Defending the Family

When I was a young girl, my favorite song was “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The rousing words stirring my soul as I sang alongside my grandmother in Bethel Methodist Church. When I first read the Book of Mormon as a teenager, I wanted to march under Captain Moroni’s banner to defend my religion, my peace, my home and my freedom.

When President Hinckley read the proclamation on the family, I wanted to be one of those who promoted those measures to strengthen home and family.

Inevitably, the phone rang. I turned to face the dishes in the sink and a hungry toddler. How can I “haste to the battle, quick to the field” when there are so many fronts on which the war is being waged?

As with many questions I‘ve faced, the answer is found in the Book of Mormon. Captain Moroni, a strong and mighty man of perfect understanding, showed me the way. Moroni first prepared the minds of the people to be faithful. He also strengthened the armies by erecting small forts and places of resort. He built stone walls around their lands and cities, and fortified their weakest places. As a soldier defending home and family, I need to follow the same, strategic plan.

First, I must prepare my mind to be faithful. Second, I can erect a small fort-- a place of refuge for my own family-- as I seek to establish a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of order, a house of God. Third, I must help fortify my city and community. Finally, I must strengthen the borders of my land by letting my light so shine that the darkness will flee.

Prepare My Own Mind

As I prepare my own mind to be faithful, I’m reminded of the words of the Chinese philosopher Sun Tsu. In “The Art of War,” Sun Tsu wrote, “Fighting is the most primitive way of making war on your enemies. The supreme excellence is not to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles; the supreme excellence is to subdue your enemies without having to fight them.”

How often is Satan able to subdue me before I’ve even begun to fight? In a world where the truth we embrace is mocked on every hand, it’s easy to become discouraged. We’re daily assaulted by messages undermining the importance of home and family. Women who choose to stay home and raise their children are made to feel they’re missing out. Men are constantly the object of jokes in everything from greeting cards to the Internet—this at a time when the Secretary of Health has declared fatherlessness the number one health issue facing our country’s children.

Gender confusion permeates every aspect of our society. Much of the battle we wage in defense of our families is on the battlefields of our minds. Tell a lie often enough, and boldly enough, and the masses will accept it as proven truth. A generation raised watching hundreds of episodes of “Friends” may believe that this sitcom mirrors true happiness.

Propaganda has long been a part of the war plan. During World War II, soldiers in the Pacific listened to Tokyo Rose. In Vietnam, soldiers listened to Hanoi Hannah. These women worked make soldiers feel discourages and lose hope. Their messages were aimed at making servicemen feel that all was in vain. These voices aren’t unlike many we hear blaring on our airwaves today. Rather than listening to these loud voices, I must follow the prophet Joshua. The Lord counseled him, long before the battle began, “Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”

Places of Refuge

Moroni erected places of refuge. It’s my job as a homemaker to create a place of refuge for my family so my children can be taught by truth and light. As my children arrive home at the end of the day, do they find safe shelter? Is my home a fortification against the rest of the world?

As parents, we must often make unpopular decisions about what to allow in our home via television, the Internet, or the mailbox. J.C. Cooper, in discussing the hearth as the sacred center of the home said, “The evil of television is that it destroys the focal point or hearth, with all its family associations, communications, consolidations and disperses the attention outwards to the outer profane world, so breaking the once sacred family unity and bringing alien influences into the home.”

In fighting to defend home and family, my job is often to stand as sentinel against those wolves seeking to get in. I must monitor the music that permeates our home. In war, the enemy tries to jam the channels of communication. Am I creating a sanctuary where my family can feel the Holy Ghost?

What am I doing to keep my home a place where this communication can take place? Is this easy? Of course not! It’s war!

Is my home always calm and peaceful? Rarely, but it’s something worth striving for every day as I remind myself that Moroni sent extra fortifications to his weakest places.

Protect My Community

Moroni enclosed cities and borders with walls of stone. So I must strive to protect my community. Each of us can stand and defend our town and cities. The Supreme Court has ruled in several cases based on “community standards.” What are we doing to keep that standard high? Do we ask that the objectionable magazines be covered in our supermarket? Do we mention unacceptable pictures to mall management? Are we courageous enough to raise our voice in a school board meeting?

Meredith, a mother in California, was disturbed by the sexually explicit nature of questionnaires being printed in her children’s high school newspaper. She gathered support from her neighbors, and stood before a packed school board meeting as a responsible citizen seeking to promote measures designed to strengthen the family. Another mother, Kristen, collected hundreds of letter protesting a highly offensive television show and took them to the local television station. Jaana, a sister in Finland, uses her website and influence to fight laws that have taken away a woman’s maternity leave.

In communities everywhere, good men and women are rising to the challenge. They’re holding their fingers in the dike so the flood of immortality doesn’t sweep their communities away. President Benson once said, “It is time for us, as members of the Church, to walk in all the ways of the Lord, to use our influence to make popular that which is sound and to make unpopular that which is unsound.”

Let Your Light Shine

Finally, Moroni strengthened all the borders. Our light can shine into the most far-reaching places. People will look to us and see our light, no matter where we are. Joseph Smith admonished the early Saints to wear out their lives in bringing the hidden things of darkness into the light.

I fear we underestimate the power for good we have by simply living good, clean lives. By living the gospel we put on the whole armor of God, and we are able to resist principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places.

With my hands in the dishwasher, I realize that, I too, am enlisted ”till the conflict is o’er; happy are we” (Hymns 250). I will not be discouraged, though the dangers may gather. I can make my home a place of refuge even with the world at my door. And I will help my neighbors enclose my city with rocks, with Christ the chief cornerstone. And I will let my light shine so that the world may see that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. (The Family: a Proclamation to the World.)

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