Presiding in the Home

July 31, 2005 | 75 comments
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(Adam and Sara: you will recognize this topic from our lively late-night chat during your recent visit to Tacoma. I would love to have you both offer some of the insights here that you shared when we talked, if you’re so inclined.)
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I’ve long been interested in achieving a greater understanding of the church’s teaching that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness.” (Proclamation on the Family)

I’m interested in understanding _why_ (doctrinally and/or for practical reasons) the church teaches that, in the family, one parent-the father-is designated as the presider. The need for a presiding authority is clear enough to me in larger, organizational settings (church, stake, ward, multi-tiered company, etc.). But I’ve never quite understood the need for one person to preside in a marriage, which consists, after all, of only two people, who are equal partners, ideally, and each of whom is dependent upon the other for exaltation.

Mostly I’m interested in _what_ presiding means or is supposed to mean in the day-to-day workings of marriages and families. I’ve been conducting an informal survey on this issue for several years now, and I am continually amazed at how few people can articulate a response to the question of what it means to preside in the home, either in the abstract or in their own family. If they have any answer at all it is usually that presiding means that the father is responsible for calling the family to prayer, scripture study and family home evening. Is that how most of you understand its on-the-ground application, or is it more?

I know that many wives and mothers also call their families to prayer and other spiritual activities-some occasionally, some regularly. Perhaps they do it because their husbands don’t or won’t, or perhaps simply because they and their husbands do not see these activities as being the domain of any one parent. Maybe families across the church would be stronger if women really did always leave these seemingly small tasks to fathers. Or is there more to presiding than this?

Lesson 12 in Priesthood Manual A (“The Father’s Responsibility for the Welfare of His Family”), which begins with the previous quote from the Proclamation on the Family, teaches that fathers are to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the family. It includes the following as duties under providing for spiritual needs: “1. Teach[ing] the gospel to our wife and children; 2. Hav[ing] daily family prayer; 3. Mak[ing] our home a place that invites the Spirit of the Lord to abide with us; 4. Pay[ing] tithes and offerings to the Lord; 5. Hold[ing] worthwhile family home evenings.” These are wonderful duties. But if this list constitutes what is meant by presiding in the home, I fail to see what is gender-specific about it–i.e. how do these duties differ from those of the wife and mother, who has not been given the assignment to preside?

I expect that some will answer (or want to) that many or most men don’t do these things as ‘naturally’ or freely as women, and that this is why they have been given the assignment to do them by being designated as the presider. This is the argument that is often offered, for example, as to why men, and not women, hold the priesthood. Perhaps it’s true. It just has always seemed to me to be a somewhat patronizing generalization about men to say that they wouldn’t serve or love or seek God in the same ways as women if they didn’t have the priesthood or the assignment to preside. But perhaps I’m missing something.

Some people tell me that they understand presiding to mean that the husband has the final say in disagreements. Maybe this is true. In a righteous marriage I suppose this wouldn’t have to be a problem. My mother, for example, gave perhaps the most concrete answer of any I’ve ever received when I asked her what it has meant to her that my father presides in the home. She said (I paraphrase): “It means that I have sometimes stopped arguing sooner than I otherwise would have, and this has contributed to peace in our home.” That seems a beautiful thing.

As touching (and useful for someone as spirited as I am…) as my mother’s answer was, I admit that the “final say” aspect of presiding seems to have _way_ more potential for abuse than the “providing for the spiritual needs of your family” aspect, if indeed these things are what it means to preside. In other words, it seems that the issue of who has the final say might really only be much of an on-the-surface issue (and probably a tyrannical one) in unhealthy marriages. (“I preside, so do it, woman!” End of discussion.)

For my husband and me, the question of who presides is not really an issue. We just try to lead our family together in righteousness and hope that covers it. But I’m still curious…

How do you, my bloggernacle friends, understand-and practice-this principle? Here are some of my specific questions:
- If you’re a man, how do you understand your duty to preside in the home? What are you taught in Priesthood lessons? If you’re a woman, how do you understand the issue? What are you taught in RS lessons? (I’ve been in YW or Primary for so many years that I have no idea any more. :)
- Is the issue of presiding in the home a visible one in your family? Do you and your spouse ever discuss it? Do you feel at odds with your spouse about it? Or is it a complete non-issue in your marriage? (Or–how did it work in the family you grew up in?)
- What does presiding mean in your home in practice? Does it mean, men, that you try to be as involved as possible in calling your family together for spiritual nourishment? Women, does it mean that you try to foster this involvement and even that you stand back from doing those things yourself sometimes? Men, does it mean that you feel that you should have the final say-or, worded another way, the burden of the final decision-when irreconcilable differences arise? Women, does it mean that you defer to your husband in such situations?

What other meanings does or should “presiding in the home” have?

75 Responses to Presiding in the Home

  1. RoastedTomatoes on July 31, 2005 at 8:57 am

    You don’t want to know what I’ve been taught about presiding in the home in priesthood meetings–we’ve been living in Latin America for the last year, and this idea is often given a frighteningly authoritarian interpretation here!

    My wife and I have discussed the issue of presiding a lot, mostly in a totally puzzled tone, because our family just doesn’t have a president. We make decisions through deliberation until agreement. If no decision is reached immediately, then we try again later. I guess that means we try to operate “by persuasion, by long- suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:41-42), although I should point out that my wife operates this way every bit as much as I do.

  2. Kevin Barney on July 31, 2005 at 9:22 am

    The word “preside” derives from the Latin *praesideo* and lit. means “to sit before” (think of a bishop sitting before a congregation, or a chairperson sitting before a board). It is a term for one having authority. He or she who presides is the “president” (note the related form).

    This seems to presume a sort of corporate model of the family. Ours is a hierarchical church, and so some people see the family in similar hierarchical terms. I think maybe the idea is that the husband/father is supposed to be “in charge” as a matter of authority, but the use of “preside” is a less direct and therefore less threatening way of saying that. It stirkes me as a euphemistic way of saying the husband/father is in charge. It is by definition patriarchal.

    In my own marriage, we don’t practice a corporate model, but a partnership model, just as described by RT in comment 1 above. I never make decisions by fiat, but we always make them together by negotiation and mutual agreement. I suppose maybe if we just couldn’t agree, yet a decision *had* to be made, I would be in the position of having to make it. But I can’t think of such a scenario ever occuring, and we’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary next month, so I am skeptical of one ever occuring. It would be the “nuclear” option, something to exercise only in extremis. Because in theory an equal partnership can become deadlocked, and inaction could in and of itself conceivably be a dangerous situation for the family. But I can’t think of a good example of such a thing.

    I just asked my wife if and how I preside in the home, and she says I preside when there’s a decision to be made that she doesn’t want to be bothered with, such as which car to help our daughter get. Which to me is another way of saying I don’t really preside in any meaningful sense at all. Which is the way I prefer things. I’m not big on corporate type formalities in the family, such as “family councils.”

  3. maria on July 31, 2005 at 10:18 am

    This topic came up once when the missionaries were over for dinner. One of the elders said that presiding meant that the husband was in charge of choosing who says the prayer before meals, at FHE, etc. Ever since that day my husband and I have made sure that I am the one who extends the invitation to pray.

  4. Wilfried on July 31, 2005 at 10:20 am

    Kirsten, you choose your topics well. This one may be in for a long list of comments… My reaction to your questions is about the same as RT and Kevin: this issue is a non-issue in our marriage, now in its 27th year. My wife and I cannot remember a single moment where she or I took a final decision on any matter in a ‘presiding’ sense. Suggestions are made, ideas mature, consensus comes naturally. The whole idea of ‘presiding’ in a marriage sounds odd to our generation. Just like the idea of a formal ‘family council’.

    Of course, we should probably recognize that there could be, in many marriages where there are no conflicts, a latent strength from one of the partners that subtly and gently supersedes the other. And then I would say it may well be the wife who often ‘presides’ in point of fact. It was the case with my parents. Looking back, I am grateful for the example it set.

    RT rightfully referred to other cultural traditions. No doubt there are countries and cultures where the ‘male presiding’ is still a strong concept, passed on through education and traditions. In such case the Church directive can easily be misunderstood to prolong unacceptable behavior.

    Finally, another question could also be: is sometimes not the child ‘presiding’? In our culture where children are king…

  5. Julie in Austin on July 31, 2005 at 11:23 am

    Kirsten–

    Well-phrased topic, and you won’t be surprised that I have a lot to say on it.

    (1) The idea that presiding means having the final word is FALSE DOCTRINE (with all due respect to your mother, who you know I love). I wish the Brethren would address this issue more often in more specific language than “equal partners,” but there are a few times when it has been addressed:

    “Sometimes a husband may believe that his role as head of the house gives him a right to be exacting and to arbitrarily prescribe what his wife should do. But in a home established on a righteous foundation, the relationship of a man and a woman should be one of partnership. A husband should not make decrees. Rather, he should work with his wife until a joint decision palatable to both is developed.” H. Burke Peterson, “Unrighteous Dominion,” Ensign, July 1989, 7.

    “Immediately after setting me apart as a stake president, Elder Boyd K. Packer sat me down to give me a few points of advice on how to succeed in my new calling. I was fully prepared to be receptive to his counsel, but I couldn’t help being taken aback by his first admonition.”Now, President, I don’t want you treating your wife like you do the stake.”I was mildly offended. I said, “I wasn’t planning on treating either the stake or my wife badly.” “I know,” he continued, “but you need to treat them well, differently. In the stake when a decision is to be made, you will seek the opinion of your counselors and other concerned individuals. Then you will prayerfully reach a decision on the matter, and they will all rally round and support you because you are the president and you have the mantle of authority. In your family when there is a decision to be made that affects everyone, you and your wife together will seek whatever counsel you might need, and together you will prayerfully come to a unified decision. If you ever pull priesthood rank on her you will have failed in your leadership.”” Carlfred Broderick: One Flesh, One Heart: Putting Celestial Love into Your Temple Marriage.

    It is also of note, I think, that the only time in the GHI when one spouse is given the Nuclear Option (I like that, Kevin), it is the *wife*–in decisions related to bearing children. Maybe someone can provide that quote for me?

    (2) You ask, “I’m interested in understanding _why_ (doctrinally and/or for practical reasons) the church teaches that, in the family, one parent-the father-is designated as the presider.” Believe me when I say that I fully understand why you are asking this question, but I also need to note that I think it a dangerous question to ask. By analogy: we had a ban on blacks holding the priesthood, no divine reason given, lots of people (some in positions of authority) made up their own reasons, and we are still dealing with the fallout for their stupidity and racism. Unless there is a specific reason given for a specific commandment (which there sometimes is–I’m thinking of Jacob’s explanation for OT (not 19th c!) polygamy as being ‘to raise up seed’), I think we are more likely than not to get into trouble when we start fishing for reasons.

    (3) As far as what presiding means in my marriage, it means that my husband gathers the family for prayer, scripture study, and FHE, but if he forgets, then I remind him. You’ll note that these areas of leadership are not ones where I lose an opinion. (For example, he doesn’t lead in determining where we go on vacation–an arena where I might very well have a different opinion than he does. But I never have a different opinion on the holding of FHE, etc.) We’ve found that this works well for us in binding my husband into a family structure that, as the only person who is out of the house all day, it would be easy for him to fall away from. Perhaps one function of presiding is to bring the father back into the family circle. Also, the reality in our culture is that (as I think RW put it), no matter how the work is divided, women tend to hold the riddle of the management of the household (OK, she put it better than that!) in their heads. I’m grateful that here’s one area of the household functioning that is not primarily my responsibility. (Am I violating (2) with these statements? Maybe!)

    (4) That said, while I think couples would probably be most in harmony with Church teachings on presiding if they gave ultimate authority for spiritual events to the father, the actual administration can be varied to meet the family’s needs (and desires to shake things up). Kirsten, I don’t want to ‘out’ this family (although I doubt they’d mind!), but do you remember the Germanist with whom I came to your wedding? He and his wife alternate years in having the job of calling the family to prayer, with fun effect when they have the missionaries and others over for dinner. I think this sort of ‘delegating’ is perfectly legitimate.

    (5) You ask, “But if this list constitutes what is meant by presiding in the home, I fail to see what is gender-specific about it–i.e. how do these duties differ from those of the wife and mother, who has not been given the assignment to preside?” I think it is an ‘ultimate responsibility’ issue.

    (6) You wrote, “I expect that some will answer (or want to) that many or most men don’t do these things as ‘naturally’ or freely as women, and that this is why they have been given the assignment to do them by being designated as the presider. This is the argument that is often offered, for example, as to why men, and not women, hold the priesthood. Perhaps it’s true. It just has always seemed to me to be a somewhat patronizing generalization about men to say that they wouldn’t serve or love or seek God in the same ways as women if they didn’t have the priesthood or the assignment to preside. But perhaps I’m missing something.”

    I would agree *if* the assumption was women were ‘naturally’ better at spiritual things. But I don’t agree with that because I am not a gender essentialist. But what I do think is that men are enculturated in a way largely inconsistent with Christian values, while women are encouraged by the culture in that direction. I think that current gender roles as taught by the Church may very well be an effort to overcome cultural conditioning in the genders and bring us closer to God. (Yes, I may have violated (2) again.)

    (7) I found Kevin’s final paragraph interesting, because there have been a few times when, because of fear of a decision (such as making a financial investment), I have been tempted to rationalize turning it over to my husband under the guise of allowing him to preside. But, each time, I have ultimately felt that that was a poor interpretation, and was me just being a wimp, that I needed to step up to the plate and register an opinion, even if I was afraid.

    (8) I think I’ve covered how presiding works in our house. I think one other thing to realize is that allowing some concept of presiding still allows many different decision making models to coexist. For example, the strengths and weaknesses and preferences that my husband and I have usually mean that major decisions get made like this: I do a ton of background research (because I like to do this), present him with the results of my research, and we discuss it together until we reach a decision that both are happy with. The thing is, that we are naturally very like-minded and have virtually never had a serious disagreement (in nine years). I would be interested to hear from people who disagree a lot and how they have handled it.

    I’d also like to hear from more traditional couples, such as Adam and Sara.

  6. JA Benson on July 31, 2005 at 12:30 pm

    My oldest son while still in Jr. Primary informed the other Primary children, “The Priesthood is when the Mommies LET the Daddies be in charge.”

  7. Akash Jayaprakash on July 31, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    Jullie–thanks for the quotes and commentary! Very insightful.

  8. Kirsten M. Christensen on July 31, 2005 at 1:48 pm

    Such interesting comments already.

    Julie, like our mutual friend and his wife, Ted and I also occasionally joke: “Are you presiding today, honey, or am I?” But I admit that I occasionally feel some guilt about this lightheartedness, since the issue is so omnipresent and oft repeated that I wonder if I am (many of us are?) missing something. I am the last wife on the planet who would acquiesce on an issue for which I felt any passion. This definitely causes tension for us at times. So I wonder if, for us, more humility from me (I’m SO bad at humility!) would allow my husband to preside in righteousness with greater ease. Not that he’s ever said I should or that either of us thinks he’s not presiding right. We just never really talk about it–apparently a common approach among T&S-ers.

    Most of the comments imply that the issue not only of who presides but what it might even mean to preside is rendered moot in healthy marriages. Actually, ‘rendered moot’ might not be the right term, since several of the commenters admit to not knowing exactly what it means and instead just knowing what it _doesn’t_ mean in their own marriages. I think only Julie said what it does mean for her and Derek — that she tries to encourage him to take charge, if you will, in enhancing the family’s spirituality.

    If we’re all doing so well at this or are so unburdened by understanding it, why then, the persistent emphasis on it–in the Proclamation on th Family, in every priesthood manual, and, I can imagine, every priesthood session of conference, especially since, as Roasted Tomatoes (#1) indicated, that emphasis seems to have real dangers of leading to abusive interpretations?

    Julie, I understand your comment that trying to understand the ‘why’ could get us into trouble, but my interest in the ‘why’ isn’t so much a desire to delve into mysteries as a desire to better understand the ‘what.’ With most other commandments the ‘what’ seems more straightforward (which is not to say easy). Don’t kill means don’t kill. Go to church means go to church. Honor your parents, love your wife, etc. We could all come to consensus with some ease, I think, on the basic ‘whats’ of most other commandments. But the issue of presiding is more vexing, it seems. If the few comments here are any indication, most of us seem either not to know or to not wonder what this commandment means, which, I’ll say again, seems odd for something so heavily emphasized. Or maybe people are just saying that good presiding is practically invisible. Bad presiding is abuse. I’d say that most talks and lessons on the subject lean this direction.

    Your comment, Julie, that presiding might just mean that the husband has ‘ultimate responsibility’ is interesting. The husband, then, might have more to answer for at the judgment bar, say, if his family’s spiritual life was not strong? Maybe so.

  9. matt brice on July 31, 2005 at 2:53 pm

    I am inclined to think that “preside” is a cultural vestige that has yet to be “castrated” from our vocabulary. People most often identify it with a patriarchal order that existed in a different cultural atmosphere than exists today. We still have the word today, but marital relationships exist, at least in my limited view, in a much more equal setting. This leaves people today with the dilemma that Kirsten has–she reads this word and wants to follow it, but cannot give it any real concrete definition within our cultural world today–no “what”. My suggestion–get rid of the word–it has no meaning. Well, someone will retort, we are still taught it in the church. However, I feel this is changing. Most of the comments on this post so far have been inclined to do just that–ignore the phrase as having no practical application to our marital relationships today. Meanings have certainly changed over time and as such their use and application have varied–and here is a great opportunity to begin use equality-centered vocabulary that more accurately reflects the actual practice of LDS marriages.

  10. A Nonny Mouse on July 31, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    After skimming some articles in the most recent Women’s Exponent II, my spouse started discussing this very issue, because someone had written something about the “seeming contradiction” between the statement in the proclamation that “Husbands are to preside” and yet husbands and wives have equal roles. I thought my spouse made two excellent observations.

    1. Just because husbands and wives roles are different doesn’t mean that they’re not equal. One of us has a B.S. and one has a B.A. While our degrees certainly represent wildly different fields, neither one is better than the other. They both represent relatively equal amounts of work. In the same way, it can be said that husbands and wives can have different responsibilities within the home without either set of responsibilities being different.

    2. My spouse believes that the husband presides over the home in the same sense as the bishop presides over the ward: in a sense of being ultimately responsible for the spiritual welfare of each individual member of the family. Thus far, I think every use of the word preside has been linked to some sort of amorphous list of dailiy administrative responsibilities in the home. My spouse doesn’t think that the word preside has much to do with day-to-day chore lists (e.g. who will do which scripture reading or say what prayer) as it does with having the responsibility of making sure that the family is doing everything possible to best help each individual member obtain salvation. In that sense, although individual members (of the ward, or the family) are ultimately responsible for their own salvation, the bishop, or father, is there as a tool and resource to make sure everybody is doing everything they can to help each other out, to provide spiritual counsel, etc.

    From a priesthood perspective, this made a lot of sense to me. Men who are priesthood holders are responsible for the “blood and sins” of others. It’s my understanding that the very act of priesthood ordination mimics the act of placing sins on the various sacrifices in ancient Israel: by placing your hands on the head of your sacrifice, it would become the bearer of responsibilty for your sins, and then be sacrificed to make up for them (that’s probably come to me via seminary or some other CES institution, so who can tell how accurate it is… Anybody with a clearer understanding care to enlighten me? mailto:mouse.nonny@gmail.com). In a similar manner, priesthood bearers have hand lain upon them to make them responsible for their stewardship. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob talks about escaping the responsiblity for the sins of his congregation that was placed on him by virtue of his calling. He does so by being a capable priesthood holder and presiding officer: by teaching them the gospel and striving with them to help them live it.

    Perhaps in the same way that sister missionaries aren’t under the same requirement of the oath and covenant of the priesthood to preach the gospel that our missionary friends of the male persuasion are due to their having taken upon themselves the oath and covenant of the priesthood, those of us who are mothers don’t have the same requirement to be responsible for the spiritual welfare of our offspring.

  11. Rosalynde Welch on July 31, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    Kirsten, nice new take on a blog-world perennial. The idea of presiding and the sacerdotal hierarchy in which it’s embedded is central to Mormon practice and theology, particularly to temple worship. It’s inseparable from and indispensible to our priesthood culture and doctrine. As models of family structure have diverged more and more from the hierarchical orientation they once shared with priesthood quorums, the notion of “presiding” in a family becomes less and less ideologically legible; perhaps it wouldn’t be too much to say that it’s at something of a crisis of signification, and will have to be significantly re-theorized if it is to mean anything to coming generations of couples. If there is a revived emphasis on the notion of presiding (though I’m not convinced there is), I suspect it’s an attempt to make the concept relevant by simple repetition—but I doubt that repetition without some sort of revision will be enough.

    I worked out (or tried to) one way of understanding “presiding” that separates it from administrative duties or other normative relational content in a long series of comments with Gary here; there are also some excellent comments from Julie higher in the comment stream.

  12. Ben H on July 31, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    when one spouse is given the Nuclear Option (I like that, Kevin), it is the *wife*–in decisions related to bearing children

    There’s a moderately famous story in LDS circles about a woman who exercised this option in a peculiarly powerful way . . . she was married to a guy named Adam : )

    We have an authoritative statement that fathers are to preside. Where does it say that mothers are not to preside?

    A Nonny Mouse, I love your connection of the laying hands on the scapegoat to priesthood ordination. The texts about ridding oneself (or one’s garments) of the blood and sins of those around one certainly imply priesthood holders take some kind of responsibility for others’ waywardness, even if this responsibility isn’t transmitted by the laying on of hands. Certainly we lay hands on people where this sort of thing is not transmitted, e.g. in giving blessings. Anyway, I think something like this is the most helpful reading of “preside”; in other words, the buck stops here. For instance, responsibility to be sure your child learns the gospel does not ultimately lie with the Primary teachers. I am happy to see that the parents of my Primary students have this task well in hand.

  13. Prudence McPrude on July 31, 2005 at 7:47 pm

    Presiding in the “home”? You all don’t know how lucky you are to even have a “home” to preside in, or to be presided over in. As for my family, we lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We could only DREAM of being presided over in a home…

  14. Harold B. Curtis on July 31, 2005 at 7:57 pm

    In the councils of the Gods
    Stand the sceptres and the rods
    Who govern each galactic hour
    Through priesthood ministrations power

    Presiding presidents are they all
    Redeemed, exalted from their fall
    By submitted will they rise,
    And reign triumphant midst the skies

    Lessons learned in mortal states
    Hath opened all of heavens gates
    They stand beside their Queenly mates
    Ministering to their childrens fates

    As one, united, King and Quenn
    Niether greater but jointly seen
    Just as the servant of us all
    Became the master of the fall

    Who rules in splendor subdues their will
    To a greater servant still
    And by such grace they shall preside
    With Queens of glory by their side.

  15. ed on July 31, 2005 at 8:22 pm

    Kevin Barney and RoastedTomatoes: You might want to note this talk from Elder Perry. He affirms that the father “presides” in the home, but then also says “there is not a president or a vice president in a family.” I’m not sure either how you can have a presider who’s not a president, but this gives some hint that maybe you shouldn’t take the word too literally.

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/2004.htm/ensign%20may%202004.htm/fatherhood%20an%20eternal%20calling.htm

  16. Julie in Austin on July 31, 2005 at 8:59 pm

    ed–

    Good link. May I quote a little more?

    “Remember, brethren, that in your role as leader in the family, your wife is your companion. As President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught: “In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are coequals.” Since the beginning, God has instructed mankind that marriage should unite husband and wife together in unity. Therefore, there is not a president or a vice president in a family. The couple works together eternally for the good of the family. They are united together in word, in deed, and in action as they lead, guide, and direct their family unit. They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.”

  17. Ben H on July 31, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    Er, yeah, this talk by Elder Perry is a perfect example of how we seem to talk with complete conviction about two models of marriage partnership that seem deeply inconsistent. Just before the part Julie quotes is the following:

    “1. [of 3 'bullet points'] The father is the head in his family.

    ‘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 [divine] appointment.’”

    Of course, I think it may be a virtue to be a bit dizzy about this. Consider the conflicting ways in which God’s leadership, rulership, fatherhood is portrayed in the scriptures, raining fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, then reaching out as a hen that would gather her chickens under her wings . . . Christ shocks his disciples by washing their feet. Perhaps we have to live with the paradoxes.

  18. A. Greenwood on July 31, 2005 at 10:57 pm

    I’m am not persuaded by those who think that ‘presiding’ doesn’t mean any thing. Far less those who try to figure out what ‘preside’ means and do the opposite (see comment #3. I am saddened but not surprised that it didn’t raise anyone’s eyebrows).

    I don’t intend to address the dynamics of any one specific couple, but I will say a few things on the necessity of presiding in general. (I hope this is what I said in Tacoma, Kirsten C.) It is simply false that if a couple were perfectly righteous they would be in perfect accord, in this life or the next. Here, we are beset by limited information, differing experience, and so on. Even if we were not, some choices are equally righteous. Second, even if there is no substantive need for a decision-making procedure, hierarchy is a way of allowing for courtesy and love. Thus, wife shows love to her husband by freely submitting to his presidency. And he returns the courtesy by choosing not to exercise his authority until both are agreed. I would therefore disagree with those who think that equality and hierarchy are incompatible. Christ and the Father seem to be the perfect counterexample.

    As with Kirsten Christiansen’s last thread, I do not intend to participate further, to avoid possible quarrells with our friend—and because the public discussion here has mostly devolved into the kind I abominate, in which the Church’s position is assumed to be meaningless or false until proven otherwise.

  19. Kevin Barney on July 31, 2005 at 10:58 pm

    There is a reason that the Church has managed to last and thrive when so many of its contemporaries are relegated to the dustbins of history. There is an art to theological and policy development, which the Church does amazingly well. You can’t be too stuck in your ways; you have to be willing to adjust with the times. (Did anyone else see the Primetime LIve special on polygamy the other night? There’s Exhibit A right there.) Groups that cannot change calcify and die.

    But there’s another side to the coin. Sure you have to change, but you can’t do it too precipitously, you have to have the capacity to do it slowly, deftly, deliberately, so that people don’t *notice* that you are changing. (The Church is like a huge ocean liner; if it is going to move, it just turns a few degrees of arc, and eventually it will be headed a different direction without most of its passengers realizing it ever changed at all.) Because let’s face it, most Mormons have pretty fundamentalist attitudes about things, and they cannot handle the idea that the Church changes over time.

    So I think the Church is in the midst of a long, slow change on gender equality in marriage, and this talk is an excellent example. There is the rhetoric about “presiding” and so forth, which creates a comforting continuity with the patriarchal past. But it lacks any specifically defined substance; it is just rhetoric. The substance stresses equality and partnership, which is the wave of the future and the direction the Church is actually moving (even if we’re usually 20 years behind everyone else, a result of our slow and deliberate approach to change). So, those in the patriarchal machismo camp hear what they want to hear and can say to themselves this is the exact same church my great great grandfather devoted his life to. Isn’t it great? And younger people without those old values can attune their ears to other parts of the same talk and say, Yes! He is preaching complete equality between marriage partners. Isn’t it great?

    This is a wise strategy on the part of the Church. But personally, I don’t have a fundamentalist bone in my body. And I don’t care about preserving an imagined continuity with the patriarchal past. So for me and my house, I don’t “preside,” at least not in any meaningful way. I’m willing to call a spade a spade.

  20. A. Greenwood on July 31, 2005 at 11:10 pm

    One last comment, to Kevin Barney:

    Its better to belong to the church of today than the one you predict will exist 20 years in the future. Hypothetical churches never saved anyone.

  21. matt brice on July 31, 2005 at 11:34 pm

    Great comment Kevin!! Right on, and I, as opposed to A. Greenwood, am excited about the future of the church!!

  22. The Fundamentalist Bone on August 1, 2005 at 12:00 am

    Presiding will become meaningful when the Church returns to polygamy. Then men will have to have more authority than any one wife in order to make sure all his houses are “houses of order.” If he tried to counsel with every plural wife like she was his equal, chaos would reign.

  23. Annie Edwards (Brice) on August 1, 2005 at 12:02 am

    Kevin, I also liked your comment, but I disagree on one point. I do not think the church is wise in taking this strategy. If the rhetorical persistence of concepts like patriarchal “presiding” amounts to little more than cautionary pandering, what is the justification for such pandering? I understand in human terms why the church moves slowly like this, but is it really wise in the sense of being ideal? Shouldn’t the ideal be to *mean* something by the words we speak? Shouldn’t the ideal be to “speak what [we] think now in hard words, and to-morow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again”? I can tolerate the slow-moving complacency of contemporary church obsession with consistency, but can I admire it? Can I passionately hold it as my spiritual ideal? Hell no. Do you? If not, why call it “wise”? Why not “unfortunate, but tolerable (eg, not reason enough to leave)”, etc., instead?

  24. Aaron Brown on August 1, 2005 at 12:24 am

    Kevin Barney,

    I think I agree wholeheartedly with every word of your comment #19. I can’t be sure you’re right, of course, but I suspect you are, and this bluntly sums up my view of Church dynamics better than anything else I’ve read in the Bloggernacle.

    Aaron B

  25. Ben H on August 1, 2005 at 12:30 am

    Hey, Adam, I don’t think you’re being fair. Some of us have been positively setting out notions of presiding, even if they are different from yours. I agree with you if someone is in the church for what they think it will be in twenty years, they’re missing the point.

    But I don’t think the church has to have a clear and unambiguous stand on everything. I honestly think the words of the prophets often include a polyphony of messages, for a diversity of ears to hear each something appropriate to their situation. I’ve blogged on similar thoughts before.

    I don’t care about preserving an imagined continuity with the patriarchal past.

    What happened to the hearts of the children turning to their fathers? We are in this together. We cannot be saved without our dead. Even if we approach marriage differently now than, say, Abraham, let’s be a little less five-seconds-ago about it.

  26. A. Greenwood on August 1, 2005 at 12:38 am

    “Hey, Adam, I don’t think you’re being fair. Some of us have been positively setting out notions of presiding, even if they are different from yours”

    Sorry, Ben H.

  27. Ben H on August 1, 2005 at 12:40 am

    (sheepishly)
    Oh, well, I guess since late-90s American culture is the incomparable pinnacle of mortal existence, it follows that . . .

    Come on, can y’all be a little more interesting in your dismissals?

  28. Rusty on August 1, 2005 at 12:54 am

    Wait, Adam can’t you at least give us your definition or understanding of what “preside” means? You make an interesting comparison with Christ and the Father, but all I know is that you think it’s a good and living thing. But what does it mean to you, is it choosing who prays or is it final decision, what is it?

    It’s a bit silly to come here, tell everyone they stink, and then run away.

  29. Jack on August 1, 2005 at 1:03 am

    I take a road between Kevin and Annie. Yes we must be flexible in order to receive further light and and knowledge as it distills upon us slowly over multiple generations. AND, yes we will still weep for Zion as we see the Kingdom bending over backwards making concession after concession in its effort to leave no one behind.

    As for what “presiding” means, I think (kinda sorta along with ANM) the solution rests in the functions of the priesthood. I give my children a name and a blessing. I baptize them. I bless them (and my wife). I bless my home (not with my presence, mind you). I’m more responsible for the blood and sins of my children then my wife is because of the covenant of the priesthood which (imo) places the burden of linking fathers to children and children to fathers more squarely on the shoulders of men than it does women. In short–we are all subject to the priesthood, and at present the priesthood, as it is operative in the world to day, is a burden that men must carry. The trick is to learn to carry that burden in righteousness.

    All that said, it can be a little disconcerting (for one such as I) to know that a simple prayer of faith uttered by an innocent child can often be more effective in soliciting the aid of heaven than all the priestly rites however faithfully enacted.

  30. JKS on August 1, 2005 at 1:59 am

    I believe in the presiding concept. I do not think it means final decision making. I think picking who gives the prayer isn’t all that difficult but it is a job that comes with presiding.
    You know how when you visit teach, one of you is supposed to call the supervisor and report?
    THAT is what I think presiding means.
    When God wants a summary of our family’s spiritual status, he wants it from my husband. It is his responsibility, as the “head’ of our family, and as the priesthood holder.
    I don’t think GOd thinks less of me, or has given me less responsibility. I don’t think he listens to me less, or cares about my opinion less.
    I think that my husband’s “responsibility” to his family is something he should not take lightly. I think if you consider the historal treatment of wives and children, I’m sure God was often disappointed. If you consider the current trends in marriage and fatherhood God is disappointed.
    He expects more.

  31. Lisa B. on August 1, 2005 at 9:13 am

    Adam–I think you’ve hit an important point here by bringing up blessings and presence. To me presiding actually means making your presence felt in your home in spite of more frequent absences than your wife. I do not believe that husbands are MORE responsible than wives for their children’s spiritual or temporal welfare. We are jointly responsible for both. Covenant marriage means we (as endowed and sealed couples) that we are jointly accoutable to the oath and covenant of the priesthood (I don’t know how to do a link–but Jim F. pointed this out by his question about section 132.) If we apply Christ’s example of leadership, service and bringing those we serve to joint-heirship and oneness of equality, power, and glory is a better model than worldly hierarchies (or even apparently religious/ godly “hierarchies”). The model of the divine couple is not Heavenly Father and Christ, but rather Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. And Christ exemplified BOTH of them for us.

  32. A Nonny Mouse on August 1, 2005 at 9:51 am

    Woah, Lisa (#31). Care to elaborate on: “And Christ exemplified BOTH of them for us” ? I mean, I know the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is clearly taught, though not much is known about what her role is. But, by the same logic that Joseph and Brigham (or perhaps Eliza, in that the only modern vestige of that doctrine is her poetry…) used to assert Heavenly Mother’s existence (“In the Heaven’s are Parents single? Not the thought makes reason stare!”), one could assume that Christ has to be married too. Why wouldn’t his wife exemplify the female role?

  33. Lisa B. on August 1, 2005 at 9:56 am

    Jesus is the Savior and role model (i.e. represents deity) for men and women. All are alike unto God, male and female. We come to know God, male and female, in whose image(s) we are made, through Christ. We return to Their presence through Christ. I’ll see if I can find the Maxwell quote about Heavenly Mother preparing for our return through the veil.

  34. Lisa B. on August 1, 2005 at 9:58 am

    There are also many, many scriptures in which Jesus is portrayed either literally or symbolically in maternal, birthing, nursing, and nurturing terms. Isaiah is particularly rich in these female divine images.

  35. Steve Evans on August 1, 2005 at 10:13 am

    The important issue is who presides in the Blog. It’s clear that the Man must preside.

  36. Jack on August 1, 2005 at 10:14 am

    Lisa,

    IMO, scripturally the model for husband and wife as manifest in Diety is the God of Israel and Israel, Christ and His Church, the head and the body, the spirit and the flesh, etc. I think Adam makes a great point in suggesting that a comparison may be drawn between husband and wife and the Savior and His Father–as it relates to presiding. In all of these examples the trick is to be “one”. And in order to be one there can be no sense of jockeying for position, or one-up-(wo)manship between the two. Both inherit all together. In fact, the head is just as dead without the body as the body is without the head. The eternal happiness of the spirit is just as dependent upon an inseparable connection with the flesh as the flesh is with the spirit. I believe that a parallel may be drawn between the resurrection and the unification of Christ with His Church, Israel with Her God. Therefore, what we have, in terms of priesthood, is a recurring pattern of unification–a unification which binds many into one. That’s why I believe polygamy to be more of a sign, or symbol, or pattern, or what have you, than an actual manifestation of the order of heaven. Both women and men alike will find themselves somewhere in the overall heavenly matrix fulfilling the purposes of head and body.

  37. Lisa B. on August 1, 2005 at 10:36 am

    I do not believe polygamy to be the order of heaven. The scriptures that explain polygamy explain it as an exception, and for only two expressed purposes–in the OT for “raising up seed”, and in the early days of the LDS church–to try the Saints like Abraham in being asked to sacrifice his Son (the parallel is not made between Abraham’s polygamy and the polygamy of the early saints, since in Abraham’s day it was a common worldly practice).

    I agree that as children of God we must submit to God as Christ did. I also agree that as members of the church, we each represent the “bride of Christ” and need to try to be “equally yoked” with Christ, as couples should be in marriage.

    I think Jesus earthly apostles misunderstood hierarchy (the “need” for someone to “rule”), too, and were chastized by Christ for it.

    I think Paul was speaking out of a particular cultural context. We do not forbid women from speaking, even teaching in church anymore, as he did. We live in a different cultural context now. And praise be to God that we do!

  38. Edward A. Erdtsieck on August 1, 2005 at 10:53 am

    Julie in Austin, [#5] I like your opinion of the real world situation in the Church. You’ve opened a sore point with a few wannabee presiders. Your citation of Elder Boyd K. Packer after the setting apart of a Stake president is especially to the point. The General Authorities are very much aware of the cries of mothers, wives and children. They do address this issue often.

    However, its done a manner without violating the free agencies of the Matt Brices [#9], who are “inclined to think that ‘preside’ is a cultural vestige that has yet to be “castrated’ from our vocabulary.” So Matt, do you really believe that getting rid of the word or an idea, has no meaning for these mothers, wives and children? Is not the next thing for their prayers reach the ears of the God?

    If presiding is a “cultural vestige,” you are missing a crucial point of Kristen’s interest in the phrase: “BY DIVINE DESIGN, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteous ness.” I see no cultural vestige, but a stern warning that fathering and mothering children is a Godly, Divine assignment.

    I have been married a long time and found it to be a consensus building situation. Sometimes we agree and other times we didn’t. No big deal. We had our Bishop, the Scriptures and the Temple visits to guide us. Our disagreements somehow became less important and disappeared, while our joy increased.

    When my family consisted of young children I learned to CONDUCT myself as a father using the Priesthood lesson manual. I had no idea or desire to preside, I was too busy earning a living for my family and doing the things a father does to make a happy home. Much what is posted here is really about conducting oneself in accord to God’s will in the family making process.

    When I became a grandfather, I finally had the satisfaction of learning the presiding part of my priesthood. Now, I had to supervise my children as they worked on their family’s spiritual growth. Each one was different in their approach and one is divorced. My wife was especially helpful in leading me how to guide these grandchildren of a broken home. I would never have found my way around this, because sometime I see things as the Matt Brices of the world, that is make the problem go away.

    My presiding experience is not to get personally involved or interfere with my sons responsibilties. I know what goes on and I pray hard for the hand of God to do the rest. I make sure my grandchildren have my sympathetic ear; I reward privately and publically and give them lots of verbal encourage. To preside for me is an informal way of keeping them under observation or to monitor, making sure our sons and their spouses and their children stay within the bounds the God has set.

    My wife and I often discuss the difficult challenges of our grandchildren and we come up with ways to assist them without direct interference. As other grandparents can tell you, your own children can get into some heart wrenching situations. However, my wife and I never forget that the Lord told us, “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

    So far the discussions have led us to the latter part of Kristen’s quote from the family proclamation. What about the first part, “BY DIVINE DESIGN?” It has nothing to do with what we want or seek or do. The family is afterall about God’s children.

    Does anyone have any opinion, what makes those 3 words the key in this discussion?

  39. Jack on August 1, 2005 at 11:05 am

    Lisa,

    Re: your first paragraph–Though I do not believe polygamy to be the actual order of heaven, I’m not prepared to believe that it was merely a pragmatic measure imposed upon the saints without any symbolic connection to the order of heaven. IMO, it clearly follows the pattern of other scriptural examples of a heavenly order of sorts–though today we need not fret over the segregation of genders in that pattern.

    I agree with your second paragraph.

    As to your third– It wasn’t that the apostles we’re wrong in assuming that there was any kind of hierarchy whatsoever. They were wrong in their understanding of the workings of the hierarchy. Christ showed them what the “greatest” among them was to do by washing their feet. They were apostles and as such would at some point govern in the church, but not without a few lessons in who to “preside” in an appropriate manner.

    As to your fourth– I cannot dismiss the whole of Paul’s counsel on marraige as simply concurrent cultural expression. There are too many other similar allusions in the scriptures–as in the Book of Revelation, etc.

  40. Lisa B. on August 1, 2005 at 11:07 am

    Very good point, Edward. I’ll think on this.

  41. Lisa B. on August 1, 2005 at 11:14 am

    Okay, Jack. I’ll concede that there is a scriptural pattern in which the head and body analogy are pointed to as parallels for marriage. I think this has less to do with the eternal order of things than the earthly situation (fallen world) we find ourselves in and so think of them more like the slave analogies in the scriptures–with prophets counseling “Here is a worldly situation. Here is how the Lord would behave under these constraints.”

    I look forward to the revealing of the Bride of Christ. I think the body of the church is an analogy, but that there is also an actual bride who will be revealed, and that for the wedding of the bride groom, we will all be guests, not spouses.

  42. Jack on August 1, 2005 at 11:26 am

    Slave analogies? Do you mean it as in a “slave to sin” or a “slave to the FLESH”? (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk)

    As far as a revealing of a Bride at the marraige feast goes– Well, who knows? We may yet learn that you are right on that count. However, I don’t think we can dismiss the idea that the Church/Israel is the Lord’s Bride because of the parable of the marraige feast any more than we can dismiss the idea that the Savior is the Lamb of God merely because He also calls Himself the Good Shepherd.

  43. Andrea Wright on August 1, 2005 at 11:29 am

    I like what Julie said about presiding being a way for the husband/father to be involved in the family. I know this won’t be popular, but I also think it’s a way to get wives/mothers to move out of the way and let the husband/father have some involvment.

    I can’t begin to count the times I’ve heard women complain about how their husbands won’t step up and really lead out when it comes to FHE or family prayer. These are the same women who are also the first to be outraged if their husbands do take a stab at presiding. A friend of mine told me that she was always the one insisting on FHE and family prayer. She carried that responsibility alone and resented that her husband didn’t step up. One day he went to a Stake Priesthood meeting where they talked about doing PPI’s with your wife and children. He was inspired and came home and enthusiastically told his wife about what was said and that he would like to interview her and their children. Her immediate and regrettable response was “Interview me? Why would you interview me?” That’s as far as his enthusiasm went and she’s regretted it ever since.

    Some may feel that her initial response was the correct one, but I strongly disagree.

    In a discussion about FHE in RS a woman stood up and said, “Here’s the way I handled it, I told my husband we were having FHE every Monday night with or without him.”

    I see us women so often (myself included) sort of just steam-roll right over our husbands and their input. I’ll admit it’s a delicate balance, but it can be done even with less than enthusiastic husbands. I’ve seen amazing women with non-member or totally in-active husbands find ways to make sure the right things were happening in their home without steam-rolling their husbands.

  44. Andrea Wright on August 1, 2005 at 11:34 am

    Edward, I love what you wrote. Thanks.

  45. b bell on August 1, 2005 at 11:36 am

    I have always thought it means to “be responsible for”. In other words the final eternal buck stops with the Father. In my own marriage you would be hard pressed to find one of us who is completely in charge of anything or who has final authority in a dispute. Maybe in mundane matters like. Dad is presiding over taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn.

    There is a family heirarchy but I am not sure how it really works. Fathers need to be around and involved or else it seems.

  46. Mike on August 1, 2005 at 11:59 am

    I would like to propose that there is some biological basis to this. Now let me explain before my wife hits me over the head with a frying pan…

    First remember through his stream of thought that the natural or biological man is an enemy of God.

    Anyway the most important measure of success biologically is the production of viable offspring over a period of generations, which is what families do. Different creatures that roam the earth have adopted a variety of reproductive strategies that can be graded along a continuum and I think the two extremes can be labeled “female” and “male.” The “male” strategy is to get as many offspring into the gene pool as possible and not invest too much in any given individual offspring. Let them fend for themselves. The “female” strategy is to invest quite a bit of enery and effort into a fewer number of offspring and achieve a higher individual success rate. This is a emphasis on quality over quantity.

    Humans have adopted a strategy far on the “female” side of this spectrum in contrast to most species epecially insects, amphibians, etc. For a man to be successful biologically he invests only whatever he needs to overcome the cultural constraints to get a woman to sleep with him. In some street ghetto contexts this can be as little as 5 minutes of effort and maybe twenty bucks. Even rape can work as a viable “male” reproductive strategy in the most barbaric conditions. For a woman to be successful biologically, she has to carry the child for 9 months, suffer much sickness, go through a dangerous delivery with as high as a 10% mortality (without modern medical care) and generally she ends up taking care of the baby for a number of years. Most of that we can not change. She will do better if she convinces a man to help her, but in the extreme she will do it alone as is manifest in any large urban city where life is reduced to a fight for survival on the most basic animal level. Even in the most refined circles there is still a stronger tendency and drive for men to be disloyal to their wives and attempt to reproduce with many other women rather than the other way around. Biology favors it.

    From this perspective we see the cultural institution of marriage as a “female” strategy to get men to commit to helping to take care of their children and their family. Most religions promote marriage and fidelity within marriage which again strengthens the biological position of the female. Another way to get the men to buy into a “female” strategy and to better invest in their wives and family is to put them in charge. Notice that churches that have a strong lay priesthood have higher percentages of men active in the church; where churches that have a strong division between cleric and lay persons have mostly women filling the ranks of activity. I am not saying that anybody thought this through, but over time this strategy worked better.

    I have this theory that the women who are the wives of the local ward leaders are actually in charge, sort of the power behind the thrown. If you have ever locked horns with the Bishop’s wife over anything of importance, see how far you get.

    Think of the passage: “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, meaning both men and women. This has got to be about the most “female ” reproductive strategy on the face of the whole earth. Invest everything possible in the individual to make them as good as they can be.

    Anywhere we see men in charge we have to ask how do they treat the women? If the women are treated poorly, then that society or tribe or whatever is going to fail. They are not going to measure up to the challenge of raising the next generation because the women can rarely do it alone. This applies to tyrannical ward leaders all the way across to Islamic fundamentalists. If the men treat women with respect and honor and listen to them and allow them to direct their men, then that society or tribe is going to succeed because the women are going to be able to get these men to do their part, as together they raise the next generation.

    I observed a very effective authority structure in the military. We had an CO or commanding officer and then we had the OIC or officer in charge. The best organizations I observed were where the CO stepped back and let the OIC run things. If things really got out of control then the CO got his arse kicked, not the OIC. This alllowed the OIC to take some risks, be creative and do what was needed to get the job done. All unproductive whining and bureaucratic BS went directly to the CO who deflected it. Being second in command but actually in charge had distinct advantages, however the CO had to trust the OIC and allow the system to work.

    Since war is one of the most characteristic activities of human populations, and since outside of the modern contest, men are the better soldiers; peace is a requirement for women to be in charge for long periods of time. Warfare favors men in charge and it favors the “male” reproductive strategy; more dispendable soldiers needed and why invest much in most them except a few fighting skills, if they are going to die young in battle. War brings more opportunities to rape and pillage and act like the vicious animals that men are if let run wild.

    Modern technology is erasing the biological differences between the sexes. The slightly greater male upper body strength and aggressiveness in the hunt or on the battle field of men, on average, is now irrelevant. Birth control pills allow a modern woman to adopt a perversion of the “male” reproductive strategy based only on the gradification of lust and not even concern ones self with reproduction, a sort of biological nilism. I have to wonder how the modern feminism movement is liberating women if it pushes them more towards “male” strategies and habits? In some ways the contemporary American political correctness is less tolerant of boy behaviors and across the board, girls now outperform boys in grade school, where the reverse was once the rule.

    In the new world of modern technology and rational decision making and as children of God who are not natural men and women and are not enemies of God, we can use the divine spark of intelligence of our minds to make rational choices to go against biological tendencies when it is the morally right thing to do. We can use birth control to enhance our families. The Proclamation on the Family is a description of a formula that has worked across time and in many cultures but is sufficiently vague and general that it allows us to be flexible and do what is right for each of us. If your wife is better at any certain task, then she should be encouraged to do it. If she is the better leader then she should rule in the family. Any one of a variety of structures is possible, as long as it makes sense. When we live by the light of the gospel we are free to function on a higher level of our own choosing than on a purely biological one.

  47. A. Greenwood on August 1, 2005 at 12:06 pm

    I’m going to violate my silence policy because I am going to express some agreement, not disagreement.

    I think points 2 and 3 in Julie in A.’s comment #5, and Andrea Wright’s #43, are probably right.

  48. lyle stamps on August 1, 2005 at 12:25 pm

    Bests interest of the child.

    This doesn’t answer the question put. However, it might be worthwhile to reflect that when children are taught 1 thing; and then see another, they get confused. I know kids who grew up hearing about fathers leading their families; and then when the father didn’t ‘lead,’ they were confused.
    Kids increase in sophistication over time, but have only basic understandings to begin with.

    Because of this, practice maybe more important than theory; or marital understanding of whether they are corporate or partnerships. Do couples argue before the kids? or private? etc.

    Whether this means that what is taught needs to be changed/continued…who knows.

  49. matt brice on August 1, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    Edward: First of all, just for my clarification what does this sentence mean?

    “So Matt, do you really believe that getting rid of the word or an idea, has no meaning for these mothers, wives and children? Is not the next thing for their prayers reach the ears of the God?”

    Second,

    “If presiding is a “cultural vestige,” you are missing a crucial point of Kristen’s interest in the phrase: “BY DIVINE DESIGN, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteous ness.” I see no cultural vestige, but a stern warning that fathering and mothering children is a Godly, Divine assignment.”

    Your commentary on this quote from the Proclamation skews the issue at bar–the question is not whether “father and mothering children is a Godly, Divine assignment”–that is a given, but more crucially, what does it mean for “fathers to preside.”

    Your further comments reveal how you either do not understand the question, or are side-stepping the issue–how is it that you as a father preside–is there something concrete that you have done with your children or grandchildren that was exclusively a “fatherly” responsibilty? To say you have learned how to “conduct [yourself] as a father” is textbook begging the question–that is what we want to know–what does it mean to “conduct oneself as a father,” more specifically what does it mean for a father to preside?

    When dealing with your grandchildren you speak of how you and your wife discussed things together, and how more your wife helped you deal with certain issues–if that is presiding–then say it, but to me that sounds more like “equality-speak,” which preside does not usually carry as a colloquial connotation–and that is my main point. If the connotation of a word is different from the reality that we want to express, then we need to use different words. Most of the comments have been using these different words, words which reflect a reality that I see in healthy relationships. However, the problem is these healthy relationship do not see the husbands as presiding over the family, but they read the phrase in the Proclamation, so people just fudge on the definition and describe presiding as you describe your healthy relationship with your wife–a relationship in which you both jointly consult your bishop, the scriptures, and the temple–but be honest–is that really presiding–no non-member (unhibited by the necessity of the husband presiding) would ever describe such a relationship as one in which the husband presides–instead one would use the equality language that I am advocating–which has the further function of fostering equality in relationship when the language is reinforced through repetition and approval.

    matt

  50. Annie Edwards on August 1, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    I agree with Matt.

    On the other hand, I think there is a possibility for “preside” to carry some legitimate meaning if it is taken to signify that husbands should officiate over priesthood ordinances that have a set form and way of being performed. This is somewhat what comment #29 is saying, though I disagree about the greater responsibility for blood, etc. Reading “preside” in this proclamation as a primarily ritualistic, rather than sociological, term appears to be the simplest way of reconciling its inclusion with more clear-cut refutations against day-to-day heirarchy.

    This seems a reasonable option.

  51. Jack on August 1, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    Annie,

    The reason I think men bear more responsibility in terms of “blood and sins” is because inherent in the covenant of the priesthood is the responsibilty for the bearer to magnify his calling which, I think, has to do to with establishing the priesthood more fully in the earth. If the bearer fails in this responsibility (within the realm of his stewardship) he then is responsible for the failure of those over whom he presides to come unto the priesthood and receive the vital ordinances. The sins be upon his head, as it were.

    Also, the idea that men carry more responsibility in this area is evidenced by the difference in the initiatory ordinances for men and women–which I won’t go into here.

  52. Scott E on August 1, 2005 at 5:15 pm

    Here are my personal beliefs on the issue:

    If you’re a man, how do you understand your duty to preside in the home?

    For me, presiding means that I have the authority (and responsibility) to lead the family in spiritual and temporal matters. I believe that I am ultimately responsible for my family’s spritual and temporal salvation, while also respecting their agency. I understand that that can be a delicate balance, but I try to live by the “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves” principle.

    Is the issue of presiding in the home a visible one in your family?

    Yes – see the other answers below.

    Do you and your spouse ever discuss it? Do you feel at odds with your spouse about it? Or is it a complete non-issue in your marriage? (Or–how did it work in the family you grew up in?)

    Yes, we do discuss it. No, we don’t feel at odds with it. We have disagreements, yes. Just not about what presiding means. I’d say that it is a non-issue in our household.

    What does presiding mean in your home in practice? Does it mean, men, that you try to be as involved as possible in calling your family together for spiritual nourishment?

    In practice, it means that I call the family together for FHE, family scripture study, family prayer, PPIs, remind them to say personal prayers, personal scripture study, etc. My wife reminds me (sometimes more frequently than she should have to) that it is my responsibility to do these things as the head of the house, patriarch,etc.. From a temporal perspective, I encourage them to fulfill their responsibilities (if they said they’d do something, they better do it), teach them proper social etiquette (with a lot of help from my wife – but it’s my responsibility to make sure it gets done) – basically teach them how to be good people and to make an honest living.

    Men, does it mean that you feel that you should have the final say-or, worded another way, the burden of the final decision-when irreconcilable differences arise?

    I suppose that it depends a lot on what the discussion is about. After 12 years of marriage, we’ve never had a difference of opinion that we haven’t come to a mutually agreed-upon conclusion. Sometimes I’ve backed down, and sometimes she has backed down, but we’ve always come to a conclusion that we can both live with. I suppose that if we didn’t come to a conclusion on something, my wife would defer to my decision as the presiding individual.

  53. JKS on August 1, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    I posted previously, but wanted to add:

    My husband and I do not disagree on this issue. He never “pulls rank.” We have never used it as a “tiebreaker” to end an argument.
    I believe I have once consciously decided to do something his way because he is the head of our home and presides, (not like the other reasons like he’s my husband and I love him and want a happy marriage so we can do it his way) but specifically because it is his job to lead the family. That one time I remember doing it was the exact right thing.
    If he receives any spiritual revelation as the head of our family because he asks for it and listens, I would receive the revelation at some point that he is correct if I ask for it and listen. I would say that in the one case I remember choosing to “follow” him simply because he was the “leader” I received personal revelation about that choice.

  54. Annie on August 1, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    Let’s assume you are spot on in paragraph 1 about stewardship. Men have opportunities with regard to the priesthood that women lack; they therefore can be held responsible for the consequences of neglecting these opportunities where women cannot. Does it follow that women lack comparable opportunities for making the world a better place? If so, how?

    If women and men both have equal opportunity for “good” in this life, they are equally responsible for whatever influence derives from their failure to live as wisely as they could. Only if “sin” is defined so narrowly as to exclude all but the failure to receive vital ordinances can men reasonably be viewed as more responsible than women for the “sins of the world”, so to speak, both within and without their ostensible families.

  55. Annie on August 1, 2005 at 5:33 pm

    Doh. Sorry. My last comment was a response to Jack’s comment #51. I can’t really take the priesthood seriously as an end in itself, however, so although my last comment was an attempt to argue from the perspective put forth in post 51, my own inclination to reject the idea of unequal guilt comes out of a different framework.

  56. Jesse on August 2, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    It’s not an unusual thing to find scriptural phrases or words meaning different things than they do in common speech. “Charity,” and “faith” are good examples. As others have pointed out, “preside” seems to fall into this category of words that means one thing in “the world” and a very different one within the context of the church and our spiritual lives. Anyone know a word in some foreign language that might do the trick?
    My understanding of “presiding,” as picked up through scriptural passages, general conference talks, priesthood and Sunday School lessons is generally encapsulated in the discussion of priesthood in Section 121, in Christ’s correction of his disciples when they disputed over who would be chief among them, and in His example with washing their feet, and really, in the Atonement itself, in the sense that that act was a willing sacrifice made for the benefit of those Christ loved and as a result of a request from someone whom He trusted, i.e., the Father (Mother too, I would suppose).
    In terms of what presiding really means, in day-to-day terms, I don’t think my wife and I have ever sat down to try to talk that through. But, what pops into my mind immediately is that I have a responsibility to see to it that living a morally upright life, developing a relationship with God and Christ, and coming to know and trust the promptings of the Spirit is a core part of what our family is about. That means I am required to do things like scripture study, family prayer, family home evening, but more importantly, I am required to be patient, kind, helpful, loving and forgiving. Those last things have to happen multiple times every day. And I am absolutely required to make any important decision, that will impact our family, with the full consent of my wife (not that I do that all the time, because I’m a selfish, egotistical, fallen, half-baked Christian sometimes… ok., lots of the time). All of that, though, is not really unique to men, per se. The unique part for men, I think, is that I have made a covenant to live my life in such a way that I am worthy of the accompaniment of the spirit so that when it comes time for me to perform priesthood ordinances for my family, that they can ask for those blessings, and trust that I am paying close enough attention to the spirit of God that it will not be a hollow blessing, or an ordinance unaccompanied by the stamp of God’s spirit. In other words, I have a responsibility to serve them well.
    I think presiding also means a lot of more mundane things too. For instance, it meant that I took out the garbage this morning, cooked breakfast for my wife and kids, and that I am now sitting at a desk slaving away for my employer (so to speak) when I would much rather be taking the kids to the pool. It means changing diapers, reading the Berenstein Bears for the 1,459th time, and all of the common services that our families need to have peace and happiness. Since life was obviously designed with all kinds of these sysiphian tasks built in, my performance of these tasks, and my attitude toward them is, I think, an important part of what it means to “preside,” particularly in the context of serving my family.
    Sometimes I wonder if things will be different when we can “see as we are seen and know as we are known.” Christ talked about having that sort of access to God, of that sort of unity, of completely being one with Him so that their actions are, as He put it, one and the same. If we were united that way, it would seem that there really would be no need to denominate one person as the one who “presides.” But, maybe the mental and emotional fragmentation that we experience in this life makes it necessary, within a group, to charge some particular individual with certain duties. Maybe the “by divine design” thing about presiding only applies to the way our world is presently constructed and will not necessarily translate, at least as we conceive of it now, to the next world. Perhaps, when we are not constrained by the limits of the veil and our bodies’ ability (or lack thereof) to fully communicate, this whole discussion will become sort of moot. I don’t know, of course, but I think we should make room for the possibility that our post-mortal life will be radically different than we can guess right now and that maybe, the ‘ol fallen world isn’t the greatest model for understanding the celestial. I would hazard the guess that our marriages are the places where we can come closest to that oneness, and where we have the best chance of doing away with the whole concept of greater/lesser, up/down that Satan loves so much, that pride and division which is his damnation and his loneliness. That isn’t to say that spouses won’t be different, but that all parts of the body, the wholeness of their union, are valued equally and enjoyed for the beauty and grace of their contribution to the whole.

  57. Lisa B. on August 2, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    Yes! He’s been seduced! Hello, Jesse my dear. Well, I should agree 100% since we are, after all, “one,” but I must disagree with your harsh self-assessment. I would say thoughtful, giving, saved, and a fully-dedicated Christian most of the time. Lucky me.

  58. Jesse on August 2, 2005 at 2:24 pm

    I stand corrected.

  59. Lisa B. on August 2, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    :-)

  60. Sam Payne on August 2, 2005 at 5:40 pm

    Re: original post.

    Even in something as small as a missionary companionship (smaller than most LDS families) there is someone who has been told to preside.

  61. Kirsten M. Christensen on August 2, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    “Even in something as small as a missionary companionship (smaller than most LDS families) there is someone who has been told to preside.”

    This doesn’t work for me, Sam. We get thrown into missionary companionships. Ok – I know we choose to go on a mission, but we don’t get to choose our companions. No one here (to my knowledge…) has been thrown into a marriage. We choose and love our companions from the outset — that should matter in how the relationship is managed.

  62. Ben H on August 2, 2005 at 9:52 pm

    Hm, Jesse too has chosen to partake of this dubious fruit which his wife has been eating . . .

    As far as missionaries go, my mission presidents never referred to anyone as “senior” or “junior” companions when I was there.

  63. gary on August 2, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    Jesse: I think that you (and others) have given a good description of what it means to be a good husband and father. However, you have packed a lot of meaning into the term “preside” that I don’t think is warranted by the normal definition of that term. That is not necessarily a bad thing, because I don’t think that the conventional meaning of that term is a good way of describing the role of a father and husband. I see in this approach a validation of the views expressed by Matt Brice in #9 above and Kevin Barney in #19. The church is using patriarchal terms that once meant thing, and pouring new meanings into those terms to make them more acceptable to us today.

  64. manaen on August 2, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    In 1958, a former medical officer persuaded Pres. Eisenhower to donate a hospital ship for charity work. After a couple years’ refitting, and with private donations, the S.S. HOPE set into the world to relieve despair (Mni 10:22). HOPE was the acronym for Health Opportunities for People Everywhere. Ads for donations were common in TV Guide and other popular publications throughout the ’60s. The sponsoring foundation’s philosophy was much like our missionary program’s, “Go only where invited, and help people help themselves.” The S.S. HOPE’s final voyage was in 1973, after visiting Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, Guinea, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ceylon, Tunisia, Jamaica, and Brazil. However, the sponsoring foundation continues projects on land. (See their site: http://www.projecthope.org — I don’t yet know how to insert those little links).

    I’ve long believed that SS HOPE is a useful metaphor for the gospel’s ideal family leadership. Its purpose was for loving people to use their strengths to help others heal, grow, and develop. There were two sets of activities in S.S. HOPE: 1) The stated priority of the ship occured down in its heart, unseen from the world. Here, the healing specialists ministered to the their weaker guests until they were ready to go out on their own. This was done without thought of recompense, simply in delight in the other’s progress. 2) The captain’s and crew’s responsibility was to guide the ship to the destination given by some higher power, to lead it away from threatening storms, and to assure that it was well-provisioned so that the work inside could succeed. The captain could have taken the ship away from the destination given to him, but that would have foiled the work and likely would have led to abandonment by the crew, the nurturers, and those to be nurtured.

    The sacred work of gently opening wounds and helping them heal required the dignity of quiet privacy. It wasn’t done where many passersby could watch and comment. The work of the captain & crew required high visibility to watch for goals & storms and to work with sources of provisions. I believe it would be useless to talk of which set of activities was more important; neither succeeded without the other. It would be as pointless for the nurturers to have said that their work was less important, because it wasn’t as visible, as it would have been for the captain and crew to say that because of the higher visibility needed to do their work, that it was more important than the healing below. This risk of loss of humility and charity lurks for either side. Both would find joy as they worked together in love for others.

    (OK, a couple flaws in this metaphor are 1) the captain and crew didn’t directly help heal and the nurturers didn’t have say in piloting the ship, and 2) crew and healers didn’t directly love/serve each other in their roles as we do in our families.)

    I believe that this example sets the context for the Proclamation on families’ statement, “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.”

  65. Lisa B. on August 3, 2005 at 10:18 am

    Manaen–I like the analogy. I still think it is tricky to tease out how husbandly presiding is different than what a wife does in a marriage and home. Even as you look at the description you’ve quoted from the proclamation there is overlap. How is presiding over in love and righteousness and protecting different than nurturing spouse and children? It seems to me that they are both part of nurturing spouse and children, as nurturing spouse and children are part of presiding over in love and righteousness and protecting. Jesus gathers us as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, and shelters and succors us. We are all to do the same with one another, in families, in church, and in the world. Seems the only clear distinction in this particular statement is that fathers are primarily responsible to see that the necessities of life have been provided, and the mother, primarily to see that the children are nurtured physically–both prenatally, postpartum, and beyond (the love and righteousness part of presiding seems to make covering the emotional and spiritual needs of children equal responsibilities for both mother and father). But other scriptures, like Eve working with Adam, make it clear that while this is the emphasis of the different roles, we work together in all of them, really. After all, while Jesse might play a stronger role in protecting if we were attacked physically while he was around, on a day to day basis, I am more responsible for the protection of our children because I am the one with them, choosing childcare when one of us can’t be with them, and deciding what activities they participate in and with whom most of the time.

    Just to be clear (since I think it will be brought up) I believe that priesthood is a separate issue from presiding in the home, and that endowed and sealed married couples share priesthood jointly in the home (which is one reason I feel the jointly preside in the home, and jointly nurture in the home).

  66. Edward A. Erdtsieck on August 3, 2005 at 11:16 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog. Kirsten, you’ve raised an issue that hits home.

    Matt Brice [#49] I am sorry, if I put you on the spot. I did not pick on you. What you wrote is often my initial attitude, when facing seemingly insurmountable problems in my and my sons marriages.

    Problems do not go away, because they are choices which flatter the ego and lead us away from our family and from God. Often the advice, “Be still and know that I am God” is a comfort to me.

    Mike [#46] raises one of the seemingly insurmountable issues, when he wrote that “modern technology is erasing biological gender distinction.” In fact, technology has changed everything from the way things were for the men and women of the past. The ancients lived in a world they could not change, a world filled with superstition.

    We live in a world that is always changing; a world created in the minds of our scientists and inventors, then brought into reality through science. Our world of false prophets and false hopes is all too real.

    The idea of a “presiding” authority is unique as practiced in the Mormon Church. We see it in our meetings when the conducting authority recognizes the presiding authority. I believe the idea of “presiding” authority was created by Moses. His father-in-law Jethro saw that Moses was worn down by personally responding to the needs of his people. At Jethro urging Moses asked God how he should resolve it. God told Moses to call 70 men to assist him. So Moses became the “presiding” and the Seventies were the “conducting” authorities.

    Authority flows from God, Our Father to His Son Jesus Christ. Then from Jesus Christ to the First Presidency and the Twelve. They are presiding authorities, because they hold the keys to the Priesthood. The focus should not be on presiding, but on Jesus Christ. He is the Law and the Presiding Authority. I must conduct myself according to His Will.

    I have received the Priesthood, but was not given the key. I can only use it to conduct myself according to His Plan. Jesus Christ presides over my conduct and I must do all I can do, if I am to become. Afterall, He is the Great I Am.

    “By divine design,” men and women who are willing to receive Jesus Christ, must accept His commandments and then may have the opportunity to become part of His work bringing to pass immortality and eternal life of His children.

    Never having been called as a Stake President or a Bishop, I have not experienced a “presiding” position at any meeting in the Church. My faith in Jesus Christ is not lessened by it nor has my knowledge been diminished. As I said earlier [#38] I came to preside by becoming a grandfather.

    I believe the Proclamation on the Family was written as a warning to all Christians, who use His Name in their work, but ignore His doctrine. They seek to bring about the kingdom of god for their own purposes. Also to announce, that He is resurrected and is now finishing His work to fulfil His promises to Adam, Abraham and Jacob.

    Finally, to remind Mormons that they have a binding duty to the coming generation; to be a light of the true purposes of marriage. Ready or not as Mormons we are His light to the world. Else, how can the hidden things of God be shown to the world. So that they also shall receive it.

  67. Jesse on August 3, 2005 at 11:48 am

    Gary:
    You are certainly correct. What I’ve described as my concept of “preside” really does not fit into a common definition of that term. As I said, I don’t know that I am aware of a good English word to encapsulate my understanding of what it means to “preside” in a gospel sense. Quite obviously, the Proclamation, as well as a lot of other scriptural and general conference statements steer us toward an understanding of the male roll in family life that is not well defined by “preside” as that word is commonly understood. And as more than one commenter has pointed out, these sources don’t seem to be terribly clear about the differences, if any, between what men and women do in terms of “presiding” in the family.

    Despite this puzzle, it occurs to me that maybe we should be grateful for this vaguery and lack of guidance. Hard edged, bright lines tend to restrict our agency and creativity and don’t allow much room for individual variation.

    So, there’s the gate out of the garden. Y’all git on out there and figure out how to be happy together.

  68. Wilfried on August 3, 2005 at 12:04 pm

    An ‘international’ remark if I may… Starting with Kevin Barney’s (#2) helpful etymological reference, quite a few comments in this thread have talked about the possible connotations of the word preside. All these referred to English and were interesting and well presented. Now imagine the problems in translation… ‘Preside’ can be translated with the same etymon in quite a few languages, but the connotations may differ significantly according to the political culture. A ‘President’ in other cultures is not always perceived with the same characteristics as in the U.S. Quite the contrary sometimes. Next, if the etymon presid* does not exist in a language, an equivalent must be used… If the culture is much male-dominant oriented, you see the direction the translated word could take.

    From that plurilingual standpoint, another word than ‘preside’ would probably be welcome. One expressing, also in English, the virtues our comments have extolled. I wonder to what extent the Church evaluates these semantic problems for keywords in other languages before publishing an official text in English? Then perhaps ‘preside’ could have been avoided?

  69. maria on August 3, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve been away for a few days…sorry to just now be returning to the topic.

    Thanks for your comment back in #18, Adam Greenwood. I can always count on you for a judgmental slap in the face when I’m feeling depressed and unsure of myself.

    My hurt feelings aside, something that I haven’t seen anyone address yet (and maybe I’m commenting too late in the game here) is the effect that only seeing father, but not mother, making spiritual decisions/performing spiritual acts might have upon children. Children rarely know about the decision-making that goes on behind the scenes, but they do see the outward acts such as choosing who offers the prayers. If a child only ever sees her/his father in charge of the spiritually-related tasks, couldn’t that child come to some strange conclusions about the mother’s spiritual capability? Or the role that women should play in the Church/kingdom? “Mommy is just as spiritual as daddy, but she just doesn’t get to be in charge of anything spiritual, okay?” ???

    I mean, there are certain things that I, as a woman, will never be able to do for my children–give priesthood blessings, perform baptisms, conduct a PPI, etc. So, what’s the harm in me taking on a few duties that are NOT expressly required to be performed by men (i.e. choosing who says the prayer, conducting FHE, leading scripture study, etc.)? By being in charge of such matters, am I subverting my husband’s power, his authority to preside? My husband and I certainly don’t think so.

  70. Julie in Austin on August 3, 2005 at 12:34 pm

    maria–

    I think your questions are interesting. But I suppose it is all a matter of context. Because children are more likely to be spending their time with Mom, because Mom is (almost) always in charge of the household (even if Dad does a lot of the work), I think a child could just as easily come to the conclusion, “Gee, Dad doesn’t do much for the family except bring in money. I guess dads aren’t that important.”

    And I’d dispute the idea that even in a fairly traditional family, the kids won’t see mom doing ‘spiritual stuff.’ I hope they’d see her reading scriptures, teaching FHE lessons (with a flannel board!!), having deep gospel discussions with Dad, fulfilling her calling, going to the temple, etc., etc., etc.

  71. manaen on August 3, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    #65

    Lisa, I fully agree with your comment, “Seems the only clear distinction in this particular statement is that fathers are primarily responsible to see that the necessities of life have been provided, and the mother, primarily to see that the children are nurtured physically–both prenatally, postpartum, and beyond (the love and righteousness part of presiding seems to make covering the emotional and spiritual needs of children equal responsibilities for both mother and father). But other scriptures, like Eve working with Adam, make it clear that while this is the emphasis of the different roles, we work together in all of them, really.”

    That says well what I hoped to convey in my analogy (#64). I believe husband & wife should nurture, teach how to receive Holy Ghost’s promptings, etc. The husband has primary responsibility for securing needed material goods from the world and for providing the physical protection from it. This isn’t to say maternal instincts wouldn’t lead a mother to protect her children nor do what was needed to provide for them in the absence of a dependable husband. This came home to me this week. My girl friend’s 30-something daughter was robbed at knife point before work Monday morning. My girl friend instinctively comforted her daughter and spent much of yesterday with her. I also talked with her and let her unload on me. However, I have this abiding feeling that I failed her because I didn’t protect her. It’s illogical — I was at my own job when she was robbed — but my heart naturally senses a failure and I’m struggling with it.

  72. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    The idea of PPI’s with family members feels a little awkward to me. I can’t imagine having a PPI with my wife–maybe with my children but not with my wife. We talk about everything as it is. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! We know each other so well, so intimately, that it would be laughable to even think about sitting down and having an interview with a feigned air of formality. We are so evenly yoked that it would feel almost abominable to place myself above her in anyway–especially because of the priesthood.

    That said–all I can say about the father presiding (bum that I am) is that we just seem to have a natural sense of it in our home. It isn’t forced at all. I don’t know what else to say.

  73. Lisa B. on August 3, 2005 at 11:59 pm

    Mike–I strenuously object to your assertion that natural human = biological human. In understand the scriptures definition of “natural man” to be a spiritual phenomenon. Our distance and separation from God. Our inability to save ourselves. God has a body as tangible as man. It is not, then, “biology” itself which is damning. On the contrary, biology is an essential component of exaltation. And Satan is damned above (below?) even those daughters and sons of perdition because he (Satan) doesn’t have a (physical/ biological) body.

  74. Edward A. Erdtsieck on August 5, 2005 at 10:15 am

    “By divine design, fathers are to preside . . .” It is a work in progress, a still to be completed work of Jesus Christ. The Proclamation is His mission statement for the human family and puts Jesus Christ where He rightly belongs, that is as the Creator of the world and Founder of the House of Israel on earth. The Apostle Paul talks of a similarity in the relationship of Jesus Christ to His Church and that of a man and his family.

    In the roles of a father and a mother in marriage, we are still in a season of ignorance. Same-sex marriage and other gender related issues have divided our political and cultural relationships. I belief success is not achieved by political means, because politicians and their multitudes are guided by self-interest and are ignorant of God’s Plan for Salvation.

    As founder of the House of Israel, Jesus Christ made covenants with Adam and Eve and Abraham and Sarah and Jacob and Rebecca. These ancient fathers and mothers did not fail in their effort to keep their covenant to Him, as many other Christians habitually claim. It was and still is Satan and his veil of ignorance, that swept over the hearts and minds of their posterity, that caused them to crucify Him.

    These gender issues still rage across the USA, putting one citizen against other citizens and Mormons against Mormons; desparately seeking solutions, even a constitutional amendments. I recall Moses’ warning, when he saw the golden calf after his experience at the burning bush; ‘do not follow a multitude into evil.’

    The Proclamation on the Family and the rise in the number of new temples, tells me that Jesus Christ is the true head of the Church. His ways are strange, rather than making a public spectacle, He works quietly with those willing to receive Him. His resurrection has made Him the Law. He will pass judgment over the House of Israel, to enter into His House, we do by divine design.

  75. Robert C. on September 15, 2005 at 12:39 am

    This thread’s old, but I was reminded of it reading the following passage in the Sep 11, 2005 WSJ article “Explaining the Role of Chief Justice”:

    “It is often said that the chief justice is “first among equals.” The phrase refers to the fact that although the chief justice is the head of the court, he has but one vote. Still, the chief justice does have several subtle ways in which he can affect the court’s direction.”

    Reading this article w/ the parrallel “man presides” but “equal partners” wording in the Proclamation was thought-provoking. Strictly speaking, I think it’s the equal part that suffers in the running of the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, an interesting analogy to contemplate since the chief justice gets only one vote even though he essentially presides over the other justices….

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