Today’s modern LDS family looks like most other families on the block. Most have one husband, one wife, and a varying number of children. There are single parent homes and childless homes. There are unmarried adults. There are no polygamous families, however. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law, which alone would prohibit polygamy today. However, even in countries where it is legal, it is no longer approved by God. As we see in the Bible, God sometimes allowed polygamy and sometimes did not, depending on the needs of His kingdom at the time. Today, He does not.
Today’s LDS family does not live in a gathered, isolated community, as do the FLDS. In the early days of the Church, members did gather together and form towns with their own leadership, although these towns were always open to outsiders and there are many reports of journalists or well-known people who visited the towns. This was necessary for their safety in a dangerous time. Today, however, members are encouraged to stay where they are when they join the Church, becoming involved in their communities and sharing the gospel with those around them. Few places in the world place church members in danger today. While many members of the Church still live in Utah, most do not. There are more members of the Church outside the United States than in it.
Modern LDS children attend school the same way other children do. Some attend private or public schools. A few are homeschooled by their parents. The Church takes no stand on this matter other than to tell parents that they are responsible for seeing that their children are educated. This is another way we differ from the FLDS. We don’t maintain our own schools for all students. The Church has a few schools, largely colleges, but only a small number of church members attend them. Most attend the same schools as their non-LDS neighbors. Members of the Church have very high graduation rates, particularly for women, who are reported to graduate from college at higher rates than most other religions.
Modern LDS parents work in their own communities and do volunteer work there as well. They live in ordinary neighborhoods filled with all sorts of people—anywhere in the world they choose to live– and are taught to be good neighbors. It’s likely you have a member of the Church living near you today.
One way LDS families differ from some other families today is that they work very hard to put families first. Many—but not all—LDS women choose to stay home with their children. Families set aside Monday nights as family nights. They attend church together. Every morning they read scriptures and pray together. Every evening they pray together. LDS families are encouraged not to become so involved in church and community work they neglect the most important work of all—building an eternal family.
And that is the most important way LDS families differ from other families. They believe their family life will continue after death. God made families so important to us and He’s promised us joy in Heaven. Who can be part of a loving family and believe they can be joyful without them? And so, LDS families work hard to build a family that is worthy of eternity.
In the next few articles, we’ll explore some of the unique aspects of modern LDS family life in more detail.