By Elder Clifford Herbertson, Great Britain
The opening verse of The Book of Mormon:
“I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father” provides a clear indication of the role and importance of families and parents in the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have found great learning and insight by pondering on the many examples of righteous parents in the Book of Mormon.
As I have read of Lehi and Sariah nurturing, teaching and guiding their children, I have sought to ‘liken (the) scriptures unto (me)’ in my role as a father. As my wife and I reflect on the examples of righteous parents in the Book of Mormon, a number of others come to mind.
As Enos was alone in the forests reflecting on his life and the need to “receive a remission of (his) sins” he reflected on “the words which (he) had often heard (his) father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints”. Enos knew his father “was a just man”. The righteous example of Enos’ father Jacob, was instrumental in helping Enos receive a remission of sins.
In Mosiah we read of how many of the “rising generation” of the church did not believe the teachings of the prophets, “would not be baptized,” and became “a separate people as to their faith”. This caused great distress and troubled the prophet Alma and King Mosiah, which became exacerbated when some of their own sons became chief protagonists in opposition to the church. A great miracle occurred when an angel appeared to Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah to stop their rebellion. At which point we see again the example of a righteous father, Alma, who when his dumb and stricken son was brought before him “rejoiced for he knew it was the power of God”. The righteous parents of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah played a crucial part in them becoming faithful missionaries and leaders.
The valiant and faithful ‘sons of Helaman’ when asked of the source of their faith, courage and strength said they had been “taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them”. Their valiance is a wonderful example to all and they were in no doubt as to the righteousness and faith of their mothers, saying “we do not doubt our mothers knew it”.
These are just a few of the examples of righteous parents in the Book of Mormon. I have always found it interesting that in a number of instances, some of the children of these righteous parents had fallen away from the teachings and guidance of their parents. This is a situation that many in the church face today.
In such situations, righteous parents (in Book of Mormon days and today) remain faithful and obedient. As with Alma, they pray fervently for the welfare of their children and remain hopeful that, as with Enos, they will find themselves in a position to reflect on their parents’ teachings and example and make necessary changes in their lives to enjoy the blessings of the kingdom again.
President Boyd K. Packer:
“It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.
“It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled. …
“We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them”.
The need for the example of righteous parents today is as great as it has ever been. Our children need to have faithful, obedient and valiant parents to look towards to help them in their journey back to Heavenly Father.