Friday, May 18, 2012

Equality and the War on Gender

I went through a few different titles for this post, thinking about what I was going to write: Women and the Priesthood, Women and Equality, Culture vs Doctrine, Feminist or Disciple of Christ? I hope this title describes the post accurately.

My mind has been really full lately. This post, I think, is really just me trying to sort out all those thoughts.

I am not sure what piqued my interest in the Mormon feminist movement, but I am pretty sure it had something to do with all the talk about Joanna Brooks’ book and Ralph Hancock’s responses and critiques of the book. It may have been a post I read on Segullah about the “war on womanhood”. Regardless, a few months ago I started doing a lot of thinking about equality, gender, and the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I also started thinking about the way women (and men) in the Church seem to misunderstand the fundamental doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Manhood/Womanhood vs Discipleship

A commenter on the Segullah post said, “I don’t think in terms of womanhood and manhood. We are all children of God with eternal potential. There is nothing uniquely female about the godly characteristics I am asked to develop.” I agree with this in a major way. In the Church’s handbook for parents there is a section that talks about teaching children to accept and understand their gender roles. If you are unfamiliar with the A Parent’s Guide, I will point out that it was published in 1985 and has not been revised since. When I read this section yesterday I was fully expecting to read about how the Church encourages stereotypical gender roles, such as cooking and russ_comfort_vincentecleaning for women, and college and job skills for men. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Church has been teaching equality of the genders at least since the mid-80s, but obviously the doctrine of Jesus Christ has been around for longer than that, and as “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33), this doctrine of equality has been part of the gospel since before any women’s movements.

A quote from the book that supports the commenter at Segullah says, “There are many patterns of behavior that are appropriate for all people. Everyone, male and female, is invited to examine the character of Jesus Christ and emulate him … Among the traits Christ revealed as proper for men and women alike are faith, hope, charity, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, kindness, godliness, humility, diligence, and love. These virtues transcend gender. They are Christlike attributes to which both sexes should aspire … Spiritual gifts, as described in Doctrine and Covenants 46, are not restricted to one gender either. Included are gifts of knowledge, belief, administration, organization, healing, and discernment.” There is more of the same through the section, including statements such as, “You should provide opportunities for your children to develop talents in various directions unhindered by improper stereotypes … Teach your daughters and your sons to seek opportunities to learn and to exploit every such opportunity fully … Boys must learn basic domestic skills, and girls must be able to earn a living if necessary.”

Gender as an Eternal Characteristic

However, the same guide says, “members of the Church must not be deceived about one immutable truth: there is eternal significance in being a man or a woman.” And recall that in The Family: A Proclamation to the World it states, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” So, if gender is so important, but each gender is equally expected (by Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father) to develop all of the characteristics of Christ (many of which, ironically, are “naturally” attribute to women) and any of the spiritual gifts available to God’s children, then what is the difference between the genders?

The same commenter at Segullah pointed out this problem we often encounter in trying to learn and teach about the significance of gender, “Our efforts to teach women of their spiritual equality often overreach into expressions of otherness, specialness, or even betterness [than men]. If we truly believed we were equal in God’s eyes we wouldn’t need to find ways to feel set apart or special.”

So, how do you teach the importance of gender and identity while staying away from expressions of “otherness” and “betterness”?

When Equality Gets in the Way

Equality is a hard principle. What does it really mean? Does equality mean that we should all be the same? Does it mean that everyone should have the exact some opportunities in this life? Does it mean that we should all be treated the exact same? Children should be treated like adults, young adults should be treated like mature adults, the elderly should be treated like young adults?

What does equality really mean? What do we really want when we say we want “equality for women”?

Men today are pressured to be worldly. They are pressured to neglect their families for their jobs, often using their families as an excuse for how much they work. They are pressured to provide the luxuries of the world for their families.


Image Credit: Alex E. Proimos

Families are used by the world as an excuse for men to focus on their jobs and careers, rather than focus on their family. It seems like the opinion of women is, “Why do we only pressure men to be worldly? I want pressure to be worldly, too!” That’s not what they say, but think about it – as women we are not fighting for men to come home, man up, and protect and lead their families. Instead we are fighting for women to be pressured to do more outside the home. We want equality, but we want it in the wrong direction. We are sick of the stereotype of women being housewives and staying at home and doing the laundry while our husbands are out smoking cigars and going to bars with their coworkers and bosses. Should we instead be sick of the stereotype of men being workaholics, spending more time pursuing their careers than spending time with their families?

Is our fight for equality perhaps pushing all of us in the wrong direction?

Manhood/Womanhood and Discipleship

Although there are cultural stereotypes for gender roles which, as members of Christ’s Church we should not espouse, gender is still a significant part of our creation.

In the world today I think that some would like to remove all distinction between the genders. In fact, we are moving at an alarming rate toward a society where you can choose your gender. You can choose to marry someone of the same gender, as if there isn’t a reason why we were created male and female. It was just chance, or it was a mistake nature or God made. If you don’t like it, don’t be that gender, don’t follow the “gender roles” of that gender (and I don’t mean the stereotypical ones here, I mean the we-need-a-man’s-reproductive-organs-and-a-woman’s-reproductive-organs-to-make-babies roles).

Why would we be created the way we are if there wasn’t a reason for it? There is a reason for it. Gender is essential to our identity as children of God. I am just still learning exactly what that means.

From the proclamation again, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

What does this really mean, though? I do not think it means what a lot of people think it means. I do not think it means that men or women are necessarily more naturally inclined to perform their divinely appointed roles. I take this as more of a commandment. Rather than God saying, “Women, you are more naturally predisposed to nurturing, so you guys nurture. Men, you are more predisposed to protecting your families and earning a living, so you guys do that.” I think what God is saying is more like, “Regardless of what your ‘natural’ tendencies are, I want you, women, to nurture children. Men, I want you to provide a safe environment for women to do that, and make sure women and children are clothed and fed and sheltered, and help her out in the nurturing.”

My husband and I have talked at length about this. As far as providing for a family goes, I could make probably two or three times my husband’s income. But my husband has been commanded to provide for his family, and we feel that it is really important for him to do that. Staying home with kids and being nurturing is hard for me, even though I know a lot about raising kids (from a research stand point – not from experience). I can deal with workplace stress a lot easier than I can deal with children-induced stress. But we feel that it is really important that I learn how to nurture our children, even though I would rather provide for our family than nurture our family, and my husband would rather have it be that way, too.

I am aware that there are individual circumstances, but as with every other area in the gospel where there is an “ideal” we should not be looking for reasons to not live the ideal. Nor should we judge others who are not living the ideal for whatever reason.

Questions Without Answers

I’ve been asking a lot of questions in the past few months, and I don’t have all the answers yet – and I was hoping that I would have more answers as I wrote this post, but they seem to elude me. Please feel free to share your thoughts and feelings, and especially quotes from talks or scripture passages that help you answer these questions. Maybe I can find some more answers, too.


  1. nice post. I'll link. However, I do think because of men's size, that it can help in their protecting role. And women definitely have the upper hand on nurturing when it comes to growing a baby! i found this interesting on oxytocin, too:

  2. I especially appreciate your comment that the PotF's statement of gender roles by divine design is not an indication of innate strength, but a commandment. I agree wholeheartedly. I think for many, the desires are innate, but the fact that they aren't (or don't initially seem to be) doesn't exempt us from exploring. I live those individual circumstances that "require adaptation" and frankly, I'm sick of hearing people use me as an example of why it all doesn't work. It works. Further, I think gender difference and individual discipleship are crucial to accept in this sphere because they directly pertain to the next. Nice post.

    1. I was going to say that, too, and forgot! (The part about the commandment.) I think it's really cool that although you could make more $, you're still trying to do it the way you see best. I sure couldn't make more money than my husband, but I'm sure I'd like to get out of the house as much as he does.

  3. Becca, thank you for sharing this. Although I disagree with you on a lot of what you said I appreciate that you are so willing to open yourself up and share. The message that I've always gotten from the Proclamation and pretty much from the Church in general as far back as I can remember is that first and foremost Families are sacred. The gender roles between a husband and wife are between them, they are commanded to raise their families in a righteous manor. That being said I think it is between the husband and the wife. If the wife working outside of the home brings in more income and therefore she is away less than the husband is only to make less money then maybe she works and he stays home with the kids more. I am not criticizing you personaly but I just think that every family is different and those decisions are between the husband and the wife. I used to have issues with the church and the concept of priesthood, it took me years to finally figure it out for myself. My husband explained it to me the best in that it is more about responsibility and has nothing to do with privilege, yes it is a privilege for men that the Lord allows this but that privilege isn't denying anything to women. I think that there is a lot that the Lord hasn't revealed to us yet and that the answers to many questions, especially those that plague our society especially at the moment will be revealed in the Lord's time. I am probably not making much sense. I think I will be quiet now...It just seems like the answers to these things are between a husband and wife and however they choose to manage "gender roles" in their home are their choice. As long as they pray about it together and are leading their family with righteous intentions then I don't think it matters so much, what is best for one family might not be what is best for others we're all unique and bring different things to the table, things of equal importance...

  4. Men are innately and biologically more prepared to physically protect women. In a first world society that doesn't mean nearly as much as it does in the rest of the world. But even here...protecting women should mean avoiding porn and preventing rape...and influencing the culture towards respecting womanhood. There is a great need for that kind of protection. What would it mean in a third world country to protect women from rape...that would be huge.

    As far as women being "naturally nurturing". Obviously biologically -pregnancy and nursing are both nurturing-with any size of family a woman is spending a good portion of her time doing would be prohibitive to also have an out of home career.

    That said-in the adam and eve model of marriage the line between nurture and provide is very fuzzy. Is harvest a provide or nurture role? How about gardening? Is it nurturing to teach a child a skill? IMO the internet and how business is conducted more and more frequently will again blur those lines. I welcome that.

    Providing a more than money. Nurturing is more than pregnancy.

    I do appreciate the commandment aspect as others have's a good reminder that God calls the willing not the skilled.

  5. I think we need to understand that what the Gospel teaches us and what we have to face are sometimes two different things. The Church teaches us the ideal, the standard, the "what we are striving to become with everything that we have and are and will be" and then we ---well, we fall short. Because we are mortal. Because we have to answer, sometimes, to other's agency. (or the economy or death or injury or...)

    Missy, I understand what you are saying, but I think it's a very easy cop-out to say "every family is different, i.e. as long as it's been decided between husband and wife, etc." because you know, the husband and wife could decide to leave the Church and claim it was divine revelation. Yes, many things DO come down to personal revelation (heck! My mom worked for 34 years and was never a SAHM, even after a Bishop told her to quit her job) but at the same time, that does not dismiss the commandment that men should provide and protect, women should nurture ("primarliy"). I don't want to say you are wrong (because you are not), I just want to point out how slippery a slope it can become when we start making excuses and justifications in the face of true doctrine. I've seen people do this over and over and over and it's heartbreaking, really.

    I also agree that it's more than a commandment. Men and women ARE different! Are men more feminine than others? Sure. Are women more masculine than others? Yes. Will there be men/women born with things that challenge gender? Absolutely. From physical "deformities" to SSA, gender itself will be challenged (not to even mention roles!). But that does NOT change the standard. The doctrine of gender is eternal. Men and women are inheritantly different and specific and when God says it's eteranl, He's not joking. When people told me that if I raised my kids in a gender-neutral way, they would be able to "choose" their gender (seriously?!) I ignored them, but I was careful about stereotypical gender roles I placed on my small kids. We had less pink and more green; no guns or trucks (at first). Well, guess what? My boys will make a gun or sword out of ANYTHING and my girls made dolls out of blankets. My kids are unique (which has nothing to do with gender, yes), but they are so obviously their genders, I can't imagine them any other way.

    I once heard a lesbian (a relative) say that becoming heterosexual in the afterlife would literally be hell to her. She wants to STAY gay. I found that very disturbing and very sad. But, self-fulfilling, too. I know this is a thread-jack, but knowing that God has saved Celestial glory for men and women who are married --and that the only spirit children who can be born are born to those married men and women for eternity --says a lot about how ignoring gender here on Earth is pretty sad. It's scary, really, because we've been told that it's not just that we can't have kids --those feelings for sex will be taken away. And now I need to find my sources to back that up. Hmmm....

    What I really like is what you said about the reversal equality in our feminist ideals --namely, why are the women demanding more time at work instead of demanding the men be in the kitchen more? I feel as if our society is just trying to get rid of men altogether. It's apparent in how many single men, in their thirties, are still living at home. Men don't need to work, the women can. Men don't need to clean, the women do. Men don't need to be fathers, the women adopt or go to sperm banks. Women's fight for equality has taken men out of the equation, really, and it's no wonder they feel useless! Men need these defined roles in the PoF just as much as we women do --maybe even more?

    Sorry for the ranting and rambling, wow! I hope I made sense --I'm not even sure if I did...

  6. Here's where personal revelation comes in for me: everything I learn about the gospel re-emphasizes that God sets out stewardships for us, but the ways in which we fulfill them are only clarified when we seek God's will for us, and act on that personal teaching. There are so many different ways to nurture, so many ways to provide! Nothing in the Proclamation says each family has to have the same functional model; it just sets out stewardship, and trusts the individuals and families to seek God's will and direction. It's gorgeous!

  7. Thanks for all the comments.

    I agree with the comments that men and women are fundamentally different. I guess this is what I was getting at in my questioning. Men and women ARE different, but what does that really mean?

    I still can't agree with the argument that women are "naturally" nurturers. Think of a woman who will never bear a child. Tell her that she is a "natural" nurturer because she can bear children. But she can't. So why should she be a nurturer if she can't bear children? Because she is commanded to be that way (because it is part of her eternal identity - not because she is naturally that way).

    Similarly, take a man who would never fight anyone in his entire life and doesn't have a "natural" desire to provide for a family or even lead a family for that matter. He isn't "naturally" a protector or provider, so why should he do that? Because he is commanded to do it (again, because it is part of his eternal identity - not because he is naturally that way).

    All that said, I AM convinced that there are natural biological differences (generally) between women and men. AND I believe that those natural differences are actually manifestations of our divine identity, rather than the other way around. (that is, men have more testosterone than women and women produce oxytocin more than men because our of DIVINE SPIRITUAL identities - rather than our spiritual identities being defined by our biological makeup). Just as our spirit does not have cancer, or diabetes, and our spirit is not missing legs, and our spirit does not have chromosomal disorders, and our spirit is not depressed or anxious, our spirits are distinctly male and female, and not subject to the same mortal imperfections that our physical bodies are subject to.

    I guess my point in all this is that our bodies are affected by our divine gender identity, but our divine gender identity is not always made manifest in our mortal biological makeup.

    Not sure that I am making sense, but I feel like I am understanding this a little better. Maybe I'll work on explaining it and write another post later.

    Thanks again for all the comments.

  8. Becca--First, thank you for this post. Very interesting to read, and intriguing to read the comments. This is something that I spend a lot of time thinking about and grappling with. I feel like I could be a pretty awesome breadwinner. A lot of times, I feel like I really stink at the nurturing thing. And to be honest: I'd rather be arguing an important case and wearing Ann Taylor clothes than making cheese sandwiches and reading Amelia Bedelia for the 5000th time. So I loved that you brought our this great point--that becoming a nurturer is a commandment, and something I can strive for, rather than feeling like I *lack* something I should inherently have. Awesome. But the other thing you brought out that made me want to say "YES" was about how I want to be equal, and that DOES NOT MEAN "more than" or "special." It's why the talks I hear about how great and special women are kind of drive me nuts. Don't pat me on the head--I don't need condescending nice remarks. Instead, give me something to do! Give me marching orders! I want to do my share and work hard and be a part of all of this. Do you ever feel that way??

    Okay. I'm done. But thanks for laying this out there and for the comments that it brought out from others, too. :) --Becca2

    1. Thanks for your comments, Becca :)

      As far as marching orders, I think there are a LOT of good talks with marching orders (basically ANY of Sis. Beck's talk). But I agree with the "pat me on the head" talks. And the "women are better than men" talks. I understand that the brethren are just trying to help us feel good about ourselves, and I think for a lot of women those talks are perfect. But I am more like you - I like the Sister Beck "catch the vision" type talks. Feel free to come and voice your opinion over here any time. I hope this blog can be a place where faithful sisters with hard questions can come and feel heard without feeling like they need to leave the Church.

      Something I am learning is that while we need to sustain our leaders, that does not mean that when a GA speaks he's always saying it the "perfect" way. They are humans just like us, and have their own perspectives and methods of communication, and that's GREAT, because we all have different ways of learning things, so hopefully those "pat me on the head" talks are helping some women (I am sure they are - they have helped me in the past).

      Sorry, now I'm rambling! Thanks for the comment, that's really all I had to say :)

    2. Becca--Yes!!! That's what I loved about Sister Beck, too! And probably why I was so very bummed to see her go. I have really dear friends who truly struggled with her and felt like she expected way too much of us, but--personally--I just wanted to cheer whenever I heard her speak.
      You're fantastic. See you at GCBC. :) --Becca2

  9. I think that Cheryl is making assumptions and you can't judge every family based on a stereotypical model. It is between the husband and wife. If they ever get to a situation where they decide to leave the church then they obviously aren't living righteously, they would never get to that point if they were. I think that the Lord will reveal more about "gender" in his time, I think we don't understand many things. I think this is why there is finally an LGBT student union at BYU. The Lord doesn't make mistakes! I have a friend that I've known for most of my life who is Gay, I knew he was Gay when we were five years old. He was raised in a very active LDS family, he went to church, scouts, participated in everything. He graduated from Seminary. He is Gay though, to marry a woman and mislead her would be cruel, cruel and dishonest. So what should he do? Where does his "gender" role fit in? He is biologicaly a man and very happy about that, he has no desire to be a woman. He likes things that are traditionally more feminine, like cooking and gardening, does that define him though? I don't think so. He is a wonderful person and very kind he would never hurt a fly. Where does he fit in? There are many people out there in his shoes, many LDS people, people who were born into the church and raised strictly by the principles of the gospel. Where do they fit in? Especially when discussing gender? I think that the Lord loves all of us equally and he will reveal more about this in his time...that was the point that I was trying to make. I am sure that there are some LGBT LDS people, in fact I know one couple that I think is but I don't know for sure, that try to work around this issue. The L woman and the G man got married, in the temple and they have a family. No matter how hard they try the "gender" roles are going to be something that they struggle with. As long as they are doing their best and praying together and trying to lead their family and raise them in a righteous way then I think it is between he husband and the wife, that is the point I was attempting to make. I often wonder if people realize how many LDS people are LGBT, there are a lot. I was surprised when I first found out. Now I'm rambling...

    1. Thanks for your comment, Missy.

      I agree that God doesn't make mistakes. However, He did allow us to come to this immortal world to have our spirits challenged by mortality (think "natural man"). Our goal in this life is to overcome the natural man.

      I don't think that this means that you can interpret gender to mean whatever you want it to mean. Heavenly Father has revealed very specific doctrine on gender (the Proclamation to the World).

      I think one of Satan's attacks is getting us to try to force our spiritual gender to be more like our imperfect body's representation of that gender (think of an infertile man or woman, did God "make" them that way? Was it a mistake? What is He trying to tell an infertile woman - that she's not actually supposed to be a nurturer and develop her gender identity because she will never bear children?).

      We are not here to be the limitations our mortal bodies and this mortal world have placed on us, but rather to overcome those limitations and be what God actually made us to be.

      Your SSA friend fits in just where he is - as a man. There is no doctrine of gender that says that a man should not cook and garden (in fact, both cooking and gardening are forms of providing for your family, so he would fit right in with that revealed doctrine). The principles of the gospel do not define gender roles the way I think you think they do (women should cook and clean, men should go to war, etc). If these people you speak of who were "raised strictly by the principles of the gospel" were really raised "by the principles of the gospel" then they would not be hindered by gender stereotypes. The gender stereotypes of the world, I feel, are not in line with what God has revealed about gender identity. "traditionally more feminine" is not the same as "doctrinally revealed truth about femininity". I encourage you to study more about what God has actually taught and revealed about gender identity. I think you might be pleasantly surprised :)

      You are right - God doesn't make mistakes. He made a perfect plan - one that requires us to overcome the physical limitations in this mortal world through His atonement. This is an imperfect world - and it is meant to be that way.

      I am going to write a little more about this later this week or next week, but I'll just leave this with you: "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." John 9:3

    2. I was commenting specifically on what Cheryl said, she said that in society we are trying to make men not be men or something like that. I respect what your saying about "gender roles" but I still think it is more complicated then your giving it credit for. Honestly Becca I don't think you are understanding what I am trying to say, and I also don't think that I am explaining it very well. I am having a very difficult time putting my thoughts into words at the moment. I shared the link from BYu in an effort to help someone that might need help. Maybe no one on this blog knows anyone in that situation I have no idea. If you had heard some of the testimonies of the specific group of people that I am talking about you would probably understand a little better what I am trying to say. I will just leave it at that. I have studied the scriptures and I have a pretty good idea what I am talking about. I completely disagree with your interpretation of doctrine on gender roles and gender identity and that is fine, obviously the scriptures have lead us in different directions. I am not going to say that you are wrong because I don't believe that you are, I think that you just have a completely different interpretation and understanding. I have had discussions about this topic with some of the church leadership and I am extremely confident in my interpretation. Please don't condescendingly encourage me to study something because I see it differently than you. If we can't respect each other and have a genuine gospel discussion then that is really not good for any of us is it. I am not saying this to be rude, i just feel like you are being extremely condescending...

    3. My apologies - I wasn't trying to be condescending.

      If you would next time quote the commenter you are responding to, that would be really helpful in the conversation. When you say you were "commenting specifically on what Cheryl said, she said that in society we are trying to make men not to be men or something like that." it doesn't make it very clear what you were actually discussing (I went back to Cheryl's comment and I didn't pick that up at all from her post, and I couldn't really figure out which part you were talking about - and my confusion probably added to the lack of communication). We probably actually agree on more than we think we do, since you were addressing a comment of Cheryl's rather than a comment of mine.

      Certainly, we can agree to disagree. And I don't mind having people disagree or having different interpretations. That's just fine. And you can even think I am wrong - I won't be offended ;)

      And I appreciate that you shared the video from USGA in the hopes that someone might see it who needs help. I just like to be very careful when attributing things to the Church or to Church organizations or to leaders of the Church (i.e. quoting GAs, etc - I try to ALWAYS link to a source. If I can't find a source, I don't post it). Saying the USGA video was "from BYU" is like someone attributing a book to you just because it was about you.

      As I said in other comments, I agree with your comments about SSA members being marginalized and largely misunderstood in the Church, and I am grateful for the USGA video as well - I think that it really addresses a need in the Church. Not perfectly, but better than anything has so far. It would be nice for the Church to make their own video, but until that happens, the USGA one I think is really great.

  10. Also, and then I will shut up. As long as the husband and wife, Mother and Father lead their family and always remember to pray, pray as a family, pray as a couple, pray individualy then how could they go so far asray? Honestly? We're all different. Just because the Mother might not be as "nurturing" in a certain area as maybe the Father is then really how is that a problem as long as the children are getting everything they need and learning what they should. I don't think it has anything to do with making men not be men or whatever was said. I've heard that lately and it makes no sense to me. Children aren't stupid, if Mommy goes to work and Daddy stays home because of whatever reason they still know who is who. You can't judge people or try to fit every family into a certain stereotype, especially in an economy like what we have. Some women aren't so "nurturing" does that make them less of a Mother? No I don't think so. Maybe the not so nurturing Mother is married to a very nurturing Father and they are a perfect match. One makes up the difference in each area and vice versa. As long as they are leading their family with righteous intentions and praying together, trying their best then you can't sit in judgement because of your interpretation of "gender roles" and the commanded gender roles or whatever it was that was said. Every family is different, every couple is different just like every individual is different. The Lord knows what he's doing and there is a reason for everything. Now I will be quiet...

    I attached the link to the thing at BYU if any of you know anyone that this might help. The suicide rate amongst this community is way to high. Please share this if you know of anyone it could help. This is directly from BYU if anyone was wondering...

    Ok done, sorry if I went off on a tangent it is where this discussion took me, maybe it will help someone?

    1. And just to make a side note, the video actually has no affiliation with, nor was it endorsed by, BYU. Not saying it isn't a good video, just saying it is not "directly from BYU".

      I agree, though, that there is too much negativity surrounding same gender attraction. My personal opinion is that a better understanding (and testimony of) divine gender identity would erase that negativity (on both sides). Unfortunately there is so much misunderstanding of what God teaches about gender that we have people who feel out of place, and others who would make them feel out of place. (those who struggle with SSA, and those who don't understand those with SSA - and I don't claim to fully understand, just so you know).

      We need to 1.) be more Christlike and 2.) better understand and better teach gender identity

      Part of this post for me was the 2nd part - I am trying to better understand gender identity. There is much much more for me to learn and understand, and I am grateful for all the comments because it helps me sort these things out.

    2. Pardon me, it was sent to me by an individual who happens to be a Professor at BYU who was very proud of the students who were brave enough to come together and form this student union. It came to me by way of BYU, by a person who teaches there. They are BYU students and they are sticking their necks out pretty far in an effort to be supportive of a group that has been traditionally marginalized. I shared this in case anyone out there knows anyone that it would help...

  11. I just wrote a very long comment that defended my position and succinctly explained what should have been obvious from my original comment. But it was deleted. Call it divine intervention, whatever, but I guess I need to take a different road. So I will.

    Missy, I apologize if I've offended you. I'm not very good at writing things succinctly.

    It was never my intent to assume anything about gender identitiy. I was simply stating doctrine. And yes, I know many gay people (family and friends). My husband's family are HUGE gay rights' supporters. Unfortunately, one has been excommunicated because of it. Simply put, I understand more about the LGBT community within the Mormon church than most. I even defended that video from BYU students (which, Becca is right --it's not BYU sanctioned, regardless of whether or not a professor is circulating it). But just because someone struggles with SSA doesn't mean they should give into it. I can't imagine how hard it is --but when did mortal difficulties change God's law?

    I will not, apologize for doctrine. I will not apologize for what prophets have written to the world. I believe what they say, and even if the details in our lives don't always mesh with what they counsel, we can at least TRY. The standard is set and it is our job to try to reach it. Yes, we will fall (we're mortal, dangit!), but that doesn't mean we give up! We keep working and trying.

    As for "between husband and wife" --yes, you are right. It is. But it's not just husband and wife --God has to be in there, too. And God guides His prophets to give counsel and write things and say things that we're supposed to pay heed to. We should never blow something off simiply because it doesn't "mesh with our family right now." (And I'm not saying you do this, Missy. Please don't assume I'm attacking you. I've been attacked, and I'm just trying to defend my position).

    Okay, that's enough. The irony, here, Missy? We probably agree on more than either of us realize.

  12. My friend wrote a really insightful essay on this same topic (basically the gendered descriptions in the Proclamation on the Family) that I feel offers another perspective on this conversation. You can read the post in its entirety here:

    In essence, her point is that the gender statement in the Proclamation can be highly confusing if we think of the designations as roles, however if we consider them as stewardships, the entire doctrine makes considerably more sense. Furthermore, "nurturing" and "providing" are difficult to define, often overlap, and in my opinion ought to go hand in hand. Finally, the Proclamation itself states that individual adaptation can be made, meaning that there isn't some model application of the stewardships, but rather that we ought to consider prayerfully, as couples, how our stewardships play out. It's hard to summarize, so just check it out for yourself :).

    I would add this great insight from an essay over at fmh, which highlights the companionship and overlap exemplified by our model First Parents, who exemplified equal partnership and sharing: "Adam and Eve did everything together. In Moses 5, it seems there wasn’t a division of labor resulting from different innate, gender-specific tendencies.

    Did just Adam do the providing? No, they worked together: “Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.

    Did Adam take the lead as voice in their prayers, receive commandments, and pass them along to his wife? No- they prayed and worshiped and received revelation together. Notice the “they’s”: “And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them… And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.”

    Did Eve do the predominant share of nurturing? Here the answer is less clear, though again the partnership is referenced as the teaching entity: ”And Adam and aEve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” "(

    Last, I'd add this gem from Elder Oaks, which further highlights the joint partnership perspective: "Homemaking is not just baking bread or cleaning a house. Homemaking is to make the environment necessary to nurture our children toward eternal life, which is our responsibility as parents. And that homemaking is as much for fathers as it is for mothers."


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