President Gordon B. Hinckley paid tender tribute to his late wife, Marjorie, on Sunday during the 174th Semiannual General Conference of the LDS Church, extolling women while chastising men who "in a spirit of arrogance" think they are better than women.
"Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age she has again become the girl of my dreams."
The 94-year-old leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints described how he and his children were at Sister Hinckley's bedside when she died April 6. "As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome."
Sister Hinckley did not attend general conference in April for the first time in 46 years, having taken ill after a long temple dedication trip to Ghana. President Hinckley spoke somberly of her absence then, noting she had been at his side through "storm and sunshine." She died two days after the gathering adjourned. She was 92.
The two-day October conference concluded Sunday with President Hinckley urging church members to hold Family Home Evening and to more frequently attend the temple.
On Saturday, he announced new temples will be built in Twin Falls, Idaho, and at an undisclosed site in the Salt Lake Valley. Also, two new apostles — Elders Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar — were named to the Quorum of the Twelve. Both spoke to church members during the Sunday morning session.
Saying his marriage has been "as idyllic as anyone's could possibly be," President Hinckley said marriage between a man and a woman meets the grand designs of God. "Their complementary relationships and functions are fundamental to his purposes. One is incomplete without the other."
He called Eve the "grand summation" of all God's creations, yet women through the ages frequently have been put down, denigrated, enslaved and abused.
"There are some men, who in the spirit of arrogance, think they are superior to women. They do not realize that they would not exist but for the mother who gave them birth. When they assert their superiority, they demean her.
"It has been said, 'Man cannot degrade woman without himself falling into degradation; he cannot elevate her without at the same time elevating himself.' "
Divorce is one of the results of that degradation, and "the fact is that it is predominantly men who bring about the conditions that lead to divorce," President Hinckley said.
He said he knew a man who insisted in making all of the decisions for his wife and children, from buying shoes to serving in the church. "I have since witnessed the outcome of that attitude, and that outcome is not good."
Repentance, forgiveness and kindness, not divorce, are the cure to marital troubles," he said.
"If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion there would be very little, if any, divorce. Arguments would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness."
Speaking in conference for the first time as apostles, Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar expressed awe at the sacred responsibility of their new offices.
Elder Uchtdorf said he felt as "calm as a hurricane."
"I have received a call and been given a sacred trust that will influence my life forever," he said. "I have a great sense of inadequacy."
Still, he said his heart is filled with joy because he will have the opportunity to speak and preach of Christ for the rest of his life.
Elder Bednar described his heart as overflowing, his mind as spinning and his knees as weak and wobbly. He said he considers himself "one of the weak things in the world."
But "in the strength of the Lord we can do, endure and overcome all things," he said. "I will strive to become what I should and must become."
In his address, President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, said people cannot expect to always succeed but should do the best they can.
"Some worry over missions that were missed or marriages that did not turn out or babies that did not arrive or children that seem lost or dreams unfulfilled or because age limits what they can do. I do not think it pleases the Lord when we worry because we think we never do enough or that what we do is never good enough."
President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, also warned Latter-day Saints about "that enemy to achievement — even the culprit 'self-defeat,' " which he said dwarfs aspirations, smothers dreams and clouds vision.
"The enemy's voice whispers in our ear, 'You can't do it.' 'You're too young.' 'You're too old.' 'You're nobody.' This is when we remember that we are created in the image of God. Reflection on this truth provides a profound sense of strength and power."
Latter-days Saints are taking an active role in hurricane relief efforts in Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico not only physically but with contributions to the church's humanitarian fund, Bishop H. David Burton said. The aid drew gratitude from Florida's governor, state and federal emergency officials, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Some 2,000 volunteers gathered in Pensacola, Fla., last weekend to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
"They rolled out their sleeping bags on meetinghouse floors, in other churches and in members' homes. They responded to thousands of work orders to assist wherever they were needed. Missionaries participated by covering the roof of the local Methodist church with the ever-present blue tarps," he said.