As Mormons, we believe in serving missions; we believe in sharing the good news of the gospel about Jesus Christ and His redemptive offer for all God’s children. I had the privilege during college to serve one of these full-time missions. It was a wonderful opportunity. And during that mission, I learned an amazing lesson of obedience.
A missionary doesn’t just leave home and go immediately to the assigned place of service. Missionaries first go to a Missionary Training Center for several weeks or months in preparation for their mission. Then they go to their assigned areas of service.
Since I was going to Brazil on my mission, my scheduled stay at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) was nine weeks. During this time, our time was so deeply spent in scripture study and language study (I was learning Portuguese) that we did not watch TV, etc. As a result, for a short time we were relatively cut off from the rest of the world.
One day one of our language instructors came and said how some women were reacting to something the prophet of the Mormon church had said. The prophet speaks for the Lord, so we as missionaries knew that if a prophet spoke on some topic, it was important and the mind of the Lord. But what could be so offensive to women in the world, spoken by a prophet?
Essentially that prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson, spoke of the necessity of mothers – their impact – their essential nature in raising their children. He then spoke of a mother’s importance, absolute importance, of being home with their children for that impact to be felt. Then he invited women to stay home with their children, instead of focusing on their personal careers. (My paraphrase of a much lengthier discourse.)
Now mind you, this was spoken in the late 80s – a time where women generally were very proud of being in the job force, making money like men were. At least in the United States, women as a whole were priding themselves as being “equal” to men and that was why having a job was so important. What the prophet spoke cut some women to the core and appeared to threaten their personal beliefs.
What astonished me then was how people could criticize a humble man of God for speaking the truth. Researchers have now shown the reality of that which he spoke. Children who do not have parents who spend time with them have higher behavioral and psychological problems.
Study after study now brings forth the value of parents who take time for their kids. Mothers are important in the lives of their children, not just in birthing them but being there at the crossroads of their lives. Fathers are integral also.
I for one am grateful the Lord speaks through prophets. As God once called Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and others, He still does today. Those prophets are called to teach us ways of happiness and to help us avoid regret. If you would like to read more of the prophets’ words on the importance of the family, visit this link that explains more about prophets.