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Divinity of Women: An Introduction, By Heather B. Moore and S. Kent Brown, Meridian Magazine (www.ldsmag.com) Monday, June 16, 2014

Editorfs Note: The following is the first in a series of excerpts from eDivinity of Women: Inspiration and Insights from Women of the Scripturesf by Heather B. Moore and S. Kent Brown.

In studying the women found in scripture, we witness how those who are righteous are able to carve out their divinity and achieve their divine destinies, whereas those who do not keep the Lordfs commandments suffer needlessly without the loving embrace of the Savior.

Each of us possesses divinity. We have the potential to become exalted like our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are created in His image, giving us a divine nature and destiny, which gThe Family: A Proclamation to the Worldh explains: gAll human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.h1

Divinity may have begun in physical form with Adam and Eve, when gGod created man in his own image . . . male and femaleh (Genesis 1:27), but the spiritual form of divinity began before our birth, at the beginning of time, and can be refined as we grow in knowledge and works. Our first parents achieved divinity through their works on this earth; and just as Evefs divine spiritual choices led to the start of the human race, women today can carry on that divine calling our first mother accepted.

Divinity is ours for the taking. We can become exalted through Christ too. By remembering the challenges of women who precede us throughout the ages and studying how they have overcome those challenges, we are reminded that how we deal with our own challenges is what creates our divinity.

We have a choice in every aspect of our lives, in every challenge we face, and each choice becomes a step forward or a step back along the path of divinity. When trials come, we must remember we have a divine nature, we are lawful heirs in our Fatherfs kingdom, and He wants to exalt us. Remembering the meaning of our divine inheritance enables us to move forward with strength in that knowledge when we face difficult times (see D&C 86:9).

Achieving our divine potential comes with responsibility, which we will review as we study the ancient women of the scriptures. Our privilege to be born in this modern world is two-fold. First, we can learn from those who have gone before us, and second, we are witnesses of gthe restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world beganh (D&C 86:10).

Therefore, our responsibility as witnesses is great. The Lord tells us, gFor of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnationh (D&C 82:3). We have the greater knowledge; thus, we have the greater responsibility. We may rejoice in this because we also know what is at the end of lifefs journey: redemption and exaltation. Hope comes in the knowledge that we have the ability to reach our divine potential.

No matter our challenges and setbacks, each day we can continue to put one foot forward on the path to fulfilling our divine roles. This is paramount in rolling the Lordfs plan forward as we become, in His eyes, saviors to His people: gBlessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israelh (D&C 86:11).

Each woman has her own path to follow, one filled with joy as well as pain and sorrow. None is exempt. Our missions may vary. But we are all blessed with the opportunity to become like our Heavenly Parents. We live in gperilous times,h according to the Apostle Paul, and therefore, we must hold our divinity even closer. Many are at risk of becoming like the women Paul prophesies of in the last days: gWomen laden with sins, led away with divers lustsh (2 Timothy 3:1, 6). In fact, we may know women who have taken these paths. In these perilous times, letfs look to the righteous women around us and those who have gone before us to find supreme examples of the divinity of women.

Letfs become those examples, lift up those who have stumbled, and extend our love and patience. Letfs learn from the women who face many tempests, and letfs teach our children the things we have learned.

We are counseled by modern-day Apostles to learn from the lessons of the past.2 Among the stories in the scriptures, we find many examples of women who are faithful followers of Christ and who have stood again and again after theyfve stumbled. In the stories of Miriam, Deborah, Anna, and Elisabeth, we learn how singular devotion prepares women to prophesy and to serve.

In the tumultuous examples of Queen Jezebel, Rahab, Isabel, and the daughter of King Jared II, we discover women whose lives are made impossibly difficult by poor choices and who are left without the Light of Christ to cling to in their dark days. Yet we can learn from their experiences what not to pursue in our lives.

Among those such as Sarah, the Queen of Sheba, Rebekah, and King Lamonifs wife, we can study the inspiration that comes as they open their hearts to the Spirit and follow the Lordfs celestial counsel.

Divine blessings given to women are prevalent as we read about the lives of Mary, the woman with the issue of blood, Abish, Hannah, and Mother Eve. Queen Esther and Sariah become supreme examples of women who share their education and encourage additional learning in those around them.

A womanfs presence here on earth is a testament that she accepts the role of a noble daughter of God. The Lordfs plan includes the exaltation of His daughters, whom He cannot forget, for He has ggraven [them] upon the palms of [His] handsh (Isaiah 49:16).

What a comfort and assurance to us all. No matter our challenges, through Christ, we can achieve our spiritual divinity, just as the women of old. Our value is no less in the eyes of the Lord than a queen or a prophetess is in the eyes of the world.  As we remain steadfast, our faithful natures will blossom into sure knowledge and eternal reward, raising and lifting us up into the spheres of divinity itself.