Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fatherhood and motherhood: a definition

I was talking with K. about my daughter, and about how having daughters is a new experience for me because I've only ever had sisters before. And I feel like explaining my definitions for relationships because you can't understand how I feel about my kids without knowing how I think about fatherhood.

Okay, first thing. Fundamentally, "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be." (D&C 93:29) That is, I don't think fatherhood or motherhood is fundamentally rooted in an act of creation ex nihilo ("the people who made you exist"), because the gospel tells us that there is no creation ex nihilo. This is true for earthly parents ("I lived in Heaven a long time ago, it is true") and even for spiritual parents. So what is a father or a mother?

My working definitions are these:

Parent (father or mother): someone from whom you will inherit traits. Someone you will grow up to resemble. In a spiritual sense, Heavenly Father is and always has been willing to be our Father in every sense, but some people (like Cain) choose Satan for their Father and inherit what Satan has and is (nothing) instead of what the Father has and is (everything). Hence they are called the "sons [and daughters] of Perdition [which means 'loss']."

Siblings (brother or sister): someone who shares one or more parents with you. Can also be used metaphorically for those for whom you feel an inbuilt kinship, a sense that you have similarities, whether or not there is an identifiable parent in common from whom you both inherit those similarities.

Friends: people with whom you get along well, but who aren't necessarily headed to the same metaphorical destination you are. They're growing up to be someone else.

Family Pets: adorable creatures who are to be appreciated for their own sake and treated kindly, but aren't expected to inherit anything.

Children (sons and daughters): someone whom you intend to inherit from you. Someone whom you're trying to help become more like you. From this angle, there is nothing weird about the fact that Jesus Christ, for example, sometimes refers to us as his children even though we usually think of him primarily as an eldest brother. He has a paternal interest in us by virtue of wanting us to follow in his footsteps (which were also his and our Father's footsteps before him). But I think he doesn't mind at all if we think of him as a brother and not our father.

Spouse (husband or wife): this is kind of a special relationship because you're sort of mutually inheriting traits from each other as you jointly develop towards your ultimate metaphorical destination. Your spouse's role is neither to be an influencer (like a parent) nor an influencee (like a child, though of course it's not strictly one-way), but sort of both at the same time. Choose your spouse as carefully as you once chose your parents.


If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

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