PROVO — Marriage and families are at the heart of mortal life, Elder Bruce D. Porter of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Seventy said during the Stand for the Family conference held at BYU Friday. If the family breaks down, so does everything else, he said.
"In families more than anywhere else, children learn the values, the practical life skills, the habits, manners, moral strength and tenacity that enable them to rise up and be successful in the world," he said. "They learn the all-important attributes of love, unselfishness, compromise, caring, giving and hard work that some day will be essential for them to form families of their own."
In his remarks, Elder Porter spoke of the importance of children, the eternal family and some of the issues of society threatening the family today.
"Those who defend the traditional family — to stand for fidelity and chastity and all that was once considered wholesome and praiseworthy — are mocked and ridiculed," he said. "On the other hand, those who see no issue with fatherless homes, abortion and pornography and who redefine the essence of what a family is are praised as tolerant. Truly the world has turned upside down."
Many individuals in society today are putting the love of money and worldly pleasures before God, calling evil good and good evil, he said. Because of this, the family is in a crisis — a crisis that was foreseen by prophets anciently.
"If families do not fill their divinely appointed purpose of carrying on the light of truth and the torch of civilization to the next generation, then we can throw any amount of money, or ideas or programs at our world's problems and we will assuredly fail," he said.
The fundamental, underlining problem in society today undermining the importance of family and successful marriages is selfishness, Elder Porter said.
"Successful families require that men an women make substantial and long-term sacrifices of their time, money and personal fulfillment in order to dedicate their efforts in rearing the next generation," he said.
By sacrificing and focusing on the family, individuals can help their families stay strong and on the "straight and narrow path." That path uplifts, blesses and brings joy, he said.
Elder Porter spoke of the "modern tolerance" that society claims today, that oftentimes criticizes moral values. To these views, individuals must stay firm, Elder Porter said.
"All morality, all virtue requires saying no firmly and courageously to all that is immoral and bankrupt," he said. "By defining the traditional family we bless all people whether they recognize it now or not."
These eternal truths, or sometimes called by society old-fashioned ideals, were formed before the foundation of the world and must be kept sacred, he said.
"As mothers and fathers rise up and assume their divinely appointed role as a light to the nations they will raise a strong generation."