Rockledge Florida, USA
Families are so important and central in God's plan of happiness that they are the first institution organized upon the earth. Adam and Eve were married by Heavenly Father in the Garden of Eden, becoming the first family unit on Earth. Heavenly Father was merciful in affording Adam and Eve every opportunity to remain together as a couple, as a family. Even after Eve had first partaken of the forbidden fruit, she was not immediately driven out of the Garden.
After Adam had also eaten the forbidden fruit, ushering the whole earth into its fallen, mortal state, God did not immediately banish Adam and Eve from the Garden. God took the time to instruct and prepare Adam and Eve for the life they would face together in the changed and fallen world outside the Garden.
After receiving instruction and preparation from God, mortal Adam and mortal Eve were driven out of the Garden, into the harsh, fallen, mortal world together as a couple, as a family.
From the beginning, they were taught to work together as a team, to obey God in all things, to call upon God in the name of his Son, and to teach their children by example in love and righteousness.
We can learn much by pondering the scriptures. In Moses 5:1-12 we learn the following:
"1 And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.
"2 And Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters, and they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.
"3 And from that time forth, the sons and daughters of Adam began to divide two and two in the land, and to till the land, and to tend flocks, and they also begat sons and daughters.
"4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
"5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
"6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
"7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
"8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
"9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
"10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
"11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
"12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters."
The Family: A Proclamation to the World, issued by the First Presidency in 1995, instructs us and points our souls to our Heavenly Parents:
"We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that 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. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
"In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
"The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
"We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives - mothers and fathers - will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
"We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
"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."
O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?
For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth;
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here,"
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.
I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
For those of you who have not yet had opportunity to start a family of your own, find comfort in President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's words:
"God’s Apostles are profoundly aware of the different circumstances we all face. Let us help each other to follow the Savior."
I bear testimony that God instituted families to exalt us, his children. I testify that all the ordinances of the gospel are preparatory and prerequisite to the sealing covenant, the covenant that allows us to attain godhood and become eternal, heavenly families.
There is no other Church on the earth that can offer such an assurance. Only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the priesthood authority from God to enable family ties to last forever.
I know these things are true. I know the Book of Mormon is a true testament of Jesus Christ, along with the Bible.
I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet, foreordained and called by God to restore the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth after a millennium and a half of global apostasy.
I share these truths in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.