Zelophehad’s Daughters

Defining “Patriarchy”

Posted by Vada

In recent threads people have commented on various words that the church redefines for its own use. While most are words I know are redefined by the church, one word which was often included I’d never seen on a similar list, or thought of myself. Patriarchy. Yes, I’m quite familiar with how the dictionary and the world define patriarchy (I studied anthropology). I just wasn’t aware that the church defined it differently.

Of course, I then read through Elder Oaks’ talk on presiding in the home v. presiding in the church, and came across this gem:

A most important difference in the functioning of priesthood authority in the family and in the Church results from the fact that the government of the family is patriarchal, whereas the government of the Church is hierarchical.

Since patriarchy is hierarchical, obviously Elder Oaks, at least, is redefining the word. But how?

I really haven’t ever come across the idea that patriarchy is defined differently in the church than outside it (yes, I obviously haven’t been on the bloggernacle long enough, because this discussion has probably occured many times). So (and this is a genuine question), how do you define patriarchy? How do you think the church defines patriarchy, and how does it differ from the world’s definition?

To assist with the discussion, I thought I’d include a dictionary definition:

A family or society in which authority is vested in males, through whom descent and inheritance are traced.

59 Responses to “Defining “Patriarchy””

  1. 1.

    i define it as an order wherein the man presides. :)

  2. 2.

    LOL. I suppose I was asking for that :)

    But seriously, I’d love to keep this separate from the presiding arguments, if at all possible.

  3. 3.

    Since patriarchy is hierarchical

    Is it? How?

    obviously Elder Oaks, at least, is redefining the word.

    For him to “redefine” it, there would have to be an accepted definition to begin with. In fact, there are various definitions. The LDS Bible Dictionary notes that, “The word is of Greek derivation and means father-ruler; the Hebrew word it translates is simply father.”

  4. 4.

    Vada, I’m going to beg your forgiveness right now. You’ve tempted me beyond my ability to bear, so ban me if you must, but please take my response in the spirit of good-natured ribbing, because that is how I mean it.

    What is patriarchy? That is the wrong question to ask, because there are actually many patriarchies. You are free to choose whichever one is most meaningful to you personally and disregard the others. Of course, there are many negative things associated with the term itself, but that is due mostly to unfounded criticism by people who “just don’t get it” and who need to “have their conciousness raised”. Every now and then somebody digs up an old quote which attempts to justify the idea that women are simply accessories to men, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

    It might be helpful to think of patriarchy in different waves. First, consider the pictures of the old-time Mormons. The men had ZZ Top beards and multiple wives. The women considered it their duty to please their husband, and his word was law. Let’s call this first wave patriarchy. It persisted well into the 20th century, and was eventually replaced by second wave patriarchy. This model is best represented by the Father Knows Best style of family leadership. Pops is a benevolent dictator whose wife (singular), having already prepared a delicious meal, wears a dress, earrings, and makeup when she greets him at the door as he comes home from work. Third wave patriarchy is the sort that is prevalent among church members today. It is characterized by a man whose pacycheck arrives at his wife’s bank account via direct deposit. After the bills are paid, the wife still controls 75% of the discretionary household spending but nevertheless thinks she is oppressed somehow. You can recognize this couple when they shop because he walks the requisite five paces behind her and pushes the shopping cart. Under the regime of third wave patriarchy, it is entirely reasonable for a wife to hand her husband the conference issue of the Ensign opened to a talk entitled Rise Up, and Be a Man and request that he study it. In fact, she probably already has the good parts underlined.

    So, that’s patriarchy in a nutshell – you can take your pick. Whenever anybody tries to impugn your favorite brand, you can easily dodge the accusation by attributing whatever malevolence may exist to another brand or wave. It’s great fun – you should try it!

  5. 5.

    Naismith, patriarchy does have an accepted (wordly, at lest) definition, and it is hierarchical. There are four definitions on dictionary.com:

    a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father’s clan or tribe.

    A social system in which the father is the head of the family and men have authority over women and children.

    a form of social organization in which a male is the family head and title is traced through the male line

    A family or society in which authority is vested in males, through whom descent and inheritance are traced.

    Three of these definitions say that the men have the authority, the other says simply that men are the head. A hierarchy is “any system of persons or things ranked one above another.” If one person has authority, or is the head, then if there are others he has authority over them. This is hierarchical.

    I’m not trying to say that the church supports this definition of patriarchy. I am trying to make it clear that in the world’s definition of patriarchy there is also a hierarchy. That’s why I’m curious what the church’s definition is — or at least what various church members think it is.

    And while patriarch can be father-ruler or just father, this is not the same thing as patriarchy.

  6. 6.

    I get the sense that most people in the church feel that Patriarchy means ‘family as the basic unit of society.’ Also since most LDS people don’t see ‘father presides’ as putting men above women they don’t feel that Patriarchy is a set up where authority is vested in men but, rather where authority is equally vested in parents.

    With that basic understanding I can see how many members would scratch their heads at the idea that Patriarchy is bad for women- because in the LDS understanding there is a man+woman team at every level of power. I have no opposition to a family based style of government where all authority is vested in an equitable man+woman team.

    However, polygamy throws a wrench in that whole equitable man + woman team idea. We also still cling to the notion that inherentence is traced through strictly male lines and that children ultimately belong to their fathers (possibly because of polygamy). This is troubling to me considering the understanding that children are the wealth of the eternities.

  7. 7.

    In my humble opinion, you’re straining at a gnat.

    Forget dictionary.com and Oxford.

    “the government of the Church is hierarchical” means that in church matters, each deacon is accountable to the Deacons Quorum President is accountable to the Bishop, who is accountable to the Stake President, who is accountable to the Area President, who is accountable to one of the apostles, who is accountable to the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who is accountable to the President of the High Priesthood, who is accountable to God.

    “the government of the family is patriarchal” means that the children are each accountable to the father, who is accountable to God.

    That’s what I understood from the words of Elder Oaks. It’s a simple model, but it works for me. :)

  8. 8.

    Mark IV
    No one has responded to you, so I will!
    I really liked your comment. I always furrow my brow as I read these threads, trying to decide which side of the debate seems right to me.
    But, then your comment is delicious and funny. Do you write for a living?
    I enjoyed your description of the latter-day patriarchy. Do you have a name for it? (I liked Father Knows Best) maybe (Father, who’s that? or Did Dad bring home pizza?)
    Anyway, that brings me to a slight threadjack . . .
    It seems that the church raises girls to be spiritual leaders (from Primary Achievment Days on up) and boys to be campers (from cubscouts on up). I understand every ward is different, but there seems to be a vast chasm between the way girls and boys are raised to percieve and participate spiritually in the church. I do not discount the quorums of the priesthood, but last Sunday I overheard the Teacher’s quorum report (my husband is YM Pres, btw) about who could bench press more than whom at their weekly activity. Yikes!
    Anyway, threadjack aside, I think that plays into your point of the wife having read and underlined the conference talks her husband needs to work on.
    (the irony of course is the wife should be more humble, etc.) But, I think there is still some support for my argument.
    (Vada, my apologies, but this is one of my soapbox issues, perhaps another thread, if others are interested? . . .)

  9. 9.

    mistaben, where are the women in your models? :)

    I have to confess that Elder Oaks’ claim that patriarchy is not hierarchical gets me quite confused, though I think that Starfoxy is probably right to say that patriarchy usually ends up being short-hand for “family is the basic unit.”

    I think what often throws a wrench in my understanding of patriarchy is my feminist training. In feminism, “patriarchy” is short-hand for “society being unequally and unfairly structured along gender lines,” and so “patriarchy” becomes something that feminists fight against. It’s hard sometimes for me to make sense of “patriarchy” in a church context combined with “patriarchy” in a feminist context.

  10. 10.

    You raise an interesting question. To me, Elder Oaks does seem to define patriarchy somewhat differently from the traditional definition. Otherwise, his assertion that “a most important difference in the functioning of priesthood authority in the family and in the Church results from the fact that the government of the family is patriarchal, whereas the government of the Church is hierarchical” seems mistaken (or trivial). As you note, patriarchy is (at least as normally defined) a form of hierarchy in which the father (usually biological, but sometimes used in religious settings) rules. Elder Oaks’ talk in its entirety, however, seems to suggest a more complex version of patriarchy than the dictionary’s. Immediately after the section you cite, he adds the following quotations:

    The family proclamation gives this beautiful explanation of the relationship between a husband and a wife: While they have separate responsibilities, “in these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102; emphasis added).

    President Spencer W. Kimball said this: “When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 315).

    President Kimball also declared, “We have heard of men who have said to their wives, ‘I hold the priesthood and you’ve got to do what I say.’ “ He decisively rejected that abuse of priesthood authority in a marriage, declaring that such a man “should not be honored in his priesthood” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 316).

    The way I read it, Elder Oaks is very quick to criteria for a good version of LDS familial patriarchy, most notably that the husband and wife are to be equal partners. I especially find Elder Oaks’ examples of family patriarchy (or government) interesting. After his father’s death, his mother ruled the house– it would seem because LDS patriarchy consists of both parents. He doesn’t state this explicitly, and in other places he says that the father is to lead the family. Often, I think we (I say this hesitantly because I am male and realize that I am undoubtedly prejudiced in my perspective)–if only for pragmatic reasons–want to know who has the last say in leadership decisions. And that, in a patriarchy, falls to the male.

    But the way I read Elder Oaks’ talk, I think he creates room for a double-gendered patriarchy. Maybe a better way to explain LDS family patriarchy would be with a neuter version of ‘archy. In Portuguese and Spanish, the word for ‘parents’ is the same as the word for ‘fathers’. Not wanting to open a very large can of worms about the gendered-nature of language, I think that our language may not have a good word for the equal-partner-archy that should exist in families. That said, I think we are far from the equal-partner model in most marriages and families. Part of that is undoubtedly cultural and, I believe, should be changed (and has already changed in many situations). Part of that, however, seems closely related to the priesthood leadership model of the church. Often the father leading the family seems to turn into the President-Counselor model: the husband seeks the wife’s counsel but ultimately makes the final decision. So, maybe that’s how patriarchy in the family does, or at least should, differ from the hierarchy of the church. We need to rethink ‘patriarchy’ as a ‘husband-wife-equal-partner-archy’ instead of the husband president/male counselor model.

    I’m working through these thoughts as I go, so please help me work through some of these ideas–both elaborating and criticizing. There seems to be something different at work here than traditional patriarchy, but I may be reading too much into his examples and characteristics of a good patriarchy. Also, sorry for the length of this post. In the future, if there is a future, I will try to be more concise in my postings.

  11. 11.

    OK, so I already want to criticize my post. I said:

    Often, I think we (I say this hesitantly because I am male and realize that I am undoubtedly prejudiced in my perspective)–if only for pragmatic reasons–want to know who has the last say in leadership decisions. And that, in a patriarchy, falls to the male.

    I think that is a bad way to read and shows, more than anything else, how I have a hard time articulating a true equal-partnership model. I think often we resort to the father has the last say simply out of laziness and tradition (an incorrect one perhaps). Patriarchy (in the both-gendered sense) should really be an equal-partnership. And I think that my suggestion that it may only be for pragmatic reasons is misled. I also probably shouldn’t have said leadership decisions (unless that is clearly parents leading, not father leading), but rather decisions. Thanks.

  12. 12.

    Wen I first heard the Proclamation on the Family, it seemed very empowering to women. It seemed to me that mothers were accountable to God, not their husbands, for the specific responsibilities they were given (nurturing the children).

    So I don’t see the mother as reporting to the husband, but rather as a co-worker with the husband, each reporting to God. That’s exactly why a mother can preside if her husband isn’t around–it’s a lateral move, not an upward move.

    So I think the power flow and accountability in LDS families is very different than the power flow in worldly patriarchies. But I’m not sure if the worldly definitiions may be somehting of a corruption.

  13. 13.

    I once heard our resident CES coordinator teach that the earliest definition of “patria” was family or parent, not father. And “arch” had to do with protection (as in an umbrella keeping the rain off) and covering (as in caring for). Thus, his definition for “patriarchy” was “parents protecting and covering their children.”

    I’m not an etymologist and I have no idea if his word origins are correct, but I like the final interpretation he came up with–it makes the most sense to me.

  14. 14.

    No worries about the length, Fred!

    “I think that our language may not have a good word for the equal-partner-archy that should exist in families.”

    How about “marital heterarchy”? I do realize we can change the definition of words, but this term has the advantage of already being used to indicate a partnership in which power is distributed equally.

    (That is, assuming we don’t want to advocate “heresiarchy” . . .)

    “After his father’s death, his mother ruled the house” (emphasis added).

    This is a sensible extrapolation, given Elder Oaks’ statement:

    “When my father died, my mother presided over our family. She had no priesthood office, but as the surviving parent in her marriage she had become the governing officer in her family” (emphasis added).

    But I don’t exactly understand what he means. As I read this passage, “presided” is logically connected to the phrase “governing officer.” So when a mother presides in the home, it means she governs. But when a father presides, his role has nothing to do with governing (/authority/power)?

  15. 15.

    …your comment is delicious and funny.

    Jessawhy, thanks for the kind words.

    Do you write for a living?

    No, and count your blessings for that. The only things I write are computer code, which I do for a living, and the Sunday school lesson, which I do every week for the 17 y.o. class in my ward.

    …I read these threads, trying to decide which side of the debate seems right to me.

    Me too. The bloggernacle has value to me because it permits insights into the lives of people whose experiences have taught them things I would never learn on my own.

  16. 16.

    Kiskilili,

    I think “marital heterarchy” is a better term for the way family government should work. And Tam’s comment about the potential etymology of patriarchy may support that redefinition, compared to the prevailing definition of patriarchy.

    As you suggest, Elder Oaks’ example leaves a lot to interpretation. How would he have explained the governing before his father died? Would he have said that his father presided/governed (I realize ‘ruled’ seems somewhat tyrannical and may not have been the best choice of words) or that his parents governed as equal partners? Or, if it wasn’t the case, should it have been?

    I read this section’s purpose a little differently than you do:

    “When my father died, my mother presided over our family. She had no priesthood office, but as the surviving parent in her marriage she had become the governing officer in her family” (emphasis added).

    To me, I would say it this way: “as the surviving parent in her marriage, she had become the governing officer.”

    I may be reading too much into his emphasis on equality, but I think it could be interpreted that way. When his father was still alive, would both parents have been governing officers? The proclamation says that fathers have the responsibility to preside over their families, but how does a father preside differently from the way a mother presides in the absence of a father, I don’t know. Except that a widow (or widower for that matter) would not have a spouse as an equal partner.

  17. 17.

    I’d also like to think that’s what he meant–that when there are two parents, both of them are “governing officers.” But then why does the mother “become” the governing officer only when the father dies? That’s an interesting idea that maybe previously she had been “one” governing officer of two? I wish he’d made it clearer that “governing officer” and “presiding” were totally separate roles, though, if that was in fact what he meant.

    I do think Elder Oaks is attempting to introduce a more equitable model for marriage, but his terms seem to be tripping him up and tying him in logical knots at every turn.

  18. 18.

    Mark IV, your definition of patriarchy in #4 is the Best. Comment. EVER.

    I also appreciate Naismith’s commentary on the PotF. I’ve always liked the PotF, despite the problems I have with the concept of “presiding” (problems in understanding what the heck it means to me, that is), but your take is very sensible, I think.

    I also like Tam’s definition (or her CES coordinator’s) of patriarchy. Who cares if it’s accurate? It works for me. :)

  19. 19.

    I initially missed the con-fusion of the two definition of patriarchy, feminist and “Oaksian.” Now I see.

    mistaben, where are the women in your models? :)

    Good question!

    I didn’t have much time the other day, so I deliberately left out the women.

    Tentatively, I would say that inasmuch as the hierarchical “government of the Church” is almost entirely priesthood-based, the only women who would show up would be auxiliary leaders at each level (ward leaders accountable to bishop, stake -> SP, general -> who? Presiding Bishopric? I really don’t know!). Then there is also another hierarchy within each auxiliary: Ward RS President accountable to Stake RS Pres, etc. One thing to note is that the spouses of those in the hierarchy aren’t automatically part of it as well. I also left off counselors.

    Now we come to the patriarchal government of the family. It seems to me that the ideal president/counselor model is indeed a suitable analogy for the ideal father/mother relationship. Considering two seemingly conflicting aspects of this model:

    1) A truly equal partnership. Does this mean Mom and Dad each have equal say and equal veto power in everything? I don’t think so. I think rather it describes the unity that a couple should feel both in their marriage and in their family leadership. In the order of God, both unity and unanimity are extremely important.

    2) There is a head. If Mother and Father together constitute the Presidency of their family “quorum,” then one of them must be the “head.” Every other presidency has a president. (Even the Presidency of the Seventy, which consists of 7 men, has a head.) Paul says in marriage, it’s the husband.

    What exactly does that mean? Which parts are 1st century idiosyncrasies and which are eternal doctrine? Naturally this is what seems to invite controversy. I seem to recall some of the comments in the Presiding thread describing the president/counselor model of marriage as one in which husbands act as dictators. I don’t think that’s necessarily accurate. That is, I’ve never seen a functional presidency operate this way. (How many 1st counselors aspire to be the president someday? Yuck!)

    In light of Paul, the D&C, the modern endowment ceremony, the Proclamation on the Family, and the necessity for a head, I personally believe that:

    a) Mom and Dad together constitute the “Family Quorum Presidency”, aspiring to run the family affairs in perfect unity and unanimity,
    b) Mom and Dad together constitute the “Couple Quorum,”
    c) Dad is the “Family Quorum President” and the “Couple Quorum President,”
    d) in Dad’s absence, it is Mom who is the “governing official,” not the oldest child nor the oldest priesthood holder, and
    e) positions of authority in the hierarchical system are temporary, whereas those in the patriarchal system are intended to be eternal.

    Finally, I don’t believe for a moment that this is a logically complete model. I don’t have all the answers. However, I do believe that whatever the reasons, this is the Way Things Are. As such, I pray for and seek more knowledge, on this and every other doctrine, from He who understands All.

  20. 20.

    Thanks, madhousewife! Your compliment speaks well of you as a person and of your charitable instincts, but, unfortunately, not of your judgement. I don’t think that my comment was even the best one on this thread.

  21. 21.

    My husband taught the TFOT lesson in elders quorum last year from the elder Oaks talk you have quoted from. The only thing I remember him telling me about how the lesson went was he left the elders in a little shock when his concluding point was something to the effect of “it seems to me Elder Oaks has already given women the priesthood in “home government” and has left it a wide open possiblity in “church government”. This was based on his interpretation of Elder Oaks use of patriarchy and heirarchy (which I won’t even attempt to explain because I couldn’t do it justice).

  22. 22.

    Does this mean Mom and Dad each have equal say and equal veto power in everything? I don’t think so.

    Why not?

    It’s worked for us for a few decades.

    Can you give me an example of when someone WOULDN’T have equal say? I’m trying to wrap my brain around what that would look like or why it would be necessary.

  23. 23.

    mistaben, I can definitely understand how you’ve come up with the interpretation that you have. However, I’m hoping for a marriage model that works more like Naismith’s. While I will strive for unity, I want a unity that is based on equality (i.e. equal say and equal veto power) rather than submission from the wife (which, although you aren’t arguing for husbands to be dictators, seems to be what you’re implying). And this is not me “aspiring to be the head.” This is me wanting to have full equality with my husband. In my mind, if this isn’t how the patriarchal family system operates, it seems to me that the patriarchal system *is* hierarchical (as Vada pointed out in her original post and comments).

  24. 24.

    “it seems to me Elder Oaks has already given women the priesthood in “home government”

    I actually think Elder Oaks was saying that the government in the family isn’t based in priesthood authority; otherwise, as he said, when he became a deacon, he would have “presided.” (I think this might get to the question in comment #17: “But then why does the mother “become” the governing officer only when the father dies?”) Clearly, as equal partners, there is governing that goes on with that partnership as well. But father is the head…and Elder Oaks defines what that means as well. It’s not about power in the end, it’s about service. Full equality will happen if a man “gets” what it means to be a head of a family…it’s to look to God and serve and love and gather his family as one, with the ‘full partnership’ of his wife by his side. This works. I’ve felt it in my family. My hubby is our family’s head, and I stand by his side and work with him in all that we do, even as we have a few different roles and responsibilities. God’s patriarchal system isn’t what our brains want to make it when it works the way it is supposed to. And I think figuring out how to make it work — together, as equal partners — is part of the purpose of it all!

  25. 25.

    Can you give me an example of when someone WOULDN’T have equal say?

    I know perhaps this discussion was ready to be laid to rest, but I’ve been thinking about it again the last couple of days.

    A clear example of when someone does not have equal say is the church policy that a woman married to a nonmember man must have his permission in order to recieve her endowment, whereas the reverse is not true. In this most important matter regarding her salvation, the woman’s choice is taken away. The husband is given veto power over his wife.

    It gives me hope that it seems that average church members practice more egalitarian partnerships. Also, the loud insistence that women really are equal in patriarchy (although I feel quite certain that we are not) reflects a belief that we should be. Hoperfully church policy and doctrine will catch up. For now it remains a dark reality that so many loudly insist isn’t there.

  26. 26.

    A clear example of when someone does not have equal say is the church policy that a woman married to a nonmember man must have his permission in order to recieve her endowment, whereas the reverse is not true.

    Um, I think you’d better double-check the accuracy of this statement. My reading of the church guidelines suggest that this is not true. From what I’ve read, the unendowed spouse (member or non-member) must give permission, and it doesn’t matter whether male or female.

    Same thing for baptism as well, the language is non-sexist and applies to a spouse of either gender.

  27. 27.

    What about this. . .
    A former member of the bishopric sits in on his wife’s temple recommend interviews. Is that normal? I don’t think she attends his interviews . . .
    I just wonder if that is allowed under the church guidelines. It seems very power-abusive to me.
    Also, this same man verbally abused another bishopric member who asked a routine question about masturbation to his son during a recommend interview. Man #1 wanted this bishopric member to skip that question, and he didn’t. It was all very “jerry springer” that mutual night at church.
    Is there any church policy on what kind of access or oversight fathers/husbands can have during temple recommend interviews?

  28. 28.

    AmyB – Naismith is correct. The current issue of the handbook does not make a distinction between male and female in the case of an unmarried spouse, either for baptism or endowment. Of course, that raises another question – when and why did this change?

    Jessawhy – Wow! Do you belong to the same church I do? Not only is it weird for a man to insist on being present when his wife is interviewed, it is against church policy, which clearly states that candidates for recommends are to be interviewed individually. Also, the question you describe as routine, really isn’t. The question, verbatim, states: Do you live the law of chastity? Anything beyond that is out of order, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say so. Bishops and SPs are specifically instructed read the questions as written, and not add to them.

  29. 29.

    Naismith, you’re right. I had heard otherwise and I believed it, but at your urging I went to the source and was pleasantly surprised.

    jessawhy- I think there are two separate discussions going on here- one about patriarchy within marriage, and in the church system in general. It doesn’t seem to necessarily mean anything significant within marriage, but in the church the men are clearly in charge and there is very little protection against abuse built into the system.

  30. 30.

    Mark IV- looks like you posted while I was making my response. I wasn’t ignoring you! And I agree with you- in those instances jessawhy describes the parties involved are clearly out of line.

  31. 31.

    Mark IV and Amy B
    Yep, same church, I guess it’s just different everywhere. (and gossip always changes the true story, of course)
    I asked my husband to verify the story about the young man being interviewed by the counselor. According to my husband, additional questions are allowed to explain the original question (about chastity, etc) Is this how others interpret the recommend questions? It makes sense to me because “the law of chastity” can be a little ambiguous to a 14 year old. (see the innocent misunderstandings thread at fMh)
    Anyway, it is hard for me to see both the marriage kind and the church kind of patriarchy being used in ways that don’t seem to fit the teachings of the prophets (or my ideal). I guess I don’t think there’s much that I can do. (moving comes to mind, though :)
    I’ve been reading In Sacred Loneliness, about Joesph’s polygamous wives, and though I’ve only read the bios of the first 4 or 5 wives, the person I’ve felt most sorry for is the faithful first husband of Zina Huntington Jacobs Smith Young. After Joseph died, Brigham Young decided to take Zina away from her husband (father of her 2 children) by marrying her for “time” and then sending Jacobs to a European mission shortly after his 2nd son was born. While he was gone, Zina began to live with Young in open polygamy so when Jacobs came back, his wife was no longer his. It’s all very strange, and I know that Zina had a testimony of polygamy, but the letters from her husband brought me to tears. It’s a very difficult thing to think that some of the same issues that existed then still exist now, but in a different form. I struggle with my testimony in this area. I’m on the board of 2 non-profits and it is so interesting to see how an organization operates without patriarchy. Women seem to have more substantive value in these organizations and less indiscriminate praise than in the church.
    How do others see patriarchy in society versus patriarchy in the church?

  32. 32.

    AmyB – what you call “dark reality” is reality to you but not to others. It feels to me like you are saying that people fine with patriarchy are “loudly insisting” on some “dark reality” as though they are enemies to be silenced. That doesn’t seem fair. It seems to me that just as you (understandably) want people to listen and respect your point of view and seek to understand your experiences, those whose view of reality and experiences and feelings are different from yours should be extended the same respect.

    jessawhy — It seems you run into weird situations. :) Don’t assume the exception to the rule is the way God wants things to be. These weird exceptions are simply that — weird exceptions. My experience is that God’s order of things really can work. I’ve seen it repeatedly and felt the “it can work” in my own life. I’m sorry your experiences feel to you to have been more on the negative side. Wanna come to my ward/stake for a while? :)

  33. 33.

    m&m, let me clarify what I meant (although it is likely you will still disagree with me, which is fine). I percieve a lot of insistence that there is equality within the patriarchal structure- this thread being an example of that. Many want to continue to use the term patriarchy and say that the man presides in the home, but when pressed don’t want to admit that it means that the man has any kind of power over the woman. Let me repeat that I think it’s a good thing that a majority of members appear to practice a much more egalitarian type of marriage partnership. However, my reference to a dark reality, is that I don’t think that’s what patriarchy really means- if it’s just a meaningless word then why do we keep using it? There is a shadow side to patriarchy that many of us don’t want to shine a light on or admit is there.

  34. 34.

    AmyB, thanks for the follow-up. I suppose we probably won’t agree on this; I still think that the “shadow side” is more perception than reality in terms of how God wants it to work. I don’t think patriarchy is meaningless, but I don’t know that I can explain how I see it in a way that won’t still leave you thinking there is a shadow, because that’s your perception. And that’s the challenge of these types of conversations. I think language sometimes gets in the way because some words come charged, at least for some. Patriarchy has come to mean something to some people that, at its core as perceived, it just can’t be fathomed as a good thing. But that doesn’t mean that God’s meaning of it has that same kind of baggage. It’s like trying to talk about feminism without having some baggage that accompanies the word that leaves people all over the map about how they feel about what it really is. But the baggage shouldn’t necessarily be equated with the real-est, purest meaning of these concepts, right? I wish there was a way to push past that baggage to really get to the core of the concept of patriarchy in God’s order. The shadow, in my opinion, comes not from the concept itself being bad or not desireable but from the way society and fallen people (men and women) have distorted the concept either in word or deed.

  35. 35.

    I percieve a lot of insistence that there is equality within the patriarchal structure- this thread being an example of that.

    Well, “insistence” sounds a bit more strident than what I would say, which is merely an observation of what I’ve experienced.

    Many want to continue to use the term patriarchy and say that the man presides in the home, but when pressed don’t want to admit that it means that the man has any kind of power over the woman.

    Of course he has power over the woman, and she has power over him. When we are so interdependent, each has power over the other.

    Women have all kinds of veto power over their husbands. For just about every calling my husband has held in the last dozen years, it involved an interview by the stake president with BOTH of us. I was asked if I would support my husband. I could have said no. Definite veto power in a woman’s hands.

    And of course we consulted about every job offer and relocation and when each of us was nominated to serve in leadership of professional organizations. I never felt less than equal in any of those discussions or decisions.

    There is a shadow side to patriarchy that many of us don’t want to shine a light on or admit is there.

    There is a shadow side to ANY system, if it is abused. I am not so sure that the potential for harm is so much more with patriarchy than with other systems.

    I wasn’t raised in the church, and my father was not much involved in child-raising, so I can see the pros and cons of various systems, and I feel much more of an equal partner with my husband as a result of our church membership and following LDS teachings.

  36. 36.

    I was asked if I would support my husband. I could have said no.

    I’m curious about what would happen after the woman said no.

  37. 37.

    I wasn’t raised in the church, and my father was not much involved in child-raising, so I can see the pros and cons of various systems, and I feel much more of an equal partner with my husband as a result of our church membership and following LDS teachings.

    I was rasied in the church, and my father, who diligently performed all of the patriarchal duties the church required of him (family prayer, family scripture study, and calling on people to pray), was completely uninvolved in child-raising, so I too can see the pros and cons of various systems.

    Although no one has made the argument on this thread, I frequently hear patriarchy defended on the grounds that men need to be bribed by familial power to be induced into engagement with their own children, on the seeming assumption that our only two alternatives are patriarchy and male neglect. Not only does this strike me as a false dichotomy, I also have it on very good evidence that patriarchy and male neglect are eminently compatible. I’ve seen more than one father check off his church-prescribed family duties without any real interaction with his kids. If men really don’t want to be involved with their families, bribing them with power over their families will not induce them to be.

  38. 38.

    We can talk about patriarchy being equal partners, but I assume that the temple model would be the correct model and it seems to be a very hierarchal order and that frustrates me. First, of course, is the hearken covenant, and also Adam is told specifically that he to be lord over all things in the garden, which would include Eve. How to you reconcile the temple model with an equal partnership?

  39. 39.

    Sally: Excellent question.

    How to you reconcile the temple model with an equal partnership?

    My husband and I performed sealings tonight in the temple, and I was struck by the idea that the wife “gives” herself to her husband, but the husband does not reciprocate and “give” himself to his wife. (though both recieve) I asked the sealer about this, because I thought it may have something to do with the polygamous roots of the ceremony, but he (and everyone in the room) emphatically denied the possibility. He did mention the Creation story, about how Eve is given to Adam (after God forms her from Adam’s rib).
    It’s just an interesting facet of our religion that goes unnoticed, but still represents the patriarchy. One woman (who I believe represents many women in the church) sees great value of being a “gift” of being precious to her husband, something of value to be given in a sacred covenant.
    I guess this was a little off topic, but it’s been on my mind, as I mull over the application of our sacred covenants to the current teachings of the prophets in our patriarchical church system.
    My only guess to answer Sally’s question would be that maybe God’s family system isn’t designed to be equal, it’s designed to be the best for us. And not the best for us individually (as perfect equality would be) but the best for us as a couple.
    Hey, it’s a shot in the dark :)

  40. 40.

    Sally, I think it’s selling ourselves short to look at one extremely brief part of one aspect of our faith and teachings and assuming that gives us all the information we need to analyze this whole issue. It’s like trying to figure out what a puzzle looks like with one piece. Sure, it’s part of the big picture, but not all of it.

    I also have it on very good evidence that patriarchy and male neglect are eminently compatible.

    I have evidence to the contrary. :) Patriarchy is what people decide to make of it. If a man slacks off at home, that’s not patriarchy’s fault. That might fall into the “it is the nature and disposition…” clause pretty well, though. We can’t judge patriarchy by those who don’t live according to God’s expectations. Like Naismith said, any system will fail if the people fail to follow it appropriately.

  41. 41.

    m&m, I don’t think that Anonymous Lifelong Member was blaming patriarchy for her father’s behavior. I think she was just pointing out that many people (not necessarily you) justify patriarchy (and presiding) as the systems most likely to get men involved in their children’s lives, and she is using her own family to question that reasoning.

  42. 42.

    I apologize if I misunderstood, Anonymous Lifelong Member.

    jessawhy, I think not only of what is said but when when I mull. :)

  43. 43.

    As a sidenote, one thing I find difficult about the entire subject of “patriarchy” is that, as has been noted, in our culture at large the term is used to denote social systems in which men have power over women, and the connotations are negative. In contrast, in the Church, patriarchy means [insert your favorite definition], and the connotations are . . . positive?

    The Church has definite patriarchal strains according to both definitions. But the Church’s appropriation of the term muddies the waters of discussion. If someone points out patriarchal tendencies in the Church, it is almost invariably countered with the protest that there are indeed patriarchal tendencies, and these are positive, because all they mean is [insert your favorite definition].

    It’s not so much that the Church is assigning a new meaning to the term that bothers me. It’s that this new meaning is being used to obscure the fact that men have power in the Church in a way women do not, and making the conversation about this fact extremely difficult. If we believe it’s divinely designed and we endorse it, why do we have so much trouble acknowledging it?

  44. 44.

    any system will fail if the people fail to follow it appropriately.

    The converse to this is that any system will succeed if everyone is perfect. Since this is the mortal world, a system of checks might be prudent.

  45. 45.

    Jessawhy, your observation reminds me of the language in D&C 132, in which wives are “given” to men, which is something I’ve always had a very hard time with. I don’t want to be an object–even an object of great value–which gets given to people. I want to be a subject, an agent, a person. And it cuts me to the core to think that my own religious tradition might not see me that way, but rather might view me as a kind of prize for a faithful man.

    Anonymous Lifelong Member, I think you raise an important question. I’ve heard over and over that the value of patriarchy is that it leads to strong, healthy families. I don’t doubt, as m&m mentioned, that there are families in which this in fact happens. But I don’t think it’s fair to immediately assume that if the family was dysfunctional/unhappy, clearly patriarchy wasn’t being followed “correctly.” I really do see the problems involved in evaluating a system based on the way it’s put into practice by imperfect human beings–and yet I have to ask, if we can’t evaluate it based on that, then what criteria can we use? It seems to me that the best test of our systems is to see how they actually play out in the messy world of real life. I’m not at all disputing that there are plenty of people whose experience with patriarchy has been positive. What I am questioning, however, is the tendency I often see to dismiss those situations in which the effects of patriarchy have been negative as invalid data points.

  46. 46.

    The converse to this is that any system will succeed if everyone is perfect.

    I disagree. The system has to be perfect for that to be true. I think God’s order is perfect, or at least as perfect as any system can be. The patriarchal order is more than just a wordly system in my view. Most worldly systems aren’t perfect because their creators are imperfect people, so even those systems would fail if somehow perfect people could execute them, IMO.

  47. 47.

    But I don’t think it’s fair to immediately assume that if the family was dysfunctional/unhappy, clearly patriarchy wasn’t being followed “correctly.”

    Patriarchy certainly isn’t the only dynamic in a family. I agree with you; a “dysfunctional/unhappy” family could result from any number of failures. So, you say:

    I really do see the problems involved in evaluating a system based on the way it’s put into practice by imperfect human beings–and yet I have to ask, if we can’t evaluate it based on that, then what criteria can we use?

    How ’bout the Source or Creator of the system? :)

    Mortality itself is messed up (largely because people are messed up), but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be experiencing it or trying to make the most of it, (or that the “system” should be altered), ya know? Even the messed up parts are part of our growth and development, and figuring out how to look to the Lord to help us overcome those messed up elements is our test, IMO. Messed up families and lives usually come as a result of not looking to the Lord. That applies to failed patriarchy or nearly any other problem that might arise (the only exception I can think of is truly biological mental illness where agency is completely negated by that illness). It seems to me that we avoid asking hard questions about individual choices when we want to “blame the system” for problems that we may see. Perhaps rather than evaluating the system we should be more openly acknowledging the role of agency instead. This doesn’t ignore “negative effects” of patriarchy, but rather puts those data points alongside the “positive” data points, with the realization that the variable in question is not the system but the choices of the individuals living within that system.

    Insultingly simple comparison: If water tastes either sweet or salty, it’s not the water’s fault for the “positive” and “negative” results (apologies to anyone who likes the taste of saltwater and apologies for being so simplistic with the example, but I think it illustrates what I think might be going on). It’s what is added to the water that changes the results. The water doesn’t need to be changed; it’s the constant. I feel like we end up analyzing the wrong things in these discussions. Patriarchy shouldn’t be on trial; we as individuals (and respective couples, as appropriate), should be.

  48. 48.

    m&m, the problem I see with the approach you’re advocating (if I’m understanding it) is that if a system were in fact harmful or destructive, you’d have no way of finding that out; no matter how many people were hurt by it, you could simply chalk that up to the bad choices of individuals. I do think it’s important to allow for the role of individual agency in evaluating a system—but I also think you shouldn’t rule out in advance any possibility that the system itself could be causing problems.

    I’m also (and this, I suspect, is where we fundamentally disagree) simply not persuaded that patriarchy is in fact God’s system. We’re asked as Christians to make evaluative judgments about various aspects of the world in which we live, to “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.” And I believe that this includes putting “on trial” the various systems we encounter.

  49. 49.

    m&m, I see it as part of my Christian duty to evaluate systems and try to figure out whether they are maximizing or minimizing things that I feel are eternally important: people being treated kindly, bringing people closer to God, recognizing the individuality and agency of others, etc. For example, I would hope that if a form of slavery were reinstituted, I would see it as my duty as one of God’s children to say “this system is very bad for some of God’s children, and I need to do everything that I can to end it.” I don’t think that I should go around trying to change the minds of individual slave holders and blaming them for the problem. I would hope that I would do everything in my power to end the system rather than saying “oh well, this slavery thing is just part of mortality.”

    Of course, patriarchy is more complicated than (and not as obviously bad as) slavery. It has benefits for some people, and as Vada indicated in the original post (and has been demonstrated by the comments), the church seems to be trying to redefine it in a way to mitigate the negative effects we often see in society. At the same time, I’m going to have to agree with Lynnette here. I’m not sure that patriarchy (or at least the kind of patriarchy we see here in mortality, inside or outside of the church) is God’s system.

  50. 50.

    I’m also (and this, I suspect, is where we fundamentally disagree) simply not persuaded that patriarchy is in fact God’s system.

    Yup, I think that is the point upon which we disagree. Do I know what that means in the eternities? No, but I am convinced that this is how things are supposed to be now and whatever is in the next life will be right and good for ALL.

    I tend to think, though, that if patriarchy (as taught in the Church, not in the world) were truly, fundamentally harmful or destructive at its core, it would be harmful and destructive across the board, and that is not the case, as there are plenty of people who will say that it works just fine with partnership and equality and all of that. Therefore, I don’t know how one would expect to analyze or prove that it’s “bad” by anecdotal evidence. You know what it takes for a good “experiment” and this doesn’t seem like one. All that can be done is to establish that there are positive experiences and negative experiences with patriarchy. There is really no way that I can think of to analyze these data points that would be definitive, and like I said above, I see the negative as a result of people’s wrong choices, not the system itself (but even then, I can’t “prove” that). It’s all anecdotal at best, isn’t it?

    It seems to me the best way to “prove” it is to try to live it and see what happens at a personal level, just as we do with any other gospel principle or element (a la Al. 32). [e.g., Can I prove to you that the BoM is from God? No, but I can know for myself, spiritually, that it is. I think one can “gain a testimony” of God’s order of things in similar ways. That’s been my experience with this principle, anyway. (Because of that, nothing anyone says could convince me this isn’t of God. And I’ll just add that it’s not that I’m a pushover. I’m a fiercely independent, feisty, strong-willed woman. Ask my husband. He’ll tell you that I won’t put up with much. But when things are “in order,” they just WORK. Ah.)

    The other question I have is that if you decide patriachy “isn’t good,” then what? What’s the end point? (It’s not like this is up for a vote in the next election, ya know? :) ) Patriarchy (along with equal partnership) is supported in scripture and words of the prophets and in ordinances. And it’s never presented as something that is up for grabs or changeable by anyone. It’s taught as something that just IS. So, this seems like a lot to be taking on to me. None of us is in a position to do anything to change this, right? (I do think we are invited to seek to understand it, though, in a way that may push beyond our mortal understanding. Things aren’t always as they appear, ya know?) So, anyway, I guess I wonder what you hope to accomplish with the questioning. Can you help me understand?

  51. 51.

    M&M, I think Mosiah 29 provides one scriptural example of an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of various systems of governance. God evidently allowed monarchy to go on for a very long time before it occurred to Mosiah that a different system would be less likely to offer evil people almost unlimited power.

    At one point Mosiah says that if they could always have just kings, then kingship would work. But of course they’re not always going to have just kings, so they wisely alter their government. They don’t insist that monarchy shouldn’t be on trial or that the failings of human beings shouldn’t be attributed to the monarchial system, which would work perfectly if only everyone were perfect. Of course it would. Any system would work perfectly if everyone were perfect.

    Clearly systems of governance can and should be reflected on–placed on trial, if you will–and altered to provide for the inevitability of human weakness. If we want to increase righteousness and decrease wickedness, it would seem we have a responsibility to reflect critically on the systems and institutions we establish.

    (And say you’re right and patriarchy is the optimal system. How will we ever know that unless we reflect on it critically?)

  52. 52.

    “Patriarchy (along with equal partnership) is supported in scripture and words of the prophets and in ordinances. And it’s never presented as something that is up for grabs or changeable by anyone. It’s taught as something that just IS.”

    For centuries and millennia, monarchy just WAS, too. And the Law of Moses. And the limitations of the priesthood to various small groups. And the time-honored distinctions between the white and other races. (And during these centuries and millennia, patriarchy was not equality. As I think we’ve clearly established, that’s a semantic game that we’ve started to play in the last fifteen years or so. There is no scriptural or temple evidence that patriarchy is in any way a form of equality.)

    “So, this seems like a lot to be taking on to me. None of us is in a position to do anything to change this, right?”

    Here you indicate one of the real problems with patriarchy, and with hierarchy in general; those of us at the bottom of the hierachy have no way of making our voices heard to those at the top. If we’re going to insist that men and women are fundamentally and eternally different but complementary, then perhaps it would be prudent to integrate that complementarity into our system of church governance so that both sides of the eternal divide could have voices.

  53. 53.

    Eve,
    I don’t think the examples you gave compare to what we are talking about. Monarchy is not a God-ordained system. (In fact, God didn’t really want the children of Israel to have kings. He wanted them to have prophets. Look at the brother of Jared, too. God knew that kings were trouble, but the people wanted them. That was why Mosiah changed the system as well.) Besides, Mosiah was in a position to make the change. The Law of Moses WAS from God and was then changed by God. Same with limitations on priesthood (I realize different people have different opinions on that particular example, but that’s mine).

    There is not one whit of scriptural or temple evidence that patriarchy is in any way a form of equality.

    I disagree STRONGLY with this. I do recognize that there is more obvious discussion of the principle of equality, but I think the principles of working side by side have been there there from the beginning. [We don’t see Eve balking at the order of things, do we? :) She rejoiced in all that happened after the fall because she understood it all had a place in God’s plan. And there is no question in my mind that she felt an equal partner to Adam, even as their roles and responsibilities were different. And she is glorious now just as Adam is. Another example: Paul talked about how we need each other in the Lord, even as he taught that the man was the head.] I suspect, though, that here we will have to agree to disagree.

    If we’re going to insist that men and women are fundamentally and eternally different but complementary, then perhaps it would be prudent to integrate that complementarity into our system of church governance so that both sides of the eternal divide could have voices.

    This is another agree to disagree point because I don’t see that changes are necessary. I think it’s prudent rather to accept things as they are (given the sources, which, to me, indicate divine origin) and strive to live according to the principles we are taught (love, equality, etc.) within the order of things, not by changing the order of things. This is a journey for everyone, and there will be mistakes made by people along the way. That’s part of mortality.

    (Also, as a side note, remember that patriarchy is not about Church governance per se, so I think it’s important not to conflate a discussion of patriarchy with a discussion of Church government. Patriarchy is about family order. I realize this is something that doesn’t sit well with you, either, but they are separate issues to discuss.)

    I realize that my viewpoint isn’t shared by all, and, believe it or not, I’m not turning a blind eye to what appears unfair or unequal to some. I understand that, logically, it doesn’t seem possible that heirarchy or patriarchy could be comptible with equality. All I can say is that the discovery process for me has been beyond logic and more at the spiritual level (hard to put into words)…just like working through anything else about God’s plan and about mortality that sometimes don’t make sense to my little brain. I don’t know any other way to work through these types of issues. (And we run into them all of the time in issues of faith.) Logically, I realize that probably little to nothing I say will make any difference. But I can tell you that spiritually, I’m happy with it all — hierarchy, patriarchy, priesthood, church governance, gender roles — the whole shabang. And I feel as an active partner in the process both at home and at church. Do I run into people who goof? Sure, but don’t we all?

    Lynnette and Kiskilili, your comments helped me understand some of what drives your perspective and desires, so thanks. I think I’m a little less confused now. :)

  54. 54.

    Why do I consider it worthwhile to question patriarchy? Good question. One reason that immediately comes to mind is that it’s hard for me to see women leave the Church because they feel that their only options are either to accept patriarchy, or to seek out an alternate religious community. I certainly respect the decisions of those who’ve taken the latter route. But my hope is that those aren’t the only two available options, which means that I have a strong interest in exploring other possibilities.

    Also, on a more personal level–and I’m only speaking about my own experience here, and not at all assuming that this holds true for everyone–questioning patriarchy has allowed me to maintain interest in having a relationship with God, instead of giving up on him as someone who doesn’t value women as much as men. In that way, it’s actually been very positive and even necessary for my faith to engage in this kind of critique. Again, I realize that others have had different experiences with this issue, sometimes drastically so. But for what it’s worth, that’s where I’m coming from.

  55. 55.

    Lynnette, thanks for responding. That helps me understand where you are coming from even better. I appreciate that.

  56. 56.

    M&M, it looks like we come to these issues with fundamentally different assumptions, but for whatever it’s worth, here’s how I see it. Monarchy was a God-ordained system for centuries. Monarchy and the Law of Moses, in LDS understandings, were less optimal systems that God permitted and endorsed because people weren’t capable of living according to higher laws. (God never told the Nephites not to have kings, but he didn’t stop them from having them, either.) The denial of the priesthood to blacks was a historical mistake that God permitted, like so much of mortality. I don’t see why partiarchy couldn’t be similar. Like other forms of suffering and evil, it doesn’t come into existence until after the fall. I can only hope that when the conditions of mortality end, when death and sorrow and suffering end, fallen systems of government that set men over women will end too.

    [We don’t see Eve balking at the order of things, do we? :) She rejoiced in all that happened after the fall because she understood it all had a place in God’s plan. And there is no question in my mind that she felt an equal partner to Adam, even as their roles and responsibilities were different. And she is glorious now just as Adam is. Another example: Paul talked about how we need each other in the Lord, even as he taught that the man was the head.]

    OK, I think it’s likely I’m not understanding you here. Here are my points of confusion–maybe you can clarify them for me. I don’t see how Eve’s rejoicing amounts to an argument for equality. I can see why we moderns very much want to read Eve as “feeling an equal partner to Adam,” but I think that’s our own projection onto the text; I don’t see where you’re getting that from the text itself. God subordinates Eve to Adam; her rejoicing in the plan of salvation doesn’t mean they were equal. Plenty of subordinate people rejoice in various aspects of their spiritual lives; that rejoicing doesn’t mean they’re equal to those who are subordinating them.

    I see similar issues with your appeal to Paul. Just saying that we all need each other doesn’t amount to a declaration that we are all equal. Masters needed their slavers pretty desperately in order to maintain their way of life. A declaration that man is the head of woman, on the other hand, strikes me as fundamentally incompatible with equality.

    My sense from the scriptures is that the idea the men and women are or should be equal is, for the most part, an extremely recent development in world history. Personally, I tend to think it’s a pretty darned good development(!), but I also think it’s anachronistic to read it backward into ancient texts. From everything we know about most ancient cultures, the idea of male and female equality would have been quite foreign to Paul, for example. And I think we can honor his inspiration and prophetic calling without demanding that he conform to our contemporary morality.

  57. 57.

    “(Also, as a side note, remember that patriarchy is not about Church governance per se, so I think it’s important not to conflate a discussion of patriarchy with a discussion of Church government. Patriarchy is about family order. I realize this is something that doesn’t sit well with you, either, but they are separate issues to discuss.)”

    Hmmm. Notwithstanding the fact that Elder Oaks’ brilliant legal mind recently produced this previously non-existent distinction, I’m unpersuaded. How, exactly, is the church not patriarchal? Men run everything, at church and at home. They are the final authorities. We want to claim there’s absolutely no relationship between the strangely parallel male governance of these two institutions, which we rank first and second in terms of their eternal significance? We’re hard-core patriarchalists, and in our projection of gender and gender submission into the eternities, we’re arguably worse than any other Christians when it comes to our devotion to patriarchy.

    I also think the convoluted discourse about how patriarchy IS equality (which always puts me in mind of Isaiah’s comments about the dangers of calling good evil and evil good) is a lovely example of why, if we really want to give up on the subordination of women, we should jettison both the term–and, more importantly, the reality–of patriarchy.

  58. 58.

    Eve, I think maybe we need to just go with your first statement that our assumptions are just very different and call this discussion done.

  59. 59.

    M&M, I think you’re absoluately right: we just have very different assumptions at the heart of our religious thought and experience. Beyond a certain point, having exhausted the details of our disagreements, there’s probably not much more to say other than that we disagree with each other.