Guest Post: The New CHI and Priesthood in the Home
I had heard rumors that parts of the Church Handbook of Instructions were online, so I peeked in at lds.org. The rumors are true. Handbook 2, which is distributed to priesthood and auxilliary leaders is fully searchable (and meant to be read: see the end of paragraph 9). Handbook 1, which is intended for Bishops and Stake Presidencies is not available.
With a slight sense of dabbling in the forbidden, I began reading. I stopped when I got to section 2.3 The Priesthood and the Family. The wording of the second sentence startled me*. It brings the equality of men and women into the forefront. Such wording was found in The Family Proclamation, but it was buried near the end of a paragraph and situated after a clear delineation of the roles of fathers (full stop) and mothers (full stop)**.
I was excited at this emphasis on equality. As I read it, the remainder of the sentence seems to refer to presiding as a joint priesthood responsibility, not the male presiding and the female supporting (which I don’t often see, but still seems to be the “ideal” towards which I am encouraged to strive).
I keep re-reading that sentence trying to re-construe it in some other way, but the grammar forces me back to the idea that the husband is given only equal authority as his wife. If his wife is his equal partner and he is presiding, then so is she. If his wife is his equal partner and he is serving as the family’s spiritual leader, then so is she. The key thing is that the equal partnership is mentioned first. They are working together in this role.
Hair splitting? Perhaps. But at least this time my split ends are making me happy.
What do you make of this change in emphasis?
* CHI 2.3 The Priesthood and the Family
Each husband and father in the Church should strive to be worthy to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. With his wife as an equal partner, he presides in righteousness and love, serving as the family’s spiritual leader. He leads the family in regular prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. He works with his wife to teach their children and help them prepare to receive the ordinances of salvation (see D&C 68:25–28). He gives priesthood blessings for direction, healing, and comfort.
** The Proclamation
“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. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”