Friday, March 28, 2008

the mormon woman

"...Unto the woman, I, the Lord God said; I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." -Moses 4: 22

"Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy"-2Nephi 2:25

he gets the credit and the joy, she gets the blame and the sorrow.

Sometimes, when I let it, I tremble with rage.

A guest post over at Zelophehads Daughters asks about the contradictions that Mormon Women face. I copied Lynnette's response in my journal, it was that good, and put into words many of the disturbing contradictions I have been trying to reconcile:

"There are several contradictions in LDS teachings related to gender that I’ve found particularly challenging:

–We say on the one hand that Eve made the right choice, and she is honored for it. However, the Eden story remains the basis for the ritual subordination of women. Are women being punished for Eve’s transgression?

–We talk about God being no respecter of persons, and say that every human being is a child of God with divine potential. Yet while men are told that they can become like God, and are authorized to use God’s power, it’s much less clear what the eternal role of women consists of–and there are disturbing indications that their ultimate purpose is to facilitate male exaltation (along the lines of Paul’s observation that “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”)

–We emphasize that personal revelation is available to everyone, and yet in our most sacred spaces only men covenant to hearken to God directly, whereas women’s access to God is formally mediated through their husbands.

–We talk about marriage being both patriarchal and egalitarian, asserting both that the husband “presides” and that the two are “equal partners”. I see these two principles as being fundamentally in conflict.

–We say that motherhood is of the utmost importance, and that the most important thing a woman can do is raise her children–and yet we have no information about Heavenly Mother, and in fact are explicitly told that communication with her is off-limits.

All of these issues have been discussed at length here and elsewhere on the Bloggernacle, of course, and I’m well aware that many interpret them differently and would disagree with my assertion that they involve contradictions. But for me personally, one of the basic contradictions in my religious life has been between my experience of myself as a full human being and my personal encounters with God which have led me to hope that God in fact sees me that way–and LDS teachings and practices which challenge that notion. I can’t say I’ve resolved that contradiction, though for my own peace of mind I’ve tended to put more faith in the former and hope that the latter are tied up with the challenges of a fallen world, rather than being the result of divine decree."

All I can add is "Amen sister!"


Anonymous said...

Makes my heart weary thinking of the years spent balancing, bargaining, praying, evaluating, committing, re-evaluating, re-committing, hoping, hurting, begging, and hurting some more. Finally, all I could do was set it down and walk far far away.


G said...

"balancing, bargaining, praying, evaluating, committing, re-evaluating, re-committing, hoping, hurting, begging, and hurting some more."

sounds like what the past several years of my life have been like.

setting it down has been huge relief.. walking far far away... still negotiating that one.

BrotherLove said...

I am not a Mormon; but, I live in a heavily-populated Mormon area in Illinois. With the sentiment you have expressed, why is there such an urge to marry at {what seems to be} a very young age? What pressures come to bear? Many of your concerns can be tempered by entering into a marital union after you have matured more than the average 219-21 year old.

G said...

hello Brother Love, thanks for stopping by.

I think the rush to marry young in the LDS community is caused by several factors, such as the belief that Marriage is considered necessary to get to heaven and the spiritual importance of having children... not to mention marriage as the only legitimate sexual outlet.

and I do think that marriage at a later age can be very beneficial in a lot of circumstances.

However, I'm not sure that simply waiting to marry will overcome doctrinally prescribed gender inequalities.

BrotherLove said...

g: thanks. I am always hesitant to comment on issues that I only observe on the periphery. It just seems that when a young female adult is still trying to find her identity...then, is thrust into a union where an immediate family is expected and certain behavior is expected...she cannot help but to perpetuate the gender inequality. The Mormons I know are aghast when someone "waits" until they are 22 or 23 to get married. Someone needs to gently...but, firmly...start encouraging them to wait. They can abstain (I presume) from sex...and they would still have time to raise 5 or 6 children, if that is their wish...if they waited until they were 26 or 27. By that time, they will have had time to formulate more of an identity and be more independent. Church doctrine, teachings, and expectations, notwithstanding...someone needs to start somewhere. This site and comments are interesting. Bless you all.

G said...

thank you brother love.

I know that push within LDS culture to get married, I didn't marry till I was 27, and felt like an ancient old maid. Every first date I went on was a cue for family to start asking where the relationship was going.

yes. I also wish there were more voices and messages within the culture lending validation to the idea of marrying older, making it less of a stigma, pushing young singles less, etc...

Chelle said...

"balancing, bargaining, praying, evaluating, committing, re-evaluating, re-committing, hoping, hurting, begging, and hurting some more. Finally, all I could do was set it down and walk far far away."

Me too.

The topics discussed in this post (and all over the place) were a major reason I could not believe in the same kind of perfect church and perfect God anymore. Maybe someday I can put together a more hopeful picture.

And I am THIRTY and single, so some of us don't marry for awhile. At least I am mostly outside the church now, where I am less of an anomaly. :)

angryyoungwoman said...

The feelings you've expressed here have weighed heavily on my mind lately. There seems to be almost a culture (not just in the church, but world-wide, and it's spread to the church) that blames women for the fallibility of man. I don't know where to go to avoid it.

Anonymous said...

How I bless the choice of mother Eve. As an LDS man, I know we might have gone for all eternity without Adam making the choice that would allow us to be born. For what it's worth, I know in my heart and see with my eyes that women are innately more divine than men. The reason for leadership, presiding, and priesthood is because we need it. You do not. Without it, without you (mothers, sisters, wives), and without all the help of Christ’s Atonement, we have no hope. Sometimes I despair at my gender and wonder if any of us will make it, but I trust in my God. If I can hold His hand tightly enough, perhaps there is a chance. God bless you all. - MW