Some Thoughts on the Role of Men in the Church

…wrote no one, ever.

QED

Comments

  1. Pithy as it is, it’s too bad there’s no search engine for the internet. Heck, you could even limit yourself to General Conference and get plenty.

  2. Kristine says:

    Actually, no. There’s stuff about the role of fathers in the home in GC, but not a lot about men’s place in the Church. It’s pretty much assumed that the whole Church is their place. In fact, searching “Role of Men” on lds.org turns up mostly stuff on the roles of women.

  3. crazywomancreek says:

    Double shame on you, Kristine: Mormon men are AMAZING. I just wish their unique contributions to BEING THE BOSS OF EVERYTHING/ humbly serving was met with more sincere appreciation. I will pray for you.

  4. It turns up the roles of women mostly right now because the more recent talks have been about the roles of women in the church. Probably something to do with the recent questions about the roles of women in the Church. Try digging a bit deeper, without the cynicism.

    Also, your assertion was not limited to GC.

  5. Larry Ogan says:

    This comment deleted for extreme threadjacking. Admin.

  6. Kristine says:

    Frank, if it’s so easy, why don’t you post a link or two, related specifically to the place of men in the church, not in the home.

  7. Haggoth says:

    I dunno. Just google “LDS conference to the men” and you will get some talks with some really fun titles. In fact, just consider changing the titles to women and wonder what the reaction would be:

    About 2,290,000 results (0.32 seconds)
    Search Results

    What Manner of Men? – general-conference
    ►►

    https://

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    The purpose of the priesthood session of general conference is to teach priesthood holders what manner of …
    Let Us Be Men – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    We who hold the priesthood of God … must arise from the dust of self-indulgence and be men!
    The Priesthood Man – general-conference
    ►►

    https://

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    by Henry B. Eyring – Henry B. Eyring teaches men how they can follow—and be—examples of selfless priesthood service.
    To Men of the Priesthood – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    You men who hold this precious priesthood, bind it to your very souls. Be worthy of it at all times and in all …
    Brethren, We Have Work to Do – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    As men of the priesthood, we have an essential role to play in society, at home, and in the Church.
    What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be? – general …
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this Friday, which is a to do. But being a good husband is not an …
    To the Boys and to the Men – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    My brethren, it is a tremendous opportunity and an awesome responsibility to speak to you. I wish to speak …
    Counsel to Young Men – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    by Boyd K Packer – Young men speak of the future because they have no past, and old men speak of the past because they have …
    “Man Down!” – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    by Henry B. Eyring – And the man down will know that help will come. Whatever the risk, someone will run low or crawl to get there …
    Be Men! – general-conference
    ►►
    https…
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
    A young man of deacon age reported: “I feel a lot of pressure from my friends to smoke and steal and things like …

  8. I believe the role of men is to build pedestals.

  9. Most of the talks I have heard about men deal with being fathers or priesthood leaders. As a single man who sits in the back row, I don’t hear much about just being a guy. I think being male is assumed, and female is defined by how it differs from my plain old vanilla flavored XY gene. Still, that beats being told I have a divine potential and patted on the head.

  10. anonymous says:

    I was actually looking forward to a substantive post. Lots of men are hurt in the current environment because there is a cultural penalty for men acting different than the cultural expectation for them. Men do home teaching where they interact with whole families. Women visit teach women without men their. Something is lost by not providing men more one on one interactions with other men and that is because of role expectations. I think that should change and it could change in a way that resolves concerns for both men and women

  11. N. W. Clerk says:
  12. Funny.

  13. Peter LLC says:

    Try digging a bit deeper, without the cynicism.

    Though the OP’s flaws may turn out to be legion, failing to “dig deeper” is not likely to be one of them. So how about you try correcting others, without the patronizing.

  14. N.W. Clerk: An Encyclopedia of Mormonism article from the early 1990s dealing with “manhood” and “being a man of God”? Really? The way I read it, this post isn’t about whether there exists Church discourse on that subject. It’s about the lack of material discussing the “role” of men “in the Church.” But keep Googling!

  15. Jennifer in GA says:

    Brilliant.

  16. The role of men in the church is to not view pornography. Duh.

  17. WI_Member says:

    The Deseret News has just the thing you’re looking for…

    Finding the scriptures too female-centric and unrelatable? Are the six named women in the Book of Mormon just too distracting? “Mike Winder, author of the recently released ‘Guy Stuff in the Scriptures,’ decided it would be interesting to look at the scriptures from a male point of view.”

    “Other chapters are dedicated to topics including Beauties of the Bible, Killer Weapons and Vile Villains.”

    I saw the title of this article and thought it was an Onion spoof but, alas, it was not.

  18. Quickmere says:

    I’m just glad to see a C. S. Lewis fan up in here. Even though NWC completely kissed the point and sort if helped prove it.

  19. Also missed the point in addition to kissing it. Damn autocorrect.

  20. unendowed says:

    Re: “Guy Stuff in the Scriptures,” I think my facepalm may have given me a concussion,

  21. Huh. I’ve actually burned a lot of thought on the subject, especially vis a vis class barriers.

  22. Villate says:

    Hm, seems to me like men per se are rather invisible, since it is only through their roles as priesthood leaders that they operate in the Church. A man who does not have a leadership calling has even less say in things that go on than, say, the Relief Society President or Young Women’s President. I suppose this is part of the reason that it has never bothered me that women are not ordained to priesthood offices, since I have thought of most of the leaders I have dealt with (male and female) in terms of their responsibilities or positions. On the few occasions in my personal experience when a male leader has exercised (or tried to exercise) some sort of authority over me, I have always seen it as “the Mission President” or “the Bishop,” not “a man” doing it. And I have had a few leaders who were women try to exercise authority as well, usually through social pressure rather than through a position, but that is probably another discussion altogether. That most of the leaders in the Church are male certainly influences how things are done (and it’s been interesting and necessary to discuss and debate about that), but if you want to talk about the roles of men in the Church, I don’t know they really have any except in terms of leadership or perhaps as home teachers. As far as not looking at porn or whatever, they don’t even have a role in that, since we’re all taught that it’s the woman’s job to protect him from it, yeah? (That last sentence is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, by the way.)

  23. Rbaughman says:

    I am not sure any of you have actually listened to a GC talk or a lesson in church. No discussion of men’s role in the church? What a bunch of rubbish.

  24. Any priesthood session in the history of the church. Last April priesthood session had two talks entitled: “What Manner of Men?,” and “The Priesthood Man.”
    And you can read the proclamation on the fsmily.

  25. This statement misses the point to me and many traditionalists. The church is not the end, but a tool organized by god for a purpose of developing eternal families. The role of a woman in a family should be without question, and please don’t trot out the baby factory line, as it’s extremely offensive to the the mothers who made all of possible.

    So, if you want to gain a proper understanding, I’d actually like to see an article from a faithful traditional perspective on the role and priorities of men and women in the plan of salvation. Once I can clearly see this role understood and articulated, then I would certainly be open to suggestions form improvement in our current practices. I sincerely think this is why one side of the debate is consistently rejected because it is felt they don’t fully grasp what they are rejecting.

    Prove me wrong.

  26. How to completely miss the point of a blog post: 1. Insist on taking its rhetorical point absolutely literally, 2. Belligerently defend said literalism.

  27. There’s a strange little recurring conundrum I see around here on ocassion that, for the life of me, I can’t figure out. And that is, why the envy for something we despise? I see it when the topic of scouting comes up, for example. The left leaning folks generally hate the BSA and yet they’ll go on about how the young women ought to have similar programs. I see it when the topic of (modern) traditional family comes up — they hate it and yet they’ll go on about how gay marriage should be similarly defined. And the grandest of them all: The role of men. There is nothing so vilified and yet there it is — that terrifying and wonderful envy.

  28. Jason K. says:

    The Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry is interesting, although its opening assertion of Jesus Christ as the ideal of manhood is problematic in a way that comes near the heart of the issue, because if Jesus is eternally and everlastingly male, how are women to be saved? This question is especially pertinent in view of our Alma 7 theology of atonement, whereby Jesus saves in part by assuming the full range of human experience. People often use the Family Proclamation to assert fundamental difference between men and women, so, accepting this as true, if Jesus is exclusively male he cannot have taken upon himself female experience without collapsing the distinction in some way. On a more basic level, if Jesus is the paragon of manhood, to whom are women to look for a perfect moral exemplar of femininity?

    To me, the solution to this conundrum is twofold. The Cappadocian Father Gregory of Nazianzen famously said that what has not been assumed has not been healed. This statement has fostered a Christology in which, although Jesus’ mortal body was biologically male, his eternal body comprehended maleness and femaleness. On this view his biological maleness is accident, not substance, such that Jesus can assume full humanity without differentiation. With that in mind, I think that it’s okay to treat Jesus as a paragon of maleness, just so long as we also talk about how he is no less a paragon of femaleness. For the latter, see, e.g., Julian of Norwich’s writings about Jesus as Mother.

  29. Yawn. Move on. Give it a rest. How about doing some exploration of a genuinely gospel question?

  30. Jason K. says:

    Fred: you mean “a genuinely gospel question” like, I dunno, how half of the human population fits within LDS theological frameworks?

  31. anonymous says:

    Much less than half fit within LDS theological frameworks.

  32. Is it just me or has the bloggernacle gone flat?

  33. Peter, It’s more than flat. We are in agony. Agony doesn’t flee in an instant. Agony is also purposeful. That purpose is quietly finding it’s faith. And when it has found it’s faith, the flatness will recede. But right now we are moving gingerly.

  34. crazywomancreek says:

    I get you, Peter. Sometimes marginalized groups do something that reminds me of their humanity and suffering and I’m all, like, ugh, enough already. I get it. Can we puhleaze go back to the ME channel. And then I feel really good about myself for reaching out and letting my super important voice be heard.

  35. Thanks Jason K. I like your perspective.

  36. Villate, “A man who does not have a leadership calling has even less say in things that go on than, say, the Relief Society President or Young Women’s President.” Please tell me that was tongue in cheek as well…? You didn’t really mean to lament that the lowest male has less say than the highest female…?

  37. Villate says:

    Not lamenting, just noting that it seems to be true. Do you think it’s not? What does a man contribute in terms of church governance or the activities of a ward if he doesn’t have a calling or if he does have a calling, if he’s not in a leadership position? What does a woman contribute if she doesn’t have a calling? One of the inequality problems seems to be that there are many fewer callings for women than for men, particularly leadership callings. I think the problem is even deeper than that, since there’s really not much discussion of what it means to be a member of the church (“roles”) other than to have a leadership or teaching calling. Kristine mentioned above that “it’s pretty much assumed that the whole Church is their place.” I’m not sure that’s true for all men, though, or even for most. The fact that most of the leadership is male does not mean that all males are leaders. I too was looking forward to a more substantive post on this, to tell the truth.

  38. Villate says:

    Oh, and I guess there is a lot of discussion about “service”, as also noted above, but that is expected of both men and women, so how does it fit in with roles? Or does it? Kristine doesn’t seem to think so for the purpose of her post.

  39. ErinAnn says:

    Villate, any worthy priesthood holder (priest and above) can officiate in any public ordinance and there is a chain of command to preside in any meeting if the regulars aren’t present. Women cannot preside over sacrament meeting or bless the sacrament.

  40. ErinAnn says:

    I’m totally prepared for correction, but that’s the basics.

  41. I don’t think anyone could honestly dispute that LDS men operate within a strict and very vertical hierarchy, and that those on the “bottom” have very little, if any, say in the affairs of the church. But any MP holder can lay on hands to bless with priesthood, baptize, confirm, ordain, preside, bless sacramental emblems, and be eternally “given” multiple spouses who will covenant to regard his word in the same way that he regards the word of God. For a non-leadership position holding elder to complain that he has less say than the RS president is a little like a rich kid with all of his possessions and opportunities complaining because a poor kid has a cooler pair of shoes.

    “The Church” is nothing but a vehicle for The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that Gospel is all about eternity. All eternal role models are male. The Godhead, all known angels, and every being that has lived upon this earth and briefly returned in some official capacity: all male. All mortal general authorities are male (I might be wrong about this… Last I heard, general auxiliary presidencies weren’t considered general authorities, but I’d love to hear that I’m wrong). We raise our girls to strive to become like male role models, even though that is clearly impossible, because there are virtually no female role models.

    When was the last time a little primary boy sang “I’m striving to be like Mary”? Or a Deacon was told that he could progress to be like his Heavenly Mother? Has Adam’s name ever defaulted to “Eve”? Has any man ever attended a meeting in the meganacle where 95% of the red velvet thrones were occupied by women? The general role for all of the children of God defaults to male. I’ll believe differently when I see major female role models.

  42. Villate says:

    I see what you mean. I was thinking of roles in terms of directing Church affairs, managing the ward, etc. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of services such as administering the sacrament and giving blessings. In that case, I get it and you are right. However, I still think my point stands. I wonder if there’s too much emphasis on male vs. female on both sides of this. It has never occurred to me that I can’t be like Jesus because he’s a man. I can follow the example of some behavior that’s reported about Jesus, but I cannot “be like him.” I never wished I knew more about Heavenly Mother so she could be my role model (I wish I knew more about her for other reasons). I can only be like myself. Performing ordinances doesn’t make someone better or more righteous or even more powerful than someone else, and it perplexes me when people seem to think it does. Obviously that attitude causes problems and trauma of various sorts, and I have seen that among my friends and family and do not seek to discount it. I think the recent discussion has been helpful in bringing those problems to light in a way they never have been before. On the other hand, I’ve never liked it when people in the scriptures or in Church history or whatever (male or female) are held up as paragons for me to emulate. Why should I want to be like Mary, or Sarah, or Abish, or Sariah, or even Emma Smith? They were themselves. Perhaps they had traits that are admirable and that I could hope to develop, but which of those are uniquely female? What does that even mean? I’d like to see less emphasis on trying to be like others or on developing some trait as masculine or feminine and more on how to just treat each other as people. I think that is what “there is no male or female in the Lord” refers to. Of course, I recognize that cultural and social baggage makes that nearly impossible, and I see the reductiveness of my own thinking. I don’t know what to do about it. Making more women visible in the Church will help in some ways, but it will also cause more division and separation of roles in others. Some will fear the further entrenchment of roles, while others will welcome it. Neither is likely to be satisfied. For myself, I just continue to do what I think God wants me to do within my sphere of influence – again, I see the restriction in my sphere, but it does not pain me. Perhaps it should (and it certainly pains others), but it does not.

    I believe the general auxiliary leaders are considered “General Authorities” and have been for a while. Their pictures are listed under the heading “General Authorities,” for whatever that’s worth. To me, not a lot since I don’t really pay attention to who is in what position. I didn’t notice last time I listened to Conference whether the leaders are still introduced as “General Authorities and General Auxiliary Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”

  43. A woman cannot follow Jesus’s example because He is male? And women can only follow female examples? No, no, no. It is so sad that the argument has become so bitter and hateful to come to this assertion (this lie, if I may). Every man and every woman, regardless of whatever adjectives might be affixed, can follow Jesus’s example, and can strive to be like Jesus, as the song suggests. That’s why He came to earth, to set an example for all of us. It’s an invitation.

  44. ji, in what ways are you like Jesus?

  45. Hedgehog says:

    Villate: “I’d like to see less emphasis on trying to be like others or on developing some trait as masculine or feminine and more on how to just treat each other as people.”
    Amen.
    Unfortunately I don’t think the male/female divisions inherent in the structure help with that, rather they get in the way. Put me the category that fears entrenchment of roles.

  46. ErinAnn says:

    I’m subbing for the Primary chorister today and teaching verse four of The Family Is of God. I’m supposed to teach verse two, but I don’t care for it. “2: A father’s place is to preside, provide, to love and teach the gospel to his children. A father leads in family prayer, to share their love for Father in heaven. 3: A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare, to nurture and to strengthen all her children. She teaches children to obey, to pray, to love and serve in the family.”

    I don’t like the prescribed roles. I don’t like that men get compared to Heavenly Father (see other primary songs too — fathers day). I don’t like that women are always placed in a subservient role and not compared to our great mother in heaven. I am not a background character to my husband in the lives of our children.

  47. ErinAnn – your point is good. I haven’t been in primary for years but I am chuckling at the irony of “A father leads in family prayer.” I know many homes where the woman is the spiritual leader, she calls the prayers, keeps family home evening on schedule, nags husbands to home teach. Simultaneously I imagined single mothers, I have a few aunts and sister cousins who are the parent in the home – every parent job falls to them. No father there. Imagery is nice but….

  48. Those song verses grate on my nerves not just because I disagree with how rigid they are but also because they ignore and distort what the Proclamation actually says. People my generation and above, especially, have to let go of the church of their youth and early adulthood and accept the church as it is now and what it being taught now – even as I recognize the need to continue the changing that has occurred and is occurring in my adulthood. Claiming to believe in ongoing revelation but clinging tightly to the past is not the answer.

  49. Bradley says:

    Why does there need to be roles? That would mean there’s a script and therefore a need to not go off script. Wasn’t Christ’s message that there is no script?

  50. “Wasn’t Christ’s message that there is no script?”

    In many cases, Jesus’ teachings were even stricter than the Law of Moses. (For example, “You have heard it said . . . but I say . . .”) He changed the script, absolutely – but he certainly didn’t preach no script.

    Interestingly, the Proclamation, ultimately, says it is up to each couple to make their own decisions about how to adapt the traditional roles in their own marriage, based on their own circumstances – and it also talks of “primary” roles while saying, “In these sacred responsibilities (all of them), fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” There is no dictated role delineation in the Proclamation – only generalized guidelines and obligatory adaptation.

  51. “The church doesn’t appreciate women!”

    “Yes we do.”

    “The mere fact that you have to say that proves how little you appreciate women!”

  52. To me, the goal is to learn to develop Christ-like qualities and to align our personal goals and priorities with Heavenly Father’s goals and priorities. It’s an ongoing difficult challenge for each of us. I personally think LDS men are amazing, also. The truth be told, I always thought it is the priesthood that makes men equal with women in the church. I believe that women have more of a natural tendency to be nurturing and spiritual and have many natural opportunities to serve. (LOL, when I was younger, I would have sworn that there is NO difference and that it is all an issue of unequal oppressive socialization!!)
    But, tell me, where outside of the church are men taught how to serve selflessly without financial reward? With us, it starts at age 12, teaching young guys to pass sacrament and goes on from there. I think the program is incredible. I get really tired of the male vs. female rhetoric. The goal is to learn to serve God and others.

  53. Ha! Yes, like that bit from Elouise Bell’s “The Meeting” in which the female bishop in the reverse-gender LDS Sacrament meeting announces the fireside: “Sister Amanda Ridgely Knight will discuss ‘The Role of Man: Where Does He Fit in the Eternal Plan?’”

  54. g2-c44358508233cd2920bf22cf5367dd60 says:

    If our goal is to become like Jesus Christ, which means embracing both traditionally “male” and traditionally “female” qualities, what benefit does gendered roles provide? It is confusing to say that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” but to have how that works for men be obvious and self-evident, but how it works for women be so convoluted as to necessitate frequent discussion on how women fit in. Motherhood is great, but most of the important work of parenting can (and many argue should) be shared by fathers, so mothers do little that is uniquely our role beyond the actual gestation and birthing (which I believe is a sacred thing, but it is a small and relatively insignificant part of the big picture of parenting). And that says nothing of the problems saying “motherhood is women’s divine role,” causes for those who have to wait until the next life for that opportunity. And I used to think saying “they can be mothers in their own way” was a good explanation, until I actually started listening to other women and discovered how patronizing many found that. I’m not convinced female priesthood is the answer to the problems, but I think pieces are missing from the puzzle and that’s why they don’t seem to fit, but for me, I have to learn to walk by faith…

    “Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
    Lead thou me on!
    The night is dark, and I am far from home;
    Lead thou me on!
    Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
    The distant scene–one step enough for me.”

  55. Kristine says:

    Marie–yes! In fact, I sometimes quietly sing to myself, “I’m trying to be like Elouise…” :)

  56. g2-c44358508233cd2920bf22cf5367dd60 says:

    BTW, The system wanted me to sign in with the wordpress account associated with my email address, which I don’t use, and it turns out is a bunch of random letters and numbers. My name is Brittany.

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