Household Codes and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”

By M. David Huston

M. David Huston lives and works in the Washington, DC metro area. He is a husband and the father of four children.


Although it remains outside the LDS Church’s canonized scripture, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (hereafter, “the Proclamation”) is framed authoritatively. It ascribes “divine design” to the purpose of, and responsibilities within, family units. Even as leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledge that family life in which a married mother and father “rear their children in love and righteousness . . . provide for their physical and spiritual needs . . . [and] teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens” is unachievable for many, the Proclamation remains an ideal that individuals are encouraged to pursue in this life or hope for in the eternities.1 However, the Proclamation is not the only, or even the first, Christian description of God’s intended pattern for family life.

The New Testament’s household codes—coined haustafeln by biblical scholarspresent the first visions of a Christian family. Interestingly, they also demonstrate that what constitutes the ideal family life can and does change in response to contemporaneous social contexts. In fact, it is partly through careful observation of differences among these early household codes, and the subtle shifts that occur over time, that scholars are able to identify some aspects of the early Christian church’s social context. Though a comparison between the haustafeln and the Proclamation is not a perfect one, insights offered by the study of the New Testament’s household codes can inform our reading of the Proclamation.

This essay will briefly discuss the origin of haustafeln and their use by the early Christian church. A careful review of the New Testament’s haustafeln will show that the early Christian church’s descriptions of, and concerns about, family life changed as the growing church struggled to account for ever-evolving social realities. This essay will then offer some examples of how the LDS Church went through a similar process, with its descriptions of the ideal family changing as it grappled with shifting social contexts. Finally, this essay will examine the Proclamation in relation to earlier family descriptions, explore the social context from which it came, and culminate with the suggestion that we should be wary of considering any of the Proclamation’s statements as the final word on the matter of family life. Indeed, as social realities continue to change, and as prophetic guidance is revisited, we should expect ongoing clarification and development of family-connected discourse.


Haustafeln (a plural noun; the singular is haustafel) is a German word which translates as “house table.” It refers to a literary genre “describing respective roles in the household.”2 In Greeco-Roman haustafeln, the family was viewed as the basis of, and model for, society. The empire was understood to be a “family” of sorts, with the emperor as the head of the state-family and members of the state-family as filling particular roles directed toward the common good. Thus, a well-organized family was supposed to have a strong male leader (like the state does) and to contribute meaningfully to the maintenance and continuity of the family and the state. A healthy state and a healthy family were mutually reinforcing entities. Many will recognize this perspective as being still largely accepted in Western society.3 This Greco-Roman approach to family life is now widely recognized as the frame upon which early Christian authors hung their discussions of relationships, interpersonal ethics, and behavior standards.4

Though this understanding of family life may have been broadly shared by early Christians, its specific application was not monolithic. Just as haustafeln created by Aristotle (Politics, Book 1), Philo (De Decalogo, De Hypothetica), and Josephus (Contra Apion), expressed slightly different visions for the family, the New Testament haustafeln found in Colossians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Peter also have meaningful differences.5 For example, the household codes found in Colossians (3:18–4:1) and Ephesians (5:29–6:9), perhaps written in the latter half of the first century,6 are addressed to the general church membership (Col. 1:2; Eph. 1:2) and tend to focus on intra-family responsibilities. These versions of haustafeln place husbands at the head the family (Col. 3:18, Eph. 5:22), contain explicit instruction for parents and children (Col. 20–21; Eph. 6:1–4), and encourage enslaved people to submit to their position (Col. 3:22–24; Eph. 6:6–8)—with Ephesians theologizing these requirements in a way Colossians does not. However, the Pastoral Epistles, perhaps written as late as 90 and 100 CE, were addressed to ecclesiastical leaders as a roadmap for how to organize and operate congregational worship. They touched on topics such the content and process of prayer (1 Tim. 2:1–3; Titus 3:1); the qualifications for, and proper behavior of, those in ecclesiastical positions (1 Tim. 3:1–10, 5:17–19; Titus 2:1); how women should dress and act in church (1 Tim. 2:9–11; Titus 2:4–5);7 and the role of widows (1 Tim. 5:2, Titus 2:3).8 Finally, 1 Peter—also likely written very late in the first century—is addressed to church leaders overseeing a burgeoning Christian community that was trying to learn to co-exist peaceably in a heterogeneous society (1 Pet. 2:12). It seems primarily concerned with helping Christians “fit in” through compliance to non-Christian political authorities (1 Pet. 2:13–17) and affirming extant social stratification (1 Pet. 2:18–21) and social mores (1 Pet. 3:1–6). Observing these differences, Warren Carter and Amy-Jill Levine note that each household code “has a distinct concern.”9 In short, the New Testament simply does not provide a single—or even systematic—set of household codes.

The differences among the New Testament haustafeln can be understood as reflecting changes in, and challenges to, the early church. In fact, they likely functioned, at least in part, as an “apologetic response to outsiders’ criticisms.10 As the Christian community realized that Jesus would not be returning within a single generation (a belief implied in 1 Thess. 3:13–18), the early church had to develop durable relational and worship structures that could exist for multiple generations in a world that was, at the time, increasingly hostile to Christianity. In the household codes, we have a window into the early church’s maturation. We see, as one scholar explained, “an adjustment from the first generation’s eschatological fervor, which saw the present structures of this world passing away. . . . Later generations needed direction for coming to terms with a world that they saw was going to endure for some time.”11 Hence, a shift in the focus of the New Testament haustafeln from the intra-personal in the earlier texts, to the institutional in the later texts. The New Testament’s household codes map out the changing social environment faced by the early church.

Further, as church leaders sought to provide instruction to meet the needs of an ever-growing church in an ever-evolving social situation, the writers of the epistles drew from the culture that surrounded them. They specifically used the Greco-Roman haustafeln discussed earlier as a genre-vehicle for expressing Jesus’s relationship to the burgeoning church and for articulating how its adherents should relate within a still very immature socio-religious community. And it was a good rubric to use: its philosophical underpinnings were familiar to early Christians, most of whom had been influenced by the Hellenized worldview of the first and second century.12 Thus, the New Testament’s household codes represent more than a Christian ‘riff’ on an existing genre.13 The fact that they were used at all can be reasonably viewed as another way the early Christians interpreted, and then reinterpreted, the family’s role relative to the changing social environments in which the new church found itself.14

The Power of Social Context in Family Descriptions: Marriage

A socio-political analysis of New Testament household codes offers a glimpse into the concerns and evolution of the early Christian church.15 We can see similar patterns—changes in social contexts leading to evolving descriptions of the family—when we examine the LDS Church’s description of family/family roles (what might be considered to be the functional LDS-equivalent of the New Testament’s household codes). Take, for example, a few descriptions of marriage from the Doctrine and Covenants and early LDS Church leaders.

In the first and second-century Christian community, marriage between one man and one woman seems to have been the norm.16 This was also the position the LDS Church staked out in Section 101 of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.17 Called the “Articles on Marriage,” it asserts, “we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again” (1835 Edition, 101:4, emphasis added). The express mention of the number of spouses (which is not found in the New Testament) is an acknowledgement of the rumors of “Mormon sexual license” that were then damaging the young church generally18 and hurting Joseph Smith’s wife Emma specifically.19 In fact, this section takes the rumors head on, noting within the text of the scripture itself, “this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy” (1835 Edition, D&C 101:4). Though there is evidence that Joseph Smith may have, indeed, been a polygamist by this time,20 in 1835 polygamy was not a church practice. In meaningful ways, this then-canonized statement about the family seems geared primarily at quelling criticism from both inside and outside the church. Thus the “Articles on Marriage,” in a way that is somewhat analogous to the New Testament’s household codes, offer a clear vision on what constitutes “proper family structure” and it does so within the context of the social environment in which the church existed.

However, even while the “Articles on Marriage” were part of the Doctrine and Covenants, LDS leaders’ teaching on marriage were shifting. Joseph Smith’s 1843 revelation on polygamy (what is Section 132 of the current Doctrine and Covenants) was not yet part of the LDS scriptural canon. Rather, it was quietly circulating among a select group of individuals for nearly a decade. In 1852 the Church formally accepted the doctrine of polygamy and began to publicly defend it. In 1853, ten years after the revelation on polygamy (but twenty-three years before the “Articles on Marriage” were removed from the Doctrine and Covenants in 1876) then-apostle Orson Pratt—who played a key role in the public unveiling of the doctrine only a year earlier—taught publicly and without equivocation that “the plurality of wives is a Divine institution.”21 This change in tone was more than just an evolution of the doctrine of the family, it signaled a dramatic change in the contemporaneous social dynamics of the LDS Church. Firstly, David Whittaker notes that due to “runaway” officials who left the Utah territory to share their stories of polygamy on the east coast and the increased traffic of outsiders through the Utah territory who spread first-hand accounts of interactions with polygamists, general knowledge of the practice was growing. The resulting negative press and character attacks played a role in the Church publicly acknowledging and defending its leaders and its doctrine.22 However, secondly, whereas in 1835, the young and still fragile Church was trying to grow in an increasingly unfriendly environment, by 1852 the now much larger, geographically insulated, and institutionally solid LDS Church had nearly a decade of polygamy under its belt. Hence, Orson Pratt could publicly assert that “this divine institution [polygamy] in the order of family government was intended as an everlasting order to be continued in all generations.”23 These defenses culminated in 1876 when Joseph Smith’s revelation on polygamy was adopted as official scripture and the “Articles on Marriage” were removed from the Doctrine and Covenants. The Church wanted to mount a defense of its family structures—and because of a change in social context, and the relative strength that flowed from this change—it finally could.

Polygamy continued until Wilfred Woodruff’s 1890 declaration that the Church was ending the practice, showing, again, that social forces were playing a key role in the evolution of LDS household codes concerning marriage. Indeed, in his declaration, Woodruff admits that contemporaneous social realities drove his decision. Specifically, he references laws that “have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort.”24 Though Woodruff is clear that his decision to end the practice was a matter of direct revelation from God, it remains that his motivation for seeking God’s guidance in the first place was the United States government’s relentless persecution. With statehood on the line and the possibility of federal intervention in Utah, Woodruff’s revelation affirmed that the long-term viability of the LDS Church required adapting its practice to the surrounding social environment. Since God did not intervene to change society’s view of plural marriage, the LDS Church had to change instead.25

The Proclamation

I suspect one reason the New Testament household codes continue to resonate among modern Christians—and modern Mormons—is a continued belief in the two Greco-Roman principles referenced at the beginning of this article: that the family is the “foundation of society”26 and that society and family reinforce each other.27 Among some Christian communities, there continues to be a direct and intentional focus on the family that is explicitly grounded in the New Testament texts I have highlighted, complete with those texts’ assumptions. These not-quite-but-almost-modern-day-haustafeln are present in various Christian family-related statements,28 websites, publications,29 and movements.30 Thus, the Proclamation takes its place as just one among a multitude of statements about family across the centuries that claim divine mandate while simultaneously showing the fingerprints of their social context.

As a case in point on the impact of social context, consider the similarities and differences between the “Articles of Marriage” and the Proclamation. Both define marriage as between husband and wife (not wives). In the Proclamation, however, it is not the number of spouses that seems to be of primary concern, it is the gender of spouses. In fact, the Proclamation goes to great lengths to articulate and theologically defend gender-specific traits and roles. It declares that fathers and mothers have specific roles “by divine design,” argues that a primary goal of marriage is procreation, and suggests that our male and female roles align with premortal, gendered characteristics.”31 Just as the focus in the “Articles on Marriage” on the number of spouses has clear historical grounding, the Proclamation’s focus on gender can be similarly situated.

The Proclamation was released during the 1990s culture wars when gender roles and same-sex marriage were being debated. As I have noted elsewhere,32 the Proclamation was issued the same year that Utah enacted the nation’s first Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—1995. A year later, the United States Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed, a federal DOMA that affirmed states’ rights to define marriage; it also defined marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman. By 2001, with Americans opposing same-sex marriage “by a 57% to 35% margin,”33 forty-one states had passed either constitutional or statutory language banning same-sex marriage. Far from being an outlier, the Proclamation was exactly aligned with the majority social and religious currents of its day. And just like the “Articles on Marriage,” the Proclamation has a clearly identifiable social context.

Marriage is not the only point of intersection where social context becomes evident. Consider the differences between the New Testament household codes and the Proclamation with regards to the role of men. Interestingly, the explanation for why the male presides is slightly different in the different texts. In the discussion of gender roles found in Ephesians, male prerogative is framed under the rubric of spousal relations, with Christ as the model: the husband is not only “the head of the wife,” but his role is compared to Christ’s role as the head of the church. “Therefore,” the argument goes, “as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Eph. 5:22–28). In the Proclamation, however, the male’s presiding authority is grounded in an assertion of “divine design” tied to a fatherly role, thereby suggesting Heavenly Father, not Christ, is the paradigm for male action and leadership in the family. Though both agree that male authority is non-negotiable, the early Church’s expressly metaphorical framing in Ephesians shows none of the modern LDS Church’s anxiety about ‘“traditional” (heterosexual) family relationships that bubble up from the Proclamation’s seemingly essentialist gender assertions. And in the case of the Proclamation that dominance even extends to how the document was written. We know that the general Relief Society presidency was not consulted during the Proclamation’s drafting process.34 How might male and female family roles have been framed differently if women had been actively involved in writing the Proclamation? 

The connection between the church and the family is another point of difference where the fingerprints of social context are evident. In contrast to the New Testament’s household codes, the Proclamation makes no mention of congregational worship whatsoever. The Pastorals seek to connect family life with church organization—potentially a function of the early Church trying to understand how family, church, and society properly interact. There was no General Handbook of Instructions in the first-century church. However, the Proclamation, likely because it was drafted within the social context of a church that already had the Doctrine and Covenants, much of which is expressly concerned with church organization, and leadership handbooks of various types describing church structures, operations, and functions,35 could eschew that discussion. Perhaps as the home-centered, church-supported model takes root, the connection between church and family will need to be expounded upon further.

Finally, whereas the New Testament’s household codes contain explicit instruction for how children and enslaved people should behave (Col. 3:20–24; Eph. 6:1–4, 6–8) the Proclamation does not. With regards to children, Ephesians is exceptionally clear, children should “obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). However, the only language referencing children in the Proclamation concerns the responsibility of parents toward them. If, as suggested above, a primary goal of the Proclamation was to argue for traditionally gendered and structured family relationships, it makes some sense that there is no discussion of requirements for children in the Proclamation—that simply was not the issue of the day. Further, with regards to how enslaved people should behave, the fact that this is mentioned in the New Testament and not mentioned in the Proclamation makes sense—the ancient church tolerated enslavement and the modern LDS Church does not support slavery.  That in itself is a clear indication of the power social context plays in divine instruction. However, if the Proclamation were written and released during the 19th century when some Mormons—including prominent ecclesiastical and civil leaders—had been enslavers,36 would it have still been silent on the issue?


The LDS Church has been using this context-aware approach in some of its recent public relations offerings. For instance, the Gospel Topics essay “Race and the Priesthood”37 places the Church’s priesthood/temple ban for members of African descent within the highly charged racial environment of the pre-Civil War era. Similarly, the Gospel Topics essay “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women”38 begins with a discussion of how early members of the Church understood the priesthood. Both essays suggest that a full understanding of LDS leaders’ statements and perspectives is aided by knowing the social situations of their day.

Similarly, those who position the Proclamation as providing clarity in the midst of social change are also tacitly acknowledging that the Proclamation is a product of its social environment. Not only that, the way we read the Proclamation twenty-five years after its release continues to reveal much about our current social environment. Being aware of the social environment’s effect on the drafting of, and how we read and interpret, the Proclamation can help us overcome our unexamined biases and prejudices, creating more space for us to receive personal insight and inspiration. More specifically, this awareness helps us recognize that the Proclamation is not the final word on the LDS Church’s understanding of the family.

As social situations change, our reading of the Proclamation and subsequent LDS leaders’ statements on the subject will necessarily respond to new, emerging social contexts.  As we humbly recognize the challenge of understanding and expressing eternal truths, including truths about the family, in a time-bound world with imperfect language, we should not balk at continual revision, refinement, and re-expression of those truths. As Jeffrey R. Holland observed, “when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.”39



1. D. Todd Christofferson, “Why Marriage, Why Family,” Ensign, May 2015.

2. Warren Carter and Amy-Jill Levine, The New Testament: Methods and Meanings (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2013), 191. See also, Mark Allen Powel, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2009), 542.

3. For a discussion of how this view was represented by LDS Church leaders in the post-World War II context see Taylor G. Petrey, Tabernacles of Clay, Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism (Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2020), 37–39, 58–59.

4. Robert F. Hull, Jr., “The Family of Flesh and the Family of Faith: Reflections on the New Testament Household Codes,” Leaven 9, no. 1 (2001): 25, 23. Hull also helpfully highlights the biological theories which undergird Hellenistic thought, particularly those that presume male superiority.

5. See discussion of this in Carter and Levine, 190. It is worth noting that the connection and comparison between the state and the family in Hellenistic/Roman thought was not considered one-to-one. However, for the purposes of discussing haustafeln this general summary is sufficient. For those interested in exploring the household codes within the larger Hellenistic backdrop, see M. Eugene Boring, Klaus Berger, and Carsten Colpe, eds., Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995) and David L. Balch, Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in 1 Peter, Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series 26 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981).

6. Both Ephesians and Colossians are disputed Pauline epistles, likely written by someone within the Pauline tradition, not necessarily Paul himself, and likely after Paul’s death. Ephesians is generally viewed as an elaboration on Colossians.

7. Rebecca Moore provides an interesting discussion about how the Pastorals show the early church grappling with the role of women in an increasingly institutionalized bureaucratic structure. See Rebecca Moore, Women in Christian Traditions (New York: New York University Press, 2015), 54–55.

8. Some scholars read the discussion of widows in 1 Timothy 5:3–16 as indicating that in the early church “widow” was a position that had some sort of authority, hence the extended discussion that is, in many ways, similar to the earlier description of bishops and deacons. For an analysis of this position, see Susan E. Hyland, Women in the New Testament World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 89–92.

9. Carter and Levine. The New Testament: Methods and Meanings, 307.

10. David Balch, “Household Codes,” in Greco-Roman Literature and the New Testament: Selected Forms and Genres, ed. David E. Aune (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 1988), 29. Though scholars have challenged this sort of en bloc assertion of all household codes (see, for instance, Timothy Gombis. “A Radically Different New Humanity: The Function of the Haustafel in Ephesians,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48, no. 2 [June 2005]: 318–319) nearly all scholars take as a starting point that the various household codes in the New Testament were written within and for a contemporaneous social situation.

11. M. Eugene Boring, An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, and Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 343.

12. Carolyn Osiek notes that New Testament writers “were convinced that the stable household under firm patriarchal rule was the basic unit of a stable patriarchal society, reflected in the husband-wife, parent-child, and master-slave relationships. New Testament writers wanted to give assurance that the Christian household contributed just as much to a stable society.” See Carolyn Osiek, “Household Codes,” Society of Biblical Literature, (accessed 15 Oct. 2021).

13. Tim Donnell, “The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Timothy,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 79, no. 3 (July 2017): 461; E. Elizabeth Johnson, “Ephesians,” in Women’s Bible Commentary, ed. Carol A. Newsom, et al. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 579; Carter and Levine, The New Testament: Methods and Meanings, 191.

14. For perhaps the most concise and detailed discussion of scholarships’ history of engagement with the household codes from the 1970s onward, particularly the efforts to understand the relationship between society and the early church, see Margaret Y. MacDonald, “Beyond Identification of the Topos of Household Management: Reading the Household Codes in Light of Recent Methodologies and Theoretical Perspectives in the Study of the New Testament,” New Testament Studies 57, no. 1 (Jan. 2011): 65–90.

15. For some examples of the ways scholars do these analyses, see Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York: Random House, 1988), 24–25; Margaret A. Farley, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2012), 256–257; and Margaret Y. MacDonald, “Reading the New Testament Household Codes in Light of New Research on Children and Childhood in the Roman World,” Studies in Religion 41, no. 3 (Sep. 2012): 376–387.

16. This is an argument of inference.  Given that all the household codes assume that marriage is between one woman and one man, it is not a matter that seems to have troubled the church. In this regard, 1 Corinthians is an outlier when Paul asserts that celibacy preferable to marriage (1 Cor. 7:6, 27). However, he concedes that marriage is better than sin (1 Cor. 7:8–9) and asserts that if one is to marry, the best option is to marry a believer (1 Cor. 7:39). Though most scholars do not include 1 Corinthians in the category of household codes, it is one of Paul’s undisputed epistles, likely representing earlier, and potentially more authoritative, insight into his thinking on family relationships.

17. “Doctrine and Covenants, 1835,” 251, The Joseph Smith Papers, (accessed 15 Oct. 2021).

18. Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Vintage Books, 2005), 323, 324.

19. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 67.

20. Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 323.

21. Orson Pratt, “Celestial Marriage,” The Seer 1, no. 4 (Apr. 1854).

22. David J. Whittaker, “The Bone in the Throat: Orson Pratt and the Public Announcement of Plural Marriage,” Western Historical Quarterly 18 (July 1987): 295–299. Whittaker also points to a growing millenarianism among the Utah Latter-day Saints as compounding factor.

23. Pratt, “Celestial Marriage.” See also, David J. Whittaker, “Early Mormon Polygamy Defenses,” Journal of Mormon History 11 (1984): 43–63.

24. Official Declaration 1.

25. As a matter of doctrine, polygamy is still LDS dogma. However, I am intentionally side-stepping the issue of “eternal polygamy”—the practice of men being sealed to a second wife following a divorce from or the death of a prior wife. For an in-depth analysis of that issue see Carol Lynn Pearson, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men (Walnut Creek, CA: Pivot Point Books, 2016).

26. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

27. See, for instance, William Bennet, “Stronger Families, Stronger Societies,” New York Times, 24 Apr. 2012.  See also footnote 3 above.

28. See Mark Kelly, “Southern Baptists Adopt Statement on Family,” Baptist Press, 10 June 1998, In this article, Kelly notes that in 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention added “a statement on the family to their 35-year-old Baptist Faith and Message statement.” This statement is, in many respects, similar to the Proclamation. “God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race. The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation. Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.”

29. See, for instance, Jean-Marc Berthoud, “The Model Family,” Touchstone Magazine, Dec. 2001. See also Cardinal Sean Brady, “The Family as the Foundation of Society,” Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG, (accessed 15 Oct. 2021)

30. Such as Focus on the Family:

31. See Petrey, Tabernacles of Clay, chapters 2 and 4 for a deeper analysis of the essentialist arguments about gender. In a June 2020 blog post, Petrey notes that the Proclamation’s focus on gender seems to be an acknowledgement of the power of society to define gender and as an appeal to society to galvanize around a particular version of gender norms. Petrey notes that with the Proclamation’s direct discussion of gender, “church leaders are conceding that if there is such a thing as nature, it’s incredibly weak, and needs to be propped up. So rather than rejecting the idea of gender fluidity as incorrect, church leaders have actually used this as an explanation for why there need to be strong social, legal and ecclesiastical constraints on gender in order to produce the ‘proper’ outcomes. Gender needs to be produced and managed so that it turns out in the right way and people behave according to gender norms.” See Jana Reiss, “Mormonism’s Surprising Gender Fluidity,” Religion News Service, 26 June 2020,

32. M. David Huston, “The Theological Trajectory of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 54, no. 1 (Spring 2021): 17.

33. “Same-sex Marriage, State by State,” Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life, 26 June 2015.

34. Chieko Okazaki and Greg Prince, “‘There Is Always a Struggle’: An Interview with Chieko Okazaki,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 45, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 136.

35. Edward L. Kimball, “A History of LDS Temple Admission Standards,” Journal of Mormon History 24, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 173–176.

36. Joanna Brooks, “The Possessive Investment in Rightness: White Supremacy and the Mormon Movement,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 51, no. 3 (Fall 2018): 45–81.

37. “Race and the Priesthood,” Gospel Topics Essays, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (accessed 15 Oct. 2021).

38. “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women,” Gospel Topics Essays, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (accessed 15 Oct. 2021).

39. Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” Ensign, May 2013.