Mormon is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons support strong, traditional families and family life is, in fact, a central focus of the faith. The Bible often warns us to treat our families well and to make them a priority and Mormons are rather well-known for their efforts in this respect.
There is a powerful reason for the Mormon focus on families. Unlike most faiths, Mormons believe families are meant to stay together forever—literally. It’s not just a nice slogan for Mormons. They teach that when we die, our families stay intact. There is no “until death do you part” in the marriages that take place in Mormon temples.
Mormon temples are not like Mormon chapels. Chapels are open to the public, but temples are only for those who are Mormon and living the gospel at a high level. It is something like qualifying for an advanced class in school. There, Mormons can be married for eternity and any children born to them will also be theirs forever. Adopted children and children born before the parents were married in the temple (since some join the church later in life) can be sealed or joined to them as well.
When you know marriage and family are forever, it changes your priorities. The little annoyances don’t seem that important in the eternal scheme of things. A serious illness requiring you to care full-time for your spouse is a pleasure when you know it shortens the gap between one death and the other. So many of society’s problems are erased when family is given an eternal perspective.
Because their families can last forever, Mormons spend a great deal of time on their family life, working to make it worth keeping forever. They want those bonds to be loving and strong. Each day they hold a family scripture study and prayer to help them focus their day on eternal things and to show their children how important their faith really is. It allows them to share spiritual values with their families.
Once a week, they hold Family Home Evening, usually on Monday nights. That night they don’t have company, don’t answer the telephone, and turn off the television and devices. They have prayers, scriptures, songs, a lesson on a spiritual or family matter, games, and treats. It is a bonding time that becomes more and more important as life becomes busier. Of course, they spend time together throughout the week, as well.
Both men and women are taught in church about the importance of their role in the family. Men are taught that although their wife might have the primary responsibility for the home, it is too much for one person. They are to help with housekeeping and childcare. While much of society teaches that children don’t need both a mother and a father, Mormons know children do. They need both their parents and they need role models in the home for each gender. From a father, boys will learn to be men, husbands, and fathers. Girls will learn what type of husband they want to marry and how he should treat them. A mother teaches the same lessons about being a wife and mother.
Mormon families consider self-reliance an important aspect of life. To this end, they make certain their children are educated and they also continue a life-long pattern of learning themselves. They live below their means and avoid debt other than homes, an education, and possibly a car. They also save money for challenging times. This means they often do without many of the luxuries others have—not because it is prohibited, but because they need to have enough money on hand to pay for it completely. They store enough food and basic hygiene items to keep them through a term of unemployment, a storm, or an illness. These basic preparations help them to remember that ordinary life is uncertain. (Mormons are not preparing for an end-of-the-world scenario, just ordinary life.) It also allows children to feel secure, knowing they will have a home and food if a parent loses his or her job.
Mormon families are, in general, like most other families. They have not practiced polygamy for more than one hundred years. The polygamist families seen today are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon families blend in, but are often a model for how family life ought to operate. They aren’t perfect—but they’re always working on it.
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