In the Image of God
March 1978

“In the Image of God,” Ensign, Mar. 1978, 2

First Presidency Message

In the Image of God

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. …

“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:1, 25–28; italics added.)

Such is the manner in which the Lord established the first husband and wife relationship. As such, the parties were in His image, male and female. They were united as one—each a part of the other. He instructed them together. The language He used applied to both equally. With the Lord, the man is not without the woman, nor is the woman without the man.

Husbands and wives should never forget these basic truths. They should remember their relationship and the purpose of it.

They should be one in harmony, respect, and mutual consideration. Neither should plan or follow an independent course of action. They should consult, pray, and decide together.

In the management of their homes and families, husbands and wives should counsel with each other in kindness, love, patience, and understanding.

The ongoing deterioration of moral standards and the perverted practices common in our society must not be permitted to invade our homes or change our standards or relationship. We must not let selfish, personal ambitions for self-aggrandizement weaken our unity.

Remember that neither the wife nor the husband is the slave of the other. Husbands and wives are equal partners, particularly Latter-day Saint husbands and wives. They should so consider themselves and so treat each other in this life, and then they will do so throughout eternity.

As has already been said, “The man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; … no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach the perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God alone. … [God] made man in his own image and likeness male and female, and in their creation it was designed that they should be united together in sacred bonds of marriage, and one is not perfect without the other.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 1939, p. 272.)

The woman is not inferior to the man. It is true, of course, that the man holds the priesthood and in the righteous exercise thereof presides in the home. This he is to do, however, in the spirit with which Christ presides over His church. On this matter the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Saints, in words taken from the New Testament, as follows:

“‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish, so ought men to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church, for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh’ (Eph. 5:22–31).

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 88–89.)

The husband is not to use his priesthood authority arbitrarily nor is he to use it as a threat to his wife.

President Joseph F. Smith said:

“If there is any man who ought to merit the curse of Almighty God it is the man who neglects the mother of his child, the wife of his bosom, the one who has made sacrifice of her very life, over and over again for him and his children. That is, of course, assuming that the wife is a pure and faithful mother and wife.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 313.)

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.” (D&C 121:41.)

It appears from the full text that this scripture applies when a priesthood holder deals with men. It applies with increased emphasis when a priesthood bearer is dealing with his wife.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is the law of love, and love of God with the whole heart and mind is the greatest commandment, and the next is like unto it: love thy neighbor as thyself. This … should be remembered in the marriage relation, for, while it is said that the desires of the woman shall be to her husband, and he shall rule over her, it is intended that that rule shall be in love and not in tyranny. God never rules tyrannically, except when men so corrupt themselves that they are unfit to live.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 274.)

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Gen. 1:27.)

Let us, husbands and wives, strive to persist in His image by living the law of love. For God is love.

Photography by Jed Clark