Sunday, August 02, 2015

Lesson on the Family

“God intended the family to be eternal. With all my soul, I testify to the truth of that declaration. May He bless us to strengthen our homes and the lives of each family member so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there—father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled. We are all back home.”

    •    How does the temple fit into bring us all back home?
    •    Why are we sealed together in a chain that follows the celestial law that it is only as weak as its strongest link, rather than the telestial law that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?

    •    How do we deal with single people in a family oriented church?
    •    How do we make them feel part of the family of God?
    •    How do we acknowledge their struggles and pain without belittling it?
For President and Sister Benson, the effort to strengthen their family started with nurturing their marriage. They were loving and devoted, loyal and true. Although they were not inclined to quarrel, they often had frank discussions. They shared an absolute trust in each other, which they felt was one of the great strengths of their marriage. “I have never, never had any question about Flora’s loyalty,” President Benson said.

President and Sister Benson supported and strengthened each other. “Flora has had more vision for me and my potential than anyone else in my life. Her faith and support have been a great blessing,” President Benson said. Often, when he felt inadequate in his demanding responsibilities, Sister Benson would wipe away his tears and comfort him.  She sought the Lord’s help in sustaining him, and she rallied the children to do the same. “There was a lot of praying and fasting for daddy,” daughter Barbara said.

    •    How does loyalty promote frank discussions?
    •    Why are frank discussions part of being loyal and supportive?
    •    How do we sustain each other?

“Our parents instilled deep feelings of loyalty and love among us children,” son Mark said. “I don’t think that kind of atmosphere is generated naturally in a home, but is encouraged and promoted by a concerned and loving mother and father.”

    •    Why is it important for children to be loyal to each other?
    •    How do we support our children’s loyalty as siblings?
    •    What do people do that inhibits their children being loyal and supportive of each other rather than competitive and resentful of each other?

 They worked to create a home where love prevailed, where children learned and developed, and where they had fun. The Bensons wanted their home to be a sanctuary from the world. “That doesn’t mean we didn’t have struggles,” son Reed said. “We didn’t always get along. We didn’t always do our chores. We tested Mother’s patience to the limit at times. But, undergirding it all, was a sense of family unity that we were trying to pull together.”  Sister Benson acknowledged: “No one is perfect. In our family it is not our objective to magnify each other’s shortcomings, but to encourage one another to improve.”

    •    How do we work so that love prevails first over other things.
    •    How do we focus on improving rather than on our shortcomings?
    •    How does loyalty between children work to support family unity?

The counsel from the Apostle Paul is most beautiful and to the point. He said simply, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25).

In latter-day revelation the Lord speaks again of this obligation. He said, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). To my knowledge there is only one other thing in all scripture that we are commanded to love with all our hearts, and that is God Himself. Think what that means!

    •    What does it mean to love someone like Christ loved the church?
    •    What does it mean to love with all your heart?
    •    How much sacrifice and service does love include?

    •    As you read the following, think of examples and feel free to stop and interrupt your reading with examples or thoughts that fit with President Benson’s comments.

This kind of love can be shown for your wives in so many ways. First and foremost, nothing except God Himself takes priority over your wife in your life—not work, not recreation, not hobbies. Your wife is your precious, eternal helpmate—your companion.

What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion. Surely when you love your wife with all your heart, you cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her, or abuse her by words, sullen behavior, or actions.

What does it mean to “cleave unto her”? It means to stay close to her, to be loyal and faithful to her, to communicate with her, and to express your love for her.

Husbands and wives who love each other will find that love and loyalty are reciprocated. This love will provide a nurturing atmosphere for the emotional growth of children. Family life should be a time of happiness and joy that children can look back on with fond memories and associations.

    •    Does love have to be stuffy?

One great thing the Lord requires of each of us is to provide a home where a happy, positive influence for good exists. In future years the costliness of home furnishings or the number of bathrooms will not matter much, but what will matter significantly is whether our children felt love and acceptance in the home. It will greatly matter whether there was happiness and laughter, or bickering and contention.

    •    How hard is it to avoid being harsh and judgmental with children?
    •    How hard is it to make children truly feel accepted?
    •    How hard is it to avoid contention?

Every family has problems and challenges. But successful families try to work together toward solutions instead of resorting to criticism and contention. They pray for each other, discuss, and give encouragement. Occasionally these families fast together in support of one of the family members.

    •    Is a strong family a matter of talent or practice?
    •    How much practice does it take to learn to be a good parent?
    •    Is overcoming problems a matter of talent or taking the time to work through them?

Successful parents have found that it is not easy to rear children in an environment polluted with evil. Therefore, they take deliberate steps to provide the best of wholesome influences. Moral principles are taught. Good books are made available and read. Television watching is controlled. Good and uplifting music is provided. But most importantly, the scriptures are read and discussed as a means to help develop spiritual-mindedness.

    •    How much is a matter of rigidly controlling our children so that they do not have the free agency to decide for themselves and make mistakes?
    •    How much is a matter of making things available in a supportive environment?
    •    How much Laissez-faire, the policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering is really just abandonment?
    •    How do we balance free agency with the duties of a parent?
    •    Is it easy?

Children must be taught to pray, to rely on the Lord for guidance, and to express appreciation for the blessings that are theirs. I recall kneeling at the bedsides of our young children, helping them with their prayers.

Children must be taught right from wrong. They can and must learn the commandments of God. They must be taught that it is wrong to steal, lie, cheat, or covet what others have.

Children must be taught to work at home. They should learn there that honest labor develops dignity and self-respect. They should learn the pleasure of work, of doing a job well.

The leisure time of children must be constructively directed to wholesome, positive pursuits.3

    •    How do we do these things?
    •    Especially, how do we direct leisure time without making it into non-leisure time and just more work?

The love we know here is not a fleeting shadow, but the very substance that binds families together for time and eternity.

It was through Joseph Smith that the God of Heaven revealed the truth that the family may endure beyond the grave—that our sympathies, affections, and love for each other may exist forever.

No sacrifice is too great to have the blessings of an eternal marriage. To most of us, a temple is easily accessible, perhaps so conveniently that the blessing is taken too casually. As with other matters of faithfulness in gospel living, being married the Lord’s way takes a willingness to deny yourself ungodliness—worldliness—and a determination to do our Father’s will. By this act of faith, we show our love to God and our regard for a posterity yet unborn. As our family is our greatest source of joy in this life, so it may well be in the eternity.

    •    President Benson taught, “In an eternal sense, salvation is a family affair” (section 1). What does this mean to you? What can family members do for each other’s salvation?    
    •    How do we make our families a place, a people, that we want to be with eternally?
    •    How is our church family a family as well?  What does that mean?

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