Thursday, October 13, 2011

Understanding Some Women's Frustrations in the LDS Church

A friend of mine shared the following story with me recently, and I want to pass it on just to see if it has the same impact on others as it did on me:

I have to admit that I have never really understood the angst and pain that many LDS woman talk about. It's just never been an issue for me, though I like to think myself to be progressive and sympathetic . . . Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how one sees the whole picture, that has changed a bit in the last 24 hours. I've evolved - maybe I can understand the issue better. 
This may seem like the silliest, most obvious thing in the world, but I lost some sleep last night. Here is what happened.
Deep down I do appreciate and love the church, and yesterday as I was talking to my wife about church and some options/callings we might do to keep our branch functional in order to keep it going to so our kids will have that resource to help get them through their teenage years --- I made the comment to her that I was getting bitter and frustrated because I WANT to serve and I'm WILLING to help out the Branch in my calling, yet, according to the Church Handbook of Instructions, my days are numbered. There are some callings that require an active temple recommend, and I'm struggling right now to renew mine.
Anyway, so I tell my wife how frustrated I am that because of church policy my calling options are limited and I'm not going to be able to contribute to the LDS church like I want to and need to.
Her response:
"Well, now you know how I've been feeling the last 20 years."

I'm not making any kind of statement in this post about any particular callings, and I certainly am not advocating that women be given the ability to administer Priesthood ordinances, but I really believe there are lots of things women could do in the Church from which they have been excluded historically.  We took a HUGE step, in my opinion, in 2010 when Ward / Branch Council took the place of PEC as the top council in wards and branches, but I believe there still is more that can be done - without changing doctrine or theology in any way whatsoever.


Gwennaƫlle said...

I have no issue with men having the priesthood and men having responsibilities I can't have. I really feel we have enough on our side to progress in this life as well and as much as you do.
What hurts me and makes me angry is how young men are taught to feel superior because of this responsibility.
I corrected a young man and how he was talking and behaving toward women on facebook. I sent him a private message to explain to him that his way was not appropriate. His answer: all my youth my priesthood leaders have shown me this attitude and have taught me it is ok.

Vince and Denise said...

As Gwennaelle said I have no issues with men having the priesthood and responsibilities that I can't have. In all honestly I think I have one of the greatest callings you can have and that is motherhood.

I do think it is sad that people would feel that way, as each calling is just as equally important!

Let's take the calling of the Bishop, just because I as a woman can't be called and set apart in this calling, doesn't mean that I am not called right along with my husband (if he ever would be). Even though I am not the one going to meetings, sitting up front, etc. I am still supporting my husband in every way in his calling.

Christy said...

This has not been my experience, but I am curious about this. Is it that women find that priesthood leaders are not listening to them? Is that what women are experiencing? I can understand their frustration if that is the case. And I should be grateful that my bishop respects and values my opinion.

Papa D said...

"What hurts me and makes me angry is how young men are taught to feel superior because of this responsibility."

Amen, Gwen. That should not be, and it isn't something that is taught at the top level of the Church (or in many local units). However, it is the "natural" tendency within humanity (to equate administration responsibilities with superiority), so we need to make sure we stress the true nature of Priesthood service AND increase the availability of REAL and meaningful alternate service for women and girls in the Church. Until and unless Relief Society becomes what it is meant to be (or returns to what it was meant to be), the difference in opportunities will continue to cause legitimate angst for many.

Denise, SO much of this centers on how women are seen, treated and empowered at the local level.

Christy, I think it's a lack of listenting and, more importantly, a lack of meaningful service that is comparable to Priesthood service - in the sense of serving and actually leading in the community in some way. There is SO much that can be done in that regard that wouldn't alter doctrine or theology in any way.

Anonymous said...

My biggest role in life is Mom. My husband's biggest role in life is Dad. Simply holding a position of power and me in a supportive sub-- servient role is not the same thing at all. It's like President and secretary. I find it insulting that my husband gets to take on roles I can't simply due to gender.

Gwennaƫlle said...

"Until and unless Relief Society becomes what it is meant to be (or returns to what it was meant to be), the difference in opportunities will continue to cause legitimate angst for many. "

I love you just for having said this Ray. Will your wife oppose if I want to marry you?

Mama D said...

Sorry, Gwenn. Admire from afar. :)

Mama D said...

But I know what you mean and I don't take offense. Just want to make that clear!