"Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world." Is it possible to understand the word "men" as "people" in this context, or does it indicate only "male"?
I would feel better about "Christ changes man" if the meaning should be mankind - in your sentence I lean towards men as males
"If Christ changes man, the changed mankind will undoubtedly change the world - hopefully for the better. :-) "
As soon as I read what Solbjerg wrote, I thought he had the right idea. But then Elie thought he had the wrong idea. We can only resolve the issue by going over the quote with a fine-tooth comb. To figure out definitively what this quote means, we need to find out who said it, when it was said and in what context it was said.
The quote comes from Ezra Taft Benson, who said it in a speech in October 1985, a month before he became the 13th President of the Mormon Church, a position he held until his death in 1994 at the age of 94. Benson reached international status in the Mormon community in 1943 when he became a member of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ten years later he would reach national status in the political arena. From 1953-1961, throughout the entire Eisenhower administration, Benson was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, simultaneously serving as an elder on the apostle quorum.
Let’s examine what Benson said moments before he said “Christ changes men and changed men can change the world.” Just before saying that, he quoted Beverly Nichols who said (as quoted by the 9th Mormon President David O. McKay in his book Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life
published posthumously in 1971): “Twelve men did quite a lot to change the world nineteen hundred years ago. Twelve simple men.” So when Benson then said “Yes, Christ changes men and changed men can change the world”, he was referring to males.
Solbjerg had the right idea. In this quote, the word “men” does not include “women”.
Nevertheless, Benson appears to have believed that changed women could also change the world. Why is that?
Earlier in his speech, Benson says, “When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed.” As a follower of Christ, one is changed by having a change of heart and being born again. Only in this way can he or she enter the kingdom of God. At least that is my understanding as a non-Mormon.
If we look at Benson’s speech “Born of God” at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1985/10/born-of-god?lang=eng
and also another speech he made “To the Young Women of the Church” at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/10/to-the-young-women-of-the-church?lang=eng
, it seems like he thought that not only changed men but also changed women can change the world by proselytizing. Young Mormon men are expected to serve a mission full-time for two years without pay, but only a third of them actually do (as of 1986). Far fewer young Mormon women serve, as they are not obligated to. In his speech at the women’s conference, Benson encouraged them to serve if given the opportunity. Before marrying in 1926, Benson’s wife served a mission in Hawaii, and three of their granddaughters have each served a full-time proselytizing mission. “Some of our finest missionaries are young sisters,” Benson told his female audience.
Have a happy day and merry May!