By Bill Hammond
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not really clear about something. I feel like I should feel absolute and total certainty about this thing, but every time it’s mentioned I get confused and forget the most rudimentary concepts, and even the basic parts of speech. It’s true, I can’t even formulate simple sentences whenever this subject is mentioned.
I just don’t know if The Family is a good thing or a bad thing.
It seems like everywhere I turn people are talking about it. I hear it mentioned multiple times every General Conference, nearly every issue of the Ensign covers it in some fashion, and not a week goes by that someone doesn’t bear fervent testimony of it in Church. But I’m embarrassed to say that I still can’t make heads or tails of the topic. Is The Family (by which I mean–because it probably wasn’t clear–a husband, wife, and more than one child) the most important thing in the history of existence, or is it subordinate to, say, the teachings of Jesus? I can’t seem to see 20/20 on this issue.
I’ve read the Proclamation on the Family hundreds, maybe thousands of times, and it’s constantly cited in talks, classes, and various Church publications. People say that the truth about The Family is right there, plain as day, but every time I read it or hear someone refer to it, my mind gets cloudy and I lose most of my motor functions. Why can’t it just come out and say clearly what True Families really consist of? Is that really too much to ask?
Well, maybe it is. It’s a complicated subject. Maybe no one really has the answers. I go to Church regularly and read every official Church publication. I even watch Conference on a loop for 6 months until the next Conference, and I’ve met ad nauseum with my bishop and stake president, but nothing. I just can’t seem to get a straight answer, an answer that, on the surface, would appear to be a straightforward yes or no: Is The Family the perfect culmination of all Christian doctrine and all the revelations of Joseph Smith, or does it supersede even the Kingdom of God itself? It’s just so frustrating.
For example, this was my last exchange with my stake president:
Pres. Johnson: Bill, as always I’m happy to meet with you, but I’ll admit I’m a little nervous that this is because you still don’t understand the Church’s teachings on The Fam–
Me: That’s RIGHT. That’s exactly right. I still don’t get it. Today Bishop Lund held a combined meeting just for me, and he says that he laid out everything clearly, and most people agreed with him, but I’m still in the dark.
Pres. Johnson: ….Okay. Well, what did he do?
Me: He had me sit in a chair at the front of the room, then he slowly read to me the latest article in the Ensign about defending The Family into the microphone. Then he had me read the entire Proclamation on the Family. But I’ve already read both those things! I memorized the Proclamation 10 years ago!
Pres. Johnson: Well, Bill, I’m at loss. Again.
Other people appear to be in the same boat; I know it’s not just me! Every time I talk with fellow ward members or post about it online, what follows is always a passionate, sometimes even angry exchange, but no one seems to know what position they are really taking. I guess it’s a small comfort that others appear to share my confusion and frustration with the fuzziness of our position on The Family. But in the end, I would prefer clarity over solidarity.
I’ve decided that probably the best solution to my problem is to encourage church leaders to speak about The Family more frequently–and more clearly! Perhaps with greater repetition this subject can finally begin to make sense. And then maybe I can finally see where the teachings of Jesus, the Atonement, attending to the poor, loving our enemies, and building Zion are supposed to fit.
I bet it will all just click one day.