Some thoughts on Relief Society

Yesterday on Twitter there was a pretty interesting conversation about the Relief Society. We put together a consolidated story so that you could read these in one place (for the most part – there were numerous side conversations).

You should check it out here – I would embed but I don’t think our site allows it.

What would you have added to that conversation?

Comments

  1. Anonymous Exhausted Mormon Woman says:

    Make RS safe for women and not just for manuals. Can we care for one another enough to really want to know each other? Can we make our relationships and our love and mutual respect strong enough to withstand disagreement?

  2. RS is the oldest, largest women’s organization in the world . . . overseen by men who unabashedly refer to themselves as a patriarchy.

  3. …and who disallow any autonomy whatsoever for the women “leaders”, including managing their own money, deciding who is in charge, etc…

  4. I’m finding myself a bit RS-exhausted at the moment. Too much pressure. Too many crafts. Too much boundary maintenance. Nothing that draws me in except the humanitarian service and in our ward it is a bit unorganized.

  5. I was released a few weeks ago as my ward’s RS Pres, yet I still keep getting emails from the Stake RS Pres b/c she was unaware of the change… it’s just so painful that we like to say that there are female leaders at the stake level, but in reality, the Stake RS Pres doesn’t even know/ have any say in who leads the female organizations on the ward level. To illustrate: imagine the Stake Pres trying to get a hold of a recently released bishop, b/c he wasn’t made aware of the change… It saddens me, but I’m convinced that the Stake female “leaders” are actually just female “helpers” at the stake level since they have no built in leadership moments (like how a Stake President runs Ward Conference) they have no stewardship over the sisters, other than on a “how can we help you” kind of a level. I actually really loved working with the Stake RS leaders, but my marching orders came from the Bishop, not the Stake RS Pres… I’m with Hawkgrrrl.

  6. Tweets and comments so far have been amazing and I eagerly agree with all. I personally, selfishly wish I could speak up in RS without being corrected or judged. Our current presidency is comprised of 3 55+ sisters (for the record, we have some badass sisters the same age who are unfortunately otherwise called or inactive) who are extreme black and white thinkers. They literally believe there is a right and a wrong way to think and they will call you out for it. The early 30 something women (4 of us including me) always speak up but are often shot down and corrected. One lesson was about “tolerance” which turned into “we don’t condone gay people.” The four younger women desperately explained throughout the lesson that the message was unChristlike (and we did do it in meek, RS approved tones so as not to shake the tree too much), that the LGBT+ community is no different to God than we are, that our LGBT+ siblings in Christ need our love and that we have no control over someone’s (as in “condoning”) choices and shouldn’t. We were shot down, talked over, mocked and “corrected” at every turn. The four of us–strong, educated women–were in tears by the end. We felt like we’d been in battle and over what? We were simply repeating what Christ taught, which was taught to us in Primary by this same generation of women. RS has never been the same for me since. I know I have can’t share obvious truths like “love one another,” much less unorthodox ideas without getting a negative reaction. That one awful Sunday did have a fun conclusion: one of my friends had the closing prayer and in it she asked that “we may be blessed to understand the Plan of Salvation is for everyone and we all have our agency. Help us to understand we can’t change other people and shouldn’t want to. Help us to love them instead.”

  7. We don’t need changes so much as a time machine. Early RS was boss. We selected our own leaders, controlled our own funds, directed large projects, produced our own magazine, gave our own blessings. I would be proud to be a part of that. I would be honored.

  8. Amen Rachel!!!!!!!!

  9. Yes Rachel! What we have now is so irritating that I go home most weeks after Sunday School. The last lesson I went to was last Christmas where we did Oprah’s “these things I know for sure” and were supposed to write “one true happy thing” like “when I exercise I feel better!” on a piece of paper to be bundled up and given to someone in the ward to cheer them up. I walked out during the paper passing out busyness. ugh.

  10. I think Tulgeywood is right on. Until RS becomes a forum that allows/encourages open discussion and multiple perspectives on social or gospel issues, I think it won’t make much of a difference in the world. To be truly unified and powerful, RS has to tolerate diversity and acknowledge female agency independent of men. Right now, I feel like RS is easily dominated by the most conservative, conformist voices that brook no disagreement. In my RS, I see women occasionally raise alternative perspectives or make raw confessions, only to have an old-school sister jump in and offer “authoritative” corrections. The teacher usually looks uncomfortable, thanks both sisters for their comments and moves on. It’s just not a safe space. Consequently, we spend a lot of time talking about what we should ideally be doing in abstract terms, instead of honestly discussing real issues. My RS is also nauseatingly deferential to the bishop whenever he sits in our meetings, as if his gospel knowledge outstrips all of ours combined…

  11. Why is it that the bishop, and not the Relief Society president,chooses the lessons from the conference Ensign that are given in Relief Society? I give that lesson and once refused to give one of the lessons selected as it would have been very hurtful to the number of new widows in the group. I was given permission to select a replacement lesson, which I happily did. I wish more young sisters would speak up. The fresh perspective is welcome and needed. One other thing…a recent temple marriage lesson srongly promoted the idea that people in civil marriages reveled in the idea that divorce was easy and that they could not understand what a real marriage was about. I have been civilly married for decades. I do not contemplate how easy it would be to get out of my marriage. Relief Society simply must be more than marriage, babies and cutesy handouts.

  12. It all comes down to do you believe that the church is ran by god or if it is a church of men. I believe God is at the helm. So having it socially run by women is not an option for me. I try to have faith and understand that no one is perfect. If we were, why the need for a Savior… Oh and I need him.

  13. Utahhiker801 says:

    @Carrie Jones: I don’t know why God being in charge means that women can’t receive revelation to run an organization. Was the early RS, which had women solidly in stewardship over the organization, less run by God? The fact that their autonomy was significantly reduced to be over-seen by men does slightly indicate to me that at times, yes, we are solidly a church of men who sometimes struggle to see the hand of God.

  14. “I believe God is at the helm. So having it socially run by women is not an option for me.”

    Carrie Jones, that is a huge and troubling leap from “the church is of God” to “so women can’t lead it.” Please explain. I’m only curious because I think a lot of LDS women have the same false, damaging idea.

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