Father’s Day

I’ve read several posts on LDS-themed blogs about what should or shouldn’t happen during sacrament meeting on Mother’s Day. LDS-themed blogs are full of posts about the role of women in the church. It is common to find posts about how a woman struggles to balance various roles (including motherhood) and the tension between how the church defines womanhood and how they define womanhood. But I’ve always viewed identity struggles like this in the church as wholly unique to women. I’ve never seen a post about men struggling with their role as men, or men feeling that the church is promoting a definition of “manhood” that they find insufficient. Men, it seems, are generally satisfied with the role they play in the LDS church.

I almost ate my own socks during sacrament meeting yesterday, however, when I realized that the Sacrament Meeting topic for the day wasn’t “fatherhood,” it was “priesthood.” I was a little offended that whomever chose the topic for the day thought that “priesthood” and “fatherhood” are synonyms. And then the posts about mothers day began to make more sense to me. I understood how women, regardless of whether they’ve ever had children or not, may be offended by insensitive words on Mother’s Day. Even though I am not a father, I felt like someone was trying to define me in a way that made me uncomfortable. I felt that all of the responsibilities of fatherhood were being reduced to “someone who gives blessings,” and I was reminded of some of the posts I’ve read about women who don’t want to be defined as “someone who has babies.”

It very well may have been unintentional. It’s quite possible that the member of our bishopric responsible for planning talks for the month simply forgot that it was Father’s Day – or it’s possible he didn’t care. Or the speakers may have misunderstood their speaking assignments. I hope, and will assume, that nobody intended to equate fatherhood with the priesthood.

In the mean time: please help me complete the following:

Manhood :: Womanhood
Fatherhood :: Motherhood
Priesthood :: ?????????

7 comments to Father’s Day

  • My first instinct is to say "priesthood", but I have my own beliefs about how women carry the preisthood the same as men, and I don't know that there is any approved church doctrine to substantiate that.

  • One reason why I am uncomfortable about Father's and Mother's day talks is that usually on Father's day people talk a lot about Heavenly Father, but I don't think I have ever heard Heavenly Mother mentioned on Mother's day. In fact the talks in our ward yesterday focused almost exclusively on Heavenly Father in the scriptures and very little was said about what it means to be a father today.

    I have always thought that priesthood was the power of God. A couple of years ago I realize that if "priesthood" meant the power of God then the way we usually think about it is pretty limited. I assume that God can do a whole lot more then "priesthood holders" can currently do in the church. I guess I think of priesthood in the sense of everything that God is capible of doing and men and women perform different duties by using that power. Thus, through the power of God women can recieve personal reveleation, bless others through their prayers, become a better person, recieve direction about how to serve in their callings etc. Through the power of God men can give priesthood blessings etc, etc. Through the power of God men and women can become parents together and become like God through raising their children.

    I have also thought about scriptures that promise all power and dominions for the rightious followers of Jesus Christ. It would be really weird if a rightous priesthood holder became all powerful in the next life, but his spouse had limited power. Do they both become all powerful? Or maybe they are all powerful because they are together (their powers are combined). I think I lean more toward this last explaination.

    Side note: When Mitt Romney was running for president and people were talking about Mormon beliefs in the news they would ask their guests about the teaching that male members of the church can become like God (This teaching is obviously pretty controversial). They really emphasized the male part. I was like, wha????? It seems like our church really teaches that both men and women can become like God. Did the interviewers have limited information or was the Mother in Heaven thing just way too out there to even talk about.

  • Tara

    Our meeting was about the book of mormon…no mention of fathers.

  • I know it is kinda off topic, I do really like Reuben's post. And it kinda goes with it… This is a question I've had about the doctrine of the Church for a while now. Maybe somebody has some insight?

    Building off Katie's comment about righteous followers becoming equally powerful in the hereafter and never hearing a talk given about a Heavenly Mother.

    My question is this, doesn't God have a spouse? Wouldn't She be just as glorious, exalted, righteous, loving, powerful, worthy of worship, etc etc as God is? Is she a lesser god (being)? I can't and don't believe that is the case.

    So, if She is just as God-like as God is and She is our Heavenly Mother, wouldn't She have just as much to do with the creation and execution of the plan of salvation as God has had? How is her role such a mystery? I think the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother should be just as fundamental as is the doctrine of a God, or Heavenly Father.

    Maybe Heavenly Father and Mother are so perfect and perfectly connected as one that when you talk about or to One of them you must, by necessity, refer to the Other as well.

    I would like to believe that but the following two principles would put the main LDS doctrine at about 50% capacity… in regards to faith and knowledge of God.

    1)John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

    2)A very large part of having and exercising faith is knowing the nature and identity of the God in which you have this faith.

    Knowing the specific attributes of God is a vital step in having faith and receiving Eternal Life.

    Anyway, that's my question, where is the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother? It seems so central to the plan in my eyes.

    If we were in the temple, I'd ask another question or two.

  • In regards to your:

    Manhood :: Womanhood
    Fatherhood :: Motherhood
    Priesthood :: ????????

    I'd have to say that the first are just gender and parenting groups.

    Priesthood, at least in the current doctrine of the LDS Church, is only officially given to men. But women use the priesthood in the temple and enter into the 'highest' priesthood covenant, marriage.

    While, I have no real answer, I think the first two aren't necessarily in the same category as the third. I do like Melanie's answer of priesthood. However, I do realize I would lose any argument trying to separate the church's priesthood group with the male gender group.

  • Good questions everybody. I'm reminded of a Mormon Stories podcast with Margaret Toscano, a woman who was excommunicated from the church, largely because of her outspoken views regarding heavenly mother. One thing she said that really seemed to make sense to me was about how we never talk about her.

    The explanation we always hear at church is that she's "sooooo sacred that we don't talk about her" or "God didn't want us to use her name in vain like we do with His." But Margaret was very unsatisfied with these explanations because she said they didn't help us honor Heavenly Mother, they "erased Her." She argued that we don't do Her any favors by not talking about Her.

    I've always thought about speaking of Heavenly Mother during sacrament, but there just isn't much to use as source material. We've got the hymn "O, My Father." That's all I know of from contemporary sources. Everything else comes from 19th century texts, I believe, and I'm not enough of a historian to know where to look.

  • Reading through the comments again I realized that we got away from Reuben's original point which was a good one. Priesthood and fatherhood are not the same thing. I think that fathers are sometimes unappreciated for the things that they do. I have been really impressed with the young fathers in my ward. I see them keeping their kids happy during sacrament meeting. I see them standing in the back of the room holding their babies in Sunday School. When I am visiting teaching I see them changing diapers, feeding their kids, and playing with their kids while I visit with their spouse. I see them working really hard in school and jobs so that their wives can stay at home. I think that grad school is stressful enough on its' own. I can't imagine the stress and pressure that would come with knowing you have a spouse and two or three children that are anxious for you to graduate so you can get out of student dept. When we say that priesthood is the same as fatherhood then we ignore all the time, commitment, and effort that father's put in to be a good parent.

    Also, on further reflection, I would have to say that the female counterpart of "priesthood" would probably be "priestesshood." Although this is a word that we never use, there is scriptural and temple support to the idea that women become priestesses.