Lesson 9: The Divine Roles and Responsibilities of Men

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

As an important part of His plan of happiness, Heavenly Father has appointed men to become husbands and fathers. This lesson focuses on their responsibilities: “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,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Background Reading

  • Richard G. Scott, “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 94–97.

  • D. Todd Christofferson, “Let Us Be Men,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 46–48.

  • Linda K. Burton, “We’ll Ascend Together,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 29–32.

  • Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 66–70.

  • “The Sacred Callings of Fathers and Mothers,” chapter 15 in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (2014), 191–96.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ephesians 5:25

Men are to marry and to cherish their wives

Begin class by asking:

  • What men have been influential in your life? Why did they have such an effect on you?

Explain that this lesson will discuss the divinely appointed roles of men. There are no more important roles for a man than the roles of husband and father. As men seek to righteously fulfill these roles, they become more like their Father in Heaven.

Ask a student to read Ephesians 5:25 aloud.

  • What principle do you learn from this scripture about how husbands should act? (Though they may use different words, students should identify this principle: Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus Christ loved the Church.)

  • What are some ways in which Jesus Christ shows His love for the Church?

  • What could husbands do to emulate Jesus Christ in the way they treat their wives?

Display the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), and ask a student to read it aloud:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“Christ loved the church and its people so much that he voluntarily endured persecution for them, suffered humiliating indignities for them, stoically withstood pain and physical abuse for them, and finally gave his precious life for them.

“When the husband is ready to treat his household in that manner, not only the wife but all the family will respond to his leadership” (“Home, the Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 5).

  • What thoughts do you have as you consider President Kimball’s statement?

  • In what ways might a father make sacrifices for his family in our day?

Testify that Heavenly Father wants men to strive to be righteous husbands.

Ephesians 5:23; Doctrine and Covenants 121:36–46

Fathers are to preside in righteousness

Ask students to search the seventh paragraph of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” to learn what our Heavenly Father expects of fathers.

  • What does the word preside mean? (To give guidance and direction to others.)

  • How could remembering the phrase “by divine design” help a man to fulfill the responsibilities God has given to fathers?

To help students better understand how a father is to preside in the home, ask a student to read Ephesians 5:23 aloud. Then ask a different student to read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994):

President Ezra Taft Benson

“The Apostle Paul points out that ‘the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church’ (Ephesians 5:23; italics added). That is the model we are to follow in our role of presiding in the home. We do not find the Savior leading the Church with a harsh or unkind hand. We do not find the Savior treating His Church with disrespect or neglect. We do not find the Savior using force or coercion to accomplish His purposes. Nowhere do we find the Savior doing anything but that which edifies, uplifts, comforts, and exalts the Church. … He is the model we must follow as we take the spiritual lead in our families” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 196).

  • How would you state a principle taught by the Apostle Paul and President Benson? (Students should state a principle like the following: When a man exercises the priesthood worthily in his home, he can righteously influence his wife and children. In addition, share this principle with students: As men seek to righteously fulfill the roles of husband and father, they become more like their Father in Heaven.)

To further explain how a husband and father is to preside in the home, consider sharing the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95):

President Howard W. Hunter

“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 unrighteous dominion” (“Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 50–51).

Ask students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 121:36–46. Suggest that they cross-reference Ephesians 5:23, 25 with these verses. (Help students develop the scripture study skill of cross-referencing by inviting them to create such references whenever appropriate.)

Give students a few minutes to study Doctrine and Covenants 121:36–39 and consider how the leadership described in these verses is contrary to the type of leadership Jesus Christ exemplified.

  • What do you think the phrase “the rights of the priesthood” means? (When a man receives the priesthood, God confers certain rights and authorities upon him. The man can exercise these rights only when he acts in righteousness.)

  • What happens when a priesthood holder does not live righteously? (God withdraws the powers of heaven from that man, and the man can no longer exercise priesthood authority; the Holy Ghost is grieved.)

To understand how a father should lead his family, ask several students to take turns reading aloud Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–46.

  • What are some of the Christlike attributes described in these verses? Why do you think that a father who has these attributes is able to draw upon the powers of heaven?

  • How would these Christlike attributes help fathers to preside in their families? (You might clarify that these Christlike attributes should also be developed by women.)

  • Describe what it might feel like to be the spouse or child of a man who seeks to follow the example of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the way he leads his family.

Display and share the following statement written by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1973:

“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. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of law and [divine] appointment” (“Father, Consider Your Ways,” Ensign, June 2002, 16).

  • Sisters, what could you do to encourage young men to magnify their divine roles and responsibilities in their future families?

  • What could each of you—both men and women—do now to be better prepared to lead in your future family?

Matthew 2:13–16; 1 Timothy 5:8; Doctrine and Covenants 75:28; 83:2, 4

Fathers are to provide for and protect their families

Ask students to read 1 Timothy 5:8 and Doctrine and Covenants 75:28; 83:2, 4, and identify another important duty of fathers. (You might suggest that students cross-reference these passages.)

  • Why do you think the Lord expects fathers to provide the necessities of life for their families? (As students respond, point out that in homes with a single mother, the mother can provide for her family.)

  • What meaning might these passages have for a young man who is not yet married?

Ask a student to read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008):

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Work for an education. Get all the training that you can. The world will largely pay you what it thinks you are worth. … It is your primary obligation to provide for your family” (“Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry,” Ensign, May 1998, 50).

Emphasize to students that for the future security of their families, it is vital for both young men and young women to take advantage of this time in their lives to get as much education and job training as possible.

Point out that in the family proclamation, Church leaders taught that fathers are to provide for and protect their families.

  • What are some dangers that threaten families today?

  • How have you seen righteous fathers protect their families?

Display the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter, and ask a student to read it aloud:

President Howard W. Hunter

“A righteous father protects his children with his time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities” (“Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51).

  • How might you apply this counsel in your future family or in your family now?

Invite students to consider how they will seek to strengthen and protect their families and then record their impressions.

Explain that we can learn an important principle from Joseph’s care of the young Jesus. Ask a student to read Matthew 2:13–16, looking for what Joseph did to protect the Christ child from danger.

Tell students that although it is unlikely they will need to relocate in order to protect their families, they can liken or apply these verses to themselves by analyzing some important details:

  • What did the Lord communicate to Joseph in verse 13?

  • When and how did Joseph respond to this warning?

  • In what ways can fathers follow Joseph’s example in protecting their families? (Make sure students understand this principle: As fathers seek and follow guidance from the Lord, they can better protect their families.)

Men and Women Should Fulfill the Lord’s Plan

Display the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“If you are a young man of appropriate age and are not married, don’t waste time in idle pursuits. Get on with life and focus on getting married. Don’t just coast through this period of life. Young men, serve a worthy mission. Then make your highest priority finding a worthy, eternal companion. …

“… Marriage provides an ideal setting for overcoming any tendency to be selfish or self-centered. I think one of the reasons that we are counseled to get married early in life is to avoid developing inappropriate character traits that are hard to change” (“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 95–97).

  • In today’s world, what pressures are there for young men and young women to delay marriage?

  • Why does the adversary seek to distract young men and young women from pursuing relationships that could lead to marriage and bearing children?

  • Why do you think Church leaders consistently counsel young men to actively seek relationships that can lead to marriage?

(Note: During this discussion, be sensitive to the fact that some young men in your class may never marry or become fathers due to circumstances beyond their control.)

As you conclude, think of the circumstances of your students. What could you challenge your male students to do to fulfill their obligations to become righteous husbands and fathers? You could invite all of your students to focus on developing a specific Christlike virtue, such as patience or expressing love to others, that will benefit their families.

Student Readings