Among most of the Christian world the ideal of an under-shepherd pertains to those who choose to take on the ministry, recognizing that as they are shepherding those in their congregations, the True Shepherd is Jesus Christ.
Matthew Cowley, a mid-twentieth-century apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expanded this idea in relation to women. He said that they “belong to the great sorority of Saviorhood. … You are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls. You are the co-creators with God of his children. Therefore, it is expected of you by a right divine that you be the saviors and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children here upon the earth.”
The theme continues in the ministry of current Church President, Russell M. Nelson:
My dear sisters, you have special spiritual gifts and propensities … I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so. We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. We simply cannot gather Israel without you. I love you and thank you and now bless you with the ability to leave the world behind as you assist in this crucial and urgent work. Together we can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for the Second Coming of His Beloved Son.
Today, we find much debate over the meaning of womanhood or female identity. Latter-day Saint doctrine, then, provides significant clarity to these questions. The Lord invites women with or without husbands and with or without children to become covenant mothers in Zion.
The Lord invites women with or without husbands and with or without children to become covenant mothers in Zion.
The Lord “knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth,” beautifully intertwined a woman’s journey to exaltation in His scriptures. He marks the path by highlighting women’s roles and purposes as she progresses from a virtuous daughter of Zion to a bride, to a mother of nations, to a mother of all living while resisting the juxtaposed roles proffered by the adversary.
The Lord invites women with or without husbands and with or without children to become covenant mothers in Zion who are “the saviors and regenerating force in the lives of God’s children” and “to prepare the world for the Second Coming of His Beloved Son.” Each woman’s path is personally tailored to her circumstance and talents and enabled by the Savior’s atonement for her to become a joint-heir with Christ.
Daughter of Zion
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.”
Like Rebekah, who met Eleazer at the well, the virtuous daughter of Zion, guided by the Lord, sees, hears, knows, observes, and serves. Rebekah not only fulfilled the messenger’s personal request for water but offered to give life-sustaining water to his entourage. From her pitcher, they all drank until they were full. Her covenant ministering continued as she offered lodging for men and beasts. Then after hearing Eleazer recount Abraham’s commandment, his request of the Lord who provided her as a miraculous answer to that request, and a sudden proposal of marriage involving a move to an unknown land, Rebekah replied, “I will go.”
Alternatively, scriptures warn that daughters of Zion turned vain, haughty, and proud lose the Lord’s guidance and protection. The Lord implores their repentance and looks to a future day of cleansing and reinstatement “when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.”
In becoming a bride, a woman receives a new name, a new family, a new identity. In a covenant relationship, she gives herself to one. She receives one to herself. A woman is reborn from one to two as one.
Rebekah traveled to Canaan to become a bride—a woman true to her ideals and covenants, pure, strong, capable, compatible, virtuous.
“And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself … And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her.”
After a lifetime of preparation and while adorned appropriately, Rebekah received the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. . . and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”
As he wages war, the adversary aims to make the bride forget her accouterments and her covenant name, leaving her weak and vulnerable to his attacks.
“Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?” The Lord asked. “Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.”
“And I give unto them a name that never shall be blotted out, except it be through transgression. Yea, and moreover I say unto you, that if this highly favored people of the Lord should fall into transgression, and become a wicked and an adulterous people, that the Lord will deliver them up, that thereby they become weak like unto their brethren; and he will no more preserve them by his matchless and marvelous power, as he has hitherto preserved our fathers.”
Mother of Nations
In becoming a mother of nations, a woman receives a new name, a new family, a new identity. In a covenant relationship, she gives herself to others. She receives others to herself. A woman is reborn from two as one to two as creators of nations. As a covenant mother of nations, a woman’s foundational impact becomes limitless.
As a covenant mother of nations, a woman’s foundational impact becomes limitless.
God told Abraham “I will bless [Sarah] and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.”
As a covenant mother of nations, a woman’s foundational impact becomes limitless. This is next-level motherhood that yearns and prays that future descendants remain steadfast in their inheritance.
“Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” “Nurture refers to all the environmental variables that impact who we are.” The Lord speaks of making a “kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” A mother of nations calls on the powers of heaven, the priesthood, and her temple covenants as environmental variables to ensure her children say, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”
What role stands antithetical to a mother of nations? A mother of harlots and abominations.
“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Motherhood ascends from mothering a nation to becoming the mother of all living.
Motherhood ascends from mothering a nation to becoming the mother of all living.
But the Lamb shall overcome.
Mother of All Living
Motherhood ascends from mothering a nation to becoming the mother of all living. In becoming the mother of all living, a woman receives a new name, a new family, a new identity. In this covenant relationship, a woman is reborn from two as creators of nations to two as creators of all living.
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many.”
According to Bible Hub, the Hebrew word “ חַי” meaning “living” referring to Eve serves many interesting purposes in the scriptures. A few defined uses of the word include “alive, living, of God—as the living one, the fountain of life, the formula of the oath is, by him who liveth for ever; of man—living, land of the living, light of the living; of animals—alive, living; vegetation—as thorns, green; above near the end—water, flowing fresh; reviving; living beings, and cherubic creatures.
The promise of following the covenant path of motherhood as Eve did is exaltation.
“Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; … and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths … and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.”
This covenant path offers every woman the opportunity to become each of these covenantal women—the virtuous daughter of Zion, the bride adorned, the mother of nations “and the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light,” and the mother of all living who “shall see His face; and His name shall be in [her] forehead.”