The Family in Mormonism
Mormons believe the family is the central unit of life on earth and should be cared for with respect and devotion. The eleventh Mormon prophet and president of the Church, Harold B. Lee, stated "the most important of the Lord's work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home" (Strengthening the Home, pamphlet, 1973, p. 7). Mormons believe this to be true--the family is worth all the time and work it takes to create loving, positive relationships here on earth.
One reason Mormons believe the family is so important is that they believe the family continues as a unit after death. In other words, Mormons believe families are forever. Mormon marriages are eternal and sacred. The priesthood has the power to perform ordinances on earth that last forever. When Mormon marriages occur in sacred Mormon temples, a man and a woman are creating a family unit that will never end, as long as those parents live faithfully and obey the promises they make to the Lord.
In a Mormon family, members believe the man and woman are endowed with privileges and attributes that they have had since the very beginning of their existence. The roles of husband and wife, father and mother, are sacred and eternally important to Mormons. In 1995 the First Presidency of the Mormon Church issued a proclamation on the family. As part of this, they outlined the divine roles of man and woman: "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."
Mormons shun anything that is harmful to the family. They know that Satan understands the Lord's plan and knows that the family is central in it. To be happy forever, God's children wish to live with their families, and Satan wants to ruin the family unit. The law of chastity is one commandment that Satan wants men and women to ignore. But disobedience to the commandments the Lord has given about the sacred powers of procreation will bring only sadness to the family. Satan tries to allow other worldly views to permeate the family and destroy the eternal picture. Although trials and sadness occur in life, Mormons know that obeying the Lord's commandments and living faithfully will ensure they will be with their families again after death.
The issue of plural marriage is one that comes up often in discussions on the history of Mormons. The Lord has, at certain times throughout the history of the world, given the commandment to practice plural marriage. It is important to note that during the early formation of the Mormon Church this commandment was given only to specific members of the Church, and when the Lord told His people they were no longer to practice plural marriage, the members discontinued the practice. The current president and prophet of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, has said, "I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church . . . . If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose." (Gordon B. Hinckley, "What Are People Asking About Us?" Ensign, Nov. 1998, 70).
The Lord has said that "marriage is ordained of God unto man" (Doctrine and Covenants 49:15). Mormons believe marriage is an essential part of the Lord's plan for His children. Marrying and bringing children into the world will bring everlasting happiness. The Lord designed it so. Mormons believe those who do not have the opportunity to marry and have children in this life will receive such opportunities in the next life.
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