Differences Inherent Between Men and Women

“Differences Inherent Between Men and Women,” Eternal Marriage Student Manual (2003), 63–72


Selected Teachings

President Harold B. Lee

“From my experience, it would seem that faithful mothers have a special gift that we often refer to as mother’s intuition. Perhaps with the great blessing of motherhood, our Heavenly Father has endowed them with this quality, since fathers, busy in priesthood callings and with the work of earning a livelihood, never draw quite as close to heavenly beings in matters that relate to the more intimate details of bringing up children in the home” (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 291).

President Spencer W. Kimball

“In his wisdom and mercy, our Father made men and women dependent on each other for the full flowering of their potential. Because their natures are somewhat different, they can complement each other; because they are in many ways alike, they can understand each other. Let neither envy the other for their differences; let both discern what is superficial and what is beautifully basic in those differences, and act accordingly” (“Relief Society—Its Promise and Potential,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 5).

“We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us. …

“Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood” (“The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).

President Ezra Taft Benson

“You [women] were not created to be the same as men. Your natural attributes, affections, and personalities are entirely different from a man’s. They consist of faithfulness, benevolence, kindness, and charity. They give you the personality of a woman. They also balance the more aggressive and competitive nature of a man.

“The business world is competitive and sometimes ruthless. We do not doubt that women have both the brainpower and skills—and in some instances superior abilities—to compete with men. But by competing they must, of necessity, become aggressive and competitive. Thus their godly attributes are diminished and they acquire a quality of sameness with man” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 547–48).

President Howard W. Hunter

“I suppose you would say it is a man’s viewpoint to throw a burden upon a woman to maintain the stability and the sweetness of marriage, but this seems to be her divine nature. She has a superior spirituality in the marriage relationship, and the opportunity to encourage, uplift, teach, and be the one who sets the example in the family for righteous living. When women come to the point of realizing that it is more important to be superior than to be equal, they will find the real joy in living those principles that the Lord set out in his divine plan” (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 139).

“It seems strange that women want to enter into professions and into work and into places in society on an equality with men, wanting to dress like men and carry on men’s work. I don’t deny the fact that women are capable of doing so, but as I read the scriptures, I find it hard to reconcile this with what the Lord has said about women—what he has said about the family, what he has said about children. It seems to me that in regard to men and women, even though they might be equal in many things, there is a differentiation between them that we fully understand. I hope the time never comes when women will be brought down to the level with men, although they seem to be making these demands in meetings held … all over the world” (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 150).

President James E. Faust

“Before we were born, male and female, we made certain commitments and … agreed to come to this earth with great, rich, but different gifts. We were called, male and female, to do great works with separate approaches and separate assignments.

“… Becoming like men is not the answer. Rather, the answer lies in being who you are and living up to your divine potential by fulfilling eternal commitments. …

“All of you will have to sometime answer to your natural womanly instincts, which the Prophet Joseph said are according to your natures. He said, ‘If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.’ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 226.] You should respond generously to those instincts and promptings to do good. Hold your soul very still, and listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Follow the noble, intuitive feelings planted deep within your souls by Deity in the previous world. In this way you will be responding to the Holy Spirit of God and will be sanctified by truth. By so doing, you will be eternally honored and loved. Much of your work is to enrich mankind with your great capacity for care and mercy” (“How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 95–97).

President Boyd K. Packer

“The tender hand of the sister gives a gentle touch of healing and encouragement which the hand of a man, however well intentioned, can never quite duplicate” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 94; or Ensign, May 1998, 72).

“In the home and in the Church, sisters should be esteemed for their very nature. Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences nature has established. A man, a father, can do much of what is usually assumed to be a woman’s work. In turn, a wife and a mother can do much—and in time of need, most things—usually considered the responsibility of the man, without jeopardizing their distinct roles. Even so, leaders, and especially parents, should recognize that there is a distinct masculine nature and a distinct feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and the family. Whatever disturbs or weakens or tends to erase that difference erodes the family and reduces the probability of happiness for all concerned” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 96; or Ensign, May 1998, 73).

Elder Thomas S. Monson

“What the modernists, even the liberationists, fail to remember is that women, in addition to being persons, also belong to a sex, and that with the differences in sex are associated important differences in function and behavior. Equality of rights does not imply identity of functions. As Paul the apostle declared: ‘… neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 11:11.)” (“The Women’s Movement: Liberation or Deception?” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 20).

Elder Boyd K. Packer

“Except Adam and Eve by nature be different from one another, they could not multiply and fill the earth [see Genesis 1:28, note 28 c]. The complementing differences are the very key to the plan of happiness.

“Some roles are best suited to the masculine nature and others to the feminine nature” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 28; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 21).

Elder James E. Faust

See quotations on page 80.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“We live in a day when there are many political, legal, and social pressures for changes that confuse gender and homogenize the differences between men and women. Our eternal perspective sets us against changes that alter those separate duties and privileges of men and women that are essential to accomplish the great plan of happiness. We do not oppose all changes in the treatment of men and women, since some changes in laws or customs simply correct old wrongs that were never grounded in eternal principles” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 99; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73–74).

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Our Heavenly Father endowed His sons and daughters with unique traits especially fitted for their individual responsibilities as they fulfill His plan. To follow His plan requires that you do those things He expects of you as a son or daughter, husband or wife. Those roles are different, but entirely compatible. In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics.

“Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan.

“You can learn how to be more effective parents by studying the lives of Adam and Eve. Adam was Michael who helped create the earth—a glorious, superb individual. Eve was his equal—a full, powerfully contributing partner. After they had partaken of the fruit, the Lord spoke with them. Their comments reveal some different characteristics of a man and woman. To Adam He said, ‘Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?’ [Moses 4:17.] Now, Adam’s response was characteristic of a man who wants to be perceived as being as close to right as possible. Adam responded, ‘The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.’ [Moses 4:18.] And the Lord said unto Eve, ‘What is this thing which thou hast done?’ [Moses 4:19.] Eve’s response was characteristic of a woman. Her answer was very simple and straightforward. ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’ [Moses 4:19.]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73–74).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“We know so little, brothers and sisters, about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. …

“We men know the women of God as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, associates, and friends. You seem to tame us and to gentle us, and, yes, to teach us and to inspire us. For you, we have admiration as well as affection, because righteousness is not a matter of role, nor goodness a matter of gender. In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 13; or Ensign, May 1978, 10).

Elder Merrill J. Bateman

“When a man understands how glorious a woman is, he treats her differently. When a woman understands that a man has the seeds of divinity within him, she honors him not only for who he is but for what he may become. An understanding of the divine nature allows each person to have respect for the other. The eternal view engenders a desire in men and women to learn from and share with each other.

“Men and women are created as complements. They complete one another. Paul told the Corinthians: ‘Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 11:11). Men and women complement each other not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. The apostle Paul taught that ‘the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband’ and through them both the children are made holy (1 Corinthians 7:14). Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses, and marriage is a synergistic relationship in which spiritual growth is enhanced because of the differences” (“The Eternal Family,” 113).