The family is the basic or core unit of society and eternity. When the family unit is strong, society is strong. When the family unit is weak, society is weak. We are living in dangerous times because the family unit is growing weaker. The family is being pulled apart by the many forces pulling at it, and this destruction of the family is weakening the integrity of society. This disintegration of the family did not happen overnight or without warning.
In September 1995 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published its document titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This document explains the importance of marriage and family to society and warns of serious problems if the family disintegrates.
Some of the forces that are taking such a terrible toll on families come through technology. Technology replaces family ties with relationships formed on social media. It causes parents to spend more time on their cell phones or computers than they do with their children. It causes even worse problems when it brings evil into our homes with games and pornography. Pornography is an insidious evil that destroys individuals, marriages, and families because it destroys the ability to feel and love in constructive ways. It invites and then imprisons its victims in its realm of darkness and causes them to disconnect with life as it really is. Pornography is so bad because it comes right into our homes whether or not it is invited, but misuse of other types of technology is also serious.
When people cannot see the difference between the real world and the fake, they often trade the good for the bad. In a powerful address about technology entitled “Things as They Really Are,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Council of Twelve Apostles outlines many problems caused by the misuse of technology. He explains that technology has the ability to make things look so real that it is difficult to see the difference between reality and simulation, and many people trade the good for the bad.
We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality. For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk. A pilot in a fight simulator repeatedly can practice emergency landing procedures that could save many lives. And architects and engineers can use innovative technologies to model sophisticated design and construction methods that decrease the loss of human life and damage to buildings caused by earthquakes and other natural disasters.
In each of these examples, a high degree of fidelity in the simulation or model contributes to the effectiveness of the experience. The term fidelity denotes the similarity between reality and a representation of reality. Such a simulation can be constructive if the fidelity is high and the purposes are good – for example, providing experience that saves lives or improves the quality of life….
… However, a simulation or model can lead to spiritual impairment and danger if the fidelity is high and the purposes are bad – such as experimenting with actions contrary to God’s commandments or enticing us to think or do things we would not otherwise think or do “because it is only a game.”
I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes.
There is good technology, and there is bad technology. Our duty is to retain our ability to discern between the two of them. We must choose the technology that helps us to become better educated, to communicate with our immediate family, to keep our extended family close, and to build and strengthen the Church. We should avoid any technology that weakens our marriages and families or that brings distance between ourselves and God.
Satan knows that the family is central to God’s plan for the happiness of His children, and he will do anything to keep us from becoming eternal families. We can keep our families strong by following the principles outlined in the proclamation on the family. I know that families can be together forever if we stay on the covenant path back to our Heavenly Father.