The Mormon family is as diverse as any family unit one might come across, and is found in virtually every society, class and race of people across the globe. Mormon families are not immune to the challenges of life, including financial uncertainties, health problems, divorce, the myriad worthwhile distractions competing for our time, or the barrage of unwholesome outside influences constantly looking for attention. Notwithstanding these many challenges, there are certain themes and principles common to most Mormon households, and include activities such as prayer, learning, worship, developing relationships, and service to God’s children.
First, prayer allows us to commune directly with our Heavenly Father, and Church leaders encourage Church members to pray daily as individuals and as families in order to receive direction from God. The old adage that “families who pray together, stay together” rings true here.
Second, from the Church’s beginning in 1830, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been encouraged to obtain both spiritual and secular knowledge, and to develop their God-given talents. Mormon families and individuals are encouraged to study the scriptures daily in order to learn God’s word. Furthermore, modern prophets such as President Gordon B. Hinckley have encouraged Church members to “go on to college or whatever school, vocational school, whatever your choice is, but take advantage of every opportunity that you have because the Lord has laid upon you a mandate through revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning not only spiritual learning but secular learning,” and to “read the word of God in sacred books of scripture. Read from the great literature of the ages. Read what is being said in our day and time and what will be said in the future.”
Third, worship is central to the Mormon family. Mormon families worship God together in a variety of ways to include attending church meetings on Sundays and performing sacred ordinances in the Holy Temple. The act of worshiping together as a family serves to strengthen the family and draws them closer to God.
Fourth, Mormons believe that familial relationships developed during our time on earth will continue after this life, and that a family can be together throughout eternity. This doctrine helps to guide our thoughts, words and actions when it comes to how we treat family members and gives us hope that death is not the end. We have been instructed to set aside Monday night (or another if that won’t work) to have what we call Family Home Evening, where the family can spend time together singing, praying, discussing the gospel, doing fun activities, and in general just building bonds.
Fifth, as Mormon families look to the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, they try to follow His example by serving God’s children. Family members are asked to consecrate both time and resources to help others in need, and by so doing, the family not only serves their fellow men but also God. Further, modern day apostle, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, has taught that “as we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.”
The bottom line is that there are no perfect Mormon families, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). Nevertheless, the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives great hope to both individuals and families that we may have eternal life. And, when families follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, principles such as prayer, learning, worship, developing relationships, and service to God’s children become important components of family life.