Family — In the Faces of Children…
I have long enjoyed looking into the faces of my children, and now my grandchildren, and seeing the seeds, remnants, the countenances of my loved ones passed, in the faces of my descendants. I see the eyes and other facial features of my mother, father and grandparents in these little ones I have been so blessed to nurture. Oh how glorious it is to be family and share a common heritage not only seen in faces, but felt in a oneness like no other bond.
In “The Family — A Proclamation to the World,” the family is declared to be the “fundamental unit of society.” I with whole heartedness stand by this declaration as the voice and the mind of the Lord through His prophets. No other individual, enterprise or unit — governmental, religious, educational, political, occupational, societal, organizational, or otherwise — can or dare attempt to replace the family in its divinely appointed role. All efforts and influences on the part of outside parties should be made only in support and encouragement of success in family life. Efforts to interfere with the natural and God given roles of fathers and mothers are contrary to the will of the Lord and detrimental to the very causes that many proclaim as their purpose.
While there is not perfection in man or woman without the grace of our Savior, and therefore no perfection in mortal families, without being made perfect in Christ, lack of perfection should not give cause or reason to dismantle the family. Great care needs to be taken to protect this divine institution. We understand that no guarantees are given that earthly families will be functional, let alone ideal, but families, President Henry B. Eyring taught, “give God’s children the best chance to be welcomed to the world with the only love on earth that comes close to what we felt in heaven—parental love” (General Conference, April 2017).
We read, “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (The Family — A Proclamation to the World — President Gordon B. Hinckley, September 23, 1995).
In the pre-mortal sphere we lived as spirit sons and daughters of the Most High God, in a grand heavenly family, from which our earthly families are patterned. As children of God we have a divine heritage and are heir to all the blessings of eternal life and joy. I can only suppose as our Heavenly Parents looked into our faces, They could see our family resemblance, the oneness of our countenances, just as we look upon our children and grandchildren.
As spirit children we could see that our Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bone, only glorified and perfected, and we wanted to become more like Him. We were blessed with the fulfillment of our desires through God’s great plan of happiness and salvation. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28).
And so God gave man to woman, and woman to man, in holy matrimony, that we might carry out His great plan for the happiness of God’s children. A Savior would be provided that the errors of our efforts could be redeemed, and all would share opportunity in grace and mercy. It is in Jesus Christ that hope is fulfilled, justice is satisfied, and mercy is given. It is in the family that we should learn the true nature of God and our relationship to Him.
No matter what the circumstances of our families, there is hope in Christ. Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “To declare the fundamental truths relative to marriage and family is not to overlook or diminish the sacrifices and successes of those for whom the ideal is not a present reality. … Everyone has gifts; everyone has talents; everyone can contribute to the unfolding of the divine plan in each generation. Much that is good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. … With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children” (General Conference, April 2015).
It is my personal witness that through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, shortcomings are repaired, wrongs are righted, and hope is restored, that the eternal family of God, the Father of us all, is made one and whole. Even as we can see the familial resemblance in countenances of those we love, so the countenance of our Heavenly Parents shines brightly in the faces of all His children, followers of our elder brother Jesus. May we protect, defend, and preserve the family as the divinely appointed and foundational unit upon which hope is endowed for the functionality, growth and success of society. It is through and within the family structure that we learn how we are to live eternally as families in God’s kingdom. Let God’s kingdom prevail on earth, and in our families, is my prayer and admonition. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.