Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we defend traditional marriage. The Catholic Church invited religious leaders and scholars representing 14 faith traditions from 23 countries to assemble at the Vatican on November 17-19, 2014. This historic gathering was called to discuss traditional marriage and how men and women complement each other in marriage.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed the assembly on November 18. “Most remarkable to me has been the fulfillment of the hope I felt the day I met my wife. I have become a better person as I have loved and lived with her. We have been complementary beyond anything I could have imagined. Her capacity to nurture others grew in me as we became one. My capacity to plan, direct, and lead in our family grew in her as we became united in marriage. I realize now that we grew together into one – slowly lifting and shaping each other, year by year. As we absorbed strength from each other, it did not diminish our personal gifts.
“Our differences combined as if they were designed to create a better whole. Rather than dividing us, our differences bound us together. Above all, our unique abilities allowed us to become partners with God in creating human life. The happiness that came from our becoming one built faith in our children and grandchildren that marriage could be a continuing source of satisfaction for them and their families.
“You have seen enough unhappiness in marriages and families to ask why some marriages produce happiness while others create unhappiness. Many factors make a difference, but one stands out to me.
“Where there is selfishness, natural differences of men and women often divide. Where there is unselfishness, differences become complementary and provide opportunities to help and build each other. Spouses and family members can lift each other and ascend together if they care more about the interests of the other than their own interests.
“If unselfishness is the key to complementary marriage between a man and a woman, we know what we must do to help create a renaissance of successful marriages and family life.
“We must find ways to lead people to a faith that they can replace their natural self-interest with deep and lasting feelings of charity and benevolence. With that change, and only then, will people be able to make the hourly unselfish sacrifices necessary for a happy marriage and family life – and to do it with a smile.
“The change that is needed is in people’s hearts more than in their minds. The most persuasive logic will not be enough unless it helps soften hearts. For instance, it is important for men and women to be faithful to a spouse and a family. But in the heat of temptation to betray their trust, only powerful feelings of love and loyalty will be enough.”
President Eyring then proceeded to read and explain the proclamation made to the world in September 1995 by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That proclamation is entitled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
Thousands, if not millions, of marriages and families have been strengthened through following the guidelines of this proclamation. As marriages and families are strengthened, they tend to strengthen their communities and nations.