“As we look into the eyes of a child, we see a fellow son or daughter of God who stood with us in the premortal life,” said Neil L. Andersen, an Apostle of Jesus Christ and a leading officer of the Mormon Church. “It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God. We believe in families, and we believe in children.”
Elder Andersen taught a worldwide audience about children and about the responsibility of parents with respect to their children during the October 2011 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Highlights of his substantial address are featured in the following three-minute video.
Additional highlights appear further below.
Part of Heavenly Father’s Plan
“When a child is born to a husband and wife, they are fulfilling part of our Heavenly Father’s plan to bring children to earth,” Elder Andersen said. “The Lord said, ‘This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ Before immortality, there must be mortality.”
The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches that the family is ordained of God. “Families are central to our Heavenly Father’s plan here on earth and through the eternities,” Elder Andersen said. “After Adam and Eve were joined in marriage, the scripture reads, ‘And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.’ In our day prophets and apostles have declared, ‘The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
“This commandment has not been forgotten or set aside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We express deep gratitude for the enormous faith shown by husbands and wives (especially our wives) in their willingness to have children.”
Grow Closer as You Sacrifice
“Across the world, this is a time of economic instability and financial uncertainty,” Elder Andersen said. He quoted President Thomas S. Monson: “ ‘If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions.’ ”
Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.
Act in Faith
He also quoted President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985, twelfth President of the Church), telling how in an interview with a young man who was pondering about delaying having children so that he could become a doctor, he asked the piercing question, “Where is your faith?” To find the answer to President Kimball’s question, Elder Andersen said, we must turn to the holy scriptures.
“It was not in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve bore their first child,” he said. “It was not in theirJerusalemhome, with gold, silver, and precious things, that Lehi and Sariah, acting in faith, bore their sons Jacob and Joseph. It was in the wilderness.”
He said that Moses was a child born in faith at a time when children were being killed by Pharaoh. “There was no welcoming sign on the front door to announce his birth,” he said. And even the Lord Jesus Christ was born in humble circumstances. “In the most beloved story of a baby’s birth, there was no decorated nursery or designer crib—only a manger for the Savior of the world.
“In ‘the best of times [and] … the worst of times,’ the true Saints of God, acting in faith, have never forgotten, dismissed, or neglected ‘God’s commandment … to multiply and replenish the earth.’ We go forward in faith—realizing the decision of how many children to have and when to have them is between a husband and wife and the Lord. We should not judge one another on this matter.”
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.
Blessings Will Come
Speaking to those unable to have children, Elder Andersen noted that, “We cannot always explain the difficulties of our mortality. Sometimes life seems very unfair—especially when our greatest desire is to do exactly what the Lord has commanded. As the Lord’s servant, I assure you that this promise is certain: ‘Faithful members whose circumstances do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, [as] they keep the covenants they have made with God.’”