Gender Roles Part 3: Women of the Home

Despite what some consider progress for women today, there can be an argument that the opposite has actually happened. Fond memories of good cooking, a clean house, and a person to rely on in difficult times have been replaced or forgotten. In many instances the whole idea of a women staying home to raise a family is abhorrent and troglodyte. At the same time a single parent mother who is forced to work is considered more of a saint than those who have a husband to look after financial needs. The concept of choice doesn’t really have meaning other than as a weapon of choice for social experimenters.

What has replaced long standing, although not always historically accurate, roles for women is the modern Amazonian lust for worldly power and prestige. Society has slowly made women into men while at times trying to displace them. Not only are they encouraged to have a career, but to be as free with their bodies as the natural person desires. There was a push back at the start of the feminist movement against the latter, but it was quickly abandoned by Sex and the City attitudes. Women can have it all; reject the consequences for themselves and society.

All of this isn’t to say that men and women are not to be seen as equals in life. Eve was, after all, symbolically taken out Adam’s rib to stand by his side, and not the foot or the head. He later in Genesis 2:23 proclaimed that Eve, “is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” No member of the Church or society is without some importance as 1 Corinthians 12 teaches, unless like Mark 9:43-47 there is a serious offense that must be dealt with. What must be acknowledged is that a women is not a man or the converse.

This is backed up by the Scriptures almost from the start. Going back to the expulsion, Adam and Satan were in some ways given similar curses related to the land. Eve’s curse had to do with what can be described in Genesis 3:16 as creation itself; the formation of the next generation:

16 Unto the woman he 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.

There is also a blessing in disguise for the sorrow child bearing and rearing brings. The very curse that brings posterity also will destroy, as Genesis 3:15 reports, the power of Satan. Her seed, “shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” He will cause pain and suffering, but ultimately Eve’s children with Jesus Christ will have victory. Destroy the ideal of having and raising children then Satan has gained a victory of his own.

Mothers are a blessing. They cannot easily be rejected as important without losing something of the bedrock of a great society. They are the makers of this world. Elder Uchtdorf touched on this when he said:

If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.

Pushing women to think of motherhood as secondary to work and education is an abdication of responsibility. How many when in distress call out to God first and mother second? Men might keep the house in order, but women keep the house together. In her now classic talk “Mothers Who Know,” Relief Society President Julie B. Beck said:

When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children . . .

Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are “becoming less valued,” in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children . . .

Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants . . . These mothers know they are going to sacrament meeting, where covenants are renewed. These mothers have made and honor temple covenants. They know that if they are not pointing their children to the temple, they are not pointing them toward desired eternal goals. These mothers have influence and power . . .

Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes . . .

Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening . . .

Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home . . .

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying . . .

It is not without substance that Sister Beck points first to the example of the Mothers of the 2000 Stripling Warriors. Their faith in battle won both victory and lives. All of this in Alma 56:47-48 was attributed to what the mothers taught them at home. Helaman relates that, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” He goes on to say, “And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” What a remarkable tribute, but this is not the only one in the Scriptures.

In Proverbs 31:10-30, a woman and mother is praised for her virtues and home influence. In some ways it mirrors Sister Beck in glorifying the domestic life reaching beyond the walls of the home. “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies,” it says. The results of her labors are, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” It should be a high honor to be called mother.

What of women who can’t become or are no longer mothers or wives? what role do they have? All the virtues associated with the home and raising children can be used for other endeavors. The main virtue is charity. Men should have the same, but woman have the responsibility to use it more abundantly. There is even an organization formed by Prophet Joseph Smith called the Relief Society set aside for this very purpose. He stated in the first meeting:

“the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor— searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants — to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties &c. in their public teaching.”

The Relief Society is an official group under the direction of the Priesthood with women leaders made for women to reach out beyond themselves and the home. If everyone is a child of God, then women should seek to take care of the world. Probably the greatest example outside Mormonism is Mother Teresa who because of her own faith was never a biological mother. Yet, she looked after the hungry, the disadvantaged, the desperate, the poor, and those who were in the worst situations.

Women should seek after the needy and destitute like Jesus instead of for more money, more education degrees, more power and position, more praise of the world. Any single Sister can do this without marriage or children. Men, of course, should do what they can to facilitate and help any charitable contributions. Emma Smith as the first Relief Society President said its purpose was, “to seek out and relieve the distressed— that each member should be ambitious to do good— that the members should deal frankly with each other,” along with improving the morality of the community.

Despite the Priesthood and leadership roles conferred on men, there is still a lot of power allowed women. Many ancient and modern women were given the title Prophetess, with Miriam the sister of Aaron first mentioned by that designation. Eliza R. Snow has often been described as one in more recent times. Joseph Smith stated that a prophet is anyone who has the testimony of Jesus Christ and in that way women can be just as inspired as any man. Priesthood leaders should reach out to the sisters for their input and talents. As the LDS Handbook of Instructions 2 explains: “The bishop seeks input from Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary leaders in all matters considered by the ward council. The viewpoint of women is sometimes different from that of men, and it adds essential perspective to understanding and responding to members’ needs.”

Faith is an essential principle in any spiritual life. Women have as much power with it as any Priesthood holder. Joseph Smith stated that the Priesthood was authority and order culminating in the Temple, but “if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongue, and let everything roll on.” He went on to say, “if God gave His sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick, then in wetting the face with water.” Any believer is capable of miracles and great good.

But, there is a warning. Joseph Smith also taught that women are not supposed to preside over men and asked where in the word of God they ever founded a Church? He then quoted Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 that he wouldn’t let a women “to rule, or to usurp authority in the Church.” The list Joseph Smith made of false churches in his own day was heavy on women taking the lead.

The last thought comes full circle back to the start. Women’s first role and duty is to have and raise children. The home life might be put down in modern society, but those who believe should know better. The family is the foundation of society and women caretakers of the next generation.

84 thoughts on “Gender Roles Part 3: Women of the Home

  1. While I agree with much of the basic thesis: I have a few quibbles: I found that by seeking more education and a job that paid better, I was able to have more time and resources to serve. Whereas women were not as available if their husband was working two jobs, or they were employed at minimum wage. Plus, employed at a medical center, I was easily available to help with those in need, and my badge brought me into places where a typical RS sister could not tread, allowing me to hold someone’s hand during a difficult procedure.

    “But, there is a warning. Joseph Smith also taught that women are not supposed to preside over men and asked where in the word of God they ever founded a Church? He then quoted Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11–12 that he wouldn’t let a women “to rule, or to usurp authority in the Church.” The list Joseph Smith made of false churches in his own day was heavy on women taking the lead.”

    If I thought that men ruled over women in this church, I would not be a member. The leadership practiced in LDS teachings is servant leadership, not ruling. Christ never once used his power to rule anyone, but always to serve and help others. Men are to follow in His footsteps, acting as He would.

    And of course women preside over men all the time in the church. In public affairs, primary, family history, and music callings. Not to mention mission president’s wives and senior couples where she has the professional skill for their assignment, and her husband does the supportive appointment-making and paperwork.

  2. While the role of mother and wife are of utmost importance, I think this description given here tends more to demean women than it should. There is an importance for a parent to be in the home to raise small children. Your analysis assumes that women have more of a responsibility towards charity and nurturing than men. That is hogwash. The commandment to have faith, hope and charity applies equally to men and women. That they are to be equal means they share responsibilities of the home, and often means more than you give it. You seem to state in one paragraph that they are equal, and then say that equal means women are to stay at home and do what the husband says, because Adam was to rule over Eve.

    If there is a tendency in feminism to flee from the home and into the workplace, this article seems to be on the other far extreme. Women are to make themselves into the best they can. They are not to be barefoot and pregnant, nor one-trick ponies that only care for children and clean house. I appreciate the women who choose to stay at home with their small children. They are preparing the future generations. That said, I pity the sister who feels her only responsibility in life is to raise children and clean house. Emma Smith and others were mothers, yet did not stay at home all the time. Instead, they were involved in charitable works, prepared clothing for the Nauvoo temple workers, and ran businesses. Emma ran the family store and farm much of the time, while Joseph was off doing Church stuff or in hiding.

    I think you need to rethink this article, because it warps the importance of women, making them seem one dimensional.

  3. Naismith, education is important for women. However, I disagree that women in the work place is what the Lord wants, at least so long as they are capable of having and raising children. Thank you for your work in the hospitals. We each have our talents and places in life that are singular to others, but I don’t believe exceptions should determine the rule.

    What do you make of Joseph Smith, “where do we read of a woman that was the founder of a church, in the word of God? Paul told the women in his day, ‘To keep silence in the church, and that if they wished to know anything to ask their husbands at home’ he would not suffer a woman ‘to rule, or to usurp authority in the church,’ but here we find a woman [Johanna Southcott] the founder of a church,the revelator and guide, the Alpha and Omega, contrary to all acknowledged rule, principle, and order.” (TPJS pg. 209).

    “They are not to be barefoot and pregnant, nor one-trick ponies that only care for children and clean house.”

    That isn’t exactly what I said here, but I will admit that I believe they are to be this more than work outside the home. My series makes the case that no matter how the same a male and female is, the Scriptures and prophets do indicate different responsibilities to help bring to pass the work of the Lord. Women don’t have to stay home, but they should focus first on the home. Again, what do you think about the quote of Joseph Smith to the Relief Society about them doing charity work so that the Priesthood could do other duties?

  4. Jettboy, I think there are valuable things in this series, but telling women what they “should do” is a very, very dangerous path to go down. Leave that to the prophets, the stake presidents, the bishops and the women themselves. Just my two cents.

  5. ” the Scriptures and prophets do indicate different responsibilities to help bring to pass the work of the Lord”

    I’ll look forward to your interpretation of the stories of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, Anna, Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia, Emma, Eliza… So great that there are so many examples of stay-at-home moms in the scriptures!!

  6. Two points.

    First, our bishop states on a very regular basis, over the pulpit that he cannot do his job without the sisters in the RS helping him. I believe it.

    Second, education is a good thing, being educated is a good thing. I am thankful I have the chance to be home with my kids, however, there was a time, when I was an older single and I was on my own. My education is how I supported myself. Also, women need to be prepared to work outside of the home, if that need were to arise. My maternal grandmother was left widowed at the age of 42 with 5 children. She was able to take my Grandfather’s job and provide for their family. My own mother had to go back to work when I was on my mission, to support our family as well. Her job kept our family afloat. So, I would also shy away from saying “women should do this or that”. Women need to be prepared and then follow the spirit as to what is right for their family.

  7. Kristine, I mentioned Miriam and the virtuous woman (who is very domestic in the listing of what she is like) in the blog post. I must say that I am surprised by some of the reactions and didn’t realize what a huge change in perspective on mothers has happened all across the board.

  8. There are enough twistings of scripture and wrested interpretations in this piece, that it’s not worth quibbling with the conclusions in my opinion. I’m glad there are those who could approach a response far more charitably than I had a mind to, were I willing to spend the energy on it.

    I will put my feelings into a brief analogy. If I had a pound of flour and someone mixed a tablespoon of fine sand into it, I’d rather throw away the pound of flour than spend time picking out the sand grain by grain in order to lose the flour. Unless, of course, I was starving. Thankfully, we have pure and delicious cakes full-baked for our enjoyment from the apostles and prophets.

  9. Jettboy,

    There is no win for you here. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. A humble retreat will save your life.

    You can quote Joseph Smith all you want, but folks don’t want to hear what a 19th century prophet has to say about the role of women in society or church.

    The world of 2013 will not tolerate your views. Just about any other view is acceptable, of course, but not yours.

  10. I did notice that you mentioned Miriam. But since you spelled it wrong, I wasn’t sure how carefully you had read her story. Same with Eliza R. Smith [sic]. The virtuous woman of Proverbs is an entrepreneur and businesswoman. Her children are mentioned once, and not in relation to anything she does for them, but to their honoring her; there’s nothing to suggest that she spends her full time nurturing them–in fact, it seems quite clear that she could not.

  11. “The virtuous woman of Proverbs is an entrepreneur and businesswoman.”

    Too bad all her profits went to her husband.

  12. Why is that too bad, Michael? It’s just the flip side of the way we usually read the Proclamation on the Family to suggest that men are supposed to be equal partners with their wives in childrearing. Somehow we don’t read it the other way: women can (should) help their husbands as equal partners in the sacred duty of providing…

  13. Jettboy, what do you make of the Church’s successful marketing campaign that has made pains to *highlight* working women who seem to “do it all”?

    Of course, Mormon feminists seem to have been the first to speak up and question the motives and transparency of the campaign. But, in light of this post and the frequent appeals you make to scripture and Mormon prophets, I think your opinion about it would be very interesting.

    In other words, the way the Church chooses to present itself to the world in the past 2-3 years *is* a far more feminist/liberal view of the role of women that you present here. How do you reconcile that?

  14. “However, I disagree that women in the work place is what the Lord wants, at least so long as they are capable of having and raising children.”

    Hmmn. So you think I would be better off doing what YOU say, rather than following the words of the prophets and acting according to the inspiration that my husband and I received?

    I very much resent being dismissed as an “exception,” since it is to a so-called rule that exists mostly in your head. I think Pres. Julie Beck put it better when she spoke at BYU Women’s Conference in 2011, saying, “The question of whether or not to work is the wrong question. The question is, “Am I aligned with the Lord’s vision of me and what He needs me to become and the roles and responsibilities He gave me in heaven that are not negotiable? Am I aligned with that, or am I trying to escape my duties?” Those are the kinds of things we need to understand. Our Heavenly Father loves His daughters, and because He loves us and the reward at the end is so glorious, we do not get a pass from the responsibilities we were given. We cannot give them away. They are our sacred duties and we fulfill them under covenant.”

    I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I know what my father and mother want from me. I will not be bullied.

  15. Kristine, I was really just remarking on the irony of holding up a 7 or 8th century BC Israelite female as a model of feminist entrepreneurship.

  16. Ah, Jettboy, now you see that even at M* you are not free to quote the prophet’s against wordly interpretations…

    Weak sauce, M*, weak sauce.

  17. I would like to say that I really don’t like Jettboy’s tone in this series. His rhetoric tends to alienate, rather than invite, and it also tends to overlay man-made conventions on top of the revealed word.

    That said, I believe that we shouldn’t dismiss the words of prophets so easily. The teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Gordon B. Hinckley, and others about the importance of women not being too eager to divide their attention between a career and parenting is important counsel to consider.

    We should be willing to question the common sense and conventions the world has to offer on these regards. Counseling women to stay at home when they are able to may not be demeaning at all—even though the world tells us it is. For me, to say that such counsel is demeaning implies that the work of the home is demeaning work, or at least not as important or valued as work outside the home. If we truly value the work of the home as high as (or higher) than our secular employment, then finding excuses for women to dedicate their time to that work (rather than divide their attention) is not demeaning, but elevating.

  18. h_nu, I believe that we should give reverence to the words of the prophets, which is why I am disheartened at the responses that seem to ignore the prophetic quotes Jettboy provides.

    I do think that Jettboy has placed some cultural baggage on top of the raw counsel given by the prophets. The prophets counsel women to not divide their attention between a career and parenting when financial conditions allow them that luxury. This counsel is widely ignored and dismissed as archaic in a way that saddens me. That said, Jettboy’s conclusions that women should be pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen is bothersome and somewhat offensive. That, I feel, overlays a sexism on top of the pure counsel from prophets that taints the public’s perception of those teachings.

  19. I reread the article, and my critique may be a little strong. I think that Jettboy should tone done his rhetoric slightly—”Amazonian lust for prestige” is a little strong—but the principle that children should not have to compete with a career for a mother’s attention is an important one.

  20. I don’t think anyone’s disputing the idea that children should be mothers’ (and fathers’) most important priority. It’s great when women have the luxury of staying home full-time with children, or of combining part-time work with parenting (as in the example of the nurse President Hinckley praised in one of his talks to the YW). But a) not everyone has that luxury (in fact, few women throughout history have been so fortunate) and b) having a career and prioritizing one’s children are not mutually exclusive.

  21. I have taken the advice to retreat on this one. Obviously there is passions here that I don’t want to spark even more fires. You all have some good points about respecting women’s choices and needs. We will have to agree where we can and for the rest, leave it up to God and our own conscience. I do trust that those who have commented still have respect for motherhood above other worldly pursuits; my main point with this post.

    CJ Douglass, I have other concerns about the “I Am Mormon” campaign, starting with if the marketing really is successful. How would you measure such a thing? That is a different topic that I actually discussed here before.

  22. “having a career and prioritizing one’s children are not mutually exclusive”

    Prominent women in business (and of the liberal persuasion) have said the exact opposite. I think a more honest and realistic statement would be: having a career and prioritizing one’s children are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but are most of the time, particularly when the children are young.

  23. I, for one, get really tired of people quoting the words of the prophets at others as if THEIR interpretation is the only one.

    I don’t doubt that such use grieves the prophets deeply.

    It is one thing to teach from experience, using the words of the prophets to illustrate one’s journey. It is a whole other thing to take the words of the prophets and string them together to support one’s own interpretation, and then use them to hide behind when one disagrees with that interpretation.

    Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree with personal interpretation of prophetic counsel without disregarding the prophets. It is extreme hubris to pretend they are one and the same. Frankly, it leaches any value that could have otherwise been gleaned. I suspect it does far more to display the distance between the original handwringer and God than between God and those who disagree with the interpretation.

  24. I certainly don’t agree with everything (most) of what Jettboy has written in this series…

    But I certainly disagree with with people throwing around words like “Luxuries.” I’m reminded when Obama claimed that the Obama’s couldn’t “afford that luxury” when he was making over 100,000$. They “needed” Michelles 300,000$ a year to survive. Absolute lies. Especially because in other venues Michelle made it clear that she needed to get out of the house, and couldn’t stand her kids. Sure it wouldn’t get her reelected, that’s why Obama lied about the “affording” bit. I know many families that raise more than two kids on 20-30k$ graduate stipends, and then pay off large student loan debts making less than 100k$/anum and choose to have the mother stay at home. We all make choices about what’s most important.

    Like everything in life, life is about deciding between the good better and best. Despite 40 years of propaganda, most women would rather be at home with their kids. Many women are learning to be upset by the downright FALSEhoods liberal feminists feed them, “There’s always time to have children” “You need to work, you’ll go crazy” “Children do better in daycare”. Time for those of you who’ve only lived in the echo chambers, who demean SAHM’s with words like RAM’s “That said, I pity the sister who feels her only responsibility in life is to raise children and clean house.” I don’t pity the women who takes full responsibility for her home and raises awesome, well-adjusted, intelligent children. They are my hero’s. Those who struggle through life with their children, who accept the unpopular path in today’s society. It’s time for you all to read some facts from the other side:

    Google the “flipside of feminism”, get it from the library, and read it.

    Oh, and before all the feminists here get too self-righteous and judgmental, my wife defends her PhD dissertation in two weeks. We can’t wait to put this phase behind us and start a family. So glad there’s 1 educated woman out there not brainwashed by the feminists…

  25. h_nu–You’re assuming an awful lot about people you don’t know. Would it suprise you, for instance, to discover that I quit a Ph.D. program to stay home with my kids?

  26. (and, really, I wasn’t kicked out because I can’t spell “surprise”! :))

  27. “We can’t wait to put this phase behind us and start a family.”

    h_nu-, was your wife an indentured PhD student? Why didn’t she start her family first?

    What you don’t seem to realize is that feminism gave your wife the right to vote. Gave her the protection under the law to no be discriminated against. Gave her the role models to consider pursuing an education at all. Its all taken for granted now – as if it was not fought for – against steep competition. Its easy to focus on the very worst of a movement. But what you’re doing is no different than people looking at Mormon History and only focusing on polyandry or MMM or the priesthood ban. You would plea for a broader view to be taken of the Church and its history. I would recommend you return the favor.

  28. “What you don’t seem to realize is that feminism gave your wife the right to vote. ”

    As if the feminism of one hundred years ago in any way, shape, or form resembles the angry, raucous, sexual liberationist feminism of today?

  29. But Michael Towns,

    Your description of “feminism of today” is a straw man and would be much harder to formulate, if you would get out and meet more real life feminists.

    Also, much of what is said of feminists today, was said about giving women the right to vote. As in, it will destroy the family and even the whole of society. And as for the 60’s “radicalization” of the movement, you would be surprised by the kinds of laws they were fighting for/against.

  30. “Your description of “feminism of today” is a straw man and would be much harder to formulate, if you would get out and meet more real life feminists. ”

    Baloney. I’ve spent the past twenty years watching feminists give speeches on C-SPAN, reading their op-eds in major newspapers, and seeing the love they showered upon folks like Sandra Fluke, who wants me to pay for her personal contraception junk.

    Sorry, but the real “straw man” is the notion that modern feminists are just the noble descendents of those pious feminists from 100 years ago. The difference is not just degree, but kind.

  31. As long as we are interpreting Adam and Eve scriptures to suit our own arguments, how about this one:

    Moses 5: 1 And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that 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.

    Eve labored with Adam, which, not surprisingly, is the historical situation for women from the time of Eve until relatively recently. The industrial revolution shifted work (for men and women…and children in a lot of cases) away from the home and into cities/factories; it broke up the multi-generational-home formula that provided stability and childcare for the children too young to work in the field. I think we’re still recovering from that shift, 200 years later, which really isn’t that long if you think about the thousands of years of women and men labored side by side before that.

    Incidentally, if we’re going to do the Adam and Eve thing, what if we focused for a change on what God says about men’s work? How many middle- or upper-class men are still eating their bread “by the sweat of their brow?” It implies physical labor, not that the air conditioning in the IT department is on the fritz. If you say, “times have changed, just because Adam tilled a field/raised the grain/had dominion over beasts of the field to provide for his family doesn’t mean I have to do the same thing literally,” I’m going to say the same thing for women. Maybe if man can skirt God’s Adam-curse by paying someone else to do their job, woman can do the same. Just a thought.

  32. And all Mormons are the same too. And Republicans and Democrats and Southerners and Brits and Catholics and Carnies.

  33. “And all Mormons are the same too. And Republicans and Democrats and Southerners and Brits and Catholics and Carnies.”

    I’ll ignore your snark, and get to what I think you’re driving at, which is the multiplicity of different kinds of feminists.

    I acknowledge that there are definitely different categories of feminists out there. It is not monolithic, by any means. Nothing I say implies otherwise. I object strongly to any attempt to portray feminists as monolithic in thinking or ideology. That actually underscores my point about the current “3rd wave” feminism that we see manifested in society right now.

    But the differences aside, there are most definitely commonalities. Let me give you an analogy: Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. They have huge differences, which I won’t get into here.

    However, Sunni and Shi’a have no problem with putting their differences aside (at least temporarily) and banding up together in support of a common goal or objective.

    I object to many of the “goals” that contemporary feminists agitate for. There. I’m guilty of having an opinion.

  34. That’s very forbearing of you Brother Towns. (seriously). If you’re saying that the angry, raucous, sexual liberationist feminism does not represent all feminists today, then I agree with you.

    My point was not that contemp. feminists were the same as their foresisters, but that they were themselves considered controversial in their day. Don’t let the drab bun fool you – Susan B. was a radical. in considering this fact, maybe we would have a more charitable view of the pioneers of today.

    On a personal note, I work in an office made up of mostly women, many of which are either orthodox Jewish or devout Catholic. None of them may identify as “feminists”, but they all stand on the shoulders of women who would.

  35. CJ Douglass

    I’m struggling with the notion that mere “controversiality”, simpliciter, is the touchstone upon which we grant approval to social movements. Your argument, it seems to me, is that since Susan B. Anthony was “controversial” in her day, it must follow that all the controversy that surrounds contemporary social agitation is mere agitprop for nefarious conservatism. Ergo, we must approve of them.

    Sorry, I don’t buy that particular line of reasoning.

  36. I admit that my articulation can be lacking. To attempt to put it simpler, I’ll just say that, -no- I’m not saying that controversiality is the measuring stick. But controversiality shouldn’t be a deal breaker either. And when we look at what these women did, it looks like a gigantic no-brainer to us today. And yet, they were proposing radical ideas in their time. We often assume that the time is over for new, radical ideas. History tells us it is not. As a Mormon, I hope you can muster some empathy for that notion.

    (and that’s all I’m proposing, a little empathy)

  37. “We often assume that the time is over for new, radical ideas. History tells us it is not. As a Mormon, I hope you can muster some empathy for that notion. ”

    As a student of history and as a Mormon, I agree with you that new radical ideas will be forthcoming. However, my empathy will be restricted to those ideas that prove worthy. Not all ideas are of the same value. And therein lies my argument.

  38. The flipside of feminism does a good job of debunking the myth that it was just feminists who gave women the right to vote.

    As to our decision about when to start a family, it’s really none of your business. The facts are, it would almost be impossible to start a family with the circumstances we were given.

  39. Kristine,
    If there’s an assumption about others I’m making you certainly haven’t addressed it.

    My comment said, not everything feminists say, even their basic points are true. I listed some specifics.

    I addressed the silliness of calling “life choices” “luxuries”.

    And I suggested a book that calls into question the basic assumptions of the liberal/feminist worldview, a book that calls those assumptions into question with facts. My wife had to deprogram me from the silly things I had learned from ignorant feminists and their minions my whole life. Now I’m just a little angry at having been lied to.

    So, you feminists have a choice to make. Educate yourselves, and read the book, or continue living in your echo chambers, believing your fairy tales.

    And PS, Kristine, I try not to use silly argumentless arguments (such as you can’t spell you’re an idiot) online, and I hope no one else here does either…

  40. These kinds of conversations always end badly because people on all sides assume the worst from the commenters who disagree with them. It would be a radical change for people to start assuming the best from the beginning and finding areas of agreement first.

    Most thinking Mormons today accept 99 percent of the gains of women as mostly positive. I am glad that I was raised by a single mother in the 1970s rather than in the 1870s. I think everybody can agree that modern life has made such a situation much better for both the single mother and the child. People agree that it is a good thing that women can vote and can get jobs if they want to. All people with a view of history know that women have suffered in many ways over the centuries.

    Modern-day prophets bring up an interesting conundrum, however, which is that they remind us that men and women are indeed different in many ways. Women are simply better at many things related to child-rearing, especially when the children are young. Having a mother around when children are young seems to be extremely important to the health and development of children. The trick is being able to recognize this and still to be loving and tolerant of others as we all negotiate ourselves through life the best we can. The Proclamation makes it very clear that circumstances vary for different families.

    I would also note that you can still question the tactics and attitudes of modern-day feminists without 1)rejecting the gains made for women and 2)rejecting the ability of women to do what they want with their own free agency.

  41. For some, it is a luxury. Not every woman is fortunate enough to have a husband who keeps his covenants.

    After my divorce, I was deeply grateful for the one thing I hated most in my marriage: that I couldn’t raise my children full-time. It meant I didn’t have to starve for long, that I was able to make informed, wise, and difficult decisions. But it wasn’t until dating a few “modern men” that I realized I would never be able to entirely leave behind making money myself. Even men you think are good are untrustworthy. And even if you manage to find the rare man who is capable of looking beyond himself and his own needs, LIFE HAPPENS.

    I will never make a choice knowing that it keeps me from feeding my children. If that means I have to continue working part time to keep up my relevancy and skills, even if my husband is capable of providing, then so be it. THAT is just as much nurturing as sorting out domestic squabbles or keeping a perfectly vacuumed floor.

    Nurturing has a million and one images when the rubber hits the road. The idealistic vision of mom staying at home, participating in PTA and playdates, having unique and perfectly balanced meals ready when her husband comes home every day, etc. is a LUXURY. I’m not afraid to call it so.

    It is a luxury of choice reserved for those whose lives have never been in danger from the one person who is supposed to keep them safe. It’s a luxury of choice for families who have enough to make it possible to sacrifice to keep their female parent in the home. It is NOT a luxury of choice for people who have one adult in the home, or for those who have no idea if they’ll be able to get food for the next day, or who are reduced to living under leaking roofs IF they even have a roof, or who have illness that renders them incapable of work, or any number of a million other things that can go wrong.

    What do I care how deluded the Obama family is? Just because they use the word improperly does not mean it has no proper use.

  42. I think we can admit exceptions without decrying the principles. When possible, women should not divide their attentions between a career and parenting. Prophets have taught this. Who are we to ignore?

    Now, just because it isn’t always possible, and that there are legitimate exceptions, doesn’t mean we should dismiss or condemn those who repeat prophetic counsel.

    It’s the principle of “leaning against the wind.”

  43. The problem is when the “exceptions” become the rule, and when an individual wrests the prophet’s counsel in an attempt to force it into his own very specific vision of what it SHOULD mean for everyone. Fortunately for the individual, it comes with its very own safe house to flee to should things go wrong, a claim that the individual is only repeating the words of the prophets after all, so anyone who disagrees MUST be rejecting the prophets.

    For what reason? It seems to be an attempt to guilt the majority of righteous women into shedding their agency in favor of another’s from a false position of strength. If that’s not it, then what is the goal here? Because I see a weak attempt to control, not a Spirit-inspired attempt to instruct and teach.

  44. SilverRain,

    What are you talking about? And to whom is your complaint directed?

  45. It is obvious enough what I’m responding to, since I explained it in both of my comments, that I’m left feeling like you’re asking the question as a rhetorical device. If not, and you really DO need further explanation, I have to admit I don’t really have it in me to do more than refer to you to the thread for explanation.

    About 90% of the time, I listen to the little voice in my head that tells me a conversation isn’t worth participating in. One of these days I’ll master the other 10%, and disappear from blogging altogether. *LOL*

  46. I am not sure that, despite Jettboy’s severe awkwardness in presentation, he is quite guilty of the sins that you are accusing him of.

    I am, of course, assuming that your complaint is firmly directed at him personally.

  47. SR:
    I for one do not mean to attack you. Among some of my greatest heros are single moms. When I talk about luxuries, I’m talking about two parents who choose luxury items (things not essential for life) and have their children pay the damage for it. Take the viewpoint Mitt Romney introduced, “Is this thing bought with money, but paid for by the mother being taken out of the home, worth the cost and possible damage inflicted on the children.” I do not doubt, that in your case, the cost of being a single mother is the lower cost of having your children brought up in an abusive home, with a mother who is being abused. You’re getting awful worked up about something for which I’m sure Jettboy isn’t trying to get you upset (and certainly, I’m not).

  48. There are legitimate exceptions to every principle. Why must those who are legitimate exceptions take offense to reiterations of the general principle?

  49. Again, SilverRain, do you really believe that Jettboy or h_nu is ignoring legitimate exceptions? Were either of them telling single mothers not to provide for their children?

  50. My issue is that they are not just “legitimate exceptions” when it’s a rare woman who won’t have to provide for herself and possibly her family some day.

    Do you really think that I’m assuming the worst motivations in either of them? Because I’m not. What I am doing is pointing out the problems with teaching the ideal in the way the OP tries to do. You might as well write a blog post on the ideal of men making more than $500,000/year so their family never has to worry about money, and they have plenty to give to the poor. Sure, it’s possible, but only VERY rare people can accomplish it. In many cases, it might not even be a good idea to try.

    But that’s not even my biggest quibble with the OP, which is the false doctrine it espouses, nor my biggest quibble with subsequent comments that claim that those who have problem with the false doctrine in the OP are rejecting the prophets’ counsel.

    But seriously, I should have never even commented on this. I can’t fix that I did, but I’m certainly going to commence a cessation now.

  51. “Sure, it’s possible, but only VERY rare people can accomplish it.”

    Then perhaps prophets should stop teaching the ideal that women should, when possible, stay at home? Prophets have taught this. Is it false doctrine to teach this, and to repeat their counsel? Are you saying that we shouldn’t ever trumpet the ideal of women staying at home when possible? It does seem that have more of a problem with the idea itself than merely with this particular presentation of it.

    I submit that far, far more women enter the workforce than probably need to. Do I know who these people are? Do I have a stewardship to judge individual situations? No. But when I know far, far more working mothers than stay-at-home moms, and when I observe that many of these families have 3 cars, a motorboat, and fancy computers and such, I know that something, collectively, is amiss. Making that observation, and saying that we collectively need to reconsider our commitment to this counsel, is not wrong. It is, in fact, necessary.

    Here’s a quote from President Eyring, that I think is relevant:

    In our own time we have been warned with counsel on where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third. Each of us old enough to listen heard President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) give counsel on the importance of a mother in the home and then heard President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) quote him, and we have heard President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) quote them both.

    The Apostle Paul wrote, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time.

    Let’s not get ourselves angry and offended because someone points out the obvious: We, collectively, are ignoring this counsel. And just because you, SilverRain, are an exception doesn’t mean that everyone else is, or that we should all just shut up about it.

  52. I would also add (and I am sure folks will stridently disagree with me) that the Church has an obligation to teach the ideal. After all, is the Celestial Kingdom our goal, or isn’t it? If it is, then our ideals should match the end goal.

    There is an ideal of a man and a woman, married and happy. There is an ideal of that same couple with children, whom are taught to live the gospel.

    There is an ideal of an eternal sealing chain, us and our parentage, us and our posterity, sealed for eternity and living in exalted bliss in the heavens.

    There is an ideal of happy living.

    There is an ideal of us making our calling and election sure.

    There is an ideal of us reading and studying the scriptures.

    There is an ideal that we say prayers that actually pierce the ceiling.

    There is an ideal that we consecrate our hearts and minds to the kingdom of God.

    These are all ideals — we don’t dismiss the ideals because we live in an extremely imperfect and evil world. On the contrary, it is precisely *because* we live on such a benighted sphere that we hold these ideals up as the pattern to seek after.

    Do some of us fall short of the ideal in life? Yes. Do we then stop admiring the ideal? I would hope the answer would be no, even in a desperate and cynical and snarky age such as the one we live in.

  53. My issue is that they are not just “legitimate exceptions” when it’s a rare woman who won’t have to provide for herself and possibly her family some day.

    While I recognize SR’s very real and very legitimate circumstances, I also recognize that she does not speak on behalf of all or most women about this. I have not heard her cite statistics that would support a bold a brazen claim that “only rare women won’t have to provide for themselves and their families.” Because I can take a random sampling of my non-western US ward, and the number of mothers who “must provide” (e.i.) can be counted on one hand. However, I would defend those saintly sisters against any defamation possible. But SR’s claim that the non-working mom is rare in the LDS church is laughable. The reason LDS has such a high percentage of SAHM’s is because they have chosen to make the lifestyle choices necessary for that. They have been lucky/wise enough to avoid divorce, either by good initial choices, good during choices, or just plain luck. They have decided that having new cars/ trips to europe/ large vacations/ large homes, are not as important as having the mom at home, in todays circumstance. I do not see any foreseeable way to make 500k$/anum, yet our ideal is still the ideal… My Harvard educated lawyer brother isn’t making 500k$/anum. They just bought a very expensive 1000 square foot house. And yes, his wife will stay home with their 3 kids, that becomes 4 this summer. They live on a strict budget. They have to, with their student loans. But most importantly, they take responsibility for their choices in life. And thus they’re happy.

  54. Truth without charity is no longer truth, or in other words, truth is truth only if it is clothed in charity. There are many ideals that we espouse: an ideal to love one another, an ideal to forgive one another, an ideal to teach correct principles and let others govern themselves, and ideal to sustain and support our fellow Saints, an ideal to avoid judging others, an ideal to build a perfect community of imperfect Saints — we don’t want to dismiss these ideals in order to defend other also-sincere ideals.

    I tend to think that a woman (since we’re talking about women here) will be judged by God by her faith, hope, and charity more than whether she worked outside the home. Some women have honest and real faith, hope, and charity, and might also work outside the home — I think the Lord might not even ask the question of these women and that their faith, hope, and charity will save them in the Celestial Kingdom of our God. Other women don’t have honest and real faith, hope, or charity, but they don’t work outside the home — I’m not sure their homemaker status will help overcome their lack of faith, hope, and charity. I tend to think the Lord won’t ask the “what was your occupation?” question of any of us, man or woman. Even so, I appreciate the teachings of our Church leaders as they try to teach us correct principles so that we can govern ourselves.

  55. “Truth without charity is no longer truth, or in other words, truth is truth only if it is clothed in charity.”

    Please don’t take offense, but this is abject nonsense. It sounds like the kind of rubbish that kids get taught these days in “feel good about yourself” self-esteem building seminars.

    In other words, try as I might, I cannot find your definition of truth in the holy scriptures. I’m not suggesting that charity and truth aren’t related, but truth is independent in its own sphere and does not require another virtue in order to exist.

  56. It’s there — but it isn’t in the text to be read with a strict reading — however, those with eyes to see and ears to hear can find it.

    Best wishes!

  57. No it isn’t. Truth is independent in its own sphere and doesn’t require anything else to be valid. Truth is objective reality.

    All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. — D.&C. 93:30

    Charity is a spiritual attribute and the highest virtue to possess. Truth is:

    24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

    25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. — D.&C. 93: 24-25

    I would be very careful about teaching that truth isn’t truth unless it’s somehow clothed or married up with charity. That is not what the scriptures teach. Plus, it sounds absurd.

  58. Ok, but it’s not scriptural. And it’s a logical absurdity. But by all means, believe in it.

  59. I don’t know that I could imagine Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), without charity, since God is charity (1 John 4:8).

  60. Truth doesn’t depend on anything for its existence. Truth itself is eternal, and “independent in its own sphere”. I’m not sure why you guys are being obtuse about it. I’m not suggesting that charity isn’t nice to have, or isn’t a requirement for eternal life.

    But truth, or “things as they are, were, and are to come”, is objective reality and doesn’t depend on any external attribute. It stands on its own. We are given definitions of truth in the scriptures, and *nowhere* does it say the following absurd notion: “Truth without charity is no longer truth, or in other words, truth is truth only if it is clothed in charity.”

    Gotta love feel good, made up doctrines. Gospel of Self Esteem?

  61. I leave it to you to reconcile in a comprehensive manner John 14:6 with D&C 93:24. On literal terms, it seems that Jesus is the way things are, the way things have been, and the way things shall be. Speak, if you have knowledge.

  62. And if you think charity is not an essential characteristic for Jesus to be the truth, then please, demonstrate that.

  63. “And if you think charity is not an essential characteristic for Jesus to be the truth, then please, demonstrate that.”

    I think the Internet has caused a dire plague to fall upon people that causes them to not read what people write. Or at the very least, not read them carefully.

    I didn’t say anything about Jesus not having charity. In fact, I find that statement itself to be rather uncharitable. I don’t dispute either verse, but accept them on their face value as true teachings. Our salvation is in Christ — that is a truth. But it isn’t the *only* truth. That is what I’m trying to get you folks to at least acknowledge.

    Can it, O can it be possible, O my brother (or sister?), that there is an objective reality that exists outside and separate from Jesus Christ’s person? What about the Father? What about any number of beings that have obtained their exaltation and sit upon thrones in the celestial heavens?

    You seem to suggest that there is no reality separate from Christ. I find that statement to be incredible in the extreme. In fact, it makes no sense and it beggars the mind to think that the existence of my toilet, to come up with an extreme example, is identified with Christ’s charity-truth.

    Do you see now the logical absurdities involved in saying that truth “is not truth” unless it is “clothed in charity”? Please at least tacitly admit that you are aware of truths that exist separate from the Lord Jesus Christ’s personage.

  64. You seem to suggest that there is no reality separate from Christ.

    Have you not read D&C 88?

    41 He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

    See also D&C 88:7-13.

    I find that statement to be incredible in the extreme.

    Mormon 9:6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

    In fact, it makes no sense and it beggars the mind to think that the existence of my toilet, to come up with an extreme example, is identified with Christ’s charity-truth.

    And yet, despite your lack of comprehension, it happens to be the case.

  65. log,

    Your quotation of Mormon 9:6 is absurd. Are you calling me to repentance? For what, exactly?

    I am not wasting anymore time with folks that take verses of scripture and build to themselves edifices of poppycock and nonsense.

    This statement: “Truth without charity is no longer truth, or in other words, truth is truth only if it is clothed in charity” is complete doctrinal garbage. It’s not even logical garbage. It’s just simply garbage and is not, itself, a truth.

    I’m bowing out of this completely ridiculous conversation now. Good day to you.

  66. Your quotation of Mormon 9:6 is absurd. Are you calling me to repentance? For what, exactly?

    Unbelief, which you declared you were laboring under; that’s what “incredible” means, after all, and Mormon 9:6 is addressed to unbelievers.

    As Joseph taught, I want to stick to my text, to show that when men open their lips against these truths they do not injure me, but injure themselves. To the law and to the testimony, for these principles are poured out all over the scriptures. When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.

  67. Calling me to repentance for refusing to believe in your personal doctrinal dogma is pretty rich. Misquoting Joseph Smith to drive home the point is even more hilarious. Thank you for giving me some entertainment tonight. It was sorely needed.

  68. It is not garbage, Michael. You define truth as fact, probably because you are a product of Western/Grecian thought. But there are other ways of understanding truth. What they are saying has merit, and can help illuminate the nature of God. Truth as fact and truth as charity are both analogies, and useful in their sphere.

  69. “But there are other ways of understanding truth.”

    Either there is an objective reality, or there isn’t. By latching on to the notion of “other ways of truth”, you are also supporting the idea that there is an objective reality. I am merely pointing out that to be logically consistent, the notion that truth requires charity is nonsense. The notion that there are “other ways” of understanding truth really means “I can believe it however I want to”, which leads to all sorts of philosophical absurdities.

    Charity only makes sense in relation to people. “I have charity *for* the Jew” “I have charity *for* the Gentile”, etc. Charity is a spiritual/emotional attribute. Charity can be related to truths, but truths don’t require charity in order to be truths.

    Is it clear? I am well versed in non-Western modes of thinking. I served my mission to Japan and am well read in Buddhist and Zen philosophies. I enjoy learning from different perspectives. But my personal study and research continues to affirm that there is an objective moral order — truth — and it does not require any spiritual/emotional attribute in order to be valid. Truth is its own validity.

    Now, folks can believe whatever they want. But believing it doesn’t always “make it so”.

  70. “Objective reality” isn’t the only definition of truth, Michael. That is a construct of classical Greek philosophy. There are other ways of looking at the world, that truth includes subjectivism. You’re thinking of fact versus truth. Scripturally speaking, truth is that which brings us closer to God. By definition, it considers us and where we are relationally. Even morality is relational. What is moral in one case may not be in another. Objectivity is only one tool among many which we can use to understand truth.

    It is clear by your tone that asserting these things makes you uncomfortable. (At least, your vitriol seems to indicate that.) I really don’t have the desire to argue, just to lend my support to others who have spoken. That being done, so am I.

  71. Vitriol?

    Please show me where the vitriol is to be found. Seriously.

    Good grief.

    Also, let me point out that your ardent position that morality is subjective is itself an objective moral position to take (one cannot escape objective truth), I just happen to consider it false. Is that the vitriol you were detecting?

    Disagreement, even passionate disagreement, doesn’t imply “vitriol”. Don’t be so cavalier about the words you use.

  72. I comment very rarely on blogs any more. I assure you, I choose my words very carefully when I choose to type them.

    Your contentiousness is clear in the mockery evident in words such as “seriously” and “grown up conversation,” among several others.

    Truthfully, as much as it pains me for many reasons, this might be one more blog I never again comment on. Yours is not the only evidence of incivility. And I’m frankly very weary of it.

  73. SilverRain,

    Differences of opinion are not “incivility”. Expressing those differences, even expressing them passionately, is not “incivility”.

    I’ve seen your interactions with folks on blogs before, not to mention other venues, and without fail, you are never tolerant of anyone who doesn’t conform precisely to your own view. Pot, meet kettle.

    I have no problem with differing viewpoints. But by golly, if I see something that doesn’t make logical sense, or is ridiculous, I will call you out on it. That’s what we INTJs do. If your only recourse is to accuse the other person with the superior argument of “vitriol”, then perhaps you *are* well advised to withdraw from online conversations. 🙂

  74. Michael Towns,
    Your admission of going to Japan, an being well versed in Zen and Buddhism, makes you even cooler. What is an INT J? Thank you for understanding the nature of truth. To back you up, I include a scripture from the Doctrine And Covenants…It’ll be interesting if anyone claims that it is just another statement of western philosphy… “DC 93:24 “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, an as they are to come;”

  75. h_nu, I’ve already shared that plain verse with them. It’s too clear-cut for them.

    I’m not too worried about it. In terms of objective reality or truth, I’m in good company: Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Kant, Kierkegaard (to name a few), basically the entire Judeo-Christian tradition, common sense, etc.


    I’m actually glad the conversation drifted from feminism to objective truth. It dovetails nicely with a blog post of mine showcasing how feminists essentially deny reality:

    Thanks for the support h_nu!

  76. Very interesting Michael. I’ve heard the terms but not the collection. Thanks for including your blog.

    I’m pretty introverted as well.
    But, I’m totally opposite of abstract. Details are the most important to me. Some people say “the devil is in the details”, but I think “God cares about the details.”
    I’m also pretty opposite of you wrt feelings. I feel a lot. But I’m certainly not convinced by other people’s emotions, so I guess that makes me thinking.
    Probably judgment too.


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