What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Janusfinder
The article is quite interesting, and I recommend its perusal. Barlow’s main point is that the role of father needs to be strengthened in the family, with emphasis on his patriarchal duties and directing stewardship.
Barlow notes several trends that are still (if not more so) applicable 35 years later. One such trend is the diminishing of the role of fatherhood in the family. A prime example of this situation is found in modern sitcoms that revolve around a family. Whether it be The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Guy, or Home Improvement, the father is portrayed as a witless buffoon. He is just another one of the children that the wife/mother has to look after and care for.
Noting this issue, one study conducted earlier this year paints a dismal picture:
Fathers in the USA are a lot less supportive and accepting than TV sitcom dads, even falling short of the low bar set by Homer Simpson, a study of college students’ views suggests.
While this study might be disputed for its general applicability and accuracy, there is clearly a need to shun the media’s perception of fatherhood and find a scriptural and prophetic guide. To this end, Barlow offers a few quotes and scriptures that emphasize the need for a strong father figure that assumes his divine role as the patriarch and presiding priesthood authority.
Commenting on this trend, Elder Tuttle wrote:
There is genuine concern over the diminishing role of the father in the home. His influence is fading. Presiding responsibilities formerly assumed are left either to the mother or to agencies outside the home. This diminishing role is at the root of a multitude of our problems. Numerous things go awry when the scriptural family organization is upset!
The father is the patriarch in the home. This means that the father is the presiding authority. (A. Theodore Tuttle, via Quoty)
In attempting to understand how one presides in the family, one question arises, as John suggested to me last night: where is the balance between presiding and being an “equal partner” as the Proclamation says? One answer is to be found in the following words of the late President Faust:
The father and mother are equal partners with different roles in nurturing and teaching their family members on the journey to immortality and eternal life. (James E. Faust, “Eternity Lies before Us,” Ensign, May 1997, 18)
Equal partners, different roles. One is the patriarch, one is the counselor (this is an angle Barlow explores in more detail). Elder Oaks elaborates further:
A most important difference in the functioning of priesthood authority in the family and in the Church results from the fact that the government of the family is patriarchal, whereas the government of the Church is hierarchical. The concept of partnership functions differently in the family than in the Church.
The family proclamation gives this beautiful explanation of the relationship between a husband and a wife: While they have separate responsibilities, “in these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners”.
President Spencer W. Kimball said this: “When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner”.
President Kimball also declared, “We have heard of men who have said to their wives, ‘I hold the priesthood and you’ve got to do what I say.’ ” He decisively rejected that abuse of priesthood authority in a marriage, declaring that such a man “should not be honored in his priesthood”.
If men desire the Lord’s blessings in their family leadership, they must exercise their priesthood authority according to the Lord’s principles for its use:
“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; By kindness, and pure knowledge”.
When priesthood authority is exercised in that way in the patriarchal family, we achieve the “full partnership” President Kimball taught. As declared in the family proclamation:
“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, [and] compassion”. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 24; emphasis added)
It seems that Elder Oaks’ message implies that to attain “equal partnership” as the Proclamation directs, each partner must fulfill their separate responsibilities in their distinct roles. By assuming his patriarchal role and ultimately making important familial decisions, the father fulfills his role. By nurturing the family, offering counsel and support, the mother fulfills hers. When this takes place, the partnership is whole and equal.
I think of it like a business: managing partners can have equal status, but different roles. Partners in a law firm obviously have work they each do or specialize in. But in working together by efficiently and sufficiently fulfilling their separate roles, the partnership succeeds. Even when there is a “senior partner” in the business as there is in marriage, the other partners (or in the case on the family, the wife) have a lot of weight and authority.
I believe that the Lord intended for the family to be guided by a strong patriarch—one who seeks the Spirit, leads with persuasion, exudes love, and is open to counsel. I believe that our society has long been heading down the opposite path, and thus the scriptures, modern counsel, and the Proclamation on the Family are crucial in understanding how a father is to properly preside in the home.