Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Neil L. Andersen on the challenges of modern families

Elder Neil L. Andersen (b. 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"God loves children. He loves all children. The Savior said, 'Suffer [the] little children… to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 19:14).
"Children today find themselves in many different and complex family configurations.
"For example, today, twice as many children in the United States are living with only one parent than were 50 years ago. And there are many families that are less unified in their love of God and willingness to keep His commandments.
"In this increasing spiritual commotion, the restored gospel will continue to carry the standard, the ideal, the pattern of the Lord....
"My plea today is for the hundreds of thousands of children, youth, and young adults who do not come from these, for lack of a better term, 'picture-perfect' families. I speak not only of the youth who have experienced the death, divorce, or diminishing faith of their parents but also of the tens of thousands of young men and young women from all around the world who embrace the gospel without a mother or father to come into the Church with them....
"We will continue to teach the Lord’s pattern for families, but now with millions of members and the diversity we have in the children of the Church, we need to be even more thoughtful and sensitive....
"While a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because one’s true identity is as a son or daughter of God."
- Neil L. Andersen, “Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me,” General Conference, April 2016, Saturday afternoon session
Click here to read the full talk

I appreciate the sensitivity in talks such as this one from Elder Andersen to the reality of the challenges of our time. The reality is that far too many find themselves in situations that are less than "picture-perfect." The traditional family is not ubiquitous as it once was. There are countless children being raised by single parents, or, as Elder Andersen notes, children trying to follow the Gospel's plans and programs without the support of parents.

So the call is for Church members to be "more thoughtful and sensitive" than we have in the past to families in a variety of situations. We all need to learn to reflect the love and understanding that God has for His beloved children.

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