We talk often and refer to the scriptures and places within our doctrine to attest to the fact that we admire, revere, and respect women. What of doctrine and scripture that says otherwise? I want to explore this today - there's just too much that makes me feel like crap.
First, the good stuff.
1. The following is paraphrased: "Woman was made from Adam's rib - not from his head to infer she should be at his head; not from his feet to infer she should be at his feet, but from his side to imply they are equal."
I liked this a lot when I first heard it. Still do.
2. We are often told about the Relief Society being the largest women's organization in the world, how it is headed by women.
The deal with the Relief Society is that it is ultimately headed by the Priesthood. The guys. Even the General Relief Society Presidency has to get approval from the Prophet. This goes for any of the organizations within the church, sure, but to say we head something is...somewhat misleading. The General RS Presidency is given loads of authority, but in the end they aren't the end-all-be-all.
3. Women don't hold the priesthood - they give life.
This seems more an effort to placate than anything else. It seems to infer that motherhood is equal to the priesthood. Not "fatherhood" - Priesthood. Beyond that, though, what of those faithful women who are infertile or never give birth due to lack of opportunity to marry? Every faithful man can hold the priesthood.
4. We have a Heavenly Mother, but we assume she is rarely spoken of only because Heavenly Father wants us to keep hush-hush about her for she is woman, she is sacred.
Eh. Sounds a little condescending, but whatever. Personally, as logic would insist that I am a woman who would then be "Heavenly Mother's" daughter, I'd like to know more about her. Yet, I am taught to be more like Heavenly Father and Christ. Not that I have issue necessarily with that, but does anyone else see the slight discrepancy here? Gender roles, people!
We often allude to family life on Earth being parallel to that of our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. If we are so adamant about children on Earth having a parent of their same gender as well as that of the opposite, why don't we talk more about Heavenly Mother so their sons and daughters have something with which to learn from?
I don't mean to blaspheme - this is sincere.
5. The men of our church are among the most chivalrous because of the teachings of the Church stating that women are to be revered - I can attest to this one. It's fabulous. I've always appreciated this teaching of manners and...well, most girls I know like a man deferring to her in this way.
I love this. Women take care of their men, men take care of their women. Yay!
And on and on and on. But what about this:
- Women perform priesthood ordinances in the temple. I imagine this is a matter of modesty for the other women, especially given past intiatory methods, but this doesn't hold now.
- 1 Timothy 2:11: "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not decieved, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
My head spins and my stomach lurches every time I read that. Our second article of faith states that we are responsible for our own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. Is it mere convenience, then, that we don't mention we're not responsible for Eve's transgression? This scripture here states that Adam didn't transgress - the temple teaches us the same. Eve listened to the serpent, took the fruit, and ate it. We teach she heard the truth in the serpent's lie, that without knowing the evil we cannot know the good.
That much, needing opposition in all things, is true.
But it all just makes my head hurt. And no, there really is no Joseph Smith Translation to this bit of scripture other than "Notwithstanding they shall be saved in childbearing" which lends question again to infertile couples. And all this stuff about women having to be silent and in subjection because of Eve goes against what our church says.
Trust me, I like what we say lots more - but our actions speak against this at times, that men teach us and not necessarily the other way around. We answer to them ultimately.
Then there's Titus 2:2-6:
"That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things."
(so far so good)
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
I'm fine until we get to that last bit: Obedient to their own husbands that the word of God be not blasphemed.
This whole idea of obedience to the man of the house drives me up the wall. Those of protestant and evangelical churches also teach this: be in subjection to your husband. We teach it in the temple.
I can't stop scratching my head.
So we're not paying for what Adam did - just what Eve did? And because Adam was made first and insisted on listening to God's commandment to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that makes us immediately inferior? *twirls hair*
The Bible was written by men for men at the time. To my knowledge, this is back when women weren't educated. They didn't know how to read. If they knew anything, it was because their husbands taught them. That offers a little context, but we don't teach this, we don't talk about this. I haven't heard it, at least.
In my scripture notes, I have 1 Timothy 2:11 marked, the word "authority" underlined with the words "priesthood authority" and "silence" attributed to "tranquility and quietness." I also have the words "Father --> Husband --> Wife" written.
What is up with this?
We've been talking a lot about separate but equal with the whole gay marriage thing, but the same applies here. Women and men are separate in their roles but equal. Eh, I can see it I guess. Men hunt, women nest. There is a lot of biology there - but neither is inferior. Why do we insist on perpetuating this? We say we don't, but we do.
Why don't we teach about the prophetesses of the Old Testament (Huldah)? Of the New? (Anna).
In researching prophetesses, I came upon Miriam (referred to as a prophetess in Exodus 15:20) and an interesting and somewhat unnerving piece of OT Scripture in Numbers chapter 12. To avoid typing out sixteen verses, I'll just give you the summary.
Aaron and Miriam are a little miffed at their brother Moses and speak out against him: "And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it." (v.2) God calls the three of them out and declares Moses the main, relevant prophet.
"With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (v. 8)
God then strikes Miriam with leprosy. Aaron was left untouched, though he, too, took part in the "murmuring."
What the hell is going on here?
Then there's the prophetess Huldah. I'd never heard of her before today. In the interest of space, I'll just refer you to 2 Kings 22:14-17.
Yes, we can say we allow for women to have revelation for themselves and the things/organizations they care for, such as the Young Women, Primary, or Relief Society. However, the structure of the Church states that if a governing Priesthood body (either of the ward, stake or general church) received revelation otherwise, than it trumps what the women say. It's a system of checks and balances. We're all taught this. But Huldah was a prophetess, speaking for God. It's right there.
Perhaps prophetesses are not mentioned very often, though I'm glad they're mentioned at all. I'd just like to know more about it out of curiosity.
Yet we go off on feminists, how they're destroying very cozy and tidy gender roles. Damn them! But how can we ignore these scriptures? How can we ignore doctrine and that which goes on? Why do men and women sit separate in the temple? Why the veils? WHY.
And don't you dare tell me it's because we're somehow more holy or something. The more I hear about our inherent holiness the more condescended to I feel. The more we insist there is no distinction is to bring more attention to the actual distinction, if that makes sense.
I have a hard time believing my God would make me inferior to men, and this makes the Bible and scripture sometimes incredibly difficult to read. I am His daughter. I am to feel loved and in peace. Like I matter. Sometimes I don't feel like I really do. Want to know why?
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (1 Corinthians 14:33-35)
This is still taught, it's just quiet and subtle. We still learn of our husbands. No longer at home, and women are now able to speak in the church (is it true that up until recently women didn't give talks in church? Anyone?), but our authority is rather limited - and for what reason?
I am to be taken care of just like I care for others. My husband works his butt off for his family and receives more adulation for it. Because he's worked so hard, I've had to as well. Three young, young children. I've made sure he got the classes he needed. Helped him type his papers because he's a poke of a typist. I've sacrificed for this traditional family stuff, and I don't mind doing it because I love our family and I do believe it's best for my kids to have someone at home with them.
But the conversation when we go out as it pertains to me is relegated to "How are the kids? How's the hubby?" and less about what I think and what I do beyond changing nasty diapers and reveling in that which is my kids and Eric. I love all four of them - but aren't I something deeper than this? Is this service of which I am taught to only do as a consequence of Eve?
Scripture would tell us yes. The Church would say no - but as my scriptural notes attest we are still rationalizing, still insisting that the Priesthood trumps all, and as men hold the priesthood and not women (except for the temple), I am somehow inferior.
In this way there is no separate but equal. We can pay lip service to such bullshit, but our actions speak louder than that.
I have felt respected in our church, but enough times I've also felt very much like I don't matter. I am not the only one, and so we need to address this rather than dismiss it as silly feminism that seeks to destroy the basic foundation of God's plan. That just adds salt to an already open wound.
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