The Scourge of Feminism
By Ryan Nilsson
There are many paths that a person can take and lose their way. It happens, however, that there are some particularly trendy and world-favored paths to apostasy that are continually gaining ground. The scourge of feminism, the movement that appeals to the vanity of role-confused women, is among these. There are many shades of feminism but the one that will be taken issue with here is the brand that preaches that women are oppressed if they stay at home and that women should be doing everything that men do – in short, the aspects of feminism that are a direct assault to the home and family. This paper does not take issue with obvious good developments, like women’s suffrage (voting rights), but rather warns against Satan’s lies that have spread into the hearts of the daughters of God.
Feminism is Demeaning to Women
Feminists claim that traditional men and women’s roles are inherently demeaning to them. Satan has whispered very effectively into their ears and told them that they are oppressed and demeaned if they stay in the home or respect the traditional roles of family. In reality, these feminist women have it exactly backwards. What most women who have been indoctrinated with feminist ideals fail to grasp is that feminism is actually demeaning to women! How is that so? Feminism does not bring respect to womanhood at all. It does the opposite. Feminism teaches women that unless they do the things men do, they are, in effect, worthless or not important. This is Satan’s great lie to the women of the world. It is not true. It is not what the Church teaches, it is not what the prophets have taught, or what the scriptures teach, but only what feminism teaches, and this teaching originated with Satan.
In reality, “feminism” is a misnomer. A true “feminist movement” would be seeking to bring honor and glory and recognition to the traditional roles of womanhood – the roles of femininity since the beginning of the world. But instead the feminist movement seeks to effectively turn women into men, as though the role of women is not necessary, not needed, or not desirable. How terribly effective Satan’s lies have now become.
The Dangers of Feminism
There are many misguided women, even in the Church, who feel that they are justified in sympathizing with the feminist movement. When this is the case, Satan knows that he already has his foot in the door to their lives. He will enter into the lives of such women under the guise of a pro-woman philosophy. Feminism, if fully flowered, always and inevitably leads to apostasy. The devil knows this, and uses it to his advantage.
These women see the priesthood function in its leadership capacity to regulate the Church and the family, yet they are not permitted to hold the priesthood. Feminism would tell them that this is just another way in which women are “oppressed” and that they need to be “liberated.” And so it is plain to see that feminism leads directly to rebellion against the priesthood, whether in the home or in the Church in general. What begins as a resentment for priesthood exclusion results in walking away from the covenants and promises of God. Feminism, because it is diametrically opposed the patriarchal priesthood of the kingdom of God, the true patriarchal order of marriage, and the harmony that should be found in Church and family, will always lead to apostasy, as sure as anything. That is because a feminist in the Church, whether they realize it or not, believes in her heart that her feminist ideals are superior to those taught by the prophets. This is a very grave circumstance, and as Joseph Smith declared, leads directly to apostasy. Joseph Smith proclaimed,
I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God
from all eternity: That man [or woman] who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are
out of the way, while he himself [or she herself] is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man [or woman] is in the
high road to apostasy; and if he [or she] does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.
(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 156).
The personal toll on the feminist woman who apostatizes from the true doctrines of the Church is not the only one that feminism takes. It has far-reaching consequences. When a woman decides she will pursue her career and neglect her nurturing roles, it becomes a detriment to children and the entire family. The Book of Mormon gives an account of righteous young warriors who excelled all others in integrity of character. To what did they owe their fine character? “[T]hey had been taught by their mothers” (Alma 56:47), the Book of Mormon tells us. President David O. McKay taught, “Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life” (Gospel Ideals, p. 452). What could Satan want more than for the mothers to be out of the home? Or, for that matter, to despise the doctrine of the Gospel and the priesthood of God?
The True Pattern of Families
God has ordained the family unit. In the beginning he married our first parents and commanded, “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Moses 2:28). In the beginning he also established the roles of the husband and wife. This author calls it the First Family Proclamation, and it is the same as our present one. With the first family God created the woman specifically to be “an help meet” (Moses 3:18) for man. President Howard W. Hunter said, “The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership” (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994).
Further, God ordained,
Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, 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. And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said:
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee,
saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of
thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat
of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast
thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.
From this scriptural account, we learn several things about God’s intentions for the family. We learn that the women are responsible for bearing children, “in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children,” meaning in travail, from the Hebrew etseb, which indicates pain (New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew #6089). However, when God said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception” (Moses 4:22), “sorrow” here meant “worrisomeness” from the Hebrew itstsabown (New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew #6093), suggesting that the woman would have the primary burden, or the worry, of nurturing and caring for the children.
Next the Lord said something very interesting about the woman’s role: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Moses 4:22). This is the patriarchal order of marriage, and it is God’s way. Feminists hate God’s plans for the family because they feel that the feminist women do not have the power they desire. Others hear the phrase “rule over” and take fright from a phrase that can be taken for domineering. In commenting on the phrase, “he shall rule over thee,” President Kimball said, “I like the word preside” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 316, emphasis added). This is really what was meant by the Lord – that the man should preside in the home and in the family as its leader and head. President Hunter said, “Of necessity there must be in the Church and in the home a presiding officer (see D&C 107:21). By divine appointment, the responsibility to preside in the home rests upon the priesthood holder (see Moses 4:22)” (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994).
As for the phrase, “thy desire shall be to thy husband” (Moses 4:22), “desire” here is from the Hebrew teshuwqah, meaning “a longing” (New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew #8669). And so we learn that the woman is to love her husband and long for him. And the husband is to rule, preside, and take charge of family affairs. An extended explanation in the above scriptural passage also describes the man’s responsibility as the provider, “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Moses 4:25).
Today the servants of God have confirmed these ancient truths. The modern Family Proclamation is the same as the first one. They have said, “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” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
Often the reason women will cling to feminism and reject the traditional roles of family is because they have a skewed view of how the relationships in the household should be. But the scriptures teach very clearly how a priesthood authority should direct the affairs that they have stewardship over. “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned: By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41-42). When this mandate is not followed strictly, the authority of the priesthood holder is void. Such a thing is referred to as “unrighteous dominion” (D&C 121:39). But when it is followed, and the priesthood holding father/husband acts in wisdom (borne of the wife’s counsel), concern, and loving kindness, then it is evil to rebel against him as feminism would encourage. Often feminists envision domineering men seeking power, control, and domination as part of their “rule over” their wife. But this is the incorrect way to “rule over” the wife, according to the scriptures. No man is justified in deviating from leading with “persuasion…long-suffering…gentleness and meekness…love unfeigned…[and] kindness” (D&C 121:41-42). President Kimball said, “We have heard of men who have said to their wives, ‘I hold the priesthood and you've got to do what I say.’ Such a man should be tried for his membership. Certainly he should not be honored in his priesthood. We rule in love and understanding” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 316).
Other times feminists are jealous that men are considered (and properly so) as the presiding authority in the home, the leader. They jealously try to undermine or throw down the leadership of men in the home, in an attempt to place themselves in that position of prominence. They do this because they are hungry for power and they feel that allowing the man the position of leadership means that women are somehow not important. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the scriptures teach, “the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour” (1 Cor. 12:21-23). In other words, just as the human body is a working unit with its several necessary parts, the family works as a unit, and is not complete without the wife and mother, who is absolutely indispensible in her place, and is deserving of “abundant honour.” Furthermore, true leadership implies service. As Jesus Christ taught, “but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26-27). Therefore, because the man is the leader and presiding authority of the household, he is the servant of all who dwell there. We can bet that that’s not what the feminists have in mind when they desire to usurp the position of leader in the home.
The scriptures teach that “neither is the man without the woman, neither is the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11), and that, “they shall be one flesh” (Moses 3:24). Feminists want women to be independent from their husbands and feel as though they are self-sufficient, but this is wrong. No person in the marriage relationship, neither the man nor the woman, should seek independence from or domination over their marriage partner. Husband and wife are supposed to be best friends and love and support each other.
What does it mean for the man to rule and how should he do it? We have very clear instruction on this matter from President Howard W. Hunter, the fourteenth president of the Church:
A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge
of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto. Of necessity there must be in the Church and in the home a
presiding officer (see D&C 107:21). By divine appointment, the responsibility to preside in the home rests upon the
priesthood holder (see Moses 4:22). The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a
companion equal and necessary in full partnership. Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between
husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters. For a man to operate
independent of or without regard to the feelings and counsel of his wife in governing the family is to exercise
(Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994).
Equal But Different
The prophets have taught that the roles of man and woman are equal, because they are “equal partners” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 7). But this should not be confused with “same responsibilities.” In fact, the Family Proclamation is very careful to designate the differences, by “divine design” that exist between the roles of man and woman. The roles are not the same; they are very different and separate from each other. But they are both equally important. Feminists believe that men's roles are greater and more important than women's roles, and this is the basis for their wish to have women do everything that men do. But their fundamental assumption, that men's roles are greater, is wrong. Feminists want to blur the lines between the roles of man and woman, but this is contrary to what is right and creates an unnatural arrangement. The roles of man and wife are different and are not meant to be interchangeable. The Family Proclamation teaches that husbands 1) preside in their families as its leader in spiritual and temporal matters, 2) provide the necessities of life, and 3) protect their families. This author calls these repsonsibilities the “Three Ps” - preside, provide, and protect. Wives are the primary nurturers of the children (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 7), and as such their duties circumscribe a more delicate, domestic, and tender realm of responsibilities. We will now elaborate on the sacred and important distinctions between the specific roles of men and women in the home.
The Role of Women
What is the rightful role of women, according to what the Lord has taught, and ignoring what Satan has pushed on the world through feminist dogma? As was quoted above in the Family Proclamation, “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 7). President Benson taught, “Mothers are to conceive, to nourish, to love, and to train. So declare the revelations” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion). Though it is true that fathers “share, as a loving partner, the care of the children,” as President Hunter taught (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994). This, however, is far from the main responsibility of the man. He is only to assist his wife in her main responsibility as nurturer – which no doubt includes all the traditional aspects of homemaking, such as cooking and cleaning. Far from being a task for the worthless, as feminism teaches, these duties are most important to family solidarity and functionality. President Kimball stated,
We believe that the place of the woman is in the home, as a general rule. We realize that some women may need to be
employed when their children are grown, or when there have been problems in their home and the breadwinner has been taken
from them. The most sacred privileges that a woman could have are in the home, to be a partner with God in the creation of
(Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 318.)
This gives a clear statement about the woman’s responsibility. There are some who would try to take license from comments like this or from the Family Proclamation when it says that “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation [for women working outside the home]” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 7). They feel that keeping up a certain lifestyle or allowing the wife a feminist-inspired feeling of autonomy would qualify them as part of the “other circumstances” exception to the rule. But in this they are ignoring the counsel of God through his prophets. Women should only work outside the home when it is necessary, and when the husband is unable, or when there are no children in the home to care for. President David O. McKay said, “a married woman who refuses to assume the responsibilities of motherhood, or who, having children, neglects them for pleasure or social prestige, is recreant to the highest calling and privilege of womankind” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 477).
In addition to all this, wives should be a comfort to their husband “with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness” (D&C 25:5). This is part of their calling as a wife, and relates to the commandment that the wife’s “desire shall be to thy husband” (Moses 4:22).
The Role of Men
What is the role of men in marriage and family? Ezra Taft Benson taught, “In the eternal family, God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide, to love, to teach, and to direct” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion). The Family Proclamation says, “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” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 7). President Hunter taught, “A man who holds the priesthood regards the family as ordained of God. Your leadership of the family is your most important and sacred responsibility….You who hold the priesthood have the responsibility, unless disabled, to provide temporal support for your wife and children. No man can shift the burden of responsibility to another, not even to his wife” (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994). President Benson of course concurred with this truth and noted, “In the beginning, Adam, not Eve, was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Fathers in Israel). President Kimball taught,
The Lord said women have claim upon their husbands for their maintenance until their husbands be taken (see D&C 83:2).
Women are to take care of the family - the Lord has so stated - to be an assistant to the husband, to work with him, but
not to earn the living, except in unusual circumstances. Men ought to be men indeed and earn the living under normal
(Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 318)
President Benson further noted the leadership role of fathers when he quoted from a Church pamphlet in General Conference,
Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father,
with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home.
(Father, Consider Your Ways, pamphlet, as quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, To the Fathers in Israel).
President Benson said of the role of fathers, “Mothers play an important role as the heart of the home, but this in no way lessens the equally important role fathers should play, as head of the home, in nurturing, training, and loving their children” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Fathers in Israel). And so the husband is responsible to provide, to love and serve each member of the family, and be the leader to the family in all its temporal and spiritual affairs.
The Eternal Purposes of Family
Family is not a man-made construct, subject to change as society’s values shift. Family is an eternal principle. Long before we were born, we dwelt as spirits with God as his sons and daughters in a massive family unit. “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 3). When we are duly sealed in holy temples, we have the right to claim our earthly spouse and children to ourselves for all eternity, and will continue to have children in the hereafter (D&C 132:19). Feminism would seek to alter an eternal principle, but this cannot and should not be done.
The Worth of Women
What is the worth of women – to the family, to the Church, and to the world itself? What is their true worth? The true worth of a woman is not found in imitating men, as feminism would have them believe. Their true worth is found in their traditional roles as wives and mothers. And the worth of women cannot be overstated. The First Presidency has stated in 1942, “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind” (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, David O. McKay, Messages of the First Presidency, 6:178). President Benson told women, “No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion). President Benson continued, “Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to your own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all” (ibid).
David O. McKay, the beloved prophet who gave so many inspiring teachings relating to the family, taught,
Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that
stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security;
her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the
world.…that ever-directing and restraining influence implanted during the first years of his [the child’s] childhood
linger with him and permeate his thoughts and memory as distinctively as perfume clings to each particular flower.
(David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 452.)
This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in
soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a
book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a
family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, whose immortal
souls will exert an influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have
decayed or shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God. In
her high duty and service to humanity, endowing with immortality eternal spirits, she is co-partner with the Creator
(David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 453 - 454)
Spencer W. Kimball, another great prophet of our generation, has given us these thoughts regarding the utmost importance of women in preserving virtues of good and right in our society in the most fundamental part of it – the home:
To be a righteous woman during the winding-up scenes on this earth, before the Second Coming of our Savior, is an
especially noble calling. The righteous woman's strength and influence today can be ten fold what it might be in more
tranquil times. She has been placed here to help to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home - which is society’s basic
and most noble institution. Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to
save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife.
(Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 326)
It is clear from the foregoing that the Church teaches the true eternal worth of women. It is likewise clear that feminism does not honor womanhood but degrades women in its effort to make them just like men and discredit their role which is so indispensable to the family unit.
The Family is Under Attack
The family is under attack more and more with each passing day in our world of decaying values. What is needed are true women – women who will stand up and uphold the integrity of their traditional family roles. There are false ideas prevailing on every side, and liberalism, that great enemy to the family, is using ideologies and lifestyles like homosexuality and feminism to change the God-ordained family. How will the next generation be able to stand against the tide of evil influence? They must be “taught by their mothers” (Alma 56:47), and the mothers can only effectively do that if they are in the home. The only way to build a defense against Satan’s plans for the world are to return to the time-honored values of family that God has ordained since the beginning. Let all the good women stand up for their womanhood and not discard it for men’s roles, but to do what is right in order to combat the tide of evil influences inspired by Satan in the last days.
There is no question that women can do almost everything that men can do, but the real question is - should they? And of course, the answer is clearly no. Women are far too important to the home, to the children and the family, to remove them from these sacred and God-ordained roles. The home, the Church, and the world desperately needs women to fulfill the roles of women. The proper roles of man and woman have been the same, not only throughout the entire history of the earth, but throughout time and all eternity. Feminism, the 20th century notion that women should be doing the things the men are doing instead, is a direct assault on the family. When it teaches that women should neglect their traditional roles, or not respect the roles of their husbands, we can know with a surety that it is evil and Satan is the author of it. Women should never be ashamed of their traditional roles, and always retain in remembrance its significance upon their children, society, and the world.