|The firs LDS Relief Society presidency.|
“I have been gravely disappointed with the
white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the
Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White
Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more
devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace
which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of
justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but
I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically
believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a
mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a
"more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good
will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill
will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
--Martin Luther King A Letter from Birmingham Jail
|Ordain Women on their way to ask for admittance to LDS General Priesthood Session.|
This weekend, I stood by while a group of brave women showed up in Salt Lake City to request entrance to the all-male priesthood session. Though the women and allies of Ordain Women were denied access to the meeting, their actions definitively shaped the discourse of the October 2013 sessions of The LDS Church General Conference. Concerns about gender roles, and especially the roles of women, were addressed in each session.
The talks about women continued in the beloved and much defended Mormon tradition of benevolent sexism. (Despite complaints by those who feel this stereotyping and limiting of Mormon women is damaging and offensive.)
These sermons were delivered by all men and only one woman.
Parsing words and being opaque can make listeners feel there is a need to cover up or hide. Transparency shows confidence and belief in what you are saying. On the part of members of the church, asking for clarity from God, leaders, or in discussion with other members implies that you care, that you want to know—how is this a sin? We should not be afraid to ask, and we should be answered with full transparency.
In the October 2013 conference, we heard that the priesthood is God’s priesthood to be restored or bestowed when and where God wants it to be. What is the difference between the restoration of the priesthood to all worthy men and what Mormons concerned about sexism in the church are requesting right now? Why was it seemingly okay to ask about that, but not about this? Why were African-American men able to "get a meeting" with the First Presidency while women have not been able to "get a meeting" about female ordination despite decades of petitioning?
In fact, I think we need to acknowledge that equality is not our primary goal, that it is secondary to other purposes, such as our belief that enacting separate gender roles is important to preserving order on earth and in the church. 9 and 1 are not equal. They are different numbers, and they have different roles in different equations. By definition, equal means same or exact in terms of quantity. This fact of equality is quantitative. Most discussion of gender roles in the LDS cosmology addresses qualitative issues. Qualitative issues can not replace quantitative in discussions of equality. In true equality, both the quantity and quality of opportunity, status, and rights have to be the same, not 9 and 1, but 1 and 1, or 9 and 9 .
Or am I misunderstanding the definition of "equal"? (As opposed to the "feeling" of equality.)
If you are white and you don't feel discriminated against, you can't claim there is no racism. Personal experience can't determine whether equality exists in a system or institution. Only weighing and measuring can accurately tell us whether or not equality exists in any particular realm.
Private institutions have the right to determine how much equality they will enact, and individuals have a right to participate or not participate. I mostly wish we could be more honest about how much we value equality in our religion. If we feel it is less important than other concerns and purposes, we should admit that and explain why, not continue to claim, against reason, that there is no inequality in our organization.
|Women of the first Relief Society.|
Although I suppose Relief Society is no longer truly homo-social as, unlike at its inception and continuing through the 1960’s, it was when it was administered by a female leadership.
|Women leaving the LDS Tabernacle after being denied entrance to the Priesthood Session.|
I am thrilled to hear opposing viewpoints, especially ones that use sound reasoning and evidence, are thoughtful, seek greater understanding, and are nuanced. However, you should, before posting your rebuttals, read this list of reasons that I've already researched, considered, and discarded. If you don't have a fresher or more nuanced perspective to offer in rebuttal than the ten reasons in this post that I've heard hundreds and hundreds of times without being convinced, you may not be able to convince me now with those same reasons.
I will however, cherish every kindly and sincere attempt at dialogue and understanding, whether or not we agree!