Selected Teachings on
Gender and the Roles of Men & Women

God Created Male and Female Nature to Complement Each Other in Essential Ways

Boyd K. Packer (Quorum of the Twelve)

Except Adam and Eve by nature be different from one another, they could not multiply and fill the earth (see Genesis 1:28, note 28 c). The complementing differences are the very key to the plan of happiness. Some roles are best suited to the masculine nature and others to the feminine nature. (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 21)

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

In his wisdom and mercy, our Father made men and women dependent on each other for the full flowering of their potential. Because their natures are somewhat different, they can complement each other; because they are in many ways alike, they can understand each other. Let neither envy the other for their differences; let both discern what is superficial and what is beautifully basic in those differences, and act accordingly. (“Relief Society—Its Promise and Potential,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 5)

David A. Bednar (Quorum of the Twelve)

By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11; italics added). (World Wide Leadership Meeting, 2006)

James E. Faust (First Presidency)

Before we were born, male and female, we made certain commitments and … agreed to come to this earth with great, rich, but different gifts. We were called, male and female, to do great works with separate approaches and separate assignments. (“How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 95–97)

Richard G. Scott (Quorum of the Twelve)

Our Heavenly Father endowed His sons and daughters with unique traits especially fitted for their individual responsibilities as they fulfill His plan. To follow His plan requires that you do those things He expects of you as a son or daughter, husband or wife. Those roles are different, but entirely compatible. In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics.

Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan. (Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73–74)

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us…. Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood. (“The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102)

We Don’t Know all the Reasons for the Differences in Roles of Men and Women

Neal A. Maxwell

We know so little, brothers and sisters, about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. (Ensign, May 1978, 10)

The Weakening of Gender Roles Weakens Families and Reduces Happiness

Boyd K. Packer (Quorum of the Twelve)

In the home and in the Church, sisters should be esteemed for their very nature. Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences nature has established. A man, a father, can do much of what is usually assumed to be a woman’s work. In turn, a wife and a mother can do much—and in time of need, most things—usually considered the responsibility of the man, without jeopardizing their distinct roles. Even so, leaders, and especially parents, should recognize that there is a distinct masculine nature and a distinct feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and the family. Whatever disturbs or weakens or tends to erase that difference erodes the family and reduces the probability of happiness for all concerned. (Ensign, May 1998, 73 )

Dallin H. Oaks (Quorum of the Twelve)

We live in a day when there are many political, legal, and social pressures for changes that confuse gender and homogenize the differences between men and women. Our eternal perspective sets us against changes that alter those separate duties and privileges of men and women that are essential to accomplish the great plan of happiness. We do not oppose all changes in the treatment of men and women, since some changes in laws or customs simply correct old wrongs that were never grounded in eternal principles. (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73–74 )

Conformity to God’s Plan for Men and Women's Roles Brings True Happiness

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

Why do some allow themselves to criticize—criticize God's plan? Why can't they accept their roles in life and be grateful for them?...

I sincerely hope that our Latter-day Saint girls and women, and men and boys, will drink deeply of the water of life and conform their lives to the beautiful and comprehensive roles the Lord assigned to them.

I hope we shall not attempt to perfect an already perfect plan, but seek with all our might, mind, and strength to perfect ourselves in the comprehensive program given to us. Because some of us have failed, certainly it would be unfair to place the blame upon the program. Let us control our attitudes, our activities, our total lives, that we may be heir to the rich and numerous blessings promised to us.

What God-given roles each of us could play in this great divine drama! What satisfying personal lives we can live! What beautiful families we can nurture and train! What a heavenly future is ours! (Ensign, Oct. 1975, 2-5)

Women are Not to Become Like Men to Achieve Their Potential

Ezra Taft Benson (President)

You [women] were not created to be the same as men. Your natural attributes, affections, and personalities are entirely different from a man’s. They consist of faithfulness, benevolence, kindness, and charity. They give you the personality of a woman. They also balance the more aggressive and competitive nature of a man.

The business world is competitive and sometimes ruthless. We do not doubt that women have both the brainpower and skills—and in some instances superior abilities—to compete with men. But by competing they must, of necessity, become aggressive and competitive. Thus their godly attributes are diminished and they acquire a quality of sameness with man. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 547–48)

James E. Faust (First Presidency)

Becoming like men is not the answer. Rather, the answer lies in being who you are and living up to your divine potential by fulfilling eternal commitments….

All of you will have to sometime answer to your natural womanly instincts, which the Prophet Joseph said are according to your natures. He said, “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 226.) You should respond generously to those instincts and promptings to do good. Hold your soul very still, and listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Follow the noble, intuitive feelings planted deep within your souls by Deity in the previous world. In this way you will be responding to the Holy Spirit of God and will be sanctified by truth. By so doing, you will be eternally honored and loved. Much of your work is to enrich mankind with your great capacity for care and mercy. (“How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 95–97)

Howard W. Hunter (President)

It seems strange that women want to enter into professions and into work and into places in society on an equality with men, wanting to dress like men and carry on men’s work. I don’t deny the fact that women are capable of doing so, but as I read the scriptures, I find it hard to reconcile this with what the Lord has said about women—what he has said about the family, what he has said about children. It seems to me that in regard to men and women, even though they might be equal in many things, there is a differentiation between them that we fully understand. I hope the time never comes when women will be brought down to the level with men, although they seem to be making these demands in meetings held ... all over the world. (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 150)

Thomas S. Monson (Quorum of the Twelve)

What the modernists, even the liberationists, fail to remember is that women, in addition to being persons, also belong to a sex, and that with the differences in sex are associated important differences in function and behavior. Equality of rights does not imply identity of functions. As Paul the apostle declared: “… neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). (“The Women’s Movement: Liberation or Deception?” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 20)

Those Who Try to Change Their Gender Will Answer to God

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

Some people are ignorant or vicious and apparently attempting to destroy the concept of masculinity and femininity. More and more girls dress, groom, and act like men. More and more men dress, groom, and act like women. The high purposes of life are damaged and destroyed by the growing unisex theory. God made man in his own image, male and female made he them. With relatively few accidents of nature, we are born male or female. The Lord knew best. Certainly, men and women who would change their sex status will answer to their Maker. (Ensign, November 1974, p.4)

Women have Special Spiritual Sensitivities

Harold B. Lee (President)

From my experience, it would seem that faithful mothers have a special gift that we often refer to as mother’s intuition. Perhaps with the great blessing of motherhood, our Heavenly Father has endowed them with this quality, since fathers, busy in priesthood callings and with the work of earning a livelihood, never draw quite as close to heavenly beings in matters that relate to the more intimate details of bringing up children in the home. (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 291)

Howard W. Hunter (President)

I suppose you would say it is a man’s viewpoint to throw a burden upon a woman to maintain the stability and the sweetness of marriage, but this seems to be her divine nature. She has a superior spirituality in the marriage relationship, and the opportunity to encourage, uplift, teach, and be the one who sets the example in the family for righteous living. When women come to the point of realizing that it is more important to be superior than to be equal, they will find the real joy in living those principles that the Lord set out in his divine plan. (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 139)

Boyd K. Packer (Quorum of the Twelve)

The tender hand of the sister gives a gentle touch of healing and encouragement which the hand of a man, however well intentioned, can never quite duplicate. (Ensign, May 1998, 72)

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

We know that women in general are more spiritual than men, and certainly their instincts and desires to render compassionate service exceed those of their male counterparts. (The Mortal Messiah, 4:266)

Neal A. Maxwell (Quorum of the Twelve)

We men know the women of God as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, associates, and friends. You seem to tame us and to gentle us, and, yes, to teach us and to inspire us. For you, we have admiration as well as affection, because righteousness is not a matter of role, nor goodness a matter of gender. In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood. (Ensign, May 1978, 10)