Sunday Thoughts

Culture Meetings Mormon Doctrine Patriarchy Priesthood Women

Sunday morning I walk through the chapel doors, greeted by Brother Jones who hands me a program. I find my usual pew and sit with my children and my dad who’s visiting. We hear a beautiful prelude hymn, “O My Father” being played by the organist. I open my Book of Mormon to prepare for my lesson and read through the story of Alma and the sons of Mosiah. My daughter asks me who I’m reading about, and then she asks who my favorite women in the Book of Mormon are. I struggle to think of any, but I assure her there must be some. The meeting begins, and I listen intently to the words of the opening prayer, “Our dear Father in Heaven…” ending with “in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” The bishop’s first counselor, Brother Smith, stands and conducts the meeting, announcing the individuals who accepted new callings by the bishop. He announces the presence of our High Councilman, who gets up and reads a message from the men of the Stake Presidency.

We sing the hymn, “Praise to the Man” after which the bishop stands and invites 16 year old Chad Duncan to the podium, to announce that he has interviewed Chad and found him worthy to be ordained to the office of a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Big smiles and handshakes ensue. Chad’s twin sister sits in front of me with her mother, watching her brother be congratulated for his achievement.

I see Brother Harris slowly walk up the aisle, counting the number of people in attendance. My daughter asks me if she can get up and go get a drink. I tell her we don’t walk around during sacrament meeting, it’s not reverent. She stares at Brother Harris with a glare.

Next we sing the sacrament hymn, “O God, the Eternal Father” after which I watch as the Aaronic-priesthood-bearing boys prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament. During the quiet time of the passing of the sacrament, my father leans over my 7 year old daughter and whispers to my 11 year old son, “That’ll be YOU in a year, son, passing the sacrament and holding the priesthood so well like those boys. See how reverently they perform their sacred duty?” Proud smiles for my son while Grandpa reaches behind my daughter’s head to pat him on the back.

Next comes a talk by Brother Green on the subject of fathers taken from “The Family, a Proclamation to the World.” He explains how fathers are to preside over their families using their priesthood as a sacred power to act in God’s name, which should not be taken lightly, it is That Important. He tells us all that abusing this awesome power and exercising unrighteous dominion over women and children is not pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. Men are instead supposed to use their power to help and serve others, and treat their women as if they are equal to men. As head of the household and having the holy priesthood power bestowed upon you, you men must remember you have a grave responsibility to make sure that you don’t abuse the special power you hold. You must remember that women are daughters of God. They have worth in God’s eyes, and you must always remember to grant them respect and equality and treat them as if they have worth. God has given you your sweet wife as a helpmeet and a friend, so treat her well! If you don’t then you have forgotten what the Priesthood Power means! I see the bishop smile and nod. Brother Green ends his talk in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. I’m expected to say “Amen.”

The next speaker teaches that if we follow God’s plan for us, we can become gods and goddesses someday over our own worlds. I find myself wondering what it means to be a goddess ~ considering I’ve never heard about my Heavenly Mother at all, beyond learning that there is one, even though we know nothing about her. But for some reason it was set up by God so I can only learn about God and only know what He is like from all the scriptures and the conference talks and doctrine that focus on just Him. I wonder to myself, does this mean that if I make it to the Celestial Kingdom and become a Goddess with my husband as God, I could also be as unmentionable as our Heavenly Mother is? Will our children be taught by Him to pray to Him only and never think of me? Will they be told to worship Him in all they do, and strive to be like Jesus (if that’s how our world plays out), but not encouraged to strive to be more like my girls, who are rarely mentioned in holy scripture? Will my spirit children be taught by my husband that He is all-knowing and will be the final judge of their hearts and lives in the end?

Apparently I am supposed to strive in this life to be like Jesus. For some reason I’ve been given a male as my standard of who to emulate…why don’t I have a woman as my standard if gender differences and gender roles are truly such an important part of God’s Plan?

Do the men in charge of the church honestly think that becoming an unmentionable goddess is a dream come true for women??? I stand all amazed.

I sit there contemplating this while looking at all the men sitting in their places of power over the congregation.

The meeting ends with the closing hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” followed by Brother Tallmadge saying a closing prayer to our Heavenly Father, ending in the name of Jesus Christ.

I rush to get to the nursery before parents start delivering their children into my care for the next two hours.

. . . . .

When I hear my daughter later that day telling her brother he’s lucky to be a boy, I cry.

12 thoughts on “Sunday Thoughts

  1. I feel like a bonehead, but I never really noticed the insane gender politics of the church UNTIL I went to the temple. I was irritated that I couldn’t know my husband’s secret name, yet he could know mine. From that day forward, the gender inequality in the church was blaring to me (finally!), and of course, it was the beginning of the end.

  2. All that “use your authority to treat your women as equals” stuff made me laugh. It may be an exaggeration, but it really falls closer to the “it’s funny because it’s so true” category….

  3. Actually, the GAs have used those words, Chanson, in talks to the men in the priesthood session of conference. I’m not exaggerating, if that’s what you meant. I think such words do more harm than good, and only reinforce the fact that men are “over” the women in the patriarchy as it’s set up now.

  4. My brother (who is pretty TBM in some ways) was in a ward in Phoenix once where he actually quit going because this kind of talk (which he said was constant) in priesthood meeting upset him so much. He told me the final straw was a teacher who got up and gave a lesson from the manual on “treating your wife as an equal.” His commentary was along the lines that “hey, I’m out in the world, holding down a job and dealing with all kinds of things all the time and my wife is home just dealing with kids. She just doesn’t understand a lot of things about life. It’s very difficult for me to see her as my intellectual or even spiritual equal. But you’ve GOTTA TRY, brethren. You’ve GOTTA TRY.

    Bleah. He went completely inactive for awhile–at least as long as he was in that ward. My bro rocks!

  5. Oh, and also…my fear that my sweet daughters would find JUST SUCH MEN as the ones who hold the same opinions of women makes me so glad I no longer go and neither do they. No matter how independent and strong I raised my girls… imagine the shock they’d undergo if suddenly married for eternity to such men.

    Of course, I recognize there is also a risk outside the church to find men like that as well. But I’d wager the odds are lower outside than inside the church.

  6. A colleague at work said he noticed the mormon culture treats women like doormats on a pedestal. He’s a never-mo and it’s easy for him to notice this.

  7. Yes, girls seem to have enough to deal with in the wider culture, then to have it underscored at church is a bit much.

    The idea that women will someday be the mother of their own worlds could be liberating; I mean if your relationship with your husband is already equal think of the things you might do as first goddess.

    You could declare that every Sunday the men, being the spiritual heads of household, take all the kids (even babies) to church and the Moms (being the mens spiritual inferiors)get to go party at the beach or some type of earthly activity.

  8. And there is the problem right there – “first goddess”. Implying that there are multiple goddesses. Which points out the whole inequality of “celestial marriage”.

    And since when are Men the “spiritual” heads of household. Both the man and the woman should be the spiritual head. A marriage should be truly equal, not the lip service to equality that the LDS church pontificates about.

  9. Right on Phouchg. Additionally, the idea of “someday” becoming a goddess–even if that were more clearly articulated–is only liberating if it transfers into full equality on the ground. If it means that you just have put up and shut up until the next life, I don’t see how that’s liberating. It’s just more opiate for the masses.

  10. >>>>You must remember that women are daughters of God. They have worth in God’s eyes, and you must always remember to grant them respect and equality and treat them as if they have worth. God has given you your sweet wife as a helpmeet and a friend, so treat her well! If you don’t then you have forgotten what the Priesthood Power means!

  11. Okay, one more time…

    If this is how life was, if this is what they actually taught, if this was reality, they wouldn’t need to persuade or remind the men. It would just BE.

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