The doctrine of the family is one of the doctrines that were lost from the gospel of Jesus Christ during the Great Apostasy. It was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On September 23, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley read a document titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This document contains the doctrine of the family, and it publishes this doctrine with all the people of the world.
Millions of members of the Church of Jesus Christ have read the document, and many of them have memorized it. Some people review the principles in the document on a regular basis and apply them to their lives. Sister Julie B. Beck, then the Relief Society General President, encourages everyone to teach the doctrine of the family to their children and grandchildren as well as to anyone else who will listen.
Nevertheless, parents, teachers, and leaders of youth need to teach the rising generation the doctrine of the family. It is essential to help them achieve eternal life (see Moses 1:39). They need to know that the theology of the family is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement [of Jesus Christ]. They need to understand the threats to the family so they will know what they are fighting against and can prepare. They need to understand clearly that the fulness of the gospel is realized in temple ordinances and covenants.
In the above paragraph Sister Beck explains why it is important to teach the proclamation to the rising generation. She continues by explaining that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches a “theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.”
… The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. God created a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family….
The Fall provided a way for the family to grow….
The Atonement [of Jesus Christ] allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection….
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was written to reinforce that the family is central to the Creator’s plan. Without the family, there is no plan; there is no reason for mortal life.
Sister Beck explains that we need to know the theology because the family is under threat. The proclamation on the family was published in 1995 and shows that the Prophets and Apostles were well aware of the dangers to the family that would soon come out of the shadows. She says that the threats include rising divorce rates, same-sex marriage, cohabitation, abortion, lower birth rates, abuse, pornography, and others. In addition, the rising generation is losing faith in the institution of marriage because they see marriages failing all around them.
In addition to Sister Beck, there are other voices calling for us to teach and live the principles of the proclamation. She quotes President Hinckley (1910-2008) as saying that the proclamation was “a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices” that this Church as always had.” She also quotes President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) as saying, “This order … of family government where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God – just as did Adam and Eve – to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity … is the only means by which we can one day see the face of God and live.”
The proclamation explains many things about the family. It tells us that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” It tells us that the “family is central” to God’s plan of happiness. It tells us that motherhood and fatherhood are eternal roles, and that the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28) is still in force.
According to Sister Beck, the rising generation needs to know the information in the proclamation because they are the ones that are being targeted by Satan. “This generation will be called upon to defend the doctrine of the family as never before. If they don’t know it, they can’t defend it.”
The doctrine of the family was restored to earth more than 150 years ago. It was published to the world nearly 25 years ago. It is the doctrine that will save the family as well as assist in preparing the earth for the Second Coming of Christ.