Accommodating the Natural Man
I recently listened to the interview of Amiee Flynn-Curran on Gina Colvin’s podcast, A Thoughtful Faith. I know Amiee because the ward she studied is my own. I was curious about her takeaways as a non-Mormon, immersed in our “liberal” ward for a year.
My ward, as “liberal” as it is, is still very Mormon and a person passing through on a random Sunday probably doesn’t notice that it’s any different than other wards. We’re still super Mormon. Can’t help that.
So it wasn’t a surprise to hear that a lot of Mormon myths still abound. For example, Amiee mentioned women in the ward believing that men have the priesthood because they need it as motivation to participate in Church and women don’t need this because they tend more towards spiritual things. This is not a surprise to me.
But as I listened to the confirmation that there are, or at least were at the time of this research, women in my ward who feel this way, I felt immensely defeated. I’m one of those people who, at this point in time at least, needs motivation to go to church. Multiple times this summer I snuck up to church just for the second hour to do my primary pianist calling and then came immediately home. I don’t want to be at church right now and having to be there for my calling right now is the only thing keeping me at the moment. It’s hard that my calling is every week and there are no breaks like when I taught YW and had some “off” weeks when I wasn’t teaching to recharge. I mostly go, do my thing, leave. Without this, I’d not bother.
So when I hear that people I know truly believe that men need the priesthood because they need an incentive to go to church I hear two things:
- They believe women who need an incentive to be at church are somehow deficient in their womanhood.
- They believe God or the Church cares enough about men to extend extra power from on high to keep them in the church and doesn’t extend the same concern to women’s presence.
Regarding the first, it sucks to go to church and know that in Relief Society there are women who, if they knew I’m not in a “naturally spiritual” place at the moment, would think there is something wrong with me and look down on me for needing something more, for being “power hungry”. This past summer I did find myself in Relief Society one Sunday instead of playing Pokemon Go and one of the women made a sweeping comment about how “we’re all here today in Relief Society because…” and I glared at my knitting in my hands wishing people wouldn’t presume why I’m there that day or any day and that I’d rather not be there right now. I’m one of those designing women who is only there because she’s needed for half an hour.
Regarding the second, I feel deserted on a new level. If we take that statement seriously, either God or the people running the Church, or both, feel like men are important enough to the Church that they’ve set up ways to keep them in. The natural man may be an enemy to God, but we’ll accommodate and assist him while ignoring that women have the same needs and desires. It feels like someone has said, “Ok men, we know you need extra help and we value you and want to keep you around, so here it is: you’ll be extended the power and authority of God. And women? Well, they’re fine; no need to give them handouts.”
I’m not saying that I want the priesthood or else I won’t go to church anymore, however, I do need to feel needed. It’s not wrong or status-seeking to want fulfillment. I think everyone has that need on some level. One way to fill that need to is to have positions available to everyone and extending the priesthood to all.
We need to kill this myth of the innately spiritual woman because it is causing women to leave because the Church currently doesn’t have a place for any other kind of woman.