Men don’t understand women very well.
I understand them even less because I grew up with brothers. No sisters. This may have contributed to my girl-craziness in high school and college. Getting to know my wife better has helped me to begin to understand women and their motivations, but I’m still learning.
I work with women. My boss is a woman. The majority of my co-workers are women. Such is a career in education. I really like it, because I’ve been able to see that women are no different from men in very fundamental ways. We are all capable of hiring, firing, managing budgets, motivating colleagues, and getting the job done. That’s my life Monday to Friday. Saturday is family day, and then Sunday rolls around…and women are not my equals anymore, at least for 3 hours, and I really don’t understand why.
I’ll give you an example: Until recently, women auxiliary leaders were not invited to participate in pre-church bishopric meetings like Ward Council and PEC. Heck, ward councils weren’t invented until the 1980’s or so, if I know my organizational history. This means that including women in ward decision-making is usually still an after-thought. It also means that men have few opportunities to interact with women in Church settings when decisions are being made.
Here’s my theory, and feel free to shoot it full of holes: today’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, and perhaps most General Authorities, had secular careers (or Church employment careers) where they associated primarily, if not exclusively, with men. If they associated with women, it was as secretaries, nurses, paralegals, etc. Someone who executes the decisions the men make. The resulting Church culture is therefore shaped by men who have had limited experiences of women in positions of power. (Their mommies don’t count, although mommies are powerful in their own way.)
The rising generation (as Churchspeak and John Dehlin call some of us, I’m not sure where the age cut-off is) is comfortable working for and with women. I know my personal example is a little extreme, but in talking with my friends in law, medicine, and business, I hear that there are a lot of women in positions of influence now.
Any positive change in Church culture opening spaces for women to demonstrate their leadership skill is often unnoticed by men because we are busy in our own “spheres”. For men to understand women better and vice-versa, here is my modest proposal:
Bishops and branch presidents immediately begin calling women into Sunday School presidencies, men into Primary presidencies, and women as membership or financial clerks. This will create three mixed-gender spaces on the ward level where men and women will make decisions together and (horror of horrors!) SOCIALIZE together. I see all kinds of positives coming out of this, to me, relatively minor first step in giving women and men a chance to work together to build the kingdom of God.
Would this scenario require a First Presidency letter to kick-start, or could progressive-minded individuals start this as a pilot program, so to speak? Also, is there something fundamentally male and female about the callings I’ve mentioned, which in the mind of God render them unsuitable for both genders? Is mixing genders in itself a bad idea, leading to affairs, etc? Can we not trust men in the Primary? Can we not trust women with sensitive information, including finances, in the clerk’s office? Is this, like so much else, part of the “unwritten order of things” (tradition)?
I know what some of you are thinking, first you call women into the clerk’s office, next thing you know it, you have riots in the streets, human sacrifice, Beehives passing the sacrament, dogs and cats living together, total anarchy!
Discuss, my friends: http://youtube.com/watch?v=67znP8MRm4Y