07) HUSBAND: What is the role of the husband?

Prophetic Statements

Joseph Smith


“It is the duty of a husband to love, cherish , and nourish his wife, and cleave unto her and none else. He ought to honor her as himself, and he ought to regard her feelings with tenderness for she is his flesh and his bone, designed to be an help unto him, both in temporal and spiritual things, one into whose bosom he can pour all his complaints without reserve, who is willing (being designed) to take part of his burden to soothe and encourage his feelings by her gentle voice.

“It is the place of the man to stand at the head of his family and be lord of his own house, not to rule over his wife as a tyrant, neither as one who is fearful or jealous that his wife will get out of her place and prevent him from exercising his authority. It is his duty to be a man of God–for a man of God is a man of wisdom–ready at all times to obtain from the scriptures, the revelations and from on high, such instructions as are necessary for the edification and salvation of his household.

“And on the other hand, it is the DUTY of the wife to be in subject to her husband at all times, not as a servant, neither as one who fears a tyrant or a master, but as one who in meekness and the love of God regards the laws and institutions of heaven [and] looks up to her husband for instruction, edification, and comfort.” (Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal, August 1838, 61-62)

Brigham Young


“Let every man in the land over eighteen years of age take a wife, and them go to work with your hands and cultivate the earth, or labor at some mechanical business, or some honest trade to provide an honest living for yourselves and those who depend upon you for their subsistence; observing temperance, and loving truth and virtue; then would the woman be cared for, be nourished, honored and blest, becoming honorable mothers of a race of men and women farther advanced in physical and mental perfection than their fathers.  This would create a revolution in our country, and would produce results that would be of incalculable good. ” 1


“We wish to introduce into this community manufactures and manufacturing so thoroughly that the people will consider themselves under obligation to feed and clothe themselves. Many of us are in the habit of doing only just what we like to do or of sitting with our arms folded, trusting to others to feed and clothe us. It is the duty of the husband to provide for the wife or wives and children, and it is the duty of the wife or wives and children to assist the husband and father all they can. If it is required of the father or husband to furnish his wives and children with flour, it is equally required of the wives, sisters and daughters to be careful in the use of that flour and see that it is not wasted. If it is the duty of the husband or father to furnish his family with cloth to dress themselves, it is their duty to see that that cloth is cut and made prudently and not wasted.” 2


I will give each of the young men in Israel, who have arrived at an age to marry a mission to go straightway and get married to a good sister, fence a city lot, lay out garden and orchard and make a home. This is the mission that I give to all young men in Israel.3


“Some may ask whether that is the case with me; go to my house and live, and then you will learn that I am very kind, but know how to rule.
If I had only wise men to talk to, [p. 57b] there would be no necessity for my saying what I am going to say. Many and many an Elder knows no better than to go home and abuse as good a woman as dwells upon this earth, because of what I have said this afternoon. Are you, who act in that way, fit to have a family? No, you are not, and never will be, until you get good common sense. Then you can go to work and magnify your callings; and you can do the best you know how; and on that ground I will promise you salvation, but upon no other principle.” 4

Joseph F. Smith

There are people fond of saying that women are the weaker vessels. I don’t believe it. Physically, they may be; but spiritually, morally, religiously and in faith, what man can match a woman who is really convinced? Daniel had faith to sustain him in the lion’s den, but women have seen their sons torn limb from limb, and endured every torture Satanic cruelty could invent because they be- lieved. They are always more willing to make sacrifices, and are the peers of men in stability, Godliness, morality and faith. I can not understand how a man can be unkind to any woman, much less to the wife of his bosom, and the mother of his children, and I am told that there are those who are absolutely brutal, but they are unworthy the name of men. I believe that most women are very devoted to their children, desiring for them most ardently all that is good, and I loathe with every fibre of my soul the son who turns against the mother who gave him birth.5

Spencer W. Kimball

President J. Reuben Clark said in his address to the MIA Conference in 1954:

You newlyweds have gone into the House of the Lord, you have been sealed with the holy spirit of promise. You, groom, have the priesthood. Through that sealing your bride has the blessings of the priesthood, not the priesthood itself. By virtue of the fact that you have the priesthood, you become the head of the family. What kind of a head of a family are you going to be? If I might make a very trite statement, the bride has not become your chattel by marriage to you; she is a complement of you in the family. For that purpose, she was created, that the two of you might go forward in a life that shall answer to the commandment given to you when you were married, “Multiply and replenish the earth,” one of the great commandments given to Adam in the beginning—.

If you will observe, you grooms, that one principle, it will tend to bring into your home more of happiness and contentment and peace than any other one thing of which I can think. How are you going to be the head of the family? You should be the head of the family in patience, in forbearance, in forgiveness, in kindness, in courtesy, in consideration, in respect and in all the other Christian virtues. You should be the head of the family in devotion and loyalty. If you are that kind of a head of a family, there will be nothing but happiness even as they bring further responsibilities.

In this comment President Clark was emphasizing the position of the husband. It goes almost without saying that the wife has responsibilities of equal importance to be a kind, considerate help meet to her husband.6

Ezra Taft Benson

Brethren, it is your role to be the leader in the home. While the wife may be considered the heart of the home, you are the head.
(Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 484.)

Supporting Statements

George Q. Cannon

“Our daughters should seek, by all the faith that they can exercise before God, to obtain good husbands—husbands who will build them up instead of holding them down; who will strengthen their hands in the work of God, who will make them mothers of a righteous seed and posterity, with whom they can rejoice in the eternal mansions of our Father and our God; and no woman who has the faith of the Gospel within her, will want to bear a child to a man of whom she will be ashamed, and who cannot lead her into the presence of the Lamb. She will rather exercise faith before the Lord that God will give unto her a husband in whom she can trust, in whom she can have confidence, whose word will be as the word of God to her. And in the midst of the troubles, afflictions and trials that belong to this mortal existence, she will feel comforted by the knowledge that her husband is indeed a man of God, a man who will be true and faithful to her under all circumstances. This is a constant cause of strength and comfort to every woman, to know that she has wedded a man whom she can trust, upon whom she can rely, who will never fail her, that is, as far as human nature will permit a man to be free from infallibility. This is the course we should all take.” 7

  1. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 195; Journal of Discourses 12:194-195
  2. Brigham Young, “Southern Missions, Etc.“, Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, pp. 297-301, October 8, 1868.
  3. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 196; Journal of Discourses 12:200-201
  4. Brigham Young, JD 4:51
  5. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 352; Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 3, 1891-1892, pp. 142-144
  6. Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, pg. 74
  7. George Q. Cannon, “The Latter-day Saints a Peculiar and Distinct People”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, pp. 360-371, November 16, 1884.
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