Over the last year, I’ve tried to define marriage to the best of my ability. Since every marriage is different, that’s not an easy task. At some point, it becomes necessary to look at marriage the way our Heavenly Father sees it, for marriage is ordained of God. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we are told by prophets and apostles—God’s very own representatives—what marriage and family means to Him and to us.
[M]arriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God . . . the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . . Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. . . . 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. . . . God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. . . . Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. . . . Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. . . . [I]ndividuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. [T]he disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Relief Society Meeting, Sept. 23, 1995.)
The Proclamation came out on September 23, 1995, and is truly a prophetic document. Some of us were confused at the time about the need for such a bold historic document. Nineteen years later, we are no longer confused. Everywhere we look, we not only see the disintegration of the family unit, but those who mock the whole idea of marriage and family. Children are no longer at the top of the priority list, as marriage and family are being redefined.
There is no greater goal than to be an eternal family. What is heaven, if it is not the family unit? When you think of heaven, do you think of being there alone? I don’t. I can’t even picture it in my head.
Children need a mother and a father. It is critical to their eternal identity. Why are we not looking past our own carnal nature to assure that the needs of children come first? We insist that our own desires and passions have no consequences. We tout our freedom to choose, but we don’t make good choices. Freedom to choose is only as good as the choices we make. We may tell ourselves there are no consequences, but there most certainly are grave consequences for our actions.
Marriage and family may be redefined by the world, but at what cost? Fifty years from now, will children know the gentle touch of a mother and the guiding hand of a father? Will they even see the family unit as God created it to be? Remember from the Family Proclamation, “[T]he disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
My memories as a child include dancing on my father’s feet, and pasting magazine pictures in a book with flour and water paste with my mother. I remember weeding the garden alongside my dad, and my mom teaching me to make tapioca pudding and bake a cake from scratch. I remember the entire family sitting around the dinner table talking and laughing. There were long family card games at our cabin in the mountains. I remember Dad and Mom teaching us how to “take them all” playing hearts, and Dad playing “smoko” to smoke out the queen of spades. We gathered elderberries and Mom taught us how to make elderberry syrup for our pancakes and homemade vanilla ice cream. I can see myself sitting next to my Dad at his desk sticking out my tongue so he could seal envelopes as he chuckled. Mom and Dad worked together to teach us how marriage and family works. They taught us by example.
Is it selfish that I want my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren to know those feelings and make those memories? Is it unreasonable that I should want my progenitors to have eternal family units?
Since marriage is ordained of God, maybe we need to put God back into marriage. Maybe we need to remember the whole purpose of family here on earth is so we can have family in the next life. Heaven isn’t really heaven without our families.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.