Saving the Human Race by Family Centered Life Plans: A Guide for the Aspiring Charitable Heart
by Nate Richardson, September 2018
Topics here include a look at social work and therapists as being secondary to fathers and mothers. We compare homes to treatment centers and rehabilitation facilities. We look at balancing our desires to serve God and save our fellows with the need to save our own house and care to their needs.
Joseph Smith took 4 years to be ready to receive the plates. How frustrating it must have been for him to return to the hill each year and hear from the angel that he was not yet ready. How glad he was when the time finally came! What struggles he went through before getting the plates, Oh how he was chastised by the angel of God! And what even great struggles he went through after getting them too, including their maintenance and translation!
Similarly to how it took Joseph Smith 4 years to get the plates, it could take us some extra time, even years, in college to figure things out and to get the strength and maturity to do God’s mission for us. When we have an idea, running with it can be hard, like how Joseph had to protect the plates and endure persecution.
School is not easy, and with the added weight of uncertainty about what we should be doing, it’s even harder. Joseph Smith said uncertainty is one of the hardest things we experience in this life. A famous experiment tells us of rats in a box with food on either end. In the middle of the box on the ground was a line which they had to cross. Crossing this line gave them an electrical shock. When food was eaten on one side, the scientist put food on the other, requiring them to cross the line and be shocked again to get the food. It was like the pain we go through to earn our food. It hurts but we can do it. In another scenario, the rats were shocked at random instead of the set location of crossing the line. Unlike the other rats who could handle the shock at the crossing, these rats died. Both were shocked the same number of times, but the uncertainty drove the former group mad and to death.
One of the reasons there is so much satisfaction for young men in serving full time missions is that they know God wants them to do it, and they’re given sufficient instruction as to what to do while deployed. There is little uncertainty as to what to do and how to do it, those some does exist, and the missionary only fully fulfills his calling as he seeks and acts of the spirit to guide his daily choices and direction.
On this topic, an Apostle once said that while about anyone can serve a mission, the real test is weather he can raise a family in Zion. To righteously guide a family is the greater task. And let it be noted that just because you’re righteously guiding your family doesn’t mean all your posterity will be righteous. God lost 1/3. In the end, everyone is their own person who does what they want, their ability to chose being independent of even God. What we have in Christlike parenting is the formula calculated to produce the most likely outcomes for healthy and righteous development of young people.
Further, with an increasing number of households being single parent, this exponentially adds to the confusion of not only young men of what to do, but of young women. Women from single parent homes are more prone to doubt the future of having a man in their home to provide for her and her children. Men from single parent homes usually don’t get a clear picture of what a mature man looks like and does, and though he may have other male role models, he lacks in much of the tutelage and details of the training of how to become such. For those coming from single parent homes, I particularly suggest a study of not only the teachings of the prophets, but the lives of the prophets so you can better familiarize yourself with what a Christ centered life of an adult man and adult woman looks like. You don’t need to make the same choices as them, but you can learn correct principles and attitudes from them.
Let us not despair but be humble and courageous, for as God could work with Joseph, so can he work with us.
Let it also be remembered that the thing Joseph Smith did to make money wasn’t the same thing as his gift, his calling in life. Only 3% of people have “careers”, the rest have jobs, and find most meaning in their life through things not related to their vocation. Joseph Smith was a farmer, but his gift was something quite different.
Joseph often struggled to make enough money. I foresee that regardless of where our callings missions and work take us, so will we.
Elder Cook, speaking on employment, has said that we aren’t required to be monks and only do spiritual things. He said that some feel called to similar things, and that is honorable, but not expected of us.
When you’re choosing your topic of study and your career, remember John and Peter. D&C 7 is from the book of John, wherein we read that Jesus said Johns choice to stay on earth and do missionary work was greater than Peter’s choice to go quickly to heaven. This means that when we have a difficult choice, sometimes both options will be ok, but you’re encouraged to do the best thing you can imagine. Though that could mean an attempted career in teaching or some other sort of spiritual academic pursuit, it can more often mean that we take our duty to provide for our families seriously, that we take our duty to train our children seriously, that we give time to God and the building of his kingdom in the most important location: our homes. Remember that President Monson said that when it comes to college, a degree in Egyptian pottery may need to be limited rather to a class rather than a focus, and that college should not only be for learning things but for preparing to provide for a family. We also recall the great scholar Hugh Nibley, who used Egyptology to defend the church magnificently. But generally speaking, the most work that needs doing is not in these areas, but in providing for our families, raising children, and serving our neighbors. We recall that the D&C identifies the gift and calling of Joseph Smith as something other than his formal vocation which he made a living from. What you study in college and do for your job is a matter of prayer, but let it not be a matter of damnation, in that it keeps you from moving forward with life. Of course we should seek to learn all we can while doing these duties, but if it’s ever a question of family duties vs academics, we chose family duties. One of my Hebrew professors at BYU Dr. Stephen Ricks joked with me about how when the university is getting tired of you being there, they threaten you with a diploma, telling you its time to leave and move on. We love BYU, and we love learning! Also a story is told of a woman who struggled with her husband balancing home and vocational duties. She wrote to Elder Russel M Nelson (now the President of the church) complaining that her husband in med school didn’t take enough time at home with the family. Elder Nelson’s response to her surprised her: he counseled her to be patient, that her husband was laying the foundation for providing for their family, and that in this season he would need to be away a bit more.
We also recall the statement from Brigham Young, that in the Millennium, we would not have free loaders, and with everyone’s participation in the work force, we could get all the needed work done in only a few hours, and would be able to spend the rest of the day doing what he called our real purpose in life, which is learning. Brigham Young also said that in the spirit world, or in the resurrection, that we would be able to learn 1,000 times as much material in 1,000 times less time. I did some calculations with these figures and determined that the 4 month course I took on chemistry at Brigham Young University, along with the thick textbook accompanying it, I would be able to learn in a mere half of an hour. Now this could be somewhat figurative, but the message I get from this is hope in a glorious future, and to not be overly worried about learning to the extent that I neglect my family and the needs of others. Well did President Monson add a 4th mission to the well known 3 missions of the church (the first three are 1. preach the gospel 2. redeem the dead and 3. perfect the saints). The 4th which President Monson added was to care to the needs of the poor. Yes we must seek knowledge with all our might, and as our scripture says, no one can be saved in ignorance, but these things must be done, as our scripture also says, in wisdom and order.
President Nelson promised that if we give a significant contribution of our time to the Lord, that the Lord will make the remainder of our time more useful. This is coming from a man who performed very well in the competative world of academia and the work place. He knows that no matter how busy we are, we need to take time for God. Time for frequent temple worship and other duties in which we the people of the Lord, stand alone in our power to perform for the salvation of men.
I think every decision you make should be driven by this question: “Will this help me to build God’s kingdom?”
For me, I have spent much deliberation on this topic. I will give a few examples from my life.
The following example shows that valiant service for God may not be as the world sees it. residential treatment centers are very popular in Utah to help treat minors and adults with drug addiction and other serious behavioral issues. I’ve worked in several and lots of good things can happen there. I quit one of these as they didn’t enforce company policy in many regards, such as allowing the minors to be vulgar without restraint. This and other serious issues of bad influences the students were receiving at the program motivated me to leave and serve elsewhere. Some thought I was uncharitable in finding another place to work, but in this case, I felt entirely justified and compelled to not support an institution with such methods for training minors. We do the Lords’ work, and in the Lord’s way. Childlessness among social workers is a disturbing trend I’ve seen. It seems they somehow feel that their service to the public, and particularly to the children of our society, makes them free to not bare children. Perhaps they think that what they are doing is more important than raising children. I do not agree with this notion. President McKay emphatically stated that no success out of the home can compensate for failure in the home. When we insist on forbidding children from entering our homes, this can constitute failure in the home. The home was made for children. Social programs, orphanages, group homes, public and private schools, none of these compare to what can occur for child development in the home. There is alot of commendable work to be done in social work and other areas of therapy, but these are secondary, while the work in our homes is primary.
Now if we get children in our homes and just have them watch TV all day, are we working in our homes? It seems not. When we say work in your homes, it means work. If women aren’t training their children in knowledge and obedience, and are just sending them to school during the day and letting them do whatever they want all evening, that would seem to me neglect, and the result of feelings of wanting “something more” than just a “house wife” lifestyle. Satan hates housewives. He despises the idea that any child should be tutored day in and day out by someone who loves them more than life itself.
Some parents have even taken upon themselves to home-school their children, the which I see as a most commendable venue. Research shows that not only are home-schooled children ahead academically than their peers on average, but that they are not behind socially or in leadership abilities (Use this link to view that research from the NHERI http://richardsonstudies.com/2018/05/05/nheri-research-facts-homeschooling/).
The best place for training young people is the home. We believe in having children, and lots of them. I determined that I would do more good by establishing a sizable residence where I could take in dozens of foster children and adopt as many as I could so I could be in charge of the “program” and see to it that they learned in more appropriate settings, and with not only social science, but with the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is forbidden in most professional places of work.
So you see, the cliche of the social worker hero, or the politician savior, are not always the most effective way to save the human race.
Of course before we can stand as saviors on Mount Zion by bringing up the next generation, we need to marry someone. This too is a frightening trend of our time, that marriage is delayed further and further. Apostles have counseled that we need not spend our 20’s playing around, but should rather see through the lens of family. We speak of the need of doing family history work. This season is the season also for family future work, meaning the creation of a family via marriage and childbearing.
Marriage always required bravery. That has been so from the beginning. The types of bravery required are social and spiritual bravery. Take risk. But also ask questions to determine weather your partner is worthy of and excited for temple attendance, and weather they have a family centered vision of the future. A family centered vision is a Christ centered vision. Many, after having married, look back and wonder if their adult life before their marriage was very focused, or if they had made the mistake of letting years slip through their fingers spent in more trivial pursuits.
When I say trivial pursuits I don’t mean that we can’t have fun. Recall the rock and sand fitting in a jar analogy. Only by putting the rocks in first will both the rock and sand fit the jar. In other words, our foundation should be family, and from there everything else will work out for our good. Martin Luther finally married at age 40, and reflected on how he wished he would have done so earlier, as his life finally had deeper meaning and joy. Most find that marriage and childbearing bring spiritual and emotional relief, and that these roles open the doors from more enjoyment and magic than they were able to experience in their years of adult singleness.
Of course to those who faithfully seek family but cannot find it, particularly women, we know the Lord has promised that you will not be punished for absence of family relations as you’re seeking them diligently, and putting yourself in a position to be as attractive a candidate as you can for those positions.
It has been rumored that the Lord has opened the doors for younger female missionary service so that this generation of parents can have more return missionaries. Some have thought that a female missionary is preferable to a female non-missionary. First off, if anyone in this church young or old isn’t a missionary in their day to day lives, they need to repent. Secondly, the prophets have been clear that though men are commanded to serve missions, women are not. Those who shame women who stay home for family, family seeking, and family preparation rather than serving full time missions, do not understand the plan of salvation. Let us also not thing less of women who serve missions. Let each study the plan of salvation, which is centered on Christ, temples, and families, and seek to work out their salvation between themselves and God Almighty.
We indeed seek to save the human race. Joseph Smith taught that a man filled with the love of God will not be satisfied in helping his family alone, but will seek to help the whole world. I suggest that taking in children to your home is an excellent way to do this. I also suggest that internet operations to spread truth and goodwill are a pivotal tool in this dispensation.
I encourage you to have a job to pay your debts and set aside for the upcoming famines wars and plagues so you can be independent. Far too many are living beyond their means. We must take care to our finances, and keep all our passions within the bounds the Lord has set. To obey is better than to sacrifice. This means that if we have a good idea, but we must compromise in a gospel principle to bring it to pass, then it’s an idea that needs secondary not primary attention. If we aren’t caring for our families, meeting their temporal needs, then, as the scripture says, we are infidels and deny the faith. Truly, all things must be done in wisdom and order.
Some of us think we can solve the “provide for family” issue by not having a family, or to post-pone family relationships until we have reached financial academic and vocational goals of stability. This is very dangerous, as it tempts us to spend our free time in vanity rather than administering to the needs of the poor. The key place that you and that all good people from the history of the world have administered to the needs of the poor is this: they get off work, then come home and care for their spouse and children. You want to help poverty, and be a Mother Theresa? Have children. Your legend may go unspoken for a season, but that season will surely end, and you will be exalted on high.
Elder Anderson gave a general conference talk called “Children” recently where he relates an account of a medical student being chastised by an Apostle for postponing the bearing of children. Elder Anderson also reminds us that though the choice is ultimately up to a husband and wife, the commandment still stands. The call has been made. Elder Anderson reminds us that this is a most serious commandment.
Usually, as the family proclamation states, the woman is primarily in charge of nurturing children, and the man is primarily in charge of providing for the family. It takes little to no logical reasoning to conclude that generally speaking, this will mean that the woman is at home with the children, and the man goes to work to pay for everything. We live in a day of great academic liberty. Now, women can not only get higher education, but for those who chose to stay home with children in their youth, can learn via affordable books, including the Gutenberg project of a free online library, and can attend college from their own home via the latter day miracle of the internet. Truly the discovery of the internet is a view into God’s vast universe of power, and has placed much of that power in our hands. If a woman prays and feels called by God to take another path than the norms which I have described, let her do so, and fear God just as much as any other saint.
I also encourage you to use your spare time not only to play and rest, but to hasten the work of the Lord. Types of work where we can involve the gospel are key, as President Nelson has taught that the most important thing going on in the world at this time is the gathering of Israel. This is why I stress the work of bringing up children in our homes, where public policy has fortunately not reached so far as to ban the teaching of the gospel.
I urge you to study the scriptures and to learn all you can about the gospel. God has made ready these tools to guide your life’s work.