Thursday, March 3, 2011

On motherhood, fatherhood and priesthood

I have generally given up trying to explain why God does things. There was a time in my life when it was important for me to have that answer (and to share it), but I guess I’ve settled into a different place in my development. Now I can observe what God does and not worry about why. It is what it is, I tell myself, and that’s ok.

Not everyone is where I am, and that’s ok, too. For some, a quest of the “why” is vitally important. Others want to know, but are willing to wait and see if the “why” reveals itself. And other just don’t worry about it anymore. I think I’m somewhere between the second and third.

Some folks worry about why women don’t hold the priesthood. And others, hoping perhaps to assuage the need to know why, have offered the idea that men can hold the priesthood but women can have children, as if those two are equal endowments meant to offset one another.

This much I know: men hold the priesthood and women can have babies. And in the LDS church, women don’t hold the priesthood, and men (regardless of religious affiliation) can’t have babies.

This much I don’t know: the opportunity to hold the priesthood offsets the opportunity to have babies (or vice versa).

The Family: A Proclamation to the World says:

“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.”

Even if one accepts that premise (and I do, by the way), it does not support the idea that motherhood and priesthood are corollaries.

The corollary to motherhood is fatherhood. Our former stake president taught this principle regularly as he reminded us that when we were at home with our children, especially if we were watching the kids so mom could be away, we were not babysitting: we were being fathers. Indeed, the proclamation says nothing about priesthood, only motherhood and fatherhood.

Why don’t women hold the priesthood? I don’t know. Certainly they may receive all the blessings of the priesthood the same way any man can: by receiving the ordinances of the priesthood. Thankfully years of teaching by the church is giving women a greater voice in the councils of the church. (The recent training on CHI II has emphasized this point, but Elder Ballard has been speaking about it for years.) And we know that in certain settings, women play an active role in ordinance work. They certainly minister among the members of the church and in their families. Women teach and pray and have access to the same personal revelation and inspiration as anyone.

I am grateful to my eternal companion for her contribution to my life. Our family is pretty traditional. My wife is a SAHM and I work longer hours than I wish I did (so does she by the way!). But, bless her heart, my wife reminds me regularly of the contributions I make as a dad. Am I’m grateful (and tell her so) for her contributions as a mom. In those roles, I think we are as complementary as we are complimentary.


  1. Nice post. I appreciate the realization that motherhood and fatherhood are corollaries.

    When people link priesthood and motherhood, I am really annoyed. The former depends on your worthiness and being 12; the latter depends on whether or not you have a mate, whether or not you are actually able to have children - things that we can't always control...

  2. YES! to both your blog post and Robin's comments. Also, *love* the concise and succinct teaching of your stake president re: "babysitting" = being a father. It fascinates and bewilders me when some men (& women) view caring for the child/ren as an exceptional request being made of the father of said children.