In the -Hoods: Are Motherhood and Priesthood Equivalent?

October 23, 2005 | 113 comments
By

Julie: This dialogue is the outgrowth of a few comments at one of those other blogs that Rosalynde suggested might make an interesting discussion.

When I made a comment on J.Stapley’s thread on women and the priesthood suggesting that motherhood and priesthood were parallel, Rosalynde expressed (feigned) shock that I had changed my position. Well, I have changed my mind about this. I think that what used to bother me most about the motherhood/priesthood parallel (hereafter MPP) was that it suggested that fatherhood doesn’t matter. And I’ll note that for the MPP to work for me, we need an expansive definition of ‘priesthood’ that includes fatherhood, providing for a family, etc. But let’s note that despite their nice lexical similiarities, the LDS concepts of ‘motherhood’ and ‘fatherhood’ are not, in fact, parallel. An LDS mother who is able to live the ideal is one who is devoting her full-time effort to mothering. But an ideal LDS father is not devoting full-time–he’s lucky for a few hours with the kids in the evenings and weekends. Hence, to suggest that LDS motherhood and LDS fatherhood are parallel is to suggest a gross disparity is equitable.

Rosalynde: Julie, I don’t disagree that a mother who is the full-time caregiver has a different kind of relationship to her children as does a father who works fifty hours a week. But this observation doesn’t, on the face of it, falsify the notion that the sociological (that is, relating to the social structure of the church and family) or spiritual parallel to motherhood is fatherhood—nor, it seems to me, does it provide evidence for the notion that motherhood and priesthood are such equivalents.

It seems to me that the claim that motherhood is parallel to priesthood can mean one of two things: either that motherhood and priesthood are two species of the same kind of sociological authority, although exercised in different spheres; or that, though they are different species of authority, motherhood and priesthood have the same spiritual effects in the lives of women and men. The first possibility, that motherhood and priesthood are two branches of the same kind of authority, like the executive and legislative branches of the government, seems to me transparently false. (I’ll elaborate on this in the comments, if anyone wishes.)

I think, however, that you take the second position, that the moral *effects* of motherhood and priesthood in the lives of women and men are nearly equivalent—even more correlated, in fact, than the moral effects of motherhood and fatherhood. That is, you suggest that the two kinds of authority, motherhood and priesthood, give women and men equal opportunities for spiritual growth (at least for those women who are the primary caregivers for their children). Is this a fair characterization?

This seems wrong to me for at least two reasons. If we take moral growth to be the result of making correct choices, then I agree that both motherhood and priesthood afford opportunities to grow morally. But a mother’s lifelong relationship to her children seems to me to offer far more opportunity of this sort—I’m talking orders of magnitude here—than does a man’s lifelong priesthood service.

Furthermore, a father’s lifelong relationship to his children seems to me to offer substantially the same set of moral choices that a mother’s relationship to her children does. Yes, women gestate and bear the children, and many become the full-time caregivers, but these processes involve very little *moral* choice—that is, choices in which one option is correct and othes incorrect—that doesn’t also accrue to a father. The moral choices that mothers face (and both working and at-home mothers face these choices)—will I carry out my obligations to my children? will I teach my children values and live as an example of those values? will I build relationships of love and trust with them? and so on—seem to me to face fathers as well, even fathers who don’t hold the priesthood, in nearly every particular. Thus, I’m arguing, motherhood and priesthood do not offer equivalent opportunities for moral growth, while motherhood and fatherhood do.

Julie: (1) As far as sociology, I think it depends on whom you ask. Many church members find the MPP persuasive; others don’t. I think it does work. As far as a spiritual parallel, I think I’m on safe ground suggesting that the modern church understands the role of motherhood to be the main (but not sole) domain for a woman’s most important life’s work. If we use my expanded definition of priesthood (including fatherhood and providing), then that, too, is the main (but not sole) domain of man’s most important life’s work. Hence the parallel.

(2) I agree with this.

(3) I think it is a fair characterization. The reason this is worth discussing to me–the reason that I want to defend the MPP–is because frequently in the bloggernacle we get a statement like this one:

“It goes against the understanding of God to think that He would favor His male children over His female children by locking the women out of the Holy Priesthood.” (Laurie, commenting at BCC)

to which I respond:

“It goes against the understanding of God to think that He would favor His female children over His male children by locking the men out of motherhood.”

In other words, the presumption of male privilege based on priesthood is most easily debunked when we turn the tables and examine the female privilege of motherhood. You don’t have to look too far for statements like this, which is from a First Presidency statement:

“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

If one really believes this, then the desire for priesthood falls away. (Which is not to say that women could not or should not be given a greater role in church operations at any or all levels, per Elder Ballard’s suggestions–reiterated by Elder Holland this past conference–about the inclusion of women’s views in ward councils and elsewhere.)

(4) I wonder if you would make this same statement based on my expanded definition of priesthood (formal priesthood plus fatherhood plus providing materially, that is, a job)? Because if you did, I would conclude that you thought that men could never grow morally to the extent that women can–how will they do it if not through the avenues I have mentioned above?

(5) I think you are focusing on moral growth too much. In making the MPP, I think moral growth of the woman or man certainly is an element, but I’d add the following to the list of comparisons:

–opportunities to serve the family and society
–opportunities to build the kingdom
–opportunities to provide leadership
–opportunities to teach, train, and mold disciples

I want to go back to this idea of motherhood being next to divinity. My impression is that too many people toss it off as ‘pedestal language’ or as the usual boilerplate. But what does God do all day? God does not labor in the sugar fields, God does not write code, God does not perform surgery. God raises children. God does what earthly mothers do. It never ceases to amaze me that Mormon men aren’t up in arms over the fact that they are not allowed to be at home with their children all day, doing God’s work. I think that if we understood the Gospel better, charges of sexism would be, as it were, on the other foot.

Rosalynde: Julie, your expansion of the meaning of priesthood to include the obligations of fatherhood reminds me of Sheri Dew’s move, in a talk a few years back, to expand the meaning of motherhood to include all kinds of nurturing. I think I understand the impetus behind both efforts, and I applaud the spirit of inclusiveness and the elevation of parenthood that both represent. But while these expansions might work rhetorically, they’re analytically unhelpful. When you abstract the meanings of motherhood and priesthood from the actual relationships they denote—to a child, and to God, respectively—what you end up with, I think, is “motherhood” as “a woman’s gospel-centered life” and “priesthood” as “a man’s gospel-centered life.” The only conclusion one can reach, then, is that gospel-centered lives of both men and women build the kingdom and bring them to Christ: indisputable, yes, but not very useful in understanding how and why, because the diffuseness of the categories “motherhood” and “priesthood” doesn’t allow one to consider the variables independently.

Tags: ,

113 Responses to In the -Hoods: Are Motherhood and Priesthood Equivalent?

  1. Julie in Austin on October 23, 2005 at 9:25 pm

    Afraid the post was getting too long, RW and I decided to continue the discussion in the comments, so that those of you too lazy to read long posts won’t be put off :).

    Rosalynde, I wasn’t at all happy with the ‘all women are mothers’ line that became popular a few years back. While comforting, perhaps, to childless women, it denigrated motherhood. So I am not and would not do that. However, I think my expansive definition of priesthood is an appropriate rhetorical move (unlike the ‘all women are mothers’ move) because a good priesthood holder *does* provide for his family and *does* take fatherhood seriously. I maintain that the MPP is analytically useful (if not perfect) because it helps disabuse us of the ‘women are discriminated against’ rhetoric that crops up sometimes by reminding us that, in the things that the Lord values, if anyone is discriminated against, it is the men!

  2. J. Stapley on October 23, 2005 at 10:27 pm

    I am one who was (genuinely) shocked at your stance, Julie. :)

    I agree with Rosalynde, broadening the definitions obfuscates the issues. If we take the parellels popularized by 19th century Church leaders like John Taylor, we get something concrete and useful. I like the rhetorical question he asks, “Have you forgot that you are aiming to become Kings and Priests to the Lord, and Queens and Priestesses to Him?”

  3. Howie on October 23, 2005 at 10:30 pm

    Motherhood > Priesthood

  4. Julie in Austin on October 23, 2005 at 10:38 pm

    J. Stapley–

    If you can get any traction in replacing talk of ‘motherhood’ with talk of ‘priestesshood’ (understanding, of course, that priestesshood also includes motherhood, etc.) then I’ll join your camp. Until then, I can see no benefit in using 19th century rhetoric instead of better understanding the 21st century language that is currently in use. But I do see a disadvantage: in the 19th century, it made sense to emphasize priestesshood as a counterpoint to prevailing social currents that infantalized women. Don’t see much of that today, do we? But what we _do_ see today are serious, concerted efforts to undermine motherhood. Hence the rhetorical emphasis on that part of women’s work.

  5. Julie in Austin on October 23, 2005 at 10:38 pm

    Howie,

    That would make a perfect bumper sticker. I’d buy one ;)

  6. Russell Arben Fox on October 23, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    I’m not sure if it will add to or distract from this thread, and I realize that it is anything but an original insight, but since I’m sitting here and have the essay I want to reference near me, let me throw this out: how would you situate, in regards to this discussion, the occasional claim that the “priesthood” is ultimately about feminizing men, about obliging and disciplining and encouraging them in the ways of nurturing, service, domesticity, even “mothering”? Obviously, the original patriarchal framework of so much of our doctrine is such that this point is rarely, if ever, made directly in general conference or official church materials; nonetheless, to the extent that D&C 121 is read in the church today (as, in my experience, it usually is) as a warning against men indulging in the sort of uncaring, domineering habits which stereotypically define the behavior of males “on the loose” (that is, without the sort of empathetic or even physical ties generally associated with mothers), then such a “domesticating” interpretation of the priesthood seems to follow. This is how Boyd Petersen put it in his reflections on the priesthood:

    The priesthood . . . requires men to adopt qualities we commonly associate with women: nurturing, patience, tractability, openness, emphathy, and compassionate service . . . [D]espite the priesthood’s cultural misapplications, the great men I have admired most in the Church are great as a direct result, I believe, of the fact that they hold the priesthood. I am convinced that the priesthood has provoked them to service where otherwise they might not be involved intimately in others’ lives. In my own life, I have witnessed how priesthood callings . . . have given me opportunities for greater love, understanding, empathy, and concern, both for those I’ve been assigned to serve and for people in general. I am better because of the priesthood. . . . I propose that we [men] are incomplete until we come to seek for, understand, and emulate the Christ-like qualities we find in our spouses and members of the opposite sex. Many of the qualities our culture associates most with Christ–mercy, kindness, tolerance, patience, etc.–are qualities that we tend to categorize, whether fairly or not, as feminine. . . . I believe that the conferring of priesthood on men is an essential and divinely inspired component of celestial marriage. It gently pushes men into acts of compassionate service and provides them with a feeling of connectedness with their families . . . Priesthood compensates for the biological and societal conditions that otherwise hold men back from attaining essential [arguably “feminine”] Christ-like qualities. (Boyd Peterson, “The Priesthood: Men’s Last, Best Hope,” Sunstone, March 1998)

    I’m pushing Peterson’s argument slightly further than he suggests, though I think justifiably. Moreover, I’m not sure how much I buy his argument (among other things, his reading of the priesthood’s purpose kind of suggests that the priesthood simply wouldn’t have been necessary, or would at least have been radically different, in a premodern agrarian or tribal society when there was little significant difference between the daily habits and concerns of women and men, and thus little reason to construct the particular tasks of women in any kind of morally differentiated light). I have to confess though, my experiences with the priesthood have somewhat matched his. (Though perhaps that simply reflects the lack of success I have ever had with, and the lack of interest I have ever had in, more explicitly patriarchal “ordering” and “leading” priesthood callings.) Boyd mentions that when he stood before his ward with his newborn son and blessed him he had an overwhelming “maternal” feeling–this was his unique bond with the child, his moment of mutual dependency, his time of being what the baby most fundamentally needed. His words capture very well my own feelings when I’ve blessed a child, and so I wonder if he isn’t right: that the priesthood is all about, not helping us men become as righteous as women per se, but getting us into situations where we are called to “mother” others too.

  7. Clark on October 24, 2005 at 12:06 am

    It seems to me that this discussion tends to go on without really clarifying what priesthood, fatherhood, or motherhood are. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems they are usually taken as they function today. However I think fatherhood is far more ideally than what we as fathers do in this world right now. That is the meaning is more than we understand it to be. Likewise with motherhood. That’s especially true of priesthood. Unfortunately we tend to equate priesthood with priesthood office. But the offices are appendages to the priesthood, according to Joseph Smith, and shouldn’t be equated with priesthood.

    Thus we get odd discussions which more debate the meaning of these terms in our world. Yet I think that we ought be working towards the ideals of fatherhood and motherhood. And I’d say that one can’t understand either fatherhood or motherhood without understanding priesthood. Nor vice versa.

    I liked Julia’s comments towards that where she says she expands priesthood to entail fatherhood.

    Take a step back from our current situation and consider what ideal fatherhood is. It is what God is. And what is ideal motherhood? It is what our Mother in Heaven is. Now we really don’t know much about what Godhood is like. So we’re working towards, and fulfilling something that is vastly more than we can possibly understand.

    At best, I think this ought entail that we take a skeptical view of worldly conceptions of motherhood, fatherhood or the value of priesthood. Instead we ought be humbled by a recognition that we have a lot to learn. Rather than worrying about the value of labels and who has more power or benefits we ought instead look at it from that God point of view which we understand to be charity. I think that when we look at power relations, of any of the normal critiques, we’re always going to be led astray.

  8. annegb on October 24, 2005 at 9:37 am

    Much of this discussion is way over my head. Also, Sheri Dew is not someone whose opinion I value, not because she hasn’t married or had children, but she seems to lack an understanding of my personal female situation, and I feel, that of many women. It’s easy to toss off advice when you haven’t experienced something. In her case, it’s motherhood and wife-hood (is that a word) and while I sympathize with what she must long for, she has no clue of the actual situation, so how can she compare?

    But what would you do with the priesthood if you had it, Rosalynde? Who would take care of your kids while you were off being bishop? Do you honestly feel that your husband’s ability to give your child a father’s blessing leaves you wanting somewhere?

    I honestly don’t understand this desire to have the priesthood. Can you help me to understand how my life is not what it should be because I don’t have the priesthood? Convince me. Use lay language. What the heck would I do with it?

  9. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 10:07 am

    Until the equivalency is made explicit by scripture or by modern revelation, I am hesitant to cling to it. I’ve always heard the MPP expressed by men that want to justify a sexist policy or stance, unfortunately.

  10. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 10:27 am

    Thanks, everybody, for the comments so far. I’ve got busy morning, so I’ll respond to the comments this afternoon. I just wanted to immediately diffuse one potentially disastrous misconception that I’m sure other readers may share with annegb: this discussion is not about whether Julie or I want to be ordained to priesthood office. It is strictly about whether and how motherhood and priesthood are similar or dissimilar in the social arrangements of family and church, about the ways in which these activities are lived and understood, and the implications of that living. Often the connection between the two is invoked in defense of our male priesthood, for obvious reasons, but all readers can assume correctly that both Julie and I support the current church policy of ordaining only men to the priesthood, and that neither of us advocates or agitates for changes to that policy. (I think both of us have thought about what that sort of change might look like or result in—but that doesn’t mean that we’re actively pressing for such a change, and in any case that’s not the issue at hand here.)

  11. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 10:53 am

    Julie,

    Congratulations on being the first blogger to ever change their mind about a controversial topic!

    Rosalynde,

    If you don’t believe motherhood equals priesthood, for what reason do you not wish women had the priesthood and its attendant offices of leadership and authority? Are good Mormons expected to tolerate inequality on the basis of sex?

  12. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 11:11 am

    Matt: I assume that there is some eternal rationale to the allocation of priesthood office that we do not yet understand, or that the policy is in place for expedient sociological reasons. I tend to feel it is the latter possibility, but either is fully compatible with my support of an inspired leadership.

  13. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 11:37 am

    Rosalynde, I agree with your comment No. 12, except that it doesn’t address Matt’s questions in no. 11 very directly. I suspect Matt’s second question is just baiting, but here’s my answer: Matt, until we are able to understand the true reason that women are not ordained to the priesthood, we cannot in good faith transpose that inequality to any other situation.

  14. Mark IV on October 24, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    I’m wondering how your argument would apply to people who are not in the church. As I understand your position, a good and righteous man who doesn’t hold the priesthood would be less valued than his wife who bore their children. Am I misreading you?

  15. Laurie on October 24, 2005 at 12:23 pm

    Since Julie was kind enough to quote me (above), I will offer that I find her analysis compelling in the abstract. In fact I used to concur, but now I argue that it breaks down for several reasons:

    1. the plight of women who cannot not be mothers; their plight is only exascerabated in the MPP model;

    2. the fact that a prelude to becoming a mother requires attracting a man, and securing his cooperation in order to accomplish the feat.. A boy who is ordained requires no comparable life-long cooperation from a girl.

    3. Priesthood is tied to Church administration and male authority, even in the home. Men are told to preside in their homes. The mother does not preside (unless the father is absent). When both are present, who calls upon someone to offer the prayers?

    4. Motherhood is not tied to anything in Church. The Mother of the Year, if she is in the ward, is not routinely asked for her opinion on programs and suggestions affecting children, for instance. In other words, there is no carry-over from home to Church for women, while there is substantial carry over from Church authority to home for men.

    5. Armed with the Priesthood, the presumption of legitimacy and rightness is on the men, while even with the benefit of motherhood, the burden of proof is on the women. Women must be convincing if she is to offer another point of view. One doesn’t say:” well, she’s a mother after all, so we must take her seriously”, while it is not uncommon to hear, “Well, he holds the Priesthood after all…” Notice how many times in church council meetings where men and women are present that a woman’s comment or idea gains credence if it is offered by a man or supported by a man.

    Perhaps if the Holy Priesthood were fully and properly administered, women would be taken seriously simply because they are daughters of God and deserve at least that token of respect.

    But as the situation now stands, I stand by my statement.

  16. J. Stapley on October 24, 2005 at 12:34 pm

    I really like Clark’s perspective on this. I think he, more rationally, explained what my feelings are and we I like to go back to the 19th century duality.

  17. Seth Rogers on October 24, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    Re Laurie #15:

    I’m not sure that even men get full status in the Church without marriage. True, you can be ordained to the Aaronic and Melkezedik Priesthoods without marriage (and I personally wouldn’t say that’s insignificant). But most of the “higher offices” in the Church are reserved for married men: Bishop, Stake Pres., Mission Pres., and any General Authority. Even in some of the positions where married status isn’t required, I would contend that in many wards, there is a bias preferring married men.

    It’s all debatable of course, but I would wager there are disenfranchised single men in the church who would assert that they have just as much of a lack of influence and identity in the church (despite holding the Priesthood) as single women (and probably less than the established married women).

  18. CS Eric on October 24, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    This discussion, and the one at the other blog, lead me to ask two questions, the answers to which, I believe, have a large influence on where you stand on the equivalence question.

    The first question is which sphere of influence _really_ is the most important one–the private (in the home) or the public? My answer comes from the corrolary to it–has my personal life been more influenced by my parents or by an outside source–teachers, employers, etc.?

    Then the second question. My last priesthood leader taught me that it is every bit as appropriate and valid to give a blessing “in the name of Jesus Christ” as it is to give one “in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood.” The question then is, do I GET to add “by the power of the priesthood” or do I HAVE to add those words to make the blessing valid? It is often easy to forget the True Source of power in this universe.

  19. Laurie on October 24, 2005 at 1:12 pm

    I do not dispute your points, Seth. From my experience, in the Church single men are taken more seriously than mothers, regardless of how many children they have.

    As of President Hinckley’s sustaining, even 12-year-old boys are called upon to stand and sustain the Prophet in Solemn Assembly before their own mothers are permitted to do so, and before any category of women (they are all the same), regardless of their motherhood or number of children.

    Prior to President Hinckley, no women were asked to stand and sustain their Prophet in Solemn Assembly no matter if they were mothers.

  20. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 1:32 pm

    Steve writes, “until we are able to understand the true reason that women are not ordained to the priesthood, we cannot in good faith transpose that inequality to any other situation.”

    But if we don’t understand the reason the priesthood is given only to men, we don’t know that there is any inequality in the first place. Only by assuming that women are not better able to create rewarding and influential relationships by nature (I tend to think they are) can one assume that men’s having priesthood roles of service and influence makes the sexes unequal.

  21. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Matt, I disagree with your No. 20. It is quite possible, speaking in the abstract, to identify an inequality without understanding why it exists. Now if you’re saying that we don’t understand the priesthood well enough to really say that it’s not divided along gender lines, well, that’s more interesting, but I am still not sure.

    And I don’t agree at all with your second sentence, which seems to say that “you can only assume the priesthood results in gender inequality if you assume that women are not better at creating good relationships.” That’s a farfetched conclusion — is that really your take on the logic undergirding the MPP?

  22. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Matt, you’re suggesting that men officiate in the priesthood in order to compensate for a male spiritual deficiency; this is, of course, a common explanation—but only, to my knowledge, in the decades since feminism has made its cultural mark. It’s my sense that you put great weight in historical commonsense about gender, so I’m wondering what you make of the fact that prior to the past few decades, the prevailing explanations for a male priesthood (in the larger Christian tradition as well as in Mormonism particularly) hinged on an assumed female spiritual deficiency.

  23. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 2:15 pm

    Russell (#6): Thank you for your lovely ruminations. There’s a lot that attracts me to the perspective you and Petersen share on priesthood as a feminizing agent. But in a really crucial way this point is not only rather profoundly counterintuitive—that what most obviously distinguishes men from women in the structure of the church is, in fact, precisely what makes men and women more similar–but it also runs absolutely counter to the ways in which church leaders have talked about the motherhood/priesthood dichotomy—that is, as a guarantee and protector of gender differences, the blurring of which is a source of much anxiety and distress. Furthermore, it leads me to wonder: if diminishing the natural differences between men and women is a goal, and priesthood is the agent that works toward this goal for men, is there an equivalent agent for women? Is there a particular capacity in which women are gently prodded to, say, be better leaders, to study the scriptures and learn our doctrine more thoroughly, to defend the faith articulately in the public sphere?

  24. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    p.s. you POACHERS!!!

  25. Jack on October 24, 2005 at 2:32 pm

    I posted this comment on J. Stapley’s thread over at BBC:

    J.,

    I disagree with you on the one to one comparison between motherhood and fatherhood. I’m inclined to side with Julie on the motherhood-priesthood comparison.

    I find it helpful to view motherhood as being withdrawn into a space which is generally more sacred than the circles that fatherhood must move in. Without the priesthood men don’t really experience the joy of giving life–and in my estimation there’s nothing more sacred/important/fulfilling than giving life. IMO, the priesthood, in it’s most powerful expression, is about giving Life.

    That said, I agree that women share in the priesthood because of the blessings of the temple. However, I’m not convinced that that means that men and women become equal in their design as “co-creators” of life. I think the idea that women become queens and priestesses *to their husbands* is telling. To me it means (at least in one sense) that equality is struck between the sexes as the women give life to individuals while men give life to a body of individuals by gathering them into one by virtue of the priesthood.

    How’s that for a goofy metaphysical spin on the subject?

  26. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 2:32 pm

    Clark (#7): I tend to agree that eternal fatherhood—in Julie’s words, what God does all day—bears little resemblance to what mortal mothers OR fathers spend their time doing. And I also agree that there may be a doctrinal-philosophical basis for folding both fatherhood AND motherhood into priesthood—though I’ve not been terribly convinced by the efforts I’ve seen.

    But while subsuming virtually all human gospel-oriented behavior into priesthood may be useful for doing the intellectual work of philosophy, it’s profoundly unhelpful for doing the intellectual work that this conversation is intended to perform: that is, for understanding men’s and women’s experiences and behavior NOW, in fallen mortality, under the current ecclesiastical structure and in our current cultural context. You seem to condemn this kind of conversation (which would seem effectively to doom any social science relating to the church, incidentally), I suspect because these conversations often become contentious. But that just means we need to bring more care and compassion to the discussion, not that we should abandon it all together. And thus I heartily endorse your suggestion that we approach the topic with humility—I, for one, will try my best to do so.

  27. Jack on October 24, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    Oops. That’s B*C*C

  28. Russell Arben Fox on October 24, 2005 at 2:43 pm

    Rosalynde (#23): Excellent response, one that gets right to the heart of the kind of “reverse pedestaling” (“to pedestal”–is that a verb?) that arguably is taking place in Petersen’s essay. (In fact, if you want to dig around in your old Sunstones, you’ll find that Joanna Brooks made a similar response in a subsequent issue, with the great title “If Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus, What’s Kolob For?”) As I said, I don’t fully agree with Petersen’s argument, though I admit it puts a finger on what intuitively strikes me as most sensible about the supposed distinction between motherhood and priesthood. I think one shouldn’t be too quick to assume that something which institutionally results in ritual and public differences and distinctions can’t, at the same time, be about imitation; there is an important sense in which disciplining someone to adopt certain priorities and habits possessed by another has to be in a manner which is exclusive, tight-knit, even somewhat removed from that other–otherwise, the object of comparison will always be available for resentment and/or criticism. (This is why I think there’s something important to be said for single-gender classrooms and schools, especially during the teen-age years.) However, that’s not to deny the costs (“much anxiety and distress”) of such an approach–costs which are exacerbated by the fact that, even if this is ultimately the best way of viewing the motherhood/priesthood distinction, it isn’t incorporated into our language of justification in any especially explicit way.

  29. Frank McIntyre on October 24, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    Rosalynde,

    I am interested to hear the evidence behind the claim that LDS justification for priesthood was centered around female spiritual deficiency. Are you saying this was a common belief among past prophets and apostles? As for other Christians, well forgive me for not caring too much about their opinions on the subject a hundred years ago or now.

    More broadly, the presthood is “God’s perfect plan of service”. Thus a discussion of priesthood centered on power is inherently deficient. It is a worldly view of priesthood as opposed to a divine view. Motherhood, which entails a tremendous amount of service, shares a remarkable similarity. Fatherhood’s unique service as a provider, in this life anyway, is valuable but not as hands on. Just like paying fast offerings is valuable, but not an exact substitute to spending time in the soup kitchen. Priesthood service provides hands on opportunities for men to serve.

  30. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 2:53 pm

    Rosalynde and Steve,

    My view doesn’t hinge on men’s being less righteous (though I think it’s indisputable that they are and have always been, and anyone saying otherwise was working with bad data or adding Christ before calculating the average), but rather on the sociological effects of biology. It’s like Russell’s invocation of “priesthood as domesticating force,” but focusing specifically on the role priesthood and patriarchy have in pulling men into family and community life. I don’t believe it’s women’s greater spiritualality that allows them to foster more meaningful and influential relationships, it’s carrying their children for 9-months, then breastfeeding them for many more, that generates empathy that men, because of their biology, can’t match.

    It’s not central to my view, but I’m curious to know which Mormons taught that men had the priesthood because women weren’t spiritual enough. That idea is sufficiently outrageous that I can’t imagine quotes exist but that no one has ever shown them to me.

  31. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    Frank,

    Your point about priesthood being service is essential to these kinds of discussions. I’ve yet to see someone who thinks it’s problematic that priesthood is limited to men address Christ’s teaching that “he that is greatest among you shall be servant of all.” (I asked this question of Harvey Cox during his lecture on gender, but neither he nor any of the 500 students there had a meaningful response.) Christ taught the church to turn the world’s power arrangements upside down, and every grievance about women and the priesthood I’ve seen (including that of Harvey Cox) approaches the issue as though priesthood power is world-side up.

  32. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    Frank and Matt: I think the point about female spiritual deficiency is fairly uncontroversial, though understandably not popular at the moment. For instance, Brigham Young made this statement to women: “Respect the power of the Priesthood while it is upon your husbands. Women have not the degree of light and knowledge that their husbands have, and they have not the power over their passions.” (Journal of Discourses 5:267). I hasten to add that Brigham’s position was prevalent in the wider society at the time—I don’t see this as evidence of a special form of Mormon sexism or anything like that—but it shows that, despite Frank’s disinterest, most gender-segregated priesthoods (which have been most priesthoods, period) have taken this approach.

  33. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    Rosalynde,

    From the snippet you’ve cited here it appears that Brigham Young was exhorting women to heed their husbands because they had the priesthood, which gave them light and knowledge, and not the other way around (that men had the priesthood because they had greater light and knowledge). Does the uncited text shed light on his meaning?

  34. Frank McIntyre on October 24, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    Steve,

    “Until the equivalency is made explicit by scripture or by modern revelation, I am hesitant to cling to it. I’ve always heard the MPP expressed by men that want to justify a sexist policy or stance, unfortunately.”

    You may wish to check out Widtsoe’s book “Priesthood and Church Government”. In chapter 7, section 4 we get the following:

    “Why should God give His sons a power that is denied His daughters? Should they not be equal in His sight as to status and opportunity to perform the labors of life? Since women are just as necessary in life as are men (indeed life were impossible without them), justice demands their recognition before their Father in Heaven. Surely, a just God can have no favorites!

    This division of responsibility is for a wise and noble purpose. Our Father in Heaven has bestowed upon His daughters a gift of equal importance and power, which gift, if exercised in its fulness, will occupy their entire life on earth so that they can have no possible longing for that which they do not possess. The “gift” referred to is that of motherhood–the noblest, most soul-satisfying of all earthly experiences. If this power is exercised righteously, woman has no time nor desire for anything greater, for there is nothing greater on earth! This does not mean that women may not use to the full their special gifts, for they are possessed of human free agency to the same extent as are men. Also, the more woman exercises her innate qualifications the greater is her power for motherhood. Woman may claim other activity, but motherhood should take precedence in her entire scheme of life.”

    This is just the intro, but I can’t quote the whole thing here without violating copyright. Also, this quote at least does not appear to center priesthood power in a story of female spiritual deficiency. In this account, motherhood is “of equal importance and power”. Motherhood, done correctly, is “the noblest, most soul-satisfying of all earthly experiences.”

  35. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    Frank, I’m aware of the Widtsoe quote, but it’s a far cry from a Church doctrine that says, only men get the priesthood, but that’s OK because women get childbirth.

    BTW, I wasn’t suggesting that the MPP is justified because of a spiritual deficiency in women. To the contrary, what I hear most is the condescending “women are sooo much better than men, men need the priesthood to keep up.” Pish posh.

  36. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    Matt, I agree that a more extensive citation would be useful, and I tried to get it but the site where I usually go for JD is down right now, so I could only get this small portion from another source. The “spiritual deficiency” I was primarily referring to, though, is women’s lack of power over their passions (again, a common characterization of female weakness). I’ll see if I can find a longer cite, if you’re genuinely interested.

  37. Frank McIntyre on October 24, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    Steve,

    Oh, I thought you’d never heard the MPP except from sexists. And the other part was in reference to Rosalynde’s claim, not yours. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

    Rosalynde,

    Where did you get that quote? It is, as best I can tell, 2 snippets a page apart, both by Lorenzo Snow, shoved together into one, given in 1857 when he was a young Apostle. It is in volume 5 but the page number appears to be wrong(?). I found it on page 315-316. I am assuming you were pulling it from some source because you would not be likely to make that mistake. Or maybe Brigham Young said the same thing some other place?

    As for its interpretation, I think this is nowhere near enough to support your claim. Certainly it does not claim at all that priesthood is given to men because they are spiritually better. The article appears to be focusing on polygamous unions and the resulting familial conflicts.

    And as you may have noticed, Widtsoe talks of motherhood as being equal in importance and power. That certainly is not conducive to a story of women being spiritually deficient.

  38. Clark on October 24, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    Rosalynde: …it’s profoundly unhelpful for doing the intellectual work that this conversation is intended to perform: that is, for understanding men’s and women’s experiences and behavior NOW, in fallen mortality, under the current ecclesiastical structure and in our current cultural context. You seem to condemn this kind of conversation (which would seem effectively to doom any social science relating to the church, incidentally), I suspect because these conversations often become contentious.

    I don’t mind the contention, so long as it is handled maturely.

    I just think it erroneous to criticize priesthood based upon a fallen notion of it. So what are we talking about? Social roles as performed or the social roles we strive for and that are at the heart of the gospel. I don’t mind discussion the one instead of the other so long as we are clear what we are discussing. Unfortunately it is that clarity that is often lacking in these sorts of discussions, in my opinion.

    The other problem is that neither gender is doing a terribly good job, if we are focused on the ideal. It’s understandable that we fall. But I just don’t see what the point is of focusing in on our misunderstandings rather than trying to understand and strive towards our ideals.

  39. Clark on October 24, 2005 at 3:53 pm

    Just to add to the above, I think the other error we tend to fall into is considering our value as a human based upon what church calling we have. Church callings (and that in effect includes all the priesthood offices) are more duties where people are given more explicit instruction on how to serve. Yet for the most part we all ought be serving each other in those fashions. Yes, the offices limit authority for revelation on behalf of others. But outside of that we can always serve each other and that is the heart of the gospel.

    I know it is a cliche, but I think we tend to put way too much value on ones place in church and then criticize the place as what is wrong rather than how we value place. If we could stop valuing in that fashion, then I think a lot of the problem would go away.

  40. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    Frank, like I said, my usual source for JD is down right now, so I pulled this reference from a FAIR paper: http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/conf/2004RadA.html#en54\

    If you’d like more, I’ll have to do more research—maybe for another post?

  41. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Frank (#29): Your view of the priesthood as more about hands-on service than about traditional leadership is an attractive one. In your ward, how do the priesthood quorums provide these hands-on opportunities? In the wards I’ve been in, I can think of EQ moves (much grumbled about, incidentally), and occasional HT service; and then institutional assignments like setting up for stake meetings. Beyond that, priesthood duties seem to involve instruction (home teaching, speaking assignments), executive leadership (attending meetings, planning), administrative duties (paperwork, tithing, etc), performance of ordinances, and ecclesiastical judgment and counseling (worthiness interviews, personal and family counseling). These are immensely valuable and important duties, and are indeed an important form of service to the kingdom, but they seem to me somewhat different from the one-on-one personal service of motherhood. In fact, the most hands-on service my husband has ever performed in the church is when he was involved in scouting—one of the few callings he’s had that hasn’t been a priesthood calling! I am completely open to the probability that things are different in your ward, and I’d love to hear how.

    More generally, I’m intrigued by your view that priesthood provides opportunities of the same kind that motherhood does—opportunities having similar effects and thus, presumably, making men and women more alike as they carry them out. I don’t share this view, but you and Matt are a pretty good barometer, I bet, to what lots of men are thinking on gender issues. If this is so, we may be seeing a significant shift in attitudes toward the gendered priesthood among the younger generation of church leadership, since in the past the issue has almost always been used to mark and preserve gender *differences*.

  42. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    Clark, you make some cogent points, and in many ways I’m attracted to your minimalist vision of church office. (I just want to clarify, though, that I’m not criticizing the priesthood in the post or comments—or haven’t intended to—nor, I think, have I taken a power-centered view of priesthood in the post or comments.) (Except for in what follows.)

    Don’t you think, though, that in minimizing the importance of authority, priesthood hierarchy and office we are denying something that is sort of fundamentally Mormon? The notion of priesthood authority, its centrality in ecclesiastical structure and personal lives, its epistemological authority, its essentially hierarchical nature—all of these seem to me a crucial ingredient of Mormon thought and experience. Think about those wonderfully hierarchical GA portrait charts in the Ensign, or the way GAs have a photo next to their bylines, for that matter—those seem to me to capture something very central to Mormonism. To downplay the hierarchy of authority seems to me to solve one conceptual problem while creating a lot more.

  43. Frank McIntyre on October 24, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    Rosalynde,

    What Matt and I have said seems perfectly in sync with what Widtsoe said 100 years ago. There are gender differences, but yes, priesthood is and has for years been recognized as a form of service. You once again talk of change but it is not clear to me that there is all that much change occurring.

    Home teaching is obviously a kind of one-on-one service. Missionary service is a responsibility of the priesthood, even though all members can do it. Priesthood leaders often engage in extensive individual counseling of members, both in their homes and at Church. These are “hands on” service just like moving boxes. As Clark has noted, one can imagine far more of it going on if we were perfect. Also, one of the strongest techniques is to link one’s priesthood to one’s fatherhood. Thus service to the family becomes both priesthood and fatherhood, encouraging men to take a more active role in the home than if only one role were at stake. This gets discussed all the time in every quorum I have ever attended and is an obvious way to encourage men to be more active in the home.

    Is this the same as motherhood? No, not really. But it does encourage men to break out of concentrating on just their jobs and lending service to others, something that is automatic to becoming a mother at home. Whether or not that service is well performed is, as in all cases, a moral choice we make every day.

  44. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 4:42 pm

    Matt (#30) wrote: “I don’t believe it’s women’s greater spiritualality that allows them to foster more meaningful and influential relationships, it’s carrying their children for 9-months, then breastfeeding them for many more, that generates empathy that men, because of their biology, can’t match. ”

    Matt, what are you basing this claim on? Do you have evidence that infertile adoptive mothers or mothers who do not breastfeed are less empathetic than women who gestate, bear and nurse babies?

    Frank, thanks for the response. I must be missing something, because I don’t see how the Widtsoe quote says anything about whether men and women should be similar or different, and that was the point I am making about change.

  45. Frank McIntyre on October 24, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    Rosalynde,

    You said:

    “since in the past [gendered priesthood] has almost always been used to mark and preserve gender *differences*.”

    And I noted that Widtsoe certainly was not using gendered priesthood in this way. He saw the two as equally powerful forces for good. Matt and I (among many others) have adopted that language which has a rather long history. Thus I am saying that it is wrong to say that gendered priesthood has “almost always” been about preserving some gender division incompatible with the view we currently espouse.

    Thanks for the link to the FAIR article. She is citing some other work who apparently blew the citation(?) since it wasn’t Brigham Young at all. Of course, she is trying to use the quote as you say, and it simply is not strong enough to do the work. It is, for example, perfectly possible to think women are both more passionate and more spiritually in tune.

  46. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 5:31 pm

    Frank, I think we’re to the point where you’ll disagree with almost anything I argue, just because I’m me! Pretend I’m someone else, just for a minute (I’m sure it will be a welcome break :)). Are you seriously disputing the idea that preserving gender differences and distinct gendered spheres—with priesthood and motherhood as the markers of those differences and the boundaries of those spheres—has been a major theme in pronouncements on gender during the 60s-90s? What I see you and Matt doing (and Boyd Petersen, in the the passage RAF cited above), in contrast, is arguing that priesthood, by providing experiences that approximate motherhood, makes men more like women by compensating for some sort of difference that springs from some source (this varies)—thus softening the distinction between motherhood and priesthood, and diminishing the differences between men and women.

    I’m not sure why you put so much weight on that Widtsoe quote.

  47. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    Rosalynde (Comment 40),

    I’m basing my claim on social psychology and on my personal experience as a father. Regarding my own experience, our babies were much more *real* to my wife than to me before they are born. To me the unseen and unheard babies were more of an abstraction, and I attribute that to her being constantly reminded, by virtue of their physical presence within her, of their reality. Regarding social psychology, researchers have repeatedly shown that deep emotional ties require time and are best instilled through selfless service that cause the one providing service to attach to the subject of their service. If the conclusions the researchers have drawn are valid, we should expect biological mothers to have an advantage over fathers and adoptive parents.

    Steve (Comment 35),

    You wrote, “what I hear most is the condescending ‘women are sooo much better than men, men need the priesthood to keep up.’ Pish posh.” I know it’s popular to dismiss such notions as a saccharine platitudes, but the empirical data backs up the first premise, showing an unambigous trend:

    – women are more likely to convert to the gospel of Christ than men
    – women are more likely to attend church than men
    – women are more likely to pray than men
    – women are more likely to say Thank You than men
    – women are more likely to comfort a grieving person than men
    – women are more likely to do their visiting/home teaching than men
    – women are more likely to hold a current temple recommend than men
    – women are less likely to sit while watching other people work than men
    – women are less likely to abandon their children than are men
    – women are less likely to steal than men
    – women are less likely to commit adultery than men
    – women are less likely to rape than men
    – women are less likely to assault than men
    – women are less likely to murder than men

    In the face of such facts I see no way to deny that women are more righteous than we are. (This data doesn’t address the question of whether women are more righteous by nature or nurture, however, only that they are in fact more righteous.)

  48. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Matt, thanks for providing the grounds for your claim. While each reader will evaluate the strength of your position individually, it probably won’t surprise you to know that I’m skeptical! :)

  49. Mark IV on October 24, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Matt,

    That is an impressive list. I feel like I need to go see the bishop and repent for having been born with a penis.

  50. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 5:52 pm

    Mark, you only need see the bishop if the situation has since changed.

  51. Matt Evans on October 24, 2005 at 5:55 pm

    Rosalynde,

    Did you feel that you and your husband had equal emotional attachments toward your baby before it was born? It’s hard for me to imagine that a mother could experience a pregnancy without experiencing strong and, importantly, unique emotions toward the subject of her thoughts.

  52. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 5:57 pm

    Matt (no. 47): first, while you’re most likely correct about the statements you make, it’s tough for you to attribute such statistics to an innate spiritual superiority as opposed to various social factors (and biological ones, in some instances).

    and as for “women are less likely to rape than men”: not in MY house!!

  53. Julie in Austin on October 24, 2005 at 5:58 pm

    I haven’t read the comments here yet, but I think we all need to pause in the face of the first really good argument that I have heard recently for suppporting women’s ordination:

    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=365#comment-7900

  54. Frank McIntyre on October 24, 2005 at 6:07 pm

    Steve,

    These are not just outcomes of spirituality, many of them are inputs as well. Thus a more prayerful person is in general more spiritual both because they pray and because their spirituality leads them to pray. The social conditioning argument is going to attenuate the prayer as a correlate argument, but it is not so clear that it applies to the effect of prayer as an input. Thus I would argue that people who engage in these behaviors will generally become more spiritual than those who don’t, simply because those behaviors make you more spiritual. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but the whole argument is about averages, not exceptions.

    Rosalynde,
    “Frank, I think we’re to the point where you’ll disagree with almost anything I argue, just because I’m me!”

    Is it you or your claims? It’s overdetermined! :)

    More seriously, there are many people I (and probably you) ignore because they simply are not going to follow the arguments well enough to be worth arguing with. In the words of my graduate advisor, “You don’t kick puppies”.

  55. Rosalynde on October 24, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    Matt, that’s an interesting question, although probably an unanswerable one. I enjoy pregnancy, but I’m not the type who daydreams about the baby or is hyper-aware of its presence: I don’t name the baby while it’s in utero, for example, I don’t have a home device to hear its heartbeat or anything, etc. The miscarriages I’ve experienced have not been emotionally difficult for me. After the baby is born, I definitely feel a greater anxiety—a crippling, consuming, corrosive anxiety—when I’m away from the baby than my husband does when he’s away, but I’m hesitant to say that means I love the baby more than he does. Because I’m the primary caregiver, our children’s emotional attachments to each of *us* differ substantially, of course, but that’s a different issue.

    But isn’t this only marginally relevant to your larger point? I feel quite sure that my biological involvement in our children’s births has not given me any *generalized* empathy or other quality that extends beyond my immediate relationships to my children. I can detect no difference in the levels of general empathy and compassion between women of the same age who have borne children, and those who have adopted or are childless, for example; or between those who breastfeed and those who do not. And why should there be? My experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, while exhilarating and memorable, requiredor produced no special virtue on my part: I was along for the ride, and except for a few things on the margin, there was very little I could contribute volitionally.

  56. annegb on October 24, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    Rosalynde, sorry, I did misinterpret. Like I say a lot, I don’t read carefully. However, if you–or other women don’t want the priesthood, why bother to have the discussion? #53, Julie, it sounds to me like we’re talking about women having the priesthood.

    And I really want to clarify here, is it your hope that the gist of this thread is that some women feel put down or condescended to by Mormon men on the basis of the priesthood?

    I will try to read the rest of the thread more carefully. Let me know if I misunderstand.

    I have experienced Mormon male chauvinism a couple of times, but only blatantly so with my former husband. I had a major disagreement with my former bishop, who remains a friend. It was enormously frustrating and hurtful, and I was bitter for a long time. This issue was more complicated than power or equality, but perhaps if I had been in power (God forbid, I’m just saying), it would have been different.

    And believe me, I did not suffer in silence.

    #15, Laurie, I have never heard anyone say “well, he holds the priesthood, after all.” I have heard many men defer to their wives’ judgement and many men ask for other womens’ opinions on many matters, including children. Most of the men in my circle are afraid of their wives’ wrath.

    I celebrate the patriarchal order. It seems right to me. I don’t understand the need to establish equality per mpp. My husband is supposed to provide for, protect, and cherish me, I am supposed to do whatever I do. (my mind went blank there:).
    That doesn’t preclude equality in my home and I feel equal to any man in my ward. More than equal, I feel necessary as a woman.

    I didn’t feel left out when my husband blessed and later baptized our daughter. I felt blessed and grateful. I honestly don’t understand this issue.

  57. Jack on October 24, 2005 at 8:20 pm

    Julie, RE #53:

    How is that a good argument? It seems to fall right in line with the theme of *your* thread. Some women may pine away for inclusion in some of the ordinances, but what about the men? There is no possibility that they’ll ever know anything about gestation first-hand. Why can they not, for three minutes, form a little male womb around the infant as they pronounce blessings of comfort?

  58. Julie in Austin on October 24, 2005 at 8:44 pm

    Russell et al about the priesthood feminizing men: to the extent that cultures inculcate certain traits that are inconsistent with the gospel, then, yes, what the church teaches men and women must counter that if we want to make Saints of these people. We have to look harder to find where the church masculinizes women (RW’s question), but it does to some extent: you could very easily be a woman in this country and never have the kind of decision-making roles, responsibility, authority, or public presence that speaking in church, being on a ward council, teaching Sunday School, or being a Primary President would give you.

    Steve Evans writes, “I’ve always heard the MPP expressed by men that want to justify a sexist policy or stance, unfortunately.”

    Yes, but now you are hearing the MPP expressed and defended by a radical Mormon feminist, so what will you do with that?

    Matt writes, “Congratulations on being the first blogger to ever change their mind about a controversial topic!”

    So what do I win?

    Rosalynde, would you talk a little more about the “expedient sociological reasons” you mentioned in #12?

    Mark IV in #14–you are misreading me in that I am only discussing LDS fatherhood and LDS motherhood. Because my conception of motherhood has very little to do with physical acts but very much to do with moral/ethical teaching (see my lengthy discussion with Rosalynde on this on the Open Letter thread), then everything is very, very different if we were talking about nonmembers, which we aren’t.

    Laurie, here’s my response to your argument (and I *love* people who number their own arguments!)

    1. the plight of women who cannot not be mothers; their plight is only exascerabated in the MPP model;

    The MPP model either is true or it isn’t. The fact that its truth points out the pre-existing plight of nonmothers doesn’t falsify it. We don’t say “Chastity can’t be a true law because it would make the lives of single people hell.” Chastity is a true law (and it does often make singles’ lives hell).

    2. the fact that a prelude to becoming a mother requires attracting a man, and securing his cooperation in order to accomplish the feat.. A boy who is ordained requires no comparable life-long cooperation from a girl.

    Go back to how I am defining priesthood: a man cannot do most of those things (be a father, provide for a family) without a cooperative woman. So there isn’t a disparity here.

    3. Priesthood is tied to Church administration and male authority, even in the home. Men are told to preside in their homes. The mother does not preside (unless the father is absent). When both are present, who calls upon someone to offer the prayers?

    Not sure where you are going with this; I am NOT trying to suggest that the mother reigns in the home (her sphere) while the father reigns in church (his sphere). If you explain your argument more, I’ll respond better.

    4. Motherhood is not tied to anything in Church. The Mother of the Year, if she is in the ward, is not routinely asked for her opinion on programs and suggestions affecting children, for instance. In other words, there is no carry-over from home to Church for women, while there is substantial carry over from Church authority to home for men.

    So what? We are taught that the home and family are far more important than any church structure or program, none of which are eternal.

    5. Armed with the Priesthood, the presumption of legitimacy and rightness is on the men, while even with the benefit of motherhood, the burden of proof is on the women. Women must be convincing if she is to offer another point of view. One doesn’t say:” well, she’s a mother after all, so we must take her seriously”, while it is not uncommon to hear, “Well, he holds the Priesthood after all…” Notice how many times in church council meetings where men and women are present that a woman’s comment or idea gains credence if it is offered by a man or supported by a man.

    The bad behavior that you cite above (and it does happen, and it is wrong) does not negate what should happen. Further, and I realize that I am speaking solely from my own experience here, I have never had a problem being taken seriously in Church. When it comes to doctrine/teaching, men and women are usually far more deferential to me than a mere two years of grad school in biblical studies should make them, but there you are. (But I have noticed this same deference given to women who have taught seminary, are known to be well-read and/or scholars of the scriptures, etc.) When it comes to other issues, the fact that I don’t do the sweet sister thing but simply and without apology state what I think means that I don’t have credibility problems.

    I also agree with what Seth mentioned: if you take a single 40 yo male and a single 40 yo female, she will have more status than he does, in general.

    Laurie, I want to see if I can clarify this with an analogy. Let’s say that you sit down with Peter Priesthood to play chess.

    Laurie: “But that’s not fair! You get to move ALL the black pieces! I don’t get to move ANY of the black pieces.”

    Me: “Laurie, you get to move all the white pieces. Peter can’t touch them. So it is fair. Further, the prophets have repeatedly taught that moving the white pieces is more important and more like what God does than messing around with those black pieces.”

    Rosalynde writes, “I tend to agree that eternal fatherhood—in Julie’s words, what God does all day—bears little resemblance to what mortal mothers OR fathers spend their time doing.”

    And I think that brings us back to the discussion as to whether motherhood is primarily physical or otherwise. What _do_ you think God does all day?

    Frank, thanks for the quote in #34 AND for being one of the rare people to care about copyright.

    annegb and Jack, I hope you realized that #53 was a joke about flying babies and not serious.

  59. Vin D. on October 24, 2005 at 9:42 pm

    Whoo-hoo, Melissa? Where are you? We all know you’re reading this, so c’mon, join the fray!!

  60. Clark on October 24, 2005 at 9:44 pm

    Rosalynde: Don’t you think, though, that in minimizing the importance of authority, priesthood hierarchy and office we are denying something that is sort of fundamentally Mormon?

    It depends upon how one does it I think. Certainly one can devalue office and authority in say a more Protestant sense and that definitely would be wrong. Clearly priesthood authority is key for the LDS notion of a restoration. However if we don’t consider these as valuable places merely as formal vehicles then I think things are quite different. Would the D&C really be less or more valuable, for instance, if a woman rather than Joseph Smith had written them? What counts are the revelations and having some mechanism to help distinguish error. (Which ultimately is the point of authority, I think – to avoid the problem of the free for all that besets Protestantism)

    Now one can say that for people looking to the prophets that having more women faces would be valuable. And from a purely motivational perspective I can see that, given our fallen natures. People like role models. But that kind of role model view implies, I think, not valuing the prophets or offices as a locus of service but rather values the place. That is, we say this because we think a prophet is more important and valuable to be than a Stake President who is more important and valuable than a Bishop and so forth. If we reject that view of place, then what is left?

    For instance as I said on the M* thread about favorite church figures, my all time favorite church figure is Zina Huntington. Her being a roll model to me has nothing to do with priesthood or gender.

    So the question then becomes, how are we to examine and value priesthood without turning it into a discussion of the value of place. While I think valuation based upon power is worse than valuation based upon place, I think the latter is still dangerous. (And tends to be behind much of the value we give in our culture to the “famous.”)

    So can the issue of the priesthood be cast in a fashion that this doesn’t occur?

  61. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    “Yes, but now you are hearing the MPP expressed and defended by a radical Mormon feminist, so what will you do with that?”

    Julie! Thine snarkiness doth warm my heart. What will I do with it? First, I’ll grin at your comment, then I’ll repeat what I’ve said before: until the scriptures or modern revelation support the MPP, I’ll decline to believe in it.

    I like the chess analogy, except for the part where Laurie is playing the same game as Peter Priesthood. I don’t think we’re dealing with black pieces and white pieces. It’s more like a toy box, where the guys get to play with the toy guns while the girls get to play with the EZ-Bake Ovens. Then, when the girls can’t play with the guns, the MPP points out the EZ-Bake, indicating that it is more important (it DOES bake, after all) and more godlike than playing with guns.

  62. Clark on October 24, 2005 at 9:57 pm

    Matt, (#47), there was an interesting article I mentioned at BT which asserted women did have a genetic propensity towards “spirituality.” This was in connection to cognitive science analysis of the possible evolution of religion. Of course most studying this reject religion as being anything “real.” It’s just a kind of instinctual belief and way of interpreting hard wired into our brains. But this paragraph from the Guardian article was interesting.

    It is of some interest, too, that, in the populations that Bouchard and his colleagues have studied, women tend to have inherited rather more religious attitudes than men.

    I thought for sure someone would have commented on this at the BT thread. But no one did.

    BTW – Rosalynde, I think some of those Ensign charts are counterproductive. I can see the value of the Apostles but not the rest. I think the emphasis was on communicating a connection between the Church today and the structure of the Church in the NT. However I also think it has the unfortunate side effect of emphasizing place as a kind of value. I know several Apostles have spoken about how they are uncomfortable with this. I’m rather surprised none of them have tried to reform it. But perhaps they feel the benefits outweigh the costs. There was an excellent talk by an Apostle on this very topic. But I can’t for the life of me remember who it was so as to find it at the church site.

    BTW2 – I also am not a big fan of imposed gender roles. I think we could assign somewhat arbitrary responsibilities and yet simultaneously allow individuals in a marriage to play to their strengths. I also think gender roles will depend dramatically upon technology and the kind of economy one finds oneself in. I think it unwise to treat gender roles in a primitive hunter/gatherer society with those of say 19th century Utah which was largely agricultural with today’s radically different society in terms of economy and technology. It has always been interesting to me that Brigham’s ideal agricultural society had women acting much more as book keepers and shop keepers with men in the agricultural roles. I don’t think Brigham’s utopia was ever obtainable (and I’m not sure some of his decisions were wise in trying to obtain it). But it is interesting to consider. Certainly the dynamics in the polygamous culture then would be very different than in the monagmous culture we live in. The point being that gender roles are very context dependent it seems to me. And many wish to discount that.

    However priesthood, it seems, must be someone less dependent upon context. Within reason – one has to recognize degrees in which priesthood is provided along with degrees of economic kingdoms – we’re in a period of fairly large accommodation to indigenous economies whereas we weren’t in the 19th century. It would be very interesting to know more about the practical culture, society and economics of say Bountiful 20 years after Christ or in the City of Enoch. However that information seems intentionally kept from us. (Until perhaps the Book of Mormon becomes unsealed)

  63. Julie in Austin on October 24, 2005 at 10:25 pm

    Steve–

    You say that you won’t buy into the MPP until “the scriptures or modern revelation” supports it.

    But modern revelation clearly supports the idea that the EZ Bake-Oven is more fun to play with than the guns. How many First Presidency statements about EZ Baking being closer to divinity and the highest possible calling do you need?

  64. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 10:30 pm

    I agree that it’s doctrine that the EZ Baking is the most noble calling, etc., but nobody’s said that the EZ Bake is superior to the toy guns, I don’t think. And certainly nobody’s said that the reason guys get the toy guns is because girls get the EZ Bake, or vice versa.

  65. Julie in Austin on October 24, 2005 at 11:05 pm

    from a First Presidency statement:

    “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

    I agree that the MPP is usually made more subtly, if at all. I agree that it is more of a deduction in that regard.

  66. Russell Arben Fox on October 24, 2005 at 11:20 pm

    It seems to me that something important tends to be elided, perhaps unintentionally, by those like Julie, Matt, Frank, and to a degree myself, who find the claim “the priesthood and motherhood are equivalent because the priesthood obliges men to perform acts which inculcate in them the sort of feminine, necessary-for-Zion-type virtues and sensitivities which biology and sociology otherwise makes it far hard for them to develop” to be at all persuasive. And that something is simply this: however you cut it, this is a profound criticism of much of the everyday business of priesthood callings. Frank in #43 suggests that home teaching, missionary work (though that, as he allows, isn’t particularly tied to priesthood offices), individual counseling, etc., are these sorts of tutelary, “mothering” tasks which the priesthood conditions men to do. All true. However, my experience is that an awful lot of home teaching, for example, consists of leaders making lists, leaders calling others about lists, leaders checking off lists, leaders forwarding lists to other leaders, who compile additional lists, ad infinitum. The same could be said for significant chunk of every other set of tasks currently laid upon the priesthood: Sunday school administration, missionary coordination, branch and ward and stake record-keeping, and so on and so forth, not one of which, in my experience, remotely makes use of the sort of expansive, “fatherly,” domesticating vision of the priesthood Julie and others have proposed. (I’m hearkening back to my comment on Wilfried’s thread, obviously.) Thus, it seems reasonable to suppose that, if you genuinely believe that God has reserved the priesthood to men because they need to learn to serve and love and connect the way women do, then you probably also have to believe that the present-day church has tragically allowed itself to become embarrassingly correlated and centralized, and that what we really need to do is get men out of all those meetings and into the old folks’ homes and soup kitchens and seminaries and welfare farms and primaries and orphanages and hospitals where they can actually learn empathy, as opposed to learning how to organize.

    Frank also points to the emphasis within the priesthood today on service to one’s family and taking an active role in one’s home, something which Julie, as part of her argument about the moral equivalence of motherhood and priesthood, points to as being far more important than any other priesthood function. I agree. This is one message that I think comes through loud and clear: the identification of being worthy of one’s priesthood with being a loving, involved, empathetic, observant, compassionate father. Though I look hopefully forward to the day when priesthood manuals thematize more explicitly the obstacles to such “feminized” fathering, and begin to discuss the fact that, while there can sometimes be difficult and tragic choices involved in balancing one’s responsibilities as a provider and one’s talents in the wider world, the choice between attending a child’s piano recital and earning a promotion really should be a no-brainer.

  67. Steve Evans on October 24, 2005 at 11:30 pm

    Russell: “This is one message that I think comes through loud and clear: the identification of being worthy of one’s priesthood with being a loving, involved, empathetic, observant, compassionate father.”

    OK. If that’s what we’re all after, then the MPP or OPP or whatever seems less significant. This thread is fun because of the analogies and theories as to priesthood and motherhood, but really all that counts is that we’re keeping our eye on the ball in the way Russell describes.

  68. Clark on October 24, 2005 at 11:35 pm

    Russell, wouldn’t you say that the very ability to criticize these things in terms of a “femininity” entails that perhaps our categories of the feminine and masculine are themselves problematic? Perhaps we’re merely revealing something about the stereotypes our society holds and not anything terribly profound about the priesthood.

  69. Russell Arben Fox on October 24, 2005 at 11:44 pm

    Steve: Thanks for the kind words.

    Clark:

    “[W]ouldn’t you say that the very ability to criticize these things in terms of a ‘femininity’ entails that perhaps our categories of the feminine and masculine are themselves problematic?”

    Very possibly. But, as I believe Rosalynde has pointed out several times, it is not those of us who are struggling with the MPP that introduced this language; rather, it is innumerable general authorites, including a few already quoted in this thread, that have framed, for purposes of doctrinal discussion in the church, femininity and motherhood in this way. (The fact that some of my experiences lead me to at least in part accept their framing doesn’t make it any less a construction.)

  70. MahNahvu on October 25, 2005 at 1:03 am

    This topic obviously has a history beyond this blog, of which I am not privy. But I’ll throw in a couple of thoughts to the mix.

    1. I think it is wrong to extend or equate Priesthood to Fatherhood. I know in practice it is often done, both by church leaders and the general membership. But Fatherhood is not Priesthood and Priesthood is not Fatherhood. Nor is Priesthood a substitute for Fatherhood. Priesthood is for the work of the ministery. If a priesthood holder happens to also be a father, I suppose that you could say that you have Priesthood in the home. And in a patriarchal society, it would be understandable to say that the priesthood holder “presides” in the home. But a priesthood holder is acting in God’s stead. When the deacon passes you the tray, it is vicarious for Jesus handing you the cup and saying “this is my blood.” So it would follow that God essentially presides in the home, if we extend the usage beyond the confines of the chapel. Is that what we are really intending to communicate?

    2. Too much is made of the prestige of the Priesthood. Let’s consider what ministerial work is performed without Priesthood:
    Women teach, lead meetings, pray in church, visit other members in their homes, act as missionaries, preach sermons from the pulpit, address general membership at general conference, hold administrative positions on local, stake and church-wide levels.
    What then, is unique to priesthood holders? The performance of a number of specific rituals and ordinances, and the appointment to time consuming callings such as Bishop or Stake President. From a functional perspective, the difference between priesthood and non-priesthood is not that great.

    3. If we consider Priesthood solely from the perspective of gospel covenants it is near the bottom. By bottom, I mean in terms of progressing along the path to exaltation. We begin with the baptismal covenant. Along the way, the male members are usually called to enter into the covenant of the Priesthood. Later on the journey both men and women may receive the endowment covenants. And higher still is the covenant of marriage.

    If there is no greater work for men and women than in their own home and family, it is my opinion that the limited function and covenant of the Priesthood really has but a minor place in Fatherhood. Discussions intended to compare Motherhood to Priesthood seem curious to me.

  71. Keith on October 25, 2005 at 4:34 am

    Julie wrote: “Rosalynde, I wasn’t at all happy with the ‘all women are mothers’ line that became popular a few years back. While comforting, perhaps, to childless women, it denigrated motherhood.”

    I don’t see how this denigrates motherhood, so you’ll have to convince me of that. Further, instead of reading this as merely giving comfort to those who were childless, it seems to me that this could be read to be thoroughly challenging, even bracing. Eve–others by extention–is [expected/responsilbe to be] the mother of all living (even of all things, not just human beings?). Perhaps this is both a description of who she is as well as a description of a kind of obligation or something she must become. Couldn’t we read that as a charge to Eve that is both as serious as, but different from and parallel to, that given to Adam (which I’m taking to be something along the lines of priesthood responsibility? There are surely areas where these overlap, but seeing them both as general ways of being in the world–types, as well as responsibilities that run deep seems to me to be ways that we might see them as genuinely separate and equal.

    So how do you read the “mother of all living” passages?

    (Sorry not to have time to write more and explain except rather cryptically.)

  72. Keith on October 25, 2005 at 4:41 am

    To make clear what comes out funny in punctuation as is “There are surely areas where these overlap, but seeing them both as general ways of being in the world–types” should read “way of being in the world — types (as in patterns, etc.).

  73. Mark IV on October 25, 2005 at 7:36 am

    “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

    Julie, is it possible that at least part of the reason we hear this often is because our church leaders perceive motherhood to be under attack, and feel that it must be defended at all costs? Without discounting that statement, we need to acknowledge that we can also find statements from prophets of this dispensation which say that the work for the dead is the most important thing we can do, missionary work is the most important thing, scripture study is the most important thing, and so on.

    Also, going back to your response to my comment #14, I don’t follow how you can restrict your argument just to LDS motherhood and LDS fatherhood. The statements from prophets which you cite apply (I think) to motherhood in general, not just Relief Society motherhood. Help me understand.

    Matt, in response to your comment #47,

    I feel like I need to stick up for our gender a little! Would it be fair to say that men are more likely to give their lives for others than women are? The overwhelming majority of the people who ran into the the burning WTC towers in an effort to rescue others all carried a Y chromosome. That is nothing to sneeze at. But most of these arguments boil down to who is bigger, and who has opportunity. For instance, I could argue that women are less righteous than men because they tend to dress immodestly and have abortions at a greater rate. And, to top it off, virtually all of the people who have more than one ear piercing are female, therefore women are less likely to follow the prophet!

  74. Frank McIntyre on October 25, 2005 at 8:39 am

    Russell,

    What you call feminine I call Christlike service. Everyone should be doing that. Women may be better at it, but it has always been a part of Christianity for both men and women. Priesthood’s service emphasis is no newer than Christ’s washing the feet of his disciples. Or check out D&C 121. These ideas are not new.

    And as for home teaching, you seem to be concentrating on the administration by leaders, rather than the performance by individuals. If your home teaching is nothing more than tally marks then yes, that is a failure. But it does not need to be just that. It can be much more.

    And those same leaders, when doing their jobs, also go into the homes of members and counsel and help them. At least, that’s what the good ones I’ve seen do.

    Rosalynde,

    In line with Clark’s argument, one can have authority as God’s representative and still be the servant of all. God serves us, but that does not lessen his overwhelminng authority. Thus it does not lessen the power and authority of priesthood for it to be about service. Indeed, to think that it does is to fall into the trap of defining power and authority and service as the world does, not as God would have us.

  75. VeritasLiberat on October 25, 2005 at 9:06 am

    “But Fatherhood is not Priesthood and Priesthood is not Fatherhood. Nor is Priesthood a substitute for Fatherhood. Priesthood is for the work of the ministery.”

    Here’s a thought.
    A priesthood holder is acting in God’s stead.
    Who is God? Our Father.
    So priesthood is actually a *fatherhood* responsibility. Rather than being two separate items, or fatherhood being “a part” of priesthood, priesthood is actually a part of fatherhood.

  76. VeritasLiberat on October 25, 2005 at 9:06 am

    By which I mean, a fatherhood responsibility.

  77. Russell Arben Fox on October 25, 2005 at 9:41 am

    Frank (#74),

    “What you call feminine I call Christlike service.”

    Agreed. However, if the (arguably) “feminine/mothering/home-centered service/etc.” norm which informs what the priesthood is trying to get men to do is, as you and Clark (in #68) both seem to be implying, only incidentally or misleadingly associated with “women” on their own terms, then why do you suppose innumerable general authorites have so explicitly hammered home the motherhood-priesthood equivalence in the first place? Solely because uppity women keep getting confused by the world, and need to have these things explained to them? Might this be some variation on Mark IV’s argument (#73), which suggests that the only reason church leaders spend so much time defining womanhood is because they think womanhood, on its own terms, is under attack?

    Frankly, I wonder is Matt is the only one here (and I am including myself) who has the courage of his convictions on this point: if the priesthood really is, in the end, nothing more or less than an effort by our Father in Heaven to get half of His children to serve and love and emphathize and humble themselves they way women in the home seem so much more capable of doing (and I think I at least half believe this), then let us embrace the logical corollary: women are superior to men, they are more righteous in the ways which most matter, and thus we should, in comparison to what has been traditionally labeled “women’s work,” look askance as the simply irrelevant, if not actually sinful and distracting, professional and church and leadership make-work that so many men seem to think actually ought to occupy their time.

  78. Laurie on October 25, 2005 at 10:01 am

    One huge difference between Motherhood and the Priesthood is that a woman does not have to be a member of the church to be a Mother; the reverse is true for men holding the Priesthood.

    This stimulating discussion is operating at two levels of analysis at once: what should be the case, and and what is case.

    I have no argument with descriptions of what SHOULD be the case.

    My issue at–which I readily admit may be different from others’ issues–is that the lack of access of women to the Church administrative structure–does not serve the Church well, and diminishes women and girls. I am not advocating for women’s ordination; I argue that ordination of women is, in fact, the easy way out of these important deliberations.

    What I and others are suggesting is that the consequences (unintended or not) of women not having access to the Church organizational power structure needs honest examination, for a myriad of reasons already outlined on this and other threads.

  79. Matt Evans on October 25, 2005 at 10:23 am

    Mark IV,

    I’m sure you’re right that there are areas where men are on-average more righteous than women. (Though abortion probably isn’t one of them — men are more likely to encourage abortion than are women, and more women are pro-life than men.) But I’m still confident that men have not only greater capacity for murder and other heinous crimes of violence, because of their size, but also a greater desire to respond with violence.

    Russell,

    I think you’re placing disproportionate emphasis on in-person service over behind-the-scenes service. The gospel calls everyone to serve, but it doesn’t teach that serving in the clerk’s office is less valuable. Letters wouldn’t be delivered if every USPS employee was a letter carrier. The church (and family) is a body, and hands have need of feet and head.

  80. Frank McIntyre on October 25, 2005 at 10:26 am

    “then let us embrace the logical corollary: women are superior to men”

    This doesn’t bother me, but it gets some people in a big tizzy so I don’t engage the issue as much as I might.

    “why do you suppose innumerable general authorites have so explicitly hammered home the motherhood-priesthood equivalence in the first place?”

    Because each is a form of Christlike service. Each is an opportunity to do what we all must do. Not because men need to be mothers, but because men need to be better fathers and priesthood holders.

  81. Elisabeth on October 25, 2005 at 10:26 am

    To follow up with Laurie’s point, I’ve often wondered whether male participation in the Church would significantly decrease if women were ordained to the Priesthood. If women are more likely than men to participate in Church activity, I would imagine even fewer men would be fully active in the Church if they weren’t the ones in charge.

  82. Huh? on October 25, 2005 at 10:27 am

    Most people in the Church with the proper genitalia over the age of 12 are given the priesthood. Motherhood requires dating, sex, usually marriage, fertility and physical growth–none of which are required for the priesthood.

    Single men, gay or straight, can have the priesthood. Single women do not “share” anyone’s priesthood.

  83. Frank McIntyre on October 25, 2005 at 10:29 am

    Elisabeth,

    This argument, and its in-the-home corollary, is another one that gets some people in a tizzy. But it might well be true.

  84. Rosalynde on October 25, 2005 at 10:33 am

    It always gives me pause to learn that someone I respect greatly—like Keith Lane, who commented above—is reading my threads and observing my behavior! I’m glad I’ve been behaving myself pretty well (I think), and I’m very grateful that everyone else has been, too. Thank you all for your civil tones and respectful, rational discussion. The comments are starting to come a little faster now, which can sometimes snowball out of control, so let’s see if we can’t keep day two as edifying as day one.

  85. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 11:05 am

    I am not really sure what to think of this topic. Normally I jump in on gender issues but not this time. Motherhood is powerful though. Probably the most powerful thing I have ever seen. I will just take on faith what the GA’s say about the links between motherhood and the priesthood. I ayhve no opinion of my own on this subject

    There is an article recently in the Wall Street Journal about the woman ordination issue and the growth/men attendance rates. It was interesting. There seems to be a link between more secular attitudes and lack of church attendance by men. I noticed that what I consider to be the healthiest US denominations (Catholics, Southern Baptists, LDS) all do not ordain women and have conservative stands on abortion, SSM etc.

  86. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Other quick comment in keeping with this thread. Women do seem to be more righteous and more sensitive to the spirit. I really noticed it on my mission. When a complete family would be baptized it was usually the mom who grasped the concepts earlier and was more sensititive to the spirit. Dad was usually less sensitive and took more teaching to convert.

    Activity rates are also higher for women then they are for men. Probably for the same reasons mentioned above.

  87. Laurie on October 25, 2005 at 11:47 am

    Research amply suggests a high probability that ordination of women would result in lowered attendance by men, especially in the more fundamentalist/conservative groups.

    This is one reason why I suggest that the option of ordaining women is not viable. There are far more consequential issues with which to deal in addressing the issue of the diminishing of women (which I and others on this and other treads have already articulated).

    That being said, I am aware of several large congregations in which women are ordained to no apparent ill effect. One is Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria (the church where George Washington and his family worshiped and Robert E. Lee was confirmed). Demonination is Episcopal. When we visited last, there were several ordained women prominent in the service (including Bishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter). We left uplisted and spiritually fed.

    The other church is Riverside Church in New York City, near Columbia University. Denomination is American Baptist and United Church of Christ.

    On the other hand we have the Community of Christ Church which as not experienced a surge of membership since the decision to ordain women.

    Of course the difficulty in any analysis is isolating women’s ordination from other variables.

  88. Rosalynde on October 25, 2005 at 11:48 am

    Matt and Frank, help me understand your position a little better. At first I thought you were making the coherent (if speculative) argument that priesthood office gives men opportunities to provide direct nurturing service of the sort that motherhood provides, in order specifically to compensate for a deficit of nurturing behavior or instinct in men compared to women. Now I hear you saying that priesthood *doesn’t* actually need to provide (very much) direct nurturing service opportunity (#79), and that men *don’t* actually need to become more like women in their nurturing behavior, but more like Christ (#74). This seems to me to disrupt your argument fatally: if priesthood isn’t about nurturing after all, and if anyway nurturing is not a feminine attribute but a Christlike attribute that, presumably, men *and* women should cultivate, then where does that leave your rationale for a male priesthood? (Again, I’m not challenging the male priesthood, I’m just challenging the rationale for it you’ve laid out here. And I’m challenging it because I think it’s intriguing and I’d truly like to understand it better.)

    On a different note, I’m still resistant, in the context of this sort of discussion, to the easy annexing of fatherhood to priesthood. I think I understand why it’s done: it domesticates and personalizes the exercise of priesthood, reducing the importance of the hierarchical scaffold of priesthood office that supports the institutional church and thus minimizing the differences between men’s and women’s relationships to that church. I’m sympathetic to each of those projects, I guess, but I think conflating fatherhood and priesthood is a fatal conceptual error. First of all, it makes a hopelessly inelegant muddle of useful categorical distinctions: unless one is going to revert to a patrilineal (Abrahamic) priesthood, or to insist on a thoroughgoing spiritualization of the household, including a complete dismantling of the institutional church in the way that early radical protestantism did, priesthood and fatherhood are two separate species of authority. Fatherhood is a (generally) biological relationship with a child that nearly any man can enter into, independent of worthiness, without connection to any particular social institution, and without formal transmission of authority. Priesthood, on the other hand, is an explicitly hieratical relationship with God and with an organization that is dependent upon the man’s worthiness, explicitly guaranteed and dispensed by the institution of the church, and formally transmitted (or revoked). In this sense the two sorts of authority seem to me almost entirely different, springing from two distinct spheres of human experience. In the D&C 84, in fact, it’s only patrilineal priesthood relationships that are mentioned in connection to fatherhood, which we’ve abandoned structurally in the present-day church: where are the duties of nurturing fatherhood there?

    But even if we’re going to forget about conceptual argument and focus only on consequentialist argument—that is, to argue that the primary purpose of priesthood is to make men better fathers, with relationships to their children that more closely resemble mothers’ relationships to their children—the folding in of fatherhood to priesthood seems misguided. If nurturing fatherhood is the primary good, and priesthood only an instrument to achieve that good, then why does fatherhood fall under the aegis of priesthood, rather than the other way around? Furthermore, if nurturing fatherhood is the primary goal of priesthood, wouldn’t the best solution be to give women full responsibility for the administration and instruction of the church, and leave the fathers at home with the children to strengthen their relationships?

    (Edited to note: I’m hypersensitive to this, but I want to reiterate here that my last rhetorical question should not be interpreted as a call for a shift in gender duties, because I’m not convinced that, in fact, nurturing behavior is the primary desired effect of Mormon priesthood service.)

  89. Kayla on October 25, 2005 at 11:49 am

    In the original post, Julie writes, “But an ideal LDS father is not devoting full-time–he’s lucky for a few hours with the kids in the evenings and weekends.”

    If indeed the “ideal” LDS father spends so little time (apparently justifiably) with his family, why are we not reviling against this ideal? Why are we not fighting for fatherhood (in a hands-on, real sense) as much as we are for motherhood? Why is it OK for fathers to be out of the house for more than 40-hours/week? (Granted, that’s the arbitrary work-week but from my experience, as a standard expectation, it’s more than enough time at work for the given saleried employee).

    By using the MPP as it’s been termed, don’t we relegate fatherhood to a lesser good than motherhood with regards to parenting (as fatherhood has to be supplemented with priesthood whereas motherhood does not)? And if so, why is this a good (or even adequate) thing?

    I’m someone who does not look to GA statements for answers to everything, I tend to form my opinions based on what makes sense–what resonates, both emotionally and logically. Yes, my perspective and context is not perfect, but I trust that “feeling.” And it just makes more sense to me that fathers should have the opportunity to have an equally active role in parenting as mothers(and be encouraged to do so), and women should have an equal opportunity to participate in and administer priesthood functions, ordinances and administrative duties.

  90. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 11:56 am

    Laurie,

    You are right that its been pretty well shown to have a negative impact on membership. The EP Church USA (Anglican)has seen a 60% membership drop since it started adopting more liberal positions back in the 70’s. Individual congregations may be doing OK but as a whole the mainline denominations are melting away over time.

    Church of Christ has seen a similar drop in membership. Something is missing in the mainline churches. What do you think it is?

  91. Rosalynde on October 25, 2005 at 11:56 am

    b bell wrote: “Women do seem to be more righteous and more sensitive to the spirit.”

    Brother Bell, help me understand your position better. Your statement seems to suggest that God, on the basis of gender, allowed half of his children to be born, by no fault of their own, with an insuperable obstacle to their success in mortality. Do you see it differently somehow? It’s easier for me to accept that women, on average, tend to be less rational than men—either by a quirk of neurobiology or by their (generally) lower levels of education—and thus more accepting of (irrational) religious claims, than to accept that God would deal with his children so inequitably.

  92. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    Rosalynde,

    Please do not ask me why. I do not know. You are asking a impossible question. I agree with Matt on the stats with activity, baptism, temp rec, crime rates etc. I think it may have something to do with the biology of being able to carry and then nurture children. I am merely looking at the widely accepted stats and backing it up with a personal anecdote being involved with the conversion of 7 complete family units on my mission. (white, black, mixed race, university educated and not)

    I do not think that the obstacle for men is insuperable (is that a word) we just have a harder time with spiritual matters. More natural man in the wrong places (think sex drive) It does concern me since I have 4 boys. I do not think that God looks at gender thru a 21st century lense educated at Harvard or UCB. So he may not have made the genders spiritually equal. (just a thought)

  93. Rosalynde on October 25, 2005 at 12:23 pm

    He doesn’t?? I was sure I had a critical gender theory class with him my first year… :) (And I only wish I went to Harvard or Berkeley…. well, maybe not.)

  94. Keith on October 25, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    Julie wrote: “God raises children. God does what earthly mothers do. It never ceases to amaze me that Mormon men aren’t up in arms over the fact that they are not allowed to be at home with their children all day, doing God’s work.”

    (I hope you don’t think I’m picking on you. You ask good questions and have good observations and I take them seriously and respond to them.)

    God does care for his children and raises them, as you say. He also provides for their needs–shelters them, brings provisions, etc. The personal nurturing and the building of the outward house and harvesting food for those being nurtured seem to both be actions of godly love. One without the other brings suffering. Personal love and nurturing with no basic provisions is a calamity, though perhaps to be preferred to basic physical needs with no love and nurturing. Both are necessary in a divine economy. And, at least in the world we live in now, some division of labor seems expedient.

    Granted that one can use the “I work all day to show love” as an excuse for not nurturing, spending time with, etc. But this need not be the case.

  95. Keith on October 25, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    I wrote: “Personal love and nurturing with no basic provisions is a calamity, though perhaps to be preferred to basic physical needs with no love and nurturing.”

    This is a bit overstated to make my point. Ideally, we can’t have one without the other.

  96. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    Rosalynde,

    Just checked with my wife on spirituality of men vs women. She claims that women are far far more spiritual on average. Just ask Eve. She says that…. Adam really needed guidance from Eve on what to do when he was alone in the garden of Eden so God sent Eve. Then when a decision had to be made Children vs staying in the garden Eve choose first and wisely. Then she said that sounds like us….

    Adam though was able to not get lost without a map when they left the garden. At least he thought he could.

  97. Frank McIntyre on October 25, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    “presumably, men *and* women should cultivate, then where does that leave your rationale for a male priesthood? ”

    Because women get similar opportunities to be Christlike through motherhood. Why are there different channels and not just one? Perhaps it is a division of labor, or perhaps because the differences between the two are helpful for the two groups and what works for them. Either way, Just because priesthood helps men come to God does not mean God has to use priesthood to help women come to Him.

    As for fatherhood and priesthood, I don’t think the goal is to make them the same, but to point out that they reinforce one another. A good priesthood holder is a good father (and a good employee, etc.). A good father can be even better by wisely blessing his family with the priesthood. To make them entirely distinct and unrelated is far more untenable than the risk of considering them too closely. As was mentioned above, priesthood is to act as God’s representative. But God’s chief relation to us is as a Father. Thus the two are and must be intertwined. It is, after all, the Patriarchal priesthood.

  98. Clark on October 25, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Russell, I wouldn’t take the fact that GAs use the language of our time (the word feminine) to imply much about essential gender roles or the like. Certainly I agree that the stereotypes our culture have about femininity includes somethings men ought have.

    As to non-Mormons being able to be mothers, yes they can. And fathers too. But are they mothers and fathers the way we are commanded, instructed and initiated to be? Isn’t a mother and father who are sealed to each other and their children different from someone who happens to pop out a kid. There’s more to being a mother than just having a child. And I’m not saying non-Mormons can’t obtain to a lot of it, but then with regards to the Priesthood I think the first chapter of Abraham suggests people can do that with the Priesthood as well – just that there is more to it.

  99. Laurie on October 25, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    B Bell said in response to my post: “Laurie, You are right that its been pretty well shown to have a negative impact on membership. The EP Church USA (Anglican)has seen a 60% membership drop since it started adopting more liberal positions back in the 70’s. Individual congregations may be doing OK but as a whole the mainline denominations are melting away over time.

    Church of Christ has seen a similar drop in membership. Something is missing in the mainline churches. What do you think it is?”

    B Ben, this is a GREAT question, and many people have been positing answers. Perhaps in times of uncertainty and fear, people gravitate to those institutions that promise certainty. Especially certainty of rightness over everyone else.

    I am not sure what THE reason is, but here is what it isn’t: the drop in membership is not attributable solely to the ordination of women.

    There are other compelling variables in the socio-political context of religion in the United States. Those variables include less tolerance for differences (even religious differences) and the popular definition of moral issues. Moral values as defined and captured by the Republican Right–and megachurches–consists of anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. These are polarizing issues even though I have not known anyone who is pro-abortion.

    Meanwhile, these moral values forces support government policies that promote the growth of poverty in the US, the decimation of the middle class (of some concern to the Church because of reduction in tithing revenues), the largest concentration of wealth in the US since the Gilded Age in the 1890’s (the top 1% over 90% of the nation’s wealth), while health care is vastly diminishing for the poor, the working poor, what is left of the middle class, that their children.

    I did not know that NOT providing health care for children was a moral value. Governor Blunt (a vocal proponent of moral values) of my now-home state of Missouri has been criticized of late for caring very much for babies before they are botn–but after they get here, they are on their own. Missouri’s rate of increase in people without health insurance is twice the national average, according to a published report today.

    These same pro-moral values forces fail to see the stark contrast of the “moral values” position and the government-sanctioned torture of prisoners.

    My point is that Christianity in the United States has failed to make the case of the seriousness of the Lord’s criteria in Matthew 24.

    Sorry for this convoluted response–but the socio-political context is important. Mormon politicans cozy up to the religious right at their peril. _The Washington Monthly_ has a superb article on the problems that Mitt Romney can expect from the Republican religious base if he runs for President in 2008–problems that exist because he is a Mormon.

  100. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 2:25 pm

    Hey Laurie, Good post.

    “but here is what it isn’t: the drop in membership is not attributable solely to the ordination of women.” Yeah Its just one of many factors.

    One of the bigger factors is that the mainline churches have a really low birthrate (less than half of ours and horrific retention of the kids that are born. (per interviews I have seen/read with Mainline denomination leaders) Why is that? I am pretty confident that when you as a church have “problems” with the NT, the idea that Jesus was the son of god, and throw out traditional Christian teachings on just about everything (gay issues esp) there is not much left to believe in. The more fervent Christians leave for the evangelicals in disgust and there is not much else left.

    LDS politicians are “Fellow Travelers” with the Christian right on SSM and abortion. We have more in common values wise with evangelicals then we do with secular folks. Romney will never be able to get over the “mormon issue” with evangelical primary voters. But a mormon would also not be able to get over the “secular issue” with the democratic primary voters either. So we are out of luck in either primary. Oh well….

  101. Heather Oman on October 25, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    Julie-

    I haven’t had the time to read everything, but I would like to thank you for saying that you have problems with “all women are mothers”. I found that it denigrates motherhood as well. I understand that doing so is not the purpose of the original statement, but I still had some problems with it. You’re the first person I’ve heard say that same thing.

  102. Julie in Austin on October 25, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Steve Evans–thanks for #67.

    Keith, the problem that I have with ‘all women are mothers’ is that motherhood either is or is not synonymous with womanhood. If we say that it is synonymous, then it seems to me that all our theory and practice of the importance of mothering and mothers being home goes out the window. If it isn’t synonymous, then claiming that it is becomes a misplaced (albeit politically correct) rhetorical effort. That said, I do believe that all women will someday be mothers, and so if this statement is meant to point to divine eventualities (as it does, I believe, when we call Eve the mother of all living before she has had a child), then I have no problem with it. By my sense is that that isn’t how it is used.

    Mark IV–I’m willing to entertain the notion that the motherhood quote is hyperbole. To make your case, you’ll need to find me a statement that says, “_______ is is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

    As for the LDS/nonLDS issue, I will concede that they probably weren’t thinking about this issue of LDS versus nonLDS motherhood when that statement was issued, but do you think if I pinned them down and asked, “Do you think a 16 yo who gets drunk and pregnant is engaged in the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind?”, I think we’d find that they were talking about covenant women raising kids in light and truth, and not motherhood in general.

    Laurie, you and I disgree on a lot here, but I think we could find common ground on increasing women’s involvement under the current pattern of things. Have you read Elder Ballard’s book _Counseling with our Councils_? I think you’d love it, and I hope every church leader reads it and thinks about it.

    Kayla, we aren’t reviling the idea of fathers being away from their children because people like food and shelter and someone generally has to spend time away from their family to earn these things. I do think that we should praise men more for the sacrifice that they make in being away from their children so much.

    Keith, as to your later comment about God’s work, inasmuch as I understand it, God’s providing material things for us does not necessitate God’s absence from God’s children, and hence the parallel to earthly actions breaks down. (Forgive awkward sentence, but I don’t like to use gendered pronouns for God.)

    Heather, thanks. It took me a lot of nerve to start saying that out loud (although it bothered me from the very first) because I know from personal experience that a LOT of childless women really resonated with it.

  103. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    Julie, Heather,

    It bothers my wife to. She says that she was not a mother prior to having kids. She was a prospective mother.

    Why do you think they never say that childless men are fathers to from the pulpit? Just wondering.

  104. Laurie on October 25, 2005 at 3:53 pm

    B Ben the birthrate issue is a solid one, that’s for sure. Look at the luck the Shakers had, with the celibacy rules for married couples (as well as for singles!) Only a few members may be alive in Maine and New York at this point.

    And you demonstrate my point–the NT mentions the poor something like, what, 500 times? Far more than gay marriage, for instance.

    I argue that the deletion of poverty from moral values is a grave error from the Savior’s perspective. And I hasten to give our Church credit in this regard–not only with the welfare system and humanitarian services, but also with the Inner City Project in SLC.

    Elder Alexander Morrison, which whom I ahd the pleasure of working, often commented about our being “checkbook Christians” and what a mean-spirited society we are with regards to the poor.

    I totally agree with him.

  105. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 3:56 pm

    Laurie,

    Check out the PEF. Enuff said.

  106. gst on October 25, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    b bell, you’ve used that phrase, “enuff said,” a few times in different discussions. I’m not sure that it carries the rhetorical weight you think it does. Perhaps you should try spelling it “enuff sed” and see if that works any better.

  107. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 4:41 pm

    I want to personally thank GST for thinking that my opinions are important enough that he remembers me using enuff said more than once. Even when I do not remember I really appreciate lackeys. GST I am adding you to my impressive lackey list!!

  108. CS Eric on October 25, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    I know I am following a tangent here, but the recent posts about poverty and the PEF go along with what I believe is one of the most important of Christ’s examples of how to treat each other. In nearly every instance, he taught, healed, or forgave before he told the individual “go and sin no more.” In many ways, the Church, probably by culture more than by doctrine, seems more eager to punish than to help. I agree with Laurie that we should want to me known more for our charity than for our opposition to “gay rights.”

    Isn’t that what both priesthood and motherhood are for, anyway? To teach, to lift, to heal? The Savior taught that we would be known as His disciples by the love we have for each other.

    This is a difficult discussion for me because, for reasons beyond our control, my wife and I are childless. And yet part of the reason I chose her as my partner for eternity was that she is the most nurturing, “mothering” person that I know. But since we are childless, she doesn’t count in this discussion because she is not a Mother. Miscarriages don’t count. Since I am not a Father, is my priesthood also diminished? On the outside, no. I still am eligible for any calling for which I am worthy. But I won’t have the opportunity to bless my children, to baptise and confirm them, to ordain my sons to the priesthood or anything else along those lines. So, in a very real sense, my priesthood is as diminished to me for lack of participating in fatherhood as her womanhood is diminshed for lack of participating in motherhood. Even if I were a General Authority, something would still be missing from my priesthood.

    FWIW, we didn’t buy into that “every woman is a mother” line. As much as we would love to be, neither one of is is “really” a parent.

  109. b bell on October 25, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    CS Eric,

    Keep the faith brother. I have walked in your shoes with infertility. I know the pain. Its hard to describe how it feels unless you have Exp it yourself.

    LOL

  110. CS Eric on October 25, 2005 at 9:29 pm

    b bell,

    Thanks, but I wasn’t really looking for sympathy. I was just making the point that not everybody gets everything they want in life. Why couldn’t we have children? I don’t know. Does that make either one of us less a child of God? No. Why do only men have the priesthood? I don’t know. Does that make women less children of God? No.

    There are things we just don’t understand. Are they unfair? Maybe. But I tend to believe that my trials and experiences in life are the ones I need so I can learn to be like my Heavenly Father. That is why they are mine and not somebody else’s. Does that belief mean that I don’t struggle sometimes? No, we all do, and we all try to make sense out of what seems to be injustice in the world. Sometimes they are injustices we can correct, sometimes they are not.

    Is the exclusion of women from the priesthood one of those injustices? I don’t know, and even though I have my opinions, it is not an issue that gets a lot of focus from me. I have my own struggles to deal with. Laurie, Julie in Austin, Rosalynde, and others have more of an interest in it, and I hope that they can come to peace with their answers. If women get the priesthood, great. If not, I hope they and other righteous women in the Church can find other ways to serve that give meaning to their lives. Motherhood is one of those ways. As I said in my earlier post, parenthood is not an option in my life, so my wife and I have to find still other ways to serve that can give meaning to our lives. Isn’t that what the gospel is all about anyway?

  111. Mark IV on October 26, 2005 at 1:35 pm

    Matt, way back in #79,

    I think you are right that men tend to sin in more spectacular fashion. But when we realize that God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, even the lesser transgressions disqualify us, and the various shades of gray become unimportant. Granted, a man who leaves his family in order to run off to Las Vegas with a cocktail waitress deserves all the opprobrium that can be thrown his way. Let’s just remember that it takes two to tango, and bear in mind the gender of his partner in sin. I guess what bothers me about the idea that women are naturally better than men is that I cannot manage to square it with my conception of God as fair. If we accept your proposition, the next step is to accept that men, because of their limited capacity, are not accountable, or as accountable as women. Without our Savior, we are all, both men and women, in the same boat, and the location of that boat is pretty far up a creek.

    I appreciate your acknowledgement of behind the scenes service and the analogy of the hands and feet being part of the same body. It’s good to remember that when couple A cares for the children of couple B so that couple B can serve in the temple, the service performed by couple A is also valuable and no less worthy of honor.

    Julie, #102,

    Thank you for continuing to engage on this point, which I realize is peripheral to your main point.

    You said: I’m willing to entertain the notion that the motherhood quote is hyperbole. To make your case, you’ll need to find me a statement that says, “_______ is is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

    In response, I cite the following:

    “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:313)

    “We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 406)

    I make these citations not to argue about what is most important, but rather to establish that this is a rhetorical device that is commonly employed, and to suggest that we need to account for it when we quote church leaders. Having said that, I have no problem at all with the idea that motherhood is tremendously important, is now in the line of fire, and needs to be defended in the strongest possible terms.

    I like the way you have inverted the tiresome old argument about traditional men’s work being of greater value than a Mom’s work, which is nothing but drudgery. But I think you argument breaks down when you assert that Mom’s work is the best work because she is doing something of eternal value. Wouldn’t it be better to recognize that a father’s involvement in the getting and spending of the temporal world facilitates his wife’s greater involvement with the couple’s young children, and therefore also has eternal consequences, as Matt’s analogy above would indicate? That idea keeps me going, and probably many other men too. I have no illusions about my job being important or of an eternal nature. In fact, if I awake after the resurrection and find myself sitting in a department meeting listening to a VP drone on forever about how we all need to go the extra mile in order to meet this quarter’s projections, I’ll know I have landed somewhere far, far south of celestial glory. But if I can place my job in the context of of my family’s needs, it’s all good.

    And I am still having a hard time understanding how you MPP model applies to people outside the church. I’m not talking about a “16 yo who gets drunk and pregnant” (a little rhetorical flourish of your own there, perhaps? :> ), I’m talking about my good neighbors, honorable people who take their responsibility as parents seriously.

  112. Mark IV on October 26, 2005 at 1:36 pm

    Matt, way back in #79,

    I think you are right that men tend to sin in more spectacular fashion. But when we realize that God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, even the lesser transgressions disqualify us, and the various shades of gray become unimportant. Granted, a man who leaves his family in order to run off to Las Vegas with a cocktail waitress deserves all the opprobrium that can be thrown his way. Let’s just remember that it takes two to tango, and bear in mind the gender of his partner in sin. I guess what bothers me about the idea that women are naturally better than men is that I cannot manage to square it with my conception of God as fair. If we accept your proposition, the next step is to accept that men, because of their limited capacity, are not accountable, or as accountable as women. Without our Savior, we are all, both men and women, in the same boat, and the location of that boat is pretty far up a creek.

    I appreciate your acknowledgement of behind the scenes service and the analogy of the hands and feet being part of the same body. It’s good to remember that when couple A cares for the children of couple B so that couple B can serve in the temple, the service performed by couple A is also valuable and no less worthy of honor.

    Julie, #102,

    Thank you for continuing to engage on this point, which I realize is peripheral to your main point.

    You said: I’m willing to entertain the notion that the motherhood quote is hyperbole. To make your case, you’ll need to find me a statement that says, “_______ is is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

    In response, I cite the following:

    “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:313)

    “We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 406)

    I make these citations not to argue about what is most important, but rather to establish that this is a rhetorical device that is commonly employed, and to suggest that we need to account for it when we quote church leaders. Having said that, I have no problem at all with the idea that motherhood is tremendously important, is now in the line of fire, and needs to be defended in the strongest possible terms.

    I like the way you have inverted the tiresome old argument about traditional men’s work being of greater value than a Mom’s work, which is nothing but drudgery. But I think you argument breaks down when you assert that Mom’s work is the best work because she is doing something of eternal value. Wouldn’t it be better to recognize that a father’s involvement in the getting and spending of the temporal world facilitates his wife’s greater involvement with the couple’s young children, and therefore also has eternal consequences, as Matt’s analogy above would indicate? That idea keeps me going, and probably many other men too. I have no illusions about my job being important or of an eternal nature. In fact, if I awake after the resurrection and find myself sitting in a department meeting listening to a VP drone on forever about how we all need to go the extra mile in order to meet this quarter’s projections, I’ll know I have landed somewhere far, far south of celestial glory. But if I can place my job in the context of of my family’s needs, it’s all good.

    And I am still having a hard time understanding how you MPP model applies to people outside the church. I’m not talking about a “16 yo who gets drunk and pregnant” (a little rhetorical flourish of your own there, perhaps? :> ), I’m talking about my good neighbors, honorable people who take their responsibility as parents seriously.

  113. Mark IV on October 26, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    Cleanup on aisle 112.