There is no question there is an attack on the family. Just scan the headlines of any news outlet and you'll find startling evidence of the strategic ways the adversary is trying to destroy this most beautiful and basic of human relationships.
- "It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage". . . The NY Times.
- "France is set to ban the words "mother" and "father" from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise gay marriage". . . The UK Telegraph
- "Unprecedented civil union unites Brazilian trio". . .CNN.com
How do we counteract all of these attempts to redefine the traditional family out of existence? The Family: A Proclamation to the World tells us: "We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."
We start right where we are: in our own homes, in our schools, in our communities. We teach the truths, live the truths, taught in the Proclamation. Our examples will speak louder than any words we might say but at times words are necessary to defend truth. If we have our examples to back up our words others are more likely to listen.
Elder Holland so wonderfully stated in a recent CES Devotional, "You never “check your religion at the door.” Not ever. . . someone in life. . . has to live his or her religion because otherwise all we get is a whole bunch of idiots acting like moral pygmies.
It is easy to be righteous when things are calm and life is good and everything is going smoothly. The test is when there is real trial or temptation, when there is pressure and fatigue, anger and fear, or the possibility of real transgression. Can we be faithful then? That is the question because “Israel, Israel, God is calling.” Such integrity is, of course, the majesty of “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” —right when forgiving and understanding and being generous about your crucifiers is the last thing that anyone less perfect than the Savior of the world would want to do. But we have to try; we have to wish to be strong. Whatever the situation or the provocation or the problem, no true disciple of Christ can “check his religion at the door.”
With all of the attacks on the family now is not the time to "check our religion at the door." Is it daunting to face opposition, especially when it may very well come from our own families or friends? Yes! Elder Holland also stated, "While not wishing to offend those who believe differently from us, we are even more anxious not to offend God, or as the scripture says, “not offend him who is your lawgiver” —and I am speaking here of serious moral laws." This echoes our family motto given by Pres. James E. Faust a few short months before The Family Proclamation was given, "May we dedicate our lives to serving the Lord and not worry about offending the devil."
And so we make a stand, I make a stand, to defend families.
Start in our homes. We have a responsibility to teach our children the commandments of God. The Proclamation calls it a sacred duty and so it is.
The most effective way to teach righteousness and religion in a home is by example. Hopefully, parents will have kept their own lives sweet and clean and can therefore profitably use the example of their lives in the teaching and training of their own children. "If you would teach faith in God, show faith in Him yourself; if you would teach prayer, pray yourself; would you have them temperate, then you yourself refrain from intemperance; if you would have your child live a life of virtue, of self-control, of good report, then set him a worthy example in all these things" (McKay, Secrets, p. 11). To do so will make these teachings more impressive to your children; and they, receiving such guidance from parents, can fortify themselves against the temptations of Satan, whose goal is to destroy their lives when they do reach the age of accountability. Parents have the duty to be what they would have their children become in regard to courtesy, sincerity, temperance, and courage to do right at all times. Example is far more potent than precept. (Delbert L. Stapley, The Responsibility of Parents)
It's not hard to weave the doctrines of the gospel into our every day conversations. Is it difficult to teach by example that we must take a stand when those doctrines are being attacked? It can be especially when it is other family members who believe differently than we do. But defend those doctrines we must.
In our home our children know our religion isn't just a Sunday thing. We pray every day. We read scriptures every day. We makes mistakes, repent, and forgive every day. We live it every day.
Start in our schools. In the September 2012 issue of the Ensign one gentleman shared an experience he had in defending the doctrine of marriage and family. The private school, where he taught in Massachusetts, had adopted a diversity curriculum, which opposed the principles in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” His initial attempts to stand for truth was met with opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, and ridicule. Eventually he was asked to explain his concerns to the entire faculty and staff in a meeting. He explains what happened, "As I spoke, I felt the Spirit fill me with peace and power. I bore witness of God’s great love for His children and of their divine nature, amazing potential, and eternal worth. I taught that God’s commandments demonstrate His love because they provide the path to the greatest happiness. And I declared that Jesus Christ can heal wounds of both nature and nurture.
Before I knew it, my 30 minutes of allotted time had passed. I backed slowly away from the podium, gathered my papers, and looked up. A sacred stillness filled the room. Some people were smiling and others were crying. Teachers who held opposing views thanked me for my courage and conviction. One colleague confessed that she had been touched by a “special spirit” as I spoke. Others told me they had never heard such a sensitive and respectful articulation of such beliefs and that my words had helped them see that the school’s curriculum needed to change."
We can take the same stand, gather the same courage, to speak out when attacks on the family are being made particularly in regards to what will be or is being taught to our children by others.
Start in our communities. There are many good things communities do to protect and help families - awareness campaigns for domestic abuse, free child-rearing classes, community family days - but there is more that can be done.
One small victory for families occurred just last week in Spokane, WA. Tiffani Adamson was able to "Stop Porn in Spokane Public Libraries." You can read about some of her experience here on her post Victory.
In 2002 Nevada voters overwhelming approved the state's Protection of Marriage amendment which reads: "Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state." Before that vote took place there were many people involved in their communities making telephone calls, knocking on doors, and writing to newspapers asking for voter's to approve this amendment. My husband and I did our part as well. It was scary calling voters in our neighborhood, explaining what the vote was about, and asking them to vote to approve the change. There were times when I was chewed out and called names not worthy to be repeated. But there were many more times when others agreed that marriage should only be between one man and one woman. Did you know that in every state where gay-marriage is banned that ban was put in place by the voice of the people at the ballot box? Those states where it is legal the law was made by state legislatures.
Another encouraging story comes from Lithuania, where Parliament is due to vote a second time on an amendment to the Constitution that would define the institution of the family as based only on marriage, and marriage itself as something entered into by free consent between a man and a woman.It already passed legislation in 2008 to define “family” as the married union of a man and a woman together with their children, adopted or biological.
What can you do? Start right now, where you are, and take a stand for families. Never check your religion at the door.
"If we do right and talk right and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then when the Savior cuts short His work in righteousness, says time is no more in this last, great dispensation and then comes in His glory, He will find us—you and me and all of us—doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our Church and our society the best way we can. When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me: “Jeffrey”—because He knows all of our names—“I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself, and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.”
“I know you weren’t always successful,” He will certainly say, “with your own sins or the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.”
I want to have something like that encounter someday as I want nothing else in this mortal life. And I want it for you. I want it for us all. Israel, Israel, God is calling—calling us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ personally in small ways as well as large, and then to reach out to those who may not look or dress or behave quite like we do, and then (where you can) go beyond that to serve in the widest community you can address." (Jeffrey R. Holland, Israel, Israel, God is Calling)