One of the things I love about the Family: A Proclamation, is what it teaches us about our identity. Not only do we learn that families are important, but we each have an individual contribution that adds up to one great whole.
In the Proclamation we learn:
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 Family: A Proclamation to the World
Understanding this will help us to learn a little bit more about ourselves -individually, our relationship with God, our relationship with family, and what that actually means for the world.
We are eternal beings - we existed in a Pre-Mortal Realm. The Pre-Mortal realm is where we resided, with our Heavenly Father, before coming to this earth. He created us Spiritually before he created the earth. We are His Spiritual sons and daughters.
When we come to understand that we have an eternal identity, and that identity started as a son or daughter, it implies that we have an eternal gender, and perhaps even an eternal “personality.” We have always been members of a family. Neither the family nor gender are social constructs. They have always existed. Therefore, we can be confident in the roles that we perform - that they are ordained of God and valuable. Even though the world may not place as much value on certain roles, it is important to remember that this Mortal life is only a fraction of the big picture.
The Family Proclamation also helps us to understand that our lives on earth are a part of a bigger plan - the Plan of Salvation. We come to earth to get a physical body and progress toward perfection. While we shouldn’t be overly selfish, personal development is an essential part of God’s plan. Our personal development will help us to be better members of families, societies, and God’s Kingdom.
Our Relationship With God
We learn in the scriptures and again, emphatically, in the Family Proclamation that we are children of God. Really take a second to think of that. We are Children of God! I imagine if we all remembered this point - that we are children of God - then there would be more charity and less troubles on this earth.
Understanding that we are God’s children will also help us to gain confidence. God is our Father. That means He loves us; He knows us; He created us. Pre-mortally, we all understood our relationship with God. We honored and worshipped Him. We trusted in His plan for our Happiness, and we accepted it. As we choose to strengthen and remember our relationship with God, our honor and love for Him increase. We are better able to worship Him. We also will be able to progress and become His heirs. Developing a relationship with Heavenly Father results in a better understanding of ourselves. It’s pretty awesome.
Our Relationship With Family
When we understand our Pre-Mortal relationship with God, we also understand our Pre-Mortal relationship with every other denizen of this earth: We are all spiritual siblings. We are all a family.
Not only are we spiritual siblings, but our earth life has been patterned after the pre-mortal life. We are organized in families - with parents and children. These connections, as we learn in the Family Proclamation, can be perpetuated beyond the grave. We can be united, eternally, as we make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. This is all pretty awesome, but sometimes I get a little caught up with the “bigness” of the eternal plan for family and happiness. Sometimes, I make the mistake of thinking that the blessings of eternal families are only “big picture” blessings.
In Malachi 4:5-6, it reads:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” - Malachi 4:5-6
This scripture is quoted by the Savior in 3 Nephi and by Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith (three times!) in the Pearl of Great Price. It seems to be a pretty important scripture, and I have to admit, I’ve always thought of it like this: the “Spirit of Elijah” → Temple work → Family History. I usually tend to think mostly of the idea of the Spirit of Elijah turning the hearts of the children to their fathers. But that’s only half of it!
In the Family Proclamation, we learn that we make these sacred ordinances to unite families. We then learn details on what kind of mothers and fathers we ought to be - how we ought to raise our children. In other words, we learn to Turn our hearts to our children.
What this means to the entire world:
Turning our hearts to our children is the other “half” of the Spirit of Elijah. When we don’t do it, the earth is smitten with a curse. Sometimes, it seems like this is a “far off” problem, but I think that we’re seeing the effects now.
I have a feeling that if we would spend more time - turning our hearts to our children, and becoming the kind of spouses and parents outlined in the Family Proclamation, we would see less divorce and other social problems. It is common knowledge that divorce and single parent homes produce children with higher tendencies of drug use and premarital sex. The children from divorced families tend to do worse in school, and spend more time in jail. I might sound like a hypocrite by saying this (as I’ve been divorced), but I truly believe that we would see better families and even better societies if we spent more time turning our hearts to our children and fathers - rather than to our appetites and passions.
When we understand the importance of Family, and how it fits into a plan of happiness, we will have more love in this world and less selfishness. Turning our hearts to our children and fathers (including our heavenly parents) is really the best path to happiness and peace. And imagine what this world would be like if the Spirit of Elijah was felt on a broad, world-wide scale. It would be a pretty neat place to live.
Catania is the mother of four children living in the desert. She loves to make and wear tie-dyed t-shirts and could eat pizza every day! She loves puns...and flexing, and of course, she loves the gospel. She shares Family Home Evening ideas every Tuesday at That Good Part and regularly shares scripture study series with her readers as well. Currently, she is running a scripture series on The Plan of Salvation.