Valerie J. Steimle is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). She has been writing as a family advocate for the past 20 years. Valerie is the mother of nine children living in southern Alabama and is the author of four books and a weekly newspaper column, Thoughts from the Heart.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths The Mormon Church) has been in the public eye more now than ever before.  There are several LDS presidential candidates running in the 2012 campaign, a Broadway musical about the Book of Mormon and several cities around the country experiencing compelling public relation advertisements in multi-media.

Mormon Church; WomanAlong with all of this attention, there are many misunderstandings. Many incorrect assumptions are geared toward members of the church including women and I hear a lot of them, as I fit this category. I wanted to clear up some those misunderstandings. With this thought in mind, here are a few of those misconceptions with an answer which will hopefully clear up any misconstrued ideas.

1. Women in the Church of Jesus Christ (Latter-day Saint or “Mormon” women)  take a back seat in importance to church leaders and therefore subordinate to men: That couldn’t be futher from the truth. In all talks from the general leaders of the church, women have been placed on a pedestal.  From late LDS Church president, (sometimes referred to as LDS or Mormon prophet) President Heber J, Grant back in 1935, “The true spirit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives to woman the highest place of honor in human life.” Most men in church would agree and if they don’t, they are reprimanded for it.

A remarkable insight about just this ideal comes from President Gordon B. Hinkley, fifteenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)  who spoke at General Conference in October of 1989:

Regrettably, there are some men who hold the priesthood who do not treat the women with whom they associate closely…..with the respect they deserve.  I regret that there are some who are egotistical and evil, who are insensitive and even brutal. They are to be both condemned and pitied.  I believe that any man who offends a daughter of God will someday be held accountable, and the time will come when he will stand before the bar of judgment with sorrow and remorse.

Women have a divine role in the plan here on earth.  We are partners in bringing forth children and raising them to be good citizens and responsible caretakers. We have many opportunities to serve and become educated as our leaders have admonished us and we should not buy into the false rumor that we are second class.

2. Mormon women never have the opportunity to hold the priesthood therefore never has a vote in church doctrine or important issues. The priesthood power has always been and always will be given to men who are worthy church members.  When  Joseph Smith– the instrument in the hands of Jesus Christ to have His church restored to the earth– and Oliver Cowdery were given this power from those in authority, it was meant for men, not women.  It was given for the benefit all mankind by humble servants of God. All women who are members understand this special calling. This calling represents God’s order of things in the divine plan. We respect the fact that good men from all walks of life can use this power for good and bless the lives of all he knows.  Women have a divine role to fill as well.

There are many church leaders who have spoken on this very topic: that of Mormon women and the priesthood’s complementary roles.  John A Widtsoe, who was a noted scientist and author as well as one of the twelve apostles in church leadership made this comment back in 1954: “So with woman: her special gifts are to be exercised for the benefit of the race. (Priesthood and Church Government [1954], 92-93) Men and women are partners together, companions in the role of priesthood and womanhood. One partner should not feel as if they are better than the other because of gifts they were given from God.  It is an equal partnership.  From James E. Faust, when he was in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1988 said in a General Conference: “Nowhere does the doctrine of this Church declare that men are superior to women. Paul said to the Corinthians, ‘Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’ (1 Cor. 11:11). Each brings his or her own separate and unique strengths to the family and the Church. Women are not just cooks, stewards of our homes, or servants. They are much more. They are the enrichment of humanity.”

We are all of divine birth and each has our own role and our own purpose to fill here on earth.  If we will come to appreciate our nature as it was given to us, then we can be blessed for all that we do in this life.

3. Women in the “LDS church”–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints– are expected to have many children.  Unfortunately, this rumor still exists. Never at any time does a church leader tell couples how many children they must bear.  It is not an appropriate topic. This should only be discussed between husband and wife and the Lord.  It is a personal and private matter and no one should interfere with this process.  We don’t know the minds of couples and what they can and cannot handle.  Husband and wife should prayerfully consider the children they bring into the world and are blessed when they can do so.

From Neil A Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, of the LDS Church from the last General Conference in October 2011 says, “When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.”

Women are a great blessing here on earth and as women in all faiths should realize the great influence we can provide for all that is uplifting and of good report or praiseworthy. There is no second class in humanity. We are partners with men in contributing to society. LDS women are no different than women from other faiths.  We all want to nurture our families and serve the Lord.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about the role of women in the Mormon Church.

Visit a local meetinghouse and learn for yourself how the Mormon Church treats women.

Valerie’s website: Strengthen Your Home

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