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Hi Gramps,

I’m having a really hard time with a recent post on Instagram from the Church and Sister Camille Johnson (made on 5/3/24). A LOT of people are triggered by it, saying the church is gaslighting. Due to character restriction in this text box, I’ll shorten my question to, “How do I reconcile this hurt from this post with my faith”? I feel so confused and hurt, and my feelings reflect the comments. Any insight is welcome. Thanks for your work.






Thanks for taking the time to ask about this.

I’ve also found the attention given to this “spectacle” to be above the norm.  I believe it’s because the central message of President Johnson’s post was lost in the politics surrounding the subject of an LDS career woman.

Despite all the rest of her message, no matter how often she mentions “Let God Prevail” and “Family is and always will be my top priority,” these were lost because everyone focused on the simple narrative of the lead-up events in her life.

 I pursued an education, both undergraduate and a law degree.  I was married midway through my legal education. I had my first son the year after I passed the bar.


I had babies, and my husband and I loved and nurtured them while we were both working.

There’s quite a bit of cherry-picking going on in reaction to this short passage.

No one seems to care about the first part (her educational achievements).  They only gloss over the injunctions to make family the priority in their lives.  There’s only scoffing and derision when reading the words “Let God Prevail.”  And it seems that virtually no one gives her any credit for her “prayerful consideration.”  (More on that later.)

Those were the primary parts of her message.  Yet the naysayers only read “Privileged Mormon woman is praised by the Church for being a working mother, while all others are given a guilt trip over it.”  I disagree with such messaging from the naysayers.

Look at President Oaks’ response:

Pres Johnson, thank you for this great message.  You are a wonderful role model of a lifelong commitment to prioritize your role as a mother and to continue learning.   — Dallin H. Oaks (response to President Johnson’s Facebook post).

I find it very interesting that even though President Johnson has been the Relief Society General President for nearly two years, with her profile on the Church website with all this same information on it, no one seemed to care, but now suddenly they do. 

One might respond, “Well, people read Facebook.  They don’t read the Church website.”  My response is, “Why not?”  This world has come to depend on social media to give them small glimpses and not the whole story.  No one cares about the details that give fully informed opinions the credibility that they deserve.  No, a simple three-second snippet is all they need to make the harshest judgments.  And if the first person posts a scathing response, that gives permission for the mob to pile on with the same judgment (whether it merits support or not).

Meanwhile, the messages and announcements from the Church continue to be ignored.

Most people are aware that the Church’s position has always been (and I might add: always will be) that the optimal condition to raise a family is with a two-parent home where the father is the primary breadwinner and the mother is the primary caregiver in the home, yet both need to work as a team, united in values and goals to raise the family together with the Lord.  The Church has also continued to recognize that certain circumstances (divorce, death, disability, etc.) may require adjustments.

Back in 1987, President Benson gave a fireside address where he again emphasized the exceptions that we all know exist.  No one heard the exceptions.  Instead, they complained that he asked mothers to leave the workplace and go back home to their children.  He said this because they needed the nurturing hand of a mother to guide them in their formative years if they were to understand love, compassion, patience, and other Christlike virtues.

That shouldn’t have been a surprise.  Such messaging was consistent throughout the Church’s history.  Yet I read headlines in newspapers that read “Mormon Women to Mormon Prophet: Who does he think he is?”  Well, I thought he was the prophet.

The reason he was so blunt in his messaging was that women of the era were blunt in their intentions.  They didn’t want to have children.  Or if they did, they were content to let the school system raise their children.  Was this really healthy for the children, or the future of our world?  We can quibble about whether this was a commandment of the Lord or simply good advice, but it sounded to me like an explanation of the realities and needs of children being raised by a mother in the home and the description of the optimal conditions for a family — which many were ignoring.  Shouldn’t we strive for the optimum situation for our families insofar as we are able?

I need to emphasize that no one has ever been excommunicated for failure to follow this principle.

But in President Johnson’s case, it didn’t appear that she needed to be in the workforce.  Her husband had a well-paying job.  Why does she get a pass?  Here is my personal belief after some pondering and prayer:  Because you asked for her.

For 40 years the Church has been saying that there is no more sacred or honored role than that of mother.  Prophets have been begging women to come back home to fulfill that divine role and give all of their love, time, and talents to their children.  Many did with all their hearts.  And they were blessed for it.  Others did so grudgingly.  Scripture tells us the consequence of that.  Still, others thought the prophets were being sexists.  So, they kept pressuring to ask the Lord to change the rules (truly, they were asking men to change the rules despite what the Lord had told them).  Well, be careful what you ask for.

Just like Joseph Smith and the lost manuscript (because he feared man more than God) and just as Samuel was told to allow the Israelites to have a king (because they claimed to reject the prophet, but in reality, they rejected the Lord), the Lord thought it was time to have us learn a lesson.

I believe that the women pushing for this change have had their prayers answered — in spite of the fact that the Lord has told you differently.  He gave you an example of how it could be done.  Yes, President Johnson was able to make it work because she truly did make family a priority.  She and her husband loved and nurtured their children while they were both working.  Is this not a good thing?  Should she have not nurtured their children?  Should she have just devoted all her energy to her career and ignore her children?  Not happening.  President Johnson was dedicated to making it happen the right way.

Take a look at the next quote and see if you believe you can step up to the plate and do it.  If you really can raise your children to the Lord while giving your all to your career, then great.  If you can’t, then don’t say you weren’t warned. 

It was busy, sometimes hectic; we were stretched and sometimes tired. I supported him, and he supported me. Family was, and still is, our top priority. My husband and I sought inspiration in these choices and in the timing. It was what we felt impressed to do. We were trying to let God prevail.

“From a financial and professional perspective, it would have made sense to put off having children until I was more established in my career. In letting God prevail, we sometimes do things that others can’t make sense of.

“I juggled pregnancy, having babies, nurturing children, carpooling, Little League, Church responsibilities, being a supportive spouse, and my professional pursuits. It was a joyful juggle I wouldn’t change. We felt confident in our course because we were letting God prevail.

“Being a mother is my highest priority. It is my ultimate joy. That focus is consistent with my diligent pursuit of an education. We are commanded to seek learning—some of which comes in our pursuit of education and much of which comes in our orientation as daughters of God toward motherhood—where we learn to become godlike as we cultivate attributes of love, compassion, and patience.

“Whatever our personal circumstances, we are all part of the family of God, members of an earthly family, and preparing to be eternal parents.”

Remember how she and her husband prayed about their decision? I cannot from my vantage point tell if she was being selfish or if she really received personal direction from the Lord.  But I do know that she will be held to account either way.  If she was being selfish, she will find her rewards.  If she was given guidance to do so, she will be held to give an account of what she sacrificed to make her family a priority.

Look at the struggles she describes.  But she made it a point to always let God prevail and make family the highest priority in their lives.  How common would it be for anyone (man or woman) to even be able to do all that?  Can you do the same?  The world already expects a lot from women.  And the kind of juggling that she had to do would drive many people (men or women) into depression or despair.  How can we expect such drive from anyone, really?  Why would you even want that?

Whether we claim it is a special circumstance like Nephi and Laban, a lesson that needed to be taught (Joseph Smith and the 116 pages), or the Samuel Principle, the Lord often gives us sufficient rope.

So, you need to ask yourselves if you really know what you are choosing.  Do you really want that job to support your children? Or are you doing it to get away from your children?  Are you doing it because there is a need there?  Or are you doing it because you want the prestige and fulfillment of being a working woman instead of “just a mother”?  Are you doing it because the Lord told you that it is the correct path?  Or do you wish for that as an excuse to neglect home life?

  • Prophets: There is no more sacred role than that of mother.
  • Career woman: I don’t want to be “just a mother”.

Are you choosing to let God prevail?  Or are you doing it despite the counsel of the prophets?

I can’t answer those questions for you.  I can only tell you about generalities and patterns of behavior from study after study.  But I don’t know your heart.  I don’t know your intentions.  But I do know that if the Lord tells you to do something then he will support you in it.  If you choose to do something out of the desires of your own heart, you’re on your own.

I hope to God (literally) that you make the right choice, for you and your family.








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