Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"The Family" Part 6 and Last

"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan."

I think this is beautiful. I am also aware that one thing being essential does not necessarily imply universality or that other things are not part of the 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."

Yes, they are. This is a warning to each of us who has the opportunity to be part of this. This is not the only right of children. They are entitled to loving, extended families. They are entitled to being reared by loving parents who may not be their biological parents when circumstances prevent this biological ideal from occurring. They are entitled to being raised in a loving family when one biological parent is a surrogate or a test tube. They are entitled to being raised in a loving family when their biological parents are two women or two men. They are entitled to being raised in a loving family when they are genetic clones. They are entitled to be loved and taught truth and goodness.

"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."

The ambiguities of this statement make it what you want. I can praise it completely or condemn it for implying absurd or contradictory untruths. I chose to use it as inspiration to a better life and greater understanding.

"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."

These assigned roles may be wrong in some important ways, but in the context I see, they show a church that is willing to change as more knowledge is gained. This was the first place I encountered the church stating so clearly that men and women are to be equal partners. The emphasis on men presiding and women nurturing is much reduced, and situations other than the ideal are recognized. The LDS church evolves slowly and conservatively, but it evolves as it has always claimed it will and must.

"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."

You want living prophets to prophesy? Here it is. I suspect they are right, although I believe the prophecy may mean different things than they thought when they gave it. I think strong capitalistic valuing of competition and individualism carried unconsciously into our attitudes toward relationships is severely damaging to families. I could probably be convinced this is true of any political system carried into private life where the law of consecration should be our ruling law. Then, as I've stated previously, I have found that advocates of marriage equality are our allies in promoting family values and chastity and in fighting abuse and neglect.

"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."

I take this call seriously. I love the LDS church. Everything I have seen tells me that the leaders of the LDS church are good and loving men. I know they have and will make some serious mistakes, but I support their call to maintain and strengthen the family. They might be surprised or shocked to see the conclusions their call has led me to (although I doubt it), but I hope they would understand my gratitude for their having given me this call nearly 20 years ago. It has shaped my life. I hope for the better.

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