Women, Men, and The Fall

Last week there were several interesting posts in the bloggernacle about Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, and the Fall.  Mormons have not only the Genesis account, but the Pearl of Great Price and the temple, and it is interesting to see how we harmonize the various versions.  I don’t have a background in ancient scripture and I go to the temple more to find peace of mind that doctrinal insight, so I have nothing to add to the discussion.  But I am interested to see that we LDS people want to believe strongly that the Fall wasn’t really a fall but a jump, or whatever you call it when you fall upwards.  I think this has led us to believe simultaneously in two different versions of the Fall.

The first version is our official doctrine.  We believe that all mortals are children of God but with a fallen nature which leads us to sin.  The second version holds that since Eve made a wise choice, she didn’t really fall, therefore females aren’t subject to the Fall, at least in the same way that men are.  Consider this statement made by Elder Packer in October, 1993:

“The woman, by her very nature, is also co-creator with God and the primary nurturer of the children. Virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come naturally to a woman…”

I have tentatively concluded that modern latter-day saints believe in two Falls. Men get the real deal. They fell, and became carnal, sensual, and devilish. Men are scum and everybody knows it, including men themselves. Women, on the other hand, get something we can call Fall-lite. They became mortal, to be sure, but their natures didn’t really change, and they didn’t really become prone to sin. Instead, women are given a few quirks and peccadilloes, just to keep them humble. Their major trial in life will not be their own sins, but figuring out how deal with all the deadweight, non-presiding presiders who litter the landscape around them.

What do you think?  Do you believe in one fall or two?  If you only believe in one, please tell me how you reconcile your belief with statements such as the one by Elder Packer.

Comments

  1. One fall. Alas, it made men susceptible to the fantasy of the angel in the house and women susceptible to martyr complexes.

  2. I see two versions of the Fall, too–but they are just the opposite. Men get off with Article of Faith #2: Men are punished only for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. Women, on the other hand, are subject to men’s patriarchy as a result of Eve’s decision and as a condition of living in a fallen world.

  3. …in other words, it’s the MEN who get “Fall-lite.”

  4. Cynthia L. says:

    BiV, I have been wondering about the same thing lately (and was even planning a post on that, thanks for jumping the gun!). I had begun to wonder if we shouldn’t take the “men” in AoF #2 quite literally.

    I think, ultimately, the answer is that the whole of #2 is a bit of a lie in the sense that mortality is a serious pain. Just ask anyone with a chronic illness, etc. Or just ask ANYONE, really. All this suffering was brought about by the Fall, so it’s not as if men aren’t also punished.

  5. Cynthia L. says:

    Also, a thousand pardons for quoting this, but, I just can’t stop myself:

    “Who does #2 work for!”

  6. One fall. As Aaron taught, “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth;”

    The people that constitute the happiest couples I’ve ever known have each seemed to sense and respond to hints of masculine (feminine) divinity in their husband (wife), and I think a) this is particularly evident after spending a lifetime together and b) this is what Elder Packer is talking about.

    The question of why divine attributes in men are not more oft discussed is perhaps a matter of (broadly generalized) differences between men and women. My experience (again, broadly generalized) is that men tend to respond better to targeted criticism (“Here’s your problem. Don’t do X”), while women tend to respond better to empathy and encouragement toward some ideal (“aspire to do Y”).

  7. Natalie K. says:

    “The question of why divine attributes in men are not more oft discussed is perhaps a matter of (broadly generalized) differences between men and women. My experience (again, broadly generalized) is that men tend to respond better to targeted criticism (“Here’s your problem. Don’t do X”), while women tend to respond better to empathy and encouragement toward some ideal (“aspire to do Y”).”

    I call BS. It’s because women are 100% structurally inferior in the church, and they come up with nice, noble platitudes to obscure the fact that we exactly have no real authority, power, or value for the church. The church could function 100% with no women, and would cease to exist without men. The nice things they say about us are our consolation prize.

    I am in full agreement with BiV here.

  8. I was going to say “horsefeathers” instead of BS, but yeah, Ben, that won’t wash.

  9. The more I consider our various versions of the Fall, the more I must conclude that our discourse has achieved utter incoherence. Both Mark and BinV are entirely right, which means that our view of women comes out something like this: we women are so very, very spiritual and special and exalted that we will be punished eternally for Eve’s wise choice.

  10. Steve Evans says:

    Three strikes on Ben’s BS.

    (strikes gong)

  11. So am I out?

  12. Steve Evans says:

    google “The Gong Show” and you’ll get the idea, Ben.

  13. Meh.

    I think you are asking all the wrong questions Mark. We need to be asking what the Fall really is and what it really means. I agree with Brigham Young that we tend to keep discussions on the Fall at about the same level of sophistication as a discussion of reproduction that assumes “little Billy came from a hollow toadstool”.

    If our assumptions about the event are that shallow of course the topic will set 21st century feminists hair afire.

  14. I view the Adam and Eve story as a way of explaining that we are all fallen and in need of the atonement. So was there actually one or two falls? I do not think there was a specific fall at all. It is symbolic. That said the story causes no shortage of problems (I blame Augustine for much of this).

    BTW, I rarely feel a need to reconcile my own interpretation with statements made by Elder Packer (we just have such a different lens). So I am not sure if I really can.

  15. Following up on my #13 — Maybe Mark is asking the right questions that will force us to reconsider some of the internal contradictions we allow when discussing the Fall.

  16. I’ll be back next season! I swear it!

  17. I’m with BiV, and so is the writer of the current temple script.

  18. Kristine for the win

  19. Steve Evans says:

    I’m not with BiV, and here’s why:

    1. I interpret AoF #2 to apply to both genders, being a generalized statement affirming personal accountability for sin and not inherited transgression; and

    2. Linking the current state of disempowerment and subjugation of women to the Fall is a mistake, I believe, and a crutch that tends to relieve people of personal accountability for the way they treat others. Chalking up the current state of things to the Fall, as opposed to rightfully pointing out systemic problems and promoting change, strikes me as misdirection.

  20. Chris, we do seem to invest quite a bit of narrative about the fall, suggesting something of a specific nature, in my opinion. We have the multiple scriptural accounts, the temple account, and a lot of discourse by prophets and GAs. All of which is to say that we really don’t understand it as well as we should. The accounts may be symbolic, but there does seem to be something to account for our fallen nature, and the need for atonement that calls for a specific cause. Add to that the specifics given about the location of the Garden of Eden, these all seem to argue for a specific event, albeit perhaps portrayed symbolically for us.

  21. This post has some juicy fallacies in it. 1st is the notion that men could not be carnal sensual or devilish before the fall. This is silly, because then the Serpent could not have beguiled Eve, and further 1/3 of the hosts of Heaven would not have followed Satan. Finally, no one would have need a plan of salvation to begin with, so no mortality or Savior would have been needed.

  22. A mistake, no. A crutch, yes.

    Cause and effect are reasons, not excuses.

  23. Kathy, sure, except I don’t think the Fall is the cause here. I simply don’t believe that some woman named Eve ate some fruit and as a result women are subjugated to men.

  24. Like Steve (and I should have left this in my first post), I think that both Elder Packer’s version and that of BiV et al. are projections of philosophical and political viewpoints onto the the question of the fall, and I don’t see either as helping us understand it any better.

  25. You’re still here, Ben?

  26. GONG!!

  27. I’ll have to say that nothing I have been taught about the fall leads me to treat my wife or my daughter or hopefully any women as second class citizens. Not that I haven’t been taught that, just that I don’t believe it has taken root (I hope).

    Nature abhors a vacuum, so we rush to fill logical gaps and doctrinal vacancies and assign them meaning that isn’t necessarily there. I’ll have to agree that I find the temple account unbalanced in its representation of women, more reflective of a 19th century cultural outlook.

  28. Someone has to bring in the carnal, devilish, and delicious.

  29. Steve, I promised not to quote, so I will shut up for now. Meet me in the celestial room and I will wipe the floor with you.

  30. Matt W, # 21. Speaking of juicy fallacies, how can our pre-mortal selves be carnal and sensual? Just asking.

  31. For those of you agreeing and disagreeing with me, I think my comment was meant to point out both what Eve #9 and Geoff #13 mentioned–that our assumptions and rhetoric about the effects of the Fall (falling upwards?) are flawed and inconsistent. In what ways have our natures changed and not changed, and is there a difference in how men and women experience this?

  32. You’ll only win the debate if Steve accepts your personal literalism preferences regarding the Garden narrative Kathryn. I somehow doubt he does.

  33. BiV, that really is a tough question, and Matt and Kevin have already pointed out that part of the problem is that the record is pretty scanty regarding the nature of pre-mortal man and, both before and in the garden.

  34. *and woman

  35. I think the quote is taken entirely out of context and has nothing to do with the Fall.

    I think the conclusion—tentative or not—that modern LDS people believe in two Falls is hugely erroneous. Or, to be more specific, although some people in that category may believe that, they are in the minority, and have little understanding of the doctrine of the Fall.

  36. OK fine, NOW I agree with you BiV

  37. I got Steve to agree with me?????

  38. “Meet me in the celestial room and I will wipe the floor with you.”

    I hope I’m not the only one who finds that disturbing imagery. ;)

  39. (…and I also got him to use caps for emphasis.)
    please note that, everyone.

  40. I think that one thing we might all agree on about the fall, is that it introduced us to mortality. Please don’t misread this as a dfense of NDBF Gary, but that whatever the fall was, the end result is that our pre-existent spirits were then born into mortal bodies, subject to disease, death, pleasure, pain, etc. That burden fell equally on both men and women.

    We then are left with the ultimate question of what is gender, and why is it important? Obviously, there is the major difference between men and women of who actually carries the children until birth. Beyond that, I don’t dare venture.

  41. Geoff, I might not win, but I won’t lose, either.

  42. I did dare, Kevin, and I got gonged for my trouble.

  43. Ben, at least you didn’t get dusted.

  44. Ben, in the gong show, there was only one winner a week, if I recall. The Gong is still out there.

  45. Kathy, only the elite get dusted at BCC.

  46. Speaking of a martyr complex…

  47. There’s a dandruff joke in here somewhere. I’m certain of it!

  48. I think our doctrine fairly clearly states that all we got from Adam and Eve’s fall was mortality. The spiritual death that they experienced was only for them because of their transgression. We’re all still born innocent like Adam and Eve were in the garden and we all have to experience our own spiritual death. As far as that goes, we’re all born with selfish natures, too. I don’t recall my girl babies crying any less for food or throwing fewer tantrums than my boy babies. If men are not as inclined to be nurturing as women I think it’s only because of bad examples, not their inherent nature.

  49. Cynthia L. says:

    In case it was unclear, I am in agreement with BiV (and Kathyrn #17 etc) that the temple makes a direct tie between Eve’s choice and the consequence, that seems to be in direct opposition to AoF #2.

    My “I think, ultimately, the answer is” was just some further thinking/pondering on the issue, not a refutation of the fact of the quote.

  50. Mark Brown says:

    Kathryn,

    Steve can’t come to either the celestial room or the celestial kingdom with you, since there are obviously more righteous women than men. That’s why there will always be celestial polygamy. Everybody know this.

    OK, I’m calling BS or bullfeathers or bull-oney or whatever on BiV, Natalie, Cynthia, Kathryn, and anybody else who agrees with them. Here’s why. Think back over the time you have spent in the ‘nacle and try to count the number of comments or entire posts which are given over to sisters in the church asking about how they can persuade/cajole/encourage/nag/prod/harangue/manipulate/bully/entice/hector or otherwise cause their husbands to “step up to the plate” and do what it is so obvious to the woman in question that her husband ought to be doing. While it may be true that she chafes under the regime of patriarchy the church currently employs, it is also nonetheless true that she considers herself to be a (sniff, sniff) better person than her man. Otherwise why the judgement?

    I will retract all this if you can point me to a single thread on any blog where men are wringing their hands and giving each other advice on how to deal with their wife’s lack of spirituality.

    I agree with Geoff J. and ZD Eve — the Fall is whatever we want to make of it. It is like a rorschach test onto which we project our wishes or neuroses du jour.

  51. There weren’t two falls. There was one fall.

    Packers comment is just placating. Bah.

  52. Thomas Parkin says:

    I think Elder Packer has not known intimately the same women I’ve known. ~

  53. Ditto #50,
    And yet they see themselves as martyrs.

  54. and probably because Eve is portrayed as a martyr. Was Adam just too obtuse to “get it”, step up to the plate and eat the fruit first?

  55. Mark Brown says:

    I should add that I am more interested in this question from the standpoint of lived religion than I am in trying to decide what our doctrine really means. Brigham Young’s idea of the Fall is very different from Pres. Monson’s, after all. But when it comes to how we live our lives day to day, I think we run into a lot of difficulty.

    Let’s try a mini You make the call exercise. Let’s say that you work for LDS family services and a couple is referred to you for help with their troubled marriage. Both partners have bought wholesale into the notion of male depravity/female sanctity. What do you do?

  56. Mark Brown says:

    People, let’s give Elder Packer a break. I think there is some evidence that he as recently backed off the claims he made in 1993. At least a little bit.

  57. Mark, not sure what #50 has to do with anything I said. Please be my helpmate.

  58. Your question about inconsistencies in our view of teh Fall is apt, Mark Brown. But President Packer’s comments about women’s angelic natures isn’t directly on point, I don’t think. That is, you can find equally-praiseworthy language about the elect and chosen priesthood holders (viz., mennern) as you can about our divine sisters. To me, it’s just the classic question: are we fallen wretches (a la King Benjamin’s discourse), or are we nascent gods-in-embryo trailing clouds of glory? Or both?

    In other words, our competing views of the Fall aren’t limited to gender.

  59. Mark Brown says:

    Hunter, your statement is true theoretically, but in actuality, I don’t think I have ever heard church leader at any level praise men. Have you?

  60. Mark Brown, I was typing my comment 58 and missed your comment 55 where you ask folks to consider this issue in terms of lived experience. I guess I just haven’t seen that combination very much at all (the depraved man and the angelic woman). Rather, what I’ve seen more of is the arrogant male who uses his concept of his own nascent divinity (and throw in his “status” as a priesthood holder) mixed with the meek, angelic woman who believes it’s her nature to submit. In this case, both self-conceptions are derived from “the jump” theory, but lead to very different results.

  61. Mark Brown says:

    Kathyrn,

    You agreed with BiV’s assertion that the Fall-lite applies to men instead of women. Did I misunderstand?

    Of course, if I misunderstood, I can’t really be blamed. I’m male, and you know how bad us guys are at intepersonal communication. It’s our brains, we just can’t help it.)

  62. Mark Brown says:

    interpersonal communication. we’re bad at spelling too.

  63. Mark, no fair injecting observed reality into an otherwise theoretical discussion.

    As to your “You make the call” scenario, it’s more likely they are there because of an incorrect perception of the roles of men and women based on the letters of Paul in the NT. He’s an overbearing manipulative jerk, and she’s a passive aggressive doormat with a martyr complex. The fact that he’s depraved and she’s more spiritual is just a byproduct of the whole situation.

  64. I see your point, Mark. But sure, in the spirit of the Packer quote about women above, I’ve seen church leaders speak in glowing terms about the roles and responsibilities of men in terms of fatherhood, priesthood, governing, administering, presidering, etc.

  65. Mark: the Fall is whatever we want to make of it. It is like a rorschach test onto which we project our wishes or neuroses du jour.

    Hehe. Nice.

  66. Mark Brown says:

    True, Hunter. But have you ever heard anybody say that “Virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come naturally to a man”?

    Didn’t think so.

    :-)

  67. Natalie B. says:

    In the context of how the fall is doctrinally presented (as opposed to our culture of elevating woman), I agree with #2. Women within the context of temple narrative are presented as being subject to their husbands due to Eve’s fall. As a women, I find this deeply objectionable.

    So it seems the incongruity is between what we say to each other–women are so perfect–and our doctrine. My vote is to change the language of the ceremony if that no longer reflects the teachings of current prophets on the fall.

  68. Ummm . . . yeah, you got me on that one. OK, so there is a distinct difference in degree of this kind of language as between the genders, but still, I see it as one iteration of the overall conception of gods-in-embryo.

    In the end, I just think you’re conflating two issues: (1) our duality when it comes to the doctrine of the Fall (regardless of gender), and (2) our general sexist conceptions. Are you articulating a third issue that I’m not getting?

    I want to understand. I’m not being purposefully wooden.

  69. Mark, you know I can’t do algebra.

    I believe there’s a connection between the dynamics of the fall and the dynamics of mortal gender-based power inequality.

    I don’t believe in male depravity/female sanctity.

    I don’t believe in female depravity/male sanctity, either. I believe the sexes are equally depraved and equally holy as far as natures go. And I believe that if you add up all the suffering in the world since the dawn of humankind, women have had it far worse.

  70. Mark Brown says:

    Kathryn,

    We agree on every single point!

    So what do you think of the question as to whether or not contemporary Mormons believe in a Fall-lite for women? (Note that I’m not asking what you personally believe. I’m trying to account for our current rhetoric and behavior.)

  71. Mark Brown says:

    Hunter, you are right, I think we are reacting to the sexism around us, both in the way the Christian world has traditionally blamed Eve and in the way that I see modern LDS dumping on men. It’s sexism and it’s wrong, and that’s why I think the fall applies to both men and women equally. Anything else cannot be sustained over time. It is chaff which will fall away as the Restoration continues to unfold.

  72. I think the rhetoric about “spirituality”, “humility”, etc. coming naturally to women is a way of making men feel better about their second-class status in the structure of the church. They know that *they* would not like being told what career (i.e. housewifery) was righteous for them, would not like never having leadership opportunities or a voice in decision-making, etc., and so it becomes necessary for them to believe that women are different in some fundamental way. It’s a way of cognitively constructing patriarchy without misogyny.

  73. NB–we also talk about how indigenous peoples and poor people generally are naturally “spiritual” and “humble”–again, a way of softening the clear structural reality that they are lower in the hierarchy.

  74. Mark, rather than believing that men and women fall to different degrees, I think it’s more likely that we believe that women are spiritually superior to men in their premortal state as well as their mortal one, so even when they fall to the same degree they come out ahead. In other words, women can’t be as bad as men, worlds without end.

  75. Mark Brown says:

    Kathryn, I hadn’t ever thought of that, but you might be right. Honestly, when I hear some of the talks from women’s conference or Time Out for Women, I feel like retching.

  76. I think the rhetoric about “spirituality”, “humility”, etc. coming naturally to women is a way of making men feel better about their second-class status in the structure of the church.

    Yes. This rhetoric doesn’t undermine the concept that women still suffer because of Eve’s choice–rather, it underscores it. It’s terribly poor form to criticize women because they’re already one-down. Likewise, we can openly criticize men because their top-dog status is so firmly entrenched.

    Remember when you wondered why we can joke about women “making” their husbands do things, but we can’t joke about husbands controlling their wives? Same thang.

  77. I think there were two consequences to the fall, and some of the comments here have gotten close.

    1) Physical death – the introduction of mortality and the physical change that happened to the physical bodies of Adam and Eve, enabling among other things the ability to get sick, die, and have offspring (don’t get me started on how all these things are similar… ;) )

    2) Spiritual death – or separation from the constant companionship of the Father and the Son. This is a condition we are all subsequently born into, and through the gift of the Holy Ghost we can begin to overcome.

    Both conditions brought about the need for the Atonement, which overcomes physical death for all, and spiritual death to the extent that we repent and utilize the Atonement personally in our lives.

    (New to the bloggernacle, so please forgive any sins of co – or o-mission in this comment. :) )

  78. Kristine (#71),

    I think you have it essentially right . There is a lot of compensating going on. But such is the issue with any system that that built a long time ago and that we continue to patch up over time. I believe the word for such duct-tape-like patches is “cloogy” in software programming circles.

    I personally think that if we were to reboot the system we would do well to accept that human bodies are in fact the result of biological evolution. That way we could lean on some of the arguments the evolutionary psychologists make to explain the obvious gender role differences we see all around us (including in the church). I keep planning to post on this subject. One of these days I will.

  79. Looks like I was responding to #72 instead.

    Also, I wanted to note that I had in mind that we remain committed theists while accepting human evolution in my comment #78.

  80. Mark Brown says:

    Geoff, if we accept that differences are the result of evolutionary biology, what are we left with when we speak of eternal gender differences? For the record, I agree with you, but if we’re right it means there will have to be some significant overhauls to doctrines which we have been working pretty hard lately.

  81. Significant overhauls indeed. That is why I think we won’t see them any time soon.

  82. Mark Brown says:

    Kathryn,

    I realize that I am perilously close to revealing myself to be the stereotypical person of privilege who still complains about how tough life is and expects people to agree with him.

    I will simply say that in the church today, I get the sense that many women don’t feel that they are one down. Rather, they really believe in their own infinite spayshulness, or as you put it, they will always be better than men, worlds without end. That attitude is pretty common among us, I think, and we don’t need to be clairvoyant to see the sort of problems it can cause.

  83. Natalie K. says:

    Mark, I, uh, have a link for you:

    http://www.femininstmormonhousewives.org

    ………

  84. Mark Brown says:

    Natalie,

    D’oh!

    Of course, if you really knew your stuff, you’d know that I have guest-posted there.

  85. Natalie,
    Does providing that link in response to Mark’s comment suggest that you believe the blogging community at fmh to be representative of women in the Church?

    Kristine,
    Just wanted to say that you are awesome.

  86. Sure, everyone know FMH views are those of at least 0.5% of the women in the church Brad.

  87. Natalie K. says:

    Obviously I know you’e heard of it. I was just trying to point out that women’s contentment in the church is far from ubiquitous. And while many, many women do adhere to the “women are more spiritual” tagline, this is noooo way diminishes the importance of men, as it is those same “very spiritual” women who have the most awe and reverence for the Priesthood and its holders.

    Every properly good and spiritual woman is filled with deep gratitude at her husband/bishop/father/brother’s worthiness to honor the Priesthood and bring those blessings in. I agree that saying men are innately less good is ridiculous, but I don’t think you can argue that the women under them treat them poorly because of that teaching. If anything, it gives them the responsibility to treat them well, IN SPITE OF their fallible natures, and, as mentioned above, to submit to their dominion.

  88. Geoff J and Mark, #78 through #81. If the experience of Pres. Kimball and the PH Ban are any example, that would imply someone asking the right questions with persistence and a real desire for change (or at least, greater understanding). While we perhaps would not necessarily know if that was happening, I don’t see a lot of evidence of inquiry into the eternal nature of gender going on. Ultimately, the Proclamation on the Family may raise as many questions as it does answers.

  89. Mark, I agree completely.

  90. Mark Brown says:

    Natalie, I agree with you that many women have some serious issues with our doctrines, often with very good reason. Can we also agree that many women do not, but instead take to our current rhetoric of female superiority with great gusto?

  91. Natalie K. says:

    “Does providing that link in response to Mark’s comment suggest that you believe the blogging community at fmh to be representative of women in the Church?”

    I don’t think any block of people can be said to be “representative of women in the Church”, because there is not one single Mormon woman experience. Certainly at fmh there is a vastly diverse selection of opinions and feelings about all sorts of issues, and I think you could safely say many different opinions are represented there.

    See, the problem I have with making a blanket requirement for a given position based on something as arbitrary as gender is that blankets don’t fit everyone. Not every woman has the same experience or testimony, or the same capabilities or traits. I’m not about to say, “Mormon women are unhappy and submissive”, but I’m equally not about to say, “Mormon women are blissful and perfectly faithful.” The number of women who accept the argument that they don’t have the Priesthood because they are more spiritual is not an argument that that position is ‘right’ or ‘true’.

    Oy vey. My sentences are all terribly long and rambling. Thanks for trying to follow.

  92. Natalie K. says:

    Re. Mark, #90.

    Absolutely. But that has no bearing on which position is more correct.

  93. #82,

    I agree with you on #82. Its been my exp in my highly active extended family and amongst active women in general that they feel spiritually superior to men. Usually they point to porn, cheating, abuse, wow issues etc to make the point.

  94. For the Temple is one fall, the Moses is another, and the Genesis is still another.

    But the fallness of the Temple, Moses, and Genesis is one, equal in gospel, coeternal in enlightenment.

    What the Temple is, the Moses is, and so is the Genesis.

    Uncreated is the Temple; uncreated is the Moses; uncreated is the Genesis.

    The Temple is infinite; the Moses is infinite; the Genesis is infinite.

    Authoritative is the Temple; authoritative is the Moses; authoritative is the Genesis: And yet there are not three authoritative accounts, but one who is authoritative; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited accounts, but one that is uncreated and unlimited.

    Thus the Temple is True; the Moses is True; the Genesis is True: And yet there are not three Truths, but one Truth.

    Thus the Temple is Doctrine; the Moses is Doctrine; the Genesis is Doctrine: And yet there are not three doctrines, but one Doctrine.

    As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct account as True and Doctrine, so Mormon religion forbids us to say that there are three truths or doctrines.

  95. Truth is, I think it depends on what subject is being taught in Sunday School/Relief Society/Priesthood. If we’re talking about motherhood then women are more divine and men are more fallen. If we’re talking about authority men are more godlike and women are more fallen. I’ve seen it used both ways, even by the same people.

  96. I would be interested to see a sociological study of three groups of people who were taught over the course of the year (decade; life??) that men are more divine; that women are more divine; and that we’re completely equal. I’d be interested to see factors (that are obviously subjective) such as communication patterns, happiness, and strength of relationships over time in this light. Obviously a study like this would be too expensive to be likely tested, but it’d be interesting to see.

  97. Natalie B. says:

    #90: I think women’s reactions to the spiritual elevation of women in our rhetoric vary. While I do know someone women who seem to embrace that description in their choice of language, virtually every woman I have actually spoken to about the issue finds it very paternalistic. That said, I only talk about the issue with people I’m sympathetic to, so there is a strong selection bias.

    But, even so, I can see how I often embrace gender roles in my life even while they annoy me. I want my husband to work, while I want “choice.” I am less flexible with standards for him than I am for myself.

  98. relativeness goodness is such a small notion..oh goody I have 100 good points and that person over there only has 10-but he gets 97 bonus points for his childhood situations, and another 50 because he wasn’t taught the gospel…huh…oh and by the way you need a google of points to get to heaven…I guess we’ll just both have to rely on Jesus then.

    I’m

  99. “The Fall” cannot possibly be considered a literal event.

    Death must have existed both in the Garden and outside for several reasons. beginning with fact that God told them they could eat the fruit of the garden. Eating fruit kills living cells = death.

    God commanded Adam to tend and take care of the garden. Huh? What could he possibly have to do to take care of a perfect, deathless bunch of weedless greenery?

    “The Fall” cannot possibly be either a sin or a transgression, since Adam and Eve were put in an absolute no-win, damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation by God. God is the one who created the impossible conundrum (multiply and replenish, impossible without eating the fruit; don’t eat the fruit, impossible therefore to multiply and replenish; do nothing, and you still violate the latter), therefore God is the sinner/transgressor, NOT Adam or Eve. If anyone is to be “punished”, it’s God.

    The Fall (capital T, capital F) is nonsensical tradition, passed down from one clueless generation to the next.

    We fall when we separate ourselves from God through our own disobedience to his commandments. Why does it have to mean anything else?

    We chose to leave our pre-existence to come to MORTALITY. Why therefore do we tell this ridiculous story about perfect immortals eating fruit and causing death to come into the world as if it should be understood literally?

    Why are we so afraid to confront the truth that Adam and Eve’s bodies evolved from a primate ancestor common to humans and chimps? Why do we keep pretending that we’ve learned NOTHING in the last 100 years about this subject (DNA, fossils, etc.)? Isn’t the glory of God intelligence? Don’t we “believe all things”, including the facts of science?

    Why are we even having this silly discussion?

  100. Oh heck.

    People, consider yourselves to each be an Adam or an Eve. Everybody falls on their own. Do you think that you would wield your agency so expertly so as not to sin were it not for Adam and Eve?

    I think that there are some interesting questions here about gender roles and stereotypes, but don’t blame Adam and Eve for your fallen state. Blame agency and specifically your own agency.

  101. arJ,
    I think that the deck is stacked against you on the falling front. Much like it was stacked against Adam and Eve.

  102. #92 that was awesome, i seriously laughed out loud.

    A couple of verses that crossed my mind as i read through the comments (some taken out of context, so I did liken them unto us).

    Acts 10:34 God is no respecter of persons
    2 Nephi 26:33 All are alike unto God…male and female
    1 Peter 4:10-11 let those who minister do it according to the manifold grace of God, according to the ability He gives.
    Luke 9:41 How long shall I be with you faithless and perverse generation? (Jesus speaking)
    Philippians 3:15 if we be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you
    Alma 38:14 acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times
    Moroni 7:24 All good comes from Christ, otherwise men were fallen and no good thing comes to them. (and here i read it as men and women)
    2 Timothy 1:9 God’s purpose and grace was given us before the world began

    as has been touched on, the different views of the fall are largely cultural. heck, Blacks were denied the priesthood based on racist interpretation of scripture. what individuals should do is look to God and ruffle cultural feathers that need ruffling (after all, Christ did).

    The verses in Acts and 2 Nephi tell me that God views neither men nor women as innately superior to the other. Alma tells me how I should view myself in light of the fall.
    Moroni, 1 Peter and 2 Timothy tell me from whence comes the good in my life, and to whom goes the credit. (Women innately more spiritual? Men better dispositioned to lead? i call BS on those two ideas)
    Luke tells me how the Savior feels toward our foolish notions, and Philippians promises that God will correct my understanding as I’m able to receive it.

    Just because it is culturally accepted that women are more spiritual, or men better leaders, doesn’t mean that that’s how God sees it. nor does it mean I should simply accept it. All are fallen, men and women, all need Christ the Redeemer. And any good done by any, male or female, comes from Christ.

  103. crap, meant to say #94, loved the creedal connection. #92 can go have a piece of pie.

  104. #69
    “And I believe that if you add up all the suffering in the world since the dawn of humankind, women have had it far worse.”

    Are we including Christ here?

  105. I think these can reconcile if you apply the “natural” to divine nature instead of carnal nature.

    And it would be interesting if we looked at this from the perspective of who was more blessed by the atonement, rather than who was more cursed by the fall…I was never much for dieting, so I think I would partake of the full-fat version of the fruit :)

  106. Rich #99,

    Hehe. All your great comment was missing was a [Gob voice] Come On! [/Gob voice]

  107. Cynthia L. says:

    Et, voila!

  108. I forgot to mention that if you pay attention to the film in the Temple you see Eve carrying around a bouquet of DEAD flowers, presumbaly plucked from the living plant. No death before the fall?! [gob voice] Where’s R. Gary? — he’s got some ‘splaining to do! [/gob voice]

  109. presumably, I usually get the spelling right…

  110. …that is the blonde Eve; I can’t remember if the better-looking, brunette Eve picked any flowers or not. But the fact that she was walking around on the grass, crushing bugs and plant stems and grass blades and microbes beneath her gargantuan feet makes her a killer too.

  111. …that is the blonde Eve; I can’t remember if the better-looking, brunette Eve picked any flowers or not. But the fact that she was walking around on the grass, crushing bugs and plant stems and grass blades and microbes beneath her gargantuan feet makes her a killer too…

  112. More silly questions:

    Did pre-fall bees have barbed stingers?

    Did pre-fall scorpions have stingers and claws? No? What did thy look like?

    Did pre-fall spiders have fangs? Did they spin webs? What for?

    Did pre-fall fungi even exist?

    What did pre-fall earthworms eat?

    Vultures?

    What did pre-fall mosquitoes eat?

    Oh, wait! NOTHING CAN BE EATING ANYTHING. That creates death. Since pre-fall creatures don’t have blood, males also don’t have seminal fluid; females aren’t menstruating or ovulating (we can’t waste a good egg — that creates death). Therefore, nothing is reproducing. Nothing is eating. What exactly then is everything actually DOING?

  113. Cynthia L. says:

    Rich, if you go vote for me in the Ming poll, I won’t tell you to shut it we got your point already.

  114. Cynthia L. says:

    Though perhaps I should assume you already voted for stevep. :-)

  115. Cynthia L. says:

    (btw I’m not going to tell you that in any case)

  116. “What exactly then is everything actually DOING?”

    the Electric Slide.

  117. Ugh! I thought the world was on the back of a turtle or something. Mercy.

    Don’t we think about myths allegorically? The power of the myth is in its allegory, not in its factuality.

    If we look at the three versions as allegory then the differences do not really matter. In fact the differences become the source of new understanding. For example what Elder Packer says about the myths has everything to do with Elder Packer and his milieu and nothing to do about reality.

    How we choose to interpret these stories has to do with us and how we view the world and our lives.

    I mean, really. Next we will wash the world clean with a flood. Or give all dark skinned people a curse.

  118. I have to get a word in about the #2 issue.

    AofF #2 says, “[m]en are punished for their own sins…” and should read “humans” not “men” in current PC world. Very often in any writings that are about 200 years old, the word that now would be “humans” are “men”.

    And, I suffer from chronic pain and a number of physical ailments. They are not punishments but ways of helping me learn the things that I should learn. So no, we are not punished for others’ sins. We suffer for them, sometimes, but it is not a punishment.

    The one Fall made “humans” carnal, sensual and devilish. I’ve seen enough of this world to have witnessed plenty of all of those in both women and men.

  119. Natalie K. says:

    Velska, the problem there is that, very often, “man” is used to mean just that – “man”.

    The problem with using non-gender neutral language to be gender neutral is that it terribly obscures any clarity in meaning. Before attending the temple, I would have been inclined to agree with you in 118. But after, it is very clear to me that at least SOME people in authority do interpret that AoF to refer “men”, as in male, not human.

    Very often in any writings that are about 200 years old, the author had no intention of including women at all, and really meant man when he said it.

  120. Natalie, I’m sure that your last sentence is true to some extent. Many writers in early 19th century were blatantly sexist; women included.

  121. Sidebottom says:

    @117 – you’re thinking of Sega’s Golden Axe

  122. Steve Evans says:

    +10 to Sidebottom

  123. This fallen soul really needed a Gob reference today… and the video just made it more vivid. Thanks all!

  124. Women, on the other hand, are subject to men’s patriarchy as a result of Eve’s decision and as a condition of living in a fallen world.

    If we buy that patriarchy is only for a fallen world, then we have to work through and figure out what to do with quotes that talk about patriarchy as an eternal principle.

    So I think it’s worth asking if we are sure that patriarchy is a bad thing, something only to torture and test and punish? I think it’s worth at least *considering* that maybe patriarchy (at least in God’s system) isn’t the demon feminism has made it out to be. *Can* patriarchy be problematic? Sure. But it doesn’t *have* to be, imo. (a la D&C 121)

    It’s because women are 100% structurally inferior in the church, and they come up with nice, noble platitudes to obscure the fact that we exactly have no real authority, power, or value for the church.

    I find this kind of statement a lot more insulting and shocking and disturbing than any talk of whether women may have some inherent traits or not — as though any woman who’s *happy* as a woman in the Church because she has been duped by platitudes. (And as though whatever our prophets are teaching about our value as women is just meaningless platitudeness.)

    Meh, I say.

    I understand the need to sort through pain and questions, but I think we have to stop giving the pain and questions so much power over these discussions and be more willing to really challenge the assumptions that are at the root of the perspectives associated with the frustrations about gender issues.

    (Yeah, I know, I’ll go hang out with the gonged.)

  125. Patriarchy as an eternal principle?
    M&M, please tell me you are joking.
    Here’s a better idea:

    Elder James E. Talmage wrote that “It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments…woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood.” Talmage then hints at a greater sharing of priesthood in the next life: “When the frailties and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom.”

  126. Oh, and
    GONG!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (I mean that in the kindest way possible.)

  127. John C,

    That’s my point!

  128. So, what, I don’t even get three strikes?!?!

    More seriously, BiV, you have pretty much just illustrated my point for me. What you have quoted there describes what the eternal patriarchal order is (a great article on this can be found here.) It’s founded in an eternal marriage partnership, which is also the foundation of the purposes of mortal life as well.

    There are words that feminism has made so charged, imo, that sometimes we don’t stop to consider that they may mean something different in the terminology and theology of the gospel. I believe “patriarchal” is one of those words. I think it’s essential to take a step back and consider that all the fallen examples of patriarchy (which, granted, can be awful) are not what is meant by patriarchy in the gospel language. And continued insistence that women are so terribly oppressed in the Church and in our teachings to me continues to take attention away and from and undermine the powerful core doctrines that are completely along the lines of what is in that quote — the concept of equal partnership really is central to God’s plan, and it’s central to our teachings now (temple, Proclamation, other prophetic teachings) — imperfect as we are in implementing those doctrines and being changed through Christ to live them.

  129. #104: Genevieve, for Pete’s sake.

    I agree with m&m that “patriarchal” is a sullied term–and, I might add, for good reason. It does not mean for God what it means for us. We’re the ones who turn it into a tool of oppression. And in that sense, I believe patriarchy in a fallen world is a burden for men as well.

  130. “Neither is there man without a woman, nor woman without a man, in the Lord.”
    — Paul, 1 Cor 11:11

  131. “It’s because women are 100% structurally inferior in the church, and they come up with nice, noble platitudes to obscure the fact that we exactly have no real authority, power, or value for the church.

    I find this kind of statement a lot more insulting and shocking and disturbing than any talk of whether women may have some inherent traits or not — as though any woman who’s *happy* as a woman in the Church because she has been duped by platitudes. (And as though whatever our prophets are teaching about our value as women is just meaningless platitudeness.)

    Meh, I say.

    I understand the need to sort through pain and questions, but I think we have to stop giving the pain and questions so much power over these discussions and be more willing to really challenge the assumptions that are at the root of the perspectives associated with the frustrations about gender issues.”

    m&m, you always come back to this idea that what we are dealing with is some women’s “pain” and other women’s “happiness.” We’re not. I may be subjectively happy in the church, and still see, objectively, that women are STRUCTURALLY devalued by the organization. That is a statement of fact, which has nothing to do with how I feel about participating in the church. I don’t think we can talk about this without acknowledging that there is a significant disconnect between our rhetoric about women’s equality (or even superiority) and the structure of the church. Whether that rhetoric has the status of doctrine, and how it ought to inform the way that we set up the church as an institution is open for debate. But note that the debate need not have anything to do with how women *feel*. (Because it turns out, I suspect, that you and I feel reasonably similarly about our experience in the church; we THINK differently. That’s what is possible to discuss on a blog).

  132. #128 and #129:
    The terms “patriarchy” and “preside” have specific meanings which may or may not have been “sullied” by the world. We as Mormons, however, are attempting to change the meaning to be able to use it along with the competing term “equality.” This doesn’t work. If the goal is a celestial marriage of partners who are equal in power and authority, why not use words which will more adequately express this?

  133. Mark Brown says:

    the concept of equal partnership really is central to God’s plan, and it’s central to our teachings NOW (temple, Proclamation, other prophetic teachings)

    m&m,

    I agree that this is how we understand things right now. But the problem arises because things are changing rapidly, and we need to acknowledge that. I looked back through a stack of Improvement Eras my mother had saved up, and the marriage advice contained in them was shocking — in any disagreement, the wife should gracefully submit to her husband’s priesthood authority. That was only 50 years ago. And we have the Journal of Discourses, so we can see what Brigham, Heber C. Kimball, and Wilford Woodruff were saying in general conference about presiding and gender roles in their day. So while I agree with you on the way we currently want to understand these issues, I think we disagree on the degree of certainty with which we can say we have discerned God’s final will on the matter. After all, the saints 120 years ago and 60 years ago also thought they had it all figured out. For that matter, we even approach the Proclamation a little differently now than we did 15 years ago.

  134. A story, related by Truman G. Madsen, in Radiant Life:

    A man bodily dragged his wife to the Stake President’s office and, in a state of agitated exasperation, ejaculates: “President Jones (not his real name ;)), you must tell my wife that she has to obey me, because I have the priesthood!”

    The Stake President has his scriptures ready, and he opens his D&C at Section 121, reads from verse 37 and says, “as I read the scriptures, you have no priesthood.”

    I know, that’s sort of a limbo, but I have combed conference reports for years now, and I have never seen anyone in General Conference tell women that they must do whatever stupid thing because they “must obey the priesthood”. Sure, there may be times when wives should humor their husbands and vice versa.

    I have never told my wife that she’s to obey me; my wife has never demanded that I relinquish my reason and do as she says, because I love her. We both voluntarily surrender our lives to each other, and have done so since 1983.

    “… neither man without a woman, nor woman without a man, in the Lord.” It’s a joint effort, if it is going to succeed at all.

  135. Kristine’s #131 makes the vital point that we often talk past each other on this topic.

    Some LDS believe that any problems or difficulties stemming from the structure of the institutional church are a function of mortal failings and will not be part of a divinely administered patriarchal order in the eternities. Still others cannot embrace such an order even when it wears a theoretical halo.

    It helps when those in the former camp accept that a patriarchal order–even in that pure state we readily reference (rather carelessly, given the fact that we know so little about it)–is philosophically unsatisfying and even offensive to some others. Likewise, we should avoid suggesting that those who consider a perfected patriarchal order benign are categorically deluded.

  136. Kristine, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention that I can’t remember Madsen’s exact words in the book, but that’s not that far from Madsen’s style. He likes to use words that aren’t routinely used by the “public”. One might say one had an educational motive in this. ;P

  137. hat women are STRUCTURALLY devalued by the organization. That is a statement of fact,…

    I don’t think we can talk about this without acknowledging that there is a significant disconnect between our rhetoric about women’s equality (or even superiority) and the structure of the church.

    Kristine, I will tell you what I THINK about this. {wink} We may always talk past each other on this because first of all, I think we are working on different assumptions. The line of thinking you present, imo, gives “the organization” alone power to determine our worth or value. I think that is an erroneous way to address the question of women’s worth in God’s plan, and this because the plan includes much more than the church structure. If we are going to think through this, I think we HAVE to look at the whole, not just parse out parts. I think a parsed approach will (pretty predictably, actually) lead to erroneous conclusions about what women mean to God. If you want to analyze the structure, fine, but I will always push back when someone wants to use the structure alone to make assertions and conclusions about what women mean to God or what our eternal worth is. You can’t paint a forest by looking alone at one tree.

    A second point that is important in my mind ties in with something Kathy points out, which is that some have problems with the structure, feeling that it is
    a function of mortal failings and will not be part of a divinely administered patriarchal order in the eternities.

    I’m not going to discuss whether mortal failings are the source of our structure. My thought is on how the church structure relates to the patriarchal order. Elder Oaks made what to me is an important distinction about the patriarchal order vs. the authority structure in the church. The patriarchal order is a *family* order. Its authority functions differently than the authority in the Church. I think the church structure, etc. is incorrectly conflated with patriarchy which, imo, leads to some of the freak-out value in response to the notion of patriarchal order. Maybe?

    I realize that won’t change the fact that some still don’t like either the structure or the family organization and language around that (preside, etc.), and some may be bugged about both, but as we THINK about these things, I think this is an important distinction to keep in mind.

  138. Steve Evans says:

    ” I will tell you what I THINK about this. {wink} ”

    If you ever use that {wink} again I will do all in my power to ban you forever.

  139. I think we disagree on the degree of certainty with which we can say we have discerned God’s final will on the matter.

    Actually, I don’t disagree with you here, Mark. I think it was Elder Maxwell who said that we really know so little about the whys of gender roles, church structure, etc.

    I do think that as we navigate these things, it’s important to stay founded on some basic truths in our doctrine where there is, imo, more clarity.

    1. God is not a respecter of persons. He is perfect in all characteristics. We can trust Him, have faith in Him.
    2. He trusts His prophets (imperfect as they are) to give us *sufficient knowledge for our salvation,* (not necessarily perfect knowledge about all things, which to me is an important distinction). This essential knowledge includes knowledge about (and ordinances and key related to)…
    3. The plan of salvation, which makes it possible for the Atonement to be available to ALL through ordinances of salvation (which availability reinforces truth #1). We each — men and women alike — can have direct access to the sanctifying and saving power of the Atonement and are, through the highest ordinances, promised all that God has.
    4. The highest blessings of the gospel are sealed on a partnership, not on individuals. (That to me says volumes right there.)

    Quite frankly, I see far too many conclusions drawn in discussions about gender issues that to me end up somehow ignoring or even denying the core elements of our doctrine. I don’t think it’s possible to declare that women are less than men before God, for example, w/o at some level denying God’s perfection and what we know about His character, or Christ’s atonement, or what the crowning ordinance of exaltation (and scriptures about that ordinance) teach us about gender equality. I think we have to test conclusions against these basic principles of our faith…even as we recognize that we certainly have more to learn about so many things.

  140. If you ever use that {wink} again I will do all in my power to ban you forever.

    Uh, all right, Steve. Pet peeve noted.

  141. (BTW, Steve, I realize that wink was kind of obnoxious. I wanted to play off her comment, but that and the caps didn’t come across well in my comment. Sorry, Kristine.)

  142. I think that “the gods” (see Abraham) included Mother. We don’t talk much about her, but there’s enough indication, that she’s there. That’s why God’s name is Elohim, because that means Father and Mother.

    But I wouldn’t build all that much on that speculation until we know more about that.

  143. m&m, I wasn’t extrapolating to women’s eternal worth based on their position in the church; indeed, if I thought that the organization determined eternal worth or value in God’s plan, I would have long since beat it for a church with good choirs. However, if there’s a disjunction between what God intends for women and the way they are currently treated in the church, it’s worth asking whether the church ought to change. (One can posit, of course, that there are lessons to be learned in flawed earthly institutions, and the last shall be first, blah, blah, blah, but I’m inclined to think that God would like the earthly Kingdom to resemble the heavenly as closely as possible).

  144. I’m not going to discuss whether mortal failings are the source of our structure.

    This wasn’t my point–rather, I meant that some see the structure of the institutional church as benign in theory but sometimes problematic in practice.

    Yes, that’s an important distinction between a family/kingdom governed by a married couple and one governed by an all-male presidency.

  145. “This wasn’t my point–rather, I meant that some see the structure of the institutional church as benign in theory but sometimes problematic in practice. ”

    Not that you asked, but I think it’s relatively benign in practice (most of the time) but deeply, deeply problematic in theory.

  146. Right. And that’s a whole different ballgame.

  147. A different ballgame than the first scenario, I mean.

  148. m&m, thanks for your efforts here — it is always important to try to see the big picture and to try to remain grounded in certain fundamental truths — with these two pillars of strength of testimony, one can better discern truth and withstand troubles and troubling thoughts.

    I don’t see two falls — and I don’t see a duped Adam and a brave and strong Eve — both were as children in the Garden, yet our scriptures teach that Eve was beguiled or deceived, not Adam — I don’t say this to diminish Eve or to exalt Adam, but just to go back to basics.

  149. Mark Brown says:

    And I guess this is where I again disagree with you all.

    Going back to Kristine’s comment # 72:

    …it becomes necessary for them to believe that women are different in some fundamental way. It’s a way of cognitively constructing patriarchy without misogyny.

    This statement sums up the crux of the problem. If we are going to have partriarchy in any form or place — church, home wherever — we have to assign angelic qualities to females, otherwise we have to face some hard and unpleasant facts. And for people, especially women, who want to be at peace with the church and almost desparately want to avoid even considering that it may be in error even to a small degree, we have to play the old game of female superiority and pretend that men are given the priesthood as a consolation prize.

    For exhibit A of this scenario, we can look at yesterday’s post at Segullah. We can find no suggestion whatsoever that the Fall was actually, well, a fall. It was really a wise choice Eve made, which only men, make that evil, clueless males, have called a transgression. If you had a woman-heart, you would know this, if you don’t, I guess it’s because your man-heart isn’t sufficiently in tune. And we get all the way to comment # 2 before the obligatory lazy man gets his obligatory kick in the groin. The theme of extra-special woman heart and lazy man continues through the comments, including a commment where Adam is described a lying about with his feet on the coffee table, presumably watching ESPN.

    Our current understanding of gender is like a coin with two sides. One side is partiarchy and the other side is female superiority. As long as we are determined to hold on to this coin, we are stuck with both problems.

    So I disagree with you, Kristine, at least to the extent that I don’t think this is a benign problem. I think this has some very harmful consequences in the ways LDS people live their day to day lives.

    I think the evidence is clear that many LDS today, maybe even a majority, believe in Fall-lite for women. I do not, which means that ji and I are in complete agreement. This is still a day of miracles.

  150. Mark — I liked that you came back and provided some summary thoughts on the post and the comments. Thanks. I think your coin image is a good one.

  151. Mark, I don’t disagree with you–I meant “benign” only in the context of m&m’s comment about patriarchy; that is, I don’t think that the problem is abusive practice of patriarchy, but that the patriarchy as a theoretical and doctrinal construct is a problem. So, to the extent that you are pointing out the ways that thinking shows up at the level of day-to-day personal interactions, I think we basically agree.

    Which is a good thing, because it would be wicked (and, really, impossible) for a righteous, spiritual creature such as myself to disagree with anyone about anything, ever.

  152. Mark Brown says:

    {wink}

  153. Gods ways are not our ways, and God’s designs cannot always be understood by men and women on this earth. But we want to understand, and we want to connect the dots, and we want to explain all of God’s doings — so we use our own limited and imperfect intellects to explain things. Sometimes, I suppose, we interpret or philosophize wrongly.

    But we can have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ — salvation lies in such faith, rather than in our own philosophies.

    I don’t see an evil or demeaning patriarchy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From postings here and elsewhere, it seems that some do. What I see is God’s pattern. For whatever reason which we don’t fully understand, God commanded the female mortal to seek out the counsel of her husband and commanded the male mortal to seek out the counsel of God (or, applying D&C 84:36-ff, the counsel of assigned priesthood leaders). And he intended (or in the present tense, still intends) for this union of male and female in a marriage covenant to be beneficial for them both, and to lead to the exaltation of both man and woman in the celestial kingdom of our God.

    I see no benefit in creating reasons, using our own philosophies, to explain why God created a design where the man leads and serves the woman in the same manner that Jesus Christ leads and serves the church — I can’t explain God’s designs in this and I deny any other person’s ability to dispositively do so, as our ways and understandings are not God’s ways and understandings. I also deny any other person’s right to dispositively deny the wisdom of God in these things.

    So I agree with the original posting that people within the church do indeed have differing views on the Fall and the roles of the participants (Adam and Eve) therein. But I don’t see why this (or the resulting patriarchy, as it has been described) is a problem that needs to be solved.

    To some, it might be that my gender will explain my thoughts (I’m a man) — but I choose to see it as my faith explains my thoughts. I trust my God with all my heart, and I’m content with that faith even though I admit I cannot explain why he established the pattern he did — I hope that in my own marriage and family covenant, I will fulfill the pattern he has established for me. And as my wife tries to do the same, and we support each other, we’ll both find growth and happiness and strength.

  154. “I see no benefit in creating reasons, using our own philosophies, to explain why God created a design where the man leads and serves the woman in the same manner that Jesus Christ leads and serves the church — I can’t explain God’s designs in this and I deny any other person’s ability to dispositively do so, as our ways and understandings are not God’s ways and understandings. I also deny any other person’s right to dispositively deny the wisdom of God in these things.”

    That is no more God’s design, than anyone else’s. We are not questioning God, but question worldly interpretations of that design. Like yours.

  155. ji,
    Alot of people feel like it is a problem to be solved because it seems really arbitrary and people don’t like having an arbitrary God. Further, if it isn’t entirely arbitrary, then it appears that God values men more than women, which also doesn’t seem like a characteristic that we want in God. Hence the concern. While I don’t think that it ought to be the concern of every person’s life and every waking moment thereof, I do think that it is appropriate to allow other people their doubts and concerns. Implying that they simply have a lack of faith (as your last comment does) is just mean. That you aren’t concerned and they are doesn’t mean that they aren’t faithful; it means that it hasn’t affect you and yours in a way that causes you concern (in real life or in theory). Which is fine (more power to people having fewer problems), but using that coincidence to draw up inferences about others is kind of a small thing to do.

    Finally, remember that in Ezekiel God says that he sometimes gives us evil commandments and that he intended Adam and Eve to break a commandment in order to progress. It may be possible that we (meaning church membership) emphasize obedience (and blind faith) because it is easier that trying to judge things for ourselves. Or it may all be trial (which likely means it ain’t eternal unless you imagine us sacrificing children into the eternities). Who knows? My sole point here is that pointing to your superior faith as an explanation for why you are untroubled is a jerk move.

  156. I never suggested that anyone here has lesser faith than me — please be honest in your characterizations of others. I did explain how I see things, and how my faith helps me balance things. In a forum that speaks of oppressive patriarchy and demeaning women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I wanted to express a differing view. I admitted that I do not see that such exists, while allowing that others do. I am being intellectually and spiritually honest.

  157. Well then, ji, I apologize. It’s just that when I encounter a statement like:
    “To some, it might be that my gender will explain my thoughts (I’m a man) — but I choose to see it as my faith explains my thoughts. I trust my God with all my heart, and I’m content with that faith even though I admit I cannot explain why he established the pattern he did”
    it makes me wonder if the commenter is contrasting his own faith (which is superior to this hurdle) to others’ faith (which isn’t, otherwise they’d be able to deal with this with equal magnanimity). Especially when the commenter states that it isn’t his gender (which is treated within the church patriarchy as superior, a situation from which the commenter benefits both consciously and unconsciously), but rather that faith that helps him glide untroubled over these rocky shoals.

    So, sorry I got that wrong.

  158. ji–”oppressive” and “demeaning” are your words, not those of anyone who has expressed concern about patriarchy. Just to be clear.

  159. John (155), that reference (Ezequiel – evil commandments)sounds really interesting, and I’m not sure I’m familiar with it. Could you give me a reference, I’d like to study it.

    Thanks in advance.

  160. Ezekiel – stupid Spanish

  161. John C., I don’t think ji really made the jerk move–it was a sincere expression of faith. The implication that anyone who thinks differently just doesn’t have enough faith can certainly be read into that, but I don’t think he meant it that way.

    ji, what’s most problematic in your statement is the unquestioned equation of current church practice with God’s precise will. I’d be interested to know how you are so sure that the two overlap seamlessly.

  162. Mark, your criticism of the Segullah thread is well-deserved. Female superiority is not the answer.

    Keep in mind, though, that women have precious few opportunities to revere a female hero. While I firmly disagree with those who unduly idealize Eve, I can understand the–wait for it!–temptation.

    I believe LDS women’s eagerness to make a fool of Adam is (1) a subconscious reaction to the overt and subtle messages of female inferiority they absorb from day one (which trump the warm fuzzy rhetoric) and (2) proof positive that girls are just as bad as boys are.

  163. Thomas Parkin says:

    I kind of think of Adam as a fool due to my own prejudices. Namely,
    1. that ridiculously square jaw
    2. that poofy hair ~

  164. He wears make-up, too.

  165. JI #153
    or whatever reason which we don’t fully understand, God commanded the female mortal to seek out the counsel of her husband and commanded the male mortal to seek out the counsel of God (or, applying D&C 84:36-ff, the counsel of assigned priesthood leaders). And he intended (or in the present tense, still intends) for this union of male and female in a marriage covenant to be beneficial for them both, and to lead to the exaltation of both man and woman in the celestial kingdom of our God.

    That’s fine, but why the insistence on equality that has come to the fore when Church leaders discuss the marriage relationship? I’d almost prefer to hear the message, “it’s this way because I’m God and I said so!” than to be patted on the head and told not to worry about it because patriarchy IS equality.

    That’s Chicken Patriarchy, as Kiskilili so aptly put it, and it’s why there’s so much confusion as we try to sort out our “divine roles.”

  166. Steve Evans says:

    What BiV said.

  167. EXACTLY! If someone would just say “yes, women are second-class citizens in our church. We don’t know why this is, and we’re not saying anything about what it means for eternity,” I could suck it up and deal. It’s when people tell me not to worry my pretty little head, because it’s not _really_ unequal that I get annoyed.

  168. Kristine, women are second-class citizens in our church. We don’t know why this is, and we’re not saying anything about what it means for eternity.

  169. Thanks, Kathryn. I’ll never wonder again :)

  170. ji’s repeated and pejorative use of “philosophy” and other philosoph- words is kind of cringe-worthy. I blame Lucifer. And by Lucifer I mean the one-liner about philosophy put into his mouth in the temple drama. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I am sure that this has been talked about on the Blogs like, a dozen time 5 years ago, but it is still vexatious and it makes explaining to my in-laws what I have squandered my adult life on pretty awkward. I wish there could be a voice over (preferably in some voice other than the original actor’s) which says “political self-identifications, mingled with…” That would be pretty rad.

  171. Kristine and Kathryn, do you really feel that way or are you just being funny? I know why people might say that. I do get that not giving the priesthood to women is inherently unequal, but I don’t think I could ever bring myself to say that “women are second-class citizens in our church.” It would get stuck coming out of my mouth. I don’t perceive it that way and I don’t think that’s the way God wants us to perceive it.

    Is there a way to say that without sounding like we’re brushing it under the rug or being condescending? Because, honestly, if you two, among all the women I know in the church, truly feel that you are second class citizens then I think we’re doomed.

  172. I include BiV in that, too.

  173. MCQ, that comment blows my mind!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have you ever attended General Conference?

  174. Mark Brown says:

    Is there a way to say that without sounding like we’re brushing it under the rug or being condescending?

    No, I don’t think so.

  175. MCQ, I’d guess that Kristine and Kathryn don’t feel personally inferior — and objectively they’re clearly not. But will they ever, e.g., set the topics and speakers for a month of sacrament meetings?

  176. Steve Evans says:

    GONG!

  177. I do believe that’s the third gong on one thread.

  178. JNS, is that the measure of equality? Because if so, I’m sure my bishop would be happy to assign them that job in perpetuity.

    BiV, I’m not following #173. I asked a question about how you personally feel. Whether I have ever attended GC seems to be a funny response to what I thought was a serious question. I’m pretty sure I know women who don’t feel like second class citizens, so I don’t think the question is a stupid one.

  179. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, I’ll bet you a nickel your bishop wouldn’t do it, because under the CHI he cannot. So that’s a pretty good measure of equality, right there.

    While we all know women who don’t feel like second class citizens in the Church, we all probably know many who do. And if you don’t, my guess is you haven’t been paying attention.

  180. MCQ, I say this with all due respect. But when every one of the General Authorities of the Church, those who make the policies by which both sexes will live by, are male, many of us will feel like second-class citizens (edited to make it by the M&M censor). How can you even think that is full citizenship, never to have access to the leadership of an organization? How do you think it makes a woman feel, to stare out at all those faces of men, to see them in the centerfold of the Ensign, to be asked to live by their inspired counsel? If that’s God’s will, so be it, but don’t try to pretend it’s “equal.”

  181. MCQ–every decision any woman makes can be arbitrarily overridden by a man. A woman’s influence, leadership capacity, and personal experience in the church all depend on the good will and righteous behavior of the men to whom she is subject in the church. If that’s not second-class, I don’t know what is.

    I (and many other women) are lucky enough to have good experiences with good men in leadership, which makes the day-to-day experience of being a subject in a patriarchal order entirely bearable and often productive, etc. But there’s no doubt that the structure of the church renders me not just second class, but ultimately superfluous in the church. You don’t have to sit through a lot of meetings talking about the importance of baptizing potential priesthood holders to realize that men are valuable to the organization in a way that women never will be.

  182. Please note that I didn’t say that was equal, BiV. My question was related to how you feel about it, and I think you’ve answered it very well. I guess we’re doomed.

  183. No, MCQ. I have my issues, but I wouldn’t say I consider myself a second-class citizen in the church. At the same time, I understand why some women do.

  184. And, despite the m&m censor, I say that this has NOTHING to do with how I or other women *feel*, but with what can objectively observe from the structure of the organization.

  185. “every decision any woman makes can be arbitrarily overridden by a man.”

    Kristine, if that’s your experience, I think it’s wrong. I think that RS presidents, Primary presidents and other leaders and members of both genders have a stewardship that allows them to make inspired decisions that are not subject to being overidden by anyone.

    I have seen it work that way in my ward and I think that’s how it should work.

    The context of my comment is that I grew up with four sisters, a mother, grandmother and several aunts whom I know would offer to slap me silly if I suggested they were second-class citizens in our church.

  186. It works that way usually. But the fact is that the bishop can always, for any reason or no reason at all, override any decision that the RS president makes.

  187. I’m talking now strictly about the Handbook, not about lived experience, which is, of course, mitigated by the goodness of the persons involved. Usually. But when it’s not, when a bishop undertakes to micromanage every organization, it is fully within his “stewardship” and his power.

  188. m&m is censoring here now? That’s a change in the patriarchy.

    Kristine, fair enough. I was asking about your feelings and I guess you’re saying that women are objectively second-class citizens regardless regardless of any feelings?

    I’ll just say that I don’t feel that way about any women in my church and I know many women who don’t feel that way either. I guess, objectively, we’re all just wrong about that.

  189. Kristine is right according to the book. As long as the book exists in its current form, no matter how many lived experiences suggest that Bishops don’t arbitrarily override the RS President, there is always the reality that some Bishop is doing that/will do that.

  190. re: my feelings–I’m a very happy second-class citizen, especially when they let me direct the choir.

  191. “when a bishop undertakes to micromanage every organization, it is fully within his “stewardship” and his power.”

    I guess I have insufficient access to “the book” to know about this, but I have always understood that there are limits on the bishop’s power in this regard. Heck, my bishop doesn’t even dare overrule the choir leader when she says she needs the chapel for practice. He always moves the class that meets in there out. It’s the high priests, btw.

  192. Kristine, I guess my feeling is that I don’t want you to be a second-class citizen, happy or not, and I don’t think you should be.

  193. MCQ–there are NO limits on the bishop’s power in that regard, except the ones he chooses to impose because he’s a good guy. Just to give a recent example: I’m usually in charge of music for our Stake Conferences. This last time, we met in Trinity Church, because our Stake Center is under construction. Trinity has a magnificent organ, and, prayerfully, in consultation with the organist, I chose three hymns that were ideal (I hoped) for the organ and for the space. When I arrived that evening, all three had been changed, without any conversation with either me or the organist. Not a big deal, and not something to get upset about, just a subtle reminder that my expertise and prayerful exercise of my calling are always subject to priesthood review and/or the personal whims of the bishop or SP.

  194. Natalie K. says:

    I think we need Ms. Jack and her handy list of all the ways women are structurally unequal in the church right about now. Does that list ever make an appearance over here on BCC?

  195. Natalie, I think we’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

  196. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s even an arguable point, although I do appreciate MCQ’s noble sentiments.

  197. “Not a big deal, and not something to get upset about, just a subtle reminder that my expertise and prayerful exercise of my calling are always subject to priesthood review and/or the personal whims of the bishop or SP.”

    Something that merits a conversation, at least, though. Perhaps a little reminder that you have a stewardship and that you exercised your right to receive revelation over your stewardship. At least then you’d get an explanation and (just maybe) a commitment that it wouldn’t happen again.

  198. Or, a label as a troublemaking feminist.

  199. Natalie K. says:

    eg: Disciplinary councils (pretend that’s in bold, since I don’t know how to do that on here, and I wish it to have tremendous emphasis, but I don’t want to yell (and have opted instead for a ridiculous run-on sentence)).

    Tithing.

    Callings.

    MCQ, I can tell you’re trying to be open-minded, but it is painfully clear from your comments that you are a man, and have not (obviously) served in a woman’s calling. Need to schedule a presidency meeting? Gotta make sure you fit in that Priesthood holder’s availability. No Priesthood holder is available on a Saturday morning? Looks like you’re going to have to cancel that fun Achievement Days activity in the church.

    I have had incredibly benign and supportive Priesthood leaders. But the policy that is prescribed on all of us absolutely subjugates women to men, regardless of how kind the benevolent dictator is.

    I would use the word demeaning. And it’s still bad when the guy who has to do it knows its demeaning, and feels terrible about it, but has to do it anyway. (The Handbook says!)

  200. Kristine, I’m not arguing about whether or not it’s equal. It’s not. I guess it’s the idea of the term “second-class citizen” that grates on me. To me, you seem to be saying that term follows logically from the mere fact of inequlity in the power structure. To me, that term suggests something more, such as a judgment about the innate worth of women in the church. That’s what I’m objecting to.

  201. Natalie K. says:

    Oh, Kathryn, I wasn’t implying that. I just often have a jaw-dropping reaction when I see Jack’s comprehensiveness. :)

    I’ll wander my way back over to fmh now…..

  202. Oh, so we’re unequal first-class citizens?

  203. Natalie K. says:

    Kristin, 202 – Oh, that makes me laugh. But maybe it shouldn’t. :)

  204. I just don’t see how you can acknowledge that the structure is unequal, and yet want to maintain that that doesn’t imply anything about the value of women to the organization.

  205. “Or, a label as a troublemaking feminist.”

    Ha! Maybe. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    I guess I have a lot of troublemaking feminists in my ward, because I know my choir director would (rightfully) hit the roof over that, not to mention my RS Pres, etc and even the activities committee president, all of whom are strong women used to getting their way, and all of whom would rightfully be upset about an intrusion on their callings, especially without explanation.

  206. Oh, MCQ. I have ventured. Those aren’t stories for a blog, though.

  207. “Oh, so we’re unequal first-class citizens?”

    Now you’re getting it!

    “I just don’t see how you can acknowledge that the structure is unequal, and yet want to maintain that that doesn’t imply anything about the value of women to the organization.”

    Maybe you can’t. But there are other indications at work besides the power structure to tell us about how God (and by extension the Church) feels about the worth of women. The temple endowment springs to mind, as one example.

  208. MCQ,

    You should hang out with some of the former RS General Presidency members and see if they were made to feel like second class citizens during their tenure. Just because you think their are some take-no-guff women in your ward doesn’t mean that this isn’t a structural problem that pervades all levels of the Church.

  209. OOOOOOHHH. Don’t even go there.

  210. re: Meeting schedules — the meetings in where I’m from are agreed on the basis of how many people have to attend; the more people, the more difficult it’s going to be, so ward council will be more dominant than Primary Presidency. And Bishopric meeting will have to take into account that a Bishop and his counselors are seldom without other obligations. That most women aren’t homemakers these days hasn’t really gone through to many priesthood holders.

    Even if your husband will become a SAHD, you’ll have a closer bond with the baby after carrying it (and hopefully nursing at least for a few months, even if the milk would be given from a bottle some of the time).

    Even if the differences between individuals are greater than the differences between group averages, you can hardly avoid the notion that some things are easier for women to do than men (naturally this goes both ways).

    Trust me, it’s not all that fun to be a man, and I don’t mean it’s because we have to make all the decisions. Just think that the first 20 years or so of your life is constant warfare within and without; after that most of the warfare is inside, but getting worse by the year. You can never trust your instincts, because they’re always, always wrong when it comes to human relationships.

    And that’s the top of the iceberg. I realize there’s much work to do, but it won’t get done by putting men into a position where survival instincts start kicking in or failing — something that is visible in Western countries right now.

  211. Oh MCQ.

  212. (207) – I knew if I waited long enough, the comments on this post would actually come back around to the original post.

  213. Um, not to intrude too much into this interesting discussion, but primary, RS, YW presidents are going to have to deal with arbitrary intrusive supervision regardless whether the bishop is male or female. A female bishop would certainly be able to make you feel like a 2nd class citizen — that’s simply hierarchy.

    The only issue is that women can’t move up the hierarchy chain simply by virtue of their sex.

  214. “I have ventured. Those aren’t stories for a blog, though.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Those are the stories I want to hear!

  215. And I am not saying the Church is not structurally unequal, just that there are inequalities going both ways.

  216. Excellent point Martin, but I think the issue of women not being able to move up the hierarchy is exactly what makes dealing with those hierarchy issues hard for women.

  217. Sorry, guess I shouldn’t have brought up the temple again, but perhaps we can agree that there are at least some things in the endowment ceremony which indicate that, in God’s eyes, there is no inequality. I’m thinking specifically about certain language, that I won’t quote, but to me is very important and meaningful.

  218. I’ll pray that women get the Priestesshood in the church, if they’ll agree to do all in their power that no more Jim Belushi/Tim Allen types take these moronic sitcom roles where we men look like drooling idiots that can’t communicate. Can we agree on that?

  219. I know what you mean, MCQ. But even the wording there describes inequality: men serve God, women serve their husbands.

  220. Hm, I need to listen better, then, KLS. I thought in both cases it said that each were to the most high…

  221. What good would it be to get “priestesshood”? If it’s not the same, it’s not equal.

  222. Stephanie says:

    MCQ, listen carefully when you go next time. It is completely different. In fact, inequality in the church never occurred to me until I went to the temple.

  223. Nope. According to the temple text, even in an exalted state there remains a horizontal relationship (!) from woman to man, and a vertical relationship from man to God.

  224. I know there are some inequalities in there as well, Steph. As far as those go, I take comfort in the fact that the endowment has been changed and updated in the past and probably will be again.

  225. (221) Okay, I’ll pray for whatever they want, if we can just get men on my tv sitcoms to look less moronic. (and of course by ‘my tv sitcoms’ I mean shows that I would never watch even if my life depended on it, but still steer money away from producing decent shows . . . eh, whatever)

  226. Martin, that’s just semantics. I don’t think any woman is going to complain about being a “godess.”

    KLS, you’re talking about horizontal relationships now?

  227. Stephanie says:

    I hope so, MCQ. That’s why I stick around. :)

  228. Okay, it took me a sec to realize #227 refers to #224 and not #226.

  229. I hope so, KLS. That’s why I stick around.

  230. Kristine,
    I don’t know that current practice and God’s will overlap seamlessly, and I don’t suggest such. I do suggest that my faith in God and my faith in a restoration of the church in these latter-days allow me confidence that all things which require handling will be handled and dealt with in due time. But in the meantime, and for me, the scriptures provide a pattern — and I’m content to honor the pattern even though I don’t understand all the why’s in God’s reasonings. And in the meantime, I do sometimes want to offer a kind word to the contrary when I perceive sentiments suggesting the church today is an oppressive patriarchy which demeans women. I see it differently. And in my mind, the leaders of the church are too good and too kind for me to think of them as enforcing a patriarchy which demeans our women members. So yes, other more fundamental beliefs of mine do balance how I choose to look at this particular issue. Any matter, examined too closely, can be seen as irrational or imperfect — for me, trying to keep everything balanced allows me to see a very beautiful whole. And I imagine a very beautiful and very real possibility of man and woman, husband and wife, learning and growing together according to a pattern painted in scripture and in our modern church.

  231. Stephanie says:

    Argh. Blast comments posting at the same time.

  232. Kristine,
    I don’t know that current practice and God’s perfect will overlap seamlessly, and I don’t suggest such. I do suggest that my faith in God and my faith in a restoration of the church in these latter-days allow me confidence that all things which require handling will be handled and dealt with in due time. But in the meantime, and for me, the scriptures provide a pattern — and I’m content to honor the pattern even though I don’t understand all the why’s in God’s reasonings. And in the meantime, I do sometimes want to offer a kind word to the contrary when I perceive sentiments suggesting the church today is an oppressive patriarchy which demeans women. I see it differently. And in my mind, the leaders of the church are too good and too kind for me to think of them as enforcing a patriarchy which demeans our women members. So yes, other more fundamental beliefs of mine do balance how I choose to look at this particular issue. Any matter, examined too closely, can be seen as irrational or imperfect — for me, trying to keep everything balanced allows me to see a very beautiful whole. And I imagine a very beautiful and very real possibility of man and woman, husband and wife, learning and growing together according to a pattern painted in scripture and in our modern church.

  233. No, Stephanie–I enjoyed the laugh!

  234. Thomas Parkin says:

    Well, the church is a hierarchical organization. There are going to be higher and lower class ‘citizens.’ I’m not sure you can claim the second-class citizen label for women on the grounds that have been claimed, however. It is true that any woman in the church will find herself in a position where her decisions can be overridden by a man, that is also true of all but a strictly limited number of men in an even more limited number of situations. When I look at a picture of GAs in the Ensign, I see folks who are clearly not like me, though we share a gender. Do I feel that I’m on some other tier of citizenship? Of course I do. I’m also not on the same tier as the RS General President.

    The reason women are second class citizens in the church doesn’t have to do with structure or chains of command. It is rather to do with the fact that on grounds where we should be considered equal women are, speaking generally and pervasively, not treated as equals. I mean especially the way their spiritual gifts in practice, both in and out of the home, are valued, rhetoric aside.

    Thing is – while I don’t think women should, any more than men, seek for position within the hierarchy, they should seek for powerful spiritual gifts to help move both themselves and the church. The person to go to, however, if you want God to put words in your mouth is God, asking for those words, not the bishop, asking for a new calling. My experience is that when God gives you those words, someone will take note. They might be less likely to be heard if you’re a woman, but someone will take note. ~

  235. Steve Evans says:

    ji, confidence that things will “be handled and dealt with in due time” strikes me as being a cop-out. There’s every evidence that our Church structure, inspired as it is, has nonetheless been historically influenced by men and women who had temerity and guts to stand up for practices they viewed as wrong. The Church today IS a patriarchy, and while nobody is saying that the leaders of the Church are other than good or kind, it is nonetheless a Church whose day-to-day operations are run exclusively by men. Abuses can, and do happen along all rungs of the hierarchy. It is a matter of fact that women are demeaned every day all over our Church, and a chief mask and shield for those perpetrating these abuses is that of our patriarchal structure.

    While you daydream of that beautiful possibility, others are actively trying to make that possibility a reality by being honest about the structural inequalities of the Church and their very real consequences.

  236. Stephanie says:

    The reason women are second class citizens in the church doesn’t have to do with structure or chains of command. It is rather to do with the fact that on grounds where we should be considered equal women are, speaking generally and pervasively, not treated as equals. I mean especially the way their spiritual gifts in practice, both in and out of the home, are valued, rhetoric aside.

    Thing is – while I don’t think women should, any more than men, seek for position within the hierarchy, they should seek for powerful spiritual gifts to help move both themselves and the church.

    Did I read this correctly? The reason I am a second class citizen in the church is because my spiritual gifts are not valued? And if I want to correct that, all I need to do is pray to God for better spiritual gifts, and then men will respect me and treat me as an equal? So, really, this is all my fault?

    I hope I just misunderstood because I think I like the patriarchy explanation better.

  237. Well said, Steve. I agree with all of that.

  238. “for me, the scriptures provide a pattern — and I’m content to honor the pattern even though I don’t understand all the why’s in God’s reasonings”

    Which pattern would that be? The one where Deborah is a general and Huldah is a prophet? Or where Priscilla and Junia are prominent leaders in the church? The pattern by which Jesus chooses Mary as his first apostle?

    I’m guessing you have a different set of scriptures in mind. Point being, of course, that the pattern you see in the scriptures has a good deal to do with the lens you use.

  239. Kristine, you’ll remember, that Jesus specifically chose twelve men and gave them the power to baptize, then extended that power. Mary was his closest relationship, not a member of the “Quorum of the Twelve” of the time…

  240. Oh velska.

  241. Mary was the first witness of Christ’s resurrection.

  242. Forgive me for being obtuse, but for the women that are unhappy with their status in the church, what exactly, would it take for them to be satisfied?

  243. Well, she was his closet relationship.

    I would suggest, that for him, too, human relationships are more important than Church Structure, no?

  244. Patriarchy is a social construct of the Fallen man.

  245. “Patriarchy is a social construct of the Fallen man.”

    Velska, what’s your basis for saying so? Many people here seem to be of the belief that it is an eternal principle.

  246. Jim, we’re not talking about whether women are unhappy. We’re talking about whether they are treated equally. Two different questions.

  247. No, I still think when we come to it, that Mother is very much equal partner with Father. Plus there’s no mortal men to deal with, who need the props for their confidence.

  248. OK, but what would being treated equally look like in practicality?

  249. Use your imagination. (Because if I tell you what I think it might look like, a zillion people will rush in and accuse me of heresy and insurrection.)

  250. Natalie K. says:

    Uh-oh. I foresee the “Jesus was a boy” argument making an appearance here soon.

  251. I’m honestly trying to understand what would constitute equal in your mind. Women with the priesthood? Women apostles? A woman prophet?

    If not this, what?

  252. Stephanie says:

    Well, Natalie K, you know that’s what my boys say.

  253. Jim, why not? I think the dictionary definition of “equal” would suggest something like that.

  254. Jim, how about if you suggest a few examples yourself? I would think the answers would be obvious. Be creative! Express yourself! Be free!

  255. Let’s suppose we have women apostles and a prophet. To be truly equal, the Quorum of the Twelve would have 6 of each gender. If we have a female prophet, then we have one male counselor and one female counselor, but that’s not quite equal. Hmmm. So now we change the structure so that we can have equal number of each gender.

    But then someone complains that the female prophet was only in office for x years while the male prophet was in office for y years, so it isn’t equal.

    This might seem ridiculous, but really, were does equality end? And won’t someone also feel that something was unequal?

  256. Right, Jim. We should definitely not try. (Or maybe we should just have an all-female hierarchy for 175 years, then try to start a shared project of some sort)

  257. “were [sic] does equality end?”

    Jim, it doesn’t end, and that is the whole point of the word.

  258. Is there a way to say that without sounding like we’re brushing it under the rug or being condescending?

    No, I don’t think so.

    Obviously, I disagree. To analyze things ‘in theory’ only by looking at the structure will always lead to incomplete and imo inaccurate conclusions.

    It’s not condescending to all of us, so please let there be space for that perspective, even if you disagree.

    I also think we are getting into mushiness when people use partriarch in describing the Church. This statement sums that up well, imo:

    “A most important difference in the functioning of priesthood authority in the family and in the Church results from the fact that the government of the family is patriarchal, whereas the government of the Church is hierarchical. The concept of partnership functions differently in the family than in the Church.” -Elder Oaks

  259. Fine, m&m, it’s a hierarchy entirely run by men. Not a patriarchy.

  260. “To analyze things ‘in theory’ only by looking at the structure will always lead to incomplete and imo inaccurate conclusions.”

    Only if you try to extrapolate conclusions that are overlarge for the available data set. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to make assertions about the structure by looking at the structure.

  261. huh Huldah wasn’t in the bible dictionary or the topical guide…until I looked under prophetess. She’s hard to find that Huldah.

    At some points in the OT only the sons of Aaron had the preisthood-I wonder what the sons of everyone else said? I think we get caught up in equivalence sometimes instead of equality.

  262. Yeah, britt. She is hard to find. BRM didn’t have much use for her. Same with Deborah. And the daughters of Zelophehad.

  263. Why do we even have two genders? Maybe there should just be one….

  264. Jim, your comment was probably made in jest or something, but let’s be clear about the implications of your remark, even though it sounded more like an exasperated throwaway: essentially it’s a passive-aggressive way of arguing that the present structure of the Church is a function of naturally occurring differences between the sexes. Is that really your belief?

  265. It’s not condescending to all of us, so please let there be space for that perspective, even if you disagree.

    And, I realize it needs to go both ways, as Kathy said in 135.

  266. Krsitine, that BRM didn’t have much use for her is an assumption…there are surely quite a few people in teh bible mentioned in one chapter but not in the TG…Deborah gets full BD and TG treatment (espeically for the actual number of chapters she is in) with no apologies for her gender and the daughters of zelophehad were all of what…one chapter again…

    Interesting stories to be sure, but let’s not take offences where it would be so very difficult to do so.

  267. Nobody’s offended, britt.

  268. Actually, there’s a long story there, britt. The concordance from which the TG & Bible Dictionary were largely derived does have Huldah, and the D’s of Z, etc. One shouldn’t make too much of the editing, but one probably shouldn’t entirely ignore the peculiar omission, either.

  269. m&m–what “perspective” are we talking about? I’m really trying simply to come to a description of how the institution is organized. I don’t think that needs to “go both ways.” Indeed, I don’t know what “both ways” would be.

  270. Fine, m&m, it’s a hierarchy entirely run by men. Not a patriarchy.

    Yeah, I know it may seem minor, but I still think the wording does cause confusion, though, because the church structure is NOT the patriarchal order, and *that* is the eternal order that will exist (which is a separate thing to ponder). The church is a stop-gap structure to help us get there. That to me is obviously significant. It’s like getting bent out of shape about a body that is not ideal yet, and yet knowing that ultimately, that body is a vehicle for the perfect body awaiting us through the Atonement. The Church is a body (could be something there??… thinking Paul’s analogy) to help us arrive to the blessings of eternal life through the Atonement.

    As to men “entirely” running things, I think that is not fully capturing reality, either. Such a statement implies that women have no institutional authority whatsoever, which is incorrect. And, in fact, women ‘run’ an awful lot, especially when priesthood leadership runs as it should.

    Besides, the whole hierarchical structure goes back to Christ, anyway, and at some point, I think that is another important layer to consider. Ultimately, we are all subject to Christ in this structure.

    I suppose that gets to the question some ask — if this really is the structure *He* has set up. Some think He wouldn’t set something up that doesn’t give equal institutional authority to women. Obviously I disagree. I’m not sure it’s our place to put such bounds or demands on God, even as I realize we don’t have all truth unfolded to us yet.

    But there’s the crux of the disagreement, I suppose.

  271. I just saw the “no use for her” assumption and started wondering if we were counting women in the OT not mentioned in the topical guide…

    so now…scriptures for mary being the first apostle? that one is news to me…

    I aboslutely agree that the sexes are inately different…but not in their ability to come to God, gain power from God, utilize the atonement or fulfill the missions God gives them… in many other ways, large and small yes. different, non equivalent, don’t develop at the same rate, don’t mentally process things similar, have different lung capacities, heart capacity-thus different disease susceptibility.. different.

    God is very clear he sees men and women as of equal value. People can have different roles and missions without being less than or more than one another….

  272. m&m, a resurrected duck is still a duck.

  273. Steve Evans says:

    Fine — no woman has any institutional authority over any man. How’s that?

    I don’t agree with your bifurcation between families and Church as governing structures in the eternities. Church leaders have repeatedly stated that this is the Kingdom of God on the Earth, and as such it is not a stop-gap measure at all, but an eternal structure of ecclesiastical government.

    Saying that we are all subject to Christ is cold comfort when you’re getting abused by someone invoking priesthood authority over you. That might be a layer to consider, but it is not a layer that results in real-world checks on abuses of power.

    We all agree that we see through a glass, darkly. If that’s the case, then why are you making the assumption that inequality is the way to go? If we don’t have all truth unfolded to us yet, don’t we have the obligation to conform to that truth which we have in front of us, namely that God is no respecter of persons and that all people are of great worth to Him? Why on earth do you want to take as your starting point the fallen position that women are not entitled to equal institutional authority? This strikes me as pure defense of status quo for the sake of not wanting to seem like you’re an enemy of the Church. But in taking that view, in welcoming this inequality and being unwilling to do anything to treat people equally, you actually set yourself up as a far greater threat to what the Church stands for.

  274. britt, if being a special witness of Christ’s resurrection is the function of an apostle, we have John’s account in which Mary is the first to fill that function. I’m not asserting that she had the title “apostle;” it’s not a particularly strong claim. (although I don’t think we can make a clear argument for the equivalent of our “Quorum of the Twelve” from the NT, either, and that doesn’t bother us.)

  275. OIC, and by first you mean, first to witness of the risen Lord?

  276. precisely

  277. Under the special witness, is there any reason to argue Sister Beck as an apostle? i’m just thinking there is more to it than special witness…or in that specific role, many more people qualify

  278. Sister Beck is not an eye-witness of Christ with the charge to testify of him. She’s the president of a charitable organization.

  279. And we know all the 12 are eye witnesses? Or is special witness have a idfferent meaning than eye witness? Were Joseph Smith’s 12 all eye witnesses?

  280. well, but who knows, Kathy. Maybe she has seen Him?

  281. Oh, good grief. Since I started this threadjack, can I end it?

  282. no, I like the jack better than the thread, I even got out my scriptures and everything…googled a jewish guy talking about the daughter of zelophad…much better than guessing about what we don’t know.

  283. Steve, I have no idea. Note the “with.” Clearly her job description is very different from our apostles’.

  284. I was wondering that, and I’m actually not familiar with the job description. Is there a bigger handbook, with job descriptions of the general authorities? I realize I dont’ really know what her job description is…surely it does include bringing people to Christ though…

  285. Britt, don’t know about GAs, but the members of RS & Primary General Presidencies I’ve talked to (small sample bias!) said that their training was word of mouth, no written job descriptions.

  286. She’s not a General Authority of the church–she’s a general officer in an auxiliary to the church.

  287. m&m, a resurrected duck is still a duck.

    Sorry, don’t get your meaning there.

    no woman has any institutional authority over any man. How’s that?

    My response to that in my mind is to ask why authority ‘over’ anyone ultimately matters. Most men won’t have any significant institutional authority in their lives, either. At some point, I ask so what? There’s this continued assumption that women SHOULD have institutional authority “over” a man in order for things to “be equal.” I think the assumption itself is flawed. I understand why people go there, but I think it’s an incorrect way to analyze this.

    Also, I think that assumption (authority “over” someone is the ultimate power to seek for or measure worth by) is also what leads to unrighteous dominion. I see it all as being wholly inconsistent with the whole least=servant of all way of the Lord.

    With both the leader and the led, such a measure/assumption/perspective distorts truth, imo.

    Church leaders have repeatedly stated that this is the Kingdom of God on the Earth, and as such it is not a stop-gap measure at all, but an eternal structure of ecclesiastical government.

    The Kingdom of God *on the Earth* to me seems to be the key. Of course I could be mistaken, but everything I have read indicates that the eternal structure is families and the church is a vehicle to get us there. I’d be interested to see if there was anything that actually teaches that the church structure exists post-judgment into the eternities, because I can’t think of anything along those lines, but lots to indicate the other.

  288. That’s definitely the quick version

  289. Mark Brown says:

    Friends, I wonder if it is possible to simply acknowledge that in our church as it is currently administered, a structural inequality exists. Period. No need to explain or guess at the reasons. Is that beyond our ability to do?

    What do we say to a 12 year old girl who sees her male peers ordained and wonders why? Do we acknowledge the question, say that we don’t know, and leave it at that, or do we make up a bunch of phony, gagworthy stuff and tell her that she really doesn’t need the priesthood anyway because she is so special?

  290. I have 7 daughters, and that’s how I’ve always handled it, Mark.

    I don’t know.

  291. Thomas Parkin says:

    Stephanie,

    Not at all.

    I didn’t mean to propose faults or solutions. I think that the root causes of sexism in the church are manifold, and so the solutions must also be. I do think that we all tend to live below our privileges – and that whether or not a more robust exercise of those gifts by “second class citizens” would do anything in regard to inequality, it would certainly make more pleasurable the life of the citizen and enrich the common life of the church.
    best ~

  292. Friends, I wonder if it is possible to simply acknowledge that in our church, a structural inequality exists. Period. No need to explain or guess at the reasons. Is that beyond our ability to do?

    290+ comments say “Yes!”

    A million years ago I was in an institute class where the teacher asked some question along the lines of why women don’t have the priesthood, and he wanted the opinion of every woman in the room. One by one they all gave some answer along the lines of “women don’t need it,” “I don’t want it anyway, it’s too much responsibility,” “I trust my (future) husband to use his priesthood righteously,” whatever. When it was my turn I said, “I don’t understand why women don’t have the priesthood or why we have the patriarchal order, and it doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ve accepted that it’s one of those things I don’t have the answer to and probably never will in this life.” (Period.)

    Let me tell you, that was not a popular answer, especially not with the teacher, who really wanted me to understand how it all worked and why it all was the way it was. God bless him, he was a very good teacher and a fine person, but he couldn’t accept that all of these explanations were inadequate. Mormons don’t like not having all the answers. We pride ourselves on how much sense our religion makes to us. We are uncomfortable with genuine mysteries, in my observation. But most people are. Mysteries are frustrating.

  293. My 14 yr old daughter brought a Protestant friend to church. On the way home I asked the friend what she thought and she wanted to know why girls could not pass the sacrament and volunteered she thought it was sexist. As I feared she then asked me why girls could not pass the sacrament. I fumbled around until my daughter saved me by changing the subject. I’m the HPGL and probably should have had an answer that would make sense to a 14 yr old nonmember, but I didn’t and still don’t-at least an answer that wouldn’t leave my own daughter completely embarassed in front of her friend and me feeling sheepish. (I blame those damn feminists for putting such stupid ideas in the heads of 14 yr old gentiles girls that completely flummox us middle aged priesthood holders!)

    It only recently occurred to me, I’m further embarrassed to admit, after enduring years of PEC and other priesthood leadership meetings how much time, effort and energy is spent trying to move prospective Elders to regular Elders while only a fraction, if that, of that same time, effort and energy is spent on less active women. In fact, I don’t ever recall discussing in any of the priesthood leadership meetings how to bring back less active women except the ones married to prospective elders. Perhaps the RS is doing for the less active sisters what the priesthood is not. I sure hope so because we priesthood holders are blithely ignoring a vast group of members of the church and channeling a lot of the Church’s most valuable resource-time-to the less active priesthood holders.

  294. I’m really trying simply to come to a description of how the institution is organized.

    I get the sense that you (and others, but since you brought it up) are also making assumptions about what that means, e.g., that the theory behind it is “problematic” and thus that change should happen. It’s the assumptions/conclusions/assertions to which I refer when I talk about different perspectives.

    In my experience there’s an underlying message always associated w/ these kinds of discussions that since women don’t have institutional authority “over men,” something is “wrong” and “needs to be changed” (e.g., comment like the above where you said “However, if there’s a disjunction between what God intends for women and the way they are currently treated in the church, it’s worth asking whether the church ought to change.”)

    Friends, I wonder if it is possible to simply acknowledge that in our church as it is currently administered, a structural inequality exists. Period. No need to explain or guess at the reasons. Is that beyond our ability to do?

    I’m all for recognizing that there is a difference in the way men and women are involved in the church structure. (I strongly prefer “difference” over “inequality” because of how I feel about the bigger picture and I think the word inequality is waaaay too charged and biased out the chute.) But if we are going to say, “I don’t know why” (which I think is a legitimate answer) then I think we also have to be also willing to not somehow send a message to our children that it’s also a mistake or is so awful (again, why I choose ‘difference’ over ‘inequality.’ That can undermine or confuse just as much as guessing at reasons can, imo. Either way, none of us have the authority or revelatory position to explain it all — OR to explain it away.

  295. 12 October 1978

    “To General Authorities, Regional Representatives, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in the United States

    “Dear Brethren:

    “With the nation facing the prospect of continuing debate on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, we take this opportunity again to bring to your attention our position on this important question.

    “The history of the Church clearly demonstrates the long-standing concern of its leaders that women, as daughters of God, should have without discrimination every political, economic, and educational opportunity. Where there now exist deficiencies concerning these matters, they can and should be corrected by specific legislation. Additionally, because of their unique capacities and responsibilities as wives and mothers, women should be the beneficiaries of such special laws as will safeguard their welfare and the interests of children and families.

    “While the enactment or rejection of the Equal Rights Amendment must be accomplished by recognized political processes, we are convinced that because of its predictable results the matter is basically a moral rather than a political issue; and because of our serious concern over these moral implications, we have spoken against ratification, and without equivocation do so again. We are convinced, after careful study, after consultation with various Constitutional authorities, and after much prayerful consideration, that if the proposed amendment were to be ratified, there would follow over the years a train of interpretations and implementations that would demean women rather than ennoble them, and that also would threaten the stability of the family which is a creation of God.

    “Because of our serious concern, we urge our people to join actively with other citizens who share our concerns and who are engaged in working to reject this measure on the basis of its threat to the moral climate of the future.”

    Spencer W. Kimball
    N. Eldon Tanner
    Marion G. Romney

  296. “I get the sense that you (and others, but since you brought it up) are also making assumptions about what that means, e.g., that the theory behind it is “problematic” and thus that change should happen. It’s the assumptions/conclusions/assertions to which I refer when I talk about different perspectives.”

    I think the conversation will be more productive if you assume that what I mean is what I’ve actually said, rather than trying to argue with “assumptions/conclusions/assertions” which you “sense” I might be making.

  297. agnes,

    Did you have a point?

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