MORMON WOMEN AND THEIR DUTY TO THE MORMON GOD
REASON FOR LARGE MORMON FAMILIES
Note: Women participate in the work of God by giving birth to many children.
Joseph Smith also wrote, "Every man who reigns in celestial glory is a God to his dominions" (TPJS, p. 374). This does not mean that any person ever would or could supplant God as the Supreme Being in the universe; but it does mean that through God's plan and with his help, all men and women have the capacity to participate in God's eternal work. People participate in this work by righteous living, by giving birth to children in mortality and helping them live righteous lives, and by bringing others to Christ. Moreover, Latter-day Saints believe that those who become gods will have the opportunity to participate even more fully in God's work of bringing eternal life to other beings. God is referred to as "Father in Heaven" because he is the father of all human spirits (Heb. 12:9; cf. Acts 17:29), imbuing them with divine potentials. Those who become like him will likewise contribute to this eternal process by adding further spirit offspring to the eternal family. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 554.)
Note: It is the duty of Mormons to give millions of spirits a body through birth.
In this Revelation important instructions are given to parents concerning their children. Children are a precious gift of God, and should be taken care of as such. And yet, in the world there are those who advocate—perhaps for so-called eugenic reasons—the limitation of child-birth, while others are guilty of practices that should be classed as infanticide. The Latter-day Saints have been taught that "some of the most noble spirits are waiting with the Father to this day, to come forth through the right channel and the right kind of men and women," and that "there are thousands, and millions, of spirits waiting to obtain bodies upon this Earth" (Heber C. Kimball, Jour. of Dis., Vol. V., p. 92). The Latter-day Saints know, therefore, that it depends largely upon parents whether the spirits to whom they give bodies of their own flesh and blood will be able to profit to the fullest extent by their experience on Earth. To the immortal spirits waiting for an opportunity to pass through mortality, a body bred on the principles that obtain in the production of race horses, or meat for the table, is of infinitely less importance than a tabernacle morally pure, in which the Spirit of God can dwell. (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 415 - 416.)
Note: A woman's greatest career is childbirth per Mormon doctrine.
The waiting spirits are blessed by being born "under the covenant." Likewise, every child adds joy to the normal family. The argument that a young couple cannot afford to have children is usually founded in error. It is the common experience that except in cases of deep poverty, a little going without here and there will provide for the little newcomers; and in a well-regulated household, children as they grow older may contribute something to the upkeep of the family. Besides, provisions are now being made by which the medical and hospital costs of maternity may be greatly reduced. It may be added also that the struggle made by the young married couple for the maintenance of themselves and their brood is really necessary for keen joy. It is a mistake to try to escape it. Despite all said to the contrary, there is danger to the woman in the use of mechanical or chemical contraceptives. The subject is fairly recent, but already there are evidences that birth control tends to endanger human health and the spontaneous joy of united companionship. Meanwhile, it must be said that in the majority of cases women who have lived natural lives and have had large families are the healthiest and happiest. (Woman's Greatest Career, Improvement Era, 1940, Vol. Xliii. October, 1940. No. 10.)
New billboards target 'unworthy' Mormons
By Michael Calcagno
December 1, 2009
NAMPA - Becki Detro said she was married to the church for 28 years of her life. Constant feelings of unworthiness caused her to leave her faith.
"It was very hard," she said. "It's a hard thing when your whole family..." she couldn't continue and was visibly emotional.
She's now joining an effort to help other followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who want to leave the church, but still have a place to worship.
"I see a concern that LDS people are leaving because they are not receiving the healing balm of His forgiveness," she said.
She connected with Pastor Mark Cares. He founded the Truth in Love Ministry in 2005 with a mission to bring people from the Mormon faith to his church.
"Over the years we have ministered to people who have felt stressed over Mormanism," he said. "We are just trying to reach out to those people."
And his ministry is reaching out with five new billboard advertisements. Ads that read: "feeling Worthy?" and display a support website, http://www.hishealingnow.com/
The website features stories from Detro and others who've made the switch. It's tone is blunt with links reading, "healed from shame," and "I was washing clean."
"it's not to bash Mormons but to point out those differences and then to talk about the ramifications of those differences," he said. "We have a sense of urgency that the people in Mormonism will be lost and that's a hard message to send."
The tone and tactic of the awareness campaign disturb some.
"I think he's really reaching trying to figure something out and trying to take advantage of a couple situations," said Wayne Petersen, a bishop in the Mormon faith for six years.
He says the standards are high for a reason and that there is support within the church.
"We don't apologize for the standards we set because they are true principals that stand for a good quality of life," he said.
But that quality of life wasn't very high for Detro who says those standards ostracize many and make some feel bad about themselves.
"I went to church and heard the message of free and full forgiveness," she said.
Regardless how people feel about various religions, Petersen says this method is unbecoming.
"I feel sorry he has to take this approach," he said. "I guess he's just trying to build his own flock and I wish him good luck."
2News did try to seek comment from Craig Rasmussen, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Idaho, who declined to make a comment on this story.
Writer blasts beloved LDS film 'Lingo'
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
If the Mormon cult classic film "Johnny Lingo" is about fostering a woman's self-esteem, why is it named after the male character? How would our sense of "Cinderella" be different if the tale were called "Prince Charming?"
Feminist writer Holly Welker posed these and other questions about the film and its hidden messages Thursday at the annual Sunstone Symposium, a three-day conference discussing issues and aspects of Mormonism.
"Johnny Lingo" tells the story of a charismatic young trader on an idyllic Pacific island whose wealth and good looks make him a real catch. Known for his ability to get a bargain, he shocks the villagers by offering a father the unheard-of sum of eight cows as the price for Mahana, a homely, shy woman no one else wants. But Johnny's shrewdness becomes clear when the couple returns to the island later to reveal Mahana has been transformed into a poised beauty by the knowledge that she commanded the highest price of any bride on the island.
Welker said the film often is cited "as a wise, compassionate story of male sensitivity to female identity, a positive demonstration of how to foster female self-worth."
But Welker argues it instead is about male identity and power, "the power to assess and determine female worth, the power to claim or create a desirable mate, the power to see what others do not, the power to manipulate less insightful people around you, and the power to acquire what one truly desires."
Mahana has no say in the marriage. She cannot refuse the husband who has bought her, even if she doesn't like him or believes that his price is too low. The bridal bargain is a contest of wills between two men: Mahana's father and her future husband. "Johnny Lingo" is about its active and powerful hero, not the passive heroine.
Indeed, Mahana's transformation is "not because someone loves her, or because she loves someone, or because she is treated with respect and kindness, but because she knows she is the most expensive commodity on the island," said Welker, who earned a doctorate in English at the University of Iowa. "The fact that women are bought and sold in this culture, their thorough objectification, is not open to scrutiny, only the damaging effects of being sold cheaply."
The 24-minute film never mentions Mormonism, but Brigham Young University produced it in 1969 and it since has been used repeatedly in Mormon seminaries, Institutes of Religion and Sunday school classes. LDS Church-owned Deseret Book distributes it on a DVD featuring four short LDS films.
Welker said Mormon society advocates active, self-possessed, worldly men and passive, dependent, domestic women. "It does not view the buying and selling of women as property as essentially or inherently wrong. Instead, it's cute -- as long as women are not direct beneficiaries of any transaction, and the price is appropriate."
Many contemporary women see their value in terms of how expensive their engagement ring is or how much the wedding reception cost, said Ellen DeCoo, a junior at Brigham Young University, who first saw "Johnny Lingo" in her seminary class at Provo High School. "It is an archetypal narrative... and commonplace in Mormonism."
This year, LDS women's leader steers clear of storm
By Jessica Ravitz
The Salt Lake Tribune
When Julie B. Beck spoke at
last October's LDS General Conference, she was only six months into her service
as general president of the church's all-women Relief Society. Her talk, then,
sparked heated debate, as she urged women to hasten and not limit their child
bearing, spoke of the virtues of good housekeeping and - in doing so - set
Mormon blogs ablaze and managed to alienate, hurt and anger many single women
But Saturday night, as Beck stood behind the
podium addressing the approximate 20,000 women in The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints who had assembled at the downtown Salt Lake City LDS
Conference Center, and the countless others worldwide who were tuning in via
television, radio and satellite-feed, the evening's message was one of
inclusiveness and a Mormon brand of female empowerment.
She spoke of the Relief Society's founding
in 1842 as a mobilization of "the collective power of the women and their
specific assignments to build the Lord's kingdom."
Beck called up memories of pioneer women who
faced persecution, traveled across oceans and unforgiving ground, buried
husbands and children, "because the fire of their faith burned in their souls."
She gave credit to Relief Society women who bolstered and inspired her, when
Beck's own mother was living outside the country. And she encouraged women, all
women, to seize opportunities for service.
"Thousands upon thousands of you who do not
currently have a husband or children are an incredible reservoir of faith,
talent, and dedication. . . Relief Society needs you." And, to the new arrivals
coming out of the Young Women Program, she added, "I have seen how your hearts
yearn to make a difference for good in the world. . . We simply cannot afford to
squander your youthful and energetic power."
First Counselor Silvia H. Allred, in her
address, homed in on the significance of the LDS Church's 128-and-counting
temples, while asking women to be worthy of temple recommends - approval cards
to attend and perform ordinances in these holy buildings - and go often. Second
Counselor Barbara Thompson said "more than ever we need women to step up and be
strong," after offering a brief history of the Relief Society in which she
quoted Joseph Smith, the LDS Church founder and first prophet, who said at the
inaugural society meeting that the " 'organization of the Church of Christ was
never perfect until the women were organized.' "
President Thomas S. Monson sat next to First
Counselor Henry B. Eyring, as Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the
church's first presidency, stepped to the podium. The one man to speak, Uchtdorf
thanked a list of women who had shaped his life and drew laughter as he compared
his cooking skills to his wife Harriet's. Her meals he called "masterpieces,"
before sharing his recipe for Knusperchen - "You cut French bread into small
slices and toast them twice," he said. And though he feels "pretty heroic" after
making fried eggs or fancy-named toast, he said his wife, like so many other
women, is quick to undermine her accomplishments.
"What you create doesn't have to be
perfect," he said. "Don't let the voice of critics paralyze you, whether that
voice comes from the outside or the inside."
By being creative and compassionate, by
serving others, women - and men - can "discover our own lives and our own
happiness," Uchtdorf said.
"Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them," he continued. "Every sister in the church is of critical importance, not only to our Heavenly Father but to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is great and plenty of work to do."
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Last fall, the head of the Mormon church's Relief Society delivered a treatise on motherhood that equated nurturing with keeping a tidy house. Women in poor countries who dress their daughters in clean, ironed dresses, the speaker said, honor a sacred covenant.
Julie B. Beck's exhortation at the church's General Conference that Mormon women strive to be "the best homemakers in the world" did not go unanswered. More than 250 women signed an online rebuttal.
The exchange illustrates that while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is years removed from open hostilities over feminism, passions still run high over the role of women in a patriarchal church.
No one can profess to know how women's issues will be handled by the successor to church president Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Sunday at 97.
But few expect major changes along the lines of opening the Mormon priesthood — an office granted only to Mormon men — to women.
But women could still emerge as stronger voices of the church.
"My feeling is that things are not going to change much, that the church is going to keep its very conservative positions on women's roles," said Margaret Toscano, a self-described feminist activist who was excommunicated in 2000 and teaches language and literature at the University of Utah.
Although the church did not reveal why Toscano was excommunicated, she argued a historical precedence for women in the priesthood. She also promoted the concept of a "Mother God," a deity who was described in an early Mormon poem as a consort to God in heaven.
Today, Mormon feminism thrives in a different form. A blog called Feminist Mormon Housewives, for instance, calls itself as "a safe place to be feminist and faithful" and offers the protection of anonymity.
Toscano said Beck's 1950s vision of motherhood astonished many Mormon women who believed the church, while not encouraging career women, had at least acknowledged women could work and still be good mothers.
Beck was not available for interviews, church officials said. Other LDS women came to Beck's defense, and pointed out that her talk also made clear that wives are "in equal partnership" with their husbands.
The agency which Beck heads, the Relief Society, is one of three Mormon offices open to women. Billed as one of the world's largest women's groups, with 5.5 million members, it provides spiritual instruction to women and aids needy families, among other things.
Mormon women are increasingly visible in worship, often called upon to give the major talk during sacramental meetings, said Jan Shipps, an emeritus professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
"Women can't be bishops, they can't be pastors, but they're much more visible and much more a part of leadership of local congregations than they were 30 years ago," said Shipps, a non-Mormon scholar of the faith.
Kim Farah, an LDS spokeswoman, said in a statement that women play an integral role in the church, from preaching to teaching to "sitting in council" with male priesthood leaders about running congregations.
"However, we believe that great happiness comes from our work in the home and that, regardless of individual circumstances, women have perhaps the greatest influence for good when it comes to the family," Farah said. "Personally, this gives me great peace, joy and self-esteem."
In a 1996 interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Hinckley said, "In this church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are coequals in this life in a great enterprise."
Hinckley's likely successor, Thomas S. Monson, said in a speech last year that women should seek secular education — not to pursue careers, but because their husbands might fall ill or die.
"You may find yourself in the role of financial provider," Monson said. "Some of you already occupy that role. I urge you to pursue your education — if you are not already doing so or have not done so — that you might be prepared to provide if circumstances necessitate such."
Claudia Bushman, a Mormon author who has studied women's issues, said there has been little progress giving Mormon women new opportunities in the church, although she envisions greater roles in representing the church in civic settings and working with other faith traditions.
"The church does repress women, but it really doesn't repress women as much as bring men forward," Bushman said. "From the time Mormons are children, boys get a lot more encouragement than girls because they are needed for leadership roles. Men need more encouragement, I think."
LDS prophet urges "the less active, the offended" to return
Monson extends welcome, pledges his life to church
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson invited "the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor" Sunday to come back and "feast at the table of the Lord and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints."
In his first address to the entire 13-million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the newly sustained 16th "prophet, seer and revelator," Monson echoed sentiments of welcome and inclusion that were hallmarks of his recent predecessors.
He spoke during the Sunday morning session of the church's 178th Annual General Conference, held in the giant Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and beamed via satellite to Mormon chapels across the globe.
Monson encouraged Mormons to show kindness and respect "for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward those whose beliefs differ from ours." (Webmaster Note: Mormons will resort to personal slander when confronted with the truth.)
The new president said he was overwhelmed by church members' symbolic gestures of support offered Saturday. "As your hands were raised toward heaven, my heart was touched. I felt your love and support, as well as your commitment to the Lord," he said.
Monson has enjoyed meeting with Mormons in many nations, he said, and he plans to continue traveling, as the late President Gordon B. Hinckley did.
"I pledge my life, my strength - all that I have to offer - in serving the Lord and in directing the affairs of his church in accordance with his will and by his inspiration," Monson said.
Other speakers on Sunday discussed prayer, finding spiritual light, forgiveness and resurrection, the courage to uphold LDS standards and the role of the apostles. Many reiterated their support for and allegiance to Monson.
"I cannot help but feel that the most important privilege [of this historic conference] has been to witness the settling of the sacred prophetic mantle upon [Monson's] shoulders, almost by the very hands of angels," said Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, in an emotional and unscripted comment. (Webmaster Note: Long-term Mormons lack rational thought.)
In his speech, Holland took on the church's Christian critics who condemn Mormonism for using extra scriptures beyond the Bible, including the Book of Mormon.
"The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors," Holland said. "Continuing revelation does not demean nor discredit existing revelation." (Webmaster Note: Mormon prophets have only two major "prophecies" since 1844. Both helped the church to conform to the morals of the United States and helped to eliminate polygamy in 1890 and racism in 1978 from church practices.)
Apostle M. Russell Ballard focused on the "essential" and "eternal" role of mothers. (Webmaster Note: Mormon women are to mothers and raise children.)
"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother," Ballard said, acknowledging that every situation is different. Some are full-time homemakers, and many others would like to be. Some women work full or part-time. Some work at home; some divide their lives into periods of home and family and work.
What matters, Ballard said, is that "a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."
Quoting New York Times writer Anna Quindlen, Ballard urged young mothers to live in the moment more, enjoying each stage of their children's development. He discouraged over-scheduling children's activities, while encouraging mothers to take time for themselves. He urged husbands to offer to help their wives with the children, even providing a "day away" for her from time to time.
Between the Sunday sessions, the three women named Saturday as new leaders in the church's Young Women's Organization described their approach and priorities regarding the 554,600 Mormon girls between 12 and 18 years old in 170 countries.
When asked how they planned to cope with the fact that as many as 80 percent of the single Mormon women between 18 and 30 are no longer active in the LDS Church, Elaine Dalton, Young Women president, said, "That is the question of the day. . .I don't know that we have all the answers right now." (Webmaster Note: Many women are escaping Mormonism to escape depression.)
Dalton said she and her two counselors plan to "reach out and strengthen those young women. . .to help them understand who they are and the divine mission they have on earth."
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Monson's German-born second counselor in the governing First Presidency, represented the international members, many of whom are the only Mormons in their families.
"I claim the legacies of modern-day church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God," said Uchtdorf. "We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who loved God, even without having the fullness of the gospel." (Webmaster Note: The Mormon Gospel is not the Christian Gospel.)
- Tribune staffer Jessica Ravitz contributed to this report.
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