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A Day at Church to feel like a big man

March 5, 2009

I don’t know what the exact occasions were (I think this might have just been a…Fifth Sunday phenomenon for the ward?) but sometimes, in the third hour of church (after sacrament and sunday school), we wouldn’t split into different quorums for Priesthood. Instead, everyone…we lowly deacons, teachers, and priests…would get to hang out with the adults. Way cool. Made me feel like a big man.

I can’t say if it was better, though. They’d give just the strangest lessons on these days. Quorum lessons are always so well-correlated, but these days, it seems everyone was off the record.

Every one of these kinds of lessons was some kind of insight into Big Manly Things, though. One lesson I remember was about what we should do as we grew up, decided on colleges and decided on careers.

I was a deacon or teacher at that time, so I was not concerned about what the speakers had to say about college. But even though I was young, I did remember something they said about women. The speakers emphasized that although it would be good for the young women, beautiful daughters of God, to become educated (because education is good)…clearly, they should not be taken by worldly ideas about careers. The career of a woman of faith was in the home. Degrees were something nice to have (because men like sexy smart women? I dunno)…and I think I remember one of the brethren actually suggesting that a degree was good to have for women just in case the unfortunate and unthinkable occurred and the young woman did not marry (or *gasp* worse — divorced!)

Even as a 13 or 14-year-old boy, I was so taken aback that someone in the church could actually say this. I think I responded (silently, of course!)  in a similar manner that Ardis Parshall responded to another commenter once upon a time. But this was back in an innocent time when I though the church was reasonable and egalitarian, so I didn’t think much of it. I guess it was, nonetheless, the first time my head cocked in a tinge of distaste…the way it might happen if you smell something rancid and your nose seeks safety.

Anyway, I was reading through some old blog posts elsewhere in the Bloggernacle, and hearing general authorities (wait…does the church consider the Relief Society president to be a GA? Am I assuming too much reasonableness?) perpetuate this standard kinda left a bad taste in my mouth.

I honestly wonder, now…what do young women learn about in YW or Relief Society? Priesthood lessons are rather tame, but then again, I guess they don’t have to tell young men that their role in life is essentially completed by being married to a Priesthood holder.

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4 Comments
  1. I should remember going into RS at such times, but I don’t. It doesn’t seem fair that the ym got to sit with the leadership – important people in priesthood meeting – while yw stayed in the same routine.

    Truthfully, I don’t remember a great deal of what I was taught in yw. I definitely remember the importance of getting married from yw lessons, particularly to a “good man” (read RM). And even only DATING RMs, or other good men.

    The yw teachers I remember found a great deal of joy and fulfillment in their choices in life (marriage and motherhood), going to the temple, so that’s a lot of what they talked about. Growing up, if you wanted something different than that, there were not many options. The yw teachers were not single women, or struggling with their testimonies. This was back in the late 80s – early 90s.

    The TS comment was pretty over the top offensive- I have to agree with Ardis. Although I think I’ve seen more offensive things on the internets, but I might visit different places.

    I can’t say what other people might have found or find – but for me, there was no clear path for what I wanted to do – to pursue an education and support myself. I was pretty sure I wanted to potentially get married (eventually) or have kids, but it wasn’t the number one thing I wanted to do.

    In a job or career, when you reach a plateau, that’s when the advice is usually to start looking around. That’s what I did…

  2. yeah, I guess even now (or at least, late nineties, early 00s) the YM/YW teachers are not single, struggling with testimonies, etc.,

  3. I appreciate that we are developing more sensitivity in our young men, to know that women can fulfill leadership roles. It is wonderful to see women and men lead in all areas of life. The inequality that struck you as distateful is what I have experienced. They do not want women speaking out, when they have been subjected to discrimination by an authority of the church, so there are actions taken to silence them. I can only speak to my own experience of this. I’m not attending in my stake and my husband, after watching the situation, will not return to our stake. We were told that we could not attend another ward, unless we first received permission from the stake president. This is the same stake president that would not allow a meeting with me, a woman, unless my husband scheduled the meeting and attended the meeting. The meeting was simply to tell me that I should wait to attend the temple until my husband wanted to attend and then I could attend with him. He had never expressed a desire to attend the temple, just me, the woman. I had been paying tithing, but the church had been putting those payments under my husband’s name as “head of household”.
    I tried to work things out, but it became hostile very quickly on their part. I have a two page letter, from one of the female ward members, reprimanding me for questioning the bishop’s advice, which obviously indicated that he had broke confidentiality and told some version of “his story”.
    Later, it was changed to an “it never happened” excuse, told to me by 2 visiting teachers.
    My husband and a teacher who was sharing my office and heard the phone conversation, as I was calling during a break in the day, were witness to the requirements of the stake meeting and my husband was witness to their requirement that I must wait until he wanted to attend the temple, then I could attend.
    I had held a temple recommend before and was worthy to hold one at this time. When I compare the treatment that I received, and the very different treatment that my son in law and my father received, at the hands of this church, it dismays me. Even with all of my training as a school psychologist, school counselor and mediator, I was unable to resolve this situation. I wanted to, just to show my dear husband that this kind of discrimination wasn’t the norm. If the GA’s allow their leaders to discriminate against women, then they promote a system that is not worthy of the fulness of the gospel.
    We need to ask for a change to be made in the church on how it views women. It is a Christian ethic to treat all souls as equal. It is sad to see that ethic violated.

  4. Dear Jo, even I am flabbergasted.

    While I recognize that ward reassignment is something stake presidents do not do lightly (since wards are based geographically so pretty much the only way to get into a different one is to move)…I think it is utterly ridiculous that the SP would even meet with you unless your husband scheduled and attended the meeting (not to mention your not even being allowed to attend the Temple without your husband also wanting to attend, or how the Bishop broke confidentiality).

    But what I wonder is…how could we make that change in the church for more equality?

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