Looking at the first discussion, “See the Symptoms,” I find I agree with much of what they are saying. Basically, the lesson talks about what it is like living in a culture where one portion of the participants are not treated equitably. I have experienced inequitable treatment as a woman in a male-dominated profession and as a mixed-race child engendered at a time and place where my parents’ marriage was consider void and prohibited. I get the importance of equitable treatment. However their conclusion that disparities between the males and females in congregations would evaporate if only women were permitted priesthood ordination seems simplistic and flawed.
I have three main points to make about this first discussion:
1) It is (interestingly) a rather female-oriented document. It is clearly intended for an audience that feels rather than thinks. Being a female, I think this is actually rather clever. Being an engineer, I find that the exercise will fail to resonate with the portion of the population that would need to stop being patronizing.
2) I am the descendant of many generations of Mormons. The most recent three or four generations in my personal ancestry were presided over by faithful women whose husbands were not participants in the faith community (making it generic so I can include my Chinese grandfather in this population). These women did their best to raise their children to love God, and all of them were pained by their husband’s unwillingness to participate in Christian/Mormon culture. As a result of this reality:
a) I wonder how many men who have been faithful in the Church would have declined to participate, if it weren’t for the male bonding facilitated by priesthood quorums.
b) I personally have been raised to care deeply for the spiritual guidance from my foremothers. By extension, I was raised to care deeply for the spiritual guidance from the gender-peers of my foremothers. In my own life, I have given significant weight to the teachings of my gender-peers, such as my female MTC teacher who taught us that sisters have the right to give blessings by the power of their faith in Christ (a right I have mentioned in open meetings and had confirmed by my Bishop at that time).
c) I wonder that the writers of this first discussion do not appear to understand the beauty of being shielded from service “opportunities” that could conflict with a woman’s ability to either engender children or raise them successfully. In my own life, the raising of the children has been primarily assigned to my husband, because of circumstances unique to my household. My children still seek me out, but my husband is the one whose schedule has been freed from other responsibilities that he might be available for all the many things that arise in the middle of the day and night.
3) Although I disagree with the implicit (and sometimes explicit) conclusion that ordination is the remedy, there are many valid cultural points being raised in this first discussion. Given where the discussions will lead us, however, I can’t help but be reminded of the conversation represented as occurring between one Eve and the one tempting her. The temptor told truths, but then suggested an action that was not the only option, an action that was in direct opposition to God’s commandments.
I challenge us to identify those ways that our culture is inequitable in unGodly ways, with suggestions for how we as a Church can influence the ones perpetuating the unGodly traditions in a manner that is consistent with God’s ways.