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Tags: Feminism, Mormon, Mormons, Podcast, priesthood, Women Stories
“Heavenly Mother is willing to take the sh*t” is the funniest and the most thoughtful thing I have heard in a long time. Thanks Margaret!
Margaret, I appreciated the points you made. I agree with many, which makes me nervous about myself.
But one thing bothers me that you said. I’ve heard other people who are no longer members say much the same thing. I guess it’s the word BUT.
Mormonism does so much good, I believe it, my membership meant so much to me, BUT.
It bothers me on so many levels. Not the least of which is when I will have my own “BUT” moment. If, I mean .
After listening to all four parts, I have a few observations:
1. Margaret raises some valid questions, however, it seems that what has gotten her into “trouble” with Church leaders is the tone and manner in which she has raised those questions. As a self-described Idealist with a penchant for extreme and fiery rhetoric, she may not have chosen the most pragmatic way to get her message across to the widest audience in a way that maximizes the probability that it will be embraced by Church leadership.
2. My wife disagreed sharply with Margaret’s assessment that women are being “abused” in the Church. Ironically, Margaret’s position causes her to downplay, overlook, and ignore the full extent of what women are doing in the Church–and the supposed “lack of Spiritual Mothers” in the Church–in order to support her rhetorical charge that women are being “abused”. This fiery language may have strong rhetorical appeal to an Idealist who is trying to demonstrate an abuse, but her rhetoric simply does not match the reality of what women do (and allegedly don’t do) in the Church.
3. My personal opinion is that righteous women already hold the priesthood. If the priesthood is the power of God used in the service of others, and the powers of Heaven are controlled by the principles of righteousness, then every righteous woman in the world has the power of God to bless and serve others. The temple strongly reinforces that idea. So I agree with Margaret theologically in many respects, but I just wish she would tone down the rhetoric because she could present the good points she has to make in a manner that is more likely to be embraced more widely by the Church leadership. It’s this whole “we’re being abused and treated like second-class citizens” thing that just doesn’t appeal to most Church members (and probably all Church leaders).
4. Prediction: In the future, we will hear Church leaders saying: “It’s not a question of whether or not women should hold the priesthood. Righteous women already hold the priesthood. However, the male priesthood holders have, at the present time, been delegated the role of officiating in priesthood ordinances and presiding over the administrative affairs of the Church, much like the tribe of Levi in ancient times.”
5. In every ward council that I’ve been a part of, it’s been obvious that the women in the Relief Society are the ones who are really running the show, with by far the largest budgets and the largest “say so” in ward matters. Hey . . . why can’t I be a member of the Relief Society?!!! . . .
When I was Exec Sec I saw the Relief Society, Young Women’s, and Primary Presidents get shut down many times. They (along with the Young Men’s org.) are by far the groups doing the most service and caring for the ward, but I would not say they are pulling the strings.
However, I have seen this as almost as legitimate as any stereotype of mormon families, that the wife/mother is running the show. Some of this has to do with the problem that John mentioned from JFS, which is still a major issue today, that the bretheren are just not “on fire”. Elder’s Quorum meetings are full of confessions of men subordinating to their wives, and almost totally out of their own professed inadequacy.
So perhaps the picture of the church today is women subordinate to men in the hierarchy and organization, but individually in the homes it is the other way around.
NWME, I get shut down all the time. My stake president didn’t like me for a long time because I bugged him about getting new tables in the cultural hall. Our stake has a very “women should be seen and not heard” attitude. It is the policy of our stake that women are not allowed to open a meeting with prayer. It must be a priesthood holder.
Your wife might very well be having a good experience. I would say, though, that the bad experiences, which wound and hurt one’s feelings, probably only need to happen once or twice to make a conviction in one’s heart that men in the church don’t give a crap about women.
It’s easy to generalize, I suppose, but my experience has been that men are uncomfortable with uppity women. I think Margaret’s dead on about this church having more men because of our patriarchial order, and also that men would leave the church in droves, or at the least, be uncomfortable and resistent to women having the priesthood.
That being said, I would also be uncomfortable about it. I don’t want the priesthood. I like men at the head, I just like nice men. Chauvinistic, mysogynistic men, that makes my blood boil. The church’s structure brings out that “those who when they get a little authority, tend to exercise unrighteous dominion.” It’s true, even if your wife disagrees.
Anne, from what I’ve seen, tone and approach make all the difference in how people who complain are received–whether they be male or female. Nevertheless, I’m saddened to hear about your experience. Not to be too stereotypical, but by chance, do you happen to live in Utah? I’ve never witnessed the sort of thing you’re describing in our wards outside of Utah, but my 4 years at BYU gave me plenty of examples of people letting a little authority go to their heads.
It’s too bad that just one or two bad experiences like that can really pollute the waters for us. When that happens, I try to remind myself that those abuses of authority are opportunities for me to exercise charity, forgiveness, and unconditional love. That’s tough, but what else can I do?
I don’t live in Utah, but I’ve experienced the same things in my ward. I even really like my bishopric, they’re great guys, as neighbors or friends. But, they have done some really sexist things in our ward. It’s so frustrating to see that there really is no check in the church for the system we have. I guess my problem is that I understand that we are all sinners, but I assume that somehow our Priesthood leaders confine their sins to their “off-duty” times rather than their Priesthood leadership times. I’m finding that to be less and less true. A Bishop who cuts off the driver ahead of him, will also cut off the RS President during PEC.
We all do it. Why should I hold them to a higher standard?
I applaud Margaret for committing the time to this podcast series and offering vulnerable insight into her history and experience. I did not “get” the importance of heavenly mother until she explained it. It’s disappointing that the church chose to react so harshly to her ideas, particularly in light of their historical validity. Perhaps someday she will be vindicated.
This podcast was fabulous. Like Anne, I was surprised at how much of what she said resonated with me.
I was really moved by the message about Heavenly Mother. It is a unique and liberating doctrine, that we don’t discuss, and from what I’ve read, hasn’t been “revealed” in the same way as other doctrines. I still don’t even know if a Heavenly Mother exists, despite countless threads on the bloggernacle about her. I think that goes to Margaret’s point that based on the Church’s policy of not talking about Heavenly Mother because she is too sacred, she is effectively erased. If not erased, then at least a really oblique example for more than half of church members with two X chromosomes.
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