Motherhood should be encouraged and celebrated. However, righteous motherhood should be honored, praised, and encouraged even more. Except those who have prohibitive medical conditions, all women are naturally capable of becoming mothers. What’s more, they are expected by their God and Creator to become mothers to rear and nurture His children in this mortal existence. All women, then, regardless of age, should have their eyes fixed upon the goal and potential of not only becoming mothers, but becoming righteous mothers.
The first command ever given to mankind, to our first parents Adam and Eve, has never been rescinded and is in full force today:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28).
Men and women are supposed to procreate and multiply. Making families is not merely an incidental part of the Plan of Salvation, it is a central tenet. From the very beginning, the family unit has been the most fundamental and important unit in society. It is the mainspring of all virtue and vices, Freedom and slavery, righteousness and iniquity. And it is the fundamental unit of government and civilization revealed by Heaven.
The patriarchal pattern and order of marriage was established at the time God joined man and woman together in the covenant of marriage and commanded them to multiply:
“[T]he Lord God . . . made . . . a woman, and brought her unto the man.
“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 1:22-24).
Both man and woman were created to complement each other and to be helpmeets to one another. The man was given specific duties, talents, and proclivities, and the woman was given other duties, talents, and proclivities. While men and women share the same basic human nature and desires for good, our male and female microchip has been programmed differently for the Lord’s special purposes.
Subsequent scriptural declarations describe the type of relationship that should prevail within the sacred and holy bonds of marriage. The Apostle Paul taught the Ephesian Saints:
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (Ephesians 5:21-31).
This is the pattern for a superb marriage. A Christian marriage is founded on love, mutual respect, holiness, careful care for one another, selfless sacrifice for the other’s wellbeing, faithfulness to the Lord, and a harmonious working relationship between the husband and wife in their separate and respective duties.
There is not a word in this passage about either domineering or servile behavior. Men are not intended to rule as tyrants and women are not required to slavishly comply with every word and demand uttered by their husbands. Yet, the fact is that God choose the man to lead. He is supposed to lead in love, respect, and righteousness. He is supposed to nourish and cherish his wife. In his inspired role as patriarch, he is to provide, protect, instruct, discipline, and uplift his family.
Likewise, the woman was chosen by God for special purposes. She is to follow, assist, and help her husband in the work of founding their family on the rock of the Redeemer Jesus Christ. She is meant to be a shining example of virtue. She is designed to be the heart of the home, the light of the family, the one who warms the hearth with her sweet spirit, the one who nurtures and exudes love and comfort, and the blessed homemaker who turns a house into a home.
Through a barrage of slanderous teachings, distortions, and propaganda, modern feminist society has successfully convinced women that motherhood, homemaking, and good old-fashioned wifery are boring, outdated, unproductive, less valuable than “a man’s work,” mundane, a waste of talent, and even oppressive. These malicious myths have prodded many women into the workforce. Instead of being the housewives, homemakers, and mothers God, nature, and all true men want them to be, they are now workplace pawns slaving away in 9-5 jobs and wasting their talent on things that no one will remember or care about in the eternities.
Let’s dispel a massive myth right now; namely, the idea that you can successfully be a full-time mother and a full-time employee. This is logically impossible. If you work full-time with little children shipped off to day care, a babysitter, or a relative’s, how can you possibly believe you are a full-time mother? Delegating your duties makes you something of a surrogate mother. The one who cares for, feeds, changes, plays with, and teaches your child is more of a mother than you are.
I want to quickly clarify that I don’t condemn those who must work to help support their family. There are many good women who, because of financial difficulties or a husband’s injury or some other extenuating factor, have to work outside the home. God bless you for the righteous desires. These mothers are still doing their duty and should be helped in their challenging circumstances.
There are tens of millions of women, however, who work as a matter of course or who choose to put their families second after their careers. That’s exactly what is happening – they prioritize work, career, personal advancement, money, status, reputation, or physical things over the wellbeing of their family. Such is the opposite of righteous motherhood.
In 1981, a great man of God, Ezra Taft Benson, gave a sermon titled “The Honored Place of Woman.” In it, he warned women of prioritizing incorrectly. He emphasized the prime importance of women in the home. He gave counsel on how women can help save the souls of God’s children and claim a crown of eternal happiness in Heaven. I hold his talk close to my heart and consider it the most poignant and powerful address ever given on motherhood and womanhood. I therefore quote generously from its inspired declarations. President Benson taught:
“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 . . . and to destroy the family unit.
“In the beginning, God placed a woman in a companion role with the priesthood. God said, “It was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him.” (Moses 3:18.)
“Woman was given to man as an helpmeet. That complementary association is ideally portrayed in the eternal marriage of our first parents—Adam and Eve. They labored together; they had children together; they prayed together; and they taught their children the gospel together. This is the pattern God would have all righteous men and women imitate.
“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.
“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.
“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 . . . They also say it is wise to limit your family so you can have more time for personal goals and self-fulfillment. . . .
“It is a misguided idea that a woman should leave the home, where there is a husband and children, to prepare educationally and financially for an unforeseen eventuality. Too often, I fear, even women in the Church use the world as their standard for success and basis for self-worth. . . .
“Some Saints are deluded into believing that more and better circumstances will improve their self-image. A positive self-image has little relationship to our material circumstances. Mary, the mother of our Savior, was of most modest circumstances, yet she knew well her responsibility and took joy in it. Remember her humble exclamation to her cousin Elisabeth: “He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48; italics added.) Her strength was inward, not from outward material things.
“It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.
“We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence.
“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 [i.e. Christian] families who are experiencing difficulties with their children because mother is not where she ought to be—in the home. . . .
“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. . . .
“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.”
Women, mothers, do you understand how important you are in God’s Plan for the salvation of His children? You are essential! Your role is no lesser than a man’s because it takes place in the home away from the eyes of the world. Your efforts are not wasted because you don’t receive a paycheck in dollars and cents. Your talents are not squandered because they are not on public display. Quite to the contrary! Your talents can be fully used and perfected only in the home!
Ladies, the home is where you were designed to shine! Only as mothers do you fully fulfill the measure of your creation. If you remain single or childless through no fault of your own, yet remain faithful to your covenants with God, all of these blessings will be bestowed upon you in the eternities. However, if you neglect or intentionally put off your opportunity to marry, have children, and experience the joy of motherhood and traditional homemaking, you will reap regret. As President Benson said, you may even forfeit your exaltation in Heavenly Father’s Kingdom.
A woman’s place in the home is a place of honor and eternal reward. A righteous mother is a benefit to her family, community, nation, and world. Her influence is far greater than the influence of CEOs, scientists, realtors, bankers, or news anchors. Climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t get you one inch closer to Heaven, while raising little boys and girls to become faithful and upright men and women and remaining virtuous in the process will write your name in the book of life.
When women embrace detrimental philosophies, like feminism, and live the type of life that prevents them from embracing marriage or motherhood, or from fully participating in them as first priorities, they heap upon themselves judgment. If women would be honored by God, they must honor Him by obeying His commandments to become one flesh with a man, submitting to that man as a helpmeet and full partner in the work of creating a family, raising righteous posterity, and turning a house into a home by their sweet, feminine influence.
We have pointed out that men are appointed by God to lead their families. But where, pray tell, does a child’s obedience and willingness to follow his father’s direction originate? It comes from the mother’s example! Why would a little toddler listen to his father if he sees his mother ignore or disobey him? Why would a little girl respect her father if her mother doesn’t respect him?
The pioneer leader Brigham Young often gave counsel to women on how to magnify their divine calling as wives, mothers, and homemakers. On one occasion, he said:
“What faults do I discover in my neighbors’ families? I can see their women go off visiting, riding on horseback, attending parties, while their little ones are neglected, and left to run at large in the streets, exposed to the pernicious examples of vile company. Hear it again! The blood of these wicked children will be required at the hands of their mothers! Should your husbands be called out to fight the Indians, or go to the islands of the sea to gather the poor, it is none of your business, when it is their calling to be away from home.
“I want education to commence here. I wish you strictly to follow out this principle, and when children are old enough to labor in the field, then the father will take them in charge. If children are not taught by their mothers, in the days of their youth, to revere and follow the counsels of their fathers, it will be hard indeed for the father ever to control them. I know it is so, for it is too true. Mothers will let their children go to the Devil in their childhood and when they are old enough to come under the immediate guidance of their fathers, to be sent out to preach the Gospel in the world, or to learn some kind of mechanism, they are as uncontrollable as the winds that now revel in the mountains. . . .
“Let education commence at this point, you mothers! . . . Let mothers commence to teach their children while in their laps, there do you learn them to love the Lord, and keep His commandments. Teach them to keep your commandments, and you will learn them to keep the commandments of your husbands. It is not the prerogative of a child to dictate to his mother, or his father; and it is not the prerogative of the father to rise up and dictate to his God whom he serves. Is it right that my wife should dictate to me? It is just as reasonable, and as right, as it is for your children to rise up and dictate to their mother. It is not their business to dictate to you, their duty is to obey, and not to dictate. . . .
“I wish to impress my lecture more particularly upon the minds of mothers. Am I not continually exhorting the brethren to be kind to their families, and never to ill use a human being on the earth? I exhort you, masters, fathers, and husbands, to be affectionate and kind to those you preside over. And let them be obedient, let the wife be subject to her husband, and the children to their parents. Mothers, let your minds be sanctified before the Lord, for this is the commencement, the true foundation of a proper education in your children, the beginning point to form a disposition in your offspring, that will bring honor, glory, comfort, and satisfaction to you all your life time. To the mothers who may be here today, who have not the experience they will have, and young women who are perhaps just entering upon the stage of life, let me say (and I wish you always to keep it in remembrance, even you younger females who have newly entered into the sacred state of matrimony), fulfil the commandments of Eloheim, fill up the measure of your creation, that the joy of your hearts may be full in the day of the resurrection, in that you have done all you could to fulfil His law, and bring to pass the purposes of the Lord. Always keep your minds pure before the Lord. You may say it is impossible, because of your temptations, but let me inquire, Do you pray? Did you pray this morning, before you left your houses? Did you pray last evening, before you laid your bodies down to rest? Did you pray that the Holy Spirit might rest upon you, so that your sleep might be sweet and refreshing? Some of you may reply, that you have children, and have not time to pay attention to this duty in the morning. Some of you may have sick families, and others of you may be afflicted in other ways, and you will offer these facts as reasons for similar neglect. In these circumstances the mind must be centered upon the Lord, and upon His work, continually. When you embark to fill up the end of your creation, never cease to seek to have the Spirit of the Lord rest upon you, that your minds may be peaceable, and as smooth as the summer breezes of heaven. Never cease a day of your life to have the Holy Ghost resting upon you. Fathers, never cease to pray that your wives may enjoy this blessing, that their infants may be endowed with the Holy Ghost, from their mother’s womb. If you want to see a nation rise up full of the Holy Ghost, and of power, this is the way to bring it about.”
Righteous motherhood begins with personal righteousness. Prayer, scripture study, service, worship, charity, fidelity, love, and all other virtues, are necessary. It is hard for a woman, as a mother, to teach her children virtue, chastity, prayer, or devotion to God if she herself does not live, or try to live, them. From birth, children should be taught about their Father in Heaven, His Plan of Salvation, their Savior Jesus Christ and His redemption, and the other teachings of the Gospel. Who better to teach children at this tender age than mothers who spend the most time with them?
Another time, Young observed the powerful influence women have over the affairs of the earth. In a mighty sermon to Christian sisters, he declared:
“When I reflect upon the duties and responsibilities devolving upon our mothers and sisters, and the influence they wield, I look upon them as the mainspring and soul of our being here. It is true that man is first. Father Adam was placed here as king of the earth, to bring it into subjection. But when Mother Eve came she had a splendid influence over him. A great many have thought it was not very good; I think it was excellent. After she had partaken of the fruit she carried it to her husband, saying, “Husband, a certain character came to me and said if you will eat of this fruit you will find it excellent, and it will make you as Gods, knowing good from evil; and I have tasted it, and I assure you it is excellent.” Her influence was so great with Adam that he also partook of it, and his eyes were opened. You know the result—they were both driven from the garden. Before this, however, they were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth and thus fill the measure of their creation.
“Now, I say the women have great influence. Look at the nations of the earth. Any nation you like, no matter which, and you enlist the sympathies of the female portion of it and what is there you cannot perform? If the government wants soldiers, they are on hand; if means, it is forthcoming. If you want influence and power, and have the ladies on your side, they will give it you. You take a nation that is going to war, whether our nation or any other; in the late struggle, for instance, between the Northern and Southern States, suppose all the mothers, sisters and daughters of the Republic had set their will and determination that no soldiers should go to the field, how many do you suppose would have been obtained? A few Irishmen and Germans might have been hired, but that is all. This is the influence the ladies hold in the nations of the earth. It is true that they are not allowed to go to the ballot-box, but let the females in any district be united and say that such a man shall not go to Congress, and I reckon he cannot go. He may make up his mind to stay at home and make shingles, raise potatoes, or do something else. If he is a lawyer, he may try to get a living by pleading law, but he cannot go to Congress. And when the ladies say send such a man, he is pretty sure to go if they are united and determined that it shall be so. The ladies may not know that they wield so much influence as this, and they would probably want some outward sign before they could be convinced, but it is nevertheless true that their influence is as powerful as I have stated.
“Now, a few words directly to my sisters here in the kingdom of God. We want your influence and power in helping to build up that kingdom, and what I wish to say to you is simply this, if you will govern and control yourselves in all things in accordance with good, sound, common sense and the principles of truth and righteousness, there is not the least fear but what father, uncle, grandfather, brothers, and sons will follow in the wake. . . .
“One thing is very true and we believe it, and that is that a woman is the glory of the man; but she was not made to be worshipped by him. As the Scriptures say, Man is not without the woman, neither is woman without the man in the Lord. Yet woman was not made to be worshipped any more than man was. A man is not made to be worshipped by his family; but he is to be their head, and to be good and upright before them, and to be respected by them. It is his privilege to walk erect, to converse the same as God, in fact he is made in the express image of his Heavenly Father, and he should honor this position. Yet he is not made to be worshipped, but to be the head and superior, and to be obeyed in all love and kindness, and the woman is to be his helpmeet. Woman has her influence, and she should use that in training her children in the way they should go; if she fails to do this she assumes fearful responsibilities.
“We have instances in this Church of mothers full of faith and good works, and if you mark their children you cannot find one that is froward in his ways; I do not remember an instance among the children of such mothers but what believed in and delighted in the Gospel. We have also here the children of mothers of an opposite character—mothers who have been careless and indifferent about the Gospel or the kingdom of God, and, if you mark their children, they are the same, and they stray away from the kingdom of God and from the ordinances of life and salvation. This is the result of the influence of the mother; I am an eyewitness of it.
“If our sisters comprehended the power they bear and the influence they wield in the midst of the people it does appear to me that they would consider their condition a little more than they do.”
While many women seek a false form of “liberation” from their God-given duties and the roles for which they were designed, righteous women recognize their power and influence. In seeking for power and influence outside the home, feminist women have abdicated their greatest potential for influence – motherhood.
Godly women embrace their powerful influence not by living a single and “independent” life, as they suppose it is, but by becoming righteous mothers in the home who raise faithful posterity to the Lord. Nothing is more important to society and the world than righteous motherhood. And women have been called by God Almighty to fulfill this all-important role. What a blessing! What privilege!
Women, what more could you want? What can a career in an office give you in terms of things that matter most in eternity that motherhood and molding the minds and manners of the rising generation can’t? If you find motherhood drudgery, might I suggest you’re doing it wrong or have the wrong attitude. Speaking as a man, I guarantee you that if God wanted me in the home instead of providing for my family, nothing could keep me away. What better life could I desire than to be in the home with my spouse and my children?
Finally, of women’s innate influence over their children and, thus, over society, President Brigham Young stated:
“I know that mothers can teach their children; and they ought to teach them, and this is my duty to tell you what to do in this case. Remember to traditionate your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Teach them as they ought to be taught, that they will have faith from their youth up, and the Spirit of the Lord to direct them, that they may never lose sight of this faith in Christ, and our Heavenly Father; and when they are old they will not depart from the good path. I am firm in the faith, and verily believe, that if mothers will bring up their children aright, and give them that early training that they should have, their children will grow up and never depart from the path of rectitude and truth.
“The mothers are the moving instruments in the hands of Providence to guide the destinies of nations. Let the mothers of any nation teach their children not to make war, the children would grow up and never enter into it. Let the mothers teach their children, “War, war upon your enemies, yes, war to the hilt!” and they will be filled with this spirit. Consequently you see at once what I wish to impress upon your mind is, that the mothers are the machinery that give zest to the whole man, and guide the destinies and lives of men upon the earth.”
It is a proverb that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. In a very real sense, it is true. The training mothers give their children in one generation becomes the principles and policies of adult men and women in the next generation. Many women complain about the conduct of men, yet they decline to be mothers – nullifying the validity of their arguments and marking them as hypocrites. The quiet, unsung, humble women who cheerfully embrace motherhood are the ones who are doing the most to shape the future, fix society’s problems, and raise the leaders, husbands, prophets, warriors, and statesmen of the next generation.
I honor my own mother and her selfless devotion to our family and home. I also recognize her firm faith in our Father in Heaven and in His Son’s Gospel. She is a righteous woman and a righteous mother. Whatever else my mother may have accomplished in life, such as becoming an EMT and CNA since her children left home, it takes a back seat to her decades of loving, tireless service as a full-time mother and homemaker committed to the rearing of her sons and daughters in holiness. I love you, Mom.
To the other women, I would say continue being mothers even though your children may have left the nest. You can love, encourage, and nurture them now as before. You can continue being a beacon of light and love for them. Encourage them in their motherly duties, instruct them, and provide a worthy example for them.
To all the young women, I say prepare for the day when you will become a mother. After serving God in faith, make becoming a righteous mother your number one priority. Nothing you ever do will be as important and impactful. If you don’t feel a desire to be a mother, pray to receive it. Being a mother will bless your life and you will be in a greater position to bless the lives of others and your community more by being a mother than by going into the workforce. Generations of those yet unborn will remember you and praise your name if you do your best to be a righteous mother who raises children to the Lord.
To all the mothers currently raising children, which includes my wife and my sisters, I say God bless you! You are doing what the world despises. You are swimming against the current. You are enduring the mocking and scoffing of Babylon, but you are fulfilling the commandments of your Eternal Father. You are a partner with Him in raising His precious sons and daughters. Nothing is more important in this life!
Now and in the eternities, your roles as wife and mother are the highest and holiest callings you will receive. In mortality, it is rare to find an old woman without children who doesn’t regret not having them. It is equally rare to find an old woman with many children and grandchildren who isn’t grateful for them and who doesn’t think they are their biggest blessing.
Stay strong, mothers. Step into your critical role more fully. Use your myriad of talents and abilities, your God-given gifts and skills, to better our world by molding its next generation. If you work outside the home by choice, go home and make it your sanctuary and abode and devote your life to your family and children. Be full-time mothers and watch the blessings flow. If you work because you are compelled to, may the Lord ease your burdens and assist you in finding a way back home and keeping your children on the straight and narrow per your righteous desires. In all cases, mothers, your selfless sacrifices are noted in Heaven and by those who love you and who are indebted to you for so much.
Ladies, please remember that the home is where you were designed to shine! You will find infinitely more fulfillment, joy, peace, Freedom, and influence as a wife, homemaker, and mother than you ever can in the corporate or business world. Your names will be remembered and blessed by your posterity for all time. Being a righteous mother of virtue, loving service, and firm faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, will not only make you infinitely valuable to your community, but will also earn you a crown of glory in the world to come. God bless you!
May 14, 2023