Understanding that Satan’s best, most successful efforts are going to be focused on causing us to fail to keep our Second Estate just as he failed to keep his First, naturally the divine destinies of men and women in creating celestial families will be in the crosshairs. Everything of most importance is under fire. The divine complement of man and woman. The temple of a woman’s body. Divine gifts and estates. Priesthoods, veils, and stewardships. Sex as sacrament. He has twisted everything and Babylon reflects his workmanship.
In April of 2008, Elder Russel M. Nelson said (emphasis added),
The development of faith in the Lord is an individual matter. Repentance is also an individual matter. Only as an individual can one be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. Each of us is born individually; likewise, each of us is “born again” individually. Salvation is an individual matter….
In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter.
In order to keep our Second Estate, we must protect the integrity of the family, and keep sacred the priesthoods with which we have been endowed. We do not have to bear children to do that, but we cannot lightly choose a path that prevents children being born if we wish to retain that capacity eternally.
Elder Nelson, in a worldwide leadership training in 2012, reiterated:
Our task to defend the family is not an easy one. Trends in the world diminish the significance of the family. Sadly, the sacred powers of procreation are desecrated by many people. And the divinely designed nature of marital intimacy is tarnished by the addictive, pernicious, and poisonous plague of pornography.
In reality, we are raising our children in enemy-occupied territory. The homes of our members must become the primary sanctuaries of our faith, where each can be safe from the sins of the world.
Julie Beck, while presiding over the General Relief Society, said in 2009:
This generation will be called upon to defend the doctrine of the family as never before. If they don’t know the doctrine, they can’t defend it.
She then articulated the theology of the family:
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. God created a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. It was part of Heavenly Father’s plan that Adam and Eve be sealed and form an eternal family.
The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. Adam and Eve were family leaders who chose to have a mortal experience. The Fall made it possible for them to have sons and daughters.
The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection. The plan of happiness, also called the plan of salvation, was a plan created for families. The rising generation need to understand that the main pillars of our theology are centered in the family.
When we speak of qualifying for the blessings of eternal life, we mean qualifying for the blessings of eternal families. This was Christ’s doctrine, and it was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith….
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was written to reinforce that the family is central to the Creator’s plan. Without the family, there is no plan; there is no reason for mortal life.
She identifies primary threats to the family:
In addition to understanding the theology of the family, we all need to understand the threats to the family. If we don’t, we can’t prepare for the battle. Evidence is all around us that the family is becoming less important. Marriage rates are declining, the age of marriage is rising, and divorce rates are rising. Out-of-wedlock births are growing. Abortion is rising and becoming increasingly legal. We see lower birth rates. We see unequal relationships between men and women, and we see cultures that still practice abuse within family relationships. Many times a career gains importance over the family.
Many of our youth are losing confidence in the institution of families. They’re placing more and more value on education and less and less importance on forming an eternal family. Many don’t see forming families as a faith-based work. For them, it’s a selection process much like shopping. Many also distrust their own moral strength and the moral strength of their peers. Because temptations are so fierce, many are not sure they can be successful in keeping covenants.
Many youth also have insufficient and underdeveloped social skills, which are an impediment to forming eternal families. They are increasingly adept at talking to someone 50 miles (80 km) away and less able to carry on conversations with people in the same room. That makes it difficult for them to socialize with each other.
We also face the problem that we read about in Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Public policies are being made every day that are antifamily, and the definition of family is changing legally around the world. Pornography is rampant. For those who create pornography, their new target audience is young women. Parents are being portrayed as inept and out of touch. Antifamily media messages are everywhere. Youth are being desensitized about the need to form eternal families.
Without mincing words, from her stewardship to expound scriptures and exhort the Church, Sis. Beck asserts:
The rising generation need to understand that the command to “multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28; Moses 2:28) remains in force. Bearing children is a faith-based work. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said, “It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so.” Motherhood and fatherhood are eternal roles. Each carries the responsibility for either the male or the female half of the plan. Youth is the time to prepare for those eternal roles and responsibilities.
She closes by quoting President Kimball, who said:
Many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us. …
… There are those who would define the family in such a nontraditional way that they would define it out of existence. …
We of all people, brothers and sisters, should not be taken in by the specious arguments that the family unit is somehow tied to a particular phase of development a moral society is going through. We are free to resist those moves which downplay the significance of the family and which play up the significance of selfish individualism. We know the family to be eternal.
This brings us to the three primary threats Elder Packer two decades ago prophesied would present the greatest danger to the Church.