In a recent address Sharon Eubank, the director of Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made a statement that brought a standing ovation. She made the statement while discussing reports in the press recently alleging that the LDS Church is “sort of oppressive, or that it’s stodgily conservative, or that it might somehow be a toxic environment for women to participate in.”
In her speech entitled “This Is a Woman’s Church,” Sister Eubank, a former member of the Relief Society general board but not speaking on behalf of the Church, stated: “My experience in the Church as a woman has been incredibly empowering.” Speaking to women, she said, “What you are hungry for, what you want most, is in this Church.” She added, “The doctrine and the practice of the Church, for me as a woman, [have] given me things that I care more deeply about than anything else in my life.”
Why would Sister Eubank claim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint is a “woman’s church”? Far too many people believe the Church keeps women from reaching their full potential because female members do not have the priesthood. These people simply do not understand the way that worthy priesthood members treat the women in their lives. I have held leadership positions in the Church as well as important teaching positions, and I have never been treated with anything except the utmost respect by priesthood leaders and other male members.
Earlier this evening I had the opportunity to attend an open house in honor of some good friends who moved away from Alaska in 1988 and returned for a short visit. The man was my bishop when I served as president of the Primary, the Church’s organization for children, and I worked closely with him and his counselors. Also in attendance at the open house was a man who was my supervisor for more than a decade as I taught Seminary, the Church’s early morning scripture class for teenagers. Even though it has been many years since we served together, both men expressed appreciation for my efforts in serving under their stewardship.
It is my observation that the leaders of the Church -- prophets, apostles, and other priesthood leaders – treat their wives as if they are queens and treat other women and girls with great respect. They speak of their wives with reverence, and they are very mindful of the needs of other women and girls. I believe this is so because they understand the love that Heavenly Father has for His daughters and feel the responsibility to treat them as the Father would have them treated.
Heavenly Father has a plan for the happiness of both His sons and His daughters. In His plan our Father gave priesthood responsibility to His sons, and He gave the blessings of the priesthood to both His sons and His daughters. His daughters have the blessings without the burden of bearing the priesthood. According to the Father’s plan, girls receive the blessings of the priesthood from their father until they marry; after marriage, wives share the blessings of the priesthood with their husbands.
Through faithfulness to the marriage covenant, men and women can achieve happiness and receive blessings of eternal glory. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that “Nothing will prepare mankind for glory in the kingdom of God as readily as faithfulness to the marriage covenant….
“If properly received, this covenant becomes the means of the greatest happiness. The greatest honor in this life, and in the life to come, honor, dominion and power in perfect love, are the blessings which come out of it. These blessings of eternal glory are held in reserve for those who are willing to abide in this and all other covenants of the Gospel” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 197).
President Smith also taught what marriage means to members of the Church: “It means that they are receiving in that ordinance the greatest, the crowning blessing, the blessing of eternal lives. Now that’s the way the Lord put it, `eternal lives,’ which means not only will the husband and wife enter into eternal life, but their children who were born under the covenant likewise will be entitled through their faithfulness to eternal lives. And further, that the husband and the wife after the resurrection of the dead will not come to an end. By that the Lord means that they will have a continuation of the seeds forever, and the family organization does not come to an end. [See Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-24.]” (See Teachings of the Presidents, p. 197.)
At a different time, President Smith explained that both men and women are needed to achieve the highest blessings and privileges. “In order to fulfill the purposes of our Eternal Father, there must be a union, husbands and wives receiving the blessings that are promised to those who are faithful and true that will exalt them to Godhood. A man cannot receive the fulness of the blessings of the kingdom of God alone, nor can the woman, but the two together can receive all the blessings and privileges that pertain to the fulness of the Father’s kingdom” (Teachings of the Presidents, p. 197).
I too believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church for women. The women of the Church are respected more and treated better than any other women in the world!