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Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks April 3 during the Sunday morning session of the 186th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles focused his remarks Sunday morning on “the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles — husband and father.”

Noting that society is divided about fatherhood, Elder Christofferson pronounced, “As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”

Elder Christofferson quoted “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which states that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. … Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” He then continued, “We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.”

Elder Christofferson explained that the ultimate model of fatherhood is Heavenly Father who so loved His spirit children that He gave His Only Begotten Son for their salvation. “Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day laboring in the service and support of their families.”

The most essential work of a father is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. “If by his example as well as his words, a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come,” Elder Christofferson said. “A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.”

Elder Christofferson noted that discipline and correction are part of teaching, however, “in discipline a father must exercise particular care lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When providing correction, a father’s motivation must be love, and his guide the Holy Spirit.”

Expressing love for the mother of his children is one of the best things a father can do for his children, Elder Christofferson said. “It reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security.”

Recognizing that some children don’t have fathers who live with them while others may have fathers who are in other ways inattentive or non-supportive, Elder Christofferson called upon all fathers “to do better and to be better” and on media outlets to portray devoted, capable fathers who love their wives and guide their children.

Elder Christofferson counseled young men to prepare for their role as provider and protector through gaining an education and learning how to establish healthy relationships. “Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.”

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Elder Christofferson encouraged the rising generation to honor their parents in the way they live their lives. “Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive.”

To the fathers of the Church, Elder Christofferson said, “Despite our limitations, let us press on. Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy of today’s culture, and think first of the happiness and well-being of others. Surely despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit.”

The LDS Church News is an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The publication's content supports the doctrines, principles and practices of the Church.