This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Saturday morning session of October 1975 General Conference.
This week, covenant women of the church will celebrate the birthday of the Relief Society. With this in mind, I have captured the thoughts of two conference talks in this particular session: Covenants and Blessings, by William H. Bennett and To Make a People Prepared for the Lord, by Delbert L. Stapley.
As Relief Society is meant to unite sisters from all around the world, bringing with it a desire and feeling of solidarity with the prophet, we always seem to be met with opposition. As I have read many testimonies from our early sisters, in Nauvoo and the early days in the Salt Lake Valley, these women fearlessly testified of Joseph Smith, the prophet of the last dispensation. Because of new books coming out, such as At the Pulpit, we can hear these testimonies and be strengthened.
In our day, we have many who are quite vocal about some things that we may not have a complete understanding of, and their negativity hurts all of us. Not only must we have a solid testimony of Joseph Smith, and our present day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, we must also cling to the covenants we willingly make in the temple. After listening to some of these naysayers, I sometimes wonder if they even understand the covenants they themselves have made and are now trying to mock.
Elder Bennett speaks of the priesthood and the importance of being worthy of it. Abraham, for example, “proved true in every test the Lord gave him.” The special mission of the children of Israel was/is to “keep alive in the world the knowledge of the true God and the true gospel.” And we must be “strong in righteous living.” This is the charge for every man and woman of God.
For those who still battle the old argument that women should have the priesthood, they seem to miss the fact that both men and women receive the fullness of the priesthood through the covenants they keep. “The temples are means whereby every member of the Church, by righteous conduct and sufficient age, may receive precious endowments and may be kept in refreshed memory of the great plan of our Father for our salvation and exaltation.”
Our world suffers from a lack of accountability. Too many people think they are free to do all that they want without any consequence of that choice. For that matter, I’ve often wondered what pro-choice even means. Pro-choice to commit the sin of fornication, or to kill a human being? When does the consequence follow? Elder Bennett says,
“We have our free agency; but none of us have the free agency to determine the consequences of the choices that we make, because we will be held accountable and responsible for our acts.”
When we break our covenants, we will feel the misery that comes with that choice if not now, then eventually. It is so much better to be found trustworthy and faithful to our God, for there is happiness in His presence.
Elder Stapley said, “There are many who have no compunctions against deceiving and leading people into the paths of darkness and sin.” This is a good description of our day. As covenant women of the church of God, we need to be smarter than those who prey on the weak. We need to stand on our own testimonies of the doctrine we believe in. We cannot afford to be shaken and deceived because Jesus Christ is surely on His way and there will come a time when it is simply too late.
I think of the detractors that claim membership in our own church. Many of them are women, and if not women, they look to deceive our women. Without strong, faithful women, families would crumble. God wants complete families. God wants His children returned back to Him. God loves each and every one of us and wants us home. Right now, more than ever before, God needs covenant women who are patient, selfless, and absolutely faithful to our prophet. These are the women who are willing to have children and raise them unto their God.
As we, God’s covenant women, celebrate the birthday of our great organization let us check where we stand. Are we on the right side? Do we know what we have covenanted to do and hold fast to those precious covenants? Will we stand firm against those who mock and try to make us afraid? I stand and declare: Yes!
Additional General Conference Odyssey posts:
On the Inseparability of Idealism and Pragmatism Nathaniel Givens
America’s Divine Origin and Destiny Daniel Ortner
Let them hear something better occasionally Marilyn Nielson