"Elder Ezra Taft Benson," in Conference Report, October 1970, 21-25. Elder Ezra Taft Benson Of the Council of the Twelve
As a people, we have three great loyalties: loyalty to God, loyalty tofamily, loyalty to country.I come to you today with a plea to strengthen our families.The family unit It has been truly stated that "salvation is a family affair ... and that the family unit is the most important organization in time or in eternity."
The Church was created in large measure to help the family, and long afterthe church has performed its mission, the celestial patriarchal order willstill be functioning. This is why President Joseph F. Smith said: "To be asuccessful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successfulgeneral or a successful statesman ..., " and President McKay added: "Whenone puts business or pleasure above his home, he, that moment, starts on thedowngrade to soul weakness."And this is why President Harold B. Lee said only yesterday, "The Churchmust do more to help the home carry out its divine mission."Temptations and pitfallsPresident Joseph Fielding Smith has stated that never "in the history of theChurch have there been so many temptations, so many pitfalls, so manydangers, to lure away the members of the Church from the path of duty andfrom righteousness as we find today." (Take Heed to Yourselves, p. 127.) Andhe has also said: "This world is not growing better ... wickedness isincreasing." (Ibid., p. 207.)
Never has the devil been so well organized, and never in our day has he hadso many powerful emissaries working for him. We must do everything in ourpower to strengthen and safeguard the home and family.The adversary knows "that the home is the first and most effective place forchildren to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control;the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life.Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and noother success can compensate for failure in the home." (President David O.McKay, in Family Home Evening Manual, 1968-69, p. iii.)Undermining the homeAnd so today, the undermining of the home and family is on the increase,with the devil anxiously working to displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children. The Book of Mormon describesthis condition when it states, "And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them." And then these words follow-and consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: "O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths." (2 Ne. 13:12.)
And let me warn the sisters in all seriousness that you who submit yourselves to an abortion or to an operation that precludes you from safely having additional healthy children are jeopardizing your exaltation and your future membership in the kingdom of God.
Responsibility of parents
Parents are directly responsible for the righteous rearing of theirchildren, and this responsibility cannot be safely delegated to relatives,friends, neighbors, the school, the church, or the state."I appeal to you parents, take nothing for granted about your children,"said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. "The great bulk of them, of course, are good, but some of us do not know when they begin to go away from the path oftruth and righteousness. Be watchful every day and hour. Never relax yourcare, your solicitude. Rule kindly in the spirit of the Gospel and thespirit of the priesthood, but rule, if you wish your children to follow theright path." Permissive parents are part of the problem.
False educational ideas
As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief meansof misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educationalinstitutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideasas one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There ismore than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend collegesclose to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It givesthe parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if theyhave become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year,these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like SigmundFreud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others.Today there are much worse things that can happen to a child than notgetting a full college education. In fact, some of the worst things havehappened to our children while attending colleges led by administrators whowink at subversion and amorality.Said Karl G. Maeser, "I would rather have my child exposed to smallpox,typhus fever, cholera, or other malignant and deadly diseases than to thedegrading influence of a corrupt teacher. It is infinitely better to takechances with an ignorant, but pure-minded teacher than with the greatestphilosopher who is impure."Vocational education, correspondence courses, establishment in a familybusiness are being considered for their children by an increasing number ofparents.Propagation of atheism
The tenth plank in Karl Marx's Manifesto for destroying our kind ofcivilization advocated the establishment of "free education for all childrenin public schools." There were several reasons why Marx wanted government torun the schools. Dr. A. A. Hodge pointed out one of them when he said, "Itis capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has theright of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to betrue, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least,and then he that believes least must give way to him that believesabsolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists oragnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it isconsistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, theUnited States system of national popular education will be the mostefficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which theworld has ever seen.After the tragic prayer decision was made by the Court, President David O.McKay stated, "The Supreme Court of the United States severs the connectingcord between the public schools of the United States and the source ofdivine intelligence, the Creator, himself." (Relief Society Magazine,December 1962, p. 878.)Does that make any difference to you? Can't you see why the demand ofconscientious parents is increasing the number of private Christian andAmericanist oriented schools?
Today, Brigham Young University is the largest private school in the UnitedStates. Parents from far and near are looking to Brigham Young University asnever before.Supervision by parents. Now, whether your child attends this type of school or not, it is importantthat you stay close to your children, daily review, if possible, what theyhave learned in school, and go over their textbooks.President Joseph Fielding Smith has stated that in public schools you cannotget a textbook, anywhere that he knows of, on the "ologies" that doesn'tcontain nonsense. (Take Heed to Yourselves, p. 32.)I know one noble father who reviews with his children regularly what theyhave been taught; and if they have been taught any falsehoods, then thechildren and the father together research out the truth. If your children are required to put down on exams the falsehoods that have been taught, then perhaps they can follow President Joseph Fielding Smith's counsel ofprefacing their answer with the words "teacher says," or they might say "youtaught" or "the textbook states."If your children are taught untruths on evolution in the public schools oreven in our Church schools, provide them with a copy of President JosephFielding Smith's excellent rebuttal in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny.
Open letter to school principalRecently some parents paid for space in a newspaper to run an open letter tothe school principal of their son. The letter in part stated:"You are hereby notified that our son, _________ is not allowed by hisundersigned parents to participate in, or be subject to instruction in, anytraining or education in sex, human biological development, attitudedevelopment, self-understanding, personal and family life, or group therapy,or sensitivity training, or self-criticism, or any combination or degreethereof, without the consent of the undersigned by express writtenpermission. ..."We intend to retain and exercise our parental rights to guide our child inthe areas of morality and sexual behavior without any interference orcontradiction imposed by school personnel."[Our son] has been taught to recognize the format of sensitivity training,group therapy, self-criticism, etc., as it is being broadly applied,lowering the standards of morality and replacing American individualresponsibility with the dependency on, and conformity to, the `herdconsensus' concept of collectivism."He has been instructed to promptly remove himself from any class in whichhe is exposed to the aforementioned indoctrination and to report to us anysuch disregard of this letter."
Home evening program
The Lord knew that in the last days Satan would try to destroy the familyunit. He knew that by court edict, pornography would be allowed to prosper.How grateful we should be that God inspired his prophet over half a centuryago to institute the weekly home evening program. This is the vanguard forgetting parents to assume the responsibility of instructing their children.An increasing number of faithful Saints are holding more than one homeevening a week and are adding to or deleting from the home evening manual asthe Spirit dictates.Designed to strengthen and safeguard the family, the Church home eveningprogram (one night each week) is to be set apart for fathers and mothers togather their sons and daughters around them in the home. Prayer is offered,hymns and other songs are sung, scripture is read, family topics arediscussed, talent is displayed, principles of the gospel are taught, andoften games are played and homemade refreshments served.Now here are the promised blessings for those who will hold a weekly homeevening:"If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings willresult. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will bedeveloped in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power tocombat the evil influences and temptations which beset them." (FirstPresidency, April 27, 1915, Improvement Era, vol. 18, p. 734.)
Now what of the entertainment that is available to our young people today?Are you being undermined right in your home through your TV, radio, slickmagazines, rock records? Much of the rock music is purposely designed topush immorality, narcotics, revolution, atheism, and nihilism, throughlanguage that often has a double meaning and with which many parents are notfamiliar.Parents who are informed can warn their children of the demoralizing, loud,raucous beat of rock music, which deadens the senses and dulls thesensibilities-the jungle rhythm which inflames the savagery within.Said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:"I would have you reflect for a moment upon the fact that a tremendousamount of the modern art, of the modern literature and music, and the dramathat we have today is utterly demoralizing-utterly. ... Your music-well, I do not know how far above the tom-tom of the jungle it is, but it is not toofar."These things you must watch. They all have their effects on the children.Make your home-life as near heavenlike as you can." (Relief SocietyMagazine, December 1952, p. 798.)
Holding aloft of standards
Youth leaders, are you holding aloft our standards or have you compromisedthem for the lowest common denominator in order to appease the deceived orvile within the Church? Are the dances and music in your cultural hallsvirtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report, or do they represent amodern Sodom with short skirts, loud beat, strobe lights, and darkness?Will our youth leaders accept the standards set for young John Wesley by hismother? Hear her sound counsel:"Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure? Take thisrule: Now note whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of yourconscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritualthings, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, thatthing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself."Have we, as Moroni warned, "polluted the holy church of God?" (Morm. 8:38.)The auxiliaries of the Church are to be a help, not a hindrance, to parentsand the priesthood as they strive to lead their families back to God. Do anyof us wear or display the broken cross, anti-Christ sign, that is theadversary's symbol of the so-called "peace movement"?
Lack of knowledge"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," lamented Hosea. (Hos. 4:6.)Today, because some parents have refused to become informed and then standup and inform their children, they are witnessing the gradual physical andspiritual destruction of their posterity. If we would become like God,knowing good and evil, then we had best find out what is undermining us, how to avoid it, and what we can do about it.It is time that the hearts of us fathers be turned to our children and thehearts of the children be turned to us fathers, or we shall both be cursed.The seeds of divorce are often sown and the blessings of children delayed by wives working outside the home. Working mothers should remember that their children usually need more of mother than of money.
As conditions in the world get progressively worse, it is crucial that thefamily draw closer together in righteousness and that family solidarity beestablished. As one has said, "There are too many pulls away from the hometoday. We should seriously consider whether or not too many activities andother interests take too much time and attention from our families, from ourchildren, from those whom the Lord God gave us to love, to nourish, toteach, and to help through life."The stick-together families are happier by farThan the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who makeA circle at the fireside that no power on earth can break.And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sunAre the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.There are rich folk, there are poor folk, who imagine they are wise.And they're very quick to shatter all the little family ties.Each goes searching after pleasure in his own selected way.Each with strangers likes to wander and with strangers likes to play.But it's bitterness they harvest, and it's empty joy they find,For the children that are wisest are the stick-together kind.There are some who seem to fancy that for gladness they must roam,That for smiles that are the brightest they must wander far from home.That the strange friend is the true friend, and they travel far astrayAnd they waste their lives in striving for a joy that's far away,But the gladdest sort of people, when the busy day is done,Are the brothers and the sisters, who together share their fun. [page 51]It's the stick-together family that wins the joys of earth,That hears the sweetest music and that finds the finest mirth;It's the old home roof that shelters all the charm that life can give;There you find the gladdest playground, there the happiest spot to live.And, O weary, wandering brother, if contentment you would win,Come you back unto the fireside and be comrade with your kin.(Adapted from a poem by Edgar A. Guest.)
Strengthening the family
And so let's strengthen the family. Family and individual prayer, morningand evening, can invite the blessings of the Lord on your household.Mealtime provides a wonderful time to review the activities of the day andto not only feed the body, but to feed the spirit as well with members ofthe family taking turns reading the scriptures, particularly, the Book ofMormon. Nighttime is a great time for the busy father to go to each child'sbedside, to talk with him, answer his questions and tell him how much he is loved. In such homes there is no "generation gap." This deceptive phrase is another tool of the devil to weaken the home and family. Children who honor their parents and parents who love their children can make a home a haven ofsafety and a little bit of heaven.Does this poem describe your family gatherings?We are all here:Father, mother,Sister, brother,All who hold each other dear.Each chair is filled, we are all at home.Tonight, let no cold stranger come;It must be often thus aroundOur old familiar hearth we're found.Bless, then, the meeting and the spot,For once be every care forgot;Let gentle peace assert her power,And kind affection rule the hour.We're all-all here.(Adapted from a poem by Charles Sprague.)God bless us to strengthen our families by avoiding the crafty designs ofthe adversary and following the noble ways of the Lord, so that in due timewe can report to our Heavenly Father in his celestial home that we are allthere, father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled, we are all back home.In the name, of Jesus Christ. Amen.
C 2004 Deseret Book. Printed from GospeLink.com