Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TFOT - The Moral Force of Women, Elder Christofferson

Moral Force of Women (Elder Christofferson)

From age immemorial, societies have relied on the moral force of women. While certainly not the only positive influence at work in society, the moral foundation provided by women has proved uniquely beneficial to the common good. Perhaps, because it is pervasive, this contribution of women is often underappreciated.

In today’s lesson Elder Christofferson addresses three things:
1.     the wish to express gratitude for the influence of good women
2.     identify some of the philosophies and trends that threaten women’s strength and standing
3.     a plea to women to cultivate the innate moral power within them.

Reader #1
Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures. When praising the “unfeigned faith” he found in Timothy, Paul noted that this faith “dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice.”

Discussion:  Who brung you?
Years ago when my son received his Eagle Scout award, one of the men who spoke gave a talk called who brung you.  Here in the south it’s the same equivalent as asking how you got to where you are – who influenced you, who motivated you. 

Reader #2
A woman’s moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach, and nurture their children. Where this ideal does not exist, people strive to duplicate its benefits as best they can in their particular circumstances.

In all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship. By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. A mother’s love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them.
Reader #3
Most sacred is a woman’s role in the creation of life. We know that our physical bodies have a divine origin and that we must experience both a physical birth and a spiritual rebirth to reach the highest realms in God’s celestial kingdom. Thus, women play an integral part (sometimes at the risk of their own lives) in God’s work and glory “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” As grandmothers, mothers, and role models, women have been the guardians of the wellspring of life, teaching each generation the importance of sexual purity—of chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage. In this way, they have been a civilizing influence in society; they have brought out the best in men; they have perpetuated wholesome environments in which to raise secure and healthy children.

Whether you are single or married, whether you have borne children or not, whether you are old, young, or in between, your moral authority is vital, and perhaps we have begun to take it and you for granted. Certainly there are trends and forces at work that would weaken and even eliminate your influence, to the great detriment of individuals, families, and society at large.

Discussion:  What unravels women’s strengths today?

1.    Devaluation of marriage and motherhood
a.     We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood in marriage.
2.    Attitudes toward human sexuality
a.     Abortion for personal or social convenience strikes at the heart of a woman’s most sacred powers and destroys her moral authority
b.    The same is true of sexual immorality and of revealing dress that not only debases women but reinforces the lie that a woman’s sexuality is what defines her worth.
c.     Women and girls are now encouraged to be as promiscuous as the double standard expected men to be.  Equal-opportunity promiscuity simply robs women of their moral influence and degrades all of society
3.    Erasing the differences between masculine and feminine
a.     This takes the form of pushing women to adopt more masculine traits—be more aggressive, tough, and confrontational. It is now common in movies and video games to see women in terribly violent roles, leaving dead bodies and mayhem in their wake. It is soul-numbing to see men in such roles and certainly no less so when women are the ones perpetrating and suffering the violence.

Reader #4
Former Young Women general president Margaret D. Nadauld taught: “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.” 

Elder Christofferson’s plea to us (as women) today is:
1.    To protect and cultivate the moral force that is within you.
2.    Preserve that innate virtue and the unique gifts you bring with you into the world.
3.    Your intuition is to do good and to be good, and as you follow the Holy Spirit, your moral authority and influence will grow”.
Gaining the skills to overcome adversity and protect ourselves is a lesson we can learn from the women in the scriptures. 

5 Min Exercise:  Using the women and adversity worksheet from SewCakeMaker, Separate room into four groups.  Distribute 1 woman from the scriptures to each group and have them discuss what the woman went through and how that example can help us to handle adversity in our own lives.  (Women covered are the Widow of Zaraphath 1 Kings Chp 17; Hannah 1 Samuel Chp 1; Esther Book of Esther 4-7; and Ruth Book of Ruth)

It is your relationship with God, your Heavenly Father, who is the source of your moral power, that you must always put first in your life. Remember that Jesus’s power came through His single-minded devotion to the will of the Father. He never varied from that which pleased His Father. Strive to be that kind of disciple of the Father and the Son, and your influence will never fade.

Elder Christofferson concludes: 
Dear sisters, we rely on the moral force you bring to the world, to marriage, to family, to the Church. We rely on blessings you bring down from heaven by your prayers and faith. We pray for your security, welfare, and happiness and for your influence to be sustained.

I created a handout list for those that wish to study other women in the scriptures (compiled from HERE)
Women in the Scriptures
This is not a complete list of all the women in the scriptures

Book of Mormon:
Mothers of the 2060 Stripling Warriors
Nephi’s Wife
Nephite and Lamanite women who toiled, spun and wove cloth
Nephite women of Sherrizah and Lamanite women taken prisoner at Morinatum
Queen of King Lamoni and her daughers
Women in the Wilderness
Women of the City of Bountiful

Old and New Testaments:
Concubine in Judges 19
Daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite
Daughters of Shallum
Daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah & Tirzah
Daughters of Zion
Deborah and Jael
Elisheba and the daughters of Aaron
Gomer and Lo-ruhamah
Jemima, Kezia, Keren-happuch, and Job’s other 3 daughters
Noah’s wife
Pharaoh’s daughter (Solomon’s wife)
Phinehas’ wife
Potiphar’s wife
Puah and Shiphrah
Samson’s Mother
Shunamite Woman
The little maid
The Prophetess (wife of Isaiah)
The widow of Zarephath
Three daughters of Heman
Damsel and maid to whom Peter denied Christ
Crippled woman
Mary (Mother of Jesus)
Martha and Mary
Peter’s wife’s Mother
Pontius Pilate’s Wife
The devout, honorable and chief women of the Jews and Greeks
The elect Lady
The first sorrow of Mary
Tryphena and Tryphosa
Widow of Nain
Woman with an issue of blood
Women at the empty tomb
Jephtah’s daughter

Doctrine and Covenants:
Emma Smith
Eve’s faithful daughters
Wives made to bow down with grief (unnamed women 1838-1839)

Pearl of Great Price
Daughters of Onitah

Okay, so here are the numbers that I got from my own study of the scriptures (so please realize that these numbers might be off just a little... but they are as accurate as I could get them with my limited resources)
Old Testament
Named Women: 133
Unnamed Women: 90
Groups of Unnamed Women: 145
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 319

Total Women: 368

New Testament:
Named Women: 33
Unnamed Women: 28
Groups of Unnamed Women: 16
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 60

Total Women: 71

Book of Mormon
Named Women: 3
Unnamed Women: 18
Groups of Unnamed Women: 66
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 24

Total Women: 87
(Here is a complete list of them)

Doctrine and Covenants
Named Women: 2
Unnamed Women: 4
Groups of Unnamed Women: 4
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 20

Total Women: 10

Pearl of Great Price
Named Women: 5
(I didn't include women who were also mentioned in the Old Testament)
Unnamed Women: 2
Groups of Unnamed Women: 17
Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 5
Total Women: 24

Grand Total of all the Women in the Scriptures: 556

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