Men and women are different
-- not only because culture helps us define our roles, but even our very base natural instincts differentiate us from one another.
I also have a strong conviction that men and women were designed by a very loving God to have complimentary, though separate, strengths and talents. And those talents give us help in the roles we fill in our marriages and our families.
One of the greatest statements I have ever read about gender roles and their place in marriage and homes is found in a document the leaders of my church shared with the world back in 1995. It's called, "The Family-- A Proclamation to the World", and you can read it in its entirety here.
Today, I'd like to share a few bits and pieces from this document that I believe was inspired by God's servants on earth.
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
Remember, this was given back in 1995, when the arguments on what defined "marriage" had yet to enter into society's great debate. So, at the time, it seemed almost unnecessary for this issue to be addressed. But, oh, how times have changed in the last few years!
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
I agree most emphatically that gender is an eternal part of who we are. God made us-- "male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:27) Both
of us are needed in order for the Lord's plans to go forward.
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
I love this passage, because it clarifies and reiterates the commandment the Lord gave to our first parents. The commandment to bear and raise children has never been rescinded! That is so simple, so beautiful, and so profound! But it makes me sad when I hear about couples who are unwilling to trust God in the planning of their families-- be they large, or be they small
. If God is mighty enough to run the universe, to save and redeem us, to lead us lovingly into life eternal, isn't he mighty enough to trust with the size of our families?
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
Babies are the most wonderful thing in this world. Their innocence and trust has the potentialk to bring everyone around them closer to heaven-- the place from which they've just arrived. "...trailing clouds of glory, From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!" ("Intimations of Immortality" by Wordsworth
How utterly barbaric can a society be that sees these precious little ones only as an inconvenience, a medical "condition", or-- worst yet-- a "problem" to be eliminated?! My heart breaks when I think of the statistics that change and increase on the abortion counter I have here on this website, in the left-hand column.
Abortion is a big business, facilitated by the utterly selfish for their own gain. And not only does the blood of millions of helpless babies cry out for justice against these purveyors of murder, but so do all the millions of broken hearts of women who have been convinced that it's "no big deal," but then find that it cries out against their very nature as nurturers.
Children are gifts of God to be welcomed and desired with love.
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
Once we welcome these children into our families, we have responsibilities that cannot and should not be abdicated to anyone other than we, the parents. A favorite quote of mine supports and clarifies this ideal:
God has implanted deep in the souls of parents the truth that they cannot with impunity shirk the responsibility to protect childhood and youth. There seems to be a growing tendency to shift this responsibility from the home to outside influences, such as the school and the church. Important as these outward influences are, they never can take the place of the influence of the mother and the father.”
-- David O. McKay
Society has tried time and time again to create anything that could even slightly compare to the great foundation structure that a family brings to the world. They have never been successful in this attempt! God designed not just men and women, he created marriage, and familial units, because he knew that would be the best chance for his children to progress and find joy.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And here we have the pivotal point about the separate, though complimentary roles of husband and wife:
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.
In my own marriage, I see a daily example of how true these principles are. My husband has strengths and talents that compliment my own in a way I never could have imagined possible. He feels the responsibility of providing and protecting myself and our children most acutely. He knows that my responsibilities of growing, birthing, and nurturing our children is a true sacrifice, and he gently protects my role in our home. He would never expect me to give up my duties at home to do what he feels called to do himself.
And I try and give him the same courtesy, even though I am immensely blessed to have him relieve some of the strain of cooking and shopping during my difficult times. (Pregnancy being a big one!)
He leads our family in prayer, in scripture study, and teaches my sons and daughters what it means to fulfill their duties by his example.
Of course, neither of us is perfect, and we acknowledge that freely! But we can still work hard to follow our ideals, even though we come up short. And we know that the Lord makes up for the rest! :-)
Partnership in marriage is not about keeping score-- it's about love, genuine concern, kindness, and Christlike unselfishness. It's about each of us fulfilling our individual roles to create the best kind of partnered leadership for the teaching and governing of our families. And it takes a father and a mother, to be successful.