The Doctrine of the Family: Not just for Marriage

I am honored to be able to write a few words on WBMW. The theme Kathryn gave me was and is at the core of how to raise families: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

One thing that my vantage point as an LDS Church member in a young single adult ward has made me see, is people who struggle to form families (unfortunately, a common problem in and out of the church). A key portion of President Monson's ministry has been focused on reaching out to the one who is in need. Thus, we should all focus on loving those many who are single, especially with weaknesses, inclinations or attractions that make it hard to form a family.

One thing I have learned is that the family proclamation applies to single members as well. Elder Russell M. Nelson agrees, as he urged the young adults ( watching most of whom are single) to have a copy of the Family Proclamation at the September 2013 CES Fireside and to prepare their hearts for messages and spiritual guidance on the family at the upcoming general conference.

I think he advised this because each of the principles in the sentence above can not only be controversial but can be applied no matter our family circumstances in place of the anti-marriage teachings of satan. I will share a little bit about how 5 of these 11 concepts can help anybody, especially those who struggle.


A scripture that states the nature of the Lord’s plan of Happiness is 2 Nephi 2:25, which teaches "Men are that that they might have joy.” Sister Kristin Oaks' explained this concept of being happy now:

“On one occasion,… I went to a priesthood leader for a blessing to strengthen me. The words spoken in that blessing stay with me to this day and ring truer to me as time passes. I can still quote them: “If you cannot bear the difficulties and challenges of single life, you will never be able to bear the difficulties and challenges of married life.” I sat a bit stunned. Those words were a call to action for me to make my life wonderful regardless of any situation or difficulty I faced. If I made a happy single life for myself, it would determine the happiness I would have as a married woman, and I wanted a happy future… Life is a challenge, but it will always be a challenge—single or married—and I wanted to be equal to that challenge. I testify from hard-earned experience that the Lord is always preparing us for greater happiness and blessings. We need only try our best and trust in Him with all our hearts.”[1]

Thus, we can teach those who struggle to be happy in the moment. While depression is real and addictions interfere with happiness, Christ has promised us that we might have joy.

The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ (as taught in the temple).

I have found great joy in regular temple attendance, where Christ’s teachings are taught clearly. The temple has allowed me to learn to feel the spirit, which helps me trust Christ even when my dating and life doesn’t seem to be following the typical path. As we encourage youth, young single adults and those who struggle to worthily attend the temple, they can see both the teachings and the plan of Salvation portrayed and receive the strength to follow the spirit.


My bishops have taught me to have faith no matter where I’m at. As I have developed this faith, it makes the problems of life cured through Christ’s atonement in the long run and bearable in the present. As the Lord taught the people of Alma, burdens can be made right through faith in his atonement. (Mosiah 24:14-15)


One way I enjoy thinking about Repentance is any form of productive change. As youth progress in life, they need to constantly change, in order to realize their potential. A youth who is unwilling to repent lacks the humility needed to become Christ like and form a family.


At the CES Fireside by Elder Nelson this month he, in addition to encouraging the study of the family proclamation, encouraged the youth to memorize the hymn “True to the Faith,” which includes the phrase “We will Work out our Salvation.” Work is essential to progression, no matter our stage in life. As youth and those who struggle learn to work, they are blessed

There are at least 6 other principles in just the sentences I was asked to write about that apply at any stage in life, similar to the five I highlighted. The core of how to raise families deserves re-iteration: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

As our youth strive to form families, they can prepare by applying the principles to their life now. As we teach the application of the Family Proclamation to the youth, we can help them meet the challenges of today.

"Look to the lighthouse of the Lord. . . . There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, . . . but what the lighthouse of the Lord can rescue." -Thomas S. Monson

Michael T. Worley is a third-year law student at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. Michael grew up in Northern and Southern California. Following a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Diego, California, Michael graduated with a degree in Economics and Mathematics from Brigham Young University in 2011. He has interned with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Marriage Law Foundation and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. In his spare time he enjoys racquetball, piano playing, and Supreme Court watching. He updates periodically Why I Believe in the Family and believes in both continuing and consistent revelation. As such, his favorite holiday is General Conference.

During the most recent ongoings of the Prop 8 saga, Michael reached out to me through my Facebook page, WBMW, to share pertinent information that he knew would be helpful as I addressed the topic with my blog readers, etc. I soon came to know that Michael is a true defender of the faith, and a great friend to the Church - thus, to me. I feel so blessed to know him and to have him share a few thoughts here about the importance of the doctrine of the family.

Head on over to Mormon Mommy Blogs or Chocolate on My Cranium, and see what they're sharing during our Celebration - and join in on our blog hop! (see below)

Kathryn Skaggs

[1] Kristin Oaks, To the Singles of the Church, September 2003


  1. Thank you for this. The quote from Kristin Oaks is especially perceptive. Until you can be happy with yourself, you can never be happy with others. It's taken me a long, long time to internalize this.

  2. What a great blog post! Thanks, Michael, for stepping up and being a defender of faith and the family.


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