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Hi I'm Paul.

I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I am married and have four children -- two boys and two girl. I have degrees in Math and Computer Science. I do computer work as a civilian employee of the United States Government. In July 2009, my family moved to Germany for an assignment overseas. My family attends an English-speaking church unit with other Americans who are living in Germany.

Why I am a Mormon

When I was nine my mother joined the church (missionaries knocked on the door) and so I joined as well. At some point between my baptism and the time I went on a mission, I had to decide whether or not I believed the things I was being taught. One of my favorite things about the church is its emphasis on building a personal testimony. I considered the things that were taught, prayed to know about their truthfulness, and received confirmations from the Holy Spirit testifying that they are true.

How I live my faith

I attend an English-speaking unit in Germany (the church often organizes units to help members worship in their native language). We share a building with a German-speaking unit. Almost all of the members in our unit are associated with the American military in some way -- we have active duty military, people that work for government contractors, and federal employees like myself. Most members of the unit are in Germany for three-year assignments. This means that we have a lot of turnover -- each year approximately one-third of the unit leaves to return to the States. I have been the ward clerk since 2009. I work with a finance clerk to make sure that the membership and financial records we keep are organized and accurate. I also work closely with the unit leadership to make sure they have the tools they need to be effective in their own responsibilities.

What is the role of the husband and the wife in the family?

In 1995 the church issued The Proclamation on the Family to clarifies roles for husbands and wives. It says, in part: "We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose... "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 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..." The church is often criticized for taking a position that so publicly defines different roles for men and women. The argument usually begins by noting that only men hold the Priesthood and then it suggests that the patriarchal structure created by a male-dominated leadership inherently places women in a subordinate position – one that ultimately finds them barefoot and pregnant. They substantiate their claims of a male-dominated society by quoting the Lord’s direction to Eve in the Garden of Eden: “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16) The principle fallacy associated with this argument is twofold: First, it selectively ignores the statement in the Proclamation that says, “in these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” On several occasions, former church president Gordon B. Hinckley expanded on this idea of husbands and wives as equal partners. He said: “I am offended by the sophistry that the only lot of the Latter-day Saint woman is to be barefoot and pregnant. It is a clever phrase, but it is false. Of course we believe in children. The Lord has told us to multiply and replenish the earth that we might have joy in our posterity, and there is no greater joy than the joy that comes of happy children in good families. But he did not designate the number, nor has the church. That is a sacred matter left to the couple and the Lord." President Hinckley concluded by quoting from the Church Handbook of Instructions: “Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have the greater responsibility not only of bearing children but of caring for them through childhood, and should help them conserve their health and strength. Married couples should exercise self-control in all of their relationships. They should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel.” Regarding the Lord’s comment to Eve that Adam would rule over her, noted author and church scholar W. Cleon Skousen has written: “This was not intended as a punishment…This was a statement of administrative procedure under the patriarchal order of the priesthood. The fact that one person is placed under another in the priesthood does not necessarily mean that the person in higher authority is any better or more highly exalted in the eyes of the Lord than the one in a lower position of authority. It is done for one purpose and one purpose only: to establish order in the kingdom of God. “Those placed in presiding offices may well be considered as simply “first among equals.” As long as this attitude prevails among priesthood holders a wholesome spirit prevails, but as soon as a man looks upon his office in the priesthood as a token of his superiority over his fellow men then priestcraft replaces priesthood.” (The First Two Thousand Years, p. 48) The second fallacy associated with criticizing the church for defining separate roles for husbands and wives is more subtle – it comes in the implication that the primary role prescribed for men (presiding over and providing for the needs of their families) is somehow more important, more rewarding, or more satisfying than the primary role prescribed for women (homebuilding and providing for the nurture of their children). A true understanding of the nature and purpose of motherhood in the gospel teaches us that the opposite is true. Former church president David O. McKay validated this principle when he said: “Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security, her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world… “Motherhood consists of three principal attributes or qualities: namely, (1) the power to bear, (2) the ability to rear, (3) the gift to love. . . This ability and willingness to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God." (Gospel Ideals, pp. 453-54.) I want to say a bit more about each of the qualities President McKay mentioned because I think they exemplify the role of motherhood in the gospel. First, the power to bear. As President McKay noted, the power to bear encompasses both the ability and the willingness to bear children. To those who want to be mothers but who are unable to bear children, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “I say through your tears and ours on that subject, God will yet, in days that lie somewhere ahead, bring ‘hope to [the] desolate heart.’ As prophets have repeatedly taught, ultimately no blessing shall be withheld from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately. In the meantime we rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood.” Indeed, mother is a verb. Women who can and do bear children look to Eve as the mother of all living. The Proclamation on the Family notes that “[t]he first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.” Some in the Christian world today condemn Eve for the role she played in bringing about the Fall. But we, with an enlarged understanding of her circumstances, honor Eve for the sacrifices she made to bring forward the plan of salvation. In 2 Nephi 2:22-25, Lehi teaches: 22 And now, behold, if Adam [and Eve] had not transgressed [they] would not have fallen, but [they] would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. 23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. 24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. 25 Adam [and Eve] fell that men might be; and men care, that they might have joy. Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles perhaps said it best when he described the choice made by Eve in the Garden of Eden: “In life all must choose at times. Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil. Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other. When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others — the greater law — rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves — the lesser law. The greater must be chosen…That was the choice made in Eden.” (Beverly Brough Campbell, Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, Deseret Book, 2003 vii) Respecting the commandment given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Proclamation on the Family declares: “God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” The language of the proclamation gives an added measure of responsibility toward motherhood in the gospel (for bearing children is a role that only women can fulfill). In recent years, some members of popular society have come to see motherhood as an inconvenience – something that gets in the way of professional aspirations or other supposedly more important goals. This distorted perception sits is in direct opposition to our knowledge that motherhood is essential to the plan of salvation; without it, the plan would be frustrated and the Earth would not fulfill the measure of its creation. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles confirmed this position when he said: “The basic doctrinal purpose for the Creation of the earth is to provide for God's spirit children the continuation of the process of exaltation and eternal life…[T]here is simply not a more significant contribution [women] can make to society, to the Church, or to the eternal destiny of our Father's children than what [they] will do as a mother…Every sister in this Church who has made covenants with the Lord has a divine mandate to help save souls, to lead the women of the world, to strengthen the homes of Zion, and to build the kingdom of God." ("Women of Righteousness," Liahona, Dec. 2002, 36, 39; Ensign, Apr. 2002, 68, 70). Next, the ability to rear. One of the biggest social problems of our generation is mothers who bear children but who do not rear them. In speaking about how mothers in the gospel can better rear their children, Sister Julie B. Beck, the Relief Society General President, identified four key qualities – nurturing, leading, teaching, and doing less. She said: “Mothers [in the gospel]…are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers…create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate. Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a "house of order," and women should pattern their homes after the Lord's house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women. Mothers [in the gospel]…are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. [They] build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers…are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most. Mothers [in the gospel]…are teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center (MTC). Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power. Mothers [in the gospel]…do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power… When mothers [in the gospel] know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.” Finally, the gift to love. There are some lines attributed to Victor Hugo which read: “She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness. ‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant. “ ‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier. “ ‘No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’ ” As Hugo notes, a mother’s love is most appropriately expressed in her actions. The poet Jill Lemming expressed this sentiment in a poem: There is no love like a mother's love, no stronger bond on earth… like the precious bond that comes from God, to a mother, when she gives birth. A mother's love is forever strong, never changing for all time… and when her children need her most, a mother's love will shine. God bless these special mothers, God bless them every one… for all the tears and heartache, and for the special work they've done. When her days on earth are over, a mother's love lives on… through many generations, with God's blessings on each one. Be thankful for our mothers, for they love with a higher love… from the power God has given, and the strength from up above. To summarize: motherhood in the gospel is characterized by the power to bear, the ability to rear, and the gift to love. Sister Beck reiterated these claims in the February 2009 visiting teaching message. She said: "I have a testimony gained from pondering and studying the scriptures of a plan of happiness given to us by our Father in Heaven. That plan has a part for His daughters. We have the female half to take care of, and if we don't do our part, no one else is going to do it for us. The half of our Father's plan that creates life, that nurtures souls, that promotes growth, that influences everything else was given to us. We cannot delegate it. We cannot pass it off to anyone. It is ours. We can refuse it, we can deny it, but it is still our part, and we are accountable for it. There will come a day when we will all remember what we knew before we were born. We will remember that we fought in a great conflict for this privilege. How do we meet this responsibility? We daily put our energies into the work that is uniquely ours to do." It is unfortunate that so many mothers who lack a gospel perspective are dissatisfied with the responsibilities of motherhood and fail to view them as the blessings they really are. Consider this comment President Hinckley made at General Conference in 1993: “Let every mother realize that she has no greater blessing than the children who have come to her as a gift from the Almighty; that she has no greater mission than to rear them in light and truth, in understanding and love… “I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling. No other can adequately take your place. No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world” Section 93 in the Doctrine and Covenants says: “…truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” The light of the gospel removes the shadows of doubt and confusion that the world is placing around the role of mothers. The gospel replaces doubt and confusion with the truth about motherhood – namely, that that the rearing of children in the gospel leads directly to the greatest blessings of all – an eternal family and a righteous posterity. Show more Show less