Presiding in marriage and otherwise

Stephen Marsh Mormon 60 Comments

Let me start with a true story, I recently observed and that resulted in this post:

It is obviously a vacation weekend. The only member of the bishopric in town is a very junior second counselor. He spots a member of the stake presidency sitting in the back with his family. With a sigh, the poor brother walks up to the stand. The counselor relaxes, opens the meeting with the note that the “poor brother” is presiding and goes on.

In our worship services, presiding means sitting there and, by being present, enabling other people to take the lead, letting them take charge, letting them feel confident and supported. Presiding doesn’t meaning control in that situation, it does not mean unasked for guidance, it does not mean direction. It means providing support, it means enabling and it means caring.

To the extent that presiding involves action, we have guidance in scripture. Patience, kindness, gentleness, love unfeigned. That is what presiding means, a call to serve with love and to lead by the persuasion of example, not dictat. It mans acting the same way as Christ and the Holy Ghost act in our lives.

I might suggest that one of the most difficult things we can do, that we can learn, that we can share is to act like Christ. To preside, when called to it, or it is appropriate, in the same way Christ and the Holy Ghost act and preside in our lives, is part of the ultimate challenge.

Satan has an alternative plan, involving force, demands and insistence: a plan of control rather than persuasion. Which do you think you should chose? Which do you see chosen by others?

Visit these two sites, devoted to what I see as God’s way:

  • http://ldswave.org/ (the official W.A.V.E. site)
  • http://adrr.com/wave/ (my suggestions toward the next iteration, obviously parallels many things they are doing since I’ve been listening to them and think they are neat).

and then give me your answers, suggestions and comments about what you see as God’s way and how we can reach it.

Thank you.

Stephen M (Ethesis)

Comments

comments

Comments 60

  1. Stephen, as a devotee of WAVE, I would just like to chime in here quickly so people don’t get the impression that Mormon Matters as a blog is not supportive of their goals.

    Let’s go back to the definition of “preside.” Dictionary.com defines it as “to occupy the place of authority and control.” AUTHORITY and CONTROL are by definition a part of presiding. I’m glad to see that many Mormon men have the same thoughts as you do about support, love, persuasion and example. However. That is not the definition of preside. Let’s use those words in the context of marriage and get rid of “preside” (at least in our marriages for a start), rather than soothing ourselves by trying to change the meaning of the word.

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    Excellent Bored. We need a new metaphor or two. And words for words we do not have.

    To anyone who has a question, yes, I am very supportive of W.A.V.E. having talked with them in person and over the internet. I’m glad Bored in Vernal made the point she did, in case there is any question. I’m not always as clear as I should be.

    One of my real goals is to find a way to make it accessible, to allow people to hear the real message. If you’ve read my http://mormonmatters.org/2010/06/24/so-what-is-a-mormon-what-is-a-feminist/ and know me you know that my experience in the short example happens to me all the time.

    I was at a lunch. I was talking with someone who was putting a program together to support female attorneys and make them feel included. She was talking to several of us about how important it was to have good role models, to make certain that girls knew that any education they wanted, any choices they wanted or needed would be supported and were good and encouraged and how important it was to be inclusive. She was looking for groups to reach out to in support of this, and thinking of some LDS attorneys who were also part of Feminist Mormon Housewives in the area, I suggested that she might want to make contact with them. She gave me a look as if I had lost my mind. “I’ve a sister who is a feminist, what does what I’m doing have to do with anything a feminist would have anything in common with?”

    The sister in that story is 95% of the people I talk to and invite to anything with the word feminist in it. Usually I hold a party at my house or a barbeque I will get forty to a hundred people or more. When I hosted the FMH barbecue, I got FMHers and … zero … (0) … others. People who missed the last one and begged for an invite, all managed to have trouble and to take a pass, including a number of successful professional women.

    I am struck that there is a huge dissonance between the feelings, goals and aspirations of many and their ability to deal with a word (be it “feminist” or “preside”) that has connotations or meanings (in some usages, though not others) that they can’t deal with.

    I was really struck by listening to conference talks about leaders not usurping fathers in their own homes and families. They just need to be bridged to the next step.

    Anyway, thanks for the comments.

  3. I’ve never understood the LDS fascination with hierarchy. In my ward, we have a general authority and several members of the stake presidency. If any of them happen to be actually at our ward on a Sunday, it is somewhat funny. There is a line of men including the bishopric, at least 2 members of the stake presidency (and sometimes all of them if the president happens to be visiting our ward that week), and the general authority. And they all have to sit on the same row of seats on the same side of the pulpit. In spite of all of the empty padded seats up on the stand, they usually end up having to add a folding chair so they can present this long line of men in white shirts “presiding” at the sacrament meeting, all on the same front half row.

    I’m sure they would all rather be with their families (at least I would hope so). So why the fascination with “rank” in the Church?

  4. I don’t have a problem with the word preside and your definition of it. The word that I have a problem with is enable. It has a negative connotation. That means to support negative behavior and indeed often means to support the negative behavior.

  5. BiV, though I agree with the end goal, I can see the value of blurring the boundaries between those words that suggest preside and those words which suggest co-operation. The slippage might provide the context in which we can shift the discourse and eventually the word (I genuinely hope that we stop using the word preside, unless we start referring to parents presiding rather than just fathers).

    However, because I think this is unlikely due to the Proclamation on the Family.

    Mike S, I think that enacting leadership can be an important part of establishing authority in wards where people do not know their leaders very well. It becomes helpful when emotional distance is increased.

  6. I’m with BiV. You can pussyfoot around definitions all you want, but in the end, it is what it is. Mike S., my husband has been in two stake presidencies for most of the past 15 years. He agrees with me (and you) that the whole sit-on-the-stand-hierachy thing is silly. Sometimes he just sits in the back with me and hopes no one on the stand sees him.
    It’s a pipe dream, I know, but I would love to see the word “preside” just disappear from the Mormon vocabulary. It is nothing but devisive.

  7. “I would just like to chime in here quickly so people don’t get the impression that Mormon Matters as a blog is not supportive of their goals. ”

    Huh? What does that mean if a blog is supportive of another blog? I am neither supportive or non-supportive. Because I do not understand the concept of “gender equality” when we are different by design. Rather than go through a diatribe on that, I leave it at that.

    A dictionary definition does not always apply to our situation except when it is forced to apply where it does not.

    The people who seemed most bothered by authority are the ones who, in their minds, do not have it. The ones that have it, generally wish they didn’t have it and the ones who really want it, should never have it.

    Other than that, I enjoyed your post and your observation.

  8. Jeff, though I agree that there are differences between the sexes, I also sense that we have no adequate view of what those differences really are. Moreover, my feeling is that those differences are not as substantial as might sometimes be suggested. Consequently, because there are clear inequalities within the Church and outside it I think we do what we can to interrogate those differences and try to provide a context where equality can be enacted.

  9. “The people who seemed most bothered by authority are the ones who, in their minds, do not have it. The ones that have it, generally wish they didn’t have it and the ones who really want it, should never have it.”

    Jeff, nicely put.

    I confess when I saw the subject of this post, I thought, “Not again!”

    But I enjoyed the OP (even if I’m a little confused by the links).

    BiV, I continue not to understand the rigid opposition to the word “preside” because of Dictionary.com’s definition. In the church we have plenty of vocabulary that has unique application to our organization and culture. (What other church talks about “activity” of members the way we do?)

    #4 Diane, I think you reflect a modern view of the word enable — certainly 12 step co-dependent groups like AlAnon and Families Anonymous use the word in the way you describe, though it is typically when describing behavior that enables the addict or alcholic in his or her addiction.

  10. Re Jeff

    The people who seemed most bothered by authority are the ones who, in their minds, do not have it.

    Well duh! And most of the people who think the rich should be taxed more than the poor are not rich.

    The ones that have it, generally wish they didn’t have it and the ones who really want it, should never have it.

    Hmmm, I’m not sure I buy it.

    39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    The difference is that we think that OUR leaders are not included in the phrase “almost all men.” Even those who allegedly would rather not have authority are still most capable of exercising unrighteous dominion.

    Re the op
    I actually agree with Stephen that I don’t think most of our “presiding” authorities are there for any sense of control. But, personally, I think it’s a bit of a charade. I think it’s part of our tendency to show a unified front of agreement. That is, I think presiding authorities sit on the stand as a sort of witness that this is the “proper thing” or that the thing being said is correct. If a speaker in sacrament meeting said something way off the mark, the presiding authority would be responsible (in our culture at least) to ensure the mistake was corrected.

    Also, I totally understand the beef some have with our insistence about priesthood figures presiding over families, auxiliaries, and the church generally. It just plain sucks. If I had my way, I’d put the women in charge of it all 😉 .

  11. jmb275, I don’t think that phrases like the last one in your comment are not solutions to the male privilege. I’m sure that you are aware of those problems but I think we need to be careful about using platitudinous phrases. Moreover, I think presiding in the Church is far more than a Charade. There is very real decisions being made behind the scenes but which women never have access to.

  12. The people who seemed most bothered by authority are the ones who, in their minds, do not have it. The ones that have it, generally wish they didn’t have it and the ones who really want it, should never have it.

    I know some Church leaders (two in particular) who clearly wish they could be released from demanding leadership callings. I also have encountered some Church leaders who give every impression of relishing the prestige of their position, and the pleasure of swaggering around. Human nature.

  13. I think “presiding” over a meeting mostly denotes final responsibility for what happens. There needs to be someone in charge if something needs to be dealt with. For example, a presiding person is responsible for the doctrine that is taught at a meeting, and may need to gently correct something if necessary. It is pretty much the same with any organization. Hopefully, those who preside (but do not participate) are just quietly there, unobtrusively partaking of the meeting.

  14. Jeff Huh? What does that mean if a blog is supportive of another blog? I am neither supportive or non-supportive I think the concern is that she was worried that this would be seen as an attack on something, which it was not intended to be. Good question.

    Brother Q, good point.

    CatherineWO — what term would you replace “Preside” with? “Responsible?” Some other term? “Enable?” I do think every word has its issues. “charade” doesn’t grab me at all.

  15. I think W.A.V.E. is a great idea. I’m looking at ways to support and encourage it as it goes from the “here we are” stage (which is where it is at) to a “here is how we explain the application of our message and create a community” stage (which is where they are going).

    I think there is a real need for people to follow the counsel and seek full partnership and equality in relationships and marriage. I also think there are (a) real questions about what that means (b) real questions about how to do it and (c) real issues with people who want that, but who mistake it for something else.

    Jenne — hope that clears up your question.

    Well, lunch is over, back to work.

  16. Stephen, it’s not just the word “preside” but what it represents, someone being in charge. Perhaps, “responsible” would be a good replacement to start with. As a person who has been very personally affected by the abuse of power of some who “preside” I have some clear biases in any discussion of the term. I do understand the direction of the OP. There are many men in the Church (my husband being one of them) who regularly preside in the way the OP describes, however, I think the abiguity of the term makes it a hotbed for discussion and gives some men seeming justification for abuse. And I don’t buy the statement that “someone has to be in charge.” Or even that one person has to be “responsible.” That said, I’m going to bow out of any further comments. This is not a topic I can discuss rationally.

  17. Granted, in the Church, the “presiding authority” is supposed to be able to correct doctrinal problems if they arise. Why, however, do we need on the stand a bishop, 2 bishop counselors, a stake president, 2 stake president counselors, and a general authority. Do we really need 7 men sitting to the right of the stand in a specific order for a simple sacrament meeting? Do we really need a wall of chairs filled with (primarily) men for General Conference, all sitting in a specific order? Do we really need different people to enter rooms in different orders depending on their rank in the hierarchy? Are we fixated on rank and presiding and hierarchy and position in this Church?

    And how do we contrast this with the image we have of Christ kneeling down and washing dirt off his disciples feet? We may pay lip service to this in talks on service, etc., but in the day-to-day practice of the Church and meetings, why are we so far off?

  18. Stephen, I so appreciate the support and encouragement you’ve given me personally, and to WAVE.

    Just for the sake of clarity, the second link is something that Stephen created out of his enthusiastic support, and not an official WAVE site. Many of the things he has intuitively suggested are things that we are frantically working on building behind the scenes, and longing for a serious WordPress guru to help make a reality.

    Any wordpress guru’s committed to helping Mormon feminism? Drop me a line.

  19. Also, I have to laugh because I’ve already gotten a couple of emails from people going, “Why is Stephen Marsh attacking us!” I think that putting the links right after a reference to Satan’s plan leads some to think you’re making the opposite argument you’re intending to. 😉

  20. jmb,

    “Well duh! And most of the people who think the rich should be taxed more than the poor are not rich.”

    This is not always true. There are many who are more than willing to pay their fair share and even a little more in recognition of their good fortune. Because we have set up a tax system and its accompanying industry that rewards those who can avoid as much tax as possible, that fact is not always so obvious.

    “The difference is that we think that OUR leaders are not included in the phrase “almost all men.” Even those who allegedly would rather not have authority are still most capable of exercising unrighteous dominion.

    Could that also apply to “men” in the generic sense which would include women as well. Since we like to insure that any reference to men in the scriptures also pertains to women, it could say “people” just as well.

    I think we’d like to think it does not include each of us “enlightened” ones either…… it suggests that it is a rare person to whom that scripture DOES NOT apply.

  21. &7)

    The People who seem the most bothered by authority are the one who in their minds don’t have it.”

    Maybe if you can for one minute try to imagine yourself female and being the abused by a male priesthood leader, you might change your mind. Because then you might if even for second imagine what it would be like to feel like that you don’t have your own voice, but that no one else will speak for you either.

  22. #22 Diane – In all seriousness and with compassion I say that if a woman has been abused by any preisthood holder, especially a priesthood leader, that is a terrible thing. Section 121 is clear on that matter: Amen to the priesthood of that man.

  23. BTW, Stephen M (Ethesis) is my normal handle, but I’m the same Stephen Marsh who is posting here.

    Reese, I feel like an idiot. When I get home I’ll fix the post so the implicit mistake doesn’t come up on re-reading.

    CatherineWO — thanks for participating as much as you could. I’m so sorry about the pain that this has brought back to mind, but really appreciate your input.

    So, two things I’ve realized.

    (a) why anyone thought I was attacking rather than supporting W.A.V.E.
    (b) that a fair number of people don’t connecting me with myself when my OP is Stephen Marsh but my posts are Stephen M (Ethesis).

    My apologies to anyone who was confused or concerned. I’ve managed not to do what I intended to do as clearly as I wanted to.

  24. “Maybe if you can for one minute try to imagine yourself female and being the abused by a male priesthood leader, you might change your mind.”

    First, I am sorry for anyone who is wronged by another, but the word abuse is way too easily thrown around and should be reserved for those who have really been abused, not just treated poorly. I am afraid that too often that word is used when we do not like the answer.

    That word ranks up there with massacre and racism as overused and misused, thereby minimizing the experiences of those who have really suffered.

    This so-called abuse can be wrought on a man just as easily as a women.

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    “abuse is abuse” — that kind of weakens it in many ways, but the impact of redline definitions for everything and how that affects dialogue and discussion is probably a post for another day. “grief is grief” is something similar. You feel grief because you just buried another child, I feel grief because I woke up in the middle of a pleasant dream and will miss the way it would have gone. To suggest that it is all just grief … (and “just x” is where redlines lead dialogue, after they have pretty much killed it).

    Anyway, got the original post edited and cleaned up. Hope it is clearer now.

  26. “I am afraid that too often that word is used when we do not like the answer.
    ….
    This so-called abuse can be wrought on a man just as easily as a women.”

    No. No, it can’t Jeff. Because where do women ever get to provide the answers?

    This is exactly the point feminists are trying to make. It’s not a grab for power or a belief in that platitude that women could run things better, it’s longing to have the opportunity to be just as noble and base as any other leader. And having the occasional opportunity to provide an answer from a female perspective.

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  28. #31: diane

    I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. To me, my daily life and interactions with other people remind me of service and dedication to others. It is perhaps a very eastern philosophy, but I think we are all part of an interconnected whole at a much more profound level than generally talked about in our church. This is what drives my service and dedication to others – that they are me as well.

    To me, a TR is a piece of paper that states I have jumped through the hoops – I meet the current requirements for membership in the “club”.

    I look at the “presiding men” on the stand much the same way. It doesn’t remind me of the priesthood of God in a sublime way that lifts my mind higher – but it instead reminds me of the strict hierarchy that has evolved within the current LDS institution – with all that that implies.

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  30. 31 Diane — While I acknowledge that you (apparently) have had a difficult experience with a priesthood leader (or more than one), I am uncomfortable about the generalization, “There are some marriages where things might be,”discussed” but the tendency is to defer to the male because he is a priesthood leader.”

    Men have received counsel for years now about the need to see our wives as equal partners in a marriage. That counsel has consistently come from the highers levels of the church. Men who rule over their wives by virtue of their priesthood are not following the counsel of the prophet.

    I came to my own marriage thirty years ago with my own experience — convert parents who were equal partners. I had an assertive mother (usually; sometimes she was as passive-agressive as she could be) and a father who spoke his mind. They did not always agree, but the discussed until they reached agreement. My father taught me in word and deed that the priesthood was not a ticket to be king in the home.

    Of course if you speak to my wife, you may get a different perspective. And maybe ours is just one of those apparently few marriages where things are “discussed”.

  31. Mike S

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Some people need the reminders, but I am like you I don’t need reminders to know how to remind me of service and or laws of consecration. I just do it with out thinking about it.

  32. As one who has spent a great deal of time thinking about this lately, abuse is not just being taken advantage of.

    Abuse is the attempt to control another person through fear. It can range from subtle manipulation to verbal violence to physical violence.

    It can also be supporting a person who is an abuser.

    While I have found in my experience that leadership CAN do this within the Church, I have not found it happening for long. When it does, it’s generally out of ignorance, not intent, and is generally corrected by the leader him/herself when it is discovered. The cases of true abuse are rare.

    For what that’s worth.

  33. @36

    I agree with you 99.9%. I do not wish to elaborate, but I know of a case where someone is allowed to verbally abuse all the sister in a particular branch and nothing has been done about And then this Sister is still allowed to receive service from the same sisters that she abuses. I think if she did this to a priesthood leader the behavior would have been nippe din the but at the get go. This is when lack of leadership, and this is what happens when those who are suppose to preside, abdicate their responsibility and in my view are just as guilty in the behavior.. l

  34. Reese,

    “No. No, it can’t Jeff. Because where do women ever get to provide the answers?

    This is exactly the point feminists are trying to make. It’s not a grab for power or a belief in that platitude that women could run things better, it’s longing to have the opportunity to be just as noble and base as any other leader. And having the occasional opportunity to provide an answer from a female perspective.

    Really, you must be joking? In the years, I worked with the auxiliaries on the ward and stake in a my oversight or preside role, whatever you want to call it, I never once tried to impose anything on the Sisters who led their respective organizations. If ask for advise, I gave it, if I had a question, I asked it. But, most of all we trusted the sisters to do their job. They were called and set apart for that purpose.

    I watched my wife, who just finished a 3 year stint as our ward Relief Society President, make decisions with her counselors, and administer her program as you saw fit. She sought the advice and counsel of our Bishop and willing took his advise. I never heard her complain about not having the power to run her own program. If nothing, our previous Bishop was more hands off and she wanted more advice from him.

    I cannot understand where you are coming from because it has not been my experience nor have I witnessed anything like it.

    I think you are looking for a power grab, especially those not called to the leadership positions.

  35. 37, Diane — I’m not sure I understand. One the one hand you complain that you have been abused by your priesthood leaders who would not discipline a home teacher (or something like that). Now you are concerned about a sister who abuses other sisters and is not made to stop by the presiding authority.

    One of the points of the OP is that a presiding officer cannont MAKE people do things. What would you recommend someone do to nip the behavior in the bud?

  36. I think presiding authorities sit on the stand as a sort of witness that this is the “proper thing” or that the thing being said is correct.

    Our RS presidency always sits in the front of the class, and you know why I think that matters? Because then they get to look at our faces, not the back of our heads. If you have ever had someone follow you out of a classroom as you left in tears, you will see this sitting on the stand thing differently.

    If a shepherd is going to watch over his flock, the stand is a good place to be able to do that, to see the flock all at once.

    I agree with the idea that we have to be willing to break away from the rigidity of dictionary.com definitions and instead look at the doctrine and at Christ who is the example of how to live it.

  37. 99

    Let me try to clarify, I think they are both cases for abuse, I used them as illustrations to my point. I am simply trying to state that both men and women can be abusers and if people who are in the position of authority witness the abuse and do nothing then they are just as guilty.

    Let me try to give another illustration in an attempt to clarify. If I see the same sister abusing someone else and I say nothing, Knowing full well that what she said was not only unkind, but doctrinally untrue, I validate her(the sister doing the abusing) because in her mind because no one has said anything to stop her, then she must be right. I have some inkling that she does use this kind of rational, but no one challenges her on it because they choose to look “past,” the behavior, which is fine and dandy unless your the one on the receiving end and you see leadership doing nothing to come to your defense or at the very least tell her to shut up.

  38. Paul

    In addition, I think if the same person continues the same behavior over and over again and I’m not just talking, they said something that hurt my feelings stuff, it’s things that are much deeper because it attacks one character and or they are practicing unrighteous dominion than I feel that if someone has a TR they should have it taken away, if they don’t have a TR then they shouldn’t be allowed to take sacrament for a period of time until they come to realize what it is that they are saying that is wrong. That’s just my opinion. That does fall under the jurisdiction of leadership and sometimes its’ necessary because if anything else it lets the person whose been on the receiving end know that they are believed.

    Jeff

    I find it interesting that you are so willing to state that a man can be abused by a woman so readily, yet on the other hand you see the issue of woman wanting a more egalitarian role in the church as making a push or grab for power. Its’ really so not about that. And this may be a generalization on my part because I don’t believe that all men think like you, but that men from a certain generation don’t seem to want to think of it as anything but a power grab.

  39. Let me just add that you can’t say women are making a grab for power right after saying men don’t have real power anyway. Either there is power, or there is not. I don’t think women in the church want to control men, just that they want their viewpoint as women to be clearly understood in setting church policies and even to some extent in how doctrines are interpreted.

  40. If I might expand on hawkgrrl statement, Its’ about being clearly understood, Valued and respected not because of our gender but because we are people who contribute to the success of the church the same as men Inspite of our being born female.

  41. Diane,

    “I find it interesting that you are so willing to state that a man can be abused by a woman so readily”

    Sorry, never said that. And didn’t hint at it either.

  42. Jeff

    At response 25 you stated that this so-called abuse can be wroght on a man just as easily as a woman

    if that’s not what you mean, than please do clarify yourself, because that’s how you came across.

  43. I’m a man. I don’t have any “power” in this Church. I currently “answer” to a woman (Primary President) in my calling as a Primary teacher.

    That being said, I have had higher callings in the church in the past, but currently can emphasize much more with women in the Church. It is pretty obvious that to be called as a bishop or pretty much anything else with “power”, you have to buy off on all of the non-doctrinal practices in the Church (ie. bishops whose stake presidents make them wear white shirts and no beards because …????). Over the past few years, my spirituality has deepened and I am more appreciative of the profound truths in the gospel, but my feelings towards the institutional church have grown almost non-existent.

    I am still active and follow enough rules to keep a TR, but realized over the past few months that for the next 30-40 years, I will likely NEVER have a calling much “higher” than I do now because of the “non-traditional” way my spirituality has developed. It was kind of sad in a way, when as a young boy and missionary brought up in the Church you think you may be able to serve as a bishop or mission president or whatever someday down the road. Fairly trite in retrospect, but it is how I was raised. My heros when I was young were prophets and apostles. And now I realize I’ll never be any of that but have reached the apogee. Through lurking on a number of sites (FMH, etc.), I realize that this is how women are THEIR WHOLE LIVES. And that made me even more bummed. I look at the CofC with the female apostles, etc. and think how cool that is.

    I’m not really sure what this means. It’s just what this post invoked in me.

  44. @47

    Mike, what you fail to realize is this, while you claim you don’t have any power, YOU DO HAVE AUTHORITY, by virtue of the priesthood which you received ONLY BECAUSE YOU WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE BORN MALE. Women in this church don’t have this authority, we are seen as less than and are expected to serve with a smile on face to those who seem intent on dismissing us precisely because we are female and nothing else.

    The only thing that I can equate this with is the fact that in China its’ typical and acceptable for couples to kill female fetus before they are even born because they find a son more acceptable, Now the church doesn’t condone abortion, but the “psychological abortion,” that women feel within the church is just as real. We absolutely know males are more revered than females

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    Michelle, that was well said.

    SilverRain, I liked Abuse is the attempt to control another person through fear. It can range from subtle manipulation to verbal violence to physical violence.

    Mike S — read my post on becoming a prophet. If your spirituality deepens, you might be surprised where it takes you. http://mormonmatters.org/2010/05/27/on-becoming-a-prophet-small-p/ I would say that Carol Lynn Pearson has done that, and has more of a voice than I do.

    diane — you’ve lost me at spiritual abortion or psychological abortion.

  46. @ Stephen

    Let me try to clarify myself to see if it makes me more clear.

    As we all know China has a one child limit per household. Often times when parents find out they are having a girl they will abort a female fetus because their not as worthy as a male in Chinese society. Its’ the male who gets the property from parents, etc,

    The same can be said in the Lds community. No, we don’t abort female fetus, but thanks to the Priesthood men are more valued. for precisely the same reason. They have authority with in the church to make decisions with regard to church policy and even how the branch/ward is run and set up. Women in the church have none of the authority. There are many who feel cut off, cut out, particularly if we do not have priesthood to in our home and have to rely on members in the branch/ ward to do it right. This is what I mean by psychological abortion. We single sisters of a certain age are like walking ghost, we are not seen, nor are we valued, its’ as if we have been aborted. I dont know how to verbalize it any other way

  47. #50, Diane: Please document the stereotypical comment about abortion of female fetuses in China. It is not true that all families are bound by the one-child rule.

    Your comments about lack of authority of women is equally tortured and stereotypical. It does not reflect the wards I have been in. In fact I have observed bishops and stake presidents who view their Relief Society presidents to be trusted advisors and key contributors, even more than elders quorum presidents and high priest group leaders. Further, they view YW and Primary presidents to be critical leaders in a ward whose work is among the most important that goes on. And I have observed families (including the family of my birth and my present family) where the wife holds and equal place at the head of the table. Women pray and teach in sacrament meeting; they teach adult Sunday school classes with skill and expertise, and teach with the authority of the truth they teach.

    That said, I acknowledge that I will never understand your position completely because I have not walked your path in your shoes.

  48. but thanks to the Priesthood men are more valued

    I can understand the fact that you feel that way, but would appreciate the acknowledgment that not everyone shares your perspective. In fact, many women would disagree with you.

  49. Paul — you are right that there has been some improvement in China, but there is a huge population disparity (over 1%) between male and female children in China that does not seem to have any other explanation. I’ll note in India, which has a more open society, there were advertisements and services that seek to provide sex selective abortions.

    diane — I’m so sorry you feel such a sense of alienation. Single brothers, once they get past age 26 often feel alienated as well. All I can say is bless your heart. I’ve dealt with single brethren, not only in their late 20s, but also in their late 50s and 60s and I know how alone some of the felt and how undervalued.

  50. Diane,

    “At response 25 you stated that this so-called abuse can be wrought on a man just as easily as a woman”

    Men get abused in the Church by the leadership just as much or more than the women do. At least in the way you’ve chosen to use the word “abuse.” Because the men interact in much greater numbers and at much higher levels, the abuse is there just the same.

  51. 53 Stephen, the fact is that only about 1/3 of China are under the “one-child” rule. In Shanghai and other metro areas, many families are now permitted to have two children, and rural families also have more than one child. It is true that China has a high number of males vs females in their population, and it is true that some have sought sex-selective abortions, but it is illegal in China to do so. As you point out, China is not the only country in Asia with such imbalance in the number of males vs females.

    My point in raising the question is to challenge the assumption that China can be painted with such a broad brush, and, quite frankly, that the church can be painted with such a broad brush. In both cases, the details would suggest there is a wide range of experience.

    Diane, I share Stephen’s concern for your personal experience; as I said earlier, if a priesthood holder is guilty of abuse, Section 121 makes clear the result: amen to the priesthood of that man.

  52. Paul, I’m aware that they’ve relaxed the rule, I’m glad you’ve explained the point you were trying to make — that yes, there is an issue, but no, it is not only China and further painting with a broad brush obscures nuance in the situation.

    One other thing that impacts China, though in statistically small numbers, is that foreign adoptions of Chinese infants are very much imbalanced in favor of adopting female infants.

  53. @Stephen

    I’m not sure I understand you point. Are you saying that because Foreigners come in and adopt the female babies that it makes it okay for China to have a one child rule that makes it lead more toward the male children more acceptable.

  54. @51

    Paul

    There have been many documentaries that have talked about this issue. I’m going to ask that you google China’s one child rule and the impact on families

  55. @52 I while I appreciate your viewpoint and appreciate your input, I would also like to refer you to the website Feminist Mormon housewives. There are many who think and feel like I do.

  56. Pingback: The REAL reason why the Mormon church can’t abide gay marriage « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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