Strengthening families, understanding technology and using the Atonement

By Bryce Pendleton

For Mormon Times

Published: Thursday, June 9 2011 6:00 a.m. MDT

BUENA VISTA, Va. — Couples need to let God play a "vastly more active" role in their marriages, Michael Goodman, an associate professor of LDS Church history and doctrine from Brigham Young University, said on June 4 during the second day of the 15th annual Education Conference at Southern Virginia University.

With messages inspired by the theme “Family … Forever,” the concluding sessions of the conference also featured Charles D. Knutson, associate professor of computer science at BYU; Ariel Rodriguez, associate professor of family and child development at Southern Virginia; Brian King, author of “The 100 Day Promise” and his wife, Nonnie; Leslie Whyte Graff, artist and child life specialist; Scott and Angelle Anderson, popular speakers on the subject of parenting; and a musical concert by pianist Marvin Goldstein and soloist Vanessa Joy.

Michael Goodman: The sealing covenant

Goodman’s presentation, titled “The Power of the Sealing Covenant to Exalt,” complemented his remarks from the previous day about the family and the plan of happiness.

He focused on the essential nature of the sealing covenant of marriage — a priesthood covenant required for exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.

“The ordinance and covenant of eternal marriage makes it possible for us to connect with God in a way that allows God to share his power to exalt us,” he said. “Without that power and covenant, a husband and wife cannot spend eternity together.”

Goodman reminded Latter-day Saints that covenants are usually a two-way commitment between God and his children, but eternal marriage is a three-way commitment between a man, a woman and God.

Citing scriptures, general authorities and LDS Church scholars, he outlined the blessings promised to individuals, couples and their children when they enter into this covenant. He also described what is required to live and keep the marriage covenant in order to secure those blessings throughout eternity.

“When we keep our covenants, we eternally bind ourselves to God,” he said. “Once eternally bound to God, he shares with us his virtues.”

Goodman emphasized two blessings of marital covenant keeping: “Above all else, God promises power and protection,” he said.

Charles Knutson: Understand technology

Knutson said that parents and grandparents need not “pull the plug” on technology; rather, they need to understand and use it.

“Technology is a tool,” he said. “Every tool can be can be used for good or evil. The easiest reaction to make when faced with technology is to pull the plug because (it) gives you a sense of security. I assert that it’s a false sense of security.”

Just as the rod of iron, seen by Lehi and Nephi in the Book of Mormon, is located on the bank of the river of filthy water, Knutson explained that at some point in our mortal probation, there is an inevitable co-location of good and evil.

“If you find yourself clutching the rod of iron, and filthy water is lapping on your shoes, it may be a sign that you’re trapped in a mortal probation,” he said. “The only way out is to grasp the rod and press forward. ... Successful navigation does not result in the elimination of the opposition.”

Knutson, a father of 10, told attendees that the best way to learn what their children or grandchildren are doing is by doing it themselves, such as adding them as a friend on Facebook.

“You don’t have to be a computer science major or a Ph.D. to understand the technology,” he said. “There is an opportunity when dealing with kids where it behooves us to stick ourselves into our children’s technological lives.”

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