Family relationships are sometimes the most complicated and trying interactions we experiences in mortality. It is easy to focus too much on those annoying habits and minor injuries to pride and ego that pepper family relations. We could just as easily look at them as flavor. It is really a matter of choice. But the world doesn't support that perspective. In truth, Satan is working his hardest to turn our focus to those ugly black spots and forget that life would not be the same without them.
Modern revelation has made the importance of family very clear. In 1995, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a Proclamation to the World outlining the importance of families. I remember that meeting. I remember thinking how obvious and even redundant it was. Of course marriage is between a man and a woman. Of course parents should raise their children. I knew that it was an important message but I thought it was about abortion or reinforcing the idea that we should make having children a priority instead of pursuing worldly wealth and careers. How naive I was!
There are some obvious enemies of the family. Many people in the world simply do not want to have children. They have little contact with their own parents and siblings. Family is simply not important to them. They focus on career success, collecting worldly possessions, and grabbing up all the fame, power and wealth they can get their hands on. If they do happen to have family, they are loathe to share anything they have unless they get something in return.
Another enemy of the family is population control. I remember watching an episode of a seemingly innocent cartoon about taking care of our planet. Suddenly, the characters are talking about how wrong it is to have children and how no one needs more than one or two children. I was stunned. Now there are rumors of sterilization vaccines and forced limitations on family size.
Along the same lines, birth control measures have become a top priority. I have been shocked by the number of times a doctor has tried to push one form of birth control method or another on me or even my husband. It isn't for medical reasons either. They seem genuinely perplexed as to why anyone would want more children. "You have a boy and girl. Why keep going?"
The attitude was quite different in Germany and Belgium, where there is a concern about shrinking population and a high rate of infertility. Nearly every doctor and nurse I encountered was thrilled with our large family. One nurse practically begged me to have more children. "I have 5 at home, you know." I responded, exhausted from my recent delivery and not eager to think about going through it again. She beamed at me and said "Oh, yes. We all know. It is wonderful! Please, have more!" I had to laugh at her enthusiasm and positive attitude.
I won't go into the methods of birth control that are considered acceptable in the world today. Let's just say that some are truly horrifying. Period.
Then there are those who have children but give them to others to raise. They leave their children in daycare for 12 hours a day or hire someone to do all the "menial, unimportant" things and only interact with their children when they want to...like scheduling a meeting with a colleague.
Still others want to take away the rights of parents all together, suggesting government-run child care from a young age. They would have us give birth, then hand our children over to "professionals" to teach them a set curriculum. There is a certain appeal to this. The idea that children will all be treated equally, not suffering from the failings of their parents who may be hindered from doing their best by the challenges of life. (If you have read Lois Lowry's The Giver you might recognize this kind of society.)
Another enemy to the family is simply divorce. Divide and conquer. A broken family is often a weak family. Along the same line, many people choose not to marry at all. Couples have children, maybe live together for a while, and then move on, possibly producing many children by many combinations of adults. I know there are many reasons why these things happen and I am not trying to unfairly criticize anyone. But I don't think anyone can claim that this kind of family is what the Lord intended.
In recent years, I have come to see even more disturbing attacks on the family.
The idea of "test-tube babies" may have seemed like a wonderful choice for couples who are unable to produce offspring of their own. Suddenly there were anonymous sperm donors and unmarried women eager to become mothers. Jump ahead 20+ years to a population that doesn't know who their fathers are and may even be related to each other. And there is no record for them to find out. Another reason to play it safe and not have a family of your own.
One that may seem insignificant to some is the emergence of the phrase "pet parents". That might seem like a joke at first. But while a pet can be a wonderful companion and valuable member of the household, they can never be a true member of the family, not in the way the Lord intended. While many people know the difference, there is growing proof that some don't. Just look at the number of people who have left their fortunes to their pets instead of their human heirs.
Another attack on the family that has caught me off guard is the push for homosexual marriages. In a world where heterosexual couples are fighting to end marriages or avoid them altogether, homosexual couples are fighting for the opposite. I can sympathize to a point. I am sure it seems unfair that their desires for love and children seem to be in conflict with their physical attractions. And why shouldn't they have similar rights as their heterosexual peers?
The answer is simple. The Lord has clearly defined His expectations. I could go through the Proclamation line by line and give examples of how Satan is teaching the opposite in the world today. But I think I have done enough for today. I know that there is modern revelation. I know that we live in a world where divine guidance is in great need. I am so grateful to have this guidance in my life. I am also grateful to have been abundantly blessed with more family than I know what to do with. It has given me a glimpse of eternity. I can only imagine the joy we will have at our heavenly family reunions. There is a peace and security that comes from knowing you have people in the world who love you no matter what. Pepper and all!