We live in “perilous times” (2 Tim. 3:1), in which “all things” are undeniably “in commotion” (D&C 88:91). After a year of calamities in the form of natural disasters, a pandemic, civil unrest, and deep societal division, many wonder what the world and our way of life will look like in one year or ten years from now. Looking forward, what do we see?
That depends heavily on the status of the family. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” prophets and apostles declare: “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” (Paragraph 8) Why did prophets, seers and revelators connect the disintegration of the family to calamities in a document addressed to the world?
In 2009, Elder Russell M. Nelson stated, “If there is any hope for the future of nations, that hope resides in the family. Our children are our wealth; our children are our strength; our children are indeed our future!” Looking to the history of the world, we see that the most successful and flourishing societies are those which practice the values taught in the family proclamation. Looking to the scriptures, those civilizations which survived are those which heeded the teachings of the prophets. The pattern is clear: strong families = strong societies; weak families = weak societies.
A study by Joseph Daniel Unwin of major civilizations and smaller societies spanning a 5,000-year period showed that completely monogamous civilizations are not only consistently the strongest and most enduring, but also “display great [cultural] energy. … The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilized unless it has been absolutely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs.”
In addition, Pitirim Sorokin, sociologist at Harvard University, found that “civilization is possible only when marriage is normative and sexual conduct is censured outside of the marital relationship.” Furthermore, Sorokin traced the rise and fall of civilizations and concluded that the weakening of marriage was a first sign of civilizational collapse. Elder Robert D. Hales pointed to this same concept when he taught:
In our civilization, each day seems to bring less respect for the sanctity of life and the divinely appointed means by which mortal life is created. There is justified concern that our society is headed in the direction of so many others whose disregard for sacred things became their downfall. But as calamities increase, there is still hope to be found in the family. Additional studies show that those who have a strong connection to their family roots through family history will be the most well-equipped to face hard times with resilience. For instance, in the report “Knowledge of family history as a clinically useful index of psychological well-being and prognosis: A brief report” researchers found:
Knowledge of family history as an index of well-being and potential for resilience and/or positive change … is related strongly to so many well-established psychometric indicators of psychological well-being and good clinical outcome, attest to the potential of family knowledge as a clinically useful marker. (Link)
Perhaps a knowledge of where we came from can have a greater impact on society than we may ever realize. This positive family history link is fascinating, especially knowing what we know about the Abrahamic covenant and the family history work we do in temples around the world. Of this, Elder Bruce D. Porter testified of the blessings that will be given to faithful parents in the last days:
While we may not know for sure what our world will look like in one year or ten, we can find assurance in knowing that “that God promises hope and ultimate joy and blessings for all who keep His commandments” as presented by His prophets. As we seek to strengthen our families, past, present, and future, we will be able to “abide the day.” (D&C 35:21)
Author Annalee Blonquist is an intern pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Mount Liberty College with a special interest in history, law and government.
Don’t forget to check out our latest podcast on how everyone fits into “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The interview covers a unique circumstance with someone who might not be your typical defender of the family. Hear your own invitation in the latest episode of the “Raising Family” podcast.