~Ezra Taft Benson
I have been thinking about this post for some time, and I have a lot to say, so I'm dividing it into several posts:
Part I (this post)--the importance of being a mother--ie, not delaying childbearing
Part II--why mother should be in the home rather than working outside of it
Part III--thoughts on family planning and full quivers
Part IV--for those who cannot have kids (due to singleness or infertility)
I would like to begin with a list of links to talks given by prophets, apostles, and other church leaders about woman's divine role in God's Plan. I quote from them liberally here, boldfacing phrases that I find particularly significant, and occasionally adding commentary of my own. All italicized/indented parts are quotes.
- Ezra Taft Benson "To the Mothers in Zion"
- Ezra Taft Benson "The Honored Place of Woman"
- Spencer W Kimball "Beginning Life Together" (counsel to an engaged couple)
- Gordon Be Hinckley "To the Women of the Church"
- "The Family: A Proclamation to the World"
- Sheri L Dew "We Are Women of God"
- Neal A Maxwell "The Women of God"
- Julie B Beck "Mothers Who Know"
- Julie B Beck "Standing Strong and Immovable"
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. [link]Does it get any more clear than that?!
Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children, being co-creators with our Father in heaven.I just want to say that, as someone who assumed that children would come quickly and easily, I have had a rude awakening. If you want children 'someday' I would encourage you to pray about making that day today. You may think that you can plan children when you want them, but there is a good chance that it will be more complicated than you think. It may take you months or years to get pregnant, even if you are aware of your fertile times and 'doing everything right.' You may get pregnant easily but then miscarry. You may miscarry several times. You may not be able to conceive at all. If you are unable to have biological children, the adoption process can take years. Once you do have a child, you may find you are fertile again within weeks, or you may be like me: not ovulating again for nearly two years. And so I say again, you cannot really plan your children, which I think is all the more reason to be willing to welcome them now rather than later...because you just never know how long it will take or what will be involved.
Do not use the reasoning of the world, such as, "We'll wait until we can better afford having children, until we are more secure, until John has completed his education, until he has a better paying job, until we have a larger home, until we've obtained a few of the material conveniences," and on and on. This is the reasoning of the world and is not pleasing in the sight of God. Mothers who enjoy good health, have your children and have them early. And, husbands, always be considerate of your wives in the bearing children.
Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice. ~ETBenson [link]
Women find true happiness when they understand and delight in their unique role within the plan of salvation. The things women can and should do very best are championed and taught without apology here. We believe in the formation of eternal families. That means we believe in getting married. We know that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. That means we believe in having children. We have faith that with the Lord’s help we can be successful in rearing and teaching children. These are vital responsibilities in the plan of happiness, and when women embrace those roles with all their hearts, they are happy! Knowing and defending the truth about families is the privilege of every sister in this Church.
Because families are eternal, we cannot afford to be casual or complacent about those relationships. Much of the great work of this society in the past has been centered in helping Latter-day Saint women strengthen families, with emphasis on improving our nurturing skills—homemaking skills, parenting skills, and marriage skills. Families mean work, but they are our great work—and we are not afraid of work. This is what we do best; no one does families better than the sisters of this Relief Society. ~JBBeck [link]
Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are “becoming less valued,” in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children. Prophets, seers, and revelators who were sustained at this conference have declared that “God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that “in the eternal perspective, children—not possessions, not position, not prestige—are our greatest jewels.” Faithful daughters of God desire children.
In the scriptures we read of Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Mary, who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah of the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child, the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here will rise with them in the Resurrection. Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood. ~JBBeck [link]
~Spencer W Kimball
Prophets have admonished us to forsake the world and turn our hearts to Jesus Christ, who promised us, “In this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full” (D&C 101:36; emphasis added). Said President Spencer W. Kimball, “If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up … a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit” (“The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976, 6). How often are we so focused on pursuing the so-called good life that we lose sight of eternal life? It is the fatal spiritual equivalent of selling our birthright for a mess of pottage.
As sisters in Zion we can be obstacles to the adversary’s conspiracy against families and virtue. No wonder he tempts us to settle for earthly pleasures rather than to seek for eternal glory.~SLDew [link]
It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone.
We salute you, sisters...[you], more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word 'self' is militantly placed before other words like 'fulfillment.' You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms.
So often our sisters comfort others when their own needs are greater than those being comforted. That quality is like the generosity of Jesus on the cross. Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity! I thank the Father that His Only Begotten Son did not say in defiant protest at Calvary, “My body is my own!” I stand in admiration of women today who resist the fashion of abortion, by refusing to make the sacred womb a tomb! When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this. ~NAMaxwell [link]
Before the world was created, in heavenly councils the pattern and role of women were prescribed. You were elected by God to be wives and mothers in Zion. Exaltation in the celestial kingdom is predicated on faithfulness to that calling.
Since the beginning, a woman’s first and most important role has been ushering into mortality spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven.
I recognize there are voices in our midst which would attempt to convince you that these truths are not applicable to our present-day conditions. If you listen and heed, you will be lured away from your principal obligations. Beguiling voices in the world cry out for “alternative life-styles” for women. They maintain that some women are better suited for careers than for marriage and motherhood. These individuals spread their discontent by the propaganda...
I am aware that many of you often find yourselves in circumstances that are not always ideal... I recognize that not all women in the Church will have an opportunity for marriage and motherhood in mortality. But if you in this situation are worthy and endure faithfully, you can be assured of all blessings from a kind and loving Heavenly Father—and I emphasize all blessings.
Solutions for you who are in a minority are not the same as for the majority of women in the Church who can and should be fulfilling their roles as wives and mothers... Too often, I fear, even women in the Church use the world as their standard for success and basis for self-worth. ~ETBenson [link]
I just want to add a little note here in response to a couple of comments...
It is true that not everyone should have babies immediately after getting married (and neither I nor the church condones having babies outside of marriage). For some couples it might be appropriate to wait a little while because health or emotional issues or whatever need to be resolved before they can be good parents. This is why I said that people should "pray about making that day today" and to "be willing to welcome [children] now."
We are not put here just to be baby makin machines ☺ but we should be willing to have children on God's schedule--whatever that may be--rather than trying to call all the shots ourselves.
I confess that (having heard/read these kinds of quotes) I was pretty judgmental in my teens when I saw girls just a few years older than myself get married and then wait 2 or 3 or 5 years before having kids. Then I got married and in spite of our best efforts I did not have a baby for over 3 years--I learned that what people see on the outside is rarely a good indication of what is really going on, and yes, I learned to not be so judgmental. ☺