This Still Really Happens? A Sacrament Talk On Obedience Goes Terribly Wrong
A couple of weeks ago in Sacrament Meeting, a couple in their late thirties or early forties gave talks on obedience to God. The man’s talk was progressing along typical lines, and I was half listening as usual when I suddenly was shocked into attention.
He blithely stated (I’m paraphrasing here), “I really admire my wife because she’s so obedient. For example, whenever I ask her to do something, she obeys immediately and without question.”
What! He did NOT just say that! My mind screamed. How could someone so shamelessly admit that his wife obeys him over the pulpit? And in a talk that was supposed to be about obedience to God!
This incident brought up a few issues for me that I am still trying to wrap my mind around. Firstly, When the outrageous statement was made, my husband and I looked at each other with wide eyes. There was a flurry of whispers between us. And then we looked around the congregation to see if others were equally shocked and appalled. But as my husband later said, it was like a bomb that went off, but no one heard. The lack of reaction from everyone else makes me now wonder, am I an abnormal Mormon because I think it is incredibly unwise, insensitive, and just jaw-droppingly awful to publicly voice such an idea, even if you privately think it? (In my mind, such a statement about women is almost equivalent to saying something racist in public, given the historical oppression that both women and people of color have endured. For goodness sake, even if you think that way, don’t admit it publicly.)
Secondly, just how prevalent are ideas like this? Do any of you actually know couples that conduct their marriages like this? And I’m not talking about 80 year old couples. These speakers were relatively young and professional.
Thirdly, why haven’t people such as the speaker moved along with the times? And is it wrong of me to expect them to? I realize that there have been statements about women obeying their husbands from Church leaders of the past, and of course, there is the unfortunate (from my perspective) hearken covenant in the temple. But most youngish couples I know consider those past statements as reflective of their historical time period. These couples I know are much more likely to focus on the equal partnership idea that is now so often talked about in General Conference. And even if these couples agree that the man presides in some fashion, none of the ones I know interpret presiding to mean getting your wife to obey you.
In conclusion, I’m dazed, appalled, and almost a tiny bit amused by this incident. (Don’t ask me why.) I’m probably coming off as super-judgmental here, which I feel guilty about. I really am a pluralist who believes in different strokes for different folks, but there are some places I draw the line, at least publicly. Do any of you understand where I’m coming from, or am I expecting unreasonable things from people?