Today I posted a comment on a blog post about Mormon Feminism sincerely asking other Mormon women what they believe are the innate differences between men and women that warrant our different spiritual and ecclesiastical roles. One person responded, “Well if you don’t want to rely on the Family Proclamation…” before delving into the rest of her answer.
Many months ago I posted a comment on my own blog confessing to my difficulty with the parenting role the church assigns to me because of my gender. A friend and reader responded by referring me to a talk by a church authority articulating gender roles in the exact same manner I had just expressed frustration with.
Many years ago I confessed in a college-level church education course that I didn’t understand how God could have asked the early Mormons to practice polygamy. My instructor told me to “pray about it” and that one day I would understand.
Here is some relevant background information you might find handy when engaging with a member of the church who has questions about certain highly controversial aspects of our history, culture, and doctrine.
We want to rely on the teachings of the church. We have consulted our scriptures and read our conference talks and articles. We have prayed, oh Lord we have prayed. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here asking questions. When I have trouble understanding why gender roles in the church are the way they are, the Family Proclamation is not going to solve my lack of understanding. It is the source of my lack of understanding. When I become frustrated trying to conform to my prescribed role, a talk about the importance of motherhood is not going to solve my frustration. It is the source of my frustration. When I express opposition to religious practices that my heart and mine tell me are not from God, prayer is not going to bring me back in line. It is the reason I am falling out of line.
It is insulting to presume that the unorthodox believers, the agitators, the so-called radicals, are starting from a place of opposition to the church. We are starting from a place of faith and love. I know women who went to the temple to find God and came out in a tailspin. I know Sunday School teachers who delved into Mormon history to better serve their wards and came out shocked. I know I turned to scriptures and to the leaders of my church to confirm my divine worth as a daughter of God and came out ripped in half. God might love me, but the institutional church does not.
It is insulting to assume that we do not spend hours on our knees, praying for clarity, for guidance, for strength to become perfect people because then, maybe then, we might see as you do. Praying for absolution when we fail. It is insulting when you pity us for this trial of faith when it is not our faith that is lacking, and the only trial is living in an unjust world.
We all have more to learn. If you have information about or insight into one of these issues, please share it. I’d especially love it if you explain how the information shapes your perspective or how you came to your view of things. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because you don’t have all the same questions, you must have all the right answers.