cream, the first thing I would do was find me a [large] bowl and stack the ice cream to the teenager level, which is about two inches above the rim. Then I would dish up the ice cream for the rest of the family. However, my brother and sisters are smaller than I, so of course the small ice cream dishes are just about right for them.
"Well, my dad showed me in the Book of Mormon where it explains that my method [wasn't right].
"In 4 Nephi it tells what it was like after the Savior visited the people in
following his resurrection. After his visit, the people really lived
righteous lives. And the way they lived
can help us understand how to develop celestial families. It even teaches us how to serve ice cream. America
"… My dad gently explained to me that when I have the standard teenager's portion, it makes [my sisters] jealous and envious. When they get like that, they start giving me all kinds of reasons why they should have as much as I do. Of course, I have to explain to them, loud enough for them to understand, that teenagers need more nourishment than `little girls.' Then they always have a response for that. And I have to reply - in a slightly louder tone, of course.
"Well, when I read 4 Nephi, I could see that we were having one of those `disputations' that Nephi was talking about; and the disputations had been caused by a `contention;' and the contention was caused by `envying.'
"So you can see that there is a certain way you have to serve ice cream in a family desiring to be more righteous.
"Mom also pointed out something else. If everyone is allowed to have a fair share, according to their needs, then there are really no rich ice cream eaters and no poor ice cream eaters. Having no rich or poor means that everyone has as much as he needs, but he does not have so much more than [others] that they get envious and cause contentions which lead to disputations.
"When these disputations are avoided, there really is `peace in the land.' At least there is peace in the [home], and everyone is happier!" (R. Todd Hunt, "Serving Ice Cream in a Celestial Family," New Era, Jan-Feb. 1982, 9).
The wise father and mother in this experience grabbed a teaching moment and taught their son the damaging effects of contention and the helpful effects of love. The son realized that his actions had a great impact on the degree of happiness in his home.
When we learn gospel principles at home - such as work, faith, love, prayer, controlling anger, service, selflessness, and scripture study - we are better prepared to meet the challenges of life successfully. The simple act of serving ice cream lovingly probably helped the young man learn to build stronger friendships outside the home.
As good as family life is about preparing us for the challenges of life, a more important byproduct of a righteous home and family is that it prepares us for eternal life together as families.
President David O. McKay stated, "I believe that the best place to prepare for … eternal life is in the home" (President David O. McKay, "Blueprint for Family Living," Improvement Era, April 1963, 252).
In the early day of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave instructions to Joseph Smith about building a temple. These instructions can be applied to the home because "only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness" (Bible Dictionary, "
The Lord told Joseph Smith, "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119).
Our families can make our homes into houses of God by having regular family prayer, helping each other, forgiving each other, reading the scriptures together, working together, being considerate of each other, and by holding family home evening.
"The most sacred place on 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 relationship in the Church, the family" (Elder Boyd K. Packer, That All May Be Edified , 234-35).
One of my favorite hymns is entitled "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth" (Hymns, no. 298; written by Carolyn Hamilton Klopfer with music by W. Herbert Klopfer). I like it because it explains how specific acts of love strengthen homes and families.
"Home can be a heav'n on earth When we are filled with love,
Bringing happiness and joy, Rich blessings from above -
Warmth and kindness, charity, Safety and security -
Making home a part of heaven, Where we want to be.
"Drawing fam'ly near each week, We'll keep love burning bright.
Serving Him with cheerful hearts, We'll grow in truth and light.
Parents teach and lead the way, Children honor and obey,
Reaching for our home in heaven, Where we want to stay.
"Praying daily in our home, We'll feel His love divine;
Searching scriptures faithfully, We'll nourish heart and mind.
Singing hymns of thanks, we'll say, `Father, help us find the way
Leading to our home in heaven, Where we long to stay.'"
I know that our home and families are important in learning gospel principles and preparing for eternal life. Let us remember President McKay's statement about the home being the best place to prepare for eternal life. I know that families can build gospel-centered homes when they worked together towards that common goal.