LDS Church commentary: Society needs strong families

Published: Monday, May 6 2013 4:40 p.m. MDT

According to a new LDS Church commentary, families are not only the basic unit of society but are critical to the prosperity and future of society.

Courtesy LDS Church

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SALT LAKE CITY — Drawing significant information from a wide variety of scholars and researchers, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today published a commentary called "Homage to the Home: Why Society Needs Strong Families," in which it suggests that not only is the health of the family at risk in the modern world, but also "the prosperity and future of society."

“The institutions of family and marriage are wearing down,” the commentary said, citing social statistics indicating the decline of marriage rates, the escalation of divorce rates, the upsurge in the number of people choosing to cohabitate rather than marry and the increase in the numbers of children being born outside marriage.

"Given the current trajectory the future looks pretty bleak for many American children," the commentary continued.

The piece stated that each family and marriage matters to the health of the larger society.

That the LDS Church Public Affairs Department would publish a commentary on the Newsroom website is not unusual. During the past six years more than 40 such commentaries have been published, with subjects ranging from polygamy to civility to religious freedom. According to LDS Church spokesman Dale Jones, the process is collaborative, and includes input from a number of different writers and researchers within the department guided by LDS general authorities.

“It’s a regular thing we do to generate conversations on important topic issues,” Jones said.

And right now, few topics are more important than the family.

“The state of the American family, these are things that concern church leaders,” Jones said.

Which is not to say that this is exclusively an LDS concern.

“The LDS church is not the only segment of society that is concerned with the deterioration of the family structure,” Jones continued. “It is a widespread concern. There is an enormous amount of data to reflect that.”

Some of that data comes from Joel Kotkin, a professor of urban development and currently a fellow at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. Kotkin’s research is cited in the commentary, as well as his statement that “in the coming decades, success will accrue to those cultures that preserve the family’s place.”

Calling the LDS commentary “very reasonable,” Kotkin said Monday night that the preservation of the family “is the civilizational issue of our time.”

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a sectarian issue,” he said. “You could be an atheist and agree with most of what’s in that (LDS) statement.

“This isn’t a moral issue,” Kotkin continued. “This is a societal issue. That’s what I liked about the LDS commentary. It’s looking at it as a civilizational issue.”

And that issue, said Kotkin, an internationally recognized expert on global, economic, political and social trends, is simple: “Is the family at the center of society, or is it not? If you take the family out of the societal equation you begin to get all kinds of dysfunction. We’re already seeing it. I don’t see how civilization as we know it will continue if we continue in the direction we are going. We are headed into a very dangerous place.”

The work of Dr. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, is also noted in the commentary. He told the Deseret News the church’s statement is “indicative of the basic principle that, on average, strong families make for a strong society.”

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