God's Only Enterprise

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Devotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii

January 16, 2003
Carolyn Shumway
First Lady of BYU-Hawaii

Thank you, President Shumway; how I wish you could stay by me and hold me up, as you have done these past 39 years. And thank you, Dr. Smith and the Concert Choir; you have begun my talk for me. Speaking of families, Dr. Smith has not only exposed our campus and community to some of the world's greatest music, but his choirs have been responsible for starting many new families. In our family alone, several of our children have met their spouses in Dr. Smith's Choirs. What a blessing those choirs have been to us all.

We want to extend a special welcome to our new students who have just arrived from many parts of the world. We love living in the midst of you on campus.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff employees who help make it possible to do our work here. We feel so much love for each of you and we pray daily for our university family that we will all be found worthy to be in this sacred place.

We hope you have enjoyed the visuals of many of our campus families shown as you entered today. You should also each have a copy of the Family Proclamation passed out at the door. We won't be able to study it in depth this morning, but we hope that as you leave today you will fold it inside your scriptures, for it is the Word of the Lord spoken through modern-day prophets.

Have you ever wondered why the First Presidency issued this proclamation? And did you know that it has been distributed to government leaders across the world? It was issued because God's only enterprise is the family; everything He does is for His family. President Howard W. Hunter said, "The family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life."

Families are the reason the worlds were created, the reason for the Atonement, the reason for the Church, the temples, and the huge genealogy program. It is the reason for this school. It is the reason all of us are here.

In 1998, President Shumway and I had the blessing of attending the official opening of the School of Family Life on the Provo campus, where President Boyd K. Packer gave the major address. He said some amazing things about the role that our Church universities would play in saving the families of the world in these latter days, and that the school's main text would be the Family Proclamation. President Shumway and I felt a renewed commitment to include BYU-Hawaii as much as possible in such a great opportunity.

We hope you students will start now, preparing to be worthy, capable family leaders. Some of you have already started a new family, and some will be sooner than you think, and the rest of us will do the same in the Lord's own due time. Some may not have the opportunity for marriage and family in this life. But many prophets have testified that no worthy person will be denied ultimately any of the blessings of marriage and children. He has a wonderful "family plan" for all of us.

President Shumway and I come from goodly parents. They are magnificently interwoven in our hearts and lives, and we hope to be able to serve them forever. As for President and myself as parents, we have no doubt made many of the mistakes other parents make. For years, raising our seven children and having numerous borrowed children in our home, I felt that I wasn't doing many things right. I had to ask my husband for countless Priesthood blessings for one struggle or another.

Of course the challenges are not over even now that our children are raised, but we have found it quite amazing how God is willing to bless families who are continually striving, even though the parents may be laden with numerous flaws and inadequacies. Heavenly Father continues His campaign of mercy toward us.

We also hope that you single students realize that there will not be some "magic" that will turn you into a capable family man or woman upon pronouncing your wedding vows. Preparing for this most important calling should be your main motivation for being in school. It should affect every decision you make, large and small. For What you think and do today, will largely determine the kind of family you will have tomorrow.

And we hope none of you doubt the great "discovery" that has been recognized world-wide, that the happiest and healthiest way to live is in a traditional family with marriage and children.

We have said that God's only enterprise is the family. Is it any surprise, then, that Satan's main target is also the family. You all know his tactics - broken homes, drugs, gangs, un-wed pregnancy, sex and its diseases, pornography, abuse, predators of all types, neglect, and more.

Further, the booklet from Provo's School of Family Life lists fifteen of the most alarming at-risk factors prevalent in today's families, as well as what the School plans to do to help. Here are six of them:

1. "Latch-key children on the rise in industrialized countries

2. Respect and other values missing in children's lives

3. People lacking confidence in their ability to be successfully married

4. Fewer people learning homemaking and home management skills

5. Homes as sanctuaries of peace and good management on the decline

6. Family public policies undermining traditional family values" (paraphrased)

(BYU School of Family Life booklet)

President Hinckley said, "...if our society is coming apart at the seams, it is because the tailor and the seamstress in the home are not producing the kind of stitching that will hold under stress." (Strengthening Families, p. 86)

Even as you students try to prepare for your great family roles, be aware that the "enemy of all righteousness" will be trying to distract and divert you. But the Holy Spirit will be ever beckoning you at the same time.

It shouldn't be a surprise to any of us that The best preparation for marriage and families is centering our lives on our Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, we could study family philosophies for many years, and still not be prepared until we have decided to make Christ the "Rock" on which we are built. If you have your scriptures, you may want to mark this great passage in Helaman 5:12:.

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

How do we build this foundation? President Hunter advises, "Your first obligation is to get your own spiritual life in order through regular scriptural study and daily prayer." (Being a Righteous Husband and Father, Gen. Conf. Oct. 1994)

Again, Satan will do all he can to prevent us from scripture study and prayer.

It would be difficult to find a greater master-plan for students trying to build on the Rock of Christ and preparing for family life than found in the Doctrine and Covenants. As we read it now, please consider how it applies to you personally, and then we will look at each command separately.

"See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity...pray always." (D& C. 88-123-126)

1. "See that ye love one another." Love is a very important thing in families---indeed, the most important thing. So much of both putting Christ at the center and of our success in family life depends on being our brother's keeper, and on how we regard and treat one another. Oh, that there could be a huge banner across the sky that says,

LOVE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE EARNED

Trust is what must be earned. Love should flow freely from us to all people, even our enemies, as Christ taught. The Lord has a powerful statement on loving one another in Matthew. "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

The people who have done the most good in my life have been the ones who loved me in spite of my many annoying or eccentric ways, with my blessed husband at the head of the list. After all, LOVE, not disdain, is the greatest change-agent in the universe. Another way to say this would be, Be a builder, not a destroyer. How we regard and treat others -- all others, is the supreme gauge of our love for Christ.

President Shumway has agreed to read from his journal, an experience his mother recited to him illustrating this principle.

One day when I was very young, someone told Mom that they were pretty sure that my dad had quit smoking. Dad had not been active in the Church because of his habit, but never smoked around the home or family. Mom was so overjoyed by this news that she started walking down to his workplace just to be around her "hero" for a few minutes. As she rounded the corner, she caught a glimpse of Dad, but to her great disappointment, he was "lighting up" right at that moment, .and she was pretty sure he saw her. Broken hearted, she turned and ran home. She had been so patient and waited so long already: enough was enough!

She began getting her angry speech ready. She was going to let him have it, he deserved it. But then a thought came into her mind: "You had better pray about this." She went out in the moonlight and knelt down on the ground. "Heavenly Father, please help me! What should I do?" Almost instantly a warm and comforting feeling came over her, and all her anger disappeared. In its place came the words that she should say to my dad.

It wasn't long before Dad came home, perhaps expecting an irate wife. Instead, he was greeted with a loving hug and kiss. A little later that evening Mom took hold of both of his hands and said, "Darling, I just want you to know how much we appreciate how hard you work and what a good provider and head of the family you are. We love you so much, and our greatest desire is to be with you for eternity."

Well, you can guess the happy ending. Mom's loving patience over those eight years of marriage paid off. We were all sealed in the Mesa Temple shortly thereafter.

How will we teach our children to be builders and not destroyers?

2. "Cease to be covetous." What do college students covet --- looks, clothes, popularity, talent, brains? Could I just touch on a couple of these. First, the most attractive people on the planet are those who have the Spirit. Have you ever found yourself being surprised that you were enjoying someone who was downright homely -- that suddenly looks didn't count for anything? A plain person whose countenance and character radiate the Spirit of the Lord is attractive in ways beyond physical features.

I had a seminary teacher once who was not blessed with good looks. On the first day of class my friends and I walked in and upon seeing him, wanted to run out to the handsome teacher in the next room. But for some reason we stayed. It didn't take long before his face became one of the most beautiful in our lives because of his Spirit as he taught us the Gospel. This same principle applies to male/female relationships as well.

If this is a principle we would like to teach our children, we must live it now.

Secondly, popular people are often either good looking or what you call "cool." I hope that your desire to be cool doesn't sabotage your greater goals, those of being above all, disciples of Christ and builders of the Kingdom of God. I hope that a desire to conform to the "cool" rules set by only a few, will not cheat you out being the wonderful, unique person that you are.

Wouldn't you like your children to be brave enough to just be themselves?

And thirdly, it is great to be smart; it's great to be talented, but what the Lord needs is PURE people, then He can make us smart and talented. We would be wise to spend as much time cultivating a pure heart, as we spend on our amazing accomplishments.

Which should we emphasize more with our children, being the smartest and most talented, or having a pure heart that the Lord can write on?

3. "Learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires." We see many students across campus doing acts of service to each other, whether it be pushing someone in a wheelchair or helping a fellow student with a difficult assignment. Our hearts are warmed when we see students helping each other move to another apartment, iron a shirt or dress for a roommate, or give each other a ride somewhere.

Do we want our children to be "others" oriented? We can actually start teaching them before they are born by becoming now, their best example later.

4. The phrase "Cease to be idle" seems to be self-explanatory, but consider that being idle could include doing things to escape homework or church assignments or engaging in recreation when those more important things are not done.

5. "Cease to be unclean." The Family Proclamation is very clear on this subject.

"We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife." (Family Proclamation)

This is one principle we will really want to emphasize with our children because in the world, it is not popular to be clean.

I hope you never weary of the great subjects of chastity and repentance, if indeed, repentance is needed to once again be chaste. Especially this morning I want to plead will all students to be modest. Our female students particularly have a challenge. I truly think that most of us who dress immodestly don't really want to be immodest but are trying to be "cool." The BYU Hawaii dress code to which we are all committed is inspired by the Lord and sets the standard.

Remember that President Faust encouraged all women to be feminine. This does not mean to be provocative of course. How we dress greatly dictates our reputation. We sisters can look to the mothers and wives of our prophets and apostles for an example of what we want to be.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so please observe both the modest and immodest on the screen:.

Tight clothes: Clothes that follow every curve, leaving nothing to the imagination, are not only immodest, but are not even becoming.

Loose clothes: Notice how these girls look like they belong at the Lord's university.

Bare midriffs: For the same reason that two-piece swimming suits are immodest, think of what kind of message bare flesh on backs and stomachs are sending.

Short skirts: Some may wonder, what's wrong with showing my knees? Can we just trust the prophets on the reason for the dress code?

Skirts covering knees: We rejoice when we see our female students looking like daughters of Heavenly Father instead of daughters of the world.

Low necklines also become a mockery of the sacredness of our bodies. What God intended for a holy purpose, the adversary quickly turns into a temptation.

Modest neckline: This student is wisely sending a message of reverence for her body.

A favorite family story of ours is when one of our daughters was tempted to wear an immodest dress to a prom. She modeled it in front of her two little brothers. One of them said, "It's a beautiful dress, but it just isn't good enough for you." She got the message without his spelling it out.

When our future children see pictures of us in college, what image would we like them to see? What if those children are watching us now?

6. "Cease to find fault one with another." People's faults are not hard to find. We can go against the worldly current and rejoice in their good qualities, or we can join the "mockers-team" and make them squirm. The idea that "who is kind" is often more Christ-like than "who is right" is something to consider, along with a statement made by our daughter's missionary companion in Austria, "When a conflict arises, I repent first."

How will we teach our children not to find fault, but rather how to extend unconditional love? We must be the experienced example.

7. "Cease to sleep longer than is needful and retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated."

Do we often miss, or go late to class or church from oversleeping, and even then, are still weary? The sleep we get before midnight counts twice as much as sleep after midnight.

Do we want our children to be early risers or night hawks?

8. "And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity." We have talked much about love, so perhaps a fitting last word would be, "If we only knew how much the Lord loves us, we wouldn't do most of the foolish things we do."

9. "Pray always." It would be difficult to think of a more important asset than prayer in preparing for family life. Time does not allow doing justice on the subject, but may I just interject here, that President Shumway and I prayed our way through raising our children, and still do. Many were the times when as I was home with the children that I desperately looked up to heaven and said, "Please help me; I don't know what to do."

The silent prayer is also the great rescuer when we are tempted to say or do a negative thing. And a final word about this last virtue from section 88, is a great teaching from Elder Gene R. Cook, that the most devastating thing anyone can do is to not pray.

How Courtship Affects Marriage

Could we now think about what effect our courtships will have on our marriage and families. A courtship founded on purity, honesty, and the other principles of the gospel will be a never-ending source of strength to the marriage and family for eternity.

First of all, MEN, as well as ladies, are necessary for marriage. President Howard W. Hunter said, "As a matter of priesthood responsibility, a man, under normal circumstances, should not unduly postpone marriage." Likewise, sisters also should not postpone marriage when the right opportunity for a temple marriage arises. Temple marriage should be our main goal during courtship. Everything in the gospel points to the temple. President Harold B. Lee said, "Great love is built on great sacrifice...Temple marriage is more than just a place where the ceremony occurs; it is a whole orientation to life and marriage and home. It is a culmination of building attitudes toward the Church, chastity, and our personal relationship with God, and many other things." (Harold B. Lee Manual, pg. 113, 116)

All of the principles we have discussed so far are also a great guide for courtship. But many students do ask, "What should I look for in a husband or wife" and "how will I know if he/she is the one?" First of all, we need to keep in mind something I read about twenty years ago, "Falling in love is no excuse for getting married."

Almost everyone who marries is in love. Why, then, do half of all marriages end in divorce? As important as love is, there are so many other things that must be in place for a marriage to be successful, and we have talked about these at length. In fact, some of the very qualities we may admire before marriage may become repulsive after marriage.

Look for a marriage partner who is developing the capacity to love unselfishly and purely, not only loving you, but loving God and all mankind as we sang in our opening hymn. (2 Nephi 31:20.)

As you consider someone for marriage, study how he or she regards the things of God. Watch how they treat the less popular, the ones who may be obnoxious or annoying. Watch how they treat children and older people, how they speak of others. Do they criticize? Do they make fun of or ridicule others. Are they sarcastic? Sarcasm may be cute sometimes on a date, but it's deadly in marriage. How they treat others will be how they will probably treat you when the pressures of family life set in.

Three last ideas in looking for a mate: President Hinckley said on this subject, "Choose a companion you can always honor, you can always respect, one who will complement you in your own life, one to whom you can give your entire heart." (as quoted by Thomas Holman, Ensign, Sept. 2002)

And the couples who are still on their honeymoons after 50 years of marriage or more, are the ones whose marriages are founded on gospel principles.

And lastly, we need to cheerfully remember that we are far from perfect, so we need to allow for imperfections in our sweetheart as well. We are all God's projects in the making.

Our Future Homes

Today we have looked first at preparing ourselves for marriage and family by getting ourselves right with the Lord, then we looked at preparing by also centering our courtships on the Lord, and now lastly, let us look at our homes ten years from now. What do you see?

First of all, we hope you see in your homes what President Howard W. Hunter describes in this quote. "A man who holds the priesthood shows perfect moral fidelity to his wife and gives her no reason to doubt his faithfulness. A husband is to love his wife with all his heart and cleave unto her and none else (D&C 42:22-26.)

(Being a Righteous Husband and Father, Gen Conf. Oct. 1994)

Then President Kimball adds his testimony about leaving cleaving, and becoming one: "The words, 'None else' eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse." (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 250)

And even a third prophet, President Hinckley said, "You will know no greater happiness than that found in your home...The truest mark of your success in life will be the quality of your marriage." (As quoted by Elder Lynn G. Robbins Oct.. 2002 Ensign)

As a side benefit, Brothers and Sisters, if we are faithful, the day will come when our husband or wife will be everything we have ever hoped for in a mate. God has promised in several scriptures, "Everything I have is yours." (Luke 4:7) Whatever our spouse or ourselves are lacking now, remember that nothing is impossible with God.

Continuing looking at our homes ten years from now, we hope we see exemplified, the following principle from the Proclamation on the Family:

"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. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation." (Proclamation on the Family)

Again, President Kimball has strong words on this subject, "Women are to take care of the family, the Lord has so stated...not to earn the living.....Men ought to be men indeed and earn the living under normal circumstances....Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment... Wrap the motherly cloak about you ...unembarrassed....and you will be the envy (of all) through time and eternity."

It is interesting to note, Brothers and sisters, that unsupervised and un-cherished children are the cause of most of the social problems in the US and other countries.

Who will be there for your children all day everyday?

President Benson said that "a child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all." (To Mothers in Zion)

The family I was born into as well as the one President Shumway and I raised were both tight on finances, but greatly blessed for eternity by mothers being in the home. I thank my father and my husband for their hard work and sacrifices to make this possible.

There are many more important ways to prepare for family life which time does not permit addressing, such as staying out of debt and others, but we hope to see all of our families in ten years being HAPPY. We hope our homes will be full of the beautiful hymns sung by our families gathering for scripture study and prayer. We hope to see family members testifying of Christ and the restoration of the Gospel to each other. And we hope to see pictures such as the First Vision, temples, and Christ on the walls.

May I take this opportunity to thank my husband, Eric, for setting the best example our family could ask for of a true family man. I have visions of him out in the yard teaching the children the "manicure look." I can still see him wrestling with them and helping them all night with homework. He also raised our children in the ward choir, and told them great bedtime stories. He gave us the best part of every day as he gathered us around the table early in the morning for daily hymn-singing, scriptures and prayer.

We would also like to thank our children, Merrill, Angela, Jeffrey, Heather, Emily, and Douglas for raising us, and they know their job is not over.

Could we now conclude with three short messages from the Lord -- a warning, a charge, and a promise. First, the warning:

"We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets....We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." (Proclamation on the Family)

And now the charge,

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (2Ne. 31:20)

And finally, the promise,

"But is has been written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."((I Cor. 2:9)