“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
As a young girl, I don’t think I ever paid much attention to gender or considered what it meant to be a female. I loved and appreciated the different roles that my parents played in my life and I tried to emulate both of them in important ways. While I recognized that boys and girls had different physical bodies, I didn’t consciously give much thought to the implications of gender. In today’s hyper-sexualized world, gender awareness and angst comes early because the media has many messages—both demanding and discouraging—about the ideals of manhood and womanhood. Gender has become a buzzword for exploring sexuality, but sexuality is only one component of gender. Gender encompasses our eternal identity and defines our eternal purpose. We are man or woman because God created us to be such, and He loves His children equally. He has given both His sons and His daughters important responsibilities that share in the majesty of His power and His plan. Speaking to women, President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“God is your father. He loves you. He and your mother in heaven value you beyond any measure. They gave your eternal intelligence spirit form, just as your earthly mother and father have given you a mortal body. You are unique. One of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life. . . . It is true of all of us that, as we progress spiritually, our sense of belonging, identity, and self-worth increase . . . To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age.”
Now that I have grown into my womanhood, I feel deep gratitude for who I am and I continue to learn what I mean to God and what He can do with my life. I have two sons and a husband whom I love dearly, but when my daughter was born, the influence of her female spirit in our home changed us all. She is divinely different from my boys, and those differences have inspired a kindness and nobility in them that is a testament to her power as a female.
I recently had the opportunity to research out the history and mission of the Relief Society, and one message was born to me over and over again through the power of the Holy Ghost: “God loves His daughters. He has endowed them with gifts and powers to influence the world for good; He depends upon His daughters to further His work and magnify His power; and He sees and honors all the good they do.”
Much of what is wrong with the world today is due to the misunderstanding of the value of women—and by extension, the failure of both genders to recognize the divine nature in one another and then act accordingly. This must improve in families and in society as a whole. Prophets and apostles warn that those who violate the Family Proclamation’s principles, including defining and honoring gender, “will one day stand accountable before God. Further, [they] warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
[Image credit: Living Water by Howard Lyon]
I glory in womanhood and I know God glorifies it, too. A daughter of God rightfully inherits the gifts, power, and potential her loving Father bequeaths to all His children who love Him and serve Him.
Stephanie Dibb Sorensen is a mother to three and teaches Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She blogs about finding faith in motherhood at her blog, Diapers and Divinity, and her new book, Covenant Motherhood, is available at most LDS retailers.
Such a beautiful post, by a beautiful person. I have come to love and admire Stephanie, as I've gotten to know her, online, over this past year. It's an honor to have her take the time out of her busy schedule to accept the invitation to participate in our Family Proclamation Celebration.
Head on over to Mormon Mommy Blogs or Chocolate on My Cranium, and see what they're sharing during our Celebration!