Despite the false messages the world offers about masculinity, the masculine roles of husband and father, established and exemplified by God, are sacred and noble.
What does it mean to be a man? Representations of men and masculinity in the media offer many definitions—definitions that are often harmful or unrealistic. Men are portrayed as tough, violent, and insensitive. Fathers are often depicted as goofy or bumbling, incapable of completing the simplest of tasks.
These representations leave a lot to be desired when looking for answers to the question “What does it mean to be a man?” Elder D. Todd Christofferson sets things straight in his April 2016 general conference address, “Fathers.” He speaks of the divinity of masculinity and the capacity for good that men have—especially in the home. He testifies that husband and father are the highest of masculine roles. Elder Christofferson also focuses on the connection between mortal fatherhood and our Heavenly Father‘s role, teaching that Heavenly Father is “the perfect, divine expression of fatherhood.” As sons of God, men have the potential to become like their Heavenly Father and to fulfill their roles as husband and father, roles of divine origin.
In 1973, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a statement about the sacred role of fathers: “The title father is sacred and eternal. It is significant that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father.” This role of father isn’t secondary to a career, and it isn’t emasculating to raise and nurture children. Rather, fatherhood is an expression of the divine masculinity within each son of God and an indication of their immense capacity for good.
Acknowledging the importance of fatherhood does not diminish the importance of motherhood. Elder Christofferson quotes “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which states, “Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” As mothers and fathers work together, and as fathers step into their role of loving provider and gentle protector, children feel the love of their Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother as it is expressed by their earthly parents. When parents fulfill their sacred responsibilities, children gain security and faith.
What a beautiful opportunity and responsibility.
To learn more about the sacred role of fathers, read or watch Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s full talk: “Fathers.”
Source: LDS General Conference
—Maegan Sugrue, Mormon Insights
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Read a statement of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about fatherhood: “Father, Consider Your Ways”