Last weekend, Rock Center with Brian Williams did a special on Mormon’s In America. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), I was intrigued and stayed up past my mommy bedtime to watch it. While I found parts of it to be true to the facts and good journalism, there were other parts that I found to be quite the opposite. While I won’t be addressing all of those issues (sacred vs. secret) on this blog today, there was one that I thought would be appropriate. The importance of women in the church.
(Before I do address that, I would like to preface my opinion with these links: LDS. org and Mormon.org are wonderful websites where you can go to get answers to your questions. All of my quotes can be found on those websites.)
I know it is an issue for some people not of our faith that the women don’t hold the priesthood or some of the same responsibilities as the men. The news special interviewed a woman who said she was a feminist in the church and that she does hope that someday women will be equal to men.
I have been a member of this church all of my life and I have never once felt unequal or unimportant. On the contrary, I have only been lifted up and praised by the leaders of the church. My father has always treated my mother and his daughters as special daughters of God, and now my husband treats me like a Queen. I have never felt looked down upon. I have never had a problem with the fact that I don’t hold the priesthood.
On Mormon.org they have a commonly asked questions page. Someone asked why women don’t hold the priesthood:
“Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world… They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world…
“The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”
On the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints official website, this is what they say about the women of the church:
Women are a necessary part of the plan of happiness, and that plan cannot operate without them. Women participate in the work of salvation, which includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, teaching the gospel, and caring for the poor and needy. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. They stand strong and immovable in faith, in family, and in relief. Women participate in councils that oversee congregational activities throughout the world. They also have, by divine nature, the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings.
Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belong to and serve as leaders in the Relief Society. Women also serve and lead the Young Women organization for girls ages 12 to 18 years old and the Primary organization for all children ages 18 months to 11 years. Women also teach in the Sunday School. Women are given the opportunity to pray in the meetings of the Church and also speak in meetings on the local and general level of the Church.
When women serve as the president of the Relief Society, Young Women, or Primary, they participate in council meetings and decisions that are made concerning the members of the Church in their unit.
There are even many times that women are referred to as greater to men in the things we can accomplish and the tasks that are set before us:
“You are the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is no other organization to equal it. Walk with pride. Hold your heads up. Work with diligence. Do whatever the Church asks you to do. Pray with faith. You may never know how much good you accomplish.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)
In many talks given to the general congregation of the church, women are praised and thanked for their role in the church:
“Someone has said: ‘Be kind to the women. They constitute half the population and are mothers to the other half.’
“My dear sisters, you marvelous women who have chosen the better part, I stand in great admiration for all that you do. I see your hands in everything.
Well, you dear women, I say thanks to you. Thank you for being the kind of people you are and doing the things you do. May the blessings of heaven rest upon you. May your prayers be answered and your hopes and dreams become realities.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)
Before women were fighting for their right to vote and work like men, women were important in the eyes of Jesus Christ and in the eyes of the members of His church:
“As we look at the history of this earth and at the history of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, it becomes obvious that women hold a special place in our Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
“Through serving in the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations—not to mention their private acts of love and service—women have always played and will always play an important part in helping “bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:6).
The leaders of our church don’t tell the men to exercise dominion over us and treat us as if we are nothing. They do the opposite:
“Brethren, I pray that we as priesthood holders—as husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends of these choice women—may see them as the Lord sees them, as daughters of God with limitless potential to influence the world for good.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
I know that my role in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is just as important as any male member I know:
“I believe the women of the Church today meet that challenge and are every bit as strong and faithful. The priesthood leadership of this Church at all levels gratefully acknowledges the service, sacrifice, commitment, and contribution of the sisters.
Much of what we accomplish in the Church is due to the selfless service of women. Whether in the Church or in the home, it is a beautiful thing to see the priesthood and the Relief Society work in perfect harmony. Such a relationship is like a well-tuned orchestra, and the resulting symphony inspires all of us.” (Quentin L. Cook)
Like I said, if you have more questions, please visit the official websites. This was a quote overload, and completely and 100% my opinion. I just couldn’t sit quietly and let even one person who may read this blog think that I, as a member of the LDS church, feel repressed in any way. Brian Williams should have looked a little harder for a woman of the church to interview.