Brotherhood

by Timothy W. Slover

While members of other Christian denominations may speak metaphorically of all humankind being brothers and sisters and children of God, Latter-day Saints believe it literally in the sense that a Father in Heaven and a Mother in Heaven created spirit children in a premortal existence. Those spirit children, born into this or other worlds as mortal men and women, are therefore all of the same "generation" and are literally brothers and sisters, children of deity. Among them is Jesus Christ, who is distinct from other men and women in that he is the Firstborn Son of God in the spirit and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh.

An important LDS doctrine based on this belief is the concept of equal opportunity for salvation. Since all mortals are offspring of deity, all have equal access to saving grace and may, through good works and moral progression while living as mortals, become saved by that grace. This doctrine of literal kinship is a major driving force behind the Church's proselytizing activities: Latter-day Saints believe that they have an obligation to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world because all its inhabitants are their brothers and sisters.

Latter-day Saints also believe in the brotherhood of the priesthood, similar to the sisterhood of the Relief Society; a special bond exists among the members of both an individual priesthood quorum and the entire body of the priesthood. As explained in scripture and instructions from Church leaders, this bond obligates priesthood holders to act as shepherds for one another and to be actively concerned for the welfare of other members and their families. In practice, this obligation is largely discharged through monthly home teaching, a system whereby quorum members visit one another, assessing needs and delivering a spiritual message.

Because stakes and wards of the LDS Church are operated by a lay clergy, most active members, both men and women, serve in some unpaid Church calling (see Lay Participation and Leadership). The service rendered by priesthood holders in their ecclesiastical positions is often labor-intensive and provides an opportunity for close interaction. This system fosters a feeling of brotherhood of service among priesthood holders.

The most common title used by Latter-day Saints in referring to themselves and to each other is "Brother" or "Sister," though General Authorities of the Church are most often referred to by their more formal titles of "Elder" or "President."

Bibliography

Brown, Hugh B. "The Gospel Is for All Men." IE 72 (June 1969):31-34.

Johnson, P. Wendel. "The How of Brotherhood." IE 72 (Sept. 1969):70-75.

Oaks, Dallin H. "Brother's Keeper." Ensign 16 (May 1986):20.

Taylor, Henry D. "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" Ensign 2 (July 1972):74-75.