The heavy cultural conditioning has many thrown into a a false dichotomy, either-or situation and perspective that one has to constantly choose between family and church, that one of the two must have top priority or be subordinate to the other. This is not so. As we come unto Christ and make God’s plan the center of our lives, we begin to see more clearly that it’s not an issue at all. We don’t have to feel guilty in one direction or another when we talk about time allocation or devotion/priority.
“There is absolutely no separation of the Church and the family. Other than the individual soul, the family is the basic organizational unit in the Church.” God saves souls not churches.
President Harold B. Lee taught the ward and stake organization represents the “scaffolding,” for us to build our own basic unit of God’s plan, the family.
Again and again has been repeated the statement that the home is the basis of a righteous life. With new and badly needed emphasis on the “how,” we must not lose sight of the “why” we are so engaged. The priesthood programs operate in support of the home, the auxiliary programs render valuable assistance. Wise regional leadership can help us do our share in attaining God’s overarching purpose “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1: 39.) Both the revelations of God and the learning of men tell us how crucial the home is in shaping the individual’s total life experience. You must have been impressed that running through all that has been said in this conference has been the urgency of impressing the importance of better teaching and greater parental responsibility in the home. Much of what we do organizationally, then, is scaffolding, as we seek to build the individual, and we must not mistake the scaffolding for the soul. (Conference Report, October 1967, page 107.)
The purpose of the “scaffolding” is to assist the family to live a life founded upon the gospel and the rock of revelation; also, to contribute through the priesthood correlation which takes place on the scaffolding—at the ward, the stake, the region, the area, and the general level—to bring the gospel to our Heavenly Father’s other children, both living and dead, so that they too can have the blessings of family exaltation. The Church and the family are so interrelated that a person cannot be an effective worker and a leader on the scaffolding unless he has first dedicated himself to the family role—husband and father, wife and mother, son and brother, or daughter and sister.
Most of us are culturally programmed to think of the Church as being either (1) the ward or branch building where local meetings and programs take place or (2) the various levels of organization within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints other than the fundamental unit of the family. Our very semantics or word definitions contribute to that same connotation, and as we constantly use this language through daily and weekly repetition, Church members come to think in terms of two institutions: the Church and the family. They compartmentalize; they dichotomize; and the center of their life becomes essentially a composite of Church and family. The result of all this is that many times we give lip service to statements like President McKay’s
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home” or
President Lee’s “The most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”
We even preach these ideas over the pulpit, but when it comes down to day-to-day thinking, decision making, and acting, many people unwittingly fall right into the thinking of that false dichotomy or conflicting value system.
But as a person becomes God/ Christ-centered, that is, has “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2: 16), the issue takes on a totally different appearance. As he looks at it, it literally dissolves. It never becomes a matter of which to put first, the family or the Church. The answer is always to put God first and to let him reveal what, at that particular moment, is to come second or next.
The Divine Center, Stephen Covey, pg. 103