“Our ability to stand firm and true and follow the Savior despite the vicissitudes of life is greatly strengthened by righteous families and Christ-centered unity in our wards and branches,” Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.
In a world with harsh realities, it is through following the Savior that individuals will flourish and become glorious — despite the many terrible circumstances that surround them.
“Our protections in this life and for eternity will be in individual and family righteousness, Church ordinances and following the Savior,” he said. “This is our refuge from the storm.”
The role of the family in God’s plan is “to bring us happiness, to help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere and to prepare us for eternal life.” Traditions of religious observance in the home — family prayer, scripture study, family home evening, priesthood blessings and Sabbath day observance — need to be imbedded in the hearts of children. In this effort, husbands and wives are equal partners, Elder Cook said.
“They have different, but complementary responsibilities," he said. "The wife may bear children which blesses the entire family. The husband may receive the priesthood which blesses the entire family. But in family council wives and husbands, as equal partners, make the most important decisions. They decide how the children will be taught and disciplined, how money will be spent, where they will live and many other family decisions. These are made jointly after seeking guidance from the Lord. The goal is an eternal family.”
Unity in the Church
A ward family is important to progression, happiness and personal effort to be more Christlike, the apostle taught. In a Church that doesn’t divide by class, rank, race or culture, Church members are united in their values and beliefs.
“We recognize that some members have questions and concerns as they seek to strengthen their faith and testimonies,” he said. “We should be careful not to be critical or judgmental of those with concerns — great or small. At the same time, those with concerns should do everything they can to build their own faith and testimony. Patiently and humbly studying, pondering, praying, living gospel principles and counseling with appropriate leaders are the best ways to resolve questions or concerns.”
Elder Cook mentioned that some believe that more members are leaving the Church today, and that there is more doubt and unbelief than in the past.
“This is simply not true,” he said. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the Church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past. The increase in demonstrably measurable areas, such as endowed members with a current temple recommend, adult full-tithe payers and those serving missions, has been dramatic.
“Let me say again, the Church has never been stronger. But, ‘Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. ’ We reach out to everyone.”
For those who feel they are alone, Elder Cook reminded them to stand resolutely in righteousness, knowing that the Atonement will protect and bless them beyond their ability to fully understand.
"If the grim realities you are facing at this time seem dark and heavy and almost unbearable, remember that in the soul-wrenching darkness of Gethsemane and the incomprehensible torture and pain in Calvary, the Savior accomplished the Atonement which resolves the most terrible burdens that can occur in this life. He did it for you, and He did it for me. And He did it because He loves us and because He obeys and loves His Father."