From Patriarchy to Eternity

Avatar-BiVI am going to put this as simply as possible, and let’s start with a definition.  Patriarchy is a social system in which the father or eldest male is head of the household, having authority over women and children. Patriarchy also refers to a system of government by males, and to the dominance of men in social or cultural systems.  I know that this is a true definition, having found it on Wikipedia. However, if you disagree, scroll down and I will include definitions from as many dictionaries as I can google.  Patriarchy by its very definition is not compatible with equality.

Equality is the quality of being the same in quantity or measure or value or status.  I realize that it has become politically correct to describe our LDS families as simultaneously patriarchal and equality-based.  But this is linguistically impossible. (Whew. I’m having uncontrollable urges to type in all caps.)   The Proclamation on the Family attempts to describe a family situation where fathers are responsible to preside and provide but at the same time both partners are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

In order to do this, Mormons attempt to change the definition of patriarchy to something that has little or no meaning. The patriarch in a family, they insist, does not hold the power or authority over his wife to the extent that it would negate her equality.  Instead, he merely calls the family together for spiritual activities and invites a family member to say the prayer.  As one blogger so succinctly stated it, “The patriarch is the presiderer, not the deciderer.” He further explains:

“Men and women are consider to be of equal status in the LDS church…Because childbirth and child-rearing tends to be spiritually sanctifying endevers for women, the priestood assigns men spiritual duties that they would not normally take on themselves… How does this presiding business affect decision-making? Not much. When my wife and I make a decision, we make it together. I would never just tell my wife, ‘I am the deciderer.’ In conclusion, God has given that men preside because of our lack of spiritual fitness. We need the exercize.”

Unfortunately, this blogger not only needs work on spelling words which begin with “e,” he also needs to look up the definition of the word “preside.” This word, far from softening the meaning of patriarchy, only serves to reinforce:

Preside — To occupy or hold a position of authority, as over a meeting. To possess or exercise power or control.

If the LDS Church is to move to a stance of equal partnership within the family, they really have no choice but to lose the words “patriarchal” and “preside” with respect to the position a husband holds in the home.

“But BiV,” you say.  “We’ve been over this ground many times before.  Why bring it up again?”

I bring it up because I fear that with the attempt to soften the rhetoric of patriarchy/presiding in the home and make it compatible with equality, our members are losing the sense that patriarchy is a social construct (see our definitions below).  There is no necessity to consider patriarchy an eternal condition.  I prefer to look at patriarchy as a negative effect of the Fall (thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee) which will be ameliorated in the eternal realm.  President Spencer W. Kimball wrote a foreward to the Brigham Young University publication of Hugh W. Nibley’s discourse on the ideal of marriage in God’s Eden and stated:

“There is no patriarchy or matriarchy in the Garden; the two supervise each other … and [are] just as dependent on each other.”

We do not know exactly what Priesthood and Priestesshood will look like in a post-mortal condition.  But we have been taught that equality will be restored.  Elder James E. Talmage wrote:

“It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments…woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood.” Talmage then hints at a greater sharing of priesthood in the next life: “When the frailties and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom.” (“The Eternity of Sex,” YW Journal 25 (October 1914): 602-603)

The shift to an equality-based home in recent times is commendable.  I feel it more accurately represents the balance of power and oneness which will prevail in the eternal realms.  A majority of two-parent LDS homes today are organized around an ideal expressed by Gordon B. Hinckley as follows:

“In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are coequals…  Since the beginning, God has instructed mankind that marriage should unite husband and wife together in unity.  Therefore, there is not a president or a vice president in a family. The couple works together eternally for the good of the family. They are united together in word, in deed, and in action as they lead, guide, and direct their family unit. They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.” ( Ensign, Nov. 1996, 49.)

If this egalitarian goal is to be accomplished, the competing words “patriarch” and “preside” must be eliminated from the description of family dynamics. They are not useful in encouraging the father to play a more active role in the spiritual life of his family. Instead, the rhetoric should change to more concisely describe the desired result.  Why not urge fathers to become more involved in spiritual instruction, or to more enthusiastically model religious behaviors, if that is what we mean by “presiding?”


  • A form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe (Random House Dictionary)
  • A social system in which the father is the head of the family and men have authority over women and children. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)
  • A family or society in which authority is vested in males, through whom descent and inheritance are traced. (American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)
  • Social system in which the father or a male elder has absolute authority over the family group; by extension, one or more men (as in a council) exert absolute authority over the community as a whole. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
  • Social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary)
  • a society, system, or organization in which men have all or most of the power and influence (Macmillan Dictionary)



103 comments for “From Patriarchy to Eternity

  1. February 3, 2010 at 6:01 am

    The problem is that many of the people talking from the top have a clear metaphor they are working with from business partnerships. In many of those, especially small law partnerships, etc., you have a managing partner who is a cross between a janitor and a cat herder, doing what a good administrative assistant would do if they were presiding.

    The senior partner in those situations leads by having more gravitas and by providing service and by being interested in managing while others prefer to operate in the framework. There is a real sense of equality in such arrangements.

    It doesn’t translate well to those who are outside the framework, obviously, but I am at a loss for a replacement metaphor. I’ve yet to see a good one in the bloggernacle, or really, for that matter, see that many people who understand small business partnerships well enough to make the connection to what the general authorities who have been a part of that environment are saying when they try to apply that framework and explanation to how a family should run.

  2. February 3, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I sense and agree with your frustration.

    I have two points:

    1. I agree and acknowledge that preside is being stretched beyond its natural (or traditional) meaning, but is this really an issue. Can we not allow the word to change its meaning and move to the state that you eloquently describe? Words frequently change their meaning, especially over time. And if this is what is happening and the result is more egalitarian forms of living then I am happy. If your (spoken generically) intent is to obtain the priesthood then I agree changing the word preside is essential. If merely seeking egalitarian home-lives is the intention that I sense that can be done within the current rheotric.

    2. I also agree that changing the word’s meaning could have the negative effect that we forget to fight against patriarchy, yet because of the schizophrenic way eve has been framed in the Garden of Eden narrative we cannot but fail to sense the inadequacy of current explanations. In fact, although I sense that changing the meanings of the word could remove feminist purchase in attacking patriarchy, I believe that making better use of the schizophrenic Eve would actually be a more powerful way of working within the power structure.

  3. February 3, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Apparently Mr. Marsh forgot what it is like to be an Associate at the law firm. The law firm model is all about power and privilege. The senior partners are accountable to — uhh — no one, while the associate has to bill out his 200 billable hours or so for four or five years to make it to junior partner and then he/she has to pay a buy in, just to be included in the partner club. The main difference between a law firm and patriarchy is that at least now, women can become law partners.

    As for the Mormon replacement model on male/female, patriarchal/matriarchal dyads, it is stunningly simple in light of the doctrine mentioned in the post. Isn’t this supposed to be the dispensation of the fullness of times? If that is the case, then stuff from heaven is supposed to be down here on earth and if the heavenly dynamic (see temple ceremony giving women the priesthood, trust me guys, they are told they are priestesses) then we have a long way to go before the Second Coming, since everything has to be restored before Jesus shows his smiling face.

    Jeff Holland and Pat Holland tried to start it when “he” was president at BYU. Almost every talk Holland gave, his wife also spoke. The impression they were trying to give was as co-equals and co-presidents of the University. I had hopes the trend would follow through when Jeff got his “12” appointment, but alas, the powers that be nixed us from hearing Apostle Pat. It does kind of mess with the whole 12 Apostles idea. Does that mean a revelation granting co-equal status to the 12 and their wives means that six apostles get fired? Or maybe, it is the First Presidency and the 24 Apostles and the Council of the 140.

    And Rico, what about schizophrenic Adam? I mean, it is tough to go back 7000 years and psychoanalyze, but Adam went from milquetoast to dominant male. What does that say about the Male of the species? Oh yes Eve, I’ll eat your fruit. Anything you say, dear.

    The first two comments of Mr. Marsh and Rico are all about maintaining male control — which is what patriarchy is all about.
    Cue Godfather Music. Excuse me, God the Father Music.

  4. Left Field
    February 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Does the church actually use the term “patriarchy”? I only found one instance of the word on, and that was in a cautionary sense by Hugh Nibley. The terms “patriarch” and “patriarchal” are used in the church, but those words (unlike patriarchy) do have dictionary definitions that don’t include the idea of being in charge.

    In fact, lists three main definitions of “patriarch,” and only definition 1d (“a man who is head of a patriarchy”) suggests the idea of being in charge. Definition 1c(1) “the oldest member or representative of a group” doesn’t even specify maleness.

    That is not to say of course, that the government of the church couldn’t be described as a patriarchy, but the usual uses of the terms “patriarch” and “patriarchal” don’t necessarily imply men being in charge. A stake patriarch doesn’t make any decisions, isn’t really in charge of anything, exercises his calling almost completely outside of any hierarchy, and gives blessings on an equal basis to men and women. I grew up in the church frequently hearing that “patriarch” is simply synonymous with “father” and consequently, the term always suggested to me the relationship between a father and his sons and daughters, rather than a relationship between men and women.

  5. Zillah
    February 3, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Sorry, Left Field. “Patriarch” comes from the Greek (and then Latin) word meaning father (Latin: pater). Here’s the etymology from the Oxford English Dictionary:

    [In Old English < post-classical Latin patriarcha (see below); subsequently reinforced by Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French patriarche (also in Anglo-Norman as patriarc, patriarch, patriarke, and in Old French as patriarce)
    < post-classical Latin patriarcha (also patriarches) chief or head of a family or tribe (Vetus Latina, late 2nd or early 3rd cent. in Tertullian), title of the bishop of any of the chief sees of the ancient world (4th cent.) < Hellenistic Greek chief or head of a family or tribe (Septuagint: see note at sense 2a), in Byzantine Greek also title of the bishop of any of the chief sees of the ancient world (5th cent.) In Hellenistic Greek also father.]

    Also, every definition in the OED makes explicit that the patriarch is male:

    1. Christian Church. a. The bishop of any of the chief sees of the ancient world, having some jurisdiction over other bishops in the patriarchate (the sees were established by the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451 as Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem). Now chiefly as an honorific title. Cf. EXARCH n. 2.

    2. a. In biblical uses and contexts: the male head, ruler, or progenitor of a family, tribe, or people; spec. (a) each of the twelve sons of Jacob, traditionally regarded as ancestors of the twelve Tribes of Israel; (b) (in pl.) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; (also, in Christian use) Adam and his male descendants down to Noah.
    b. In extended use: a male head or ancestor of any people, tribe, or family.

    3. Formerly: {dag}a pagan chief priest (obs.). Later: a male leader, teacher, or dignitary in a religion or spiritual discipline other than Christianity.

    4. a. A man regarded as the founder or progenitor of a religious order, institution, or tradition.

    Also, your last sentence reveals one of the problems with patriarchy: the relationship it sets up is that between someone higher (father) and someone lower (son or daughter). That model is applied not just to actual fathers and children, but between men and women across the board.

  6. February 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I guess I’m out with Left Field (#4). The arguments I’ve had with bullheaded men who somehow think that being patriarch means giving orders and waiting to be served go back to President Hinkley’s quotation given above in the OP. As our religious use of the office of patriarch is unique in the modern word (as Left Field describes), so it is not unthinkable that the church can define also what the patriarch in a home might do (as President Hinckley has done) without assuming the baggage of other language.

    I am not familiar with modern usage of the term patriarchy in the teachings of modern church leaders. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; perhaps I’m not well enough read.

    Similarly the church can instruct brethren (and sisters) about what it means by the word preside without being bound to the dictionary. Alternatively, as you suggest, the church could seek other language, as well.

  7. February 3, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Left Field, a few references to patriarchy at

    My concern for this post is with patriarchy in the home and whether it has any meaning when used with the concept of equality–patriarchy in the Church is another issue, and isn’t generally juxtaposed with equality.

  8. February 3, 2010 at 8:25 am

    OH MY HE–! Heck, you heathens. Words mean things.

  9. February 3, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Since the Church has found it so successful to change the meaning of the word “preside” to be complementary to “equality,” perhaps we could fix the meaning of the word “pornography” as well. I never liked that word. Let’s make it synonymous with “cooking.”

  10. February 3, 2010 at 8:54 am

    #3 – I get the sense that you completely mis-read my comment primarily because I am aware of the female priesthood idea in our history and doctrine (specifically as you mentioned in the Temple). Moreover, I support it and look forward to the day when these blessings will be offered to all worthy people. Moreover, my reference to eve being schizophrenic was teh way she is characterised in LDS thought. She is ‘guilty’ of doing the right thing and then subjected to following the slower Adam.

    #8 – I am not sure you can separate home from church as they are both priesthood organizations in the LDS view. In that presiding in the home is a Priesthood function and therefore to achieve the equality you argue for we need to actually give women the priesthood. However, how that P. functions in the home it seems is a very different experience to how it functions in the Church to the point that the home is a nice place to talk about equality adn respect between partners and missing the bigger power bloc of the men in the Church which direct what the women say and do.

    Returning to the issue of equality. I stand by my earlier comment that equality as an home-life experience can be achieved under the rhetoric of ‘preside’ as it seems to have done for many people. The issue of equality has other problems as well, in that it seems to be related to ideas of pure rationality. Thus because we also fail to be purely rational of notions of inequality come into relationships. So some women are more dominant in their relationships (because they are smarter, more driven or whatever). I think there will also be inequality but retaining the ideal is important.

  11. Left Field
    February 3, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Zillah, I’m not sure where the etymology and definitions you cite contradict what I said about the term “patriarch.” My last sentence was in regard to the term “patriarch” not the term “patriarchy.” If “patriach” is problematic because it sets up a relationship between someone “higher” and someone “lower,” then does “father” or “mother” not also suffer from the same issue?

    BiV, your references are to “patriarch” not to “patriarchy.” My point was that the terms carry different connotations and denotations, and that “patriarchy” is never used within a church context.

  12. February 3, 2010 at 9:15 am

    “…equality as an home-life experience can be achieved under the rhetoric of ‘preside’ as it seems to have done for many people.”
    Rico, this can only be done IF the meaning of “preside” as the one who holds the power of final decision-making is ignored. Often, it is, and that is why equality works in those homes. But if that is what is happening, why insist on using the word preside? As long as there is a nominal presider, the other party is just not equal. I don’t see why that is so hard to understand.

    Left Field, ah. I see what you are saying. But I don’t agree with you that the words “preside” and the “patriarch” of a home are substantially different in connotation than “patriarchy.”

  13. February 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

    #12 – Thanks for your response. I agree it is not hard to understand and I agree with your point generally. They insist on the word preside because of the priesthood connotation (which they do not want to concede) as I noted in my first comment. The nominal presider is only more powerful if that is used interaction. Presidency must be enacted for it to exist and if it is not enacted then it really is nominal and therefore benign. Now I want to be clear that I think the use of preside is bad but for the Priesthood reason, not because I think it stops equality from happening because I think that this semantic shift has opened up marriage relationships for equality. Which is why I think the Priesthood is the bigger and only issue. If there are still husbands pulling rank and using Priesthood channels to support that then I am wrong but my experience tells me this is not the case and if it is, it is rare. Thus what makes women unequal in the home is the deference created for P. authority that is part of the Church-wide culture, which encourages them to diminish the spiritual roles they have in directing their collective home-life.

  14. February 3, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Therefore I agree that the Church are jumping through semnatic hoops but fighting to change their rhetoric will only solidify their position, i.e. not giving the priesthood to women. I think therefore lets keep the rhetoric and use it to allow people to see the disjuncture and promote a co-presidency (where both have priesthood).

  15. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I am going to be rather provocative here.

    Women who obsess about the so-called patriarchal order are really not looking for equality. Because as BIV pointed out, in the celestial environment, equality is somehow achieved even though, as Adam was, the male is given a presiding role. Equality can be achieved even if roles are different. We may not fully understand how that is done.

    For those women who complain about the male dominance and scream for equality, they want CONTROL. Not partnership, not equality, but control.

    Let me cite a few examples: (I am not passing judgmental here, just citing some examples)

    1. Complete control of the birth process – When, how, how many or not to have children. To abort a pregnancy without regard to the desires of spouse, partner, shack-up stud or hook-up. To bring up a child without a father, if desired.

    2. Control of the employment situation – preferences in hiring, promotion and the ability to take a leave of absence to have a child for as long as desired and to enter back into the workforce at exactly the same place she left regardless of the situation.

    3. SEX – How, who, in what manner, frequency of intimate relations in spite of the needs, and desires and wants of Spouse, partner, shack-up or hook up. To use as a weapon or negotiating tactic or tool for some purpose.

    Just a few examples. I am not saying that I even believe this, but for the sake of discussion, I throw it out there. Many women seem ok with the current situation, especially in the Church. And Patriarchal over-dominance has never been openly taught in the church even if there are those men who have and are practicing it.

    They are clearly wrong in doing so. But there are probably more than a few examples of matriarchal dominance as well. But that is a bit harder for some to admit.

    • Rachel
      June 19, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Jeff Spector, I think you make a very good point when you say, “Equality can be achieved even if roles are different.” Men and women are equal in the church in that they are both equally needed, important, and valued. One does not have less importance than the other. But that doesn’t mean they were designed to do the same things. God never said that those who are ordained with the Priesthood are more important than those who aren’t. They’ve just been given the power they need to perform the role given to them. Priesthood power is the power to perform specific ordinances and blessings for the benefit of other people. It is not the power to “rule over people.” In the church, preside, for a father, means to lead and care for. It is his duty to guide, provide for and protect his family. Of course, if he chooses not to guide them in the right direction, he should not be followed. What is the purpose of governments (Kings, Presidents, etc.), or why were they created? To lead and protect the citizens. Unfortunately, there have been many who have “governed” unrighteously, and given the terms “power,” “preside,” and “rule” bad connotations. But that is not what the Lord means when he says to preside.

      God has given men and women certain roles that are different from each other. He never meant to imply that one is more important than the other. He was just giving order to the universe. Is someone who has a talent for singing of more value than someone who’s good at science? Is a nurse more important than an engineer? No, we need them both, they just perform different roles. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I think it helps to understand it.

  16. Holden Caulfield
    February 3, 2010 at 10:29 am

    BIV–“Since the Church has found it so successful to change the meaning of the word “preside” to be complementary to “equality,” perhaps we could fix the meaning of the word “pornography” as well. I never liked that word. Let’s make it synonymous with “cooking.””

    Good one. Couldn’t agree more.

  17. February 3, 2010 at 10:40 am

    #15 – Although I agree that equality will eventually be achieved why do see it as seeking dominance to want and increased degree of equality here?

  18. Hawkgrrrl
    February 3, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Personal opinion alert. “Preside” is a bone thrown to the sexist norms in other countries and our own country’s past. Old folks would not stand for less as they pretty much still live in the past; social norms of the 1950s and 60s are still relevant to those who married in the 30s, 40s and 50s. This is simply a fact of life, and in a gerontocracy, there is an ever present homage to the past. You can call it respecting your elders, or you can call it not letting go of the past. Either way, the end result is the same.

    I tend to agree with Rico that it’s better to let the church misuse words if the result is a softening in the sexist stance than to force their hand and have them dig in their heels, which is inevitably what would happen (remember, the party line is that the church doesn’t change due to society’s norms, although we all know that’s not exactly right as some of the church’s past norms were simply society’s norms that were unquestioningly adopted by earlier church leaders until they were revealed – sometimes by time rather than revelation – to be completely untenable). The issue that remains is that words do have meanings, and if you arbitrarily change the definitions of words rather than using accurate language, you create misunderstandings, especially outside the culture. This puts the church at odds with a more enlightened society, not a great place to be if your aim is missionary work. So you can explain to investigators that you define those terms differently, but given the emotional charge of words like “preside” and “patriarchy,” you’re more likely to attract converts who accept male dominance or who don’t find it oppressive and backwards. Perhaps we should be doing more missionary work to Arab nations (that was sarcasm). OTOH, most Mormon marriages that took place in the 90s and later are equal partnerships, in keeping with the norms of our generation, and I do believe that actions speak louder than words. It’s an odd position to have words that are less ideal than reality. Usually, it’s the other way around.

    And Rico is also onto something with this schizophrenic view of Eve – sounds like a great post!

  19. February 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Jeff, #15:
    I will not speak for everymormonwoman, but I will speak for myself.
    I would very much welcome a condition of having power, choice, and control.
    I don’t see anything wrong with having choice in my reproductive choices, my employment needs, my body and sexual decisions (just to mention the ones you did.)
    I would feel that the MAN who didn’t desire some sort of control or power over these things was very strange indeed. Why wouldn’t a woman want power in these areas?
    When two people contract a marriage, they do it with the realization that in living together there are compromises to be made, things to be learned about the needs of others, sharing to be done. As Rico mentioned, often the one with a stronger personality may dominate, and this should be discussed and addressed frequently.
    However, I do not agree that someone needs official religious sanction to preside over these things.

    It almost seems you are afraid of the Black Widow Spider.

  20. Douglas Hunter
    February 3, 2010 at 11:20 am


    I agree with your critique, but your thinking is so linear, with all the problems that arise from such lines. You produce the vertical in the same way that Patriarchy does, only you wish to lay the vertical line on its side. I want to point out that there is part of a delightful solution right in your post. You write:

    “The patriarch in a family, they insist, does not hold the power or authority over his wife to the extent that it would negate her equality. Instead, he merely calls the family together for spiritual activities and invites a family member to say the prayer.”

    The problem here is the use of the word “merely.” Reading the sentence above I was struck by the idea of holding the priesthood as being similar in character to the function of a Cantor, or muezzin, one who CALLS or better yet SINGS! the congregation to prayer, to worship. They Provide an artistic, creative reminder an invitation (and always also an interpretation) to others to come together as communities for the purpose of having a specific relationship to the divine. Neither of these is an authority figure in the Mormon sense they are not agents of a Patriarchy.

    There are other calls as well, such as the call of the tout autre, or totally other which includes the call of the divine to the human [GOD: “Abraham!” ABRAHAM:”here am I” which is a Patriarchal call but in an interesting way].It also covers the ethical call of the other that lays claim to us, who, through their presence, through their suffering [a la Levinas,a la Jesus] calls us into relationship. In this sense the role of the priesthood holder could be imagined as shepherding the call [not speaking for mind you] of the other; perhaps to bring this call into the family which understands its role as being the answering of just such calls. The family could be a community seeking to serve justice for the sake of the other and its the call, or the shepherding of the call of the other, that the priesthood seeks to accomplish. There is no “merely.”

    Granted you probably won’t see this kind thought as having much of a relation to the problem you would like to see solved, but it does provide an imaginative, artistic, and ethical way of conceptualizing the purpose of the priesthood. And of course it is inherent in such an artistic and imaginative image that, by its nature, it can’t comply with the requirements of Patriarchy as traditionally defined.

    On anther note, I think we should find the slipping of patriarchy without Patriarchy in the church fascinating, it is a moment of self-undermining and perhaps self-deconstruction that results in a marvelous paradox. Rather than resolving the paradox, I think we should keep it in place a little longer [yes it does have a specific end] to allow it to foment, to do its work of undermining.

  21. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Rico, #17,

    I don’t know whether it is dominance or not. But it seems like some hide behind the “equality” banner when they really want complete control.

  22. February 3, 2010 at 11:25 am

    #18 – I wish I could claim the idea of the schizophrenic eve, but I heard it in a sunstone session once on the body. Moreover, I think that your point about missionary work adn the confusion this can cause is worth a hearing. Yet, i wonder to what extent the ideas and feelings of patriarchy are available to non-members. It is fairly normal still for major relgiious figures to be male and so this is not so out of step.

    I guess I can’t disagree with the premise of the OP and the desired end but maybe we disagree over the process.

  23. Douglas Hunter
    February 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Jeff your thinking is not always this ways, In fact your response to women’s issues strikes me as an anomaly. What it is about women’s issues that brings out this kind of masculinist terror in your words? Why are you such a reactionary when discussing this kind of issue but not others? Watch out there is a spider on your arm!

  24. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

    BIV, 19

    I hope you don’t think these are all my feeling on the subject. I just threw them out there because I do believe in some cases they are true.

    I fully believe in equality, which to me means that both parties share equally in the power. Women should have power over those things I mentioned, but in the case of a marriage or relationship, it should not be unbridled. Some of those decisions should be mutual.

    “However, I do not agree that someone needs official religious sanction to preside over these things.”

    Then you argument is as much with the scriptures as with men. 🙂 One can make the case that that is how God sees it.

  25. February 3, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Douglas # 20: Beautiful! I LOVE that.

  26. February 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    The difference in understanding lies in the word “authority”. Patriarchy and equality are possible when “authority” is God’s authority. Since the authority of God cannot be wielded on unrighteous principles, as soon as a person attempts to use authority to dominate, rather than to persuade, it is gone.

  27. Mike S
    February 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Just a question as to official Church policy:

    When my wife was recently called to a leadership position, the bishop called ME first to ask if I thought it was ok. I said “Fine” at the time, but in retrospect I should have told him it wasn’t my decision – it was between him and her. I don’t see the bishop calling my wife before extending me a calling.

    To anyone who knows, was this a quirk of the bishop or is this an official policy?

  28. February 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Douglas has expressed what I felt in a way more eloquent that I could, as usual.

    Moreover, it has provoked serious thought in connection to another problem for me recently relating to P. power/authority.

  29. February 3, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Quirk. Some callings are done together (like Bishop), but there is no policy of asking before.

  30. Henry
    February 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Bored in Vernal:
    You always have such interesting posts. I find with patriarchy that everyone is included a man, his wife, his sons, and daughters. Everyone is included, imperfect as patriarchy may be. When you have matriarchy, they only want women to be included and no one else. You see this in feminism as well, all women’s gyms, all women’s clubs. When women are left to their own devices you see them start to practice witchcraft and goddess worship.

  31. Thomas
    February 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    #3: “while the associate has to bill out his 200 billable hours or so for four or five years to make it to junior partner….”

    A 200-hour billables requirement? A four-year partner track? Is your firm hiring?

    Re: “presiding,” I get the sense sometimes that I’m the “president” like in some parliamentary democracies where the president is a nice person that everybody likes and who goes to foreign leaders’ funerals, while the prime minister has all the real power.

  32. February 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Henry, whoa, baby. Before we get into the witches and all, maybe you could show me in your Bible, Book of Mormon, and D&C where the patriarchy included all those details about the men’s wives and daughters…

  33. February 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Reading your post, the first thing that jumps to mind is Humpty Dumpty: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.'”

    You’re undoubtedly right that the way use use “patriarchy” in the church strains its original meaning. At the same time, though, in a very real sense, the traditional meanings of words don’t matter, (read the rest of the sentence in all caps) as long as everybody knows what we mean when we say them.

    Which means, from my and Humpty’s perspectives, the important thing may not be to change the word used; I wouldn’t say its immutable, but it’s fairly entrenched. Instead, I’d focus on making sure everybody (that is, hearers and sayers) knows that when we use the word “patriarchy” in church, what we really mean is “equality.” That way, “patriarch” will mean just what we choose it to mean – neither more nor less.

  34. February 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Hi BIV,

    There is a certain equality to all the parts of our physical bodies, but the different parts are not identical. Most of us really like having all of them, and our self image includes all of them. A good marriage and family should be like that.

    I think you should look to the Word of the Lord to understand the concepts of equality and Patriarchy.

    The scriptural concept of being “one” is described in John 17:

    11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    Marriage, like salvation requires separate beings to become one. But not identical. Both the man and the woman are essential to the marriage, thus the desires and needs of both have to be considered equally. Nothing should be forced on either one.

    I believe in the Patriarchy found in the scriptures. (I do not consider the Koran scripture). The Lord sets up Patriarchy based on Eternal truths, not chauvinism.

    When a woman chooses to marry a man in a Patriarchal marriage, she is giving her man the opportunity to be the political head of the family as long as he does not screw it up too bad. I honestly believe the highest values of family life, and sometimes even its survival, require Patriarchy. So she chooses to be under his government. If he is a good husband, it is a good and wise choice for her and her children.

    “For a woman that hath a husband is
    bound by the law to her husband as
    long as her husband liveth, but if
    her husband be dead, she is loose
    from the law of her husband.”
    (Romans 7:2)

    As you know, scriptural Patriarchy brings a man can under the government of Christ as his political head. So the husband is not expecting his wife to do anything he is not doing.


  35. February 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Richard, do you believe that Patriarchal marriage is a result of a fallen mortal state and may not be the government of the family in the eternities?

  36. February 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Good post BiV, though I’m not sure I would agree that the church teaches mutual priesthood and “priestesshood” (oh how I hate that made-up word) in the next life beyond the occasional giving of lip service to the concept.

    I’ve pretty much reached a point where any time I come across an argument to the effect of “preside doesn’t really mean ‘preside'” or “patriarchy and equality can co-exist,” my eyes glaze over and I click somewhere else.

  37. Hawkgrrrl
    February 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    SilverRain: “Since the authority of God cannot be wielded on unrighteous principles, as soon as a person attempts to use authority to dominate, rather than to persuade, it is gone.” Persuasion is persuasion – everyone can be persuasive. It doesn’t require authority. Once authority enters the discussion, persuasion ceases to be strictly on its own merit. It lowers the bar for the one with authority and raises it for the one without. This is why leadership without authority is the only real leadership (requiring skill) there is.

  38. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Douglas Hunter #23,

    I figured I was going to get attacked for making those comments in spite of the caveats I put in there. I think there is room to have a reasonable discussion on any number of things surround this issue without being accused of some crime against nature for suggesting that some women are not interested in equality.

    equality goes both ways, I’m afraid.

  39. Rigel Hawthorne
    February 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve wondered to myself if a view of heaven might be likened unto the image of the mirrors in the Celestial Rooms; on the other side of the Veil, are relationships and organizations “enantiomers” of the way they are on earth? The Veil experience of the temple causes the same question to me. The teaching of the Savior that the greatest among you is the servant is another way of thinking that hints to that. Holding the Priesthood means using it to serve. My service, however, doesn’t seem IMO to match in any near measure the service of my mother in her various roles or my wife in her roles.

    The name Jehovah was not uttered in OT times, but the name of Mother in Heaven is not even revealed.

    The requirement for men to get to the CK is at least one more step complicated than it is for women. Men, if they meet the requirements of accountability, must find a spouse to whom they can be sealed. Women are reassured that no blessing will be denied them if they did not have the “opportunity”. OK, so Adam’s slowness made this possible. Thank you Adam. Can we also thank Adam that Priesthood holders have to wear uncomfortable ties and drab white shirts to church while women can wear T-shirts, sarongs and flip flops?

    The following quote is a little pearl I gleaned out of searching the September 1980 Ensign:

    Priesthood is not chauvinistic. The priesthood is “without father, without mother, … having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Heb. 7:30), nor maleness nor femaleness. It is head to them both. Male and female alike come under it and must understand their true relationship to it, one to serve as priest within it, the other eventually as a priestess. Men here are given the priesthood power, but both man and woman must bring themselves into submission unto it, rather than she unto him as a person. The man must assume the same relationship of honor and obedience to priesthood truths and doctrines that the woman does. That is, it precedes them both. For the man to assume that because he “holds” the priesthood that it is his or that he is somehow exalted in importance is a serious distortion

    I agree with what I think BIV is getting at in that the term “patriarchy” seems to be lacking what the restored gospel is trying to teach. I agree that thinking of these relationships in the term patriarchy may be preventing our insight. I want to say more, but work is calling. And perhaps its better, in fact, if I do shut my mouth at this point. 🙂

  40. February 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    “Elohim” is The Gods -> Mother and Father. We don’t talk so much about it, but when “the gods” decided to go ahead with this plan, I am sure Mother was on board 100%. He would not be God without her, and vice versa.

    That is what I think of Patriarchy. It’s a social construct.

  41. Douglas Hunter
    February 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm


    My point is that on the few occasions I’ve seen you discuss women’s issues here at Mormon Matters your position is far more reactionary than you are when discussing other issues such as the OT. It stands out and it goes beyond this particular thread. You appear to always be running to the defense of Patriarchy, ready to man the barricades against the attack of the feminine other; trying to cast doubts on the motivations, goals and ideals of women. But more to the point, why do you think the idea that “some women are not interested in equality” has meaning here in this discussion? Is the idea that there are some women operating in bad faith regarding equality really supposed to help us understand how and why Patriarchy plays out the way it does in the Mormon context? Why is it important for you to try to cast doubts regarding women’s motivations and goals?

    The critique of Patriarchy, is not about revenge, establishing an order that will for once and for all put men in there proper place. No, the critique of Patriarchy is a way of seeking greater equality and spiritual potential for us ALL, male and female. Men are assigned a specific place in Patriarchy as well and that proscription is spiritually detrimental to men,despite allowing us exclusive access to certain forms of institutional, economic, social and religious authority and privilege.

    This is why I see a poetic way of addressing the Call that BIV so provocatively included in her OP. That call, provides us a way of thinking / being / doing that is free from the fear and defensiveness that appears to inform your comments around women’s issues.

  42. Chelsea
    February 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I can’t help but think of Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  43. February 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Amen, Chelsea.

  44. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    41, You are free to lecture me about my motivations, my ideas and what I think about Women,etc and refuse to consider that in some cases, what I have said might have some truth to it. Fine. I have tried to make it clear that I certainly do believe there are legitimate roles for both sexes in the Patriarchy without the necessity for Priesthood holders to lord over the women of the Church in an unrighteous manner.

    But, I have my doubts that it is purely a social construct. Otherwise, we call into question, as we do about so many other elements of the gospel when viewed from a progressive standpoint, the truthfulness of what is taught and practiced by the Church.

  45. Hawkgrrrl
    February 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Jeff: “But, I have my doubts that it is purely a social construct. Otherwise, we call into question, as we do about so many other elements of the gospel when viewed from a progressive standpoint, the truthfulness of what is taught and practiced by the Church.” I’m just curious. Which teachings of the church do you consider at risk if patriarchy is merely a social construct (albeit one with a long tradition and storied past)? No baiting here, just want to understand.

  46. Zen
    February 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Of course, the greatest irony here is that anyone seeking the priesthood for authority, has their authority automatically made null and void.

    Also to shoehorn our very different conceptions of preside and patriarch into the World’s definitions and then profess outrage is sloppy reasoning. Priesthood authority is not like authority in the world. And once it is, it is void.

    But the ideal presented here of a power vacuum is equally unworkable. Power vacuums don’t exist… they get filled because (as the saying goes) Nature abhors a Vacuum. There will be a power framework of some kind. The only question is, what kind?

    Frankly, Jeff brings up some good points about how calls for equality in the world, at least as regards gender in the last 40 years, have often been more about seeking power than equality. Try talking to a man who got divorced against his will, and his children stripped from him…. equality has too often been a code-word for more power. Very little inequality is pro-male these days.

  47. Douglas Hunter
    February 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    #44- No lecture intended really, I am just trying to understand what I see as an odd feature of your discourse. If I’ve totally misrepresented you then show me how this is the case. I notice that you didn’t even acknowledge that I asked you a question. What role does the truth you believe you bring to this discussion play in this discussion? Are you saying that you were not questioning the motivations and goals of women? Beyond that I could say “alright Jeff, point taken some women are not interested in equality.” You have not made that idea meaningful in any way regarding the discussion of Patriarchy. But you do beg the question of Men’s interest in equality.

    “I certainly do believe there are legitimate roles for both sexes in the Patriarchy without the necessity for Priesthood holders to lord over the women of the Church in an unrighteous manner.”

    O.K. but in all seriousness what Patriarch wouldn’t say exactly this? There is no critical engagement in such a comment. Patriarchy is not about some roles being legitimate and other not being so. Its about how the access to resources is managed along lines of gender.

    “But, I have my doubts that it is purely a social construct. Otherwise, we call into question, as we do about so many other elements of the gospel when viewed from a progressive standpoint, the truthfulness of what is taught and practiced by the Church.”

    Ah, this is more interesting, but your mistake is to reduce it to a “progressive” standpoint. Its not just a matter of left leaning ideological motivations. Its about historiography, and ontology, and many other things.

    Even more importantly though, its worth asking in a very direct way, why we shouldn’t ask about what is taught and practiced by the church? Why should some questions be off limits? Further as Christians aren’t we called to continuous personal, community and institutional critique and questioning? Are we so blindly optimistic that we are always already on the right track that we don’t need to think about the scriptures we read or the political / economic actions of the institution we materially and spiritually support? How else do we avoid being complacent to our own worst tendencies, whispering a hideous message to ourselves that we give the name of God? Not questioning goes against the Hebrew and the Christian traditions in profound ways! You know the OT, look at all the questioning that the profits do of themselves, their communities and of God himself. The relationship between community, profit, and God in the OT is often very contentious. Some might say its supposed to be.

    We are often warned against the mingling of the philosophies of men with doctrine or scripture. From my progressive, apostate, hell bound, post modern point of view there is no more pure example, no more perfect and literal example of a philosophy of men than Patriarchy; and yet there is is mingled, entangled, woven into our religious structures in very deep ways. The response isn’t to look away and pretend that we didn’t see it. Nor is the response to believe that we can simply undo Patriarchy in order to discover pure religion. That is impossible. Anyway that is my point of view. You are quite clear about doubting Patriarchy’s social construction, so for me the question is how does one disprove the historicity of Patriarchy?

  48. February 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Lots to think about here, but I think I’ll address Bridget in #36. “Priestesshood” is one of the things we are promised in the Temple that we will receive in the next life if we are faithful. So, while it’s not bandied about, it IS a core belief. Personally, I like the term because I don’t covet the Priesthood, in the male sense of how it’s used–that is, hierarchically. Although it’s not described for us, I like to imagine that Priestesshood is a more feminine power, maybe associated with healing and mystical elements.

    I absolutely would separate patriarchy from Priesthood, and I lean heavily toward believing the idea of “presiding” in a family is a social construct, to end with mortality. The quote Richard gives in #34 bears me out. I will be interested to see how Jeff responds to #45.

  49. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    45, Hawk,

    I’m thinking things like:

    * The Temple
    * The Priesthood
    * The Prophets, starting with Joseph Smith who taught the Patriarchal Order
    * The organization of the Church as outlined in Ephesians 2:20
    * The reliability of the four Standard works.
    * The reality of God Himself

    May seem like a gross exaggeration, but it seems to me that the Patriarchal Order is a signification doctrine of the Church. Again, we are talking about its true application, not some social construct created by some people, even in the Church, to gain control over others.

  50. Jeff Spector
    February 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    #47, Douglas,

    “no more perfect and literal example of a philosophy of men than Patriarchy;”

    Maybe this is where you and I really differ. I see a difference in the doctrine of Patriarchy and the application of it. I am arguing that the doctrine might be correct, but clearly, the application has been, in many cases, flawed, to say the least. Clearly that doctrine is taught in the scriptures and especially in the Temple.

    I find some arguing against it as simply a social construct, but I do not see it that way. I am not so dogmatic as to believe that interpretations have not been exaggerated so that men could have control over women. On the other hand, it would not have been the first time a doctrine of the Church was implemented badly or even created to support a position that has no scriptural basis. (Blacks and the Priesthood).

    But, I think you would agree that the equality movement for women started from a progressive viewpoint in society at large and was fostered even in the Church by those of a more progressive mindset. There is nothing wrong with that and many ills in our society were cured as a result. But that also doesn’t mean that in some cases, some have wanted it taken beyond equality. That was the point of my very first post.

  51. SkepticTheist
    February 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Let me put out a hypothetical question, and I’m not even suggesting that this is the case, or even possible. I’m just throwing it out there to see what the answer would be. If you know with PERFECT KNOWLEDGE the Lord established an authority structure according to his will, would you be willing to submit yourself to it? I’m not going to enter into the discussion about gender roles and patriarchy, and whether it is according to his will or not. I’m just asking, if you had perfect knowledge about the Lord’s will, would you be willing to submit to it, even if it went against your personal beliefs about equality? What if that authority structure is inherently UNEQUAL superficially, but the Lord was the one that did it. In those terms, would anyone be willing to submit to it, and be willing to suspend feelings about lack of fairness?

  52. February 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    SkepticTheist, are you asking me? I would not only be willing to submit, I would be willing to die for it.
    Most people don’t understand that my blogging does not come from my personal beliefs–I’m so uncertain what they really are–my blogging comes from a desperate attempt to figure these things out with that perfect knowledge of his will that we insist is possible.
    For a member of Church that claims so much revelation, I feel like I somehow got left out in the wilderness.

  53. Thomas
    February 3, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    #52: Amen.

    I would add that (1) we sometimes see well-intentioned people claiming to “know” demonstrably false propositions by the same sensation of spiritual experience by which they claim to have PERFECT KNOWLEDGE of the core truths of the Gospel — which raises a reasonable question about whether they do, in fact, have “perfect knowledge”; and (2) in my experience, many of those people who claim to have had dramatic spiritual manifestations are not the most stable people mentally or emotionally.

    “Let me be clear” (to quote an Obamaism that’s really starting to grate on me) — I am not saying that spiritual experiences are “the effect of a frenzied mind.” (I don’t want to get struck dumb and stepped on.) I am saying that I often find that it is very often the latter who make the most conspicuous declarations of having had the former.

    I know I do not have PERFECT KNOWLEDGE, and I know God knows it. I know I have faith, and I know I have had some experiences that increased my faith. I know other people who have greater faith than mine. But I believe — and I think with good reason — that the ratio of people claiming “perfect knowledge” to people who actually have it, is substantially less than 1.

  54. Thomas
    February 3, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    #51: “If you know with PERFECT KNOWLEDGE the Lord established an authority structure according to his will, would you be willing to submit yourself to it?”

    All things being equal — yes.

    On the other hand, what if I had equally perfect knowledge that this (unspecified) authority structure was inconsistent with divine moral law? What if (to use an example from a medieval Islamic scholar), I had perfect knowledge that God had commanded me to practice idolatry?

    That would place me — pretty much where Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden, i.e., unable to obey one divine mandate without transgressing another.

    We’re getting really deep into the speculative underbrush, but what if the “authority structure” in question were something like totalitarianism — say, John Calvin’s Geneva on steroids, complete with executions of apostates? I believe, with a conviction that comes closer to perfect knowledge than anything else, that this would be inconsistent with the fundamental principle of Christian liberty. If I believed, just as strongly, that this natural-law-violating “authority structure” was in fact instituted by God, I would have to choose one dictate over another.

    Assuming “perfect knowledge” of each mandate (thus eliminating the possibility that I simply fail to perceive the real virtue of being a Nazi), I think I would have to go with the mandate supported by both my understanding of natural law and divine revelation, over something supported by divine revelation alone. (I would probably not have done well up on Mount Moriah.)

  55. Hawkgrrrl
    February 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Jeff, in response to your list (just my interpretations and opinions):
    * The Temple. Yet many of the sexist components / interpretations have changed dramatically, just in my lifetime, and the very core nature of the temple is (as BiV’s post points out) an eternal view that is equal. I don’t get as much patriarchy from the temple as outside of it.
    * The Priesthood. Again, going back to the temple, it’s made quite clear that women are equal in priesthood when viewed from an eternal perspective. Not seeing the threat to this doctrine.
    * The Prophets, starting with Joseph Smith who taught the Patriarchal Order. They also taught the Ham doctrine starting with BY. They lived in extremely sexist and oppressive times, and may have been progressive for their day in some ways.
    * The organization of the Church as outlined in Ephesians 2:20. Actually, what I think is often misunderstood in the church is that the early Christian church was mostly run by women. Women led congregations that met in their homes. They were far more influential than is emphasized. This is confirmed by criticisms of the church that were contemporary to those early congregations (that it was a church led by women and the poor – the losers of society).
    * The reliability of the four Standard works. Well, that’s clearly up for grabs, even according to our own Articles of Faith. In any case, it goes to the nature of revelation. Humans can misunderstand and feel confident in their assertions.
    * The reality of God Himself. Again, not seeing the link to patriarchy here since we likewise believe in eternal parenthood, not just a male God ruling in solitude. We believe in a Heavenly Mother. There is not inherent inequality in that notion.

  56. Left Field
    February 3, 2010 at 9:45 pm


    No doubt the connotations of “patriarchy” have spilled over into “patriarch,” but as I said, those were not the connotations I absorbed growing up in the church (perhaps in part because “patriarchy” as such, is a word not used in church discourse. Ever.). And several of the dictionary definitions of “patriarch” do include connotations of respect. One definition, for example is “venerable old man” (“venerable” being defined as “calling forth respect through age, character, and attainments). I hadn’t commented on “preside,” but since you brought it up…

    I do hope to not make Jack’s eyes glaze over and for her to click somewhere else, but I do intend to argue that “preside” does in fact mean exactly “preside,” and I don’t intend to address the relationship between patriarchy and equality, so perhaps she will indulge me. I’m just not seeing where “preside” means holding the “power of final decision making.”

    If you are the presiding officer, you get to wield the gavel and bring the meeting to order (though I admit that banging the gavel is pretty cool), but the “authority” that you emphasized in the definition is strictly limited to the conduct of the meeting, not to it’s outcome. You get to keep the meeting running smoothly and ensure that it doesn’t descend into anarchy, but when the question is called, your vote (if you even have one) counts exactly the same as everyone else’s. That sounds pretty equal to me. In many cases, the presiding officer, by rule or tradition, doesn’t even vote or participate in discussion. That may be inequality, but it’s not in the favor of the person presiding.

    Presiding doesn’t give you any special influence over the outcome of deliberations, much less give you the power of final decision making. In every deliberative body I’ve ever been involved with, the president’s vote (if she or he even has one, or chooses to exercise it) counts the same as everyone else’s, and the president can be and often is, outvoted.

    So I remain puzzled where the idea comes from that “preside” must mean that you get to make all the decisions, and that suggesting equality is so antithetical to presiding as to call forth comparisons of including cooking under the umbrella of porn. If Robert’s Rules can codify a presiding officer that is (at best) equal in influence to everyone else in the body, I don’t see how it’s so outrageous to contemplate “presiding in the home” as being consistent with joint and equal decisions.

  57. GBSmith
    February 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    #55 “Again, not seeing the link to patriarchy here since we likewise believe in eternal parenthood, not just a male God ruling in solitude. We believe in a Heavenly Mother.”

    I know we take for granted that there is a heavenly mother but is there any evidence other than the line in “Oh My Father”? I’ve read that there’s no reference in Eliza R. Snow’s journals to a heavenly mother during the time she was married to JS and I’m not aware that he made any public pronouncement on the subject. Just curious.

  58. February 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    #48 BiV ~ Do they actually use the word “priestesshood” in the temple liturgy somewhere? All I’ve ever heard is that there’s a line about women being “queens and priestesses.”

    My dislike of the word is pretty much a quibble. I think all -ess feminine endings are past their expiration date as far as modern English goes. I like my NRSV and TNIV translations because they call the female prophets and deacons “prophet” and “deacon” rather than “prophetess” and “deaconess.” I don’t see why women have to have that silly archaic “-ess” ending tacked onto every role that relates to them. If it works for you though, don’t let me rain on your parade.

    #56 Left Field ~ I’ve said everything I’m going to say about Mormon attempts at re-defining and softening “preside” here. If you need help with my understanding of the definition of “preside” and why I object to it, consult your nearest dictionary.

    Hey, look, an episode of Chuck that I haven’t watched yet . . .

  59. Left Field
    February 3, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Sorry, Jack, but neither the dictionary nor Robert’s Rules say that the presiding officer has authority to control anything but the actual conduct of the meeting. Presiding officers can be and are, routinely outvoted, and have no authority to overrule the vote of the body. If there’s any redefining going on here, it’s not just Mormons doing it, it’s every deliberative body in the world that uses Roberts Rules.

    Who’s Chuck?

  60. Left Field
    February 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Oh, and just to be clear, I’m fine with both parents “presiding” (whatever that means) jointly, alternately, on an ad hoc basis as needed, or nobody in particular presiding. Whatever works for them. You won’t find me arguing for the husband necessarily presiding in any sense of the word. I’m cool with scrapping the use of the word in church discourse altogether. I’m cool with scrapping the whole idea of presiding (however benign or sinister the term is understood) being assigned to one or the other sex. I’m just saying that the plain meaning of the term as commonly defined and as commonly used involves a person managing the conduct of a meeting, not making decisions for anyone else.

  61. February 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    [Actual transcript]

    Wife: “Dinner’s on the table. Dear, could you please ask someone to say the blessing before it gets cold?”

    Husband: “Okay. [To daughter] Lindsey, would you please bless the food?”

    Does this make anyone else’s brain explode, or is it just me?

  62. February 4, 2010 at 12:38 am

    #60 Left Field ~ I’m fine with both parents “presiding” (whatever that means) jointly

    “Whatever that means”? What is it about the concept of two people presiding in unity by acting as one that’s unclear to you, Left Field?

  63. MH
    February 4, 2010 at 12:47 am

    MoHoHawaii, that transcript was written from dinner at my house, wasn’t it! I can’t believe how accurate that was–you must have been hiding out of view. (I’d say this scenario happens at least once/week at my house.)


  64. February 4, 2010 at 1:15 am


    You have a commonsense that I wish was more common.

    Our wonderful Church makes progress slowly, but the good news is that the voices of women are being heard more and more on the councils of leadership. If my experience is any indicator, women in this Church represent MORE than 50% of the collective wisdom. Since that is the case, I look forward to teaching (some hypothetical day in the future) out of a priesthood/Relief Society manual entitled something like: “Great Spiritual Women in the Latter-day Church.” Lesson #1 should be: “Emma Smith.”

  65. Left Field
    February 4, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Sorry if I was unclear, Jack. I am the world’s biggest proponent of two people presiding in unity by acting as one. I am on record in many places on the internet as supporting the concept of joint decisions and strongly disagreeing with the nonsense that “someone has to make the final decision.” My parenthetical comment was only in regards to the word “presiding,” not to “presiding jointly.” We seem to have some difference of opinion what the word means, so I was just trying to say that regardless of how we understand “preside,” decisions can be made jointly and that it’s silly to think it’s the sole responsibility of men.

  66. February 4, 2010 at 7:59 am

    #38 – Jeff – I’m still having a hard time understanding where you’re coming from here. You said that some women are not interested in equality. I partially agree with you – the issues you bring up – birth control and employment issues are things that need to be discussed as a society.

    The length of family medical leave is certainly something that should be discussed…I don’t think you’re suggesting that we return to the time when women could be fired for getting pregnant or fired for taking more than 6 weeks of medical leave after giving birth? Currently, in the U.S., that time is not even paid (in many jobs). What about a woman whose husband has died or is incapacitated in some way? Or has divorced her? What options does she have to support herself and her child?

    And the other point (someone else made) about custody is also valid. It is patriarchy (in my opinion) that assumes that women are always the best caretakers of children – if custody law were to be reformed, it might be more equitable.

    I think the conversation about these types of issues is not about dominance of women over men, but more about education. Explaining the possibilities of many situations. At one point, it seemed as if life for everyone would go a certain way – and if your life didn’t go that way, it was your fault.

    I’m pretty certain some LDS leaders have in fact asked women to be prepared to provide for their families and to be educated – for just the reasons above.

    So I’m interested in examples of women who would prefer dominance and control. While there may be a fraction of women who are like that (and men who show unrighteous dominion) – in my experience, most women are just looking for ways to have better control over themselves and their options. They want to have the same/similar options that men have.

  67. Jeff Spector
    February 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

    #55, Hawk

    Not sure we have any disagreement with how the eternities play out with regard to equality, it is how we struggle in this life to deal with it. In every one of my examples, I think the earthly Patriarchal order is where the issues arise:

    * The Temple – Eve is called an “helpmeet and companion.” “Because Eve partakes of the fruit, she must “harken to the council of her husband….”
    * The Priesthood – “let’s face facts here, the men lead and preside”
    * The Prophets, starting with Joseph Smith who taught the Patriarchal Order – They support the patriarchal order as explained in the scriptures and by revelation
    * The organization of the Church as outlined in Ephesians 2:20 – All men
    * The reliability of the four Standard works. Clearly the scriptures teach a patriarchal centric structure
    * The reality of God Himself – male, in charge, all knowing, all powerful.

    While changes have been made and practices changed, the order still exists in this life.

  68. February 4, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Ulysses, it is 2000 to 2400 billable hours, not 200 … and I was noting small law firms as a type of partnership this applies to, not the 500+ lawyer pyramid schemes …

    Thomas — I missed his four year partner track comment 😉 Usually ten to twelve years these days in those firms.

    Hawk — This is why leadership without authority is the only real leadership (requiring skill) there is. You’ve said it.

    MoHoHawaii — that happens so often that if it made brains explode there wouldn’t be any left 😉

  69. Jeff Spector
    February 4, 2010 at 9:18 am

    #66, Aerin,

    “I don’t think you’re suggesting that we return to the time when women could be fired for getting pregnant or fired for taking more than 6 weeks of medical leave after giving birth?’

    Not at all. I was only pointing out that in some situations, women who take long leaves expect to return to the corporate ladder in exactly the position they were in and should not have to rebuild their career like a man would if he decided to take a leave for some reason. I do not believe in any penalties for women who take leaves to have children but having children is a choice and their is a price to be paid for that choice. A six week leave is not part of my comment.

    “– in my experience, most women are just looking for ways to have better control over themselves and their options. They want to have the same/similar options that men have.”

    And I would agree with you 100%. And they absolutely should be on an equal footing with men in that regard.

  70. February 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

    “What if . . . I had perfect knowledge that God had commanded me to practice idolatry?”
    . . . or to kill your own son, or allow innocent women and children to be killed before your eyes, when you had the power to stop it . . . or to step into a new land and annihilate an entire people . . . or to (essentially) prostitute yourself to a person who does not share your beliefs in God . . . or to leave the church and start up your own in a far land . . . or to kill a man for personal gain . . . or to practice polygamy after translating Jacob’s words against multiple wives . . .

    The scriptures are replete with stories of people who did things that were seemingly against divine moral law with nothing but a Spiritual conviction that it was the Lord’s will. I feel that many men and women are asked to make such judgments on faith alone. (I have had to myself, this past year.)

    FYI, as far as custody goes, in my experience the only reformation that needs to be made is against abusers. Men actually tend to get preference right now, because there is a false perception that women generally get preference. Courts assume that it is always good for a father to be involved in his children’s lives, regardless of his behavior towards his spouse and children or his true motivations for wanting involvement. This allows many abusers to terrorize their victims through the court. Additionally, courts favor parental involvement over stability for children, making it so many children are subjected to constant chaos in their schedules as selfish parents pick and choose when they want to exercise parental privileges.

  71. Thomas
    February 4, 2010 at 11:23 am

    #70: “The scriptures are replete with stories of people who did things that were seemingly against divine moral law with nothing but a Spiritual conviction that it was the Lord’s will.”

    So are the headlines. If God wants a man dead, that’s what thunderbolts are for. “God gave me a special dispensation temporarily suspending moral law” is just too easily abused for me to believe that a God with any sense would countenance it.

  72. February 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

    31 and 68 — 200 billable hours per month, actually closer to 240 for the top producers.
    Mid-range boutique law firm, not the multinational monstrosities.
    And twenty years ago, so admittedly behind the times in my metaphor use.

    But, as always seems to be the case — lost the forest for the trees. Dominance is dominance whatever term or metaphor you use. The men seem particularly content with the status quo — as well they might.

  73. Bebop
    February 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    To me, the glass is half full and I decide to give a positive and beautiful meaning to the word ‘Preside’. It emphasizes these ideas:

    1/ A home needs order and structure (even unstructured time is found within the structure of the family time

    2/ A home is that important that it requires the same attention that is given to our so precious businesses and professions where we have Presidents, Managers and CEOs.

    3/ Presides = responsibility. The president of the home is responsible. Why the man when there are 2 parents? We each have an answer to that. But responsibilities and accountability are good and give great joy when one does well and drives his family towards higher grounds, and presiding is rewarding on personal and interpersonal levels.

    My Manager is nice, he is the boss, but we all know that the guy doing the job is his Deputy. They are both satisfied in their own way. They both handle their own dirty work and load of responsibilities, and the whole machine works somehow.

    I am planning a trip to the US (yeah, I’m coming your way to see what you look like and how you behave) and my wife is only remotely involved as I want to spare her the stress of calculating the cost of petrol over 4,000 miles with a specific american gas-thirsty car. I have to draw a route and network to meet people we know here and there. I have to devise a budget based on many requirements and factors of possibilities. While I am on the internet doing all that, my wife baths the kids, help them with their school work after a long day at work, and cooks. I preside over the holidays, but we know very well that when comes the day, the life-saving spare underwear will have been carefully packed by my beautiful other half.

  74. Zen
    February 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Re #70 “FYI, as far as custody goes, in my experience the only reformation that needs to be made is against abusers. Men actually tend to get preference right now, because there is a false perception that women generally get preference. Courts assume that it is always good for a father to be involved in his children’s lives, regardless of his behavior towards his spouse and children or his true motivations for wanting involvement.”

    You have got to be kidding. The courts are heavily biased in favor of women, and especially family courts. I can’t tell you how many men I know whose ex-wives automatically got custody, and they are both heavily burdened with out-of-proportion childcare costs (that essentially support the ex) while being effectively resisted from seeing their own children. These are good men who wanted nothing more than to raise family. Any time a woman wants out of a marriage, she can get out and usually get both custody and child support. That does not sound like equality to me.

  75. February 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Thomas—Perhaps I am oversimplifying your stance, but essentially you are saying either 1) The numerous scripture stories mean nothing or 2) God is nonsense. I imagine what you mean is 3) the concept of a God who would ask you to trust Him above your understanding of His laws is terrifying.

    Zen—As I said, I speak from my personal experience. Since your stories are largely anecdoctal, they don’t really convince me. You might want to educate yourself on a perspective different from your own.

    And for a more neutral source:

  76. SkepticTheist
    February 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Just to be clear, I put out the hypothetical question as a rhetorical question, not as one that directed to any particular person, and not with the assumption that anyone had perfect knowledge of whether something is the case. I deliberately fashioned the question in that manner just to point out that sometimes we don’t understand all the reasons for things. I’m not saying that the way I personally believe it to be is ultimate truth either. I’m just saying that perhaps there is a reason we don’t understand that transcends superficial notions of equality and fairness, and that is something that must be taken into account, and that people can only come to a knowledge of personally, and can’t really “bear testimony” of to “prove” it to someone else. I’m just pointing out how little we really do know about heaven, and how it is possible that when some people stand at enmity to certain principles or certain things being set up in a certain way, they may be setting themselves up to be in a position contrary to something they don’t understand. I’m making no claims, just pointing out this, as I said I was “throwing it out there” for consideration.

  77. February 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Thomas — or is it Thor. LOL

    ST — To answer your question honestly, probably not. As the kid said to his mother, “I already know how to be a better boy than I am.”

  78. NeoDan
    February 4, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    BIV, if and when you and your husband have your callings and elections sure and receive your Second Anointings (one of the official church terms for the ordinance) – whether in this life like a few do or in the next, as most will – you will then stand fully equal in EVERY sense possible. The Melchizedek Priesthood you already hold as an endowed woman will then be fully operational as a Queen and Priestess, co-equal in every way with the King and Priest standing at your side. He will not have or be able to do anything more than you can and viceversa.

    This renders any question about equality irrelevent in the Big Picture. If there are any such issues in the meantime then it must result from either misunderstandings or faulty practices.

    Next time you are in the Temple focus on the first 4 sentences of the Endowment. It’s all there. Seek and ye SHALL find!

  79. Thomas
    February 4, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    #75: “I’m just saying that perhaps there is a reason we don’t understand that transcends superficial notions of equality and fairness, and that is something that must be taken into account, and that people can only come to a knowledge of personally, and can’t really “bear testimony” of to “prove” it to someone else. I’m just pointing out how little we really do know about heaven, and how it is possible that when some people stand at enmity to certain principles or certain things being set up in a certain way, they may be setting themselves up to be in a position contrary to something they don’t understand.”

    Yes. On the other hand, perhaps there is not any such “reason we don’t understand,” and our initial judgment that something is unfair is the accurate one. We’re back choosing between our fallible understandings, and a fallible, changing body of religious doctrine. If I had Perfect Knowledge as to which was more reliable, that would be one thing. And if my aunt had…whiskers, she’d be my uncle.

    I’m kinda on the fence re: “patriarchy,” if only because my perception is that a lot of the churches that are more egalitarian about women’s roles in leadership rapidly become overfeminized in their culture. That said, I’d probably give this consideration less weight if I were plumbed different.

  80. February 5, 2010 at 1:50 am

    The reason that LDS members and leaders attempt to redefine the term patriarchy, is that we no longer believe in the inequality of the sexes, yet feel that we must defend the social norms of the Bronze Age simply because they are in the Bible, which we hold as sacred scripture. We’ve discarded many notions of the Biblical nomadic tribes; perhaps patriarch will likewise go the way of divinely sanctioned genocide and the stoning of unruly children.

  81. February 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I left a reply, but it apparently had too many links. 😀

  82. February 5, 2010 at 9:16 am

    SilverRain, I rescued it, but the links are not all that relevant to this thread.

  83. Zen
    February 5, 2010 at 11:24 am

    SilverRain – if you are as biased as the links you gave, then this discussion is hopeless. For instance, many of the studies are cited put the statistics of alleged and proven in the same category. And when there is minimal danger of making a false claim, of course there are plenty of false claims. Even some of the recent false rape claims still call the woman, “the victim”.

    So let’s look at this – you accuse the abusers of getting custody

    I can only presume that you assume that abusers=men. I think the actual unskewed statistics would surprise you. Men are not a bit ahead of women when all child abuse is taken into account. The same for spousal abuse – women are every bit as bad as the men are. Or did you want to perpetuate the notion that women are the more virtuous gender?

    Yes, the lawyers talk long and hard about how unbiased it is, but the numbers are just not there. Fathers get custody around 10% of the time – judging from some census reports. But let’s assume that is just wrong. Can you honestly tell me you know of more men than women that got custody? More fathers raising their kids than mothers? I don’t know about where you live, but anywhere I have lived in the Western US, I know a lot of single mothers, and very few single fathers. And people are always quite shocked to hear I was able to get custody. Yes, anecdotal, I know. But I have a strong suspicion you don’t know that many single dads with kids. And that most of the single parent homes in your school district are mothers, not fathers.

  84. February 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Zen, SR–Looks like both of you have personal experience with this. This isn’t the thread to discuss these things, but if either of you would like to submit a guest post, I think custody issues would be an important subject to talk about, especially if you relate it to Mormonism. If interested, email me at at gmail.

  85. February 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Down with the Patriarchy! Down! Down! Down!!

    (Sorry, but someone had to say it).

  86. February 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I suppose we could go back to polygymy when matriarchy ruled.

  87. Heber13
    February 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    “Preside — To occupy or hold a position of authority, as over a meeting. To possess or exercise power or control.

    If the LDS Church is to move to a stance of equal partnership within the family, they really have no choice but to lose the words “patriarchal” and “preside” with respect to the position a husband holds in the home”

    I think we confuse position and organization with value and worth. There is no hierarchy for worth in the kingdom of heaven.

    If we are trying to emulate that on earth, in our families and the church, we should all be equal of worth…even if there is organization.

    1 Corinthians 12:15
    If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

    The hand or head is not better or of more worth than the foot, they just hold different positions in the body. It is one body, with different parts.

    The Bishop presides over the congregation or at meetings, but is not of any more worth than anyone else. If he thinks he is, amen to that priesthood. I can be just as valuable as a good home teacher in serving and loving my neighbors than any position I hold. The bishop does not have “control” over me any more than I let him have control over me. He can teach me, he can command me…but my salvation and worth is between God and me, the bishop just holds a position in trying to organize the church. He has control in that “thing” not control over people.

    My wife is just as much value in the body of our family as I am. We are equal. I do hold the priesthood and preside in that position, not preside in worth or greatness or importance. I do not preside in controlling her. If she does not want to listen to me it is no different than if I don’t want to listen to her. Or if I cannot communicate lovingly to her so that we are one, we have a relationship problem regardless of what positions we hold in the family. I may “control” a family council or a family home evening, but I do not “control” my wife or kids any more than the bishop controls me. There is not one thing that we are unequal in the home about, apart from I can’t have babies and she can’t give priesthood blessings. Those are “things” not value or importance. We make decisions together, we make decisions individually, we strive to grow as one…or we get caught up in titles and positions of who the church says can do certain things and let that divide us.

    Organizational positions do not determine happiness, value, or worthiness. Learning to act within our positions righteously the way God wants us to does.

  88. February 6, 2010 at 1:55 am

    I work in the archives for the library at my graduate school under the supervision of the director of the library. There is no question that my position is subordinate to his. I work at his discretion, he determines my pay scale, he chooses which collections I work on, and he has the authority to dismiss me from my job at will.

    I love my job. I’m paid well, my boss lets me set my own hours and gives me a high degree of autonomy over my work, my workspace is comfortably furnished, and I enjoy what I do. My boss has regularly praised my work and assured me that I’m a valuable part of the library’s team. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t enjoy doing the type of work he’s assigned me to and is extremely grateful that I’m there; he’s amazed that I enjoy it so much when he dislikes it. For the sake of argument, let’s just say that my worth as the amateur archivist on the library team is equivalent to his worth as the director of the library. At the end of the day though, there’s no question about it: I’m subordinate to him.

    This situation is perfectly acceptable to me because the reason I’m subordinate to him has everything to do with talent and experience and nothing to do with gender. I’m still working on my MA; I don’t have a PhD or an MSLIS like he does. I’m also about 20 years younger than him. If I continue to accumulate experience and degrees, someday, I can be what he is.

    When an organizational hierarchy is based on talent with the opportunity for all parties to progress according to their abilities, it doesn’t say anything about the worth of the people occupying the lower rungs of the hierarchy. When an organizational hierarchy is based on arbitrary characteristics like sex or skin color with no chance for progression to the top, it does say something about the worth of the subordinate parties.

    That’s why LDS teachings on “preside” make women inferior to men. It doesn’t matter how kind and gentle the male preside-ers are. Put all the lipstick on it that you want, it’s still a pig.

  89. Left Field
    February 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Well said, Jack. That’s pretty much exactly what I was trying to say.

  90. Heber13
    February 7, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Ms Jack,

    I don’t think referencing work situations is comparable to presiding in the church, because a boss with authority can fire you or pay you well and has that control over the work being done.

    Please help me see how your argument applies to my example of the Bishop presiding over the ward. I do not see the Bishop of greater worth than me.

    God is my boss, not the bishop. My wife is my equal, not my subordinate.

  91. Mike S
    February 7, 2010 at 1:29 am


    The Bishop may not be of “greater worth” than anyone else in the ward, but when push comes to shove, what he says is reality. The LDS hierarchal model involves strict obedience to the person in the chain above you. An area seventy is going to do exactly what an apostle asks him to do. A stake president is going to do what an area seventy asks him to do. A bishop is going to do exactly what the stake president tells him to do. Even in something as inconsequential as whether Sacrament meeting is first in the block last in the block, regardless of what a bishop feels is right for his ward, he will do as asked by the stake president. And if a YM or YW leader doesn’t like the budget or approval for a particular activity, they will still end up doing what the bishop says.

    Now, granted, we have free agency. We can choose to follow or to ignore what a bishop, stake president, or apostle asks us to do. But nowhere in the church hierarchy is there any place for a woman, regardless of qualification, time served, testimony, etc. It doesn’t matter if a woman “puts in her time”, etc., she is excluded based on her sex alone.

    I think this is what Ms Jack was getting at – not anything to do with “greater worth”

  92. Ken S
    February 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    The concept that is being overlooked here is the fact males and females are different spiritual species – they are as different as a Cat and a Dog. They have different roles and functions in this world and in the next; and, our co-equals with Eloheim.

  93. February 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    #90 Heber13 ~ God is my boss, not the bishop.

    Which one signs his name on your temple recommend? Which one takes away your temple recommend if you’ve done something naughty?

    My wife is my equal, not my subordinate.

    Not if you preside over her she’s not.

    There is no such thing as equality without equal access to authority.

  94. Heber13
    February 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    #91 I get it, and understand that as a male priesthood holder I must tread lightly, I try as best I can to understand how it must make women feel. And I am ashamed at how some don’t understand God’s principle of organization and they abuse it. We live in an imperfect world with an imperfect church trying to figure things out.

    But I think a couple base assumptions complicate the issue, and should be better explored. I think perhaps the organization or government may not need to change and may not be flawed, but perhaps our culture or our individual perceptions create the problems, not the system. If properly understood and practiced, it could never be a problem between men and women. There should be no pride of leading or controlling, but only of love and achieving God’s work, all in different capacities but with the same goal.

    1. in #91 post you write: “when push comes to shove, what he [the Bishop] says is reality”
    I completely disagree with this. What he says may be inspired, but I must get personal revelation for what I must do. We are judged individually and I take my free agency and accountability seriously. I will not disrespect my bishop, but what he says for me or the ward certainly is not MY reality, it is his. He’s just a man, a man with keys, but a man. I will repeat, the bishop, or SP, or apostle, or prophet can never control me. I do not give them that power. I have had many instances where my SP told me to attend a meeting, and my wife said, “Absolutley not, you are needed at home.” Do you think I will tell my wife she doesn’t preside, so I will listen to the SP? Nope. Wife trumps SP every time. But most of the time my wife respects my callings and supports me as I support her and keep my family needs first.

    2. you also write: “But nowhere in the church hierarchy is there any place for a woman, regardless of qualification, time served, testimony, etc.”
    I understand, however, there is no place for me to aspire to be bishop based on qualifications either. That is what is different from church positions and the professional work place. It is not a position or title of accomplishment or power to control people. There are also positions as a man that I cannot have, regardless of characteristics either.

    I fear the debate for some is that they are left out of certain titles or positions, and they don’t think it is fair. “Everything should be equal to be fair” is what I hear…and that just is not reality. Equality is not fairness. Being of one heart and one mind, despite our different situations and circumstances is what we are taught.

    I go back to my base assumption…no position is of more worth than another. So why does one position matter over another? We are all excluded from some position or another, that is life and something that helps us focus on the real important things…not what title we have, but what we do with whatever title we have.

    Some people will never have children and never be called Mom or Dad. I will never be called to serve in a Primary presidency, or Relief Society Presidency. I firmly believe bishop is another position just like Primary president, different roles and responsibilities, but not of any more worth. Stake RS or General Relief Society positions are of higher profile for women. Like bishops or any other position, there is some authority over them, but all positions have that, up to the prophet.

    I will never be bishop, SP or apostle, I do not think that makes me less of a person. Perhaps that is not because of gender, but for whatever reason, it is reality. And we must deal with it and move forward with what we can control.

    Finally, if a bishop tells me what to do and is out of line, I don’t have to listen to his authority. Wives don’t have to listen to their husbands either, unless their husbands hearken unto the voice of the Lord … so there are all circumstances that vary and provide for unique situations.

    I see no problems or issues with the government of the church in respecting or providing growth opportunity for all people, only with some people’s perceptions or practice of it. I sincerely hope I am not being insensitive about it. It is just my view.

  95. Heber13
    February 8, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    #93: There is no such thing as equality without equal access to authority.

    What authority do you refer to?

    Everyone has equal authority to revelation from God for themselves.

    I think you are referring to authority to control people…which is of no consequence to God, but is pride.

    My wife has equal authority to receive revelation on whether she should marry me, or if we should have kids, or if I should take a job … equally as I do. My revelation doesn’t trump hers. Her and I reach a united decision, or we don’t.

  96. February 8, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Heber said:
    I have had many instances where my SP told me to attend a meeting, and my wife said, “Absolutley not, you are needed at home.” Do you think I will tell my wife she doesn’t preside, so I will listen to the SP? Nope. Wife trumps SP every time.
    and also:
    My wife has equal authority to receive revelation on whether she should marry me, or if we should have kids, or if I should take a job … equally as I do. My revelation doesn’t trump hers. Her and I reach a united decision, or we don’t.

    Heber, I would like you to understand that this is because your marriage is based on an equality model. Many of our marriages in the Church ARE based on an equality model. But weirdly, we say that the man presides. If your wife truly has as much power in the decision making process as you do, then, GUESS WHAT? You don’t preside in your home. By definition. This is perfectly fine, in my opinion. But I think it’s strange for anyone to insist that is presiding.

  97. Thomas
    February 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    #75: “Thomas—Perhaps I am oversimplifying your stance, but essentially you are saying either 1) The numerous scripture stories mean nothing…”

    Not oversimplifying by much. That is close to exactly what I’m saying.

    The scripture stories in question don’t mean “nothing,” but neither do I believe that they can safely be taken at face value, as they’ve come down to us. I keep coming back to this: There are surely far more “false positives” of a person erroneously thinking God has given him a special dispensation to do what appears to be evil, then actual instances of Abrahamic tests. So why on earth would God use a teaching tool that is so non-idiot-proof, piles up so many bodies, and (by giving religion a bad name) turned so many people away from God altogether?

    My former bishop, in a Sunday School class, reported my current stake president (a magnificently intelligent man) as suggesting that God had the Krakatoa volcano blow up in the early 1800s (he meant Tambora) to cool down the global climate by a few degrees, so that harvests would fail in Vermont and cause the Smith family to move west to the neighborhood of the Nephite library. Now, maybe God really did do that — but if it were up to me (and I’m no engineer), it would seem that there has got to be a more efficient, not to say kind, way of getting one family to move a hundred or so miles west than blowing several thousand people into the stratosphere, drowning tens of thousands more with tidal waves, and starving half of East Asia. Just so with “Abrahamic tests.” There has got to be a better way of teaching lessons of obedience to Deity, than to use (and thereby legitimate) a mechanism that any old jihadist with a boxcutter can use, too.

  98. Heber13
    February 9, 2010 at 9:52 am

    #96 BiV: GUESS WHAT? You don’t preside in your home. By definition.

    That’s fine if I don’t fit your definition of presiding. I’m not hung up on who is presiding and who is not, or what title I have and what title others have, I just want our family to be happy. I patterned my marriage after my parents, and I think others in the church live similarly, so I thought it is important to bring up this fact that many in the church choose to live this way, and so I don’t agree with the Introduction article that states: Patriarchy by its very definition is not compatible with equality.

    If any patriarchy is leading to important differences in how men and women are progressing towards God, then it is being done wrong.

    I just look at it as I preside because I have the priesthood, and preside in equality so my wife is never diminished or treated ANY less than I am because our eternal marriage is built on equality–not exact same responsibilities, but equality in worth and power and influence.

    I don’t see any other way to reconcile the teaching of Priesthood in the home and how many times in Priesthood meeting I am told over and over again that our wives are equals in every way.

  99. February 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    It seems a matter of semantics of preside and equality. In practical terms something else needs to be considered. Those insisting that their wife is equal eventhough they, the priesthood holder presides, will have to maintain that throughout their relationship every decision has been reached by concensus and compromise and neither party has felt themselves to be the loser. If that is truly the case then they indeed are equal but as to one presiding or not, I’m not so sure. If no one person made the final decision then to me no one decided. And that means no one presided. There’s this pioneer sense of presiding of the father leading his family in the wilderness while his wife supports and advises that I think is the more accepted norm but not by any stretch the reality.

  100. See Truth
    September 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Spinning the meaning of words seems less of a problem when compared to believing in a magical sky-daddy and a scammer from Vermont.

  101. John Howard
    May 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Mormonism started early treating women as breeding stock, property of men.   Many a deal was made between Joseph Smith and a girl’s father.  “Your family will be eternally blessed if you give me your daughter to marry.”
    He “married” eleven teenagers out of his 33 confirmed wives.  He probably had more– up around 50.  Some were other living men’s wives.  He had sex with them, and one cannot help thinking that it was all driven by his libido.

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