Last week I gave a talk in church about fatherhood and I want to share what I had to say on this blog. My research on the role that the father has in the home has really helped me to clarify my own role as a mother. I am so grateful for my wonderful husband!
Today as I have been asked to talk about Fatherhood, I wish to emphasize the importance of women supporting men in this important calling. God created men and women in His own image, and all children of our Heavenly Father are created equal, in that we are loved equally, and our individual worth, and our Divine potential is equal as sons and daughters of God.
However, we are not created the same, and we have different roles to fill. By honoring and supporting men, and specifically our own husbands and fathers, in their stewardship as they preside over our homes, we are likewise empowered in our own roles and wives and daughters.
ALL of civilization depends on the father. As goes the father, so goes society. When fatherhood as an institution is strong, when a man governs his commonwealth in obedience and submission to God, order radiates throughout society.
“Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum,” writes Fr. Chad Ripperger. “Either the man will be head of the house or the wife will; it is that simple.”
Today, women rule not just their homes but the world. The pop singer Beyoncé is right: Women rule the world. They rule the world with their passions. They rule the world with their mounting unhappiness. They rule the world with their frustration and its accompanying irrationality. They rule like those capricious and unpredictable goddesses of the ancient world who alternated between wrath and seduction.
They rule because men have let them. Men have progressively denied their authority until it is all but gone.
The question I ask is, are we more happy now? Are the men? Is society stronger? Strong, Godly men are the foundation for a Godly home, and women long for men who will assume that leadership so that they won’t have to. After all, we have our own work to do.
Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling
Satan, in his carefully devised plan to destroy the family, seeks to diminish the role of fathers. Increased youth violence, youth crime, greater poverty and economic insecurity, and the failure of increasing numbers of children in our schools offer clear evidence of lack of a positive influence of fathers in the homes. A family needs a father to anchor it.
We truly are witnessing a decline of fatherhood in our nation. There are more single mothers than ever before, but more than that, the divine calling of Fatherhood has been diminished in the media. The modern father is portrayed as crass, lazy and weak compared to the modern woman who is taking over the world. I am grateful that this is not what the gospel teaches, and what I have witnessed in my own family life.
Look at the recent “Marriage of the Century” of Prince William to Catherine Middleton. The word “obey” was infamously taken from the ceremony. Although men and women are equal, the gospel teaches a different perspective. In the LDS Temple ceremony, do we vow to obey our husbands? While those words are not actually part of the sealing, they are in the endowment, as exemplified by the very first marriage in the world, the marriage of Adam and Eve. Eve covenants to hearken to her husband’s council, and Adam covenants to hearken unto the Lord. When the Lord is taken from the marriage ceremony, like everything else in society, we are left with a hollow question of, “Why should the wife obey the husband anyway?” But it the Priesthood authority for the husband to preside over the home, and his covenant to hearken to the Lord is often forgotten when we talk about obeying our husbands.
How much are women to submit to their husbands? Are women diminished when we allow fathers to preside in the home? My response to that is another question: To what degree should men submit to the will of the Lord? Do men become less when they follow the Lord’s teachings?
Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of law and appointment. You preside at the meal table, at family prayer. You preside at family home evening; and as guided by the Spirit of the Lord, you see that your children are taught correct principles. It is your place to give direction relating to all of family life.
You give father’s blessings. You take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline. As a leader in your home you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centered life.
A cute little girl was sitting on top of a pile of luggage in a hotel lobby. Her parents were registering for a room. A sympathetic lady asked if they were staying long. “Oh, we are just going to live here until we find a house. My Daddy has a new job and we had to sell our old house and move here.” The lady said: “I am sorry you don’t have a home any more.” The little girl said: “Oh, we have a HOME, we just don’t have a house to put it in.”
Do you have a home?
What is a home? In short, it is the family, the fundamental unity of society. When the family is based on love, service, and unity, based on the pattern that the Lord has set, we will be a happy home, and we will find joy in fulfilling our different roles in the home.
Since it is father’s day, I would like to finish by honoring my own father by sharing a poem that he wrote about his Paternal grandfather, Alvin Anderson.
Memories flood of long, long ago
When as a very little man,
I loved to be with Grandpa.
I was his biggest fan.
His garden was a special place,
For love and growth was there.
The flowers seemed as tall as trees
And made the people stare.
The rows were straight. The earth was warm,
And not a weed was seen.
The peas were sweet, the carrots long
A boy felt like a king
It didn’t make much sense to me
How much he always grew,
For when I looked in his small house
I saw only two.
Then every fall like old St. Nick,
A smile upon his face,
I saw my Grandpa sneak around
And fresh vegetablize the place.
The greatest mystery to me
Was the flowers that he grew.
You could not even eat them.
Their stems you could not chew.
I asked about this mystery,
The labor down the drain,
And so he paused to teach me
And my little brain.
“You see this world is vast and large.
I cannot change it all,
But this brown earth is my own space.
It is special call.”
“I make it like a paradise
For those who pass to see
What love, labor, toil and sweat
Can make this earth to be.
And when they smell this fragrance,
Their mind will upward turn.
Problems left, their heart will change.
For higher things they’ll yearn.
I cannot make these flowers,
But I will do my share,
And God and I work side by side
To give them needed care.”
One last thing he told me,
Though to learn it I was slow,
“For every flower you give away,
Two in it’s place will grow.”
When from this life I travel
To that Garden eternally
And meet the master Gardner,
And a welcomed child to be.
I will not be a stranger,
For I knew him here below,
And was taught about eternal things
While Grandpa leaned
upon his hoe.
Thank you to all of the fathers for everything that you do, and for your example to us. We are inspired by what you do.