Since a lot of my readers are women, I decided I would dedicate this weeks post to them. During last General Conference several talks were on the subject of women and the great contribution to society and the Church. The one I chose is by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "The moral force of women". It won't hurt us men to remember the great role our mothers, grandmothers and female teachers have played in our life!
It's true, sometimes the power women have goes unnoticed and this causes some unhappiness among our sisters. Elder Christofferson suggests that: "Perhaps, because it is pervasive, this contribution of women is often underappreciated". Pioneers stories are full of examples of faithful women who kept their faith and managed to go through unthinkable ordeals. Elder Christofferson relates the story of Anna Daines:
"Anna and her husband, Henry, and their four children were among the pioneers of the Church in New Jersey, in the United States. Beginning in the 1930s, when Henry was a doctoral student at Rutgers University, he and Anna worked tirelessly with school and civic organizations in Metuchen, where they lived, to overcome deeply rooted prejudice against Mormons and to make the community a better place for all parents to raise their children. Anna, for example, volunteered at the Metuchen YMCA and made herself indispensable. Within a year she was appointed president of the Mothers’ Auxiliary and then “was asked to run for one of the three women’s positions on the YMCA board of directors. She won without opposition, and so joined the very council that only a few years before had refused to let the Saints meet in their building."
Anna's faith overcame the thick barrier of prejudice against the Mormon community in this small village in New Jersey.
But the real moral stronghold of society is the home, where future leaders and future parents are raised and taught. And who's the moral head of the family?
"A woman’s moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach, and nurture their children."
To avoid misinterpretations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is aware that an increasing number of families is drifting away from the model of the "traditional family". Many members -- for many reasons -- are single parents. Church leaders have repeatedly saluted these single mothers and fathers for their efforts. Still, in Elder Christofferson's words, "where this ideal [ie. mother, father, and children] does not exist, people strive to duplicate its benefits as best they can in their particular circumstances". There is unparalleled power in the family; simply because that's God's way. I have a strong testimony of that. I was born and raised in a "traditional" family and I have seen the benefits of it. My father has always been my role model, my best example of a righteous man. When I look for a wife, I won't settle for anything below the high standards of morality and ethics lived by my mother. It's not even a matter of religion. My parents are not LDS. But, again, family is the Lord's way of organizing society and there is power in it.
My "traditional" family
Elder Christofferson recognized the moral power of any women, regarding her circumstances:
"Whether you are single or married, whether you have borne children or not, whether you are old, young, or in between, your moral authority is vital, and perhaps we have begun to take it and you for granted. Certainly there are trends and forces at work that would weaken and even eliminate your influence, to the great detriment of individuals, families, and society at large."
Three major trends against the moral authority of women are listed by the apostle:
1) "the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career";
2) "attitudes toward human sexuality";
3) "those who, in the name of equality, want to erase all differences between the masculine and the feminine".
I realize Elder Christofferson (probably because of his wonderful career in the law profession) likes to use some fancy words, which I would like to break down into everyday language for the sake of our understanding -- mainly mine!
Point 1) is very well explained by Elder Christofferson in this brief video clip.
Point 2) warns against abortion for personal or social conviction, which "strikes at the heart of a woman’s most sacred powers and destroys her moral authority", and "sexual immorality and [...] revealing dress that not only debases women but reinforces the lie that a woman’s sexuality is what defines her worth." This is not bigotry. Asking for morality is not bigotry and should not sound like asking for a past that could never possibly come back. Women were once expected to live by high standards of morality and men were allowed pretty much anything ("the unfairness of such a double standard is obvious, and it has been justifiably criticized and rejected" noted Elder Christofferson). That double-standard has now turned upside down, and women are encouraged to be as immoral, uncommitted, and incautious as possible in their relations. The results? "Fatherless families and growing poverty." And men are "liberated" from all responsibilities. In a nutshell, allowing our daughter to go around with the latest low-cut tank top only contributes to the reinforcing of this wrong mindset by which women are just another nice toy.
Point 3) refers to those persistent voices that entice women to be "more aggressive, tough, and confrontational". This is simply wrong. Just because men have spent the past centuries warring with one another, it doesn't mean that's right or praiseworthy in any way! Elder Christofferson adds: "In blurring feminine and masculine differences, we lose the distinct, complementary gifts of women and men that together produce a greater whole."
In concluding his talk, Elder Christofferson invites all women to cultivate the most meaningful relationship that could ever exist: that with God, our Heavenly Father. And to exercise that influence for good "without fear or apology".
There's also something for all men:
"Let no one willfully misunderstand. By praising and encouraging the moral force in women, I am not saying that men and boys are somehow excused from their own duty to stand for truth and righteousness, that their responsibility to serve, sacrifice, and minister is somehow less than that of women or can be left to women. Brethren, let us stand with women, share their burdens, and cultivate our own companion moral authority."I realize this is kind of a hot topic and I was a bit hesitant as to whether I should make a post about it or not, but I figured that this is what the Lord has spoken through one of His duly ordained apostles and, as Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans of his days: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth".
Missionary hugs to all of you!
Bye for now.