The roles of men and women are different, but they are equal. God created the differing roles to complement each other and to enhance the ability of the Church and the planet to get things done effectively. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives women an honored place in the home.
In the home, men and women work as equals, respecting their differing roles, to complete the work God gave them. The husband is the head of the home, but this doesn’t mean he’s the boss. It simply means he presides.
Elder Bruce C. Hafen, a church leader, and his wife, Marie, wrote an enlightening article on the roles of husbands and wives in a spiritually focused family:
“The concept of interdependent, equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel. Eve was Adam’s “help meet” (Genesis 2:18). The original Hebrew for meet means that Eve was adequate for, or equal to, Adam. She wasn’t his servant or his subordinate. And the Hebrew for help in “help meet” is ezer, a term meaning that Eve drew on heavenly powers when she supplied their marriage with the spiritual instincts uniquely available to women as a gender gift…”
Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to “rule over” Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. A ruler can be a measuring tool that sets standards. Then Adam would live so that others may measure the rightness of their conduct by watching his. Being a ruler is not so much a privilege of power as an obligation to practice what a man preaches. Also, over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over. If a man does exercise “dominion … in any degree of unrighteousness” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:37; emphasis added), God terminates that man’s authority (Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners,” Ensign, Aug 2007, 24-29).
The man is not the ruler of the house in the sense we often think of it. He presides over the home, which has an entirely different meaning than to rule. He and his wife work together to lead their children and make both spiritual and temporal decisions.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that gender and the roles that accompany gender were assigned prior to birth, and that we agreed to them before coming here. (The Church teaches that we all lived as spirits with our Father in Heaven before our birth. To learn more about this, please read, “You Lived With God.”) (off-site link)
LDS women don’t feel subjugated by God’s choice for their roles. They love caring for their homes and families and consider it every bit as important as earning money. Not everything of value comes with a price tag attached, at least not in an eternal world. Because the Church teaches that home is the center of God’s plan, having a critical role in the home is an honor.
LDS women are encouraged to remain in the home until their children are grown. Many do choose to work, however, or need to work, and no church penalties are enacted as a result. It’s a choice made by the family in consultation with God.
The women are, however, strongly advised to obtain educations that will allow them to take on a career should it become necessary. In addition, church work gives women opportunities to develop skills that carry over into the workforce, and women often take on outside volunteer projects or earn a little extra money from home. They’re encouraged to purse a life of independent learning. All of this ensures they are ready to enter the workforce should the time come. In the meantime, however, those with children are freed from the complications of trying to earn the paycheck and care for the children at the same time. They’re able to focus their primary attention on their children for those few years their children are young.