Contradicting how she has seen the Church portrayed in the media recently, Sharon Eubank declared in her FairMormon Conference address Aug. 8, “The doctrine and practices of the Church for me as a woman have given me things that I care more deeply about than anything else in my life.”
Sister Eubank is director of LDS Charities — the humanitarian organization of the Church — and a former member of the Relief Society general board.
Sister Eubank was one of a two-day lineup of speakers addressing various subjects in defense of Mormonism — the Book of Abraham, the Book of Mormon, women in the Church and early Church history, among others — comprising the annual FairMormon Conference that convened Aug. 7-8 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah.
FairMormon (formerly called the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) is a non-profit organization independent of the Church, though its mission is to defend the Church against attacks on its doctrines, practices and leaders.
In addition to the annual conference, FairMormon sponsors an array of websites that provide answers to challenges to the faith of the Latter-day Saints. Its main web page is at www.fairmormon.org.
Sister Eubank took her theme, “This Is a Woman’s Church,” from a story she heard related by her friend Lillian DeLong. Sister DeLong and her husband were doing some Church leadership training in a rural part of Ghana. A woman came up to her after the training to shake her hand and emotionally said, “This is a woman’s church.”
Sister Delong asked what she meant, and the woman replied, in essence, “We have the glorious Relief Society that teaches us about spiritual things and everyday things that bless us and our families. At the same time your husband is in the next room teaching our husbands that they must not beat wives or children, that this is not in the gospel of Christ. And we have the temple so my children who are dead will be mine forever, and nothing can take them from me. Everything I want, I find in this church. This is a woman’s church.”
Sister Eubank pointed out that the Church holds men and women equally accountable to practice self-discipline and empathetic respect for others, with no tolerance for pornography, adultery, abuse, neglect, inequality or oppression.
She added that participation in the Church is “the best grassroots development program ever designed” by encouraging women to do all the things Church members are called upon to do, including leadership, public speaking, decision making, persuasive discussion, budgeting, nutrition, influence, community watch-care, literacy, gardening, food preservation and disease prevention.
“The scope and field open to me as a woman as revealed in LDS doctrine is the highest and most empowering idea that I can wrap my mind around,” Sister Eubank said. “There is nothing like it in any other faith tradition. There is nothing else I know of that talks about our identity, purpose and infinite artistry that’s available to us in this unique way.”
Sister Eubank said the doctrine of the Church presents a unique understanding of the self. “We always existed as intelligences that can’t be created or made,” she said. As spirit children, “we chose to ally ourselves with Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother who could put us on the road to exaltation. ...
“As a woman, you have certain roles and responsibilities that have to do with binding, connecting, bridging, gluing,” she said.
Another role, Sister Eubank said, is that of being a daughter. “I have divine parents, and so that means that I belong to the household of God.”
Yet another role she identified is that of sister, defining who one is in relation to Jesus Christ. “I am under covenant to Christ, that I’ll choose Him, that I’ll try to be like Him, that I’ll do His works, that I’ll be filled with His Spirit.
“I also have the opportunity to be a wife,” she said. “This opportunity to be bound together in a marriage relationship and sealed up unto the everlasting covenant I’ll call the divine pair.” She explained that being part of a “divine pair” entails integrating one's intelligence and spiritual attributes with those of another.
“So it takes probably a lifetime and beyond to create this unified divine pair,” she said. She explained that it is a transition from self-interest to mutual bonding, where one partner seeks the greatest good for the other, and, as a unit, they have the opportunity to become creators authorized to bring and nurture life, which leads to another role she spoke of, that of mother.
“Now, there are corresponding roles for men,” she said, “to be a man, to be a son, to be a brother, to be a husband, to be a father. They are largely parallel roles, but for women and for men, these roles expand our identity and our individuality. How they do that is so lasting. It lasts beyond the grave, past this mortal life. It’s everything I want to take with me.”
Sister Eubank spoke of a war of distortion and disinformation being waged in the world about how women use their bodies. She said the world devalues divine stewardships and offers pale imitations.
She said that far from being restrictive, and conservative, as the Church often gets labeled, its doctrine on women’s roles in the family, Church, community, nation and the temple and how women and men relate to one another is “moderate, powerful, enlightened and energizing.”
Citing 4 Nephi 1:16, Sister Eubank asked listeners to imagine what it would be like if there were “no whoredoms.” She said it means no teen pregnancies, no lives warped by sexual abuse, no fear of rape or violence, no serial killers or kidnappings, no market for prostitution, no sexual slavery, no adultery, no appetite for pornography and its degradation, no children wondering where their fathers are.
She asked how that would not be more desirable and more free than the current system.