Friday, May 25, 2007

God is smarter than you

Given the sudden turn in comments in my last thread, I decided to throw out a quick thought.
  • God knows everyone personally.
  • God knows them better than you know your best friend, spouse, or children.
  • You are smart enough to recognize your friends, spouses (for the Mormons), or children as individuals--you do not judge, bless, or discriminate against them based on some arbitrary classification beyond their control (e.g. race, gender, etc.)
Ergo, God would not judge, bless, or discriminate against you, or blacks, or women, or Egyptian children, based on arbitrary abstractions of society (e.g. race, gender, etc.)

So, if you want to know if a concept is really divine in origin, ask yourself: Would I be just as happy if the blessings/withholdings were reversed? If my bishopric and church leaders were always non-white or always women? If I had to pledge obedience to my spouse, but she did not have to reciprocate? If you were expected to marry someone you weren't attracted to?

This is a great judge of moral advancement--the ability to act in such a way that you would not mind being any member in a transaction, relationship, or society that you deem moral. In other words, the golden rule, but for everyone.

Instead, we often stereotype: women are better at parenting, men are more authoritative speakers, etc. This obviously isn't true in the whole--every women isn't a better parent than every man. Every man isn't a more authoritative speaker than every woman. Humans rely on these simple heuristics because we're too limited to do otherwise. We can't know everyone. (But we like to imagine we can.)

God cannot discriminate using the simple stereotypes of humans. I don't think God could be so stupid.

72 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

I am glad God is smarter than me. I am glad he knows me personally, and knows me better even than I know myself. I am glad he understands the workings of the universe more accutely than I understand even basic mathematics or accounting.

You are right that God does not discriminate against someone for things beyond their control. He gives every person who ever lives the opportunity to know the truth and to accept or reject it. Has every person had that opportunity in their mortal existence? I cannot say for any known reason that every person has, but I can say beyond all doubt that every person has the opportunity to know it before the judgment.

As for your last comment on the previous thread, when I say I am not "sexist" I mean I do not look down on women because of gender. I do, however, see gender roles as different. For instance, I cannot have a baby, no matter what I can do, I have no such ability. I believe much as SS said, that women do not need the priesthood because of their nature. Men do because of theirs. The idea that genders are the same is not immoral, it is factual. The idea that their roles are different is not sexist, but it is again an observation of nature - which even if you ignore God you cannot ignore differing roles in nature. I see where you're coming from, but I step outside of your prescribed analysis to point out the fallacy of it. Which is the more ignorant (or conversely the more intelligent) approach: to rail again what is natural as wrong, or to observe what is natural and move forward knowing the truth of it, accepting there are laws that govern the world? That question is a more important one to ask yourself in my book.

May 26, 2007 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I have one question to you boys:

When you have a priesthood meeting scheduled on an evening, do you ask your wife if she can please watch the kids like she very likely has to ask you if she has Enrichment Night?

May 26, 2007 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Well, you got me there. I usually don't ask her if she can "please" watch the kids. I just inform her that I will have to be gone on such and such night, for such and such reason, and I ask if that works for her.

In reverse she does the same for me. She'll just ask if I have anything going on. Unless I'm going to be working overtime or something then I know I'll be alone with the kids if she's got something. No big deal as long as she doesn't get her expectations too high, like the kids getting any supper, or their teeth getting brushed before bed, or the dishes being done, or the trash taken out, or the dog taken out, etc.

May 27, 2007 at 2:39 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Generally, my wife really supports me in going to any meeting related to my calling, to the point that she's telling me "you should go, don't worry about me, you should go." There are times that I have taken the whole family along and they've gone somewhere fun while I'm in a meeting, or they've played in another room in the building while I meet and then we go somewhere fun together. If she goes to a meeting, I give her the same supportive urging to go so she doesn't have to ask me. If, for some reason, we're double booked (both required to be there) then we either 1) take the kids or 2) my mother often watches one of them (my son is still in need of Mom for food most of the time at his age). So I don't generally ask, but I also don't expect her to ask me. We both support (i.e., sustain) each other in our callings by being supportive.

For the record, I do a large part of the cleaning in the house, I cook the large majority of meals, and I share in child care duties when we're both home. That's more than many fathers do who work while their wife is a homemaker, but I consider my wife's job harder than mine and I do my best to help out here. So, as I've said, I don't look down on women, I really do consider them equals (or in her case, my superior). I am just thankful my wife wants to be in the home because it is important to both of us that our kids have parental involvement and nurturing as much as possible.

May 27, 2007 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

For the record, I do a large part of the cleaning in the house, I cook the large majority of meals, and I share in child care duties when we're both home. That's more than many fathers do who work while their wife is a homemaker, but I consider my wife's job harder than mine and I do my best to help out here. So, as I've said, I don't look down on women, I really do consider them equals (or in her case, my superior).

Robert,

Since you are a convert to the Church I'm going to cut you a little slack in this regard, and hopefully set you straight.

Haven't they taught you all those sundays in Elder's Quorum your proper role in the household as a priesthood holder? What do you think you are doing by all that cooking and cleaning? You're going to start some kind of sick trend in the Church that the rest of us priesthood holders aren't going to like.

I know it's tempting to help out your wife, but you have to remember that it's part of God's plan for her to do the cooking and cleaning. Women are naturally better pre-disposed to scrubbing out toilets than men. By doing these chores for her you are unwittingly denying her the many blessings that are meant to be hers through this kind of faithful service.

And I know it's easy to be fooled by the Devil and tricked into thinking that your wife is your equal partner in the marriage, so I don't blame you for placing so much value on her intelligence, and spiritual qualities, but you have to keep her inferior gender in perspective when exercising your authority over her and making sure she assumes her proper role in the household.

I hope this helps you out. One good rule of thumb to make sure you are doing things according to the principles of the Gospel that we are taught every sunday in church is to frequently ask yourself this question: Why did the wife cross the road? That's not the point. What's she doing out of the kitchen, and where'd she get the shoes?

May 28, 2007 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Robert, you seem to be confusing nature (which exists independent of human awareness) and roles (which are entirely constructed by people). No, men can't be pregnant. But neither can infertile women--shall we give them the priesthood? Wouldn't that be natural, per your approach to this? Men can have lots of babies in a short time--does that somehow define absolute roles? Of course not--roles are an aspect of culture, nothing more; the huge diversity of cultures (all with the same biological underpinnings) shows just how tenuous the connection is that you're trying to make. Their are lots of matriarchies out there!

SS, anytime you get tired of chopping up straw men, I'd be interested to hear your take ;-).

May 28, 2007 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I believe at least part of my point is that roles are not so stereotypical as supposed by Uj and SML. If that was not made clear, I will make it clear. My wife is not simply a homemaker who does my bidding, who makes sure she has dinner on the table the moment I walk in the door, who puts the kids to bed while I take my time resting from my "hard day" at the office. I am not saying you believe I act that way, but the conclusion seems to be drawn here that being a priesthood holder means dominance. To me, it means very much the opposite. Because I am the priesthood holder, it is my responsibility to make sure that dinner is on the table, that the house is cleaned, and that my kids are taken care of. Because my wife has the harder day, I do my best to take over child care when I get home so she can rest and relax, and I cook because I like to do it and my wife prefers my cooking to her own. We share in the responsibilities for cleaning because it is too much for either of us to do alone but together we can be quite good at it even though neither of us enjoys any aspect of cleaning. SS's point seems to be that by assuming the role of the priesthood holder is to dominate, you suppose that men DO dominate. That is far from true. The teachings of Christ clearly state that the man, in being the head of the household, is to be its chief servant. Absent that teaching, many men might take priesthood power as totalitarian dictatorship, which is an abuse of priesthood power. Women do so much to serve their family already by bearing children and taking the primary role in raising them; we as men need to meet our wives' needs.

As for your comparisons, Uj, again I see your point. It still is not mine to say that priesthood is some right of rulership. Holding the priesthood does not make me better than my wife. We have different roles. I have variously pointed out that I could resent the need I have to hold the priesthood to hold most callings or to even enter the temple when she has no such need to do likewise. I don't, because I don't sit and think of ways to be angry at the nature of the world. I look at how to live with the world the way it is.

Sorry if this post seems non-responsive. It is not intended to be such. Also, my internet was out (probably because of the spreading wildfires here) basically since Saturday night some time.

May 29, 2007 at 5:40 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

SS ~

What's up with your comments on this thread? What exactly are you trying to say, and why? Are you being sarcastic or serious?

Robert ~

"women do not need the priesthood because of their nature. Men do because of theirs."

Why is it always men with the priesthood who say this? You NEED the power to act in God's name because your nature is less WHAT than a woman's? You'd think that if God-Like power were such a grand thing, that women would be the ones wielding it, if what you say is true about our nature being more in line with how God is.

The power to act in God's name is a power (if God exists) that is huge, right? HUGE. So if that's true, why would God give this all-important power to men only, unless it's because they are the only ones able to "handle" it?

If I have a very expensive, powerful Porsche, am I going to only allow my most mature, responsible, and smartest children the priviledge of driving it? Of course.

"For the record, I do a large part of the cleaning in the house, I cook the large majority of meals, and I share in child care duties when we're both home."

Note how you discuss this as if it's a foregone conclusion that these things are hers to do, and you are benignly helping her with her chores. You won't ever hear her tell her friends, "For the record, I do a large part of the cleaning in the house, I cook the large majority of meals, and I share in child care duties when we're both home. I generally don't look down on him, I consider him my equal."

May 29, 2007 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

My comments on that point, SML, about how I share in the duties were in response to your question as to whether I ask my wife to watch the kids when I go places or expect her to ask me. My point is that my household does not operate the way you seem to assume it does in that question. I do a lot to help with the childcare, the cleaning, and the cooking in my home. We share in that role. My point is not to beat my chest here. It is to explain to you that my home is not one where I expect only to work in my office and then go home and have a subservient wife. I'm just not that way. I look at my wife as my partner in many things.

Women have the power to wield the power of God. Again, that's where I guess there is a disconnect. As one high councilor pointed out, priesthood power is not a power that can ever be used to help oneself, but only to help others. I just don't have the same perspective on the priesthood you do at all, obviously. Women have the right to personal revelation, just as much as men do. What is it that you think priesthood power grants to a man that it keeps from a woman? I really want to know.

May 29, 2007 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

LOL. Yeah, I was in a mood when I wrote that. I guess I was just trying to illustrate what I considered an abusrd assumption by being a bit absurd myeslf. By writing what I did was a display of just how ridiculous it would be if I or Robert truly believed and behaved in the way that lots of people assumed just because we are white, male, and Mormon. ( actually I don't know if you are a white guy Robert. ) I'm just guessing you're white since you hold the priesthood. = )

In the effort to cut through the crap here let me say that if one wants to accuse the Church or Christianity, for that matter, of being sexist by today's definition of sexist, they have plenty of ammo to use. There's scriptures admonishing women to subject themselves to their husbands, Church doctrine that states the best place for a woman is in the home, no priesthood for women, polygamy, etc.

If someone wants to pick up that ball and run with it there isn't a whole lot of argument or convincing anyone can do to stop them. Another reason I wrote my absurd comments.

All I can really say is look around at the members you know or have known and tell me if you really believe they are sexist or bigoted. UJ were you a male chauvenist pig until you decided you had these problems with the Church. I'm sure you treated your wife with respect and reverence even as a believing Mormon.

Is it sexist to accept that men and women are different and serve different roles in the household?

In my house, I'm the bread winner. It just turned out that way. I found an occupation that was paying twice as much as what my wife was making when we had our first kid, so the responsibility of home maker fell upon her. I have to include that it's a job she does not begrudge. She considers herself amongst a lucky few that actually get the opportunity in this day and age to stay in the home. We both feel so blessed to be able to do this. I would work as many jobs as it took to continue to live this way.

I guess many people would consider me sexist. I do believe women make better home makers than men. A father just doesn't quite have that nuturing ability that is so strong in a mother. A man is pshychologically driven to be a provider. I don't know if mentally I could handle knowing I wasn't providing. I wouldn't feel like a "man" in many ways if my wife was the one out earning the dough. So call me sexist. My wife doesn't feel dominated, abused, or mistreated by me or my priesthood. Believe me if she ever did, I'd be the first to know about it.

I do consider myself as the head of the household. "gasp" I know. She is my partner, but ultimately the home is my responsibility. If the bills aren't getting paid that's my fault. If the family falls into apostacy it's on me. I DO NOT CONSIDER MYSELF AS A MASTER OVER MY FAMILY. They are just my ultimate responsibility to teach, protect, and provide for. God intended it that way. He instilled in me the instincts and desires to assume that role, and he has thankfully given me the priesthood to help me magnify that role in my family and in the Church. On a primitive level he has designed me with more muscle mass, aggresiveness, testosterone, and a denser bone structure to fill this role.

I know you guys are going to flame me to death, cause I know how all this sounds to people that are going to be extra sensitive and tuned to the issue. But, keep in mind I'm only trying to be open and honest, and in the course I'm forced to be a bit unapologetic. Robert, is making such a better case than I am, and I do agree with all that he has said.

Well, gotta go. My wife is sick of me sitting on the computer. She's cracking the whip and better get going before she really gets mad. = )

May 29, 2007 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert ~

Women have the power to wield the power of God.

How do they do this, in your opinion? Because I don't know what you are talking about.

May 29, 2007 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

What is the power of God to you, then? Women can receive revelation. That is a power. Women can be healed through their faith. That is a power. Women give birth, which to me is a very big example of the power of God - bringing a soul into the Earth by helping the body to form within herself. I guess I really do need you to define the power of God as you see it. From your post on your own site about the three degrees of glory, it seems as though you find him to be a fickle and demanding person with a strict set of rules. I do not see, though, what your idea of priesthood power is, or what the power of God is for that matter. Please explain, lest I grab at straws incessantly.

May 29, 2007 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert, you wrote about the power of God: "Women can receive revelation. That is a power. Women can be healed through their faith. That is a power. Women give birth, which to me is a very big example of the power of God - bringing a soul into the Earth by helping the body to form within herself."

Men can also receive revelation (without holding the priesthood). They can be healed through their faith (without the priesthood). They also contribute to a woman's ability to form a body within herself, something a woman can not do alone.

So....tell me again, exactly why a man is able to receive the Holy Priesthood, the power to act in God's name, while a woman is not. It has nothing to do with abilities and nature of the different sexes, like you seem to say.

I pose these questions to you to help you see it for what it really is. That is difficult to do, I know. The truth is that it is a sexist practice promoted by men, for men, and is dangerous in that it gives unrighteous men (none of you are that, in my opinion) the real message that they are superior to all women.

May 29, 2007 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 29, 2007 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

is dangerous in that it gives unrighteous men (none of you are that, in my opinion) the real message that they are superior to all women.

That unfortunately is something that happens. Sometimes unrighteous men do abuse their priesthood. I believe the Church preaches against it and has even given it a term. "Unrighteous Dominion" I believe. Some piece of crap men do use the priesthood as an excuse to dominate and control. This is something that the Church leadership has preached against quite frequently and vehemently through the years. Even the scriptures ( those old-fashioned sexist, bigoted things ) have warned against the harming and mistreatment of women and children.

It has nothing to do with abilities and nature of the different sexes, like you seem to say.

How are we to know? You may not like it or accept it, but, we do not know the answers to all things. I said earlier that I was the head of my household, but I have to say simultaneously that if I am the head, my wife is the neck that points the head in the right direction.

PS: SML - I'm glad you don't consider us unrighteous. = )

May 29, 2007 at 11:42 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I think SS makes the better point here. I am removing my previous statement.

May 30, 2007 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

SS and Robert,

Uj explains it best and as simply as it needs to be explained:

Would I be just as happy if the blessings/withholdings were reversed? If my bishopric and church leaders were always non-white or always women? If I had to pledge obedience to my spouse, but she did not have to reciprocate?

Can you really look at reversing the roles openly and honestly, and tell me you'd be thrilled to embrace the gospel plan if it were a MATRIARCHY rather than a PATRIARCHY? Can you truthfully say you wouldn't mind it if you and your wife were consistently taught that she presides over you and your family and that she is the only one who gets the priesthood power to act in God's name because you have the ability to pee standing up while she does not? (That's the only biological ability I can think of that men have that women can not, to equate the biological process of giving birth.)

Can you tell me you'd enjoy sustaining the female leaders year after year, and you'd embrace listening to all the female general authorities and apostles and prophets preaching the same messages to you over and over about how you really are equal to the women, and women are encouraged to use their power to preside over you in righteousness and treat you better than they have been?!

You may sit there at your computer and read this and think to yourselves, Lisa only says this stuff because she's jealous of the priesthood power and wants it for herself because she's a ball-breaking feminist. She wants to be a man. The fact is I DON'T want the priesthood. But what if I did? ...What if I did? Why is that so wrong? 12 year old boys get it by virtue of their age and sex alone. A 12 year old girl who's every bit as worthy, righteous, obedient, etc. does not. And only because she's a girl.

If it wasn't a power that sets men above women and give power to one over the other, then why does it scare the crap out of most men at church to consider sharing it with women or to say they think it should be shared equally among all? Why does the thought of having a woman presiding over a meeting or congregation scare you?

I wholeheartedly resent that it has been promoted within the church that women are not suited for priesthood leadership roles, or for holding the priesthood. I've heard this from you too.

I resent that men claim they value their women while at the same time they fully support, embrace, and promote the patriarchy that tells all women from the time they are young girls that their sole purpose in life is to be a mother and homemaker, and anything else they might pursue is not worthy or righteous.

That's bull and you know it. As is the lame argument, "How do you KNOW I'm not supposed to preside because I'm the man? How do you KNOW you aren't better suited for motherhood and homemaking than I am? How do you KNOW that God didn't plan this for you exactly the way it's being played out right now?"

Trust me, I know.

May 30, 2007 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML,

I ask again: what, to you, is priesthood power exactly? I would like to know what it is besides "a chauvenistic construct of men". What power does it grant a man, in your opinion?

May 30, 2007 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I was taught it's the power to act in God's name. And we all know it's the power that enables a boy to pass the sacrament, and be recognized for his achievement of turning 12, 14, and 16. And it is what gives a man the ability to baptize his loved ones and confer upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost. It's the power to bless one's children when they are born, or when they are about to start school. It's the power that gives men the ability to become bishops, high councilmen, high priests, general authorities, prophets, seers, revelators. It's the power that enables men to preside over their families in righteousness. It's the power that enables men only to preside over wards, stakes, missions, regions.

You are able to do all these things and more, Robert, but I can't, simply because I'm a woman.

May 30, 2007 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Oh, I forgot some:

It's the power to determine who's worthy to hold callings, and who's not. The power to decide who's worthy to attend the temple, and who's not. It's the power to determine who may serve which calling and who may not. The power to determine what is taught during Sacrament Meeting, and what is not. How much money the primary is allowed to spend, or not. The power to determine who is most in need of fast offering donations, and who is not. The power to stand in judgement of people who have sinned, and determine whether or not they are to be allowed to remain a member of the church.

I could probably continue if you'd like.

May 30, 2007 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

And Robert, I'd like to know what power does childbirth grant a woman, in your opinion?

May 30, 2007 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

On childbirth:

This has got to be the biggest red herring in the world. By throwing it out there, as if it provided power, the sexist challenges his opponent to say, "Who cares about childbirth," instantly offending everyone everywhere. (What, you're not grateful for your mother?) But I guess I'll take the bait. Every mammal reproduces the exact same way! Pregnancy makes a woman no more special than it makes a female fruit bat special. And, by the way, women don't spontaneously impregnate (to my knowledge). It takes a man. See, so making babies isn't women's work--it's people work. Women just have to put a lot more at risk and do all the work for 9 months.

And when a woman actually tries to exert power over this feature of her body--yes, we're going into the old "choice v. life" debate here--a bunch of men step in to control her!

SS and Robert, you seem very comfortable with the role-assignment approach of the church, and seem to see these as natural extensions of their "nature." (That's the fallacy at the root of my post, but I'll allow it for the moment.) So, do you consider women CEO's as contrary to their nature? Would BYU do better to fire its female professors who keep kids in day-care? Should dual-income homes with children be against the law? Or do you consider these things "progress"?

And finally, I will point out some of the ramifications of the power imbalance that SML has so kindly enumerated. Imagine that you're a young man (or teenager) with a typical tendency to, ahem, entertain yourself. Feeling remorse, you wish to right yourself with God. Now you must place yourself in front of 35-year-old woman, and, quite possibly, describe in some detail what you have done. How does that scenario make you feel? Do you see how it's different from sitting in front of a 35-years-old man? There's a power dynamic here that's clearly missing when two men (or two women) are talking. People are frequently more comfortable with members of their gender when discussing intimate subjects. But that's never an option for a woman.

Even worse, imagine you're a woman who feels guilt after being victimized in some way. If a woman bishop were available, would she ask if you were wearing the "wrong" kinds of clothes, or if maybe you secretly wanted it? These days most male bishops wouldn't ask these things either, but some surely do. Even GA's have suggested that victims may need to repent. I just find it hard to believe that a woman would say something so horrid to a victim. It reminds me of the disparity between male cops and female cops when it comes to believing rape victims--gender often does play a role in interpersonal relationships, even between an authority figure and an underling.

I think the church can improve here. It just takes enough external pressure (which will require mainstream society to improve--there's still progress to be made for women, even in western society). Disappointingly, the moral leadership has not arisen from within.

May 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

And now, for the snarky coup de grace!

When it comes to making babies, who is God favoring here?

A. Risk your life and damaging your body to create up to 15 or so children over the course of 20 years?

OR

B. Create literally thousands of children at no risk to yourself over the course of 50 years?

Of course, I just got it!!! Pre-spiritually-emboddied intelligences (we are eternal, right?) who chose to be females clearly aren't playing with a full deck--I mean, why would they take option A? There's no way they're qualified to act as God's agent! (They can't even go behind a tree and "write" their name in the snow--hellooo!)

May 30, 2007 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Goddamn but I like you, Uj!

May 30, 2007 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I can see what you're saying in calling those things "power" SML. I really can. I think of most of what you listed as "responsibilities" more so than power, though, because having the job of deciding someone cannot go to the temple, or someone can receive fast offerings to help them out, or someone can be baptized or not... that is no small weight to bear. If you believe in revelation, though, the decisions are made by the Godhead and carried out by the priesthood. They are simply the "mouthpiece" if you will. Again, though, we're beating a dead horse. You two disagree strongly with the perspective I have, and that is fine with me.

As for the points Uj makes about giving birth, most mothers I know enjoy the bond they have with their children, which seems to stem largely from the closeness of having given birth to them. Maybe that's not true, but that seems to be the case. There is something so beautiful in that relationship of mother and child, I would not begin to debate whether it is the better or worse end of the bargain. From a rational, cost/benefit analysis, certainly the women are getting the short end of the stick on that. Again, I don't mean to make light of that. I just see it as miraculous, and if you don't, or think they're cheated as such, you have that right.

I do not have all the answers, nor do I ever pretend to. I am happy to know what I know, and to grow in that knowledge daily. I am happier as a member than I was before I was a member. Is it always easy? Definitel not. There are contentions in my family often stemming from my choice of religion. But my parents still see that I am a better man than I was before joining, and I hope my sister sees that. I am not trying to wax poetic in an attempt to divert the issue. I am acknowledging that I could not ever convince you of my point of view no matter what I demonstrate regarding its veracity. I really think I am irritating both of you with my point of view, and I don't intend that. I am not irritated, nor am I disheartened. I just disagree with you. That's okay. You can disagree with me, too. No worries. I have enjoyed the chance to consider other points of view, and to share my own. I hope to find a reasonable way to continue to do so.

None of the points made about priesthood power, though, demonstrates how a man wields it to literally better himself. A man can be healed through faith, just as a woman can, and it does not require that he bear the priesthood. The priesthood was historically withheld from most of society. I still say that it is primarily a function of teaching men to serve - as SS's latest post describes - rather than a way to rule over anyone. Would you really like to be the person who has to tell someone, "I'm sorry, you cannot enter the Lord's temple at this time" or "The church cannot continue to dispense funds to you right now"? Those are both very hard things to have to say to anyone. I can understand wanting the power to give blessings to your children, I really can. Do you not think that a mother praying faithfully for her children has similar ability to achieve the same thing? Again, that seems to be grabbing at straws, but I just don't see the great hindrance there. When I was not yet an elder, my wife certainly found it hard not to be able to ask me for a blessing. We still prayed together for guidance, though, and still received it. Now we just have one other way to determine things. I'm rambling. I will conclude. You both seem like really reasonable, nice people. You've gotten disillusioned with the church, or you just plain disagree with it. So be it. Take care for now.

May 30, 2007 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert,

I never said a priesthood holder wields it to better himself. I said men are given the priesthood by virtue of their gender, with implications they are better or more capable or more qualified than women are to hold the priesthood.

You believe priesthood is primarily given to men to teach them how to serve. Why is it you think women are already proficient in servitude and men aren't?

May 30, 2007 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert ~

Do you not think that a mother praying faithfully for her children has similar ability to achieve the same thing? Again, that seems to be grabbing at straws, but I just don't see the great hindrance there.

If the priesthood is no big deal as you seem to suggest here (a faithful prayer is no different than a priesthood blessing), then why bother having the priesthood at all?

If you could, would you rather be a woman in the church? If given the choice, which would YOU prefer?

Also, I believe a woman who adopts bonds with her children every bit as much as a woman who pushes her child out through her birth canal. But the same bond happens with a MAN who adopts, or watches his child born. It's all the same. PARENTHOOD is the miracle and the bond, not childbirth or the ability to have children, and women and men equally get to enjoy this "miracle." So your argument about the priesthood being equal to giving birth is not so great.

May 30, 2007 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I do not see the priesthood as equal to giving birth. I am not a woman. Would I rather be a woman? The thought has honestly never crossed my mind. No, the priesthood is not "no big deal" but a mother can prayer for her children and through her faith they can be healed. A blessing is speaking for the Godhead in a special way, but it still requires faith from the recipient for it to have any effect. I do think women more naturally seek to help others. That is an observation coming from a man who grew up with a mother like that, a sister like that, and mostly female friends my entire childhood who were often like that. There certainly are men who are naturally drawn to serving others, but they appear more rare in my experience (especially outside the church). The priesthood is a way to teach men to serve others through.

I really do think we've gone back and forth on this same point and it's quite clear that you two think of the priesthood as a power to be wielded and used, whereas I think of the priesthood as a service to be rendered. Probably ten posts from each side of this discussion have centered on your point versus my point, but no ground has been gained between us by the repetition. Do you see it differently? Is there purpose in continuing to rehash it?

May 30, 2007 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

it's quite clear that you two think of the priesthood as a power to be wielded and used, whereas I think of the priesthood as a service to be rendered.

The priesthood IS a power to be wielded, Robert.

From the book "Gospel Principles" (manual for Gospel Essentials class for new members and investigators)...P. 81, lesson on Priesthood...

"What is the Priesthood?

The priesthood is the power and authority of God. By his priesthood power the heavens and the earth were created. By this power the universe is kept in perfect order. Through this power he accomplishes his work and glory, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39).

Our Heavenly Father shares his priesthood power with worthy male members of the Church. The priesthood enables them to act in God's name for the salvation of the human family. Through it they can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern God's kingdom on earth."


It also includes the line (p. 83) "Women who hold positions in the Church as officers and teachers work under the direction of the priesthood." [bold added by me for emphasis of power]

Then it discusses the blessings that come from using the priesthood properly. (p. 84)

"The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever." (D&C 121:45-46)

Can you see how obviously the priesthood is meant to be a power that is wielded? They make no mistake about it in that lesson. And I can remember no such similar words being taught to women about their divine gift...

And you're right. Not even this will likely make you change your mind about how men deserve this gift and women do not. Which is your prerogative, of course.

May 30, 2007 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

I'll sum this whole argument up. = )

If the Church wasn't true, then yes, it would be sexist to only allow men to hold the priesthood.

If someone without faith or a testimony wants to pick that scab, there's plenty of scab for the picking. But, you just keep opening up the wound and increasing its size and seriousness. What started out as simply doubts and questions has become full blown apostacy. No matter what angle Robert or I try to take on the matter, or how patiently we try to explain our personal feelings in correlation with doctrine, you two are set on what you've decided about the priesthood.

In contrast Robert and I are just as immovable on the subject, so I'm not pointing a finger here. I would however like to respon so some points made.

See, so making babies isn't women's work--it's people work. Women just have to put a lot more at risk and do all the work for 9 months.

I have to agree I guess, but I just can't help but to put mothers up there on a pedastel (sp) They sacrifice so much for us. Their role as mothers is vital to society and the human race. I don't care what you say....Mom is special.

And when a woman actually tries to exert power over this feature of her body--yes, we're going into the old "choice v. life" debate here--a bunch of men step in to control her!

What men? the men in congress democratically elected to represent their constituents? Those constituents being men and women who voted freely to put them in power? Last I checked women had the right to vote and run for office. In fact women outnumber men in America so it seems wierd that MEN would last long in congress if they were opressing women by denying them abortions.

People are frequently more comfortable with members of their gender when discussing intimate subjects. But that's never an option for a woman.

That's life unfortunately. Do criminals get to choose who will be on their jury in court? Or the gender of the judge? Or the gender of the public defendant? How many men end up as dental assistants or dental hygenists? I've never met one. I wonder why? I work in a para-military security environment. Currently I am in training to try out for the SWAT team here. Funny thing. There are no females on the SWAT team. Is it discrimination then? Should they change the requirements to make it easier for females to join SWAT? I'm rambling, but just trying to point out there are differences in the sexes, and in the roles they are better suited to filling. But, as Robert said, this point is getting hashed and rehashed. SML agrees enough with you that you stirred her to profanity so powerful is your argument to her.

Even GA's have suggested that victims may need to repent.

Huh? When? I can only guess that would be in the case where a women intices a man to the point of no return and then decides she doesn't want it anymore, after it's too late and then wants to charge rape.

B. Create literally thousands of children at no risk to yourself over the course of 50 years?

Yeah, being a guy rocks! = )

Of course, I just got it!!! Pre-spiritually-emboddied intelligences (we are eternal, right?) who chose to be females clearly aren't playing with a full deck--I mean, why would they take option A?

I've never heard that we got to choose.

Anyway, I just had a thought. Maybe on the otherside, we men have another thing coming. Maybe the women will be in charge in the CK. Which might not be that bad.

Reminds of this old 50s Sci-fi movie starring Zsa Zsa Gabor, called, "The Queen of Outer Space" These three male astronauts crash-land their rocket on Venus to discover it's inhabited by a race of super hot females in mini skirts and strappy sandals. The women immediately capture these poor bastards and enslave them. The rest of the movie is Zsa Zsa helping them hatch a plot to escape the planet of incredibly hot, skimpily dressed, sexually deprived women. At the end as the men are making a brake for their ship, I'm thinking to myself, I'd be the guy that falls down and yells to my buddies, " Go ON! FORGET ABOUT ME! SAVE YOURSELVES!"

SLM - I don't think we are trying to aruge that "Men deserve it and women do not deserve it. But rather it is a difference in roles, not worthiness or deserving.

May 30, 2007 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Robert:

Would you really like to be the person who has to tell someone, "I'm sorry, you cannot enter the Lord's temple at this time" or "The church cannot continue to dispense funds to you right now"?

Maybe she would like to be the person to say, "Yes, I think you're worthy to enter the temple now," or "I just paid your utility bill--we'll get your family back on its feet soon."

Do you feel burdened by holding the priesthood? Or are you happy when you exercise it? Is it, "Oh shoot, I've got to bless me kid now," or "What a privilege to be the mouthpiece of the Lord?" Yeah, we all know the answer. It's great! It feels like being part of a special group! It inspires most holders to do good things that they might not otherwise. Do we really have to push women to the out-group to make that possible?

SS:

If the Church wasn't true, then yes, it would be sexist to only allow men to hold the priesthood.

Or maybe, just maybe, as the original post makes clear, we can discern something about the truthfulness of Church claims by considering whether it is sexist or not. What you are saying (across this entire thread) is 1) sexism is systemic in the Church, 2) the Church is true (and good).

Ergo, sexism is good.

I am saying 1) sexism is systemic in the Church, 2) sexism is bad.

Ergo, the Church is in error.

Comes back to fundamental morals, I guess--I hold humanity as the common denominator, and can point to many instances where religion, gender, etc. were used as a wedge to destroy that link and commit atrocities. You hold Mormonism as the common denominator and justify (anything?) that comes from the system as ultimate morality (currently including sexism, racism and homophobia--tomorrow could bring all kinds of surprises.)

Do criminals get to choose who will be on their jury in court?

Sort of. But not long ago, white criminals in the South could be assured that they would have white jurors, who would see things their way. We are now very careful as a society to make sure that some jurors will probably see the world in a similar way to the defendant. That's a good thing!

Male dental hygienists? Rare, but definitely existent.
Female SWAT members? Possibly rarer, but also definitely existent.

You're falling into the trap of the availability heuristic. You (like all people) place great importance on your direct experiences. But that leads to oversimplification and error.

Yes, there are differences in sexes. One sex has two X chromosomes. The other has an XY set. Some folks have XXX or XXY or XYY. But none of that precludes someone from the SWAT team.

In Malcolm Gladwell's Blink he talks about how there never used to be any female french horn players in symphonies of note. They could audition, but they just weren't good enough. Then they started holding auditions behind curtains, so the jurors could not tell if they were listening to a man or woman. Wouldn't you know it? Women suddenly started succeeding! We bring our biases to the table all the time, especially when speaking in generalizations--most of the "differences" between the sexes are presumed, not actual.

Even GA's have suggested that victims may need to repent.

Richard Scott, in a May, 1992, talk that is otherwise very supportive of victims, added this guilt-enhancing paragraph:

The victim must do all in his or her power to stop the abuse. Most often, the victim is innocent because of being disabled by fear or the power or authority of the offender. At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse. Your priesthood leader will help assess your responsibility so that, if needed, it can be addressed.

(See that, ladies? You have to--I mean "get to"--rehash your rape experience to a man.)

Spencer Kimball, in MoF, wrote that women are better off dead than victims of rape. Does this not imply so degree of guilt for failing to fight "hard enough?"

Did Elizabeth Smart need to repent? She could have run away, but didn't...

Guys

Neither of you have addressed the root point. Outside of the scope of genetics, Man and Woman are generalizations. People use generalizations because that's the best they can usually do. God, if God really knows every one of us, would not use generalizations. Why would God need them? Men and women overlap on all kinds of things. There are women who can't have babies, men who like to decorate and cook, women who join the military or box, and men who eschew leadership. If God sees all as individuals, why would roles exist for these sloppily thought-out generalizations of gender? I hold God as capable of knowing me individually. So God cannot be stereotyping me.

May 31, 2007 at 4:52 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Point taken on the 'power wielded' from the gospel principles manual. Still, that is not how it is used here on Earth in my experience. I do not see men walking around turning dust into bunnies and saying "Ha ha ha, women could never do that!" Maybe that's too flippant. In the act of creation, though, women are definitely involved. If you believe the church is true, then the only way to become exalted (i.e., a god) is to be married, and therefore women are required to reach the place where we as human beings can become gods able to create.

SS is right, though. It is not about women being unworthy to hold it. It simply is a difference in roles. That doesn't make it false.

May 31, 2007 at 5:18 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hiya SS ~

So what stirred you to profanity?!

:) I'd apologize for searing your retinas, guys, but I meant it at the time and no other word fit quite as well.

And if you must know, I like you all. Even if you think women are more suited to being dental hygienists and that priesthood power is completely irrelevant to women's divine lives.

May 31, 2007 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML,

I guess you haven't seen my reply to your comments on another blog. I really do want to know if you'd rather I stop writing on these ex-mo blogs. Since you seem to read this one more often, I'll ask here.

May 31, 2007 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert,

I replied to you on that other blog...but to also answer you here, there's no way in HECK (he he) I'd ever ask you to leave the exmo blogs you frequent. I enjoy reading your writing, and I am immensely enjoying this party we have going on over here at Uj's place.

Thanks for the kindness.

May 31, 2007 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

The "flame" for lack of a better word somewhat surprised me. I had been writing supportive comments all along, and then to get that... just came out of nowhere for me. I don't really care what was said. I just knew it had to be misunderstood so I reread my comment. I could see why it might come off that way if someone had not seen my other comments there, so I clarified. Sorry for the sidebar here, Uj. Just wanted SML to know I responded to her.

May 31, 2007 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

:)

May 31, 2007 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

UJ - as you pointed out there are always exceptions to the rule. I'm sure there are women who like to spend their Saturday nights drinking beer and arm wrestling but it's not going to be common.

Or maybe, just maybe, as the original post makes clear, we can discern something about the truthfulness of Church claims by considering whether it is sexist or not.

That is not the criteria I use to determine the truthfullness of the Church. Like I've said, it's a spiritual process, not an intellectual one.

You hold Mormonism as the common denominator and justify (anything?) that comes from the system as ultimate morality (currently including sexism, racism and homophobia--tomorrow could bring all kinds of surprises.)

I admit the Church and the people within in it, including leaders are not perfect. I do not justify anything that comes from the system, because I recognize many of the programs can have mistakes within them so much has to be taken with a grain of salt. But, I do not conceed to your argument that the Church is sexist, racist, or homophobic.

Where do you get the Church is racist? The Church is in something like 150 countries now.

Those are all modern day, politically correct terms that are used and tossed about in today's society to label people who are in moral disagreement with the "accepted" PC attitudes that are infiltrating our society. I happen to believe that homosexuality is not of God and to engage in it is sin. So how convenient that someone can slap the old homophobe label on me, and in this society immediately put me on the defensive with one word. I don't hold some kind of irrational hate for gays, but just because I believe the act to be against the teachings of the Gospel I am immediately given the label.

It's funny how often you see those three labels in today's world. I keep coming back to this, but here I go again. There are things in the Church that may not seem right or correct on an intellectual level. Polygamy for example. So it comes down to your personal level of faith and testimony.

You have decided for yourself the Church isn't true. It's easy to sit back and pick at everything and point out flaws. It's even fun mental excersise to debate it, but sometimes after all is said and done, defenders of the faith are put in a position of throwing our hands up and saying, "you just gotta have faith sometimes". I know it must seem like a cop-out, but that's the way it goes I guess. Like you said, it's a difference of morals.

In reference to Richard G. Scott's comment:

You assume that any reference to abuse is rape but there are many types of abuse that comes in many subtle forms.

At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse.

This is interesting. But, I find the phrase "degree of responsibility" as key. I think it may be in reference to knowingly putting ourselves into positions where abuse may occur and ignoring the Spirit prompting us otherwise. I will toss out a hypothetical. A youg woman goes to a frat house alone for a party. She's the only female there. She decides to get drunk with all these rowdy guys she doesn't even know. Meanwhile the Spirit is screaming at her to get out of there, but she wants to be popular and liked so she ignores the promptings. The next thing you know she's passed out. She wakes up later to realized she was raped while passed out. I would have to agree that in a case like that the victim "shares some degree of responsibility" for what happened to her. Ultimately the responsibility for rape is on the rapists, but maybe she needs to repent for being so stupid. = )

May 31, 2007 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

SS ~

Are you kidding about the church not being racist?? Really??

Um, let's see. There was that whole Blacks not being worthy to hold the priesthood thing (even after Joseph Smith had given the priesthood to Elijah Abel) which was promoted and maintained until 1978. This was typical racist belief which only lifted because of the changing attitudes in America. I can guarantee you that if slavery or segregation were still practiced here today, your God would still be banning his Black children from holding the precious priesthood (and thereby withholding Celestial exaltation from them as well) and it would be accepted by you as just and right.

And there were the many racist comments made by Brigham Young (please leave the "he was speaking as a man, not as a prophet" out of this)...puke. BY was not a very admirable individual.

And there was President Kimball talking about the "Lamanite" children who were sent into white LDS homes and how they became "white and delightsome" over time as they shed their heritage and embraced Gospel goodness finally. As if skin color changes miraculously according to righteousness. Oh, wait! That's true if you believe the bible literally. I forgot.

And as if the Holy Ghost warns you every single time someone's about to harm you. Yep. That raped girl deserved fully what she got. Too bad, so sad, she didn't heed the warnings or use common sense in assuming that her body would not be violated if an opportunity presented itself to some creep who felt entitled.

I hope for your daughter's or wife's or sister's sake that they are never raped, beaten, sexually harrassed at work, or violated by their great uncle or best friend's dad or husband...because who knows WHAT you might assume about those women then!

You have NO IDEA how much restraint I just showed in not swearing. Holy jeebus, SS.

May 31, 2007 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

UJ - as you pointed out there are always exceptions to the rule.

And thus, to a God who knows the concrete (transcending the abstract, if you will), the rule would not exist. We like the rule because we can make assumptions, like, I won't take a blind date to a WWF wrestling match. But God would know whether she would enjoy that or not, and might take her. Her gender wouldn't be an issue in the decision. See how that works?

That is not the criteria I use to determine the truthfullness of the Church. Like I've said, it's a spiritual process, not an intellectual one.

I consider the oneness of humanity a spiritual truth. You consider the Church teachings a spiritual truth. That's what I was saying.

Where do you get the Church is racist?

Good question. I'll put it in my next post.

So how convenient that someone can slap the old homophobe label on me...

Interesting response, and I will now take your rhetorical device literally. It's actually not an old label, as far as I know. It's a new one. It arose because society finally achieved a higher state of moral awareness for the suffering of those predisposed at a level beneath their control (this is the case whether you call it an illness or a genetic trait) to same-gender attraction. Just to head off your likely response to the above--I'm not saying a homosexual person can't practice abstinence, but that most heterosexuals do not, in the least, feel a desire to be homosexual. It doesn't seem to be something you choose to feel. And a phobia is not a hatred--I never said you hated gays.

You assume that any reference to abuse is rape but there are many types of abuse that comes in many subtle forms.

I didn't say that, nor do I. That's a easy one to refer to, but obviously there are other kinds of abuse. I can't think of any where blaming the victim is helpful.

Meanwhile the Spirit is screaming at her to get out of there, but she wants to be popular and liked so she ignores the promptings.

What's the Spirit doing at a frat party?!? I thought that guy skeedaddled at the slightest whiff of disagreement or disobedience. Sounds like he's out past his curfew...

She wakes up later to realized she was raped while passed out. I would have to agree that in a case like that the victim "shares some degree of responsibility" for what happened to her.

SS, this is wrong on so many levels. So many levels. People who are sleeping cannot be held responsible for what people do to them. I mean, if you can't see that, I don't know what to say. Maybe she should have killed herself a few years earlier to prevent being assaulted while in college...or as a seven-year-old to assure passage to the CK. That's just so wrong.

Honestly, it wouldn't have been hard for RGS to make this a much better talk (although it wouldn't align with his beliefs, probably): At some point in time, however,...[you may feel] a degree of responsibility for abuse. [This is natural, but do not dispair--God does not hold you accountable for the actions of others.] [Approach] your priesthood leader [with these feelings of guilt] so that...[they] can be addressed [and overcome].

Anyway, the point isn't that RGS was insensitive--it's that women may find other women to be better leaders at different points in their lives. I've read that 1 in 4 women are assaulted in their lives. (This would include everything from rape down to a groper on a bus.) In discussions with women I am close to, I have found this to be true. Since most of these are "minor," the women brush it off and move on, but it still happens. Male leaders (as a rule, you might say) have no way to relate to this.

May 31, 2007 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Males can't relate to abuse or rape? Interesting point. What of men who are raped? What of those who are abused? If you want to turn the table on these issues, then it's ironic you use a generality in saying that men "as a rule" can't relate to the feelings of guilt, or even to the abuse itself. How very wrong.

I believe SS's point about the girl being raped was not that she should feel guilty for being raped while asleep, but that she bears some responsibility for being a woman alone and drunk at a party full of men full of alcohol and raging testosterone. That seems to be his point. I would hope my wife or daughter would never find herself in such a situation because she would be wiser than to go to such a place, and certainly than to go alone.

I really do think it is insensitive to assume that men in general cannot relate to someone simply because they are male. It's pretty hypocritical, really.

This subject is a hot point for me, so I will stop here.

May 31, 2007 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert,

SHE bears responsibility for being a woman alone and drunk at a party full of men full of alcohol and raging testosterone, huh? Would you ever say, "[he] bears some responsibility for being a [man] alone and drunk at a party"? No. Nobody would.

Listen. The feminist inside me rages that society (not even just the church) has created for women a place where SHE must never be alone anyplace, or she's vulnerable to violence. Your comment and SS's comment about such a woman are classic examples of how society actually blames women for the violence that they are victims to. Not one word is said by you about the men who feel a woman passed out on the floor is fair game to violate.

You know darn well that a man can go alone places, and he doesn't have the same fears or vulnerabilities. This is part of the society we enjoy: women are treated as inferior/weaker/abusable, and it is only recently that laws are starting to crack down on the men who feel it's OK to do such violence to them. It makes me rage too. Not to say men/boys aren't victimized at times as well, but you must agree that a woman has to constantly be on guard. Constantly.

And yes, there are plenty of girls and women at church who have been abused sexually, or emotionally, or physically by loved ones, even upstanding priesthood holders admired by everyone at church. How comforting would it be to go to your male bishop and discuss the behavior of his peer with him openly? How much can a girl trust a bishop who has been teaching her over the pulpit to support the priesthood leaders because they are righteous, and this is God's plan for her life? How do you think she feels as she hears these things but her life plays out much differently at home??

But no matter how uncomfortable it is to talk to a male bishop for someone like her, she has no other option, as this is the way it is. It's just the way it is. Accept it or not. Nobody cares.

May 31, 2007 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I wish you three would read "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French, so we could discuss it. It's about some women who grew up in the 50s and how their lives as women played out. It's very very insightful and it touched me deeply as I saw myself and my mother in the characters portrayed there.

It was fascinating. It changed my perception and opened my eyes to women's lot in life. And men's too, really. It is such a good book.

May 31, 2007 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML and Uj,

I do not think a woman bears responsibility for the men's actions. I think rapists are among the most vile human beings on the planet, personally. The frat boys who do the raping should serve time in prison. And hey, while you're at it, tell their cell mate just what they're in for.

My point was mainly to explain SS's point. I do, however, think that a young woman who goes to a frat house and gets drunk is a bit foolish for doing so. She should be on guard. If she has a male friend there to watch out for her, or a female friend, then I can understand it a great deal more. If she goes alone and is the only female there, and then gets so drunk she passes out, then she has been somewhat foolish. If she gets violated, the people who violated her should serve time in prison (not just get kicked out of school), but it does not make her wise to have put herself in that situation. That is the only aspect of responsibility I think she bears. She should take care of herself better than that. I do not think it in any way excuses the young men guilty of the crime against her. I also do not think it is a good thing that society has degraded to the point that such things are so common, or that women are not safe. If I were to happen upon another male raping a passed out female, they would probably have to drag me off him for another reason. I would be beating him within an inch of his life. Like I said, this is a hot button issue for me. I do not like rape. I abhor it. The church did not have anything to do with my opinion of it, though. I have felt this way a long time. I wish my children were always safe, or that my sister was, or my wife, without fear of being raped or beaten or abused. A woman does have to be on guard in such a society. It is terrible and unfortunate.

Now, on a separate aspect of this line of thought: women are not the only people in society who are abused, and men are not always safe to be alone. A man who walks down the wrong street wearing clothes that mark him as wealthy can be attacked just for being there. That's the easy/obvious one. But what about the boy who is at that frat house drunk and passed out and gets raped as part of a hazing? Is he any less a victim? Or what about the young man who gets molested by his uncle? You both seem to ignore that as just as terrible. Ironic, how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking of women as the victims. You two have completely ignored male victims. What about prison rapes? Are they okay?

Or what about the man who dates the wrong girl, and she treats him like dirt. Is he wrong to keep dating her? Probably, but maybe he doesn't and the abuse continues. Maybe he eventually loses all his self esteem. Was he not still a victim? Did he bear ANY responsibility for dating the girl who treated him poorly?

Again, the reason it bothered me is that Uj's comments were so one-sided in assuming that women were the only victims the talk referred to, or that women are the only victims of abuse. It also bothers me that you assume a man cannot be empathetic to a rape victim simply because he's a man. I have been there for female friends after a rape, and they definitely appreciated me being there for them. They did not reach out to their female friends, our mutual friends, but instead to me. Why? Because they know me and know the kind of guy I am. They knew I wouldn't judge them or doubt them. I was just there for them when they needed it.

Okay, I'm getting down from my soap box. I'm sure I sound more than a little irritated here, and I apologize for any harsh words. That is why I backed off the first time.

May 31, 2007 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Are you kidding about the church not being racist?? Really??

Um, let's see. There was that whole Blacks not being worthy to hold the priesthood thing (even after Joseph Smith had given the priesthood to Elijah Abel) which was promoted and maintained until 1978.


This example doesn't show how the Church is racist today, and I have to add I don't believe it was racism, as we see it by today's standards, at the time either.

This was typical racist belief which only lifted because of the changing attitudes in America.

Not just in America, but questions being rasied from within the Church. You guys continue to rail on the Church over this. How about giving the Church some credit instead? You have said the Church needs reform on its policies, but when the Church shows progress in an area and makes a change they you don't give them any credit for it. Instead you say things like, "I can guarantee you that if slavery or segregation were still practiced here today, your God would still be banning his Black children from holding the precious priesthood (and thereby withholding Celestial exaltation from them as well) and it would be accepted by you as just and right."

This is an unfair statement. You can't guarentee any such thing. Your assumption of such only illustrates your own bias and bitterness.

And as if the Holy Ghost warns you every single time someone's about to harm you. Yep. That raped girl deserved fully what she got.

You couldn't have missed my point by any more than this, but thanks to Robert I think that's been cleared up.

And there was President Kimball talking about the "Lamanite" children who were sent into white LDS homes and how they became "white and delightsome" over time as they shed their heritage and embraced Gospel goodness finally.

Same prophet who changed the policy towards blacks. hmmm yeah what a racist!

You know darn well that a man can go alone places, and he doesn't have the same fears or vulnerabilities.

hmmm.. That's the point I was trying to make in your earlier thread about priesthood holders being in the building when there is an activity going on.

Well, so much more to respond to, but I happen to be at work and gotta run.

May 31, 2007 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 31, 2007 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Robert:

You two have completely ignored male victims. What about prison rapes? Are they okay?

Obviously not. I'm not "ignoring" male victims. I'm choosing hypothetical cases (which cannot be exhaustive, obviously) and discussing how a male-only priesthood system probably impairs healing for women more than men.

You missed, undoubtedly because of the limits of my writing ability, that the statement "as a rule, you might say" was drawing a parallel to SS's use of the phrase. If you make the bed of gender roles, you've got to sleep in it.

It's interesting to me that gender-based generalizations in which men suffer (e.g. men aren't abuse victims) bring out such a vehement reaction from you, but gender-based generalizations in which women suffer (e.g. women aren't suited to lead men) do not.

You might ask yourself why that is.

May 31, 2007 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

As far as victims of abuse go...

I can understand going to a bishop if you are a victim, but it's not mandatory. UJ said a male only priesthood does not allow female victims the same chance for healing.

Although a bishop can be helpful in such a situation, and I would recommend talking to him, I don't think it's mandatory is it? If you need to confess your own sins then yes.

A female rape victim should probably be talking to law enforcement and be in professional counseling. A bishop may be a nice support to lean on, but healing should be coming from family and friends. A good RS president could be there as support as well as visiting teachers if desired.

This premise that a bishop is the only one a female victim in the Church can turn to for healing I think is flawed.

You guys are right. He probably can't relate to the problem, but he can set wheels into motion to see that the victim is recieving the help and support she may need.

If I was raped I probably wouldn't go straight to the bishop about it. I don't need to confess it as a sin to him. Unless I was flat drunk at a rowdy sorority (sp) party and felt guilty for bringing it on myself. = )

May 31, 2007 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

The vehemence had nothing to do with "men suffering", Uj. It had to do with being characterized as a rape sympathizer by suggesting I blame a woman for having been raped. I do not. I think a young girl should be able to go to a party and have fun without fear of rape. If she chooses to get drunk there, it should still be a safe environment. It's terrible that it's not, but if she gets raped it is not her fault. She might've considered not going to the party alone, though, or leaving before she got herself so drunk she passed out. The unfortunate likelihood is if there was someone there hoping to rape her, he was feeding her drinks and lying about how strong they were, or slipping things in them to knock her out. That's the reason she should be on guard. The only place she bears any responsibility is in being there and letting herself be so drunk she lost control. If she's young and has never been out drinking before, then I can completely understand how easily that might happen to a young woman. Again, it's still not safe that she did that, but it does not make it her fault that she got raped for it. I would hope they would shut down that fraternity after it happened, personally.

Another alternative to going to a bishop is to go to LDS Counseling, which can be done by women. The church pays for it, so all she might need to say is, "Bishop, I want to go to a counselor. I have something I need to talk about with one that I would feel more comfortable discussing with a woman." Guess what, most bishops would gladly make the appointment. I know that even though the bishop in a nearby ward here was a psychiatrist, he sent a friend of my wife's to a female partner rather than taking her on as his own patient. He saw the conflict and sent her to the appropriate counselor he knew. Go figure. There are definitely programs out there to help people that are not male priesthood only. I just think it's amazing that you never considered any male victims in any example. Do you think it is easy for a young man to tell ANYONE he was raped? Statistics suggest that men rarely report a rape. But again, that's not the only form of abuse that was being discussed. That was my main point. You take one statement and assume it was specifically saying "rape victims, repent." I don't get that from the statement at all, personally. I can see him saying to abuse victims who stay in dangerous situations to get themselves out of it, perhaps, but that's not the same thing. I can certainly see places where someone being abused has some measure of responsibility for it (e.g., two abusers continuing to destroy each other). I just see in your own statements how much you were playing the same gender comparisons you have such a problem with. You still seem not to notice, I guess.

June 1, 2007 at 4:29 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Robert, read my comments again. (That will take a while, I know.). Show me where I said rape is the only form of abuse or women are the only victims of abuse. I never wrote that. The whole context of this discussion is in saying that women, due to the obviously human tendency to gender stereotype, have their access to God in some ways limited to being through men. The point was that most people are more comfortable discussing sexual issues with the same gender, so of course I won't pick men as a case study in this discussion!

I know a lot about LDS Family Services. They are a good option for some people, to be sure. (The church pays on a need-only basis, by the way.) But this is all still failing to address the core point--either the church organization means that sexism is okay, as SS more or less conceded, or sexism is wrong and can be used as a moral law against which the organization of the church can be measured.

June 1, 2007 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

You already know my vote is that the sexism that esists in the church is wrong. Very wrong.

Did you know that women were not allowed for a large number of years (recently) to pray in Sacrament Meeting? Oy.

June 1, 2007 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

*Blush* "Exists" is the proper spelling. Oops.

June 1, 2007 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

The reason I say you seem to think rape was the only form of abuse and that only women are victims of it is how you chose to analyze Richard G. Scott's statement about abuse. You specifically said, "See that, ladies? You have to--I mean "get to"--rehash your rape experience to a man."

That analysis assumes he was speaking specifically to rape victims. There is nothing in the talk to specify rape victims as his audience. He actually makes it clear in the opening that he was speaking to any victim of abuse. He doesn't even specify women. You took that statement and suggested he's blaming women. You also took the Spencer W. Kimball statement and assumed he was blaming women for being raped. Many rape victims consider suicide, and most of those I've known say the very words you're taking as an expression of guilt "I wish I were dead" or "I would rather have died." That statement seems much more connected to how terribly it assaults a woman than suggestive that we should wish she died. It is just a terrible act that can scar someone almost permanently. Because you chose to construe the statements in that way, it comes off that you assume the Richard G. Scott talk was aimed at rape victims, and specifically female rape victims. There is no such connection made by the talk itself, though. He could well be warning people just as I have variously suggested, that if they are part of the abuse then they should repent of their part and move forward.

You're not changing your mind, though. And you don't seem bothered by your own assertions. So be it. I'm ready to move on from this part of the discussion.

June 1, 2007 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

That analysis assumes he was speaking specifically to rape victims.

The analysis makes no such assumption--you made the assumption. The following example will illustrate what actually happened:

SS, Uj, Robert, SML have a big debate about dog-owners not being given the priesthood. Uj mentions a talk by RGS.
RGS: You should not own a hairy animal.
Ujlapana: Poor dog owners.
Robert: Dogs aren't the only hairy animals, you know.

Huh?

Female rape victims obviously fall into the scope of abuse. So I could discuss them in the context of RGS's talk. You have not demonstrated to me where I said that they were the only people being discussed.

You're not changing your mind, though.

On what?

And you don't seem bothered by your own assertions.

My invitation stands. Show me two logically inconsistent statements above (made by me, of course), and I will either retract or clarify one of them. I share my thoughts with others for this very purpose!

June 1, 2007 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

You referred to the talk in response to a question SS asked about when a GA suggested rape victims should repent. This talk did not suggest that rape victims need to repent, but that some abuse victims may have need to repent. By specifically citing the talk as if it referred specifically to rape (which it never did), then you miscontrue the assertion Elder Scott was making. That, to me, is inconsistent. You don't see it that way (as I've said, you're not changing your mind). You're also not changing your mind about the priesthood or the church, certainly not with regard to the rule of "males only". When I say you don't seem bothered by how you are warping the meaning of Elder Scott's talk. You don't seem bothered by suggesting that President Kimball meant a woman who gets raped is "guilty" because he said she might be better off if she'd died. You provide no context for the statement, and I suggested an alternative meaning. But again, I don't want to get into heated arguments. I really don't see a need for it. My points of rebroadening the discussion about abuse stems entirely from your use of a talk that was general in its scope. You act as if it was not meant that way by your statement right after the quote. That is my point in explaining what other forms of abuse or other victims Elder Scott could be referencing.

June 1, 2007 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

The fact that Scott mentions abuse victims in a general way suggests that he's talking about ALL victims, and all kinds of abuse. I certainly imagine he includes women who are raped. And Spencer W. Kimball did too.

So. What of it? The comments made by Scott and Kimball are harmful to some victims of abuse, period. If it harms even ONE victim of abuse, by implying to them in their mind that they are at fault, then it shouldn't have been said AT ALL.

Ugh. A man with the power to act in God's name should be able to know this without being told this.

June 1, 2007 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

I wouldn't go so far to say that I conceded sexism is in the Church and that it's ok. I was conceding that under the definition of sexism you offer up than, yes the Church does appear sexist from the outside on a secular and intellectual level. My little bit about it's ok because the Church is true is my way of just saying that there are things in the Church that may not fit in with the political correctness of today's society. But, to those of us who actually believe in the Church, and are seeing things through our spiritual eyes can see that it is not sexist. The problem is we can't find the words easily to explain that. It's like the old metaphor of trying to explain the taste of salt to someone who's never tasted it before. That's why I've said over and over that it becomes a matter of faith and testimony.

I will give you the point. If you define sexism as excluding someone from participation merely because of their gender, then yes, under that simple definition I guess you can include women being excluded from holding the priesthood.

I don't see it as sexist. Am I wrong? Who's to say that my view point and experience is wrong? I fall back on my beief that God works in mysterious ways. We are not meant to understand all. Some things we must take on faith. Who knows? Maybe there is a female side to the priesthood that has not been revealed to us yet. Maybe the Lord is awaiting us as men to prepare ourselves for such a thing. If that ever happened people like UJ and SLM would just point to the fact that the Church "USED" to exclude women and are therefore STILL sexist.

Or maybe, the priesthood is like "The One Ring" You know how hobbits are more resistant to the possesing power of the ring, while men are more vunerable to its power? Maybe if women were given the priesthood they'd go mad with power like if Frodo had given the ring to Galadriel. "Instead of a Dark Lord you will have a QUEEN! More terrible and beautiful than the foundations of the EARTH!" And men are more like hobbits, better to handle the power and authority. Not because they are better beings, just because.

I can hear the blood shooting out of SML's eyes from here. = )

June 1, 2007 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

I don't care if you call it sexism or not, SS--I am only offended by the transgression of sytemically limiting the potential of one human versus another based on an arbitrary generalization. When that's based on gender, it's called sexism. If you want to define sexism as something else, I'm interested.

June 1, 2007 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

I'm not really trying to redefine sexism, or apply a new definition to justify the Church or make myself feel better about women being excluded from the priesthood.

I am only offended by the transgression of sytemically limiting the potential of one human versus another based on an arbitrary generalization.

How is anyone's potential being limited? From what I understand based on eternity a man will be nowhere without a woman whether he holds the priesthood or not. I guess you could mean being limited from the potential to become bishops, presidents ect.

To you it may seem an arbitrary generaization, but I challenge your premise on that. That's your words and thoughts. How do you know it's arbitrary? I am saying there may be things about the Lord and the way he works that we don't undersand yet, and are not meant to understand at this time. I have faith that God has a reason for holding back preisthood from women, and it's a good reason. I don't see God as arbitrary. I have faith that someday that reason will be made known, and when it is made known it will be perfectly understandable, and people such as yourself are going to be standing there with mouths agape thinking, ohhhh. Same goes for polygamy, and the blacks, etc.

I think you have become too intellectual to be able to accept things on faith. If it can't be explained than it must not be true. That's fine. You have made the choice to rely on your thoughts and the philosophies of other humans. You find what you determine to be faulty with the Church or its past and have concluded yourself to be the final authority leaving no rooom for faith, trust, or testimony.

I hold out that someday these things will be explained, and will become understandable to us all. I look to the "fruits" that I see in the Church. I have two cousins that married black men who are active priesthood holders in the Church. I have had good talks with both men about the whole blacks issue and I can report that they don't feel discriminated against, and share my view that someday these things will be explained. Faith.

June 1, 2007 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

SS ~

If a few people in society hadn't stood up and pointed out openly and vocally about slavery and how it's wrong to keep slaves, then we'd still be running plantations and households with slaves.

I bet the slaveowners during slavery years said the same things you are saying: "How is their potential being limited? I give my slaves full ability to live up to their potential. They are meant to be slaves. It's in their nature to serve others. They don't know anything else. It's laughable to imagine a slave owning his own home, or running a plantation like I do! He'd never survive! Besides, he'd hate having to tell someone what to do, or to work harder. And what if he had to whip someone?! It's just not in his nature to do that. I have total faith that without slavery this country will fall. The South cannot survive without slavery to help maintain the cotton and tobacco harvests. Besides, my slaves don't mind working for me! I treat them with total respect and feed them well! MY slaves don't complain. They are perfectly happy! Just ask them!! I did ask, and they told me they are content. And why on earth would I want to question what works for me??"

June 1, 2007 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

SML -

I can see your point, and you make a good argument, but the obstacle here is trying to reason away faith and a testimony. I realize how you feel. I concede that from a secular point of view one would construe the priesthood organization in the Church as being sexist. But, that's leaving out the important element of faith and testimony. I'm afraid we're all slamming up against brick walls with this argument.

You and UJ have concluded what you've concluded about the priesthood. I wish you could see the goodness in the Church if not believe in it. I wish you could recognize the Church for the positive impact it has on the lives of members and non-members but you seem to be focused only on the negative.

June 1, 2007 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

You are right, SS. The church has many good things to offer, such as community, togetherness, service, direction, and it offers ideal families to be together forever.

But to me it's the same as smoking: Smoking offers a calming effect, togetherness, social unity, fun. But.....those pesky harmful things about both cigarettes and the church matter to me.

They matter.

June 2, 2007 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Been away to the temple this weekend, no internet connectivity, so I missed a bit.

The church is like smoking... interesting analogy.

As for the slavery things, it was already started to be cured because of economics and might well have gone away without a terrible war and tremendous bloodshed. The South was wrong to pick the fight, though, and was soundly punished for its error. That's a whole other can of worms to open, though, and I don't plan to find a can opener.

I do think SS's point was an accurate one, when he asked how a woman's potential is limited by her not holding the priesthood. If you're talking about temporal matters, then it might be easy to see it in that way, but this life is a small part of eternity, and women are not limited eternally by not holding the priesthood. I agree, though, that we're basically pounding on brick walls and there's no real point in bloodying our fists further.

June 2, 2007 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Naw, we're pounding on women's self-worth. But if you think it's pointless, that's OK too.

June 3, 2007 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I apologize for my last comment. It came from feeling like men think the subject of sexism is a waste of time or pointless. I don't know if you actually feel that way, so I apologize for my comment.

June 3, 2007 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I think the disagreement hasn't moved one inch on either side on the matter, regardless of what the sides are. When no progress is being made in a discussion after it goes round and round like we have been, then I don't see a lot of point in continuing. I also don't like the turn it took, but I've been over that. I don't have a problem with women's self worth. I have a very high opinion of women generally. There are certainly women I have a low opinion of, but if we're talking in generalities and stereotypes, I think highly of women. But we're not really discussing that, either. Again, that's why it's a horse who's so beaten dead, kids are already using the glue made from him on their collages.

June 3, 2007 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

And I have a difficult time showing or describing to you all what exactly it does to a woman...what it did to ME to grow up at church knowing that I'm less important than men are. It's a tough thing to pinpoint, but it's real. It's reinforced in almost all aspects of church belief. Those prophets and General Authorities who give talks describing how men should treat their wives as if they are equal only reinforce the idea that we really aren't.

But whatever. I agree the horse is being kicked. Wonder what a better solution would be for the women of the church. Obviously just talking it over gets us nowhere, especially when most men at church don't see it for what it is, and most women embrace the system as their due, and what is expected of them by God.

June 3, 2007 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Ironically, you two say that the church talks too much about it and thus reinforces the roles. My wife said to me, in discussing it today, how maybe the brethren need to say more about it.

June 3, 2007 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

The BRETHREN need to say more about it?

The fact there are "The BRETHREN" is the problem, in my opinion.

It's the BRETHREN who rule, who decide, who preside, who are advised to exercise their authority with righteousness and service to others...it is the BRETHREN who know that their "dominion shall be an everlasting dominion"...

I'm not talking about them discussing how some women are treated poorly by their husbands and how those husbands need to remember to treat their wives, children, and pets with benevolence. I'm talking about the dominion of the men over the women, period. The entire church structure and everything we do at church revolves around your dominion. Every. Single. Thing.

I know it's difficult to look at the structure and find fault, especially if you are a man enjoying the benefits of the power you are granted to wield in benevolence over your family.

Imagine how difficult it would be if suddenly you had a church to live in where women did all the leading, and a woman was who you prayed to, and women were the only ones allowed to act in the name of Goddess. Imagine if those women were told often publicly to treat you better, because theirs is the power, and they thereby have a responsibility to treat those they preside over with love and tolerance. Imagine if only women were able to bless the sacrament bread, and were the only ones able to baptize others, and the only ones able to offer blessings to their children. Imagine if they were the only ones able to determine your worthiness. Imagine if you were taught from your youth up that you should support and embrace the system where women rule, or else you'd be sinning.

Would you enjoy that life? Honestly?

June 3, 2007 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

She didn't use the word brethren. I took that from you two. She just said "They don't say enough about that, maybe."

June 3, 2007 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML,

If that were the doctrine, then I see no reason it would bother me. I really don't. Women being in positions of leadership don't bother me. I don't have a problem with women, as you seem to suppose. It just isn't that way. I've said it before: the priesthood to me (and even the offices of leadership you're focused on within it) is entirely focused on service. Women already serve people. Priesthood leaders act as agents of the Lord here, but they do not themselves truly decide, if you believe in the nature of revelation. But then, you don't anymore. Nor does Uj. I can point these things out a dozen ways, and it won't change what you feel. It won't make you rejoin, either. It just gives you more to contend with, but I see very little new information coming from either side of this matter.

June 3, 2007 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert,

"Women already serve people."

Don't men already serve people too? Of course they do. But they also get the priesthood, because they are men. They even get it BEFORE they become men. And they get it before they become fathers, thereby fulfilling the same divine role women get as the only one available to them.

Let's move on to racism...

June 3, 2007 at 10:18 PM  

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