Lesson 9 – Differences Inherent Between Men and Women
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles applied this concept to the marriage relationship: “A man and his wife learn to be one by using their similarities to understand each other and their differences to complement each other in serving one another and those around them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 89; or Ensign, May 1998, 68).
Appreciating and building on the differences between men and women can increase sensitivity, understanding, and happiness in marriage.
Answer questions from Handout 6 using these quotes
President Harold B. Lee
“From my experience, it would seem that faithful mothers have a special gift that we often refer to as mother’s intuition. Perhaps with the great blessing of motherhood, our Heavenly Father has endowed them with this quality, since fathers, busy in priesthood callings and with the work of earning a livelihood, never draw quite as close to heavenly beings in matters that relate to the more intimate details of bringing up children in the home” (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 291).
President Spencer W. Kimball
“In his wisdom and mercy, our Father made men and women dependent on each other for the full flowering of their potential. Because their natures are somewhat different, they can complement each other; because they are in many ways alike, they can understand each other. Let neither envy the other for their differences; let both discern what is superficial and what is beautifully basic in those differences, and act accordingly” (“Relief Society— Its Promise and Potential,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 5).
“We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us. . . .“Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences— with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood” (“The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).
President Ezra Taft Benson
“You [women] were not created to be the same as men. Your natural attributes, affections, and personalities are entirely different from a man’s. They consist of faithfulness, benevolence, kindness, and charity. They give you the personality of a woman. They also balance the more aggressive and competitive nature of a man. “The business world is competitive and sometimes ruthless. We do not doubt that women have both the brainpower and skills—and in some instances superior abilities—to compete with men. But by competing they must, of necessity, become aggressive and competitive. Thus their godly attributes are diminished and they acquire a quality of sameness with man” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 547–48).
President Howard W. Hunter
“I suppose you would say it is a man’s viewpoint to throw a burden upon a woman to maintain the stability and the sweetness of marriage, but this seems to be her divine nature. She has a superior spirituality in the marriage relationship, and the opportunity to encourage, uplift, teach, and be the one who sets the example in the family for righteous living. When women come to the point of realizing that it is more important to be superior than to be equal, they will find the real joy in living those principles that the Lord set out in his divine plan” (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 139).
“It seems strange that women want to enter into professions and into work and into places in society on an equality with men, wanting to dress like men and carry on men’s work. I don’t deny the fact that women are capable of doing so, but as I read the scriptures, I find it hard to reconcile this with what the Lord has said about women—what he has said about the family, what he has said about children. It seems to me that in regard to men and women, even though they might be equal in many things, there is a differentiation between them that we fully understand. I hope the time never comes when women will be brought down to the level with men, although they seem to be making these demands in meetings held . . . all over the world” (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 150).
President James E. Faust
“Before we were born, male and female, we made certain commitments and . . . agreed to come to this earth with great, rich, but different gifts. We were called, male and female, to do great works with separate approaches and separate assignments. “. . . Becoming like men is not the answer. Rather, the answer lies in being who you are and living up to your divine potential by fulfilling eternal commitments. . . .“All of you will have to sometime answer to your natural womanly instincts, which the Prophet Joseph said are according to your natures. He said, ‘If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.’ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 226.] You should respond generously to those instincts and promptings to do good. Hold your soul very still, and listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Follow the noble, intuitive feelings planted deep within your souls by Deity in the previous world. In this way you will be responding to the Holy Spirit of God and will be sanctified by truth. By so doing, you will be eternally honored and loved. Much of your work is to enrich mankind with your great capacity for care and mercy” (“How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 95–97).
President Boyd K. Packer
“The tender hand of the sister gives a gentle touch of healing and encouragement which the hand of a man, however well intentioned, can never quite duplicate” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 94; or Ensign, May 1998, 72).
“In the home and in the Church, sisters should be esteemed for their very nature. Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences nature has established. A man, a father, can do much of what is usually assumed to be a woman’s work. In turn, a wife and a mother can do much—and in time of need, most things—usually considered the responsibility of the man, without jeopardizing their distinct roles. Even so, leaders, and especially parents, should recognize that there is a distinct masculine nature and a distinct feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and the family. Whatever disturbs or weakens or tends to erase that difference erodes the family and reduces the probability of happiness for all concerned” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 96; or Ensign, May 1998, 73).
Elder Thomas S. Monson
“What the modernists, even the liberationists, fail to remember is that women, in addition to being persons, also belong to a sex, and that with the differences in sex are associated important differences in function and behavior. Equality of rights does not imply identity of functions. As Paul the apostle declared: ‘ . . . neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 11:11.)” (“The Women’s Movement: Liberation or Deception?” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 20).
Elder Boyd K. Packer
“Except Adam and Eve by nature be different from one another, they could not multiply and fill the earth [see Genesis 1:28, note 28c]. The complementing differences are the very key to the plan of happiness. “Some roles are best suited to the masculine nature and others to the feminine nature” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 28; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 21).
Elder James E. Faust
“How should those who bear the priesthood treat their wives and the other women in their family? Our wives need to be cherished. They need to hear their husbands call them blessed, and the children need to hear their fathers generously praise their mothers (see Proverbs 31:28). The Lord values his daughters just as much as he does his sons. In marriage, neither is superior; each has a different primary and divine responsibility. Chief among these different responsibilities for wives is the calling of motherhood. I firmly believe that our dear faithful sisters enjoy a special spiritual enrichment which is inherent in their natures” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 54; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 38–39).
“Both fathers and mothers do many intrinsically different things for their children. Both mothers and fathers are equipped to nurture children, but their approaches are different. Mothers seem to take a dominant role in preparing children to live within their families, present and future. Fathers seem best equipped to prepare children to function in the environment outside the family” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 44–45; or Ensign, May 1993, 35).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“We live in a day when there are many political, legal, and social pressures for changes that confuse gender and homogenize the differences between men and women. Our eternal perspective sets us against changes that alter those separate duties and privileges of men and women that are essential to accomplish the great plan of happiness. We do not oppose all changes in the treatment of men and women, since some changes in laws or customs simply correct old wrongs that were never grounded in eternal principles” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 99; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73–74).
Elder Richard G. Scott
“Our Heavenly Father endowed His sons and daughters with unique traits especially fitted for their individual responsibilities as they fulfill His plan. To follow His plan requires that you do those things He expects of you as a son or daughter, husband or wife. Those roles are different, but entirely compatible. In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics. “Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan. “You can learn how to be more effective parents by studying the lives of Adam and Eve. Adam was Michael who helped create the earth—a glorious, superb individual. Eve was his equal—a full, powerfully contributing partner. After they had partaken of the fruit, the Lord spoke with them. Their comments reveal some different characteristics of a man and woman. To Adam He said, ‘Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?’ [Moses 4:17.] Now, Adam’s response was characteristic of a man who wants to be perceived as being as close to right as possible. Adam responded, ‘The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.’ [Moses 4:18.] And the Lord said unto Eve, ‘What is this thing which thou hast done?’ [Moses 4:19.] Eve’s response was characteristic of a woman. Her answer was very simple and straightforward. ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’ [Moses 4:19.]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73–74).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell
“We know so little, brothers and sisters, about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. . . . “We men know the women of God as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, associates, and friends. You seem to tame us and to gentle us, and, yes, to teach us and to inspire us. For you, we have admiration as well as affection, because righteousness is not a matter of role, nor goodness a matter of gender. In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 13; or Ensign, May 1978, 10).
Elder Merrill J. Bateman
“When a man understands how glorious a woman is, he treats her differently. When a woman understands that a man has the seeds of divinity within him, she honors him not only for who he is but for what he may become. An understanding of the divine nature allows each person to have respect for the other. The eternal view engenders a desire in men and women to learn from and share with each other. “Men and women are created as complements. They complete one another. Paul told the Corinthians: ‘Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 11:11). Men and women complement each other not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. The apostle Paul taught that ‘the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband’ and through them both the children are made holy (1 Corinthians 7:14). Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses, and marriage is a synergistic relationship in which spiritual growth is enhanced because of the differences” (“The Eternal
FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITY
Elder Boyd K. Packer Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles In Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 27–32; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 21–24
- What strategies does Lucifer use to corrupt romance, love, marriage, and parenthood?
“The single purpose of Lucifer is to oppose the great plan of happiness, to corrupt the purest, most beautiful and appealing experiences of life: romance, love, marriage, and parenthood. The specters of heartbreak and guilt 13 follow him about. Only repentance can heal what he hurts.”
- In what ways has the Lord shown that He values men and women equally?
“There is nothing in the revelations which suggests that to be a man rather than to be a woman is preferred in the sight of God, or that He places a higher value on sons than on daughters. All virtues listed in the scriptures—love, joy, peace, faith, godliness, charity—are shared by both men and women, and the highest priesthood ordinance in mortality is given only to man and woman together.”
- What does the responsibility to multiply and replenish the earth mean to you today?
“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 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.”
- In difficult economic times, how can mothers fulfill their responsibility to give their children “the full needed measure of watchful care”? (p. 68).
“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 First Presidency counseled that “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.”37
“Any souls who by nature or circumstance are not afforded the blessing of marriage and parenthood, or who innocently must act alone in rearing children and working to support them, will not be denied in the eternities any blessing—provided they keep the commandments.39 As President Lorenzo Snow promised, “That is sure and positive.”40
- What is the eternal purpose for the difference between the roles of men and women?
“Those responsibilities of the priesthood which have to do with the administration of the Church of necessity function outside the home. By divine decree, they have been entrusted to men. It has been that way since the beginning, for the Lord revealed that “the order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son. . . . This order was instituted in the days of Adam.”30
A man who holds the priesthood does not have an advantage over a woman in qualifying for exaltation. The woman, by her very nature, is also co-creator with God and the primary nurturer of the children. Virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come naturally to a woman and are refined through marriage and motherhood…
Natural and spiritual laws which govern life were instituted from before the foundation of the world.35 They are eternal, as are the consequences for either obeying or disobeying them. They are not based on social or political considerations. They cannot be changed. No pressure, no protest, no legislation can alter them.”
- What in the parable of the treasure and keys symbolizes the equality of men and women?
- What blessings can be had when men and women each use their keys to open the vault?
- What philosophies today are represented by those who try to change the keys to suit themselves?
Once a man received as his inheritance two keys. The first key, he was told, would open a vault which he must protect at all cost. The second key was to a safe within the vault which contained a priceless treasure. He was to open this safe and freely use the precious things which were stored therein. He was warned that many would seek to rob him of his inheritance. He was promised that if he used the treasure worthily, it would be replenished and never be diminished, not in all eternity. He would be tested. If he used it to benefit others, his own blessings and joy would increase.
The man went alone to the vault. His first key opened the door. He tried to unlock the treasure with the other key, but he could not, for there were two locks on the safe. His key alone would not open it. No matter how he tried, he could not open it. He was puzzled. He had been given the keys. He knew the treasure was rightfully his. He had obeyed instructions, but he could not open the safe.
In due time, there came a woman into the vault. She, too, held a key. It was noticeably different from the key he held. Her key fit the other lock. It humbled him to learn that he could not obtain his rightful inheritance without her.
They made a covenant that together they would open the treasure and, as instructed, he would watch over the vault and protect it; she would watch over the treasure. She was not concerned that, as guardian of the vault, he held two keys, for his full purpose was to see that she was safe as she watched over that which was most precious to them both. Together they opened the safe and partook of their inheritance. They rejoiced for, as promised, it replenished itself.
With great joy they found that they could pass the treasure on to their children; each could receive a full measure, undiminished to the last generation.
Perhaps some few of their posterity would not find a companion who possessed the complementary key, or one worthy and willing to keep the covenants relating to the treasure. Nevertheless, if they kept the commandments, they would not be denied even the smallest blessing.
Because some tempted them to misuse their treasure, they were careful to teach their children about keys and covenants.
There came, in due time, among their posterity some few who were deceived or jealous or selfish because one was given two keys and another only one. “Why,” the selfish ones reasoned, “cannot the treasure be mine alone to use as I desire?”
Some tried to reshape the key they had been given to resemble the other key. Perhaps, they thought, it would then fit both locks. And so it was that the safe was closed to them. Their reshaped keys were useless, and their inheritance was lost.
Those who received the treasure with gratitude and obeyed the laws concerning it knew joy without bounds through time and all eternity.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World
- Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
- 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.
- Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.
- In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.