28 February 2009

The Armor of God and Spiritual Clothing, Part 1

Clothing is used symbolically numerous times throughout the scriptures. The most well-known example is found in Ephesians 6. "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be ale to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). Elsewhere Paul referred to this armor as the "armour of light" (Rom. 13:12). The Roman Empire was in control of Israel at the time. The armor Paul was referring to was likely that of the Romans, with which all Israelites were quite familiar. Paul states: "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth" (Eph. 6:14).

This piece of armor that helped protect the loins (which is the area from the lower abdomen - including the intestines - down to upper thighs) was likely what is called an apron; for a Roman soldier, an apron was a piece of armor that hung down below the breastplate, protecting the loins. It was part of (or at least held in place by) their balteus (sword belt). In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve made themselves aprons because they were ashamed of their nakedness after they ate some of the fruit of the tree of knowledge (see Genesis 3:7). The apron was the first article of clothing made on this earth; it covered the loins of Adam and Eve. Just as they wore aprons once their eyes were opened to the truth, so should we gird our loins with truth. When we know the truth, we put off the natural man and woman and follow the law of chastity.

There is also a "breastplate of righteousness" (Eph. 6:14). The breastplate protects the torso - which houses most of the vital organs. It is the largest and one of the most important pieces of armor. It covers the lungs, which provide the breath of life, and the heart, which provides the blood of life. We wear this armor when we let our every breath and heartbeat be filled with righteousness. We wear this breastplate when we strive to live like Him who provides us with life, physical and spiritual. We wear this breastplate when we turn our hearts to the Savior, who shed His blood for us. We wear this breastplate when we repent, washing our crimson garments in the blood of the Lamb.

25 February 2009

Who's On the Lord's Side? - Part 4

Everything comes down to a choice. We can choose to fight with the Lord or fight against Him. The Lord's victory is imminent and sure. "High on a mountain top, a banner is unfurled." (Hymns, #5). Who will carry that banner? Who will rally to the flag of Truth and the army of the Lord? "Hope of Israel, Zion's army, Children of the promised day, See, the Chieftain signals onward, And the battle's in array" (Hymns, #259). "We a war 'gainst sin are waging; We're contending for the right. Ev'ry day the battle's raging; Help us, Lord, to win the fight. Gather round the standard bearer" (Hymns, #258). "The truths and values we embrace are mocked on ev'ry hand. Yet as we listen and obey we know we can withstand" (Hymns, #256).

I think of the recent attacks the Church and members of the Church have withstood because of their support of marriage amendments, especially Prop. 8 in California. Many church members chose to stand for truth and right and have been mocked. They chose to stand on the Lord's side, even as many people ridiculed from the great and spacious building. "Don't stand idly looking on; the fight with sin is real. It will be long but must go on; put your shoulder to the wheel" (Hymns, #252). "Oh, when the war is ended, when strife and conflicts cease, when all are safely gathered within the vale of peace, before the King eternal, that vast and mighty throng shall praise his name forever, and this shall be their song: Victory, victory, thru him who redeemed us! Victory...thru Jesus Christ, our Lord!" (Hymns, #251).

"Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage...and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad...let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers! Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." (D&C 128:22-24).

So, onward, Christian soldiers! Let us choose the Lord. Let us fight His battles and strive for His reward. Let us serve our royal Father and defend truth and right. Let us march on to victory, through the thronging foes; let us sing our Savior's praises and bask in His light. We march on to glory, shielded by the strength of God; we will be victorious and dwell with God on high.

23 February 2009

Who's On the Lord's Side? - Part 3

Where will your path of life lead? What choice will you make? What is your goal? Are you willing to sacrifice the eternities for an ephemeral trinket or bauble? Always choose the Lord's way. It leads to exalted heights and rises above the thick, choking smoke of the mists of darkness. There is no time for indecisiveness; the time to choose is now. We cannot afford to remain undecided.

The great leader of the host of Israel, Joshua, told his followers that it was time to stop lusting after the gods of Egypt. It was time to follow and serve the one and true living God. "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers serve that were in the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15).

In these last days, the time for planting is past. It is the time of the harvest. "Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the [vats] overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:13-14). We are all in the valley of decision. We have two choices: we can serve the Lord or not. There is no middle ground in this valley. It's one or the other. The Lord is coming again to the earth. The wicked shall burn as stubble. Who's on the Lord's side? Who? Great upheavals of all forms abound on the earth; things will only become more tumultuous over time.

There are some frightening times ahead: "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake." But there is comfort: "But the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.... And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim" (Joel 3:16,18). If we choose the Lord, we will find hope and strength in Him. We need not fear in these troubled times.

21 February 2009


Here's an uplifting message produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about how we all can create beautiful things in life. The words come from a talk Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave.

Who's On the Lord's Side? - Part 2

Throughout history, in life, in literature, and in dreams the theme of making a binary choice is very common. The prophet Lehi saw in vision the tree of life. Leading up to this tree was a path by an iron rod. The choice had to be made to grasp the rod of iron and follow the path to the tree of life or not hold on to the iron rod and wander, lost in the midst of darkness, eventually finding the way to the great and spacious building, the river of filthiness, or the iron rod and tree of life. There are only two choices: hold on or not hold on.

Robert Frost wrote these words about choosing one's path:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

As an LDS missionary in the Southern States mission in the late 1800s, John Morgan was on his way one day to preach in a town. He had an appointment to preach there at a particular time. As he walked down the road, it split off by a large tree into two roads, one heading towards his destination and the other heading to some other place. In this moment he recalled a dream he had some years ago when he was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was staying at a boarding house in Salt Lake City.

One night he dreamed that he was walking down a forested road. He was in a hurry, on his way to something important. In his dream he came to a fork in the road. Next to a large tree, Brigham Young stood waiting for John. Seeing the prophet, John stopped. Brother Brigham said, "Don't go right; take the road to the left." John woke up and was perplexed about the meaning of his dream. He asked the woman he was staying with if she could help him interpret his dream. Like Joseph did for Pharaoh, she interpreted his dream. "One day you will be a missionary for the Church. You will walk down that road and come to that fork and that tree. Pres. Young will not be there but you make sure you take the road he indicated."

Sure enough, the time came that John was a missionary on that road, at that fork, and by that tree. Brigham Young was not there but John took the road to the left, even though his appointment was down the other road. He came upon a village. As he knocked on doors people let him in, feeding him and giving him a place to stay. Then a remarkable thing happened. John preached to the people. As he went house to house the response was the same. Almost all of the people had a stranger visit their homes a few days before. This stranger had taught them the gospel and marked various passages in their scriptures. He explained that shortly another man would be there who would explain more about the scriptures. This man then left - no one saw him again. John was able to teach and baptize nearly the whole town. They were prepared and John made the choice to follow spiritual promptings (and the wise inspiration of others); because of this, he was able to share the gospel with many people. Two roads diverged and John took the one that made all the difference.

19 February 2009

Who's On the Lord's Side? - Part 1

On occasion in sacrament meeting we sing a hymn with words by Hannah Cornaby:
"Who's on the Lord's side? Who? Now is the time to show. We ask it fearlessly: Who's on the Lord's side? Who?...We serve the living God, And want his foes to know that, if but few, we're great; Who's on the Lord's side? Who? We're going on to win; No fear must blanch the brow. The Lord of Hosts is ours; Who's on the Lord's side? Who?... The stone cut without hands to fill the earth must grow. Who'll help to roll it on? Who's on the Lord's side? Who? Our ensign to the world is floating proudly now. No coward bears our flag; Who's on the Lord's side? Who?... The powers of earth and hell in rage direct the blow that's aimed to crush the work; Who's on the Lord's side? Who? Truth, life, and liberty, Freedom from death and woe, are stakes we're fighting for; Who's on the Lord's side? Who?... We ask it fearlessly: Who's on the Lord's side? Who?" (Hymns, 1985, no. 260).

That is one of the purposes of life - to see who is willing to be on the Lord's side, even though we do not remember our life with Him before our mortal births.
"Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good.... And there stood one among them that was ilke unto God, and he said unto those who were with him...we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.... And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him." (Abraham 3:22-28).

We are part of that war that started many years ago. This war of words, ideals, and truth started in the pre-earth life. We were all there at that grand council. We had to make a choice - we always have been given the choice. We had to speak for one or the other. We were given two choices: God's plan as put forth by Jesus Christ or Lucifer's plan. We had to choose to be on either the Lord's side or on Lucifer's side, there was no middle ground. Some people probably were not engaged in their choice and support of a plan but they had to choose.

There is no middle ground in this life either. We need to stand up for the Lord's Church and unflinchingly stand against those who fight against the Lord. We don't need to go on the offensive but we need to be willing to stand strong and tall, fearless in our faith, against the onslaughts of the enemy.

18 February 2009

The Rich Young Man

One scripture character I like is the rich young man who approached the Savior to learn what he could do to gain eternal life. "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And [Jesus] said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He [the young man] saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 19:16-19). The Savior taught two important lessons. First, that He was distinct from His Father. Second, the way to eternal life is to keep the commandments (this does not minimize the atonement of the Savior).

Here's the young man's reply to the Savior: "All these thing have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" He honestly answered the Savior; he was a good person. Jesus knew the young man's heart: "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions." (Matt. 19:20-22). In Mark it reads, "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest..." (Mark 10:21). The Savior saw the young man's heart and honesty. This is someone who truly was a good person. However, he had one main problem, he loved his riches. Why is a love of riches contrary to eternal life?

Loving riches is a sign of pride. Loving riches is having a god before the One True God. It is worshiping at the haughty altars of Mammon instead of with the humble followers of Christ. If someone loves their riches, they are unable to consecrate their all to the Lord. This consecration is necessary to enter into the kingdom.

I like to believe that this young man later repented and followed the Savior. He may not have - there are many good people who are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices that are required by the Savior - but I like to be optimistic. He was a good person who let his trust in money overpower his trust in the gospel and in the Savior. I like this story because it helps me keep worldly goods in perspective. Those who love money - whether they have it or not - have a hard time fully living the gospel and making the sacrifices required of them.

15 February 2009

Lessons from David - Part 2

Solomon was a great prophet and king, one of the greatest. He was wise and just. The Lord appeared to him multiple times (e.g., 1 Kings 9:2). Solomon was wealthy and well-respected by all. However, Solomon "loved many strange [non-covenant] women" (1 Kings 11:1). He had many wives and concubines. In his old age "his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, and it became as the heart of David his father" (JST 1 Kings 11:3-4). David's heart was not perfect either but he was repentant, or at least came across as repentant in the scriptures. Solomon worshiped false gods and forsook the Lord. The Lord then took away Solomon's blessings but retained some for his children (and so on) because of "David thy father's sake" (1 Kings 11:12). That's why, even though David did evil in the sight of the Lord, I believe his heart was more repentant than Solomon's was.

David's words comprise some of the most beautiful passages in the scriptures. His psalms contain beautiful words and beautiful themes. His words also focus heavily on the role of the Lord as Redeemer, largely because David is seeking forgiveness. Here are a few of his words: "For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness." (Psalm 18:28). "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). David also wrote some prophecies that told of events and teachings from the Savior's life: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring [the Lord as Lion is not an infrequent metaphor for the Savior].... For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pieced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me [foretelling the Savior on His way to Golgotha and upon the cross]. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Psalm 22:1,16-18). David's Psalms contain many more prophecies of the Savior, referring to Judas' betrayal (Psalm 41:9), cleansing the temple (Psalm 69:9), the suffering of the Savior in Gethsemane (Psalm 69:20), and how He was offered vinegar while on the cross (Psalm 69:21).

One of my favorite scriptures is found in the 84th psalm. "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:10-11; emphasis added). David made mistakes. He made very grievous mistakes but he tried to do good. He is one character I admire and respect for many reasons, in spite of his faults.

12 February 2009

Lessons from David - Part 1

David was a young man when he stood up in defense of the armies of the Lord and faced Goliath. He was not a warrior but he was courageous and humble. David was a shepherd, a watcher and protector of sheep. He chased after a lion that had taken a sheep. He saved the sheep, grabbed the lion by its mane, and killed it. He also killed a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-36). David was courageous; he was humble. He stated that it was the Lord who delivered him from the paws of the lion and bear (1 Sam 17:37). When faced with Goliath, David did not wear Saul's heavy armor. He was adorned with the armor of God - faith and righteousness and truth. He grabbed his sling and some stones. He then ran toward Goliath as he sent his rock into the forehead of Goliath. David knew the Lord would deliver him. He made the choice to stand up and fight the man who defied the armies of the Lord and blasphemed His name. David was an impressive young man who impressed the king of Israel. He was a man after the Lord's own heart: "[The Lord] raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will" (Acts 13:22).

Later, as king, David looked upon the bathing Bathsheba and lusted after her. Here was the start of this great man's fall. He did not avert his eyes when he should have looked away. This led to an act of adultery. However, David's greater sin was placing Bathsheba's husband in harm's way so that he would die to cover up the sin of David and Bathsheba. David's fall is not the focus of this essay though. David's story is tragic but I still look up to him and respect him. David spent the rest of his life trying to repent for what he did. He spent many hours pleading in prayer and in song for forgiveness. His story is especially striking in the context of Saul's and Solomon's. Both of them faltered and never seemed to try to stand back up and dust off the dirt.

Saul was condemned for offering a burnt offering without proper authority (see 1 Sam. 13). Later, when David gained popularity, Saul become jealous to the point where he tried to kill David many times (see 1 Sam. 18-19, 22, etc). However, David was forgiving. Just like Hamlet spared his uncle when he had an opportunity to slay him, David spared the life of his father-in-law Saul on multiple occasions. Eventually, after a defeat in battle by the Philistines, Saul killed himself to prevent some unspeakable death at the hands of the Philistines (see 1 Sam. 31). Saul had been the Lord's anointed but he fell and never tried earnestly to repent.

10 February 2009

The Divine Role of Motherhood - Part 5

When the days seem tough and the nights even worse, young (and old) mothers can find solace and encouragement in the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

"In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband's breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.

"Yours is the grand tradition of Eve [and so many other wonderful mothers]…. We thank all of you…and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the mortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high" (Ensign, May 1997, p. 35).

In closing, I'd like to paraphrase the words of Elder Ballard: "We need [mothers] who can hear and will respond to the voice of the Lord, [mothers] who at all costs will defend and protect the family[,…but] above all, we need [mothers] who will stand up for truth and righteousness and decry evil at every turn, [mothers] who will simply say, 'Lord, here am I, send me'" (When Thou Art Converted, p. 179).

08 February 2009

The Divine Role of Motherhood - Part 4

A few years ago I talked with my mother about some of the best experiences she had in life. She talked mainly about being a mother. During our conversation I learned much about the great joy she had as a mother but also about the great times of struggle. She stated that the most rewarding and satisfying thing in her life was, in her own words: "The safe pregnancy and delivery of our children and then raising them. Having and raising seven lovely children has been wonderful. It was a lot of hard work but they all turned out okay. We did a lot of things together as a family, we worked hard, we survived hard times and ate cracked wheat. We went to church every week and spent the time together as a family. There were occasional problems but we survived them and overcame them.

"One time when we had 3 or 4 small children a friend was extolling the virtues of Sesame Street and said how her child could count to 10 and knew all the colors and all because the child watched Sesame Street on TV. I was appalled and wondered 'What is a mother for?' and why would anyone need TV to teach children what I thought was my 'job description.' So we read and played and counted everything and numbered everything and named colors and tied shoes and did all sorts of things. We learned to work and had jobs to learn responsibility."

She also talked about the struggles of being a mother: "What has been difficult? How about seven babies! It was very difficult when we didn't have any money and Dad was working two jobs and we were trying to make ends meet. We did not have much money at all, especially when the kids were small. We did not have much but we always survived. It just took a lot of hard work and some ingenuity.

"Another hard time was when we had four children under the age of five. This was a terrible emotional stress. The kids were sick all the time and we had no money. I was physically sick some too. Our washer broke during this time and so the children stomped the clothes in the bathtub to wash them – they thought it was fun; they thought they were like the pioneers. At least they had fun with it.

"These years were hard with a lot of difficult physical work. I was changing diapers on three babies. I also mopped the floors at night so they would stay clean at least the eight hours until morning. I also had to deal with potty training all the kids and cleaning up their messes. We also had a garden and had to plant it and keep it growing and harvest the food and can and store some as well. We had to work really hard to survive."

My mother found that church helped her cope with the stress of raising children: "I really loved going to church and relief society – that was my salvation once a week. Enrichment was lovely to put the kids in the nursery and be away for 1.5 hours. We had weekly meetings and so it was nice to have some time away from the kids. I could learn and grow and spend time with other ladies in the ward. Church was always a big boost for me and I looked forward to it each week."

I will always be grateful for my mother and all the work she did (and does) as a mother. She is a remarkable woman and mother. She is someone the Lord looks upon and smiles.

06 February 2009

The Divine Role of Motherhood - Part 3

There is the example of Rebekah, who was blessed to become the "mother of thousands of millions" (Gen. 24:60) as a result of her righteousness. This teaches us that for those who are faithful to the covenant, motherhood does not end with death. We also have the great example of Hannah who had much anguish over being childless. She covenanted with the Lord that if He would bless her with a son, she would dedicate her son unto Him. Her son Samuel grew up to be one of the great prophets in Israel and a sign of his mother's faith. Mary, the mother of the Savior, was a woman of great virtue and faith. She was highly favored and blessed because of her role as the mother of the Prince of Peace (see Luke 1:28). Mary remained near the Savior throughout His life and was even at the foot of the cross, watching her Son finish His mortal ministry. She was there for Him, from the cradle to the cross. King Benjamin gives in simplicity one of the greatest tributes in the scriptures: "and his mother shall be called Mary" (Mosiah 3:8). What more need he say? She was to be the mother of the Son of God. The scriptures are largely patriarchal and priesthood-focused so the references to great mothers of faith and covenant are sparse. Thus, stories of mothers in the scriptures are very significant. We can learn much about the qualities of faithful motherhood from these illustrious women. It is thought provoking to wonder about what would have happened had Eve, Hannah, or Mary not been good mothers? A wise man once stated: "What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way to the coffin" (Henry Ward Beecher, Columbia Book of Quotations, 1996, no. 6395). Or, rephrased according to LDS belief: "What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way [through eternity]."

Being a mother is such an important part of who women are and has so many consequences that it can seem overwhelming at times, even impossible, to be the best mother possible. Perfection is quite a lofty goal; but it is more than just a goal or an end—perfection is also a process. When a woman becomes a mother and has a child or two or three or ten, she has not reached some static state where she automatically knows everything about being a mother. Being a mother also does not end when the children leave home at age 18 or 21 or whenever; it is a role that keeps rolling, growing, and expanding. This is what it means, in part, to be an eternal family. The eternally expanding role as mother is a portion of the blessing of eternal lives (see D&C 132:24). Therefore, just as perfection does not come in a day neither does the full realization of motherhood; the process is as important as the goal (or else Satan's plan of salvation would have been just as good as the Father's).

03 February 2009

The Divine Role of Motherhood - Part 2

Woman's role as mother is under attack. Satan wages a war on families, on motherhood, by trying to paint and portray it in such dreary colors that women feel drawn elsewhere. There is much that is gaudy and flashy in the great and spacious building, which can appear so appealing and even uplifting; however, by lusting after Satan's showy society, we devalue raising children and thus devalue the family. This leads to the destruction of the one potentially eternal component of society. Civilizations rise and fall and societies crumble but the family can be eternal. Women need to escape the "tugs and pulls of the world" (Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 2000, p.35) by realizing, to paraphrase Pres. Harold B. Lee, that "the greatest of the Lord's work…brethren [and sisters] will ever do as fathers [and mothers] will be within the walls of [their] own home[s]" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 130).

While there are many worthwhile things for women to do outside the home, none of those can take the place of being a successful parent. Pres. David O. McKay said, "She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration…of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family…deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God" (Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 453-54). On a similar note Elder Maxwell so eloquently states, "Some mothers in today's world feel 'cumbered' by home duties and are thus attracted by other more 'romantic' challenges. Such women could make the same error of perspective that Martha made. The woman, for instance, who deserts the cradle in order to help defend civilization against the barbarians may well later meet, among the barbarians, her own neglected child" (The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, p. 219). The titillation of the great and spacious building does not compare with the tranquility of a humble home.

When mothers are there for their children, fulfilling their stewardships, they have great impact on the lives of their children and consequently on future generations. As a result of this, mothers have played some of the most important roles in history. There is Mother Eve, who fearlessly stood by her husband's side, facing a desolate world, and who was both the mother of the human race and the "mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20). It was she who reminded Adam of the necessity of the Fall, of becoming mortal in order to have children and fulfill the Lord's first commandment to "be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth" (JST Gen 1:28). Eve knew her role as a mother.

01 February 2009

The Divine Role of Motherhood - Part 1

One word conjures up images of sweetness, self-sacrifice, and service: that of mother. Motherhood is the noblest status in the world, in part because of these traits. We learn about mothers in the Family Proclamation; the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles explain how gender is an important component of motherhood: "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Those who are women here on earth were women before they were born. The call to motherhood was extended at the time the calling of the priesthood was extended to men: in the pre-earth life. Pres. Benson said, "Before the world was created, in heavenly councils the pattern and role of women were prescribed. [Women] were elected by God to be wives and mothers in Zion" (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p.104).

Similarly, Sheri Dew states to the women of the Church, "Our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood…. Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate" (Ensign, Nov. 2001, p. 96).

Motherhood is not an afterthought to Heavenly Father, it was not instated merely to give women something to do; it is essential for the salvation of Heavenly Father's children, when coupled with the priesthood. Once women leave the pre-mortal life and become mothers here on earth, they can look to our greatest Exemplar—the Savior Jesus Christ—for how to become faithful mothers.

Elder Ballard teaches, "When God asked [in the premortal world] who would come to earth to prepare a way for all mankind to be saved…, it was Jesus who said, simply, 'Here am I, send me' (Abraham 3:27)" (When Thou Art Converted, p.178). Speaking to women, Elder Ballard continues, "If you are wondering if you make a difference to the Lord, imagine the effect when you make commitments such as the following: 'Father, if you need a woman to rear children in righteousness, here am I, send me. If you need a woman to make a house, a home filled with love, here am I, send me…. If you need a woman of faithful steadiness, here am I, send me" (p. 179). We need such willingness in today's world more than ever!


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