mother father and kid

3 Indispensable Truths—Gender, Families, and Identity

The Family: A Proclamation to the World,[1] revealed in 1995, is both inspired and prophetic. The proclamation gives “pure testimony” in a way that pulls down the “craftiness” (Alma 4:19) of society. The proclamation is not full of “fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14) nor does it conform to societies’ standards or so-called political correctness, rather it contains “pure testimony” (Alma 4:19). Simply put, the proclamation is scripture, the word of the Lord (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4), and it focuses upon families and our eternal, spiritual identities. 

Among other things, within the proclamation, prophets and apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly and concisely discuss gender and gender identity. I don’t remember gender identity being such a serious issue until the last several years as Satan has gained momentum in his attempt to rationalize, confuse, and destroy the emotional and physical natures of men and women—our gender, our eternal identities, the very thing that allows mortal life to continue.

Receiving a body is an essential part of the plan of salvation, and men and women must be together as joint creators with God in making life. Isn’t it obvious that Satan can hamper and thwart bringing spirit children to earth simply by confusing the very thing that allows children to be born, by confusing gender identity and everything that goes along with it? 

Additionally, in a world full of “hooking up” and “Sex in the City,” the proclamation is clear that “the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” and gives specific warnings for those who violate these and other critically moral standards.

Moreover, the proclamation gives us knowledge—certain and sure knowledge from those who are “special witnesses” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23)—of our true identities as sons and daughters of loving Heavenly Parents.

Where else but in the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is heavenly parenting mentioned so fundamentally and without apology? I would argue nowhere. We are divine offspring of divine Parenthood. The proclamation states, in part, that “each [of us] has a divine nature and destiny.” We are all “gods in embryo.”[2] Even the Bible states “[we] are gods; and [each] of [us] are children of the most High” (Psalm 82:6).

Teaching our children their true identity can help preserve them from evils and lead them from temptation. For instance, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson once taught General Authorities how they, as leaders, could best help those struggling with pornography; he simply said, “Teach them their identity and their purpose.”[3] But there is more than just leading our children away from sin and temptation. 

The proclamation further clarifies the roles of man and woman in marriage and infers that sexual intimacy between husband and wife is approved by God, and that sex is a “divinely appointed” means for bringing children into the world. That means the innate, biological urges and desires we possess are not bad or evil. Passionate desires are natural. It is normal to have feelings of sexual longing. However, we need to keep certain moral bounds upon those feelings.

While we can have those feelings, we ought to “bridle all [our] passions” (Alma 38:12) and save them for special times, places, and special people. As we behave within these healthy bounds, the promise is that we “may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12); the kind of love that is emotionally and spiritually fulfilling; the kind of love that would enable us to stand with confidence “in the presence of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45).

Additionally, armed with the knowledge that we are each children of loving Heavenly Parents, as outlined in the Family: A Proclamation to the World, will allow us to go through life in a significantly different way than those who do not have that knowledge or who reject these fundamental truths.

What a blessing it is to teach our children who they really are and what and who they really can become. We can look at them and upon one another anew. We can see our children, our spouses, our neighbors, and even our enemies as children of God. Likewise, we can see ourselves in the same light. Thankfully, the proclamation has helped me to gain a more perfect understanding of gender identity, relationships, and the role families play in what has been described as “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). Reading it can undoubtedly help comfort and teach you, too.

The opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author, Jeffrey Denning, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[1] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

[2] Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, 1969, 173.

[3] Tad R. Callister, BYU devotional, “Identity and Destiny,” Aug. 14, 2012.)

Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey has written award-winning articles for the Washington Times,, and other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD. He teaches courses on peer support, suicide prevention, and other mental wellness and resilience to public safety professionals. If you would like Jeff to speak at your event or training please contact him HERE.

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