What LDS Women Get?

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When critics of a religion call out for change, one is tempted to question their motivation. The video below sets us up to hear what it is that LDS women get in the church. The specific context relates to the October 2015 Conference and the dismay one women, Jamie Hanis Handy, felt as she heard Elder Gary E. Stevenson describe his experience being called as one of the apostles.

It’s frustrating to hear her speak of the reality of what it means to be a woman in this faith. I think it’s her intention to let other women know they aren’t alone in feeling like they belong to a man’s church but I’m curious what this audience thinks she is trying to say, and why do you think she’s saying it?

The audio is compiled from episode 576 of the Mormon Stories podcast.

(Via Thoughts on Things and Stuff)

2 thoughts on “What LDS Women Get?

  1. Sister Handy is trying to describe a feeling of futility many of us have experienced at one time or another in the church. I don’t know that she is trying to argue a point, more just explaining how she has come to this view and her feelings of discouragement.

    Culturally we are still shaking off the idea that a woman’s identity is dependent on the dominant male in her life (father, husband, son, etc.). Theologically we still have vestiges of that philosophy. Although we know Heavenly Mother exists, details about her are considered inconsequential – our relationship with Heavenly Father is paramount.

    We are instructed doctrinally that our highest calling in this life is that of a mother. Men are similarly instructed that their highest calling is that of father, but culturally we have evidence to the contrary. Men are revered for their contributions to church and community – contributions outside the home. Prophets and apostles are noted for spiritual contributions, not for their prominence as patriarchs in their families. Women are still ofen rebuked by both men and women for desires to make contributions outside the home – only if motherhood is unavailable is it considered acceptable. Examples of faithful women in the church (Lucy Mack Smith, Mary Fielding Smith, Eliza R. Snow, etc.) almost always have familial association to prominent male leaders (mothers and wives). Prophets typically choose their own mothers for female examples of righteousness. (An important note is that many women are very comfortable in this view of motherhood – this is where their talents lie and where they feel most fulfilled and can make their greatest contribution. Those women cannot fathom why other women may feel desires to make geater contributions outside the home, so they see those desires as misplaced.)

    A mother’s faithfulness is considered the foundation for the faithfulness of her children, like in the story of the stripling warriors. That leads to the mistaken belief that if a child has a weak testimony or leaves the church, the mother’s faith was clearly deficient (that’s where Sister Handy goes into the idea that even some of Heavenly Mother’s children fell away – did that indicate she was a failure?). Righteous children are evidence of a woman’s success.

    The case of Elder Stevenson shows that a woman’s primary role is to support her husband’s public endeavors, even when she has no say in what those endeavors might be. She’s supposed to be happy to be along for the ride. Churchwise, women are dependent on men for saving ordinances. Eve accesses those ordinances through Adam, just as we access the highest ordinances through our husbands (endowment and veil ceremony as examples).

    Obviously I’m not wild about a lot of these doctrinal and cultural assumptions, but I’m confident that we’re working with some very limited knowledge. I believe further light and knowledge will clear up the more disturbing elements, but I’m not expecting it to happen anytime soon.

  2. My intent was to convey that our church adopted the cultural attitudes about women in the 1830’s and then codified it to be DOCTRINE.

    It is culture that keeps our women of all ages only hearing about the “gifts heavenly father has given them” and “how pleased heavenly father will be”. If we have a mother in heaven, she should be presented in the same way we present a mother and father in the home today.

    “your heavenly parents are proud of you”

    “your heavenly parents have blessed you with talents and gifts.”

    to continue in ignorance of 50% of deity and then demand that girls must become like her — meaning they must become-INVISIBLE, is the recipe for depression, loss of hope, isolation, loneliness and more.

    Why is motherhood so important, but clearly not for our heavenly mother? These questions need to be asked. Ask and ye shall receive.

    Why won’t our leaders ask?

    Instead, rumor, misinformation and polygamy cloud the discussion and women feel isolated.

    Our culture needs to adapt. Our young women shouldn’t have to chant “we are daughters of a heavenly father who loves us and we love him”

    Our relief society should not have as a theme, “We are beloved spirit daughters of God”

    These statements should be considered apostasy as they deny the existence of eternal families and eternal marriages. They deny the existence of a heavenly mother.

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