The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand our responsibilities and blessings as Latter-day Saint women—married, widowed, or single; mothers and those who do not have children.
President Brigham Young explained the role of women as follows:
“One thing is very true and we believe it, and that is that a woman is the glory of the man. …
“… When I reflect upon the duties and responsibilities devolving upon our mothers and sisters, and the influence they wield, I look upon them as the mainspring and soul of our being here. It is true that man is first. … But when Mother Eve came she had a splendid influence over [Father Adam]. …
“[Sisters,] we want your influence and power in helping to build up [the] Kingdom” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 199).
As Church members, we understand the ideal companionship of husbands and wives. “If you ask new sisters what the greatest change was for them when they became members, they reply that it was the new way of looking at their home, their husband, and their children. In some cases they have had difficulty in changing their attitudes, but all have emphasized the importance of learning to respect each other and support the man as the patriarch of the home” (Anna Lindback, quoted by Carol Larsen in “The Gospel Counterculture,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 26).
A Latter-day Saint wife, whether her husband is a member or nonmember, active or less active, can be a companion and helpmeet to him.
President N. Eldon Tanner said: “Women, you are of great strength and support to the men in your lives, and they sometimes need your help most when they are least deserving. A man can have no greater incentive, no greater hope, no greater strength than to know … his wife has confidence in him and loves him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 125; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 8).
How can we communicate to our husbands that we love them and have confidence in them? Why should we communicate this to our husbands even when we think they are least deserving?
As Latter-day Saint wives, we need to support our husbands in their Church assignments. When a man is being considered for a new office in the priesthood or a calling, the wife’s worthiness is also discussed. She needs to be able to give him her full support. Her heart should be centered, not in the things of this world, but in the things of eternal life. Then she will be able to stand beside and support her husband. (For specific ways to support priesthood bearers, see lesson 13, “Women and the Priesthood,” in this manual.)
Some of us may be married to nonmembers or less-active members. We may become discouraged when our husbands do not become active in the Church. It may take a miracle, but a wife who exercises patience and faith may yet see such a miracle. Some men may take many years to be active, but we should still continue to pray and live the teachings of the gospel in our home.
One way to help our husbands become more active in the Church is to hold a family activity on family home evening night. We can help children prepare gospel stories to present to the family, inviting our husbands to participate. Gradually, we can encourage them to conduct the family home evening and later teach lessons. Many men are far more comfortable in a family home evening than in a formal church meeting. Once they are used to meeting at home, it is easier for them to attend church also.
“Marilyz de Dolder of LaPlata Second Ward has been a member of the Church since she was nine years old. She has always been active in the Church and has held many Church positions. She married an excellent young man who was not a member of the Church, but she sought for the wisdom to apply all the counsels and teachings of the gospel in her home. She said of this experience, ‘You have to look for a balance.’ She dedicated herself with interest and love to her home, her husband, and her children. After Church meetings she didn’t stay to entertain herself in conversation with her friends, but quickly returned home to attend to her obligations.
“Her husband has been a member of the Church for two years now and is serving as bishop of the LaPlata Second Ward” (Carol Larsen, “The Gospel Counterculture,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 27).
What did Sister de Dolder do to support her husband and to stay active in the Church?
A wife can also help her husband fulfill his role as spiritual leader in the home. “One father, a quiet, unassuming man, found it hard to express his love for his family. At his wife’s prompting they began holding family prayer, and it became an opportunity to voice what was in his heart. To their daughter, who had misinterpreted her father’s manner as indifference, the experience was a revelation. His prayers were simple and sometimes clumsily worded, but to hear him say, ‘Bless my lovely daughter to do good’ thrilled her” (Ann H. Banks, “The Extra Blessings of Family Prayer,” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 37).
How did this sister help her husband become a spiritual leader in their home? In what other ways we can help our husbands become spiritual leaders?
As Latter-day Saint wives, we should create a spiritual feeling at home by increasing our patience and cheerfulness. We need to work to develop good family relationships. We must exercise our faith daily and live the gospel.
Read Romans 15:1–5. Why is being patient part of our role as a wife?
Able, married men and women are responsible for bringing God’s spirit children into life on earth. In doing so, we form a partnership with God. We provide bodies for His spirit children—our spirit brothers and sisters. (See Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness , 97.)
Display visual 14-a, “A mother attending a meeting with her family.”
Display a poster of the following list or refer to the information on the chalkboard. As each scripture is read, ask the sisters to listen for the duties of parenthood mentioned. Beside each reference write the duties given.
Women could have no greater honor than to assist in the divine plan to bring spirit children to earth, teaching them to “walk uprightly before the Lord.” A woman will find much satisfaction and joy by being a wise and worthy mother and raising good children. This is a greater contribution to mankind than any other career. (See N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 126; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 10.)
Because daily work usually takes fathers away from home, they may not have as many opportunities to influence their children as mothers do. Mothers often seem to have a greater influence in shaping the lives of their children. (See Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham , 152.) That is why it is so important for mothers to stay at home to care for their children themselves. They should try not to leave them in the care of others. Our leaders have asked mothers not to work outside the home unless it is absolutely necessary.
“Even if circumstances require mothers of families to work … they should not neglect the cares and duties in the home, particularly in the education of the children” (Harold B. Lee, “Maintain Your Place As a Woman,” Ensign, Feb. 1972, 52).
Women who are left to raise families alone, or whose families have been raised and whose husbands have left them alone, are entitled to special help from priesthood leaders. President Harold B. Lee told one woman who was left alone with eight children: “‘Now don’t feel alone because your husband is not with you. You stay close to your home teachers and stay close to your bishop.’ And she said to me with a smile, ‘Brother Lee, I have the finest home teachers that anybody could have, and nobody has a finer bishop than ours. We are taken care of. We have a fatherly father who is watching over us, the priesthood holder who has come into our lives’” (Ensign, Feb. 1972, 53–54).
Some women are unable to raise all their children to maturity, because their children die at an early age. The Prophet Joseph taught that many of these children were too pure and lovely to live in the corruption on earth. Even as we mourn their present loss to us, we have reason to rejoice because they have been delivered from evil. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 196–97.) He also taught that those who die before the age of eight are saved in the celestial kingdom (see D&C 137:10). The mothers of these children, if they live faithfully, will raise them to maturity during the Millennium (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 455–56).
Some women are unable to bear children. Childless women often fulfill the role of mother by adopting children or by taking in foster children. Women who are unable to have children and single women can find fulfillment by working with children in a variety of ways or by doing other things whereby they can give of themselves in service to others. Women who do such work can find joy in it and bring happiness and wholesome influence into the lives of children, especially those who have been denied a mother’s love.
President Brigham Young comforted those childless women who had been faithful to their temple covenants, saying: “Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations. … Be faithful, and if you are not blest with children in this time, you will be hereafter” (in Deseret News [Weekly], 28 Nov. 1860, 306).
How can these doctrines comfort childless and mourning women? How can this revealed truth encourage us to live righteously?
Display visual 14-b, “A young woman studying to prepare herself for future callings.”
All women, single or married, have important duties and responsibilities in mortality. A girl or young woman has a great opportunity in youth to prepare herself for her future calling as a wife and mother. She can learn homemaking from her mother, at school, or through Church homemaking classes. She can educate herself by attending school. She needs to prepare to be a teacher in her home. She should set a good example before her member and nonmember friends, keeping herself pure and chaste.
If young and unmarried, how can you prepare to be a wife and mother? Why is it important to develop spiritually in our youth?
Display visual 14-c, “A woman teaching a class of children.”
Some women may not marry until later in life. Some may remain single throughout their mortal lives if they are unable to find a worthy companion. Such women are promised worthy husbands and children in the life after death. No blessing available on earth will be denied them.
President Harold B. Lee said: “You young women advancing in years who have not yet accepted a proposal of marriage, if you make yourselves worthy and ready to go to the house of the Lord and have faith in this sacred principle of celestial marriage for eternity, even though the privilege of marriage does not come to you now in mortality, the Lord will reward you in due time and no blessing will be denied you. You are not under obligation to accept a proposal from someone unworthy of you for fear you will fail [to receive] of your blessings” (Ye Are the Light of the World , 308).
How can this promise bring comfort and reassurance to unmarried women?
One single woman expressed her feelings this way:
“A multitude of unique blessings and special opportunities are available to single members. …
“In our anxiety to marry, we can easily neglect the many unique opportunities to prepare ourselves, not only for marriage, but for eternal exaltation.
“As a single [woman in] the Church, I have often been impatient for fulfillment of the temple marriage promised in my patriarchal blessing. Yet, … I have become increasingly aware of and grateful for the special blessings that come to faithful single members.
“We have time and the privilege to spend it as we wish. But we are also accountable for the manner in which we utilize that priceless gift of time. As single Church members we can … [bemoan] our single status, … or we can use this interim period in our lives as a time of active, creative waiting. I am firmly convinced that how we spend this [time] has critical importance for both our proximate and ultimate happiness as well as our eternal progression.
“An initial consideration is the question of career or occupation. … Some women find great satisfaction in meeting the challenge of a demanding career. … Through prayer and priesthood blessings, I have … received a comforting, personal reassurance that [in pursuing my career] what I am currently doing is pleasing in the sight of the Lord. …
“I have to confess, [however,] that the greatest, most lasting joys in my life derive … from quiet, anonymous acts of compassionate service. … It is all too easy to be so concerned with our own needs and problems that we become spiritually deaf to the cries and heartaches around us. …
“Never will our time be so unencumbered as now. We have time to take [classes], … to become widely read if we will but seek out of the best books, … to develop a variety of talents and interests, … to begin [our] genealogy. … [This could inspire] the entire family [to be] involved in … tracing [family] records. …
“The great satisfactions of regular, diligent Church service cannot be overestimated. … I … experience great joy in serving as a ward Sunday School teacher. …
“We have time to get in good physical condition. … Regular exercise will uplift the spirit and emotions as well as streamline the body.
“We have time to get involved with families in our ward or branch, becoming a friend to younger children. I am invited to (and eagerly anticipate) … [many activities for young children]. … By the force of our own example, we can also quietly encourage them to follow gospel principles as they reach toward adulthood.
“We have unencumbered quiet time to spend with our Father in heaven. I cannot overestimate the impact fasting and prolonged prayer have had in my life. … I [have] gained an unshakable testimony of the Lord’s special love and concern for my well being.
“… In our hours of need, there are loving hands around us to uplift, strengthen, and assist us. Look around. I promise you they are there.
“And when discouragement weighs heavily, … I have found that a sure cure for depression is to realize someone out there needs me. In blessing someone else, my needs and problems are quickly consumed in the warm glow of knowing that I have brightened another’s life and that what I have done is pleasing to the Lord.
“Let us then rejoice in this precious treasure, time, and thank the Lord for a special gift” (Anne G. Osborn, “The Ecstasy of the Agony: How to Be Single and Sane at the Same Time,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 47–49).
What are some ways this sister found to enrich her life?
Every woman in this Church has great worth. If we live faithfully, we will be blessed someday with the privilege of being a companion, helpmeet, and mother. Whether this opportunity comes early or late in life or in the hereafter, we can fill our lives by serving others and fulfilling our roles as Latter-day Saint women.
Seek ways to better yourself in your role or roles.
Before presenting this lesson:
Review lesson 13 in this manual, “Women and the Priesthood.”
Prepare the poster suggested in the lesson or write the information on the chalkboard.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.