On Marriage

The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through all eternity.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

      In February 1973, an article called “Strengthening the Patriarchal Order in the Home,” appeared in the Ensign, the flagship publication of the Mormon Church.[1] The author, Brent Barlow, expressed deep concerns about certain disturbing trends in family governance. Most troubling was the transition “from a patriarchal to a democratic or even matriarchal type of family organization.” Further, this shift from an authoritarian to an equalitarian family structure coincided with an increase in the number of wives and mothers entering the work force. This, Barlow said, can place added stress on family relationships.[2]

      Barlow blamed these developments on society’s departure from biblical teachings.[3] We should heed the counsel of the Apostle Paul, he said: “the husband is the head of the wife,”[4] and wives should submit to their husbands.[5] In defending the patriarchal order in the home, he placed special emphasis on the Lord’s words to Eve immediately prior to her expulsion from Eden: “I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”[6]

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