FFF #24 2015 Last Words
With President Packer’s funeral being broadcast today, I was thinking about his last message in General Conference. Specifically, I was pondering what was the focus of his last message and Elder Perry’s also, being that this last conference were their final words in their last conference assignment.
Do you know what both of them spoke of? Marriage and family, God’s plan for happiness. I just thought it was so fitting. President Packer (last conference address) shared with us the beginning of his courtship with Donna Smith. He said, “Over the years I have frequently taught an important principle: the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity.”
And this, “The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth has never been rescinded. It is essential to the plan of redemption and is the source of human happiness. Through the righteous exercise of this power, we may come closer to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy, even godhood. The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it is the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness.”
I think you should read that last sentence again. Go ahead, read it again! Right now.
That is a very different view than the world paints of it, huh? It is not about the hot, steamy, with whomever stuff you see in the media. It is quiet, reserved, sacred, for only one person. Righteous behavior in our marital intimate relationship, is the plan and key to happiness. That, my brothers and sisters, is a profound statement. Think about that. Is that how your relationship is working? I know mine could use some work.
Is it any wonder that Satan does things that will disrupt that harmony between a husband and wife and cause strife in that all important relationship?
I loved these words of President Packer,
“Sister Donna Smith Packer and I have been side by side in marriage for nearly 70 years. When it comes to my wife, the mother of our children, I am without words. The feeling is so deep and the gratitude so powerful that I am left almost without expression. The greatest reward we have received in this life, and the life to come, is our children and our grandchildren. Toward the end of our mortal days together, I am grateful for each moment I am with her side by side and for the promise the Lord has given there will be no end.”
As I think about our 25 years and our nine children (no grandchildren yet), I too am grateful for my sweetheart. I am glad that our intimate relationship is ours alone. What we have and are building is worth fighting for. It is worth protecting, nurturing, savoring, cherishing. When things happen in our relationship that hurt one or both of us, it is worth fixing and changing for. I can only imagine that when we have been married as long as President and Sister Packer, that we too will feel the way he does.
Elder Perry, in his last address, shared his experience of attending a colloquium on marriage and the family at the Vatican in Rome. He quoted Pope Francis, who said, “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 being, especially the poorest and most vulnerable…..it is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”
He shared how amazing and reassuring it is to know there are other like minded individuals in the world, not of our faith, who are concerned with marriage and the family. Then Elder Perry said,
“Now you may be asking, ‘If the majority felt that similarity of family priority and beliefs, if all of those faiths and religions essentially agreed on what marriage should be, and if they all agreed on the value that should be placed on homes and family relationships, then how are we any different? How does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distinguish and differentiate itself from the rest of the world?’
“Here is the answer: while it was wonderful to see and feel that we have so much in common with the rest of the world in regard to our families, only we have the eternal perspective of the restored gospel.
“What the restored gospel brings to the discussion on marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity…..
“….We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values—but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God.”
Isn’t that amazing? Two prophets’ final words are about the significance and importance of marriage and the family. One teaching us why we must be leaders on the discussion, because the family is the basis of society not only in mortality but also in eternity. The other, expressing the happiness and joy that can come from building our marriages and families in the manner the Lord has commanded us.
Truly the definition of marriage and family matter to the Lord. He has an opinion. His prophets have expressed what that is, even with their final addresses. It is a significant issue of our day, in fact it is probably the most significant issue of our day. And we have a responsibility to understand this doctrine, how the Lord feels about it, and then to bring our behaviors and attitudes as much in line with that doctrine as is possible.
My heart will be with the Packer family today as they mourn the loss of a great, great man and prophet of God, even their husband, father, and grandfather.