- Religion and Philosophy
Emma Hale Smith, An Elect Lady - First President of LDS Womens Relief Society.
Emma Hale Smith - An Elect Lady!
The Organizing of the Female Relief Society in Nauvoo, Under the Direction of Joseph Smith Jr., Prophet of God.
During what is often thought of as some of the happiest days, in the growth and development of the newly formed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints - was the organization on March 17, 1842, of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Ill.
At the first Relief Society meeting, Joseph Smith prophetically declared that, "the Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized. He also taught that, "The Relief Society was organized "under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood". Not many realize the significance of these statements; for the prophet was declaring in essence - that the Women's Relief Society organization of the Church, was literally part of the restoration of all things in the latter days.
Meaning, that this was not some nice ladies benevolent auxiliary, of which the women of the Church could now amuse themselves socially, as other women of the day were engaged in. No. Joseph Smith was declaring - that the organization of the Female Relief Society for the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - was a vital part of his personal mission, which had to be accomplished during a specific time-period.
Joseph Smith Jr. - prophet of the restoration - was putting forth the imperative understanding of the place of Women- in the Lord's Kingdom here upon the earth, for the final days in preparation to His Second Coming.
The organization of the Mormon Women's Relief Society was in concurrence to the temple endowment, being fully revealed and put in order. Joseph was engaged during these years in Nauvoo, with his final work and finishing touches - to that which he had been held in reserve for Millenia, to accomplish.
Joseph Smith Jr. was and is - the Prophet of "the restoration of all things", for the dispensation of the fullness of times. Joseph had a work to do, and bringing a restoration about, that encompassed all things previously revealed of God, for the salvation of man. Joseph Smith, was to now - in this final dispensation prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ - complete that work of restoration, during his brief life.
The organizing of the women in the Mormon Church, in order - by restoring the Relief Society, - was a part of the Prophet, Joseph Smith's final important and, critical days in Nauvoo.
Red Brick Store of Nauvoo, Organization of the Relief Society
Understanding the Majesty of this Restoration-Revelation, Which Is - the LDS Women's Relief Society, Today!
Joseph Smith's beloved wife, Emma Hale Smith - had also been given promises through divine revelation, of her Elect Status amongst women - and this had yet to be fully understood by the Saints. As a part of this fulfillment, under the direction of her Prophet-husband, Emma Hale Smith, was called to serve as the inaugural President of the Female Relief Society, in Nauvoo.
It is my opinion, that the significance of the organizing of the LDS Women's Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints - is yet to be fully understood and recognized, in the proper context of the history of the LDS Church.
I also do not believe that as yet, either LDS members, be they women or men in general - have truly realized the Majesty of this great restoration-revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith - and its impact to be - on the growth and moving forward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.
I am not a Church historian, nor am I a biblical scholar. However, I have been studying this topic for a while now, and have been profoundly moved by which continues to go seemingly by the wayside - not understood by most. what others have credibly written,
Or so I had thought...
Just recently, in-fact - during the General Relief Society Broadcast, of the women of the Church, Julie Beck, current General President of the Relief Society; addressed this very topic. I began this article months ago. It has lain dormant, because so much of what I desired to relate in this article, seemed so out-of-date to many people.I am thrilled that Sister Beck, has in a sense - resurrected the truth of the organization of the LDS Women's Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints; in our Day!
Sister Julie Beck, taught these powerful truths to the women of The Relief Society...
"It is impossible to understand why we have an organization for women in the Church without having an understanding of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord, knowing about the calamities that would come to pass in these latter days, spoke to His servant Joseph Smith Jr. “and gave him commandments; . . . "
“That faith . . . might increase in the earth;
“That [His] everlasting covenant might be established;
“That the fulness of [His] gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world.”
Emma Smith - My Story Movie
The Savior as He Instructed the Women of the Church, in His Day...
Just as the Savior invited Mary and Martha of New Testament times to participate in His work, women of this dispensation have an official commission to participate in the Lord’s work. From the earliest days of the Restoration, women were active in helping build up the Church by supporting missionary efforts, contributing to the construction of temples, and establishing communities where the Saints could worship together. The organization of Relief Society in 1842 mobilized the collective power of the women and their specific assignments to build the Lord’s kingdom, just as the organization of priesthood quorums gave men specific responsibilities.
Sister Beck continued, and said, that "To summarize, the purpose of Relief Society, as established by the Lord, is to organize, teach, and inspire His daughters to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life. I would like to say that again. The purpose of Relief Society, as established by the Lord, is to organize, teach, and inspire His daughters to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life."
The mission of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is one that today - honors the rich history of which it was founded. Emma Hale Smith, in the very earliest days of the Relief Society, understood and saw the power of the women of the Church. Emma told the sisters, that they - as organized, were going "to do something extraordinary".
Joseph Smith Jr. - Organized the LDS Women Relief Society
Quotes About the Mission and Organization of the Relief Society
The Prophet, Joseph Smith Jr.
"[The Relief Society] is a charitable Society, and according to your natures; it is natural for females to have feelings of charity and benevolence. You are now placed in a situation in which you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles, how great and glorious will be your reward in the celestial kingdom! If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates." (History of the Church 4:605)
"I now rejoice. I have lived until I have seen this burden, which has rested on my shoulders, rolled on to the shoulders of other men; now the keys of the kingdom are planted on the earth to be taken away no more for ever . . . You have to round up your shoulders to bear up the kingdom. No matter what becomes of me. I have desired to see that Temple built, but I shall not live to see it. You will; you are called upon to bear off this kingdom." (Journal of Discourses 13:164)
Willard Richards reported: “The [Female Relief Society] meeting was addressed by President Joseph Smith, to illustrate the object of the Society—that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—to assist by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the community.”
Eliza R. Snow reported: “As [the Prophet Joseph Smith] had this opportunity, he was going to instruct the ladies of this Society, and point out the way for them to conduct themselves, that they might act according to the will of God. …
“If you live up to these principles, how great and glorious will be your reward in the celestial kingdom! If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. Females, if they are pure and innocent, can come in the presence of God; for what is more pleasing to God than innocence; you must be innocent, or you cannot come up before God: if we would come before God, we must keep ourselves pure, as He is pure.”
More recently, n regards to the Women's Relief Society Organization, President Spencer W. Kimball said this... “there is a power in this organization that has not yet been fully exercised to strengthen the homes of Zion and build the Kingdom of God—nor will it until both the sisters and the priesthood catch the vision of Relief Society.”
Emma Smith: A Mormon Woman of Faith - Joseph Smith
Charity Never Faileth
Emma Hale Smith - Her Heart
Of her daughter in-law, these are the words of Lucy Mack Smith, concerning Emma...
“I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done; for I know that which she has had to endure—she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman.” (History of the Prophet Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith)
These are the words of someone who really knew Emma Smith, in contrast to the words and speculation of so many who claim that they did, and do not - even today. Who should we give credibility? I choose the mother of a Prophet of God!
Emma Smith said of her husband Joseph Smith, that "she preferred him to all others". I love this tribute to the young Joseph Smith Jr. Emma and Joseph loved one another deeply. There was much conflict between them when it came to the doctrine of plural marriage, nevertheless - they still loved and respected on another.
Joseph and Emma Smith - An Eternal Bond
Joseph Smith Jr., Prophet of God
During Joseph Smith's life, the practice of plural marriage was not made public, although he and some others were called to participate. Joseph Smith himself, did not acknowledge his plural marriages to anyone outside of the closest of his associates. Most likely, the ones that were also called to practice polygamy, only.
During this time, there were those that opposed Joseph Smith's leadership, who had been very close to him. The practice of plural marriage was then taken, and corrupted by these men, that were once close to Joseph Smith.
The convincing of innocent women that they were to become the "spiritual" wives to these few apostate men, when found out - enraged Emma Smith. The accusations against her husband, as one so degenerate as these others was really more than Emma could take. Emma Smith, although she despised plural marriage, knew her husband - and Joseph was a good and upright man, doing only what the Lord commanded.
During Emma Smith's time as President of the Relief Society, she began to outwardly oppose this "spiritual wifery" which was being perpetuated by these few apostates of the Church. All the while, Joseph her husband, was denying his own practice of plural marriage.
The practice of plural marriage was not made an official practice until after the death of Joseph Smith. This was done under the direction of Brigham Young, succeeding President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saint. During Joseph Smith's life, there are a few accounts - where it is felt that Joseph wanted to institute the practice, but the Saints were not ready; and would not accept the doctrine as yet.
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Personal Musings about Emma Hale Smith, and the Organization of the Relief Society for the Women of the Church...
I have often wondered, if one of the reasons Emma Smith denied the doctrine of plural marriage, and Joseph Smith's practice of it - was because of some type of loyalty to Joseph? The Prophet, Joseph Smith, never admitted at any time publicly, to the practice of it during his own life. Perhaps she felt that Joseph would have wanted it that way? Nonetheless, Emma's future actions separated her and the remainder of Joseph Smith's family, from the body of the Mormon Church and the Saints altogether.
After the death of Joseph Smith, Emma was even more adamant against polygamy and plural marriage. She began to almost crusade against the practice; and even during official meetings of the Relief Society in Nauvoo. Unfortunately, this began to cause divisiveness within the ranks. Ultimately, Brigham Young disbanded the organization of the Relief Society - temporarily.
The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, had its history - and the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after the same pattern - would not be fully organized again, for nearly twenty years. This would take place under still, the Presidency of Brigham Young, with the help of Eliza R. Snow - who had been a participant in the originall organization of the Relief Society.
Nevertheless, a pattern had been revealed for the women of the Church... The LDS women continued to act in unison in many ways ,as the Relief Society had been organized; although not officially.
Joseph Smith Jr. had laid the groundwork and understanding of woman in the LDS Church. Because of this understanding of the day - it was understood that women played a vital role in the perfecting of the saints.
This pattern, of the importance a woman and man as equals before the Lord, and necessary for each others Salvation - was not to be ignored over these years before the reorganization of the Relief Society as we know it today, in the LDS Church.
Just as the quorums of the priesthood are to prepare men to make and keep sacred covenants, so too -- was the organizing of a parallel program, which would bring the women unto Christ, through these very same covenants. When Joseph made his statement regarding the perfection of the restoration regarding the organizing of the Female Relief Society - temple covenants were at the very heart of the work of this society.
The capstone ordinance of the Eternal Marriage Sealing - is the "work" of sealing families for time and all eternity.
Herein lies the understanding, appreciation and power of the Women's Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Emma Hale Smith 1804-1879
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LDSNana-AskMormon Acknowledgements and Requests
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Emma Smith: My Story is now on DVD.