Each generation of parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation by being vigilant in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children by word and example. Any family is just one generation away from apostasy, and there are plenty of people willing to help us and our families leave our religion behind. The rising generation must know the doctrine in order to withstand the forces against them.
“Change is always one generation away. So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away – and that’s what I think we have an obligation to do.”
The above statement was made by Lawrence M. Krauss, a cosmologist and theoretical physicist, while speaking to the Victorian Skeptics Café in Australia. He made the following suggestion: “What we need to do is present comparative religion as a bunch of interesting historical anecdotes and show the silly reasons why they each did what they did. Instead of shying away from it, we have to explicitly educate people to confront their own misconceptions.”
The scriptures give numerous instances where the rising generation did not follow the teachings of their parents and the problems that arose from their apostasy. We live in a day when Satan is working hard to convince our youth to make bad choices, and we must give them enough spiritual support to keep them safe. We can never give our rising generation too much spiritual reinforcement because they face the onslaught of Satan every hour of every day. Someone once suggested that if we send our children out to face the day without family prayer and scripture study, it is as though we are sending them to battle in a swimming suit with a paper plate for their shield and a straw for their sword.
The rising generation of today is in great danger of becoming like the one described in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 26. Three years before the death of King Benjamin, he called his people together in order to speak to them. He told them that his son, Mosiah, would be their new king. He told them that an angel had visited him to tell him about the coming of the Savior to the earth. He taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. When he was through speaking, he wanted to know if they believed what he had told them. They replied that they did believe the words of their king.
“And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God” (Mosiah 5:5).
King Benjamin rejoiced that they had made this covenant and took the names of those “who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments.
“And it came to pass that there was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ” (Mosiah 6:1-2).
A few years and twenty chapters later, we read that there were “many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.
“They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.
“And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened” (Mosiah 26:1-3).
The rising generation of our day could also be led astray by men and women like Krauss who seek to destroy their faith. The only way to keep them safe is to teach them to understand their part in Heavenly Father’s plan.
A 2010 visiting teaching message by Julie B. Beck, then Relief Society general president, was about this topic. “So what is it that will keep the rising generation safe? In the Church, we teach saving principles, and those principles are family principles, the principles that will help the rising generation to form a family, teach that family, and prepare that family for ordinances and covenants – and then the next generation will teach the next and so on.
“As parents, leaders, and Church members, we are preparing this generation for the blessings of Abraham, for the temple. We have the responsibility to be very clear on key points of doctrine found in the proclamation on the family. Motherhood and fatherhood are eternal roles and responsibilities. Each of us carries the responsibility for either the male or the female half of the plan.
“We can teach this doctrine in any setting. We must speak respectfully of marriage and family. And from our example, the rising generation can gain great hope and understanding – not just from the words we speak but from the way we feel and emanate the spirit of family.”
On September 23, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke in the general Relief Society meeting and said, “The world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior.” He then introduced “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” to the sisters, the Church, and the world.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has translated this prophetic document into many languages and given it to world leaders. The proclamation asks citizens and government leaders `to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” This document is the foundation for Latter-day Saint beliefs about marriage and family. If we hold fast to this proclamation and live by its precepts, we can strengthen our homes, communities, and nation.