How Patriarchy Actually Operates in LDS (Mormon) Homes

Men Are the Designated Patriarchs in Their Homes

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An LDS (Mormon) home should follow the patriarchal order. However, this does not mean it is a patriarchy where men have all the authority and power over women. This same patriarchal order exists in church organization.

Fathers and Husbands Are the Patriarchs of Their Homes

In 1995, the Church issued a proclamation on the family.  Although always explicit in LDS doctrine, this document collects all primary teachings on the family into one location.

 It clarifies the role of men and women in the home. It states:

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. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. 

Husbands and fathers are the patriarchs of their home. Because they are able to hold the priesthood, this responsibility falls to them. This is what it means to preside.

What it means in practice is that the husband and the father is held accountable for exercising the priesthood in the home. He bears primary responsibility for ensuring spiritual responsibilities are discharged properly by all family members, including himself.

Presiding in the Home Does Not Elevate Men Over Women

Also by divine design, mothers and wives are primarily responsible for bearing and nurturing children.

Few would argue with this since it is an immutable fact of nature.

The proclamation also states, unequivocally, that fathers and mothers are equal partners in all their sacred family responsibilities.

Since priesthood power is void if used unrighteously, men cannot use their priesthood to control or dominate their wives and children in any way.

If they try, they will fail. Their unrighteous effort will bring them under condemnation in this life and the next.

It is an unfortunate reality of our modern world that it values men and men's roles more highly than the roles divinity has assigned to women. In LDS beliefs and doctrine, the roles are equally valued.

Secular Homes As Opposed to LDS Homes

Secular homes do not contain any family members that hold the priesthood. So, if men preside over women, it typically dis-empowers and marginalizes women to some extent.

Without gospel knowledge, such homes are patriarchies where men have all the authority and all the power. Only when gospel truth is present and practiced in the home can the situation be otherwise.

LDS members acknowledge that the patriarchal order should exist in secular homes, even when it does not in reality. For example, if a wife or child is a member of the Church, but the husband or father is not, the wife or child defers to the father in what would be his priesthood responsibilities, if he did in fact hold the priesthood.

Outsiders Are Naturally Mystified by the LDS Patriarchal Order in the Home

Critics and outsiders will probably never fully fathom the LDS assertion that men and women are equal in family responsibilities in marriage or in the home.

The misconception will undoubtedly persist in the future. There is not much of anything the Church or its members can do to correct it.

Abuse is Still Abuse!

Any of the behaviors considered abuse in the secular world are considered abuse in the LDS world as well. Any attempts to unrighteously influence others is condemned. This is explicitly stated in D&C 121 where these themes are fully developed in scripture. In verse 41 we are told: 

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

People may answer for it in the secular world as well. They will certainly be held accountable on earth by Church authorities and in heaven by deity.

Priesthood Responsibility Means More Accountability

In LDS doctrine, more is required of those who have more knowledge, responsibility and ability than those who do not.

Since priesthood responsibility is given to men, Heavenly Father requires more accountability from them.

Priesthood power and authority comes with solemn and divine responsibility. If this responsibility is treated lightly or abused in any way, men will ultimately answer for it.

Any unrighteous actions by priesthood holders must be corrected and thoroughly repented of.