Once the ballots are counted and in, the spotlight turns off and the players leave the political stage, the audience goes home. We tend to remember the winner and the loser fades back into the fabric of society, not leaving much of a mark. But Mitt Romney is different. The two-time presidential hopeful who never won the White House seat shows that you don’t need the title to make a difference and be remembered. “Mormon” Mitt Romney—his nickname because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church—left his mark on the political and national scene. He fought a clean campaign fight (which is difficult to do today!) and conceded with grace. And in his recently released Netflix film “Mitt,” he showed that he is indeed human (and Mormon). We can see how the faith of the self-proclaimed “flippin’ Mormon” influences his decisions, values, priorities, everyday life and his family. Above all, the family is the overarching theme of this movie. It’s a subtle, natural theme of Mitt Romney’s everyday life—and of Mormonism in general.

 

The Importance of Family

 

It’s no coincidence that the Netflix movie shows Mitt Romney’s campaign journey through the eyes of his family. In The Church of Jesus Christ, families are important. Elder Neil L. Anderson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ), said, “We believe in families, and we believe in children. … The family is ordained of God. Families are central to our Heavenly Father’s plan here on earth and through the eternities.” [1] In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared:

 

The Family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

The Romney family—Mitt and his wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren—exemplify this. They have fun together, they work together. It’s a natural unity that isn’t forced, it’s just how they live. Elder L. Tom Perry, a, Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. Families lie at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan. [2]

 

Mitt Romney might have been the person in the spotlight, but his family was always there to support him.

 

Mormon Families Counsel Together

 

One of the keys to successful families is a family council. Communication is important in any relationship, and a family council is when family members counsel together. Elder M. Russell Ballard, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

 

There has never been a time when the world was in greater need of the strength and security that are best sown and cultivated in the deep, fertile soil of family love. The family is under heavy attack from antagonists bent on extinguishing this powerful source of light in a darkening world. Successful families have a wide assortment of tools, and one of the most useful tools is the family council. …

Whenever there are two or more members of a family together and a discussion is going on, that is a council! Family councils can be held in one-on-one talks between a parent and a child or among parents and several children. When a husband and wife talk to each other, they are holding a family council. [3]

 

There is a scene at the beginning of the movie that is very familiar to Latter-day Saints: the family council. Mitt and his family sit down for a family meeting to discuss whether he should make a bid for the White House. Together, they make a list of pros and cons. This decision will affect the entire family—so they are all involved in the discussion. Ultimately, Mitt and Ann Romney’s votes will be the ones that count. While this meeting may seem contrived to some people, many members of The Church of Jesus Christ can relate. Elder Ballard explained:

 

In a family council we talk about the needs of the family and the needs of individual members of the family. It is a time to solve problems, make family decisions, plan day-to-day and long-range family activities and goals. It is a time to share one another’s burdens and joys and counsel together, to keep each family member on the right track spiritually. It is the time when we discuss family matters…. [3]

 

When family members get together to discuss problems, solutions and decisions, it strengthens the family bonds. Whether families are planning a vacation, solving a problem at home or deciding whether the patriarch should campaign for president of the United States, family councils bring families together.

 

Husbands, Take Care of Your Wives

 

In The Church of Jesus Christ, husbands and wives are equal partners before the Lord. The scriptures teach, “Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

 

I know what it means to have God say to Adam that everything he had and everything that was done up to that point in the Creation was not enough, not sufficient, not complete. No, the crowning act of Creation was the creation of a woman. That is true in my life, and I think it’s true in all the annals of eternity. … It [is] the women in our lives who have saved our hopes and encouraged our dreams. [4]

 

This is true in the Romney family. Ann Romney is devoted not only to her husband, but to his dreams. She is by his side throughout his journey. Elder Holland also said:

 

One of the great purposes of true love is to help each other. We can endure almost anything if we have someone at our side who truly loves us, who is easing the burden and lightening the load. … Love is a fragile thing, and some elements in life can try to break it. Much damage can be done if we are not in tender hands, caring hands. To give ourselves totally to another person, as we do in marriage, is the most trusting step we take in any human relationship….

It is a real act of faith—faith all of us must be willing to exercise. If we do it right, we end up sharing everything—all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses, and all our joys—with another person. True love blooms when we care more about another person than we care about ourselves. [4]

 

During Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, much was made of his wealth—especially the “car elevator” in his garage. His response to that criticism, in the film, is very telling: “It’s for my wife.” Ann Romney has Multiple Sclerosis. It is the true demonstration of love: doing what you can to ease your wife’s burdens. Elder David A. Bednar, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

 

We should remember that saying ‘I love you’ is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love. [4]

 

True expressions of love are the things that husbands do to make life easier for their wives, and vice versa. Sometimes they are little acts of kindness, and sometimes they’re big, but they always mean a lot to the other person.

 

Duty to God and Family

 

Mormon Family Mitt Romney

Followers of Jesus Christ believe they have a duty to God, to their family and to their country. The Romney family is no exception. During the family meeting to decide whether Mitt Romney should campaign for president, his son Tagg said told of an experience with his grandpa, George W. Romney—Mitt’s father who was the governor of Michigan from 1963-1969 and made his own White House bid in the 1960s. Tagg asked if he should get into politics and his grandpa said, “Don’t do it.” Then Tagg told his father:

 

You have an opportunity as a result of many things that were beyond your control to run, that it would be a shame not to at least try. And if you don’t win, we’ll still love you. The country may think of you as a laughingstock and we’ll know the truth. And that’s OK. But I think you have a duty to your country and to God to see what comes of it.

 

As believers, our duty to God is as personal as our faith and trust in Him. For Mitt Romney, his duty to God and country was to campaign for president of the United States. Not for the honor of men, but for the good of the nation. Our duty is to do our best to serve our God, our country and our family in whatever we are asked to do. Some call his campaign a failure because he didn’t win the White House. But this isn’t the true measure of success. The true measure of success is how you played the game. Were you a poor winner or a gracious loser? Were you a sore loser or a gracious winner? In the end, I believe that Mitt Romney ran a clean campaign. He stood up for family values and campaigned on his own merits—without villainizing his opponents. In the movie, Mitt Romney said something to the effect of: The greatest source of wealth in this life is your association with others. President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ, said:

 

The actions whereby we demonstrate that we truly do love God and our neighbor as ourselves will rarely be such as to attract the gaze and admiration of the world. Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day associations with one other. [5]

 

But Mitt Romney had a very public opportunity to demonstrate his love of God and neighbor as he campaigned for the president of the United States. He followed the words of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, who said:

 

… When believers promote their positions in the public square, they should always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of those who do not share their beliefs. Believers must always speak with love and show patience, understanding, and compassion toward their adversaries. Christian believers are under command to love their neighbors (see Luke 10:27) and to forgive (see Matthew 18:21–35). They should also remember the Savior’s teaching to “bless them that curse [them], do good to them that hate [them], and pray for them which despitefully use [them], and persecute [them]” (Matthew 5:44). [6]

 

After two presidential runs that didn’t lead to the White House, Mitt Romney says he won’t run again. Others apparently are trying to get him to change his mind. But in the end, it’s refreshing that in today’s world where we only show our good side, we got the see the human side of Mitt Romney. And we can see how the teachings of Jesus Christ influence his decisions, his values and his behavior toward others.

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