Bodies are essential for eternal progression and joy, teaches President Cordon

Women face a near constant barrage of filtered ‘perfection’ and counterfeit messages about their bodies. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body, teaches President Bonnie H. Cordon at BYU Women’s Conference

PROVO, Utah — As Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon has interacted with women all over the world, something has weighed heavily on her mind — Satan’s attacks aimed at the body.

“Women have always been a target for Satan; he is well-aware of the great role we have to play in God’s plan,” President Cordon said.

She said Satan persuades men and women to misuse, misunderstand or minimize the importance of their bodies. But the Lord teaches that receiving a body is fundamental to the purpose of mortality.

“A united spirit and physical body unlock greater access to power and potential than either have on their own,” she said.

The Lord revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 88:15-16 that the spirit and the body together form the soul, which is such an indispensable union that “the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.”

Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon speaks with attendees of BYU Women’s Conference in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Friday, May 5, 2023. | Jeremy Eisenbise, BYU CE Media

President Cordon asked women in the Marriott Center to take a moment to reflect and then write down ways they have felt joy because of their body and their spirit.

“Do we realize that the joy we experience through our body and spirit is a daily experience? It is a gift and a miracle,” she said.

The experiencing of a body

The body and spirit participate together in ordinances and make covenants with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, explained President Cordon. “In unity with our spirits, our bodies are integral to our progression here and throughout eternity.”

The Savior’s Atonement was a combined physical and spiritual experience. Alma 7:13 reads, “Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance.”

President Cordon said the experiences of a physical body in a physical world are required for people to learn, grow and ultimately realize their divine potential. 

“It is in the union and harmony of our body and spirit working together toward God’s righteous purpose that we are able to withstand the soul-stretching experience of mortality,” she said.

Satan’s punishment for rebellion against the Father was to never receive a body. “Is it any wonder then that Satan targets our bodies so viciously in his attacks? He will never experience the power, potential and joy that you can,” President Cordon said.

Therefore, the adversary tries to undermine and minimize the great power that comes with a body, to make people as miserable as he is.

Women take notes in the Marriott Center during BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah, on Friday, May 5, 2023.
Women take notes in the Marriott Center during BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah, on Friday, May 5, 2023. | Brooklynn Kelson, BYU Photo

The power of touch

While studying the New Testament for “Come, Follow Me,” President Cordon said she has seen how the Savior incorporated physical touch into His miracles. This touch — together with His power to heal — provided additional depth that helped others know He was the Christ.

After His Resurrection, Jesus Christ invited the people in 3 Nephi 11 to come to Him and feel the prints in His hands and feet and side — showing “the unity of the spirit and the body working in harmony to accomplish God’s purpose. It was after that experience that He was able to teach them, heal them and bless them,” President Cordon said.

“Powerful connection comes from the gentle, safe touch of one who loves us,” she said, like in a hug, a pat on the back, a brush on the shoulder and other ways to show love and appreciation. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, the lack of physical connection with others took a toll on many people’s health.

Women walk on the campus of Brigham Young University during BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah, on May 4, 2023.
Women walk on the campus of Brigham Young University during BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah, on May 4, 2023. | Brooklynn Kelson, BYU Photo

“[Let people] know through our attention and actions that we love them, that they aren’t alone and that they are valued,” said President Cordon, adding that people need such contact.

Much of what women do is physically oriented — nurturing and ministering work like feeding, clothing, cleaning, bandaging, washing and other tasks. 

“This is precisely what the Lord did during His earthly sojourn. When done with gentleness, meekness, love and intention, these are the very things that build strong relationships and lead us all to Christ,” President Cordon said.

Be present

The rich connection God intends for His children is not just about touch, it is about being present. Look into the eyes of someone during a meaningful conversation, laugh with family members around the dinner table, read scriptures with a grandson or niece on a lap — these are all things that bring sunshine into life.

“While there is great value that can come from connecting with others through technology, we need to make sure that we are also having personal, physical connections with one another,” President Cordon said. “Be present and make a difference in the lives of others.”

President Cordon told the women she hoped they would recognize the glorious gift of their physical bodies and the power they have when their body and spirit work together for God’s purpose. 

“Can you begin to see why we continue to teach the sanctity of the body, the need for chastity, the blessings of modesty and the necessity to tend and care for our physical bodies?” she said. “I hope you will absorb all of your soul-stretching experiences in this mortal realm and allow them to deepen, enhance and accelerate your preparation for the promised realms of glory.”

People attend the BYU Women’s Conference in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, May 4, 2023.
People attend the BYU Women’s Conference in Provo on Thursday, May 4, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
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