Poll: Goals for Equality

Neylan McBaine, founder of the Mormon Women Project Credit: Scott Lunt

A few days ago, an article titled Mormon women seeking middle ground to greater equality appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. The author, Peggy Fletcher Stack, writes that Mormon women fall into three categories, those who want priesthood ordination for women, those who are “perfectly comfortable” with gender roles currently prescribed by the church, and those wanting “a more engaged and visible role for women” in the church but not priesthood ordination.

Like most newspapers, the Tribune invites reader comments at the online version of the paper.  The very first commenter for this article, a man with no data to back his statistics, claimed that “99%” of “mainstream Mormon women” belong in the group that is perfectly comfortable with gender roles as currently prescribed.

Hmm.  Why don’t we get some real data so that men like that Tribune reader won’t have to make up numbers about us Mormon ladies? It would be tricky to sample the whole Mormon woman population, but we can poll the readers of this particular Mormon women’s blog to see what our readers think about this subject.

In the comments, I would love to hear your thoughts about the topics discussed in the Tribune article.  What do you think of the various ideas for change that the women interviewed proposed? What is your vision for Mormon feminism? Should Mormon feminists seek female ordination? Why or why not? Which other goals should we seek to promote equality in the LDS church setting?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is an advocate, mother, professional, lover of the arts, hater (but doer) of housework and seeker of truth. Twitter: @aprilyoungb

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66 Responses

  1. Jenn says:

    I’d say one is a short-term and one is a long-term goal. For now, I’d be happy to see more visible roles. Long-term, I hope to eventually see women have the priesthood.

    • CatherineWO says:

      These are my feelings as well.

    • April says:

      I personally would like to see the priesthood available to every worthy member, but I can understand the wisdom of seeking other kinds of changes first. For some reason, even though many other churches have already extended ordination to women, the Mormon culture seems unusually adverse to the idea, so I wonder if we need to accomplish a lot more baby steps before our people will be ready for female ordination.

    • Olive says:

      100% agree.

  2. Diane says:

    I didn’t answer the poll because my answer doesn’t fall into any of the parameters listed. I think women all ready have visible roles in the church. I think the problem lies with in the fact that they don’t have autonomy over those roles. Does granting women the power and authority of the priesthood change this? I’m not sure, maybe in someways, yes, but, in other ways no. Women would still have to answer to someone be they male/ female priesthood leaders. The same way that Male members have to answer to their male leaders

    So, yes, if women want priesthood, yes, give it to them, if other women don’t want it, that’s fine too, except, I don’t believe it would be fine with the more ultra- progressive mo-fems. I think it would become an us vrs, them. much like the argument between the SAHM moms in the church vrs the Moms in the church who whether by personal (which I fully support) choice, or by necessity who want to work and have a career.

    I fully recognize that this is a feminist liberal blog, however, this blog( at least in my experience) an participation is not as progressive as Feminist Mormon Housewives site, members who participate on this blog are more willing to listen to a dissenting opinion. FMH, if you have a dissenting opinion your banned from the site, My point for mentioning this then becomes what makes everyone think that they won’t leave certain voices out of the table just because they are women and feminist? Who steps in when Patriarchy and the Mo-Fems have what amounts to a big family squabble and the children( both young and old) are left to sit and witness this from the sidelines.

    I’m not being a naysayer, but, I think either way with either camps people will be left out because no one wants to listen to something they don’t have any experience with what the groups are saying.

    • April says:

      Diane, I agree with you that the lack of autonomy is a big issue that we should seek to change. It is unfortunate that the church “women’s organization” is actually largely run by men.

    • Naismith says:

      I am not sure that “progressive” is an accurate description of that blog. Many progressives are tolerant of people with other views.

      • Diane says:

        naismith,

        To an extent, I agree with you, but, I took the time to look up exactly what the word progressive means. Here is the dictionary definition:
        1) favoring or advocating for change and progress. Reforming the political climate
        2) making progress towards better conditions, employing advocating more enlightened liberal ideas.

        And to be fair, I also looked up the word Moderate, which means 1) a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views in politics and or religion

        So, in fact, I believe, FMH site is progressive in their views. They want to advocate change, but, the question becomes at what cost, and who will they listen to, and who will they leave out?

        I still stand by that I believe this site to be more moderate and welcoming of different views. I was reading Caroline’s blog the other day on a religion web site, I forget the name of it. She can correct me if she wants, because I know I’m about to quote her wrong but, I think she states that there are two kinds of feminist, 1) the one’s who believe that status quo should remain the same, yet, are career women, and 2) the one’s who want change, and want it now. I think Caroline should expand that that to a third kind and that’s women who fall somewhere in the middle of the two.

        I still firmly believe that women should have the priesthood, if they want, but, I also believe that even with the priesthood, the problems would still exist

  3. Jesse says:

    I stumbled on this article this afternoon and got teary. This is what I have been trying to articulate to my husband and bishop and daughter for the past year. I just feel so *&^ invisible at church. And it doesn’t work for me.

    I want stories about women. I want female role models. I want a women’s organization that is actually a women’s organization, not an organization for women, run by men (which is pretty much what RS seems like to me: All callings get approved by men. All lesson manuals are approved by men. All schedules, all VT routes, etc…. )

    I’ve been reading about the organization of the RS and have realized I would have liked to be a part of that organization. What we have today seems like a watered down social club–not a vibrant, flexible, autonomous, service-oriented organization.

    • April says:

      So glad you found us, Jesse. You’re certainly not the only one who feels this way.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I’m with you Jesse. That’s what I want as well.

    • Naismith says:

      Is this a change in policy? When I was RS president, my bishop never looked or asked about VT routes. I guess he could check on them at any time, since we did maintain all that data in the church software. He provided my VT coordinator with the same key that the clerks had, so that she had access to the building and clerk’s office at her convenience (which I thought was an example of equal treatment). I don’t deny that the bishop is ultimately responsible for such assignments, because he is responsible for everything in the ward. But to what extent a bishop is actually involved may vary.

      None of the bishops I served with ever asked to approve our first Sunday lessons or activities, and I can’t remember them ever turning down our requests for personnel, although we did call a lot of non-typical sisters to fill various roles.

      It seems there is a lot of variation in how such programs get carried out, and our local experience colors the perception of how sexist the church is. This is not to deny the pain of sisters who are micromanaged by meddling bishops. But whether it is common church practice is uncertain.

      • Olive says:

        I would say its varies immensely based on who your Bishop is, and where you live. SLC? Probably going to hold you under his thumb. Boston? Free as bird. I mean, it all comes down to who the guy is, but the local attitudes and norms affect it a lot, too. From what I hear church back east is full of pants wearin’, liberal, feminist Mormons and nobody gives a darn.

  4. Naismith says:

    I didn’t vote because I am not sure that those three fit my views.

    For starters, I think true equality will only happen when traditional women’s contributions are respected as much as men’s traditional work. So to me, giving birth and breastfeeding is totally equal to being a bishop or earning a paycheck or whatever.

    When people say that women are treated as second-class or less, that is absolutely a concern. But if the only way to be treated with respect is to do what men do, that seems fairly sick and a male-normative sellout to me.

    How can women be treated with respect AS nurturers?

    • Janna says:

      “So to me, giving birth and breastfeeding is totally equal to being a bishop or earning a paycheck or whatever.”

      Can you explain more?

    • April says:

      Naismith, I agree with you that traditional women’s roles should be valued to the same extent as traditionally male roles. This is one of the goals of our generation of feminists. I think that working toward giving women more authority in church would support this goal. For example, requiring the majority of church leadership roles to be filled by men places an undue burden on mothers. Women without children or with adult children are underutilized, and so young men with children are needed to fill time-consuming roles at church, leaving their wives to care for the children alone. Also, the fact that mostly men are quoted in manuals, even when discussing traditional female roles like motherhood, implies that we do not value the knowledge and experience of actual mothers. Also, it is often difficult for all-male leadership, who have never experienced traditional female roles, to empathize with and support these roles, I had an experience in my own ward where I fought for two years to fix an inadequate mother’s nursing room at my church building. My all male leadership, who never used the room, of course, didn’t understand the problem and kept forgetting about it.

      • Naismith says:

        Let’s be a bit careful about broad declarations about what a generation of feminists is doing. Lots of feminists do not have respect for nurturing.

        I am not sure that it the lack of utilization of women that forces men with children to serve in leadership. In lots of wards, there are also other men who could serve. And I have experienced being called to RS leadership when my children were young, but NOT at a season when it would have been more convenient.

        I don’t so much know about the manuals, since my church calling has taken me out of RS and SS for some years. Of course when DIMK came out to much fanfare, it was not embraced by all Mofeminists.

        I am not sure that it is harder for men to understand the feminine roles more than women. After all, they love their wives. I found that female obstetricians were the absolutely least sympathetic of my nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Male physicians with wives who suffered were the best.

  5. sartawi says:

    As I read through the comments to this article in the SL Tribune (going on 1300 comments as of now), one common idea from men in the church was “if you don’t agree with the way the church is, then you should leave” and, for those who are a bit more introspective about this issue, “what exactly do you want to change, and how would you do it?” I was wondering if any of you in this forum have ever compiled or seen a list of the common complaints about gender inequality in the church. I know very well that a list does not do justice to the issues we face as women in the church, but sometimes I feel like it would be a great jumping-off point for discussing issues with those who simply cannot see the inequality that exists. Even a mission statement of sorts would be helpful to give a clear, concise, well thought out and coherent answer when our audience has very little patience or time to analyze and discuss in depth. We all discuss, argue, analyze and share opinions, but I would love to make a compilation of the most common, most severe, most obvious, most unjust and even most painful issues that we face as women in the church. Many people simply cannot grasp why we stay in the church when we don’t agree with the patriarchy and hierarchy and misogyny of the church. Many don’t understand how the church could “change” and still hold true to the gospel. Reading the comments from Utah readers made this grossly apparent. So, if any of you have every written down a list, with your best opinion of how to begin to effect change for each of the issues, I would love to see it. I want to be effective in helping change to happen, but sometimes I feel my emotions make my replies and actions too scatterbrained to be taken seriously. If I could find a way to discuss, in the moment, what this movement is all about, and why it is so important, I think I could be a much better advocate for furthering gender equality in our church. Ideas?

  6. sartawi says:

    Thank you! What an excellent, concise and accurate compilation. It’s exactly what I was looking for.

  7. MB says:

    I think an overlooked dissimilarity between the LDS church and other faiths is the practice of ordaining all adult males, not just those few men who feel personally called to a life of full time, financially compensated ministry. Thus, when the Episcopalians open the ranks of clergy to women the vast majority of female Episcopalians, who do not wish for ordination, are not required to take it on. That is not the case with us Mormons. The change will affect every woman in a major way.

    Though all young Mormon boys grow up expecting priesthood ordination and planning for it, and gradually learning how to manage that, my experience is that the vast majority of women I know have not and have mixed feelings about the possibility of taking that on. We live in a religious tradition in which a change to include the ordination of women would need to incorporate all active female members of the church. Therefore, in order to make that transition, which is one that I anticipate and I believe is indicated in celestial theology, we need to do a lot more education of women (and men) about that eventuality and give them the information and confidence about what that will entail before that step is taken.

    Too many women see Priesthood as an extra burden, rather than as a privilege and a blessing.

    So though I expect that women will receive priesthood ordination, I think that the work to be done now is the laying of the necessary groundwork. Part of that may be increased visibility and engagement, but I think more of that is education about what priesthood really is and how it is exercized. There is much that i can do on a local level to facilitate that and I see signs of that education and encouragement of more engagement not only in the church entities that are involved in the above mentioned conference but also in the leadership training that has come out in the past couple of years and anticipate more. Not all leaders listen to those trainings, though, which is annoying.

  8. Henry says:

    April:
    I have seen the idea portrayed that women tend to be much more liberal than men and should they be granted church leadership, they would be fighting for things like gay marriage. If you look at the Unitarian Universalists, they are extremely liberal and the clergy is more than half women. What churches in history do you know of led by women that continue to stand today?

    • Naismith says:

      Henry, that may be your opinion, but I am trying hard to follow the logic of it, and failing. No other church has the full light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you are going to blame their failures on WOMEN?

      I’m a non-feminist, but I don’t agree with you in the least.

      I hate to break it to you, but a lot of LDS wards and branches have been run by women, with the help of missionaries who came into town for a few months to bless the sacrament. But the women organized everything, and raised the money to build the chapels. BYU professor Brent Barlow did his dissertation on part-member families in Florida, and the women who raised their children in the “petticoat” branches. Now many of those units are full wards, and their sons and grandsons provide priesthood.

      But nobody doubts that if the Lord had chosen to have them hold the priesthood as well as all else they were doing, that it would have been fine.

      Please don’t insult the competence of women.

    • April says:

      Henry,

      There is a good list of churches that ordain women here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/femclrg13.htm

      With regards to the other part of your comment, I seriously doubt that God is a Republican and is keeping women from being ordained as a strategy to repress the views of a left-leaning demographic.

  9. Henry says:

    Naismith:
    The post is about equality. I am trying to think hard on this one including the good, the bad, and the ugly. The bottom line question is
    Why aren’t women ordained to the priesthood?
    There must be a reason.
    We ought to explore everything including the negative.

    • MB says:

      It is human nature and an interesting pastime to try to find explanations as to why a situation or a decision is what it is. However, the real question is not why things are the way they are, but rather, what is it that God wishes us to see now and, to the best of our revelatory experiences, what his vision is for our work in creating a Zion society that reflects celestial principles as he opens our eyes to the difference between where we are and what God hopes we will become.

      The divine mandate is not to explain the reasons for past revelation, though that’s fun to conjecture on. The mandate is to seek the Lord’s will through continuing inspiration and revelation as it unfolds to address new challenges in the lives of those who seek to be disciples.

      My experience is that revelation from God concerning the latter is much more in keeping with God’s patterns of communication with us through the ages and produces much better outcomes in our comprehension of God’s direction in our lives and in the church.

    • April says:

      Henry, I do not claim to know why women are not currently ordained to the priesthood in the LDS church, but my guess is that it is for the same reason that historically, other churches did not ordain women, and governments did not let women vote, and businesses didn’t hire women. It is an artifact of a past when most opportunities in society were limited to men and women were repressed. I believe the history of repression of women is a cultural problem, not an act of God.

      • Naismith says:

        Thanks for this explanation. I didn’t realize that Mormon women thought that. After all, our church was a leader in women voting, serving in elected office, females as professionals, etc.

      • Ru says:

        Naismith, I think you need to elaborate on how the church was a leader in women voting, serving in office, and as professionals. The early church, which provided women with far more autonomy and even allowed women to perform blessings for other women, did indeed promote women’s rights to vote. The Utah Legislature had the country’s first female legislator, and women were professionals.

        Do you think it’s really the same now? Were the 80s, when women were discouraged from working outside the home, so long ago? How many LDS women do you know running for office? While some in the church would encourage women to pursue advanced degrees, you surely must acknowledge that there are just as many encouraging them not, correct?

        Regarding April’s comment – yes, I absolutely agree. The rationale behind denying women the priesthood is firmly rooted in historical prejudice. Women and black people were ordained under Joseph Smith. The practice stopped shortly thereafter – so either God is fickle, telling Joseph one thing and Brigham another, and then changing his mind yet again in the 70s for one group but not the other, OR historical prejudice cropped up over time.

        I have never heard a rationale for denying women the priesthood that held water. The motherhood=priesthood thing makes no sense, since men can also be fathers, and a man can hold the priesthood without regard to his fertility, but a woman can only be a mother if nature permits. And I don’t believe in a fickle God. So what other reason could there be?

      • Ru says:

        PS – If it’s relevant, I voted that I would prefer to see women with more administrative power in the church than be ordained to the priesthood. I think there is more value to being at the bargaining table (so to speak) and recognizing their institutional value, and then going from there. While I hope this wouldn’t be likely, I would hate to see women “ordained” and then treated like the Aaronic priesthood–with more responsibilities, but still subservient to the people (read: men) in charge. That, to me, is the worst of all possible outcomes.

        (Yes, I know it’s really paranoid to suspect that might happen. Call me paranoid.)

    • Naismith says:

      This post is about equality, but equality does not mean “the same.”

      I don’t think that is the bottom-line question at all. I think the bottom-line question is what the Lord wants for each of us to do in our lives, and what tools he provides for each of us.

      • Dollie says:

        Let us move forward and stop using this line, “equality does not mean the same”, as it sounds very much like another well-used quote, “separate but equal” from the Civil Rights time. Equality means having the same opportunities whether you have male or female private parts, whether you are white or black, short or tall. It is not right to say that “women get to give birth” because women do not choose whether to be able to pass a human through her birth canal or not. We are women of the church, yes, but before that we are people.

  10. X2 Dora says:

    I really appreciated PFS’s article, and the leaders quoted in it. A few things that really stood out in my mind:

    Haglund, “We must articulate a Mormonism that is less about lifestyle choice and more about spiritual power and a personal relationship with God that can enlighten all the facets of the lives young women choose for themselves.” Yes. Can we get over the discussions on earrings and skirt lengths, and talk about ways to develop a better understanding and connection with our Heavenly Parents? And not just for young women, but people everywhere?

    Ulrich on the disappearing woman, and my perception of the current General RS president as a totally unknown quantity. I did not agree with many of Beck’s stances, but at least she had a voice. I find the continued silence worrying …

  11. Dara says:

    Remember that the church is a theocracy and not a democracy. Assuming the LDS church is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth, priesthood power cannot be given merely at the whims of society or because someone wants it but must be on the Lord’s timetable, if at all.

    • Janna says:

      So, how would you respond to someone regarding this issue who wants to be involved in the Mormon community but does not believe it to be the “only true and living church”?

      • Diane says:

        Janna,

        Actually, there is a group which is called New Order Mormons who practice the same thing, some participate in church, some don’t

      • Janna says:

        I’m interested in how someone would respond – not whether there is a group to join.

    • sartawi says:

      My belief is that the theocracy supports female ordination. It is the execution of power by men that has prevented that from happening. Our prophets and leaders have made mistakes in the past that resulted in gross inequality. I don’t see any support, scripturally, for the priesthood to be conferred specifically on men. For me, this is man’s interpretation and nothing more. It should be given to any worthy and willing member, regardless of gender. Not all will want it, just as all men now do not want it. I support there being different and diverse roles in the church, but those roles should not be unequivocally divided along gender lines. They should be conferred according to faith, diligence, desire and willingness to serve in those roles, regardless of your DNA.

    • sartawi says:

      in regards to “the Lord’s timetable”, history has proven time and time again, that change comes about from someone speaking up and standing up for what’s right. If no one ever complained, women would still not be able to vote. If no one complained, black men would not have the priesthood. If no one spoke up, women would have no support for working outside the home. If no one said anything, birth control would still be actively opposed by church leaders. Speaking up, doing something, putting works with your faith, is what is making change happen, not just “whims”.

    • M Dearest says:

      The church is a theocracy? This is a dubious claim. While I believe the church is led by men (whom I sustain) who do their level best, as imperfect mortals, to minister and administrate with inspiration from Him whose name is borne by the organization, I hope for far more perfection and compassion from a real (and at this time, theoretical) theocracy than what we work with in this fallen world. We’re only the closest thing to a theocracy that the men who lead can muster within the confines of the world in which we live. One need not be apostate while recognizing that there’s room for improvement here, and day-dreaming about what improvements might be in the eternities.

  12. Dara says:

    Sartawi:
    I can see your point. But if the Lord chooses for it not to happen, it’s not going to happen.

    • mountaingirl says:

      Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, we can start with common ground that this is the one true church led by the Lord through his prophets. Yes – if the Lord does not itend for women to hold the preisthood based on a greater plan that we don’t understand, then the church will never rightfully receive revelation that woman will hold the priesthod. But have we really asked? Have we searched and implored the Lord as a church if this is indeed his plan? I think there are ample examples in the scriptures and those sartawi listed that God does not just hand down revelation or change whether we want it our not. Seek and ye shall find. We have to knock first. And – again based on the common ground I’m using as a starting point – currently women are not in a position to have revelation for the church as a whole. Is someone asking God for us? Are we absolutely sure that this is God’s plan for us? If not, God himself has told us to seek.

    • X2 Dora says:

      But Dara, in the temple, women hold the office of priestesshood, and administer rites to other women. So, the Lord *does* choose for it to happen. And he’s been choosing it for quite a long time now.

    • Ru says:

      Right – except who is claiming that the Lord doesn’t want it to happen? For decades, the claim was that the Lord didn’t want black men ordained (even though Joseph Smith ordained them … even though it violated ancient scripture from the New Testament and Book of Mormon which tells us that God is no respecter of persons) for a variety of now-rejected rationales (including that black people were, for some reason, atoning for ancient or premortal sins, in direct contradiction of the 2nd article of faith: “We believe men shall be punished for their own sins, and not Adam’s transgression.”). And then suddenly God did want them ordained in 1978? Why?

      Either God is fickle, or God’s servants weren’t asking the right questions for over 100 years, or God’s servants missed something in the answer. But I’m pretty sure the answer is not that God is fickle.

      So why so quick to assume that women don’t have the priesthood because God wants it that way? I certainly don’t assume that children go hungry because God wants it that way. The circumstances of mortal life are largely dictated by mortal behavior, and it is up to us to be positive agents for change, and not just assume that *this* is God’s plan.

      • Just because the direction God gives changes, does not mean that God is “fickle”. Was preaching only to the Jews, then “changing his mind” and extending the Gospel to the Gentiles an example of God being “fickle”?

        Just because women haven’t been given the Priesthood now does not mean the Prophets have not been asking, or that they’ve been asking the wrong questions, nor does it mean that “God wants it that way”. Speculating on God’s motives can make arguments easier (for you), but I’m sure none of the answers we come up with are going to even approach the concept of “Why?”. Might as well say that it’s not been done because God is waiting for the Mayan calendar to end or that the messages have been getting to the wrong people because of sunspot activity.

  13. Descent says:

    Like some of the other commenters, I am hard pressed to choose between the two options of more visible roles and ordination. I would like to see what more visible roles would be like. I can’t predict if that would feel sufficient until its actually my lived experience. I do not believe that priesthood ordination is necessary for equality to be obtained, but I also know that the quality of the practice is predicated by the quality of the policy. In that way, female ordination is the quick fix requiring little thought. Its the strategy of making a blanket statement saying that men and women will be treated the same regardless of gender. I see a number of pitfalls that could occur from this strategy: more guilt for women who are unable to take on additional responsibility and the pressure of performing in the priesthood. My speculation that opening up a number of callings to women regardless of priesthood status would allow women greater autonomy in accepting church responsibility. She will be able to say that ward clerk is too demanding of a calling for her at that time. Eh, enough meandering. There are so various aspects of this to consider. My conclusion at this time is that I would like to try one before trying the other. Regardless of future church policy, I would like to see blessings of faith performed by women brought back as acceptable and encouraged.

    Also, for those responders who are in support of female ordination, make sure your name is on The List on Agitating Faithfully http://www.agitatingfaithfully.org.

  14. Dara says:

    Descent:
    Agitatingfaithfully.org is dead in the water. THere have been no new posts for a long time.

  15. Henry says:

    Think about this. Assuming the church is the only true church, priesthood power is real and not open to presumption/assumption of authority. If the day comes that women are ordained, it will not be because of popular worldy opinion. It will be because it’s time has come.

    • Diane says:

      Well, then if you want to use your logic, than this is the one only true church because Mormons deem it to be and nothing else. Many churches, if not all make the same claim and yet, allow woman to be ordained

    • X2 Dora says:

      Women are ordained to be priestesses in the temple, and administer rites to other women. So, in the holiest places on earth, women are already administering in the name of the deity.

  16. Henry says:

    When I say presumption/assumption, I mean as the world does. It seems if public opinion is for something, most organizations move quickly to implement it because it is popular.

  17. Amy says:

    Every Mormon should read “The Beginning of Better Days” Divine Instruction to Women from the Prophet Joseph Smith. Women and men will understand how AWESOME women are in God’s kingdom and the vital role they play in the plan of salvation. The Prophet states, “if the sisters should have the faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on” and that there was no sin a “female laying hands on the sick then in wetting the face with water–that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith”. I have faith that the ancient order of priesthood has been restored to both men and women in the LDS church. It is now time for the women of the church to pick it up and claim their divine roles and callings in the kingdom. Indeed, better days are ahead for all who strive to live and understand the gospel to its fullest.

  18. MB says:

    Descent, I think you are alluding to the fact that simply changing who gets to do what or enlarging the circle of who is ordained may change the outward appearance of equality and make people think about it more but that it does not necessarily create the unity, mutual respect and love that is required of a Zion people.

    Simply changing policy without increasing people’s understanding of the divine nature of the godly power involved and what that divine power requires of us in our relationships with each other will fall far short of God’s hope for us.

    This is related very clearly to Haglund’s quote cited by X2Dora above. Without a clear vision of our relationship with God and of the love, revelation, care, humility, meekness, courage and selflessness required of his disciples, both female and male, as they go about his work, no policy change by itself will ever fully effectuate our equality or our ability to take on divine resposibilities, both of which are necessary for either a Zion society or a celestial life.

    That is why I feel so strongly about the vital role of education and divine revelation, both personal and organizational, in this process and discussion.

    • sartawi says:

      I agree with your comment. The way I see it, the health and balance of the church has to happen holistically. Every part must be strengthened and brought together with any change. It’s just like with physical health. If we want to change our bodies and overall health, taking some magic pill and just losing a lot of weight won’t do the trick. It requires changing our eating, exercise, sleeping, and emotional habits, and looking introspectively at ourselves to see what is holding us back from our goals. This happens with my patients as well. If I simply push medications and treatments at them, they do not heal well. I have to look at and consider all aspects of the person: physical health, family health, support resources, emotional health, health history, spiritual health, traditions and beliefs, etc. All of this takes time, consistent effort, and patience. The same is true with the church “body’s” health. All parts must be addressed. All groups within the church must be included in any change. Education and understanding is key. Knowing our history, and learning from it is essential. Maintaining the respect of, and respecting, others is important. All of this works together to bring about effective change. I get caught up in the emotions, and I sometimes get angry at the injustices, but when I can bring myself back down to reason and rational thought, I can see how patience and effort and educating and never giving up are working, and will continue to work, to bring about equality.

      • X2 Dora says:

        What I got from Haglund’s quote, combined with my own experience, is that sometimes the church isn’t very good at fostering spiritual experiences. I think the church is very good at maintaining order, calm, and all sorts of correlated things. There are all sorts of checklists, rules, and regulation, but I don’t think that these necessarily lead to greater spirituality. I think that if the church was to remove artificial barriers to service, then that would allow members more opportunities to learn, serve, and grow.

        And while I do agree with Satawi’s stance on letting things happen organically, I get pretty impatient with truly late adopters who impede progress on an institutional level.

      • Diane says:

        Can you please explain what you mean by “Truly late adopters?”

      • X2 Dora says:

        Maybe “truly late adopters” isn’t a good term. Very late adopters? An example that comes to mind is the BYU professor who was just recently spouting all that nonsense of why the priesthood (and temple blessings) were withheld from the Black community … so late to the party that he’s absolutely embarrassing.

  19. Cristina says:

    I shared the article on FB and couldn’t believe the reactions. A few people were excited by it but several eithers called me to repentance right there or told me to go join another church! All this for “liking” an article. many of the negative comments were from women. They even scolded me for stomping on “our men.” Oh, we have a long way to go… It breaks my heart.

    • Diane says:

      You should tell them that they need to be called into repentance for questioning your righteousness. The only one that can do that is a Bishop and even he can be question

  20. Twila says:

    I am currently home with 4 children and it is the most challenging thing I have ever done. I am not a “sweet” mother. I manage 4 additional schedules to my own, provide 2 meals (Jon cooks dinner), make an effort to teach social, academic and life skills that will hopefully result in my children being competent and kind individuals, administer simple first aid, provide transportation, clean and clean and clean and organize crap…In short, I work my ass off and love my kids ferociously. I get tired of the double talk from the pulpit at general conference and in sacrament meeting in regards to women. I agree that so called “women’s work” should be given more than just pretty lip service.

    In addition to my struggle to mother well, I am also capable in many other ways that are virtually ignored in the context of church. There is little or no encouragement for developing my gifts outside the context of serving in my “God ordained” role of wife and mother. This creates cognitive dissonance for me because it is in direct conflict with the revelation I’ve received personally from God. Which do I trust? I trust my first hand experience. I trust that God believes that I, and I’m sure women everywhere, have valuable talents and abilities to offer outside of our so called “God ordained” roles.

    I hope that the church will be able to open up to the idea that men and women are equally capable of providing nurture for their children and leadership for their congregations. I hope that someday my daughter’s voice will be valued equally with my sons. If women were respected rather than “honored” the church would be spiritually richer and I believe, closer to God. I believe that both more involvement in administration and ordination to the priesthood are necessary if that is going to happen.

    • Janna says:

      What a welcome comment! I wish more women in the church thought the way that you do.

      • mountaingirl says:

        Yes! “If women were repected rather than ‘honored'”. This is what I’ve been feeling and couldn’t quite put a finger on it. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal in the corner like a pretty little prize to be “honored”. I am more than that!

  21. Naismith says:

    Ru, I did not mean to ignore your question, I was away from the internet for a few days. Do I think it’s really the same now? Yes, I absolutely do.

    One cynical explanation would be that whatever society as a whole does, the church encourages the opposite:) In the 1800s, the church was calling women to become doctors. In the “liberated” 1980s, encouraging them to focus on family. But more seriously, I think that women have always been encouraged to consider what is best for their families, receive personal revelation, and move forward in faith irregardless of what society around them is doing.

    I was a young mom with children in the 1980s, with a paid job outside the home. Nobody at church discouraged me from my career. When I was called to a stake position, the setting apart blessing asked that I would be able to care for my family and do a good job at my paid work. Yes, I understand that in 1987, President Benson gave a talk via a North American Fireside to the mothers of the church. This was pre-internet, and my local chapel didn’t have a dish yet, and besides I wasn’t going to leave our kids on a school night. I did see the transcript later, and we thought there were some great points. I prayed about it, and was sure that attending grad school was where the Lord wanted me at that point in time. (BTW, Pres. Benson was not as anti-feminist as some would make out; I was impressed that he waited for his wife while she served a mission, as did Elder Scott.)

    I do think it was great to have good examples of full-time moms. As a convert, I had never considered that role until going to BYU and meeting Ann Madsen, Sandra Covey, Sydney Smith Reynolds. They pointed out the advantages of that job, and that it might be best for some families at a certain season of their lives. I was home with our little ones until they started kindergarten, and even then was able to arrange my paid work so that I was home with ourkids after school. A lot of moms who chose to be at home fulltime because of various talks during that season have strong testimonies of the value of putting enough time into family.

    Nowadays of course, this is a moot point. President Hinckley praised a nurse with three children, and commended her as an example to the Young Women. Elder Ballard in General Conference assured us that “there is no perfect way to be a perfect mother.” In our worldwide church, a lot of moms take their children along to the fields in a sling, and in some countries public schools starts at age 3.

    “While some in the church would encourage women to pursue advanced degrees, you surely must acknowledge that there are just as many encouraging them not, correct?” Since I don’t know everyone in the church, I couldn’t say. I have never heard anything in General Conference discouraging women’s education–quite the opposite. My girls have been in the YW program from the early 1990s to 2011, and they got a great deal of support from their YW leaders to pursue education. One YW president was a PhD student. The leaders were great at arranging for service projects so that the International Baccalaureate students and those seeking scholarships had enough hours to qualify.

    I don’t think God is fickle, I think that situations do change and our efforts may be needed in different areas. When I was young, we learned Christmas songs in the public school classroom. Now those are banned, they have to be taught at home and church. The parents in my neighborhood were always looking out for us, and would tell my mother if we stepped out of line. Nowadays, neighbors might consider that an intrusion. In the old days, pornography could only be found in bookstores that could not be located close to schools. It’s a vital time in history to be putting one’s energy at home.

    If the message in favor of fulltime motherhood seems loud, it is only to provide an adequate counterpoint to the louder message that is heard outside. I was at a party a few years ago where a young dental student said that she was interested in being an oral surgeon but ultimately felt that such a training program and practice was not compatible to her desire to raise a family. She was roundly stomped on and even ridiculed for saying that. “Of course you can do it…your kids don’t need you as much as you think….you’d be a better example to them by being a surgeon….” So that kind of judging can come from all sides, and is never justified.

    I love the LDS idea of personal revelation and that each of us has our own stewardship to which only we are entitled to revelation.

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