“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar 1991, 61–63
Who is the head of the house in a home with a single mother and a son who holds the priesthood?
Robert L. Leake, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1991, 61–62
Robert L. Leake, administrative assistant in the Church Melchizedek Priesthood Department and member of the Church Materials Evaluation Committee. The simple and straightforward answer is that parents, whether living together or singly, are the head of the family. Their role as such is supported by scripture, Church teachings, and civil law. However, there are some other dimensions of the question that merit further discussion.
The scriptures are not silent about relationships between parents and children. One of the ten commandments received by Moses on Mount Sinai calls for children to honor their father and mother. (See Ex. 20:12.) One of the writers of Proverbs, speaking of children reared by a righteous woman, wrote, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed.” (Prov. 31:28.) Paul taught that children should obey their parents “in the Lord” and “in all things.” (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20.)
In a single-parent home headed by a mother, family members who have received the priesthood do not supplant her responsibility to teach, nurture, care for, and give direction. Modern scripture states, “All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.” (D&C 83:4.) It further states that parents are to teach their children “the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands.” (D&C 68:25.)
The Aaronic Priesthood is normally given to worthy young male members twelve to eighteen years of age. The Melchizedek Priesthood is normally given to worthy male members eighteen years of age and above. For single mothers and others who understand its potential contribution, it is appropriate to desire to have the influence of the priesthood in their home. Children who hold the priesthood in the family are not “in charge,” yet they are able—if others desire—to bless the lives of those with whom they live.
Single women who are heads of households often find comfort in asking family members who hold the priesthood for help in spiritual and Church-related family matters. While it is inappropriate for a mother to abdicate her parental responsibilities by expecting young Aaronic Priesthood holders to assume the role of an absent father, she can and should call upon priesthood bearers in the home for help.
If she desires it, such help might be in the form of giving family prayers, teaching family home evenings, orchestrating family scripture reading, leading out in family gospel study, organizing family activities, or performing ordinances appropriate to the priesthood that they bear.
Many families use family councils to discuss issues, establish guidelines, and set limits for personal and family conduct. The issues might include television viewing, choice of movies, use of the family car, dating, curfew hours for weekdays and weekends, school and homework, extracurricular activities, and jobs outside of the home.
In addition, out-of-the-home priesthood service should be available to single mothers. Home teachers, backed up by elders quorum presidencies or high priests group leaderships and the bishopric, are the Lord’s way of watching over and rendering priesthood care and service to single-parent families.
The priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God, but it is in reality a priesthood of service to others. A priesthood bearer cannot baptize and confirm himself. He cannot ordain himself to an office in the priesthood. He cannot set himself apart to a Church calling. His priesthood power and authority, however, allows him to render such service to others under the direction of presiding local priesthood leaders.
Similarly, in the home the priesthood allows a young man the opportunity to serve and bless his family. As a side issue, it should be noted that divorced priesthood holders do not escape their personal responsibility to provide for all or a designated part of the maintenance of their children. Indeed, keeping current with court-adjudicated support payments for dependent children is required for a Melchizedek Priesthood bearer to be worthy to receive or renew a temple recommend.
Generally, fathers separated by divorce from their children continue to have a degree of responsibility for them. This teaching was reinforced when President Ezra Taft Benson recently declared, “Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling [and, one might add, a mother’s calling as well] is eternal, and its importance transcends time.” (Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 48.)
Are the so-called New Age spiritual beliefs opposed to Christ?
R. Kim Davis, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1991, 62
R. Kim Davis, associate professor of surgery at the University of Utah and bishop of the Little Cottonwood Sixth Ward. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we share an understanding of our Heavenly Father’s plan. This understanding includes knowing that we are children of our Father in Heaven with unique identities and that, through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can one day return to live with our Father. We are fortunately not left to ourselves to sift for truth in the philosophies of man.
A case in point is the New Age movement—an eclectic, contemporary pseudo-religion that consists of a confusing array of beliefs about the nature of man and denies the existence of a personal God and the need for a Savior.
Some aspects of the New Age movement may seem harmless. But when we compare basic principles of the gospel with New Age philosophies, we see that New Age beliefs can lead us away from our Heavenly Father, allowing us to rationalize behavior and become ensnared in sin.
1. A fundamental principle of the gospel is that we are literally the spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father, created in his image. We have individual identities and the potential to become like God. (See Gen. 1:26–27; Rom. 8:16; Eph. 4:6; Moses 3:5.)
In contrast, the New Age movement defines God as the ultimate reality, a source of pure undifferentiated energy, consciousness, or life-force. Humanity is considered an extension of God, the divine essence that is humanity’s higher self. Such a view denies a personal God.
2. Another fundamental principle of the gospel is that we can return to our Father in Heaven through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We know that the separation of man from God began with the fall of Adam and continues as a consequence of sin. Through the Atonement and our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, we can overcome this separation and gain eternal life. (See 1 Cor. 15:21–22; Mosiah 3:19.)
The New Age movement holds that sin does not separate man from God, but that metaphysical ignorance separates us from higher consciousness. New Age beliefs hold that the fall of man is not due to Adam’s transgression and its effect on mankind, but is due to mankind’s inability to understand the unity of reality. The destiny of man is to achieve somehow a level in which individual consciousness dissolves into the consciousness of the cosmos. Of course, such a philosophy denies individual worth and the need for a Savior.
3. We know that God has always revealed his will through prophets on the earth who act as his spokesmen. We also know that we can pray directly to God for personal revelation. (See Amos 3:7; James 1:5; Jacob 4:4; 3 Ne. 18:19–20; D&C 1:37–38; D&C 112:10.)
In contrast, New Age approaches to communication with the supernatural may include chanting, ritual, drugs, music, guides—anything that will assist the mind to reach a New Age metaphysical state. New Age philosophy thus denies the fundamental gospel principles concerning man’s communication with God.
4. We know that the true Church of Jesus Christ was restored to earth so that we need not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. We can distinguish truth from error. Heavenly Father provides the plan by which his kingdom on earth is administered. (See Eph. 4:11–14; D&C 20.)
The New Age movement tries to replace the commandments of God and the consequences of sin with an experiential view of life in which any type of behavior is potentially acceptable. New Age philosophy suggests that if everything is God, everything is permissible.
The truth is, oneness with our Father in Heaven is made possible only by keeping his commandments. We can achieve peace in this life not by losing our identities in becoming part of the cosmos, but by comprehending our true identities as spirit children of Heavenly Father and personally receiving our Savior.
There should be no doubt that the basic tenets of the New Age movement are directly opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his church. We can avoid the pitfalls of this and other trends that oppose our Savior by relying on the Holy Ghost to help us discern carefully between truth and falsehood.
I was recently released from a Church calling I had especially enjoyed, and I’m feeling a bit “empty” without it. How can I deal better with my release?
Bo G. Wennerlund, Han In Sang, and Julio Davila, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1991, 63
Bo G. Wennerlund, a temple worker in the Stockholm Sweden Temple and public communications director for Sweden. Being called to serve, in whatever capacity, brings blessings, joy, and greater meaning into our lives. As we magnify a calling, we learn to love those we serve, those with whom we work, and those who preside over us. No wonder we feel sad and perhaps even frustrated when we are released!
So how can we accept a release gracefully without letting our feelings about it become a problem? One thing we may want to do is pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us feel good about the opportunity to serve in another area, and to help us support someone else in the calling from which we have been released. I have found it helpful to run the following ideas through my mind:
1. “I know that I was called by the Lord, so I realize that my release has also come from the Lord.”
2. “It has been a privilege for me to serve in this calling, and I am happy for the person who will now receive that privilege.”
3. “I want to be wherever the Lord wants me to be—and, right now, he has something else in mind for me to do.”
4. “This release will give me more time to spend with my family, help others I haven’t yet been able to help, share the gospel, do family history or temple work, or develop my talents. I will now strive to be a better spouse, parent, brother, sister, daughter, son, roommate, friend, or neighbor, and a more devoted home teacher or visiting teacher.”
5. “I will accept whatever calling the Lord and his servants call me to fill in the future. As long as I am serving where the Lord wants me, I will be happy.”
Han In Sang, regional manager for temporal affairs, Seoul, Korea. It is easy for those who do not have a full understanding about Church callings to see a release as a bureaucratic “demotion” or a loss of social status. Members of the Church throughout the world constantly receive new callings and also “callings of release.” In a way, a release from a responsibility in the Church is actually another type of calling.
Church leaders can help members who are being released by conducting a proper release interview and explaining that, in the Lord’s church, a release is really a call to serve the Lord in other areas.
Julio Davila, regional representative, Bogota, Colombia. Our obedience and our faith can be put to the test through callings and releases. I recall that, at one time in my life, I wanted to ask to be released from my calling as branch president. On my way to talk to the district president about it, I stopped at the post office to pick up my mail. Among the mail was the latest issue of the Liahona. As I glanced through it, I saw a short message by President David O. McKay, in which he told how the early leaders and missionaries of the Church suffered for the sake of the gospel. His words touched my heart. I kept my appointment with the district president, but I never mentioned my original reason for asking to meet with him. Instead, I took the opportunity to seek additional counsel concerning my calling.
Years later, the brother who had then been the district president asked me, “Brother Dávila, what did you really want to talk to me about many years ago when you came to my house in Bogota?”
I told him I had come to ask for a release.
With love and a smile, he said, “I knew what you were going to tell me. From the time you called me to make an appointment until you arrived at my house, I was praying that something might happen along the way that would change your mind.”
That experience helped me to know that our leaders are inspired and that we should follow them humbly, willingly accepting the callings and releases they extend to us.
To avoid resenting our release or feeling “lost” after it, we need to carefully cultivate our spiritual roots. As we draw closer to the Lord, we can gain faith that Church callings are extended to us from the Lord, through our leaders. Any calling is an invitation to participate, in a small way, in helping the Lord “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) Such an opportunity is a priceless one we can all welcome gratefully.^ Back to top