Many within the Church, including myself, have wondered how father and mother are equal before God when the father presides. I admit, that although I have known that men and women are equal, and husband and wife are equal before God, I didn’t actually understood how that worked. I’ve given it much thought and prayer, and though I believe that my feelings are accurate, the conclusions that I have come to are my own and don’t reflect the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Everyone has seen a diagram similar to this one in a Sunday school:
This diagram illustrates the bond and covenant of marriage. Obviously, it is not only between man and wife, but also God. Most any LDS couple will say that God is at the head of their marriage, as He is. Another diagram that many have seen is this one:
It was the comparison of these two triangles that helped me understand how father and mother were equal, even with the father “presiding.”
Perhaps an explanation would be helpful here. In meetings in the church, if the President is absent, the 1st counselor assumes responsibility, or for our purposes, Presidency of the meeting. His (or her) job is to make the meetings run smoothly. In the case of a decision to be made, the 1st counselor really has no more actual decision making power than the second counselor. They will attempt to contact the president, and in the case where he cannot be reached, or decides to leave it up to them, they talk it over and come to a consensus. That is how the church is organized.
In a similar way, a sealing covenant puts God as the actual presiding authority in the family, with the parents as counselors. He is not physically here, and has called the husband to be the first counselor. This means that the husband is to make sure that the family has all that it needs, physically, and makes sure that they do what God, or the President of the family, would have them do. In the case of a decision needing to be made, the husband and wife, or the counselors, importune God, and seek his guidance. They both are entitled to direction and revelation from God, and should be unified in every decision. Neither has the authority to make decisions without the consent of the other. The husband presides only in that he sees that the decision made is carried out. The mother also is responsible for putting the decision into effect. They each have different responsibilities in carrying out the decision, and both are accountable to the other to follow through. This is how the family is organized. The father presides, but he is NOT the president.