In his Saturday afternoon conference address, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve expressed gratitude for the "influence of good women" before offering a plea to women "to cultivate the innate moral power" found within them.
"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," he said.
The apostle spoke of the many women — including his mother and his wife — who have blessed and influenced his life. It was his grandmother, Adena Warnick Swenson, who taught him to be conscientious in priesthood service.
"Observing how she sustained my grandfather, a stake patriarch, engendered in me a reverence for sacred things. Grandma Swenson never learned how to drive a car, but she knew how to help become priesthood men."
A woman's moral influence is nowhere more powerful or important than in the home, he noted. "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."
Through a mother's example, a son learns to respect womanhood and incorporate high moral standards in his life; a daughter cultivates virtue and learns to stand up for what is right, he observed.
Most sacred, he added, is a woman's role in the creation of life. "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."
Elder Christofferson spoke of the "pernicious philosophy" that undermines a woman's moral influence by devaluing marriage and motherhood and homemaking as a career.
"We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career -- we all benefit from their achievements -- but still recognize that there is not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood in marriage. There is no superior career, and no amount of money, authority or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family."
Attitudes toward human sexuality also threaten the moral authority of women, he said. Sexual immorality and revealing dress not only debase women but reinforces the lie that a woman is defined by her sexuality, he said.
The apostle also addressed those who, in the name of equality, want to erase all differences between the masculine and the feminine. The distinct, complementary gifts of men and women that produce a greater whole are being blurred.
He pleaded with women and girls to protect the moral force within them.
"Preserve that innate virtue and unique gifts you bring with you into the world. Your intuition is to do good and to be good, and as you follow the Holy Spirit, your moral authority and influence will grow. To the young women I say, don't lose that moral force even before you have it in full measure."
He counseled young women to used clean language, dress modestly and live pure lives.