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Dear Gramps,

I have been a member of the Mormon Church for a few years now. I had a discussion with a friend that asked me a question and I didn’t know exactly how to answer. I hope you can help me. In which things should a woman be obedient to a man?





Dear Lavinia,

We live in a very wicked world, and it’s quite understandable that when people are converted to the Mormon Church they tend to bring with them many of the concepts of the world that are not part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, although the same terms are used in different contexts in the world and in the Church. One of these terms is the word, preside. One who presides in the world is an overlord; one who presides in the kingdom is a servant.

In the Mormon family, the husband and father, who holds the holy priesthood, is the one who presides. It is quite unfortunate that some men who preside over homes tend to use their priesthood in the worldly context rather than in the context that it was meant to be used in the kingdom, i.e., in the Latter-day Saint home. Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants specifically addresses this issue—

Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?


Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson–


That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.


That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.


Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.


We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen (D&C 121:34-40).

This passage tells us that when men try to impose their will in attempting to use their priesthood authority the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.  The continuing passage outlines the conditions under which it is legitimate to use priesthood authority—

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;


By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile–


Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;


That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death (D&C 121:41-44).

President Spencer W. Kimball once said:

“We have heard of men who have said to their wives, ‘I hold the priesthood and you’ve got to do what I say.’” He decisively rejected that abuse of priesthood authority in a marriage, declaring that such a man “should not be honored in his priesthood” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 316).

So I would suggest that it is proper for a woman to be obedient to a man when he uses his priesthood authority as outlined in verses 41 to 44, above. Such a man would never impose his authority on his spouse, but would by gentleness and meekness and by love unfeigned attempt to please and accommodate his wife, seeking her welfare and happiness.





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