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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Eternal Language

            While visiting with a friend recently, I asked her about a mutual friend that I have not seen or visited with for several years. I asked her if our mutual friend had gotten a divorce. She answered yes and added a few other details. It appears that there is another serious problem in the family besides the parental divorce. This problem is the fact that the children are leaving the Church or at least becoming inactive in it.

            I was quite troubled by this news. I feel bad for the applicable family, but I also feel some concern for my own posterity. I know too many people who have children who are leaving the Church or choosing to distance themselves from the Church.

            One of those people is my own daughter. Five of my six children are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They appear to be strong members and to be teaching their children properly. I have not seen any warning signs that would tell me anything different. I believe that my children and their spouses are fairly solid in the gospel, but my oldest grandchild is only sixteen years old. My concern is about what the grandchildren will do when they become adults and are no longer living with their parents. Will they stay solid, or will they do something else?

            I voiced my concern to my youngest son last week, and he assured me that I had taught my children well – and they were teaching their children. He reminded me that everyone has the agency to choose how they will live their lives. He later sent me a link to a talk given at the April 2017 General Conference of the Church. I heard the talk when it was given, and I have read it or listened to it several times. However, I had forgotten the advice given in it, and I was comforted by it. The counsel in the talk can help my posterity to stay strong.

            The talk was given by Elder Valeri V. Cordon of the Quorum of the Seventy. It is titled “The Language of the Gospel.” Elder Cordon began his talk by discussing how language is lost when an individual or family moves to the United States. He said that the first generation speaks their native language “as their primary language and uses enough English to communicate with others. The second generation … speak[s] very good English” and perhaps some broken native language. The third generation has lost the native language. He compared the native language to the language of the gospel or the eternal language.

I noticed a similarity between preserving a mother tongue and preserving the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Today in my analogy, I would like to emphasize not any particular earthly language but rather an eternal language that must be preserved in our families and never lost. I speak of the language of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By “language of the gospel,” I mean all the teachings of our prophets, our obedience to those teachings, and our following righteous traditions.

            Elder Cordon discusses three ways that we can preserve the eternal language in our families and likens them to preserving a native language. The first suggestion is to be “more diligent and concerned at home.” He says that parents, who desire to preserve their native language, diligently teach it to their children. Studies have shown that they are usually successful in their endeavor. Elder Cordon makes his comparison with the eternal language as follows.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned that “weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home” is a powerful cause that may break the cycle of multi-generational families in the Church. We can therefore conclude that powerful teaching is extremely important to preserve the gospel in our families, and it requires diligence and effort.

We have been invited many times to acquire the practice of daily family and personal scripture study. Many families that are doing this are blessed each day with greater unity and a closer relationship with the Lord.

When will daily scripture study happen? It will happen when parents take the scriptures in hand and, with love, invite the family to gather together to study. It is difficult to see this study happening in any other way….

            Elder Cordon’s second suggestion is “Strong modeling in the home.” In order to preserve a native language, the parents must “bring the language alive” for their children. He says that “teaching and modeling work together.” He shares a personal story about how he learned to pay his tithing. His parents taught him to pay tithing, but their best lesson was his observance that they paid tithing and trusted the Lord even when they had no money to buy food for their family. The next day a sewing order came into their small home business, and the money for it was paid in advance. His parents taught and modeled the importance of paying tithing.

In the New Testament, the Lord talks about modeling. He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).

It is not enough just to talk to our children about the importance of temple marriage, fasting, and keeping the Sabbath day holy. They must see us making room in our schedules to attend the temple as frequently as we can. They need to see our commitment to fasting regularly and keeping the entire Sabbath day holy….

            Elder Cordon’s third suggestion is traditions. Native language is often lost when it is mixed with other languages and traditions.

As families, we need to avoid any tradition that will prevent us from keeping the Sabbath day holy or having daily scripture study and prayer at home. We need to close the digital doors of our home to pornography and all other evil influences. To combat the worldly traditions of our day, we need to use the scriptures and the voice of our modern prophets to teach our children about their divine identity, their purpose in life, and the divine mission of Jesus Christ.

            Elder Cordon concludes his talk by reminding us that “No achievement in this life, important as it may be, will be relevant if we lose the language of the gospel in our families. It is my testimony that Heavenly Father will bless us in our efforts as we strive to embrace His language, even until we become fluent in this higher level of communication, which always was our mother tongue.”

            Elder Cordon’s suggestions for teaching the eternal language can be summarized as follows: (1) Parents must be diligent about teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ at home.
(2) Parents must model the eternal language and make it come alive in their home. (3) Parents must establish righteous traditions, such as personal and family prayer and scripture study, family home evening, observance of the Sabbath Day, temple attendance, etc.

            We must remember that a family can be lost in just one generation. I know of many instances where a son or a daughter decided to stop living the gospel. They marry out of the Church and rear their children without any contact with the Church. Sometimes, the grandchildren or great-grandchildren find their own way back into the Church but usually not. There are numerous examples of this in my extended family. If we want our posterity to speak the eternal language, we must be diligent in living and teaching it in our homes.

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