The D&C Sunday school lesson 45 on the Proclamation on the Family has this statement that marriage and family are “ordained of God” and “central to [His] plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
The manual asks this question – “Why is the family central to God’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children?” And central is a curious word to use. Why is the family central and not the Atonement?
I think the statement is not talking about the gospel, or the mechanics of how we are redeemed. It is actually assuming the Atonement is used as it should be. It talks about what is central to God’s plan for our eternal destiny—what we’ll be and do in the eternities if we follow the plan. So why is marriage & family central?
There’s a scripture reference to D&C 131:1-4
1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.
So marriage is essential to obtain that highest degree, to become like God. When you think about it, it is amazing that we have the opportunity to enter that divine order here in mortality and begin here to learn the lessons of unity and oneness for eternity.
With such an opportunity available, no wonder it is important to work to preserve marriage as an institution in society. We want it to remain in good repute so that people will still want to marry, in hopes that they will be drawn to make their unions eternal. Marriage is a celestial goal.
And having a family, having children is how the Father’s plan for the progression of His children is continued. We want children to come to married parents, male and female, so they can learn by example the social skills and expectations necessary for harmonious families and good marriages. There isn’t much opportunity besides childhood for seeing the raw inside of how marriage and family works. We want as many children as possible to learn about good marriages from watching them close-up.