The Mormon Family Essay

1703 words - 7 pages

The church is a hierarchy that is lead by the priesthood. In order to receive the priesthood, one must be male. In The Proclamation, it says about men “By divine design fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families” (lds.org). The word preside means to have authority over something, in this case the family. Since the church is a similitude of the family, almost all the leaders are men. The only general leadership positions held by women are in the individual youth and children organization, and Relief Society, the leading women’s organization in the church. When The Proclamation talks about mothers its say “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (lds.org).To many, this is a negative claim and sits as a point of opposition from feminist groups. Till this day, the gender roles of men and women continue to be debated in the Mormons church, and society.
In 1870, the women of Utah got the franchise; this was 50 years before the rest of the United States (Bushman 112). Later revoked in 1887, when all Utah citizens got disenfranchised by the U.S. Government during the crackdown on polygamy (112). This and the fact that Utah had a high rate of early female doctors, and women of the time had been encouraged to work for pay (112).This led people to believe that perhaps the church was at one time more responsive to females working out of the home. Brigham Young the second president of the church once said “We believe that women are useful not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make the bed and raise babies, but they should stand behind the counter, study law or physics, or become good bookkeepers and be able to do business in any counting house, and all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large, in following these things, they answer the design of their creator” (112-113). This freedom can be seen as a product of polygamy. In a monogamous relationship, women have less time for themselves. A polygamous woman is not alone with all the house work and children, leave more time for themselves to pursue a career or an education.
After the demise of polygamy, women in the church began to focus on their work in the Relief Society. This period in church history was the most effective the Relief Society had ever been. In 1914, the Relief Society started to consolidate their course of study in their meetings from locally organized, to a worldwide curriculum (Arrington, Bitton 231). This consisted of four topics of study in “theology, social sciences, literature and homemaking” (231). At this time in the church, not all the meetings were held on Sundays. In the Mormon Church, the Relief Society meeting is part of the regular Sunday schedule, but in the early twentieth century, it was not held during the same time as the regular church services. It was during the week, and sometimes more than...

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