by Valerie Hudson Cassler
[Author’s Note: This presentation was given with an accompanying PowerPoint that utilized visuals to illustrate the points being made…Also, as a transcript of an oral address, the speech is more colloquial than an academic would normally use; my apologies.]
I’m delighted to be here today with you at FAIR. I think I came last year with Ralph Hancock and Richard Sherlock and we talked a little bit about SquareTwo. [Slide Two, on SquareTwo, is shown.] So to repeat the refrain may I simply remind you that SquareTwo is aiming to be the best online journal of LDS thought concerning the important issues of the world today. Our articles and comments are always reviewed. When we’ve had extremely controversial issues discussed, we’ve had up to 50,000 viewers of our various articles. In fact, just in our last spring issue, the very last issue, we had one of the only articles written about polygamy by a faithful Mormon woman. So there is a female perspective on polygamy, perspective such as D&C 132 makes it absolutely plain that polygamy is an Abrahamic sacrifice. And from what we know of Abrahamic sacrifices, they are always temporally bounded and there is always a ram in the thicket, whether that be in this life or the next life. And that is why we do not baptize those who are living polygamously even in countries where that practice is legal, because outside of a commandment to perform an Abrahamic sacrifice, an Abrahamic sacrifice is always an abomination. However, monogamy is never an abomination; it is rather one of the chief blessings of God. So that’s one of the things you can lay on some of those 16 year old girls who ask you.1
All right, let’s get to the real talk here. I didn’t join the Church because I was a feminist, but I stay in the Church because I am a feminist. And what I’d like to do to begin my talk is to review the main points of LDS doctrine that make this a revolutionary religion from a feminine perspective.
[Slide Three is shown.] You’ll have to excuse the fact that I don’t know how to use Adobe Illustrator so I ended up with a graphics program that let me draw stick figures.
All right, here’s some of the great stuff, and why I remain in the Church because of my feminist views.
The Restored Gospel teaches me that the term “God” means an exalted woman and an exalted man married in the new and everlasting covenant (and we also get that from D&C 132). We are taught that there is no God without men and women loving each other as equals. Heavenly Father is not an old bachelor. In fact, the one who’s an old bachelor is Satan. This is revolutionary.
Second, the Restored Gospel teaches me that you will have your male or female body forever. It is not a curse, but a great gift and a blessing that you had to prove yourself worthy to have. Women in the audience, your breasts, your womb, your ovaries, are not cursings, sisters, they are blessings. And the Restored Gospel also teaches me that I will be married forever, and that I will have children forever, and that that life of being a woman married to my sweetheart and having children forever is the life that will bring me the fullest joy.
I will never forget that several years ago David Paulsen, when he was Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU, brought in a variety of very high-placed theologians. One that was brought in was Rosemary Radford Reuther, who may not be known among this group, but is one of the most, if not the foremost Catholic woman theologian. And she was describing her view of heaven, and she was looking forward to it. She said, “I look forward to not having this body anymore, to not having to be a woman, to there being no women and no men in heaven, but souls in heaven.” And you know what was kind of ironic is her husband was standing right by her as she said all this. And I said, well, I was younger and just a little more curmudgeonly, and I said, “Y’know, I love my husband. I believe that I’m going to love being a woman, and he a man, and us married together forever.” And she said, “Well, that may be your idea of heaven, but it’s my idea of hell.”
So, let me just say that as a woman, I find the doctrine that my body is a great blessing and I get to keep it, to be an important part of why I stay LDS.
Another thing that I am taught is that men and women are equals before the Lord and before each other. Now, don’t use the fallen world’s sense of the term “equal”—”equal” does not mean identical. Let’s face it, there are no two men who are identical, and yet they stand as equals before each other and before the Lord. Can we imagine an understanding of equality that means that a man and woman can be equals before the Lord and before each other? That is the vision of equality that the Restored Gospel teaches me.
Let me quote here from Elder L. Tom Perry in 2004: “”There is not a president and vice president in a family. We have co-presidents working together eternally for the good of their family . . . They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.”2 What an incredible vision! Especially for a Christian religion, many of which believe in some type of doctrine of submission of wives to husbands. That is not what the LDS believe.
Now think of all the many things that men and women are equal in. They can be equal in blessings, equal partners, equal in power, equal in intelligence, equal in wisdom, equal in dignity, equal in respect, equal in giving counsel, equal in giving consent, equal in agency, equal in value, equal in potential, equal in fullness when exalted, equal in virtue, equal in spirituality and spiritual gifts, equal in temporal things at least in Zion, and equal heirs with Christ. This is a radical, revolutionary assertion of the equality of men and women before the Lord and before each other!
I believe that we cannot fully understand this incredible doctrine of ours unless we go back to the story of the Garden of Eden. I believe and I hope to show today that the Restored Gospel completely alters the conventional story of the Garden of Eden. Let me just mention three points before we really get into it in detail.
Number one: the LDS do not believe that the Fall was a great tragedy. Rather, we believe that the Fall was foreordained, that it was for our progression, and that in that perspective, the Fall was a blessing.
Number two, we the LDS do not believe that Eve sinned in partaking of the fruit of the First Tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And number three, because we do not believe Eve sinned, we also do not believe that Eve was punished for her role in partaking of the fruit, but rather rewarded.
So, what we need to do now is to go back to that old story, and let’s tell it again in light of the Restored Gospel and its principles, and without the encrusted traditions of old.
[Slide Four is shown.] We know that there is realm that is bounded by a chasm between all that is good and all that is evil. And in that holy realm, we know that we have Heavenly Parents, that we have a Father and we have a Mother, and that they are more than just symbolically our father and mother in some kind of literary sense, but that we are literally their children.
And we know that when God’s children reached what I like to think of as teenagerhood, it was apparent that the kids needed to go out and progress, and begin to understand what their Parents understood and value what their Parents value.
And so as we know a Plan was proposed, a plan of separation, a plan of full agency. Now we know we had some agency in the premortal existence, or there couldn’t have been a War in heaven. There were choices to be made even in heaven, but we didn’t have a full agency. There needed to be a separation for that. There had to be a progression; we had to understand the difference, as you know, between virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, all of these things, this knowledge we had to acquire.
So a Plan was presented, and as we know, one plan was championed by Christ and another was championed by Satan. [Click once to get next animation on Slide Four.] And it is said that a third of the children of God did not choose the Plan of Jesus.
For the record, I believe the idea of ‘two plans’ being proposed is sometimes misunderstood to indicate that God proposed two plans which is not a true doctrine. God would have never presented anything like the prideful and damning options that Lucifer put forward. Only one plan was proposed, the Father’s plan, and Satan rejected this plan for his own prideful purposes. Also, it is important to note that the plan was the Father’s plan and not Jesus’ plan. This whole issue was one of obedience and faith, and disobedience and doubt.
Let’s talk a little about the rest of us, because I’m assuming all of us here are not part of that third, but rather the two-thirds who decided to go with this plan. And we know that the Plan had something to do with the setup of the Garden of Eden. [Click twice to get next two animations on Slide Four.] That is, the Plan was to be a “round,” if you will, and that the plan would take us from our heavenly home and if we walked that path well, the plan would bring us back to our heavenly home, now much more like our Heavenly Parents, with much more knowledge, a fuller agency, a desire to choose the right, with so much more than we ever could have acquired if we had stayed in heaven with a pale or dilute version of agency.
I think it’s important to think about the fact that we have two trees and we have two people. Two trees, and a man and a woman. What I would like to address first is kind of an interesting interpretation of the fact that we have two trees and two people. Let’s address that by asking, Why was Eve created second? Now, I’m a convert to the Church, so I grew up in a tradition where the fact that Eve was created second was taken to mean that she was an appendage to Adam, that she was somehow inferior to Adam, that being derivative of Adam and not derivative of God that she was two steps away from divinity, not one step as Adam was.
Now our General Authorities have told us that that perspective is absolutely wrong, and that indeed when the term “helpmeet” is used, as I am sure you are well familiar, that “meet” actually means “equal in power to save.” So let’s read here from Elder Earl C. Tingey: “You must not misunderstand what the Lord meant when Adam was told he was to have a helpmeet. A helpmeet is a companion suited to or equal to us. We walk side by side with a helpmeet, not one before or behind the other. A helpmeet results in an absolute equal partnership between a husband and a wife. Eve was to be equal to Adam as a husband and wife are to be equal to each other.”3 Absolutely amazing, these quotes!
Let me offer a suggestion here. Could it be that Eve was created second to demonstrate Adam’s helplessness before the First Tree? Could it be—two people, two trees—that Eve was foreordained to partake first of the fruit of the First Tree?
To answer that question, we must ask ourselves what partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means in a spiritual sense. And I think you know what it means. It means to enter into mortality with a mortal body, to enter into full agency, and to have awakened within us the light of Christ that will serve us so well as we pass the veil. Think—two people, two trees—whose stewardship does this sound like? It is through women that souls journey to mortality and gain their agency, and in general it is through the nurturing of women, their nurturing love of their children, that the light of Christ is awakened within each soul. And I would include in that list of souls Jesus the Christ. Even Christ our Lord was escorted to mortality and veiled in flesh through the gift of a woman, fed at his mother’s breast, awakened to all that is good and sweet in the world. [Click once to get next animation on Slide Four.] Women escort every soul through the veil to mortal life and full agency. I believe that when we think about it—two people, two trees—that what we’re really thinking about is two stewardships. And that the fruit of the First Tree symbolizes the gift that women give to every soul that chose the plan of Christ. It symbolizes the role and power of women in the Great Plan of Happiness. It was not, in this view, right or proper for Adam to partake first of the fruit of the First Tree. It was not his role to give the gift of the fruit of the First Tree to others. It is interesting to think that even Adam, who was created before Eve, entered into full mortality and full agency by accepting the gift of the First Tree from the hand of a woman. In a sense, Adam himself was born of Eve.
Did Eve sin? I think that for all in this audience, this is not an issue for you. We have very, very plain doctrine on that, the most plain being Elder Oaks’ famous talk on Eve, in which he says, “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.”4 So we stand, if you want to talk about things on which Mormons stand across the river, if you will, from other Christian faiths, this is one of the most important—that Eve was not an airhead, she was not a murderess. She was, in fact, wise and courageous, and what she did pleased God.
Now, Elder Oaks goes on to say in his talk that the partaking of the fruit was the minimum transgression necessary to put that veil of separation in place that would enable our full inheritance of agency. I want you to picture what you were doing when Eve partook of the fruit of the First Tree, because we were all there and we all watching, and we were all holding our breath. What are we holding our breath for? Are we saying, “No, no, Mother Eve, don’t partake! No, I can’t look, don’t partake!” Is that what we were doing? What do the Latter-day Saints say? “Mother Eve, please eat the fruit, please please please eat the fruit!” And when she did, are we crying and weeping? No, we shouting and we’re celebrating! This is a huge divide between the principles of the Restored Gospel and many other Christian religions—what we picture ourselves doing in heaven when Mother Eve took the fruit.
I think it was just and proper that women open the door to the Plan of Happiness. I know that the stewardship of women and what the fruit of the First Tree symbolizes harmonizes really well, but I would like to add that I believe also that it was just and proper that women open the door. Surely when we considered all the elements of the Plan of Christ, and we considered what would befall us in the fallen world, surely the daughters of God were given at least an inkling of what would befall them—rape, forced marriage, sex trafficking, treated as chattel throughout much of human history. If no woman was willing to open the door to mortal life and all that it would mean for women, I don’t think it would have been opened, and that would only be just.
Eve was not the worst among women; Eve was the best among women. She was the most courageous, the most full of faith. It was also right, then, that the first mortal being that the resurrected Jesus showed himself to was not a man; it was a woman. Jesus’ performance of the Atonement repaid Mother Eve’s faith in the Plan, her courageous opening of the door represented by the First Tree.
For those of you who have been to the temple, I just want you to keep in mind—in the Great Plan of Happiness, who hearkened first to whom? Adam hearkened first to Eve. Adam received the gift of the First Tree from the hand of a woman. Do men still hearken today? Many do, and I would daresay that probably all of the men in this audience have or will, that is, in addition to being born of your mothers, you also accept marriage and family as dear to your heart, and part of your vision of the happy life. You covenant to be the equal partner of your sweetheart, to be faithful and true to her, and to help bring children into the world with her, and to raise them.
Now, was God mad at Eve for partaking? All that we know from the Restored Gospel says absolutely not. Did God curse her? That’s pretty hard to believe if He was so proud of her wisdom and courage. We know that the ground was cursed for the sake of Adam and Eve—is this a cursing of Adam and Eve? Well, no. In the teachings of the LDS Church, we do not believe that that was a curse meant to punish them—it was a curse meant to start that law of opposites: virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, light and darkness, truth and lies. Eve was told she would labor in childbirth—was this a cursing of Eve? Again, from the LDS perspective, we say absolutely not. To have children, to be able to fully give the gift of Eve, is one of the most soul-satisfying parts of a woman’s life that she will either experience here or in the hereafter if circumstances have prohibited it here.
And then in the King James version of the BIble, we are told that Eve, as part of her punishment, that she was told that Adam would rule over her. Is that what the LDS believe? Actually not. I think one of the most important new—I can’t say new doctrine, because obviously it started with Adam and Eve, but rather a rediscovering of truth—appeared n the August 2007 Ensign, and yet it didn’t make the front page of the Mormon Times. Well, I’m not sure the Mormon Times existed in 2007, oh, well, maybe that’s why. If you read it, here’s what Elder Bruce Hafen says: “Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to “rule over” Eve, but. . . over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over. . . . The concept of interdependent equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel.”5
So the LDS alone among all Christian religions says that not only did Eve not sin, but she was rewarded for her courage and wisdom, and God was assuring her that just as she fulfilled her role in the Great Plan of Happiness, that Adam would step up to the plate, and he would perform his role in the Great Plan of Happiness, and that would entitle him to rule with her. Absolutely revolutionary and astounding doctrine!
Now, what is Adam going to do? Well, I think we know this part of the Great Plan of Happiness very well. We believe that Adam will give the gift of the fruit of the Second Tree to the children of God, those who are worthy to receive it, just as Eve and her daughters give the fruit of the First Tree in the Garden of Eden to all who are worthy to partake of it. And that fruit of the Second Tree, as we know, are the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. [Click once to get next animation on Slide Four.] Just as the veil into this life is guarded by the women, the daughters of God, so the veil that brings us home, is administered and guarded over by the sons of God. And those that have accepted the gift of the Second Tree form the hands of the sons of God will pass through that veil and back to that celestial place where they can be with their Parents once more.
We know that Eve, just as Adam hearkened to Eve, then Eve is asked by God to hearken to Adam in accepting the fruit of the Second Tree. We would be remiss if we did not see that there were two hearkenings, two gifts given, two gifts received.
One of the reasons I think that we might have a little problem seeing this is where we are. [Click once to get final animation on Slide Four.] That is the situation and location of us here in this mortal realm, and especially as I see no babies, it represents most of us that who’ve got some grey in our hair and so forth and so on. The drama of the giving and the receiving of the fruit of the First Tree may be past for most of us, and what we see then, what we’re looking at, what we’re walking towards, if you will, along this path of the Great Plan, is the Second Tree. So what do we see? We see, what is most prominent in our eyes from our vantage point, is the Second Tree, the fruit of the Second Tree, and the sons of God who are giving the fruit of the Second Tree. That is only natural. But if that perspective warps our sense of what and who is important, then we have a problem. It’s important for us to step back and look again at the whole picture, the whole picture that includes women and men, two trees, two stewardships. Without either one, the Plan would not exist. It is a plan of equal partnership between men and women; a plan of joyous cooperation.
Women, do we hearken to our husbands? Well, of course we do. If my husband said to me before we were married, “Honey, I want to be married in the temple, and I don’t want to be married anywhere else.” I would say, “You betcha!” If after we were married and had children, he said, “Honey, I want to hold family home evening, and I want to hold family prayer, and I want to make sure they get baptized when they are eight.” I would say, “You bet! I’m going to accept and receive that fruit of the Second Tree from you.” If my husband said, “Honey, would you go get me the remote, it’s in the other room,” or “Tomorrow we’re moving to Iowa, did I tell you?” It is not my spiritual obligation to hearken outside of loving my husband and receiving from him the gift of the fruit of the Second Tree.
Now would be a good time to re-read D&C 121
We need to understand the true definition of what we call the patriarchal order. So I’m just going to throw in a couple of quotes here, because Satan loves to use words that sound the same but have absolutely different meanings. And we know that the term “patriarchy,” if you look it up in a secular dictionary, is an order in which men rule over women. We know that that’s not the order of Heaven. So obviously we don’t have patriarchy in the Church. But we do have something called the patriarchal order. Why is it called that, and why should we reject definitions that try to make it look more like the definition of men rule over women? Here I would like to quote President Ezra Taft Benson: “. . . the patriarchal order [is called such] because it came down from father to son.” The right to officiate in the ordinances of the giving of the fruit of the Second Tree in the old days came down from father to son. “But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government, where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.”6
So what we mean by the patriarchal order is the order of family government as found in heaven based on the equal partnership of men and women. President James E. Faust said: “Every father is to his family a patriarch and every mother a matriarch as coequals in their distinctive parental roles.”7 Notice the drumbeat, again, of equality.
I love the Restored Gospel’s vision of these things, because it gives me great joy then to consider the restoration of the priesthood. When I was an early convert and in General Conference they would get to the talks on celebrating the restoration of the priesthood, I must admit I didn’t quite understand and would usually fall asleep. But now I don’t fall asleep and the reason is that the restoration of the priesthood of God not only restores right relations between man and God, it restores right relations between men and women. And without the restoration of the priesthood, I do not believe we would have a vision, a God-ordained vision, of how men are to treat women.
Where in the world can be found a group of men dedicated to a single standard of chastity and marital fidelity? Where can we find a group of men dedicated to marriage—getting married and staying married? Where can we find a group of men dedicated to upholding the safety, flourishing, and equality of women? Men who want to have children, and take part in raising them? Men who value their daughters as much as they value their sons? Men who abhor abuse, pornography, and neglect? Men who embrace burden-sharing with their wives, including the burden of housework? Where we can find a group of men who covenant these things as part of their duty to God? They are right here in this room. You are a special covenant brotherhood unlike any other on this planet. Thank God for the restoration of the priesthood, that restores a vision of how God wanted his daughters treated by his sons!
I thought this was a great point. When men live the restored gospel and truly understand the dynamics of their role and how it is complemented by their wife’s role, you’ll find the best treated women in the world.
That means that priesthood is not some extra given to men and denied women. Priesthood is a man’s apprenticeship to become a heavenly father, and I believe that women have their own apprenticeship to become like their heavenly mother. The ordinance—and they are ordinances—of body and of agency—pregnancy, childbirth, lactation—the spiritual ordinances of the First Tree are not less powerful or spiritual than the ordinances of the Second Tree. Women have their own godly power. And a truism that holds fairly across the board is that those religions that despise the body tend to be those religions that devalue women.
I think it can be so easy to look at what you don’t have instead of what you do have. If people focused more on how to work together with what we each bring to the table instead of trying to rearrange things to suit our own ideas of ‘equality’ then we would have more happiness in the world.
What this tells us is that the central drama in all societies is not what you see on page one of the Deseret News or Salt Lake Tribune. The real drama of human societies is what’s happening between men and women. It isn’t treaties and wars and the price of oil or how the stock market is doing. How do we know this? Jacob 2: Jacob’s sermon at the temple. You may recall that he is speaking to the Nephites. Now, remember that the Nephites have the scriptures, the priesthood, prophets, a temple and the ordinances thereof. But what does he say to the Nephites? He says, “You will destroyed, and the Lamanites will be saved.” Do you remember the reason given? Because among the Lamanites, the husbands love their wives, the wives love their husbands, the parents love their children, and the children love their parents. Without that, what good are the scriptures and the temples and the prophets and the ordinances of salvation and exaltation? God would rather start anew with a people that has love between men and women, and parents and children. That is the bedrock of the Gospel. Take away that bedrock and the rest is just tinkling cymbals. In that way, we can say that the situation of women is a barometer of how near death a civilization is. It is because where love and equality between men and women do not exist, you cannot live the Gospel. You might as well start anew. God can always send angels and call prophets and uncover gold plates and whatever is necessary to restore the kingdom on earth. But that bedrock must be there. That means that gender equality is not some “politically correct” ideal to the Latter-day Saints; it is not some maraschino cherry placed last atop a Zion sundae. No, relationships of gender equality are the bricks of Zion, without which you cannot build Zion, because gender equality is how Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father live.
Now, there is more that could be noticed. [Click to get to Slide Five.] We know that for the endowment, for those of use en route to the Second Tree, the daughters of God hearken to the sons of God in their apprenticeship to Heavenly Father. [Click once to get next animation on Slide Five.] I think it’s quite possible that en route to the First Tree there was also a covenanting, [Click once to get next animation on Slide Five], where the sons of God covenanted to hearken to the daughters of God in their apprenticeship to Heavenly Mother, and that Adam’s partaking of the fruit from the hand of his wife, Eve, was his fulfillment of that covenant.
[Click to get to Slide Six.] Some in the Church have thought the kingdom of God looks like this, [Click six times to get next animations on Slide Six.], with the Church ruling over the members’ families, and they then have the mistaken impression that this means that men sort of run things and rule over women here and in the hereafter. But that is not what our General Authorities preach. [Click eight times to get final animations on Slide Six.] What our General Authorities preach is that the Church is supposed to be a gift to the family, the gift given by the sons of God, and that there is another gift to the family, and that gift is given by the daughters of God. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “There might be wards and stakes in heaven—I don’t know anything about them—or there may well be some other organization that we don’t know much about. What we do know will exist in heaven is families. And most of what has been revealed about our afterlife, our eternal life, our celestial life, focuses on family organization . . .”8
Another great illustration of how the church is actually created to serve the family – the family was not created to serve ‘the church’. I used to often imagine that the grand organization was God at the top, with the prophet, the apostles and all the leaders, with the families at the bottom in this gigantic pyramid. Now, obviously, God will always be at ‘the top’ and the greatest of all, but allegorically, I think the pyramid shape is actually meant to be upside-down. Jesus taught “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant”. When you stop and consider it, the whole Plan of Salvation is focused on exalting families, this is the end product. The family is God’s masterpiece and the church is his paint brush.
Now, what I’d like to do now is read you the story that I tell my sons and daughters at night, and then I will stop. Here’s the story I tell them at bedtime, when the lights are low:
When it was time for the children to grow up, the Parents made a beautiful garden. In the Garden were Two Trees. One had fruit red as the color of blood. The other had fruit that was as white as the snow.
When the Garden was ready, the Parents put one of their sons there. He was a very valiant son, and they loved him. But it was time for him to become for himself, and make his own choices. It was time for all the children to do this.
If they made good choices, they would become like their Parents, and they could all live together again. If they made bad choices, they would not want to live with their Parents again because they would not be like Them.
Only the children could shut the door to their Home and open the door to their journey. This was the first real choice the children had to make. They had to walk away from their Home and toward a new life, a life that they would make through their choices.
The door was the Red Tree. The Parents told their son that eating the fruit of that tree would shut the door to Home and open the door to a life of real choice. They told him not to eat it, so he would understand that once he chose the journey, Home and Parents would be lost to view.
He did not eat. He stood before the door of the Red Tree, and he knew it was not his destiny to open it. He waited for the Parents to send the one whose destiny it was.
She came. The Parents sent one of their beloved daughters, courageous and true.
She pondered what she knew of her Parents. She pondered her companion. Even an enemy tried to influence her, warping truth in an attempt to gain power over her.
She stood on the threshold between Home and the Great Journey. The Parents had decreed that if none of their daughters consented to the Great Journey, it would not occur. Those who would bear the responsibility of bringing all of the children through the doorway, and risk their life in this task, had the right to make that decision. She weighed it all in her heart and her mind, counted the cost to all of the daughters who would come.
But the vision of her Parents and their happiness was foremost in her mind. If she could be like them, and know what they knew, and love as they loved, the pain and the sorrow would all be worth it.
She took the fruit of the Red Tree, and opened that first door. At Home, all the children shouted for joy that a daughter had consented to the Great Journey, which meant that all would be able to join her . . .
. . . if her companion agreed to join her first. She brought the red fruit to him, and asked him to join her in the journey. He had waited for this moment, waited to be the first soul that a daughter of God brought across the threshold into this life.
He hearkened unto her, and accepted the gift of the red fruit from her. And another great shout of joy emanated from Home—the Great Journey had begun!
The Parents were overjoyed at the courage and the wisdom of their daughter for her choice to open the doorway of the Red Tree, and of the foresight and strength of their son to accept the gift of his companion, their daughter.
The Parents came one last time to see their son and daughter off on their journey. They warned them of how difficult it would be, that real choices mean real happiness, but also real sorrow.
But the Parents also told them where they were going and how they would get there. You see, their destination was the White Tree. The White Tree was also a doorway—the doorway back Home for those who chose what was good and right in their journey.
As with the Red Tree, the White Tree, there was a gift to be given. The white fruit would be the teachings and promises of the way of righteousness, which would lead Home. This time, their son would be the giver of that good gift, and their son would open the second doorway, the doorway Home.
The Parents told their daughter that she had proven herself worthy by her opening of the doorway of the Red Tree, and now their son would prove himself worthy by his opening of the doorway of the White Tree. He would offer her the white fruit, and she should hearken and accept it from him, as he had hearkened and accepted the red fruit from her.
In this way, both would be proven worthy, and he would rule with her as her equal and beloved partner.
They looked at each other, and could not help but smile. The Red Fruit of life and choice and the White Fruit of the way of righteousness . . . each so necessary, each so joyous, each given as a gift to the other by the hand of their own beloved equal companion. They felt a glimpse of the love of their own Parents for each other.
They clasped hands, and together headed off on their journey. Our journey. And the giving and receiving of the gifts of the Red Fruit and the White Fruit, and the opening of the first and second doorways, continue to this day . . .
. . . with you.
1 These comments on polygamy were a reaction to the talk that immediately preceded this one at the FAIR conference.
2 Elder L. Tom Perry, “Fatherhood—An Eternal Calling,” Church News, 10 April 2004,:15, hard copy version; the original is in the audio version of the 2004 April General Conference address at http://broadcast.lds.org/genconf/2004/apr/4/4_2english.mp3
3 Earl C. Tingey, “The Simple Truths from Heaven—The Lord’s Pattern. CES Fireside for Young Adults, January 13, 2008, Brigham Young University, http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,538-1-4399-1,00.html
4 Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, November 1993, 72-75
5 Elder Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, Ensign August 2007, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners,” 24-29
6 Ezra Taft Benson, “What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children About the Temple,” Ensign, August 1985. p. 9.
7 James E. Faust, “The Prophetic Voice,” Ensign, May 1996, p.4.
8 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, LDS Church, February 9, 2008, p. 12.