Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Importance of Motherhood

The world has lost sight of the profound importance and essential influence of mothers. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve eloquently pointed this out in the October 2013 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

A pernicious philosophy that undermines women’s moral influence is the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career. Some view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing it demeans women and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation. They ridicule what they call “the mommy track” as a career. This is not fair or right. We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood in marriage. There is no superior career, and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family. Whatever else a woman may accomplish, her moral influence is no more optimally employed than here.

It truly is sad how motherhood and homemaking have become a lesser endeavor in the eyes of the world. A mother's influence and impact on her children will effect them for eternity. Some may say mothers do not have much influence on their children, that they have their own agency and will choose what they want. It is true that children do have their own agency, but someone has to teach them what is right from wrong; someone has to guide them and love them, and show them the good in the world; someone has to believe in them and teach them their divine nature and potential; and the best person for that job, and the divinely appointed person at that, is the Mother. “Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.” (President David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, [1953], 452.)

Now, this does not mean that having ambitions and desires outside of the home are bad. On the contrary, we value the contributions of women and men in their endeavors to help better the world through their work and careers. We also understand that there are circumstances where necessity causes the mother of a family to be the main provider for their family. However, we must recognize that our families are the most important part of our lives. “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (President David O. McKay, Quoted from J. E. McCullough, Home: The Savior of Civilization [1924], 42; Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116.) I believe one of the most important questions to ask ourselves, and one I ask myself frequently, is the following: "Is this decision the best for my family? Not just for me, and the desires and ambitions I have (which are still important), but, most importantly, will this be good for my family as well?"

Elder Christofferson gave an additional concern about the trends of the world with regard to women and mothers:

[Another] area of concern comes from those who, in the name of equality, want to erase all differences between the masculine and the feminine. Often this takes the form of pushing women to adopt more masculine traits—be more aggressive, tough, and confrontational. It is now common in movies and video games to see women in terribly violent roles, leaving dead bodies and mayhem in their wake. It is soul-numbing to see men in such roles and certainly no less so when women are the ones perpetrating and suffering the violence.

While "the name of equality" has led to reform and change that have made our world a much better place, and the underlying goals of striving for equality are noble, the world has begun to use the word "equality" to mean "EXACTLY alike." The problem with this definition is that there are some things that we cannot be "EXACTLY alike," one of which is gender. There are fundamental differences (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) between men and women, that make it so we are NOT, and never can be, exactly alike. And that is a GOOD thing! The differences between men and women, through a marriage, are meant to complement each other so that we can become together what we could not on our own. Elder Christofferson continues:

Former Young Women general president Margaret D. Nadauld taught: “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.” In blurring feminine and masculine differences, we lose the distinct, complementary gifts of women and men that together produce a greater whole.

One recent place where this blurring of feminine and masculine differences has been prevalent is the Ordain Women movement. The leaders of Ordain Women, "in the name of equality," argue that women should be given the priesthood so that men and women can be equal in the church. They argue that the blessings and opportunities available to men through the priesthood, such as giving blessings, being in the leadership of the church, and performing ordinances, should also be given to women.

As a man, I have had the opportunity to give blessings, perform ordinances, and participate in the leadership of the church. And I will agree, these opportunities to serve are a blessing. However, as a man, I will never have the opportunity AND BLESSING of building a body for a child and giving birth. I will never have the opportunity to be a Mother. Does this mean that I am unequal with my wife? No. The fact is that we are equal in the importance of our responsibilities.

“I think we all know that the blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone. These blessings are also poured out upon our wives and daughters and upon all the faithful women of the Church. These good sisters can prepare themselves, by keeping the commandments and by serving in the Church, for the blessings of the house of the Lord. The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by his sons, for neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord [see 1 Corinthians 11:11].” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 59.)

The sad reality is, in our day and in the world we live in, the divine importance of women, and especially mothers, has become distorted and destroyed. Women are being led to believe that the work they are doing with their families and in their homes is much less important than what others are doing in the world, and what men are doing in the church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, consistently teaches that the most important work to be done on this earth and in this life is within the walls of our own homes, with our families. The whole purpose of the Church is to help our families to become better, and to strive for the blessings of an eternal family. The Mother, the creator of bodies, bearer of children, nurturer of the family, is a KEY part of this purpose of life. God be thanked for the divinely appointed role of Mothers.

(Written with help from my wonderful wife Jenny :-) )