Beloved brethren, it was wonderful to hear President Tanner give such an excellent address, telling how we attempt to do the Lord’s work in his Church. I’m sure there are many people who do not know what goes on in the Church. I’m sure that this will be informative to many, many people.
This general priesthood meeting provides a wonderful opportunity to thank you, the men and young men of the Church, for all that you do to lead good lives and to build the kingdom of God on the earth. We are eternally grateful to you, and we take notice of the fact that God has placed you on the earth now in order that your talents and devotion can be utilized in this important period of human history and the history of the Church.
Three weeks ago tonight the women of the Church, both young and older, filled this great tabernacle and assembled in the same halls in which you are meeting tonight. Unable to attend the women’s meeting personally, I watched the proceedings of that glorious event by special television in my hospital room. My heart was filled to overflowing for the special blessing of the wonderful sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—God’s heavenly kingdom here upon the earth. My beloved eternal companion, Camilla, read to those lovely sisters my brief message.
In that message I said to the sisters: “As we approach the general conference with its priesthood session, we will be no less loving or direct with the brethren, for our counsel will be similar.”
I now want to make good on that promise to the sisters as I speak to you brethren.
We have all been blessed with special women in our lives—women who have had a deep and lasting influence upon us. Their contribution has been and is most important to us and is something which will be of everlasting value to us.
Our wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends are all the spirit children of our Heavenly Father. I hope we will always bear that in mind, my brothers, in terms of how we treat women. The sisters in this dispensation include many of the most noble daughters of our Heavenly Father. Let us always remember that God is no respecter of persons, but he loves us all, men and women, boys and girls, with a perfect love.
As President Harold B. Lee frequently said, “The greatest Church work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home” (see Strengthening the Home, pamphlet, 1973, p. 7). Many of us have repeated that many times.
Much of this special Church work will be judged by the way in which we serve and lead, in a Christlike manner, the women of the Church who are in our homes. I say serve and lead because the headship of the man in the home is to be like the headship of Christ in the Church. Christ led by love, example, and selfless service. He sacrificed himself for us. So it must be if we are leader-servants and humble patriarchs in our homes.
We must be selfless and give service, be thoughtful and generous. Our dominion must be a righteous dominion, and our partnerships with our eternal companions, our wives, must be full partnerships.
You wonderful stake presidents and bishops and your counselors and all of you brethren—please be especially thoughtful of the sisters who are, through no fault of their own, not presently given the blessing of being sealed for all eternity to a worthy man, so they do not inadvertently feel left out as we rightfully focus on family life. Do not regard their presence in your midst as a burden but as a blessing.
Ever bear in mind our special responsibilities to the widows, those who are divorced, others who are husbandless, and, in some cases, our young sisters who are fatherless. We simply cannot fulfill our responsibilities as men of God if we neglect the women of God.
Sometimes we hear disturbing reports about how sisters are treated. Perhaps when this happens, it is a result of insensitivity and thoughtlessness, but it should not be, brethren. The women of this Church have work to do which, though different, is equally as important as the work that we do. Their work is, in fact, the same basic work that we are asked to do—even though our roles and assignments differ.
It is because we prize our women so greatly that we do not wish to have them drawn away into worldly paths. Most of them are strong and good and true, and they will be the more so when they are treated with love and respect and when their thoughts and feelings are valued and understood.
Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals. I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality. These things are not mentioned because of any sense of alarm, but because of a general concern that our people in the kingdom will need to become even more different from the people of the world. We will be judged, as the Savior said on several occasions, by whether or not we love one another and treat one another accordingly and by whether or not we are of one heart and one mind. We cannot be the Lord’s if we are not one!
We shall all be judged and held accountable for how we carry out our various Church assignments, and our mortal stewardship will get no more searching scrutiny than with regard to the way we have served and loved our families and our sisters and brothers of the Church. President McKay wisely observed, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 5).
We love you brethren, and we love the sisters. We have complete confidence in you. We rejoice in your faith and your devotion to the cause of the Master. May God bless you and your dear ones as you return to them.
I know that God lives, my brethren (it is a great joy to say that many, many times), that Christ, the Redeemer of the world, is our Lord, and that this is his Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Christ at its head. I leave this testimony with you, with my affection and my blessings and my best wishes, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen.