Thursday, September 2, 2010

Respect in Families

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (Family Proclamation, emphasis added)

What exactly do we mean by R-E-S-P-E-C-T?
“esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment…
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly…
the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat….
to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights…
to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person's privacy. ”
There are different types of respect that we give or get in this world and they have to do with what we value, what we feel is worth admiring. Respect can be based on:
  • personal appearance.
  • personality/charisma.
  • skill-set.
  • experience.
  • wealth.
  • fame/notoriety.
  • family connections/genealogy.
  • power/influence.
  • divine nature
  • obedience to the principles and commandments of the gospel
Now, I want to you look at that list and pick out which of those types of respect you have for the members of your family. Which forms of respect to you have to your spouse? Children? Parents? Extended family?

Next, think about what types of respect in the list above can be called temporal and which can be called eternal.

What types of respect in the list above do you have for the person you admire most in the world?

What types of respect in the list above do you extend to the person living who you like least in the world?

What types of respect do you give yourself?

What types of respect does God extend to us as His children? "And [Jesus] said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15) Before we can correctly incorporate respect in our families, we have to adopt the Lord’s values and respect what He respects. That means thinking carefully about what we respect and why, and doing some repentance if necessary.

I want to say a little something about respect based on divine nature. I think respect for a person’s divine nature will lead us to act according to certain principles that are linked with divine nature. Four things are tied to our divine nature—gender, intelligence, agency, and potential. So if you respect someone’s divine nature, you have to respect their gender, their intelligence, their agency, and their potential.
  • We respect gender by reaffirming the eternal roles of men and women, giving opportunities for development of the skillsets related to those roles, and allowing individual gender expression to develop at its own pace. (The world may say this is limiting, but from the eternal perspective, it is empowering.) We respect gender by reaffirming the necessary complementary nature of male and female in procreation and raising a family.
  • We respect intelligence by teaching each person, by exhibiting faith in their ability to learn and apply what they’ve learned, and by searching for ways to draw out their innate talents and gifts.
  • We respect agency by teaching about choices, allowing choice, and allowing the consequences that come from those choices.
  • We respect potential by speaking hopefully of a person’s future in terms of the possibility of blessings for keeping the commandments and by giving them a vision of a bright future in which they have conquered their present difficulties.
When I see respect in the scriptures, it is most often respect for obedience and personal righteousness. I’ll point out some examples.
And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam, and also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold, if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish. And if ye will hearken unto him I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even my first blessing. (2 Nephi 1:28)
This is Lehi speaking at the end of his life, exhibiting great respect for his son Nephi. This could only have happened because of Nephi’s personal righteousness.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people. (2 Nephi 5:26)
Nephi respected the righteousness of his two younger brothers.
Behold, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob, having been called of God, and ordained after the manner of his holy order, and having been consecrated by my brother Nephi, unto whom ye look as a king or a protector, and on whom ye depend for safety, behold ye know that I have spoken unto you exceedingly many things. (2 Nephi 6:2)
Jacob respected Nephi for his righteousness too.

Next we see some characterization of the 2,000 stripling warriors.
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. (Alma 56:47)
Their respect for father’s liberty and mother’s teaching was based on their parents’ personal righteousness.
Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them. (Alma 57:21)
The stripling warriors respected Helaman the prophet so much that they tried to do exactly what he said. Because of their careful obedience, it is obvious that he respected them just as much. All of this respect was based on personal righteousness.

Next we have Joseph Smith’s account of after the angel Moroni told him about the plates.
49 The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.
50 I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there. (JSH 1:49-50)
To obey the angel by telling his father, Joseph must have respected his father’s personal righteousness. And his father must have had a certain amount of respect for Joseph too, since he believed him.

Not only must our families be built and maintained on the principle of respect (among other things), it must be the right kind of respect.


Heather M. Collins said...

"What types of respect do you give yourself?"

Aye, there's the rub.

Thanks for the reminder. Because when that piece is out of place, at least for me, none of the rest fall into place.

Montserrat said...

I LOVE how you talk about respecting a person's divine nature, especially "reaffirming the necessary complementary nature of male and female in procreation and raising a family." It truly is empowering in the eternal scheme of things!

Priceless Heritage said...

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. It is always good to have respect in your families;