This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.
These days, there are many people who believe that the Church’s emphasis on family is something new and misguided, but I have long thought that—at a level even deeper than teaching or doctrine—the Church has long expressed a reality that family is primary and Church is secondary. What is this deeper level? Well, one way of looking that the Church is as modern day Sadducees: keepers of the temple. And what is the point of the temple? To seal families together.
In many ways that’s the most fundamental mission of the Church: to knit the entire human family together in one extended act of reconciliation. The Atonement is the center of the Church—both in practice and in belief—and the emphasis on family is like the ripples emanating out from that central act, echoes of reconciliation expanding and flowing throughout humanity, restoring what is broken and making us whole again not just as individuals, but as a collective.
Among the talks I read for this week, there was a line in Elder Victor L. Brown’s talk (The Aaronic Priesthood – A Sure Foundation) that made me think I could be on to something. He wrote:
The position of the Church is to aid the parents and the family.
It’s not definitive enough to hang your hat on all by itself, but it’s certainly something to think about. The Church exists to serve the family, not the other way around. And by “family” I mean both senses of the word. I mean my family and your family, our individual little clans here on Earth. And by “family” I also mean: all of us.
We teach our children to sing “I Am a Child of God.” And we take it seriously. In our words, in our songs, but most importantly in our actions.
- The Position of the Church by Nathaniel Givens
- Vaunting by G
- The Power of God Resting upon the Leaders of this Church by Daniel Ortner
- Remembering the Stranger by Walker Wright
- The Priesthood: Three Reasons to Honor It by Jan Tolman