“There are many voices now telling women how to live,” he said. “They often contradict each other. Of particular concern are philosophies that criticize or diminish respect for women who choose to make the sacrifices necessary to be mothers, teachers, nurturers or friends to children.
“If we allow our culture to reduce the special relationship that children have with mothers and grandmothers and others who nurture them, we will come to regret it,” Elder Cook said.
“The church is a relatively small minority even when linked with people who are like-minded,” Elder Cook said. “It will be hard to change society at large; but we must work to improve the moral culture that surrounds us. Latter-day Saints in every country should be good citizens, participate in civic affairs, educate themselves on the issues and vote.
“Our primary emphasis, however, should always be to make any necessary sacrifices to protect our own family and the rising generation,” he added. “The vast majority of them are not yet in bondage to serious addictions or false ideologies. We must help inoculate them from a world that sounds a lot like the Jerusalem that Lehi and Jeremiah experienced.
“Our challenge,” Elder Cook continued, “is to avoid bondage of any kind, help the Lord gather his elect and sacrifice for the rising generation. We must always remember that we do not save ourselves. We are liberated by the love, grace and atoning sacrifice of the Savior If we are true to his light, follow his commandments and rely on his merits, we will avoid spiritual, physical and intellectual bondage as well as the lamentation of wandering in our own wilderness, for he is mighty to save.”
Speaking right after Elder Cook, Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke about the power of the priesthood and its equal availability to both men and women. He observed that “we sometimes overly associate the power of the priesthood with men in the church.”
“The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all — men, women and children,” Elder Andersen said. “A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift.
“To receive the blessings, power and promises of the priesthood in this life and the next is one of the great opportunities and responsibilities of mortality,” he continued. “As we are worthy, the ordinances of the priesthood enrich our lives on earth and prepare us for the magnificent promises of the world ahead.”
Still, Elder Andersen said, “some may sincerely ask the question, ‘If the power and blessings of the priesthood are available to all, why are the ordinances of the priesthood administered by men?’”
While he suggested that we do not know all of the answers to that question, he said there are many things about the priesthood that we do know.
“We know that God loves all his children, and is no respecter of persons,” Elder Andersen said, adding that “as surely as we know that God’s love is ‘alike’ for his sons and his daughters, we also know that he did not create men and women exactly the same. We know that gender is an essential characteristic of both our mortal and eternal identity and purpose. Sacred responsibilities are given each gender.”
We also know “that from the beginning the Lord established how his priesthood would be administered,” he continued, noting that men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John all held the priesthood. “This is the way our Father in Heaven has administered his priesthood,” he said.
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