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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 10: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 01, 2009

[Update: WordPress tends to cut off parts of very long posts, and, apparently, eliminate the comment box. This one has been fixed. I think.]

Lesson 10: “This Is My Voice unto All”

This is an oddly structured lesson. With the goal of teaching that each of us can and should learn from the counsel given to individuals, the lesson addresses three disparate commandments given to Emma Smith in Section 25:

1. Husbands and wives should support and comfort each other;
2. We should be meek and avoid pride;
3. We should rejoice and be of good cheer.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I was unable to find any previous lesson that combined such a hodge-podge of ideas, each of which can and often has been the subject of its own lesson. Section 25 itself is seldom mentioned in past courses based on the Doctrine and Covenants; when it is briefly mentioned, it is in connection with the hymn book or to introduce the term “elect lady” to describe Emma Smith.

To keep this lesson-sampler within reasonable length, I have chosen two short lessons centering on Emma Smith biography, and some lessons addressing the partnership of husbands and wives – surprisingly difficult to locate, because virtually all of the many “family relations” classes taught over the decades have tended to emphasize the raising of children rather than the companionship of spouses.

1928: Church History Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 18: Emma Hale Smith, The Prophet’s Wife

Today you learn from the title that our lesson will tell the story of the Prophet’s wife and of some of the things she did to assist in making our “New Day” possible.

Emma was the daughter of Isaac Hale, born July 10, 1804, Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. You have already read about Harmony and the home of Emma’s parents where most of the Book of Mormon was translated.

But you may ask, “Why did Joseph leave home and go more than one hundred miles off into another State to find a wife?” It was this way: As the Smith farm was new and not all cleared, the crops were small. Joseph heard that Josiah Stole was hiring men to dig for a “lost silver mine.” He told his folks that he would go down and work and send home the money. Accordingly, as soon as he had gone to the Hill Cumorah, September 22, 1825, and had met with the angel for the third time at the hill, he made ready and by October was on his way. He was now nineteen years old and was as fine a looking young man as any girl would wish to see. His manner and countenance at times were almost divine. There was a daughter at Isaac Hale’s home, where Joseph boarded, who was as fine looking as Joseph; black hair, black eyes and, most of all, a very thoughtful young housekeeper. It was not long before Joseph had actually “fallen in love!” Joseph felt a great responsibility upon himself. He must tell this girl of his visions, of the coming of the Father and Son; of Moroni, and all about the Golden Plates and the coming of the “New True Church,” etc. God touched Emma’s heart. She believed her sweetheart’s story! How happy Joseph felt! But when Joseph told the wonderful news to Emma’s parents, they ridiculed and laughed at Joseph. But this did not hurt Joseph or Emma’s faith and love. George Q. Cannon writes in his Latter-day Prophet, page 22: “She (Emma) was a worthy girl of high character, and they became engaged. There are some girls that have not enough love within them to marry a man unless he is rich or popular, or at least approved of by their friends or relatives, but Emma Hale was not of this class. Joseph was poor, and did not have a home of his own. (Poor here means that Joseph, like most of us, had to work for wages.) He was persecuted also and Emma’s family objected to her marrying a man who had so many enemies. But she knew he was a manly man and believed him a chosen servant of God; she loved him and was willing to leave a comfortable home and to live in poverty among strangers with him. The marriage occurred January 18, 1827, less than a month after Joseph’s twenty-first birthday.” Emma was also of age, for she was sixteen months older than Joseph. Immediately Joseph and Emma returned to Manchester. Joseph’s mother writes, “and the next January (Joseph) returned with his wife in good health and fine spirits.”

The summer of 1827 slipped by. Emma and Joseph looked forward to getting the plates on the twenty-second of September, for the four years spoken of by the angels had come to an end. On the night of September 21st, neither Joseph nor Emma went to bed. Joseph had secured a rig, for Emma was to drive the two miles and a half with Joseph, out to the Hill Cumorah. The mother, Lucy, writes, “Shortly after this (midnight), Joseph’s wife passed through the room with her bonnet and riding dress; and in a few minutes they left together, taking Mr. Knight’s horse and wagon. I spent the night in prayer and supplication to God, for the anxiety of my mind would not permit me to sleep.”

Sometime after breakfast the next morning, Joseph and Emma came riding into the yard. The plates had been hidden in the woods. About four days later while Joseph was away working to get money to buy a strong chest with, Emma sprang onto a stray horse at the Smith home and galloped like the wind mile after mile to get Joseph. Wicked men were hunting the sheds and woods on every side in search for the hidden treasures. Joseph got on another horse and away they rode back. Joseph then brought the plates home and kept them hidden in various places.

For the next few months neither Joseph, Emma, or the Smiths had any peace. Wicked men, breaking all rules of the law, came with search warrants, going through the house, even to the attic. Emma finally got an invitation from her father and mother to come live with them. Emma’s brother, Alva, drove more than one hundred miles to get the couple. Once at Harmony, Joseph and Emma started the work of translating the golden records, Emma acting as the first scribe to the Prophet before Martin Harris came in February. Even though they were able to accomplish but little, this young husband and wife made the beginning of what is now our “Book of Mormon.”

Emma was baptized by Oliver Cowdery in a creek at Colesville, Broom County, New York, early Monday morning, June 17, 1830. The mob had torn out the dam in the creek Sunday evening. The dam was replaced Monday morning and the new members baptized.

For the next seventeen years Emma’s life was filled with the persecutions that were heaped upon the saints. It is sad to think that when the saints moved West, Emma chose to stay with her home at Nauvoo. By so doing she lost her standing in the Church. She died in Nauvoo, April 30, 1879.


1. Give Emma Hale’s parents and birthplace and date of birth.

2. Name some events in Church History that occurred at or near Emma’s home.

3. Tell about the meeting of Joseph and Emma.

4. What were some of the things that Joseph must tell this young woman about himself?

5. Tell what happened the next September 21st and 22nd after they were married.

1932: Sunday School Lesson, July 10, 1932

Lesson 24: The Last Days in the State of New York

About three months after the church was organized, and before fifty people had been baptized, the Lord gave the 25th Revelation, calling upon Emma to choose proper songs for the New Church, saying, “And it shall be given unto thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns. For my soul delighteth in the songs of the heart, yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. Wherefore lift up your heart and rejoice.” From that early day until now, at home or abroad, on the street corner or in the great Tabernacle, wherever the Gospel has been preached, singing of hymns has been a definite part of our Church service. All members are supposed to join in; thereby making it a “song of the heart.”

In the latter part of August, 1830, shortly after Emma had been confirmed at harmony, and the new church branch had ben made at Colesville, a deceiving and lying minister, opposing the True Church and God’s Prophet, called upon Emma’s parents, filling them so brim full of evil stories, regarding Joseph and the Lord’s work, that Mr. Hale and his family became so very angry at Emma and Joseph that they withdrew their hand of protection. This was a sad day for the twenty-four year old Prophet and his wife. Emma, too, at this time was in very ill health, sick and weary from the long strain she had been under, having no settled home or place to live. In spite of it all, nevertheless, the mob forced her and Joseph from Harmony and the only place they called home. Their kind friend Joseph Knight drove thirty miles from Colesville, bringing supplies and his wagon. In this jolting outfit, Emma and Joseph bid farewell forever to their home and former loved ones, never seeing them again. None of the Hales ever joined the Church, but remained bitter all their lives.

In silence, Emma waved goodbye, first to her own home, then to her mother’s including all the scenes of her childhood, the beautiful river, the groves where she had roamed in her youth, and later with her lover, the young Prophet. There, too, was the little grave of her first baby boy. Holding up no longer, she threw her aching head into her hands and refused to be comforted. Even Brother Knight lifted his rough sleeve several times hardly knowing just why he cried. Surely these were trying days! Well might Joseph, also, look back. There was his home, the place where he had first unloaded the plates from the barrel of beans. The place where Moroni had come on several occasions, and where Martin, Emma and Oliver had aided the translating of the sacred plates. In the distance, among the trees by the river, John the Baptist had come; there also the first baptismal service had been performed. Then, too, farther along the river, Peter, James and John with the higher Priesthood had appeared. Nearer Joseph’s home, an angel had only recently given instructions, regarding the change of the Sacrament. Surely only a person with a heart of stone could have looked upon that scene without shedding tears. Little did they realize, however, that six months from then, they would be mourning over the graves of twin babies, born more than three hundred miles westward at Kirtland, Ohio, and in less than a year Joseph would be twelve hundred miles away, at Jackson County, Missouri, dedicating the land, making ready for the coming of the Saints. how much do we owe to this brave couple? Of course, God will bless them.

Eighty miles in two days, the wagon rumbled westward, finally pulling to a halt at the Whitmer home, where five months previously the church had been organized. Here the Prophet and his wife had been invited to make their home. The next day, Brother Knight, after receiving the Prophet’s blessings, turned his horses eastward, fifty miles to his home at Colesville. A few days before Joseph came, Oliver Cowdery baptized Parley P. Pratt, who had now gone east, carrying the good news to his brother, Orson.

A little later, September 26th, the church met in its second conference. Eight elders, four priests, and two teachers represented the Priesthood present. Altogether, sixty-two people had accepted the new faith by baptism. For three days the meetings continued, with the Prophet as the chief speaker, instructing and teaching the saints under the inspiration of heaven. He states that the Holy Ghost was poured out in rich abundance upon all who assembled, bringing a number of people into the fold by baptism. During this conference, two revelations were given. (Sections 30, 31). You might try reading them, finding what the Lord wanted the people to know.

After the conference, Joseph and Emma traveled home with Brother and Sister Smith, twenty-five miles to the Smith farm. The Mother writes, “Hyrum requested Joseph to ask the Lord for a revelation concerning the matter,” of what the Lord wanted Hyrum to do in helping roll forth the New Church. “The answer given was, that he should take a bed, his family, and what clothing he needed for them, and go straightway to Colesville (75 miles away), for his enemies were combining in secret chambers to take away his life.” We see from this revelation how very bitter some of the people in New York, near the Hill Cumorah, were becoming. “At the same time Mr. Smith (Joseph’s father) received a commandment to go forthwith to Waterloo, (twenty-five miles toward Colesville, and near the Whitmer home) and prepare a place for his family, as our enemies also sought his destruction in the neighborhood in which we resided, but in Waterloo, he should find favor in the eyes of the people. The next day, by ten o’clock, Hyrum was on his journey. Joseph and Emma left for Macedon, and William went away from home in another direction, on business.” In fact, all were gone, until “this left no one, but Mr. Smith, myself, and our little girl, Lucy, at home.”

No sooner had the family all left than several men came, inquiring for Hyrum, Joseph and other members. “That same night, my husband was taken rather ill, and, continuing unwell the next day, he was unable to take breakfast with me.” About ten o’clock in the morning, Sister Smith, having prepared some porridge for her husband was trying to get him to eat, when in came an officer and other men, arresting Brother smith on a flimsy charge, carried him off to jail, locking him in a dirty dungeon with a cruel murderer. Being refused a trial, he was kept in prison thirty days before being released.

1962: Gospel Living in the Home: Gospel Doctrine Class

Chapter 11: Make Home Your Heaven

Concept: The earthly home should be a heaven in miniature, and should thus help prepare the family to live with our Heavenly Father.

If God has taught us all truth in teaching us to love, then he has given us an interpretation of our whole duty to our households. We are not born as the partridge in the wood, or the ostrich of the desert, to be scattered everywhere; but we are to be grouped together, and brooded by love, and reared day by day in that first of churches, the family. (Henry Ward Beecher.)

The Christian marriage is essentially a spiritual union. Many sincere Christians, having been married in their respective churches, regard it in this light even though they may have no ideas about extending marriage beyond this life. As in any other matter, however, it is following the eternal principle which brings the greatest joy.

Eternal marriage

The eternal principle in marriage has been restored to the earth in the present dispensation of the gospel. It is uniquely a latter-day Saint concept. It envisages an everlasting relationship for the participants, one which extends beyond the grave into the celestial regions. this celestial marriage is performed on earth in the holy temples, and is made possible by the sealing power of the holy priesthood. This sealing power also has been specifically restored in the current dispensation, and no marriage contracted on earth other than under this authority is in force after death.

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelations and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power … are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:7.)

A marriage which is to endure beyond death must be performed by the proper authority, upon this earth – either directly between the two participants while living, or by proxy after one or both is dead. Jesus expressed this thought in another way in replying to a question asked of Him.

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage … (Matthew 22;23-30.)

Sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise

When a couple are sealed in the eternal marriage covenant, they are entitled to the blessings of that covenant providing they remain true and faithful to it. All the while they live in this way they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise – that isk, the promise confirmed upon their heads that the associated blessing will be theirs. Of course, a failure to live faithful to the covenant results in a withdrawal of the Holy Spirit’s seal and no promise remains. (for a discussion of this subject, see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, Bookcraft, pages 94-99.)

The eternal family

The blessings of the eternal marriage covenant necessarily involve the raising of a family. In His wisdom the Lord has ordained that the family should be of tremendous significance to the life of happiness of each of us, and its significance is not limited to mortality. The family is one of the few organizations designated as eternal. born of parents sealed under and faithful to the eternal marriage covenant, or sealed to them after such a marriage, children become participants in the blessings promised under that covenant. Since the covenant is of an everlasting duration, so also is the family which results from it. The parents, then, have an eternal and divine relationship with the children born to them – that is, this relationship will continue in some form after they leave this earth.

The experiences and opportunities of earth life are designed to train us for life in higher spheres. this is particularly true of marriage and family life. In fact, the greatest joys hereafter come only to those who accept and live by the covenants referred to above. As the Lord expressed it:

Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:20.)

Home – A heaven on earth

It is clear that family life on earth is meant to be of a part with that which will obtain in heaven. Living happily as a family under the Gospel law on earth will certainly increase one’s chances of living happily under celestial conditions. Joy in the far-off future is not our only aim. By increasingly applying Gospel principles in our lives each of us can and should make his home a miniature heaven on earth.

This idea has been expressed by many of our Church leaders. For instance, President David O. McKay said

… It is possible to make home a bit of heaven; indeed, I picture heaven to be a continuation of the ideal home. (Gospel Ideals, page 490.)

A true Mormon home is one in which if Christ should chance to enter, he would be pleased to linger and to rest. (Gospel Ideals, page 169.)

Let the spirit of reverence pervade the home. Have your home such that if the Savior called unexpectedly he could be invited to stay and not feel out of his element. (Home Memories of President David O. McKay, Deseret Book Company, page 214.)

Brigham Young spoke in similar vein.

If every person, who professes to be a Latter-day Saint, was actually a Saint, our home would be a paradise, there would be nothing heard, nothing felt, nothing realized, but praise to the name of our God, doing our duty, and keeping his commandments. (Discourses of Brigham Young), 1925 ed., Deseret Book Co., page 3214.)

Spiritual influences are the key

This type of home is not attainable where worldly influences predominate. Since true marriage is a spiritual union it can be built only upon primarily spiritual principles and attitudes. Wise latter-day Saint parents seek to have the constant influence of the Holy Ghost in their home. In their many problems they recognize their need for a wisdom and understanding superior to their own unaided possibilities, and realize the value of the heavenly influence in obtaining it.

They also encourage other spiritual influences, such as family prayer both regularly and in times of special need. They take their family to sacrament meeting and teach them to look on it not as a mechanical thing but as an opportunity for learning more about teachings of the Gospel, for renewing and refocusing their thoughts on their covenants, and for thinking about their relationship to their Heavenly Father. Their participation in genealogical and temple work also brings added spirituality to their home. They encourage the family members each to receive a patriarchal blessing at the right time, thus giving the person a new perspective on life and helping to focus his life on the proper goals.

A characteristic of this kind of marriage is that the parents exemplify in their living the ideals associated with a Christian. For example, in modern revelation we read the following: “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:6.) Such characteristics do not come simply because one has been baptized into the Church or has been married in the temple. their attainment requires daily effort.

Love is basic

None of the eternal principles is more important than that of love. it is an attribute of God, and one we must therefore make our own if we are to achieve perfection.

Love is basic to the happy home. Without it no marriage can be happy; with it, all happiness is possible. The following paragraphs were taken from a letter written by a man who had spent a summer in a Latter-day Saint home which was guided by love and the spirit of the gospel.

I could not define it exactly – the thing I felt about this home. But I could feel it and it warmed my soul. It was the manner in which everyone addressed everyone else. there4 was no shouting – not even a raising of the voice. Sure, there were disagreements, but I can still remember the reasonable way in which they talked them out. I somehow knew that it would have been very painful to all if someone had spoken sharply because, you see, they loved each other. And how can you harm someone you love?

I remember one aday when the father had to take a trip out of town over the weekend. As he left the door that morning everyone was there to bid him “good-by,” and it was right there that I learned the meaning of that expression. To them, as tears gathered in their eyes, it meant literally “god be with you until we meet again.”

I always say that you can tell about a home by observing the apparent “little” everyday events. In this home every event was important. to them each day was the most important day in eternity.

I can still see the scene when we all kneeled down to pray. You know how some people pray; it gets to be more or less a matter of form and has something of the mechanical in it – something you do because it’s your duty. But not here. They all joined hands as they prayed, and it seemed to me as if angels were talking to each other. Such sentiments of thankfulness, such pleas for wisdom, such feelings of divinity.

I suppose you could say there was a distinctive kind of spirit in this home. Yes, I’m sure there was. it was the spirit of kindness, patience, loveliness, beauty, and love itself. The thought occurred to me as I left, that to these people heaven itself would not be strange when they went there, because they had a corner of it right here on earth.

Trust is indispensable

In a happy marriage there is trust. The two partners must be confident that they are working together for the family’s benefit, that they are pulling in the same direction and with equal willingness. For example, each needs to know that the other is applying the family finances to family ends, not selfishly (and perhaps secretly) withholding money for less worthy purposes, or spending it carelessly or extravagantly. Trust in money matters is very important to married happiness.

In modern society, too, a man and his wife necessarily spend a good deal of time apart; sometimes the husband’s work takes him away from home for days at a time. The happiness of both partners and ultimately of the family depends on their being able to trust one another during such absences, and this trust is built mainly upon attitudes and performance demonstrated when they are together.

In fact, the expectations of others, fostered first at home, help us to resist temptation and thus make us more trustworthy. Properly trained children know that their family expects of them a certain standard of conduct. Their Church, their ward, similarly expects good behavior from them. As they go through school, the teenage years, the university period, their behavior will tend to be influenced by what others expect of them. As friends multiply and judgment matures, a good reputation becomes even more precious and one finds in others’ expectations the incentive to walk the straight path. This process of building trustworthiness begins and is constantly sustained by the loving expectations of one’s family.

In short, happiness in the home depends upon the practice of the moral and spiritual virtues, and a constant feeling of reverent appreciation for God’s great blessings.

…Do we want our homes to be happy? If we do, let them be the abiding place of prayer, thanksgiving and gratitude … (George Albert Smith, Sharing the Gospel with Others, Deseret News Press, page 114.)

Applications for Chapter 11

We pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To make home more heavenly we seek ways to do the will of our Heavenly Father in the home. Try these things this week.

1. In the family, build faith in each other by entrusting each other with confidential information and with definite assignments. This trust may need gentle reminding and follow-up supervision but should not be negated by nagging or expressions of mistrust. To establish a sense of “honor” among the family members gives reinforcement to inner motivation and fulfillment of trust. Children need to be placed “on their honor” to do assigned tasks when parents are absent. A boy whose father leaves him at home alone on condition that he will not leave the yard “on his honor” learns the value of keeping a promise and the value of being trusted. There should be good sense and good reason, but the motivation when once established can take on spiritual power when associated with the “honor” of personal integrity.

2. Building knowledge through mutual respect for the study hour. Let each member of the family have his own book nook and his own place where he can study unmolested by the noises and interference of others. This may require long range planning and some building activity. Such a project has worthy ends and deserves serious family effort. Where physical environment offers no opportunity for physical isolation, then the family can create its own atmosphere of “silent study.” A time can be provided where conversation ceases and each has time to live with his own thoughts and his reading, when solitude prevails for inner contemplation. If such is an attribute of heaven, so it should be of home. This week, plan to turn off the TV and eliminate all distractions so that everyone can read and think in silence.

3. Select one trait of kindliness such as patience, courtesy, or helpfulness and decide at family council which it shall be for the whole family to concentrate upon during the week. On a family blackboard, write it down. Underneath place the names of members of the family. Each time someone exhibits a positive act place a plus mark, and for each negative act a minus mark. At the end of the week express appreciation for the plusses and discuss ways to eliminate the minuses. Try again with another trait the following week. If heaven is a place of kindliness why not try it here and now at home?

1966: The Priesthood and You: A Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums

Lesson 25: Is Your Wife a Partner?

Lesson Goal

In this lesson we shall focus on some ways that a Priesthood holder can genuinely show respect for his wife and dedicate himself more completely to his responsibility of helping her fulfil her role (1) as a child of our heavenly Father with goals and a potential unique to her, and (2) as a partner and counselor to the Priesthood holder – both now and in eternity. This lesson is the basis for concepts to be developed in the five lessons which follow, each of which discusses ways the Priesthood holder can aid his wife in developing to her capacity.



Charles K. is a counselor in his elders quorum presidency. he is a full tithepayer, keeps the standards of the Church, is active in all his assignments, and is also quite a successful businessman. As a counselor in the presidency, he is “indispensable” according to his elders quorum president.

Coming home from Priesthood meeting one Sunday, he found that his wife and children were still not ready for Sunday School. As he walked into the house, he was greeted by his two youngest children still in their underclothes.

“Hi, Daddy,” they said.

“Aren’t you kids ready yet?” Charles yelled. Looking around for his wife he found her combing their oldest daughter’s hair. “What’s wrong?” he snapped, “Aren’t you ready yet?”

“No, I’m not ready yet,” replied his wife, Linda. “You wouldn’t be ready either if you had had my problems this morning.”

“It seems to me that your whole problem is that you’re never organized,” said Charles. “You stay in bed too long and when you finally do get u you’re never organized. then we’re always late for church – it never fails.”

“If you’d come home and help instead of standing there and griping, we might be able to make it on time,” retorted Linda.

“If I ran my business the way you run this home, we’d have been broke long ago.”

Linda’s eyes were now blazing with anger. “If I ran the home like your business is run –” She couldn’t finish because tears filled her eyes. Exasperated, she finally blurted out, “I’ve had it! I’ve just had it! All you have done lately is complain about things you don’t see done or lecture on things you think should be more important to me. You never notice the nice things I do. Did you ever stop to consider the kind of morning I’ve had? No, you didn’t notice how clean the kids are – especially after they spilled shoe dye all over themselves. You just complain because things aren’t going the way you want them to. Do you ever notice when we are on time for church? Ever since you’ve been in the elders quorum presidency you think you have the only job in the Church. You make me feel that none of my jobs is important. I haven’t been able to feel good about doing my Primary work or anything else in the Church because you complain about the time involved or the cost of baby sitters. I don’t know why you feel your time is so much more important than mine.”

At this point Linda was cut off by Charles. “all right, all right, Linda. I’m sorry. You’ve made your point now. You don’t need to nag all the time.”

“When you complain you think it’s constructive criticism,” she said. “When I complain you call it nagging. Charlie, if that’s all the Priesthood does for you, what’s the value of it?”

Charles didn’t say any more as he hustled the children out to the car. Finally Linda joined her husband and family. as they walked in the church together, they were greeted by the Sunday School superintendent. “Made it,” said Charles.

“If all the families in the Church were like yours, Charlie, we wouldn’t have any worries,” the superintendent replied.

“If he only knew,” Linda thought as she sat down. “If he only knew.”

Lesson Development

1. Even though Charles felt it was justified, what effect would this criticism have upon Linda’s attitude and self-confidence? (Nearly everything we do is to protect, maintain, and then, if possible, enhance our self-concept. Therefore, whenever a person is criticized he immediately defends his self-concept by striking back or by cutting off communication. It should also be remembered that there is value in Linda’s knowing Charles’ true feeling if he does not humiliate her.)

2. In what way could Charles convey his feeling and concern for being on time without bringing about antagonism?

3. Why do some Priesthood bearers feel that their role is more important than that of their wife?

4. Even though the attitude that he is more important than his wife is wrong, if Charles has felt this way what could he do to emphasize the importance of his wife’s position in the family?

5. In what way is Linda, or any other woman, equal to her husband though he is a Priesthood bearer? What are some specific things a husband can do to help his wife develop her full potential? (A husband must recognize the need of his wife to be involved in activities outside the home, i.e., church service, program of gospel study, pursuing additional schooling, community activities outside the home.)

6. Discuss the separate responsibilities of the wife and mother as they relate to the Priesthood in the home.


In speaking of the role of mothers and its importance, President David O. McKay has said:

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. True, there comes a time when father takes his place as exemplar and hero of the growing boy, and in the latter’s budding ambition to develop manly traits, he outwardly seems to turn from the more gentle and tender virtues engendered by his mother. Yet that ever-directing and restraining influence implanted during the first years of his childhood lingers with him and permeates his thoughts and memory as distinctively as characteristic perfume clings to each particular flower … The ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift of love and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. It is the greatest of all professions, the most beautiful of all arts. … [McKay, David O., Treasures of Life, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Company, 1962, pp. 39-41.]


In harmony with the emphasis that President McKay places upon the importance of motherhood and the time she invests in the home, the Priesthood bearer needs to analyze the time he allocates to his family. (It is suggested that the following diagram [a 24-hour clock face] be placed on the chalkboard to help quorum members evaluate the amount of time they invest in family responsibilities. use the schedule of one of the class members as an illustration. Black out eight hours for sleep and complete the diagram as it would be on a typical day.)


How much time do you as a husband dedicate each day to the personal development of your family – your most precious possession? how can a busy man better use his time to develop good family relationships? (It’s not necessarily the amount of time but rather the quality of time spent that counts.) Family relations are strengthened when the husband will schedule a definite period of time for personal growth and development in the lives of each member. For example:

a. Take time to understand the responsibility and role of your partner. (One couple found it very profitable in developing better family relationships to take ten minutes before going to sleep each night to analyze how each of them might have helped in making the family a closer unit that day.)

b. Take time to talk with your children about their interests, problems, and goals. (One father set up a program wherein he scheduled half an hour per week for each child to counsel and help him with his particular interests.)

c. Develop some common hobbies and interests in which all the family can participate and enjoy. (Music, gardening, crafts, sports, outings, etc.)


As a wife sees her husband devote more of his time to developing better family relations, she will more fully appreciate the value of the Priesthood in the home.

The Priesthood is for the benefit of all members of the Church. Men have no greater claim than women upon the blessings that issue from the Priesthood and accompany its possession. … the man holds the Priesthood, performs the priestly duties of the Church, but his wife enjoys with him every other privilege derived from the possession of the Priesthood. This is made clear, as an example, in the temple service of the church. The ordinances of the temple are distinctly of Priesthood character, yet women have access to all of them, and the highest blessings of the temple are conferred only upon a man and his wife jointly. [Widtsoe, John A., Priesthood and church Government, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Company, Revised Edition, 1954, p. 83.]

We might add to the above quote the words of the Apostle Paul: “… neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 11:11.)

With these thoughts in mind it becomes evident that it is improper to speak of the husband’s role as being more important than the wife’s or the wife’s being more important than the husband’s. Both are of a different nature, and the two roles working together as a partnership complement one another.

In what ways does a wife fulfill her role as a partner and counselor to her husband? (Briefly discuss making decisions concerning a vocation, finances, spiritual or social welfare, rearing of children, etc.)

One Priesthood bearer found the spiritual unity of his family greatly improved when he counseled with his wife concerning all activities and expenditures relating to the Church. When assessed $500.00 for the construction of a new chapel, the Priesthood bearer found, after counseling with his wife, that she was willing to sacrifice with him some needed home furnishings in order that they might meet their church obligations.

In viewing the type of relationship a Priesthood holder should have with his wife, how appropriate are these words of counsel from the Lord:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

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 – (Doctrine & Covenants 121:39-42.)


There are several things we might do to enhance our relationship with our wife in our own homes this week.

1. The Priesthood holder might read with his wife the case study of Charles and Linda. He then might recognize with her that he may be doing things which make it difficult for her to have confidence in herself as a partner and counselor. Then he might ask his wife what he could do to help build her confidence and effectiveness in making decisions regarding spiritual affairs in the home.

2. During the coming week the Priesthood holder might make a conscious effort to be more understanding of his wife’s point of view and to look for specific areas where she is making a unique contribution to the family and compliment her on these contributions. Priesthood holders who are unmarried and living at home might make a more conscious effort to be considerate of their mothers and express their love to them throughout the week for all that their mothers have done for them.

3. Priesthood holders can sit down with their children and show them ways that all of the family members can compliment their mother and assist her in the many responsibilities in the home. Fathers could make it a point to stress the importance of the mother in the home and then have the children tell how their mother has done something special for them during the past week.

1988: Come Unto Me, Relief Society Personal Study Guide

Lesson 5: Cornerstones of a Happy Home
By President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency

“I should like to suggest four cornerstones on which to establish and nurture your homes.”

“More than half a century has passed, but I have never forgotten my father’s tenderness toward my mother. She died when she was fifty, a relatively young woman. During the months of her illness he was constantly solicitous for her comfort. But this attitude was not expressed only after she became ill. It had been evident to us, their children, throughout our lives. In the happy home of our childhood, we knew – and that came of a feeling and not of any declaration – that they loved, respected, and honored one another. What a blessing that image has been. When we were children we felt a certain security because of it. As we grew older our thoughts and our actions were colored by that remembered example.

“My own beloved companion and I have now been married for nearly half a century – forty-seven years to be exact. She too was blessed to come from a home where there was an environment of companionship, love, and trust. I know that most of you have come out of such homes; further, I know that most of you live with happiness and love in your own homes. But there are many, very many, who do otherwise.

Troubled Marriages

“It is difficult for me to understand the tragic accounts of troubled marriages that come to me. They speak of abuse. They speak of dictatorial attitudes and of some husbands who are bullies in their own homes. They speak of violations of trust and of broken covenants. They speak of divorce and tears and heartache. Only the other day a letter came to my desk from a woman who wrote at length of her troubles. In a spirit of desperation she asked ‘Does a woman have any promise of some day being a first class member of the human race? Will she always be a piece of chattel wrapped in a chuddar acting only by the permission of the man who stands at her head?’ (A chuddar, incidentally, is a very simple shawl worn by women in India.) She then continued, ‘To me the answers to these questions are no longer important, but I have daughters. If it is possible for a woman to look forward to an eternity of anything other than being barefoot and pregnant, I would like to be able to teach them this.’

“There is bitter tragedy in the lines of that letter. I fear there are many others who may feel that way. The situation is tragic because it is so extremely different from what our Father in heaven would have for his daughters. Behind this woman’s words I see the picture of a wife who is discouraged, starved for appreciation, ready to give up, and not knowing which way to turn. I see a husband who has defaulted on his sacred obligations, who is calloused in his feelings and warped in his perceptions, and who denies through his manner of living the ver essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt that there has been fault on her part as well as his, but I am inclined to think that his is the more serious.

Equality in Marriage

“To men within the sound of my voice, wherever you may be, I say, if you are guilty of demeaning behavior toward your wife, if you are prone to dictate and exercise authority over her, if you are selfish and brutal in your actions in the home, then stop it! Repent! Repent now while you have the opportunity to do so.

“To you wives who are constantly complaining and see only the dark side of life, and feel that you are unloved and unwanted, look into your own hearts and minds. if there is something wrong, turn about. Put a smile on your faces. Make yourselves attractive. Brighten your outlook. You deny yourselves happiness and court misery if you constantly complain and do nothing to rectify your own faults. Rise above the shrill clamor over rights and prerogatives, and walk in the quiet dignity of a daughter of God.

“The time has come for all of us to put the past behind us in a spirit of repentance and live the gospel with new dedication. The time is now for husbands and wives who may have offended one another to ask forgiveness and resolve to cultivate respect and affection one for another, standing before the Creator as sons and daughters worthy of his smile upon us.

“I should like to read words of the Lord, with a slight modification that does not alter the meaning. Said he: ‘He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, … for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one. … wherefore they are no more twain, but one (Matthew 19:4-6). God our Eternal Father ordained that we should be companions. That implies equality. Marriage is a joint venture. Of course, there are hazards and problems, but these are secondary to the greater opportunities and greater satisfactions that come of sublimating selfish interests to the good of the partnership.

“Some years ago I clipped from the Deseret News a column by Jenkin Lloyd Jones, who said, in part: ‘There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young who hold hands … in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks, to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and beautiful wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear, the divorce courts are jammed. … Life is like an old-time rail journey – delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.’

“The trick, my brethren and sisters is to enjoy the journey, traveling hand in hand, in sunshine and storm, as companions who love one another. Anyone can do it with a disciplined effort to live the gospel. Remember, ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it’ (Psalm 127:1).

Four Cornerstones

“At the risk of repeating some things I have said before, I should like to suggest four cornerstones on which to establish and nurture your homes. I do not hesitate to promise that if you will do so, your lives will be enriched and be fruitful of great good, and your joy will be everlasting.


“The first of these I choose to call mutual respect.

“Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences, and while it is important and necessary that both the husband and the wife strive to ameliorate those differences, there must be some recognition that they exist and that they are not necessarily undesirable. There must be respect one for another, notwithstanding such differences. In fact, the differences may make the companionship more interesting.

“I have long felt that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. That involves a willingness to overlook weaknesses and mistakes.

“One man has said, ‘love is not blind – it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less’ (Julius Gordon, Treasure Chest, ed. Charles L. Wallis [New York: Harper and Row, 1965] p. 168).

“Many of us need to stop looking for faults and begin to look for virtues. Booth Tarkington once remarked that ‘an ideal wife is any woman who has an ideal husband’ (Looking Forward and Others [Garden City, N.Y.: Page and Co., 1926], p. 97). Unfortunately, some women want to remake their husbands after their own design. Some husbands regard it as their prerogative to compel their wives to fit their standards of what they think to be the ideal. It never works. It only leads to contention, misunderstanding, and sorrow.

“There must be respect for the interests of one another. There must be opportunities and encouragement for the development and expression of individual talent. Any man who denies his wife the time and the encouragement to develop her talents, denies himself and his children a blessing which could grace their home and bless their posterity.

“It is commonplace with us to say that we are sons and daughters of God. There is no basis in the gospel for inferiority or superiority as between the husband and wife. Do you think that God our Eternal Father loves his daughters less than he loves his sons? No man can demean or belittle his wife as a daughter of God without giving offense to her Father in Heaven.

“I am offended by the sophistry that the only lot of the Latter-day Saint women is to be barefoot and pregnant. It’s a clever phrase, but it’s false. of course we believe in children. The Lord has told us to multiply and replenish the earth that we might have joy in our posterity, and there is no greater joy than the joy that comes of happy children in good families. But he did not designate the number, nor has the church.

“That is a sacred matter left to the couple and the Lord. The official statement of the Church includes this language: ‘Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have the greater responsibility not only of bearing children but of caring for them through childhood, and should help them conserve their health and strength. Married couples should exercise self-control in all of their relationships. They should seek inspiration from the lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel’ (General Handbook of Instructions [1983], p. 77.)

“Husbands, wives, respect one another. Live worthy of the respect of one another. Cultivate that kind of respect which expresses itself in kindness, forbearance, patience, forgiveness, true affection, without officiousness and without show of authority.


“I pass now to the second cornerstone. For want of a better name I call it the soft answer.

“The writer of Proverbs long ago declared, ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger’ (Proverbs 15:1).

“I hear so many complaints from men and women that they cannot communicate with one another. Perhaps I am naive, but I do not understand this. Communication is essentially a matter of conversation. They must have communicated when they were courting. Can they not continue to speak together after marriage? Can they not discuss with one another in an open and frank and candid and happy way their interests, their problems, their challenges, their desires?

“It seems to me that communication is essentially a matter of talking with one another. Let that talk be quiet for quiet talk is the language of love. It is the language of peace. It is the language of God. It is when we raise our voices that tiny mole hills of difference become mountains of conflict.

“It seems to me that there is something significant in the description of Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal: ‘A great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks.’ That is a rather vivid description of some of the arguments that take place between husbands and wives but, notes the writer of the scripture. ‘The Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice’ (1 Kings 19:11-12). The voice of heaven is a still small voice. The voice of peace in the home is a quiet voice.

“There is need for much discipline in marriage, not of one’s companion but of one’s self. Husbands, wives, remember, ‘He [or she] that is slow to anger is better than the mighty’ (Proverbs 16:32). Cultivate the art of the soft answer. it will bless your homes, it will bless your lives, it will bless your companionships, it will bless your children.


“Cornerstone number three is financial honesty. I am satisfied that money si the root of more trouble in marriage than all other causes combined.

“I am confident that there is no better discipline nor one more fruitful with blessings in the handling of our resources than obedience to the commandment given to ancient Israel through the Prophet Malachi, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it’ (Malachi 3:10). Those who live honestly with God are more likely to live honestly with one another and their associates. Further, as they budget for their tithes and offerings they will cultivate a discipline in the handling of their resources.

“We live in an age of persuasive advertising and of skillful salesmanship, all designed to entice us to spend. An extravagant husband or wife can jeopardize any marriage. I think it is a good principle that each have some freedom and independence with everyday, necessary expenditures, while at the same time always discussing and consulting and agreeing on large expenditures. There would be fewer rash decisions, fewer unwise investments, fewer consequent losses, fewer bankruptcies if husbands and wives would counsel together on such matter sand unitedly seek counsel from others.

“Live honestly with the Lord. live honestly with one another as companions. live honestly with others. Make timely payment of obligations a cardinal principle of your lives. Consult with one another and be united in your decisions. The Lord will bless you as you do so.


“The final cornerstone on which to build your home is family prayer.

“I know of no other practice that will have so salutary an effect upon your lvies as will the practice of kneeling together in prayer. The very words, Our Father in Heaven, have a tremendous effect. You cannot speak themwith sincerity and with recognition without having some feeling of accountability to God. The little storms that seem to afflict every marriage become of small cosnequence while keneling before the Lord and addressing him as a suppliant son and daughter.

“Your daily conversations with him will bring peace into your hearts and a joy into your lives that can come from no other source. Your companionship will sweeten through the years. Your love will strengthen. Your appreciation one for another will grow.

“Your children will be blessed with a sense of security that comes of living in a home where dwells the Spirit of God. They will know and love parents who respect one another, and a spirit of respect will grow in their own hearts. They will experience the security of kind words quietly spoken. They will be sheltered by a father and mother who, living honestly with God, live honestly with one another and with their fellowmen. They will mature with a sense of appreciation, having heard their parents in prayer express gratitude for blessings great and small. They will grow with faith in the living God.

“Your companionship will be one that will sweeten and strengthen through the years and that will endure through eternity. Your love and appreciation for one another will increase and, as the years pass, you will be able to say with Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

“‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways …
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise …

“‘… I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.’
(Sonnets from the Portuguese, no. 43)

“God bless you, my brethren and sisters, husbands and wives, joined together as appreciative companions in sacred covenants of marriage, for time and eternity, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen” (Cornerstones of a Happy Home, pamphlet, 1984).

Additional Resources for Home and Family Use

Spencer J. Condie, “And We Did Liken the Scriptures unto Our Marriage,” Ensign, Apr. 1984, pp. 167-20.

David B. Haight, “Marriage and Divorce,” Ensign, May 1984, pp. 12-14; or in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, pp. 14-17.

Marion D. Hanks, “Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, pp. 35-38; or in Conference report, Oct. 1984, pp. 45-49.

Dean L. Larsen, “Enriching Marriage,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, pp. 20-23.

Gordon B. Hinckley, Cornerstones of a Happy Home, excerpt from Husbands and Wives Fireside, 29 Jan. 1984, audiovisual resource (OT181 or VH256).


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