My wife’s talk
Elder Robert D Hales quotes are taken from his August 2008 Ensign article, “Modesty: Reverence For The Lord”
Elder Robert D. Hales said, “Imagine that you are watching a play. An actor comes on stage dressed as a clown but starts playing the serious part of the lead. You might react by thinking that this is inappropriate—there must be some mistake in the costuming or casting.
Now think of how inappropriate it is to go out into the world or come to church dressed in clothes that do not represent who you really are in spirit.”
Several years ago when going in for a temple recommend interview. The stake president informed me that he was speaking to every member that came in for a temple recommend personally. He said there was a very big problem with immodest dressing in his stake and wanted to make sure that every member attending the temple understood what was appropriate to wear and what was inappropriate. What he said next stunned me. He said, “A woman’s knees should never been seen in public.” He then challenged me to go to the temple and to listen to what was said in the endowment, and that if I did the spirit would reveal this truth to me.
I have since done a little research and studying on modesty and dress by the Lord’s standards and I have come to the conclusion that there are two ways of dressing. You can either dress in fig leaves or coats of skins. In Moses 4 verse 13 we read,” And the eyes of them both (Adam and Eve) were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.” Then in verse 27 we read, “Unto Adam, and also unto his wife, I the Lord God, make coats of skins and clothed them.”
So what are fig leaves and what are coats of skins? ” Robert D Hales said, “In everyday living, immodest clothing such as short shorts, miniskirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire are not appropriate. Men and women—including young men and young women—should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low cut in the front or back or revealing in any other manner. Tight pants, tight shirts, excessively baggy clothing, wrinkled apparel, and unkempt hair are not appropriate. All should avoid extremes in clothing, hairstyle, and other aspects of appearance. We should always be neat and clean, avoiding sloppiness or inappropriate casualness. Our clothing is more than just covering for our bodies; it reflects who we are and what we want to be, both here in mortality and in the eternities that will follow.”
A fig leaf could be referred to any clothing that is tight, revealing, low cut, excessively baggy, or wrinkled. Anything that would make me want to hide from the Lord’s presence. As Adam and Eve did in their fig leaves. A coat of skins could be any clothing that would show our love for the Savior and that shows I know and understand who I am. A son or daughter of Heavenly Father. So I have tried to make it a goal that every time I pick up a pair of yoga pants, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, a skirt, or even a pair of jeans. Before I putting it on my body I ask myselves is this a fig leaf or a coat of skins.
Let me give you a couple of examples from the scriptures. First I would like to talk about my favorite scripture heroine of all times, Hadassah. Hadassah was a young jewish girl, and during this time the jews were hated and not treated very well. And jewish females were thought to be the lowest of low and treated very poorly. So not only is Hadassah jewish but she is also an orphan. Now when Mordecai hears of his uncle’s death he takes Hadassah in and raised her as his own. Mordecai then gives Hadassah her Persian name Esther. Now what does Esther have to do with modesty? Well we know the king is looking for a queen and he brings in all these maidens to chose one to be his new queen. We read in Esther 2 verse 15 (when Esther) “was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her.” Verse 17 reads, “And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head,” Now Esther was given the opportunity to adorn herself to wear fig leaves if she chose too, but she required nothing. Why? Because she knew who she was (a daughter of God) and she was not going to give up wearing her coat of skins just for the chance to be queen.
What did the king and all those that looked at Esther see that they did not see in the other maidens? The companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit radiated from her and penetrated all that came in contact with her. Now the Spirit can not dwell with those that wear fig leaves. Had Esther been a fig leaf wearer even part of the time her story could've turned out very differently. We know that Esther went on to save a nation (her people) from death. If she had not been humble enough to wear coats of skins her life and the lives of her people could have been lost.
Now let’s take a look at another women from the scriptures, Isabel. She is found in the Book of Mormon. Only five women are mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon and Isabel is one of them. So much is to be learned from her. She is a fig leif wearer and her life did not turn out so well. We read about her in Alma 39 verses 3 through 5. Now Alma is talking to his son Corianton here as we read, “And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel. Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted. Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the holy Ghost?”
Spencer W. Kimball said, “I know I’m not going to be popular when I say this, but I am sure that the immodest dresses that are worn by our young women, and their mothers, contribute in some degree to the immorality of this age … I wonder if our young sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before young men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered.” (Quoted by Dallin H Oaks in the December 1971 New Era, “Standards of Dress and Grooming”)
Now I am not saying that if we wear fig leaves we will turn into harlots. But what I am saying is if we give Satan an inch he’ll take a yard. If we give him a yard he’ll take two. Isabel didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, when I grow up I want to be a harlot.” It was through her pride of fig leaf wearing that kept her from feeling the Spirit. And without the Spirit in her life she became lost.
Have I always followed the guidance of my church leaders by not letting my knees show in public, or by avoiding all fig leaf clothing? No, there have been times when the cuteness of an article of clothing or how comfortable that clothing is has overridden my better judgement, or my laziness has kept me from dressing in coats of skins. Does my human weakness keep me from trying to do better next time. No, it gives me the opportunity to repent, to learn, and to grow.
When I struggle with fig leaves I always turn to my favorite heroine Hadassah. I think I admire her so much because our lives are so similar. Hadassah was a jewish female. Looked down upon, ridiculed, and disowned by some. I am the only member in my family and none of my family is happy with my decision to join the church. I am looked down on, ridiculed and even disowned by some family members for my decision. Hadassah was an orphan. Even though both of my parents are alive I feel spiritually orphaned by them. They want nothing to do with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and my whole life is in this gospel. So I am unable to share my life with them. Hadassah’s name was changed to Esther. I have been to the temple and received a new name. Esther married a king. I married a priesthood holder and king. Esther took on the heavy responsibilities that come with being queen. I also have many heavy responsibilities as queen of my home. Esther saved a nation (her people) from death. I am the only one at this time from my extended family that can enter the Holy Temple. I have hundreds of thousands of ancestors just waiting for their temple work to be done. I to have a nation to save.
This was a lot for Esther to bear. This is a lot for me to bear. But Esther did it by being true to who she was (a daughter of God) by keeping the Spirit with her in her wearing coats of skins and not fig leaves. I too can bear the burdens placed before me by keeping the Spirit with me in wearing coats of skins and not fig leaves.
I bear my testimony that I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I know that our church leaders speak truths that guide us back to our Heavenly Father. I know that my Savior loves me and everyone of you. I know He gives us these sacred guidelines on modesty, not to hinder us, but so that we can have the fullness of His love and protection at all times. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Sometimes we try to do things the way WE think life should work instead of how life actually works. Or we try to please others and end up trying to live life in a way that isn't how it works.
Sometimes I have tried to insert my own incorrect ideas and try to make life how I think it should be, instead of how it actually works. I, at times, have behaved or wanted my wife to behave in ways that are inconsistent with the gender roles Heavenly Father has given us. I have had to put aside what I wanted to understand how life works.
The thing that I have had to figure out is that males and females are different.
That’s right. Boys are not the same as girls and men are not the same as women. Some people understand this earlier in life.
I think sometimes we spend time and energy comparing ourselves to the other gender. We perhaps see things that appear unfair when looking at each other. To get past that we have to truly understand that males and females are different. We have different strengths and sometimes different needs.
We are different, but Equal. Equal does not mean the same.
Let’s imagine for a moment a quarter, and then also imagine 2 dimes and a nickel. The value of a quarter, 25 cents, is equal to the value of 2 dimes and a nickel, also 25 cents.
Now imagine a person walks up to a 25 cent gumball machine. The person reaches in their pocket and pulls out 25 cents, two dimes and a nickel, which is equal to the value the gumball machine requires. Nonetheless, the task the gumball machine performs is designed to only work with quarters. WELL THAT’S NOT FAIR!. And yet, that is how it works. It would be a great challenge to get a gumball out of that machine with two dimes and a nickel. Likely when trying it one would damage the machine or damage the money.
Elder M Russell Ballard said:
“Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman.” (Elder M Russell Ballard, “Men and Women and Priesthood Power, Ensign September 2014)
Elder Ballard also said:
“Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean that they are the same. Although responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature, they do not differ in their importance or influence.” (Elder M Russell Ballard, “Men and Women in the Work of the Lord”, New Era April 2014)
He further points out:
“Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. Let us be careful that we do not attempt to tamper with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives.” (Elder M Russell Ballard, “Men and Women and Priesthood Power, Ensign September 2014)
There was a lot in Elder Ballard’s words about husband and wife relationships, but let’s remember that men and women are different even when they are single. We must not beat ourselves up if we struggle when we are single to perform both genders’ responsibilities. We can still draw on the strength of others of the opposite sex in our life. Because of the natural order of things, we can not do it alone.
Generally, I believe that people do not fully comprehend the sacredness of mothers. I believe they also generally do not fully understand that all women are mothers, no matter if they have children or not.
All Women Are Mothers
A single woman, a young married woman with no children, a woman with children, and a woman whose children are grown all are mothers.
Let’s review a portion of the the family proclamation:
“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”
I would propose that for a mother the meaning of the word children extends to neighborhood, city, state, and so forth and that a mother’s stewardship becomes greater the closer she gets to the house she lives in.
A mother’s role is primarily to nurture. Fathers are to preside, provide, and protect, which I believe translates to doing whatever is necessary to make it possible for the work of motherhood to thrive.
Sister Marriott, second counselor in the young women general presidency, in the women’s session of general conference stated, “The Relief Society general president Eliza R. Snow declared to sisters almost 150 years ago, ‘The Lord has laid high responsibilities upon us.’2”
Sister Marriott pointed out that sisters, not women who are married or who have kids living at home have high responsibility. She said that sister Snow was addressing all sisters. All women.
Sister Marriott continues, “The Lord’s Church needs Spirit-directed women who use their unique gifts to nurture, to speak up, and to defend gospel truth. Our inspiration and intuition are necessary parts of building the kingdom of God, which really means doing our part to bring salvation to God’s children.”
Mothers have stewardship over the nurture of children. Not just their children, but all of God’s children.
So far my evidence for all women being mothers may be a little thin, so let’s go back for more words from Sister Marriott, “Mothers literally make room in their bodies to nurture an unborn baby—and hopefully a place in their hearts as they raise them—but nurturing is not limited to bearing children. Eve was called a “mother” before she had children.4 I believe that “to mother” means “to give life.” Think of the many ways you give life. It could mean giving emotional life to the hopeless or spiritual life to the doubter. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can create an emotionally healing place for the discriminated against, the rejected, and the stranger. In these tender yet powerful ways, we build the kingdom of God. Sisters, all of us came to earth with these life-giving, nurturing, maternal gifts because that is God’s plan.”
I would note that Sister Marriott’s stewardship is over the young women of the Church and yet she is speaking to the role of mothers. I propose again that all women are mothers and have stewardship over things of motherhood. Young women are still women.
I believe the young women theme gives us a view into this concept:
“We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will ‘stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places’ (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.”
Standing strong in the stewardship of motherhood can be hard. The world or a woman’s peers or maybe even the men in her life may have incorrect ideas on what her responsibilities are. They may apply pressure to her to spend time on things that have nothing to do with what God has called her to do. This pressure sometimes changes as they changes phases and circumstances in life. A young woman may feel pressure to pursue things in her youth that get in the way of her calling as a mother now and perhaps in the future as well. A young married woman without children may feel the pressure to be engaged in other things that get in the way of her calling as a mother, simply because she has no children in her home. Mothers that have children may get grief from people that do not understand the sacredness and stewardship of motherhood. A mother with children that are grown may feel an emptiness from not being able to nurture full time, because she does not realize that children leaving the home does not remove the stewardship of mothers to nurture children full time. Again, the definition of children extends to all of God's children in a woman's neighborhood, city, state, and so forth, and that stewardship becomes greater the closer she gets to the house she lives in.
Sister Marriott said this:
“Being distinct and different from the world will draw some criticism, but we must anchor ourselves to eternal principles and testify of them, no matter the world’s response.”
“Women and sisters, we can do these things! Primary girls, is there someone in your family who needs your love and kindness? You build the kingdom by nurturing others too.”
“Our high responsibility is to become women who follow the Savior, nurture with inspiration, and live truth fearlessly. As we ask Father in Heaven to make us builders of His kingdom, His power will flow into us and we will know how to nurture, ultimately becoming like our heavenly parents.”
Carole M. Stephens in April 2015 General Conference was telling the story of a sister that understood the concept of being a mother beyond just our home. She had this to say:
"Sister Yazzie doesn’t limit her love and influence to her biological family. She understands what it means to expand her sphere of influence as she goes about doing good, blessing, nurturing, and defending the family of God."
Women Are Sacred
Motherhood is sacred and all women are mothers, thus all women are sacred. Let’s dig into that concept a bit.
President Gordon B Hinckley stated, “When you save a girl, you save generations.”
Rosemary M Wixom when she was Primary General President said:
“Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem. Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity.”
Elder Russell M Nelson said on the sacredness of our duty towards women:
“Let us speak about our worthy and wonderful sisters, particularly our mothers, and consider our sacred duty to honor them.”
“if one dishonors mother, one dishonors the commandments of God.”
“the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother.”
Many years ago, the first presidency issued the statement, “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”
Let’s hear that last part again, “It places her... who honors... its holy calling and service next to the angels.”
Elder Nelson shared more on the sacredness of women, “Because mothers are essential to God’s great plan of happiness, their sacred work is opposed by Satan, who would destroy the family and demean the worth of women.”
How is Satan trying to destroy the family? Through influences that come into our home. Through men demeaning women. And through women demeaning themselves. Sometimes the idea is expressed “I am only a mother.” Which is like saying “I am only one with power given by God.”
More from Elder Nelson:
“We who bear the holy priesthood have a sacred duty to honor our sisters... We respect sisters—not only in our immediate families but all the wonderful sisters in our lives. As daughters of God, their potential is divine. Without them, eternal life would be impossible. Our high regard for them should spring from our love of God and from an awareness of their lofty purpose in His great eternal plan.”
We have a tradition of men holding doors for women when they enter or exit a building. Clearly women are capable of opening a door, after all they are mothers who are given power directly from God. But consider the symbolism of this with regard to our responsibilities as men and the sacredness of women. Men are to preside, provide, and protect. We take responsibility and preside over the task of opening that door. We provide a way for a sacred mother to enter or exit. We protect in that we pay attention that it is safe for her to enter and that after she is in there is no danger behind her.
This may seem a bit silly that entering a church building in Layton, Utah requires that much security. The point is that in this simple act we can take the opportunity for both the man opening the door and the women entering or leaving to take a moment and recognize that which is sacred. It is also an opportunity to engrain the sacredness of women into our youth. Boys need to understand to respect sacredness. Girls need to understand their great worth.
I often see young women adopting behaviors of boys who are behaving badly because they want to be close to those boys. Young women are mothers and are sacred. They do not have time to waste with crude boys.
I often hear phrases like boys will be boys. The entire phrase should be boys will be boys until they are taught to be men.
1 Corinthians 13:11 states:
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
When young women stand firm in their values without judging others, young men eventually figure it out and change their behavior. Young women, the boys you want to date and the men you want to marry should be those boys that figure it out quickly or better yet, that have already figured it out.
If women and men really understood the importance of motherhood and the scope of what motherhood entails and that women are sacred, many more things in life would make a lot more sense to us and would be a lot easier for us to deal with.
Book of Mormon Lesson 21
“How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?“ (Elder Jeffrey R Holland, Missionary Work and the Atonement”, Ensign March 2001)
4 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.
In spite of their past, the sons of Mosiah became the strongest of men of character.
False prophets rarely call themselves prophets. Many times they are not even religious.
Speaking the truth today is often called hate or fear.
Priesthood is about God. Priestcraft is about ourself or itself.
Elder Renlund April 2016 conference talk “That I Might Draw All Men Unto Me”
What is entitlement? Perhaps feeling something is deserved for a reason unrelated to what it takes to obtain that something.
“The concept—’the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement’—also has profound spiritual applications. Our Heavenly Father and His Son,Jesus Christ, are the ultimate Givers. The more we distance ourselves from Them, the more entitled we feel. We begin to think that we deserve grace and are owed blessings. We are more prone to look around, identify inequities, and feel aggrieved—even offended—by the unfairness we perceive. While the unfairness can range from trivial to gut-wrenching, when we are distant from God, even small inequities loom large. We feel that God has an obligation to fix things—and fix them right now!”
We have an attitude of entitlement if:
- If we treat God like a government or a corporation.
- If we demand things from God simply because we are His children or because we are members of the Church
- If we don't even ask and just assume.
“Murmuring is the scriptural equivalent of childish whining.“
Our sacred experiences are only gems to us if we treasure them and not diminish them.
One way of treasuring our sacred experiences is to pay attention. How many spiritual experiences have we forgotten or never noticed at all, just because we weren't paying attention.
“The sacrament truly helps us know our Savior. It also reminds us of His innocent suffering. If life were truly fair, you and I would never be resurrected; you and I would never be able to stand clean before God. In this respect, I am grateful that life is not fair.“