Since its organization, Relief Society has spread throughout the world and has been called “the largest, and by all measure, the greatest women’s organization on earth.”4 We know through the Prophet Joseph Smith that Relief Society was a formal part of the Restoration and that a similar organization for women existed in the Church anciently.5 The Prophet Joseph taught that Relief Society was “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God,”6 “according to the law of heaven”7 to help the Lord “bring to pass the . . . eternal life of man.”8
I had never heard this fact, and was SO blown away with the thought. I guess I've never really appreciated the idea that the Relief Society is a NECESSARY part of the restoration. It always just seemed to me to be an afterthought or a nice way to get the women involved. What a difference it makes to me to realize that Relief Society is a "formal part of the restoration". To understand that the restoration would not have been complete without it, and that women leading, teaching, and serving in the church is a NECESSARY part of the gospel. The truth of this hit me to my soul when Sister Beck said it on Saturday.
Also, the idea that the Relief Society (or something similar) existed for women when Christ was on the earth, and possibly in other dispensations, REALLY changes the way I look at women in the scriptures. These women, especially the New Testament women, would have been leading, teaching, serving, and participating in an organization. Just like men are participating in the same organization of the priesthood that ancient apostles did, women are participating in the same organization that the ancient women disciples did. We are all, no matter what dispensation we were born in, striving and working towards the same goals and promises. What a beautiful thought; it really brings peace to my soul and makes me feel much more connected to my "relief society sisters" who lives I read about in the scriptures.