Relief Society: From ‘I’ to ‘we’

Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver
Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver
Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver

In 1995 the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a proclamation to the world entitled, “The Family.” Twenty years ago this year, prophets, seers and revelators testified with foresight that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan.”

Adding his personal testimony 10 years later, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared during his October 2005 general conference address that, “the proclamation is a prophetic document, not only because it was issued by prophets but because it was ahead of its time. It warns against many of the very things that have threatened and undermined families … and calls for the priority and the emphasis families need if they are to survive in an environment that seems ever more toxic to traditional marriage.”

In the beginning, God created male and female in His own image. The first commandment given them was to be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth. Through Adam and Eve a pattern was established.

We read in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

In Moses 4:26 we learn that Adam called his wife’s name, Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Together, they worked, they called upon the name of the Lord and they faithfully observed the commandments given them. They continued to learn and to teach their children. They mourned over rebellious children. They were grateful and blessed the name of God.

It was this pattern — man and woman as equal partners, spiritual leaders in their family and home — that Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles affirmed during a press conference on Jan. 29, when he said, “We’re committed to the kind of marriage that God has revealed that has been in effect for thousands of years.”

Speaking at the Vatican summit on marriage on Nov. 18, 2014, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, offered his own marriage as evidence “of the power of the union of a man and a woman in marriage.”

He said, “We grew together into one — slowly lifting and shaping each other, year by year. As we absorbed strength from each other, it did not diminish our personal gifts. Our differences combined … to create a better whole. Rather than dividing us, our differences bound us together.”

He went on to remind us of what we must do to help create “a renaissance of successful marriages and family life: We must find a way to lead people to a faith that they can replace their natural self-interest with deep and lasting feelings of charity … with that change, and only then, will people be able to make the hourly unselfish sacrifices necessary for a happy marriage and family life — and do it with a smile.”

Charity then, the pure love of Christ, is the foundation on which we build successful marriages and families. It is a process, not an event, and observance of the principles found in the proclamation will undoubtedly strengthen our marriages and homes in this continual process. The proclamation teaches: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught during his April 2013 general conference address: “Regardless your home circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord, Jesus Christ. … When He is the center of your home, there is peace.”

We learn from the proclamation, “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Elder Scott affirmed during his October 2014 general conference address that consistent prayer, daily scripture study, weekly family home evening and temple attendance are tools our Father in Heaven has given us and will strengthen marriages and homes when they become “simple, fundamental daily habits.” He promised; “as you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life … it will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart.”

Elder Ballard stated in his October 2005 general conference address: “Today I call upon members of the Church and on committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to this great proclamation, to make it a banner not unlike Captain Moroni’s title of liberty, and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts. As we are all part of a family, the proclamation applies to everyone.”

May we individually and as families do our part to help create “a renaissance of successful marriages and family life” as we cultivate charity, put “I” and “my” aside and increase our focus on “we” and “our,” and unite our efforts to strengthen marriages and homes according to God’s pattern. With the Savior at the center we can expect heaven’s help because “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

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