I think there are many doctrines that we come to take for granted with our membership in the Church. Probably the most foundational and basic doctrine is the knowledge that we are children of our father in Heaven. Yet, this knowledge–that any primary child could recite–has been one of the most elusive pieces of knowledge in human history. Throughout the centuries, God has been seen as mercurial, distant and even hateful rather than loving. And in modern times many believe that God is either completely detached from human affairs or simply a myth.
In the April 1973 conference, Elder Marrion G. Romney spoke about the importance of understanding that we are in fact children of God:
“The truth I desire to emphasize today is that we mortals are in very deed the literal offspring of God. If men understood, believed, and accepted this truth and lived by it, our sick and dying society would be reformed and redeemed, and men would have peace here and now and eternal joy in the hereafter.”
This is an incredible promise! Societal reform and redemption! Peace! Eternal life! Elder Romney promises that all of these things will flow if we develop a correct understanding of God.
Why is this so? I believe that knowing God changes the way we see ourselves and others. If we understand our divine parentage, then we will not do anything contrary to that nature. And we will believe in our own limitless potential. If we understand that others are also children of God, then we will love with a purer and greater love. And we will believe in others.
Knowing we are offspring of God will change behavior more than anything else can. “The aspirations, desires, and motivations of one who accepts, believes, and by the power of the Holy Spirit obtains a witness to the truth that he is a begotten son or daughter unto God differs from the aspirations of him who believes otherwise, as the growing vine differs from the severed branch.” And ultimately it is truly knowing God that will lead us back to him.