We have something that this world needs to hear about, and these interviews afford an opportunity to give voice to that. One of the most extensive was with Mr. Mike Wallace of the CBS “60 Minutes” program. . . For the most part, this is from the material not used in the broadcast. Here are Mr. Wallace’s questions and my extemporaneous, unrehearsed answers: Question: “Are there any conflicts between your convictions about families and women’s roles with the family and the aspirations of some women to occupy leadership positions in your church?” Reply: “We have a few women who feel that women should hold the priesthood. We have a great women’s organization. I believe it is the largest women’s organization in the world — our women’s Relief Society. They have their own officers who preside over their own organization. They carry forward a tremendous program of education among women. I think they are happy. They are doing a great work . . . ” . . . Mr. Wallace: “Why must only men run the Church?” Reply: ” ‘Only men’ do not run the Church. Men have their place in the Church. Men hold priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world with a membership of more than three million. They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world.”
As I have contemplated my opportunity to address you, I have been reminded of the love my dear wife, Frances, had for Relief Society. During her lifetime she served in many positions in Relief Society. When she and I were both just 31 years of age, I was called to be president of the Canadian Mission. During the three years of that assignment, Frances presided over all of the Relief Societies in that vast area, which encompassed the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Some of her closest friendships came as a result of that assignment, as well as from the many callings she later filled in our own ward Relief Society. She was a faithful daughter of our Heavenly Father, my beloved companion, and my dearest friend. I miss her more than words can express. I too love Relief Society. I testify to you that it was organized by inspiration and is a vital part of the Lord’s Church here upon the earth. It would be impossible to calculate all the good which has come from this organization and all the lives which have been blessed because of it. Relief Society is made up of a variety of women. There are those of you who are single—perhaps in school, perhaps working—yet forging a full and rich life. Some of you are busy mothers of growing children. Still others of you have lost your husbands because of divorce or death and are struggling to raise your children without the help of a husband and father. Some of you have raised your children but have realized that their need for your help is ongoing. There are many of you who have aging parents who require the loving care only you can give.
I thanked him, and when I left him I said to myself, shaking my head: “You never know. You never know whether you do any good. You never know how much good you do.” Now, my dear sisters, that is the way with you. You are doing the best you can, and that best results in good to yourself and to others. Do not nag yourself with a sense of failure. Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do. Then leave the matter in the hands of the Lord. You will discover that you have accomplished something beyond price. Now, we have a very diverse group to whom I am speaking. This includes young women who are still in school or who are working. You are single. You are hoping to catch that perfect man. I have yet to see one who is perfect. Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target. What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are that you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy.
First let me say to you sisters that you do not hold a second place in our Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children. You are an absolutely essential part of that plan. Without you the plan could not function. Without you the entire program would be frustrated. As I have said before from this pulpit, when the process of creation occurred, Jehovah, the Creator, under instruction from His Father, first divided the light from the darkness and then separated the land from the waters. There followed the creation of plant life, followed by the creation of animal life. Then came the creation of man, and culminating that act of divinity came the crowning act, the creation of woman. Each of you is a daughter of God, endowed with a divine birthright. You need no defense of that position. . . What a resource are the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You love this Church, you accept its doctrine, you honor your place in its organization, you bring luster and strength and beauty to its congregations. How thankful we are to you. How much you are loved, respected, and honored. I salute my own beloved companion. It will soon be 60 years that we walked from the Salt Lake Temple as husband and wife, with love for one another. That love has strengthened through all of these years. We have faced many problems during our years of marriage. Somehow, with the blessing of the Lord, we have survived them all.