89th Annual General Conference

June 2, 1919

 

ELDER DAVID O. McKAY

 

Home-building characteristics of the Latter-day Saints. One important duty of home-builders. The home threatened in the present world commotion. To save this sacred institution devolves upon the Saints. A few fundamental principles to be kept in mind; Honor, obedience, mutual service, eternity of the marriage relation. These spell Home, and comprehend the spirit in which the principles of life and salvation should be taught to children. The home of President Joseph F. Smith an example.

My brethren and sisters, I rejoice in having the privilege of uniting with you in this great spiritual feast. Yesterday was Memorial day, and I pray that today may be equally rich in the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord. In the most interesting remarks made just now by President Grant, reference was made to the home-beautifying characteristic of the Pioneers. That is just in keeping with the thought that is uppermost in my mind this morning. The Pioneers were home builders in the truest, most fundamental sense.

I would like to read that important passage from Section 68 of the Doctrine and Covenants, in which the Lord says plainly what one important duty of homebuilders is: Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the Living God and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents; for this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized; * * * and they shall also teach their children to pray and walk uprightly before the Lord.

We are living in a most momentous age. We see on every hand manifestations of commotion. The [77] world seemingly is stirred as it has never been stirred before. Political institutions are crumbling. Old forms and methods are fast giving way to new ones. Political organizations are being revolutionized, some for better and some for worse. Old fundamental principles of government are tottering. Some have even been replaced by theories that are not tenable, others not practicable, and some that are infamous.

In the midst of this world-commotion the home, the fundamental institution of society is also threatened. In contrast to this fundamental instruction given by the Lord I should like to read what I found, yesterday, written by a man who has taken a general survey of the condition of the world in regard to the home:

Many maintain that we are ready for a movement into community living. There are those who raise the question whether family life is a permanent form of social organization for which we may wisely contend. Or is it but a phase from which the race is now emerging? Some men see signs that the ties of marriage will be but temporary, that children will be born, not into families, but into the life of the State, bearing only mothers' names and knowing no brothers and sisters, save in that brotherhood of the State.

The author of that paragraph wrote those sentiments before the revolution in Russia, but you who have followed the anarchy that followed the overthrowing of the autocratic form of government in that land realize how literally some men have attempted to strike at the sacredness and the perpetuity of family life.

Latter-day Saints, the responsibility of saving this sacred institution devolves largely upon you, for you know that the family ties are eternal. They should be eternal. There is nothing temporary in the home of the Latter-day Saint. There is no element of transitoriness in the family relationship of the Latter-day Saint home. That all such ties are eternal should be maintained. To the Latter-day Saint the home is truly the cell-unit of society; and parenthood is next to Godhood. The relationship of the children to the parents should be one which would enable those children to carry out ideal citizenship as they become related to the State and to the larger forms of society. The secret of good citizenship lies in the home. The secret of instilling faith in God, faith in his Son, the Redeemer of the world, faith in the organizations of the Church, lies in the home. There it is centered. God has placed upon you parents the responsibility of instilling these principles into the minds of children. Church schools, Sunday schools, Mutual Improvement associations, Primary and Religion classes are all helps in government, established here to assist in the upbuilding and guidance of the youth, but none of these great and important factors as they are in the lives of our youth can supplant the permanence and the influence of the parents in the home.

There are a few fundamental principles which we should ever keep in mind. First, the eternity of the marriage relation. Oh, may our youth throughout the land realize that they have within their grasp the possibilities of that form of marriage which will contribute more to their happiness in [78] this world and their eternal union and happiness in the world to come than can be obtained anywhere else in the world. Let our young men and women look forward with pride, with eagerness, to the time when, in worthiness, they may go to the House of God and have their love sealed by the bonds of the eternal priesthood. No element that is temporary in such union as that! Nothing that is passing with the years; but binding for time and all eternity. Second, let us hold to that first word in the second part of the fundamental law of humanity, the ten commandments. Those first few commandments refer to our relationship to God. The last few to our relationship to humanity. The second part begins with the word honorCAHonor thy father and thy mother. Let us cherish in our homes as we cherish the lives of our children themselves, that word honor with all the synonyms respect, reverence, veneration; honoring mother, honoring father, having them honor us as we honor and revere God our eternal Father. Let the element of honor, devotion, reverence permeate the home life. Thirdly, let us never lose sight of the principle of obedience. Obedience is heaven's first law, and it is the law of the home. There can be no true happiness in the home without obedience. Obedience obtained, not through physical force, but through the divine element of love. There is no home without love. You may have a palace and yet not have a home, and you may live in a log house with a dirt roof, and a dirt floor, and have there the most glorious home in all the world, if within those four log walls there permeates the divine principle of love, love that draws from husband to wife and from children to parents, that blessed obedience and compliance that makes life worth while.

I believe firmly that parents fail to get obedience from their children during the first five years of childhood. I believe that during the most important period of child life the parents sow the seeds of obedience or disobedience. Some of us fill that period of child life with too many dont's, failing to make the child realize that a request from father, a request from mother should be complied with. Mother says: A Don't touch that, to the little child. The little child toddles along and touches it. What is the result? The seeds of disobedience are sown. You don't have to punish the little child. Lovingly, kindly, but firmly, teach the child that there are rules in the house which should be obeyed. Mothers, fathers, treasure sacredly and sense keenly your responsibility to the child during those first five plastic years of its life. With these home elements I desire to mention another, and that is mutual service, each working for the other. If some of these pernicious theories to which I referred shall prevail and take out from the home the relationship of parents to children and children to parents, and children to each other, they will deprive humanity of one of the greatest means of teaching the true spirit of Christ's sacrifice for each other, salvation through service. O that home is most beautiful in which you find each striving to serve the other, and you find them, too, all through the Church. Here is a [79] young woman whose father, through misfortune, lost his wealth. She is compelled to get a profession, follow it for her livelihood and to assist the parents. The call comes for her brother, young than she, to go on a mission. He hasn't much means, he hasn't any. The ward, through entertainments and service, pays his fare to his missionary field, and the sister for two years, shares her scanty means to keep him there preaching the gospel of Christ. He comes home in honor, having served his Lord and brought honest souls to a realization of the eternal principles of life. When he throws his arms around his sister in the home greeting, he says: A Sister, I owe you much, I owe you a lot of money, too. She answers: A Not one cent. I have been delighted to contribute my mite in that great work. Mutual service in the home, the Christ spirit! Two testimonies strengthened through service and self sacrifice. I tell you we cannot afford to eliminate that element from home life.

Just by the way of impressing these principles upon your minds I will say, incidentally, that if I change the order slightly you will find that by combining the first letters they will spell home, and it seems to me they comprehend the spirit in which the principles of life and salvation should be taught to children. Honor, obedience, mutual service, eternity of the marriage relation. God help us as parents to send from our homes true Latter-day Saints, boys and girls who do not hesitate to bear testimony of their membership in the Church, more than that, boys and girls who are eager to go out into the world and bear testimony to the world that the marriage relationship is an eternal one, that the home is a permanent and eternal institution against which no theory that strikes at the purity and honor of womanhood, that deprives children of fatherhood, or the love of mother, can stand or in any way attack that institution. God help us fathers and mothers to build such homes. While we are beautifying them without, keep within them the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In this respect, I know of no better example than the home of our late beloved President Joseph F. Smith. His sons, his daughters, his wives, are true to the gospel, true to the truth. They loved and honored President Smith, but through that they love and honor that which is even greater the truth, the gospel. His closing words to his sons and daughters, I think, are a classic. On November 10, 1918, he expressed his heart's truest sentiments to those boys and girls who stood around him saying and mind you, these are almost his last words: ?When I look around me and see my boys and my girls whom the Lord has given to me and I realize I have succeeded, with his help, to make them tolerably comfortable and at least respectable in the worldCI have reached the treasure of my life, the whole substance that makes life worth living. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

McKay, David O. Address for the Eighty-ninth General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In Conference Reports of the LDS Church, Utah, June 2, 1919, by the Deseret News. Salt Lake City: the Deseret News, 1919, 76-79.