Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Woman’s Role: The View from 1973

The Woman’s Role: The View from 1973

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 05, 2013

N. Eldon Tanner, counselor to Harold B. Lee, delivered an address on the role of woman in General Conference, October 1973. Some extracts:

… As we enumerate the many important responsibilities a woman has in connection with her duties as a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a sister, a sweetheart, or a good neighbor, it should be evident that these challenging responsibilities can satisfy her need to express her talents, her interests, her creativity, dedication, energy, and skill which so many seek to satisfy outside the home. It is impossible to estimate the lasting influence for good a woman can have in any of these roles. Let me remind us all of her primary responsibilities.

First of all, as I mentioned before, she is a co-partner with God in bringing his spirit children into the world. What a glorious concept! No greater honor could be given. With this honor comes the tremendous responsibility of loving and caring for those children so they might learn their duty as citizens and what they must do to return to their Heavenly Father. They must be taught to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and to accept and live his teachings. As they understand the purpose of life, why they are here and where they are going, they will have a reason for choosing the right and avoiding the temptations and buffetings of Satan, who is so very real and determined to destroy them. …

Women, you are of great strength and support to the men in your lives, and they sometimes need your help most when they are least deserving. A man can have no greater incentive, no greater hope, no greater strength than to know his mother, his sweetheart, or his wife has confidence in him and loves him. And men should strive every day to live worthy of that love and confidence.

President Hugh B. Brown once said at a Relief Society conference: “There are people fond of saying that women are the weaker instruments, but I don’t believe it. Physically they may be, but spiritually, morally, religiously, and in faith, what man can match a woman who is really converted to the gospel! Women are more willing to make sacrifices than are men, more patient in suffering, more earnest in prayer. They are the peers and often superior to men in resilience, in goodness, in morality, and in faith.” (Relief Society Conference, Sept. 29, 1965.)

And girls, don’t underestimate your influence on your brothers and your sweethearts. As you live worthy of their love and respect you can help greatly to determine that they will be clean and virtuous, successful and happy. Always remember that you can go much further on respect than on popularity. I was reading the other day of a report of a conversation between two young prisoners of war in Vietnam. One said: “I am sick of war, bombers, destruction, prison camps, and everything and everybody.”

“I feel much like that myself,” said the other. “But there is a girl back home who is praying that I will come back. She cares, and it really helps me endure all these atrocities.” …

The whole purpose of the creation of the earth was to provide a dwelling place where the spirit children of God might come and be clothed in mortal bodies and, by keeping their second estate, prepare themselves for salvation and exaltation. The whole purpose of the mission of Jesus Christ was to make possible the immortality and eternal life of man. The whole purpose of mothers and fathers should be to live worthy of this blessing and to assist God the Father and his son Jesus Christ in their work. No greater honor could be given to woman than to assist in this divine plan, and I wish to say without equivocation that a woman will find greater satisfaction and joy and make a greater contribution to mankind by being a wise and worthy mother raising good children than she could make in any other vocation. …

Girls, prepare yourselves to assume the roles of mothers by gaining knowledge and wisdom through a good education. We teach that the glory of God is intelligence, and so we must all be aware of what is going on around us and be prepared to thwart Satan in his attempts to divert us from our divine destiny. With knowledge, wisdom, determination, and the Spirit of the Lord to help us we can succeed.

We also believe that women should involve themselves in community affairs and in the auxiliary organizations of the Church, but always remember that home and children come first and must not be neglected. Children must be made to feel that mother loves them and is keenly interested in their welfare and everything they do. This cannot be turned over to someone else. Many experiments have been made and studies carried out which prove beyond doubt that a child who enjoys mother’s love and care progresses in every way much more rapidly than one who is left in institutions or with others where mother’s love is not available or expressed. …

As women realize the importance of the home and family, and with their husbands keep the commandments of God to multiply and replenish the earth, to love the Lord and their neighbors as themselves, to teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before him, then will their joy be increased and their blessings multiplied to the extent that they will hardly be able to contain them. …



  1. Thanks for sharing that. I liked it.

    Comment by The Atomic Mom — June 5, 2013 @ 6:58 am

  2. It feels like I had heard this talk before…

    Comment by Niklas — June 5, 2013 @ 7:07 am

  3. Sometimes I read topics like this and get so confused as to which portions are considered “eternal doctrine” and should be taught to my daughter today, and which are cultural relics that can/should be discarded without guilt.

    Comment by The Other Clark — June 5, 2013 @ 11:28 am

  4. What a turmoil of emotions to read this and revert to my 1973-1984 self! It’s mostly disturbing that women are not treated as valuable in and of themselves, but only as they are helping someone else get to heaven.

    TOC, none of this can be discarded without guilt, but we all need to carefully examine where they are incomplete. For example, “…these challenging responsibilities can satisfy her need to express her talents, her interests, her creativity, dedication, energy, and skill…” has three key omissions in my reading. 1. “can satisfy” says to me that it WILL work for SOME people but never addresses those for whom it won’t work. 2. The list never addresses financial need. It assumes a situation where a woman/mother has the option to make this type of choice. 3. It never addresses the women who are not attached to a husband and/or dependent children.

    It’s still hard to be rational and not defensive.

    Comment by charlene — June 6, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

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