dirty

wash me During my youth and early adulthood I had a bit of an obsession with being spiritually clean. The peak of this obsession came during my mission and the ensuing couple of years; through dedicated church service, scripture study (including a fixation with memorization), prayer/meditation and temple attendance I sought God’s approval, desperately wanting to be found worthy, clean. What I find ironic is that this was the time of my life where I felt the most unclean, the most unworthy, and none of my full hearted sincerity or excellent memorization skills could wash that out. Looking back I’m not sure if I worked hard because I felt dirty, or if I felt dirty because I could never work hard enough (scrubbing away… ‘out damn spot!’)

Pondering my own experience, it occurs to me that this tendency to feel unclean targets the female gender. Yes, I’m projecting, I am definitely generalizing (big time), and my only evidence is personal observation; but what I am wondering is if LDS women (in general) feel inherently MORE dirty and therefore work HARDER than their male counterparts. Yes, the gospel says that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And yeah, we typically think of men being ‘dirtier’ with leaving socks lying all over the place etc, but historically women’s bodies have been the recipient of the most censure for filthiness and I have a sneaking suspicion that such ideas still underlie and inform a good deal of our belief systems.

In every ward I have been in there is usually the open recognition that the ladies work harder than the gentlemen; visiting teaching stats outstripping home teaching stats, women spending proportionally way more time in lesson preparations (even if that is merely in making crafty handouts), etc… It seemed that every temple endowment session I attended women easily out numbered the men (except in the Provo temple when districts of elders were in attendance). These facts are used as the anecdotal evidence that women are just naturally more spiritual than men, but when that rhetoric is combined with the real life fact that having a superior spiritual nature doesn’t translate into any real decision-making power in the organization, perhaps women just implicitly feel they have more to prove. To themselves. To God. To the ward.

Maybe we can chalk it up to traditional gender roles that have the man of the house as the main breadwinner, spending hours each day bringing home the temporal bacon. The stay-at-home wife sees a church calling as a serious full time job to which she can dedicate her energies, providing a sense of purpose, a sense of responsibility, and a chance to prove herself. Maybe this is part of a gender construct that gives women more accolades for frequent tearful testimonies than men. Cultural training about masculinity and femininity (and whether or not it’s okay to be in touch with your feelings).

Or maybe there is the subtle implication that women are a little less worthy, and the little pedestal of superior purity is a smokescreen. Cleanliness before God is a huge part of our belief system; baptism to wash away our sins, bits of bread and sips of water on a weekly basis to sanctify us, continual repentance of the blemishes that constantly mar our souls; all of this leading up to the ultimate purification of the temple initiation and endowment, preparing us to pass through the veil that separates us from God.A promise of being clean enough to enter his holy presence.

The women in the room will now please veil their faces.

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  1. Kaimi says:

    If I didn’t know better, G., I’d wonder if it was a hangover from the various wacky misogynistic tribal traditions set into our scriptures. You know, like the detailed discussions of how menstruation is a form of impurity.

    But I’m sure it couldn’t be related to that. After all, we let go of all that Old Testament baggage a long time ago. Just look at how we treat gays!

  2. Kirsten says:

    Your last sentence brings out the big thing I dislike about the temple. It makes me feel as if I’m unworthy to be there and because it is as if we were in the presence of the Lord, I’m not worthy to be there either….

  3. G says:

    LOL kiami… yes, if we didn’t know better!!!

    kristen, yes. me too.

  4. Caroline says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments on this, G.

    I do suspect (totally generalizing here) that women tend to be harder on themselves than their male counterparts. I wouldn’t be surprised if indeed part of that did stem from some of the cultural messages we get about females and evil in Western discourse. Even though Mormons tend to valorize Eve, it’s hard to shake off 2000 years of ideas about feminine evil and temptation. And, like you said, sometimes you have to wonder why there’s such a sharp power differential between women and men in the church.

  5. KingOfTexas says:

    When you realize there is nothing you can do to make yourself worthy. Then you will realize how much Heavenly Father loves you. You will come through this with a broken heart and a contrite spirit knowing Jesus the Christ has made you clean. Don’t just mouth the words; take them to your heart. You should do the things you do because they please Heavenly Father.

    FYI; pride and testosterone cause most men to brag about their sins.

  6. m&m says:

    Not that I fully understand things, but are we soooo sure that the last sentence is actually reflecting something negative toward women?

    I’m not.

  7. kmillecam says:

    I have also struggled with feeling clean my whole life. I relate to the idea of never being able to do “enough” work. There’s always more theoretically to do. And in Mormon culture we tend to emphasize work a little bit, no? 🙂 I’ve gotten the impression from an early age that we should work tirelessly or be found sinning. It only makes sense that from that place I would constantly find myself wanting for more cleansing.

    I also find it ironic that the times when you worry about it the most seems to be when you feel the dirtiest. I suppose that’s why I have gradually worried about it less and less, if anything to protect myself from further self-contempt.

  8. mb says:

    Hmm. I’m female but have never felt this, so I guess you are generalizing and women like me fall outside of the generalization. My observation both at work and at church is that women (generalizing again) are far more detail oriented. They tend to work things out to minute details more than men do and plan ahead more. Men tend to work more comfortably in generalities. In church work, that translates into more actual dedicated hours and more scheduled visiting teaching. In spiritual life it translates into more introspection and self-analysis and therefore more concern about one’s own spiritual state. So I think this is more a general male-female difference in style than a reflection of implicated female unworthiness.

    And as for the veil, I don’t assume that it’s a sign of being unclean. The veil used by women in worship that Paul referred to when writing to the Corinthians was a veil that covered a woman’s hair, not her face. It was a Jewish sign of reverence and commitment that the Greek Corinthians had trouble understanding.

    The most well-known veiled FACE we find in the scriptures is Moses’. (Exodus 34:29-35). He veiled his face after descending from Mount Sinai because it shone with a brightness, from his discourse with God, that the Israelites found overwhelming.

    So it might be more accurate to say that biblically, a veiled face is one that reflects the glory of God.

    (Other veils mentioned for women in the Bible are Rebekah’s and Tamar’s which were more likely full body coverings and were used to express modesty and to purposely obscure identity respectively. Take your pick. I prefer the more explicitly face-covering veil of Moses.)

  9. Starfoxy says:

    I think that cultural beauty standards play into this too (for example body hair on a woman is dirty in a way body hair on a man is not), and since women are so frequently praised over the pulpet for their beauty then beauty standards can be experienced as moral standards.

    About the veil thing, I’m at a point where I have an explaination that satisfies me* but it wasn’t that long ago that I knew that veils were to separate the holy from the profane- and when you have a veil with God on one side and me on the other it was clear which side was profane.
    * When the head of the woman is the man consider what covering a woman’s head might mean- perhaps that her head, the man, is being bypassed in that instance.

  10. m&m says:

    G,

    Here’s another question.

    Are women able to enter the celestial room in the temple?

    The answer is an absolute, unqualified yes. That suggests to me that women are not somehow considered less able to get to the presence of God.

    There is no respecter of persons in that regard.

    I don’t know how to say this, but I really wish you could have ended this in a different way. I think what you have explored is worth exploring, because I know women struggle with things like this. But how you ended it feels to me more like a opportunistic zinger that, for me, really took away (in a big way) from the whole post.

    I think you could have refrained from imposing your negative interpretations in such a blatant way on something that is sensitive for many.

  11. E Cook says:

    Because you had good thoughts, I wanted to consider before I posted. Truly there have been times in my life where I didn’t feel good enough. However, truthfully though, those times usually come when I am not good enough for someone – for example, the other moms in the neighborhood, my family, or other in general and who they think I should be or how I should define myself.

    Never have I felt not good enough for the Lord. In fact, if anything, He is the one person who consistently asks me to be more of who I am, to become more honest, more kind, more questioning and searching. He always calls and then supports me with His grace where as other tend to smother with their own expectations of who I should be instead of who I am.

    And about the veil, I feel extremely protected under the veil. Women tend to look out for everyone else – their kids, their husbands, their callings. However at that one moment, the distractions all melt away and my sole focus in on the One who simply asks me to be all that I am. I love that for that one moment symbolically, I am free of distractions and can communicate freely.

  12. m&m says:

    And I’m sorry if/that my comment came across harsh. I didn’t mean it to. I hope you can understand what I’m trying to say, though. Please tread carefully on things that may mean something so very different to others, and might even feel like they should remain unsaid altogether.

  13. Maria says:

    I think women do bear the burden of their collective gender history. Eve’s actions in the garden set in motion a remarkable floodgate of male domination and prejudice. I also think individuals, male and female, can be equally hard on themselves and manifest is in very individual, stereotypical, and cultural ways. As for the veil comment. I simply don’t understand it all. However, I do find comfort in the reality that our Heavenly Mother is veiled to us. We physically become as veiled and She is when we are in the temple. I also find the semantics of the word “within” significant. As you mentioned, in the temple women are under and within a veil, a personal veil. We are symbolically taken within another veil, male and female, into the celestial room. True revelation comes when we another veil is lifted, when we are allowed within the veil. I think the act of veiling our faces has the potential to include us, to a spiritually significant degree, rather than exclude.

  14. Noah says:

    Wow…awesome. I’m going to make sure my wife reads this. What a fascinating post.

    I tend to resist the idea that women are inherently more righteous and/or spiritual than men. I think women are social-networkers, whereas men put up a lot of competitive barriers that stand in the way of that. Perhaps on average its true, but in terms of capacity, I think they’re on a level playing field, while taking into consideration different value-models (dirty socks and the like).

    In terms of the Priesthood, I believe that given our present state of righteousness as a collective (including both men and women), men don’t really know how to be men without it. Priesthood takes pre-existing natural “male” authority and adds responsibility; that is, it transforms men from possessors to protectors, conquerors to caregivers. I’m a father and husband, and my Priesthood responsibilities certainly factor into my decision-making on a daily basis.

    My Priesthood authority is in many ways a crutch to me…a humble reminder that when Adam and Eve fell, for whatever reason, the natural man became much more an enemy to God than the natural woman did. Violence, adultery, oppression…these are the vices of men…not so-much women…and they also happen to be among the most serious sins.

    That said, I think our understanding of Priesthood authority tends to be short-sighted…much to the benefit of men who probably really would “drop-out” if they ever discovered the ruse: Men and women are equally subject to the Priesthood because it neither belongs to the woman or the man; it belongs to God. Furthermore, who decides if a man is a worthy Priesthood holder within the walls of his home? If you said bishop, you would be wrong–that’s way outside of his jurisdiction. The man may have the authority, but the woman is the judge. Brigham stated that no woman should be expected to follow her husband down to hell. If you think your husband is exercising unrighteous dominion, you are perfectly within your god-given right to act against him. YOU HAVE VETO POWER AND THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH TO BACK IT UP!

    I think women feel dirty (if they feel dirty), not as a result of anything the Church did, but because of social convention and various die-hard assumptions regarding gender (that may have, in some cases, seeped into and corrupted the Church). If people gave things enough thought, they’d realize that the Church actually corrects the power imbalance rather than enforces it.

    The imbalance arises because in a world where might is right, the anatomical reality of women being smaller than men puts them at a significant disadvantage (there are other factors, but I won’t delve that deep). Fortunately, the Church condemns oppression in all its forms (if you really read your scriptures, you realize that’s what it’s all about)–combining responsibility and accountability with natural authority, thereby reversing the curse–to those women who enter the waters of baptism–which Eve brought upon herself when she disobeyed God and (more significantly) totally screwed her husband over by independently and selfishly eating the forbidden fruit, thereby excising Adam from the decision-making process.

    Unfortunately, as far as the veil goes, I have my theories, but I don’t want to open that can of worms. It suffices to say that I’ve already alluded to a possible explanation.

  15. Janna says:

    For an interesting read: Women and Evil by Nel Noddings.

  16. Abrie says:

    Thank you mb, for your perspective on the veil. I’ve never felt resentment as a woman in the church, least of all in the temple. Perhaps that is just a gift I have been blessed with.

    I think that if women feel inadequate or unappreciated, there are certainly loads of anecdotal evidence which will serve to reaffirm those feelings. However, if we focus on our divine nature and destiny, we can skip all the baggage and concetrate on drawing nearer to God and ultimately returning to Him, which I’m pretty sure He wants us to do.

  17. G says:

    Yes, caroline, we tend to valorize Eve, yet the temple account does not reflect that message. In the temple her (greater) sin necessitated that her husband mediate between her and divinity. I think Noah’s comment on the difference between Eve taking the Fruit and Adam taking the fruit reflects the temple’s message about the severity of Eve’s sin (btw… thank you Noah, for your comment,)

    Mb, yes, I realize that I generalized a lot. Some women don’t feel a greater obsession with “spiritual performance” (as one of my friends put it) and some men do feel it. I’m glad you don’t have that particular obsession; it can become quite a burden. As for your interpretations of the veil, those are very similar to some of the various interpretations I used to try to understand why I was required to veil my face (in fact I this art piece trying to come to grips with the veil). Like you I clung to the notion that perhaps it was because of some greater female spirituality (a message that jived with the cultural message in the church about how women were more spiritual). But that view just couldn’t hold up to the message/symbolism of the temple endowment (just like that rhetoric in the church doesn’t hold up to real life application).

    Starfoxy~ that is an interesting interpretation; that wearing the veil temporarily removes the woman from under male subjugation? Releases her from the necessity to go through her husband to communicate with God? (am I reading that right? Please let me know if I’m not). Sounds good to me! (well… except for the pre-condition of a woman needing to be headed up by a man.) 😉

    E Cook, thank you for sharing your experience. I do recognize that for many women it is a sacred part of their worship, and very meaningful. Thank you for providing that side to the story.

    m&m, yes, I recognize that implying that the temple reinforces gender inequality is something sensitive for many Mormons. The subject of depression, perfection-complexes, etc… that plague LDS women is one that I am sure is discussed in faith-promoting ways all over the bloggernacle. For me, I see such issues as stemming from the implicit and explicit messages that are received in the doctrine of the church. I appreciate that you are willing to chime in on the discussion even though you do not agree with my interpretation of the subject. Thank you.

    Maria, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I feel differently about our Heavenly Mother being veiled to us, and so in particular I do not share your desire to be veiled (invisible) as she is; for me that is not a comfort. Lynette brilliantly sums up my thoughts on the problematic aspects of Heavenly Mother in this post. but I recognize that not all LDS women feel the same way. I am glad it gives you solace.

  18. mb says:

    G, I think you misinterpreted my words. I do not see the symbolism as an indication of female spiritual superiority. On the contrary, I feel rather vehemently that there is neither a male or female superiority in terms of spirituality or worthiness in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in spite of the cultural inclinations of whichever nation one happens to be living.

    My point was simply that it is wrong to assume that a symbol indicates a certain negative idea when it could just as logically be assumed that it indicates a positive one.

    I did not make any mention of spiritual superiority in my post. I suspect that your concern about that issue is what caused you to read that into my words.

    I think that this (very interesting) series of comments is a good example of how each of us (myself included) colors our understanding of symbols (temple or otherwise) with our own joys and fears, celebrations and rages.

    Clearing out the clutter of our own perceptions and culture as we look at symbols is a long and imperfect process. My concern here is that sometimes we cling to the more dejected or to the overly inflated versions that we create in our minds because we like the way they energize our sense of justice or sense of self. I’ve certainly done that enough times in my life. And sometimes my insistance on one certain interpretation has caused me to cheat myself out of time with clearer, more empowering understandings.

    There’s a wide variety of takes on the symbolism of veiling in these comments. We do each other a disservice and narrow our view when we discount as illogical or unenlightened all those that are not like our own.

  19. Starfoxy says:

    G- That interpretation came from one of Julie Smith’s posts on T&S a few years ago. When T&S comes back I’ll post the link.
    I really like her interpretation.

  20. G says:

    I’m sorry, mb, if I misinterpreted your words.
    From your comment I took it to mean that your preferred interpretation for women veiling their faces is connected to how Moses vailed his face to protect people from the the divine brilliance that shone from it.

    It is my conjecture that if the veiled face is one that represents the glory of god, then why are only women veiled, and not the men also? (Moses, was male, after all, and the prophet). Because I believe, like you stated, that neither gender has an edge when it comes to spirituality or worthiness that explanation ultimately didn’t sit well with me.

    Also I was unable to find any indication in the endowment that this interpretation could be the case, I felt I was trying to put something into the symbol that just didn’t follow given the context.

    But symbols are funny things, deep things for us humans. ditto ditto ditto to what you said here: “each of us (myself included) colors our understanding of symbols (temple or otherwise) with our own joys and fears, celebrations and rages.”

    therefore, I respectfully acknowledge that your interpretations of/experiences with this symbol are different than my own.

  21. Perfect Wagnerite says:

    A possible explanation for why men don’t veil their faces is that their initiatory is different from the one women receive. Women are pronounced clean from all spot (no further stipulation), while men are declared clean according to their faithfulness.

    I realize there are apparent inequalities but we have to distinguish natural spiritual differences between men and women from inherent spiritual inequlities. The different initiatory for women does not make them inherently better, just different. What the temple ultimately teaches is meant to bring all of us comfort: that men and women will return to the presence of God (the Father and the Mother) in order to become gods and goddesses.

  22. Beatrice says:

    Reading through your post again I had a thought. Perhaps some woman work harder on their spirituality and feel more unclean because they are put on a pedestal. Maybe the expectations of what women should be (less lustful, more caring, more likely to serve) leads to more women feeling inadequate to reach the ideal.

  23. Jessawhy says:

    I agree with that Beatrice said.
    In Elder Scott’s Priesthood talk in October conference, he says,
    “By divine design a woman is fundamentally different from a man in many ways. She is compassionate and seeks the interests of others around her.”
    I believe this sets up an realistic expectation of women. All of us should be more compassionate and self-sacrificing.
    Saying that women are naturally this way makes it difficult to ever achieve the goal and improve in these areas.
    (not sure how this relates to dirty/clean, but I really liked the post!)

  24. G says:

    Perfect Wagnerite, thank you! I hadn’t remembered the difference in the initiatory language between men and woman. That would lend it’s self to the more positive interpretations of the woman’s veiled face (more so than the endowment’s language regarding Eve).

    Beatrice and jessawhy~ yes, those were exactly some of my thoughts as I wrote this post. I believe that message does more harm and little good; it offers a sense of validation “look how good you are!” but in a way that tends to enhance a sense of inadequacy and doesn’t recognize that we are just as human as men. Being treated with kid gloves can become condescending.

    in fact… this just reminded me, Starfoxy, if you don’t mind my quoting (paraphrasing) you, when Pres. Beck gave the “Mothers Who Know” talk and everyone was up in arms over it, I remember you saying something about how refreshing it was to have someone not coddle the women, to not not just be another “look how good you are” spiel.
    (am I remembering that correctly? feel free to smack me down for misusing your name if you need to)

  25. Starfoxy says:

    G, That might have been me, because I do remember thinking something similar. As I recall I was torn, I was glad that we weren’t being coddled, but I wished it could have been about something other than housekeeping.
    Anyhow, here is that link to Julie’s post.

  26. Kelly Ann says:

    So to get into all the differences between men and women is impossible …

    But I just want to say that my understanding of the female initiatory is that all blessings are conditioned (I still have the words memorized from my temple worker days).

    And since I am not a male, I just worry about myself. I think we are making too big of a difference out of speculation.

    What it comes down to is that everyone male or female needs a Savior (if we really believe any or all of Mormon doctrine).

  27. G says:

    thank you, starfoxy, for that link.

    Julie is brilliant, isn’t she?
    She also has the stamina required for the mental gymnastics of reconciling patriarchal texts/traditions with a positive view of femaleness.
    I appreciate that about her.
    I no longer have the energy for it, but am glad there are women who do.

    (Heh heh, maybe that is what paul was talking about; running the race and all that? Is it required that we have the energy for mental backflips? I don’t know. To each their own form of exercise.) 🙂

  28. G says:

    kelly ann~ I’m impressed, the intervening years since I was a temple worker have faded those once like-the-back-of-my-hand lines. I can’t bring them up word for word like I used to.

    as to your question: “if we really believe any or all of Mormon doctrine” Yes. That is ultimately what I discovered. That I do not believe Mormon Doctrine. At least not in the way it is taught over the pulpit and in the handbooks/lesson manuals.

  29. Angie says:

    It may be true that some women work hard, just because their work is proof that they have self-worth. I can relate to that feeling, and I’ve spent years getting rid of the “the quality of my work is equivalent to my worth” cognitive fallacy.

    But I can not relate to the feeling that I work hard in order to cleanse myself. I have never felt “dirty” because I am female. I whole-heartedly reject this notion, even though it has historical precedence. I don’t care what tradition says – I don’t care what someone’s interpretation of scripture is – I declare with all that I am that women are of sacred worth.

  30. Kelly Ann says:

    G – my question is then how do you know what to believe?

    in walking away from some of my traditional classical beliefs – I am finding it easier just not to believe at all …

    and that scares me as well as enables me.

    Not in regards to what has been discussed here, but in regards to a plethora of other things.

  31. G says:

    angie, yes I think women feel it in different ways (or some don’t feel it at all), for me it was a sense of being unclean. for others it may be a sense of depreciated self-worth, etc…

    and thank you for this: “I declare with all that I am that women are of sacred worth”
    ditto.

    kelly ann: “then how do you know what to believe?”
    That is the big question, isn’t it?
    In this blog post I wrote a little about the steps my relationship with the church has gone through… but as for what I believe, I’am still figuring that one out (the subject of my personal blog) 🙂 .

    best wishes.

  32. Noah says:

    Jenna, where might I find that article/book/whatever it is?

  33. Roger says:

    I find it interesting that a Priesthood holder’s worthiness could be measured by how closely he follows the direction of the Spirit. I feel the same could be said about anybody really. So I can’t really agree with your view that, “a superior spiritual nature doesn’t translate into any real decision-making power in the organization.”

    Decisions made from anyone’s own spiritual nature will ultimately lead down the wrong path. Organizational decisions (even those to join the Prop 8 fight) should come from the Spirit, not a Priesthood holder. It is his job to pray for and follow the direction of God.

    I would hope that most people have wondered hard why on earth women are not Priesthood holders? I accept it as God’s will, but what could possibly be the reason? I am one who does believe in the “superior spiritual nature” of women, so it surprises me that God chooses men (a generalization in itself) to officiate.

    I wonder if men, because of their inferior spiritual natures (again generalizing!) are just more suited to make decisions depending solely on the direction of the Spirit. Men know they are filthy. There is a struggle, but not like you describe. Knowing one is not worthy to make decisions makes it much easier to rely entirely on God. I wonder if women, because of their superior spiritual natures (I can’t get away from generalizing!) would struggle more with God’s direction?

    It’s an interesting discussion. I hope you find a way to heal the “shattered self worth” you mentioned on your blog. And I hope you come back. I am sure there is someone who would be blessed if you did. Love, Roger

  34. MoJo says:

    To insert my terribly simplistic view of things:

    I think this need to work to show worthiness is a Puritan-then-Victorian artifact, just like many mores and traditions American society retains, particularly ones which keep women in line, out of sight, working behind the scenes.

    Perhaps church culture is slow to let go of a lot of it, but I don’t really see any difference from this “working to cleanse” of LDS woman and “working to be seen as good” of, say, the Junior League or the PTA. Quite frankly, a good portion of the performance is all about show and gaining approval by the XX milieu.

    Maybe we just put a spiritual spin on it to justify working that hard for so little payoff instead of spending time fortifying ourselves with what we’d RATHER be doing.

  35. anon says:

    First, it bugs the heck out of me about the veils. I *hate* doing that.

    But I really don’t belive the Church implies that women are dirtier than men. If anything, the men get the full brunt of the “you need to shape up or ship out” reprimands and their need to do better…as husbands, as fathers, as spiritual leaders, etc. Most of the talks on women that I hear, are that men need to value, cherish, help us…and we deserve more.

    I honestly think it has more to do with society’s standards for men nowadays. Mothers coddled their boys with such intensity that most of them are now directionless, have no idea how to be a strong, equal leader in their own household, and have no get-up-and-go.

    I can’t even count the number of conversations I have had with my girl friends about our husbands and how we’re so tired of doing 90% of the work and the planning and the thinking and they are pretty much clueless most of the time. (and this goes far beyond the simple housecleaning dilemma). They think they need to clock in, clock out, bring home the check and they are done.

    I will say however, that the Young Men’s program is horribly lacking, and I think that doesn’t help. It does nothing to promote strong, spiritual husbands, fathers, men…they spend most of their time playing basketball in the gym and doing scouts stuff (another beef of mine, I dont think it belongs in the Church curriculum, personally). I’d much rather my sons be learning that they should be just as involved and responisble in initiating Family Home Evening and family prayer and Father’s Blessings, than how to tie knots. Unfortunately, by the time they get to Priesthood (where it is hammered into their brains over and over) it is FAR too late.

    I think women have to lead more in this area simply because the men of today give us little choice. They don’t put it as a priority because no one taught them it was their responsibility, too. Whereas every single Young Women’s lesson is on our responsibility to teach our children, lead our families, etc. When I discuss it with my husband its like, “Oh, ya, huh…I guess that does affect my eternal standing. Maybe I should get on that…” Its like it doesn’t even dawn on him until I mention it.

    I have always taken my teaching callings very seriously…in primary, I always think, some of these kids may need a person to love and support them, and the feelings they get here in church, and the lessons they from me may somehow stick and affect a decision they make later on in life. But my husband just thought it was boring being in primary and didn’t take his calling seriously at all. He never thought of it as, one of these boys may need to see a strong, loving father figure and hear these lessons because they don’t get it at home. I think a lot of men treat their callings that way, especially with the primary and Young Men. If its not Priesthood or Gospel Doctrine, it isn’t “important”.

    And in regards to men holding most of the leadership positions in the Church, well, we all know that its the wife doing most of the brunt work behind the scenes. Who’s the one making sure their husband do their Home Teaching? Uh, we are. Who are the ones making cookies for their familes as well our Visting Teaching Families? We are! And it extends past church…who are the ones making sure every family birthday and holiday is remembered, recognized, and revered? We are! If I wasn’t keeping track of everything in our household, nothing would get done and my MIL would never get a birthday call from my husband.

    And honestly, I think some aspects of the feminist movement in general have hindered this as well. Men are becoming shells of their former roles, and while I think it was necessary in some areas, I also think it has hurt others. Most of the women I know wish their husbands would take *some* leadership in *some* areas, and at least take on an equal responsibility in it…but now its left mostly to the women. In some regards, I think the baby was thrown out with the bath water and now we’re left with spineless, directionless men who have no idea how to assert leadership in an appropriate and equal way.

    I don’t want my husband to RULE, but I do want him to LEAD and be responsible along side me. I think society as a whole, including the Church, is struggling to figure out that balance.

    Most guys I know don’t care one bit about menstration and such, and I think inferring that they somehow have some inner, subconsious view on it that affects the way they live is giving them FAR too much credit! 😛

    As to feeling unclean, I do think girls grow up feeling that way more than boys and again, its because the boys don’t have as many spiritual lessons and focus put on them as the girls do. And again, its my opinion thats it because of scouts and the lackadasical approach to their Young Men activties and their lessons on Sundays (again, because men don’t take their leadership/teaching roles seriously). If women were teaching the Young Men classes as well, we’d have a much different outcome. I think the Church has recognized this and it is why they are now having stricter rules on YM/YW activties and what you are allowed to do. Its going to take a couple generations before any of us see big improvements though.

  36. Caroline says:

    anon, I feel for you. I’ve heard other women say things like this – that they have to prod their husbands into doing anything, whether it be at church or at home. It’s completely the opposite of my situation. I’ve never once told Mike to home teach or step up and help out more at home. He just does it all without any prodding from me. If anything, he prods me to do things. I wonder how common your scenerio is vs. my scenerio. I suspect the vast majority of marriages fall into the middle somewhere.

  37. Greg says:

    I find encouraging the teachings in What is an Endowment? and hope it will be of interest to some.

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