The Book of Mormon in the “Real World”: An Answer for Apathy in the Church

by James F. Stoddard III

shutterstock_188251433There I was, 1996 and fresh out of BYU, teaching high school history, government and PE in Northern Arizona to students who couldn’t care less about the subject material.  It was culture shock after years at BYU and teaching motivated new missionaries at the Missionary Training Center.  How could I reach these students?  Even in the PE class students wanted only to sit on the side and talk with friends.  I tried everything—games, activities, video clips—all with limited success.  Then an idea came.  Most of the families in the area were deeply affected by a federal land grab.  As a class we started watching news clips and discussing historical and governmental principles directly relating to the “real world”; suddenly, every student was engaged—finally, an idea that worked!  This was their world. Apathy is not only a problem in public schools, apathetic feelings plague the Church.  Elder M. Russell Ballard explained on Bloomberg Television, “. . . one of the greatest problems that we have in the Church is the total—not total—but the extreme apathy—indifference.” 1 President Gordon B. Hinckley also commented on this spirit of indifference:

. . . it is the age of utter mediocrity.  . . . in this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. 2

Our youth want something to sink their teeth into. They want truth that applies to the “real world.”

I think most of us know that we must rise above this apathy, this indifference, but how?  How do we help the youth, or even those much older overcome apathy? Currently, unemployed high school students spend on average 0.1 hours/day in religious/spiritual/volunteer activity. 3 Why has our nation and our Church become apathetic to faith?  Heartbreak among even the best mothers and fathers is becoming near universal as parents struggle to instill in the hearts of their children a passion or even an interest in the Gospel.  How can we encourage our children or grandchildren to love the scriptures and help them to truly care?

Activities and programs are the popular remedy, but superficial remedies generally fail as the Church can never compete with the world in terms of pleasure. The world is always going to be more “fun”, more wild and provide more amusement than Gospel centered activities. When I taught high school and seminary, I learned early that the best way to engage students in the material was using current events. I used news clips and magazine articles—real world events—to show students that history, government and other courses applied to their “real” world. Could this approach also work for the Gospel? How does the Gospel directly apply to life? Should we be surprised that the Book of Mormon, the most correct of any book on earth, was written with this precise end in mind? President Hinckley taught:

The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems. 4

I believe that one answer to the extreme apathy in the Church has been staring us in the face. We have had the Book of Mormon for 185 years, but prophets have taught that we have not been using it as the Lord intended. 5 How would apathy change if we straightforwardly applied the Book of Mormon message to our day, to our situation? But does the Book of Mormon speak directly of the United States and the issues that we face as twenty-first century Americans?

Book of Mormon Geography and the Doctrines of Salvation

a4326136e5479dcd4f1321f4c4d93763When Elder Bruce R. McConkie compiled some of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s essential teachings into a set of three volumes, he helped fill a void which had long existed in the Church.  Doctrines of Salvation contains a vital compilation of “answers . . . to gospel questions frequently asked, but seldom answered with the authoritative finality of the oracles of God.” 6  As the preface to Volume 1 states, “Joseph Fielding Smith is the leading gospel scholar and the greatest doctrinal teacher of this generation.  Few men in this dispensation have approached him in gospel knowledge or surpassed him in spiritual insight.”  Not surprisingly, Doctrines of Salvation focuses on the most critical doctrines pertaining to our individual salvation.

Salvation being the purpose of the work, one section has often confused and bewildered readers.  Tucked among sections on Priesthood, Signs of the Times and Israelite covenants is a chapter dedicated to the Hill Cumorah! Upon closer count, at least 12 pages are dedicated to Book of Mormon geography, specifically detailing the one and only location of the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York.

Why in a work entitled Doctrines of Salvation, a work dedicated to the principles and doctrines necessary for salvation, is the physical location of the Book of Mormon discussed or even mentioned?  What does Book of Mormon geography have to do with the doctrines of salvation?  President Smith and Elder McConkie apparently understood a significant connection.

This question puzzled me as a child and later as an adult.  However, I left the door open.  Someday I hoped to understand why Book of Mormon geography held such weight for these prophets of God.

bom-youth-apathy-scripturesYears later a clue came when studying the latter-day Signs of the Times, in particular the list compiled by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine.  I was struck that at least 20 of Elder McConkie’s 51 Signs of the Times occurred in, or were directly tied to the United States of America.  Some regard the signs of the last days in a dreamy, vague, surreal way.  On the contrary, these signs are clearly discernible, literal, physical events.  The “real world” if you will.

Could understanding the correct location of Book of Mormon geography be essential to correctly interpreting the latter-day Signs of the Times?  Could understanding Book of Mormon geography and correctly identifying the Promised Land of America be essential to preparing for the Second Coming of Christ?  Could these teachings deter apathy in the Church?

What if we stepped through the Book of Mormon history and paralleled it with Elder McConkie’s 51 latter-day Signs of the Times?  Even more, what if we could find these 51 Signs of the Times foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon chronology in the correct sequence?  To this day the chronology and even reality of the Signs of the Times is debated.  Are they literal or figurative?  Where and when did, or will, they take place?  Who was, or will be,  involved?  In the end there have been more questions than answers.  Does the Book of Mormon, the most correct book on earth, hold the key to unlocking the most important “real world” questions confronting us as latter-day saints?

51 Signs of the Times

We will commence with the earliest latter-day Signs of the Times and parallel each sign with corresponding events in the Book of Mormon.


Because of the wickedness of the people and the persecution of an apostate church, faithful saints suffer oppression for living the commandments of God.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Nephi and Lehi acquire Plates of Brass, c. 600 B.C.

Persecution of righteous by apostate church

Reformers translate and acquire scriptures in their mother tongue

Millions of men, women and children tortured and martyred

#1 Spirit to be poured out on all flesh

#2 Discovery and use of printing #6 Translation and printing of Bible

#3 Protestant Reformation

If the Book of Mormon genuinely parallels our day, the book must begin with a scenario very close in theme to that of the Protestant Reformation—the Reformation being the earliest sign in latter-day history.  Can we look into the early part of the Book of Mormon and find a church that has become apostate and persecutes true followers of Christ?  Do we find faithful saints struggling to acquire scripture held in the hands of this apostate church?  Do we find individuals forced to flee for their belief in the true and living God, while others are martyred?  Looking into the beginning of the Book of Mormon, this is precisely how the chronicle begins.


Righteous groups are led out from the wicked to a promised land where the freedom of worship according to conscience is possible.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Lehites/Mulekites travel to America, c. 589 B.C. Gentiles migrate to America, 1607- c. 1780

#4 Discovery and colonization of America

#17 Ten tribes to return

#19 Return of Judah to Jerusalem

Embarkation_of_the_PilgrimsThe colonization of America by righteous individuals fleeing religious persecution is another principal sign of the times in the Latter Days.  Looking into the Book of Mormon do we find a foreshadowing? The Lord desired to lead the Lehites and the Mulekites to a promised land and the tool he used was persecution.  Fast forward over two thousand years and he uses that same tool to drive the early colonists to America.  Puritans, Covenanters, Separatists, Huguenots and other groups were led by God to America in the Great Migration. Additionally, the Nephites relied upon the same legal and moral foundation as the American colonizers: the laws set forth by Moses and the prophets in the Brass Plates, on the one hand, and the laws set forth by Moses and the prophets in the Bible on the other.


The Lord inspires righteous leaders to establish a divinely sanctioned government whereby the people can worship God in liberty.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Laws of Mosiah given by hand of God, c. 92 B.C. Lord establishes U.S. Constitution, c. 1775-1787

#5 Establishment of the American Nation

#7 Establishment of US Constitution

It is no accident that the principles of the Nephite republican form of government—the Laws of Mosiah—can be found in the Constitutional law upon which this nation, the United States of America, was established. The enemies of these divinely sanctioned governments are also prophetically similar.  Do we study the Book of Mormon as the most authoritative textbook on government?


A record of scripture is translated by the gift and power of God from gold plates containing the record and warning of a fallen people who formerly inhabited America, but were destroyed when they ripened in iniquity.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Jaredite plates of gold translated by Seer, c. 121 B.C – 92 B.C. Joseph Smith translates plates of gold, 1829

#9 Coming forth of the Book of Mormon

Did Mormon foreshadow the Book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon?  Limhi sent 43 men in search of Zarahemla, but rather, this party discovered the remains of the Jaredite nation, including gold plates, swords, breastplates and dry bones. 7 These gold plates were translated by a seer, found near the hill Ramah (also known as the hill Cumorah) 8 and contained a witness and warning for the Nephite civilization. 9 The Jaredite nation and record were the witness and warning to the Nephites that the Book of Mormon is to us in our day. The 12 witnesses (3 witnesses + 8 witnesses + Joseph Smith) of the Book of Mormon were given a view of the Breastplate, Sword of Laban and the plates of gold.  They also traveled over the dry bones of the Nephites. 10 Each of the records concludes describing the destruction of the former Christian inhabitants of America in bloody confrontations near the hill Cumorah. 11


The Church of Jesus Christ is restored.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Church of Christ organized by Alma, c. 147 B.C. Church organized by Joseph Smith, 1830

#8 Latter-Day Revelation

#11 Restoration of keys and priesthood

#12 Restoration of the Gospel

#14 Church and Kingdom set up again

Did Mormon, when abridging the record, carefully select and highlight the formation of the Church of Christ in the days of Alma and Mosiah to correspond with the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation?  Does the persecution and driving into the wilderness of the Church founded by Alma foreshadow the driving and expulsion of the saints in the latter days?


A righteous prophet of God is raised up to teach the true Gospel and is martyred for teaching doctrines which had been lost including the true nature of the Godhead.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Abinadi martyred, c. 148 B.C. Prophet Joseph martyred, 1844

#10 Opposition to the Book of Mormon

#13 Messenger to precede Second Coming

#24 Persecution of the Saints

The martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith is one of the principal signs of the times in the latter days.  Was the mission of the prophet Joseph Smith foreshadowed by the mission of Abinadi?  Each restored the true Gospel lost through apostasy.  Each was miraculously preserved and each testified that his death would be a type of that to come.  Each stirred the animosity of wicked ecclesiastical leaders.  Each was placed in prison for three days and each voluntarily laid down his life.   These are a sampling of dozens of parallels between the Prophet Joseph Smith and Abinadi who were also types of Christ.


Antichrists arise preaching enticing doctrines and philosophies in direct opposition to the true Gospel of Christ and the principles of liberty upon which the freedom of the people depend.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Anti-Christs: Sherem, Nehor, Korihor and others, 91 – 74 B.C. Anti-Christs: Darwin, Freud, Dewey, Keynes and Marx, 1830-

#40 Many false churches in Latter-days

#39 Apostate darkness covers earth

The Book of Mormon contains the teachings and chronicles the ministries of men who were anti-Christ. President Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon is similar to the type we have today.  God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. 12

We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should . . . Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth. 13


Missionaries are sent at great personal sacrifice to those who have never heard the true Gospel and many thousands are converted.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Sons of Mosiah, Alma and his brethren, c. 90 B.C. Missionaries to the world, 1839-

#16 Gathering of Israel

#26 True gospel to be preached in all the world

The Book of Mormon is careful to describe in detail how Ammon teaches and later how his brother Aaron teaches.  They each begin with the Creation, then teach the Fall and the Atonement followed by the scriptures. 14 The Book of Mormon is the pattern for missionary work. The sons of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman and Nephi exemplify the work of the ministry.  Zeezrom, Corianton and others illustrate repentance and the need for purity in those called to serve.


Wicked men conspire to take away the freedoms of the righteous using treachery, murder, intrigue and carefully devised words to stir their followers to extreme hatred against religion and imagined wrongs.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Amlici, Zerahemnah, Amalickiah, Ammoron, 87 B.C. – 57 B.C. Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others, c. 1900-

#25 Persecution of the Jews

The tactics of those seeking to destroy the freedom of the Nephites in an attempt to destroy the “cause of Christians” is exposed in the Book of Mormon.   Amalickiah, Amlici and others use secret societies, propaganda campaigns and education programs to promote humanistic state worship and to submit many thousands to their rule.  Once in power they deceive the people and stir them up to anger against the liberty, lands, family order, and religion of the Nephites.  Do we recognize the parallels in our day?


Great leaders fight to preserve the liberty and lands of the people enabling the Gospel to continue to be taught and lived.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
The War Chapters of the Book of Mormon, 72-57 B.C. War is poured out upon all nations

#35 Peace taken from earth

#37 Wars and rumors of wars

The Cause of Christians or religious freedom is perhaps the primary theme of the Book of Mormon.  Nephite lands in the Book of Mormon were an asylum for the Anti-Nephi-Lehi converts to the Gospel, the escaping people of Limhi and others.  Rather than policing nations outside Nephite jurisdiction, the Nephites warmly welcomed and donated land for refugees, protecting the downtrodden.  Nephite armies were defensive rather than offensive in preserving liberty.


The Church grows as apostasy increases; the truly faithful are persecuted and the prophetic leadership strives to teach true doctrine and regulate the Church.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Thousands and tens of thousands baptized, 43 B.C. Worldwide Church growth, c. 1960-

#15 Growth of the Church

#20 Jews to begin to believe in Christ

#21 Building of Latter-day temples

#23 Spirit of Elijah and genealogical research

#43 Lamanites to blossom as the rose

The Book of Mormon speaks of astonishing Church growth and walls of separation tumbling down where the Gospel had previously been forbidden.  Church leaders struggle with difficulties associated with rapid expansion and increasing apostasy.


Miracles and revelation are rejected as religious principles are removed from society and even members of the Church become a stumbling block.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Youth rebel, God and commandments forsaken Secularization, humanization and apostasy, c. 1960-

#18 Times of Gentiles being fulfilled

#33 Latter-Day wickedness

#41 Refusal of men to believe signs of times

The Book of Mormon speaks of youth rebellion, education systems without God, redistribution of wealth, society rejecting miracles and revelation while seeking and being surrounded by demons.  It speaks of Church members rejecting true prophets while following after deceptive educators and worldly counselors.  “In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy.” 15


Free travel and free trade lead to increased prosperity and wealth including great expansion and building.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Wealth increases, free trade and travel, c. 49 B.C. – Prosperity, international trade, c. 1960-

#27 Worldly knowledge to increase

#28 Scientific and inventive progress

Those familiar with the Iron Curtain in our own day will see the parallels here.

Early in Book of Mormon history the Nephites and Lamanites divide.  This iron curtain of separation continues generation after generation despite attempts made by the Nephites to bring Gospel light to those who have never heard the truth.  The Lamanites are taught to hate Nephites; that their problems were largely the result of wrongs inflicted upon them by Nephi or his descendants.  This line of separation divided freedom of religion on the one side and a culture of idleness and hatred on the other.  Those familiar with the Iron Curtain in our own day will see the parallels here. Almost overnight the walls come down in an era of free travel and trade; an era of expansion and building with cement structures and roads.


Secret combinations become common first in the more settled parts of the land and then spread to include many of the those claiming to belong to the Church.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Judges murdered, combinations among Nephites, c. 52 B.C. Leaders/others murdered, intrigue and complicity

#32 Strikes, anarchy, violence, to increase

#24 Persecution of the Saints

In the Book of Mormon, as the Nephites move away from their righteous Christian foundation, terror and secret combinations that once existed primarily among the Lamanites, come to permeate the Nephite society.  The threat is no longer in foreign lands; it is among the Nephites and even Church membership.  Among both political and religious leaders.  Youth and others flock to growing robber bands, becoming a threat to formal government. Finally, the Nephite republican government, which parallels our own constitutional republic, is destroyed by a secret combination and the people divide into tribes.


Many physical signs are seen in the heavens and the earth including famine, earthquake, stars in the heavens, lightning and darkness.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Earthquakes, fire, famine, flood, slippery treasures, 32 A.D. Earthquakes, fire, famine, flood, economic instability

#29 Disease, plague, pestilence to sweep earth

#30 Elements in commotion

#31 Disasters and calamities to abound

#36 Angels now reaping the earth #38 Famines, depressions, and economic turmoil

#42 Signs on Earth and in Heavens

Every physical sign recorded in the Book of Mormon is also a Sign of the Times in the latter days.

Every physical sign recorded in the Book of Mormon is also a Sign of the Times in the latter days.  Some of these include famine, earthquake, pestilence and the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.  Other signs include treasures slipping from the hands of those whose hearts are upon them.  In our day fortunes are gained or lost in a day as markets fluctuate and the judgements of God increasingly stare us in the face.


The more righteous gather in and the wicked are destroyed to prepare the way for the Coming of the Son of God.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Righteous gather, more wicked destroyed, 3 – 34 A.D. Saints gather, destruction poured out

#34 Spirit ceasing to strive with wicked

#44 The gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman

#45 Final Great War to attend Second Coming

#46 Sorrow and fear precede and accompany Second Coming

#47 Fall of the great and abominable church

#49 Wicked to be burned as stubble

In the Book of Mormon the more righteous are preserved from physical judgements while the more wicked are destroyed.  The more wicked are those who had rejected and cast out the prophets and saints living primarily in the population centers of the land.


The righteous are resurrected.  Christ comes to His people, heals the sick, reestablishes His Church and expounds all things.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
Christ comes to Nephites, 34 A.D. Second Coming of Christ

#22 Lord to come suddenly to Temple

shutterstock_190170518In the Book of Mormon, the coming of the resurrected Christ to the Nephites, is the central event.  This event was spoken of and anticipated throughout their history.  In our own day, we are focused on preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ. The righteous are instructed to watch carefully for the signs, indicating the time is near.   Parallels between the coming of Christ to the Nephites and the Second Coming include: the gathering of the remnant, the Savior coming in the clouds of heaven, multitudes falling to the earth, men and women gazing upon the nail-prints in the Savior’s hands and feet, Christ’s teachings transcending the law, healing of the sick, visitations of angels, resurrections and sacrament ordinances overseen by the Son of God.


All eventually are converted to the true Gospel and become partakers of the Heavenly Gift.  The cities are rebuilt and a great period of peace continues for several generations.

Book of Mormon Signs of the Times
~200 years of Peace ~1000 years of Peace

#50 Final restitution of all things to be completed

#51 Christ to reign personally upon earth

Following the destruction, the Savior descends from heaven and comes to His temple.  His coming ushers in the beginning of a lasting period of peace.  If each phrase from the end of 3rd Nephi through 4th Nephi is carefully compared with prophecies of the Millenium the foreshadowing is unmistakable.  Some of these include: all things common, universal missionary work, the coming forth of hidden scriptures, people multiplying to fill the land, the rebuilding of cities and an end of contention.


shutterstock_68364532In sharing this critical message paralleling latter-day Signs of the Times alongside Book of Mormon chronology with thousands of latter-day saints I have been fascinated by common responses.  The feedback of all ages including the youth, the middle aged and the elderly generally includes at least one of these themes:

  1. The individual is inspired to carefully study the Book of Mormon to personally discover this parallel message;
  2. A new inclination is spawned to become more active in family, Church and community in applying the Book of Mormon message;
  3. A stronger devotion to living specific principles that apply concretely to the respondent’s personal circumstances is born;
  4. A new hunger to correctly understand the Signs of the Times and how they personally apply is given rise. I believe that each of these responses is a personal testimony that carefully applying the Book of Mormon to our day is a fundamental solution to overcoming the extreme apathy in the Church.

President Benson seemed to think so as well:

Sometimes I think we are so inclined to be complacent and to more or less take things as they are. The prophets in the Book of Mormon saw our day, and, oh, how I wish every American would read the Book of Mormon. To practically every problem that faces us as a nation today and as a people, you can find the answer in the Book of Mormon. 16

This is an earnest plea to take another look at the Book of Mormon as specifically and concretely the “most correct book on earth.”  Our young men and women were born with intelligence and a strong desire to establish Zion.  This drives them to cry for something authentic.  The Gospel is true, but when presented in an abstract, unrealistic and speculative fashion the power is lost.  Our youth want to know the truth; things as they really were, really are and really will be.  They want something to sink their teeth into.  They want truth that applies to the “real world.”

To Date or Not to Date? That is the Question.

Latter-day Courtship: A new (old) approach to dating

L. Hannah Stoddard, edited by James F. Stoddard III and L. Sarah Stoddard

We have been told that “we’ve never had a better generation of young people in the Church than we have today.” 17  Why then are we losing more to immorality than we have ever lost? 

WARNING: Do NOT read this article if you are content with contemporary society or happy with the direction this world is heading.

Date Night

It is a beautiful Friday night and the Gordon home is stirring with excitement as Sister Gordon, a wife and mother to four children, puts the final touches on her hair, makeup and evening dress.  As a car pulls to a stop in the front driveway, she swiftly gathers up her purse and flies down the stairs to greet her visitor.  Brother Gordon sits quietly on the couch, reading the evening news when the expectant knock comes.

“Why, hello, Brother Jones!  How are you?  It’s so good to see you again!” gushes Sister Gordon as she swings open the door.  Her husband, Jim, comes over to shake the visitor’s hand.

“Always good to visit your home again!  Thank you, Jim, for sparing your wife for a night.  I have a wonderful night planned and it will be great to catch up on life!”

“There is no one I can think of whom I would rather see her with, besides myself of course.” Jim chuckles, “Try not to be out too late sweetheart and enjoy your evening!” and with a parting kiss, Jim waves goodbye as his wife and Brother Jones go out, hand in hand, for an entertaining evening.

Is Dating logical?

801380_47406908I hope as you read this short scene, you felt uncomfortable. What was a married woman with four children and a seemingly strong marriage thinking to go out with the husband of another woman? Granted, they were “just friends”. Sister Gordon and Brother Jones were capable adults with years of world experience. They were not in love and there were no serious intentions. They just wanted to have a good time and get to know one another better.

If this scene were to be reenacted in real life, it would certainly raise some eyebrows and gasps. Why? Because it isn’t worth the risk. For a married woman to deliberately place herself in a position which could potentially wreak havoc on her marriage (with or without her husband’s approval) would be unwise. Whether or not a man or woman are friends, strangers or co-laborers, if the individual is married it is generally understood in the Church that “going out” with someone else, someone other than his or her spouse, is unthinkable.

This discussion begs the following question:  if it is considered wrong for a married individual to date other friends, (though they are not “in love”, have years of world experience and know the clear expectations and boundaries for their interaction) why is it considered normal for single young men and women?  What could possibly induce us to allow two young adults, head over heels in love or at least attracted to one another, with no experience, no commitments and only a few clear expectations and boundaries, to engage in activity we would shun for married adults?  To varying degrees, we place a watchful eye over married men and women to ensure that they safeguard their hearts.  We encourage them to purify and strengthen their marriage.  Why are young adults exempt from this same care?  Note the inconsistencies in our modern approach:

Married Man or women Teenager or Young Adult
Not in “love”, already have a spouse In love, a “crush” or at least an attraction
Years of world experience No experience
Possible maturity No chance to have gained wisdom from age
Clearly understand that this is only “fun” Intentions range from “fun” to serious relationship
NO DATING! DATING OK! (even encouraged)

We encourage the youth to go out and experience life without true restraint, without true precaution, and then we are shocked when some or even many of these “fine” youth succumb to the flesh and make tragic and “serious” mistakes.

Disturbing Statistics

In spite of the logical arguments, we could possibly make some exceptions if the dating system had positive data to strengthen its argument.  Instead we see relationships with no intended commitment, young men who don’t want to grow up, women who are not constant, increasing struggles with pornography and fornication, skyrocketing divorce, broken hearts, ruined friendships, jealousy, wasted time over “who likes who” and the list goes on.  As one married father once told me, “crushes and dating only give you baggage you really don’t want to bring into your marriage.” Statistics are revealing that the 21st century approach to relationships is failing.  Divorce rates are soaring and single adults outnumber married couples in the United States. 18 19 An even greater concern among parents today is the ever increasing threat of pornography.


Image source: Proven Men Ministries/Barna Group


I believe these are only symptoms of the real problem.  But do these trends have anything to do with the Latter-day Saints?

Unfortunately, the active LDS community is struggling as well.  We have been told that “we’ve never had a better generation of young people in the Church than we have today.” 20 Why, then, are we losing more to immorality than we have ever lost?

broken-heartStep back a century or even several decades.  If you had surveyed an LDS community, you may have found that those personally acquainted with a friend or family member who had engaged in premarital sex were an anomaly.  At the very least few would argue that youth morality has improved.  Today it is rare to find a ward without at least one case of immoral activity, abuse or children born out of wedlock.  Sometimes the problems are near universal.

One BYU professor, a friend of mine, has mentioned repeatedly that the incidence of sexual immorality on campus is significantly greater than we understand.  Considering the fact that I believe this to be a very serious issue, these comments cause great concern.

President Gordon B. Hinckley mourned:

Perhaps our greatest concern is with families. The family is falling apart all over the world. The old ties that bound together father and mother and children are breaking everywhere.  Hearts are broken, children weep.  21

Our approach to relationships is failing.  Standards are drifting, immoral behavior has become “normal” and this is sadly true for the Church as it is with the world.  But are these statistics only symptoms of the real problem?  What has changed in the past several decades to create this catastrophe?  Where did we go wrong?

35744_all_048_01-josephfPresident Joseph F. Smith prophesied that in the last days “there are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within, and the authorities need to awaken to the fact that the people should be warned unceasingly against them. As I see these, they are flattery of prominent men in the world, false education ideas, and sexual impurity.” 22  (emphasis added)

Note that in this prophecy these issues appear WITHIN, not outside, the Church.  Note also that President Smith warned that Church authorities or leadership needed to wake up to this.  It is easy to quiet an agitated conscience while criticizing the world; however, the failings within are harder to swallow.

We are now experiencing the fulfilment of President Smith’s prognosis.  How did this occur?  Something has changed, and if we continue on this road, our families, government, communities and culture will fail.

The definition of “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” 23  We will never see marriages salvaged, families strengthened or strong youth until we do something radically different.  I believe that if we return to our righteous foundations, the principles our nation and Church were founded upon, we can rebuild our civilization.

History of Dating

Could dating be a major part of the problem? Lets take a step back from societal norms and ask the simple question, “Where did the concept of dating come from?”  The answer may shock you.

courtship-marriage-292x300Mark Driscoll in his book Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions reveals:

In 1896 the word dating was introduced as lower-class slang in reference to prostitution. ‘Going on a date’ was a euphemism for paying for sex. By the early 1900s, ‘calling’ was the primary means of marrying. Calling involved a young man, a potential suitor, scheduling a time to meet a young lady in the parlor of her parents’ home in the presence of her parents. These meetings were carefully overseen by the parents. . . .

Such a process protected young people from danger (e.g., abuse, rape), ensured the involvement of the entire family in the courtship of a young woman, allowed her father to keep away the wrong kinds of young men, minimized opportunity for fornication, and kept marriage as the goal of such relationships rather than such things as cohabitation. 24

ragtime6 Notice the transition that occurred.  During the early 1900’s, anti-Christian philosophies were successfully dismantling America’s scriptural foundation.  The Bible had become myth and fairy tales.  American young women drank in women’s  magazines and romance novels in an attempt to “escape from reality”.  “Hollywood love” became the ideal and relationships became a means to satisfy the natural man.  Jazz and ragtime communicated sloppy, loose behavior.  Interaction between men and women began to become less guarded and parental wisdom and control was disregarded.  Chaperones were neglected and “steady” relationships had no commitment.   Youth were groomed for potential divorce by alternating through 10, 15, perhaps even 20 boyfriends or girlfriends before they even began to seriously consider marriage.  “Off with the old, on with the new” became the norm before and after marriage.  In short, Christian refinement and culture was being directly attacked.

By the 1920s, urbanization provided social outlets for meeting outside the home. Rather than calling at the woman’s home, singles were now able to go out together at places such as restaurants, movie theaters, and dance halls. This began to create new social networks for single people away from their homes and parents and opened up greater opportunities for such things as casual dating and inappropriate sexual contact. 25

1248011America’s Puritan legacy and multi-generational heritage of faith was abandoned for frivolous amusement and fun.  When the 1960’s rolled in, “Free love”, feminism, playboy magazines, pop music, the birth control pill and legalized abortion swept America with shocking success.  The revolution may have seemed sudden, but this new culture was merely the religion of America’s youth externalized; a religion that had been converting Americans for nearly a century.

John Lennon, of the Beatles, “imagined” a world with “no heaven or hell”, “no countries”, “nothing to kill or die for”, “no religion” and a “brotherhood of man” and he called us to join them.  Over four decades later, we have witnessed their dream (our nightmare) become a reality–political and religious principles abandoned through past cultural compromises.  Unfortunately, President Joseph F. Smith’s prophecy has come true for not only the world, but the “Latter-day Saints” as well.

Take Heart

If you are feeling discouraged, take heart.  Western civilization is failing, but we have an opportunity to rebuild.  How do we restore our families and marriages?  By a return to principle.

Emerging from the ruins of failed marriages, broken hearts and shattered dreams, a shift is beginning in how we approach pre-marriage relationships and the process of selecting a marriage companion.  Allow me to briefly touch on this new Latter-day Saint courtship approach.

Gentlemen, Ladies & Patriarchal Authority

Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and others among the early brethren of the Church were masters at family dynamics.  Their teachings can play a critical role in our return to time proven principles if we are humble enough to listen. John Taylor made the following statement from the Tabernacle in 1865.

It is usual in other ettiq2 countries, before a man can be received into society, that he must bring with him a reputation from reputable men; he is expected to have introductory letters before he can be introduced to them and associate with them, and not because he is in the shape of a man and walks on two legs. Why, baboons do that.  26

During the 18th and 19th centuries, letters of introduction set a standard when it came to friendships and acquaintances.  For instance, some believed that a “gentleman should never be introduced to a young or old lady without her permission being obtained.” 27  One etiquette manual advised young women:  “Courtesy is always to be cultivated, however, and a lady who knows her own dignity, and possesses self-respect, will not accept an introduction to a gentleman and dance with him, unless she is willing to also accept him as an acquaintance on the street. Young ladies should always preserve a modest demeanor in dancing, for it throws around them a halo of light and purity, and it does not beseem them to display the science or grace of an artiste.” 28

These statements reveal that in the past, refined men and women exercised a cautious demeanor when it came to relationships.  Influences were not taken lightly and there was a certain reserve maintained between young ladies and gentlemen.  President Taylor continues by emphasizing the father’s role in this area.

Before I should allow strangers to come into my family and mix with my wives and daughters, I should want to know who they were, where they came from, what their instincts were, and what was their moral and religious character. As a head of a family, I have a right to know these things; I have a right to know what influences are brought in and around my house, what spirits predominate there, and I have a right to know what a man’s religion is.  [Emphasis added] 29

db28c350b3938a8c9d7ddfed0e4ccb24Notice that President Taylor considers himself the judge of not only suitors who come for his daughters, but those who desire to interact as friends.  President Taylor states that he has a right first to know of these influences and second to make decisions regarding these influences.  In the Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word “right” indicates a:

Just claim; legal title; ownership; the legal power of exclusive possession and enjoyment. In hereditary monarchies, a right to the throne vests in the heir on the decease of the king . . . That which justly belongs to one.

Who endowed this authority?  The giver of all rights is God, our Heavenly Father.  The scriptures and the Brethren have clearly taught that each righteous family embodies a kingdom.  If built on Celestial principles, this Celestial Kingdom or Family Kingdom will become exalted.  This patriarchal order has been taught and emphasized by the Brethren to varying degrees throughout the years.

President John Taylor anticipated that critics of his teachings would employ a faulty understanding of agency when contending that the father lacks a legitimate right to govern his household.  “Such behavior negates agency and the right to choose!” some cry.  President Taylor responds:


“But do you not allow liberty of conscience?” Yes. You can worship what you please—a donkey or a red dog—but you must not bring that worship into my house; I do not believe in your gods, I believe in the God of Israel, in the Holy Ghost, in the spirit of truth and intelligence, and all good principles; and if you want to worship your gods, worship them somewhere else, and if anybody else wants to worship them, they can do so: you can go on to one of those mountains and worship your gods, or if you are living in a house here, you can be a worshipper of Buddha if you please; but I do not want it in my house, and I do not want the spirit that you have—the spirit of those gods, visible or invisible; I do not want their teachings, spirit, nor influences.  [Emphasis added] 30

The standard President Taylor advocated is truly remarkable.  A father who strictly monitors the attitudes, culture, media, music, books, education and friends entering his home would ultimately create a Zion culture in his home.  Sadly, true manliness and patriarchal fatherhood have been mocked and denigrated for many decades.  Due to this worldview shift, modern fathers are generally afraid to preside over their home and some wonder whether such activity is even appropriate.  This dysfunctional behavior is strongly and often frequently encouraged by overactive daughters, wives, mothers and mother-in-laws.  We seem to have forgotten the wise counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith in this regard:

It is the place of the man to stand at the head of his family and be lord of his own house, not to rule over his wife as a tyrant, neither as one who is fearful or jealous that his wife will get out of her place and prevent him from exercising his authority. It is his duty to be a man of God– for a man of God is a man of wisdom–ready at all times to obtain from the scriptures, the revelations and from on high, such instructions as are necessary for the edification and salvation of his household. 89

And on the other hand, it is the duty of the wife to be in subject to her husband at all times, not as a servant, neither as one who fears a tyrant or a master, but as one who in meekness and the love of God regards the laws and institutions of heaven [and] looks up to her husband for instruction, edification, and comfort.

“Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord, whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” — 1st Peter, 3rd 6th. 31

I find it sad that parts of this statement can be found across the Internet, but inadvertently or perhaps not so inadvertently some of the fundamental phrases have been omitted.  Before attempts to write off the Prophet’s statement as “opinion” or a reflection of his “times”, please remember the Lord Jesus Christ stated that our generation would have His word through His Latter-day servant, the Prophet Joseph Smith. 32  We would do well to consider carefully the Prophet’s counsel.

“As for me and my house

Inspired leaders have made it clear that God blesses the father who determines that “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”. 33  Fathers must remember that both parts are important.  The father must serve the Lord and he must direct his family in serving the Lord.  Each father will stand and be judged in this capacity.  Leighton-Courtship Returning to President Taylor’s counsel:

You may see people come here smiling and bowing, and very polite, and ‘won’t you let me take your daughter to a party?’  No, nor yourself either, not unless I have a mind to; I will have a say in that, for I want to know who dances with my wives and daughters, and whether they have a reputation or not, and if they have a reputation, what kind of people they are. This I have a right to do in a social capacity, independent of all religion, and I mean to do it. 34

Contemporary society seems to be a stranger to parental involvement with the associates, friends and dating companions of modern youth. It is typical for children to “let their Dad know” of their engagement after it has occurred.  I believe all parties could use some reformation.  Yet President Taylor instructs us that this is one of the father’s duties and obligations!  Fathers must not fail in this most important responsibility.

President Taylor viewed his home as a mini-country for which he would answer to God in respect to his dominion over that jurisdiction.  He viewed his role as building a dynasty that would leave a mark upon the world for good.  His children were not merely adults in training, but warriors who would restore Christ’s true order and bring perfect peace to the world.

Approaching life from this mission-oriented perspective strongly influences the focus of children as they venture into selecting their own mates and beginning their own “kingdoms”.

A Watchful Eye

Consider how a Zion society would be fostered if we moved away from the dangerous dating custom.  Instead of a “generation gap”, grandparents, fathers and mothers would be involved through the entire process of friendship, courting and eventually marriage.  President Benson warned of dangerous trends in parent-child responsibilities and obligations during the 20th century.

In a real Latter-day Saint home there is no such thing as a generation gap.  We never heard of it until a few years ago, and where did it start?  It started with some of these so-called social reformers, these do-gooders who are used as tools of the adversary to drive young people away from their parents and to get parents to let down in their responsibility to give guidance and direction to their own children. 35

Parents need to keep a watchful eye over their children as the Lord keeps a watchful eye over His children.  Can you imagine the Lord saying, “I don’t know where my children are.  They are out somewhere having a good time.”

Focused on Fun, Leisure vs. Entertainment

This Latter-day Courting approach also changes the way we look at social activity. Rather than frivolous activities focused on feeding a hunger for entertainment, these are replaced by valuable conversation and social engagements involve the entire family and occur in real life situations.  Anyone straight out of Babylon can shine on the dance floor or in a candle lit restaurant, but the true revealer of character is practical, service-oriented projects.  This real life experience can only be seen, understood or judged in the sphere of the home.  Unexpected situations and impromptu reactions allow a couple to become acquainted with the real person behind the public mask.

Along with working together in the home, activities of culture are also important in any relationship.  President Joseph F. Smith counseled:


But, you say, we must have recreation; what shall we do? Turn to domestic [home] enterprises, and to the gaining of useful knowledge of the gospel. Let the love of reading good and useful books be implanted in the hearts of the young, let them be trained to take pleasure and recreation in history, travel, biography, conversation and classic story. 36

Leisure is having a “change of pace” and balance while still being productive.  On the other hand, to be entertained is to mindlessly engage in amusement.  The word “amusement” comes from the Greek word “muse” which means to think.  Prefixing the word with “a” inverts the definition, i.e. “not to think”  Our contemporary society seems to be intoxicated with amusement, but President Smith counsels otherwise.

We should train ourselves to find pleasure in that which invigorates, not stupefies and destroys the body; that which leads upward and not down; that which brightens, not dulls and stunts the intellect; that which elevates and exalts the spirit, not that clogs and depresses it. So shall we please the Lord, enhance our own enjoyment, and save ourselves and our children from impending sins. 37

Do we really want to choose our spouse while enveloped in a spirit of indolence?  Can the Spirit of the Lord exist in such an atmosphere?  President Smith’s statement declares mindless entertainment to lead to sin, stupification and destruction.  Are these the ideals we want to found our marriages upon?  The vast majority of contemporary couples are making decisions about who they are going to marry while they have a spirit of indolence, which is the spirit of the adversary.  Sadly, these indolent activities are usually considered the “better” activities or harmless “fun”.  Other activities include watching inappropriate movies, 38 listening to irreverent music 39 and dancing in styles that have been censured by Latter-day prophets. 40  How intelligent is this?

573780_86205778 One’s character may be determined in some measure by the quality of one’s amusements. Men and women of industrious, business-like, and thoughtful habits care little for frivolous pastimes, for pleasures that are sought for their own sake. It is not easy to imagine that leading men in the Church would find any pleasure that was either inspiring or helpful at the card table; indeed the announcement that a president of a stake, bishop of a ward, or other leading official of the Church was fond of card playing would be a shock to every sense of propriety even among young people who are not seriously inclined to the duties and responsibilities of life. Such a practice would be looked upon as incompatible with the duties and responsibilities of a religious life.  41

President Joseph F. Smith and President David O. McKay have counseled that what we choose for our amusement exposes who we really are, our true character.

Tell me what amusements you like best and whether your amusements have become a ruling passion in your life, and I will tell you what you are. 42 You tell me what you think about when you do not have to think, and I’ll tell you what you are. 43

Might we not also conclude, “Tell me what leisure was chosen while searching for an eternal companion and I will tell you how inspired your decisions while courting ultimately were.”

Emotional and Physical Intimacy

A principled approach to Latter-day Courtship also establishes the importance of avoiding emotional intimacy, physical interaction (kissing, hugging, etc.) and any kind of serious relationship until there is commitment and understanding in both parties.  Commitment is marriage–before this time there is no true commitment.

President Spencer W. Kimball advised as President of the Church:

Since courtship is prelude to marriage and encourages close associations, many have convinced themselves that intimacies are legitimate—a part of the courting process. Many have cast off bridle and harness and have relaxed the restraints. 44

hand-holdingPresident Kimball advocates restraint when it comes to physical interaction.  One purpose of this restraint being to ensure that commitment is wise and completed before emotion takes over.  Among the refined classes of society in the past, hand-holding or any such demonstrations of affection were strictly avoided and purity was highly prized.  Giving yourself in any degree to someone whom you will not marry only brings heartbreak and a lifetime of regret.  Avoiding such mistakes encourages respectful friendships, productive courtships and ultimately a rewarding marriage.  President Kimball taught:

They [early apostles and prophets] included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices. . . .

The world may countenance premarital sex experiences, but the Lord and his church condemn in no uncertain terms any and every sex relationship outside of marriage. 45  [emphasis added]

Withholding closer intimacy until marriage enables a couple to keep their “head on straight” and approach their potential companion logically and objectively.

Purpose is Marriage

The purpose of a Latter-day Courtship approach, as opposed to modern dating, is marriage.  This is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make.  It must be made with inspiration.  It is a time when you need all the mental faculties you posses and when thinking clearly and rationally is imperative.   Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated “The most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority.” 46

I believe that applying these principles will move us closer to a Zion society.

Additional study resources on this topic:


Articles & Ebooks


Do We Still Believe in the Patriarchal Order?

L. Hannah Stoddard, edited by James F. Stoddard III and L. Sarah Stoddard

Do We Still Believe in the Patriarchal Order?

In our day the phrase “Patriarchal Order” provokes deep emotions, generally negative, to many members of the Church.  To a growing number the Patriarchal Order is either something of the past that we have now finally moved beyond through further light and knowledge, or to others a skeleton in the closet—a disturbing mistake.  Perhaps a large majority of members today feel that this doctrine should never have been taught or practiced.

Should we still believe in and practice the Patriarchal Order?  This article will attempt to first teach the straightforward and clear doctrine as it has been taught by inspired prophets throughout the entire history of the earth, and secondly to alleviate concerns in the hearts and minds of questioning Latter-day Saints.  The Patriarchal Order is easily contrasted with modern counterfeits.

“Unbridled Hate” for the “Patriarchal Slave-Master”

In 1969, during a period of unrest in America, a spirited dialogue occurred.  A gathering of female activists, with their leader, chanted the following exchange, as recorded by one of the participants:

“Why are we here today?” she asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replied.
“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted. 47

if-i-had-a-hammer-via-inourwordsThese women were not illiterate uncouth renegades.  These members hailed from Radcliffe, Columbia, Smith and other esteemed American universities.  They were clever, sophisticated, and most importantly, influential.  One of the women present at this meeting later wrote, “Their desire—and I witnessed it at subsequent meetings till I got pretty sick of their unbridled hate—was to tear American society apart along with the family and the ‘Patriarchal Slave-Master,’ the American husband.” 48  Years later, Americans have yet to realize how influential they were because we have not understood, or perhaps better, admitted their goal.  However, 20th and 21st century feminists were far from being the first champions of destroying the Patriarchal Order.

Destroying the Eternal Father

marx-eng3Feminism is filled with irony.  First, it did not originate from women!  In her book, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Catharine A. MacKinnon writes, “Feminism, Socialism, and Communism are one in the same, and Socialist/Communist government is the goal of feminism.” 49 Interestingly Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founders of Marxist theory, were fanatical haters of patriarchal fathers and truly feminine mothers.  This hatred was fueled by their ultimate goal: dethroning the Eternal Father, forever. 50 51 52 53 Marx stated, “Anybody who knows anything of history knows that great social transformations are impossible without the feminine ferment.” 54  His colleague Engels fumed:

The overthrow of mother-right [matriarchy] was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children. 55

The incredible fact behind these statements is that Marx and Engels, the primary fathers of Socialism, likely did more in the known history of this earth to promote the degradation of women and the servitude of mankind than any other social reformers. 56

lenin1Lenin and other communists have been expert in understanding that reaching women is key to their goals:

Unless millions of women are with us, we cannot exercise the proletarian dictatorship, cannot construct on communist lines.  We must find our way to them, we must study and try to find that way. 57

Lenin discovered this “way to them” when he said:

. . . women grow worn out in petty, monotonous household work, their strength and time dissipated and wasted, their minds growing narrow and stale, their hearts beating slowly, their will weakened . . . freedom for the woman from the old household drudgery and dependence on man.  That enables her to exercise to the full her talents and her inclinations.  The children are brought up under more favourable conditions than at home. 58

Note the deception.  Patriarchal authority has nothing to do with the drudgery of housework.   Patriarchal authority has nothing to do with creating dependence upon men.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to a person new capability, increased capacity.  The Gospel enlightens and exalts while increasing stewardship and personal ability in both men and women.

For instance, in my home my Mother does very little household cleaning and cooking; and if it were up to my Father she would do nothing a child could learn to do for him or herself.  We believe a mother should be more of a manager and less of a house maid.  This is in harmony with the principle of heaven that nothing should be done for someone that they can do for themselves.

The adversary’s great strategy is converting solutions into the problem.  Issues did and still do exist in homes across the world today.  However the Patriarchal Order is the answer, NOT the cause of the problems.

For socialists and/or feminists, the home is the arch-enemy and must be destroyed.  In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the home is meant to be modeled after, a type of, our Heavenly home.  In the Gospel the home should be the most sacred place on earth.  Lenin reveals his hate for the home in these words:  “The status of women up to now has been compared to that of a slave; women have been tied to the home, and only socialism can save them from this.” 59

The savior of women and the replacement for the home in socialism is the state and a new intellectual elite.  Feminism, whose roots grew out of socialism, inherited this mindset.

Poster: Forward to Communism!

Poster: Forward to Communism!

Lenin, Marx and other socialists bequeathed their vision to women, who then advocated and defended this anti-Christian worldview.  Though the cover was equal rights, behind closed doors the real mission was clear:  exterminate God.

Annie Laurie Gaylor: Let’s forget about the mythical Jesus and look for encouragement, solace and inspiration from real women… Two thousand years of patriarchal rule under the shadow of the cross ought to be enough to turn women toward the feminist “salvation” of this world. 60

Naomi Goldenberg: God is going to change.  We women… will change the world so much that He won’t fit anymore. 61

Gloria Steinem: By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God. 62

Incredibly, the feminist movement, with near universal success, reached their goals by the turn of the century.

What were the Feminist Goals?

Gloria Steinem

The famous feminist Betty Friedan used “women’s liberation [as] just a subtext of her real desire to create a Soviet America.” 63  Leon Trotsky wrote, “The women’s liberation movement is a central part of the American socialist revolution in the making.” 64 Even the well-beloved modern “heroine” Susan B. Anthony craftily said, “Give us suffrage, and we’ll give you socialism.” 65 Gloria Steinem raved, “Overthrowing capitalism is too small for us.  We must overthrow the whole _ _ _ _ patriarchy.” 66

Feminist leader Andrea Dworkin wrote, “Only when manhood is dead—and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it—only then will we know what it is to be free.” 67  Even the Marxists Internet Archive explains, “From the 18th century up to the present, women fighting against their oppression by patriarchal structures have developed political science, ethics and critical philosophy and contributed to the development of revolutionary theory. Many were Marxists.” 68

Why have anti-Christian advocates sworn undying vengeance against the Patriarchal Order and the Heavenly Patriarchal Father?  Why do they see the destruction of fathers as a necessary step, and even equivalent to destroying God?  What do they understand that we have forgotten?

What is the Patriarchal Order?

In opposition to the modernist view, ancient and modern prophets have taught that the Patriarchal Order is God’s perfect or Celestial form of government and family order.  Prophets through all time have taught these principles, revered this structure and rejoiced in the hope that the true Patriarchal Order would one day be fully lived by the Saints.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that the organization of God’s Kingdom is patterned after the Patriarchal Order:

conferencemoments_100210~5Among the saints the family is the basic unit of the Church and of society, and its needs and preservation in righteousness take precedence over all other things. True family organization is patriarchal in nature; it is patterned after that organization which exists in heaven (Eph. 3:15); 69  (emphasis added)

. . . The Lord’s government is patriarchal in nature. The family unit is the center . . . . With the placing of man on earth, the Lord began by patterning earthly government after that which is heavenly.  A perfect theocratic, patriarchal system was set up with Adam at the head.
. . .
In these early days the church government itself was also patriarchal in nature.  From Adam to the flood the presiding church officer was always both a high priest and a patriarch, and the office descended from father to son.  This order of priesthood itself was called the patriarchal order.
.  . .
Administration of church affairs is necessarily on a different basis in our day, but the most important part of the patriarchal order is preserved for worthy members of the Church.  Those married in the temple in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage become inheritors of all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the patriarchs and thereby enter into the patriarchal order.  If the participating parties abide in the eternal marriage covenant, they shall reap the full blessings of patriarchal heirship in eternity where the patriarchal order will be the order of government and rule. 70

If we truly want to understand the character of God and experience the life He lives, understanding the Patriarchal Order is essential.  These principles are not to be feared or avoided.  Instead, they hold the key for true success in our families.

President Joseph F. Smith further explained:

Joseph-F-Smith-mormonThere is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. This authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. 71  (emphasis added)

God has ordained fathers to lead and “by divine design, . . . preside over their families in love and righteousness.” 72  It is interesting to note that as President Smith stated, the position of the patriarchal father has been honored by righteous saints in all dispensations.  Understanding the Patriarchal Order lies in comprehending the responsibilities and duties of the father, mother, children and how they should interact.

In this telestial world, striving to live the Patriarchal Order gives us a glimpse of heaven.  Saints have great cause to rejoice in the roles and duties that extend beyond this life.  Trying to live these principles now is an example of those things that will “rise with us in the resurrection”—an eternal investment.  Our salvation depends on understanding family government, for that is the basis on which God’s Kingdom lies.  President Smith continues:

There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount. 73  (emphasis added)

Women and, interestingly, children are responsible to understand priesthood and patriarchal duties.  All family members have a divine mandate to study, comprehend and strengthen this order.

32479_all_013_01-bensonIn our day and age, the adversary has worked overtime as President Benson noted to “displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children.” 74  Among other righteous forebears, the Patriarchs in the Bible, the prophets in the Book of Mormon, the early Brethren of this dispensation and precious few noble fathers today understand this order.  Has this knowledge been generally ignored and largely lost?  How can we rebuild this family, or better Celestial, organization?  Can we return to their inspired instruction and example?

For a moment, put aside your presuppositions, opinions or judgments and ask the simple question: “What has God revealed on the relationship between a father and a child or a father and a mother?”

The Father and the Son

The greatest patriarchal father is God the Eternal Father.  The Quorum of the Twelve noted in the pamphlet Father, Consider Your Ways (published as “A Message from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”):  “It is significant that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father.” 75  Of all the titles whereby we could be called, He calls us His “children.”

What can we learn from the greatest Patriarch and His choicest Son in regard to proper relations between fathers and children?  How should we answer one of the shrillest cries of the feminist, socialist and modern child rights advocate when they scoff at the principle of submission?  “A child submit to his father?” they cry.  “What evil, what perversion!” they loudly proclaim throughout the land.

Submission is the very heart of the Gospel.  During Christ’s ministry on earth, He constantly reiterated that His actions were entirely based on commands from His father. 76  The Messiah was in a state of complete submission.  To see the Son was to see the Father, to hear the Son was to hear the Father. 77  Christ taught that all those who followed His example and did “the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” 78  His glory or his mission was not His own, but his Father’s.  Christ came to the earth with nothing more than a commission from His Father, and left having done nothing less than fulfilling that command.

gethsemaneThe ultimate test of this submission came in the garden when Christ was faced with enduring perfectly the most intense suffering ever experienced by a mortal.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.  (Matthew 26:39)  (emphasis added)

Christ emphasized that He did not come to earth to fulfill His own mission.  There was no “individual mission,” “personal mission” or “self-fulfillment”.  He did not come to earth to walk in His own Path.  “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)  This is the true patriarchal order, the order the Saints of God are yearning for.  If our families truly desire to follow the Lord, the father of the home must be in tune in such a way to know that his instructions are only and entirely what his Father in Heaven desires.  Additionally, in this righteous home, the will of the child must be the will of his or her father if that will is truly revealed by the Eternal Father.  This submission must also span the generations in a multi generational legacy of faithfulness from father to son to father and so on.

Christ continued this pattern throughout his mortal life, but does this pattern also transcend this life?  Is this truly an eternal pattern?  When the Savior accomplished the mission of His Father and overcame the world, did He move on and become His own master?  Does submission of a righteous son to a righteous father end?  The scriptural record reveals that after His resurrection, after His return to the Father and after receiving of the Fulness, the Son was still under His Father’s authority.  When He appeared to the Nephites in the New World, Christ specifically stated at least 27 times that His actions were in obedience to commands from the Father.  For example, He explained that His Father had commanded him to visit other remnants of the House of Israel:

But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them. (3 Nephi 16:3)  (emphasis added)

This command and it’s fulfilment were given AFTER Christ’s exaltation.  The future gathering of Israel was also spoken of in context of fulfilling the Father’s command:

And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 16:5)  (emphasis added)

Christ had received the fullness.  He had overcome the world and gained exaltation, but still His sole mission was to fulfill the Father’s mission; and we have no evidence or reason to believe that this has ever changed.  His covenants were and are the Father’s covenants.  His actions were and are in obedience to commands from the Father.  If anyone ever had the “right” to move on from their father’s authority, it would be the Son.  If Christ, a man who never sinned nor transgressed, lives this life of submission, what should be the focus of our lives?  How much more should we, being unholy, be in submission to our Father in Heaven.  And to the degree that our earthly fathers live lives of submission and speak the words of God, we should likewise submit to our righteous earthly fathers.

crucifixion-art-lds_1135611_inlWe often speak of Christ enduring the suffering of Gethsemane and the torture and suffering of the cross because of His love for us.  However, from scripture we understand that this motivation was at most only secondary.  Christ took the sins of the world upon Himself in perfect submission because of His Father’s will and command.

I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. (3 Nephi 11:11)  (emphasis added)

Not only did the Son obey during His mortal life, but from the beginning of His existence He “suffered the will of the Father in all things”.  This affirmation caused the Nephites to fall down and worship Him.  He later continued:

I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. . . .

this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me . . .

this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me . . .

I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father . . .

This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them . . .  therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them. . . .

I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them . . . I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. . . .

blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you. . . .  (3 Nephi 11-16)  (emphasis added)

Note the Son’s repeated emphasis of His submission to the Father.  In fact, a case could be made that His complete and total submission was His primary message to the Nephites.

Due to our fallen natures and lack of obedience, we do not enjoy the same companionship with our spiritual Father that the Son did to His Spirit Father.  Nevertheless, we are here to be tested and proven as to whether we will submit and honor both our Heavenly and earthly fathers as God uses earthly fathers to teach and illustrate the pattern of Heaven.  By honoring and submitting to our earthly father as did Christ, we are reconciled to God.

34704_all_004_01-preexistenceI believe the primary secret to this patriarchal pattern lies in the responsibility of fathers emulating and submitting entirely to the will of God.  If they are to act as God’s representatives, fathers must teach doctrine, prioritize tasks and direct the family only by God’s direction.  Fathers must correctly discern between truth and error.  They must regulate the influences (media, books, friends, etc.) that enter the home.  They must exemplify for their children what obedience looks like by complete obedience to God without exception and without question.  How inconsistent it would be for a man to expect his family to follow him when he is not willing to follow Christ!  Earthly fathers must know the mind of Christ by walking in His steps to know both the will of the Father and the Son.

Submission and honor to fathers is illustrated beautifully by King Benjamin’s famous passage on the natural man.  During his last address the prophet-king explained:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever . . .

Mankind is clearly alienated from God.  How does reconciliation occur?

. . . unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him . . .

We overcome the Fall by submitting as a little child, but how do we understand and comprehend “submission”?  Our attitude to our earthly father is the example:

. . . even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)  (emphasis added)

Allow me to rephrase the last sentence.  The divine message given through King Benjamin is that to become reconciled to God we must obey our Father in Heaven as “a teenager submits to his earthly father” or as a “mature son or daughter submits to his father” or as a “child submits to his father”.  Does this understanding change the way we approach our family relationships?

Is your association with your earthly father of this nature?  Whether you realize it or not, the honor you pay your father is a reflection of your nearness to God.

Now allow me to surmise what you may be thinking.  God is perfect.  Our earthly fathers are fallible mortals.  Can we follow imperfect leaders?  Well, the answer to this isn’t a simple yes or no.  None of our leaders in the Church are perfect.  Bishops, Stake Presidents, even members of the Twelve and First Presidency are not perfect.  When any leader including fathers, bishops, stake presidents, members of the Seventy, members of the Twelve, members of the First Presidency and so forth give counsel we must discern whether that counsel is coming from the Lord.

And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. (D&C 68:4.)

On any vital issue we must learn to discern between truth and error.

Blind Obedience?

When discussing authority, leadership or obedience the question naturally arises, “Do I obey my father blindly?  If my husband directs, should I feel compelled to obey if I doubt the moral veracity of the instruction?  What about my children?”

Joseph F. Smith wisely explained:

We do not ask you to do anything that you may not know it is your duty to do, or that you may not know will be a blessing for you to do.  If we give you counsel, we do not ask you to obey that counsel without you knowing that it is right to do so. But how shall we know that it is right? By getting the Spirit of God in our hearts, by which our minds may be opened and enlightened, that we may know the doctrine for ourselves, and be able to divide truth from error, light from darkness and good from evil. 79  (emphasis added)

No command is meant to be obeyed blindly.  “We may know the doctrine for ourselves” and it is our responsibility to receive a confirmation.  This principle applies to all circumstances involving authority: religious, political, family, business, etc.  We may not understand why the command was given but we can identify whether or not it agrees with the mind and will of the Lord.

brigham-young1President Brigham Young taught:

You may inquire how we are to know that we are so led. I refer you to the exhortation you have heard so frequently from me. Do not be deceived, any of you; if you are deceived, it is because you deceive yourselves. You may know whether you are led right or wrong, as well as you know the way home; for every principle God has revealed carries its own convictions of its truth to the human mind, and there is no calling of God to man on earth but what brings with it the evidences of its authenticity. 80

When we stand before the Judgment Seat of God we will be responsible for our obedience to God.  Note that every principle is possible to be authenticated.  We are commanded not to follow ignorantly.  Like any righteous father, the Lord is eager to pour knowledge and wisdom upon His children.  Any barrier can be dismantled, all impediments can be removed if we are willing.

Brigham Young continued:

I will say a few words in regard to your belief in being led, guided, and directed by one man. Brother Jackman has said that our enemies hate the fact of our being led by one man. Thousands of times my soul has been lifted to God the Father, in the name of Jesus, to make that verily true in every sense of the word, that we may be led by the man Jesus Christ, through Joseph Smith the Prophet. 81  (emphasis added)

President Boyd K. PackerUltimately, God should be the only authority giving commands.  He places representatives on earth to reveal His will and instruction.  It is left for us to develop the discernment, to develop the gift of revelation, to truly come to know for ourselves if the words of our leaders are from God in every particular.  Blind obedience will never lead to exaltation.  Elder Boyd K. Packer directed:

Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God. We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “under this head are [we] made free.” (Mosiah 5:8)

Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see. 82  (emphasis added)

One may wonder, “Does it really matter if we follow blindly as opposed to knowing for ourselves?”  This is not a small matter.  President Brigham Young feared the blind confidence of the saints and worried that they would fall into complacency.  He was concerned that they would accept “with a reckless confidence” what was said by General Authorities or other leaders rather than searching out the truth for themselves by study and also by faith.

What a pity it would be if we were lead by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are lead by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purpose of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders did they know for themselves by the revelations of Jesus that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the path the lord dictates or not. This has been my exhortation continually.
. . .
Let every person be fervent in prayer, until they know the things of God for themselves and become certain that they are walking in the path that leads to everlasting life . . . 83

Where are we today?  Do we place blind obedience in Church leaders while ignoring and belittling the authority of the father in the home?  In either case “blind obedience” and “reckless confidence” are dangerous and neither is true submission in a scriptural sense.


The general connotations of “submission” in contemporary society include fear and disgust to a significant degree.  Therefore, it is necessary to explore the definition and related duties that the doctrine of submission requires.  The Lord has taught in multiple instances that His house is a “house of order” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:8).  Without a correct understanding of submission and authority, can we ever understand the order of His household?

First, the word is scriptural.  Used in all four standard works, submission clearly plays a significant role in a fulfilling life.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9)

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)

Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me. (2 Samuel 22:45)

. . . becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

To “submit” is “to yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another.” 84  When we submit to God, we willingly embrace every sacrifice, law, blessing, trial or even torture that “the Lord seeth fit to inflict”.   Abraham when he offered Isaac on Mount Moriah—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they braved the fiery furnace—the sons of Mosiah when they gave up the throne for a life of fatigue and pain—all subjected their will to the will of the Father.  In our own dispensation, there are numerous examples of men and women who willingly endured years of relentless torture and did so with a hopeful, forgiving, even grateful attitude. 85  Why were they willing to go through this?  Because Christ requested them to do so.

To live a life of submission to God often requires greater sacrifice than dying for Him.  President Benson stated, “Some men are willing to die for their faith, but they are not willing to fully live for it.”  According to The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, the word “submit” in the New Testament is from the Greek word “hupotasso” meaning:

A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.”  In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.” 86

Consider the example of the Savior.  He truly submitted to His father, not only through obedience, but by contributing to, supporting and building the vision and mission of His Father.  This building of the mission of His Father never ended.  In addition to yielding His heart, He gave his might, mind and strength.  If we desire to follow Christ, we must learn how to live in the same way.

Consider the famous passage in Matthew, “Let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)  Once again we see that our light and good works are done to glorify the Father.  Beacons of hope are brought to the world by furthering the Father’s mission, not our own.  By submitting to His vision, not our own.  To the degree that earthly fathers are inspired of the Lord it becomes our duty to support and build the family vision and family mission.  This applies spiritually and temporally.  Note the counsel from President Lorenzo Snow on what is considered by many a controversial subject.

Teachings-of-Presidents--Lorenzo-Snow-580If a father, for instance, had a large, extensive family, his object would be to do them good, to promote their interest and happiness, to put into their hands power, knowing that they could not accomplish much alone, and that they would have to take or obtain assistance from that family.

The son that would take the deepest interest—that would devote himself the most faithfully to promote the designs of the father and head of that family, for the happiness and prosperity of the whole, would increase in power and influence faster than any other one; for the father would be disposed to put as much power and influence into his hands as it would be possible for him to receive, and as would be for the benefit of the family.

That would be the principle upon which ALL the members of that family would increase in knowledge, influence, and power above others. It would be by having the faculty, the feeling, and the disposition and desire to carry out the mind of the father, and that, too, for the benefit and exaltation of the whole family.

In order to do this, every particle of power, influence, and ability that a son holds, he should hold in subjection to the will of his father, be ever ready to carry out his commands; and his object and aim should be to obtain influence WITH his father; and then he would feel like holding everything that he obtained subject to the control of the father. No matter if he had obtained great temporal influence—no matter whether his influence be of an intellectual or spiritual character—no matter whether he obtained his influence by his knowledge of books, the study of science—whether he had obtained farms, or lands, or riches, or whether he had his influence by obedience to his father’s will, he would hold all at the control of his father, for the general good of the family. Just so far as he had this in him would he gain influence with his father and get the power upon him which it is absolutely necessary for him to possess. 87  (emphasis added)

db28c350b3938a8c9d7ddfed0e4ccb24This is the vision of submission by true sons and daughters to true fathers.  No righteous individual will resist submitting to God the Eternal Father or an earthly father who is devoted to the Kingdom of God.  Every father interested in Celestial life must become worthy and lead such a life that his children will desire to follow him not only in this life, but everlastingly.  To whatever degree we live this pattern, to that degree we live Celestial laws.

George Q. Cannon imagined the results that would flow from families built on this Celestial pattern.

. . . family government is the foundation of all government. Show me a community where children are brought up in holiness and purity, and trained in the fear and knowledge of God, and I can prophesy future greatness and prosperity for that people. 88

In the world today we speak often of fighting for freedom, advocating political principles, reforming education, serving in humanitarian efforts, picketing at the capital and calling our representatives. But what does it profit us if we pass a dozen laws yet lose our own children in the process?  Where is our greatest responsibility, and where will our efforts produce the greatest yield?  Where are our children while we “fight for truth”?  Are they cheering you from the sidelines while building their own vision?  Are they frittering away hours of precious time?  Or worse, are they fighting against your efforts?  If our approach was truly family centered, would they not be working at your side, anxiously engaged in the greatest causes?

Elder Cannon continues:

If I see a family where the children are obedient to their parents, and listen to their voices as to the voice of an angel; and where wives are obedient to their husbands, meeting their wishes and seeking to gratify them in everything in the Lord, I know there is greatness before that family. So with this entire people. 89

We will never see prosperity in our economies, freedom in our world or the majority of our youth stay in the true faith until we return to God’s order.  He is the way and there is no other.

Elder Cannon foresaw the consequences family order has on the world:

If our children be trained in the fear of God, if within their minds are instilled the principles of truth, righteousness, faith, and godliness, we may dismiss all fears respecting the future growth, development, and prosperity of our Father’s kingdom on the earth.

When we see our children growing up in unbelief and hardness of heart, then have we cause to fear and tremble.  90

Throughout this article, we have spoken primarily of the father’s role.  Women however must understand that their role is essential as well.  Without their teaching, without their willing submission, without their gifts, without their service the Patriarchal Order is missing the heart.  Elder Cannon exhorted:

Every one of you, my sisters, can do a great deal towards building up this kingdom. A great glory is bestowed on woman, for she is permitted to bring forth the souls of men. You have the opportunity of training children who shall bear the holy priesthood, and go forth and magnify it in the midst of the earth. It is a glorious mission which God has assigned to his daughters, and they should be correspondingly proud of it, and should realize its importance and seek to be missionaries in their own families, training up their children in the fear of God. 91

2caf693a7854df7b8400d0299b9a8456How can mothers train their children to fear the Lord if they do not understand the proper roles of wives and children?  How can women be “missionaries in their own families” if they are in rebellion against true family principles?   The women of the Church must raise up fathers of nobility prepared to call down the word of God and inspire their families.  The women of the Church must raise up fathers who are worthy of honor, who can begin to live this higher law, or we will never be a Celestial people.

The statements of President Lorenzo Snow and Elder George Q. Cannon raise other questions regarding unmarried adult women.  Do single daughters “graduate” from the family order when they reach the age of 18?  What is the role of fathers and mothers during the dating/courtship season?  How can a daughter follow President Snow’s counsel to “devote [herself] the most faithfully to promote the designs of the father”, “carry out the mind of the father” and hold “everything that [she] obtained subject to the control of the father”?  As we will see in the Part II, the prophets of God have given instruction to answer these questions.

The concepts of patriarchal authority, submissive children and consecrated fathers are sadly foreign to our modern world.  Regrettably, millions of God’s children on the earth (nearly all of them) have lived without any knowledge of the joy true family life brings.  However, though these principles have been belittled or forgotten today, they are far from new.  The Patriarchal Order has been the essential backbone of the Gospel throughout all eternity.

To the Mothers in Zion

To the Mothers in Zion

22 February 1987

I rejoice in the opportunity of being with you this evening.

I have been touched by the beautiful music and the splendid instructions we have received.

There is no theme I would rather speak to than home and family, for they are at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church, in large part, exists for the salvation and exaltation of the family.

At a recent general priesthood meeting, I spoke directly to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood regarding their duties and responsibilities.

Shortly thereafter, at a general women’s conference, I spoke to the young women of the Church, discussing their opportunities and their sacred callings.

Tonight, at this fireside for parents, seeking the sweet inspiration of heaven, I would like to speak directly to the mothers assembled here and throughout the Church, for you are, or should be, the very heart and soul of the family.

No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother.

This evening I pay tribute to the mothers in Zion and pray with all my heart that what I have to say to you will be understood by the Spirit and will lift and bless your lives in your sacred callings as mothers.

President David O. McKay declared: “Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security, her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.” [1].

President McKay continues: “Motherhood consists of three principal attributes or qualities: namely, (1) the power to bear, (2) the ability to rear, (3) the gift to love. . . This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, . . . deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.” [2].

With all my heart I endorse the words of President McKay.

In the eternal family, God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide, to love, to teach, and to direct.

But a mother’s role is also God-ordained. Mothers are to conceive, to nourish, to love, and to train. So declare the revelations.

In Section 132 of Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord states that the opportunity and responsibility of wives is “to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified” [3]. With this divine injunction, husbands and wives, as co-creators, should eagerly and prayerfully invite children into their homes.

Then, as each child joins their family circle, they can gratefully exclaim, as did Hannah, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord: as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” [4].

Isn’t that beautiful? A mother praying to bear a child and then giving him to the Lord.

I have always loved the words of Solomon: “Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man [and woman] that hath [their] quiver full of them” [5].

I know the special blessings of a large and happy family, for my dear parents had a quiver full of children. Being the oldest of eleven children, I saw the principles of unselfishness, mutual consideration, loyalty to each other, and a host of other virtues developed in a large and wonderful family with my noble mother as the queen of that home.

Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children, being co-creators with our Father in heaven.

Do not use the reasoning of the world, such as, “We’ll wait until we can better afford having children, until we are more secure, until John has completed his education, until he has a better paying job, until we have a larger home, until we’ve obtained a few of the material conveniences,” and on and on.

This is the reasoning of the world and is not pleasing in the sight of God. Mothers who enjoy good health, have your children and have them early. And, husbands, always be considerate of your wives in the bearing children.

Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children–not possessions, not position, not prestige–are our greatest jewels.

Brigham Young emphasized: “There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?–To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can” [6].

Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.

We realize that some women, through no fault of their own, are not able to bear children. To these lovely sisters, every prophet of God has promised that they will be blessed with children in the eternities and that posterity will not be denied them.

Through pure faith, pleading prayers, fasting, and special priesthood blessings, many of these same lovely sisters, with their noble companions at their sides have had miracles take place in their lives and have been blessed with children. Others have prayerfully chosen to adopt children, and to these wonderful couples we salute you for the sacrifices and love you have given to those children you have chosen to be your own.

Now, my dear mothers, knowing of your divine role to bear and rear children and bring them back to Him, how will you accomplish this in the Lord’s way? I say the Lord’s way, because it is different from the world’s way.

The Lord clearly defined the roles of mothers and fathers in providing for and rearing a righteous posterity. In the beginning, Adam–not Eve–was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother’s calling is in the home, not in the market place.

Again, in the Doctrine and Covenants, we read: “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken” [7]. This is the divine right of a wife and mother. She cares for and nourishes her children at home. Her husband earns the living for the family, which makes this nourishing possible. With that claim on their husbands for their financial support, the counsel of the Church has always been for mothers to spend their full time in the home in rearing and caring for their children.

We realize also that some of our choice sisters are widowed and divorced and that others find themselves in unusual circumstances where, out of necessity, they are required to work for a period of time. But these instances are the exception, not the rule.

In a home where there is an able-bodied husband, he is expected to be the breadwinner. Sometimes we hear of husbands who, because of economic conditions, have lost their jobs and expect their wives to go out of the home and work even though the husband is still capable of providing for his family. In these cases, we urge the husband to do all in his power to allow his wife to remain in the home caring for the children while he continues to provide for his family the best he can, even though the job be is able secure may not be ideal and family budgeting will have to be tighter.

Our beloved prophet Spencer W. Kimball had much to say about the role of mothers in the home and their callings and responsibilities. I am impressed tonight to share with you some of his inspired pronouncements. I fear that much of his counsel has gone unheeded, and families have suffered because of it. But I stand this evening as a second witness to the truthfulness of what President Spencer W. Kimball said. He spoke as a true prophet of God.

President Kimball declared: “Women are to take care of the family–the Lord has so stated–to be an assistant to the husband, to work with him, but not to earn the living, except in unusual circumstances. Men ought to be men indeed and earn the living under normal circumstances” [8].

President Kimball continues: “Too many mothers work away from home to furnish sweaters and music lessons and trips and fun for their children. Too many women spend their time in socializing, in politicking, in public services when they should be home to teach and train and receive and love their children into security” [9].

Remember the counsel of President Kimball to John and Mary: “Mary, you are to become a career woman in the greatest career on earth–that of homemaker, wife, and mother. It was never intended by the Lord that married women should compete with men in employment. They have a far greater and more important service to render.

Again President Kimball speaks: “The husband is expected to support his family and only in an emergency should a wife secure outside employment. Her place is in the home, to build the home into a haven of delight.

“Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment. Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond its norm. Two spouses working prevent the complete and proper home life, break into the family prayers, create an independence which is not cooperative, causes distortion, limits the family, and frustrates the children already born” [10].

Finally President Kimball counsels: “I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the cafe. No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother–cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children. Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home, wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and, unembarrassed, help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously await.

“When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility, and goodness, then you have achieved your accomplishment supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy [of all] through time and eternity” [11].

President Kimball spoke the truth. His words are prophetic.

Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to your own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all.

With love in my heart for the mothers in Zion, I would now like to suggest ten specific ways our mothers may spend effective time with their children.

First, take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going–when they leave and return from school–when they leave and return from dates–when they bring friends home. Be there at the crossroads whether your children are six or sixteen. In Proverbs we read: “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” [12]. Among the greatest concerns in our society are the millions of latchkey children who come home daily to empty houses unsupervised by working parents.

Second, mothers, take time to be a real friend to your children. Listen to your children, really listen. Talk with them, laugh and joke with them, sing with them, play with them, cry with them, hug them, honestly praise them. Yes, regularly spend unrushed one-on-one time with each child. Be a real friend to your children.

Third, mothers, take time to read to your children. Starting from the cradle, read to your sons and daughters. Remember what the poet said, “You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be–I had a mother who read to me” [13]. You will plant a love for good literature and a real love for the scriptures if you will read to your children regularly.

Fourth, take time to pray with your children. Family prayers, under the direction of the father, should be held morning and night. Have your children feel of your faith as you call down the blessings of heaven upon them. Paraphrasing the word of James: “The . . . fervent prayer of a righteous [mother ] availeth much” [14]. Have your children participate in family and personal prayers and rejoice in their sweet utterances to their Father in Heaven.

Fifth, take time to have a meaningful weekly home evening. With your husband presiding, participate in a spiritual and an uplifting home evening each week. Have your children actively involved. Teach them correct principles. Make this one of your great family traditions. Remember the marvelous promise made by President Joseph F. Smith when home evenings were first introduced to the Church: “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.” This wonderful promise is still in effect today.

Sixth, take time to be together at mealtimes as often as possible. This is a challenge as the children get older and lives get busier. But happy conversation, sharing of the day’s plans and activities, and special teaching moments occur at mealtime because mothers and fathers and children work at it.

Seventh, take time daily to read the scriptures together as a family. Individual scripture reading is important, but family scripture reading is vital. Reading the Book of Mormon together as a family will especially bring increased spirituality into your home and will give both parents and children the power to resist temptation and to have the Holy Ghost as their constant companion. I promise you that the Book of Mormon will change the lives of your family.

Eighth, take time to do things together as a family. Make family outings and picnics and birthday celebrations and trips special times and memory builders. Whenever possible, attend as a family, events where one of the family members is involved, such as a school play, a ball game, a talk, a recital. Attend Church meetings together and sit together as a family when you can. Mothers who help families pray and play together will stay together and will bless children’s lives forever.

Ninth, mothers, take time to teach your children. Catch the teaching moments. This can be done anytime during the day–at mealtime, in casual settings, or at special sit-down times together, at the foot of the bed at the end of the day, or during an early morning walk together. Mothers, you are your children’s best teacher. Don’t shift this precious responsibility to day-care centers or babysitters. A mother’s love and prayerful concern for her children are her most important ingredients in teaching her own.

Teach children gospel principles. Teach them it pays to be good. Teach them there is no safety in sin. Teach them a love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a testimony of its divinity.

Teach your sons and daughters modesty and teach them to respect manhood and womanhood. Teach your children sexual purity, proper dating standards, temple marriage, missionary service, and the importance of accepting and magnifying Church callings.

Teach them a love for work and the value of a good education.

Teach them the importance of the right kind of entertainment, including appropriate movies, and videos, and music, and books, and magazines. Discuss the evils of pornography and drugs and teach them the value of living the clean life.

Yes, mothers, teach your children the gospel in your own home, at your own fireside. This is the most effective teaching that your children will ever receive. This is the Lord’s way of teaching. The Church cannot teach like you can. The school cannot. The day-care center cannot. But you can, and the Lord will sustain you. Your children will remember your teachings forever, and when they are old, they will not depart from them. They will call you blessed–their truly angel mother.

Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes time–lots of time. It cannot be done effectively part time. It must be done all the time in order to save and exalt your children. This is your divine calling.

Tenth and finally, mothers, take the time to truly love your children. A mother’s unqualified love approaches Christlike love.

Here is a beautiful tribute by a son to his mother: “I don’t remember much about her views of voting nor her social prestige; and what her ideas on child training, diet, and eugenics were, I cannot recall. The main thing that sifts back to me now through the thick undergrowth of years is that she loved me. She liked to lie on the grass with me and tell stories, or to run and hide with us children. She was always hugging me. . . . And I liked it. She had a sunny face. To me it was like God, and all the beatitudes saints tell of Him. And sing! Of all the sensations pleasurable to my life nothing can compare with the rapture of crawling up into her lap and going to sleep while she swung to and fro in her rocking chair and sang. Thinking of this, I wonder if the woman of today, with all her tremendous notions and plans, realizes what an almighty factor she is in shaping of her child for weal or woe? I wonder if she realizes how much sheer love and attention count for in a child’s life.”

Mothers, your teenage children also need that same kind of love and attention. It seems easier for many mothers and fathers to express and show their love to their children when they are young, but more difficult when they are older. Work at this prayerfully. There need be no generation gap. And the key is love. Our young people need love and attention, not indulgence. They need empathy and understanding, not indifference from mothers and fathers. They need the parents’ time. A mother’s kindly teachings and her love for and confidence in a teenage son or daughter can literally save them from a wicked world.

In closing, I would be remiss this evening if I did not express my love and eternal gratitude for my sweetheart and companion and the mother of our six children. Her devotion to motherhood has blessed me and our family beyond words of expression. She has been a marvelous mother, completely and happily devoting her life and her mission to her family. How grateful I am for Flora.

May I also express my gratitude to you fathers and husbands assembled this evening. We look to you to give righteous leadership in your home and families and, with your companions and the mothers of your children, to lead your families back to our Eternal Father.

Now God bless our wonderful mothers. We pray for you. We sustain you. We honor you as you bear, nourish, train, teach, and love for eternity. I promise you the blessings of heaven and “all that [the] Father hath” [15] as you magnify the noblest calling of all–a mother in Zion.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  1. Gospel Ideals, p. 452
  2. Gospel Ideals, pp. 453-54
  3. D&C 132:62
  4. 1 Samuel 1:27-28
  5. see Psalm 127: 3-5
  6. Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197
  7. D&C 83:2
  8. Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 318
  9. Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 319
  10. Spencer W. Kimball, San Antonio Fireside, Dec. 3, 1977, pp. 9-10
  11. Spencer W. Kimball, San Antonio Fireside, Dec. 3, 1977, pp. 11-12
  12. Proverbs 29:15
  13. Strickland Gillilan, “The Reading Mother”
  14. James 5: 16
  15. see D&C 84:38

A Plea to Strengthen Our Families

A Plea to Strengthen Our Families

General Conference, October 1970

As a people, we have three great loyalties: loyalty to God, loyalty to family, loyalty to country.

I come to you today with a plea to strengthen our families.

The Family Unit

It has been truly stated that “salvation is a family affair … and that the family unit is the most important organization in time or in eternity.”

The Church was created in large measure to help the family, and long after the church has performed its mission, the celestial patriarchal order will still be functioning. This is why President Joseph F. Smith said: “To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman …, ” and President McKay added: “When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he, that moment, starts on the downgrade to soul weakness.”

And this is why President Harold B. Lee said only yesterday, “The Church must do more to help the home carry out its divine mission.”

Temptations and Pitfalls

President Joseph Fielding Smith has stated that never “in the history of the Church have there been so many temptations, so many pitfalls, so many dangers, to lure away the members of the Church from the path of duty and from righteousness as we find today.” [1]. And he has also said: “This world is not growing better … wickedness is increasing.” [2].

Never has the devil been so well organized, and never in our day has he had so many powerful emissaries working for him. We must do everything in our power to strengthen and safeguard the home and family.

The adversary knows “that the home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” [3].

Undermining the Home

And so today, the undermining of the home and family is on the increase, with the devil anxiously working to displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children. The Book of Mormon describes this condition when it states, “And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.” And then these words follow-and consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: “O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” [4]. And let me warn the sisters in all seriousness that you who submit yourselves to an abortion or to an operation that precludes you from safely having additional healthy children are jeopardizing your exaltation and your future membership in the kingdom of God.

Responsibility of Parents

Parents are directly responsible for the righteous rearing of their children, and this responsibility cannot be safely delegated to relatives, friends, neighbors, the school, the church, or the state.

“I appeal to you parents, take nothing for granted about your children,” said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. “The great bulk of them, of course, are good, but some of us do not know when they begin to go away from the path of truth and righteousness. Be watchful every day and hour. Never relax your care, your solicitude. Rule kindly in the spirit of the Gospel and the spirit of the priesthood, but rule, if you wish your children to follow the right path.” Permissive parents are part of the problem.

False Educational Ideas

As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others.

Today there are much worse things that can happen to a child than not getting a full college education. In fact, some of the worst things have happened to our children while attending colleges led by administrators who wink at subversion and amorality.

Said Karl G. Maeser, “I would rather have my child exposed to smallpox, typhus fever, cholera, or other malignant and deadly diseases than to the degrading influence of a corrupt teacher. It is infinitely better to take chances with an ignorant, but pure-minded teacher than with the greatest philosopher who is impure.”

Vocational education, correspondence courses, establishment in a family business are being considered for their children by an increasing number of parents.

Propagation of Atheism

The tenth plank in Karl Marx’s Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated the establishment of “free education for all children in public schools.” There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools. Dr. A. A. Hodge pointed out one of them when he said, “It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.

After the tragic prayer decision was made by the Court, President David O. McKay stated, “The Supreme Court of the United States severs the connecting cord between the public schools of the United States and the source of divine intelligence, the Creator, himself.” [5].

Does that make any difference to you? Can’t you see why the demand of conscientious parents is increasing the number of private Christian and Americanist oriented schools?

Today, Brigham Young University is the largest private school in the United States. Parents from far and near are looking to Brigham Young University as never before.

Supervision By Parents

Now, whether your child attends this type of school or not, it is important that you stay close to your children, daily review, if possible, what they have learned in school, and go over their textbooks.

President Joseph Fielding Smith has stated that in public schools you cannot get a textbook, anywhere that he knows of, on the “ologies” that doesn’t contain nonsense. [6].

I know one noble father who reviews with his children regularly what they have been taught; and if they have been taught any falsehoods, then the children and the father together research out the truth. If your children are required to put down on exams the falsehoods that have been taught, then perhaps they can follow President Joseph Fielding Smith’s counsel of prefacing their answer with the words “teacher says,” or they might say “you taught” or “the textbook states.”

If your children are taught untruths on evolution in the public schools or even in our Church schools, provide them with a copy of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s excellent rebuttal in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny.

Open Letter to School Principal

Recently some parents paid for space in a newspaper to run an open letter to the school principal of their son. The letter in part stated:

“You are hereby notified that our son, _________ is not allowed by his undersigned parents to participate in, or be subject to instruction in, any training or education in sex, human biological development, attitude development, self-understanding, personal and family life, or group therapy, or sensitivity training, or self-criticism, or any combination or degree thereof, without the consent of the undersigned by express written permission. …

“We intend to retain and exercise our parental rights to guide our child in the areas of morality and sexual behavior without any interference or contradiction imposed by school personnel.

“[Our son] has been taught to recognize the format of sensitivity training, group therapy, self-criticism, etc., as it is being broadly applied, lowering the standards of morality and replacing American individual responsibility with the dependency on, and conformity to, the `herd consensus’ concept of collectivism.

“He has been instructed to promptly remove himself from any class in which he is exposed to the aforementioned indoctrination and to report to us any such disregard of this letter.”

Home Evening Program

The Lord knew that in the last days Satan would try to destroy the family unit. He knew that by court edict, pornography would be allowed to prosper.

How grateful we should be that God inspired his prophet over half a century ago to institute the weekly home evening program. This is the vanguard for getting parents to assume the responsibility of instructing their children. An increasing number of faithful Saints are holding more than one home evening a week and are adding to or deleting from the home evening manual as the Spirit dictates.

Designed to strengthen and safeguard the family, the Church home evening program (one night each week) is to be set apart for fathers and mothers to gather their sons and daughters around them in the home. Prayer is offered, hymns and other songs are sung, scripture is read, family topics are discussed, talent is displayed, principles of the gospel are taught, and often games are played and homemade refreshments served.

Now here are the promised blessings for those who will hold a weekly home evening:

“If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.” [7].

Demoralizing Entertainment

Now what of the entertainment that is available to our young people today? Are you being undermined right in your home through your TV, radio, slick magazines, rock records? Much of the rock music is purposely designed to push immorality, narcotics, revolution, atheism, and nihilism, through language that often has a double meaning and with which many parents are not familiar.

Parents who are informed can warn their children of the demoralizing, loud, raucous beat of rock music, which deadens the senses and dulls the sensibilities-the jungle rhythm which inflames the savagery within.

Said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:

“I would have you reflect for a moment upon the fact that a tremendous amount of the modern art, of the modern literature and music, and the drama that we have today is utterly demoralizing-utterly. … Your music-well, I do not know how far above the tom-tom of the jungle it is, but it is not too far.

“These things you must watch. They all have their effects on the children. Make your home-life as near heavenlike as you can.” [8].

Holding Aloft of Standards

Youth leaders, are you holding aloft our standards or have you compromised them for the lowest common denominator in order to appease the deceived or vile within the Church? Are the dances and music in your cultural halls virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report, or do they represent a modern Sodom with short skirts, loud beat, strobe lights, and darkness?

Will our youth leaders accept the standards set for young John Wesley by his mother? Hear her sound counsel:

“Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure? Take this rule: Now note whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”

Have we, as Moroni warned, “polluted the holy church of God?” [9]. The auxiliaries of the Church are to be a help, not a hindrance, to parents and the priesthood as they strive to lead their families back to God. Do any of us wear or display the broken cross, anti-Christ sign, that is the adversary’s symbol of the so-called “peace movement”?

Lack of Knowledge

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” lamented Hosea. [10]. Today, because some parents have refused to become informed and then stand up and inform their children, they are witnessing the gradual physical and spiritual destruction of their posterity. If we would become like God, knowing good and evil, then we had best find out what is undermining us, how to avoid it, and what we can do about it.

It is time that the hearts of us fathers be turned to our children and the hearts of the children be turned to us fathers, or we shall both be cursed. The seeds of divorce are often sown and the blessings of children delayed by wives working outside the home. Working mothers should remember that their children usually need more of mother than of money.

Family Solidarity

As conditions in the world get progressively worse, it is crucial that the family draw closer together in righteousness and that family solidarity be established. As one has said, “There are too many pulls away from the home today. We should seriously consider whether or not too many activities and other interests take too much time and attention from our families, from our children, from those whom the Lord God gave us to love, to nourish, to teach, and to help through life.”

The stick-together families are happier by far

Than the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.

The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who make

A circle at the fireside that no power on earth can break.

And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sun

Are the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.

There are rich folk, there are poor folk, who imagine they are wise.

And they’re very quick to shatter all the little family ties.

Each goes searching after pleasure in his own selected way.

Each with strangers likes to wander and with strangers likes to play.

But it’s bitterness they harvest, and it’s empty joy they find,

For the children that are wisest are the stick-together kind.

There are some who seem to fancy that for gladness they must roam,

That for smiles that are the brightest they must wander far from home.

That the strange friend is the true friend, and they travel far astray

And they waste their lives in striving for a joy that’s far away,

But the gladdest sort of people, when the busy day is done,

Are the brothers and the sisters, who together share their fun. [page 51]

It’s the stick-together family that wins the joys of earth,

That hears the sweetest music and that finds the finest mirth;

It’s the old home roof that shelters all the charm that life can give;

There you find the gladdest playground, there the happiest spot to live.

And, O weary, wandering brother, if contentment you would win,

Come you back unto the fireside and be comrade with your kin. [11]

Strengthening the Family

And so let’s strengthen the family. Family and individual prayer, morning and evening, can invite the blessings of the Lord on your household. Mealtime provides a wonderful time to review the activities of the day and to not only feed the body, but to feed the spirit as well with members of the family taking turns reading the scriptures, particularly, the Book of Mormon. Nighttime is a great time for the busy father to go to each child’s bedside, to talk with him, answer his questions and tell him how much he is loved. In such homes there is no “generation gap.” This deceptive phrase is another tool of the devil to weaken the home and family. Children who honor their parents and parents who love their children can make a home a haven of safety and a little bit of heaven.

Does this poem describe your family gatherings?

We are all here:

Father, mother,

Sister, brother,

All who hold each other dear.

Each chair is filled, we are all at home.

Tonight, let no cold stranger come;

It must be often thus around

Our old familiar hearth we’re found.

Bless, then, the meeting and the spot,

For once be every care forgot;

Let gentle peace assert her power,

And kind affection rule the hour.

We’re all-all here. [12]

God bless us to strengthen our families by avoiding the crafty designs of the adversary and following the noble ways of the Lord, so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in his celestial home that we are all there, father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled, we are all back home.

In the name, of Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. Take Heed to Yourselves, p. 127
  2. Ibid., p. 207
  3. President David O. McKay, in Family Home Evening Manual, 1968-69, p. iii
  4. 2 Ne. 13:12
  5. Relief Society Magazine, December 1962, p. 878
  6. Take Heed to Yourselves, p. 32
  7. First Presidency, April 27, 1915, Improvement Era, vol. 18, p. 734
  8. Relief Society Magazine, December 1952, p. 798
  9. Morm. 8:38
  10. Hos. 4:6
  11. Adapted from a poem by Edgar A. Guest
  12. Adapted from a poem by Charles Sprague

To the Fathers in Israel

November 1987

My dear brethren, I am grateful to be here with you in this glorious assembly of the priesthood of God. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will be with me and with you as I address you on a most vital subject. This evening I would like to speak to the fathers assembled here and throughout the Church about their sacred callings.

I hope you young men will also listen carefully, inasmuch as you are now preparing to become the future fathers of the Church.

Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity.

President Harold B. Lee truly stated that “the most important of the Lord’s work that you [fathers] will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home. Home teaching, bishopric’s work, and other Church duties are all important, but the most important work is within the walls of your home” [1].

What, then, is a father’s specific responsibility within the sacred walls of his home? May I suggest two basic responsibilities of every father in Israel.

First, you have a sacred responsibility to provide for the material needs of your family.

The Lord clearly defined the roles of providing for and rearing a righteous posterity. In the beginning, Adam, not Eve, was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow.

The Apostle Paul counsels husbands and fathers, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” [2].

Early in the history of the restored Church, the Lord specifically charged men with the obligation to provide for their wives and family. In January of 1832 He said, “Verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown” [3]. Three months later the Lord said again, “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken” [4]. This is the divine right of a wife and mother. While she cares for and nourishes her children at home, her husband earns the living for the family, which makes this nourishing possible.

In a home where there is an able-bodied husband, he is expected to be the breadwinner. Sometimes we hear of husbands who, because of economic conditions, have lost their jobs and expect the wives to go out of the home and work, even though the husband is still capable of providing for his family. In these cases, we urge the husband to do all in his power to allow his wife to remain in the home caring for the children while he continues to provide for his family the best he can, even though the job he is able to secure may not be ideal and family budgeting may have to be tighter.

Also, the need for education or material things does not justify the postponing of children in order to keep the wife working as the breadwinner of the family.

I remember the counsel of our beloved prophet Spencer W. Kimball to married students. He said: “I have told tens of thousands of young folks that when they marry they should not wait for children until they have finished their schooling and financial desires. … They should live together normally and let the children come. …

“I know of no scriptures,” President Kimball continued, “where an authorization is given to young wives to withhold their families and go to work to put their husbands through school. There are thousands of husbands who have worked their own way through school and have reared families at the same time” [5].

Brethren of the priesthood, I continue to emphasize the importance of mothers staying home to nurture, care for, and train their children in the principles of righteousness.

As I travel throughout the Church, I feel that the great majority of Latter-day Saint mothers earnestly want to follow this counsel. But we know that sometimes the mother works outside of the home at the encouragement, or even insistence, of her husband. It is he who wants the items of convenience that the extra income can buy. Not only will the family suffer in such instances, brethren, but your own spiritual growth and progression will be hampered. I say to all of you, the Lord has charged men with the responsibility to provide for their families in such a way that the wife is allowed to fulfill her role as mother in the home.

Fathers, another vital aspect of providing for the material needs of your family is the provision you should be making for your family in case of an emergency. Family preparedness has been a long-established welfare principle. It is even more urgent today.

I ask you earnestly, have you provided for your family a year’s supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel? The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.

Also, are you living within your income and saving a little?

Are you honest with the Lord in the payment of your tithes? Living this divine law will bring both spiritual and material blessings.

Yes, brethren, as fathers in Israel you have a great responsibility to provide for the material needs of your family and to have the necessary provisions in case of emergency.

Second, you have a sacred responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in your family.

In a pamphlet published some years ago by the Council of the Twelve, we said the following: “Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home” [6].

However, along with that presiding position come important obligations. We sometimes hear accounts of men, even in the Church, who think that being head of the home somehow puts them in a superior role and allows them to dictate and make demands upon their family.

The Apostle Paul points out that “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” [7]. That is the model we are to follow in our role of presiding in the home. We do not find the Savior leading the Church with a harsh or unkind hand. We do not find the Savior treating His Church with disrespect or neglect. We do not find the Savior using force or coercion to accomplish His purposes. Nowhere do we find the Savior doing anything but that which edifies, uplifts, comforts, and exalts the Church. Brethren, I say to you with all soberness, He is the model we must follow as we take the spiritual lead in our families.

Particularly is this true in your relationship with your wife.

Here again the counsel from the Apostle Paul is most beautiful and to the point. He said simply, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” [8].

In latter-day revelation the Lord speaks again of this obligation. He said, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” [9]. To my knowledge there is only one other thing in all scripture that we are commanded to love with all our hearts, and that is God Himself. Think what that means!

This kind of love can be shown for your wives in so many ways. First and foremost, nothing except God Himself takes priority over your wife in your life—not work, not recreation, not hobbies. Your wife is your precious, eternal helpmate—your companion.

What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion. Surely when you love your wife with all your heart, you cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her, or abuse her by words, sullen behavior, or actions.

What does it mean to “cleave unto her”? It means to stay close to her, to be loyal and faithful to her, to communicate with her, and to express your love for her.

Love means being sensitive to her feelings and needs. She wants to be noticed and treasured. She wants to be told that you view her as lovely and attractive and important to you. Love means putting her welfare and self-esteem as a high priority in your life.

You should be grateful that she is the mother of your children and the queen of your home, grateful that she has chosen homemaking and motherhood—to bear, to nourish, to love, and to train your children—as the noblest calling of all.

Husbands, recognize your wife’s intelligence and her ability to counsel with you as a real partner regarding family plans, family activities, and family budgeting. Don’t be stingy with your time or with your means.

Give her the opportunity to grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially as well as spiritually.

Remember, brethren, love can be nurtured and nourished by little tokens. Flowers on special occasions are wonderful, but so is your willingness to help with the dishes, change diapers, get up with a crying child in the night, and leave the television or the newspaper to help with the dinner. Those are the quiet ways we say “I love you” with our actions. They bring rich dividends for such little effort.

This kind of loving priesthood leadership applies to your children as well as to your wife.

Mothers play an important role as the heart of the home, but this in no way lessens the equally important role fathers should play, as head of the home, in nurturing, training, and loving their children.

As the patriarch in your home, you have a serious responsibility to assume leadership in working with your children. You must help create a home where the Spirit of the Lord can abide. Your place is to give direction to all family life. You should take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline.

Your homes should be havens of peace and joy for your family. Surely no child should fear his own father—especially a priesthood father. A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior. The powerful effect of righteous fathers in setting an example, disciplining and training, nurturing and loving is vital to the spiritual welfare of his children.

With love in my heart for the fathers in Israel, may I suggest ten specific ways that fathers can give spiritual leadership to their children:

1. Give father’s blessings to your children. Baptize and confirm your children. Ordain your sons to the priesthood. These will become spiritual highlights in the lives of your children.

2. Personally direct family prayers, daily scripture reading, and weekly family home evenings. Your personal involvement will show your children how important these activities really are.

3. Whenever possible, attend Church meetings together as a family. Family worship under your leadership is vital to your children’s spiritual welfare.

4. Go on daddy-daughter dates and father-and-sons’ outings with your children. As a family, go on campouts and picnics, to ball games and recitals, to school programs, and so forth. Having Dad there makes all the difference.

5. Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by your children.

6. Have regular one-on-one visits with your children. Let them talk about what they would like to. Teach them gospel principles. Teach them true values. Tell them you love them. Personal time with your children tells them where Dad puts his priorities.

7. Teach your children to work, and show them the value of working toward a worthy goal. Establishing mission funds and education funds for your children shows them what Dad considers to be important.

8. Encourage good music and art and literature in your homes. Homes that have a spirit of refinement and beauty will bless the lives of your children forever.

9. As distances allow, regularly attend the temple with your wife. Your children will then better understand the importance of temple marriage and temple vows and the eternal family unit.

10. Have your children see your joy and satisfaction in service to the Church. This can become contagious to them, so they, too, will want to serve in the Church and will love the kingdom.

Oh, husbands and fathers in Israel, you can do so much for the salvation and exaltation of your families! Your responsibilities are so important.

Remember your sacred calling as a father in Israel—your most important calling in time and eternity—a calling from which you will never be released.

May you always provide for the material needs of your family and, with your eternal companion at your side, may you fulfill your sacred responsibility to provide the spiritual leadership in your home.

To this end I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  1. Strengthening the Home, pamphlet, 1973, p. 7
  2. 1 Tim. 5:8
  3. D&C 75:28
  4. D&C 83:2
  5. “Marriage Is Honorable,” in Speeches of the Year, 1973, Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1974, p. 263
  6. Father, Consider Your Ways, pamphlet, 1973, pp. 4–5
  7. Eph. 5:23
  8. Eph. 5:25
  9. D&C 42:22