Last November, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended with President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, and Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric a Colloquium on Marriage and Family at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
In his remarks during the Saturday morning session of general conference on April 4, Elder Perry spoke of the powerful sense of commonality and unity felt by the various religious representatives in attendance, who numbered from among 14 different faiths and six of the seven continents.
“It was remarkable for me to see how marriage and family-centered priorities cut across and superseded any political, economic or religious differences. When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries and dreams for children, we are all the same,” Elder Perry said.
With the majority of faiths and religions agreeing on the value of home and family relationships, Elder Perry said, some may ask, “How does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distinguish and differentiate itself from the rest of the world?”
The answer, Elder Perry said, is: “We make it a subject of eternity! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was, and they can go forward into eternity.”
The theology of the restored gospel centers on families, explained Elder Perry. “In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe in a pre-mortal life where we all lived as literal spirit children of God, our Eternal Father. We believe that we were, and still are, members of His family.”
Marriages performed under proper authority in the temple will continue to be valid in the world to come, he added.
“We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy and a stable culture of values — but that they are also the basic units of eternity and the kingdom and government of God,” Elder Perry said.
Despite the media and entertainment industries depicting immorality and amorality as the norm, the majority of mankind, said Elder Perry, believes marriage should be between one man and one woman.
“We need to remind ourselves once in a while, as we were reminded in Rome, of the wonderfully reassuring and comforting fact that marriage and family are still the aspiration and ideal of most people, and that we are not alone in those beliefs,” Elder Perry said.
He explained that it is the Church’s belief in supporting and creating strong families that leads it to participate in various ecumenical efforts, in sharing family-focused values in the media and social media and in sharing genealogical and extended family records.
“We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important; why marriage and family really do matter and why they always will."