Family and Community
Family is central to the Church because members see God’s plan as working through the family. Family life continues beyond mortal life, members are sealed to each other for eternity that stretches out before birth and after death in the spirit world. Mormons have children to create physical bodies for spirits to come to earth to fulfil God’s plan. Marriage is between a man and a woman; the Church opposes same sex marriage as a matter of doctrine. LDS couples tend not to delay having children as long as non-Mormons, and to have more than the usual number of children. The high birth rate of Mormons has been central to the Church’s rapid expansion. Parents are responsible for teaching their children about Jesus Christ and his way of life and setting a good example through their words and deeds. Family events have a high priority in daily life, such as family prayer, wholesome family activities, and family home evenings. In areas of high LDS population Mormon families often entertain their children through LDS community events, and encourage the development of discretion in the entertainment they find elsewhere. This can lead Mormon children and young people to feel different from their peers because of their standards of dress and entertainment. The Church tends to be patriarchal in respect to the priesthood, to which women are not ordained; but men and women are taught that they are equals with some varying roles. The ideal is complementarity of the sexes; a man cannot be saved without a woman as his wife and vice versa.
Moreover, the Church teaches that human beings are beloved spirit children of Heavenly Parents: a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven, and subsequent Church leaders have affirmed the existence of a Mother in Heaven. By directing their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, it is true that Mormons do not pray to Heavenly Mother, but in this, they are following the pattern set by Jesus, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.” And, as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”
Welfare provision and education (of both sexes) are also central to LDS ideas about community. The Relief Society provides an alternative to the priesthood as an organisation for women through which they can serve their community and worship God.
7.Gordon B. Hinckley, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 100.