Meet an LDS Feminist: Me

For the last little while, I have posted the thoughts of others, and my own comments have been made only to support their thoughts, or to at least give them validity. I haven’t really said it straight yet what I think about feminism. So I’m going to give it to you. I don’t apologize for any of it to anyone. If you disagree, good! Leave me a comment or a question, and I’d be happy to discuss it with you. Here it goes.

I wish feminism didn’t exist.

Yes, it’s true. I sincerely wish it didn’t exist. So now your question is probably, “What? But all of your posts either highlight feminists or support feminism.”

You’re right. I do highlight feminists, and as it happens I also agree with a lot of what they stand for. I would pretty confidently bet that most people in this church agree with them. So why do I wish it didn’t exist? Because I wish there was no need. The reason feminism exists at all is because somewhere along the line, the world decided that men were superior to women. I say the world decided, but the world didn’t decide, the men decided. And from a physical standpoint, the men were able to force that onto the women. After a time, it became accepted. Then it became tradition. Then it became culture. And now, we have feminism to counteract thousands of years of a false tradition. Do women hold the priesthood? No. At least not nominally, and not administratively. Are they generally of a smaller physique than men? Yes, genetically, they’re not made to grow the same way men are. These are the only two real differences between men and women. We don’t look the same, and we have different gender responsibilities with regards to the family. Yes, I firmly believe in the Proclamation to the World.

However, beyond those obvious differences, I can see no reason whatsoever why we shouldn’t be equal. Sadly, I know of a few men who still believe that their priesthood makes them better, more important, or more capable than their wives, or women in general. They think that their priesthood means that they can rule. It does not. Leading is not ruling. Christ told his Apostles, when they were vying for leadership, that a true leader is a servant. No priesthood holder can expect the Lord to honor his priesthood if he uses it as an entitlement to anything. The Priesthood entitles you serve. That is all. It does not entitle you to rule. Especially within the family.

I wish the Priesthood was stronger

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the priesthood, and I’ve heard a lot praise for the priesthood. I say “The priesthood” but I mean “The men” or “The priesthood holders.” So let’s get one thing straight. The priesthood is not the same as the men of the church. It isn’t. So what I’m really saying is, I wish the men of the Church were stronger. Now, some might take that to mean that I wish the men had more control or something, but that’s not what I mean at all. I wish the men in the Church would realize their full potential. Brandishing the priesthood isn’t living to your full potential. Feeling superior isn’t living to your full potential. Forcing a woman (or anyone) to do something, especially because you have the priesthood is not living up to your full potential. These things weaken you. They negate the very priesthood you claim to use. If the men were stronger (and I include myself in that, I’m nowhere near perfect), there would not be a problem. There would be no need for the feminist movement. There would be equality. There would be peace. But Alas, we live in a fallen world. If the men were stronger, they would be strong enough to give women the respect that they are due, to give them the voice that they are due, and recognize the power that they already have.

And since we’re talking about priesthood, and power, and representation, now’s as good a time as any to tell you how I feel about women and the priesthood. I don’t think women will hold it any time soon. I do NOT mean to say that they shouldn’t, or that they can’t. I just think that they won’t. I don’t know why they don’t, but “because they have different responsibilities” doesn’t cut it for me. I know they have different responsibilities. But I also know that everything has not been revealed. So while I don’t think that women will hold the priesthood, I also think that they will hold something. Maybe a priestesshood. I have no idea what that could be, but I know that women are promised that they will become “Queens and Priestesses” in the temple. So why not a priestesshood?

Food for thought

“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Articles of Faith, 1:9 Italics added)

It is easy to say, “it’s the doctrine you’re messing with” to a feminist, especially if she wants the priesthood. However, let us not be too hasty. We don’t have it all yet. Women don’t have the priesthood. There is no doctrine that I can find that says women never have, and never will hold the priesthood. It’s not doctrine. The only doctrine is that women don’t hold the priesthood. Why is that? Think about it. Research it. I promise you will never find any doctrine that says that women never have and never will hold the priesthood. You may find quotes. You may find allusions. But you won’t find any church-sanctioned doctrine supporting that thought. But the scriptures, and even modern church history is rife with women who could have, (or, if you care to do the research, actually and officially did) hold the priesthood. So before you go spouting off your “doctrine,” do some research, and then open your heart and your mind and honestly ask “why?” The question is worth while to study, to pray and to fast about.

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Unrighteous Dominion

This post is directed at men. I can talk until I’m blue in the face about equality and how guys aren’t all power-hungry patriarchs, and try to apologize for the “few” that are,  but the fact is, too many of us men actually are power-hungry, and like to call ourselves “patriarchs.” So I will attempt here to address the issue without sugarcoating it, but without offending anyone. Guys, I invite you to take this with a grain of salt. I do not wish to accuse anyone of anything. I do wish to bring attention to an issue that we have complete control over, and if we can control it, we will not offend or hurt those special women in our lives.

I have strong faith in the power of the priesthood. It is the reason we call ourselves the only true church. We have many wonderful priesthood leaders who use their priesthood for blessing the lives of many. However, we have an unfortunate number who believe that this priesthood power gives them authority outside of the prescribed bounds. That they somehow are over women. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency says, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

Now, if there are any men who read this and think, “there you go! ‘Fathers are to preside over their families…’ that means I make the decisions, and I am solely responsible for receiving revelation for my family, and my family is obligated to follow my direction and counsel,” then I urge you to re-think what it means to preside. A president is not a king. He is not a dictator. Every president has councilors, or a vice president who council him, debate ideas, and who have an equal say in each matter. In a presidency with 2 councilors, a decision cannot be made without a unanimous vote. Not a 2/3 or 1/3 vote. Unanimous. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve make decisions in a like manner. Every vote to the contrary is treated with gravity and is given much respect as long as it can be backed by valid argument. Those who are “entitled” to receive revelation on behalf of others are also subject to council. Councilors are also entitled to this revelation, and if they don’t receive it, the president has no right to force the issue.

I have a very good friend whom I am quite protective of. She helped me through a hard time after my mission, and has always been the most genuine friend a person could ask for. She recently broke off an engagement, all of which was a living hell for her. She gave me permission to tell her story, in part. Her ex-fiancé attempted to control her on very levels. On their second date, he quoted scripture to her and said that they were commanded to replenish the earth, and forced her to kiss him. Something that I know for a fact she does not do on second dates, or eighth dates for that matter. Later, when he proposed, he again quoted scripture, and took her on a major guilt trip before asking her to marry him, such that she felt that if she said ‘no’ she would go to hell. He forbade her from speaking to any of her male friends, asked her to cut contact with friends that she had had since childhood, and etc. Eventually, to her, and many others’ relief, she got out. However, the damage had been done emotionally. She doesn’t trust men, and who can blame her? She was controlled and used by a man who said he loved her. When she told him of a health problem, and used it as an excuse to break off the engagement, he actually accepted it.

I have another friend, who also has an ex-fiancé. When they were dating, they read the book that listed questions LDS couples should ask before marrying. One asked whether they believed the patriarchal system, and what this meant to them. He immediately answered in the affirmative, and she pressed for details. He answered that if they ever had an argument, that he got the final say, because he held the priesthood and was entitled to that revelation.

I would direct those men to Doctrine and Covenants 121:37-39

And they wonder why the relationship ended. Now I must admit, I once held this type of thinking. I did not completely understand what it meant to preside in the home. Luckily, I was young, and I had an exemplary father who treated my mother as his absolute equal. He did not make any decisions alone, and neither did She. THEY made decisions together, and they are happy, and their six children are happy. This is what the first presidency was getting at when they said “equal partners.” My parents are about as opposite as it gets- the athletic math and science guy married the “danceletic” (as my mom puts it) music and English woman. They complete each other as husband and wife ought. They each shine in different areas, as they should. It gives them identity, but they are completely equal in the governing of the family, of their understanding of the gospel, and most importantly, in their standing before God. One is not in front or behind. They are side-by-side. Equal in all things eternal.

My point is, a father’s responsibility is to make sure he does everything he can to make sure his family follows the Plan of Happiness, but, his responsibility is not to enforce it he is also to assist in any way he can, his wife in all of her responsibilities. Mothers’ responsibilities are to nurture children, and to support and help her husband with his responsibilities.

If one receives revelation, the other will also receive it. If it isn’t, the couple ought to keep praying and asking for guidance until they can both feel good about a decision.

To wrap up and sum up- your priesthood is to be used to bless the lives of others, and to serve them. It is not to be used to get what you want, or force anyone to do anything. If you use your authority and power properly, it will bless you and your family’s lives infinitely. If not, “…it is withdrawn, [and] Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”