Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
LDS leader: Faith lags behind tenets in empowering women
Religion » Head of faith’s humanitarian services says church practices will evolve.
First Published Aug 08 2014 03:46 pm • Last Updated Aug 25 2014 11:48 am

Mormon beliefs about women are the most expansive and empowering in the world, LDS official Sharon Eubank said Friday, but the faith’s practices don’t always match its preachings.

"As a daughter of God, I have divine parents. I belong to the household of God," Eubank, director of LDS Charities, the Utah-based church’s humanitarian wing, said on the second day of the 16th Annual FairMormon conference in Provo. "Nothing can separate me from communication with my Heavenly Parents. They don’t put anybody in between them and me."

At a glance

What is FAIR?

FAIR stands for the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research. It was created in 1997 by LDS writers in various states who found themselves answering the same questions and criticisms over and over. So they pooled their respective research and thinking. The group became known as FairMormon in 2013. Its website: FairMormon.org.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Eubank, who described herself as 50 and single, celebrated Mormon teachings about female roles as "a sister" of Jesus Christ, "a wife," bound together forever in faith with a husband, and "a mother," participating in creation.

"Eve was so desirous to be a mother that she sacrificed Eden for it," the LDS leader said. "Adam gave her the name Eve, which means ‘mother of all living,’ but she had no children when he called her that."

Whether a Mormon woman has children or not, she is "an inheritor of that title," Eubank said. "It is an incredibly powerful promise. I can’t get that anywhere else."

Plus, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said, "is the best grass-roots development organization there is."

It teaches its members "leadership, decisionmaking, budgeting, nutrition, health care, literacy, research, even gardening," she said. "Somebody in the Peace Corps once said to me, ‘You have a Mormon Peace Corps.’ "

There is, at times, a disconnect between LDS doctrine and "the way we practice it," she said. "To be honest, we can improve in many, many ways."

The church needs a new vocabulary, she said, for positions such as "mission presidents’ wives," who play a vital role but have no unique title.

And, possibly alluding to the movement known as Ordain Women, which is pushing for female entrance to the all-male LDS priesthood, Eubank said, "We need a way to describe the female contribution to priesthood. We are a faith community of priests and priestesses. We need a way to talk about that."

story continues below
story continues below

She believes that any woman who has been "endowed" with Mormon temple rituals "holds the priesthood" and that "the church is on the verge of understanding what that means."

In day-to-day Mormon living, she said, "we just need more imagination."

While young LDS men are setting up chairs, shoveling walks and performing other physical tasks, she said, "young LDS women may be in danger of learning passive helplessness."

The next generation needs to learn "parallel paths to prepare them for adulthood," she said. "They need better and more visible models of working together."

Such models, Eubank said, need to be visible to outsiders, too.

Mormon traditions regarding women will continue to evolve "in a fair and equal way," she believes, because LDS leaders are responsive to members’ needs.

And Mormonism will continue to attract women across the globe, Eubank predicts. "When you are hungry, what you want most is in this church."

Especially, she said, if it can live up to its divine doctrine.


Twitter: @religiongal

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.