Over the next several weeks I will be serializing a book written in 1996, dealing with the marriage covenant between men and women. There has never been a time in our society when the defining of the true roles of men and women was more urgent. A complete free pdf copy of the manuscript may be obtained by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Power and Covenants: Men, Women and Priesthood
by R. Scott Strong and David B. Goates, 1996
Table of Contents:
PART 1 -- THE EQUALITY QUESTION
Section 1 -- Sexual Equality
Chapter One: Equality of the Sexes
Chapter Two: Equality in Dichotomy
Chapter Three: Serving the Home
Chapter Four: Special Situations
Section 2 -- The “Presiding” Question
Chapter Five: The Presiding Principle
Chapter Six: The Principle of Order
Chapter Seven: Righteous and Unrighteous Dominion
PART 2 -- THE PRIESTHOOD QUESTION
Section 3 -- The Priesthood
Chapter Eight: What is the Priesthood?
Chapter Nine: Power in the Priesthood
Chapter Ten: No Power in the Law
Section 4 -- The Keys of the Priesthood
Chapter Eleven: The Presiding Keys of Authority
Chapter Twelve: The Spiritual Keys of Power
Chapter Thirteen: How the Priesthood Administers the Keys
Chapter Fourteen: Coming Into the Presence of God
Chapter Fifteen: The Priesthood Keys and True Prayer
Section 5 -- The Patriarchal Order
Chapter Sixteen: The Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood
Chapter Seventeen: Temples and Temple Work
Chapter Eighteen: The Creation of Man
Chapter Nineteen: Creatorship
Chapter Twenty: Women and the Priesthood
Before their outing to the park one day in early Spring, two children asked their father for some money to buy candy and soda.
Jill, the little girl, was crying as they left because her older brother, Joey, was given four quarters. She was given only one dollar bill. She left home feeling their father wasn’t very fair, because Joey got four and she only got one.
Joey felt he was really lucky getting four, when his sister only got one. He figured he was entitled to more because he was a boy.
In truth, their father had given them exactly equal amounts of money, but he had purposely given them their equal shares in different denominations that day for a reason known only to him. That early in the season the concession stand would be closed. Only the vending machines would be available. He knew the candy machine took only quarters, and the drink machine took only dollar bills. If he had given them each a dollar bill or if each had only four quarters, they would only be able to acquire either drinks or candy instead of both. He told them if they would share they could each obtain the desired treats. Now it was up to them.
Some brothers and sisters in similar circumstances might individually spend their share of the money, then proudly flaunt and consume what each had obtained while secretly envying what the other had. Worse, they might angrily argue over who had the best treat. Other brothers and sisters might do some wheeling and dealing, competitively bartering and manipulating to get more or less than the other based upon who was bigger or smarter.
Still others might lovingly combine their resources, join together, share equally, and gratefully enjoy what their father had generously provided as gifts for each of his children -- a love given freely and equally to a beautiful daughter and a handsome son.
THE EQUALITY QUESTION
Section One -- Sexual Equality
Equality of the Sexes
The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal) -- that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership. (See Ensign, Nov. 1994, pp. 49-51).
The woman is the other half of man, just as man is the other half of woman, and nothing short of a complete man (an exalted couple) comprises the true and full definition of God. Godhood requires parenthood. Gods are parents. Their dominions, principalities and kingdoms comprise their families -- their offspring. Gods have the power of endless (eternal) lives. They possess the power of the seeds (procreation) forever, worlds without end. Other resurrected beings without posterity are not Gods. These beings are not Kings and Queens, for they have no kingdoms, or posterity, to lovingly preside over in the grand order of eternal kingdoms.
The kingdoms [God] possesses and rules over are his own progeny. Every man who is faithful and gets a salvation and glory, and becomes a King of kings and Lord of lords, or a Father of fathers, it will be by the increase of his own progeny. Our Father and God rules over his own children. Where ever there is a God in all the eternities possessing a kingdom and glory and power it is by means of his own progeny. (JD, 11:262).
By definition, then, the Gods are exalted Fathers and Mothers. Wherever we find a father, there must also be a mother. Motherhood is essential to fatherhood, and both are essential to Godhood.
. . . there can be no God except he is composed of the man and the woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female. (JD, 19:270).
The Lord’s chosen servants have always taught this important doctrine.
Neither of the sexes is complete in itself as a counterpart of Deity. We are expressly told that God is the Father of spirits, and to apprehend the literalness of this solemn truth we must know that a mother of spirits is an existent personality. . . (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed., 442-43).
It is not good for man nor for woman to be alone. Man is not complete without woman. Neither can fill the measure of their creation without the other. (Ensign, November 1994, 49).
Absolute equality between two mutually and exclusively dependent halves of one whole is a self-evident truth. Man and woman are truly dependent upon each other to achieve their common goal of Godhood. The work and glory of God is impossible for either to achieve without the other. How can one say to the other, “I am superior to you,” and have it be true?
The other may say with complete integrity, “You will never have what you want without me. I am your only hope, your only option, your only chance at what you want. Everything you hope and desire is absolutely dependent upon your partnership with me. It’s me or nothing.”
Then the first could respond, “You are just as dependent upon me!” The second could rightfully say, “That is exactly my point. Each of us is no bigger, no higher, no more important, no better or more valuable in this common quest than the other. We either take each other, acknowledging each other as the equals we truly are, or we both have nothing.”
This stalemate, where neither has advantage over the other, neither has the requisite power nor capacities without the other, unequivocally confirms the equality of each half of the whole. Being mutually and exclusively dependent upon each other mandates respect and appreciation for the equal value of the other and willing submission and trust in a full partnership.
This is the true condition of males and females. If either the male or the female obtains a fullness of divine potential, it can only be realized in full partnership. There are no exceptions in the highest heavens.
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D&C 131:2-4).
“A man” in this context refers to “a person,” man or woman. The reference to “a man” here had to do with the fact the Prophet was speaking to William Clayton at the time. In this context whenever we refer to “man” in a generic way we are speaking about mankind -- men and women.
In order to fulfill the purposes of our Eternal Father, there must be a union, husbands and wives receiving the blessings that are promised to those who are faithful and true that will exalt them to Godhood. A man cannot receive the fulness of the blessings of the kingdom of God alone, nor can the woman, but the two together can receive all the blessings and privileges that pertain to the fulness of the Father’s kingdom. (Take Heed to Yourselves, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], 258).
Throughout history the carnal societies of fallen men have often viewed women as second rate citizens, mere objects of pleasure, to be used and abused at the whim of their supposed male counterparts for sexual gratification and in subservient roles as servants and slaves in the kitchens and bedrooms of society. Even within the churches males have historically arrogated to themselves positions of superiority (as they suppose) by virtue of their gender and priesthood. In this great pluralistic democratic era in America, however, with constitutional support to bolster their cause, the “women’s movement” is successfully seeking greater freedom and equality for all. It is no wonder oppressed women everywhere have risen in rebellion, seeking their rightful equal status with men in society. This new “feminism” is long overdue and clearly warranted. However, Latter-day Saints would be well-advised to exercise caution regarding these sweeping political and social reforms. There are many diverse ideas about what “feminism” is. Most of these ideas do not conform with the revealed truths of the Restoration.
Based upon the flood of light we enjoy, the Latter-day Saints can better define “feminism” within the Church as “partnership.” Men and women with that shared vision would then accept one another as equal brothers and sisters, become true partners, a Zion people who are “of one heart and one mind, and [dwell] in righteousness.” (See Moses 7:18).
Most of the women we know in the Church simply want and deserve acceptance, recognition and participation on equal terms with men. Few women really advocate a need or feel a desire for a priesthood ordination. What seems most apparent, however, is a healthy willingness and assertiveness among women to speak up against intolerance, injustice and insensitivity. If men are listening carefully they will move closer to understanding their role in productive partnering with their wives, daughters and other women in their lives.
I think that a certain contemporary feminism finds its roots in the absence of true respect for woman. Revealed truth teaches us something different. Respect for woman, amazement at the mystery of womanhood, and finally the nuptial love of God Himself and of Christ, as expressed in the Redemption, are all elements that have never been completely absent in the faith and life of the Church. This can be seen in a rich tradition of customs and practices that, regrettably, is nowadays being eroded. In our civilization woman has become, before all else, an object of pleasure.
It is very significant, on the other hand, that in the midst of this very situation the authentic theology of woman is being reborn. The spiritual beauty, the particular genius, of women is being rediscovered. The bases for the consolidation of the position of women in life, not only family life but also social and cultural life, are being redefined. (His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, ed. Vittorio Messori [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994], 216-7, italics in the original).
There is a hopeful tone in those words, as there is throughout the entire book. Perhaps we are at the apex of the change of direction in the swinging of the pendulum in women’s rights.
While we witness real and positive change in the fight to elevate women to their rightful equal status with men, there is alarming evidence we have overreacted in some very unwise and deleterious ways. There was a time in America during this century when political correctness regarding the domestic role of women was not an issue, because no one questioned the traditional family values of a father who worked outside the home and a mother who bore and nurtured the children within the home. Unfortunately, statistics and current social conditions document conclusively the shift from oppression of women to a position nearing selfish irresponsibility.
The data below illustrate dramatic changes in fifty years. The differences over time are startling. Male and female roles have been redefined with the following results. The graphs appeared in the Feb. 12, 1996 issue of USA Today, as compiled by Julie Stacey, from US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Health and Human Services, and Census Bureau data, and are summarized briefly here:
Marriage rate per 1,000 unmarried women 15 and older: 1946 -- 118.1; 1994 -- 51.5
Percentage of women, age 16 and over, in the labor force: 1948 -- 32.7%; 1995 -- 59.1%
Percentage of “traditional” families (husband works, wife does not): 1940 -- 66.7%; 1994 -- 16.9%
Percentage of dual-income families (both husband and wife work): 1940 -- 9.2%; 1994 -- 42.4%
Single-parent families as a percentage of all families with children under 18: 1950 -- 7.4%; 1994 -- 26.3%
Estimated median age at first marriage: 1947 -- 23.7 (Men), 20.5 (Women); 1994 -- 26.7 (Men), 24.5 (Women)
Average number of children under 18 among married couples with children: 1955 -- 2.2; 1993 -- 1.88
Number of children born out of wedlock (as a percentage of all births): 1946 -- 125,200 (3.7%); 1993 -- 1.24 million (31%)
Remember, these are only data from the United States. The data from other developed countries in Europe, for example, are even more sobering. The obvious question is, “What happened to the traditional family?” There are multiple answers to that question, but all of them are compounded by the economic realities that have beset the whole world, not just the oft-maligned materialistic Western world. Writing in USA Today on January 27, 1997, Lester C. Thurow, a professor of economics and former dean of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, gives the following assessment in an article entitled Changes in Capitalism Render One-Earner Families Extinct:
The traditional family is disappearing almost everywhere.
Worldwide from 1960 to 1992, births among unmarried mothers doubled for those 20 to 24 years of age and quadrupled for those 15 to 19 years of age. The United States is far from being the world’s leader in this category, ranking sixth. Divorce rates are rising in the developed and underdeveloped world, doubling in Beijing in just four years. Female-headed households or households where females provide 50% or more of total income are becoming the norm.
The reasons are straight-forward. The current economic system is no longer congruent with traditional nuclear family values, just as the Industrial Revolution two centuries earlier was not congruent with the then-traditional extended family values.
In America, 32% of all men 25 years to 34 years of age earn less than the amount necessary to keep a family of four above the poverty line. While male wages are falling at the bottom, the costs of supporting a family are rising. Children need ever more expensive educations for ever longer periods of time if they are to make it in today’s global economy. Economically many men, perhaps a majority, are being told that they should not plan to have a family since there is no probability that they will be able to support a family.
Women are under enormous pressures because the economy gives them one message (go to work and make the money the family needs to survive) and old cultural mores give them another message (stay at home and take care of the children). They feel stressed because they are stressed.
Today, family members support the family less because it is now much less necessary to their own survival. Men end up having strong economic incentive to bail out of family relations and responsibilities because they raise their own standards of living when they do so. Whether it is by fathering a family without being willing to be a father, by divorcing and being unwilling to pay alimony or child support, or by being a guest worker from the Third World and after a short time failing to send payments to the family back home, men are opting out. Among families with dependent children, 25% don’t have a male present.
Women get welfare only if no man is present in the home. Children’s economic standards of living are often higher as wards of the state in foster care than they would be if they stayed in their disintegrating families.
Values follow economic realities. Individual fulfillment now ranks higher than family in public opinion polls. “Competitive individualism” grows at the expense of “family solidarity.” The ideal is “choice,” not “bonds.” In the language of capitalism, children have ceased to be “profit centers” and have become “cost centers.”
The response quite naturally is to form fewer families and to have smaller numbers of children. When children do exist, parents spend less time with them – 40% less than they did 30 years ago. With mothers at work, more than 2 million children under the age of 13 are left completely without adult supervision, both before and after school.
Effectively, no one ends up taking care of the children, but they have to be left alone because paying for day care would use up most of mother’s wages and negate the whole purpose of going to work in the first place.
Historically, the single parent has been the norm in no society, but patriarchal linear life is economically now over. Family values are under attack, not by government programs that discourage family formation (although there are some) and not by media presentations that disparage families (although there are some), but by the
economic system itself. It simply won’t allow families to exist in the old-fashioned way, with a father who generates most of the earnings and a mother who does most of the nurturing. The one-earner, middle-class family is extinct.
Social arrangements are not determined just by economics – there are many possibilities at any point in time – but whatever the arrangements, they have to be consistent with economic realities. Changes within capitalism are making the traditional family less and less compatible with the market.
As a consequence, the family is an institution both in flux and under pressure. Basic questions about how the family should be organized have been put in play by economic reality. (USA Today, January 27, 1997, 17A).
The equal though fundamentally different roles of men and women have been redefined, revalued and reordered, and the home has been the casualty. Whatever else may be said, this much is clear -- perhaps only the Latter-day Saints and a handful of devout leaders and members in other world religions have the only viable hope of balancing the course the world has taken. We have a chance because of the eternal perspective God has rained down upon our heads in the Restoration. Others who are honest in heart among the Christians, Muslims and Jews, will continue to value the traditional family. Pope John Paul II has never wavered in his support of faithful marriages, his renunciation of the sin of abortion and indiscriminate birth control measures, nor his advocacy of women rights, for example. Like our prophets, however, he too has been criticized for his views on women and the priesthood.
Many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us. (Ensign, October 1980, 4).
We speak not by way of alarm but by way of gentle counsel. Let us go back to the basics and follow the fundamentals. Thus we will experience a spiritual resurgence in our lives which will help us through these tempestuous times. (Ensign, May 1981, 80).
As fallen mortals we have an innate desire to “want it all,” even when all the choices seem so “good.” The good news is we have more choices as men and women than ever before.
Sometimes forgotten from our pre-mortal experience is the reality we came to earth to make choices here, as we did there. If we will follow President Kimball’s counsel and go back to the basics, we will rediscover the truths about men and women, eternal marriage and the pure absolute equality of the sexes. Such truths will anchor our vision of becoming eternal couples dwelling in celestial glory and creating worlds without end. The realization of such lofty aims is only the result of today’s choices. Those eternal choices have everything to do with our respective but equal roles.