BYU Religious Studies Center
"By Divine Design" is a compilation of essays about families.

"BY DIVINE DESIGN: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness," edited by Brent L. Top and Michael A. Goodman, BYU Religious Studies Center, $27.99, 393 pages (nf)

Raising a family has never been an easy task but is especially difficult when media and cultural influences offer a whirlwind of varying, often contradictory parenting suggestions that may not be in harmony with principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Two LDS marriage and family professors at Brigham Young University have attempted to unite science and faith as they relate to the family unit.

In "By Divine Design: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness," religious educators Brent L. Top and Michael A. Goodman have commissioned and compiled a series of a dozen essays that marry gospel principles with academic findings to establish an applicable guide for rearing a Christ-centered family. The book aims to make the findings of social science available and applicable to the broader Latter-day Saint community to help strengthen families.

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Each chapter, which can function as a stand-alone essay, is written by Latter-day Saint scholars and researchers at Brigham Young University and ranges in subject matter from "The Influence of Faith on Marital Commitment" to "Helping (Teenagers) Put on the Whole Armor of God." The chapters progress in a logical order, from general family principles and early marriage to raising children and parenting young adults.

Most chapters take an overall scholastic tone, highlighting empirical research done by the respective authors before establishing a series of best practices and gospel implementations. Although at times it reads like an academic journal, the highlighted social science helps reinforce the teachings of the prophets. The result is a guide for couples or parents who seek scientifically proven applications of broader gospel principles within the home.

Jennifer Ball is a freelance journalist out of Los Angeles, specializing in food criticism and LDS media. EMAIL: