Women are not responsible for the world’s morality

Photo by Ben White 

On Saturday, October 5, 2019, President Nelson gave a talk at the Women’s (and girls age 8 and older) Session titled, “Spiritual Treasures,” where he explained priesthood power and covenants. He said that the heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood.

Let’s break this down, shall we? When President Nelson uses the term “endowed” does he mean that all women are endowed with God’s power, or only those women who have gone through the temple and received their endowments? And if it’s the latter, why are boys as young as 11 now receiving the priesthood while women have to wait until they enter the temple in adulthood? Women and girls over 8-years-old were just given the opportunity to witness baptismal ordinances while their counterparts have been able to actually perform these sacred ordinances for a century now. How are the heavens just as open to us as women with this great contradiction?

President Nelson went on to say this quote:

“Let me be very clear about this. If the world loses the moral rectitude of its women, the world will never recover.”

Not surprisingly, I take great umbrage with this statement. First of all, using the possessive pronoun “its” implies that women belong to the world and not to themselves. Considering the patriarchal structure of the church, it’s problematic at best to continue to push the belief that women as a collective belong to something other than themselves.

Secondly, I’d like to remove myself from the narrative that as a woman I am responsible for other people’s morality, let alone the entire world. This thinking is what drives the toxic purity and modesty culture within the church, which puts the responsibility of men’s sexual thoughts and actions on the shoulders of women. When are men going to be punished for their own sins, like we say we believe in our second Article of Faith?

Thirdly, if there is any moral rectitude lost in the world right now, it comes from members who support immoral men like President trump, who lie, cheat, steal, sexually abuse, cage children and separate them from their parents, break promises (which is now leading to a genocide of the Kurds), etc., ad infinitum. Members who support leaders like this in the United States and throughout the world are contributing the moral downfall of the world.

Lastly, I believe that this quote was spoken to the women in the church because we are seen as more compassionate and more accepting of our LGBTQ loved ones and this was a reminder to us to fortify our walls against this “immorality.” When our LGBTQ Mormon children are taking their own lives because of this painful rhetoric, it is not us who is in danger of losing our morals.


Risa has a Masters and Bachelors degree in Social Work. She is an Associate Therapist who has worked in child abuse prevention, adoption, and volunteers as a CASA . She is a mother of 4 and in her spare time she is a voracious reader, snarker, and subversive cross-stitcher.

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16 Responses

  1. Abby Hansen says:

    Good points! I especially appreciate the question about why women have to go to the temple to be endowed with their priesthood power now (which is all a new concept in our theology, at least to me), but boys get theirs at age eleven. It’s very different for men and women, and we need to talk about that more.

  2. Heather Brown says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I would like to add that we are being told we are responsible for the morality of the world without being given the power to do anything about it. If they want to give women the responsibility of the world’s morals, they need to put women in leadership positions over men. How else can women accomplish the great responsibility of moral housekeeping if we can’t tell the men and boys when they’ve made a moral mess of things.

    • anon says:

      Right. We have less “authority” than an 11 year-old boy to participate in The Church.

    • Alysa A. Revell says:

      Heather, that’s exactly what I was thinking listening to this! With power and authority comes responsibility, not the other way around! And the church can’t tell women not to seek power and responsibility outside the home at the same time they are telling us to fix the world!

  3. Anna says:

    I complained to my husband about that statement, and he rephrased it for me. “Considering that the moral rectitude of the men of this world has been lost, the world will really be in deep shit if the women give up theirs.” More like it.

    And I agree with you that if the brethren are calling out a loss of morality among church members, they need to call out those who support tRump. Some members see the man as some kind of God sent savior to our political system, rather than the disaster to American morals that I feel he represents.

    But I agree with you that I think the brethren are concerned because women tend to be less homophobic than men.

  4. anon says:

    Brilliant. I belong to my self – not the world, or men, or male leaders. You are right on point. His quote rubbed me the wrong way. Now I know why.
    “……its women…….” Seriously, ewww.

  5. Jessica says:

    I have often pondered that the 2nd A of F must say silently that women are accountable for Eve’s transgression (by not stating otherwise but yet being very specific about men and Adam), because that seems to be the way we are treated by the powers that be. So you caught my notice when you pointed out that the stated portion of that A of F could be a defense for women, that women are not accountable for the sins of men, men are! Very interesting twists and turns in my thought process around this A of F, and I thank you for pointing it out!

  6. Dot says:

    Or, if women don’t remain moral—that is, fully supportive of the church and their place in it—the world will never recover because the church can’t survive to save the world. To me this just one more attempt to make women feel important, while not ceding any real power to them. Women are needed to keep the whole thing going (mostly by doing the work men don’t want to do), but leaders don’t want to change the patriarchal structure.

  7. Ziff says:

    I really like your response, Risa. I think you’re spot on that in this talk, he patted women on the head, praising them without ceding an inch of ground on the Church being of men and by men and for men, with women as attractive adornments, and that he also of course simultaneously ignores actual bad things happening in the world.

  8. Mary says:

    Never recovers from what? He says that likes it’s a bad thing.

  9. Hannah says:

    My take away- A Woman has so much powerful influence on those around her as she lives her best life or worse life. “She who rocks the cradle rules the world” . Think about it in basic terms. Kindness or bitterness ripple effect.

  10. Jan Signore says:

    Interesting that among some great observations that I totally agree with the author finds it necessary to call out one man for moral corruption. And that one of the commenters demonizes the moral rectitude of men as a group. Is this space going to devolve into a forum to air one’s political frustrations and casting men as morally inferior to women as a group? If so it will be such a loss. There are countless other spaces for those discussions, please not here.

    • Anna says:

      First of all, No one is saying men are morally inferior. We are calling out the fact that the men are holding us women to a higher standard than that to which they hold each other. I don’t think that idea got voiced specifically, but that is what is wrong with the idea that “when the moral rectitude of women fails, the world will never recover.” Well what about all the corruption going on in the government with a president that thinks he has a right to grab women by the p****? Why are they pointing a finger at women and saying the world is in trouble and it is all women’s fault? 90 of the evil in the news right now is men. Men committing sexual assault. Men bribing other countries to help them in their political ambitions. And he is worried about the fact that women are more tolerant of gays than he is? It is the difference between the attention given to Hillary’s emails and the lack of attention given to Trump’s many scandals. Hillary was held to a higher standard of honesty. Why? And in so many cases, women actually get blamed for the choices of men. Why? Why are women held to a higher moral standard than men are? Why does a woman get blamed for what she is wearing and the man doesn’t get blamed for rape?

      Second maybe the author of the post called out the lies, cheating, fraud, corruption of Trump because he needs to be called out in Mormon circles. The man has committed several crimes while in office and people like you are still defending him. Open your eyes and stop thinking he is going to make America great. He has shot America’s reputation among world leaders. He has turned his back on people we promised to help. He has made America a laughing stock. I would welcome any other Republican President. So, it is not political why people hate trump. It is because the man is a lying cheat who makes deals with American enemies.

      If feminist blogs cannot stand up against a man with multiple accusations of rape, then just who should feminists stand up against?

    • Risa says:

      I’m sorry that I didn’t make it more clear that not only was I calling out trump, but his entire administration that enables him and his citizen supporters. Reasonable people can disagree, but I draw the line at sexual assault, ripping children away from their families and locking them in cages, and being the cause of the genocide of the Kurds. #sorrynotsorry

  11. Risa says:

    You cannot take my posts and use them to characterize an entire blog of insightful, intelligent women/people writing about their own experiences and beliefs. We call come from different backgrounds, have different political beliefs, and different levels of activity within (or out of) the church. What you’re going to get from me is more radical feminism (in the context of Mormonism) and more direct critique of church leaders than the other bloggers on this site. If I’m not your cup of tea, please find a blogger whose writing resonates with you and stirs your soul. There’s enough difference between the bloggers here that you will find someone or something that you will enjoy and find uplifting.

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