LDS women must seek spiritual as well as secular knowledge in order to stand firm in their faith and emulate Christ's example of service to others.
Speaking to a worldwide audience of members of the Relief Society during the annual women's meeting on Saturday, President Howard W. Hunter said when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unite in their obedience to God, "we are a majority. But only together can we accomplish the work he has given us to do and be prepared for the day when we shall see him."Thousands of female church members gathered on Temple Square and thousands of others met in LDS stake centers throughout the world to watch a satellite broadcast of the meeting, which included a video presentation emphasizing the Relief Society's emphasis on learning and literacy - both secular and spiritual.
Citing examples of Christ's love for the women of his day, President Hunter said the Savior "looked to the women of his time for a comforting hand, a listening ear, a believing heart, a kind look, an encouraging word . . . it seems to me that there is a great need to rally the women of the church today to stand with and for the brethren in stemming the tide of evil that surrounds us and in moving forward the work of our Savior."
President Hunter urged women to minister to the needs of their families, the church and their communities in the same way Christ ministered to the people of his day.
"You are chosen to be faithful women of God in our day, to stand above pettiness, gossip, selfishness, lewdness and all other forms of ungodliness. Recognize your divine birthright as daughters of our Heavenly Father. Be one who heals with your words as well as your hands."
Through so doing, women will seek Christ. Elaine L. Jack, general president of the Relief Society, said while LDS women do not have a corner on goodness, they do "have the spirit that allows us to recognize and discern the truth wherever we find it. This knowledge sets us apart and brings joy, as well as weighty responsibility."
She said seeking Christ helps women prioritize their many responsibilities and "to balance what we feel in our hearts with what we know to be true in our minds, and to show through our actions that we understand that balance."
She offered examples of women around the world who use "their minds and their might" to focus on learning and literacy in order to understand better the light and truth of the gospel.
"As we earnestly see light and truth, we develop clarity in our lives that reflects spiritual understanding and commitment. This clarity results as we learn from out daily experiences, our thoughtful study, and as we receive personal inspiration from the holy spirit . . .
"The more we seek to know, the better we are able to distinguish between a foolish notion and a wise idea. From such wisdom, we find truth."
Sister Chieko Okazaki, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, encouraged women to develop twin gifts - study and faith - in order to become self-reliant. In terms of employment, she reminded listeners that while prophets have counseled mothers to remain at home whenever possible, women make decisions regarding employment based on a wide variety of different circumstances and needs. "Women and families will be happier with these decisions if they are made using both study and faith . . .
"Let us never judge another. We do not know her circumstances. We do not know what soul-searching went into her decisions. Whether she is a sister alone, whether she and her husband, if she is married, went jointly to the Lord for guidance, or whether she was responsible, largely alone, to make decisions about the financial and emotional security of her children, let us be accepting and supportive as sisters.
"Let us trust the Lord, trust ourselves, and trust each other that we are trying to do the best we can. We need all the strength we can find for our daily trials. Let us not add our disapproval to a sister's burdens."
Sister Okazaki asked women to be supportive of each other, trusting that choices are made with the spirit of study and faith. In seeking greater light and knowledge, women expand their opportunities for service of all kinds. "When your course is clear, pursue it with all your might and find joy and rejoicing in it."
Such pursuit is the practice of charity, which is a learned behavior according to Sister Aileen Clyde, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency.
LDS women place learning charity first in their lives, she said. "Charity develops in us as we see ourselves moving in our lives from, a `what's in it for me' kind of life, to the love of family and friends and blessedly beyond that to an awareness of Lord's unconditional love for us that tells us of our divine kinship with one another and with him."
Learning to know God and Christ "comes to us through a chain of knowing conveyed by words, even holy words, and by the holy spirit." Because such words are vital to understanding Christ's gospel, the Relief Society has initiated a worldwide literacy program to encourage learning and enhance church members' ability to communicate with God and each other.
In communicating soul to soul, "we can see better the opportunities to learn that lie unused all around us. It becomes easier to identify the ways we have become prone to routine, allowing comfortable hats to insulate us from using our minds' spiritual power to see `a more excellent way.' "