40 talks and 40 days – Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World, L Tom Perry

Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World

Family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness.

This is perhaps a bit more touchy as this is kinda the final words of L. Tom Perry, and overall, I liked him pretty well.  I only met him a couple of times in real life, but overall, he was the “Grandpa” of the quorum.  Less racial and bigoted language from him than others. But, this talk has some real issues.

Here’s the problem, you can’t (TM) family.  The LDS church doesn’t own the concept of families.

I had the privilege of being invited—along with President Henry B. Eyring and Bishop Gérald Caussé—to attend a colloquium on marriage and family at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. In attendance were religious representatives from 14 different faiths and from six of the seven continents, all of whom had been invited to express their beliefs on what is happening to the family in today’s world.

That’s cool.  I mean, getting together with religious big-wigs and talking about families.  That’s cool.  I’m sure they talked about starving families, imigration and how deportation impacts families, and divorce and how to support single parent families via government and religious supports.  Things like time off for fathers when babies are born, and better day care for working women, right?

“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.”1

Okay so… divorce is bad.  Um.  What else did you guys talk about?

This was followed by three days of presentation and discussion with religious leaders addressing the subject of marriage between a man and a woman.

Wait wait wait… it’s just a smack-talk session on homosexuailty and divorce?

I heard them agree completely with each other and express 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. I felt a powerful sense of commonality and unity with them.

Ah yeah, it’s so good to have a community of like-minded individuals who agree with your thought.  One of those things that non-straight, non-white, non-male individuals fight for.  You know, one of those things single-mothers are commonly denied when they are shamed from communities.  Or that homosexual men desire when they go to priesthood session and instead are told they are evil, corrupt, and need to repent.

One of my favorites was when a Muslim scholar from Iran quoted two paragraphs verbatim from our very own proclamation on the family.

No mention that the Koran says that murdering a husband or wife who commits infidelity or that this kind of punishment is frequently meted out in the Arab section of the world.  I mean, I’m glad that the Muslim quoted the proclamation on the family but if he’s trying to say that all religions on earth agree with the current Mormon concept on family, that’s kinda deceptive.

It was remarkable for me to see how marriage and family-centered priorities cut across and superseded any political, economic, or religious differences.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and state that this is because the people who had political, economic and religious differences about families weren’t invited.  Unitarian Universalists?  Atheists?  How about the religious heads, how many of them counted as “poor” or made less than $40,000 a year?  How many pro-choice heads of religion were there?  How many women?

Yup, if you’re all straight, male and the top of your culture, you have a lot in common in how you think other people should live.  No surprises there.

President Henry B. Eyring gave a final testimony at the colloquium. He bore powerful witness to the beauty of a committed marriage and to our belief in the promised blessing of eternal families.

I wonder if every other religious leader picked up on that what Eyering meant “Eternal families only if they all converted to LDS Mormonism and had temple rites performed for them even if that was after death”.  To the Jewish leaders, this is considered necromancy (Called necro-dunking), and is blasphemous and worthy of death.  To the Catholics, there are no marriage or family after this life as we become a sort of “Singularity” with god.  I’m thinking that L. Tom missed the differences that others were sharply aware of, because he was a little fish in a big pond trying to fit in.

“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?”

only we have the eternal perspective of the restored gospel.

And there we go; we’re back to the “We’re just so much more special and better than everyone else because they don’t understand eternal families!”  And yet most religions do believe that families continue after this life.  It is really only the Joseph Smith Jr. derived faiths that state that might not be the case anymore (Even the catholic singularity with god idea admits that families are still together forever).

The entire theology of our restored gospel centers on families and on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.

And holding them hostage if you don’t obey.  Don’t pay tithing, you won’t see your daughter get married.  Don’t obey the word of wisdom, public shame when someone else names your baby.  Don’t comply with leadership and speak up too much, it would be a real shame if your family learned you were excommunicated, wouldn’t it.

It is because of our belief that marriages and families are eternal that we, as a church, want to be a leader and a participant in worldwide movements to strengthen them.

But only if those families meet our definition.  We’d never want to strengthen a Gay-couple marriage.

No one has ever come up with a more efficient way to raise the next generation than a household of married parents with children.

Maybe not, but just because others are EQUAL in effectiveness doesn’t mean they should be ignored.  And even in less-than-perfect scenarios, that doesn’t justify this kind of down-putting of those.  Single-dads who strive to bring their kids up well, single-mothers like Heber J. Grant’s mother who worked day and night to support his son, and grandparents who raise children whose parents died in accidents shouldn’t be discarded or put down like this statement implies when they are doing the best with the realities they face.

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

Even among homosexuals.  Why shouldn’t they be given the same chances for that hope and dream for life?

“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.”4

This is a quote from David Brooks in the NYT.  Just a paragraph or two down he says:

But the two-parent family is obviously not the only way people bind themselves. We are inevitably entering a world in which more people search for different ways to attach. Before jumping to the conclusion that the world is going to hell, it’s probably a good idea to investigate these emerging commitment devices.

L. Tom, did you read that article?  Did you read down a bit before you quoted it to realize that what he was really saying is that we should adjust to the new world and not cling to the old one?  Maybe Gay families aren’t the end of the definition of family, but we should broaden the definition?  No?

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

“Damn liberal media” sentiment is now doctrine said at General Conference by Apostle.  It’s not that gays are under-represented in actual life, it’s that Hollywood is overrepresenting 1% of the world’s population.  They also allowed female actors to talk about something other than a man about 6-12% of the time which is SO overblown compared to real life.

In such a media and Internet-dominated world, it has never been harder to raise responsible children and to keep marriages and families together.

How about when the Roman empire was enslaving countries they conquested?  How about in Somalia where media and the internet are not the threats but local warlords drafting children to fight for them is more a concern?  How about for Africans brought across the ocean to America in the 1800’s?  No, it is white suburban families who possess the internet that are most threatened.  Okay.

the solid majority of mankind still believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman.


And when that turns, when the majority doesn’t think that anymore, would you go with it and urge your listeners to do so as well, or would you play the “persecuted minority” card? What the majority believes doesn’t matter at all.  Slavery was always wrong even if a majority wanted to bring it back.  Rape is wrong, even if a majority of people say it should be legal.  Appealing to the majority isn’t exactly a strong position.

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.


Funny thing, Mr. Perry, I remember another talk about marriage and family and Rome given by a general Authority like yourself who didn’t exactly agree with the majority or the definition of family, you; yourself, are putting forward:

“Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout all Christendom, and which has been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious.”

– Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 11, p. 128

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Last edited by Mithryn on September 16, 2015 at 10:07 pm

1 Response to 40 talks and 40 days – Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World, L Tom Perry

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