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A Revelatory Proclamation: Defend the Family and Strengthen the World

This week Canadian Mormons mark the 20th anniversary of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” — only the fifth proclamation issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since its organization in 1830.

Before reading the proclamation during a general Relief Society meeting on September 23, 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley, then President of the Church, said, “I need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995).

Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, recently reflected on the ongoing significance of the proclamation. “Twenty years ago … we were grateful for and valued the clarity, simplicity, and truth of this revelatory document. Little did we realize then how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today’s world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the Internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators” (“Defenders of the Family Proclamation,” Ensign, May 2015).

The proclamation “was not merely a collection of pro-family platitudes,” said Bruce C. Hafen (emeritus general authority). “It was a serious prophetic warning about a major international problem. And now, 20 years later, the problem is getting worse, which shows just how prophetic the 1995 warning was” (“The Proclamation on the Family: Transcending the Cultural Confusion,” Ensign, August 2015).

M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called the proclamation a “clarion call to protect and strengthen families, … a prophetic document, not only because it was issued by prophets but because it was ahead of its time. It warns against many of the very things that have threatened and undermined families … and calls for the priority and the emphasis families need if they are to survive in an environment that seems ever more toxic to traditional marriage and to parent–child relationships” (“What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign, November 2005).

Janet MacLennan, director of public affairs for the Church in the Halifax area, was visiting family in Edmonton, Alberta, when she heard the proclamation for the first time during the women’s broadcast 20 years ago. “It was electrifying then and it still is,” she said. “I thank God for prophets and seers who forewarn the world. We need to be defenders of the family. Strengthen the family and you strengthen the nation and the world.”

“Humankind’s oldest, most hoped-for story line has a familiar plot: boy meets girl, they fall in love, marry, have children, and — they hope — live happily ever after,” said Hafen. “That universal love story is so central to the great plan of happiness that it began with Adam and Eve, and for most Church members, it still guides our lives like the North Star” (“The Proclamation on the Family: Transcending the Cultural Confusion,” Ensign, August 2015).

After President Hinckley presented the proclamation, he declared, “We commend to all a careful, thoughtful and prayerful reading of this proclamation. The strength of any nation is rooted within the walls of its homes. We urge our people everywhere to strengthen their families in conformity with these time-honored values” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995).

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