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Section 25. This section is known for its advice to Emma, and her being an “elect lady.” So what does it mean to be an elect lady in the church? Opinions about that fact are widely varied both within and outside of the church. And though I want to speak about what it means to be an elect lady and though I will be talking directly to the women, there are principles here that are just as valid for men.
So elect. The dictionary defines “elect” as “chosen” or “singled out.” When I thought of the word “elect,” I often thought of regal or refined, but I like the official definition even better because it ties it back to the section that is typically associated with men and the priesthood: Doctrine and Covenants 121.
Now Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-35
34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the donors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
Doctrine and Covenants 121, at the time it was written, did speak directly to men (as we see from the use of male pronouns as well as the phrase “the priesthood of that man,” etc., etc.) just as Doctrine and Covenants 25 was written to a specific woman. However, there are some fantastic parallels between the two sections, and I’m so sad that I only have time to talk about two of them specifically. You’ll have to find the rest for yourself.
Emma was called elect; elect means chosen. Doctrine and Covenants 121 teaches and warns about what it takes to be chosen of the Lord. Emma’s section contains similar teachings and warnings for her to receive her crown of righteousness. So what are these teachings and warnings associated with being “elect?” What are the implications specifically for women trying to navigate today’s world?
Hearts set upon the world
We receive a warning to not let our hearts be set upon the world. We already read the verse in Doctrine and Covenants 121; let’s read it in Doctrine and Covenants 25.
Doctrine and Covenants 25:10 And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.
Okay we’ve seen it in the direction given to men AND women. Honestly, we’ve seen this advice and warning given a million times. Why is it so important to Heavenly Father that we let go of the things of the world? It is because focusing on the things of the world limit us.
There are many women who feel slighted or limited in roles they feel they’ve been given with no choice of their own. I do not try to take those hurt feelings away from you.
One day, when our faulty paradigms fall away and the Lord can show us His plan in full, you will not feel limited. The world would have you be CEO’s and doctors and journalists and politicians. I do not take that away from you. Go and follow the calling the Spirit is whispering to you, but don’t you ever forget that the Lord wants you to be a Goddess.
The roles we play and the hats we wear here on earth are temporary. Being a CEO of a multi-million dollar company and being a garbage woman can both be vehicles to our eternal destination IF we remember that those hats come off someday, and you will be judged by what’s left when those roles are outdated and silly. You built up a million dollar company? Awesome. But who did you become in the process? Your company can do good and be good and support your family and give jobs and supply necessary things for life, but in and of itself, it will mean nothing. What will be meaningful is the woman that you became while building whatever you built here on earth. This may seem like such a small paradigm shift, but it can dramatically affect how you choose to live your life and how you see others around you.
Now you may note that I said “garbage woman” instead of mother. This was on purpose. I was speaking of temporary hats of this world; being a mother is no temporary hat. It is an eternal calling. I know of many women who feel frustrated when our leaders speak of mothers and mothers and mothers. As I mentioned previously, nothing stated in this video is meant to diminish any of those feelings you’ve had. Merely, it is meant to comfort and inspire. When our leaders praise their beloved women as mothers, it is because they know that motherhood is an eternal role. They know that praising someone for holding a career in this world is limiting and so immensely below the eternal roles we are meant to step into.
And though I speak to women in this video, I say it to men as well. Your career, in and of itself means nothing if it does not help you step into your eternal role. Motherhood does not need to be deemphasized in this church; fatherhood needs to be reemphasized.
If you could see what you were meant for, all of these silly titles and academia would melt away into oblivion. It would be laughable compared to what you are meant to be.
Go and follow what the Spirit is telling you if that means you should go to work, start a hobby, start a YouTube channel, or just be home with the kids, but you remember to lay aside ALL the things of the world. You remember that you have an eternal destiny, and that all of these temporary hats are nothing but tools given by the Lord to prepare us for that eternal destiny.
Now we all know that Doctrine and Covenants 121 is talking directly about the priesthood in the last portion of the section that we’ve been talking about. The priesthood is likewise spoken of in Doctrine and Covenants 25, but it is not as pronounced though no less significant.
Doctrine and Covenants 25:7 And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.
Some may call that a stretch, but if you understand the doctrine of the priesthood, it is not a stretch in the slightest. Dallin H. Oaks taught:
“We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”
When Emma was called by the Lord to expound the scriptures and exhort the church, what other power would she be using? Emma Smith was likewise called as the first Relief Society President which was “organized under the priesthood.”
I didn’t realize until recently that the phrase, “under the priesthood,” bothered me. It bothered me because I was associating the priesthood with the men. However, the Relief Society was not organized under the men. It was organized under the priesthood. The women’s organization of this church (just like the organizations for the men!) were organized under the eternal power of our Heavenly Father.
In his October 2019 General Conference talk titled, “Spiritual Treasures,” President Nelson spoke of the priesthood power that we hold as women. I plead with you as he did to learn about the priesthood power of women because if you don’t know about it, then your life has been far more limited than it needs to be.
So what does it mean to be an elect lady? The same as it means to be an elect man. We remember who we truly are and allow worldly acclamations to melt away. We remember that we hold the power of heaven in our hands when we act as heaven would have us act. That is what it is to be chosen for both a man and a woman. Though it will look dramatically different for all of us, it will have the same eternal goals.