We’re not equal

God may be no respecter of persons, but everyone else is.

Our society is obsessed with equality. It’s unfortunate, because it’s just not possible for us to be equal. Our church has responded to the equality rallying cry. After all we should try treat each other equally, right? We should attempt to emulate the example Jesus set for us. But then again, God is God, and as such, is capable of more than any man. Not even women can rise to the level where they regard all people as equal.

We have just finished a month of lessons and sacrament meeting talks on the priesthood in our ward.

The volume of repeated information, quoting Elders Ballard and Oaks (and even one talk that bravely quoted President Kimball), indicates that the leadership recognizes that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But they’re not addressing it; they’re jsut throwing hte same answers at it that don’t engage the real concerns that generated the problem. Saying that women and men are equal in the church is not enough to make it so. Saying that the priesthood is analogous to motherhood, while it may be comforting and seems right to some women, does not satisfy all (and on analysis, the analogy is not great).

Over the course of the month, I heard many different justifications for the male only priesthood. One is that despite only men holding the priesthood, and thus being filling most of the leadership roles in the ward, there is equality. But it is misguided for well-meaning leaders to tell us that women and men play equal roles in the church, when we clearly do not. Yes, the Relief Society president is a calling roughly equivalent to Elder’s Quorum president, and Young Women president to Young Men’s president. But there is no calling a woman holds that matches that of the bishop. It could be argued that RS is more analogous to bishop than to EQ. That means there are still more leadership callings for men than there are for women. And it even though both are concerned with teaching members of the church, there is a world of difference between Sunday School and Primary. In any case, there is not equality or balance. We’re not equal, and the roles we fulfill in the church are not equal, so stop saying they are.

Another was that there is equality in mens and women’s roles, we just can’t see it in mortality. That was one of the best justifications: it implicitly recognized the inequality, and extended hope that when we are more like God, the inequality will no longer exist. It doesn’t change the circumstances we find ourselves in now, but it does temper the pain of injustice in this life by giving us hope for a utopia in the next.

Another tack was to dismiss women who seek ordination (or who feel slighted or devalued by the exclusion even if they don’t actually seek the priesthood themselves) as not understanding the gospel of Christ. I particularly disliked this approach. It may be that I don’t understand this aspect of the gospel. It’s a hard concept and I may be trying to reconcile myself to it. Just because it is easy or even intuitive for some people to accept, doesn’t make it so for all of us. Have some patience with those of us who may be struggling instead of dismissing us as hard hearted, stubborn, or ignorant.

Related to the previous approach was to say “Some women think they want equality, but…”  or “Some people think women should have the priesthood, but…” The “some people” phrasing is alienating and it assumes that everyone in the room agrees with the statement being made. Any sisters in the Relief Society room at the time of those comments who were struggling with these issues would be likely to feel that their concerns are not valid and not welcome. Unfortunately, that often leads to the women assuming that they themselves are not welcome, and they self-select away from activity.

One of my favorite statements (made by a woman I genuinely adore) was this: “Think about how much time is required to be a bishop and make a living. How could a woman do that and still have time to be a mother and take care of her home and family?” It’s an excellent point. But I tend to think that if we are taking fathers away from their families that much, they don’t have an opportunity to be equal partners in the home, and that is a huge disservice to everyone. Perhaps if we can allow men to be equal partners in the home, we will also allow women to be equal partners in church. Or not.

There were several other ideas presented over the course of the month. The priesthood is incomplete without women because of the requirement for celestial marriage (I didn’t really understand this justification or how it avoided the polygamy of D&C 132). The men are not the priesthood. We should be better knowing that without the priesthood there would be darkness upon the earth. And so on.

Mostly, I’m glad the month is over. I don’t want to be ordained to the priesthood. I honestly think it would be a little silly if every adult in the church were ordained. It’s almost silly that pretty much every man is. This is a far cry from a dedicated tribe carrying the burden of the priesthood for the rest of the people. Inequality bothers me, but I think it is inevitable. I think the solution would be to embrace more complementary roles. I think motherhood is a good compliment to fatherhood. I’m not sure what duties or keys women would hold that would be complimentary to the priesthood. I like the idea of women being able to administer blessing, with authority, to each other, as they did in our pioneer day. But I am a Berkean conservative, and I wouldn’t want to institute sweeping changes. I am too afraid of the law of unintended consequences.

Did you have the same emphasis on the priesthood in your ward last month? What good insights about the priesthood did you glean? How do you reconcile our practice and doctrine to our cultural elevation of the ideal of equality?

97 comments for “We’re not equal

  1. Thank you Rachel. At the risk of derailing the thread, my limited experience leads me to conclude that discussing “equality” is not the most effective means to advance equality. Everyone agrees in principle that we should be equal. But in practice we always disagree as to what equality means. For some reason we get overwhelmed with all the inequality in the world and struggle to cure the one inequality in front of us while others remain. Case in point, I’ve heard this argument raised: “giving women the priesthood would not make them equal because men still can’t have babies.”

    Again, just my experience, but I find much more success in discussing what is “good.” People more readily agree on that. So when the topic of women’s ordination comes up, I do not address inequality. I convey how deeply meaningful are the priesthood ordinances I perform for my children. And I express how much more meaningful it would be for my wife to join with me in administering the priesthood. I feel her absence from the circle. My family is blessed by the priesthood, but a greater blessing and more unity will come through my wife’s equal participation.

    I have yet to see anyone contend against the good of women’s ordination when I raise it that way. Instead, heads nod in agreement and everyone says “yeah, that would be nice.” So that is how I’m trying to change hearts on this issue. No more contention. Just point out that (i) women are good, (ii) priesthood is good, (iii) women + priesthood is really good. Once someone opens their heart to the reality that women exercising the priesthood is good, they seem to find their own answers to all the “why not” questions without my help.

  2. I have two thoughts: 1. God gives to [people] according to their weaknesses; 2. Equality is not a doctrine of God (I assume it stems from Kant’s writings on liberal society but this isn’t an area that I research and, of course, everything goes back to Aristotle). God chooses people to prefer, suffer, bless, eradicate, etc. Discussions of equality appeal to our liberal mindset but they don’t draw us closer to the mind of God and are a distraction from spiritual pursuits that really matter.

  3. Wow. I’m glad I was not in your ward.

    Our ward’s youth classes handled priesthood because of the curriculum, but sacrament meeting did not echo those themes.

    I can’t speak for all the youth classes, but the ones I taught (I subbed in my 16-year old’s class two of four lessons; we had a stake conference one week) had no mention of equality for all, no hint of priesthood’s equalling motherhood and no attempt to justify the present structure (or denigrate those who sought to understand or change it).

    Themes we covered:

    Blessings of the preisthood come through ordinances which are available to all.

    Men and women work together in the counsels of the church and bless the lives of church members and non-members.

    The power of faith (available to all) is essential to the power of the priesthood.

    We can learn about the priesthood through careful study of the scriptures (I particularly loved this lesson as outlined in the Sunday School lesson material; I’d just been to a seminary training meeting the day before, so I was all geeked out about how to study the scriptures for more meaning).

    Men who try to exercise control via the priesthood are wrong; they are not exercising the priesthood in those instances.

    Men and women both have opportunities (independent of the priesthood) to exercise influence with the qualities discussed in D&C 121.

    I don’t know why men hold the priesthood and women don’t. (I started my first substitute lesson with that statement.)

  4. Rachel, I appreciate the sentiments expressed in your post. While I did not have to hear about the priesthood all month, my children did. Some of your points with which I concur are that the priesthood is not meant to be held by someone simply because they are male. Too often the sacred priesthood is conferred as a matter of course in a male’s life. Not all men are worthy or ready for the priesthood but with the current tradition in the church any male NOT conferred would be automatically judged as deficient. I also agree that we are not all equal. To some, great gifts have been bestowed. To others, small gifts. We are not intended to be equal in this life (if we were all equal then we would be equal to God). Equality was actually Satan’s plan. Make everyone have the same abilities and limitations. This isn’t the plan we accepted. We know that inequality helps us develop compassion, empathy, patience, etc.

    I will say that the best excuse for women NOT holding the priesthood is that men tend to allow women to do all the work (I know this is a stereotype/ generality– but a fairly accurate one). If women held the priesthood, the men would sit back in their lazy boy chairs and applaud their industrious wives’ back-breaking efforts! I think men, in general, need instructions so that they have a direction/ purpose. I see too many men still sitting back and playing video games, watching sports, etc. while the wife is busily engaged in caring for the children. I don’t mean to be harsh about men. I have met many who are great, righteous patriarchs who treat their wives with love and respect and spend their free time teaching their children valuable life lessons. Sadly this is not my experience with MOST men.

  5. I love your positive approach, Dave. I do think that is the best way to approach most things, even though I put up this rather negative post. Thanks for balancing me back out.

    Anonymous, you are right that equality is not a doctrine of God but a construct of man. It’s not a bad construct, but it can never be more than an unattainable ideal. The scriptures are full of many things we would consider unjust, unfair, and unequal, from marriage laws to slavery to the very idea of a chosen people. So we must recognize when we attempt to impose our social constructs on God and then get all het up because we think He’s failing in some way. It’s our expectations that are flawed, not God. (A related argument is that the Church is not God, and therefore has some room for improvement. You get into muddy waters with that one though, so I’ll leave it be.)

    Paul, I like my ward very much. I don’t know if the convergence of sacrament meeting theme, youth lessons, and RS lessons, along with the 5th Sunday lesson was happenstance or deliberate. It can be good to keep working on a single theme, exploring different aspects of it from different perspectives, and I sure many people benefitted from it.

  6. I think your article title is the main point. We are not equal. We are unique individuals with different gifts, talents and weaknesses. That being said, anyone who lusts after a certain calling in the church is very likely not the best person to do that job.

  7. Nicol, the almost automatic advancement is problematic. Sometimes it seems to be aspirational: if you give a boy or man the priesthood, he will live up to. And because that does indeed happen for some men, the practice continues. As a young woman, it infuriated me. I knew good and well that one of the young men blessing the sacrament was not worthy to do so, while I was, but I was a girl, so tough luck. I’ve realized since then that I definitely had some self-righteous pride issues going on, which should exclude anyone from exercising the priesthood. And that kid has grown up into a great guy. How would it have helped to come down hard on him then?

    As for women being naturally more spiritual, organized, and productive, I think that’s an argument that cuts both ways. If someone is a natural spiritual leader, what good does it do to deny them opportunities to serve at the best of the capacity? It seems that would unnaturally limit them and their growth and harm those whom they could be serving. But our church does do a relatively good job in retaining men and families at a time when both of those groups are sliding out of regular church attendance. So while I think good could come of women serving in Sunday School presidencies (that should be low-hanging fruit), executive secretaries, and ward clerks (note I’m not even pushing for bishopric, stake presidency, or high council), I see why you worry that extension of those roles to women could result in more slacker men. I would hope men would be better than that though, don’t you?

  8. Laura, you are absolutely right. I would far prefer a reluctant bishop than one who’s been angling for the calling and feels that he (or she) deserves it. Of course, my husband very much would like to be given the calling of primary pianist again. For the 6 years he had it, he felt like he had the best calling in the world.

  9. Primary pianist is my dream calling too. Followed by choir pianist and ward organist. Unfortunately in my lifetime I’ve only held ward organist for about 2 months. I guess I need to get out of Utah where pianists are a dime a dozen.

  10. Rachel, I have to disagree. I don’t find your post negative at all.

    As to equality being a doctrine, I would point out the official statement issued by the church following the launch of ordainwomen.org: “It is the doctrine of the Church that men and women are equal. The Church follows the pattern of the Savior when it comes to priesthood ordination.” I don’t read this to suggest that men and women are the same. But it certainly undercuts Nicol’s position that “equality was actually Satan’s plan.” (post #4)

    I also take heart from another recent church statement: “The practice of ordaining men to the priesthood was established by Jesus Christ himself, and is not a decision to be made by those on Earth.” The word “practice” is very important. It is the same word used in the recent changes to OD-1 and OD-2 to describe polygamy and the racial priesthood/temple ban. Equality is a doctrine. Exclusion of women from the priesthood is a practice. So regardless of its origins, it can certainly change.

  11. I believe that women have a higher calling in being responsible for the family. Men may say they are head of the household, but they generally have permission to say that or say it out of earshot of their wife. I don’t see coveting the calling of Bishop. I’ve seen what it does to men. Some may consider it a higher calling. I consider it a “harder” calling. The Lord still has things to reveal to us. When the time is right, we will have a full understanding of this. I think that too many try to “overthink” the church. It is what it is and I enjoy it as best as I can. The Lord has given us plenty to study. He will give us more later.

  12. I always end up wondering how much more adultery we would end up with if we had mixed-gender presidencies. Like making the ward clerk a woman… There are already enough bishop+RS president problems. I don’t advance this as a major argument on the overall issue, just a sticking point

  13. The adultery issue interests me. When our children were young, I was fairly isolated and alone most of the time. I didn’t get to see my husband a lot because he was busy in grad school, and he was often the only person I would talk to for days at a time. At church I rarely spoke with any men, and often didn’t know the names of my acquaintances’ husbands. Two moves later, with the children older, I got called as a primary president, and for the first time attended ward council meetings and regularly interacted with men at church. It was a startlingly different experience. But I would imagine that had I continued to work outside of the home, regularly working alongside both men and women, it wouldn’t have been quite so shocking. It was coming from the shelter of my home, a world with only one man, that made it strange and a little uncomfortable to then talk with other men. As we have more women continuing in their careers, perhaps it will be the case that they will be able to work more with men as well.

  14. Rachael, I am having difficulty identifying where exactly it is indicated that we should believe in or place any faith in the popular definition of “equal”. The doctrine that I seem to be informed by is that “God is no respecter of persons”. I cannot see any way to derive the popular inference of virtual equivalency or interchangability that seems to have early roots in the ERA movement, against which Church leadership was always opposed.

    The problems being currently addressed by Church leaders seem to have more to do with attempting to correct misperceptions and teaching correct principles than they do of making changes to accomodate popular trends in public opinion.

  15. I want to add to Dave K.’s first comment in that I think “equality” is a loaded word, with ambiguous and fluid meaning. To me, trying to draw conclusions about equality in the church from the number of leadership callings available to each gender is in many ways missing the entire point of callings and servant leadership.

    In my opinion, equality within the church is found in the doctrinal promise that every man, woman and child is loved by God and that we can be eternally redeemed by Jesus Christ. And that eternal promise cuts across many important boundaries besides gender: nationality, type of sin, temperament, physical/mental ability, wealth, etc.

    I think the issues we have with gender differences in the church can be approached by using, as Dave K. suggested, different language that doesn’t adopt so strongly the modern and (to many within the church) controversial view on gender equality.

  16. If you’re black and white about it equality can never be achieved or perhaps even defined, but it isn’t difficult at all to recognize that women hold a one down place in the hierarchical structure of the church compared to married men and that those governing the church are coming from behind in attempting to close that hole and extend similar respect to women that men get in place of the pedestal placation that was offered from the pulpit for so long. Why did we even have a question at all about women praying in sacrament meeting and why did it take 182 years and feminist activism for women to pray in GC? So, can the LDS male hierarchy be trusted to provide for women in this way on their own? Obviously not!

    Women are further divided into a pecking of order of SAHMs at the top followed by working mothers followed by singles with perhaps divorcees and never marrieds at or somewhere near the bottom. Is this Christ’s pecking order? Is there anything in his ministry to suggest this? I only remember him showing women respect.

    #1 Dave K, excellent approach!

  17. I see a church nod to equality in the proclamation on the family:

    “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. ”

    (emphasis added)

    But I personally think a better term would be complimentary rather than equal.

  18. I think that the great difficulty this is issue is that both sides argue largely from a position of ignorance. Both viewpoints rely on many unverifiable assumptions.

    For example, we don’t know whether the policy restricting priesthood office to males was the result of inspiration or was the result of assumptions and biases existing among the early leaders of the Church.

    Also, regarding Joseph Smith’s “kingdom of priests” statement to the RS and the accounts of women being involved in priesthood administrations in the early days of the Church raise far more questions than they answer.

    In the face of so much uncertainty it seems to me that the most productive course of action would be to seek further light and knowledge from God on the matter rather than to seek to maintain the status quo or to effect a policy change.

    Asking questions often results in revelation (think D&C 89) and this season of debate on this issue may bring about a great outpouring of truth if it is approached in the proper spirit.

    Individuals on both sides of issue would do well to unite to seek greater understanding, rather than to engage in contentious debate in my opinion.

  19. 12–I don’t know why we don’t consider, when we consider what women having the priesthood would look like, that the nearest thing to priesthood equality we have at the moment is in the temple, and the pattern of temple presidencies is that the president and his wife and the counselors and THEIR wives constitute the presidency. I don’t see why that wouldn’t transfer over almost seamlessly into just about every calling in the church. It would be interesting to see if the Relief Society would be folded into the various quorums (I hope not, and for the sake of both male- and female-bonding that takes place, or should, in the quorums and the RS), or if the RS president and bishop were a married couple called to serve together. My 3G-grandparents did something similar in the old days when wards were routinely 1000 people or more, and bishops and RS presidents served for decades (my 3G-grandmother served over 25 years). Of course, in that case, you’d worry more about divorce among the bishopric than adultery, I’d guess.

  20. I tend to look at this all with a different light, and I feel like our leaders are trying to help point us in a direction that asks different questions than the obvious (and understandable) why don’t women hold priesthood.

    I got to teach the joint YW lesson on this topic at the beginning of the month and I felt a heavy weight in doing so. I spent weeks (months, really) pondering and studying the topic. I feel like there are layers to the doctrine of priesthood that are often missed when *organizational* inequality becomes the focus. God is truly no respecter of persons, and I think we DO see that in the doctrine of the priesthood — in the purposes of the priesthood to bring the possibility of priesthood ordinances (and thus the full potential of accessing the healing and saving power of the Atonement) to ALL of God’s children, male or female, black or white, bond or free, alive or dead. THIS to me is what priesthood is about.

    I pulled together a bunch of the articles, talks, and links that were part of my study (and have been over the years). In case anyone is interested. http://mormonwoman.org/2013/06/30/pondering-mormon-women-and-priesthood/

  21. …I feel like our leaders are trying to help point us in a direction that asks different questions… I totally agree BUT while they’re doing it they seem completely oblivious that they’re standing on some women’s toes and they’re saying “ouch” but the abuse continued until many complained. At it’s base level it’s just plain rude but come on a bunch of feminists are necessary to raise a bunch of prophets consciousness? You’ve got to be kidding me! Something is really wrong with that! Would Christ be that insensitive? Would Christ miss the nuance? Our prophets are also old men brought up during a simpler time and unfortunately it shows and too often leads.

  22. Some good thoughts Rachel.

    Again (I think), I disagree semantically with your definition of ‘equal roles.’ I don’t think an equal number of administrative positions available to both genders is at all related to ‘equal roles’ whether in the Kingdom of God or in eternal families.

  23. Howard,

    I’ve seen the “would Christ act this way” argument brought up a number of times in the last couple of days (It’s possible each time was from you but I’m not sure). Thinking about it while it seems like a trump card I’m not so sure. Yes we have stories about Christ respecting Mary and Martha (Which is there any question that the Brethren are respectful to women in person?) but we don’t have any evidence of Christ calling Mary or Martha to the 12 or any indication that his church was any less patriarchal than the church today.

    So when you say, how would Christ act? Well how did Christ act? He organized a patriarchal church.

  24. Cameron, I am guilty of conflating several different issues in the post. There is the inherent value of each person (God is no respecter of persons) that means we are all valued by God, but not necessarily equally. But with God’s ability to know and love each of us, the human notion of equality does not apply.

    As people we tend to look for external ways of indicating worth, whether that be personal appearance, wealth, career achievements or church callings held. When there are different roles are available to the different genders means there will be a separation that makes “equality” impossible by that metric. We also find it easier to judge our own merit and that of others based on roles we fill now in our families or the administrative roles in the church than we do those ‘equal roles’ in the kingdom of God or our eternal families. I’m not trying to justify this practice; I’m just saying that is what many of us find ourselves doing, and it is a source of much discontent.

  25. H. Bob, I love the idea of serving together with my husband. He’s currently our scoutmaster, a rather difficult calling for him, and I do everything I can to support him and help the scout program run more smoothly in our ward. I even volunteer to be the processor (the one who deals with that horrible internet advancement program the BSA has that seems to only run on a PC with Explorer, and sometimes not even then, as well as getting the merit badges at the office and running the board of reviews) so that I can help him. It would be great if that were my calling, but for now I’m still serving in RS. But we often go home teaching together, and that is always good.

  26. I love what Dave K said in comment #1. As a female how do I address this in the same way? I can’t think of how to do the very same thing without coming across as power hungry/apostate/pick your criticism. Is there a female equivalent to Dave K’s approach?

  27. Howard, I think I’m missing your point, but I also sense that we’ll likely disagree on some of this. I personally think Christ has always said, simply, “Come unto me.” Priesthood ordinances and keys make that possible…not just for those who may hold keys (who are relatively few in number) or even church leadership positions but in the sense that those keys open the doors for ALL to come to Him. I think that is what 2 Ne 26:33 is about. He denieth none that come unto Him. The ordained way to come unto Him has always been to receive and live His ordinances.

    I see nothing in the scriptures that suggests that only those who hold office or a leadership position in the structure of the Church can come unto Him. He made it very clear in His lifetime that individuals can make the choice to come unto Him regardless of their status in a culture. Through living prophets, we hear that any and all of God’s blessings can come to any and all who are faithful to Him. If that isn’t the stuff of equality, I don’t know what is.

    I think Rachel’s #5 and #28 reflect some of my thoughts on this. I think Christ gives us opportunities to transcend our cultural definitions of worth and equality, and even our mortal attempts at explaining why administrative structure is as it is. I think to Rachel’s point, perhaps sometimes we may be too quick to try to explain why things are the way they are. What I’m seeing from many of our leaders (particularly the women) is invitations to study and ponder more about what the doctrine of the priesthood is.

  28. Yes michelle we do see it quite differently. Priesthood ordinances are *symbolic rituals* that invite us to come unto him, they are NOT the coming itself. He is our exemplar, we come unto him by reaching out to him, communing with him through the Spirit, becoming his disciple and learning to be like him. It is far more than studying him in church, pondering and praying.

    Who did Christ overlook while focused on more important things? Women? Nope. So is overlooking women Christlike? Nope.

  29. Those callings you mention as being out of reach for women or not having a satisfactory complement all have one thing in common: The man must be married to receive them.

    I believe there are reasons for these, and that they have something to do with “Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.”

    Life circumstances (somebody’s got to care for the children, etc.) often require a separation of responsibilities as a couple seek to help one another fulfill their callings, but they do serve together. In the cases of Mission Presidents and Temple Presidents and often General Authorities and their wives, the couples serve together actively. And a Bishop’s or Stake President’s wife still has a significant role within the ward or stake.

    So what’s the complementary role for a Bishop? The Bishop’s wife.

  30. Rachel, It’s exciting to hear that there are wards where equality for women with regard to the priesthood can be discussed.

    We did not, and would not discuss it. We just heard the official copybook version.

    Where is your ward that you can actually discuss realities?

  31. Life circumstances (somebody’s got to care for the children, etc.) often require a separation of responsibilities as a couple seek to help one another fulfill their callings…. Sure this makes sense in a one rule fits all church. It makes a lot less sense to a childless couple and to empty nesters not to mention singles. I’m evolved in philanthropy where empty nest married, divorced and widowed women run charities as well as CEOs who run Fortune 500 companies. To me it seems a waste to leave this talent sitting on the pew. Read sister Monson’s obituary CV and let me know what she did after raising their children besides helping her husband in HIS callings. Nothing else was mentioned and she seemed to live out the balance of her life in his shadow.

  32. I’ve come to realize something over the decades. The message the Book of Mormon conveys is a very straight forward message, yet the emphasis of this blog post misses the message.

    The most important thing a member of the church can do in this life according to the Book of Mormon, the keystone of our faith, is to be baptized with water and the Spirit. The Savior clearly stated it:

    Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins. (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 12:2)

    This process is also called receiving the First Comforter.

    Please note that it has nothing to do with gender.

    Having the priesthood means nothing without receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Why are so many church members focused on the priesthood? We are missing the message of the Book of Mormon. Nephi focused his final message telling his readers what they should be doing (2 Nephi 31:12-21).

  33. Nothing else was mentioned and she seemed to live out the balance of her life in his shadow

    Most of us live our lives “in the shadows” – there is nothing wrong with that.

  34. I agree with Jax. I hope that the measure of my life is not limited or defined by what is on my resume

  35. After raising my children as a stay at home dad I lived out the rest of my life in the shadow of my wife as she magnified her church callings. Sounds great! Why don’t you guys give it a try?

  36. Howard,

    I will pushback on your example a little bit: 1) I am assuming that neither one of us actually knew Sister Monson.What did she do that was not included on her obituary? Probably a lot. 2) Maybe that was her personality. She wanted to stay “in the shadows” and not be seen doing stuff. What’s wrong with that? 3) More important than wordily recognition is whatever recognition Sis. Monson received when she arrived in the next life. I am sure it was worth whatever blanks her CV might have had.

    And yes, I have been in the work force long enough to know that it is nothing special and that supporting your family is at least as fulfilling as a career.

  37. Thanks for replying Rachel. I appreciate your effort and insight in these posts.

  38. mikecherez,
    I welcome pushback but you are not pushing back on my example instead you are addressing a straw man of your own making! Emma Smith had a calling, she was the Relief Society President. The Relief Society was formed to “provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor, [search] after objects of charity…[and] to assist by correcting the virtues of the female community,”. The first two goals from which it apparently took it’s name seem to have been lost almost completely or perhaps sublimated and downgraded to making casseroles for sick members? Provoke the brethren? Gee that sounds oddly similar to activism doesn’t it? Work force? The example I offered was empty nest women doing charity work like Emma’s calling instead of coasting to death like a 1950s wife named Mrs. Thomas S. Monson unlike Emma who had her own identity as women do today. Now please push back on this comment!

  39. Howard,

    I am having a hard time following your point. Are you saying that Sis. Monson’s post-child rearing years were “coasting”?

  40. Or that the accomplishments of Sister Monson’s post child rearing years were largely ignore in favor of “She was the prophet’s wife” statements.

  41. I think a lot of these comments are conflating being equal unto GOD and being equal unto the CHURCH. We can all agree, I believe, that all of us are alike unto God. However, we are most demonstrably not equal unto the Church. And since the Church is supposed to be God’s kingdom on earth, well, sometimes it feels like we are not alike unto God. Or maybe it just feels like there’s something wrong with the Church, because we should be alike unto God and therefore in the Church.

    I’m not too sure where I stand on women’s ordination, but I know where I stand on a lot of other things. Women in non-priesthood callings like SS presidency, ward clerk, and finance clerk. Women as automatic members (not invited members) to Ward Council. Men as Primary President. Women on disciplinary councils. Women as the last speaker in Sacrament meeting when she is the eldest (unless the Bishop or Stake President or someone is speaking). Women with young children being allowed to be temple workers. Men with young children NOT being called to be bishop, if possible. I’m sure I have a lot more, but these (as Rachel said) seem to be low-hanging fruit. They would provide more institutional equality, which is necessary for some women to feel they are truly equally valued. In fact, I think it would be necessary for some men to see women as truly equal. And that’s a valid reason to do all of these suggestions, I believe.

  42. Will the titles of Bishop, EQ President and Stake President be with us for the eternities? I doubt it. They are temporary. All priesthood keys are returned to the Son. They are His. I do not expect to call anyone “Bishop” in the next life who held that calling in mortality. Once they answer for their service at the last judgement… it is over. No person can do much without keys.

    Will the characters and attributes of faith that we build and the roles of mother and father be with us for the eternities? Yes. The LDS Church is important as a TEMPORARY salvational mechanism. Families can be eternal.

    Callings, including leadership callings are given for two purposes that I can identify. 1. They facilitate the salvation of souls (so someone has to do it!); and 2. to provide growth opportunities for some individuals through that service. Some individuals need this experience. I know some that do not. It is not a question of worthiness or worth. Most men, very worthy in my humble estimation, never serve in positions “above” that of Scoutmaster or home teacher. Some women who are absolutely incredible never will sit in a ward council as a RS or Primary President. And it doesn’t matter one bit. These giants in the kingdom can be married to each other and they will jointly grow to possess everything that God has. That is the reality.

    I’m sorry that some feel undervalued and are pained because their position doesn’t carry enough of the trappings of power or the aura of priesthood leadership. But I respectfully submit that the most vital and eternal roles we can and should strive for would be effective mothers or fathers within an eternal family.

  43. “I’m sorry that some feel undervalued and are pained because their position doesn’t carry enough of the trappings of power or the aura of priesthood leadership. But I respectfully submit that the most vital and eternal roles we can and should strive for would be effective mothers or fathers within an eternal family.”

    I would expect the people who hold this view to be first in line wanting to ordain women, so that men could have more time and encouragement to magnify their callings as fathers and husbands.

  44. Amanda (#30), that is an excellent question. My sense is that women who speak in favor of ordination are often judged more harshly than men. Despite this reality, there are many women who do speak up. I am not female, so my first recommendation is to find examples of women who speak in favor of ordination and see if any of their approaches resonates with you. You can find many such women on ordainwomen.org.

    FWIW, I’ll also give my advice. Approach is everything. Do not let others paint you as power-hungry. That’s not the case. Instead, state that priesthood authority would provide additional blessings and means to carry out the roles you already have. Your motherhood would be more powerful if you could anoint and bless your children. Your temple experience would be more spiritual if you could baptize your teenage children instead of just hold a towel. Your role as visiting teacher would be more profound if you could take the sacrament to shut-ins. If you are uncomfortable saying that you personally desire priesthood authority, then express that you know other women who desire priesthood in order to accomplish greater good and express how such women are strong and righteous members.

    My personal preference is to avoid the “why not” questions. But you should be prepared to answer the common objections if they arise – (i) men will sit on the couch (response: not my men; they’re as steadfast as anyone), (ii) women don’t work well with men (response: then why the push to involve them in ward council), (iii) women have enough to do (response: so do men; priesthood is an enabling power; the blessings outweigh the burden); (iv) mixed-gender bishoprics will lead to affairs (response: our mixed-gender ward council hasn’t turned into an orgy; the clerk’s office is the least compatible room for an affair); (v) God set it up this way (response: not in my scriptures), (vi) Christ could have ordained women but didn’t (response: so what; he also could have allowed women to speak in synagogue and serve as missionaries but he didn’t), (vii) the prophet says women shouldn’t be ordained (response: the most recent church statement calls the exclusion as “practice” – the same word used to describe polygamy and the racial priesthood/temple ban; practices change), (viii) the change can only come from the prophet, not agenda-driven members (response: agreed, but just as in all ages, new revelations do not come until the people open their hearts and are prepared for higher things).

  45. the change can only come from the prophet, not agenda-driven members (response: agreed, but just as in all ages, new revelations do not come until the people open their hearts and are prepared for higher things).

    Yes, but not accepting what has been giving has sometimes led to a loss (Israel in wilderness; lost 118 pages; etc) Can you see so clearly that you KNOW that what you advocate for is the will of the Lord? and that current ‘practice’ isn’t?

  46. Jax, I don’t see anyone rejecting what has been given. The blessings that will come with female ordination do not reduce the blessings we already have from male ordination. Those seeking female ordination are not rejecting blessings. They are asking for more.

    You are correct that I do not know that female ordination is the Lord’s will. I do desire the change. I would like to see it happen while my children are still at home and could see their mother exercise her priesthood firsthand. But I also sustain our church leadership in doing what is best for the entire membership body. I am just one out of 14+ million.

    What I do know is that female ordination is good. And so I fully expect it to come to pass when the membership is prepared. I see no evidence that God is against women annointing, blessing, baptizing, sealing, and doing all manner of good through priesthood authority.

  47. Dave K,

    I don’t know that female ordination is against His will. But Martin Harris had a long list of potential benefits for taking the 118 pages, that in his eyes would only serve good purposes. Your list of reasons sound good to imperfect ears, but God’s ways are not our ways.

    I’m sure you would never say, “thanks, but no thanks” to offered blessings… but saying, “thank you for giving us X, but what we really want is Y” is about the same thing as rejection. X is the male hierarchy/male-only priesthood/etc. Saying, “thanks for this church, its prophets, its organization, your priesthood…. But we would really like to change some of those people, they way our people are organized, and who can use your priesthood…” is essentially the same as rejecting what He HAS given, even though the words used aren’t don’t say it.

    The blessings that will come with female ordination do not reduce the blessings we already have from male ordination.

    Again, is your vision so perfect that you understand entirely what those blessings are? That you are wise enough to KNOW that they won’t changed? be lost? It’s amazing how some completely unrelated events affect each other… by simple things are great things brought to pass. But conversely, some small simple things can cripple a plan and bring disaster. Can you tell which will occur?

  48. Jax, as I said in my first post, too often this topic falls into contention. I’m not going there. Neither of us has a good basis to assert what is best for the church. My desire for female ordination is not really about the church. It is about what is best for my family. And in that sphere, where my wife and I preside jointly, she and I have the final say as to what is best.

  49. Dave,

    I hope you didn’t read me as contentious. I wasn’t trying to be… I had no intention of conveying anger with your argument.

  50. mikecherez and Bryan s,
    Sister Monson’s obituary gives us considerable detail through raising her children including elementary and high schools attended, childhood tomboy, piano and tennis as a teenager, studied science and math at UoU, jobs at Deseret News and as bookkeeper, Golden Gleaner award. Her marriage is mentioned and that she raised three children — Thomas Lee Monson, Ann Frances Monson Dibb and Clark Spencer Monson. She encouraged her sons to become proficient at raising Birmingham Rolling Pigeons; taught her daughter how to stretch grocery dollars etc.

    At this point the specific bullet points of her life seem to end so I asked readers to enlighten me; what did she do between raising her children and death independent of providing support to her husband in HIS callings.

    This is typical of the 1950s model when a woman’s identity became that of her husband, her name became his with a Ms. in front of it. SAHMs are a good idea for raising children but that isn’t the only option or method for raising great kids today. My now 9 year old daughter had the benefit of wonderful socialization and education by starting Montessori preschool very young and she enjoyed the loving time and attention of both parents accruing a much better upbringing than the SAHM model offers on it’s own. Ozzie and Harriot and Father Knows best represented a brief naive time of good fortune. WWII united the nation and the industrialization accelerated by the war generated unpresidented prosperity, so the 1950s tend to be idealized and romanticized by older generations. Are we to believe the 1950s is God’s model for life? Well, given the church appears to be managed as a 1950s corporation one might think so. But ask yourself is that more likely than the fact that the men running the church today came of age in the 1950s and simply remain stuck in that model? Isn’t that what the elderly tend to do? How many of them have learned to use a computer?

    I don’t know what Mrs. Thomas S. Monson did with her life after raising her children, her obituary doesn’t make it clear and is largely silent as to her personal accomplishments but if she coasted to her death it would not have been unusual for women of her generation, would it? Yet, that was not the example given us by Joseph with Emma. Was it? So what exactly is wrong with women who are not currently bearing and raising children as SAHMs taking part in running the church or running the world? And what exactly is wrong with the Montessori type of advanced and enriched preschool freeing a mother to contribute elsewhere if quality time is also spent with her children?

  51. Jax – I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. So I didn’t ready you as contentious. Unfortunately, blogs and discussion boards have a way of being read and misread many different ways. I’m sure if we were in the same ward we’d be friends.

  52. Yet, that was not the example given us by Joseph with Emma. Was it?


    So what exactly is wrong with women who are not currently bearing and raising children as SAHMs taking part in running the church or running the world?


    And what exactly is wrong with the Montessori type of advanced and enriched preschool freeing a mother to contribute elsewhere if quality time is also spent with her children?

    Nothing. We can’t really afford it in my family though.

  53. Howard,

    Thank you for clarifying your meaning. I really didn’t understand after your first post.
    I don’t know what Sis. Monson did after her SAHM years. But even if all she did was primarily support her husband in all his callings and I assume help her grown children, many, many people spend their retirement years doing much less. I would also offer Sis. Hinckley as a somewhat different example. I don’t recall Sis. Hinckley having a “job” per say, but she seemed to be more outspoken and public about her views. i believe she had several quote or other types of books published. I don’t think every prophet and spouse is going to follow the lead of Joseph and Emma just as I don’t think they need to all be in the mold of the Monson’s.

    Sounds like I had a similar childhood to your daughter. I was at a Baptist Pre-school for several years because my parents owned and worked at their own business. My mom was not stay at home and I think that model mostly worked for my family. I liked it, but I wouldn’t suggest it is BETTER than SAHM homes.

    I am late to the conversation, but is your larger point that women today tend to have their own identity and talents and so not allowing them into more leadership callings or the priesthood is a waste of potential?

  54. There is only one point I’d like to add to the discussion about Sister Monson. It is entirely possible to have a good, well-spent, fulfilling life and not do anything that is considered a praiseworthy accomplishment in our society. Most all of us will live quiet lives, their worth determined by their relationships. It doesn’t look like much when written out; most our life’s accomplishments make for non-monumental, insignificant lists. Look at mine thus far: I was raised in a good family. I went to college, got married, had 3 children. I learned to teach yoga and liked to write. It doesn’t sound like much, and as far as most of humanity is concerned, it isn’t. But to me and my family, it is everything.

  55. Re: Sister Monson,

    I echo the thoughts of Rachel (58). There are a great many things that we do that are great but that don’t/shouldn’t make an obituary. Maybe she didn’t start a charity, but did a TON of temple ordinances… would you really put “did 2,600 temple endowments” in an obit? I can think of quite a lot of things that we SHOULD be anxiously engaged with that would seem very out of place in an obit or any other public sphere. Not knowing what she did doesn’t mean she was just coasted along.

  56. Rachel and Jax,

    Well stated and I agree completely. If another meaning came out of my comments, I apologize.

  57. My point about Sister Monson isn’t to crticisize her personal choice or yours but to point out that as First Lady of the LDS church she represents a role from the past. Her example and the life paths of our current women selected by the brethern to lead at the General level of the church support this bias and thereby tend to exclude othet choices. My main criticism is that this bias discounts and tends to exclude other life choices for women without justification.

  58. our current women selected by the brethern

    So do we no longer think the Lord makes these selections? Because if we do think He does, then what does it say about this bias? Wouldn’t that then give “justification”? especially since He is the judge of what is just and what isn’t?

  59. Jax,
    Elder Perry is quoted as saying the heavens are rarely open offering OD2 in 1978 as a recent example. SWK says we must reach for revelation or it is unlikely to come and he admits to wrestling with his own biases to extend the priesthood to blacks. So what do I believe? Revelation is rare to these men while inspiration is probably far more common but revelation is more God than man and inspiration is more man than God so man’s biases creep in and continue until the next rare revelation sets things right.

  60. I met Sister Monson on several informal occasions. Her husband and son were associates of my grandfather’s. Howard (#61), there is no such calling as the “First Lady of the LDS Church,” and she would have been the first to inform you of that. She had much greater aspirations than that, which was to be a mother and a wife. She was no shrinking violet and I saw her stand up to her husband in casual conversation. The banter was delightful, funny and wonderfully human. Thomas Monson would not be who he is without her influence and companionship.

    Rachel (#58), I agree with much that you write and enjoy reading what I don’t agree with. I don’t like the priesthood characterized as some sort of status symbol by some feminists. I don’t believe that the Church is in a dire need of more leaders or more priesthood holders, unless it is in the process of constructing covenants for more eternal families. I think that both men and women both need to simply bless the lives of their families and those around them with the gifts that they have. Keep their covenants and they inherit everything God has. Does anyone out there want more than that?

  61. Old Man,
    Don’t take my First Lady analogy so seriously. Thanks for your first hand confirmation of my suspicions.

  62. There is nothing wrong with wife and mother but it doesn’t trump wife, mother, Montessori equivalent and OTHER. Part of the problem is that only “like me” thinking men move up the church calling chain to the top and that generally includes being related at least by marriage to certain families so cross breeding of new ideas are rare and the church lags the world even in non-sinful and worthwhile cultural changes. “Provoking the brethren” as the Relief Society was encouraged to for the poor also seems necessary to acquire approval for otherwise wonderful roles not covered by the one size fits all rule that predated the new role opportunities. If a variety of women’s roles were significantly represented at the General leadership level this current battle for equality, couscionsness raising and role acceptance would be unnecessary because it would have been naturally accomplished without much fanfare long ago.

  63. If a variety of women’s roles were significantly represented at the General leadership level …

    I’m curious if anyone can give any evidence to refute the idea that the reason so many female leaders have had “similar roles” (SAHM) is that the SAHM is the Lord’s preferred occupation for women. I know many of you think it, and want it be the case that other “roles” are equally presented, but other than a desire that it be so can you give any evidence that the Lord’s will is for diversity and that the Brethren are working contrary to it? or can you otherwise explain why the rest of us should support you?

  64. Well Jax from time to time there have been women General leaders who were not SHAMs including as I recall a primary leader long rumored to be gay. Given your implication shall we consider those callings to have been filled by mistake? Even so no one was obviously struck dead for it, so would you consider that evidence you’re looking for?

    If you ask me God simply doesn’t care as long as you’re raising healthy kids why would one role be elevated over another? Wouldn’t God want a woman to be fulfilled?

  65. Well Howard, if the occasional non-SAHM is proof He wants diversity, why isn’t the preponderance of SAHM not proof of His preference?

    To be true, I don’t have any idea what the ratio is in LDS female leadership of SAHM v non-SAHM. All I know about it is that a number of you think that the ratio is out of whack with your desires.

    Now I’m not saying that SAHM is the only acceptable role for women. Far from it! But if the ratios seem to be as stark as suggested by the posts here, then I would suggest it is because it is His preference, though not a requirement to be in His good graces. Is that an outlandish suggestion?

  66. Outlandish? No. But as most LDS apologetics go you are arguing plausability not probability. The simple answer; it was the best approach at one time but progress has since provided other good choices that haven’t yet been presented to God by our prophet for approval.

  67. Wouldn’t God want a woman to be fulfilled?

    this is a different topic to me. Yes, he wants them to feel “fulfilled” – but only if they are “fulfilled” with good things. Being a SAHM is a good thing to get absorbed into. So is charity work. Temple work. Personal education.

    One thing that I think is a poor thing to get absorbed into (for both men and women) is a job. In money-making. I think it is the anti-thesis of building zion and so would not be surprised to find a dearth of CEO’s at the top of the female hierarchy.

  68. Perhaps you’re right about a job but there are many fulfilling careers. Can we agree to not conspire to save them from themselves, wasn’t that Satan’s plan?

  69. I agree that many people find fulfillment in a career, and a sense of fulfillment/wholeness/completeness is a good thing I suppose, but “fulfillment” doesn’t make one qualified for LDS leadership does it?

  70. Rachel, if you want a serious discussion, why start out with such a hyperbolic title that puts people on the defensive?

    I’m in Primary, so I missed the lessons on the priesthood. When we teach about priesthood in Primary, it is invariably taught that it is a form of service, that a man cannot benefit from his own priesthood, which seems very sound to me.

    I tend to be a complementarian. Men and women have different roles. I am not sure that makes them unequal.

    I appreciate that some women have pain over gender issues, and I try to mitigate that whenever possible by never assuming or judging others. I believe they have stewardship over their own lives and appreciate that mosaic that diversity brings us.

    But please understand that it is also hurtful (dare I say equally hurtful?) to be told that one is not equal when one has worked hard to achieve equality in a marriage, and one feels equal. Oh, yeah, now someone is going to tell me that equality is not a feeling.

    I have a lot of humility about this issue and don’t claim to have all or any answers. But I don’t think it is simple or obvious, and I think we should have respect and consideration for one another, no matter what our personal take, as long as we are not trying to inflict our personal views on one another. I would never dismiss a woman who wants the priesthood.

  71. How can man and woman be equal in any of the catagories afor mentioned when by nature itself we are different. If we are going to be equal then we first need to provide women with a Penis and men with Breasts. Men and women have different rolls on this earth just by their anatomy so it is only natural that these differences would spill over into any organization.

  72. Naismith, I certainly didn’t intend to cause harm. I was actually thinking about a quote I read from a Louis CK show (Jane is his daughter):

    Jane: “That’s not fair!”
    Louis: “I don’t even know what that means.”
    Jane: “Why does she get one and not me?”
    Louis: “Because she’s a separate person from you. You’re never gonna get the same things as other people, it’s never gonna be equal, it’s not gonna happen ever in your life so you may as well learn that now, OK?”

    (I first saw it as a meme, but couldn’t find it again in my fb feed, so I got the transcript from here: http://aaronlaughswithcancer.tumblr.com/post/38659143411/louis-c-k-the-impossible-and-the-fairness-of-cancer. I love the blunt truth of the statement that “it’s never gonna be equal” because that’s just the way life is. It’s not fair.)

    I do think that equal is not the correct word when comparing things that are inherently different. It’s like apples and oranges. Both pieces of fruit may weigh the same, be delicious and good for you, but they can never be equivalent to each other.

    I’m glad you have a good marriage. I think that the church doing a good job in supporting couples and encouraging them to strengthen their relationship with each other, which includes setting as an ideal that we become equal partners in the home. As I’ve said before, I think equal is not the best word to use here, but if you feel it applies to your marriage, by all means continue to use it.

    But just as some may feel it hurtful to be told that the balance you have achieved in your marriage is not parity, it is also hurtful to others to be told that they are valued and equal when they don’t feel that is the reality of their experience with the institution of the church. Saying it doesn’t make it so. And I don’t think it necessarily good that we strive for equality in all things. That sounds too uniform. We need the contrast of differences in every aspect of our lives; to impose equal roles and expectations on everyone would be incredibly boring if it could work and, more likely, disastrous because it wouldn’t.

  73. Jax,
    I wasn’t linking fulfilled with qualified for a calling.

    Some people are able to see the capabilities that lie beyond anotomical the differences.

  74. “I do think that equal is not the correct word when comparing things that are inherently different. It’s like apples and oranges.”

    I don’t see why something cannot be different and yet equal. If a pear and an apple have the same amount of fiber, calories, sugars, etc. then are they not equal, despite having wonderfully different flavors? Can we not sum to 5 by adding 3 + 2, or 4 + 1? Can we often not drive from point A to B in an equal amount of time by either taking back roads, which are more direct but have a lower speed limit, or by driving farther out of the way to catch a highway at higher speed?

    Some arguments in favor of women’s equality seem to be insisting that 3 + 2 is the only way to sum to 5.

    The fact that we have two different sexes seems like kind of a hint to me. An all-powerful creator could have made us all the same. We are not. What is that telling us? That God really isn’t that powerful, or is sadistic? Or is there something that we can learn from respecting the differences?

  75. “Ozzie and Harriot and Father Knows best represented a brief naive time of good fortune. WWII united the nation and the industrialization accelerated by the war generated unpresidented prosperity, so the 1950s tend to be idealized and romanticized by older generations. Are we to believe the 1950s is God’s model for life?”

    I joined the church in the mid-70s and never felt that the 1950s was the ideal or was being preached. President Kimball was teaching equal partnership in marriage, NOT father knows best.

    If you think that all parents at home are the same, pigeonholed into a single role, then I don’t know what to say. I mean, do you also think all black people think alike? The fact is, and this was something I learned at BYU from hearing from amazing women like Sandra Covey and Sydney Smith Reynolds, is that there are all kinds of opportunities in a homemaker’s world, and each of us does the job very differently.

    I was focused on running a frugal home, with 3 children and an income of $6,000 a year. We gardened and canned, I made many of our clothes including sewing toddler training pants out of old t-shirts and garments. We learned a million ways to cook beans and rice. I watched the budget, got quotes on insurance, monitored the health insurance claims (over $300 every year).

    Other moms do different things with their day. They may be better at having their kids keep a journal, teach them musical instruments, or whatever.

    Many of these things make a positive financial contribution to the home, while still allowing them to spend time with children. My 18-month old took a bite out of almost every tomato one summer when we were canning. And teaching children things like cooking can be time-consuming. Really glad I had time to do that (so are there spouses).

    I don’t think there is one best way to raise a child, only the best way for a particular child at a given point in time. So when you said your way was better, I am sure that you meant to say it was better for your child, not better for ever child? Or if you meant the latter, how is that different from a parent at home saying their way is best?

    I don’t think the world is ahead of the church on this stuff. I think the church really “gets” how hard parenting is, especially on women who bear a disproportionate share of the physical burden. (I’ve had to have two surgeries to repair damage from pregnancy, my husband had none.)

    I totally agree that some women are smart and could be wonderful CEOs. I just don’t think that they are wasting their talents if they choose to work at home.

  76. If you think that all parents at home are the same, pigeonholed into a single role, then I don’t know what to say. I mean, do you also think all black people think alike?. What did I say to invite this?

    Here’s what I said: My now 9 year old daughter had the benefit of wonderful socialization and education by starting Montessori preschool very young and she enjoyed the loving time and attention of both parents accruing a much better upbringing than the SAHM model offers on it’s own. No offense but the SAHM model simply doesn’t offer a classroom full of kids about the same age or a playground full of kids of varing ages for your children to socialize and learn with. In other words ideally this approach offers the best of two worlds which obviously trumps the best of one world.

  77. I totally agree that some women are smart and could be wonderful CEOs. I just don’t think that they are wasting their talents if they choose to work at home.. This isn’t my point at all. I think they should be able to put those skills and talents to work both inside the church and outside the home without any social stigma.

  78. “No offense but the SAHM model simply doesn’t offer a classroom full of kids about the same age or a playground full of kids of varing ages for your children to socialize and learn with. In other words ideally this approach offers the best of two worlds which obviously trumps the best of one world.”

    Obviously? If that is what YOUR CHILD needs, then great. Are you so very sure that this is what EVERY CHILD IN THE WORLD needs? Perhaps some kids actually need less structured time to imagine and do artwork on their own. Perhaps they like the opportunity to choose what they want to do that day rather than being led like a sheep, just one number in the herd.

    And again, your stereotype about what the “one world” offers is showing through. My children were involved playgroups and then a coop preschool. They weren’t socially deprived.

    There are costs and benefits to everything. Do what you think is best for your child. Don’t tell others what is best for them.

  79. Naismith,
    You appear to be personalizing my comments and in response setting up straw men. Apparently you have little or no knowledge of the Montessori approach nor do you seem to understand that a general statement is not offered as an absolute. EVERY CHILD IN THE WORLD? Please! I’m not arguing every child in the world or telling others what is best for them so please stick to the point; I’m arguing that the LDS SAHM model can easily be exceeded should a mother choose to work and she shouldn’t be stigmatized for doing it.

  80. “You appear to be personalizing my comments…”

    I am simply reading what you wrote. You are the one who repeatedly insists that your approach “trumps.”

    “Apparently you have little or no knowledge of the Montessori approach…”

    Just because I don’t make the same choice you do means that I must have little or no knowledge? Or could it possibly be that I have concerns about fit, control, or can’t afford our local Montessori school unless we limited our family size to one child?

    “…nor do you seem to understand that a general statement is not offered as an absolute.”

    Might it not be possible that church leaders who promote fulltime parenthood are offering an option that might not be heard elsewhere, and are doing so as a general statement not an absolute?

    “I’m arguing that the LDS SAHM model can easily be exceeded should a mother choose to work and she shouldn’t be stigmatized for doing it.”

    I totally agree that nobody should be stigmatized. Personally, I haven’t seen an LDS woman stigmatized for her employment decisions. And I have been employed during most of my time as a mother. So that strikes me as a straw woman argument, although I am not saying that it never happens; I can appreciate that things are different in different corners of the vineyard.

    But why this insistence on “exceeding” another model? Why can’t we each just do what is best for a particular child at a given point in time, guided by revelation for our stewardship?

  81. No stigma?
    Mothers who know are nurturers…Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate…They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting…Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children. Mothers Who Know. Julie B. Beck

    Naismith, it is clear to me that you are intelligent, educated, experienced and well written but your responses often seem disingenuous because they repeatedly twist and/or redefine my words making conversation tedious.

  82. Motherhood = Nurturing bodies on a micro level.

    Priesthood = Nurturing bodies on a macro level.

    Both are equal in importance as it relates to the goal of Eternal Life.

    Let’s be content with inheriting the universe together.

  83. Howard, do you really think working moms don’t come home and fold laundry with their children or clean the house together? And working moms often choose a career or take the job offer that is best for their family rather than the most lucrative. Just because a woman works doesn’t mean she doesn’t think her role as a mother is more important. I’m a SAHM but my 15 year old is gone for 10 hours each school day (gotta love early morning seminary), yet I still feel like I am parenting her and raising her. I am convinced I would not be too different if I were a working mom, because so many of my decisions are about what is best for me and my family and about raising my children the best way possible. The Lord helps with all my decisions so if I were working I know the Lord would be my support in that just as he is my strength with my current circumstances.

  84. We live in a telestial world. We are taught in the temple that in the celestial world we will be kings and queens, priests and priestesses, gods and goddesses. The Church operates as the seed of the terrestrial world which will be created when Christ returns and evil is constrained during the Millennium. The Church is by definition a transitional institution that prepares us for the radically, fundamentally different order of things that will exist in the celestial realm.

    How does the institution of priesthood function in this transitional role? It is a discipline that teaches boys and men to become humble and submit to the Lord, and to place service to Others above Our own selfish desires. You can say that men should be good and loving without the priesthood, that we should be “good for nothing”, but the reality of this world we live in is that without a disciplining institution like the priesthood, men tend to exercise unrighteous dominion as the normal, natural man order of things. It makes the Church.different from the typical Christian denomination, where the ratio of religiously involved women to men is high. It makes men understand that they are needed by their wives, and by their children, and by their brothers and sisters in the Church. It seems to me that some women desire priesthood so they do not need a man in their lives To give access to the blessings that are currently provided through the priesthood. But the Church is organized by God to teach us that we need each other, that we bring different abilities and needs into the Church so that we can exercise love and grace to each other, not least within the marriage relationship.

    Being ordained in the priesthood is a prerequisite before a man can receive the higher promises of eternal life in the Endowment and other temple ordinances, but no woman member needs to be ordained in the priesthood to receive those blessings. That tells me that priesthood is something that men need, but women do not. And unlike the Orthodox churches that have preserved the ancient doctrine of theosis, we know that the blessing of fulfilling our heavenly parents’ plan for us only happens when we are joined man to woman. No one receives the highest blessings without his or her complementary counterpart. We are equally necessary to each other’s eternal happiness and glory. We can only fulfill our covenants with God when we fulfill our covenants to each other.

    This concept that a woman needs a husband to be complete is offensive to feminists. Why can’t they be entire to themselves? Extending that same viewpoint into the context of the Church, they ask Why can’t I have all the priesthood myself, be my own priest and elder, my own bishop or stake president? It makes me terribly dependent on men. But it also makes men terribly dependent on women because they cannot magnify their callings without those they are called to serve. This state of affairs slaps us in the face with our incompleteness, our weakness. It forces us to be humble, to recognize none of us can stand before the Father by ourselves, but we are responsible for each other, and serve each other. It is apparently part of learning to be truly dependent on the Savior, to recognize our incompleteness without Him, to recognize that His complete submission beneath the burden of our own sin and suffering can only be properly answered by our own submission to Him. Humility and submission are fighting words to feminists, but they are the key words to unlocking the veil that separates us from heaven.

  85. JFS wrote: Howard, do you really think working moms don’t come home and fold laundry with their children or clean the house together? And working moms often choose a career or take the job offer that is best for their family rather than the most lucrative.. Had you left the word *really* out I would have answered simply “no”. But really seems to imply that I somehow implied a “yes” answer up thread when I didn’t. So what are you really trying to say here?

    Just because a woman works doesn’t mean she doesn’t think her role as a mother is more important.. Certainly most working mothers do and they shouldn’t be burdened with guilt for their situation or choice from the church but some don’t and some women simply weren’t born with the child nurturing gene and they shouldn’t be under social pressure from the church for the way God created them.

    Mothers who are bearing and raising children are generally very busy working or not. I’m aware of a few who enjoy a staff of hired help and have considerable free time but they’re are fairly rare exceptions and contrary to middle class folklore their children are doing exceptionally well! I am not critical of women in this period of their lives.

    Empty nesters have more time and need to find something useful to do rather than just coasting to death as I have watched many from Sister Monson’s generation do. They certainly don’t need to excell in the workforce, but women at any stage of life should not be criticized or stigmatized for doing so. Empty nesters generally have time and many have skills and/or talents that could contribute greatly to church and the church would benefit from giving them a voice at the top.

  86. …without a disciplining institution like the priesthood, men tend to exercise unrighteous dominion as the normal, natural man order of things.. The priesthood doesn’t eliminate this problem, it is just invalidated when the problem occurs.

    This concept that a woman needs a husband to be complete is offensive to feminists. This may suit your argument but it is an extremely narrow and rarely held view of LDS feminism women. Don’t tar and feather the group with the extremes of a few.

    …none of us can stand before the Father by ourselves… As Christ our exemplar did?

  87. Naismith, I’m baffled that you don’t see some contradiction in your comments and apparent application:
    #79, “The fact that we have two different sexes seems like kind of a hint to me.”
    #80, “If you think that all parents at home are the same, pigeonholed into a single role, then I don’t know what to say. I mean, do you also think all black people think alike?”

  88. Hedgehog, I think part of what Naismith is arguing that we may be equal to the task, or equally capable, without being the same. That is true, even though some tasks and roles within the church are assigned based on our gender rather than our actual capacities.

  89. “No stigma? Mothers who know are nurturers…”

    I am trying very hard to see where the stigma is in this. She doesn’t mention maternal employment status. She gives some sound general principles. She doesn’t suggest that we shun those who don’t fit a certain mold. She doesn’t hint that we have the right to judge one another.

    Indeed, Sister Monson’s husband has counseled us:
    “My dear sisters, each of you is unique. You are different from each other in many ways. There are those of you who are married. Some of you stay at home with your children, while others of you work outside your homes. Some of you are empty nesters. There are those of you …. Such differences are almost endless. Do these differences tempt us to judge one another?”

    And of course went on about how we shouldn’t judge one another. The opposite of stigma.

    I have no doubt that there are some places in the church where women do suffer “friendly fire” (as a recent Segullah post so aptly described it). But the church doesn’t promote stigma, quite the opposite.

    I know about stigma. The parents of one of my children’s friends was leery about the child spending time in a home where a parent set the “bad example of not working.” They were somewhat satisfied upon meeting me and learning I was a college graduate. I regularly have to deal with stigma related to part-time employment, that people sometimes mistakenly think I am less serious or dedicated.

    So I totally support the idea that nobody should be stigmatized at church.

  90. I am a half a year late seeing this thread, but… I wonder if we would go back with the inequality issue as far as when Jesus called a gentile woman “dog” and the Jews “children”. Or when he did not allow the disciples to preach the gospel to non-Jew (hmm… that made Peter more a person of equality than Jesus). Or the parable of the laborer at the eleventh hour.

    How about this: why was no female prophet in the Book of Mormon? Didn’t we noticed that the only real story that as told about Sariah by Nephi (and he was not even there)was when she murmured and was corrected by Lehi? How could he treat his mother that way?

    Better yet, why didn’t God send a female savior, maybe “she” could have done a better job?… I guess this inequality can go really, really far…

    About working moms vs stay home mom – I am SAHM but I have to admit that my best friend who is a successful scientist spend more time nurturing her kids than me…

  91. “God may be no respecter of persons, but everyone else is. Our society is obsessed with equality” it’s because of those who are obsessed about it like you… There, I said it, no “some women” nor “some people”.

    You might need a time machine to go back some 2000 years to tell Peter that he needed to spend more time with his family in stead of roaming the road with Jesus.

    The point is: God allows this world to be imperfect, the leaders and teachers to say dumb things, it’s up to us to look for doctrines of Christ and nurtured by His words instead of whining about who said what.

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