Your Friday Firestorm

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.

Happy Father’s Day. Discuss.


  1. a random John says:

    I parse “responsible” very carefully. Though as for protection, I am the one that gets up in the middle of the night to investigate mysterious noises.

  2. I am the spider-squasher, trash-taker-outer and lawnmowing person. I get to preside over crap she refuses to do.

    For the life of me I don’t get this sentence from the proclamation. I really don’t.

  3. wanna-be gst says:

    responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection

    This year Santa is bringing Baretta semi-autos and Trojans for the kids.

  4. Trojans? Like Hector and Paris?

  5. Steve Evans says:

    Like U.S.C., I think he means, jimbob.

    Actually that part of it I have less trouble in interpreting: Man as Provider is a pretty basic concept, whether or not I agree with it as a unilateral idea. In other words, while I don’t personally view that bit as a prohibition on women in the workforce, I do interpret it to place primary responsibility on the male. And I don’t really like it, but I’ll do as they ask on that one.

    But “preside”?? come on.

  6. This is not a controversial statement in any ward that I have ever lived in. Its scriptural base is found in Section 83 and was quoted in GC by GBH a couple of years ago.

    I decry the secular post-modern attack on fatherhood and its role in the nuclear family that we see in the media and on many campuses across the country.

  7. To be legit you need to spell Beretta correctly

    I have fond fond memories of shooting with my own father and grandfather growing up.

    I prefer Glocks myself.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    bbell, D&C 83 speaks to the latter bit, but not the part about presiding:

    Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken…

  9. If what I do constitutes “presiding,” then I totally preside. (Which is, I realize, absurdly circular, but what can you do?)

    Happy Father’s Day, Steve.

  10. I think preside means that you’re supposed to build a stand (maybe a home altar too if you like) and sit up and watch your family like the bishop does in Sacrament meeting.

    Seriously had we built one of those stands I think our family would have been much more righteous. We could have built it over the carport.

  11. What, now it’s Father’s Day already? This Mother’s day/Father’s day crap has got to go. It’s hard to avoid my parents when I keep having to buy them gifts.

  12. Julie M. Smith says:

    Well, there is one part of this statement that I am very confident I understand: the protection part. My husband has a divine duty to protect me from being attacked by our children, particularly at 6am or when I am trying to blog.

  13. Amri – We have a stand at my house…it’s called the couch. I sit there and preside over my family during the evening and weekend hours.

  14. The precise meanings of “preside” having already been hashed to death, here’s my question for the day: is there some inevitable relationship between providing and presiding, as certain feminists have claimed (Ann Crittenden in the Price of Motherhood, and that recent book that urges all SAHMs to go back to work to avoid becoming economically dependent on their husbands–can’t find the dang title right now).

    Does he or she who provides inevitably preside? Does money inevitably translate into relational power?

  15. I recently read an article which said patriarchy only required 2 things. First, The paternity of a woman’s children must be unambiguously known. Second, The biological father and mother must raise and educate their children together. I thought that was interesting in light of “presiding”.

    I’ve always gone with either the Kimball “leader is servant” model of preside, or with the Widtsoe “spokesperson” idea.

  16. Steve Evans says:

    Eve, I think that’s the best question I’ve heard in a long time. There seems at first glance to be some sort of primal authority linked to providing: “I killed this dinosaur, we starve or thrive at my labor, so I get the major say in how we spend our resources.”

    That said, it’s childish and decidedly un-Christian and un-Mormon to think that way, IMHO. The right to control cannot be linked to our donations of labor to our families. That’s a quid pro quo that will reduce our families to relationships of convenience at best.

    And yet…… and yet, by putting these concepts side-by-side the Proclamation would seem to have implied at least a bit of that caveman ethos. I don’t like it. What’s your thought?

  17. Enough with all the stupid holidays already. Tonight I’m making sure my wife didn’t buy anything for Father’s Day, then I’m banning any further celebration in my household.

  18. Steve,

    To me the in this context the word preside means……

    “The buck stops here” or “ultimatly the PH holder is responsible”

    I think I could get consensus on this issue in my white bread EQ on Sunday in about 3 minutes on a white board

    My EQ does not see the world thru a prism of post modern secularism and feminism so these types of questions are just not that complicated :)

    I am also sure that the Oaks statements from a year ago will be in full display shortly

  19. Steve Evans says:

    bbell, would be that all EQs were are “white bread” and single-minded as yours. Thank goodness that they do not see the complications of feminism!

  20. The statement is clearly referring to the rightful possessor of the channel changer.

    We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all women and children, who wrest control over the channel changer, to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence, many bad shows are chosen and few good shows are elected.

  21. Mark IV says:

    bbell, # 18,

    How do you square that with the Proclamation, which states that husbands and wives are equal partners? My secular, feminist wife wants to know.

  22. John Williams says:

    Does anyone here think that women will some day hold the priesthood?

  23. Steve Evans says:

    John, I’m sure that some people around here think they already do. Why?

  24. Well, Steve, if you put this in a biblical context, I would wholeheartedly agree with the statement.

    Yet this will not be the way in eternity.

  25. He he,

    I thought you would like that….

    It may be painful for you but that is where the North American TR holders are at on this issue. They are largely comfortable with the proclamation and the gender teachings. They largely reject post modern thinking and Feminism….

  26. In all seriousness Steve, I don’t know for sure what it means either. I don’t necessarily object to it – but I think in our family/marriage we have about the softest interpretation of this principle/statement imaginable. I’d rather be a good partner and friend than a presiding officer, so to speak.

  27. John Williams says:

    Women haven’t always given talks in General Conference, but now they do. Maybe there is a slow evolution towards women holding the priesthood, like maybe in 75 years or so. I don’t know.

  28. Personally, I think if my husband could have a floating couch, he would be all for the dais/stand presiding method.

  29. [Insulting sexist movie quote deleted; fans can rent it or go to IMDB.]

    (Jack Nicholson, “As Good as it Gets”)

  30. I still think if women held the priesthood, it would create some very complicated and problematic issues in regards to the composition of priesthood presidencies.

    What (for example) would stop the elders quorum presidentess from choosing her husband to be her first counselor?

    Or what would people say about a bishop picking the two most attractive women in the ward to be his counselors?

    Maybe priesthood presidencies would have to change in the way they are organizationally put together – because a presidency of three would mean that one gender would always be under-represented.

    That sort of thing …

    Maybe there are other odd situations that could arise. I haven’t thought about it too much.

    Also – would Relief Society continue to exist? If so, why?

  31. Steve Evans says:

    Jim Cobabe, is that your personal view? Melvin Udall was held up in the film as a generally reprehensible (and somewhat insane) human being — that was the point.

  32. bbell, from where are you gleaning this insight re: N.A. temple recommend holders (specifically, that they reject postmodernism and/or feminism)? I’m genuinely curious as to how you are able to determine what the consensus among them would be. If this is just your speculation based on your own anecdotal evidence, you should probably have just said so rather than lay it out as proven fact.

  33. Random Guy says:

    This was a restatement of the scriptures stating that “the husband is the head of the wife,” polished for consumption by modern audiences.

    However, Elders Bednar, Nelson, and Oaks have spoken at length on marriage without even alluding to the principle that the father “presides” over the home.

    I think The General Authorities are embarrassed by the “Father is the head of the home, the mother is the heart” doctrine. They are also acutely concerned that the doctrine offends some members (like you, Steve?). At the same time, they aren’t quite willing to explicitly repudiate an established doctrine, especially a doctrine explicitly taught by multiple prophets in General Conference and in the New Testament–and by God in addressing Eve.

    Either that, or they don’t mention the doctrine because they assume it is so well known that it doesn’t merit mentioning.

  34. In my house “preside” means I call on the prayer giver, unless my wife does, or unless one of the kids is clamoring to say it, or unless I let one of the kids decide who says it. I also oversee FHE, by which I mean I watch my wife do everything and I try to keep the boys in line.

  35. We tend to apply these statements to our narrow view of our own world – or at least our Mormon world. Remember, this is a proclamation “to the world” – not narrowly to the Church.

    Why would the FP & 12 phrase it in this way in a message “to the world”? Frankly, I see why all around me – both in our relatively town and in my work over the last 10 years. My children have friends who spend hours (sometimes days and months) at our house specifically because their fathers (both biological and non-biological) don’t provide and protect. The inner-cities are imploding and exploding across America, and one foundation reason is that fathers have abdicated their responsibility to provide and protect.

    Given the state of the family all around me, I don’t read this as anything other than a reprimand and challenge to the men of the world to take responsibility for their actions and serve their families in righteousness (preside). The world needs it so badly.

    On this Father’s Day, how about we all celebrate those fathers who DO provide, protect and preside? I’ve seen enough of the lack thereof to DEEPLY appreciate my own father – and to want just as deeply to be at least half the man he was. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

  36. Steve, you have called my bluff: now I’ll have to come up with a thought or two on the subject I’ve introduced. (So easy to ask questions…so hard to answer them!)

    I guess at the least we can say that providing does seem to result in relational power in at least some marriages. I’ve seen some really sad cases of women whose economic dependence has translated into relative relational powerlessness–and, the sad irony is, also into a fear of leaving a bad marriage.

    I suspect that the connection was more the norm and more accepted in the past than it’s likely to be now. I agree that it’s an uncomfortable connection, and I idealistically hope it isn’t inevitable. Perhaps a deeper sense of value for the hard and vital work an SAHM does could help balance this tendency.

    On the other hand, many of our social norms assume the husband runs the money regardless of who actually earned it. When I married my husband, I was older than he, had savings, and made more than he did. (All of those things have now changed except, of course, I’m still older than he is.) But I’ll never forget going to put the deposit on our little Wymount apartment when we were engaged–in spite of the fact that the checking account was still mine, I had earned all of the money in it, and I wrote out the check that had my name only on it, the woman behind the counter wouldn’t even look at me. She would deal only with my husband. It was truly a nineteenth century model of marriage: even my money was under his control.

    The real test cases, I think, for how gender, money, and relational power play out are SAHDs. How do things work for them? Are they at a relational disadvantage if they don’t earn any money–or do the benefits of being male kick in and society continues to confer greater or equal relational power on them?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

  37. Gavin Guillaume says:

    It’s father’s day this weekend? I hadn’t noticed. Guess that means my kids have spent $5 of my money for a token gift. Oh, and we’ve got stake priesthood meeting.

  38. Melanie says:

    My dad spent several thousand dollars over five years for me to earn my black belt so I could protect myself. I don’t think he was a shirker though, he was always calling the school telling them he had “given me permission” to kick a particular girl’s *** if she started anything.

    I love my dad.

  39. Oh I preside in my household alright. My wife said as long as I do everything she says I can preside.(don’t tell her I wrote that, she might take my presiding privileges away).

    Honestly though, am I the only one who doesn’t think that a man’s place in the family is under attack? I mean more and more society looks to men to be good fathers and more and more involved with the kids than the last generation. I know that I spend more time helping and being with my kids than my father did with us and the same holds true with nearly everyone I know.

  40. John Williams says:

    danithew (30),

    Those are all minor problems with easy solutions. I don’t think they would stop a gradual evolution to women eventually holding the priesthood.

  41. Endowed women already hold and exercise the Priesthood, so I would have no problem if that got extended at some point.

    ronito, I envy the world you describe. I mean that in all seriousness. As I said earlier, I see SO many young men in my work who have absolutely no idea what it means to be a responsible man – specifically because they had no personal role model in their homes. My wife and I are known as Mama and Papa in our children’s circles – and, while I am proud of that, I am saddened beyond expression for the reason we hold those titles.

    Yes, I see a wonderful trend challenging fathers to share responsibility for raising their children, but I also see the opposite – a pernicious mentality that is destroying lives and cultures and entire local populations in some areas. I see a distinct polarization, and I am horrified at the non-ideal side of the coin.

  42. Forgot to add, “Thanks, Dad. I love you!”

  43. John Williams,

    I wouldn’t lobby for it – but if the prophet felt inspired to give women the priesthood, I wouldn’t be opposed. I could embrace the idea if it came across in that kind of context. I suppose I would have to embrace it. But I don’t think I’d mind that.

    However, I think it would be a much more fundamental and big change kind of step than giving priesthood to blacks was in 1978.

    I was just thinking about it – it seems to me it would be the easiest and most practical way to change meetings from three hours to two hours. Also, it could unify hometeaching and visiting teaching into one program. A man and his wife could be hometeaching/visiting-teaching companions for life. Also, in a home with two parents, you’d never lack Melchizidek priesthood for a healing blessing.

    There would no doubt be a lot of upsides.

    I just wonder how long it would take for the institutional body of the church to absorb new female priesthood leadership – whether they’d hit ‘glass ceilings’ in any way or just how many adjustments would have to be made.

    Again, I think it would be quite a huge step – a lot to absorb at once.

    I just like musing about the various itereations and cultural changes (and shocks) it would bring to the Mormon system of doing things. It’s an interesting exercise.

  44. Random Guy says:

    I’ll say it.

    God, Peter, and Paul unequivocably state as clearly, explicitly, and as unambiguously as possible that the husband is the head of the home. When the Bible addresses the role of a wives, it counsels them to “obey,” “reverence,” and “submit” to their husbands more often than it counsels them to love their husbands.

    The Church in modern times has used gentle language like “preside,” perhaps at the cost of obscuring the principle. Many intelligent people like Steve now “don’t get this sentence.”

    The principle should never be taught in isolation: a man is also to love his wife as “Christ loved the Church.”

    Still, I think the Church is painfully conscious of how this doctrine sounds to certain ears. See my post at 33.

  45. i thought every day was father’s day.

  46. Hey Steve. Another Father’s Day lecture eh? Glad to see the tradition lives on.

    Anyway, if you really want this thread to take off, just throw in a young-LDS-father-turns-to-welfare-to-support-non-working-wife-and three-children angle, and this post is really off to the races!

  47. Melvin Udall was held up in the film as a generally reprehensible (and somewhat insane) human being — that was the point.

    Yes, I think I understand why you felt we were intended to regard the character of Udall as “reprehensible” and insane. But in fact, his most offensive trait in the film seemed to be a rather painful and brutal degree of honesty.

    How does honesty become anti-social and pathological?

  48. John Williams says:

    Udall is actually a big Mormon surname here in Arizona. What a coincidence.

  49. Steve Evans says:

    Jim, let me ask you a yes or no question: do you believe that in order to describe women, you “think of a man… and take away reason and accountability”?

    Yes or no.

  50. Steve Evans says:

    Seth baby, you know I love to keep you happy.

  51. Steve Evans says:

    Random Guy (#33): “They are also acutely concerned that the doctrine offends some members (like you, Steve?).”

    Offends me? It doesn’t offend me personally — it does nothing but cement me as sovereign lord of the manor! I’m not the one who is directly negatively affected. But I honestly don’t know what “presiding in the home” means in the modern church, historical context notwithstanding. Personally, I think the concept has been largely gutted (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

  52. Steve, it might gutted in the modern church (and, yes, it is a good thing in those homes where presiding is not a concept of power but of service), but I repeat: It is NOT gutted in the world – or in some homes in the Church. It is misapplied as unrighteous dominion (hence the “in love and righteousness”) inside and outside the Church, and it is completely absent in more and more households in the world.

    I will repeat my own observation in #41. In order to understand the Proclamation to the World, we need to understand its application to the world – and quit analyzing it exclusively, or even primarily, as it relates to the Church.

  53. The word “presiding” seems like a quiet word, a sort of passive word – but also like a word that could be very decisive.

    And when I put those things together, I think of the Godfather for some reason. Very quiet, very reasonable-sounding – and potentially quite deadly.

    But I hope that if presiding means what it is probably supposed to mean, that it somehow resembles the leadership style of my very favorite bishops (I can think of a few specific people, when I say this). They were good men, full of charity and also intelligence.

    I always have thought that if a man has to bring up the point that he is “the one who presides”, that his priesthood and the Holy Ghost have already left the room.

  54. Anyway, if you really want this thread to take off, just throw in a young-LDS-father-turns-to-welfare-to-support-non-working-wife-and three-children angle, and this post is really off to the races!

    Or, more germane to the topic at hand, if the church decides to recognize SSM, which father gets to preside and why?

  55. The presiding in equality dilemma from the Proclamation really necessarily totally neuters either the word “preside” or the word “equality.” If there is equality, then there is no position of status or power within the family that the husband and the wife don’t share together. In which case neither the husband nor the wife can be the decider of last resort, the one ultimately responsible for spiritual or physical provision, or anything else. If one of the two is ultimately responsible or powerful in a way the other isn’t, then every single decision is made in the shadow of that responsibility or power — and there is no equality whatsoever. So if there is equality and the man presides, the woman must preside also. But if two individuals preside over the same family simultaneously, then the word has lost its normal meaning completely.

    On the other hand, if the husband truly presides in the sense of being the decider of last resort, then the wife always faces every decision in the knowledge that she has no definitive say in the matter. Her ability to ever get her way is always conditional on the husband deciding not to exercise the power of final say. Which in the end means that she must choose to express her disagreements, insights, preferences, and even emotions strategically, in such a way as to save her relational resources for persuasion in the moments that matter most. The husband, of course, faces no such imperative. On the most important issues, his decision will be final. So those issues cast no shadow — for him — over other decisions or actions. This difference thus infects every moment of life, destroying all equality altogether.

    So one of the two words has lost its meaning. My money’s on Steve being right that the lost word is “preside.”

  56. BTW, how about a communication medal for being able to say, “Men, grow up, get your act together and stop making your wife (or girlfriend or partner-in-sex) take care of and raise your biological offspring!” – in such a relatively nice way? How easy is it to preach a Celestial Law to a Telestial audience? How about an intermediate Terrestrial Law as a starting point?

    Great last sentence, danithew. That’s how I see it, in church and in the home. I take final responsibility for what my wife and I decide, but I NEVER play the “I preside, so this is how it is” card. It never crosses my mind – mostly because I like breathing and the attendant joys.

  57. MikeInWeho says:

    re: 44 When you look at the various scriptures which analogize the husband/wife relationship to Christ and the Church, you see just how far removed even conservatives like Random Guy are from the original notion in scripture. Christ is the LORD of the Church; the Church is in utter submission to Him. Read Ephesians 5:22-24 in the NIV and ask yourselves: Does anybody really follow this injunction anymore? And thank goodness we don’t!

    For what it’s worth, Fathers’ Day (not Father’s Day!) is a really big deal around our house.

  58. As for relational power going to the one who earns the money, I think that can (at least partially) be alleviated by having the non-earner manage it. My husband earns the money and I tell it where to go. This makes it “our” money in a very real way. We didn’t consciously do it this way, it was just easier because I was at home and had the time to work it all out. But looking back, I think it’s been a very positive thing.

    Also, I’ve always thought that the reaction to the negative stereotype of the average family of the 1950’s went the wrong way. Society decided that the wife/mother needed to get out of the hell that was her home and into the work force. I think what should have happened instead was the husband/father taking a larger role in the home. I’m sure many families did this already, but society in general encouraged both parents to get out of the home.

    As to women having the priesthood: I suppose it’s possible, from what I recall it seems that anytime women are mentioned in the scriptures or Church History having anything to do with power seem to be related more to the attitudes of the time than to an actual principle, so it might be just how we are asked to practice it for now. In the mean-time, I’m content to wait.

  59. Another BTW: When I say I take final responsibility, I mean that I am the one who says to our children, “Your mother and I have reached this decision, so I don’t want to hear you whining about it, anymore, especially to her.” They know that when we reach the decision and I tell it to them (with her standing beside me), it is final – since we have spoken as one. If either one of us has spoken independently, it isn’t a final decision; when we speak as one, it is.

  60. Jim, let me ask you a yes or no question: do you believe that in order to describe women, you “think of a man… and take away reason and accountability”?

    I could discuss this question at some length, but first, you must answer a yes or no question: Do you believe in the “divine design” reflected in the Proclamation?

    Your antipathy for this line of thinking makes me uncomfortable to pursue it further. Sorry for disturbing the peace. Please feel free to ignore my comments, if it will make you feel happier.

  61. Random Guy says:

    Preside, defined in the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

    1. To hold the position of authority; act as chairperson or president.
    2. To possess or exercise authority or control.

  62. Random Guy says:


    I’m not completely sure why you think we disagree. The scriptures, and the Church for many years, plainly adhered to the plain language of the scriptures on this matter. But now, we are perhaps abandoning the last vestiges of the principle.

    This was clearly stated in comment 33, to which you were referred in comment 44.

  63. #57 and #61: So the actual words aside, we have an example of presiding in Christ that should influence how we define what the quote in question means. Given how Jesus lived His life (teaching and serving and never coercing), I have no problem with the admonition – especially, to beat my favorite dead horse, when so many men in the world are abusing their perceived power over women and children so blatantly.

    In this light, I think I probably fit the second half of Random Guy’s definition #1 – particularly since I am ACTING as chairperson with my wife’s permission! :-)

  64. JNS, I don’t agree with the premise of #55 that there is an inherent battle between presiding and equality. I have explained already how both work simultaneously in my marriage, so I won’t address it further. I would argue that the word in the excerpt that is obsolete is “over” – simply because of its inescapable negative connotation in our current society.

  65. Random Guy says:


    If one person presides, and the other does not, then they do not have equal authority. However, they might reasonably consider themselves equal in a general sense–he at the head of the home, she at its heart.

    Your comment was very well written, by the way.

  66. Marisel says:

    I really dislike the statement, and the church’s practice of treating the man as the “head of the household” in most of its rhetoric and in its recordkeeping software.

    Instead of fighthing this each time I hear the statement, I just choose to hear what I want to hear:

    “Parents, we encourage you to care for your familes with love and righteousness. Also, don’t forget the basics of caring for your family–make sure you prepare for and then provide the necessities of life and protection for your family.”

    I won’t regale you with my personal attempts to counter the attitudes that seem to accompany this statement (like sacrament talks that are addressed to the men), but I suspect BBell doesn’t know each of the women in his wards well enough to say that the statement hasn’t caused controversy in any of his wards.
    Actually, I’ll bet he doesn’t. If you want to list your wards, BBell, I’ll do the interviewing.

  67. Random Guy, I agree with the linguistic deconstruction, but I know that standard definitions can break down in real life. My wife and I really do act as one; we really do talk about things until we agree – and the agreement is more often a compromise between what each of us initially suggests or what my wife initially suggests than what I initially suggest. My presiding is much more an administrative role for the family organization – the voice that presents the consensus. That is exactly how it works in the best councils in which I have participated.

    We are constrained greatly by the abilities of our language to express abstract concepts that lie outside our experience. I happen to think that this is one of the applications of “heard words they could not speak”. In some cases, it appears to be less of being commanded to not speak them and more of lacking the vocabulary to do so. That’s how I see this discussion.

    If you or anyone else wants to reword the quote to reflect what you think is a better statement, I would like to hear it – and I don’t mean that sarcastically. If I tried to do so, I probably would change only one word – “over” to “within”. For Mormons, I think that change shouldn’t be necessary, given how much subsequent commentary seems to make that distinction. For “the world”, perhaps that modification would be appropriate. Having said that, I think overall it is a masterful statement to the fathers of the world in these days.

  68. Marisel, I really like your rewording as the ideal. Thank you.

    However, given the state of the world and the huge numbers of single mothers fighting the battle alone due to abusive and absentee fathers, I still like having a statement pointed directly at the fathers as an intermediate admonition. I guess that’s the heart of what I am trying to say. I’ll jump off that dead horse now and end with another thanks for the rewording.

  69. Kevin Barney says:

    By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families….

    Sure, I accept this. The “divine design” is called evolutionary biology. (g)

    The English word “preside” derives from the Latin verb presidio, which literally means “to sit before,” very much like a bishop sits before the congregation. This is emblematic for authority. Our word “president” derives from the participial form of this same verb.

    Because it is metaphoric, it has a softer feel to it than harder verbs like “rule” (cf. SWK’s famous comment). But ultimately there’s not a lot of difference.

    Personally, I reject the idea of presiding in my family, in favor of a pure partnership model. I’ve never dictated a decision by fiat; it has always been a mutual decision reached by discussion and negotiation. In theory there could be a deadlock, but I can’t think of an example, and I’ll be celebrating my 27th anniversary this August.

    As for women and the priesthood, personally I am an advocate for it, not in a get up on a soapbox kind of way, but that is just my preference and feeling. I personally think women don’t have the priesthood for cultural reasons. Of course, this culture goes back to the Bible and is deeply engrained, and we’re not on our own on this issue, so unless a SWK decides to spend time in the temple on his knees seeking revelation on this subject, nothing is going to change.

  70. Steve Evans says:

    Cobabe, don’t confuse antipathy for you with antipathy for the Proclamation. Consider yourself persona non grata until you answer my question, you coward.

  71. Steve Evans says:

    And to show you that I’m not a coward, I’ll answer your question, you loathsome wuss: Yes, I believe the “divine design” part. Now what?

  72. Stephanie says:

    Does it make me really evil if I think that most of what Paul wrote about husband/wife relations was a bunch of crap?

    I like to think of it this way: if both husband and wife are in tune with the Spirit and acting righteously, the whole preside thing should never come into play, because they would work together to come to decisions, being guided by the Spirit.

    I also like the position of the husband as he who presides is more of a figurehead position.

  73. That which is true by divine design is that which requires no conscious thought or attention. Our hearts beat by divine design, and our digestion works on the same principles. Same with a lot of our perception processes.

  74. Random Guy says:


    Nobody is evil because they don’t have a testimony of a particular principle, whether that principle is tithing or that the father presides over the home.

    I’m sure everybody agrees that ideally, spouses, bishoprics, and stake presidencies should work together through the Spirit.

    God bless you all! I’m logging off.

  75. MikeInWeHo says:

    re 72

    Stephanie: No.

    Be thankful you have an open canon and continuing revelation. Contemporary marriage and family patterns (even conservative LDS ones) have so little in common with those of even a century ago that it’s almost amusing when people have conversations like this, absolutely no disrespect to any commenter here intended. Paul’s notions of male/female roles are dead and buried long ago. You’re just being more honest when you state that most of it is a bunch of crap. Everybody (outside of Saudia Arabia, perhaps) lives that way.

  76. Eve–I just had a somewhat similar experience (at least, I’m interpreting it that way). When I got married three years ago I moved in with my husband and since then my name hasn’t been on any utility bills. Consequently, now that I’m living on my own again I’m a credit risk because I don’t have an independent credit history. My name is on our credit card, but that’s evidently not enough to give me a real credit history. bah. I know it’s my own fault for not insisting my name appear on bills and such but man it’s obnoxious.

    At my cousin’s marriage the sealer talked about the process of deciding major decisions in a marriage, and his take on it was basically if you can’t agree, there is no decision. Obviously there are situations where that doesn’t work (a non-decision being a decision), but I liked the idea of it and liked that interpretation of preside. For him, preside was more like “make sure a decision gets made that meets everyone’s needs and makes everyone happy.” That’s a task that requires one to think very heavily on the needs of the other people involved in the situation, and much more service-oriented.

    I would agree with other observations that money typically translates into influence within the home. That’s pretty much how it is in the world though–money and power are well-correlated, and money and status are well-correlated. I think it’s very hard to divorce ourselves from the habit of either assuming an individual with money has power, or from assuming that if we provide money we should also have power. In fact, I’m really not sure how you’d do it.

  77. Look, there’s a very simple solution to this conundrum of presiding. Just forget what inspired oracles have to say on the subject and defer to naturalism–to evolution.

    Gosh! Why do the brethren always have to muddle things up!

  78. Latter-day Guy says:

    I am coming to this conversation late. All I could think of while reading the comments is Nibley’s “Patriarchy and Matriarchy”. Good piece. I guess the way I’ve always read it (and can we really ignore all the Pauline stuff on this, nasty as it is?) is that SINCE the fall, the Patriarchal order is the system, but (and I think this is important) that we yearn and strive to get back to the pre-fall setup. I think we will one day (perhaps the millenium, as that is supposed to be an edenic existence). For me this includes women exercising the priesthood. (Yes Ray, I agree with what you said about this–sort of. But women still do not bless the sacrament or baptize. Yet.)

  79. Marisel- I’m in Bbell’s ward (well, for another week), and I’m not with him on this issue.

    Consider yourself one interview down.

    However, I don’t think he’s wrong about the point that most people in the church don’t have a “problem” with the family proc because I don’t think most people spend a lot of time thinking about it. If they do, I don’t know how they can’t see the logical hangup with the words preside and equality. No matter how you spin it, one of those words isn’t going to match its dictionary definition.

    In my world, preside just means “don’t be a lousy father and be an active part in your family”. Obviously, that isn’t really what preside means, but I can’t imagine anyone having too much of a problem with my definition (although it seems like it could run contrary to the whole providing concept. Often men that are lauded as great providers are failing with regards to this definition of preside)

  80. Stephanie says:

    I guess the way I’ve always read it (and can we really ignore all the Pauline stuff on this, nasty as it is?) is that SINCE the fall, the Patriarchal order is the system.

    It sounds to me like you’re saying that the husband presides because Eve ate the fruit making all women after her unable to be trusted with major decisions. But of course, we all know that “man will be punished for [his] own sins and not for Adam’s transgression,” so wouldn’t the same apply to women with regards to Eve’s so-called transgression. (However, I also tend to lean towards the idea that Eve had some understanding of the necessity of eating the fruit…)

    Oh, and regarding Paul:

    “5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
    6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a ashame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” (1 Cor 11)


    “11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
    12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. ” (1 Tim 2)

    So I think we can safely disregard at least some of what Paul said.

    Nobody is evil because they don’t have a testimony of a particular principle, whether that principle is tithing or that the father presides over the home.

    Just because my testimony of a certain principle is not the same as yours does not mean that it does not exist.

  81. Carol Connelly: Do you have any control over how creepy you allow yourself to get?
    Melvin Udall: Yes I do, as a matter of fact. And to prove it, I have not gotten personal, and you have.

    Yes, I obviously thought I saw something instructive in Udall’s unusually hyperbolic thinking. Of course it is not correct to so simply characterize differences between men and women — doesn’t do it justice at all. That would be an interesting and complex subject in itself.

    Then too, I see this with the understanding that Udall is a fictional character, a sort of composite caricature of someone manifesting psychiatric dysfunction. Udall is not a real person, neither is the thinking reflected in his fictional character an accurate portrayal of o-c disorder. His character is as exaggerated as his statement about how he writes women.

  82. I really see no need to make “preside” and “equal” mutually exclusive. There is a dictionary definition of “preside” that relates to a chairperson. A chairperson directs the group, speaks and organizes. A chairperson works at the agreement and voluntary deference of the group. A chairperson provides a tiller for the ship. It seems to me to be a no-brainer that this is the definition meant, since the very description of how to wield the priesthood includes the inarguable statement that exercising unrighteous dominion ends the priesthood (and therefore the presiding status) of a man. If one examines scripture as a whole, rather than picking apart one word or another, it is clear that the Lord intends no such state where the husband dominates the wife. If the state of presiding is done to control or overrule the wife, the state of presiding is automatically negated. A faithful, loving wife who honors her husband and trusts his righteousness will sometimes defer to his judgment, just as a husband who honors and trusts the righteousness of his wife will sometimes defer to hers. The model of the priesthood and of the family in the Proclamation on the Family is a way to organize righteously. It is a model to strive to attain, not a measuring stick to beat ourselves with.

    In addition, the word “equal” also has a definition that allows for differences (including the possibility of one presiding.) The word “equivalent” probably describes this concept better than the politically-charged word “equal.” Equivalent means that something is of equal value, importance or force, despite differences. It speaks to corresponding power and authority. Although women may possess the priesthood in the future, there is no need for women to possess the priesthood in order to be equivalent to men. They need only possess something that gives them corresponding power and authority. Therefore, rather than dissecting the Proclamation and criticizing that word or this phrase, picking and choosing what you are willing to accept or not as if it is some sort of spiritual buffet, sit back and enjoy the meal as a whole. See how the parts move together. Some parts of the dish may be more bitter, others will be sweeter, but they combine to form a delicious whole. It is impossible to discern the Lord’s meaning by examining one sentence and ignoring the next, rather one must search for meaning by studying each part as only a portion of the whole.

  83. As far as Paul’s words go, the words of modern-day prophets and revelation always supersede the words of another time. At the time Paul spoke, women were not usually educated in spiritual matters as they are now. It is obvious that women are not currently silenced in the Church. Truth is not something that looks the same no matter from what direction you view it. Truth does not change, but it’s application may seem to change from our perspective, especially in this mortal and imperfect world. You cannot divorce the words of a prophet to the people of God from the culture and state in which those people live. The Gospel cannot exist in a vacuum of culture. The things Christ said to one person were often different from the words said to another, depending on their spiritual place and what they needed to become more like God. Christ did not tell all people to give up their riches and follow Him, He only said that to the rich young man. He did not tell all people to leave their nets and follow Him, He only said that to His future apostles.

  84. But the priesthood doesn’t really automatically terminate after unrighteous dominion. They’re still right there, married to each other, and short of divorce there’s very little an unrighteously dominated wife can do about it. A man willing to exercise unrighteous dominion isn’t going to voluntarily renounce his priesthood because of it. This whole system is sexist and unfair, because the theory doesn’t work out in real life.

  85. Perhaps the reductionist approach is somewhat problematic in this context. The initial selection of one phrase in isolation from the rest of the Proclamation may detract from the obviously holistic intent of that instrument. As I read it, the Proclamation intends to advocate for a particular balance. All members of a family are included and to be considered as a unit. Regarding the individual pieces, particularly from a defensive or antagonistic perspective, probably distracts us enough from the original intent that the real message of the Proclamation is compromised.

    Men and women do not exist independent of each other. Rather, their different roles complement each other to create a relationship that works to satisfy the specific and individual needs of all its members.

  86. One of the considerations that generally seems to be neglected when we invoke “unrighteous dominion” is that it would seem to imply that “righteous dominion” is also a possibility.

    In fact, I would suggest that “righteous dominion” predominates in almost all cases, and “unrighteous dominion” is, for practical purposes, a temporary and transitory state. I suspect most of us wander into that territory from time to time. Thank God we have the opportunity to repent and correct our mistakes.

  87. Yay, I am celebrating my second Father’s Day this year! :)

    I wrote a post on my family blog about it. Being a father is truly a rewarding experience and I hope all men out there who either are or will become fathers know how valuable and how rewarding it is to be there for your children, regardless of whether you father them in wedlock or out.

  88. there’s very little an unrighteously dominated wife can do about it.

    That is the sort of victimized thought pattern that leads to the prevalence of rape and epitomizes the “benign sexism” that has been previously discussed. This is one half of where any possible sexism in the Proclamation comes into being. It is not in the Proclamation, but in individuals’ insistence on focusing on one half of the balance. To say that the marriage and priesthood are still in force, regardless of the righteousness of the man is just simply not true. The priesthood leads only by righteousness and the consent of the righteous. Hence the origin of the name of this blog. My point is that the man doesn’t have to “voluntarily renounce” his priesthood. He does it automatically by his behavior. Though the priesthood can be conferred upon someone, it LITERALLY cannot be wielded except through righteousness. There is no right to preside where the one presiding exercises domination. That concept is not new in Christianity. In fact, it was this concept that framed Christ’s life. It is this concept that underlies the Atonement. It is this concept that conquers pride. It is this concept the entire structure of the priesthood and the Church tries to teach us.

    (Sorry if I sound overly passionate. This is a concept I strongly believe and feel is the basis of faith in God and membership in His church. I don’t understand how someone could be content to be a member without understanding this.)

  89. #84 – z, Yes, it can. Unfortunately, it’s usually the man who keeps it from happening. Hence, the admonition to men to fulfill their familial responsibilities in love and righteousness.

    #85 – Jim, Amen. Isolated analysis causes all kinds of issues, both by focusing on an individual sentence or phrase and by taking something written to a broad audience and analyzing it relative only to a more narrow audience.

    #87 – Dan, Well said. My only real frustration with this thread is that I have read a lot of “how this applies to me” but very little “how this applies to the world at large” – to individuals and populations that aren’t even trying to honor a minimum standard of parenthood. It is one thing to dissect something from a standpoint of “I want to live a higher standard than this;” it is another thing entirely to realize that there are many, many, many people in the target audience (“the world”) who would be making MAJOR progress if they simply tried to live the standard as published. Temple recommend holders, in particular, should listen to and try to follow the further light and knowledge given in other pronouncements, but non-temple recommend holders first need to follow the basics articulated in the Proclamation – which, in the excerpt in question, is a pretty high standard compared to what is practiced my millions and millions of people in this world.

  90. But SilverRain, what is a woman to do when faced with unrighteous dominion? These principles aren’t self-enforcing. And don’t just say she should pray– if that were a reliable solution the world would be a very different place. Should she get a divorce? We have structured our society to give women almost no feasible real-life solutions, and it isn’t fair.

    Thanks for blaming rape on women, that’s really compassionate of you. I guess my victim attitude just magically turns men into rapists. They can’t be expected to control themselves, after all.

  91. SilverRain, Although I agree that there is a cult of victimhood that robs people (men and women) of a full and empowering understanding of agency, I agree with z’s anger over your statement that appears to blame rape victims for the “prevalence of rape”. Remove that statement, and I only have minor problems with a few things you said; include the statement, and I understand completely why so many people have a hard time separating what the Proclamation actually says about issues like dominion and control and sexual/gender-based relationships. That statement truly was HIGHLY offensive to me, as well.

    z, I will let SilverRain answer, but, FWIW, my response to your unrighteous dominion question is that she should turn to people she trusts and carefully consider their advice and counsel. Hopefully, their input will be helpful. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is not. Ultimately, she needs to be able to leave if that is the only or best option available, but the exact decision should be based on the exact nature of the unrighteous dominion. SilverRain is correct in one aspect, at least. In the vast majority of cases she must not say, “There is nothing I can do.”

    Just as with extreme child abuse, I know of situations where I would support “intervention” removal of an adult by close friends and family – where a woman has been reduced by extreme measures to a true inability to act on her own, but I would have to know the circumstances unequivocally and of myself before I would feel comfortable encouraging such a radical action.

  92. This is such an old, worn-out subject–I can hardly stand it.

    Let’s use the Bishop as a model. The members of the ward sustain him as their spiritual leader. This implies an agreement between the two–that they accept him as a presiding authority. As such, he is positioned by the very individuals over whom he presides to do just that: preside. In this sense, there is a balance of “power” so to speak. (And, sadly, I think many are overly concerned with power. As has been mentioned above, there is no real priesthood power when it is abused–and on the other side of the coin, there is no possible way to get one’s hands on it merely for the wanting.) And this brings me to the next point: The calling of a Bishop is not sought! And so, if we can extract any kind of analog from this, it would be that a father is positioned by his family–the wife, primarily–to preside and that he never seeks that position.

  93. I should add that the model in my previous comment only makes sense if both parties are committed to helping eachother on the bumpy road back to God.

  94. But the priesthood doesn’t really automatically terminate after unrighteous dominion. They’re still right there, married to each other, and short of divorce there’s very little an unrighteously dominated wife can do about it.

    I think you’re mixing up two issues here. On the one hand you have what amounts more or less to spousal abuse. On the other hand you have the religious obligation of the wife to allow her husband to preside over the family.

    In the event of unrighteous dominion I would argue that the obligation goes away and we are just left with an abusive relationship. In other words, in the event of unrighteous dominion a woman is no longer under any religious obligation to allow her husband to preside (Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man). At that point it’s up to her to take the reins, take control of her life, etc. The same advice you’d give to any woman with an abusive controlling husband would apply here.

  95. And the point I’m trying to make is that our social structure, in which women have very little earning power and divorce is stigmatized, makes it extremely difficult for women to leave, and because of that, is deeply unjust.

  96. z,

    Yet woman can leave if they choose to do so, or they can seek marital help. There is no guarantee that any of our choices will be easy, nor is there a guarantee that the consequences of our choices will be easy (keep in mind that she chose to marry the loser in the first place).

    Is it just me or does it appear that the structures that God places on earth often seem Utilitarian in nature. My point is that marriage has on the whole a stabilizing, positive influence on society. But it also can result in negative situations such as we’re discussing here. Yet all in all the aggregate affect on humans is good.

  97. z, I agree with you completely about the unjustness of the system in many instances, but I disagree that discrepancies in earning power and divorce stigma are the primary causes of the injustice. Do they contribute? Of course, in many instances. Are the root causes? I don’t think so, particularly because many of us commenting here have unequal earning power and view divorce with caution and a bit of a stigma – but we have created remarkably equal and fulfilling marriages.

    I have connections in areas where the average woman has extreme power over her finances – because there is no stigmatization of divorce and unwed pregnancy and wanton immorality and shirking of fatherly duties ad infinitum and, therefore, no father in the picture. You could argue that the State has replaced the father in these situations, and I wouldn’t argue with you, but such a situation is caused (at least in part) by the LACK of stigma attached to divorce and not providing for and protecting family.

    IMO, the balance is NOT in eliminating the stigma, but rather in internalizing a commitment to love and serve and nurture and provide and protect in BOTH men and women – by teaching equality of the sexes in such a way that each man and woman values and serves the other – and, in the areas of “the world” in which I deal, focusing this “conversion” effort on the men. That is exactly what the Proclamation does for “the world” – while perhaps not fully for the Church.

  98. No, no, no, no. The flaw is in the system itself, not the execution. That is to say, even if men behaved perfectly, a system that makes women’s economic well-being contingent on their marriages, while men’s economic well-being is not, is per se unfair. And it’s unrealistic to say men should just behave better. We may wax poetic about some pretty little world in which marriages are equal, but in the real world, women are suffering disproportionately and only an increase in their economic power will solve the problem. Men aren’t going to wake up one morning and renounce their power over women.

    Aluwid, the point I’m trying to make is that it’s much easier for the man to leave than for the woman to leave, because the man usually has higher earning potential and isn’t saddled with all the church’s ‘motherhood’ baggage. That’s unfair in itself, and it skews the balance of power in the marriage.

  99. John Williams says:


    Be grateful for the advances that women have made in the last 100 years. Today women have a lot of career opportunities.

  100. John Williams says:


    The odds-on favorite to win the presidency in 2008 is a woman. That’s pretty remarkable.

  101. Yeah, let’s put on a happy face and forget about the big, unfair picture. The bottom line is that women have less economic and political power than men. Sure, times have changed, but we’re a long way from equality. I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

  102. John Williams says:

    From 1978 until 1991 Hillary Clinton made more money than Bill Clinton did. Women can make money in 2007.

  103. z, then, in all seriousness, 1) How would you change the system in concrete ways that will work? 2) Are those of us who have wonderful marriages with unequal earning potential contributing to a corrupt and oppressive system? 3) Is a woman who truly experiences joy staying home and being a full-time mother of 6 children delusional and contributing to the oppression of women, simply because her husband has a job that pays enough for her to do so? 4) Must that woman give up her joy and enter the work force – in a position that perfectly matches her husband’s earning potential, no matter what her husband’s potential is, in order to create a 50/50 split in earnings? 5) Are you saying that a woman should ONLY marry a man whose earning potential matches her own – whether high, medium or low?

    If you can answer the first question (and the implications of the fourth question) with suggestions that have a snowball’s chance in Hell of being implemented, I will be impressed. If you answer the second, third and fifth questions with “Yes”, I will be deeply disturbed.

  104. 1. Social security credit for stay-home parents. It’s ridiculous that they, unlike all other workers, don’t get this. Church support of more SAHP-favorable prenups and divorce agreements, to more evenly share the financial consequences of divorce. More equitable divorce law. More family leave for everyone, so parents can more easily be employed. Less church emphasis on men ‘presiding’ i.e. having authority, because it’s so susceptible to abuse, and more on men making professional sacrifices for the sake of gender equality. Universal health care so that the employed parent’s job is less important and parents can more easily trade roles without losing employer-provided health insurance. On an individual level, a simple pre-nup would solve a lot of these problems by ensuring that the economic consequences of divorce are fair, accounting for the stay-home spouse’s sacrifice of earning potential.

    2. Yes. You’re reinforcing the norm of gender-disparate economic power. I’m not saying the marriage shouldn’t happen– these ideas don’t have to run our entire lives– but those marriages are perpetuating an unfair norm and we ought to call a spade a spade. P.S. maybe she’s just telling you the marriage is wonderful because if the marriage doesn’t work, she’ll be in poverty. See comment #55.

    3. See 2. Do what you want, but don’t pretend you’re not reinforcing a norm of inequality. Each individual marriage may not be a big social problem, but in the aggregate, a huge imbalance in economic and political power adds up to an unjust society.

    4. See 3.

    5. See 3.

  105. John Williams says:


    How about we have a free market and everyone gets paid according to what they produce, regardless of whether they are male or female?

  106. Then we obviously disagree and are talking past each other. Your P.S. to my #2 is one of the most blindly offensive and stereotypical comments I have ever read – and is incredibly condescending to my amazingly intelligent wife. For someone who speaks for gender equality, I am appalled by that P.S. FAR more than anything else you have written.

    Let’s converse about other things where we have a chance of learning from each other, because I am done butting heads.

  107. Sure, whatever, you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. But I don’t think we can deny that earning disparities can skew a marriage and create incentives for manipulation. It’s a standard feminist critique, and I don’t think it’s offensive to suggest that your marriage isn’t immune. Why should you, among all people, have a wife who’s perfectly honest with you about these things? It’s extraordinarily improbable. If you’ve got a real counterargument I’d be glad to hear it. Or you can be indignant, whatever you want.

  108. On an individual level, a simple pre-nup would solve a lot of these problems by ensuring that the economic consequences of divorce are fair, accounting for the stay-home spouse’s sacrifice of earning potential.

    Then use one. Can I suggest the Massey Pre-nup?

  109. Is this the Friday Firestorm you wanted Steve? It seems like more of a Friday Tempest-in-a-teacup with a Saturday Threadjack courtesy of z.

  110. To close this argument: I’ve given you my counterargument (my marriage), but you rejected it out of hand without even considering it and asked for a different one. I won’t play this game with rules you create on your own. Remember, I actually agreed with much of what you said initially – just not with the radical extreme to which you applied it and the blind and bitter condemnation of my marriage and thousands of others that truly are happy, equal, glorious examples of how two people really can become one. I’m deeply sorry that you can’t accept that, and I don’t care how condescending that might sound, because I really mean it.

    Now I really am done.

  111. Ok, bye. It’s been nice chatting. To clarify, if you’re still reading, my point is that you have no way of knowing how your wife really feels about your marriage, because the economics are such that she has good reason not to tell you. Maybe it’s a happy marriage, maybe it’s not, but why do you think you can tell the difference? One marriage isn’t a counterargument, it’s an anecdote.

  112. One more thought — unrighteous dominion. It is not just a man’s territory. Anyone can tread there.

    In the church there is a peculiar tendency to become blind to this, perhaps because the scriptures make such a dramatic point in condemning the problem as manifested in the ranks of priesthood. For priesthood-holding men, unrighteous dominion has certain unpleasant implications that do not affect non-priesthood-holders. But abuse of authority is an egregious sin, in any case — whether the offender be a man or a woman.

    I further extend my previous comments about “dominion” in general. Under the guiding principles of the gospel, it is our prerogative to have dominion over our individual stewardships. This applies to men and women, fathers and mothers — and children, in a more limited sense. One of the challenges of mortality is to learn to administer our dominion according to righteous principles.

    Each of us has a unique assignment that constitutes our stewardship. This principle is taught in the parable of the talents. Dominion over our own stewardship is righteousness inasmuch as it is guided by gospel principles. It is a reflection of the eternal stewardship we look forward to, modeled after Heavenly Father’s eternal kingdoms.

  113. my point is that you have no way of knowing how your wife really feels about your marriage, because the economics are such that she has good reason not to tell you. Maybe it’s a happy marriage, maybe it’s not, but why do you think you can tell the difference?

    I’ve heard of faking orgasms, but faking a happy marriage? Even Meg Ryan isn’t that good of an actress.

  114. btw, my wife never fakes orgasms. How do I know? She works full-time, so she has no economic incentive to do so.

  115. John Williams says:

    MCQ, some things are best kept private. This is a Mormon-themed blog.

  116. Naismith says:

    Re 76

    I think it’s very hard to divorce ourselves from the habit of either assuming an individual with money has power, or from assuming that if we provide money we should also have power. In fact, I’m really not sure how you’d do it.

    I think this is such an important point, and I wonder if anyone has ideas?

    I talked about this issue some with my husband in the context of the recent Crittenden book discussion on FMH (because that earning=power notion is one of the underpinnings of her thesis). My husband got very angry to think that men would do that kind of thing.

    But the problem with us telling anyone else how to abandon those assumptions is that we never made them in the first place, so I can’t tell you how to get from point A to point B.

    I can tell you that we have always expected that both of us would work hard. That’s a given. We would both contribute. The only difference is that at certain seasons, he would earn a paycheck and I did not.

    That’s one reason why I could never feel comfortable referring to myself as “not working” when I was not employed. I worked very hard in teaching children, household management, etc. Some months my job was just lying on the couch pregnant and puking. Other times, I kept a garden, picked and canned tomatoes, made cottage cheese, baked bread, sewed children’s clothes out of our old clothes, etc.

    I’ve also handled our money. Our mortgage had to have me as the first listed owner, because it was a VA loan, and I am the veteran. When it comes to a new investment, I do the research and pitch it to my husband and get his consensus before actually making the purchase. All assets are in both of our names. Managing our portfolio is a big job nowadays that our home is paid off (and we can’t move because of family issues) because we have a fair bit of money to invest every year (a burden I never dreamed we’d have during our struggling grad student days). And he very much appreciates the job I have done.

    When my husband got a raise or performance bonus, he would always say, “Half of it is yours.”

    Every kudo and award at work he gets, he thanks me for making it possible.

    We’ve generally had a limit of how much we could spend without consulting the other person. That limit applied to both of us. In the early years it was $5, for many years it was $20. And he was genuinely apologetic when he bought a new tent on sale for $150, and offered to return it if I didn’t like it (it was wonderful).

    He is very complimentary about how I spend time to save us money. For example, I usually plan the vacations, which takes a lot of time and effort (we do a 4-day MLK weekend trip, a week of spring break, about 2-3 weeks in summer, and some add-ons to his business travel).

    When I returned to the workforce and started earning a salary, my earnings were also part of the family resources. They weren’t “my money.” It was just more of “our money,” allocated with the same rules as when all the money was earned by him.

    So money does not equal power around our house. Money is a tool we use together, to make our shared dreams a reality.

  117. I think it is instructive to compare phrases like

    “…reinforcing the norm of gender-disparate economic power”


    “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

    If I were to make it the subject of intensive study, which one of the philosophical approaches these statements epitomize would seem likely to yield the most productive result — e.g. happiness, fairness, propsperity.

  118. Maria Victoria says:

    John Williams,

    are you trying to reinforce the notion that Mormons are prudes? There is nothing shameful about sex. :)

  119. John Williams says:

    Maria Victoria,

    I do feel it’s proper to exhibit a certain level of refinement in public forums.

  120. I never comment on these blogs, but I heard about z’s comments and had to add my two cents’ worth.

    I have chosen to stay home when I have worked outside the home in the past. That was my choice, and it had nothing to do with any insistence by my husband. To imply that I can’t be honest with my husband because he brings home the money right now is crazy. To suggest otherwise without knowing anything about me, and other women like me, is egotistical and small-minded.

    z’s comments showed a level of intolerance for me and those like me that is sad. If she insists on limiting a woman’s decision to marry a man based solely on their economic compatibility, she does a terrible disservice to women and men. If men should not be able to dictate to women in their relationships, then why should she be allowed to do that to other women by placing purely economic constraints on whom they marry? Talk about being hypocritical!

    Economics does not make me pretend to be happy. I’m happy because I am married to my best friend and have wonderful children whom I love with all my heart. Why does it have to be more complicated than that?

  121. John: If you consider sex to be unrefined, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

  122. I consider all arts to be refined … never mind.

  123. John Williams says:

    MCQ, (122), that is a crass comment, if I may be permitted to say so.

  124. John Williams says:

    Ray, (123), may I remind you that this is an Latter-day Saint blog?

  125. John: Permission denied.

  126. Thanks for blaming rape on women, that’s really compassionate of you.

    Although I can see how you misconstrued what I said to be “blaming rape on women,” what referred to was the thoughts that went through a rapist’s head, namely that the woman shouldn’t and can’t fight back.

    As for the things you mention, z, in the “stigma of divorce” and the inequality in a marriage partnership that puts the sole earning power in the hands of the male, I really don’t see how the government or the world does what you say in any appreciable sense. It’s hard for me to address it, because these observations are so far from mine. In addition, economic power is not the same as priesthood power. You are discussing two separate (though potentially related) things.

    I think that stay-at-homes do get social security through their spouses. You can’t expect that someone who pays no social security will get credit for it. That’s untenable. I think you have two main problems – equating earning power with value and equating equality with sameness. People can be equal but different. Why is this so often confused?

    All of my other points have already been beautifully stated. (Thanks to all of you, especially mi.)

  127. I won’t be graphic, but providing for my wife and perfecting an art are not mutually exclusive. I have a hard time treating sex as a taboo subject, at least if it is discussed in a reasonable and thoughtful way.

    (I tried to say that last part with a straight face, given the comments that caused this particular threadjack, but I just can’t help but laugh. FWIW, my wife loved the “faking a happy marriage” comment, MCQ.)

  128. John Williams says:

    Gee, Ray, thanks for sharing. Let’s try to elevate our dialogue here. This is not junior high.

  129. John, I have not treated this like junior high. I was serious when I said that I have a hard time with making sex a taboo topic – as long as it can be handled without getting graphic and does not devolve into sophomoric comments.

    MCQ’s comment that sparked this threadjack actually was relevant to the discussion at the time – namely, the charge that a husband can’t trust what his wife says if she isn’t contributing half of the family income. Perhaps it was a bit over-the-top to some, but I thought it was appropriate in the context.

    Frankly, I honestly don’t know why a “Mormon-themed” blog should be devoid of sexual references. We reject the central Catholic theology that preaches rejection of the body and its attendant desires as evil, so why should we promulgate its effects?

    Also, I meant the first sentence in #128. I have no problem with discontinuing this threadjack, since it certainly is an obvious threadjack, but I sincerely don’t know what is wrong with the content of my comment. If it offended your sense of propriety, I sincerely do apologize, but it certainly was less direct than many I have read in this type of forum.

    MCQ, would you like to call it quits on this one?

  130. SilverRain, social security through one’s spouse is not as much money as an employed person would receive. And it’s perfectly tenable to suggest that SAHPs receive social security credit. Payments in their name would be made from the general fund. SAHPs might not be making payments, but they are certainly working, and are just as deserving of the government’s share of social security contributions as any other worker. I’m disappointed that you would dismiss this simple way of recognizing that being a SAHP is as worthwhile as any other occupation.

    Mi, I’m not suggesting that anyone do anything they really don’t want to do. I am suggesting that our behavior contributes to norms which, in the aggregate, are important determinants of our society as a whole, and that people take responsibility for their choices in that regard. Maybe you wanted to stay home, fine, and maybe you don’t feel disempowered, fine, but the fact of the matter is that staying home reduces one’s earning capacity, and for that reason it’s much easier for a man to leave a marriage. That disparity is likely to affect the marriage. Again, see #55. And your choice to stay home contributes to our current situation in which women overall are less economically powerful. Maybe you should give some thought to what would happen if you were divorced or widowed. It probably wouldn’t be pretty, economically. The fact is, in most cases a SAHP’s economic security depends on the success of the marriage, and a working parent’s does not. That’s per se unfair.

  131. John Williams says:

    Ray, I’m all for keeping dialogue elevated, but my comments were also tongue-in-cheek.

  132. John, that’s where a well-placed :-) comes in handy. :-)

  133. John: Are you sure? You sound a lot like someone in junior high to me.

  134. Good night, everyone. I have early morning meetings tomorrow (later today, actually) and need as much beauty sleep as I can get – so my wife won’t divorce me and prove just how wrong some of the comments in this thread are.

    (Sorry; I said I was done. Sometimes I’m not very mature, and my knuckle-dragging nature gets the best of me.)

    This certainly has not been a boring day.

  135. Sorry, John, but I was hoping your comments were meant to be funny and it appeared they were serious. Your humor is apparently too subtle for me to catch on to. My apologies.

    Night Ray, say hi to Mrs Ray.

  136. z:

    social security through one’s spouse is not as much money as an employed person would receive. And it’s perfectly tenable to suggest that SAHPs receive social security credit. Payments in their name would be made from the general fund.

    Tenable, maybe; financially feasible, no. SS is already in trouble without adding new
    eligibility for people not paying into the system.

  137. z:

    The fact is, in most cases a SAHP’s economic security depends on the success of the marriage, and a working parent’s does not. That’s per se unfair.

    Ok, but if so, it seems like an unfairness that is already addressed in a number of ways by the divorce laws. If the husband is professionally successful, he is required by most states to provide for his wife through alimony in a manner that keeps her at the financial level she has come to enjoy during the marriage. This is true even if she is the one who wants the divorce and he does not. This is true even if she has committed adultery and he has not. It is also true that in many cases the husband will be reduced to seeing his children every other weekend and one weeknight per week. Even if he never wanted to be divorced, and even if the wife has committed adultery. Unfairness in the system? There’s plenty to go around.

  138. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ (#110), yeah, it’s about what I had imagined, although I was hoping there’d be more analysis like Eve’s.

    Darrell at Trash Calls was worth it all, though. Darrell — big fan, love your work.

  139. Steve Evans says:

    and your comment 115 — awesome.

  140. you have no way of knowing how your wife really feels about your marriage, because the economics are such that she has good reason not to tell you.

    I’m envisioning a scenario in which the unhappy wife with low earning potential tells her heretofore-perfectly-happy husband that she isn’t feeling so happy in the marriage, and his response is to leave her for someone who appreciates his earning capacity. In other words, the woman is married to a psychopath. Maybe that’s the root cause of all this injustice.

    But hey, as long as everybody’s acting happy, that’s almost as good as actually being happy.

  141. Steve,

    Honestly, I think the “preside” is essentially a way to keep dad connected to the family.

    Look at the essential biology here.

    Mom births the child. She’s already biologically hardwired to care about the infant. She’s equipped to nurse it. She has the instinctive drive to raise and care for this child.

    About all dad gets biologically is (possibly) pheromones released by the infant preventing him from killing it (I kid you not, scientists a couple years back were actually studying this – and it happens among animals all the time).

    Exactly what is the incentive for dad to stick around?

    Exactly what is dad’s natural connection to this family?

    Why exactly does he have to care about these kids?

    Hate to break it to ya, but the natural status-quo for the human male is NOT beating his children into submission and taking away his wife’s spending money.

    The status quo for a biological human male is to wander off, abandon the family and go have sex with a different woman.

    Oh… Wait a sec… that kind of describes today… doesn’t it?

    Well what did you expect with the whole gender equality movement anyway?

    Not saying the movement wasn’t needed, but it did essentially take away one of the only incentives guys had to even care about their families – their sense of patriarchal obligation.

    “Oh, your working now honey? Good to know you aren’t depending on me anymore. Think I’ll ignore the family now, go play my X-Box and only emerge to go drinking with my buddies and hope we can meet some hot chicks.”

    Freedom always, always, ALWAYS comes at the expense of human relationships.

    You’d think we’d have figured that out by now.

  142. And absolute equality will ALWAYS disadvantage the women more than the men.

    You see non-Mormon secularist guys complaining about gender equality?

    Heck no! They’re having a wonderful time free from “the ole ball and chain.” No obligations, no responsibilities, kind of like a never-ending episode of “The Man Show.”

  143. That’s just sad. Essentially your argument is that men are such weak, unprincipled creatures that they must be bribed with power just to get them to treat their own families with basic decency– no better than animals. Feminists are the ones asking men to live up to a higher standard. But I guess you don’t have as high an opinion of men as feminists do.

  144. No z,

    We’re both talking about the natural man.

    I’m just talking about a different side of him than you are. One side beats his wife. The other side abandons her.

    And don’t act like the feminist movement has been all that concerned about men. As a whole, they haven’t. As the name implies, the movement has been primarily focused on women and women’s needs. The side that is concerned with men has always been present (lots of the fMh-ers fit the bill), but has largely been drowned out by moronic cries of “you go girl!”

    Assuming gender is an essential characteristic of eternal life, why do we need a “God” in the first place?

    Why not just have a Heavenly Mother? What is Father’s role?

  145. By the way, I’m just talking about the biology involved here. I haven’t even argued how sainthood alters the “natural” equation.

    I would imagine just as the act of sex can be transformed from a crude biological need, into a symbol of a couple’s exalted love for each other, so too can the unfair biological state of woman’s need for support and a man’s need for power be transformed into something approaching godhood.

  146. I’m not a Mormon, so I really can’t help you there.

  147. No kidding z? I would never have guessed.

  148. Seth, the only problem with your thesis is that we have always had freedom. The equality movement didn’t give us any more. If your wife working threatens your manhood that badly you have a lot bigger issues than “the natural man” can explain.

  149. I should have added the following long ago, as it appears as the second sentence after the one that Steve posted originally:

    “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

  150. Sorry; that means the woman is obligated to help the father preside, provide and protect, and the father is obligated to help the mother nurture. Kind of sheds light on the discussion, don’t you think?

    I draw an analogy to education. A district’s Curriculum Director and the Technology Director have separate “primary” responsibilities, but, in an ideal situation, they help one another as equal partners when it comes to reaching actual instructional technology purchase decisions. The Curriculum Director might be the “presiding authority,” but that does not have to create an unequal relationship. They can and should help one another as equal partners.

  151. MCQ, if you’re just talking about philisophical freedom, rather than freedoms people actually care about and experience, yeah… we always have had the same amount of freedom.

    Ray, sure it sheds some light. As does D&C 121. I’m just trying to get a handle on why there is even a distinction between gender roles within the Gospel in the first place.

  152. Steve Evans says:

    Ray, that’s an important addition in your #150. Your #151, however doesn’t quite cut it. A woman is not “presiding” over anything in a marriage per the Proclamation. That word is simply not used in her regard. And so, no, I don’t think the concept of a woman as a nurturer sheds light on this discussion, except to take a reductive view that women are natural nuturers.

  153. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Freedom always, always, ALWAYS comes at the expense of human relationships.”

    Huhhhh? Please elaborate.

  154. Mike is getting at what I was concerned about too, Seth. That statement needs some explanation. Otherwise, it sounds like you’re saying that good relationships between spouses require the woman to be in some sort of bondage in order for the man to feel fulfilled. Please tell me that’s not what you’re saying.

  155. Steve, If you look at the entire section as one statement, it is clear that, while there are “primary responsibilities” assigned to each partner, and the one given to the man is to “preside”, these primary responsibilities are to be shared (“help one another”) as equal partners. I know my analogy is a bit flawed, but I like it.

    I have worked in education for a long time. Districts that are failing in their effort to teach today’s children almost universally have at least one thing in common: their curriculum and technology departments operate separately, with the curriculum departments generally playing the condescending “I handle (preside over) the instruction, you just take care of (nurture) the equipment” card. They fail because they can’t work together as true equals. Those districts that succeed in teaching their children almost universally have at least one thing in common: their curriculum and technology departments cooperate as true equals, never making an instructional technology decision without a consensus between those who preside over the instruction and those who nurture the equipment.

    In a marriage as described in the Proclamation, the father might have the preside designation, but two sentences later he is told to do so in equal partnership with his wife. He also is told to act as an equal partner with his wife in her primary role as the nurturer. They are given distinct areas of focus, then, immediately following that delineation, they are told to erase those differences and work together in those areas as equal partners. We struggle to make sense of this, because it simply is not natural.

    Steve, I don’t know how to say this more gently, but my wife knows what it feels like to preside in our marriage because, although I have the primary responsibility of presiding, she sits right next to me and presides with me – and I stand with her as we nurture together. We truly do share in this; we truly do preside as one. We aren’t perfect in it by any stretch, but we are doing it despite our imperfect abilities. It’s something I have to face every single day, because it goes against my natural inclinations – but it is easier for me today than it was 20 years ago when I first struggled to understand it.

    I read the Proclamation as a command to do what is peculiar and extremely difficult without such direct admonition. It’s hard enough to do even with that admonition, much less without it.

  156. Sure.

    For a relationship to function, any relationship, be it a ward, a town, a family, or even just an informal friendship, needs rules (either written or unwritten) to function. Otherwise, the differing parties have no basis for common interaction.

    But these parameters of the relationship inherently always involve sacrificing some portion of the individual’s freedom of action.

    If I want to join a game of pickup soccer, I am free to do so. But I must agree to abide by the rules of the game. I cannot simply grab the ball and climb a tree. In order to play the game, I have agreed to limit my own actions in accordance with the expectations of the group.

    That’s an easy example, but families and marriages are essentially the same. Each individual gives up some freedoms in order to be a part of the group. For instance, a husband, when he marries a woman (or another man – nod to Mike) agrees that he isn’t going to romantically pursue other women. Each couple commits to each other. This, inherently reduces their options and their freedom.

    Obviously, the trade-off isn’t always bad. But it is constantly being made in society. Striking a balance is, of course, important.

    But we MUST accept the fact that, as our freedoms increase, so too will our isolation from our fellow human beings. Incidentally, that’s why they call it “independence.” But it has its definite trade-offs.

    “You see, loneliness is the price we pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence and our own egotistical selves.”

    — Natsume Soseki, Kokoro, 1914

  157. MCQ,

    I would add that the man puts himself in a sort of bondage to the woman as well. But I think that’s an ugly word to use and doesn’t really describe the Mormon ideal of family life.

  158. I guess I see what you are getting at now. As long as the bondage (or commitment, if you prefer) is mutual, I have no problem with what you are saying. I didn’t detect that mutuality in your previous comment. Thanks for clarifying.

  159. anonymous says:

    Here’s a link to a great old article on ZD’s about presiding.

    Twisty wrote a post on marriage as the bedrock of the patriarchy. Note: in Twisty’s world, patriarchy=bad. Maybe some profanity. Twisty is about as radical as they come, and an amazing writer. I’ve almost left my husband a couple of times after reading her stuff. :)

  160. MCQ,

    I know my first post was pretty bleak. That’s because I was just trying to point out some realities of our fallen world, and that marriage has actually historically benefited the women more than the men. As much as men may have historically abused the institution of marriage, I think things would have been far worse for our sisters without it.

    I’m still waiting for someone to tell what exactly, the point of having a God is without this concept of presiding. Why not just have a Goddess instead? What is the eternal point of the male?

  161. Seth, I thought that was a retorical question. If you want a serious answer to that set of imponderables you may have to wait until morning.

  162. I think the “preside” is essentially a way to keep dad connected to the family.

    I hear this argument a lot, but I’m not convinced. It seems to posit that the only (or at least the best) way to entice a man into being involved with his family is to bribe him with the offer of patriarchal power. But if this model were accurate, wouldn’t we expect that the families which were most patriarchal, in which traditional gender roles were strictly observed and the father was clearly the one in charge, would be the ones in which the father was also the most closely involved in the family? This is only impressionistic, but in my experience, the men who are the most insistent on their traditional patriarchal role aren’t necessarily been the ones who are the most involved with their families. I’d be interested to hear from the men here, but as far as I can tell, the men I know who are in fact closely connected to their families aren’t really all that motivated by the carrot of getting the presiding role, and I have a hard time believing that if the “preside” language were to disappear, they would as a result abandon their families for greener pastures. So even setting aside the problematic ethics involved in subordinating women in order to entice men to be engaged and stick around, I have to wonder to what extent the incentive actually works.

    About all dad gets biologically is (possibly) pheromones released by the infant preventing him from killing it

    Actually, there’s some interesting research which suggests that that men might change physiologically in a variety of ways as a result of fatherhood (see here).

  163. I don’t share any grave concerns about catering to the lunatic fringe on either side of the “iron rod”.

    Innovative contemporary sociological theories modeling marriage relationships are all just nicey-nice. Gay and lesbian stuff is, well, enticing, I suppose, for a select minority. But the majority — more than 95% of us, I would guess — will be best served by striving for obedience to the correct principles outlined in the Proclamation. There’s no reason to experiment with any of these distasteful distractions or perversions from the “divine design”.

    And, I presume for those who find themselves outside of the ideal — if you’re like a happy pig, pleased to be wallowing in mire, well and good for you. If and when you come to realize how you have been mislead and cheated, and can see how far off the path you have strayed, please make an effort to repent and seek forgiveness, and set your steps to return to the true church.

    Prodigal sons, as ever, will be welcomed back to the fold.

  164. Well and good for you as well, Cobabe.

  165. I have to wonder to what extent the incentive actually works.

    The “incentive” of presiding is no incentive at all in my opinion. If men aren’t motivated to be with their families simply out of love, then no amount of presiding authority is going to do the job.

    if you’re like a happy pig, pleased to be wallowing in mire, well and good for you.

    So, anyone who strays from the “ideal” is a pig, Jim? What a wonderful sentiment. All us prodigals are bound to come back and join you now. How could we resist hanging out with such a wonderful person as you clearly are?

  166. Wow, Jim.

    There is so much potential for uplifting discussion about the Proclamation and the section from which Steve quoted. It’s one of the least well lived admonitions (especially the “share as equal partners” aspect) and, IMHO,one of the most important – even in “alternative” relationships. I’m more than a bit sad that we now are at the name calling level.

  167. “Prodigal sons, as ever, will be welcomed back to the fold,” he says, as he reloads.

    Any fold that needs that kind of protection from the sheep is one I’m not particularly interested in visiting.

    Perhaps I’m a goat.

  168. Thomas Parkin says:

    Much to say but little time.

    On the apparent contradiction between equality and presiding: As I see it, the example of presiding is actually God Himself. The way He presides is to lift everyone, man and woman, until they are His equal. Obviously a man and woman both have an equal responsibility to do this for one another – and for their children. But, apparently, the husband has the “primary” responsibility for “providing” an environment where lifting is most possible. Whereas the woman has a “primary” responsibility to do “lifting” (“nurturing”) within that environment. Part of lifting a wife is doing everything possible to see that everything good in her nature is reaching towards fulfillment. So that someone “presiding” in a true sense will work as a partner with her to see that her needs, hopes, talents, etc. all find an avenue of expression, so that her life can be as joyful as possible. What less would any true friend do?

    Anyone who thinks that to preside means to have a _final say_, to have any authority to act in a dictatorial way, at all, hasn’t understood. We are assured that the moment one acts in a dictatorial fashion, the source of authority ceases to function. “Amen to the Priesthood … of that man.”(sec 121)

    So the question is: why have someone presiding at all? Why not just jettison that language. It seems to me that one of the prejudices most commonly held by ‘progressive’ people is that no equality can exist where any _distinction_ is made. I’ve heard in all seriousness this taken so far, by people who I know to have good minds, that one cannot “discriminate” between the life of an ant and the life of a dolphin. There becomes a kind of, from where I am, mania against heirarchy of any kind, finally against leadsership of any kind.

  169. Thomas Parkin says:

    Didn’t mean to send … danged rented laptop. I probably would have deleted some of that.

    I think we confuse, in fact totally reverse, the position of a leader, when we think of the leader as “the boss.” I also think that we have always had a strong tendancy to project our own telestial rules on to heavenly relationships. So that when men generally dominated women, that same relation was projected on to Heavenly Father. We, of course, see a more equal relation there. But we may not even begin to see just how equal that relation is,- without, at all, jettisoning the idea that gender plays an eternal role. We may be as straight-jacketed in our own timely sentiments as they were in times we now consider backward. How that relation is: Jospeh says we would know more by looking into heaven for five minutes than by reading all the blog posts ever written on it.

    Men are set “at the head”, but in that he inherits a position of service and sacrifice beyond what is required of any one else in the family. He is in fact to “give his life.” While that is ultimately required of everyone, for the father that responsibility come sooner.

    At least this is how I see it today.


  170. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 164

    Was I just called to repentance??

    Unfortunately, Jim, today I’m preoccupied with avoiding the eternal flames over which the Baptists have us ALL poised. Therefore I must back-burner your entreaty until further notice. The threat of telestial glory ranks low on the list of problematic afterlives available for consideration.

    Is that fresh mire I smell??? Gotta run!

  171. (131) z – For me, there is no “maybe you wanted to stay home” and no “maybe you don’t feel disempowered.” In my situation, I definitely WANT and CHOOSE to stay home with my children, and with that personal decision I feel NO loss of power in my marriage or my family. Others might; I do not. That is an honest personal assessment.

    “That [earnings] disparity is likely to affect the marriage.” I don’t deny the economic “disparity” in single income families… but why is there an assumption that it HAS to be a negative, HAS to be detrimental to a marriage? I do not see that in my marriage at all. Others have said that money is one of many vehicles used to work together to reach shared goals. Economic disparity does not equate to disparity in relationships, in my opinion and in my experience.

    You asked if I’ve given thought to what would happen economically if I were widowed or divorced. I agree that for me right now, it “wouldn’t be pretty economically.” Is it survivable and changeable? Yes. I am willing to continue to take responsibility for my current choices. I have weighed the risks and the blessings, and have chosen what works best for me and my family.

    I would not presume that what works best for me is what is best for everyone in every situation.

    “Your choice to stay home contributes to our current situation in which women overall are less economically powerful.” Please don’t put the weight of the world, the entire plight of economically disadvantaged women, at the feet of SAHP. There is so much more to it than us SAHP — and having every parent in the work force is not a magic potion that will fix it all, even if that would help close the economic gap between men and women. I’m sure you realize that, even though it wasn’t communicated in your statement.

    Thanks for your comments. They have given me cause for introspection and a renewed realization that what I am doing is what I want to be doing and what is best for me and my family in our current situation. :]

  172. Well, fine, put yourself and your children at risk if you like. I’m sure they’ll love being poor due to your undeveloped earning capacity if something happens to your husband. And even if nothing bad happens to you, it’s just not fair for you to be economically vulnerable in this way. We don’t ask men to bet their economic security on a marriage. You’re bearing more risk because you’re a woman. Why should it be this way? Why can’t the risk be shared between two supposedly equal partners?

  173. Z, that kind of attitude isn’t welcome here. You don’t need to be snitty to get your point across, and saying things like “well, fine, put yourself and your children at risk if you like” isn’t acceptable.

  174. z, you conveniently have ignored whether that supposed risk is not adequately managed by things like the divorce laws and life, disability, and health insurance. You act like you are the first person to think of these risks. That’s just not the case. Most people have insurance policies and other systemic mechanisms to manage such risks. How is that not solving the problem? Is earning capacity the only thing you care about? What about women who get advanced degrees and then choose to stay home? Don’t they have good earning capacity when and if they return to the workforce?

  175. Not to mention someone could say the same about the spiritual welfare of one’s children, should one decide to let other people raise them. That’s the problem with such comments, they are double-edged.

    Not to mention empty of reason and persuasion.

  176. Thomas Parkin says:

    I can assure z that if my wife, a commited pagan stay at home mom, died, it would quite undo every aspect of my life, including my economic situation.

    Maybe I should hedge my bets … a couple more wives might be just the thing!


  177. Kristine says:

    “What about women who get advanced degrees and then choose to stay home? Don’t they have good earning capacity when and if they return to the workforce?”

    I’ll answer that, from painful personal experience: No. Not if they haven’t kept at least a toe in the working world.

  178. Naismith says:

    “What about women who get advanced degrees and then choose to stay home? Don’t they have good earning capacity when and if they return to the workforce?”

    I’ll answer that, from painful personal experience: No. Not if they haven’t kept at least a toe in the working world.

    I have to qualify that with a “it depends.” I didn’t have any trouble either after my first break of four years or my second break of nine years, but I’m sure it depends on the field, one’s particular degree (I have an M.A.), the industries in one’s locale, etc.

    When I returned to the workforce after nine years, having done very little professional during that time, I had little trouble finding a job that put me at a salary where I would have been if I’d been in the workforce all that time (because for that particular job, they wanted someone with good triage and management skills, so they viewed my years at home as a line on my resume and not a “blank.”)

    But I live in a college town where my skills are in demand, and as it turned out the software system I had worked with at my previous (9 years earlier job) was cutting edge; it hadn’t come into wide acceptance until a few years after I left the workforce to have our last two children, and had only been abandoned less than a year before I returned to the workforce. So my skills didn’t appear to be as ancient as they felt in the first few months back.

    I guess I did do some freelance writing and taught a seminar and stuff during those years at home, but that was more like the tip of my pinkie, not even a full toe.

    When I was preparing for the first interview in my field, I got out the box with my old books, reports, etc. The first thing on top was a published review of a new text. I didn’t understand hardly a word of the article. And as it turned out, I HAD WRITTEN IT. So it does take some gearing up to get back into the swing of things.

    But I can’t imagine an RN or physical therapist not being able to find a good paying job as long as they have kept their certification/license. And I truly thing the organizational skills that make us good household managers are much valued in today’s workplace.

  179. Wow… Blogs never sleep! Amazing what happens when one leaves to take a child to urgent care. :]

    Thanks, Steve, for 174.

    This is turning into bickering, so this is my last comment.

    You don’t know me, my husband, my children, or my situation — you have no right to say what is or isn’t fair to me and my children.

    There are generalizations that can be made, but when it comes right down to it, there are also personalized exceptions in life that just don’t fit universal stereotypes — whether one likes it or not.

    You have preconceived notions, obviously based on your own experiences. (As do I.) Just because someone else has different experiences doesn’t mean that one is correct and the other wrong. What works for you, works for you. What works for me, works for me.

    You would be amazed at the changes in my perception of what it really means to be well-off and poor that I have personally experienced over the past several years.

    I know my children. They have friends who crave what they have. My children would choose their parents, even if that meant potential or actual poverty, over wealth with any other parents. And they would choose what we have right now over having a mom who worked outside the home.

    We are open and honest with each other in our family. We know there are sacrifices and also blessings, and that we work together for the ultimate good of our family — which includes FAR, FAR more than just economics.

    Speaking for me and my family, and no one else: for us personally, the blessings still outweigh the risks.

    You don’t have to agree with it; you don’t have to like it. But that is the truth for us. And since nobody else lives our lives in our actual situation, nobody else can say that it ISN’T true for us. Just as I can’t say that it is or isn’t true for each of you in your own situations.

    ~ Sorry for contributing to turning the thread away from the original intent which was about… what? Oh, presiding. :]


  1. […] brief, and hopefully raise an important scripture-related issue in the process. I stumbled on the following comment in a discussion at the BCC blog regarding the tension in the Proclamation on the Family between a […]

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