the thinker

Elder M. Russell Ballard's "Lipstick" Talk

On Saturday, October 24, 2015 a YSA Devotional was held in Provo, Utah with Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder L. Whitney Clayton. To many, a portion of the talk was offensive and misogynistic when Elder Ballard suggested to women that they "don't wander around looking like men. Put on a little lipstick now and then and look a little charming. It's that simple."

The devotional was videotaped by the LDS Church and published on their official website,, either late Tuesday, October 26, or Wednesday, October 27. However, within 24 hours the talk was pulled from the site. Here is the original link (which now has a "Page Not Found" error). Here is the (now missing video) link created within 24 hours of the original publishing on

Thankfully a redditor, /u/Sunston3R, was vigilant enough to get the audio (mp3) before it disappeared. He also made a transcript (PDF) of that audio.

Video for the "lipstick" section is available on YouTube.


He also revealed how he helped make it rain in Ethiopia during one of their severe droughts:

And I said under the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost, "Heavenly Father, thou knowest now that we are in Ethiopia, this country is burning up in a great drought. There has been no rain in this country for many months. Thy children are suffering. So since we are here, Holy Father, and we bear the holy priesthood, in the name of Jesus Christ, and by the authority of this priesthood, Heavenly Father, let it rain, bring rain to the people of Ethiopia while we're here. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

That was in the morning. We went back to our hotel, because where we were headed was the feeding stations, up in Mek'ele, an experience that changed my mind. I've never seen such suffering, nor do I expect to see suffering any more severe in my lifetime than I saw when I was there. We had to hitchhike our way on air force planes that were flying in and out, taking supplies. We flew up with the RAF, and we got out with the Swedish air force. But as we were waiting Sunday afternoon to get confirmed that we could get on board, with the RAF, which was a British air force, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon we heard a clash in the Heavens. And the rain started pouring down on Addis Ababa, and my beloved brothers and sisters, it rained everyday while we were there.

When Glenn knocked on my door and came into my room as we stood at the window and saw the people of Ethiopia running out to capture in jars and cups, in any way they could, water that was falling from the Heavens as a result of a priesthood blessing that came totally as a revealed promise.

Ballard related the same story in the April 1985 General Conference. In that talk, he ends the story with this:

We were grateful to our Heavenly Father because the rain was a special witness to us that he was aware that his sons, bearing his holy priesthood, were about his business in that part of the world.

"Prepare to Serve," April 1985 General Conference.

This is an interesting incident. Ballard supposedly prayed for it to rain only while they were in Africa. For a country reeling from drought, and still impacted today, that a man could call down the powers of heaven to make it rain but would only use that power to provide a witness to the visiting Mormon leaders, and not to relieve the suffering of God's children, seems to be a great travesty and selfish use of the priesthood.


Ballard also reaffirms what seems to be a renewed effort by the Church leadership to let members know that the leaders cannot lead the Church astray and that members shouldn't question anything in the Church:

I leave you my testimony that Jesus is the Christ. We're talking tonight about his gospel. It's wonderful to know what we know. We're so blessed. We don't have to wonder what we're here for. We don't have to question anything in the Church. Don't get off into that. Just stay in the Book of Mormon. Just stay in the Doctrine and Covenants. Just listen to the prophets. Just listen to the apostles. We won't lead you astray. We cannot lead you astray. That's why there's 15 of us. We're pretty hard on each other to be sure we keep on the white line. The church, right on the white line of life. We will do that.

We have discussed here on MormonThink how members are to know when the prophets and apostles are speaking as men and when they are speaking as God's mouthpiece (in our piece titled, "As if they were speaking for God"). It seems from Ballard's statement that they always are God's mouthpiece if they can't lead the Church astray.


Most devout Mormons would not bat an eye at this quote, but many outside the faith may find it interesting where Ballard explains why the computer was invented:

Now, why do you think the devil—and this is interesting, you ought to think about this—where do you think the computer came from? Why did somebody invent the computer? I'll tell you why: because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints needed it. Why did we need it? Because family history was moving and the church was growing and the temples were expanding, and we needed more capacity to do family history. That's why I believe the computer came into existence. That's why God revealed (and you don't have to be a member of the church to have spiritual insight and promptings) the creation of that tool, the computer. And as soon as that surfaces for the purposes of God, what does the devil do on the left side? "Oh," he said, "you're going to play that game? I'm in it. I'll put on the internet filth. I'll put on ugliness. I'll put on spiritually destructive images. We'll call it pornography. It'll be awful, and anybody that goes there, I'll capture them."

Within the leadership of the LDS Church, his is not an isolated view that God helps humans create technology for the purpose of spreading God's word. From the LDS Church's own website is a list of such beliefs.

Reference: Mormon Disclosures Blog


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