- An international assembly with religious representatives from 14 different faiths and from 6 of the 7 continents, all of whom had been invited to express their beliefs on what is happening to the family in today’s world. This assembly was held Nov. 17, 2014 at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
Pope Francis opened the first session of the assembly with this statement: “We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. … It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”
In referring to those of the rising generation, he said it is important that they “do not give themselves over to the poisonous [mentality] of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern”; this must be done. (Pope Francis, address at Humanum: An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman, Nov. 17, 2014)
Those in attendance represented the widest imaginable variety of worldwide religious leaders, who agreed completely with each other and expressed support for one another’s beliefs on the sanctity of the institution of marriage and of the importance of families as the basic unit of society, leaving a powerful sense of commonality and unity among them. Marriage and family-centered priorities cut across and superseded any political, economic, or religious differences. When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries, and dreams for children, we are all the same.
No one has ever come up with a more efficient way to raise the next generation than a household of married parents with children.
Why should marriage and family matter—everywhere? Public opinion polls show that marriage is still the ideal and the hope among the majority of every age group—even among the millennial generation, where we hear so much about chosen singleness, personal freedom, and cohabitation instead of marriage. The fact is that strong majorities worldwide still want to have children and to create strong families.
Once we are married and once we have children, the true commonality among all mankind becomes even more evident. As “family people”—no matter where we live or what our religious beliefs may be—we share many of the same struggles, the same adjustments, and the same hopes, worries, and dreams for our children.
As New York Times columnist David Brooks said: “People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice—commitments to family, God, craft and country.”
(David Brooks, “The Age of Possibility,” New York Times, Nov. 16, 2012, A35,
One problem is that much of the media and entertainment that the world shares does not reflect the priorities and values of the majority. For whatever reasons, too much of our television, movies, music, and Internet present a classic case of a minority masquerading as a majority. Immorality and amorality, ranging from graphic violence to recreational sex, is portrayed as the norm and can cause those who have mainstream values to feel like we are out of date or from a bygone era. In such a media and Internet-dominated world, it has never been harder to raise responsible children and to keep marriages and families together.
Despite what much of media and entertainment outlets may suggest, however, and despite the very real decline in the marriage and family orientation of some, the solid majority of mankind still believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman. They believe in fidelity within marriage, and they believe in the marriage vows of “in sickness and in health” and “till death do us part.”
We need to remind ourselves once in a while, as I was reminded in Rome, of the wonderfully reassuring and comforting fact that marriage and family are still the aspiration and ideal of most people, and that we are not alone in those beliefs. It has never been more of a challenge to find a practical balance between employment, families, and personal needs than it is in our day. As a church, we want to assist in all that we can to create and support strong marriages and families. (“Why Marriage and Family Matter - Everywhere win the World,” by Elder L. Tom Perry, General Conference address, April 2015)
- Two-parent households are in a decline in the U.S. as divorce, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births are on the rise.
What Couples Can Do to Strengthen their Marriage
- Be realistic—even the strongest marriages go through hard times.
- Put your marriage first, before jobs, possessions, friends and family.
- Work on building your relationship. Just because your marriage is good today, doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow—you have to work at it every day.
- Engaged couples should spend more
time planning their married life than the wedding reception. Discuss
how you are going to raise your children, what role religion will play
in the family, how to resolve differences in a kind way, and how to keep
- Leave (your parents, siblings, friends), cleave (to your spouse) and become unified as ONE.
- Worship together and attend church regularly.
- Pray together. Kneel down, speak from your heart, and ask God to help you resolve problems.
- Seek peace and understanding when you have disagreements. If you never disagree, one person is surrendering their identity. Allow each other their own thoughts and opinions.
- Learn to forgive and accept each other’s imperfections.
- Be willing to make sacrifices and discipline yourself to get along.
- Remember – Every person in
the family is a child of God, fashioned in the image of God,
representing divinity. We should approach each other with a feeling of
awe and sanctity. Children are a blessing, not a burden.