Good day brother Gramps,
I just read the reply you gave to Carmen. On one one you write, “Carmen What we do with our lives, so long as it is legal and morally sound, is pretty much up to us to decide. I can’t recall the Lord ever dictating specifics on this.” Yet, you give this response, “President Ezra Taft Benson had this to say: “Sometimes the mother works outside of the home at the encouragement, or even insistence, of her husband. It is he who wants the items or conveniences 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.” If it’s out of the mouth if a prophet, it is from the Lord, therefore, He did dictate specifics on this topic.
I agree with what President Benson has said, and I apologize for not being more clear with my previous answer. However I stand by my answer as it is written. In support of my statement, President Gordon B. Hinckley had this to say, in direct reference to the quote of President Ezra T. Benson in your question. It comes from his comments during the October Conference in 1996. The talk is called “Women of the Church“
Some years ago President Benson delivered a message to the women of the Church. He encouraged them to leave their employment and give their individual time to their children. I sustain the position which he took.
Nevertheless, I recognize, as he recognized, that there are some women (it has become very many in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries. The greatest job that any mother will ever do will be in nurturing, teaching, lifting, encouraging, and rearing her children in righteousness and truth. None other can adequately take her place.
Now, please be assured that I agree with your position as well. What I might have said in order to be further clear on this matter could be this; Heavenly Father has always had specific things he wanted us to do as parents raising children in this life. At the same time, he knew from the start that it would be impossible for us to completely fulfill those roles perfectly. Because of this fact, there are families where both spouses must work to provide for their family. There are yet others where the husband cannot work, or cannot provide for the family as well as the wife can. And yes, there are families where the husband provides adequately for the family, and the wife is thus able to stay home and be a full-time mother to her children.
Unsuprisingly, our modern apostles have spoken on this very thing. The Proclamation on the Family phrases it thusly: “. . . circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.” The Lord has not attempted to impose a mandatory one-size-fits-all solution over the Church at large; rather, He expects each person to counsel with Him and seek His will as it applies to that person’s specific situation. And that is the key. Because our General Authorities are speaking generally, to a world-wide Church, across different cultures, and even different periods of time, you will find principles being espoused that appear contradictory. For instance, the same Christ that commanded an unconditional love (“love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:39)) also commanded the exercise of conditional love (“love one another, as I have loved you…. [and as a demonstration of the conditional nature of Christ’s love] “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:12, 14)). Elder Oaks addresses the reality of this contradiction head on:
If parents have a wayward child—such as a teenager indulging in alcohol or drugs—they face a serious question. Does parental love require that these substances or their consumption be allowed in the home, or do the requirements of civil law or the seriousness of the conduct or the interests of other children in the home require that this be forbidden?
To pose an even more serious question, if an adult child is living in cohabitation, does the seriousness of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage require that this child feel the full weight of family disapproval by being excluded from any family contacts, or does parental love require that the fact of cohabitation be ignored? I have seen both of these extremes, and I believe that both are inappropriate.
Where do parents draw the line? That is a matter for parental wisdom, guided by the inspiration of the Lord. There is no area of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. This is the work of eternity. (Law and Love, October 2009 General Conference).
Since parents have been tasked with the work of eternity they will find wisdom in the words of the living oracles, and clarity and direction from the Wonderful Counselor.