Mormon Identity: Men and Women in the Church

November 5, 2010 | 92 comments
By

Go here and either listen to or read (I love transcripts! Thank you!) this episode and then return and report.

As for me and my house:

(1) The beginning of the conversation with the “motherhood is more than giving birth” and “women aren’t missing anything” themes left me cold. I wish I could have had them flesh these ideas out . . . I would have asked, “Why are we calling it ‘motherhood’ if we aren’t talking about ‘motherhood’ as the term is universally used? Wouldn’t it be better to use a different term?” And I’m not sure what the goal is of the “women aren’t missing out on anything” theme. If that is how some women feel, I don’t see how telling them “no, you aren’t” would be helpful. It seems to me that what would be appropriate would be a follow-up question such as “what do you feel that you are missing out on?” and then a response to the answer to that question.

(2) I appreciated and fully agreed with the discussion of “Christian virtues” and thought Fronk Olsen and Millet were rather daring to phrase things the way that they did, given that we could find a veritable boatload of authoritative quotations from important people claiming that those virtues are gender-based.

(3) On the patriarchy discussion (bottom of page 4): I think most any person would find at least a paradox if not an outright conflict between the idea of “equal partnership” and “husband’s leadership,” and so I find it disappointing that Fronk Olsen didn’t explore that paradox/conflict (and said that it seemed “simple” to her). There might be a solution here at the top of page 6, where she refers to Elder Oaks teaching that “patriarchal” priesthood means something not hierarchical but equal. Which bring us back to my issue with using words differently than everyone else does . . .

(4) “Church broken.” Ha. Never heard that one before. Going to use that.

(5) It does make one wonder in what ways our youth might think differently about gender if they spent their zoned-out sacrament meetings staring at a picture of a woman looming over Jesus instead of a blank wall.

(6) I think “Mormon Identity” is a bizarre title. The first and only thing it made me think of was Christian Identity–not good, not good. I heard that the title is being changed to “Mormon Identities” (which I suppose is better but inasmuch as it feeds into the whole new mormon.org look-how-urban-and-hip-and-diverse-we-are scene, I’m not too thrilled with that either, as you perhaps had already guessed).

92 Responses to Mormon Identity: Men and Women in the Church

  1. Ardis E. Parshall on November 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Reading that transcript was like reading a page of notes. It felt shallow and superficial, despite how many significant ideas they mentioned. It was like they thought mere references to something constituted adequate explanation, that we could all fill in what was left unsaid. I couldn’t.

    I realize that radio chatter won’t ever have the depth and solidity of a carefully reasoned and written article, and I crave a satisfactory article on some of the topics they merely brushed up against. After having read the transcript, I know nothing more, have been persuaded of nothing new, can feel nothing more deeply than before. I’m not sure what was the point of broadcasting that “discussion.”

  2. Aaron R. on November 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Though I love E. Holland generally, I remember hearing him refer to his wife as ‘marvelously Church-broken’. That made me cringe a little.

  3. Starfoxy on November 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    About your point two, I didn’t find it daring so much as disingenuous. Not only because there is, as you say, “a veritable boatload of authoritative quotations from important people claiming that those virtues are gender-based” but because many of those quotations claim they should be gender-based. Men and women aren’t encouraged to emulate each other, and adopt each other’s strengths the way she described it happening in her mission. We are continually encouraged to withdraw into our assigned specialities.

    About the show more generally I found the whole thing seemed to be out of touch in some way. They cite all of these things that show how men and women are equally valued, and how women have all this spiritual power through the priesthood, but all of that is so far from my lived experience that they may as well be talking about a completely different church. For example, I have never once sat through a lesson about Deborah at church or seminary, or institute. You can trust me on that because I would have latched on to that story as if my life depended on it. If a lesson were meant to include her, then all the teachers I’ve had have left that part out. So citing Deborah up as an example of how we teach that women have roles in the kingdom not related to childbearing is ironic, specifically because we never actually do teach that.

  4. Becca on November 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I agree with Ardis’ point that the superficial nature of the program was frustrating. I was really hoping Fronk Olson would expand on the idea that many priesthood responsibilities can be outsourced when a woman doesn’t have a priesthood holder in her home. If priesthood responsibilities can be outsourced, and if being a mother doesn’t require actually being a mother, then what are we really left with?

    I also found several of Millet’s questions to Fronk Olsen to be condescending in tone (i.e. “Have you ever enjoyed a spiritual gift in your life?”). Really? But probably the tone was impacted by the medium. I suppose he had to move the conversation along somehow.

    I do think it is important, however, that such nuanced and complicated topics were being addressed on the church’s “official” radio station. The more we talk about the tough things, the more normative they will become in every day Mormon conversations. Even though this particular conversation was executed awkwardly, at least something resembling dialogue was taking place.

  5. MEM on November 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I agree with Starfoxy. That would be an awesome lesson and I would have remembered it as well. Just this morning I was reflecting on what I would do if I’d never had children, or what I would do if they were ever taken from me, and what I could possibly do with my life that would still bring me some joy and fulfillment. The church suggests single or childless women serve in the primary and try to become super-involved aunts. But for me I don’t think that would cut it. I’m sure of it.

    On a different note, I recall visting with my Stake President for a temple recommend before I married my husband. I had already been accepted to medical school out of state and we planned to move away shortly after the wedding. He was obviously displeased at my ambition, and interrogated us about what we thought it meant to have the priesthood holder “preside” in the home. He really wanted him to understand that if I wanted something he didn’t agree with, he could forbid it, and it would and should be the final word. Well, I loved my husband’s response. “Ummm, like maybe have my name listed first on the ward list?”

    We still laugh about that.

  6. Becca on November 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Amen, Starfoxy, about Deborah. This year’s SS lesson on Deborah is titled “Deborah—the strength of a righteous friend.” Ugh.

  7. Ardis E. Parshall on November 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    The church suggests single or childless women serve in the primary and try to become super-involved aunts. But for me I don’t think that would cut it. I’m sure of it.

    It doesn’t cut it for anybody.

  8. Aaron R. on November 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Becca, the problem I have with their attempt to have this discussion is that it does not present gender and priesthood as a hard issue. Rather it seems to minimise it by suggesting it is easy to understand and therefore simultaneously situates those who do struggle as deviant or apostate. This type of conversation only allows other similar dialogues which, and as has been ably pointed out, do not deal with the real complexity of the questions here. I am not sure this is even commendable.

  9. Becca on November 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Aaron, I appreciate your point. I did get the feeling you are describing from Millet’s question as to whether Fronk Olsen had encountered women who were struggling with questions about gender and she responds “It does come up once in a while,” implying that women with such questions are unusual or not normal.

    But I disagree that holding a superficial conversation like this necessarily limits future, in-depth conversations. Where else are they supposed to start? So little discussion ever takes place at all; in my view, this is better than nothing (I know, I have high really high expectations here). It evidences that these are topics that “faithful” people can have permission to think about, however fleeting and undeveloped their thoughts might be.

    I’m just reflecting about some women I know who would never, ever read FMH or listen to a Mormon Stories podcast or attend a retreat/conference. They, would, however drink up official LDS radio, and could be introduced to some gender topics that had likely never crossed their minds before.

  10. DavidH on November 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I think we need a new word to substitute for “patriarchal”, because in English that suggests that priesthood (including temple authority) is all about males. I like their attempt to deflect that when they argue that it is really “family-centered priesthood.” That might do–and it might even be more accurate than “patriarchal.” Or maybe “relational”–i.e., we believe in a priesthood found in relationships, or perhaps “sealing” priesthood is better, because the highest order of priesthood arguably is the sealing of relationships.

    The discussion of “submission” didn’t help. I would note that the Proclamation does not use that term and a quick search of the scriptures does not show that anyone other than Paul used the term to describe the relationship of wife to husband.

  11. Martie on November 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    “After having read the transcript, I know nothing more, have been persuaded of nothing new, can feel nothing more deeply than before. I’m not sure what was the point of broadcasting that “discussion.”

    I think the point is to say, “see, we do tackle about men/women issues.”

    But I agree, I learned nothing new.

  12. Paul on November 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Interesting. I’ve never listened to or read these podcasts before (and I’m not likely to do so again any time soon). I agree with Ardis that it seems so much chatting rather than real discussion. (I vaguely remember those scripture roundtable discussions on BYU TV that also left me similarly cold.) The moderator and guest are presented as professors of scripture yet they quote none (and paraphrase very few).

    The positive thing for me was the realization that the theme of Elder Oaks’ most recent conference talk on two priesthoods is not a new one. I was grateful for reference to (if not very clearly) others over time who had treated similar themes.

  13. Suleiman on November 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    In my book, both Millet and Fronk Olsen have hit home runs before… this was not one of those times.

    It seems to me that there are too many instances of LDS culture, leadership and theology being inherently “patriarchal,” in the traditional sense of the word, to take this podcast seriously.

  14. Researcher on November 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    From Fronk Olsen: “And the fact that nowhere in there did it say that I
    could not have a relationship with my Father in Heaven and being single that I didn’t have to go through a husband or father to get to God that I could talk directly to Him.”

    I have heard similar statements a number of times recently and am still trying to figure out why women would have the idea that they have to approach God through a husband or father or priesthood leader and do not have every right to receive their own personal revelation for themselves and their families.

    I cannot remember ever in my entire life, in church meetings or the temple, being taught that we have to go through an intermediary besides Jesus Christ to receive personal revelation.

    As women, we do receive priesthood blessings and ordinances through men, but all the men in the church have to approach other men for these same priesthood blessings and ordinances. There is a principle of intercession in the priesthood that is the same for men and women, and both men and women also need intercession through Jesus Christ in their personal relationship with Heavenly Father.

    So am I missing something? Have I not been listening in church and conference all these years? Should I be reading things like Fascinating Womanhood or Anita Canfield’s books or attending Time Out For Women? Seriously, why have so many people including Fronk Olsen felt it necessary to refute this point recently?

  15. Hunter on November 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Listen to the audio — it’s worth it if for no other reason than you’ll get a better sense of the conversational nature/purpose of this presentation.

  16. jks on November 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Researcher, I’ve been listening in church and conference. I haven’t been taught that either.
    I think part of it is when you have people who DON’T have a problem trying to figure out what exactly is bugging those WITH a problem. So they are trying to address concerns that don’t completely make sense to them. I don’t feel left out by not having the priesthood so I think I would do a bad job trying to fully address those concerns. So I might be left pointing out all these obvious things like I can be saved by Jesus, I can receive personal revelation, I can progress spiritually, I can receive priesthood blessings. The fact is that in my relationship with God and Jesus Christ, I don’t feel a lack of anything based on gender, marital status or lack of priesthood. So, I find myself randomly pointing out all the things that are not missing.

  17. Mephibosheth on November 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    I think most any person would find at least a paradox if not an outright conflict between the idea of “equal partnership” and “husband’s leadership”

    Maybe. As for myself, I’ve only ever heard this objection in the bloggernacle. But that’s probably understandable. When I’ve raised the issue invariably people don’t think there’s a contradiction between leadership and equality, but they have trouble putting their finger on exactly where they think the fallacy in the objection lies. I think it does come down to how we re-define words and concepts when we talk about the gospel.

  18. Stephanie on November 5, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I found the discussion lacking. I do like the idea that “the patriarchal order” is equal partnership marriage, and I think that we are moving toward that (based on changes in the way marriage is talked about over the pulpit from 20 years ago and changes in the Gospel Principles manual). It bothers me when people want to just act like “patriarchal order” never meant anything else, though.

    I also liked the missionary analogy that men and women grow from fulfilling all roles, but it didn’t make much sense in the light of distinct gender roles being upheld.

    Last, a small threadjack. I found it interesting that Isaac and Rebekah were held up as a model marriage because Isaac doesn’t appear to have been a polygamist, right? I can’t really think of any examples of polygamist marriages that were all happy and enjoyable for everyone involved. Abraham really only loved Sarah. Jacob really only loved Rebekah. Brigham Young didn’t love all his wives. The strongest relationship appears to be the one that was monogamous.

  19. Stephanie on November 5, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I cannot remember ever in my entire life, in church meetings or the temple, being taught that we have to go through an intermediary besides Jesus Christ to receive personal revelation.

    I didn’t until I went to the temple, but this is what hit me in the face the first time I went. Since then, I have come to understand the concept more like you describe later in your comment, but I still struggle with the language used. I think it is easily misunderstood.

  20. Cynthia L. on November 6, 2010 at 2:06 am

    “I can’t help but think that just looking at two major standard works, the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, it’s like they go out of their way to make sure you see that men and women together were the Lord’s plan.”

    Um, really? Can anyone cite any examples in the BoM? That Nephi & co had to go back and pick up some women, because they forgot to pack some the first time they left town? Do we have better/other examples of this?

  21. z on November 6, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Good point, Mephibosheth #17. I think a lot of the disjunction comes down to this: either you accept that certain words mean whatever leadership says they mean, or you take it with a grain of salt and try to square the statements with normal American English usage. And the other problem is that if words mean whatever leadership says they mean, it’s very difficult to have any sort of reasoned debate because the meaning of the words is so maddeningly imprecise. The game is rigged, I think.

  22. Ellis on November 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    This is the first time I had heard motherhood defined as being anything other than rearing children. I don’t especially like the idea that men are assigned the priesthood and women are assigned motherhood as though they were somehow equivalent. Being a mother is a female biological function and its male equivalent is fatherhood. Everyone who is physically healthy worthy or unworthy regardless of circumstances can be either a mother or a father. They together share responsibility for the well being of their children.

    Priesthood is not a biological function. It is reserved for worthy males. Not all men who are physically healthy can have this assignment. I don’t see motherhood and priesthood being analogous in any way.

    I would like to hear more about what women have and less about what they don’t have. And I would really be happy to find that women have a role that is equivalent to the priesthood. Just don’t tell me it is motherhood.

  23. Ms. Jack on November 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    #22 Ellis ~ I would like to hear more about what women have and less about what they don’t have. And I would really be happy to find that women have a role that is equivalent to the priesthood.

    You don’t hear about what women in the church have instead of priesthood because, if pregnancy, childbirth and lactation are off the table, the answer is, absolutely nothing. There are no functions or roles that women perform in the church for which men do not have a rough equivalent*. Women are barred from a high number of callings and administration of almost all ordinances and they do not get anything to make up for it.

    Sorry for the Eeyore-ism, but it’s the cold, uncomfortable truth.

    Carry on.

    —————

    * Assuming we equate Primary Presidencies with Elders Quorum Presidencies. I’m told they’re about the same.

  24. Ardis E. Parshall on November 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Ms. Jack, you don’t know what the #%$@ you’re talking about.

    Carry on.

  25. Ms. Jack on November 6, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Ardis ~ you don’t know what the #%$@ you’re talking about.

    Then educate me. List for me the roles and functions in Mormonism that women perform for which men have no rough equivalent.

    I look forward to your response.

  26. Ardis E. Parshall on November 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    You enter a Mormon forum where Mormons are discussing Mormonism, and dump a load of vile and venomous trash, and then demand the respect of a thoughtful response.

    You don’t deserve one. Pearls before swine, and all that.

  27. WillF on November 6, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Ms. Jack, I think it is more your burden to prove your own point than it is Ardis’s.

  28. Stephanie on November 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Ms. Jack, I like the way President Kimball put it: These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood—but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord (see 1 Cor. 11:11). Both a righteous man and a righteous woman are a blessing to all those their lives touch.

    (I’m too lazy to link with html code right now. It’s in an article called “The Role of Righteous Women”)

    As a woman in the church, I do a lot! I like my efforts to be recognized as church responsibilities by identifying them as “sisterhood” rather than “motherhood”.

  29. Ms. Jack on November 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    #25 Ardis ~ You enter a Mormon forum where Mormons are discussing Mormonism

    Yes, a forum where I’ve always been welcome, who have known me since my freshman year at BYU are perma-bloggers, that has had me on as a guest-blogger and links to my blog. What’s your point?

    and dump a load of vile and venomous trash

    I see nothing venomous or vile about my comment #23, let alone “a load” of it. Perhaps you could point it out to me?

    then demand the respect of a thoughtful response.

    Not at all, Ardis. I’m well past the point of demanding thoughtfulness and respect from you. At this point I’ll settle for substance, but you haven’t even provided that yet.

    Pearls before swine, and all that.

    Ouch! First you swear at me, then you call me a swine. Are you sure I’m the venomous and vile one?

    In any case, since Ardis is done with me, if anyone would like to offer substantive disagreement with my #23 (respectful or otherwise), I’m all ears.

    #27 WillF ~ Ms. Jack, I think it is more your burden to prove your own point than it is Ardis’s.

    I disagree, but I’ll bite just the same.

    Women have access to the following roles (not an exhaustive list):

    1. Washings and anointings on other women
    2. Relief Society Presidencies
    3. Young Women Presidencies
    4. Missions
    5. Standing as proxy in ordinances for deceased women
    6. Sealing to a worthy male partner
    7. Visiting Teaching

    Men have access to the following equivalent roles (not an exhaustive list):

    1. Washings and anointing on other men
    2. High Priests Group Leaders & Elders Quorum Presidencies
    3. Young Men Presidencies
    4. Missions
    5. Standing as proxy in ordinances for deceased men
    6. Sealing to a worthy female partner
    7. Home Teaching

    However, men also get the following roles and functions for which women have no equivalent:

    1. Baptisms on the living and the dead
    2. Performing sealings
    3. Confirmations
    4. Witnessing ordinances
    5. Administration of the Sacrament
    6. Bishoprics
    7. Ward Clerks
    8. Executive Secretaries
    9. Stake Presidencies
    10. Disciplinary councils
    11. Mission presidents
    12. District Leaders
    13. Zone Leaders
    14. Blessings of healing
    15. Performing patriarchal blessings
    16. Assistants to the mission president
    17. Seventies
    18. Apostles
    19. Prophets
    20. Blessing and naming of children

    The large amounts of access to these leadership callings also gives men functional dominance in being cited in church manuals and delivering General Conference talks, among many other things.

    There are plenty of callings out there that both men and women can have (Public Affairs Director, Ward Mission Leader, Activities Committee Chair, etc.), but we’re looking for roles and functions that women perform that men don’t.

    What is arguably on that list: Primary Presidencies. Men can theoretically serve in Primary Presidencies, but functionally, they usually don’t. So I guess that can count as something women do that men don’t. However, men get two leadership quorums for their gender while women only get one, so in some sense this could be said to balance this one out. That’s why I joked about equating Primary Presidencies to Elders Quorum Presidencies in my OP.

    This is why we see folks like Valerie Hudson arguing that pregnancy, childbirth and lactation are “ordinances” for LDS women. They know perfectly well that when “motherhood” is off the table, there are no alternatives that women do that men don’t.

    Hence my #23.

  30. Stephanie on November 7, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Ms. Jack, I do think there is a lot of the service done in the church by women through no official calling. If a man performs similar service, it seems to be by virtue of his priesthood or is credited to his calling. For women, it just sort of seems to go unrecognized.

    You know one thing that really bothered me? My husband was released from the Bishopric on the same day that the RS President was released. In Sacrament meeting, both the new and old Bishopric Counselors were asked to bear their testimonies, and the focus was on them. The old RS President only bore her testimony in RS meeting. Granted, the Bishopric serves the whole ward, and the RS (supposedly) just serves the RS sisters. But, in terms of impact? The RS President way outweighed my husband. I was really sad to see her service go unrecognized in Sacrament meeting.

  31. Stephanie on November 7, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Oops, yucky first sentence. Please forgive its imperfections.

  32. Alison Moore Smith on November 7, 2010 at 12:25 am

    My thoughts:

    (1) Never understood why priesthood for men is equated with motherhood for women. Men are fathers. Isn’t that an “assignment”? (Oh, what Ellis said.)

    (2) Fronk objects to men WITH the priesthood being referred to as “the priesthood” (I think it’s weird as well) but then says that being set apart BY the priesthood is “power of the priesthood working in my life” and implies this is pretty much the same as having the priesthood. Which would mean that anyone (member or not, adult or child, male or female) who gets a healing blessing pretty much has the priesthood. ???

    (3) 100% with Starfoxy on the Deborah thing. Seriously, how many lessons have EVER clearly dealt with the idea of PROPHETESSES at all? Frankly, I think most church authorities have no idea what to do with that.

    (3) Performing ordinances is not the only “benefit” of holding the priesthood, given that priesthood and church position are completely connected.

    (4)

    Elder Oaks teaching that “patriarchal” priesthood means something not hierarchical but equal.

    Dictionary: Patriarchy = a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.

    So now we just claim that patriarchy is equal partnership and magically it’s true?

    z #21, it’s called the fallacy of equivocation.

    *We live by the patriarchal order.

    *That’s not fair, we don’t want women to be second class citizens.

    *Patriarchal order means men and women are equal. What’s your problem with that?

    *Uh…um…

    (5) Millett: “The priesthood is an authority that God bestows upon worthy MEN which can — and should bless — men and women equally.”

    Like scouts vs. activity day, I guess?

    (6) Am I the only one who’s never had a home teacher at my beck and call “on a moment’s notice”?

    (7) Ditto on the “men should be nurturing, women should be assertive.” So, how do we do that when we’re told to stay home and nurture our kids while the men are out battling the world?

    (8) Fronk: a leader is just someone who stands at the side of someone else as a partner

    Dictionary: a leader is a person followed by others; the person who is the most advanced or successful

    I don’t even know how to respond to that. Man is leader. Man presides. Patriarchal order. But there is no difference between man and woman. ???

    I understand the back peddling of the old standard given today’s culture. But redefining all these terms to mean things they simply don’t mean is disingenuous, IMO.

    (9) They point out that Elder Oaks didn’t become the leader in the home when his father died. They discuss how the mother took over what the father used to do as evidence of this. It’s interesting that showing that the mother calls on people to pray is used to show that the mother is in charge — but we’re told such “priesthood duties” do NOT show that men are in charge. ???

    (10) Researcher #14:

    I cannot remember ever in my entire life, in church meetings or the temple, being taught that we have to go through an intermediary besides Jesus Christ to receive personal revelation.

    To receive revelation? No. But the endowment certainly does position husbands as intermediaries between God and women. And if you’re old like I am, then you’ll remember when this positioning didn’t leave any room for exceptions. (The sealing ceremony also has gender differences.)

    In spite of my discomfort with the actual content, I’m glad they are talking about it. And I think listening gives the context of some things better than reading.

  33. Mephibosheth on November 7, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Never understood why priesthood for men is equated with motherhood for women

    I think people are just trying to latch onto something that men don’t do in order to even the inequality, and it’s the first thing that comes to their minds. I don’t think it’s wholly without merit since one way of thinking about the priesthood is as an institutional form of fatherhood. We could do away with priesthood offices in the church if all the fathers were spiritually mature enough to administer all the ordinances to their own families. But since they aren’t we set apart “patriarchs” to serve a whole stake, for example.

    Dictionary: a leader is a person followed by others; the person who is the most advanced or successful

    I continue to find the dictionary objection less and less convincing. Think of any teaching on leadership from the gospel –is it remotely like what the dictionary would define as leadership? “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Not gonna see that in the OED.

  34. Steve H on November 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I find it telling that every important person quoted during the interview is male. It’s obvious of course, but everyone cited in the interview is male. There are no female voices of authority whatsoever. For me, that says much. Until we have women who can speak with authority, then women will either be perceived to be second class, or will actually be in a second class position. All of the church leaders quoted are bright, spiritual, kind, gentle, and male.

  35. Ellis on November 7, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Ms Jack: If I were going to buy a new car and thought I wanted it to be an American made one I would not go to a foreign car dealership and ask about the quality of American cars. So I will respectfully suggest that I know better what Mormon women have than you do.

    This is what I see that women have. They have access to the Gift of the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. They have access to all the gifts of the spirit. These do not require priesthood. They have the responsibility to preside in the home when necessary. No they don’t have to defer to their priesthood holding sons. They preside in Relief Society, Primary and Young Womens. They used to preside in Junior Sunday school before the consolidated schedule. I expect there is more. To say flatley that Mormon women have nothing is to not understand anything about the issue you have attempted to address.

    Mephibosheth: “We could do away with priesthood offices in the church if all the fathers were spiritually mature enough to administer all the ordinances to their own families.”

    Surely you meant to say we could do away with the church and some of the necessary callings, not the offices that comprise the priesthood. All these spiritually mature father’s would still need the authority of the priesthood even if they didn’t think they needed any of the institutional things the priesthood is essential to.

  36. Ellis on November 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Let me add the visiting teaching program is analogous to the home teaching program. Taking care of compassionate service and welfare needs of women and their families is analogous to priesthood service. Women pray and preach in sacrament and other meetings. They act as committee heads that include men as well as women.

  37. Ms. Jack on November 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    #35 Ellis ~ If I were going to buy a new car and thought I wanted it to be an American made one I would not go to a foreign car dealership and ask about the quality of American cars. So I will respectfully suggest that I know better what Mormon women have than you do.

    Ellis, you might want to consult the T&S comment policy, which states, “Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person.” My status as a non-member has not been shown to be relevant to this discussion and was not brought up by me. Please demonstrate where my understanding of the roles of women in Mormonism is inaccurate or stop attacking me personally.

    And I would ask people who do not know me to please remember that I am a non-member who is married to an active and believing Latter-day Saint, whose daughter is a child of record with the Church, who has an undergraduate degree from BYU, who pays 5% of her income to the Church. I think I would be an irresponsible parent if I weren’t interested in this topic, and I’ve done my best to educate myself on the subject. If you think my assessment is wrong, all I ask is that you show me where.

    This is what I see that women have. They have access to the Gift of the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. They have access to all the gifts of the spirit. These do not require priesthood. They have the responsibility to preside in the home when necessary. No they don’t have to defer to their priesthood holding sons. They preside in Relief Society, Primary and Young Womens.

    I see nothing on your list (other than Primary) that women have that men do not have some version of. The point I made in #23 and expanded on in #29 still stands.

    To say flatley that Mormon women have nothing is to not understand anything about the issue you have attempted to address.

    This was not what I said. I said that women have nothing that makes up for not having access to the priesthood roles and functions that I listed in my #29. Or in other words, they can’t say “men get priesthood and women get the gift of the Holy Ghost, personal revelation, and gifts of the Spirit” because men get those, too. Which is why they typically reach for priesthood-motherhood instead.

    Accusing me of saying “women in Mormonism have nothing” is a major straw man.

  38. Afanasy Stakhanovite on November 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    MsJack,

    Women hold the Priesthood every night when they hug their husbands, that would include you. Don’t ask for spiritual responsibility that you cannot bear.

  39. Kristine on November 7, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Let’s lay off Ms. Jack. I enjoy her perspective and have had to stretch and grow due to her comments on this and other forums. She needs to be answered on the merits of her comments, and those comments do have merit, uncomfortable as they may be.

  40. The other Kristine on November 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    “Women hold the Priesthood every night when they hug their husbands”

    Seriously?? In 2010, we’re still repeating that line that was lame in 1970?

    And Ms. Jack is better-informed about Mormon doctrine and certainly about scripture than most Mormons. The fact that her religious affiliation has even been brought up is strong evidence that her arguments are very strong. It’s embarrassing when Mormons behave this way to well-informed and well-intentioned outsiders.

  41. Cynthia L. on November 8, 2010 at 12:40 am

    #22 Ellis:

    Being a mother is a female biological function and its male equivalent is fatherhood. Everyone who is physically healthy worthy or unworthy regardless of circumstances can be either a mother or a father. They together share responsibility for the well being of their children.

    Priesthood is not a biological function. It is reserved for worthy males. Not all men who are physically healthy can have this assignment. I don’t see motherhood and priesthood being analogous in any way.

    I like the solution we came up with in this thread (it kind of needs a previous comment to make sense, but here is the conclusion):

    Next time somebody says “men get the priesthood and women get to be mothers,” I’ll say, “how about we flip it and women get the priesthood and men get to have physical size?” It seems about as arbitrary a matching.

  42. jsg on November 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

    With women getting “absolutely nothing” out of the Church besides lactation, I am amazed that there are so many female members. Maybe they stick around not so much because of what they get, and more because of what they can give. And the same should be so for the males. Why the emphasis on getting/having things? I love Christ’s example of voluntarily giving–ultimately, everything.

    Besides functioning as a receptacle for ordinances and doctrine, I see the Church as an institution that facilitates service. Where there is inequity in opportunities to serve, this is where I might raise a stink.

  43. palerobber on November 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    #26 Ardis E. Parshall

    Pearls before swine, and all that.

    wow, you must have a really good counter argument to want to keep it so carefully hidden from the unworthy.

  44. a third Kristine on November 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Agreed – comment #26 is inexcusable. I appreciate what Ms. Jack brings to many of our discussions.

  45. Ellis on November 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    To both Kristines I would say everyone has a bias. Recognizing that is not a personal attack. A personal attack would be name calling or defaming an others character. I did not ask what women have that men don’t. I said motherhood has more in common with fatherhood. Therefore I was asking for commonalities rather than differences. I was looking for a positive view of womanhood.

  46. Ardis E. Parshall on November 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Why do men have so many more opportunities to serve and express their spiritual gifts than women?

    Ms. Jack, if you can do it, please try to read this comment without reading any sarcasm or “stink” from me in. This time, there is none. I’m genuinely trying to engage you politely and with substance.

    This is why I have a problem with your attempts to discuss Mormonism: As with with the extracted line, you frame your arguments in a have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife kind of way. There is no adequate answer to that kind of question. It’s an unfair question and one that doesn’t address reality.

    Men do *not* have more opportunities to serve and express their spiritual gifts than I do. Every spiritual gift I have can be adequately expressed in Mormonism, and I have more opportunities to serve than I can possibly take advantage of now. It’s true that I do not serve or express any spiritual gift within the structure of the priesthood. It is equally true that I do not serve or express any spiritual gift within the framework of mortal motherhood. My gifts and service are not especially related to gender — they are simply my gifts and my service.

    Neither do I serve or express service in the realms of music, or dance, or literary criticism, or welfare farm management, or in formal grief or alcohol or marital counseling. I am barred from those activities by lack of aptitude as surely as I am barred from priesthood roles by gender. I’m not sure why so many focus on gender as a bar without recognizing these other barriers. Whatever.

    When you frame the issue as the impossibility of a woman’s expressing gifts or rendering service, or cast my gifts and service as somehow inferior or trivial because the only role you value is priesthood administration, you denigrate my service and disrespect my gifts. That’s not a way to win appreciation from someone who sincerely believes that her service is acceptable to the Lord, and that he has given her gifts so great that they can never be fully expressed in mortality for reasons that have nothing to do with gender or administrative authority. Please stop doing that.

  47. Ms. Jack on November 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    #42 jsg ~ With women getting “absolutely nothing” out of the Church besides lactation, I am amazed that there are so many female members.

    Sociologists have long been baffled at how more women than men believe in God and participate in organized religion even though religions so often subordinate and marginalize them. See “Why do more women than men believe in God? Especially considering how God treats them.” That the LDS church continues to attract female members really does not say anything about the quality of its treatment of women.

    Where there is inequity in opportunities to serve, this is where I might raise a stink.

    That is the “stink” that I’m raising though. Why do men have so many more opportunities to serve and express their spiritual gifts than women?

    #43 Ellis ~ You expressed frustration that the leaders are always attempting to pair motherhood with priesthood or spending their time talking about what women don’t have. My response was an attempt to explain this phenomenon. The leaders aren’t talking about the roles women fill that could be said to complement priesthood functions because the list is embarrassingly short.

    In response to my explanation, you basically told me that my arguments aren’t worth anything to you because I’m a “rival car dealer.” You addressed who I am (i. e. a non-member) instead of what I was arguing. That is the definition of a personal attack.

    If you don’t want to own up to that, I guess that’s your call.

  48. Ellis on November 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Re #47: When I wrote my original commentI had just been listening to the radio conversation between two people a man and a woman, neither of which is to my knowledge a prominent leader in the church. If memory serves it was the women who brought the issue of either motherhood or priesthood as consolation prize. The woman, Camile, allowed as how it is unfair because not all women are fertile or live in situations where they have children. She further stated that all women are mothers as was Deborah a mother in Israel because she was a judge and whether she had children or not is unknown.

    I am not frustrated with the leadership.I was frustrated with the people on the radio.I have heard enough to realize that these are attempts to rationalize something for individuals and groups who want an explanation. I find that a rather odd rationalization, as I have long believed the motherhood and fatherhood compliment each other and that there is no consolation prize.

    I have been listening to the leaders of the church for many years.
    Their is no party line. Leaders of the church do not always agree. It is possible to hear differing opinions from leaders in the same meetings. There are multiple opinions on this subject just as on most others. Yet the ones that are the most often cited is that one.

    I would have disliked the following remark no matter who said it. But you actually did. “You don’t hear about what women in the church have instead of priesthood because, if pregnancy, childbirth and lactation are off the table, the answer is, absolutely nothing.” I felt talked down to and belittled.

    Carry on.

  49. Ms. Jack on November 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Disclaimer: I try to apply numbers to the comments I’m responding to, but comments on this thread seem to be getting queued and then later posted out of order and throwing my numbers off. So I apologize for the wrong comment numbers.

    #46 Ardis ~ I really appreciate your kinder tone and your sincere effort to engage my comments.

    I want to clear one thing up: you’ve stated that I don’t value roles not associated with priesthood administration. This is not the case and I apologize if I’ve given that impression. I absolutely think the roles performed by women in Mormonism and traditionally performed by women in all Christian denominations are valuable and important. For example, I take the statements Jesus gave regarding children (Matthew 19:14, Luke 17:2) very seriously and see this as an extremely important ministry. When I began looking for a church after moving to Illinois last year, finding a church with a female pastor on staff was desirable but negotiable. Finding a church with an excellent children’s ministry was non-negotiable. I could have found the church that had the greatest female pastors ever and if it’d had a terrible children’s ministry, I would not have gone there. All of the “Christian female empowerment” (for lack of a better term) in the world will never make up for failing the children.

    If I sound dismissive of the fact that women run the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary programs, it isn’t because I think those ministries are insignificant. It’s because I’ve already thought the matter through and I know that women’s participation in those programs does not remedy my concerns. Since the existence of RS, YW, and Primary is so frequently proferred by Mormons as a possible remedy to my concerns, I guess I’ve gotten used to cutting to the chase and trying to get those things off the table so that the discussion can really progress.

    I don’t think it’s fair to label the question I asked in my response to jsg (#47) as a “have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife” question. The question was intended as a re-statement of the arguments I laid out in #29, which had been posted for two days with little response on this thread.

    As for the rest of your response, there’s just one thing I want to ask to try to understand your position better.

    Would you say that Mormon women with gifts for leadership have just as many opportunities to express those gifts as Mormon men with gifts for leadership? If so, how do you come to that conclusion given the long list of leadership callings that men have access to that women do not?

    #48 Ellis ~ The man in the Podcast is Robert L. Millet, a BYU scholar who has been substantially involved with dialogue with evangelical Christians, so I’m pretty familiar with him. The woman is Camille Fronk Olsen, and I’m less familiar with her. They are BYU religion professors, not Mormon leaders in the usual sense of the word.

    However, the idea that women have motherhood and men have priesthood has been frequently promoted by LDS leaders. Leaders have also bypassed positive affirmations of women’s roles in favor of discussing why not having the priesthood is not a big deal.

    I’m completely at a loss as to why you found my comment belittling. I’ve read and re-read the comment and I just don’t see what was so darned controversial about it, not even the part you quoted. It addressed what the church teaches as covered by the broadcast, which is what everyone else on this thread was doing. However, even if you would have disliked the comment regardless of who originated it, I can’t imagine that you would have responded by attacking one of your fellow Mormons personally the way you attacked me.

    For the record, I saw this post as soon as it was posted and could have been the first commentator on it. However, I refrained from commenting because I think most Bloggernacle regulars already know how I feel about this subject, and I just published an article in an evangelical magazine on women in Mormonism, so I wasn’t all that eager to revisit this topic so soon. I took interest in your comment because I feel like I observe a very similar phenomenon in evangelical Christianity where leaders avoid positive affirmations of women’s roles because they know that women don’t really have equivalents to the male-only roles. This can’t possibly be an attack on your religion in my mind because I see the same problems in my own religion. I didn’t come here to criticize, I came here to empathize.

    But it sounds like you don’t have a high opinion of us foreign car dealers, even when we’re just trying to lament problems that exist in both types of vehicles, so I regret bringing it up.

  50. Stephanie on November 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Would you say that Mormon women with gifts for leadership have just as many opportunities to express those gifts as Mormon men with gifts for leadership? If so, how do you come to that conclusion given the long list of leadership callings that men have access to that women do not?

    I really appreciate you articulating this, Jack. As a Mormon woman with gifts for leadership, this is extremely frustrating for me. I often feel that although I am extremely busy in all kinds of service, I am not always able to use my unique talents.

    To be candid, I always wanted to marry someone who would be righteous enough and willing to be a GA if asked. I think it was probably my own leadership ambitions – not to seek for power or anything, just to utilize the talents that I was given and have cultivated. I am not sure what I was thinking. At this point, I realize that a husband with high leadership callings just means an absent husband and more of my own “divine” responsibilities to fill (cook, clean, change diapers, etc.), not that my own leadership skills would be utilized at all. It does leave me feeling a little discouraged, like why couldn’t the Lord have given me homemaking talents? I suck at those.

  51. Ardis E. Parshall on November 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Would you say that Mormon women with gifts for leadership have just as many opportunities to express those gifts as Mormon men with gifts for leadership?

    Yes.

    If so, how do you come to that conclusion given the long list of leadership callings that men have access to that women do not?

    Can a man exercise his gifts for leadership to the fullest by being a bishop or senator or vice president in charge of sales? Or is he a failure with insufficient outlet for his gifts of leadership unless he is an apostle or supreme court justice or CEO? Can you be fully and completely a mother to your own daughter, or are you not really a mother in the fullest sense given the long list of children for whom you have no direct responsibility?

    Those are not meant as flippant questions. Once you start down the path of “Well, I’m not really X unless I am Top X,” there’s no end to the foolishness. If you simply must be Top X and nothing else will do, then you aren’t really interested in exercising gifts or rendering service. You’re only interested in Power with a diabolical capital P.

  52. The other Kristine on November 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Ardis, I don’t think that’s really quite fair. There are certain talents some women have that simply find no appropriate outlet in the church. Men do not face similar discrimination by gender. There’s an argument to be made that the expression of talents and gifts is not the most important function of callings in the church, but that’s not the same as saying that the desire to offer the service to which one is best-suited is simply a lust for power.

  53. Stephanie on November 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Ardis, it seems to me that your comment addresses mine more than Jack’s. And, no, I don’t think it is fair for you to accuse me of seeking “Power with a diabolical capital P”.

    Just look around at a ward or stake. The opportunities to serve in a leadership capacity are fewer and often involve shorter durations for women’s callings than for men’s callings. That’s just a fact. Does that mean that women have fewer opportunities to utilize leadership talents than men? You say no. Why?

  54. Stephanie on November 8, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I had a discussion with my husband that relates to this thread. I pointed out that with priesthood responsibilities, young men start performing church service for the ward at age 12. They are given a long list of duties that increase with each office they are ordained to. They are taught leadership and service to the ward. Young women are not given the same opportunities or level of responsibility. DH said, “They are called to be class presidents”. Come on. Young men are called to be class presidents, too. That is not even remotely what I am talking about. What are young women taught? Lots of great things. The Personal Progress program is wonderful. I love it. But young women just do not have the same type of responsibilities and opportunities for church service that young men do. Why is that? Is it because, as adults, they don’t have the same responsibilities and opportunities as men, so they don’t have the same need to prepare?

    There are not meant to be flippant questions either.

  55. Ardis E. Parshall on November 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    My response was only to Jack’s assertion. I haven’t even read earlier responses by other Kristine or Stephanie, so nothing I said was in direct response to either of you. If you’ve been debating with Jack and she has adopted or quoted something you said, that may explain your confusion.

    Of course there are talents that anybody, male or female, may have that don’t have a particular outlet in typical, formal church callings. Does that mean you can’t use your talents in service to others or that such service is not a gospel offering in some sense? Of course not. The gospel says exactly the opposite — tells us to be anxiously engaged in good causes, and not to wait to be commanded before acting.

    There are leadership callings available to women, regardless of the raw number or variety of openings. If being a Relief Society president isn’t good enough for you, though, if being bishop is the only thing you’ll settle for, then you *aren’t* interested in service, but only in power. I don’t know that either of you has said you’ll only settle for being “in charge,” so my remark is not aimed at you personally but is made in a theoretical sense. I don’t know how anyone can dispute that it’s a lust for power that says being “in charge” matters more than service in any other capacity. I’m not interested in debating such an obvious point.

    Frankly, I wasn’t interested in debating *any* points in what has evidently become a typical “women don’t get no respect” bloggernacle rehash. That wasn’t the point of Julie’s OP, and I’ll be moving along now.

  56. Stephanie on November 8, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Ardis, honestly, I think you are avoiding the question. Yes, you can utilize leadership talents outside of the church. Yes, there are lots of opportunities for service inside of the church. But, no, there are not as many leadership opportunities for women as there are for men inside of the church. And whenever this is discussed, the most common response is “Quit seeking for power”. It’s not about seeking for power – it’s about utilizing those talents and skills. You don’t have to be a RS President or YW President or Primary President to do it, but there just aren’t that many other callings that utilize leadership skills. Doesn’t make them less important or less worthy or less interesting, but it also doesn’t make them leadership-oriented either.

    Frankly, I wasn’t interested in debating *any* points in what has evidently become a typical “women don’t get no respect” bloggernacle rehash.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see this discussion that way. Maybe I’m just out of touch. But I think that this is just one of those facts about the church that is hard to deal with. I don’t even know that it should change. I just know that as someone who “entered to learn” and went forth to serve (with an MBA that is pretty much a degree in leadership training), facing the realities of what my opportunities in the church are to utilize those skills is a little discouraging. Even in a leadership calling like President of an auxiliary, there are still a lot of limitations.

  57. Chris H. on November 8, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Ardis,

    Are you reading the Chris H guide to bloggernacle behavior again? You have trained well.

    Stephanie,

    I do not see much difference between the leadership opportunities of a teacher’s quorum president and a Mia maids president.

  58. Chris H. on November 8, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    An MBA means you are trained to manage. Leadership is something different. See Nibley on the distinction.

  59. Ms. Jack on November 8, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    #51 Ardis ~ I’m not sure what makes you think that being “Top X” has anything to do what I’ve been saying. I don’t see anything in any of my comments where I indicated that women need to be “Top X” before their leadership gifts count. I completely agree that a woman who is serving as, say, Stake Public Affairs Director, is exercising a gift of leadership every bit as much as Thomas S. Monson is. What I said was that women have fewer opportunities to express those gifts within the church than men do.

    To use something more analogous to what I’m saying, say that we have ten evangelical seminaries that are looking for Old Testament professors. However, eight of those seminaries refuse to hire female Old Testament instructors because their interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:12 precludes women teaching the Bible to adult men. (Don’t laugh — this is a real issue.)

    Then say that we have a male graduate with a PhD in OT and a female graduate with a PhD in OT. Is it not correct to say that the male graduate has more chances to teach Old Testament at evangelical seminaries simply because more seminaries will accept his application?

    So I don’t see how anyone can make a rational argument that Mormon women have just as many opportunities to exercise gifts of leadership within the church as Mormon men. Saying that these women can make room for their leadership gifts in areas of their lives not connected with the church doesn’t negate this observation either because we’re talking about opportunities within the church. And besides, presumably men can just as easily make room for leadership gifts in non-church vocations as well. They get almost all of the options open to women and then some.

    I get the impression that what you’re trying to say is that women have adequate outlets for expressing their spiritual gifts, whether inside the church or outside of it. What I’m trying to address is the amount of options the church gives women and how that compares to the options it gives men. Your point (if I’m reading you right) is much more debatable, and it might even be a more worthwhile question, but it’s not something I’ve even attempted to address on this thread.

    in what has evidently become a typical “women don’t get no respect” bloggernacle rehash.

    Honestly, Ardis, I don’t even feel like we’re reading the same thread.

  60. Stephanie on November 8, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Chris H, there aren’t many differences between the leadership opportunities of a teacher’s quorom president and a Mia Maid president. That was my point to my husband. There are a lot of differences between the responsibilities of a teacher and a Mia Maid. Teacher responsibilities include:

    Teachers in the Aaronic Priesthood are to help Church members live the commandments (see D&C 20:53–59). To help fulfill this responsibility, they are usually assigned to serve as home teachers. They visit the homes of Church members and encourage them to live the principles of the gospel. They have been commanded to teach the truths of the gospel from the scriptures (see D&C 42:12). Teachers also prepare the bread and water for the sacrament service.

    Teachers also have all the “duties, rights, and powers of the office of deacon”, which are to pass the sacrament to members of the Church, keep Church buildings and grounds in good order, act as messengers for priesthood leaders, and fulfill special assignments such as collecting fast offerings.

    (taken from the Gospel Principles manual)

    Young women don’t have those types of responsibilities. That is what I was talking about.

  61. Stephanie on November 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Don’t patronize me, Chris H.

  62. Ardis E. Parshall on November 9, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Stephanie argues with me because she reads my comments to Jack as if they were in response to Stephanie. Jack argues with me because she reads my comments to Stephanie as if they were in response to Jack. Is it any wonder that discussions are unproductive?

    So, Jack, if I understand your last comment, your only real point is a numerical one? Within the LDS church, there are slots for X women to serve in callings and slots for X+Y men to serve in callings? You’re no longer disputing the quality or exclusivity or significance of those callings? Well, okay, I guess I don’t care whether that’s what you or anybody else believes, although I think you’re mistaken — women somehow stay just as busy in church work as men do, so evidently there are enough callings to go around. But if that’s all your point really is, okay. No worries.

  63. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Ardis, I thought that was what blogs were for. To have a discussion with a bunch of people responding to each other’s comments. I know you are not addressing your comment to me, but I would like to respond anyways (because it’s a blog?) and I think that I already addressed this point:

    women somehow stay just as busy in church work as men do, so evidently there are enough callings to go around.

    This was what I said:

    Yes, there are lots of opportunities for service inside of the church. But, no, there are not as many leadership opportunities for women as there are for men inside of the church . . . You don’t have to be a RS President or YW President or Primary President to do it, but there just aren’t that many other callings that utilize leadership skills. Doesn’t make them less important or less worthy or less interesting, but it also doesn’t make them leadership-oriented either.

    What do you think? I kind of think it parallels your motherhood comment in #7. Teaching in Primary and being a great aunt are great service opportunities and enjoyable, but they aren’t exactly the same as being a mother.

  64. Chris H. on November 9, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Don’t patronize Ardis, Stephanie.

    BTW, in #58, I wasn’t patronizing you, I was giving you the middle finger.

  65. Ms. Jack on November 9, 2010 at 1:11 am

    #62 Ardis ~ My #59 was mostly directed at your #51. I only incorporated response to your remarks to Stephanie in as much as I felt they were an expansion on the arguments you expressed in #51.

    So, Jack, if I understand your last comment, your only real point is a numerical one? Within the LDS church, there are slots for X women to serve in callings and slots for X+Y men to serve in callings?

    That was the main point of the comment you chose to protest in my #47.

    You’re no longer disputing the quality or exclusivity or significance of those callings?

    The issues are intertwined and can’t always be compartmentalized—namely, quantity of types of callings that can accommodate women’s gifts has been diminished on account of exclusivity.

    I don’t know if “quality” is the right word for the concerns I’ve expressed here. It’s never been my intention to imply that lower-ranking callings in the hierarchy are less worthwhile than higher-ranking callings.

    women somehow stay just as busy in church work as men do

    Busyness has never been the issue. That my hypothetical female Old Testament PhD can still get a job as a secretary at a seminary does not mean that she isn’t suffering due to lack of seminaries that will hire a female OT professor.

  66. Ardis E. Parshall on November 9, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Well, I admit that I’m at a total loss to understand what *is* your issue, Jack:

    Some of your comments seemed to say that LDS women’s callings didn’t really count as opportunities because they weren’t exclusively female (“once lactation is off the table”) — my Gospel Doctrine calling isn’t an opportunity, for instance, because I alternate weeks with a male teacher. That was so patently silly that I didn’t address it.

    Some of your comments seemed to denigrate women’s gifts and service because you didn’t view them as important or significant as men’s — but you assured me you didn’t mean to trivialize them.

    Some of your comments seemed to say LDS women’s opportunities didn’t carry the administrative responsibility and prestige as some men’s callings, but you assured me that it wasn’t a matter of being top dog that was of any concern.

    Some of your comments seemed to exclude women’s service from consideration because you seem to recognize only formal callings as service within the church — a position I didn’t address because it, too, shows a patently faulty understanding of Mormonism. (Under this theory, for instance, you wouldn’t consider my exercise of my gift for well documented genealogical research, resulting in the submission of records for tens of thousands of deceased people to keep the temple program going, as church service, because it isn’t a formal calling — a theory not worth debating. Mormons do many, many acts of church and personal service without formal calling.)

    Some of your comments seemed to complain that women’s opportunities weren’t as numerous as men’s, in whatever the Mormon equivalent is to your Protestant example of teaching at an evangelical seminary — but you assure me that it isn’t a matter of numbers. Instead, we seem to be back to trivializing women’s service because it might in some seasons and for some women be the equivalent of secretarial rather than professorial. I maintain that service is service and gifts are gifts, that the hand cannot say to the foot that I have no need of thee, and that any service rendered in the right spirit and in response to a legitimate call is every bit as worthy as any other service.

    So I’m left still not understanding what it is about Mormon women’s opportunities to render service and exercise gifts to which you object so strongly. I have sincerely tried to pin that objection down, and not to misrepresent your arguments or obtusely refuse to understand. But I’m at a loss. You don’t like the Mormon organization or theology or practice or whatever it is, for some reason you are unable to adequately articulate, and I can’t address it. I’ve tried.

    At least you can no longer say that I have never engaged your arguments. I find them lacking and showing serious misunderstanding, and I’ll no doubt continue to be irritated when you take it upon yourself to criticize Mormon practice or to presume to advise us how we should govern ourselves, or how we should conduct our weddings, or whatever the next point of contention turns out to be — but I *have* genuinely tried to understand what you object to, and why. I’ve failed, but I’ve tried.

  67. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Chris H, why the hostility? I don’t really get what your problem with me is.

  68. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Seriously, Chris H, the totality of your comments is to insult me twice? What is that? “the Chris H guide to bloggernaccle behavior”?

  69. Chris H. on November 9, 2010 at 8:02 am

    I feel that way toward all MBA’s. Nothing personal. Let me get back to your one point.

    Sure the duties of Teachers are outlined in the D & C, but they are interpreted rather lightly when applied to 14 and 15 year old boys. Maybe young women should be junior Visiting Teaching Companions, I like that idea.

    I differ from Ardis, in that I am on of the bloggernacle-types who thinks that the Church and Mormon is hopelessly sexist. However, I am also not sure what to make of Mormon feminism from my style of feminism which is more secular.

  70. Chris H. on November 9, 2010 at 8:04 am

    #68: pretty much.

  71. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Chris, I guess I am just trying to figure out why you think you are so much better than me that insulting me is an appropriate response rather than just addressing the substance of my comments.

    Sure the duties of Teachers are outlined in the D & C, but they are interpreted rather lightly when applied to 14 and 15 year old boys.

    I think this is a weak argument for the discrepancy.

    However, I am also not sure what to make of Mormon feminism from my style of feminism which is more secular.

    And so that warrants so blatantly dismissing me and my contributions to the discussion?

  72. Chris H. on November 9, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Substance?

  73. Chris H. on November 9, 2010 at 8:27 am

    The discrepancy is not between the actual amount of leadership learning provided to the Mia maid and the Teacher, but the amount of print given to it in the Gospel Priniples book. It the YW program existed in the 1830s, it may have gotten more of a shout out in the D & C.

    I think that Jack has pointed out how there are drastic difference amongst adults, but I do not see anything of significance at the youth level. As long as there is an all male priesthood, these differences will persist. Most of us likely need to find some interests outside of church.

  74. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 8:57 am

    72, see my 71.

    73,

    The discrepancy is not between the actual amount of leadership learning provided to the Mia maid and the Teacher, but the amount of print given to it in the Gospel Priniples book.

    I disagree. I’ve been a YW leader for 5+ years. My husband has been a YM leader. There is a large discrepancy on the emphasis for developing leadership skills between the YW and YM.

    As long as there is an all male priesthood, these differences will persist.

    That’s pretty much Jack’s point that I have been agreeing with: “Mormon women with gifts for leadership [do not] have just as many opportunities to express those gifts as Mormon men with gifts for leadership”.

    Most of us likely need to find some interests outside of church.

    That’s true, but it is more difficult for women if we attempt to live our “divine roles”. In my case, being a SAHM with busy non-leadership callings and a husband with a busy career (that provides leadership opportunities) and callings (that provide leadership opportunities) such that he is not home often doesn’t leave much time for me to look outside of church to find interests.

    The more that I look at this issue, the more I see that developing leadership skills is just not as high of a priority in the church for women as it is for men. That’s just the way it is. Maybe it’s the way God intends it. But, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have an internal struggle with it.

  75. Sscenter on November 9, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I am not sure the goal here. Frankly, while I appreciate the opinions of non-Mormons I fall back to this: ‘why do they care?’. If the church is false then no one in it is getting revelation anyway. They may think they are but they are deluding themselves. This is then a weird paradox ‘it is not true but I will spend great amounts of energy trying to clean up their self-delusions. I am not sure why it matters then if any doctrine is challenGED by those not of our faith. I wouldn’t presume to decide how others should govern themselves because it is condescending to do that. I know that there is a desire to be ecumenical but it us really only profitable when we combine our strengths not when we assume each other should conform to our cultural norms.

    Obviously, this has hit a nerve for Stephanie who seems to feel under utilized in her ward. I am not sure that anything really resolves that.

  76. Sscenter on November 9, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Chris-amen, we all need interests outside the church and I have no use for MBA’s as well.

  77. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Obviously, this has hit a nerve for Stephanie who seems to feel under utilized in her ward. I am not sure that anything really resolves that.

    No, it doesn’t. But does sharing my feelings and observations harm anything? Is it not welcome to the conversation about “men and women in the church”? I tend to think that my experience counts, too.

  78. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Wow, seriously Sscenter 76? What is up with slamming on MBAs?

  79. Researcher on November 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Something that we do in Young Women in our ward is have the class presidents take turns conducting the Opening Exercises. Conducting a church meeting is a skill that most of the girls are not born with, remembering to welcome guests and help them feel welcome, remembering to select a hymn and choosing someone to pray, and conducting all the other business and still leave time for the lessons. The girls also plan their activities and attend BYC, so they get a feel for church leadership meetings. And they each talk in sacrament meeting at least once a year, and usually twice.

    But this is a small ward, so most of the girls get a chance to serve regularly in these roles.

  80. Sscenter on November 9, 2010 at 9:23 am

    MBA-money is both the means and the end. Reminds me too much of every warning from Approaching Zion.

  81. Ms. Jack on November 9, 2010 at 9:24 am

    #66 Ardis ~ Allow me to re-summarize my points for you.

    ~ Men have a very long list of roles and functions in Mormonism that only they can perform
    ~ Women do not get a similar list of roles and functions that only they can perform.
    ~ For this reason, Mormon leaders attempt to maneuver “motherhood” as the female complement to priesthood. When “motherhood” is rejected, there is no female complement to priesthood.
    ~ Women’s exclusion from these priesthood callings limits the opportunities they have to express their spiritual gifts within the institutional church

    That is it. I have not said anything about women having to be top dog before it counts as exercising a gift, nor have I said that the limited callings that are available to women are less worthwhile than priesthood callings, nor have I said that women lack informal opportunities to serve.

    I maintain that service is service and gifts are gifts, that the hand cannot say to the foot that I have no need of thee, and that any service rendered in the right spirit and in response to a legitimate call is every bit as worthy as any other service.

    So do I. I just think it’s unfortunate to make someone with a gift for being an eye serve as a foot because their gender precludes them from being an eye. See Stephanie’s #50, for example.

    At least you can no longer say that I have never engaged your arguments. I find them lacking and showing serious misunderstanding

    I feel the same way about your responses to me.

    But it’s a dramatic improvement from you swearing at me and calling me a swine, so I appreciate the effort just the same. And I do feel like I understand how you approach this issue much, much better, and why it does not bother you.

    I’ll no doubt continue to be irritated when you take it upon yourself to criticize Mormon practice

    I’m a little irritated when Mormons imply that I shouldn’t critique what they’re teaching my daughter about her opportunities as a woman. So I guess we’ll just have to learn to live with each other.

    #74 Stephanie ~ I appreciate your input on this thread.

    The more that I look at this issue, the more I see that developing leadership skills is just not as high of a priority in the church for women as it is for men.

    I don’t know enough about the YM and YW programs to comment on your debate with Chris. I attended Laurels off-and-on for my last two years of high school, but I can’t say I was paying much attention to how Laurels differed from Priests.

    However, I have had several Mormons express to me that one of the reasons women are not encouraged to serve missions the way men are and are not given leadership callings on the mission (District Leader, Zone Leader, Assistant to the President) is because missions are a sort of preparation for leadership in the church, and the church has a much smaller need for female leaders than male leaders. Ziff discussed this argument in his post, “Why Discourage Women From Serving Missions?”

    #75 Sscenter ~ Thanks. I was just thinking that what this thread could really use is a little more ad hominem.

    Would it be helpful if I changed my handle from “Ms. Jack” to “I-have-a-daughter-who-is-a-member-of-record-with-the-church, please-stop-questioning-why-I’m-interested-in-this-topic”?

    I don’t have to believe that my daughter’s preschool is a “true” organization before I care what they’re teaching my daughter. The same goes for your church.

  82. Bob on November 9, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I think I understand the Stephanie/Ms. Jack beef(?)
    My son played baseball for years. He is left-handed. Many position opportunities were not open to him that he would have liked to try. He did however, have a left-handed catcher’s mitt that allowed him to be back-up catcher. I believe this was the only such mitt in the whole league. Many, many times, left-handers from the other teams would ask to use his mitt for a change, for a least one game, to be the catcher.

  83. Chris H. on November 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Stephanie,

    Sorrry for being so negative. As the co-Bear den leader, I feel your pain. I guess my point (which I really did not state) is that we have far deeper ideological concerns when it comes to gender. I do not see how changing tables in all restrooms will do anything (I prefer to find an empty room and then change many my little ones on the floor) of significance. The problem is the quilt we attach to divine gender roles…roles which have no good basis in scripture (though they are found in ancient and modern culture).

    I know many men who feel frustrated about never being in leadership as well. While men have more opportunities, only a few get those opportunities.

  84. sscenter on November 9, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Ms. Jack-

    I understand your concern. I guess my thought is that that is part of the price of marrying a Mormon who insists on staying active. Unless you were mislead when marrying him I am not sure what there is to complain about now. If I enter into a relationship whether it be a marriage, a religion I join, a job I accept it seems that as long as everyone was honest about the situation upfront I really only have myself to blame if I can’t deal with where I am once the relationship matures.

  85. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Chris H, I think you might be debating with your perception of a “Mormon Feminist” rather than me. Then again, maybe not, because I don’t consider myself as feminist as most mainstream Mormon feminists. So, our ideological differences likely run even deeper. I still think there’s something to divine roles, I just have a hard time finding my place in it.

    (P.S. I’m now on my third Cub Scout calling, and to be fair, it is actually a pretty good fit for me. I am able to use the team-building and leadership development skills I so greatly prize to help other leaders grow in their callings, and that is what I really enjoy)

  86. ABH on November 9, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I often feel that although I am extremely busy in all kinds of service, I am not always able to use my unique talents.

    In a church that is trying to provide opportunities for personal growth as much as service, this will always be the case regardless of your gender.

  87. Ms. Jack on November 9, 2010 at 10:50 am

    #84 Sscenter ~ Are you in an interfaith marriage?

    If not, then I would admonish you to follow your own principles and not presume to offer me advice on how I ought to run my marriage. Thanks in advance.

  88. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Fair point, ABH, but it doesn’t negate the fact that as a woman, I have less opportunities in church callings to use this specific set of skills than I would as a man. I think it is likely that by the end of my life, I will look back and see that the Lord gave me the opportunities I needed to grow and develop and that I was able to use my skills in unique ways that were both satisfying to myself and helpful to the church. I think it is going to take faith on my part to get there.

  89. sscenter on November 9, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Ok, really you are the one who made yourself a topic. I don’t care who marries who at all. Once you bring yourself in then you are part of the discussion. If you don’t want comments about yourself don’t bring yourself up.

    No, I would never do that to myself.

  90. Stephanie on November 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    At what point did ugly comments and personal attacks constitute “substantive” discussion?

  91. Ms. Jack on November 9, 2010 at 11:06 am

    #89 sscenter ~ Ok, really you are the one who made yourself a topic

    Incorrect. I did not raise the issue that I am a non-member; Ardis kind of implied it (#26 & later #66). Then Ellis directly used it to attack me (#35). Then you brought it up yet again (#75).

    I never initiated any conversations about my status as a non-member on this thread, I only responded to others who made it an issue. I rather suspect that if people had not known who I am from other sources, no one would have even known that my original comment (#23) was from a non-member. I see Mormons around the Bloggernacle making similar critiques of the church’s treatment of women all the time.

    The Times & Seasons blog has had three non-members as guest bloggers, myself included, so I can only assume that most of the perma-bloggers do value non-member input on LDS issues, even if not all of their participants do.

  92. Julie M. Smith on November 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I can’t see that anything productive is happening anymore in the comments, so I am going to yawn and look at my watch and hope y’all can take a hint.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.