Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adam and Eve as Co-Parents

I remember a friend of mine telling me of an exchange I found unbelievable, but I knew it was not only true, it probably had happened many times.

It seems they were having a discussion in their priesthood quorum about D&C 121 (where we're told how to exercise proper persuasion as priesthood holders – kindness, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, etc. -- see verses 41-42). When it came to the "reproving betimes with sharpness" (v. 43) verse, a brother said out loud that this verse gave him license to yell at his wife when she was out of line.

As my friend told me this story, I reflected on some solid teaching I received on my mission from Theodore M. Burton, then a member of First Quorum of the Seventy who instructed our zone conference. He said as a chemist he likened the "sharpness" in that verse to the sharpness of a clear photograph, not the sharpness of an acid. That image has always stuck with me, as has his rush to the second part of that verse ("showing forth an increase of love").

I remembered this story the other day as I read in Moses 4:22 the Lord's instructions to Eve that her husband was to "rule" over her. Someone in our class recalled President Kimball's discussion on that point suggesting that the word "preside" could well replace the word rule.

But the real nugget for me came in the next chapter, where we read in verse 4, "And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them…" I was struck that Adam and Eve were praying together, and that they received divine guidance together.

The Family, A Proclamation to the World teaches, "In these sacred responsibilities [of presiding and nurturing], fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

The cool thing for me in the Moses verses is that Adam and Eve approached their condition together: they prayed together and they received inspiration together. A great model to emulate, if you ask me.

- Paul


  1. How bogus! That brother should re-watch (or re-read) "Let Us Be Men". It's one of our favorite talks. I actually have what I think is a really good example of D&C 121 in action, I think:

    A few months ago, Jim and I were having our neighbors (who happen to be a gay couple) over for dinner. Halfway through dinner, M. turned to me and asked, out of the blue, "how much does liposuction cost?" I thought he was making a comment about me! I said I had no idea, why? M. turned to his husband and said, "because, J., you really need it". He then proceeded to reach over and give J. a pat on the tummy, to indicate his "problem areas". This turned into an all-out attack on J.'s fatness. Jim, gently but very firmly, cut into the conversation and said, "don't worry, I'll testify at your divorce proceedings--you don't have to take that". He then turned to M. and said, "that's verbal abuse, and I won't let you speak to another person that way under my roof". He then basically told M. he could apologize, or leave.

  2. Thanks for this post, Paul. When I was first married, this principle brought me a lot of comfort. I appreciated knowing that I didn't have to have the final say in major decisions, but that my wife and I could seek them out together and direct our family through unanimous decisions delivered by the spirit. Working together in this way has strengthened my relationship with my wife.

    I also find it interesting in the verses just prior to what you quoted in D&C 121 that it says unrighteous dominion is in the natures of almost all men who perceive themselves to have some degree of power. The great inclusion here of almost all men is what strikes me here. As I have learned more about unrighteous dominion, the truthfulness of this statement has become more apparent. But it also seems that as we learn to be kind, gentle, meek, loving, etc., the manipulation, harshness and selfishness of unrighteous dominion fades away completely.

  3. Me, too, Dallin. In addition to Elder Burton's teaching I had the good fortune to have a dad who taught me this principle well. Our family had been members of the church just a year and we traveled to the SL temple to be sealed. My sisters and I were playing some game in the back seat of the car and I, pretending to be grown up, said, "You have to listen to me; I have the priesthood!" My father stopped the car and calmly taught that I had it wrong.

    More on D&C 121 in this earlier post on this blog.