The Order of the Family—Husbands and Wives

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  (Genesis 2:18, 24)

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis 3:16)

It should be the duty of the elder to stand up boldly for the cause of Christ, and warn the people with one accord to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and for the Holy Ghost, always commanding them in the name of the Lord, in the spirit of meekness, to be kindly affectionate one toward another, that the fathers should be kind to their children, husbands to their wives, masters to their slaves or servants, children obedient to their parents, wives to their husbands.  (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p 88)

Love of Husbands and Wives—“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 Savior of the body.  Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in everything.  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 own 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 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.” [Joseph Smith quotes Ephesians 5:22-31]. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” [Joseph Smith quotes Colossians 3:18.]  (Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 88)

He [Joseph] exhorted the [Relief Society] sisters always to concentrate their faith and prayers for, and place confidence in their husbands, whom God has appointed for them to honor, and in those faithful men whom God has placed at the head of the Church to lead His people; that we should arm and sustain them with our prayers; for the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect everything false; as well as to all the Elders who shall prove their integrity in due season.  (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 226)

You need not be teasing your husbands because of their deeds, but let the weight of your innocence, kindness and affection be felt, which is more mighty than a millstone hung about the neck; not war, not jangle, not contradiction, or dispute, but meekness, love, purity—these are the things that should magnify you in the eyes of all good men. (Joseph Smith, TPJS pp 227)

How precious are the souls of men!  The female part of the community are apt to be contracted [critical or nagging] in their views.  You must not be contracted, but you must be liberal in your feelings.  Let this Society teach women how to behave towards their husbands, to treat them with mildness and affection.  When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet a smile instead of an argument or a murmur—if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings; when the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace of affection and kindness.  When you go home, never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works henceforward.  (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 228)

He [Heber C. Kimball] spoke of the necessity of women being in subjec­tion to their husbands, I am subject to my God, my wife is subject to me and will reverence me in my place, and I will try to make her happy.  I do not want her to step forward and dic­tate to me any more than I dictate to President Young.”  (Heber C. Kimball, December 21, 1845, in a lecture to endowment candidates in the Nauvoo temple.  Taken from the official Nauvoo Temple minutes recorded in “Scenes in Nauvoo, and Incidents from H.C. Kimball’s Journal,” by Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, published in The Woman’s Exponent 12 (1 and 15 August 1883), and quoted in Andrew Ehat’s Master’s Thesis, Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question, BYU, December 1982, p. 114)

It is not for amusement you are brought to receive these things, but to put you in possession of the means of salvation, and be brought into a proper relationship to God—hence a man becomes responsible for his own conduct and that of his wife, if he has one. * * * We want the man to remember that he has covenanted to keep the law of God, and the woman to obey her husband, and if you keep your covenants you will not be guilty of transgression.  (Amasa Lyman, December 21, 1845, in a lecture to endowment candidates in the Nauvoo temple.  Taken from the official Nauvoo Temple minutes recorded in “Scenes in Nauvoo, and Incidents from H.C. Kimball’s Journal,” by Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, published in The Woman’s Exponent 12 (1 and 15 August 1883), and quoted in Andrew Ehat’s Master’s Thesis, Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question, BYU, December 1982, p. 115)

The man was created, and God gave him dominion over the whole earth, but he saw that he never could multiply and replenish the earth without woman; and He made one and gave her to him.  He did not make the man for the woman but the woman for the man. * * * But if a man does not use a woman well and take good care of her, God will take her away from him and give her to another(Heber C. Kimball, December 21, 1845, in a lecture to endowment candidates in the Nauvoo temple.  Taken from the official Nauvoo Temple minutes recorded in “Scenes in Nauvoo, and Incidents from H.C. Kimball’s Journal,” by Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, published in The Woman’s Exponent 12 (1 and 15 August 1883), and quoted in Andrew Ehat’s Master’s Thesis, Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question, BYU, December 1982, p. 116)

It is not my general practice to counsel the sisters to disobey their husbands, but my counsel is—obey your husbands; and I am sanguine and most emphatic on that subject. But I never counseled a woman to follow her husband to the devil. If a man is determined to expose the lives of his friends, let that man go to the devil and to destruction alone.  (Brigham Young, September 11, 1853, JD 1:75)

What did we agree to before we came here? If to anything, I suppose the very same things we agreed to since we did come here, that are legitimate and proper. The husband agreed to be a faithful servant of God, to do his duty to all that were placed under his charge. The wife, on her part, covenants that she will be a faithful and devoted wife, and will obey her husband in the Lord in all things. If this were so, it is all right; for it is just as we are taught on the earth.

But the question is, Did we subscribe to any such doctrine as this on the start? I will not say that we did; yet I have had such thoughts, and they whisper strongly in my heart.

Children agreed to obey their parents, as parents agreed to obey their superiors in the kingdom of God; and parents were brought under obligation to train their children in the way they should go. This is written in the Bible, if nowhere else. How many of us look upon the rearing and training of our children, and the correction of their wrongs, as about the least duty that is enjoined upon us? There are too many that look upon it in this point of view. Do you ask what evidence I have of that fact? When I go among the children of the city, and hear them use profane and unbecoming language, there we have the evidence not only of their parents’ neglect, but of their shame and dishonour. It is said, “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” What is it to honour thy father? Is it to say, “Oh, father, how I love you!” or, “Oh, how I love you, mother! how glad I am to see you! I really feel glad and happy to be with you!”

As far as these go, they are all very well. But suppose the child would never lie-would never curse and swear, but observe the rules of propriety; do you not see that he honours his parent? and the observer comes to the conclusion that the fountain is pure. The tree is known by its fruit. The children are our fruit, and the character of the children is an index, more or less, to the quality of the tree that bore them. It appears so to me.  (Apostle Orson Hyde, October 6, 1859, JD 7:315)

It is just so with this Church; if we are united, and the Priesthood is united, and the families of this Church, with their husbands at their head, are united, we stand, and all hell, with the devil at their head, have nothing to do with us; they cannot move us.  But if we are divided we fall.

What do you say to our being one, and clinging together?  I speak to the brethren; I do not expect any woman will stick to me only my wives; if the women of every man stick to him, as the men stick to me, then we shall all be stuck together, and live together, and reign together, and get rich together, and increase together, and build up together, and be as one man in all things. Would we not be a happy company?  It is that alone that will make you truly happy; and to be perfectly limber in the hands of the potter like clay.  What makes the clay snap?  Because it wants its own way; and you cannot be happy unless you submit to the laws of God, and to the principles of His government.

When a person is miserable, wretched, and unhappy in himself, put him in what circumstances you please, and he is wretched still.  If a person is poor, and composes his mind, and calmly submits to the providences of God, he will feel cheerful and happy in all circumstances, if he continues to keep the commandments of God.  But you may fill the house of a dissatisfied person with everything the world can produce, and he will be miserable with all.  All heaven could not satisfy discontented persons; they must first be satisfied with themselves, and content in the situation in which they are placed, and learn to acknowledge the hand of God in all things.

There are some ladies who are not happy in their present situations; but that woman who cannot be happy with one man, cannot be happy with two . . . They were made for angelic beings, and I would be glad to see them act more angelic in their behaviour.  . . . When you see a woman with ragged skirts, you may know she wears the unmentionables, for she is doing the man’s business, and has not time to cut off the rags that are hanging around her.  From this time hence forth you may know what woman wears her husband’s pants.  May the Lord bless you.  Amen. (Heber C. Kimball, JD 2:150)

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.  (1 Corinthians 7:3)

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.  (Ephesians 5:22-28)

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear [respect and propriety].  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (1 Peter 3:1-10)

And the office of thy [Emma Smith’s] calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.  And thou shalt go with him at the time of his going. . .  Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride.  Let thy soul delight in thy husband. . . . And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen. (D&C 25:5,6,14, 16)

I make these remarks, not that I have had any difficulty with my own family, but because there is a principle I wish to speak upon.  I believe that men should lead their families, and not drive them.  . . . I have traveled with brother Heber, and I never saw a milder man in my life, when everything is right and people keep out of his track.  But when they [Heber’s wives] get in his path he is obliged to tread on their heels, for they cannot walk so fast as he can.  He is not to blame for that; they are to blame. . . . Am I to blame for scolding the people?  Not at all.  Is brother Heber?  Not at all.  Is he to blame for chastising an unruly wife?  No.  If she gets in his path and he steps on her heels, is he to blame?  No, and if she is hurt thereby, it is the result of her own acts. (Jedediah M. Grant, November 9, 1856, JD 4:83)

A word to the sisters.  They have their associations and societies—all of which are good and praiseworthy.  They form a part of us, for the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man.  It takes a man and a woman to make a man; without woman, man is not perfect; God so ordained it.  We are aiming at celestial glory, and when we reach that exaltation, will we have our wives?  Yes.  The women have to manage household affairs; they must rear the children properly, and cultivate those principles which exalt and beautify, that all may move on pleasantly and harmoniously.  In the Relief Societies they discharge their duties better than we could, because of their tender sympathies and gentler natures.  Joseph Smith organized a Relief Society in Nauvoo as far back as that; Emma was president, sisters Whitney and Cleaveland were her counselors, and Eliza R. Snow secretary, who has visited you often, and whom you well know.  They allowed the society to sleep for a while, but they are now waking up.  What should they teach?  I can’t go into details, but they should teach dress, speak and act aright, diffuse correct principles, and let us have sisters growing up fit to associate with the angels of God.  I want you to make home a heaven for your husbands, that when they come there they will feel happy, cheerful, and comfortable in their households.  Do away with evil speaking—let love, kindness, and friendly feelings prevail; and if the sisters want the brethren to give them a few bushels of wheat to take care of, let them have it, it is not much, and we may some day be glad we did so. (John Taylor, October 21, 1877, JD 19:145)

As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.  O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.  (Isaiah 3:12)

There are men professing to be Saints, even in this congregation, within the sound of my voice, who feel how almighty they have become.  They will curse you [wives], if you do not see proper to comply with their wishes.  Many men have feelings in their hearts towards their wives, that if they will not do precisely as they wish to perform this or that, they will curse them.  What wonderful things they are going to do!  “If you do not obey my voice, my counsel, I will send you to hell, and turn the keys upon you, that you may never!  no NEVER! be released.”  Sisters, you might as well heed the crackling of thorns under the pot, the passing idle bird, or the croaking of a crane, so far as their Priesthood is concerned.  You are safe, if they will only keep their hands off from you; let them curse.  It reminds me of a proverb which the Arabs have, that “cursings are like young chickens, they will still come home to roost.” * * * The Elders of Israel frequently call upon me—”Brother Brigham, a word in private, if you please.”  Bless me, this is no secret to me, I know what you want, it is to get a wife!  “Yes, brother Brigham, if you are willing.”

I tell you here, now, in the presence of the Almighty God, it is not the privilege of any Elder to have even ONE wife, before he has honored his Priesthood, before he has magnified his calling.  If you obtain one, it is by mere permission, to see what you will do, how you will act, whether you will conduct yourself in righteousness in that holy estate.  TAKE CARE!  Elders of Israel, be cautious! or you will lose your wives and your children.  If you abuse your wives, turn them out of doors, and treat them in a harsh and cruel manner, you will be left wifeless and childless ; you will have no increase in eternity.  You will have bartered this blessing, this privilege, away; you will have sold your birthright, as Esau did his blessing, and it can never come to you again, never, NO NEVER!

Look to it, ye Elders!  You will awake from your dream, alas! but too soon, and then you will realize the truth of the remarks I am making to-day.  Whose privilege is it to have women sealed to him?  It is his who has stood the test, whose integrity is unswerving, who loves righteousness because it is right, and the truth because there is no error therein, and virtue because it is a principle that dwells in the bosom of Him who sits enthroned in the highest heavens; for it is a principle which existed with God in all eternities, and is a co-operator, a co-worker betwixt man and his Maker, to exalt man, and bring him into His presence, and make him like unto Himself!  It is such a man’s privilege to have wives and children, and neighbors, and friends, who wish to be sealed to him.  Who else?  No one.  I tell you nobody else.  Do YOU HEAR IT? (President Brigham Young, February 27, 1853, JD 1:115, caps in original)

In the Patriarchal order of family government, the wife is bound by the law of her husband.  She honours, “calls him lord,” even as Sarah obeyed and honoured Abraham.  She lives for him, and to increase his glory, his greatness, his kingdom, or family.  Her affections are centered in her God, her husband, and her children.  (Belinda Marden Pratt, plural wife of Parley P. Pratt, Millennial Star, July 29, 1854)

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.  (Martin Luther  1483-1546, Table Talk [1569], 292)