Question: Is The Family: A Proclamation to the World against feminism?

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Question: Is The Family: A Proclamation to the World against feminism?

Introduction to Question

In 1995, top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced a nine-paragraph proclamation regarding the family called The Family: A Proclamation to the World. In it, the divine institution of the family is described and defended–– including primary gender roles for a man and wife in marriage.

This document has invited a lot of criticism from some of the more progressive critics of the Church. It has also been the source of confusion for many regular members of the Church that have feminist leanings since the document prescribes ideal gender roles. The question has been: Is the Proclamation against feminism?

This article explores the question.

Response to Question

Two Lines that Affirm Male and Female Equality

The document contains two lines that affirm male/female equality––thus demonstrating that the Proclamation is not against feminism.

The first is this:

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 second is this:

Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

Notice the assumptions behind the lines: that males and females are capable of performing the same tasks and are encouraged to share each other’s loads.

Now, it is true that the Proclamation prescribes ideal gender roles (that is, roles that change not on preference but out of necessity) based upon what we are naturally ordered to biologically. This shouldn’t be offensive. Gender complementarianism is scientifically defensible and is a philosophy that affirms the moral equality of the two genders.[1] We should seek to fill our roles as prescribed by the Proclamation. But the Proclamation doesn’t exclude feminism. Notice that the second line assumes that wives will be able to take over their husbands’ responsibilities. Women should therefore have potential for lucrative careers to support their families––including those careers traditionally held by men.

The Proclamation may indeed be against certain strains of feminist thought--such as gender being merely a social construct. But it is not inherently against notions of moral equality of the genders. It does not say that females are fundamentally incapable of performing any task they wish. All the Proclamation intends to state is that there are psychobehavioral and physical differences between men and women that are both biologically and spiritually-determined and that these differences are optimized for producing, nurturing, and protecting children. It encourages us to fill the roles that we were most naturally ordered to so as to glorify men as men and women as women--not holding one to the other's standard of excellence.


It’s unfortunate that this has become such a common misunderstanding about the Proclamation; but hopefully this article will allow both “progressive” members and “conservative” members to find some common ground as we both seek to understand how both men and women can reach their fullest potential as children of God.


  1. Bruce Goldman, "Two minds: the cognitive differences between men and women," Stanford Medicine, Stanford University, May 22, 2017,; "'Two Minds' two years later: Still curious about sex differences in cognition? Here are some resources," Stanford Scope Blog, October 24, 2019,; John Stossel, "The Science: Male Brain vs Female Brain," YouTube, October 15, 2019, video,; David C. Geary, "The Real Causes of Human Sex Differences," Quilette, October 20, 2020,; "The Ideological Refusal to Acknowledge Evolved Sex Differences," Quillette, September 1, 2022,; Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences, 3rd ed. (Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2020). Indeed, every single cell of our body is influenced by our sex. See Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Understanding the Biology of Sex and Gender Differences; Theresa M. Wizemann, Mary-Lou Pardue, eds., Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter? (Washington D.C.: National Academies Press (US), 2001), Executive Summary, 2,!po=1.11111. For further info on male-female neuroanatomy and psychobehavior, see Amber N. V. Ruigrock et. al, “A meta-analysis of sex differences in human brain structure,” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 39 (2014): 34–50; Larry Cahill, “A Half-Truth is a Whole Lie: On the Necessity of Investigating Sex Influences on the Brain,” Endocrinology 153 (2012): 2542; “His Brain, Her Brain,” Scientific American, October 1, 2012. For a paradigm of gender compatible with the Gospel, see Ryan T. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (New York: Encounter, 2017), chap. 7. For the most thorough coverage of the literature exploring sex differences in neuroanatomy and psychobehavior in one book, see Charles Murray, Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class (New York: Twelve, 2020), 11–127.