Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Emi Edgley, Daughter Of LDS Young Women President Elaine Dalton, Speaks Out On Her Mother's "Guardians Of Virtue" Address

The speech delivered by Young Women President Elaine Dalton during the March 26th, 2011 General Young Women Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has attracted some criticism from unofficial LDS sources. The address, now referred to as the "Guardians Of Virtue" speech, has been roundly criticized by some on Feminist Mormon Housewives. The gist of the criticism surrounds the "guardians of virtue" reference.

-- Video and audio archives of the whole session or individual talks now available HERE. Written transcripts are now available.

President Dalton said that as guardians of virtue, young women are not to send flirtatious, sexually explicit text messages. However, she followed up by saying that if a young woman sends a sexually explicit text message to a young man, that this text message may cause him to lose the Spirit, his Priesthood power and his virtue. The concern expressed by some on FMH is that this sends the message that if young men cannot control themselves, young women are responsible for any consequences that result from sending these sexually explicit text messages to young men. But an review of the transcript of the speech indicates this concern was unwarranted; President Dalton had preceded that remark with a story about how men had helped women accomplish their goals during a 22-mile walk from the Draper Temple to the Salt Lake Temple. President Dalton's point was that men and women must be guardians of each other and look out for each other as well.

One person has weighed in vigorously in support of Elaine Dalton's speech. Emi Edgley, who identifies herself as a daughter of Elaine Dalton, publishes her assessment on her family blog. In a post entitled "Mothers as Guardians of Virtue", she noted that President Dalton defined virtue as "a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards which includes chastity and moral purity.” She also defined a guardian as "someone who protects, shields, and defends". And President Dalton eloquently connected the dots by telling the young women that "as a guardian of virtue, you will protect, shield, and defend moral purity because the power to create mortal life is a sacred and exalted power and must be safeguarded until you are married."

Emi Edgley cited the following excerpt as her favorite quote from the speech:

"For the mothers listening tonight, you are your daughters’ most important example of modesty and virtue — thank you. Never hesitate to teach them that they are royal daughters of God and that their value is not based on their sensual appeal. And let them see your belief modeled correctly and consistently in your own personal attitude and appearance. You are also guardians of virtue."

This is the ultimate message of female empowerment -- to promote the idea that women should be judged by ALL of their talents, and not strictly by their ability to attract men. Note that the syntax does not necessarily imply that women are the only guardians of virtue. But the reason women were highlighted was because it was a Young Women's conference; perhaps during the Saturday evening priesthood session of the General Conference, we will hear a message directed towards the young men counseling them to be guardians of virtue as well, and telling them that their obligation to obey the law of chastity remains constant no matter how women behave.

The idea that men have a lesser responsibility than women in this area is not supported by LDS doctrine; in fact, we men may actually have a greater responsibility in this area since we hold the Priesthood and the women don't. Doctrine & Covenants 121:36-37 states, "...the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness...That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man".

Emi Edgley also promotes a group called American Mothers, which is an interfaith, non-political, non-profit organization for women and men who recognize the important role of motherhood through educational programs and community outreach. It is also the organization responsible for annually selecting the National Mother of the Year® and Young Mother from candidates across the United States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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