In a pro-family church, why doesn’t family always come first? We state that family comes before church, and yet there seem to be many in the church who don’t live as if they believe it. What do we need to do to get people to believe that family (and marriage) comes first?
There are numerous examples of how the church is effective at promoting families:
- Family Home Evening. A routine admonishment to spend time together as families at least one night per week has been part of the church’s practices for over 50 years. This is one that is often admired by non-LDS.
- Proclamation on the Family. Although there are components that some find too proscriptive and even sexist, there are many statements in the proclamation that decry the sexism found in other cultures (particularly machismo cultures) and clarify the expectation that familial responsibilities are sacred and come first.
- Temple Recommend Interviews. Temple-attending members must answer questions related to the quality of their behavior in family relationships at least every other year.
- Law of Chastity. This is obviously not unique to Mormonism, but we are slightly more successful at following it than other religions that tout their commitment to abstinence (perhaps due to the distraction provided by missions). Additionally, the LDS Adoption services is another great resource to families who experience an unwanted pregnancy. There is good council provided for parents and children who are coping with those experiences.
What are some examples of behaviors in the church that are NOT pro-family?
- Meetings. There are often too many meetings, especially for those in leadership positions.
- Faith vs. Family. There are (far too) many couples who are willing to split over matters of differing religious belief.
- Behavior-based Estrangement. Families are encouraged to distance themselves from children in homosexual relationships. Behavior focus at church can foster judgment of family members who do not live the commandments or who are not LDS, particularly when young children hear messages that conflict with observed behaviors of family members. This rejection can lead to further estrangement and families that are divided rather than families coming first.
- Anti-divorce vs. Pro-marriage. Anti-divorce sentiment can prolong abusive relationships, despite the church’s clear anti-abuse stance (where else are parents routinely questioned about their family relationships being in harmony with the gospel?). While we are “pro” marriage and family, considering these relationships to have eternal potential, we also recognize that divorce may be necessary at times, such as due to infidelity, abuse, etc.
So, what’s your feeling? Do families really come first in the church? How can we improve the focus on families? Discuss.