Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Families are strengthened by sharing uplifting family traditions. Traditions are formed over time as we repeat the same activities over and over again. We know that all families have traditions of one kind or another. Some of them have been passed down to us from our parents and grandparents; some of them have been intentionally started by us. Some traditions have more to do with material or temporal things and others are more spiritual in nature. Some traditions come from our ethic background, our culture, or our national heritage. Traditions are very important to us and become part of the very fiber of our beings.

The Apostle Paul counseled the Thessalonians, “Therefore, … stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). What traditions have we been taught? The Christmas season is a good time to review our traditions, keep those that are uplifting, and discard those that are not.

President Howard W. Hunter taught the following to students and faculty at the Church College of New Zealand: “I would like to say something to you that I consider to be very important. Throughout your life, you will be faced with many choices. How well you select among the alternatives will determine your success and happiness in life. Some of the decisions you will make will be absolutely critical and can affect the entire course of your life. Please measure those alternatives against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“To be able to do that you must know and understand his teachings. As you exercise faith and live worthy of inspiration, you will be directed in the important choices you make.”
President Hunter continued, “… Measure whatever anyone else asks you to do, whether it be from your family, loved ones, your cultural heritage, or traditions you have inherited – measure everything against the teachings of the Savior. Where you find a variance from those teachings, set that matter aside and do not pursue it. It will not bring you happiness.”

It is not always easy to determine when a tradition is in conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ, but it is important to abandon incorrect traditions. Because customs and traditions become a part of us, we must make sure that we keep only good traditions.

It is difficult to change a tradition that has become an embedded pattern in our life. When we try to change, we must not only overcome our own weaknesses, but we often have to endure comments and/or actions that ridicule, criticize, or even persecute us. We can gain strength by studying the scriptures, praying, and being obedient to God’s commandments. When we have overcome incorrect traditions, we are then in a position to help others overcome them.

Examples of traditions that are considered incorrect are: 1) spouses who are domineering and authoritarian and who insist on making all of the important decisions for the family; 2) traditions that violate the Word of Wisdom, 3) traditions that cause conflict with other cultures, 4) traditions of abuse.

We must remember that Satan is anxious to destroy all families. He wants to destroy Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. He wants to undermine righteous authority and order. He wants to divide us into groups with individual interests. He wants us to think that entertainment, excitement and fun are the most important things in life. He is completely opposed to all that Heavenly Father wants for us.

Heavenly Father’s plan was expressed by the Savior, “Behold, … I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27). God’s plan for His children tells us that we must abandon selfish interests and make others happy by serving them. When we follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, we can become more united.

Brigham Young once taught, “A perfect oneness will save a people, because intelligent beings [can only] become perfectly one, … by acting upon principles that pertain to eternal life. Wicked men may be partially united in evil; but, … the very principle upon which they are partially united will itself breed contention … to destroy the temporary compact. Only … truth and righteousness can secure … an eternal continuation of perfect union; for only truth and those who are sanctified by it can dwell in celestial glory” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1961], 282).

Traditions that are uplifting are important in leading us to the things of the Holy Spirit. Traditions that strengthen our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and traditions that bring unity to families, communities, and nations are especially important.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Where family or national traditions or customs conflict with the teachings of God, set them aside. Where traditions and customs are in harmony with His teachings, they should be cherished and followed to preserve your culture and heritage. There is one heritage that you need never change. It is that heritage that comes from your being a daughter or son of Father in Heaven. For happiness, control your life by that heritage” (“Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 85).

Traditions are important in our lives and become part of us. The most important traditions deal with who we are and how we live our lives. The best traditions will enrich our lives for the better and be something that we want to pass down to our children and grandchildren. For this reason, families grow stronger and more unified when they share uplifting traditions.

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