You often hear complaints about double standards in the church because so much emphasis is put on women and virtue. I decided to look into virtue though because it was in the preach my gospel as a “Christ-like attribute.” If Christ had it then why should we be upset about it being deemed our (women’s) responsibility to guard?
In the personal progress journal that young women keep it defines virtue as “a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards. It includes chastity and purity.” It does not say that that is all virtue is.
Society defines virtue as having sexual morality, but when I looked up the definition for virtue (admittedly I asked Siri) sexual morality was the third of four definitions listed. The first definition it gave me was “the quality of doing what was right and avoiding what was wrong.” The second definition was “any admirable quality or attribute” which reminded me of the words “Christ-like attribute.” The fourth definition after sexual morality was a “particular moral excellence.”
When thinking about the talk recently given by Elaine S. Dalton called “Guardians of Virtue” I thought about how changing the word virtue would change people’s perception of her meaning. Instead of guardians of sexual morality, it could mean guardians of doing what’s right, or guardians of Christ-like attributes, or even guardians of moral excellence. All of those things sound wonderful, but people hear her say guardians of virtue and think she is criticizing young women and saying they must have a pure spotless past, present, and future, and bringing double standards into this mix. I don’t think that’s what she is saying at all.
In Mark 5:30, Jesus feels virtue leave him. I don’t think that he felt his sexual morality leave him. The footnote for virtue in that verse says a Greek translation for the words power or strength. Now, young women, think about being the guardian of power and strength! Think about how doing the right thing always, having Christ-like attributes, and being sexually moral can give you that power and strength! Now think about where we get power and strength, i.e. The Holy Ghost. We are the guardians of all of the things that promise us the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Doctrine and Covenants 25:2 has a footnote from virtue taking you to two words in the topical guide: virtue and Zion. A footnote in section thirty for virtue takes you to the topical guide for holiness. We, sisters, are the guardians of Zion; the guardians of holiness! Why are these things that we must find faults with?
In Alma 31:5 it talks about “the virtue of the word of God.” If we are asked to be guardians of virtue, are we not also asked to be guardians of the word of God? There are so many different meanings to the word virtue. We need to stop jumping to the conclusion that the church is setting up double standards.
Some people think that when we emphasis virtue in our young women we are showing a double standard, but do we not emphasize all of these things in young men as well? Do we not ask them to always do what is right? to obtain Christ-like attributes? to be sexually moral? I promise you that we do.
We are asked to be guardians of virtue in the same way that the men are asked to hold the priesthood. We are all given responsibilities and duties, things to cherish and protect, and they all come down to holding the same moral standards. Heavenly Father loves all of us, and has asked all of us to do specific things based on what He knows us to be capable of; based on the talents He has given us, but we are all equal in His eyes, and has asked all of us to do the same thing: if ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).