Quick, who can spot the pattern in these two verses?
“Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begat Enos, and prophesied in all his days, and taught his son Enos in the ways of God, wherefore Enos prophesied also.” Moses 6:13
“And Jared lived one hundred and sixty two years , and begat Enoch; and Jared lived, after he begat Enoch, eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Jared taught Enoch in all the ways of God.” Moses 6:21
This formula is certainly used or suggested elsewhere in scripture: in the Book of Mormon, for example, Nephi starts off by telling us that he had been “taught somewhat in all the learning of my father,” (1 Nephi 1:1), just as Enos begins his story by declaring that he, “knowing my father was a just man–for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…” (Enos 1:1), and King Benjamin had three sons whom he also “caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers…” (Mosiah 1:2).
(Maybe this post should have been called, “Fathers must teach their sons the gospel…and, apparently, literacy skills.”)
The relative silence in the scriptures about the training that comes from mothers, or towards daughters, shouldn’t be construed to mean that no such teaching takes place, nor should this emphasis on father-to-son teaching be taken to mean that no other teaching is important in the family. After all, the Book of Moses reminds us that as Adam and Eve started having children, “Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” (Moses 5:12) Adam may have had some personal priesthood interviews with Cain, Abel, Seth, and his other sons, but certainly the first family also had plenty of family home evenings where the teaching was more generally dispersed.
(This is probably also a good time to bring up the unofficial Mother’s Day scripture, Alma 56:47-48: “…they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”)
However, the emphasis placed in the scriptures on father-to-son teaching highlights an important truth: boys need men, particularly their fathers, to teach and train them in order for them to grow up as best as they can. This might be difficult or sound unfair to the many good single mothers who raise boys in the absence of a decent, supportive father, but the really unfortunate person in that situation is the boy. Common sense, experience, and the scriptures all testify that boys need men to guide them. And when men abdicate that sacred responsibility, boys, even an entire generation of them, suffer.
Earlier this summer, this point was politely made by an anecdote over at the splendid Jr. Ganymede blog. This religious tenet is perhaps nowhere expressed better, though, than in the infamous quote from chapter six of the decidedly secular novel Fight Club, to explain their random, angry violence: “What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women.”
Indeed, it is profoundly incumbent on we men of the world to “teach our sons in all the ways of God.”