Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we strive to improve our relationships with those we love as well as with our associates. We can improve relationships best when we have common goals and desires. We can develop stronger relationships by building them upon the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published “The Family - A Proclamation to the World” in 1995, and they testify that it applies as much today or even more than it did at that time. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that the proclamation remains “a clarion call to protect and strengthen the family.” He encouraged all members of the church – as well as other interested people – to “make [the proclamation] a banner not unlike General Moroni’s `title of liberty,’ and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts.” (See “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign, November 2005, 41.)
Captain Moroni was a great patriot and prophet of Book of Mormon times and used his “title of liberty” to persuade his fellow countrymen to stand and fight for their wives, children, homes, religion, and country. We can use the proclamation on the family to strengthen our families, communities, and nations against the temptations of Satan by regular and careful study and by following the counsel of prophets and apostles.
Last Sunday our stake president encouraged all stake members to study the proclamation carefully and to use what we learn to strengthen relationships. He challenged married people to improve their relationship with their spouse, single people to improve their relationship with a parent or sibling, and singles without family to improve their relationship with a friend. He suggested that we choose one of the doctrines listed in the proclamation and work together on it for an entire month and then choose another doctrine to incorporate into our lives. He promised that we would see changes in our relationships. By following his counsel and choosing a new doctrine for each new month, we could work on our relationships for at least nine months without needing to search out other doctrines.
The part of the proclamation on which he wants us to focus is the seventh paragraph, which states, “… Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities….”
President Gordon B. Hinckley presented this proclamation to the Relief Society sisters in their annual broadcast from Salt Lake City, Utah. Before he read the proclamation, he touched lightly upon some of the problems faced by many of the sisters, whether they are young or old, married or single. “With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.”
President Hinckley then read the proclamation in its entirety before stating: “We commend to all a careful, thoughtful, and prayerful reading of this proclamation. The strength of any nation is rooted within the walls of its homes. We urge our people everywhere to strengthen their families in conformity with these time-honored values.” (See “Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995.)
The proclamation proved to be prophetic. It warned about the very problems that we are facing in our nation and world today. The final two paragraphs contain a warning and a challenge: “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”
I know that the proclamation on the family is needed more today than when it was given eighteen years ago. I know that we can strengthen our families by following the counsel contained in the proclamation on the family. I also know that we can strengthen our communities and nations by strengthening our own family because the family is the most important unit of society.