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As is evident in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, members of the Church “are blessed with unique doctrine and different ways of viewing the world,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“We participate and even excel in many worldly activities,” he said, “but on some subjects we forgo participation as we seek to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.”
Speaking during the Saturday morning session of general conference on Sept. 30, Elder Oaks said the writings of Jesus’ original apostles frequently use the image of “the world” to represent opposition to gospel teachings. The Apostle James taught that “friendship of the world is enmity with God … whosoever will be a friend of the world is an enemy to God” (James 4:4).
Likewise the Book of Mormon uses the image of “the world.” Elder Oaks said, “Nephi prophesied the ultimate destruction of ‘those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek … the things of the world'” (1 Nephi 22:23; 2 Nephi 9:30).
Quoting President Thomas S. Monson, Elder Oaks explained, “We must be vigilant in a world which has moved so far from that which is spiritual. It is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our standards, refusing in the process to surrender that which we desire the most: eternal life in the Kingdom of God.”
The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the inspired Family Proclamation are “essential teachings to guide mortal preparation for exaltation,” Elder Oaks said. Those who strive for exaltation must make personal choices in family life according to the Lord’s way whenever that differs from the world’s way.
“President Russell M. Nelson reminded us, ‘In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter, [but] exaltation is a family matter,'” Elder Oaks said.
Latter-day Saints who understand God’s plan of salvation have a unique world view that helps them see the reason for God’s commandments, the unchangeable nature of His required ordinances and the fundamental role of the Savior, he said.
“The actions of those who try to follow God’s plan of salvation can cause misunderstanding or even conflict with family members or friends who do not believe its principles …,” said Elder Oaks. “Every generation that has sought to follow God’s plan has had challenges.”
The gospel plan each family should follow to prepare for eternal life and exaltation is outlined in the Church’s 1995 Family Proclamation. Its declarations are different from some current laws, practices and advocacy of the world, he said.
“In our day, the differences most evident are cohabitation without marriage, same-sex marriage, and the raising of children involved in such relationships,” said Elder Oaks. “Those who do not believe in or aspire to exaltation and are most persuaded by the ways of the world consider this Family Proclamation as just a statement of policy that should be changed. In contrast, Latter-day Saints affirm that the Family Proclamation defines the nature of family relationships where the most important part of our eternal development can occur.”
There has been an increase in public acceptance of cohabitation without marriage and same-sex marriage, he said. The corresponding media advocacy, education and occupational requirements pose challenges for members of the Church. Latter-day Saints need to balance the competing demands of “following the gospel law in our personal lives” with seeking to show love for all.
“The Family Proclamation begins by declaring ‘that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,'” said Elder Oaks. “It also affirms that ‘gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.’ It further declares that God has commanded that ‘the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.'”
Elder Oaks testified that the Proclamation on the Family is “a statement of eternal truth and the will of the Lord for His children.
“It has been the basis of Church teaching and practice for the last 22 years and will continue so for the future,” he said. “Consider it as such, teach it, live by it and you will be blessed.”
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