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Strengthening Lds Families

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unapologetic in declaring its divine mandate to preserve what it views as the traditional family unit. The ideal family composition is believed to be a faithful husband and wife sealed eternally together with their children in the temple, who then each lovingly magnify their divinely appointed gender roles (Scott 2001). However, as church membership becomes increasingly international, family structure is becoming more diverse. For example, statistics show that the idealized family sealed in the temple describes only one in five LDS families in the United States and less than 5 percent of LDS families in Mexico (Heaton 1992). To nurture the ideal LDS family, the church doubled its number of operating Latter-day Saint temples worldwide from fifty temples in 1997 to one hundred temples in 2000. With the complexity and challenges of present-day reality, no family lives perfectly true to the ideal. Adaptations are required due to individual circumstances, such as divorce, disability, or death (The Family 1995).

Despite falling short of the ideal, research (Heaton, Goodman, and Holman 1994) finds that Mormons, compared to other U.S. families, are more likely to marry, less likely to divorce, less likely to have cohabited, and more disapproving of extramarital sex. Other comparisons, however, show similarities between Mormons and those of other religious traditions in marital interaction, time spent with children, evaluation of roles, disagreement, and conflict.

The church holds up the ideal, counseling its members to reach toward it through obedience to gospel principles (Scott 2001). The church, however, does not only teach principles; it provides support and resources to assist families to approach the ideal. This is consistent with cautions raised decades earlier by Darwin L. Thomas (1983) as he looked to the future of the Mormon family. He recommended that the church provide additional support and resources to families coping with the strain of increasing differences between Mormon beliefs and contemporary societal beliefs.

Latter-day Saints are taught to integrate gospel principles into everyday family life, through daily family prayer and scripture study. Families are encouraged to gather on Monday nights for family home evening to participate in spiritual and educational lessons, music, family activities, fun, planning, and councils to build family unity and to solve special challenges and needs. In addition to receiving regular instruction at church and in other meetings, Latter-day Saints receive monthly personal contacts from assigned home visitors offering teachings and support in fulfilling family duties. All age groups in the church are further supported through activities in their respective priesthood quorums and auxiliaries. Leaders counsel, assess special needs, and match Latter-day Saint members with resources that support family growth. Church resources supplement the self-reliant efforts of individuals and families to meet their own family needs. Families take care of themselves and share their resources in caring for others in need.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsMormonism - Mormon Beliefs And Practices, Myths About Mormon Beliefs And Practices, Strengthening Lds Families, Promoting Family Well-being Worldwide