Mormon Men and Priesthood
Mormon men, like Mormon women, have a specific role to fill in the home and in the church.
Within the church, men can hold the priesthood. This is not like the priesthood of the Catholic Church or many other religions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the real name of the church, is a lay church; there is no paid ministry. Everyone is a volunteer. In addition, every male age twelve or older who lives a morally clean life, can hold the priesthood, so you can see it’s not quite what most people think of when they hear the word.
It’s important to note that men cannot use their priesthood on themselves. If they need something that is normally done through the priesthood, they, like the women, must find other priesthood holders to do it for them. The priesthood is a service position, allowing them to serve others, but not themselves. This means there is no special benefit to holding the priesthood other than the opportunities it gives to serve and it doesn’t make it easier for them to achieve salvation. Women have other responsibilities and opportunities. The jobs held by men are not more important than those held by women. They’re just different.
Every member of the church receives the blessings of the priesthood. No blessing a priesthood holder can give someone is withheld from those who do not have it themselves. Each level of priesthood comes with different responsibilities, and each person may do the work of the lower levels, as well as the work of their own level.
Priesthood holders prepare and bless the sacrament (similar to communion in other churches), heal the sick, watch over those in need, visit families and check on their well-being, and hold certain church positions which require the priesthood.
Men use their priesthood to preside over the home. This does not mean they rule. Elder Bruce C. Hafen and his wife Marie wrote an article explaining this concept. They said, “Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to “rule over” Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. A ruler can be a measuring tool that sets standards. Then Adam would live so that others may measure the rightness of their conduct by watching his. Being a ruler is not so much a privilege of power as an obligation to practice what a man preaches. Also, over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over. If a man does exercise “dominion … in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121:37; emphasis added), God terminates that man’s authority.”
Men are taught that their wives are to be full partners in running the family. The man only has a greater responsibility to see that he sets the example and tone the family can follow. If husband and wife were at a stalemate over an important decision, they would be advised to pray for guidance. If they still couldn’t come to agreement, the husband, in his presiding role, would not then automatically get his way. He would have the great responsibility of choosing whose choice would reign. For instance, he might decide the problem was more in his wife’s area of responsibility, and so she would make the final decision and he would support her as fully as if it were his own idea. This requires of the priesthood holder a great deal of maturity, and men are trained to develop that maturity.
Although men and women have different responsibilities in a Mormon home, neither role is more important than the other. The husband is expected to earn the family’s income, and the woman, if at all possible, is to care for the home and children. Of course, Mormon men help with the household and children, expected to cheerfully help with cooking and diapers, but it is the woman’s special domain.
Mormon women don’t feel this role demeans them in any way. Because Mormon families can be eternal, the mother’s job of building responsible, faith-filled children who are good participants in the world is critical to the eternal well-being of the family. The father’s role is equally important, in doing his best to make sure his family is cared for and has a proper spiritual environment in which to grow and thrive. When each family member has specific areas of responsibility, it helps to prevent contention, since each parent is considered the expert in her field.
The church considers the role of a father to be as essential to a child’s well-being as is the role of a mother. Men are taught to spend good, quality time with their children and to assist in their care.
Overall, a Mormon man’s life is one of example and responsibility.