Multi-Faith Religious Symposium “The Role of the Family in God’s Plan”

Multi-Faith Religious Symposium “The Role of the Family in God’s Plan”

A Multi-Faith Symposium sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss “The Role of the Family in God’s Plan” was held Saturday, July 2 2016, in the Christiansborg Stake Center.

The Symposium was presented in a panel format consisting of five religious leaders in the community.  Moderating the discussion was the Rt. Rev. Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn, President of the Lutheran Church of Ghana.  He was joined by  Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, General Secretary of the Asante Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Nana Essi Nissin VII, Nyimfahemaa of Ekumfi Traditional Area, Shiek H Aremq’ aw’ Shaibu, spokesman for the Chief Iman of Ghana, and Elder Daniel Yirenya-Tawiah, member of the Quorum of the Seventy, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Rt. Rev. Fynn opened the discussion by thanking the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for holding this event to address the problems that society is experiencing today around the disintegration of the family unit.  He then asked each panel member to address the topic in turn.

First to speak was Nana Essi Nissin.  “Family life is a school which was founded by God himself.  It was initiated by God, established by God and hallowed by God,” and she reminded the listeners that it was God who first said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone,’ [Gen. 2:18] and that ‘a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh.’ [Matt. 19:5] “It doesn’t matter if you initiated the marriage, it is instituted by God and as a school institution you should abide by the laid down rules and procedures of the school.” 

Nana Essi Nissin also told us that, “from the [perspective] of a woman, I just want to say and emphasize this, that as it says in the Bible that ‘he who finds wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.’ [Pro. 18:22]   And so women, if you become a wife and it is a favour, you are in God’s institution and as such should live in the institution as it has been laid down by the founder, God himself.”

 In conclusion, Nana Essi Nissin stated that the examples of Eve, Ruth, Esther, Haggar, Martha and Mary have taught us how to live within the confines of God’s institution and that we should follow their precedence laid down in the school to establish a faithful, fruitful and mature family life. 

Next to speak was Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong who decried the increasing violence in the world today.  He emphasized that we must pursue our common humanity before reducing each other to just a religion, gender or ethnicity.   He told us that family values must be nurtured in all religions and that we need religion to unite us. 

Another idea he expressed was that God uses families as channels of blessings and whenever God is going to bless us He uses a well-nurtured instrument who has been prepared by good parents.  Parents with sound morality must train up the child to be responsible, obedient and know how to respect others.  Young people should be trained to work hard and have a good work ethic, and not become the kind of the people who “go into service and leave their values behind; education without moral values just creates intelligent criminals.”

“If you dismantle the family you hurt and dismantle society,” Shiek H Aremq’ aw’ Shaibu told the audience.  He approved of the topic “The Role of the Family in the Plan of God” because it reminded us that God has a plan and without it he would be a purposeless God.  The existence of God is evident in his creations by the well-planned beauty and purpose we see in all things.  The family is part of God’s plan for man; family is society in microcosm. 

Another point he made was that the excessive pursuit of material things in life erode the family. He related a time in his life when he was required to work late at night and was distressed when he would walk home and see children out on the streets.  Because the family is part of God’s plan there is something of holiness in it and if you inculcate the fear of God in discipline then your family will be enhanced. He concludes by telling us, “You are all shepherds to your family and each one of you stands accountable before God as to how you tend your flock.”

The final speaker was Elder Daniel Yirenya-Tawiah who began by stating that the family is the basic unit of society, and provides a way for God’s children to learn on Earth.  Twenty-one years ago the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued The Family:  A Proclamation to the World that states the principles by which we should pattern our family.  It emphasizes the need for mutual respect, and that parents have the responsibility to love one another and work to create an environment in which children can be nurtured and taught morals and values. The family should become a societal protective organization and the when the family functions the way God has planned society will be protected.  Children will have a better understanding of who they are and how they should relate to others, and they have a better orientation as they make the choices they face on a daily basis.

Elder Yirenya-Tawiah gave three main points which are the basis for the family in society.  First, that we are all brothers and sisters, created by God before we came to earth.  Second, we are all equal and each of us has come through a father and mother and are part of the basic unit of society – a family. Third, fathers and mothers should raise and teach children that they are children of God, and that they have a purpose and they can be protected through living the principles He has given us.

Following Elder Yirenya-Tawiah’s remarks, members of the audience were invited to come forward and ask questions about issues they would like the panel members to discuss.  These included such topics as inter-faith marriages, how should the decision to marry be balanced with education and career, and traditions of marriage. Among the responses given were that there should be a balance between work, education and the family which can best be found by defining priorities and establishing values, and single life is the best time to learn to know what, when and why you do what you do.  Rt. Rev. Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn addressed the marriage tradition question by stating that in his opinion, the idea that you “give” a bride away is a wrong concept, and that in marriage we should never think of a spouse as a possession. When his daughter was married the only bride price he asked of her future husband was that he treat her with kindness and respect, and, with a chuckle, warned him that if he ever beat her, he would come and take her back.

He concluded the symposium with some core ideas. First, the family breakdown has come from a loss of mutual respect which we must regain.  Second, we should not define each other only by our religion.  We are people with many characteristics and we should accept each other in all of our diversity.  Third, education should be morally and spiritually based, and lastly, that we need to re-establish our values that have been lost due to spiritual neglect.

The evening was well-received by the audience and many in attendance expressed the hope that another symposium be held sometime in the future.