What a privilege and joy to be a part of this marvelousassembly of girls and women. How blessed we are aswomen to be joined together this evening in unity andin love.
I recently read the story of Marie Madeline Cardon,who, with her family, received the message of therestored gospel of Jesus Christ from the firstmissionaries called to serve in Italy in 1850. She was ayoung woman of 17 or 18 years of age when they werebaptized. One Sunday, while the family was holding aworship service in their home high in the Alps ofnorthern Italy, an angry mob of men, including some ofthe local ministers, gathered around the house andbegan shouting, yelling, and calling for the missionariesto be brought outside. I don’t think they were anxiousto be taught the gospel—they intended bodily harm. Itwas young Marie who marched out of the house toconfront the mob.
They continued their vicious yells and demands for themissionaries to be brought out. Marie raised her Bibleup in her hand and commanded them to depart. Shetold them that the elders were under her protectionand that they could not harm one hair of their heads.Listen to her own words: “All stood aghast. … God waswith me. He placed those words in my mouth, or I couldnot have spoken them. All was calm, instantly. Thatstrong ferocious body of men stood helpless before aweak, trembling, yet fearless girl.” The ministers askedthe mob to leave, which they did quietly in shame, fear,and remorse. The small flock completed their meetingin peace.1
Can’t you just picture that brave young woman, thesame age as many of you, standing up to a mob anddefending her newly found beliefs with courage andconviction?
Sisters, few of us will ever have to face an angry mob,but there is a war going on in this world in which ourmost cherished and basic doctrines are under attack. Iam speaking specifically of the doctrine of the family.The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes ofthe family are being questioned, criticized, andassaulted on every front.
When President Gordon B. Hinckley first read “TheFamily: A Proclamation to the World” 20 years ago thisyear, we were grateful for and valued the clarity,simplicity, and truth of this revelatory document. Littledid we realize then how very desperately we wouldneed these basic declarations in today’s world as thecriteria by which we could judge each new wind ofworldly dogma coming at us from the media, theInternet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators.The proclamation on the family has become ourbenchmark for judging the philosophies of the world,and I testify that the principles set forth within thisstatement are as true today as they were when theywere given to us by a prophet of God nearly 20 yearsago.
May I point out something obvious? Life rarely goesexactly according to plan for anyone, and we are veryaware that not all women are experiencing what theproclamation describes. It is still important tounderstand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive forthe realization of that pattern the best we can.
Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of usis equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We shouldremember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of ourrighteous desires and will honor His promises thatnothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keeptheir covenants. Heavenly Father has a mission andplan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable.One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faithin the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have analternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who buildthe kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go.We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal butplan for contingencies.
During this 20th anniversary year of the familyproclamation, I would like to issue a challenge for all ofus as women of the Church to be defenders of “TheFamily: A Proclamation to the World.” Just as MarieMadeline Cardon courageously defended themissionaries and her newly found beliefs, we need toboldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describingmarriage, families, the divine roles of men and women,and the importance of homes as sacred places—evenwhen the world is shouting in our ears that theseprinciples are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant.Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance ornumber of children, can be defenders of the Lord’s plandescribed in the family proclamation. If it is the Lord’splan, it should also be our plan!
There are three principles taught in the proclamationwhich I think are especially in need of steadfastdefenders. The first is marriage between a man and awoman. We are taught in the scriptures, “Neverthelessneither is the man without the woman, neither thewoman without the man, in the Lord.”2 For anyone toattain the fulness of priesthood blessings, there mustbe a husband and a wife sealed in the house of theLord, working together in righteousness and remainingfaithful to their covenants. This is the Lord’s plan for Hischildren, and no amount of public discourse or criticismwill change what the Lord has declared. We need tocontinue to model righteous marriages, seek for thatblessing in our lives, and have faith if it is slow incoming. Let us be defenders of marriage as the Lordhas ordained it while continuing to show love andcompassion for those with differing views.
The next principle which calls for our defending voicesis elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers. Weeagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. Wewant to make sure that our daughters know that theyhave the potential to achieve and be whatever they canimagine. We hope they will love learning, be educated,talented, and maybe even become the next Marie Curieor Eliza R. Snow.
Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is nogreater honor, no more elevated title, and no moreimportant role in this life than that of mother or father?I would hope that as we encourage our children toreach for the very best in this life that we also teachthem to honor and exalt the roles that mothers andfathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan.
Our youngest daughter, Abby, saw a uniqueopportunity to stand as a defender of the role ofmother. One day she got a notice from her children’sschool that they were having Career Day presentationsat the school. Parents were invited to send in anapplication if they wanted to come to school to teachthe children about their jobs, and Abby felt impressedto apply to come and speak about motherhood. Shedidn’t hear back from the school, and when Career Daywas getting close, she finally called the school, thinkingthey may have lost her application. The organizersscrambled around and found two teachers who agreedto have Abby come talk to their classes at the end ofCareer Day.
In her very fun presentation to the children, Abbytaught them, among other things, that as a mother sheneeded to be somewhat of an expert in medicine,psychology, religion, teaching, music, literature, art,finance, decorating, hair styling, chauffeuring, sports,culinary arts, and so much more. The children wereimpressed. She finished by having the childrenremember their mothers by writing thank-you notesexpressing gratitude for the many loving acts of servicethey received daily. Abby felt that the children saw theirmothers in a whole new light and that being a motheror father was something of great worth. She applied toshare again this year at Career Day and was invited topresent to six classes.
Abby has said of her experience: “I feel like it could beeasy in this world for a child to get the sense that beinga parent is a secondary job or even sometimes anecessary inconvenience. I want every child to feel likethey are the most important priority to their parent,and maybe telling them how important being a parentis to me will help them realize all that their parents dofor them and why.”
Our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is awonderful example of honoring women andmotherhood, especially his own mother. In reference toour earthly mothers, he has said: “May each of ustreasure this truth; one cannot forget mother andremember God. One cannot remember mother andforget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons,God and [our earthly] mother, partners in creation, inlove, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”3
The last principle we need to stand and defend is thesanctity of the home. We need to take a term which issometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It isthe term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth,and children, single or married—can work at beinghomemakers. We should “make our homes” places oforder, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes shouldbe places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in richabundance and where the scriptures and the gospel arestudied, taught, and lived. What a difference it wouldmake in the world if all people would see themselves asmakers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home asa place which is second only to the temple in holiness.
Sisters, I am grateful to be a woman in these latter days.We have opportunities and possibilities which no othergeneration of women has had in the world. Let us helpbuild the kingdom of God by standing up boldly andbeing defenders of marriage, parenthood, and thehome. The Lord needs us to be brave, steadfast, andimmovable warriors who will defend His plan and teachthe upcoming generations His truths.
I bear witness that Heavenly Father lives and loves eachof us. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.I leave this testimony with you in the name of JesusChrist, amen.