A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there were some really bad guys that in their quest for more power commenced in building an entire planet called the Death Star. This Death Star was a spacecraft and galactic super weapon capable of destroying entire planets with its immense super-laser. It was the game-changer for the bad guys, and they were planning to take over the entire universe. The good guys didn’t want their friends, innocent people, or entire planets to be destroyed by super lasers, so naturally they went about trying to prevent that from happening. But, since the Death Star was an entire planet and the good guys didn’t have a super-laser to fight with, this task was nearly impossible due to the dark side’s seemingly unlimited resources and lack of ethical behavior.
The only hope to destroy this Death Star was to attack and destroy its very core. Attacks to the outside would have been fruitless given its extensive shields, outer defenses, radar, tracting beams, etc. So, following a careful review of the schematics1, a plan was made by the good guys to send a group of X fighters to fly through a remote trench and fire two proton torpedoes into a very specific exhaust vent in an effort to cause an initial explosion, which would then lead to a chain reaction of further explosions (important detail), disabling and eventually destroying the entire Death Star. The rebel forces knew that this plan was in all reality the only way to do any critical or lasting damage to the Death Star.
We, as individuals and members of the church can be likened to the Death Star, and the way we can know that is to recognize that Satan and his group of evil X-wing fighters have identified the trench that leads to a very specific exhaust vent that leads to the ultimate target and they are repeatedly firing proton torpedoes in that direction. He knows exactly what will happen if they are able to get a torpedo into that vent. And He knows the destroying chain reaction that will occur, and THAT IS HIS PLAN. He is desperate to destroy us, and he will not give up.
So, what is the trench? What is the exhaust vent? What is the very core of what he is trying to destroy? Just like when the bad guys on the Death Star tried to identify why the rebel fighters were flying down that particular trench (in order to identify the threat level); we can ask ourselves what are they aiming for? What is the initial target that if destroyed would cause a chain reaction and destroy everything? The answer for us is the same as it was for them; their plan is to destroy the source of power that gives life to the entire Death Star. He knows that if he can destroy that which gives life to the planet it will cause a chain reaction of destruction all on its own. Thus, the absolute heart of the Death Star (the source of power that gives life) is his primary target.
Put another way, we could also state that Satan’s target is the most powerful power, because like most tyrannical, irrational, evil, and power- hungry rulers, he is petrified of things that can outshine, override, and trump his less powerful power. He is relentless in his continuing attempts to squash the most powerful power and he targets the group that scares him the most – women.
Satan is targeting the divine, powerful, and magnificent identity of a woman. Women are absolutely the source of power that he is most afraid of. He knows that unless he can get to that source and cause it to be destroyed, there is no hope, because if that life giving power source remains intact; repairs and ongoing protection are possible through that power.
The exhaust vent then could be considered the traditional family unit – a legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman created and ratified in the Lord’s own house – which provides protection and offers security to the entire family unit. This exhaust vent is suffering immense collateral damage, by virtue of the relentless barrage of Satan’s attempts to fire proton torpedoes inside the exhaust vent to destroy the source of power – righteous and powerful womanhood.
The trench leading to the vent and that amazing power source is the simple and plain principles and ordinances of the gospel. Such things as faith, repentance, obedience, agency, scripture study, family home evening, respect, humility, prayer, the sacrament, modesty, virtue, etc. that lead to the culmination of the family unit making covenants and being sealed together for all eternity. Essentially, Satan and his X-fighters are repeatedly flying along the straight and narrow path firing at anything and everything they can see leading up to the exhaust vent and the culminating ordinances of a sealed family unit. When he and his followers in their jealous anger see that exhaust vent, they unload everything they have in an attempt to lodge a torpedo through that final protective barrier. Then, they loop around and try it again, and again, and again, and again, and again in hopes of success.
Since the beginning of what we call time, this has been the focus of his attack. Satan might know even better than any of us, how important and influential women are to the Lord’s work. He knows how truly full of power they are, and how much of a difference they make in the world – that’s why he went to work right away to deteriorate the very identity of a women – in a deliberate attack to make them NOT understand, or to misunderstand, to doubt who they really are or the glory of silence. I hope that all women understand how much you scare him, and even if you don’t know (or don’t realize) it, he does. “He knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail”. 2 And perhaps even more sobering a thought, Heber J. Grant indicated, “without the wonderful work of the women I realize that the church would have been a failure”. 3
This barrage from Satan on women will continue and he will not let up. Media in all its varieties are the primary method in which he makes his attacks. The rise and success of pornography and all its destructive influence is where he is scoring his greatest victories. These torpedos have absolutely been fired. The resulting damage is that virtue is giving way to vice as the preferred characteristic of too many nations and communities, and that the so-called pinnacle of ‘womanhood’ as defined by the world is entirely skewed by all the wrong people. This will only continue. And we as defenders of truth and virtue cannot afford to give up the exhaust vent. At ALL costs, we must protect our source of power. This means that we need to tighten up the defenses surrounding the exhaust vent. Make sure that there is absolutely no way that a proton torpedo, stray laser fire, rocks, space dust, nano-bots, or any other unholy or impure thing can get inside that exhaust vent to cause damage. Better yet, let’s not allow anything to even approach that exhaust vent, by realizing that every attack is focused on that point, and a thorough self-examination may be necessary to make sure that we aren’t giving away any ground or being distracted by the appearance of an important space battle 3 miles above the exhaust vent. That is a holy place, and we cannot be moved.4
Jesus came to give life – literally. Women give life – literally. Jesus gave everything that he had as a sacrifice to benefit all others. Can you think of someone who sacrifices more of themselves to benefit others than a mother? Ponder with me the reality of the task given to mothers in this day and age – it is awe inspiring to say the least. In a world where individuals, communities, and nations are all beginning to throw in the towel on the value, worth, or even the validity of motherhood, nurturing, and old fashioned virtue (because it’s too hard, too thankless, too plain, or too demanding), righteous women across the globe continue to willingly and eagerly follow our savior, and bring life into this world, and not only that – they nurture, teach, lead, love, and sacrifice themselves in order to partner with our Father in heaven in “the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind”. 5 Rather than run away from struggles and hardships, women accept and even cherish the divine role of mother, and they give everything that they have to their children6 to make them better. Mothers raise children, and then they raise more children, and then they help those children raise their children – all with no sleep and a heart full of love.
I recently had the privilege of watching over 10,000 youth perform at the cultural celebration for the dedication of the Payson Utah Temple. I was aware of the time commitment that every single participant gave up in order to practice and prepare for that celebration in the months leading up to the actual performance (my oldest daughter was one of them). Although I was moved by the entire celebration and the numbers that were performed, what I cannot get out of my head is the dedication and sacrifices that were made by the leaders, and more specifically, the mothers of those young men and women.
The week of the celebration I happened to be reading the passages in Alma 56-57 relating the source of the stripling warriors’ power (their mothers). I could feel the absolute power that these youth had, and I knew in that very moment, that their power source was and is the same today as it was back then – their mothers. That fact was clear to me, and it was clear to everyone else who was there, as we heard thousands and thousands of young men and women cheer and scream and clap as soon as they got a glimpse of President Eyring. That is power, and that power comes from the most powerful power. That night, I looked around where we were seated, and saw mother after mother beaming with joy and happiness, some with sunburnt faces, yet entirely oblivious to the long days, sacrifices, and heartfelt prayers that were needed to get their children to this point – all in a hope that the spirit would speak to each and every one of their sons or daughters in a special and unique way.7 Not a thought for themselves, no hesitation in sacrifice, just a pure love for those to whom they have motherly responsibilities. Those are women that rule the world, and that is the most powerful power.
President Joseph F. Smith said (to the women of the church): “It is not for you to be led by the women of the world; it is for you to lead the … women of the world”. 8 I can’t imagine a group better suited to lead the world, than the women that I know – my wife, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, your wives, your sisters, and our mothers. That is a group that can and will influence entire nations. That is a group of women that follow the savior, and who choose virtue. That is a group with power.
“Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate your unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman. … All women have within their divine nature both the inherent talent and the stewardship to mother.” 9
How thankful I am to be sealed to one of these amazing women, and have been charged with providing for and (hopefully contributing in some fashion) to the raising of 3 other mothers-in-training so that they can grow up and have the same powerful influence on their children as my wife does in our home. It is also not lost on me the responsibility I have to the one little man in my house to help him realize, appreciate, and stand up for the power and virtue of his mother, his sisters, women in general, and his future wife. What an awesome responsibility and privilege we all have as parents. Let us all resolve to protect them and provide safety for them so that they can continue to give life to our planet.
Image from lds.org
God and his son Jesus Christ are the ultimate and absolute source of power – including the power that righteous women have as their followers. Women are a very real source of that power to the family unit – and they can increase that power through covenants with our Father.
1 This schematic was really the only hope that the rebels had for success. As a note, this schematic was made available to the rebel fighters due to the great personal sacrifice of a woman – a princess in fact.
2 Sheri L. Dew, Are We Not All Mothers? October 2001 General Conference
3 Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941, p. 150 as quoted by James E. Faust in the April 1988 General Conference ‘The Highest Place of Honor’. Compare Alma 10:23 in this light.
4 D&C 45:32 and 87:8
5 This was a declaration of the first presidency (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay) in Messages of the First Presidency 6:178. It was also quoted by James E. Faust in the April 1988 General Conference ‘The Highest Place of Honor’.
6 As I use ‘children’ in this context I realize that there are women who are unmarried, or who are unable (for whatever reason) in this earthly life to give birth to their own children). I reference and include in the word ‘children’ those innumerable people whom they nurture, love, lead, and teach as their ‘children’. Because after all, are they not all Mothers? Yes they are. (See note 2).
7 At one particular point near where we were seated, there were a number of young men dressed up as stripling warriors, who were waiting in the queue to run out onto the field and perform their number. Since we were seated only a few feet from them I could see and hear the director who was standing there in front of them continually telling them to “wait for it, wait for it, wait for it” (and she wasn’t entirely succeeding). They kept creeping ever closer to the field, because they literally could not be held back any longer. I could feel the motherly power that had planted itself in these boys. It is as real a power as there ever was.
8 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 184 as quoted by M. Russell Ballard in ‘Mothers and Daughters’ April 2010 General Conference
9 M. Russell Ballard, ‘Mothers and Daughters’ April 2010 General Conference