51: “The Family Is Central to the Creator’s Plan” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
Have you ever seen the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch? It's a classic film all about "ohana," or the Hawaiian word for family. And the best quote from that movie is, "Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind." Besides being heartwarming words from a Disney movie, this quote also holds so much meaning for what we are going to study this week: "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." So no matter what your ohana looks like, by the end of this week's discussion, we will see how the divine promise of nobody being left behind is meant for all of us.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Other proclamations made by the Church: “How Rare a Proclamation: A Look at Today’s and the 5 Previous Proclamations in Church History”
“There are no guarantees that earthly families will be ideal or even functional. But as President Henry B. Eyring taught, families ‘give God’s children the best chance to be welcomed to the world with the only love on earth that comes close to what we felt in heaven—parental love’ (“Gathering the Family of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 20). (Come, Follow Me Manual, December 13–19).
“Individual progression is fostered in the family, which is “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” The home is to be God’s laboratory of love and service. There a husband is to love his wife, a wife is to love her husband, and parents and children are to love one another. . . The Church is to assist and not to replace parents in their responsibilities to teach their children” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Salvation and Exaltation,” April 2008 General Conference)
Bruce and Marie Hafen’s addresses on dealing with ambiguity: “Love Is Not Blind: Some Thoughts for College Students on Faith and Ambiguity,” “On Dealing with Uncertainty”
Bruce and Marie Hafen’s book: Faith is Not Blind
President Packer talk about ordinances: “Ordinances,” BYU Devotional, February 1980
Elder Christofferson’s talk: “Why Marriage, Why Family” general conference, April 2015
“Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, each has a divine nature and destiny” (Paragraph 2, The Family: a proclamation to the world”
Beloved = Deeply loved, dear to the heart of God (webstersdictionary1828.com)
Hebrew: I am = I will become who I will become
Divine = Pertaining to God (webstersdictionary1828.com)
Scriptures: 1 Nephi 11:16-17, Exodus 3:11-14, Philippians 4:11-13, Moses 1:13-16,
“In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life”
Scriptures: Abraham 3:26
“Sunday on Monday” episodes with guest Ben Schilaty: Episode 16: "If Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine" (Doctrine and Covenants 37–40), Episode 38: “After Much Tribulation … Cometh the Blessing” (Doctrine and Covenants 102–105)
Heritage = Inheritance, property or possession
Scriptures: Moses 6:59, Psalms 127:3
Third verse of the hymn “As Now We Take the Sacrament”:
As now we praise thy name with song,
The blessings of this day
Will linger in our thankful hearts,
And silently we pray
For courage to accept thy will,
To listen and obey.
We love thee, Lord; our hearts are full.
We’ll walk thy chosen way.
Okay, anyone out there remember the Disney movie "Lilo & Stitch"? I realize that probably ages me, but it's that really cute cartoon that taught us this heartwarming lesson. "Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind." Well, today's lesson is all about ohana. And no matter what your ohana looks like, I promise by the end of our discussion on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," no one getting left behind really will be seen as a divine promise, and, not a threat. (laughs)
Welcome to the Sunday and Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf Plus Original brought to you by LDS Living, where we take the "Come, Follow Me" lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. Now if you're new to our study group, I just want to make sure you know how to use this podcast, so follow the link in our description that will explain how you can best use this podcast to enhance your "Come, Follow Me" study,just like my really good friends Joyce Kirkham and Amy Wallace, who I actually met in a Pottery Barn last week. Turns out good things really do happen in Pottery Barn. And for those of you who remember? you know.
Okay, now here's my favorite thing about the study group, is each week we're joined by two of my friends, so it's always going to be a little bit different. And today, we have two women. I am so excited to announce these friends. So we have Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt. Now she was on before for Section 76. So hi, welcome back.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:24
Good to see you, hear you, look at you, whatever.
And now we have a new friend that both of us adore. And her name is Shauna Seamons. Hi, Shauna.
Shauna Seamons 1:33
Hello, I'm so happy to be here with you guys.
Ohhh. Now Shauna and I used to, we were both hired together to teach Seminary back in 1998.
Shauna Seamons 1:44
Don't say that; that makes us sound really old.
Because we are, Shauna, we are. Jennifer, you were shortly after, weren't you?
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:52
Couple of years after.
Yeah, they hired this, just so many women that same year. And Shauna and I were part of that. And so we've known each other and gone to all sorts of different, what do you even call it? all the summer seminars and everything, so. And now you're teaching up at Utah State University in the Institute?
Shauna Seamons 2:11
Yes, and I love it here.
Oh my gosh, so fun.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 2:14
And I had the blessing to teach with Jennifer up at BYU Idaho. A great connection.
Yeah, tell me how you guys know each other?
Shauna Seamons 2:21
Well, Jen and I were both teaching in Arizona at the same time. And so we were in the same area. And I think we even did a musical number together on a couple of occasions.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 2:32
And one of us, let's just clarify that one of us doesn't sing. Cuz that would be me. (laughter) Well, and that was often how they managed single sisters at couple retreats, was to give us something to do, like sing musical numbers. But the one I'm talking about was a Valentine's and I think they were expecting like a love song. But I chose this Temple song. Oh, gosh, (laughter)
Shauna Seamons 2:59
It was still great fun.
Well, if you want to know more about my guests and see their pictures and read their bios, go check those out in our show notes. And you'll find that at LDS living.com/sundayonMonday; you're gonna want to because these women are fabulous, and you'll want to know more about them.
Okay, so I feel like we have this disclaimer at the beginning, which is, this is just such a big, complicated, wonderful, complex, beautiful, and messy topic. Am I right?
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 3:24
But I, just for those of you who are listening, here's what you need to know about our guests, because I think this is really important, is that both of them teach the family. What's the name of the course that you both teach?
The Eternal Family and it's based on the Proclamation. A 14-week study of the proclamation.
Shauna Seamons 3:44
And I love that it's titled, I love that it's titled The Eternal Family, because for me, I think of The Proclamation not only pertaining to us and our individual families, but also it's really describing God and His Eternal Family.
Yeah, I like how you just framed that, Shauna. And Shauna did her Master's degree on The Proclamation.
Shauna Seamons 4:06
I love this document.
So know that going in. These are two very educated women who have paid the price to know and teach about this Proclamation on the Family. So I usually say at this point, "So friends, grab your scriptures, and let's dig in." But I'm not saying that today. Instead, I'm going to say "Friends, grab your copy of The Proclamation of the Family and let's dig in." If you don't have a copy, I have a link in our show notes; you can click on that and it will take you right to the LDS website, where you can print off a copy. And I highly recommend you do that. So go do that right now, before you get into this episode, because you're gonna want it as we discuss this. So, you guys ready to do this? Let's dig into this. So Shauna, tell us. I want to know why the Family Proclamation for your Master's thesis?
Shauna Seamons 4:53
Well, that's a really good question, because as I was thinking about church history, this came to mind: that this was a very dominant part of our church history here in these latter days, where there was a proclamation not just given to the church, but the whole entire world. And I really felt like it addressed so many different things that were coming about in our world that people were struggling with. And the struggle is real in so many ways regarding families. And I just felt that the doctrine in The Proclamation was worthy of studying and really digging into to find what I can put my faith and trust in through the hardships that we go through. So, that's why I chose The Proclamation to really be the center of my thesis.
And how was it as you studied it? How did that go?
Shauna Seamons 5:45
Oh, my goodness. I found that the wording of the Proclamation is very helpful in really looking at it deeply. This is an inspired document that truly came from God. I just, I just know that with my heart. And so in looking at the particular wording and thinking about, Why did they include this? Why did they say it this way? Why did the Lord have them put this doctrine in there?, I think is really valuable to our understanding of God's family, and the kinds of families that we can ideally have.
Oh, I really love that you just said something about the wording, because I have to tell you this: I've never done a deep dive into The Proclamation of the Family. We talked before we started recording that this is a complicated document for a lot of members of the church. And it's hard for a lot of people, and it was for me. When I read it this time, I did exactly what you just said, Shauna. I took the wording, the specific words, I dissected them, defined them, went through it. And at the top of my page I wrote "Find Christ". Like that was my goal was to find Jesus throughout this proclamation, and how it specifically applied to me. And I gotta tell you, I had an incredible experience this time, like, I have a testimony of this proclamation, and I didn't going into it.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 7:06
First, I love that you're finding the Savior here, because He is the family, right? You know, I've had a whole array of experiences with The Proclamation personally, as well as professionally, and in my teaching. When I was working on my dissertation at Arizona State, there was a time - so I studied Developmental Psychology - and so many of the theories and the methodologies that I would confront were were difficult to grapple with, that they appealed to me emotionally, but they confused me. And I remember one day leaving campus early, early in my studies, thinking, this is the way people apostacize.
And I went home frightened. And I fell to my knees and said, I don't want to leave. I'm not interested in apostacizing, but I can see the slippery slope of secularism and scholarship. And I asked for really clear directions, what can I do to protect myself? And I was given very clear things, and it doesn't always happen this way for me in prayer. But on this occasion, by the power of the Holy Ghost, I was commanded and and promised that if I would read the Book of Mormon every day, be in the temple every week, never study on the Sabbath, and then memorize and carry The Proclamation with me.
Using that as the checkpoint, every theory, every method, check it to The Proclamation. If it aligned, I was to keep it and use it in my own research. If it didn't, I was to toss it out. And so my witness is, it saved me spiritually, that the other things, of course, were essential as well, but that The Proclamation, it saved me. And for me to have that really clear check-point to say, Okay, here are the doctrines.
And this is something I experience every time I teach this, and to have students say, "I had no idea all the doctrine that was here, pointing me to the Savior", That was my experience. And so it helps me to be so clear, in what my purpose was in my research and studies. And then now, you know, some 10 plus years later, it's one of the great guideposts of my life.
Oh, my word.
Shauna Seamons 9:28
I totally agree. For me, it's been the same way. Every time I go over this document, I find new ways that it ties me to my Father in Heaven. And like, Jennifer, it, it has been a saving grace to have this document.
Beautifully said, both of you. I am, I'm so thankful for this discussion that we've had prior to really digging into this Proclamation. You know what? I thought this was interesting: there have only been five proclamations given in the whole history of the church, and I'll put those in my show notes so you can go find out what they are. So this is a pretty big deal and something we should study. In fact, this one actually has a warning at the end in paragraph 8 for everyone in the whole world, not just the church, the whole world, emphasizing the importance of the family. And you know what? I'm going to admit, I have not done a serious study of this family proclamation.
Because there have actually been times when I felt like it really wasn't for me. But I really like what both of you said, and it struck me. Jennifer, when you said it has been a guidepost for you in your life, and then Shauna, you said that it ties us to our Heavenly Father. I just thought, that's what I have to keep in mind, and I can see that now. Because studying for today's episode, really digging deep into it, you both are right, and I think it will be a guidepost for me from now on. And it definitely connected me to my Heavenly Parents. So thank you for sharing that. So I want everyone listening to just sort of keep that in mind. And think about that as we study this Proclamation, because I think you're going to really enjoy what we have to say and what we've learned from it.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 11:02
Um, can I just say one other thing that I think there's merit, regardless of life circumstance, to try and see yourself in the Proclamation, the church had an article, September of 2020 in the Liahona, that's with that title, "Being Yourself in the Family Proclamation". And, and that there's power in that. And that's, again, that's something that I try and invite anytime that I'm going to study with someone - Will you pray to have eyes to see, and to find yourself?
I had a student message me prior to a semester with a lot of fear and trepidation saying, I've tried this class on campus several times. And I have felt hurt and damaged. And I'm really afraid to take it. And I want to be really clear with you what's going on with me before we even start, they identify as non-binary, and asexual. And so just straight up for them to be so clear and trusting with me before I had ever met them was so humbling to me.
But my invitation to them was, I invite you to find yourself in the proclamation. And I'll never forget the day when I watched this individual weep in class. And I said, What's going on? And they said, "I'm here, I'm right there." And that, that for them, there was evidence of a) their own divinity, but, b) loving Heavenly Parents that know and have a plan for all of Their children.
And for me, I mean, I'm still in contact with this student, just talked with them the other day, and just with so much gratitude that this individual feels and has to have found themselves here in The Proclamation.
Oh, wow, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing that. I mean, we're only 15 minutes in and we are already feeling the spirit so strongly about this Proclamation. No doubt, it's what we're supposed to study.
Shauna Seamons 13:02
Just going along with what Jen said, I really hope that all of the listeners will take some time to just really do that same kind of thing. Pray, let the Spirit work on them, take it to the Lord, and really let them and the Lord have that kind of experience together. That's got to be everybody's individual journey.
Amen. Absolutely. So for those of you listening, take a minute and say a little prayer, and pray throughout your study this week of this Proclamation. And if you have a copy of it, we want you to go through and number each paragraph. That's gonna be super important for our discussion, because we will refer to each paragraph by number. And there, you should number them, total of nine; there are nine paragraphs that we'll discuss. So grab it. And what I'm excited about is that we are going to now dive into The Proclamation on the Family with the viewpoint of three women.
I thought this was interesting: three women who, at several different points in our lives, have had to redefine what family means in our own lives. And I think that our viewpoints will be so interesting, because we have a single woman who's never been married; we have two women who got married when they were older; we have one in a traditional marriage; and one is a step-mom. And so I think this will be a great discussion. So we'll begin this in the next segment.
Segment 2 14:18
Okay, so the "Come, Follow Me" manual, it starts out this lesson by saying this: "There are no guarantees that earthly families will be ideal or even functional." And then it goes on to say, "If we follow the prophets and put faith in the Savior, even though mortal families fall short of the Divine ideal, there's hope for families on earth and in heaven." Oh my gosh. Ladies, okay, tell me your thoughts about the connection between that quote, and paragraph one.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 14:53
It's, you know, it's absolutely vital when I set up this class. So Bruce and Marie Hafen gave a brilliant talk in 1978 on dealing with ambiguity. It since becomes the book and talk, <Faith is Not Blind>. And in that they talk about this idea of navigating from simplicity to complexity to simplicity, and that every one of us has a gap. And that, to me is vital to go, Look, I'm in a fallen state. So there's going to be a gap in where I'm at with this. No one's exempt.
There is so much in paragraph 1, so much. So let's just start with this - what wording or ideas strikes you in this paragraph?
Shauna Seamons 15:38
I love how he, how in the paragraph, it uses the word Creator. They could have chosen a number of titles for God, but they choose The Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children, thus telling us something about what we can do. Our circumstances might not be ideal, according to this document, according to the doctrine here. But at the same time, we have the ability because we are our Father's children, we have the ability to create something good, something beautiful, even if our circumstances do not immediately produce the ideal that we see here in the doctrine that we're talking about today.
Definitely. Go ahead, Jen.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 16:22
I totally agree. And that it gives us pause to reframe some of our assumptions, or even biases of what we think something should mean; that being a creator isn't just giving life as far as bearing a child. I mean, we give life in so many different ways. The other thing, though, that I think is important here is, "We the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve ....". That, that if we're not founded on trusting and sustaining and following the Brethren, this will be complicated for us. And to be able to be really clear, that we're we're all in in our allegiance, not with blind faith, but with discerning and active. Striving.
Shauna Seamons 17:15
And that they do this with the words "solemnly proclaim". They have, they have not taken this lightly. These 15 Brothers have been unified in their faith and revelation. They are solemnly with, and that just brings to mind this emphasis of responsibility and discipleship and a weightiness to the matter that we're going to discuss. So I think that we should be attuned to the fact that they were very sensitive to what the Lord was revealing, as well.
How do you teach that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God? And then is central to the creator's plan?
Shauna Seamons 18:00
That's a really good question. Jen, do you want to tackle that one?
Especially in the world that we live in?
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 18:09
It's important, isn't it? What does 'ordained' mean? And I think that that's important. President Packer gave a great talk explaining ordained, ordinances. God puts things in order. And this is going to tie into the next paragraph, I think, where we start to talk about gender as an essential characteristic. What does that mean? There are so many constructs of gender. But for me, the bottom line is back to what Shauna was saying of creation, it's about procreation. And that the Father's plan is for us to then create families, ideally, a man and a woman who are going to bear children and invite them into the union. And so the ordination, the order of heaven, is a man and a woman, sealed, and inviting children into the union, because that's the way we're designed.
And then the way that God brings His children to the earth. That's the means, the vehicle by which that can happen. I'm curious to know your opinion on this for both of you, because this is how I've tried to figure it, this is how it makes sense in my brain, is that word 'Central'. Is that if you have a center of anything, that means there's layers that go beyond the center, right? Like a Gobstopper (candy); you have the center of the Gobstopper, and the layers that go out. And even as a center has also stuff that's on the outside of the peripheral.
And if the family is the center, then there's also layers that go out, which include everybody, like, what about single people? Oh, that's a layer. What about people who might be LGBTQ? That's another layer. Like, God's plan is so big; it's this gigantic, beautiful circle, and every layer is important to get to the center. And so I feel like it's not excluding every person by saying this. It's just teaching us that at the center is how we get all of these beautiful layers. I don't know, does that make sense? Or is that apoc, like is that?
Shauna Seamons 20:12
No, I think that's beautiful.
I'm not really even have, I'm curious to know what you guys think about this, because that's how I make sense in my mind for this to not hurt people when they read it. Like, because they think, Well where, how do, where do I belong, then, if that's the center?
Shauna Seamons 20:26
And that's such an important question. And again, I think for me, to bring it back to the fact that this, this is who God is. Family is central to Him. It is His family that we're talking about. We all are His children. And so family being at the center of that plan, like you said, includes all of us, and we might just be in in these layers that you have described.
For Shauna, you're a layer.
Shauna Seamons 20:52
I am, I am. I've been single all my life, never had the opportunity to marry, which has hurt my heart quite a bit, but at the same time to know that I am a valued part of God's Family. And that that, that He still has a plan for me, because of that connection I have with Him. I just have valued the talk that Elder Christofferson gave called "Why Marriage, Why Family", where he speaks about the fact that Jen just mentioned that God has an order to things. And I'm so grateful we believe in a God who's a God of order. It's not a God of chaos, although my life might be in a little chaos every once in a while.
And I'm just grateful that he, with this idea of why marriage, why family?, Elder Christofferson pointed out that that marriage, being ordained of God is a post of responsibility. And for people who have military family members or who've been in the military themselves, that word 'post' really has a different meaning, because it's a, it's a, there's a responsibility there. People could be harmed if you have not taken that post seriously. And so I think it's important to recognize that this order is very important to God's plan and that civilization can be harmed when we don't take that that order seriously, when we don't take that that post seriously.
Wow, I like your focus on that word, on that specific talk with post and order. It reminds me I have this quote by President Nelson; he was Elder at the time in 2008. And we're going to refer to this talk a couple of times in our discussion today. He gave this quote about the goal of the family, of this post. I love how you just said that, Shauna, how important it is. Jennifer, will you read this quote from Elder Nelson, (President Nelson).
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 22:47
I would love to. "Individual progression is fostered in the family, which is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The home is to be God's laboratory of love and service. " I love that word 'laboratory' that he uses, right? Because that says it's experimental, it's not finished, it's not polished, you're practicing, you're testing, you're you're trying to figure some things out.
Yeah. I think that is one of my favorite parts of that quote, "the laboratory".
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 23:18
"The home is to be God's laboratory of love and service. There, a husband is to love his wife, a wife is to love her husband, and parents and children are to love one another. The church is to assist, and not to replace parents in their responsibilities to teach their children." I'm loving, you know, we're gonna hear the word responsibility a lot today, I think. And there's merit to really engaging in that wrestle. To be willing to say, What's holding me back from being responsible? And being all in in this?
Well, and my question as you're talking about this, and what's my responsibility? And how does this affect me? And where am I in this? You know, the question, and we go back to how we started, that family isn't always ideal, and it can be complicated. And my question for both of you is, then, if that is the situation for us, if that song "Families Can Be Together Forever" is more of a threat than a promise, you know, because it may feel that way for some of our sisters and brothers in the Gospel. How do we then take this Proclamation? And I mean, I kind of feel like Shauna's already answered this with it's about the Creator, it's about God, it's about His family. And so when we sing "Families..", because that is a question I've always had, it feels more like a threat than a promise and what's the point of all of this? But I feel like you've answered that - it's to be back to with our Heavenly Father. Families can be together forever means God's family.
Shauna Seamons 24:43
You know, you bring to mind that part in the Gospel Topics Essays when it's talking about becoming like God, and it says, "we view exaltation more in the terms of relationships." And so those relationships of family and our relationship to God just are so profound to me as I think about where I want to be in the hereafter. Because right now, as far as a close relationship to a husband, that is not what I have. That's not, that's not my my life at the moment. Yet. That's my faith-filled word.
I love that word. I'll say it for you, yet, yet, yet.
Shauna Seamons 25:22
But I do believe that the relationship I'm trying to develop with my Father in Heaven, that is going to be key towards my eternal progression. So I can't do a lot right now, although I can prepare for those eternal relationships with a spouse. But I can continue my relationship with my Father, my Creator.
Perfectly said, perfect. Thank you so much. Okay, well, within the framework of the family then, the eternal family that we've been talking about, it's important to understand where we fit in, and our identity as beloved children of Heavenly Parents. And so we're going to talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 3 26:01
Do you guys ever see Tic Tocs, or Instagrams?
Shauna Seamons 26:05
I do I see Instagrams but not Tic Tocs.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 26:08
I don't know what Tick Toc is, is that, should I
You're so old, Jennifer, get with the times, seriously. (laughter) Okay, well, there is this video that people are recreating. And it comes, I guess it's from a movie or something. But this is what they ask. They say, "Have you ever been in love?" And then the person goes, "Want me to describe it to you?" And then they show all these pictures of love. It's so hokey; it makes me laugh every time I see it.. like, oh geez, whatever. But I thought of that when I was reading the second paragraph, because there was a word that describes love. And I just thought, 'have you ever been in love?' Or, 'have you ever been beloved? Let me describe that to you.'
So there's a word that we just have to mark that stood out to me. In paragraph number 2. It talks about "all human beings, male and female are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents." Highlight the word 'beloved'. I love this word so much in this paragraph. It means, in the Webster's Dictionary, which we always use, "greatly loved, dear to the heart of God", or in my own verbiage, 'God's favorite', because I love to say that. I believe that, first and foremost. You guys, the most significant teaching found in paragraph 2 is that we are beloved. Right? I think that's what we have to focus on.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 26:48
Yeah. Well, and I think even to piece it together with a, so remember, I don't remember which lecture that that Joseph talks about being the favorite of God. And that truly, it's through our obedience. I mean, this is the theme of the Book of Mormon, right, that it starts off with Nephi, beloved of God. We belong to Him through our choices, through our actions.
Let's just take a minute to highlight 'Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents.' Highlight that, put stars around it, hearts, whatever. I just want you to sit with that for a minute. You are beloved. You. Yah, you, listening right now, you are beloved. And then I want you to take a minute to think about who else is Beloved. "This is my Beloved Son." I mean, it isn't amazing how God introduces Jesus Christ that way?
I believe that if Heavenly Father were to introduce us, He'd say the same thing: "This is My beloved daughter, Jennifer, This is My beloved daughter, Shauna. First and foremost, that's how He's going to describe us as His Beloved. And so then it just makes me love this next part of this paragraph. So let's talk about this. And Jennifer, you alluded to it in our last segment. But how incredible that it talks about the "divine nature and divine destiny"; those are words that I had to look up. Tell us about that.
Shauna Seamons 28:52
Well, I just wanted to go back to the word 'beloved' just for a second and I think it ties in with 'divine nature and destiny'. You know, there are questions that I think each one of us has about who we are as an individual, that sometimes don't get an answer from God right at the moment. Sometimes we're left with, kind of Joseph Smith's feelings in in Liberty jail, where you we don't feel like we're getting a direct answer about what, who we can become in God's eyes, or what our destiny is, or what we should be doing. There might be questions that we just have unanswered.
But one thing that I really appreciate is that even in the midst of our unanswered questions, we can ask to feel God's love. We can ask for that reassurance, that we are beloved, that we do have His love and compassion. And I just testify that He will answer those prayers, that you will feel His love.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 29:56
I'm with you 100%. And I think, I'm going back to this Gobstopper idea, with the concentric circles, that a lot of times we want to identify ourselves in so many different ways. And daily, I hear people identify themselves by their mental health struggles. And I acknowledge as one who deals with anxiety, I acknowledge how very real this is, and don't want to discount that by any stretch. But my greatest mental health remedy is focusing on the divine in me and others. And when I know I'm beloved, when I draw it to the center, so think of it that way.
You know, if we were to stop right now, and to just brainstorm all of our identifiers, all the things that we use to say, This is who I am. Yes, and, and most importantly, at the very core of who I am, I am a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents. And I love the way the Young Women theme has taken that shape and put that in.
Do you remember in First Nephi, when Nephi is in this great wrestle, inquiry, he's trying to, he's trying to learn about the Savior, like we are right now today. And he's asked in First Nephi 11:16, "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" And his answer is so central to where we're going here. "I said unto him, I know that He loves his children. Nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." This, we have to, we have to go there, that to feel the love of the Lord, do you remember Bonnie Parkin - and that was so so, so much a focus of her ministry when she was the Relief Society General President - that she would invite us to feel the love of the Lord in our lives every day?
And that to me, I don't know everything. Gosh, I mean, I don't, I don't know everything, but I know He loves me. And, and because of that, if I can, if I can engage in that battle of trying to keep that at the center, then questions regarding gender, questions regarding my place in the kingdom become secondary, because I'm so focused on the divine, on the beloved, divine being that I am.
Shauna Seamons 32:18
And going along with that, Jennifer, I was studying Exodus 3, where Moses is talking to God. And I appreciate all that you have said about how we identify ourselves, because we each have different identifiers. And when Moses is speaking with God, in Exodus 3:11, it says, "And Moses said unto God, who am I?" I think I mean, he goes on to say more, but I think that's such a powerful question, Who am I? And then in verse 12, God is answering, and He said, "Certainly, I will be with thee." Like, that's who Moses is. Moses is the one that God is with. And then the same kind of thing is with Jacob, when his name is changed Israel.
And President Nelson has been so clear about what that means, "let God prevail." So Israel really means the one God is with, the One God is working with. And then in Exodus 3, again, later on, Moses says, Well, do you have a name that I can tell the children of Israel who You are? And God says, "I am", like that's His name. And then it started me thinking on how we identify ourselves. And we pretty much always start with those two words. 'I am'. And maybe we should be a little bit more careful about how we define ourselves. Because I know I have put ugly things at the end of that statement for myself. I am....and then I would end up with something ugly. And that is not who Christ is. And that is not really who I am.
And so I think all of us maybe should just be a little bit more careful with the 'I am' statements. And if it's something ugly at the end, maybe it's something we need to change, or maybe it's something we need to really reflect on and say that, that's not really me. Because if God's with me, that ugly part really isn't me.
Oh my gosh, Shauna. Oh, my gosh. It's so, I love this because forever I'm like, why would He identify himself as "The great I AM?" Like, what does that mean? And so in studying Hebrew, how cool is this, that "I am" actually in Hebrew means: "I will become who I will become" like, it's a continuum, like, it's not a period at the end of that statement. It's 'I am becoming who I will become', and then you go to, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." I will become who I can become through Jesus Christ. And so I love that conversation. That is exactly what this paragraph is about. Put a big 'I am' next to paragraph 2, because I am becoming!
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 34:51
Why don't we pull it to Moses 1, though? Let's pull that thread and draw it into Moses 1 because Moses knows who he is,
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 35:03
Then cast Satan out. Moses 1:13, "Moses looked upon Satan and said, Who art thou?" "Who art thou, for behold, I am a son of God in the similitude of the only begotten" Beloved, I'm adding that, beloved and divine. "And where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?" Now, it was a lot of work for Moses to cast Satan out. And it was through praising the divine; it was through "blessed be the name of my God, get thee hence, Satan"; calling upon God, "I will not cease to call upon God". Depart hence, Satan, because I am a beloved daughter of God.
Shauna Seamons 35:46
And that mindset is so difficult for each one of us. I know for me, it's a daily battle, to say, Get out of my head, Satan, that is not who I am. "I am", and then like Moses,"a daughter of God. I have divine potential. I'm working on becoming and developing this divinity."
And we just have to mark the word 'divine' in that paragraph. And then let's define it, which is pertaining to God or god-like. And so here we're talking about each has a God- like nature, each has a God-like destiny. Every single one of us, no matter who you are, what you're going through, this is where you fit into the Proclamation, 100%. And then you talk about how I am becoming who I will become, we're figuring it out in this pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Like it is such a big, big, vast, I can't even
Shauna Seamons 36:40
and the only way we can do that is through Christ. We have to attach ourselves to Him. We have to 100
Oh, my gosh, that was a great discussion, I loved that. I mean, it's so good. Okay, so that's all I have for paragraph 2. Is there anything else you guys want to add? Otherwise, we're gonna move on to paragraph 3.
Shauna Seamons 36:58
I thought it was beautiful.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 37:00
I mean, what else is there?
I know, I love that discussion of that. Okay, so as God's beloved, I just love that we were sent here to earth to do something specific. And we're going to talk about what that exactly is in next segment.
Segment 4 37:15
Okay, I asked Shauna to come prepared to teach us about paragraphs 3-5, so I could not be more excited about this. Shauna, take it away.
Shauna Seamons 37:27
Thank you so much for letting me to just dig in to these paragraphs again. So let's go back to the wording and just look at the wording real carefully in these paragraphs, because there's a lot to cover. So we're gonna try to condense it down. We want to acknowledge that in the pre-mortal realm, we were there; we we knew our Father in Heaven, we knew our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we have, had faith in them. And then it says in paragraph 3, we "accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress towards perfection, and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life."
So, in this proclamation, it's interesting to note that children are mentioned in every paragraph except the last one. So children, being God's children, this is an important relationship that we want to really look at. And this part about gaining a physical body, okay? If you turn to Abraham, chapter 3, I think there's something that is relevant to our discussion here, because gaining a body was an entirely important part of God's plan. But I don't know about you guys, my body doesn't always work with me the way I want it to, not always doing what I want it to. So I tend to get a little frustrated with my body at times.
But when I realized something that was mentioned in this scripture in Abraham 3, it made me look at my body in a different way. So this is Abraham 3, it does talk about the pre-mortal life there in verses 22-28. But in 26, it says something that stood out to me. It says, "....they who kept their first estate shall be added upon." So, first estate, being our pre-mortal life; we're going to be added upon because we kept that first estate. Well, I'm thinking, What was added upon us? "And they who kept not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom....." So if you didn't keep that first estate, like Satan, then you're not going to have what? What did the verse say?
Shauna Seamons 39:44
Glory. What is that glory that were added to those who kept their first estate and not given to those who didn't keep their first estate? It's your body. Your body adds glory on to you.
How neat that you're equating body with glory.
Shauna Seamons 40:03
I never had before.
That's incredible, right?
Shauna Seamons 40:05
Doesn't it just make you think differently about, Okay, my body might not be perfect, I've got nine fingers. Not 10, because of an accident when I was little, and it just doesn't always do everything I want it to. It doesn't always look like everything I want it to but at the same time, it's this glory that makes me more like my Father in Heaven, than not having a body. And so what a glorious thing to recognize, right?
Love that. Okay, carry on.
Shauna Seamons 40:35
So then, when you look back at paragraph 3, and it says, "This plan was so that we could obtain a physical body", and then it says, "gain earthly experience." And I thought, huh. What earthly experiences are they talking about? And so I looked in paragraph 3, 4, and 5. So if you're listening to this podcast, and you just want to pause and take a minute and look at those paragraphs and think, What earthly experiences are being described in those paragraphs? Then you can turn on the, turn on the podcast after you've kind of looked at it. So, do you see any, Tammy or Jennifer, that you see right off the bat?
When you said that, what stands out to me is, when I study the word 'multiply and replenish the earth', because when I was single without children, I always thought that was so damaging, that I wasn't fulfilling the measure my creation, and that my body wasn't doing what was sent here to do. But those words are really unique. Because when, and especially when you read in context, to be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, I really like how a friend of mine - and we've had him on before, Ben Schilaty, I love how he defined it for me. And it changed the way I thought of this, because when you talk about what are we going to do with our glorious bodies.
For him, he thought of "fruitful" meaning works, because fruit always means works in Scripture. And when you're fruitful and multiply, for him it meant to multiply his works and to expand his talents and capabilities. And then he took the word "replenish" and looked up at Thesaurus and saw that replenish can also mean to renew and refresh. And he thought his ability to multiply and replenish was to expand his talents and capabilities, and then to renew and refresh mankind. And so he made it his goal, that anyone who interacts with him or comes in contact him will feel renewed or refreshed.
Shauna Seamons 41:39
Oh, my goodness.
And I like that, because I think for a lot of us who don't have the chance to have children, that multiply and replenish, that's one of the ways we can use our our glorious bodies, is to do good.
Shauna Seamons 42:33
Exactly. The scriptures talk about that ability to use our bodies to glorify God. Wonderful,
That's a little deeper way than what's obvious in 3, 4, and 5.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 42:44
But I love where you're going there. And this may be, I mean maybe I'll go down a tangent with this idea of multiplying and replenishing my body so that I can glorify Him, like, I have to sleep. If I don't refresh and replenish then I am of no use. But that's the way I prepare myself to feel and follow the Savior; that I feel the Holy Ghost so much more profoundly when I'm rested, and when my body is cared for properly. And that that to me, I mean that has to be so baseline in saying, What am I doing to take care of myself so that I can indeed take care of others?
And that it's okay, I, you know, it's okay to step back and to say, I need rest. I need, well, and even going back into paragraph 3, so that I can continue to know and worship God. And have these experiences with covenants, you need your body to go to the temple, and take care of those that don't have bodies.
I love that you just said that, Jennifer.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 43:50
But think even still, for those that don't have bodies, that we're we are saviors on Mount Zion in assisting in this salvific way to help them heal. Healing is eternal, because Christ is Eternal, and He is the Healer. And so so again, those thinking about family relationships, and the pains and things that sometimes happen in family life, that truly my body, to be able to go, get up, restored, refreshed to go to the temple to do work for those that have moved on, you know, the proclamation. That paragraph talks to us about that, these covenants available in Holy temples.
Shauna Seamons 44:30
Jennifer was one that helped me to understand that, that really we do, our bodies are of such value because we need them in order to be able to participate in ordinances. What a beautiful thing.
I love that I just learned that, because section 138 tells us that those who were in the spirit world felt that not having their bodies was bondage, and that they were so excited at the opportunity to get their bodies back. Like, they were so happy about that, and now it makes sense. Ahh, that adds to that. Wow, that was good.
Shauna Seamons 45:02
I love that our Heavenly Father knows that we learn to becomBmore like Him through objects, through senses, and through opportunities, actually experiencing things in small ways that He experiences. And so by, by being able to do work for the dead, that is in a small way, doing the same kind of work that the Savior did. By participating in covenants and ordinances, and, you know, all of those things really do help us in small ways to become like our Father in Heaven, like our Mother in Heaven.
And so just just to kind of wrap up those thoughts, you know. Okay, so paragraph 3 said, "could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experiences." And I tied it to family relationships. That's one of the earthly experiences, and then sacred covenants and ordinances which are available in Holy Temples. And then down in paragraph 4, parenthood, children, using those powers of procreation.
And then one last thing. In paragraph 3 and paragraph 5, there's words, there's a phrase actually that really stood out to me where it said, "by which". So in paragraph 3 it said, "We accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body." And then in paragraph 5, it again emphasizes that. "We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed." So we need to recognize that, that God has organized, and, and mandated how children are supposed to come to the earth. And we accepted that in the pre-mortal life, that by which, and it would be between a husband and wife, a mother and a father.
Which makes sense. Yeah, that's how it works. Wow, that was good, Jen. I mean, Shauna. Sorry. I was just gonna ask Jen if she had a comment, and then I said that, so.
Shauna Seamons 47:04
I love it. If you call me Jen, I will be completely happy.
Gianna, there we go. There's your celebrity name. Jen, do you have anything to add to that? That was so good, Shauna.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 47:18
I've been reeling with President Nelson's most recent speech about the temple is our foundation. And again, how temples, our bodies, are often talked about as temples and where where Shauna has taken us thinking about the body and how, yeah, our body is our foundation for the mortal experience. And, and that it's so vital to us to understand the doctrine of the Fall. And that there are mortal conditions, propensities, dispositions, struggles, genetics, all the things, right, that that make it difficult. And so to keep it within that realm, to know that this is temporary, and this, this possibility to progress towards and make it possible. I love those phrases, too. That it is, it's a process. I'm really working to figure out how to deepen my understanding of covenants.
President Nelson pleads with us. And I think he's an important voice to draw into the Proclamation as one of the last standing brethren who were a part of its formation, right? He had such an important role. Anyway, in this recent conference, October 2021, he said, "To each of you, who has made temple covenants, I plead with you to seek prayerfully and consistently to understand temple covenants and ordinances. Spiritual doors will open, you will learn how to part the veil between heaven and earth, how to ask for God's angels to attend you, and how better to receive direction for heaven. Your diligent efforts to do so will reinforce and strengthen your spiritual foundation."
I think that's how I take care of my body, is I live my covenants every day, and claim those blessings.
Shauna Seamons 49:14
Well, and what you said is so important to our analogy with that Gobstopper. And the fact that we ourselves are trying to add to the glory that God has given us. So He's given us this body, but we need to do things that are going to add to that glory as Doctrine and Covenants 88 suggests. There are laws that we need to obey in order for more glory to be added to us. And by participating in covenants and ordinances; by having that power of the priesthood in our life, glory is added on to us. But it cannot come without the Savior and without the temple. And that in, that addition of power and glory really does help us again to become more like our Father and Mother in Heaven.
Oh,my gosh, and all, and now I'm just connecting that 'by which'. I love that you taught that because it's Christ. Like that, it is by which Christ can help all of us do it. He's, He's the 'by which'. Oh, my gosh. Shauna, that was so great. Thank you for teaching us those.
Shauna Seamons 50:14
Oh, I just appreciated everybody's comments. It's just such a beautiful doctrine.
So great, so great. Okay, well, one of the things I have joked about this year - and I've said it a couple times is, maybe remember this - is that I, I've said, you know, when I was single, I was the best mom in the world. I was such a good mom, I was all things kid-rearing. I mean, single people, am I right? We just know how to do it. And then I had kids.
Shauna Seamons 50:40
Cuz then we can go home and go to sleep. (laughter)
Right. So, in the next segment, we're going to learn what the Proclamation has to do, and it has to say about raising children.
Segment 5 50:50
Okay, I asked Jennifer, okay, Jennifer, you were single for quite a while. You joined that camp and then got married. And now you have little kids; how old are your kids?
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 51:03
Five and seven.
Okay. Wow. I mean, you were the best mom ever when you were single. Am I right?
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 51:09
I was the best mom and Shauna taught me.
Shauna Seamons 51:14
You guys are so kind, I love you. (laughter)
It just makes me laugh so hard. So I thought, Okay, who better to have discuss this next part than Jennifer. So she is going to teach us about paragraph 6. And I'm just excited to have her perspective as an older mom of young kids. Hit it, Jennifer.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 51:31
I think that you've teed it up so nicely, because I think that there is kind of this arrogance. And then all of a sudden, it happens. And you're like, I don't know anything. So we married at 41, and I was pregnant and lost it. And I'm pregnant again and lost the babies. And so two miscarriages within the first nine months of marriage. And then Camilla came 18 months after. So I was pregnant three times in, in our first year of marriage. And there was so much anxiety in that for me. And I remember, I didn't want to tell anyone that I was pregnant. I didn't want I didn't want to have to explain the loss, I didn't want to have to, miscarriage is such an ambiguous loss. And something I still grieve actually, that there's moments that I crave that. Anyway, that's not the point.
But so many women can relate to that. It's a real, it is a grief; it's a loss.
Shauna Seamons 52:32
Thank you for being open with them.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 52:34
Sure. Let me tell you a story that's come to my heart. When when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter, we'd gone for about the 20-week scan to determine her sex. And afterward when I met with the doctor, it was in Utah County and so you can piece together what's about to happen. And I just, I said I'm scared. I'm really afraid. I don't want to lose her. And he said something that's changed everything for me. He said, You know, I typically don't have these conversations, but I feel to say this to you. He says "Jen, no man physiologically will ever experience the Atonement of Jesus Christ the way you will in giving birth to this child. Remember Him.
And so Christ suddenly became so central to the pregnancy. And that when she'd move, I imagined feeling the Holy Ghost. When she did anything, I wanted to think of Him and remember Him. And so when we went in at 37 weeks, and I needed an emergency C- section, I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to not feel hurt inside of me anymore. But I was given a beautiful priesthood blessing in which I knew I was about to be reunited with one of my pre-mortal best friends. And that, to me is what paragraph 6 is about. A part of my emotion is that, you know, she's not she likes to sleep in. She's not an early riser.
But this morning, she knew that Mama was gonna go do something that I felt was important. So she set her alarm early, so that she could kiss and hug me goodbye. And she said, Mama, show Jesus. So who's rearing who? I don't know. But I just, and I think that's the thing, that as we look at this and see that, that we have a solemn responsibility in a sacred partnership to love and care for each other and for our children. That this heritage that the Lord has given us. For me, this is about stewardship. And this is about the opportunity to care for individuals that God's entrusted, you know, that creation process of growing a child to, to grow and bear a child. And to continue that nurturing.
I think it's really important when we get to paragraph 6, to not neglect the other paragraphs. Sometimes, because I go so slow with my students, they forget what they had learned previously. But this idea of responsibility and sacred duty. It was interesting in this last General Conference, October 2021 General Conference, the phrase "divine responsibility" came up several times. But to ask the question, what does this mean? We have to go back to where we've come from. That God has to be central to it; that we have to honor the divine and the belovedness in them, which means that their agency, that their choices will also have to be honored so that they can have their earthly experience in their progression.
And that the covenant path to me is the key. Now I think a lot of times when we draw the covenant path, we talk about ordinances. But the covenant path are not the ordinances, those are the postmarks along the road. The covenants, and I think there's merit to maybe even drawing our own covenant path and listing, - what are the covenants that I've made with God? And how do they help me to really rear a family as a sacred duty and responsibility? And I love the hymn, ("Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?"), '....a blessing of duty and love.' That that's when you're tired, and you don't want to get up, or the patience is spent at the end of the night, and you just want to yell and go to bed. (laughter)
But that all of The Proclamation I think is building up to this point of being able to say, Let's then ask these questions. What is the divine responsibility? And to go back, the Proclamation is shifting, where we're getting to these paragraphs that are coming, practical, actionable things that we're doing. I would suggest in trying to simplify, that what are the essential things that happen in a home? To love and love in righteousness, to provide for physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens.
And I'm like Elder Stevenson, don't cringe that I'm about to say, Go look at the Handbook. That a careful study of the doctrines laid out in the Handbook and the Handbook is clear. Our work is salvation and exaltation. And that happens through living the gospel, caring for those in need, inviting all to receive the gospel, and uniting families for eternity. Those are our our blessings, our privileges, our sacred duties, our responsibilities. The other thought that I've had is, as we draw the Savior into this, Jesus was always in the ordinary. And family life can be mundane. Family life can be really ordinary. But to be able to draw the Savior into those moments is so stunning.
A couple of years ago, in a conversation, Shauna reminded me of something that I think about every day. Shauna taught me about the mother's role. And again, that's going to come; do you want to teach them, do you know where I'm going?
Shauna Seamons 58:49
To me this is absolutely beautiful. When Enoch is learning from our Father in Heaven about Adam and Eve, and in Moses chapter 6, verse 59, he likens two things. Enoch is learning about why Adam and Eve were baptized. And so God says, in verse 59,
Moses 6:59 "That by reason of transgression, cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death"
And then here's, here's where we get into the likening:
"....and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul".
So he's describing physical birth. And when you think about the three things he mentions, water, blood,and spirit, who's water and who's blood is he talking about? The mother's. So the mother immerses that child in water, where that child can grow and strengthen and be nourished and have this wonderful environment. And then the blood that she expends both to to nourish, and cleanse the child while the child is in the water, but then also the blood that is expelled when the mother gives birth. Okay, so the mother literally is giving life. And what a beautiful thing that Jesus Christ, His ability, with the atoning sacrifice to provide us life, is so likened and tied to what a mother does when she gives birth.
I'm not discounting the father's part in this, you know, because you have to have both, but it's the mother's body who is going to be sacrificed to bring forth this physical life. So because of a mother, you and I now have the opportunity through Jesus Christ to be resurrected.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:00:42
I like glory, you keep saying Glory in these scriptures. It goes back to your original glory of the body. Sorry to disrupt you in that, but to highlight 'glory', "my work and my glory", this is the increase. This is for Moses, this idea of eternal life in the world, and eternal life in the worlds of come - even more immortal glory - that if we're using your substitution, which was brilliant, of the body, the glory keeps coming up.
Shauna Seamons 1:01:14
And the fact that because of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, we can then have that spiritual rebirth. But what a great likeness to see a mother's role and Jesus's role so tied closely together.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:01:29
Thank you for how you've done that.
Brilliant. Yeah, I love that.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:01:34
We have to be so cautious, though, because sometimes that infuses pressure. And that that truly to say, Well, I'm never gonna be enough, or Look how this other mom is doing it. I just believe we are the perfect parent for our children. And that there's this customization, I don't know how it worked in the whole scheme of things. But I'm grateful for DNA and genetics, and also not so much because it's horrifying when they mimic and mirror me. You know and I just go, Oh, my gosh. That tone! I know that tone because it's mine. But that we can be intentional, we can be intentional in caring for ourselves, but also intentional in doing all things in remembrance of Him.
And and this idea, sacred. In my research in the work that I did in Ethiopia, one thing that I learned - I was so enamored by this coffee ceremony that the women were doing - and kept asking, what is this? Why, why? and they're like, It's no big deal. It's just what we do. But as an anthropologist, as an outsider, it was so exciting to me. The same is true of our lives, that it may seem really ordinary and routine and mundane. But we can draw the sacred into it; we can be so present and and I've learned, I've articulated 'ritual' in that way. That ritual is about being really intentional. It's preparing for something like, you could even do this with making your bed, right?
Preparing, being present in the act, and then reminiscing it. And it can be kissing the child goodbye. And it could be putting a child to bed. But to be 100% responsible in the sacred duties and to step back when it doesn't feel sacred. I think that that's important. Step back when it doesn't feel sacred, and refresh and renew, like we've been talking about, so that we can give all that we need to give.
You know, Jennifer, I really appreciate the way you framed this, especially with the story that you started out with at the beginning. And when I read this paragraph, the scripture from Psalms 127:3, "children are an heritage of the Lord". You know, I looked that up in Hebrew, and I just love the word 'heritage' there because in Hebrew, it's nachalah And that word means "an inheritance or property or possession". And so then I went back, and children are an inheritance of the Lord,
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:04:11
With your definition of heritage, that I think it's important to draw a line up to paragraph 3, 'heirs'. And how important it is to know that this is part of the plan that that yes, it's messy. Yes, it's hard. But this inheritance that we've been given will make us heirs in what's to come.
And we were God's first; we belong to Heavenly Parents, first and foremost.
Shauna Seamons 1:04:38
And that's what I think about when I read this paragraph number 6. What if we substituted 'husband and wife' for 'Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother'?
Oh, wow, Shauna, that is so good.
Shauna Seamons 1:04:48
Just in looking at, these are their responsibilities and they fulfill them for us. They have this solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for us. And so we can see how that changes, and we can see Them and how They're doing this. And we are, we are primary to the Lord.
Oh my gosh, well, and how much do I love if it's Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, then I love how that ties with what you said, Jennifer. We need to not be worried about being perfect; give ourselves a break, because there is a 'perfect parents of all time'. And they had kids that made poor choices. Hello, Satan. I mean, give yourselves a break. If you have a kid that's naughty, just count it up as like, Oh, great. I'm in the same camp as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, I got this. They're gonna help me like, even they had kids who were naughty. So just give yourself a break, renew and refresh. Then bring, come back to the table and start over. It's never too late.
So, oh, my gosh, that was a great discussion. Thank you, Jennifer. You did that so beautifully; I love all your stories that you shared. It kind of felt like the paragraph of all paragraphs as I was reading it, and I even thought, You know what? This might be really good to discuss before ever getting married, if you're engaged. So we'll talk about that. Yeah, we'll talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 6 1:06:08
Okay, here we go, ladies. Okay, so here we go. Now, I have a question. Ladies, Why in the world would paragraph 7 benefit anyone contemplating marriage? Why did you agree, Shauna?
Shauna Seamons 1:06:19
Oh, my goodness. I love paragraph 7.
Tell me why.
Shauna Seamons 1:06:23
Now the part that really like hit home to me where it says, where it says "successful marriages and families are established and maintained." That word is 'established'. They have to be built on these principles. So, if I'm not seeing these principles in myself, if I'm not seeing these principles in my dating, how can I ever expect them to be there in my marriage? Or my family, right? Those principles there. Those are things I can work on. No, I'm not married yet, but I can still work on "faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, love, respect, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." I can work on making those a part of my discipleship, and that will make me a better a better wife, a better mother when that time does come.
Oh absolutely. And I love that we'll have this discussion with the three of us because we each have such different perspectives on this whole idea of what marriage is like and what these words mean in marriage. For me, and I'd like to know what each of you, and Shauna, you just shared what you like about this. And Jen, I want to hear from you next.
I think for me, what I appreciated is when it says "by divine design fathers are to preside over families in love and righteousness." The description of what a father is to do, for me was significant because I felt like over the last 30 years, there has been a real disintegration of manhood. Like, in commercials there is this portrayal of the bumbling idiot husband. And right here it's a defining: Nope. They are to preside over fam, like it just, I felt like it strengthened the role of the husband in the family. And then I love how it says "mothers are primarily responsible", not totally. So husbands still have a role in providing nurturing of their children. So I like the definitions there for husbands and wives.
Shauna Seamons 1:08:12
When you mentioned that word 'nurture', sometimes we hear that mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture and we kind of go, nyah, you know, but I love that word nurture. Because when you really look at the, like the details and the definition of it, it is talking about creating an environment where something can grow. And a woman literally does that with her body when the when the child is is developing as a fetus. And then they have this beautiful opportunity to do that in the home where they create an environment where things can grow. And I just love that idea. They are 'climate creators' is what I like to call them, 'climate creators'.
Oh, okay, and then we have to connect it back to President Nelson's wording about how it's a laboratory. Oh my gosh, I love how all of this connects.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:08:58
Yeah, it's another Shauna-ism that I think about all the time, that I'm like, okay, if I'm going to be creating the climate, I've got to go away. (laughter) But right now, we're a little stormy,
I need a timeout.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:09:18
It's true. Whatever, whatever I'm feeling is very, my kids are like sponges, and they really pick it up and reflect it.
Shauna Seamons 1:09:26
But I love how the Proclamation really specifically says "equal partners". And when you think about equal. Somebody, I think it was at BYU-Idaho, somebody said, "Think about the equal sign. You know, why is that the sign for equal, the two bars?"
Shauna Seamons 1:09:42
You know, and I thought, isn't that interesting? And as we've discussed that in some of my classes, students have said, Well, they run parallel to each other. They're not trying to overtake one another or cross as they run parallel. They're trying to to move towards the same goal. So there's just so many ways to look at that. But that equal partnership would look different for different companionship. But it's an important part of God's plan.
I like the equal bar, because at the end of the day and Jennifer, do you remember when Larissa said this, "At the end of the day, the only person that you can bring to the judgment bar is yourself. It's just you and your relationship with God". And so I like that, that the equal sign, the answer is the same. When you do math, it equals to one answer. And it's the same answer for, it's a solid answer. And it's going to be God every time. And so the woman, the man, pointing to God individually. What about you, Jennifer?
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:10:37
There's a couple of things that this is. I mean, we're going to have the eternal plan, that language is going to come up again. And I, there's wisdom in asking what we may have, where we may have learning gaps regarding the plan. That over and over throughout the Proclamation, we have reference to the eternal plan. And, and part of this study necessitates understanding the plan, but also living. Like, we all hang the Proclamation on the wall; the framework, I believe, is the plan. And so the frame around the Proclamation is the plan and to be able to ask those questions and say, Are there learning gaps that, that maybe I'm living too much in the now or in the mortal without a perspective of where we're headed, and what's happening here?
The other thing, and I've always been intrigued by the language here, that it tells us that "happiness and family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." I've always wondered why it doesn't just say 'when founded upon the Lord Jesus Christ'. Maybe it invites us into action or study or something that way. But for me, it's about Him and the things that we do. And when we get cumbered, and think, Oh, we're not perfect in the prayers, we're not perfect in the wholesome recreational activities. But are you, are you building a foundation of Jesus Christ? And are you pointing your family, yourselves to Him?
Mmmm-hmmm. That's incredible. You know, last week, we had Janiece Johnson on, and she talked to us about when things are uncomfortable, and that it's okay, because then the comforter can do its job. And I love that. But her whole thing was your foundation has to be Jesus Christ, first and foremost. That way, when difficult things do arise, if your foundation is Christ, you're solid. And then she said, "The gospel of Jesus Christ will withstand time, it just will. Everything that Satan throws at it, bring it on, because our foundation is Christ." So I love that, Jennifer, that idea that that's what that is. That's, that's it. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:12:51
Yeah. And we tend to want to checklist this paragraph, I think, that we want to go through and make our little boards and who's gonna do what, and did we do it all. But ultimately, what's it about? And family life is about the Savior. Family Life is about building the foundation of the Savior, which again, is what President Nelson's asking us to do, is have this firm foundation and I'll never, I'll never, I'll never forsake.
Shauna Seamons 1:13:17
And that is, that firm foundation helps when families are not what we ideally want them to be. Because I love in the sacrament song "As Now We Take the Sacrament", this third verse has always been just majorly impactful to me, it says, "As now we praise thy name with song, The blessings of this day Will linger in our thankful hearts, And silently we pray for courage to accept thy will, To listen and obey. We love thee, Lord; our hearts are full. We'll walk thy chosen way."
So, our families might not look like this; we might not have what we consider to be a successful marriage or successful family. But when we are founded on the Lord Jesus Christ, when we have that foundation that Jennifer was just talking about, then we have that courage to say, I'll accept thy will, I'll walk thy chosen way. And that is going to help get me through.
Wow, never considered that third verse in light of this paragraph. Shauna, that was great. Jennifer, Go back with me for a minute when you said 'we get caught up in the checklist.' Like what happens when you don't fit this checklist, when your family is different? How do you reconcile that? Sometimes we get caught up in, Well, I'm the provider or I do more of this or whatever, like, I'm not the nurturer.
And that's kind of been our experience that I have been breadwinner. My husband works and does great things. But for us, it's been a little different. We have to get revelation, you know. I had a day yesterday. I had a day and I thought, What am I doing? Why am I working? And I had to ask again, I have to ask regularly, Is this Your will? Is this what You want me to do? And guess what? He told me, Go to work. And frankly, for me, at least, I feel like I'm a better mother when I am working, when I'm immersed in something that I'm passionate about. It's just figuring out how to balance everything. And to really communicate. You know the word 'communication' does not come up in here.
Yeah, that's interesting.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:15:38
No, it's not there. Prayer is, though. And prayer is divine communication. And so I think, you know, to learn how to navigate that, and to figure out how to - what's the language here? - "obligated to help one another as equal partners, other circumstance may necessitate individual adaptation." That's where revelation comes in. And that's where we, you know, and again, we don't want to say, Oh, I'm going to do what I'm going to do. And I'm going to write my own proclamation. We need to check in with Him and know what revelation sounds like. We check it with prophets, right? Not call them, obviously, but
Shauna Seamons 1:16:18
Wish we could. (laughter)
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:16:19
wish we could. Could you, could you verify this one for me? I know what the answer would be, I mean, I get this with my stake president all the time, that I'll go in and say, “We're thinking about doing something, what do you think?” He goes, “What revelation are you getting on that?” I'm like, Oh, great. Anyway, the point being is that there is revelation that happens in this and when Jesus is the foundation. And if that's our goal and objective, then He's going to help us to know how to navigate.
That was perfectly said.
Shauna Seamons 1:16:49
That last sentence goes right along with what Jen was saying, you know, sometimes we say extended family should lend support, but it's really all of us should lend support to families everywhere.
Aren't we everyone's extended family?
Shauna Seamons 1:17:02
brothers and sisters, then that extended family includes all of us.
Shauna Seamons 1:17:08
Not judging. Yeah, yes,
Yes. Highlight that. I mean, that is so important for us to realize. Extended families doesn't mean just brothers, sisters, cousins; it's, we're all family. It just comes back to Heavenly Father's family.
Shauna Seamons 1:17:25
Right? And just because our families look different, or because our relationships look different, doesn't mean that we're doing it incorrectly. And we need to stop judging so harshly the way other people are living. We need to trust that they, too, are receiving revelation; they, too, are seeking the foundation of the Lord. And that even though my situation might look different, I cannot judge theirs.
Amen. Amen, and amen. Oh, my gosh, that was, that's it. That's our discussion on The Proclamation of the Family. And it was amazing. Holy cow, you ladies. That was so good. Thank you so much. Okay, so just take a quick minute now and gather your thoughts of everything we discussed today. And I always ask for a takeaway. What's something you learned, what's your takeaway for today?
Shauna Seamons 1:18:19
Cuz there's a lot, wow!
and when you have, yep, just go if you got it.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:18:26
You know, for me, when I think about a takeaway for this, I just am in awe of the way God manifests His love, and gives us such a, an ideal context to put off the fallen nature in us and put on the divine. And that I feel like today that's where we've, where we're really targeting towards is this divine in us, this becoming as God. Shauna mentioned, just briefly earlier, the Gospel topic essay of becoming as God, and that's really, this is Godhood 101. To be able to go through and to say, look at all of the truth He's given to us to become like Them. It's quite stunning, and I just am in such awe of how much They love us, and and want us to be like Them, and that when I keep that perspective, I feel progression and growth and hope.
So much hope.
Shauna Seamons 1:19:28
Jennifer, I completely agree with that takeaway. Sometimes we can get bogged down in things that might discourage us about our families or about our particular circumstances. When really, there is so much hope; that our Heavenly Father, that our Heavenly Father has given us this opportunity here and mortality to strive to be like Him; to strive to tie ourselves to the Savior and be bound to Him so that the blessings that our Heavenly Father wants all of us to have really can be ours. And I love how in the Old Testament, they talk about Jesus Christ as The Deliverer.
So, what I take away from this Proclamation is that Christ and our Heavenly Father, they deliver on Their promises. And if we hold fast to the covenants and doctrines that They have given us, They will deliver on all Their promises.
Oh, my gosh. Hold on, I'm just writing down both the things you said. I love your takeaways. I totally agree. Thank you so much for those takeaways. Mine. I mean, this discussion was so incredible. I really liked the "by which". For me, that connection was that 'by which' is Jesus Christ. Like that was so cool. I love that. And then our discussion of paragraph 6. Your story, Jennifer just blended beautifully into Moses 6:59. And I just think that was really powerful, so.
So many good things. But again, both of those things are about Christ, and the connection that we have with Him. And that's what this Proclamation does. It connects us to Christ as our Brother. And then it connects us to our Heavenly Parents who are, and I love that - Godhood 101 is what this Proclamation is, so, beautifully said.
Thank you so much, ladies, I love you both.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:21:11
I loved it.
Shauna Seamons 1:21:12
This was so fun! This was a great discussion. Well, those were really incredible takeaways.
And I am so excited to hear what your takeaways are. Now, if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or Instagram, go join sign up, because it's such a great place where you can ask questions and share your thoughts throughout the week. And it's just really empowering for all of us to just join this community that believes, and I love it. And then on Sunday, we ask for a post for your big takeaway. So comment on the post that relates to this lesson and let us know what you learned. I read all of them and I'm excited to read what you have to say about this Proclamation on the Family.
You can go to our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode at LDS living.com/sundayonMonday, and it's not a bad idea to go there. That's where we're gonna have the links that we used today as we talked about The Proclamation, as well as a transcript of this entire discussion. So go check that out.
The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf Plus Original, brought to you by LDS Living. It is written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our incredible study group participants were Shauna Seamons and Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt. You can find more information about these friends at ldsliving.com/sundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by Erika Free and me. It's recorded and mixed by Mix At Six Studios, and our Executive Producer is Erin Hallstrom.
Thanks for being here and we will see you next week and please remember, that as His beloved daughter or son, you are greatly loved and you are His favorite.
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:22:38
I do have a fund for her therapy when she needs it. So, I have started it, there are several $1000 and I've convinced her and so whenever she's ready, she could just say Mom, you're not cutting it. I need a therapist and everyone deserves a good shrink. Um,
FYI, it might happen sooner than later. Just speaking from experience. (laughter)
Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt 1:23:00
That's why I'm saving. I'm saving college, and mission, and therapy.
Sure, you're going to go to therapy.