Sunday, July 21, 2013

I am NOT my husband’s equal

~As I have previously mentioned, I am one of those CrAzY Mormons! and I love it. While this blog is not intended to be a religious  denominational blog, it is a blog of things I am passionate about.  Motherhood is at the top of that list.  I wrote this in January in response to the Facebook campaign 'Mormon Women Wear Pants to Church Sunday'.  I did not participate for 3 reasons...

1. I was 9 months pregnant, I wore a tent.
2. Pants and a tie are no where near as comfortable as a maxi dress even when not pregnant.
3. Explanation to follow

I have yet to post my thoughts on the subject, I couldn't decide on the best forum to do so, and then the hype passed and I let it be.  Writing had served its purpose, the thoughts were on paper, not spinning in my head.

This week I found this while Facebook stalking. (photo was removed from original post)

     A picture of a woman in a burqa being dragged thought the streets of a protest with the following quote on it, meme style, (I only like funny memes).   

"You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights." 
~Elaine S. Dalton

While the photo and quote are not meant to go together (obviously) I was alarmed by the juxtaposition.  I looked up the talk, (quote taken from 7th to last paragraph) certain it had been taken way out of context.  It was not.  Unlike many I am neither offended nor annoyed by this comment, nor do I think it was the best idea to actually say that.  I'd like to think, based on the audience to which it was delivered (BYU students) that her intent was lost in poorly chosen words.  Based on the timing of the delivery of the speech, I feel the rights to which she was alluding are along the same line of thought as mine in the following post.~
Thanks and I hope you enjoy. 


‘I am NOT my husband’s equal’

Automobiles were invented in the early 1900’s.  They were all quite similar, but as technology progressed, so did production and specification.  Cars created for transportation of goods parted ways with those created to transport people.  Today we have vast models of vehicles, from tractor/trailers for hauling large loads over long distances to Smart Cars, which beg the question, “Where do I put the toddler’s seat?”  The answer of course, is, “You don’t”, it is not the design or purpose of the vehicle to transport families.  It would take four Smart Cars to transport my family, which defeats the energy saving role of the smaller car.  Instead, we pack a mini-van to the gills and get 20mpg (our Smart Car equivalent would be 10mpg).  By using a vehicle for its intended purpose our family is doubling our efficiency.

                God created our earth and all things there on.  An efficient God, He used material already in existence to form the earth itself.  He then created life, since we was efficient in His creation of the earth we can assume he maintained that efficiency throughout the creation process and wasted no time by creating multiple life forms to fulfill the same role.  Various life forms may have overlapping responsibilities, but no two species serve identical purposes.

                In this same pattern God created man and woman.  As the same life form they share most of their qualities and features.  BUT, they are not the same.  Each gender has further qualities unique to their maleness or femaleness.

                There is a feminist movement that for years has progressed the standing of women toward equity with men.  In most instances this is a positive movement.  It has gained women the right to vote, own property, and live independently of a male protector.  The unique qualities held by women have positively affected the world in which we live.

                I fear the feminist movement is now advocating for equality between two things which were never meant to be equal.  This movement has become a concern among Mormon women, the church being accused of treating women as inferior and of less importance to God’s work.  This movement has specific complaints, but before we address them I feel it’s important to discuss what equality actually means.

Equality means sameness, using this definition it is correct to state that men and women were NOT created equal, a bold but true statement.  The differences are so obvious that my 8 year old giggled when asked why boys and girls are different.  These fundamental differences define our roles and how our bodies respond to different situations. 

The physical and hormonal differences that define genders make us un-equal, but because each male part has a comparable female part, men and women were created with equity.   Equity or fairness is for what we should be striving.  In an equitable world each gender may magnify their roles, which hold equal importance, effectively and efficiently.  We do not expect a smart car to have room for a toddler seat just as we don’t expect a man to lactate.  Fighting for this to happen is simply a waste of energy, it is not the role for which each was designed.

The list of complaints that I have heard include but are not limited to:

1.       Dress Code

2.       Little discussion of women in scripture, including Heavenly Mother

3.       Women have no input in financial matters

4.       Women hold few leadership positions

5.       Women cannot hold the Priesthood.

Each of these concerns may be answered with the same simple answer, which I will give later, but because these are legitimate concerns for so many LDS women I will address them individually, giving each the attention they deserve.

1.        Women have a desire to wear pants just like a man.  This is one area where men and women can be equal.  Women wearing dresses is a cultural tradition and by no means doctrinal.  The instruction is to wear your best, out of respect for the God we worship.  I attended Ricks College, its football team imported Polynesians faster than Idaho grew potatoes.  On Saturday evenings it was common to see them grilling and playing catch in brightly colored, lightweight cotton Lava Lava’s.  Sunday mornings would find them still in Lava Lava’s, but longer and cut from the same fabric as my husband’s suit.  It was paired with a white shirt and tie.  They wore the best version of their traditional clothing.  If a man can wear what is essentially a skirt to church, certainly a woman can wear a pair of pants, so long as those pants are the best she has.

2.       The small role of women in the scriptures and the limited reference to our Heavenly Mother.  Lack of speaking of women by no means trivializes their roles.  Esther is one of very few women spoken of in detail, but she acted boldly and saved her people.  When Nephi was bound on the ship, his wife, sisters, and mother prayed fervently for his protection.  The Risen Lord appeared first to Mary.  The examples given are few, but they are nearly always life changing and positive.    Our Heavenly Mother is mentioned to my knowledge in a single hymn and nowhere else.  She is also never blamed for acts of violence or cursed like her husband and son.  A man protecting his companion, friend, and love may be insulting to women who feel they are capable of protecting themselves, but when the protection comes from pure love and respect, it is not an insult, rather and outward expression of that man’s respect for your divinity. 

3.       The LDS church is a very wealthy organization with vast property holdings and investments.  Like any business of this size and magnitude, very few individuals, the Presiding Bishopric, have input in the financial decisions.  These individuals are all male and hold callings at the general level.  They are also governed by strict regulations that were established by inspired men following God’s counsel.   At the local level women do have control of finances in auxiliaries run by women, not how much money they get, but how it’s spent. 

4.       When making comparisons it is important that we compare positive (strength) to positive and negative (weakness) to negative.  Often when pointing out inequality or inequity we tend to compare our weakness to their strength.  This creates a warped view and sets us up for discouragement and frustration.  I feel this is often done when calling attention to positions a woman cannot hold within the church.  Instead of focusing on what positions they can hold and we can’t hold, let’s focus on what each gender can’t hold and why.  Women can’t hold certain callings because they do not hold the priesthood, which will be addressed later, but please consider the reason men may not teach primary without a team teacher. Imagine the potential insult felt by and honorable man when he is told that because of the actions of a few, no man is trusted to be alone with our children, even if his own child is in that class.  As primary president, I never once had a man complain.

5.       Women cannot hold the Priesthood.  This is the most serious concern, and its answer can be applied to any concern.  The thought that a protest or ‘open dialogue’ with church leadership can change the mind of God shows that those who feel this way do not understand the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  To give women the Priesthood would be a duplicity of roles and by so doing make other areas less efficient.  Here again, women are focusing on what men have and women do not have.  Instead, let us compare positive to positive and focus on God’s divine role for women.  If all women understood our unique role in God’s plan, the quest for equality would fall by the wayside, as women found joy in our equity.  

A man’s role is to provide, preside, and protect his family.

Preside:  A man who understands and honors his priesthood will never confuse his duties to preside with being in complete control over his family.  His power is only valid when he respects his wife and children and values their input in all things.  All decisions in a marriage should be made with both spouses as equal partners.  From my understanding the role of preside simply means the man is held to a higher level of accountability before God.

Provide:  Ideally a man should work to provide financially for his family.  Again, a wife is free to contribute, but the ultimate weight and responsibility is upon his shoulders.

Protect: Males are powered by testosterone which naturally means greater muscle mass, implying greater strength, providing greater protection.  There are plenty of soggy men with fit wives, and clearly no one wants to mess with Mama Bear, but that is the historical basis of that role.

A woman’s role is to bear and nurture children* 

 Feel free laugh at my oppressed and antiquated view of life.  I would if I hadn’t learned the joy this role brings.  Please note that a woman’s role does not include housekeeper or cook.  These are sub-roles intrinsic to mothering, but providing and protecting also includes cooking and cleaning.  A woman’s unique role is to create bodies for God’s children and then care for those little beings.

The roles of Priesthood holder and Co-creator of bodies technically balance the scale of equity in the roles God intended for His children.  If you look closely at the wording, one quickly realized that when God assigned roles of importance and trust, women clearly have the greater role.

Men hold the Priesthood if worthy.  Women are co-creators with God, regardless of worthiness.

Men may, Women are.

Men can lose that power; Women can only relinquish their right.

The scales are balanced on a technicality that both men and women have an important role given to them by God.  Revelation could give the women the Priesthood, but men are not designed to create bodies.  Current roles keep equity in a tender balance, giving one gender an additional role, while excluding the other, would create true inequity between the genders.

                The creator of this world is the God we worship.  As creators of bodies for God’s children we are acting in a divine role.  In that role, we are given with the highest trust God can give.  Every part of a Priesthood bearer’s responsibility is conditional and every role he holds demands he support and honor women.

                I propose that if there is any level of inequity within the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is in favor of women.  Outward appearances and gender roles as defined by the world may seem otherwise, but women are God’s supreme and final creation. 

Since coming to a realization of my divine role as a daughter of God, I am happier and more content.  My hope is that I live up to God’s trust, not just in bearing His children, but in rearing them.  My joy will be complete when my daughters come to understand their divine role as a woman by their own experience and my sons honor wives who share this testimony.
*This is a discussion of gender roles and by no means diminishes the worth and purpose of women plagued with infertility or unable to find a suitable man with whom to start a family.  To you in this situation I give my sincere love. 

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