Teachings Concerning Motherhood

This is a compilation of quotes I’ve collected about the doctrine of Motherhood.  Enjoy.

How God views Motherhood

Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand “steadfast and immovable”2regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.

When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”3—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality,4righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood.5Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.   Sheri L. Dew (“Are we not all mothers” Oct. 2001)

To be a mother in Israel in the full gospel sense is the highest reward that can come into the life of a woman.  This designation has a deep and significant meaning, one that is far more than marrying and bearing children in this life, great and important as that course is.  In fact, in the full and true sense of the word, the blessing of being mothers in Israel shall come in due course to some who, through no fault of their own, are denied the opportunity to marry and to bear children in this life.  (Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, Mothers in Israel, Relief Society Magazine, Dec 1970)

The true spirit of the Church gives to women the highest place of honor in human life. To maintain and merit this high dignity, she must possess those virtues which have always demanded and which will ever demand the respect and love of mankind. (David O. McKay)

Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good. Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so.  (Gordon B. Hinckley)

Woman occupies a position all her own in the eternal economy of the Creator; and in that position she is as truly superior to man as is he to her in his appointed place.  Woman shall yet come to her own, exercising her rights and her privileges as a sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane. (James E. Talmage)

The Most Important Work

Recent horrifying events in the United States have underscored the fact that we live in a world of uncertainty. Never has there been a greater need for righteous mothers—mothers who bless their children with a sense of safety, security, and confidence about the future, mothers who teach their children where to find peace and truth and that the power of Jesus Christ is always stronger than the power of the adversary. Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, “I am just a mother,” for mothers heal the souls of men.    Sheri L. Dew (“Are we not all mothers” Oct. 2001)

Since the beginning, a woman’s first and most important role has been ushering into mortality spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven.

Since the beginning, her role has been to teach her children eternal gospel principles. She is to provide for her children a haven of security and love—regardless of how modest her circumstances might be.  President Benson (“The Honored Place of Woman”, Ensign, Nov. 1981, 104)

During my professional career as a doctor of medicine, I was occasionally asked why I chose to do that difficult work. I responded with my opinion that the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother. Since that option was not available to me, I thought that caring for the sick might come close. I tried to care for my patients as compassionately and competently as Mother cared for me.

Many years ago the First Presidency issued a statement that has had a profound and lasting influence upon me. “Motherhood,” they wrote, “is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”3

Because mothers are essential to God’s great plan of happiness, their sacred work is opposed by Satan, who would destroy the family and demean the worth of women.    Elder Russell M. Nelson

To make home the most pleasant place in the world for her husband and children was [Mother’s] constant aim, which she achieved naturally and supremely. Though unselfishly devoted to her family, she tactfully taught each one to reciprocate in little acts of service. . . .”  In “Secrets to a Happy Life” this is the advice he gave to all mothers who wish to be happy.  Llewelyn R. McKay, Home Memories of President David O. McKay [1956], 3–4).

Happiness consists not of having, but of being; not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is a warm glow of the heart at peace with itself. A martyr at the stake may have happiness that a king on his throne might envy. Man is the creator of his own happiness. It is the aroma of life, lived in harmony with high ideals. For what a man has he may be dependent upon others; what he is rests with him alone. ― David O. McKay, Pathways to Happiness

The noblest calling in the world is motherhood. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece, or who can write a book that will influence millions, deserve the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will exert influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have decayed or been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.  ― David O. McKay

She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind. But she who would willingly and anxiously rear successfully a family of beautiful healthy sons and daughters whose lives reflect the teachings of the gospel, deserves the highest honors that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God. In fact, in her high duty and service to humanity, endowing with mortality eternal spirits, she is a co-partner with the Great Creator Himself. ― David O. McKay

… The most worthy calling in life is that in which man can serve best his fellow man. … The noblest aim in life is to strive to live to make other lives better and happier. ― David O. McKay

Motherhood thus becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of those who kept their first estate and who come to this earth for their second estate “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” (Abraham 3:25.) To lead them to keep their second estate is the work of motherhood, and “they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (op. cit.)

This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it-only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hands of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.

The mother who entrusts her child to the care of others, that she may do non-motherly work, whether for gold, for fame, or for civic service, should remember that “a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Prov. 29:15.) In our day the Lord has said that unless parents teach their children the doctrines of the Church “the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25.)

Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels. To you mothers in Israel we say God bless and protect you, and give you the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty, that shall enable you to fill to the fullest measure the sacred calling which is yours. To you mothers and mothers-to-be we say: Be chaste, keep pure, live righteously, that your posterity to the last generation may call you blessed.    First Presidency Message (General epistle of the First Presidency to the Saints in every land, October 3, 1942)

“The Name of Mother”

“The noblest thoughts my soul can claim.

The holiest words my tongue can frame,

Unworthy are to frame the name

More sacred than all other.

An infant when her love first came,

A man, I find it just the same:

Reverently I breathe her name—

The blessed name of mother.”

—George Griffith Fetter

No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother.

This evening I pay tribute to the mothers in Zion and pray with all my heart that what I have to say to you will be understood by the Spirit and will lift and bless your lives in your sacred callings as mothers.

President David O. McKay declared: “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.” (Gospel Ideals, p. 452.)

President McKay continues: “Motherhood consists of three principal attributes or qualities: namely, (1) the power to bear, (2) the ability to rear, (3) the gift to love. . . This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, . . . deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.” (Gospel Ideals, pp. 453-54.)

With all my heart I endorse the words of President McKay…

Remember the counsel of President Kimball to John and Mary: “Mary, you are to become a career woman in the greatest career on earth–that of homemaker, wife, and mother. It was never intended by the Lord that married women should compete with men in employment. They have a far greater and more important service to render.”  President Ezra Taft Benson (To the Mothers in Zion 22 February 1987)

My dear sisters, I believe that you, like our priesthood brethren, have been “called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of … exceeding faith and good works, … having chosen good.” Therefore you are “called with a holy calling.” (Alma 13:3.)

We stand in awe at Mary’s assignment to be the mother of the Lord, but we, too, have been called to mother gods. Latter-day Saint women understand that the very purpose of creation depends upon our participation as earthly mothers to the spirit children of God. As it is his work and his glory to bring his children unto eternal life, it is also our work and our glory as mothers. That it is work, no mother will deny. That it is glory, our Father’s greatest promises concern themselves with joy in posterity. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work” (D&C 64:33). Indeed, there is none greater.   Mary F. Foulger, “Motherhood and the Family”, Ensign, Nov. 1980, 105

Mothers Influence

When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this.   Elder Neal A. Maxwell (“The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10)

A beautiful, modest, gracious woman is creation’s masterpiece. When to these virtues a woman possesses as guiding stars in her life righteousness and godliness and an irresistible impulse and desire to make others happy, no one will question if she be classed among those who are truly great. (Gospel Ideals, p. 449.)

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. True, there comes a time when Father takes his place as exemplar and hero of the growing boy; and in the latter’s budding ambition to develop manly traits, he outwardly seems to turn from the more gentle and tender virtues engendered by his mother. Yet that ever-directing and restraining influence implanted during the first years of his childhood linger with him and permeate his thoughts and memory as distinctively as perfume clings to each particular flower. President David O. McKay (Gospel Ideals, p. 452.)

Woman has within her the power of creation in company with her legal and lawful husband here, and if sealed in celestial wedlock, may have eternal increase in the world to come. Woman is the homemaker in her own home, and an exemplar to her posterity in the generations that succeed her. Woman is a helpmate to her husband and is to render him more perfect than he otherwise would be. Woman’s influence can bless a community or a nation to that extent to which she develops her spiritual powers in harmony with the heaven-sent gifts which she has been by nature endowed. If she does not forfeit her priceless heritage by her own willful negligence, she can be largely instrumental in safeguarding democracy and downing a would-be tyrant. Year in and year out, she may cast the aura of her calming and refining influence to make certain that her posterity will enjoy the opportunities to develop to their fullest potential their spiritual and physical nature.  President Harold B. Lee (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1967, p. 13.)

In my lifetime the women’s role in administering care and mercy has changed. They seem to have less time to magnify the feelings of charity and benevolence that the Prophet Joseph said comes naturally to them (see History of The Church, 4:605). Life has become harder and more complex; in some ways, it demands more of all of us. It has become more difficult for mothers and wives to meet all of the challenges and expectations that are placed upon them. Our seemingly insatiable appetites for material things suggest that probably these demands could very well increase in the future.

If our good women are to continue in their primary roles as nurturers, teachers, homemakers, and managers, they will need more support and help in order for them to find time to give compassionate service to their families and others. If this help is withheld, our lives, our homes, the Church, and the world will be the poorer, for so much love, gentleness, and understanding will be lost.   Elder Faust (The Highest Place of Honor –May 1988)

Of course, there are times when a woman’s ability to endure is taxed to the limit. A teacher may have had enough of childish pranks, or a mother might be heard to say she’s “ready to resign.” She could become discouraged, especially if comparing herself unrealistically to others or focusing on what she is to do instead of on what she is to be.

Her self-esteem cannot be based on physical features, possession or lack of a particular talent, or comparative quantities of anything. Her self-esteem is earned by individual righteousness and a close relationship with God. Her outward glow is generated by goodness within. And her patience is much more apparent than any imperfection. (See D&C 67:13.)

Sweet serenity is found in fervent prayer. Then, we forget ourselves and remember the reaching hands of the Savior, who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28.) As our burdens are shared with Him, they do become lighter.

Feelings of worth come when a woman follows the example of the Master. Her sense of infinite worth comes from her own Christlike yearning to reach out with love, as He does.

When her husband, children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews return from a day marred by the world’s rude realities, a loving woman can say, “Come unto me. I will give you rest.” Wherever she is can become a sanctified place, safe from the storms of life. Refuge is there because of her ability to nurture and to love unconditionally.

Sometimes this true love necessarily takes the tone of tough love. Her lessons of obedience and accountability must resemble those of her Master, who said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15; see also Ex. 20:6; Deut. 5:10; Mosiah 13:14; D&C 46:9; D&C 124:87.)

The Good Shepherd said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15.) So a woman feeds her loved ones, providing succor and sustenance just as the Savior would do. Her divine gift is to nurture, to help the young, to care for the poor, to lift the brokenhearted.

The Lord said, “My work and my glory [is] to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) So His devoted daughter-disciple may truly say, “My work and my glory is to help my loved ones reach that heavenly goal.”

To help another human being reach one’s celestial potential is part of the divine mission of woman. As mother, teacher, or nurturing saint, she molds living clay to the shape of her hopes. In partnership with God, her divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted. This is the measure of her creation. It is ennobling, edifying, and exalting.

Her saintly calling is opposed by Satan. He would shatter the family unit and demean the worth of woman. He would triumph if one man would offend or fail to honor her, or if one woman would deny her infinite worth and behave beneath her dignity. The vulgar portrayal of her beauty as an object of lust, the vile invasion of her private purity, should provoke righteous indignation from all caring people.                    Elder Russell M. Nelson (“Woman—Of Infinite Worth”, Ensign, Nov. 1989, 20)

A son-in-law, Mark Quinn, tells the following story about his mother:

When I was eleven years old I visited the “Old Mill” haunted house in Salt Lake City with a few of my buddies. On this cold October night we waited in line for over an hour in a blustery snowstorm. I was shivering from exposure by the time we entered the haunted house, and my trembling only increased as I moved through the terrifying displays of the Halloween attractions. Being a guy I thought I could handle this better, but it was a scary experience for me.

When I returned home later that night I climbed quickly into bed—shivering half from the cold of the night and half from the disturbing memories of the haunted house. As I lay under the covers of my bed, I realized that earlier in the day my mother had changed my bedding from the light blankets and sheets of the summer to the heavy blankets and quilts she used to keep us warm during the cold nights of winter. This bedding felt heavy upon me, and I was quickly warmed of the chill I had experienced all evening from standing outside in the cold. As I was drifting off to sleep, I could hear my mother in the kitchen. She was finishing the countless chores that consumed her day as the mother of twelve children. By the sounds and smells I knew she was preparing a meal our family would enjoy the next day. I knew that I was in a secure and warm place. I was resting comfortably under a quilt my mother had sewn with her own hands. The fear I felt from my memories of the haunted house quickly left me as I dismissed the demons that had frightened me earlier that evening.

As the years have gone by and I have found myself far from home in distant and challenging circumstances, I have thought back to that night and gained strength from the knowledge that I have a mother who loves me and keeps a warm place for me in her heart.

When, think you, were fashioned the pillars of that colossal character? Did they spring up to meet the emergencies of fame and power? No! they were sculptured in the sacred quarry of the cradle with that chisel which only a mother’s hand can wield. When we stand in the presence of art’s grandest achievements we feel like bowing before that genius which can take from the hand of nature a block of marble and hew away the chips that hide a waiting angel. But the mother of Garfield took from the hand of God the unformed elements of a human character and shaped them into something it were blasphemy to compare with the proudest creation that ever leaped from the brain of genius a God-like man.

” O wondrous power! How little understood!

Entrusted to a mother’s mind alone,

To fashion genius from the soul for good.”

No argument is necessary to convince us of the potency of home influence in shaping character. There are certain truths to which it is only necessary to call attention, and minds instinctively assent to them, and to this class, we believe, belong those general truths concerning home which we have mentioned. Indeed, they are recognized and taught in the trite maxims of every-day life. Napoleon understood well the nature of home and its mission when he said, “The great need of France is mothers.” An old Scotch proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” Mohammed said, “Paradise is at the feet of mothers.”  Charles Edward Sargent, Our Home, or the Key to a Nobler Life Pg. 21-22

How to Mother

With love in my heart for the mothers in Zion, I would now like to suggest ten specific ways our mothers may spend effective time with their children.

First, take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going–when they leave and return from school–when they leave and return from dates–when they bring friends home. Be there at the crossroads whether your children are six or sixteen. In Proverbs we read: “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). Among the greatest concerns in our society are the millions of latchkey children who come home daily to empty houses unsupervised by working parents.

Second, mothers, take time to be a real friend to your children. Listen to your children, really listen. Talk with them, laugh and joke with them, sing with them, play with them, cry with them, hug them, honestly praise them. Yes, regularly spend unrushed one-on-one time with each child. Be a real friend to your children.

Third, mothers, take time to read to your children. Starting from the cradle, read to your sons and daughters. Remember what the poet said, “You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be–I had a mother who read to me” (Strickland Gillilan, “The Reading Mother”). You will plant a love for good literature and a real love for the scriptures if you will read to your children regularly.

Fourth, take time to pray with your children. Family prayers, under the direction of the father, should be held morning and night. Have your children feel of your faith as you call down the blessings of heaven upon them. Paraphrasing the word of James: “The . . . fervent prayer of a righteous [mother ] availeth much” (James 5: 16 ). Have your children participate in family and personal prayers and rejoice in their sweet utterances to their Father in Heaven.

Fifth, take time to have a meaningful weekly home evening. With your husband presiding, participate in a spiritual and an uplifting home evening each week. Have your children actively involved. Teach them correct principles. Make this one of your great family traditions. Remember the marvelous promise made by President Joseph F. Smith when home evenings were first introduced to the Church: “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.” This wonderful promise is still in effect today.

Sixth, take time to be together at mealtimes as often as possible. This is a challenge as the children get older and lives get busier. But happy conversation, sharing of the day’s plans and activities, and special teaching moments occur at mealtime because mothers and fathers and children work at it.

Seventh, take time daily to read the scriptures together as a family. Individual scripture reading is important, but family scripture reading is vital. Reading the Book of Mormon together as a family will especially bring increased spirituality into your home and will give both parents and children the power to resist temptation and to have the Holy Ghost as their constant companion. I promise you that the Book of Mormon will change the lives of your family.

Eighth, take time to do things together as a family. Make family outings and picnics and birthday celebrations and trips special times and memory builders. Whenever possible, attend as a family, events where one of the family members is involved, such as a school play, a ball game, a talk, a recital. Attend Church meetings together and sit together as a family when you can. Mothers who help families pray and play together will stay together and will bless children’s lives forever.

Ninth, mothers, take time to teach your children. Catch the teaching moments. This can be done anytime during the day–at mealtime, in casual settings, or at special sit-down times together, at the foot of the bed at the end of the day, or during an early morning walk together. Mothers, you are your children’s best teacher. Don’t shift this precious responsibility to day-care centers or babysitters. A mother’s love and prayerful concern for her children are her most important ingredients in teaching her own.

Teach children gospel principles. Teach them it pays to be good. Teach them there is no safety in sin. Teach them a love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a testimony of its divinity.

Teach your sons and daughters modesty and teach them to respect manhood and womanhood. Teach your children sexual purity, proper dating standards, temple marriage, missionary service, and the importance of accepting and magnifying Church callings.

Teach them a love for work and the value of a good education.

Teach them the importance of the right kind of entertainment, including appropriate movies, and videos, and music, and books, and magazines. Discuss the evils of pornography and drugs and teach them the value of living the clean life.

Yes, mothers, teach your children the gospel in your own home, at your own fireside. This is the most effective teaching that your children will ever receive. This is the Lord’s way of teaching. The Church cannot teach like you can. The school cannot. The day-care center cannot. But you can, and the Lord will sustain you. Your children will remember your teachings forever, and when they are old, they will not depart from them. They will call you blessed–their truly angel mother.

Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes time–lots of time. It cannot be done effectively part time. It must be done all the time in order to save and exalt your children. This is your divine calling.

Tenth and finally, mothers, take the time to truly love your children. A mother’s unqualified love approaches Christlike love.

Here is a beautiful tribute by a son to his mother: “I don’t remember much about her views of voting nor her social prestige; and what her ideas on child training, diet, and eugenics were, I cannot recall. The main thing that sifts back to me now through the thick undergrowth of years is that she loved me. She liked to lie on the grass with me and tell stories, or to run and hide with us children. She was always hugging me. . . . And I liked it. She had a sunny face. To me it was like God, and all the beatitudes saints tell of Him. And sing! Of all the sensations pleasurable to my life nothing can compare with the rapture of crawling up into her lap and going to sleep while she swung to and fro in her rocking chair and sang. Thinking of this, I wonder if the woman of today, with all her tremendous notions and plans, realizes what an almighty factor she is in shaping of her child for weal or woe? I wonder if she realizes how much sheer love and attention count for in a child’s life.”

Mothers, your teenage children also need that same kind of love and attention. It seems easier for many mothers and fathers to express and show their love to their children when they are young, but more difficult when they are older. Work at this prayerfully. There need be no generation gap. And the key is love. Our young people need love and attention, not indulgence. They need empathy and understanding, not indifference from mothers and fathers. They need the parents’ time. A mother’s kindly teachings and her love for and confidence in a teenage son or daughter can literally save them from a wicked world.

In closing, I would be remiss this evening if I did not express my love and eternal gratitude for my sweetheart and companion and the mother of our six children. Her devotion to motherhood has blessed me and our family beyond words of expression. She has been a marvelous mother, completely and happily devoting her life and her mission to her family. How grateful I am for Flora.

May I also express my gratitude to you fathers and husbands assembled this evening. We look to you to give righteous leadership in your home and families and, with your companions and the mothers of your children, to lead your families back to our Eternal Father.

Now God bless our wonderful mothers. We pray for you. We sustain you. We honor you as you bear, nourish, train, teach, and love for eternity. I promise you the blessings of heaven and “all that [the] Father hath” (see D&C 84:38) as you magnify the noblest calling of all–a mother in Zion.                                                                                                                                            President Ezra Taft Benson (To the Mothers in Zion 22 February 1987)

In our modern kingdom, it is no accident that women were, through the Relief Society, assigned compassionate service. So often the service of women seems instinctive, while that of some men seems more labored. It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone.

We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby’s first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child’s first day at school which bespeaks a special selflessness. Women, more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word self is militantly placed before other words like fulfillment. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms.

So often our sisters comfort others when their own needs are greater than those being comforted. That quality is like the generosity of Jesus on the cross. Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity!   Elder Neal A. Maxwell (“The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10)

Years ago, a son wrote to his mother and asked her what she did to successfully rear her children—all nineteen of them! She wrote him this reply:

“The writing anything about my way of education I am much adverse to. It cannot, I think, be of service to anyone to know how I, who have lived such a retired life for so many years, used to employ my time and care in bringing up my own children. No one can, without renouncing the world, in the most literal sense, observe my methods; and there are few, if any, that would entirely devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hopes to save souls of their children, which they think may be saved without so much ado; for that was my principal intention, however unskillfully and unsuccessfully managed.” (Franklin Wilder, Immortal Mother, New York: Vantage Press, 1966, p. 43; italics added.)

That mother was Susannah Wesley, and the son who wrote was John Wesley, one of the great reformers. Twenty years of the prime of life in the hopes of saving the souls of her children! Such a task required skill, competence, courage, intelligence, and ingenuity far above any career.

Do you want a principle for successful motherhood? Make time to teach your children the gospel and principles of gospel living when they are young. It may be that you too will need to “renounce the world” and “devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hopes to save the souls of [your] children.”

No accomplishment transcends the building of the character of a son or a daughter of God.          President Benson (“The Honored Place of Woman”, Ensign, Nov. 1981, 104)

We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do.

I remember going to a stake conference in the East many years ago. On the plane coming home, I felt that I had been a total failure. I felt I had not touched anyone for good. I was miserable with a sense of inadequacy.

Then, some years later, I was at another conference in California. At the conclusion of the meeting a man came up to me and said, “You were at a conference a few years ago in such-and-such a place.”

“Yes,” I said, “I was there, and I remember the occasion.”

The man said: “You touched my heart. I came to that meeting out of curiosity. I really had no interest. I was on the verge of leaving the Church. But when it was announced that one of the Twelve Apostles would be there, I decided to go.

“You said something that started me to think. It touched me and stayed with me and stirred me. I decided to alter my course. I turned my life around. I am now living here in California. I have a good job, for which I am grateful. I hope I am a good husband and father. And I am now serving as a counselor in the bishopric of my ward. I am happier than I have ever been at any time in my life.”

I thanked him, and when I left him I said to myself, shaking my head: “You never know. You never know whether you do any good. You never know how much good you do.”

Now, my dear sisters, that is the way with you. You are doing the best you can, and that best results in good to yourself and to others. Do not nag yourself with a sense of failure. Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do. Then leave the matter in the hands of the Lord. You will discover that you have accomplished something beyond price…

Then we have you older women who are neither young nor old. You are in the most wonderful season of your lives. Your children are in their teens. Possibly one or two are married. Some are on missions, and you are sacrificing to keep them in the field. You are hoping and praying for their success and happiness. To you dear women I offer some special counsel.

Count your blessings; name them one by one. You don’t need a great big mansion of a house with an all-consuming mortgage that goes on forever. You do need a comfortable and pleasant home where love abides. Someone has said that there is no more beautiful picture than that of a good woman cooking a meal for those she loves. Weigh carefully that which you do. You do not need some of the extravagances that working outside the home might bring. Weigh carefully the importance of your being in the home when your children come from school.

Mothers, take good care of your daughters. Be close to them. Listen to them. Talk with them. Lead them from doing foolish things. Guide them into doing the right thing. See that they dress in a comely and modest fashion. Safeguard them from the terrible evils that are all about them.

Nurture your sons with love and counsel. Teach them the importance of personal cleanliness, of neatness in their dress. Sloppy ways lead to sloppy lives. Instill in them a sense of discipline. Keep them worthy of service to the Church as missionaries. Give them things to do so that they may learn to work. Teach them to be frugal. Labor and frugality lead to prosperity. Teach them that nothing really good happens after 11 o’clock at night. And do not spoil them. If they go on missions, they may be compelled to live in circumstances that you would not wish for them. Do not worry about them. Give them encouragement.

Stir within your children the desire for education. This is the latchkey to success in life. And at the same time, teach them that as President David O. McKay was wont to remind us, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”1                              President Hinckley (To the women of the church Nov. 2003)

“Do you not think that these things make an impression upon the mind? Do you think I can forget the example of my mother? No; her faith and example will ever be bright in my memory. What do I think! Every breath I breathe, every feeling of my soul rises to God in thankfulness to Him that my mother was a Saint, that she was a woman of God, pure and faithful, and that she would suffer death rather than betray the trust committed to her; that she would suffer poverty and distress in the wilderness and try to hold her family together rather than remain in Babylon. That is the spirit which imbued her and her children. Would not her children be unworthy of such a mother did they not hearken to and follow her example? Therefore I say God bless the mothers in Israel.” Chapter 4: The Influence of Mothers,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: JosephF. Smith, (1998)

Motherhood lies at the foundation of happiness in the home, and of prosperity in the nation. God has laid upon men and women very sacred obligations with respect to motherhood. 5

I think that the best mothers in the world should be found, and consistently found, among the Latter-day Saints. I believe the best wives in all the world are found among the Latter-day Saints. I do not know of any other women in the world that have the same conception of wifehood and motherhood that the Latter-day Saints possess. Our associations are not exclusively intended for this life. … We live for time and for eternity. We form associations and relations for time and all eternity. Our affections and our desires are found fitted and prepared to endure not only throughout the temporal or mortal life, but through all eternity. 6

We shall prosper and build up Zion upon the earth; for this is our mission, and the work of your mothers and daughters of Zion—the mothers now, and by and by the daughters, who will, in turn, be mothers in Israel. Great responsibility rests upon you. Upon you depend the training and the direction of the thoughts and the inspiration of the hearts of your children, for they drink into the spirit of their mothers, and the influence of the mother over the children is the most enduring impression that can be made. There is nothing so imperishable as the influence of the mother; that is when she is good and has the spirit of the Gospel in her heart, and she has brought up her children in the way they should go.

Our mothers, and the mothers of our children, whose hearts are filled with solicitude for the welfare of their children, having had conferred upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of hands, can go to their secret chambers and bow down before God and commune with Him as no other mothers on earth can do, if they will only observe the principles they have embraced and will live up to their privileges. By the influence that they will thus gain over the hearts of their children they will lead them in the path of righteousness and truth, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, in the love of truth, in obedience to His commands, in such a way as others cannot do who are destitute of these privileges, blessings and endowments, so freely conferred upon the mothers in Israel. 8  

I most sincerely hope that the mothers of Israel will guard very zealously and very carefully the lives of their daughters and of their sons. I would if I had it in my power make it possible for all mothers to have the joy and the unspeakable satisfaction of rearing their sons and their daughters above the reproach of men and above the power of sin. 11

… The true mother, the mother who has the fear of God and the love of truth in her soul, would never hide from danger or evil and leave her child exposed to it. But as natural as it is for the sparks to fly upward, as natural as it is to breathe the breath of life, if there were danger coming to her child, she would step between the child and that danger; she would defend her child to the uttermost. Her life would be nothing in the balance, in comparison with the life of her child. That is the love of true motherhood for children. …

I have learned to place a high estimate upon the love of mother. I have often said, and will repeat it, that the love of a true mother comes nearer being like the love of God than any other kind of love.

Perhaps the most perfect ideal in the art of healing is the mother whose tender and gracious love asserts itself in taking away the sting of a deserved or an undeserved punishment. How her love heals every wound! How quick her caresses bind up and soothe! The example of her life is the wisdom which love teaches.  Chapter 4: The Influence of Mothers,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: JosephF. Smith, (1998)

“It is not for you to be led by the women of the world; it is for you to lead the…women of the world, in everything that is praiseworthy, everything that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and…purifying to the children of men.” (Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church [1998])

How can we best teach our children? The Lord has given us specific instruction:

“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, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.”20

When a child needs correction, you might ask yourself, “What can I say or do that would persuade him or her to choose a better way?” When giving necessary correction, do it quietly, privately, lovingly, and not publicly. If a rebuke is required, show an increase of love promptly so that seeds of resentment may not remain. To be persuasive, your love must be sincere and your teachings based on divine doctrine and correct principles.

Do not try to control your children. Instead, listen to them, help them to learn the gospel, inspire them, and lead them toward eternal life. You are God’s agents in the care of children He has entrusted to you. Let His divine influence remain in your hearts as you teach and persuade.     Elder Russell M. Nelson, Salvation and Exaltation, April 2008 Address

Mothers who are not Mothers in this Life?

We realize that some women, through no fault of their own, are not able to bear children. To these lovely sisters, every prophet of God has promised that they will be blessed with children in the eternities and that posterity will not be denied them.

Through pure faith, pleading prayers, fasting, and special priesthood blessings, many of these same lovely sisters, with their noble companions at their sides have had miracles take place in their lives and have been blessed with children. Others have prayerfully chosen to adopt children, and to these wonderful couples we salute you for the sacrifices and love you have given to those children you have chosen to be your own.    President Ezra Taft Benson (To the Mothers in Zion 22 February 1987)

I know it’s important to provide Heavenly Father’s children with healthy bodies and safe homes, but that must be only the beginning of being a mother.

I believe that motherhood in the eternal sense is developed through sacrifice, service, and love. For most women the greatest opportunities to develop nurturing talents come with the birth of their own children. However, those of us who do not bear children can develop qualities of eternal motherhood in other ways.”

Alane Starko, “A Special Kind of Mother”, Ensign, Aug. 1995, 52

Now, it is wise for every young woman to be grateful for her womanhood and her privilege to create, with her husband and the Eternal God as her partners. To be a mother, to be a wife of a good man–what a great joy! While she is waiting for that holy, sacred hour, let her be happy and content to develop her mind and accumulate knowledge and prepare herself emotionally and spiritually for the happy times. Be Ye Therefore Perfect  SPENCER W. KIMBALL 17 September 1974

Our Part of Marriage

Let husband and wife never speak to one another in loud tones, unless the house is on fire.  ― David O. McKay

Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him. ― David O. McKay

Home

The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home. ― David O. McKay

There can be no genuine happiness separate and apart from the home, and every effort made to sanctify and preserve its influence is uplifting to those who toil and sacrifice for its establishment. Men and women often seek to substitute some other life for that of the home; they would make themselves believe that the home means restraint; that the highest liberty is the fullest opportunity to move about at will. There is no happiness without service, and there is no service greater than that which converts the home into a divine institution, and which promotes and preserves family life.

… The strongest attachments of childhood are those that cluster about the home, and the dearest memories of old age are those that call up the associations of youth and its happy surroundings. 9

In the home the mother is the principal disciplinarian in early child life, and her influence and discipline determine in a great measure the ability of her children to assume in manhood and womanhood the larger governments in church and state. 10   “Chapter 4: The Influence of Mothers,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: JosephF. Smith, (1998)

America should fear the disloyalty and contention of the fireside more than the nefarious plots of scheming politicians.

If your boys wrangle and contend at home, if they cannot discuss with dignity the little questions that arise in their daily intercourse with one another, be sure they will not honor the nation when they take their places in senate halls to discuss the great problems that confront the civilization of the nineteenth century.

Now, if home may be so powerful an influence for good, how important becomes the cultivation of the home sentiment. To be destitute of this sentiment is almost as great a misfortune as to be destitute of the religious sentiment. Indeed, we believe that one cannot possess a true and exalted love of home while there is wanting in his character that which when awakened may yield the fruit of a godly life. What a mighty responsibility rests upon him who essays to make a home, for the founding of a home is as sacred a work as the founding of a church. Indeed, every home should be a temple dedicated to divine worship, where human beings through life should worship God through the service of mutual love the highest tribute man can pay to the divine.   Charles Edward Sargent, Our Home, or the Key to a Nobler Life Pg. 22-23

What is Education

And what is true education? It is awakening a love for truth; giving a just sense of duty; opening the eyes of the soul to the great purpose and end of life. It is not so much giving words, as thoughts; or mere maxims, as living principles. It is not teaching to be honest, because ‘honesty is the best policy’; but because it is right. It is teaching the individual to love the good, for the sake of the good; to be virtuous in action because one is so in heart; to love and serve God supremely, not from fear, but from delight in his perfect character.” ― David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals

The aim of education is to develop resources in the child that will contribute to his well-being as long as life endures; to develop power of self-mastery that he may never be a slave to indulgence or other weaknesses, to develop [strong] manhood, beautiful womanhood that in every child and every youth may be found at least the promise of a friend, a companion, one who later may be fit for husband or wife, an exemplary father or a loving intelligent mother, one who can face life with courage, meet disaster with fortitude, and face death without fear.
David O. McKay

True education does not consist merely in the acquiring of a few facts of science, history, literature, or art, but in the development of character. ― David O. McKay

The Rising Generation

As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues?

Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else. Every sister in Relief Society, which is the most significant community of women on this side of the veil, is responsible to help our young women make a joyful transition into Relief Society. This means our friendship with them must begin long before they turn 18. Every one of us can mother someone—beginning, of course, with the children in our own families but extending far beyond. Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy. I repeat: We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.

Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us. I was thrilled recently to see one of my youth leaders for the first time in years. As a teenager who had absolutely no self-confidence, I always sidled up to this woman because she would put her arm around me and say, “You are just the best girl!” She loved me, so I let her lead me. How many young men and women are desperate for your love and leadership? Do we fully realize that our influence as mothers in Israel is irreplaceable and eternal?

When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for Mother to wake me in the middle of the night and say, “Sheri, take your pillow and go downstairs.” I knew what that meant. It meant a tornado was coming, and I was instantly afraid. But then Mother would say, “Sheri, everything will be OK.” Her words always calmed me. Today, decades later, when life seems overwhelming or frightening, I call Mother and wait for her to say, “Everything will be OK.”

Look around. Who needs you and your influence? If we really want to make a difference, it will happen as we mother those we have borne and those we are willing to bear with. If we will stay right with our youth—meaning, if we will love them—in most cases they will stay right with us—meaning, they will let us lead them.    Sheri L. Dew (“Are we not all mothers” Oct. 2001)

Sisters of the Church, the chastity of the youth of the church is largely in your hands.  You must enthrone virtue in its sovereign place; you must bring back modesty, must let the beauty of chaste blushes still adorn your cheeks.  Mothers in Israel, teach your sons to honor and revere, to protect to the last, pure womanhood; teach your daughters that their most priceless jewel is a clean, undefiled body; teach both sons and daughters that chastity is worth more than life itself.  We Priesthood shall help as best our natures permit, but the burden for that task is now and always has been, in the greatest part, yours.  Unless you shall do this, the whole world will sink into a welter of sin and corruption.  May God help you in your task!  (J. Reuben Clark )

I believe it is by divine design that the role of motherhood emphasizes the nurturing and teaching of the next generation. We see so many challenges today from distracting and destructive influences intended to mislead God’s children…Too many of our Father in Heaven’s children are being overcome by worldly desires. The onslaught of wickedness against our children is at once more subtle and more brazen than it has ever been…God bless you wonderful mothers and fathers in Zion. He has entrusted to your care His eternal children. (Elder L. Tom Perry)

Our Part of the Priesthood

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that “God planted within women something divine.”6That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood. Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”7

Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.”8    Sheri L. Dew (“Are we not all mothers” Oct. 2001)

Our sisters are entitled just as much to the inspiration for their needs of the Holy Spirit as are the men. They are entitled to the gift of prophecy concerning matters that would be essential for them to know as it is for the men. When they pray they should pray earnestly, expecting to have an answer to their prayers. The Lord will hear them if they are earnest, true, just as well as he will the brethren.

When the Lord said that no person could be saved in ignorance, I think he meant women as well as he did men, and I think the women of the Church are under the obligation of studying the scriptures just as well as for the men. President Joseph Fielding Smith (Take Heed to Yourselves, p. 259.)

Elder John A. Widtsoe said: “Motherhood may be exercised as universally and vicariously as Priesthood” (Priesthood and Church Government, rev. ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954, p. 85).

For those who have not yet borne a child—exercise motherhood. Let your arms be an extension of the Savior’s in providing love and security for all his children.

One mother who learned to put her trust in the arm of the Lord taught a son to do the same. Later, as a man bearing testimony to the power of prayer, he said: “It was through the example of my mother that I learned to depend on the Lord. Whenever we had an important decision to make, we would discuss the problem, and then my mother would say, ‘Now, let’s take it to the Lord.’ I often came home to find housework left at a standstill and my mother kneeling in prayer. Friends coming into the house sometimes asked me, ‘What is your mother doing?’ I would say, ‘She is taking a problem to the Lord.’”

His arms will be there when ours are not. Teach them to walk toward his arms.

My mother died three weeks before my first child was born. How I longed for her. My Relief Society sisters have been my mother. I have felt the Lord’s arms encircled about me through sacred sisterhood, through enlightenment and training received in Relief Society.

God has called Latter-day Saint women to prepare his children for the challenges of the last days. In order to fulfill this calling, we must be both learners and teachers of eternal truths. We must study the scriptures that we might arm our children with knowledge of Jesus Christ and his gospel. We must guard our homes against any intrusion of evil. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We must make our homes holy places in which to stand. Sisters, we must faithfully fulfill here the sacred trust we willingly accepted there.  Mary F. Foulger, “Motherhood and the Family”, Ensign, Nov. 1980, 105

The well-being of the mother, the child, the family, the Church … of all humanity rests upon protecting [motherhood] … [Its] obligations are never-ending. The addition of such duties as would attend ordination to the priesthood would constitute an interruption to, perhaps an avoidance of, that crucial contribution which only a mother can provide.  Elder Boyd K. Packer (Ensign July 1988)

The Relief Society

The world is increasing in wickedness. Temptations are greater than they have ever been in the memory of any of us. In the face of these conditions—and they will get worse—President Spencer W. Kimball said in an address to Regional Representatives:

“Relief Society leaders and teachers should ask, how can we help the wife and mother understand the dignity and worth of her role in the divine process of motherhood? How can we help her make her home a place of love and learning, a place of refuge and refinement?” (Ensign, May 1978, p. 101.)

We must ever keep in mind that it is the design of Satan to thwart the plan of our Eternal Father. The plan of the adversary is to destroy the youth of the Church—the “rising generation,” as the Book of Mormon calls them (see Alma 5:49)—and to destroy the family unit.         President Benson (“The Honored Place of Woman”, Ensign, Nov. 1981, 104)

The Use of Birth Control

Amongst His earliest commands to Adam and Eve, the Lord said: “Multiply and replenish the earth.” He has repeated that commandment in our day. He has again revealed in this, the last dispensation, the principle of the eternity of the marriage covenant. He has restored to the earth the authority for entering into that covenant, and has declared that it is the only due and proper way of joining husband and wife, and the only means by which the sacred family relationship may be carried beyond the grave and through eternity. He has declared that this eternal relationship may be created only by the ordinances which are administered in the holy temples of the Lord, and therefore that his people should marry only in His temple in accordance with such ordinances.

The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth, so that the legions of choice spirits waiting for their tabernacles of flesh may come here and move forward under God’s great design to become perfect souls, for without these fleshly tabernacles they cannot progress to their God-planned destiny. Thus, every husband and wife should become a father and a mother in Israel to children born under the holy, eternal covenant.

By bringing these choice spirits to earth, each father and each mother assume towards the tabernacled spirit and towards the Lord Himself by having taken advantage of the opportunity He offered, an obligation of the most sacred kind, because the fate of that spirit in the eternities to come, the blessings or punishments which shall await it in the hereafter, depend, in great part, upon the care, the teachings, the training which the parents shall give to that spirit.

No parent can escape that obligation and that responsibility, and for the proper meeting thereof, the Lord will hold us to a strict accountability. No loftier duty than this can be assumed by mortals.    First Presidency Message (General epistle of the First Presidency to the Saints in every land, October 3, 1942)

In the eternal family, God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide, to love, to teach, and to direct.

But a mother’s role is also God-ordained. Mothers are to conceive, to nourish, to love, and to train. So declare the revelations.

In Section 132 of Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord states that the opportunity and responsibility of wives is “to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified” (D&C 132:62). With this divine injunction, husbands and wives, as co-creators, should eagerly and prayerfully invite children into their homes.

Then, as each child joins their family circle, they can gratefully exclaim, as did Hannah, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord: as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).

Isn’t that beautiful? A mother praying to bear a child and then giving him to the Lord.

I have always loved the words of Solomon: “Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man [and woman] that hath [their] quiver full of them” (see Psalm 127: 3-5 ).

I know the special blessings of a large and happy family, for my dear parents had a quiver full of children. Being the oldest of eleven children, I saw the principles of unselfishness, mutual consideration, loyalty to each other, and a host of other virtues developed in a large and wonderful family with my noble mother as the queen of that home.

Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children, being co-creators with our Father in heaven.

Do not use the reasoning of the world, such as, “We’ll wait until we can better afford having children, until we are more secure, until John has completed his education, until he has a better paying job, until we have a larger home, until we’ve obtained a few of the material conveniences,” and on and on.

This is the reasoning of the world and is not pleasing in the sight of God. Mothers who enjoy good health, have your children and have them early. And, husbands, always be considerate of your wives in the bearing children.

Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children–not possessions, not position, not prestige–are our greatest jewels.

Brigham Young emphasized: “There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?–To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).

Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.  President Ezra Taft Benson (“To the Mothers in Zion,” Parents’ Fireside, Salt Lake City, Utah, 22 February 1987.)

Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord, and to prevent their offspring from coming into the world…are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise of eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they… (Joseph Fielding Smith)

The Church does not approve of any form of artificial birth control. It would seem, however, that in your having four babies within five years of your marriage, you are submitting your body to an almost superhuman test, especially with your threatened affliction of arthritis. The proper spacing of your babies is your responsibility. The mother’s health should be one of the first consideration. Certainly it will be to the blessing of your little ones–those with whom you are now blessed and others yet to come–if you will keep well and strong so that you can give them proper care.  (David O. McKay)

It is the policy of the Church to discourage the prevention of conception by any means unless the health of the mother demands it. It is also the policy of the church to regard marital relations of husband and wife as their personal problem and responsibility to be solved and to be established between themselves as a sacred relationship.  David O. McKay

The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father’s children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: “. . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. . .” (Ps. 127:3, 5.) We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness.  Conference Report, April 1969, Pg.12

Women who are deliberately childless will regret it. I am not sorry for women who sacrifice their lives for children. I am not sorry for those women who have many children. But I am sorry … for women who come to the Judgment Day who have never assumed the responsibility of rearing children, who have been afraid of pain, resistant to sacrifice. They are the ones whose hearts will be heavy.

I know there are many women who could not have children — God bless them!

Childbearing should not be delayed for convenience. After marriage young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing children. I know of no scriptures or authorities which authorize young wives to delay their families or to go to work to put their husbands through college. Young married couples can make their way and reach their educational heights, if they are determined.

Supreme happiness in marriage is governed considerably by a primary factor — that of the bearing and rearing of children. Too many young people set their minds, determining they will not marry or have children until they are more secure, until the military service period is over; until the college degree is secured; until the occupation is more well-defined; until the debts are paid; or until it is more convenient. They have forgotten that the first commandment is to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28.) And so brides continue their employment and husbands encourage it, and contraceptives are used to prevent conception. Relatives and friends and even mothers sometimes encourage birth control for their young newlyweds. But the excuses are many, mostly weak. The wife is not robust; the family budget will not feed extra mouths; or the expense of the doctor, hospital, and other incidentals is too great; it will disturb social life; it would prevent two salaries; and so abnormal living prevents the birth of children. The Church cannot approve nor condone the measures which so greatly limit the family.

How do you suppose that the Lord would look upon a man and a woman whose marriage seems to be largely for the purpose of living together and sex gratification without the responsibilities of marriage? How do you think that the Lord looks upon those who use the contraceptives because in their selfish life it is not the convenient moment to bear children? How do you feel the Lord looks upon those who would trade flesh-and-blood children for pianos or television or furniture or an automobile, and is this not actually the case when people will buy these luxuries and yet cannot afford to have their children? Are there not numerous people who first buy the luxury article and then find they cannot pay the doctor or a hospital bill incident to childbirth? How do you think the Lord feels about women who forego the pleasures and glories of motherhood that they might retain their figures, that their social life might not be affected, that they might avoid the deprivations, pains, and agonies of childbearing and berthing? How do you think the Lord feels as he views healthy parents who could have children but who deliberately close the doors by operation or by contraceptives, close the doors upon spirits eager to enter into mortal bodies?

Not everyone can have children. We realize, of course, there are some women who cannot have children, some men who cannot reproduce. The Lord will take care of all that if we have done everything in our power, if we have done what we could to make ourselves normal and productive and to follow the commandments of the Lord.

Few couples need remain childless. Men and women who have been unable to have children should build their faith. Many a barren woman like Sarah has had children through special blessings of the Lord. She was blessed in having a son — a son to a barren woman.

Sometimes operations or adjustments or hormones may make parenthood possible. Frequently fears and frictions and tenseness are causes for barrenness and sterility. Such people should do everything in their power to put themselves in a position to have their babies. Adoption of parentless children brings joy to many hearts. Few, if any, parents need be childless through their years.

Mother’s health should he considered. In family life, men must and should be considerate of their wives, not only in the bearing of children, but in caring for them through childhood. The mother’s health must be conserved, and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self-control a dominant factor in all their relationships.

Sterilization as a medical measure is a serious personal responsibility. On … sterilization or other surgery to prevent conception … the Church has felt that it was the individual responsibility of the couple; and while the Church leaves it to the individual to determine whether the ill health of the mother is sufficient to warrant the surgery which would make pregnancy impossible, yet it is a definite personal responsibility. In your case, since the surgery has already been completed, it cannot be undone, so it must be accepted as a fact and life can go on. Both parents should give themselves totally and fully to the rearing of their six children which they now have in a loving home with ideal surroundings.

Sterilization to avoid the inconvenience of children is sinful. We marry for eternity. We are serious about this. We become parents and bring wanted children into the world and rear and train them to righteousness.

We are aghast at the reports of young people going to surgery to limit their families and the reputed number of parents who encourage this vasectomy. Remember that the coming of the Lord approaches, and some difficult-to-answer questions will be asked by a divine Judge who will be hard to satisfy with silly explanations and rationalizations. He will judge justly, you may be sure.

Sterilization and tying of tubes and such are sins, and except under special circumstances it cannot be approved.

The world can provide for growing population. Many people, some of them innocently caught up in the whirlpool of delusion errors, are worrying about the earth failing to provide for the oncoming generations. They take such means to influence the thinking of the people and repeat it so often that many of us were gullible and accepted it. We tend to believe what the world says. We often do not even ask what the Lord’s program is.   The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Pg. 324-31

It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so. President Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1979, Pg. 6

Paul speaks of continence—a word almost forgotten by our world. Still in the dictionary, it means self-restraint, in sexual activities especially. Many good people, being influenced by the bold spirit of the times, are now seeking surgery for the wife or the husband so they may avoid pregnancies and comply with the strident voice demanding a reduction of children. It was never easy to bear and rear children, but easy things do not make for growth and development. But loud, blatant voices today shout “fewer children” and offer the Pill, drugs, surgery, and even ugly abortion to accomplish that. Strange the proponents of depopulating the world seem never to have thought of continence! President Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1971, Pg. 7

The obligations which married couples take upon themselves should conform in every particular to the commandments given by the Lord.

In the beginning, the Lord said when he gave Eve to Adam, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” This earth was created for the very purpose that the spirit children of our Father might have the privilege of the temporal existence, receiving bodies of flesh and bones as tabernacles for the spirits which occupy them, and then, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, receive the resurrection in which the spirit and the body become inseparably connected so that man may live again. . . .

Marriage is an eternal covenant, not to come to an end as taught so generally throughout the world when the covenanting parties are dead, but to endure forever. The real purpose of life is that the spirits of men thus clothed in bodies of flesh and bones may, through obedience to the gospel, come back into the presence of the Father and the Son, to receive the fullness of exaltation,

The Lord has revealed that when a man and a woman are married according to his law, children born to them will be theirs throughout all eternity.

The covenant given to Adam to multiply was renewed after the flood with Noah and his children after him. The Lord said to Noah: “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying. And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.”

This covenant is still binding, although mankind has departed from the way of eternal life and has rejected the covenant of marriage which the Lord revealed.

The abuse of this holy covenant has been the primary cause for the downfall of nations. When the sacred vows of marriage are broken and the real purpose of marriage abused, as we find it so prevalent in the world today, then destruction is inevitable.

No nation can endure for any length of time, if the marriage covenants are abused and treated with contempt. The anger of the Almighty was kindled against ancient nations for their immorality. There is nothing that should be held in greater sacredness than this covenant by which the spirits of men are clothed with mortal tabernacles.

When a man and a woman are married and they agree, or covenant, to limit their offspring to two or three, and practice devices to accomplish this purpose, they are guilty of iniquity which eventually must be punished. Unfortunately this evil doctrine is being taught as a virtue by many people who consider themselves cultured and highly educated. It has even crept in among members of the Church and has been advocated in some of the classes within the Church.

It should be understood definitely that this kind of doctrine is not only not advocated by the authorities of the Church, but also is condemned by them as wickedness in the sight of the Lord.

President Joseph F. Smith has said in relation to this question: “Those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of wedded life should see to it that they do not abuse the course of nature; that they do not destroy the principle of life within them, nor violate any of the commandments of God. The command which he gave in the beginning to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fullness of joy, and if we will obtain a fullness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desires — eternal life.”

SPIRITS DESIRE BIRTH IN RIGHTEOUS FAMILIES. President Brigham Young has this to say about birth control, an abomination practiced by so-called civilized nations, but nations who have forsaken the ways of life:

“There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can.”

If these iniquitous practices find their place in our hearts and we are guilty, then when we arrive on the other side — and discover that we have deprived ourselves of eternal blessings and are accused by those who were assigned to come to us, because, as President Young has said, they were forced to take bodies in the families of the wicked — how will we feel? Moreover, may we not lose our own salvation if we violate this divine law?

BIRTH CONTROL LEADS TO DAMNATION. Instructing the mothers of the Church, President Joseph F. Smith said in June, 1917: “I regret, I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe that is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.”

When young people marry and refuse to fulfill this commandment given in the beginning of the world — and just as much in force today — they rob themselves of the greatest eternal blessing. If the love of the world and the wicked practices of the world mean more to a man and a woman than to keep the commandment of the Lord in this respect, then they shut themselves off from the eternal blessing of increase. Those who willfully and maliciously design to break this important commandment shall be damned. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord.

Small families is the rule today. Husbands and wives refuse to take upon themselves the responsibilities of family life. Many of them do not care to be bothered with children. Yet this commandment given to Adam has never been abrogated or set aside. If we refuse to live by the covenants we make, especially in the house of the Lord, then we cannot receive the blessings of those covenants in eternity. If the responsibilities of parenthood are willfully avoided here, then how can the Lord bestow upon the guilty the blessings of eternal increase? It cannot be, and they shall be denied such blessings.   President Joseph F. Smith

Abortion

I thank the Father that His Only Begotten Son did not say in defiant protest at Calvary, “My body is my own!” I stand in admiration of women today who resist the fashion of abortion, by refusing to make the sacred womb a tomb!   Neal A. Maxwell (“The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10)

Work outside the Home

No wonder the men of God support and sustain you sisters in your unique roles, for the act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim.   Elder Neal A. Maxwell (“The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10)

In the beginning, Adam was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow—not Eve. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother’s place is in the home!

I recognize there are voices in our midst which would attempt to convince you that these truths are not applicable to our present-day conditions. If you listen and heed, you will be lured away from your principal obligations.

Beguiling voices in the world cry out for “alternative life-styles” for women. They maintain that some women are better suited for careers than for marriage and motherhood.

These individuals spread their discontent by the propaganda that there are more exciting and self-fulfilling roles for women than homemaking. Some even have been bold to suggest that the Church move away from the “Mormon woman stereotype” of homemaking and rearing children. They also say it is wise to limit your family so you can have more time for personal goals and self-fulfillment.   President Benson (“The Honored Place of Woman”, Ensign, Nov. 1981, 104)

Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children’s needs. That decision can be most shortsighted.

It is mother’s influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child’s basic character.

Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother’s loving example to choose righteousness.

How vital are mother’s influence and teaching in the home—and how apparent when neglected!

I do not wish to wound any feelings, but all of us are aware of instances of active Latter-day Saint families who are experiencing difficulties with their children because mother is not where she ought to be—in the home.

A recent national magazine gave these alarming figures: “More than 14 million children ages 6 to 13 now have working mothers, and it is estimated that a third of them are unsupervised for lengthy periods each day.” (U.S. News and World Report, 14 Sept. 1981, p. 42.)

The seeds of divorce are often sown and the problems of children begin when mother works outside the home. You mothers should carefully count the cost before you decide to share breadwinning responsibilities with your husbands. It is a truism that children need more of mother than of money.

President Joseph F. Smith said that “parents in Zion will be held responsible for the acts of their children, not only until they become eight years old but, perhaps, throughout all the lives of their children, provided they have neglected their duty to their children while they were under their care and guidance, and the parents were responsible for them.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1910, p. 6.)       President Benson (“The Honored Place of Woman”, Ensign, Nov. 1981, 104)

Some women, because of circumstances beyond their control, must work. We understand that. … Do not, however, make the mistake of being drawn off into secondary tasks which will cause the neglect of your eternal assignments such as … rearing the spirit children of our Father in Heaven. Pray carefully over all your decisions.              President Kimball (Nov 1979 The role of righteous women)

Now, my dear mothers, knowing of your divine role to bear and rear children and bring them back to Him, how will you accomplish this in the Lord’s way? I say the Lord’s way, because it is different from the world’s way.

The Lord clearly defined the roles of mothers and fathers in providing for and rearing a righteous posterity. In the beginning, Adam–not Eve–was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother’s calling is in the home, not in the market place.

Again, in the Doctrine and Covenants, we read: “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken” (D&C 83:2). This is the divine right of a wife and mother. She cares for and nourishes her children at home. Her husband earns the living for the family, which makes this nourishing possible. With that claim on their husbands for their financial support, the counsel of the Church has always been for mothers to spend their full time in the home in rearing and caring for their children.

We realize also that some of our choice sisters are widowed and divorced and that others find themselves in unusual circumstances where, out of necessity, they are required to work for a period of time. But these instances are the exception, not the rule.

In a home where there is an able-bodied husband, he is expected to be the breadwinner. Sometimes we hear of husbands who, because of economic conditions, have lost their jobs and expect their wives to go out of the home and work even though the husband is still capable of providing for his family. In these cases, we urge the husband to do all in his power to allow his wife to remain in the home caring for the children while he continues to provide for his family the best he can, even though the job be is able secure may not be ideal and family budgeting will have to be tighter.

Our beloved prophet Spencer W. Kimball had much to say about the role of mothers in the home and their callings and responsibilities. I am impressed tonight to share with you some of his inspired pronouncements. I fear that much of his counsel has gone unheeded, and families have suffered because of it. But I stand this evening as a second witness to the truthfulness of what President Spencer W. Kimball said. He spoke as a true prophet of God.

President Kimball declared: “Women are to take care of the family–the Lord has so stated–to be an assistant to the husband, to work with him, but not to earn the living, except in unusual circumstances. Men ought to be men indeed and earn the living under normal circumstances” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 318 ).

President Kimball continues: “Too many mothers work away from home to furnish sweaters and music lessons and trips and fun for their children. Too many women spend their time in socializing, in politicking, in public services when they should be home to teach and train and receive and love their children into security” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 319).

Remember the counsel of President Kimball to John and Mary: “Mary, you are to become a career woman in the greatest career on earth–that of homemaker, wife, and mother. It was never intended by the Lord that married women should compete with men in employment. They have a far greater and more important service to render.

Again President Kimball speaks: “The husband is expected to support his family and only in an emergency should a wife secure outside employment. Her place is in the home, to build the home into a haven of delight.

“Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment. Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond its norm. Two spouses working prevent the complete and proper home life, break into the family prayers, create an independence which is not cooperative, causes distortion, limits the family, and frustrates the children already born” (Spencer W. Kimball, San Antonio Fireside, Dec. 3, 1977, pp. 9-10 ).

Finally President Kimball counsels: “I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the cafe. No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother–cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children. Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home, wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and, unembarrassed, help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously await.

“When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility, and goodness, then you have achieved your accomplishment supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy [of all] through time and eternity” (Spencer W. Kimball, San Antonio Fireside, Dec. 3, 1977, pp. 11-12).

President Kimball spoke the truth. His words are prophetic.

Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to your own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all.   President Ezra Taft Benson (To the Mothers in Zion 22 February 1987)

Rise to the Challenge

I know, I absolutely know, that these doctrines about our divine role are true, and that when understood they bring peace and purpose to all women. My dear sisters, whom I love more than I know how to express, will you rise to the challenge of being mothers in these perilous times, though doing so may test the last ounce of your endurance and courage and faith? Will you stand steadfast and immovable as a mother in Israel and a woman of God? Our Father and His Only Begotten Son have given us a sacred stewardship and a holy crown in their kingdom. May we rejoice in it. And may we be worthy of Their trust.    Sheri L. Dew (“Are we not all mothers” Oct. 2001)

All good things require effort. That which is worth having will cost part of your physical being, your intellectual power and your soul power. Let us ever keep in mind that life is largely what we make it.  ― David O. McKay

Exaltation

As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn’t stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy12at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won’t tell you that, but the Spirit will.

We just can’t let the Lord down. And if the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence.   Sheri L. Dew (“Are we not all mothers” Oct. 2001)

Finally, remember: When we return to our real home, it will be with the “mutual approbation” of those who reign in the “royal courts on high.” There we will find beauty such as mortal “eye hath not seen”; we will hear sounds of surpassing music which mortal “ear hath not heard.” Could such a regal homecoming be possible without the anticipatory arrangements of a Heavenly Mother?  Elder Neal A. Maxwell (“The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10)

Before the world was created, in heavenly councils the pattern and role of women were prescribed. You were elected by God to be wives and mothers in Zion. Exaltation in the celestial kingdom is predicated on faithfulness to that calling.  President Benson (“The Honored Place of Woman”, Ensign, Nov. 1981, 104)

President Lee taught that “successful motherhood today spans the years and the eternities.”2He emphasized that a mother’s glorious purpose “is the building of a home here and laying a foundation for a home in eternity.”

To the sisters, this means they must make a career of motherhood. They must let nothing supersede that career. Chapter 15: The Righteous Influence of Mothers, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: HaroldB. Lee, (2000)

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