“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.” Boyd K. Packer
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What would happen if we took Elder Packer’s keen insight seriously in the family arena? What would happen if we tried to solve family problems with doctrinal study? Perhaps parenting and marriage guides would teach more doctrine and have fewer hints and checklists. Perhaps families would involve Christ more in their everyday doings. Perhaps imperfect psychology would be displaced by divine love. Perhaps the power of Christ would prevent and heal troublesome wounds.
For those reasons, one of my most highly recommended family books is focused on the atonement. I say with Jacob: “Why not speak of the atonement of Christ?” (Jacob 4:12). Perhaps there is no resource that is so badly under-utilized in family life as the doctrine of the atonement. His sacrifice makes redemption possible. His love gives us hope. His teachings and example show us the way.
For many years Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson has been an LDS bestseller. For that reason it may seem gratuitous to recommend the book now. Yet I do. I recommend that those who have not read it, read it promptly. For those who have read the book, I recommend a re-reading with family relationships in mind.
When I listen to the tape of the book while traveling the state of Arkansas, I find myself wanting to be a better husband, father, and grandfather. I want to be more like Jesus-loving and blessing all those within my reach. I have read the book or listened to the tape of the book over twenty times. I estimate that I will be a pretty good family member if I can get to about 200 times.
Of course I do not recommend the book above scripture. In fact I recommend it because it brings new light and appreciation to my reading of the scriptures. I recommend it because it can send us back to the scriptures appreciating the great doctrine of redemption. When we are filled with the doctrine of divine goodness, we are better family members.
In fact I am currently working on an atonement marriage program. I believe that the doctrine of the atonement can enrich family life unimaginably. When I am truly at one with Christ, then I can be joyously at one with my dear wife and beloved family. Reconciliation or at-one-ment does not come readily in mortality. But He, the great giver of Life, can make us one with Him and within families.
Stephen E. Robinson (1992). Believing Christ. SLC, UT: Deseret Book.