L. Hannah Stoddard, edited by James F. Stoddard III and L. Sarah Stoddard
In our day the phrase “Patriarchal Order” provokes deep emotions, generally negative, to many members of the Church. To a growing number the Patriarchal Order is either something of the past that we have now finally moved beyond through further light and knowledge, or to others a skeleton in the closet—a disturbing mistake. Perhaps a large majority of members today feel that this doctrine should never have been taught or practiced.
Should we still believe in and practice the Patriarchal Order? This article will attempt to first teach the straightforward and clear doctrine as it has been taught by inspired prophets throughout the entire history of the earth, and secondly to alleviate concerns in the hearts and minds of questioning Latter-day Saints. The Patriarchal Order is easily contrasted with modern counterfeits.
“Unbridled Hate” for the “Patriarchal Slave-Master”
In 1969, during a period of unrest in America, a spirited dialogue occurred. A gathering of female activists, with their leader, chanted the following exchange, as recorded by one of the participants:
“Why are we here today?” she asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replied.
“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.1
These women were not illiterate uncouth renegades. These members hailed from Radcliffe, Columbia, Smith and other esteemed American universities. They were clever, sophisticated, and most importantly, influential. One of the women present at this meeting later wrote, “Their desire—and I witnessed it at subsequent meetings till I got pretty sick of their unbridled hate—was to tear American society apart along with the family and the ‘Patriarchal Slave-Master,’ the American husband.”2 Years later, Americans have yet to realize how influential they were because we have not understood, or perhaps better, admitted their goal. However, 20th and 21st century feminists were far from being the first champions of destroying the Patriarchal Order.
Destroying the Eternal Father
Feminism is filled with irony. First, it did not originate from women! In her book, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Catharine A. MacKinnon writes, “Feminism, Socialism, and Communism are one in the same, and Socialist/Communist government is the goal of feminism.”3 Interestingly Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founders of Marxist theory, were fanatical haters of patriarchal fathers and truly feminine mothers. This hatred was fueled by their ultimate goal: dethroning the Eternal Father, forever. 4567 Marx stated, “Anybody who knows anything of history knows that great social transformations are impossible without the feminine ferment.” 8 His colleague Engels fumed:
The overthrow of mother-right [matriarchy] was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children.9
The incredible fact behind these statements is that Marx and Engels, the primary fathers of Socialism, likely did more in the known history of this earth to promote the degradation of women and the servitude of mankind than any other social reformers.10
Lenin and other communists have been expert in understanding that reaching women is key to their goals:
Unless millions of women are with us, we cannot exercise the proletarian dictatorship, cannot construct on communist lines. We must find our way to them, we must study and try to find that way.11
Lenin discovered this “way to them” when he said:
. . . women grow worn out in petty, monotonous household work, their strength and time dissipated and wasted, their minds growing narrow and stale, their hearts beating slowly, their will weakened . . . freedom for the woman from the old household drudgery and dependence on man. That enables her to exercise to the full her talents and her inclinations. The children are brought up under more favourable conditions than at home.12
Note the deception. Patriarchal authority has nothing to do with the drudgery of housework. Patriarchal authority has nothing to do with creating dependence upon men. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to a person new capability, increased capacity. The Gospel enlightens and exalts while increasing stewardship and personal ability in both men and women.
For instance, in my home my Mother does very little household cleaning and cooking; and if it were up to my Father she would do nothing a child could learn to do for him or herself. We believe a mother should be more of a manager and less of a house maid. This is in harmony with the principle of heaven that nothing should be done for someone that they can do for themselves.
The adversary’s great strategy is converting solutions into the problem. Issues did and still do exist in homes across the world today. However the Patriarchal Order is the answer, NOT the cause of the problems.
For socialists and/or feminists, the home is the arch-enemy and must be destroyed. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the home is meant to be modeled after, a type of, our Heavenly home. In the Gospel the home should be the most sacred place on earth. Lenin reveals his hate for the home in these words: “The status of women up to now has been compared to that of a slave; women have been tied to the home, and only socialism can save them from this.”13
The savior of women and the replacement for the home in socialism is the state and a new intellectual elite. Feminism, whose roots grew out of socialism, inherited this mindset.
Lenin, Marx and other socialists bequeathed their vision to women, who then advocated and defended this anti-Christian worldview. Though the cover was equal rights, behind closed doors the real mission was clear: exterminate God.
Annie Laurie Gaylor: Let’s forget about the mythical Jesus and look for encouragement, solace and inspiration from real women… Two thousand years of patriarchal rule under the shadow of the cross ought to be enough to turn women toward the feminist “salvation” of this world.14
Naomi Goldenberg: God is going to change. We women… will change the world so much that He won’t fit anymore.15
Gloria Steinem: By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God.16
Incredibly, the feminist movement, with near universal success, reached their goals by the turn of the century.
What were the Feminist Goals?
The famous feminist Betty Friedan used “women’s liberation [as] just a subtext of her real desire to create a Soviet America.”17 Leon Trotsky wrote, “The women’s liberation movement is a central part of the American socialist revolution in the making.”18 Even the well-beloved modern “heroine” Susan B. Anthony craftily said, “Give us suffrage, and we’ll give you socialism.”19 Gloria Steinem raved, “Overthrowing capitalism is too small for us. We must overthrow the whole _ _ _ _ patriarchy.”20
Feminist leader Andrea Dworkin wrote, “Only when manhood is dead—and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it—only then will we know what it is to be free.”21 Even the Marxists Internet Archive explains, “From the 18th century up to the present, women fighting against their oppression by patriarchal structures have developed political science, ethics and critical philosophy and contributed to the development of revolutionary theory. Many were Marxists.”22
Why have anti-Christian advocates sworn undying vengeance against the Patriarchal Order and the Heavenly Patriarchal Father? Why do they see the destruction of fathers as a necessary step, and even equivalent to destroying God? What do they understand that we have forgotten?
What is the Patriarchal Order?
In opposition to the modernist view, ancient and modern prophets have taught that the Patriarchal Order is God’s perfect or Celestial form of government and family order. Prophets through all time have taught these principles, revered this structure and rejoiced in the hope that the true Patriarchal Order would one day be fully lived by the Saints.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that the organization of God’s Kingdom is patterned after the Patriarchal Order:
Among the saints the family is the basic unit of the Church and of society, and its needs and preservation in righteousness take precedence over all other things. True family organization is patriarchal in nature; it is patterned after that organization which exists in heaven (Eph. 3:15);23 (emphasis added)
. . . The Lord’s government is patriarchal in nature. The family unit is the center . . . . With the placing of man on earth, the Lord began by patterning earthly government after that which is heavenly. A perfect theocratic, patriarchal system was set up with Adam at the head.
. . .
In these early days the church government itself was also patriarchal in nature. From Adam to the flood the presiding church officer was always both a high priest and a patriarch, and the office descended from father to son. This order of priesthood itself was called the patriarchal order.
. . .
Administration of church affairs is necessarily on a different basis in our day, but the most important part of the patriarchal order is preserved for worthy members of the Church. Those married in the temple in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage become inheritors of all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the patriarchs and thereby enter into the patriarchal order. If the participating parties abide in the eternal marriage covenant, they shall reap the full blessings of patriarchal heirship in eternity where the patriarchal order will be the order of government and rule.24
If we truly want to understand the character of God and experience the life He lives, understanding the Patriarchal Order is essential. These principles are not to be feared or avoided. Instead, they hold the key for true success in our families.
President Joseph F. Smith further explained:
There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. This authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity.25 (emphasis added)
God has ordained fathers to lead and “by divine design, . . . preside over their families in love and righteousness.”26 It is interesting to note that as President Smith stated, the position of the patriarchal father has been honored by righteous saints in all dispensations. Understanding the Patriarchal Order lies in comprehending the responsibilities and duties of the father, mother, children and how they should interact.
In this telestial world, striving to live the Patriarchal Order gives us a glimpse of heaven. Saints have great cause to rejoice in the roles and duties that extend beyond this life. Trying to live these principles now is an example of those things that will “rise with us in the resurrection”—an eternal investment. Our salvation depends on understanding family government, for that is the basis on which God’s Kingdom lies. President Smith continues:
There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.27 (emphasis added)
Women and, interestingly, children are responsible to understand priesthood and patriarchal duties. All family members have a divine mandate to study, comprehend and strengthen this order.
In our day and age, the adversary has worked overtime as President Benson noted to “displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children.”28 Among other righteous forebears, the Patriarchs in the Bible, the prophets in the Book of Mormon, the early Brethren of this dispensation and precious few noble fathers today understand this order. Has this knowledge been generally ignored and largely lost? How can we rebuild this family, or better Celestial, organization? Can we return to their inspired instruction and example?
For a moment, put aside your presuppositions, opinions or judgments and ask the simple question: “What has God revealed on the relationship between a father and a child or a father and a mother?”
The Father and the Son
The greatest patriarchal father is God the Eternal Father. The Quorum of the Twelve noted in the pamphlet Father, Consider Your Ways (published as “A Message from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”): “It is significant that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father.”29 Of all the titles whereby we could be called, He calls us His “children.”
What can we learn from the greatest Patriarch and His choicest Son in regard to proper relations between fathers and children? How should we answer one of the shrillest cries of the feminist, socialist and modern child rights advocate when they scoff at the principle of submission? “A child submit to his father?” they cry. “What evil, what perversion!” they loudly proclaim throughout the land.
Submission is the very heart of the Gospel. During Christ’s ministry on earth, He constantly reiterated that His actions were entirely based on commands from His father.30 The Messiah was in a state of complete submission. To see the Son was to see the Father, to hear the Son was to hear the Father.31 Christ taught that all those who followed His example and did “the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”32 His glory or his mission was not His own, but his Father’s. Christ came to the earth with nothing more than a commission from His Father, and left having done nothing less than fulfilling that command.
The ultimate test of this submission came in the garden when Christ was faced with enduring perfectly the most intense suffering ever experienced by a mortal.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39) (emphasis added)
Christ emphasized that He did not come to earth to fulfill His own mission. There was no “individual mission,” “personal mission” or “self-fulfillment”. He did not come to earth to walk in His own Path. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38) This is the true patriarchal order, the order the Saints of God are yearning for. If our families truly desire to follow the Lord, the father of the home must be in tune in such a way to know that his instructions are only and entirely what his Father in Heaven desires. Additionally, in this righteous home, the will of the child must be the will of his or her father if that will is truly revealed by the Eternal Father. This submission must also span the generations in a multi generational legacy of faithfulness from father to son to father and so on.
Christ continued this pattern throughout his mortal life, but does this pattern also transcend this life? Is this truly an eternal pattern? When the Savior accomplished the mission of His Father and overcame the world, did He move on and become His own master? Does submission of a righteous son to a righteous father end? The scriptural record reveals that after His resurrection, after His return to the Father and after receiving of the Fulness, the Son was still under His Father’s authority. When He appeared to the Nephites in the New World, Christ specifically stated at least 27 times that His actions were in obedience to commands from the Father. For example, He explained that His Father had commanded him to visit other remnants of the House of Israel:
But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them. (3 Nephi 16:3) (emphasis added)
This command and it’s fulfilment were given AFTER Christ’s exaltation. The future gathering of Israel was also spoken of in context of fulfilling the Father’s command:
And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 16:5) (emphasis added)
Christ had received the fullness. He had overcome the world and gained exaltation, but still His sole mission was to fulfill the Father’s mission; and we have no evidence or reason to believe that this has ever changed. His covenants were and are the Father’s covenants. His actions were and are in obedience to commands from the Father. If anyone ever had the “right” to move on from their father’s authority, it would be the Son. If Christ, a man who never sinned nor transgressed, lives this life of submission, what should be the focus of our lives? How much more should we, being unholy, be in submission to our Father in Heaven. And to the degree that our earthly fathers live lives of submission and speak the words of God, we should likewise submit to our righteous earthly fathers.
We often speak of Christ enduring the suffering of Gethsemane and the torture and suffering of the cross because of His love for us. However, from scripture we understand that this motivation was at most only secondary. Christ took the sins of the world upon Himself in perfect submission because of His Father’s will and command.
I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. (3 Nephi 11:11) (emphasis added)
Not only did the Son obey during His mortal life, but from the beginning of His existence He “suffered the will of the Father in all things”. This affirmation caused the Nephites to fall down and worship Him. He later continued:
I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. . . .
this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me . . .
this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me . . .
I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father . . .
This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them . . . therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them. . . .
I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them . . . I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel. . . .
blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you. . . . (3 Nephi 11-16) (emphasis added)
Note the Son’s repeated emphasis of His submission to the Father. In fact, a case could be made that His complete and total submission was His primary message to the Nephites.
Due to our fallen natures and lack of obedience, we do not enjoy the same companionship with our spiritual Father that the Son did to His Spirit Father. Nevertheless, we are here to be tested and proven as to whether we will submit and honor both our Heavenly and earthly fathers as God uses earthly fathers to teach and illustrate the pattern of Heaven. By honoring and submitting to our earthly father as did Christ, we are reconciled to God.
I believe the primary secret to this patriarchal pattern lies in the responsibility of fathers emulating and submitting entirely to the will of God. If they are to act as God’s representatives, fathers must teach doctrine, prioritize tasks and direct the family only by God’s direction. Fathers must correctly discern between truth and error. They must regulate the influences (media, books, friends, etc.) that enter the home. They must exemplify for their children what obedience looks like by complete obedience to God without exception and without question. How inconsistent it would be for a man to expect his family to follow him when he is not willing to follow Christ! Earthly fathers must know the mind of Christ by walking in His steps to know both the will of the Father and the Son.
Submission and honor to fathers is illustrated beautifully by King Benjamin’s famous passage on the natural man. During his last address the prophet-king explained:
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever . . .
Mankind is clearly alienated from God. How does reconciliation occur?
. . . unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him . . .
We overcome the Fall by submitting as a little child, but how do we understand and comprehend “submission”? Our attitude to our earthly father is the example:
. . . even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19) (emphasis added)
Allow me to rephrase the last sentence. The divine message given through King Benjamin is that to become reconciled to God we must obey our Father in Heaven as “a teenager submits to his earthly father” or as a “mature son or daughter submits to his father” or as a “child submits to his father”. Does this understanding change the way we approach our family relationships?
Is your association with your earthly father of this nature? Whether you realize it or not, the honor you pay your father is a reflection of your nearness to God.
Now allow me to surmise what you may be thinking. God is perfect. Our earthly fathers are fallible mortals. Can we follow imperfect leaders? Well, the answer to this isn’t a simple yes or no. None of our leaders in the Church are perfect. Bishops, Stake Presidents, even members of the Twelve and First Presidency are not perfect. When any leader including fathers, bishops, stake presidents, members of the Seventy, members of the Twelve, members of the First Presidency and so forth give counsel we must discern whether that counsel is coming from the Lord.
And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. (D&C 68:4.)
On any vital issue we must learn to discern between truth and error.
When discussing authority, leadership or obedience the question naturally arises, “Do I obey my father blindly? If my husband directs, should I feel compelled to obey if I doubt the moral veracity of the instruction? What about my children?”
Joseph F. Smith wisely explained:
We do not ask you to do anything that you may not know it is your duty to do, or that you may not know will be a blessing for you to do. If we give you counsel, we do not ask you to obey that counsel without you knowing that it is right to do so. But how shall we know that it is right? By getting the Spirit of God in our hearts, by which our minds may be opened and enlightened, that we may know the doctrine for ourselves, and be able to divide truth from error, light from darkness and good from evil.33 (emphasis added)
No command is meant to be obeyed blindly. “We may know the doctrine for ourselves” and it is our responsibility to receive a confirmation. This principle applies to all circumstances involving authority: religious, political, family, business, etc. We may not understand why the command was given but we can identify whether or not it agrees with the mind and will of the Lord.
President Brigham Young taught:
You may inquire how we are to know that we are so led. I refer you to the exhortation you have heard so frequently from me. Do not be deceived, any of you; if you are deceived, it is because you deceive yourselves. You may know whether you are led right or wrong, as well as you know the way home; for every principle God has revealed carries its own convictions of its truth to the human mind, and there is no calling of God to man on earth but what brings with it the evidences of its authenticity.34
When we stand before the Judgment Seat of God we will be responsible for our obedience to God. Note that every principle is possible to be authenticated. We are commanded not to follow ignorantly. Like any righteous father, the Lord is eager to pour knowledge and wisdom upon His children. Any barrier can be dismantled, all impediments can be removed if we are willing.
Brigham Young continued:
I will say a few words in regard to your belief in being led, guided, and directed by one man. Brother Jackman has said that our enemies hate the fact of our being led by one man. Thousands of times my soul has been lifted to God the Father, in the name of Jesus, to make that verily true in every sense of the word, that we may be led by the man Jesus Christ, through Joseph Smith the Prophet.35 (emphasis added)
Ultimately, God should be the only authority giving commands. He places representatives on earth to reveal His will and instruction. It is left for us to develop the discernment, to develop the gift of revelation, to truly come to know for ourselves if the words of our leaders are from God in every particular. Blind obedience will never lead to exaltation. Elder Boyd K. Packer directed:
Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God. We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “under this head are [we] made free.” (Mosiah 5:8)
Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.36 (emphasis added)
One may wonder, “Does it really matter if we follow blindly as opposed to knowing for ourselves?” This is not a small matter. President Brigham Young feared the blind confidence of the saints and worried that they would fall into complacency. He was concerned that they would accept “with a reckless confidence” what was said by General Authorities or other leaders rather than searching out the truth for themselves by study and also by faith.
What a pity it would be if we were lead by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are lead by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purpose of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders did they know for themselves by the revelations of Jesus that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the path the lord dictates or not. This has been my exhortation continually.
. . .
Let every person be fervent in prayer, until they know the things of God for themselves and become certain that they are walking in the path that leads to everlasting life . . .37
Where are we today? Do we place blind obedience in Church leaders while ignoring and belittling the authority of the father in the home? In either case “blind obedience” and “reckless confidence” are dangerous and neither is true submission in a scriptural sense.
The general connotations of “submission” in contemporary society include fear and disgust to a significant degree. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the definition and related duties that the doctrine of submission requires. The Lord has taught in multiple instances that His house is a “house of order” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:8). Without a correct understanding of submission and authority, can we ever understand the order of His household?
First, the word is scriptural. Used in all four standard works, submission clearly plays a significant role in a fulfilling life.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)
Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me. (2 Samuel 22:45)
. . . becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)
To “submit” is “to yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another.”38 When we submit to God, we willingly embrace every sacrifice, law, blessing, trial or even torture that “the Lord seeth fit to inflict”. Abraham when he offered Isaac on Mount Moriah—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they braved the fiery furnace—the sons of Mosiah when they gave up the throne for a life of fatigue and pain—all subjected their will to the will of the Father. In our own dispensation, there are numerous examples of men and women who willingly endured years of relentless torture and did so with a hopeful, forgiving, even grateful attitude.39 Why were they willing to go through this? Because Christ requested them to do so.
To live a life of submission to God often requires greater sacrifice than dying for Him. President Benson stated, “Some men are willing to die for their faith, but they are not willing to fully live for it.” According to The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, the word “submit” in the New Testament is from the Greek word “hupotasso” meaning:
A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”40
Consider the example of the Savior. He truly submitted to His father, not only through obedience, but by contributing to, supporting and building the vision and mission of His Father. This building of the mission of His Father never ended. In addition to yielding His heart, He gave his might, mind and strength. If we desire to follow Christ, we must learn how to live in the same way.
Consider the famous passage in Matthew, “Let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Once again we see that our light and good works are done to glorify the Father. Beacons of hope are brought to the world by furthering the Father’s mission, not our own. By submitting to His vision, not our own. To the degree that earthly fathers are inspired of the Lord it becomes our duty to support and build the family vision and family mission. This applies spiritually and temporally. Note the counsel from President Lorenzo Snow on what is considered by many a controversial subject.
If a father, for instance, had a large, extensive family, his object would be to do them good, to promote their interest and happiness, to put into their hands power, knowing that they could not accomplish much alone, and that they would have to take or obtain assistance from that family.
The son that would take the deepest interest—that would devote himself the most faithfully to promote the designs of the father and head of that family, for the happiness and prosperity of the whole, would increase in power and influence faster than any other one; for the father would be disposed to put as much power and influence into his hands as it would be possible for him to receive, and as would be for the benefit of the family.
That would be the principle upon which ALL the members of that family would increase in knowledge, influence, and power above others. It would be by having the faculty, the feeling, and the disposition and desire to carry out the mind of the father, and that, too, for the benefit and exaltation of the whole family.
In order to do this, every particle of power, influence, and ability that a son holds, he should hold in subjection to the will of his father, be ever ready to carry out his commands; and his object and aim should be to obtain influence WITH his father; and then he would feel like holding everything that he obtained subject to the control of the father. No matter if he had obtained great temporal influence—no matter whether his influence be of an intellectual or spiritual character—no matter whether he obtained his influence by his knowledge of books, the study of science—whether he had obtained farms, or lands, or riches, or whether he had his influence by obedience to his father’s will, he would hold all at the control of his father, for the general good of the family. Just so far as he had this in him would he gain influence with his father and get the power upon him which it is absolutely necessary for him to possess.41 (emphasis added)
This is the vision of submission by true sons and daughters to true fathers. No righteous individual will resist submitting to God the Eternal Father or an earthly father who is devoted to the Kingdom of God. Every father interested in Celestial life must become worthy and lead such a life that his children will desire to follow him not only in this life, but everlastingly. To whatever degree we live this pattern, to that degree we live Celestial laws.
George Q. Cannon imagined the results that would flow from families built on this Celestial pattern.
. . . family government is the foundation of all government. Show me a community where children are brought up in holiness and purity, and trained in the fear and knowledge of God, and I can prophesy future greatness and prosperity for that people.42
In the world today we speak often of fighting for freedom, advocating political principles, reforming education, serving in humanitarian efforts, picketing at the capital and calling our representatives. But what does it profit us if we pass a dozen laws yet lose our own children in the process? Where is our greatest responsibility, and where will our efforts produce the greatest yield? Where are our children while we “fight for truth”? Are they cheering you from the sidelines while building their own vision? Are they frittering away hours of precious time? Or worse, are they fighting against your efforts? If our approach was truly family centered, would they not be working at your side, anxiously engaged in the greatest causes?
Elder Cannon continues:
If I see a family where the children are obedient to their parents, and listen to their voices as to the voice of an angel; and where wives are obedient to their husbands, meeting their wishes and seeking to gratify them in everything in the Lord, I know there is greatness before that family. So with this entire people.43
We will never see prosperity in our economies, freedom in our world or the majority of our youth stay in the true faith until we return to God’s order. He is the way and there is no other.
Elder Cannon foresaw the consequences family order has on the world:
If our children be trained in the fear of God, if within their minds are instilled the principles of truth, righteousness, faith, and godliness, we may dismiss all fears respecting the future growth, development, and prosperity of our Father’s kingdom on the earth.
When we see our children growing up in unbelief and hardness of heart, then have we cause to fear and tremble. 44
Throughout this article, we have spoken primarily of the father’s role. Women however must understand that their role is essential as well. Without their teaching, without their willing submission, without their gifts, without their service the Patriarchal Order is missing the heart. Elder Cannon exhorted:
Every one of you, my sisters, can do a great deal towards building up this kingdom. A great glory is bestowed on woman, for she is permitted to bring forth the souls of men. You have the opportunity of training children who shall bear the holy priesthood, and go forth and magnify it in the midst of the earth. It is a glorious mission which God has assigned to his daughters, and they should be correspondingly proud of it, and should realize its importance and seek to be missionaries in their own families, training up their children in the fear of God.45
How can mothers train their children to fear the Lord if they do not understand the proper roles of wives and children? How can women be “missionaries in their own families” if they are in rebellion against true family principles? The women of the Church must raise up fathers of nobility prepared to call down the word of God and inspire their families. The women of the Church must raise up fathers who are worthy of honor, who can begin to live this higher law, or we will never be a Celestial people.
The statements of President Lorenzo Snow and Elder George Q. Cannon raise other questions regarding unmarried adult women. Do single daughters “graduate” from the family order when they reach the age of 18? What is the role of fathers and mothers during the dating/courtship season? How can a daughter follow President Snow’s counsel to “devote [herself] the most faithfully to promote the designs of the father”, “carry out the mind of the father” and hold “everything that [she] obtained subject to the control of the father”? As we will see in the Part II, the prophets of God have given instruction to answer these questions.
The concepts of patriarchal authority, submissive children and consecrated fathers are sadly foreign to our modern world. Regrettably, millions of God’s children on the earth (nearly all of them) have lived without any knowledge of the joy true family life brings. However, though these principles have been belittled or forgotten today, they are far from new. The Patriarchal Order has been the essential backbone of the Gospel throughout all eternity.
- Millett, Mallory. “MILLETT: Marxist Feminism’s Ruined Lives.” Truth Revolt. N.p., 04 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 Dec. 2014. .
- Catharine A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, First Harvard University Press, 1989, p.10
- “I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.” (Wurmbrand, Richard. Marx and Satan. Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1986. 1. Print.)
- “The idea of God is the keynote of a perverted civilization. It must be destroyed.” (Wurmbrand, Richard. Marx and Satan. Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1986. 2. Print.)
- “A curtain had fallen. My holy of holies was rent asunder and new gods had to be installed.” (Blumenberg, Werner. Karl Marx: An Illustrated Biography. London: Verso, 1998. 26. Print.)
- “Thus heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well. My soul, once true to God, Is chosen for hell.” (“The Pale Maiden.” Book of Verse–Karl Marx. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2015.)
- Karl Marx, 1868 letter, Selected Letters: The Personal Correspondence 1844-1877
- Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Frederick Engels. Chapter 2. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/ch02c.htm
- First Presidency. “Message on Communism.” Improvement Era July 1936: n. pag. Print.
- Lenin on the Women’s Question: From My Memorandum Book, by Clara Zetkin, first published in 1925
- VI Lenin, Speech at the First All-Russia Congress of Working Women, November 19, 1918; Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1974, pages 180-182.
- Annie Laurie Gaylor, “Feminist Salvation,” The Humanist, July/August 1988, p.37
- Naomi Goldenberg, “Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions,” Quoted at beginning of From Father God to Mother Earth
- Gloria Steinem, quoted in the Saturday Review of Education, March 1973.
- David Horowitz, “Betty Friedan’s Secret Communist Past,” Jan. 18, 1999
- Ronald J. Lawrence, The Marxist Goliath Among Us, pg. 289
- Zinn, Howard The Twentieth Century: A People’s History. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1980. p. 46; Zinn, Howard A Young People’s History of the United States. Published, 1995. p. 335.
- Detroit Free Press, April 15, 1974 (obscenities deleted)
- From a speech given at MIT, Sept. 26, 1975
- “Marxists Internet Archive Library, Complete Index of Writers.” Marxists Internet Archive Library, Complete Index of Writers. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2015. <http://www.marxists.org/archive/#feminism>.
- McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966. 197. Print.
- McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966. 397. Print.
- Smith, Joseph Fielding. Gospel Doctrine. N.p.: Deseret Book, 1939. 288. Print.
- First Presidency. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The Family: A Proclamation to the World. LDS Church, n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2015.
- Smith, Joseph Fielding. Gospel Doctrine. N.p.: Deseret Book, 1939. 288. Print.
- Benson, Ezra Taft. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1988. 541. Print.
- Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Father, Consider Your Ways.” Ensign June 2002: n. pag. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
- John 14:10,31; 16:28; 5:36; 8:16,49; Luke 2:49, Luke 22:29,42; Mark 14:36; Matthew 26:39
- John 14:11, 8:19, Luke 10:22, John 10:15, John 14:9
- Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, John 14:28
- Joseph F. Smith, Collected Discourses, ed. Brian H. Stuy, Vol. 3 (Burbank, B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992 (emphasis added)
- Brigham Young, “Eternal Punishment,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 12 January 1862, Vol. 9 (London: Latter-Day Saints Book Depot, 1862), 150.
- Boyd K. Packer, “Agency and Control,” Ensign, May 1983, 66
- Deseret News February 12th, 1862, p. 257
- Webster, Noah. “Submit.” American Dictionary of the English Language. 1828 ed. N.d. Print.
- Examples include Richard Wurmbrand (imprisoned and tortured in Communist prisons for 14 years, author Tortured for Christ); Nora Lam (author China Cry, persecuted in Communist China); Brother Yun (imprisoned and finally exiled as a Chinese Christian house church leader, author The Heavenly Man); Andrew van der Bijl or Brother Andrew (author God’s Smuggler, Christian missionary who has smuggled Bibles and Christian literature into Communist countries since the 1950s); John H. Noble (survivor of the Soviet Gulag – forced labor camps during Stalin era, author I Found God in Soviet Russia) and many others.
- “Hupotasso.” BibleStudyTools.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jan. 2015.
- Lorenzo Snow, “Filial Duty—Consecration, Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, pp. 63-66, April 9, 1857. emphasis added
- George Q. Cannon, “Truth to Be Received for Its Own Sake, Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, pp. 330-339, March 3, 1867.
4 thoughts to “Do We Still Believe in the Patriarchal Order?”
I was invited to learn about this through a facebook friend, and a casual reading through the website made me worry that this would lead to us becoming more insular. After reading through Hannah’s blog post, however, I worry that you are far too concerned about things we have moved from. ETB was chastised by the President for his Red Scare tactics, and he discontinued the fear mongering once he took the mantle. Many members, I fear, are still stuck in this time period, where a lot of the us vs. them still resides. We can learn to live with and love our neighbors, without all this vitriol.
As a seeker of truth I completely agree with this article. One reason for my support is the account in the Book of Mormon concerning the prophet Lehi and his sons. Lehi was a righteous man, but the majority of the people of Jerusalem at the time thought otherwise. They hated him to the point that they plotted to slay him. If you were one of Lehi’s sons, to be in favor your father’s visions would certainly be “unpopular” at the time. Nephi is a great example for us because he genuinely wanted to know for himself if his father’s prophecies and visions were true, so he prayed unto the Lord to receive an answer (1 Ne 2:16). Nephi learned for himself that the prophecies were true and this shows us that he did not follow blindly. Nephi teaches us to be submissive to our father especially when our father simply wants us to return to our God. Laman and Lemuel on the other hand were constantly against their father’s just commands. They didn’t ask God to gain a knowledge for themselves because they loved the life Jerusalem offered more than God. Laman and Lemuel’s choices are a warning to us when we are disobedient to our good father. I disagree with Lenin and Marx concerning their philosophy on this subject. There are many reasons and one of them is a disturbing quote from Lenin. It is used in this article to which he states “The children are brought up under more favorable conditions than at home.” Another words he’s saying I want your children to think and act the why I want them to. I believe that the mother and father have a right to their own children. Now what happens if a righteous father and mother raise their children in the ways of our God? We can take yet another account from the Book of Mormon to find the answer. During a great war, two thousand stripling warriors gave much assistance to the fatigued Nephite armies. They also inspired the Nephites because of their obedience to God and because God did not let one of them die. Who taught them in the ways of their Lord and Savior? Their valiant mothers of course. And one may ask were where their fathers? If we read Alma chapter 24 we discover what happened. Their father’s buried their weapons of war because they knew that they had greatly sinned. They wanted to truly show God their broken heart and contrite spirit. And that cost them their very lives. The action the fathers took, forever emblazoned the minds of their wives and children. And because they showed their love to God in giving their lives, their wives were further able to teach their children in the ways of God. This resulted in their children becoming spiritual monuments to the Nephites. And because of their incredible sacrifice, Heavenly Father’s gift to the fathers was that none of their sons or wives would be killed by the armies that sought their extinction. In conclusion this article has referenced so many simple truths by our own leaders, why would we not agree and uphold the righteous father of the family. To the Stoddard family I thank you for courageously writing this commentary even if it wasn’t “popular” in the eyes of the world.
This is an excellent article that was published in the Ensign about the patriarchal order! I would definitely recommend reading it!
This article has genuinely awakened me to the devastating consequences negligence and failure to live this principle has wrought in every segment of our modern culture. Even as young as I am (I’ve only been around about two decades) I’ve begun to recognize the eternal gravity of the Patriarchal Order and the immense responsibility and accountability a father holds for his family, as President Brigham Young wisely asserted,
In your post you’ve clearly and succinctly captured the position of our Leaders on this subject and with such uniformity in the Church, is it a surprise that the Patriarchal father has come under such assault? This is a siege of the entire familial structure and each member has been adversely affected, none more than mothers. Too many single moms are forced to bear a burden never meant for them to carry alone, due to the reckless abandon our generation have been conditioned to adopt. Feminism -fulfilling the obligation of communism from which it spawned- has degraded the sanctity and importance of motherhood and women rather than exalting them, casting this fiction of drudgery and housework when in reality, “Mothers are the moving instruments in the hands of Providence to guide the destinies of nations.” (Brigham Young, JD 19:72)
Duly did President Ezra Taft Benson “testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing.” (I Testify, October 1988)
You have masterfully illustrated that when we have honorable and heroic fathers we are to be obedient to them as our Savior was submissive to His Father. Jesus willingly follows the leadership, always speaks the words, performs the deeds, and carries out the will of Heavenly Father. So much so that if we want to know the character of God we can look to His Only Begotten as our Exemplar. Should not we as sons strive to be as loyal to our righteous fathers? That we too may reflect our Eternal Father for future families, for if a child cannot see a little of God represented in their father it will be that much harder to see a father in God.
It’s time for the boys of my generation to stop wasting their lives in trifles, we must rise up from this mist of apathetic confusion and be men. President Gordon B. Hinckley lamented,
We have to be men intentionally, lethargy leads to futility. A man cannot be passive about his Patriarchal responsibility and expect to be found faithful to God. To lead as men we have to put down the controller and take responsibility for our families, as faithful fathers, husbands and sons.
We need to be men who will step up to the plate and pursue the excellence of character God wants to develop in each of us. We’ve all made mistakes, deal with and forsake them, we need to grow a hatred for mediocrity and resolve to spit any half-hearted attempts out as if they were lukewarm water.
Thank you so much for writing this, it has stirred my soul in remembrance of duty. Despite what popular opinion wants us to believe, this is not something to apologize for! Society may try to convince us we don’t have permission to take the mantle of a God-fearing Patriarch, but the Prophet Joseph Smith admonished that the damnation of hell was, “To go with that society who have not obeyed [God’s] commands.” (TPJS, p. 198.) Remember “They may be politically correct, but they are spiritually lost.” (Stay by the Tree by Elder Kevin W. Pearson)