Why I Worry

Preface: A month or two ago, there were a few conversations on the bloggernacle that highlighted a couple of common responses to feminist concerns. Dan Ellsworth over at Mormon Mentality decided to give the ZD bloggers some advice: he argued that we spend too much time thinking about the church (and our feminist concerns), and that we would worry less if we diversified and spent more time doing things we enjoyed. He also argued that we were going about trying to find answers to our concerns the wrong way. GeoffJ at New Cool Thang expressed confusion, writing in one of the long debates, “I must be missing something here.. If you are certain you are not less than men in the universe and in God’s eyes what are your deep wounds over that subject?”

Both of these comments highlight a common reaction to feminist concerns. I would summarize it as the “why do you worry?” reaction, and it exhibits a genuine confusion as to why feminists are worked up over what seem (to others) to be either inconsequential issues or issues that others firmly believe will be worked out in the eternities. Because “why do you worry?” is a common response to feminist conversations, I wanted to do a post on this subject. This post is specific to me and my experience–other feminists have their own stories, which I encourage them to share.

Although I know that numerous people have genuine confusion about my (and other feminists’) worries, most of the time the question of “why do you worry?” is accompanied by advice or counsel rather than an attempt to understand. Implicit in the “why do you worry?” is an answer: “you shouldn’t worry because…” A few of the most common ideas that follow this “…because…” are:

1. The church (gospel, scriptures, prophets, etc.) teaches us that we are all children of God. Variation: God loves everyone.

2. Once you realize ______ (certain doctrinal principle), it will all make sense to you. Variation: what you are worried about is not what’s important in this life.

3. The eternities will look different than mortality. Variation: it will all work out in the end.

While I understand that these answers are sufficient for many, many people (for which I am grateful because I really don’t wish my worries on anyone), here is why they are not sufficient for me:

I am passionate about promoting equality in relationships and institutions, and I will confess that my notions of what equality means have been informed by radical movements of the late 20th century, including feminism. I do realize that my particular brand of equality is part of the problem, but it feels so right to my inner core that at this time, I am unable to abandon it.

Simultaneously, I have an experiential understanding of God’s love for me, but it’s very difficult for me to translate this experiential love into an exact understanding of what God loves means for how relationships, equality, and all of those kinds of things will work in the eternities. I *believe* in an egalitarian God, but I don’t know exactly how certain I am about it or even what that means (I believe there’s quite a lot we don’t know about what the eternities will look like).

When I turn to the words of the scriptures and prophets, there’s a lot there that gives me hope–“God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34)–but there’s a lot there that confuses me–for a few examples see Lynnette’s original post on women as possessions as well as examples in the comments that ensue.

Compounding the confusing messages in the scriptures, I have had experiences with this church that have been difficult, and at times, quite painful. More generally, I have a hard time sorting out the whole equality issue because when I go to church things don’t feel equal to me. The comfort and ease and independence which I’ve found in academic environments has typically been absent from my interactions at church.

Although I know others have not necessarily had the same frustrations at church that I have had, I have to work from my own experiences. Additionally, even though I know God loves me, I don’t have an easy time putting my relationship with God, the peace I receive from Him, my difficult experiences in the church, and my understanding of scriptures into neat little categories that can be examined separately. They all interact in messy ways, and how I experience this church affects my relationship with God and my anxieties about the world to come.

What is hardest for me to sort out and make sense of is that I see practices and decisions and behaviors that feel unegalitarian to me being explained as evidence of egalitarianism. This makes my head spin. Or, to put it more simply, church leaders say things are equal now, but it doesn’t feel that way to me; when those same leaders (or other members) say that things will be equal in the eternities, why should I trust those words? I see scriptures and temple liturgy that make me wonder if the things that feel unegalitarian to me will continue in the eternities (since they are cited as practices of “God’s kingdom on earth”). While I certainly understand that we live in a mortal, imperfect world, who’s to say that my struggles with the church are exemplary of that mortality? So I worry.

Although God has given me a certain amount of peace on the matter (though not by giving me any kind of clear, definitive answers), I think it’s okay that I worry sometimes. While I spend quite a lot of my time doing other things–teaching, trying to write my dissertation, singing in my commuity choir, watching movies, talking to my family, etc–I think that making sure that all of God’s children have the same opportunities, are treated equally, etc, is a noble and worthwhile goal and is something worth worrying about from time to time.


  1. Your post resonates with me. I have often been consumed by the need to find justice in this unjust world, especially through the organization of the church. I see ample evidence of incorrect living and I often think that the reason why there is less equality is due to the fact that there are few people who can bear it.

    I do believe that I have come to a certain degree of acceptance that justice and equity will be the eternal order of things. The best example I can provide is my experience with forgiveness. It has been difficult for me to exercise faith in the act of forgiveness, since I basically have to say to God, “I trust you to fulfill on this debt to justice since I don’t have the power to enforce it.” The burden of frustration and anger have left when I have been able to trust God in this matter.

    I recognize that knowing God’s personality is a difficult thing for me and for many of us. I also recognize the fact that with what little I do know of his attributes it is foolish for me to hold on to pain and frustration when he can carry that burden for me (since he has in the past). I guess from your post I am recognizing that it is about trusting God to be and do as he says. I think the thing that frightened me (irrationally I admit) was that my sense of justice would be changed in the afterlife to accomodate a “less than perfect” society. I spend more time now doubting my doubts and truly exercising faith in the confirming witnesses I have experienced.

    In my case worrying is usually self-indulgent and usually becomes a justification for me not to exercise faith. Unfortunately for me, faith is a labor intensive and difficult choice; yet it has always paid the dividends I have needed. I wish you well in your struggle to achieve the peace you desire.

  2. Seraphine,

    I don’t question for a moment “why you worry”. In reading the original conversations at New Cool Thang, a lot of what was being said really resonated with me in terms of frustration with the way things sometimes are in the Church. I think every expression of discontent there was completely valid. What I would argue, though, is that a lot of us have needs that cannot be met within the context of Church. The Gospel is the most important thing in the world to me, but the Church is only a part of my world. That means that my disappointments in Church are often offset by my enjoyment of other parts of my world.
    I understand that this is more difficult in Utah, where the Church is basically everyone’s world, and that’s a situation in which I personally don’t feel comfortable. That’s why I moved East.
    All that said, I do agree with GeoffJ’s assertion that personal revelation is a trump card. It’s also true that for many people that is not the case due to confusing signals, immaturity, etc., but for me personally, it is.

  3. KW, thank-you for those thoughts. You’re right that for me trusting God has been key to my understanding of these issues. I think this statement of yours sums up my attitudes (and what I strive for) best (though I will confess that I still have a fear that my sense of justice will be altered):

    “I think the thing that frightened me (irrationally I admit) was that my sense of justice would be changed in the afterlife to accomodate a “less than perfect” society. I spend more time now doubting my doubts and truly exercising faith in the confirming witnesses I have experienced.”

    As for your last paragraph, I’m certainly not immune to being self-indulgent and faithless, though I’d like to think that my act of trying to retain my feminism while remaining committed to this church is an act of faith (although perhaps some may see it as a misguided one). Maybe in the end, more than hanging onto worry, I want to figure out how to live in a place where my doubts and questions and my faith can live together (somewhat) harmoniously.

  4. Dan Ellsworth, sorry if it came across like I was trying to say you didn’t understand. I realize I jumped from your and Geoff’s posts to the general issue of people not understanding without any kind of caveat.

    As for your central point: I definitely agree. As someone who has never lived in Utah and who spends most of her time in academic settings, I think I do pretty well keeping things in perspective (i.e. the church does not consume all in my life). And you are right that this helps a lot!

    I think it’s difficult to represent the totality of one’s life on the bloggernacle. I’m sure I come across as a lot more angst-ridden than I really am, since this is the only venue I have to discuss feminism and the church.

  5. Well since I got quoted and all… Let me note that even in the comment you quoted from me there was a if/then caveat. The if was “if you are certain you are not less than men in the universe and in God’s eyes” and the then was “what are your deep wounds over that subject?”

    It is obvious from this post that in fact you are not certain that women are “not less than men in the universe and in God’s eyes”. So based on how you have described your current understanding of this theological issue I have no question at all what you are worried about and your personal anxieties on the subject make perfect sense I think.

  6. church leaders say things are equal now, but it doesn’t feel that way to me; when those same leaders (or other members) say that things will be equal in the eternities, why should I trust those words?

    Great question, Seraphine. The meaning of “preside” in a church context is often explained as being different than it is in other contexts, as recently discussed at BCC and FMH. As you point out with your question, “equal” similarly appears to mean something different in the church than in other contexts.

  7. I think these issues are things we have a spiritual obligation to worry about. We’re commanded by God to build Zion here on Earth, and the scriptures tell us that Zion is a place of equality. Further, Paul tells us that in Christ there is, and can be, no distinction between male and female. So feminist issues and problems are a divinely-mandated concern for us here and now. Waiting until the next life means shirking the command to build Zion. Not a good idea.

  8. Why do I worry? I worry because when I was married, the bishop invited me into my fiance’s live ordinance temple recommend interview so that I would hear the bishop seek a committment from my future husband to never allow me to work from the day we were married (this was 2001). My husband had only done two semesters of undergraduate work and I was teaching at the university with a graduate student fellowhip I wasn’t about to give up.

    Why do I worry? Because even though I have been the primary, and most often the sole provider for me and my husband over the last 5.5 years while he finished graduate school, my husband is the one asked to account at tithing settlement on what kind of tithe payers we are after never seeing my pay stubs or tithing receipts. We have been ridiculed by our bishop for having separate checking accounts and paying our tithing and offerings separately: he said after all our years of marriage we’re still obviously not used to being married.

    Why do I worry? I worry that people site scriptures like D&C section 121 as feminist scripture because it “protects” women and children from men using their Priesthood to exercise unrighteous dominion. Yet, it places women on the same level as children, needing to be taught and appropriately disciplined by their husbands, without implying that it goes all ways. In the last week I’ve heard section 132 touted as great female equality scripture without recognition that it’s a double-edged sword at best.

    I see what Geoff is saying about the “if/then” statements. I suppose I don’t have the premise either. My internal convictions and core beliefs are so much in direct conflict with what I experience externally.

  9. I love RT’s point about the spiritual risks of delaying the development of justice (or any other godly characteristic) to some more convenient eternity. I tend to think virtue has to be its own reward, and that eternity is now, but I’d never thought to place feminism in the spiritual context of not procrastinating our repentance.

    Alisa…arggh!!! I had a similar experience with tithing a couple of years ago. My husband is inactive and has no interest in paying tithing; I pay it all. And at the end of the year when I went for tithing settlement only his name was on all the money I had paid? I was really angry about that.

  10. Worry is such an interesting word. I remember a quote from a movie (can’t remember which movie, though)
    “Worry is interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes in.”
    So, worry is worthless if there is no problem, but if there is a problem, then we problem-solve. This little aside is not to say that I don’t worry, but that I try to think of my worries as problem-solving, if indeed there is a problem.
    And I think there is.
    The trouble is, I’m not sure who’s problem it is to solve. Is it the church who needs more egalitarian policies? Is it the scriptures that need a PC facelift? Is it me who needs to stop viewing life through a “feminist lens” and use the “lens of Christ”? Like others have mentioned, I’m not even sure God wants His kingdom equal in the way we talk about it here. Maybe marriage is meant to be an unequal, less agency is still agency way. I want to believe the things that sound good, that give me peace and hope, but that’s not always the truth, is it? There are so many scriptural examples of God asking strange, illogical things of his people who must proceed with faith. So, in sum, I’d like to believe in a God that is feminist, who values women as much as men. But, there is evidence to the contrary, so maybe I’m using the wrong standard, or maybe the weaknesses of men have prevented them from transmitting God’s will in a more egalitarian fashion.
    Thanks for this thread. These issues have been at the top of my mind in the last few weeks. Well, actually, I’ve been hanging around on the bloggernacle since November and things have gotten murkier and not clearer. I guess there’s a cause for worry . . .
    I really liked KW’s comments, and hope to be in a place of peace where I spend more time doubting my doubts and working harder on my faith.

  11. Alisa and Eve–
    Ouch! Those bishops were acting on their own high-handed view of their supposed authority. D&C 121 covers this kind of behavior with the warning that unrighteous dominion brings any claim they have on your loyalty to an end!

    Over many years I have never received anything but my own tithing statement with my own name on top at tithing settlement and even though my husband and I are in the room together, we have each been asked separately to declare our own tithing.

    As to separate bank accounts, we have had separate accounts for about 30 years. We each approach handling our money so differently that it has been a a relief to both of us not to be sharing an account. Such things are non-issues and nobody else’s business and should not be used to make judgements about the quality of your marriage.

    All of the above issues that you are stuggling with in your respective wards are locally based and have no basis in doctrine.

    All that said, I do often struggle with many feminist issues and perceptions also. But more and more I feel it is righteous to live by my “no guff” policy. And maybe surprising to many (including myself sometimes) I have hardly ever had any push back when I have taken a stand. One of my favorite and most effective approaches is a simple, incredulous and wide-eyed “Oh, really?”. This serves notice that I am not buying whatever was said and asking them to “put up or shut up”. Hardly ever will the offender even try. If they do, it really does help to have a solid understaning of scriptures and doctrine. I can’t think of the last time I needed to back down. (Definately one of the advantages in being an “older woman”!)

  12. Seraphine and Jessawhy, thanks for your comments. There are two issues that seem very seperate for me, but it is apparent that they are conjoined for others. One is God and the celestial society we expect to live in. The other is the Church and the society we experience now.

    I’m not convinced that the Church is not going to change dramatically to become a lot more “open” in the future to different ways of doing things (though I am not holding my breath). Women may very well be able to hold the priesthood and enjoy serving in the highest quorums of the church in the future. Regardless of individual misunderstandings and inappropriate behavior by members of the church, I’m not sure why that should reflect poorly on God or on the celestial society.

    I sometimes look at the issue with blacks and the priesthood and think, “Wow. God even allows the men greater latitude in church administration than I would if I were Him,” which is kind of silly since I don’t have all the facts and God does. We as a church held a racist stance and tried to bolster our practice as doctrinal, with all kinds of folklore in its wake. The practice may have had very pragmatic reasons behind it, or it may have been just plain old racism (I believe it was a practice instituted by Brigham Young, not God; though God continued to sustain his prophet despite his weaknesses and unworkable/illogical theological endeavors).

    My belief (though it may be wrong) is that in a world wide church the present order of things may be one of the best ways to reach converts in most cultures. How many men in Venezuela (or pick your country) would be able to accept a woman as a Bishop for example?

    Putting up with “institutionalized” offensiveness is difficult when everyone around you seems okay with it, or worse yet, defends it. Many people view a problem with a practice as a problem with one’s testimony in the priesthood, but I think that line of thinking is just rediculous; and I forgive that immaturity and shallow thinking. I put up with all types of boneheads in the church and I actively work to love them and serve them. I find that I have much greater influence to change a poor practice when those I wish to influence know I am a friend to them, the Church, and to Christ.

    If you haven’t read Eugene England’s Article Why the Church is as True as the Gospel for a while, I would highly recoommend it.

    I am persuaded by experiences like that one at a stake conference and by my best thinking that, in fact, the Church is as “true,” as effective, as sure an instrument of salvation as the system of doctrines we call the gospel-and that that is so in good part because of the very flaws, human exasperations, and historical problems that occasionally give us all some anguish…

    …This is a remarkably complete and sobering inventory of the problems involved in putting God’s knowledge of the universe into human language and then having it understood. It should make us careful about claiming too much for “the gospel,” which is not the perfect principles or natural laws themselves-or God’s perfect knowledge of those things-but is merely the closest approximation that inspired but limited mortals can receive.

    So, to reitterate for lack of creativity, I do not think it beneficial to translate the society of the church to the society of heaven. I also see a lot of value in learning to effectively work on changing practices in a loving and supportive way. Complaining and venting can be fun, but more effective in my prayers to He who is Just. I have noticed that when I am able to first trust in God’s love, mercy, and justice; the fruits of my faith have been greater understanding, compassion, and effectiveness in being an agent of positive change.

  13. Great post, Seraphine (and excellent job on your podcast – I finally finished listening to it).

    I’ve often thought that even if it’s true that the true concept of equality will be revealed to us in the eternities, why shouldn’t the Church treat men and women “equally” on earth?

    What would be lost if the Church affirmatively embraced equality between men and women as its standard here on earth, and then waited for God to explain how gender works in the eternities?

  14. I worry because unrighteous dominion is all too alive and well and hides relatively untouchable behind sincere, legitimate attempts at stewardship — whether a bishop is “committing” a young man to “not allow” his fiancee to work out in “the world” once they are married, or whether a bishop is tellin a guy that the calling of EQ President is his for the taking if only he will shave his goatee (to create a more spiritual look, you see) — unrighteous dominion is the disease. The feminist approach is one (valid) way of analyzing the symptoms.

  15. I also worry because conditional “if/then” caveats like GeoffJ suggested push people who only have faith out into the fringes of percieved looney land. If you were certain, you would worry less and fit better in our church and be less a squeeky wheel about things that bother you but don’t (and shouldn’t) bother someone who actually is certain (like the rest of us) — if you didn’t worry so much then the spirit could confirm the sweet message of peace to your soul and let you know for ascertainty that all this is true (oh why deny yourself such sweet peace?) — if you didn’t worry so much, then certainly your worries wouldn’t be making the devil so happy… You’ll be sorry you didn’t vote for me — I have powers that will make you shake and tremble! Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me — I guess I just got carried away (or started channelling SEKIII or something).

  16. I think one of the salient points here is that some problems are systemic, some provincial. I have never experienced any of the the kinds of horror stories that many of you have, but that may be because my understanding is that my bishop is my servant, and I have every right to tell him if I think he’s out of line or simply say “I interpret the Church’s doctrine and policy differently,” and leave it at that. Fortunately, my bishops have been for the most part very broad-minded and inspired people; I have had very few if any disagreements with them. I don’t want to go into the exceptions, because that might lead to an unfortunate generalization about Utah, which I really want to avoid.

  17. Thanks for the clarification, GeoffJ.

    Ziff, interesting that you compare the word “equality” to the word “preside.” While there’s obviously a lot of difference in how these terms function in the church (and the reasons why they’re murky), I agree that it’s often unclear what “equality” means in the church. I’m not sure the church knows either. I don’t think it has a very consistent definition like social justice movements tend to.

  18. RT, I love that you (and Serenity Valley) are so focused on issues of social justice and trying to explain why they fit so well with the gospel!

    And great point. I echo what Eve said: “I’d never thought to place feminism in the spiritual context of not procrastinating our repentance.”

  19. Alisa and Eve, those sound like very frustrating stories. I think there’s a good chance my fiance and I will keep our finances separate once we’re married, and I hope that I do not run into similar kinds of experiences. Do you think the fact that I’m currently planning not to take his last name will help matters any? 🙂

    jessawhy, I agree that a lot of my “worry” comes from a certain feeling of helplessness. I am not in a position to change things (well, aside from my own attitudes and feelings), and so it’s difficult to figure out how to effectively problem-solve. And of course, certain kinds of problem-solving are going to be very unwelcome. How do you see your worry as problem-solving? (Since I tend to think that my worry often comes because I can’t problem-solve in the ways I would like.}

  20. Marjorie, your story at the end of your comment made me smile. 🙂 I think as a (relatively) young single woman (who is out of the norm in other ways as well) in the church I couldn’t quite get away with that. I’m guessing I would probably just alienate people who were suspect about associating with me in the first place.

    KW, I have read that England essay, and I really like it. It definitely echoes some of my own beliefs about the church and mortality and God working with the limited understanding of the peoples and cultures on earth.

  21. Thanks, ECS! As for your questions, I have no good answers; I wish I did. I think it relates back to RT’s point: it’s important for us to not procrastinate thinking about these issues until the next life because social justice is a very real problem in this one.

    Glenn, take a deep breath. 🙂 Even if I do disagree with a lot of his conclusions, I think GeoffJ was well-meaning with his particular “if/then” caveat (he really was trying to understand rather than trying to make judgments about attitudes). Still, you are right that those kinds of “if/then” caveats get thrown around all over the place (they are another variation of the answer #2 that I cited in my post), and they are frustrating.

  22. Dan Ellsworth, I am trying to imagine being in a position where I would feel comfortable doing the following with a bishop:

    “I have every right to tell him if I think he’s out of line or simply say “I interpret the Church’s doctrine and policy differently,””

    I think the only time I would feel comfortable doing this would be in a situation where I knew a bishop well and there was a mutual respect between us. I’m guessing that in such a situation I probably wouldn’t end up having to say this too often.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that I think my discomfort, while partly a product of my own personality, is also partly systemic (and goes back to the significance of authority and power relations in the church).

  23. I worry when someone tells me to take a deep breath but does not tell me to exhale.:) I never get used to it…

    Seraphine, I agree — I like GeoffJ and enjoy reading his contributions. I wasn’t trying to single him out, but was trying to focus on the potential abuses of the “if/then” caveat he introduced. GeoffJ and I have had discussions before about “certainty” — I’m skeptical.

    Dan — I respect your position re: personal conviction and bishops, but I do get a little nervous when I hear the personal/provincial argument. Maybe you (the general “you” — not the specific you — I’m not going at you here) have not personally experienced the type of horror stories others have, but once you hear that those experiences are really going on — whether it personally effects you or not — don’t you feel a need to take off the provinsional glasses and acknowledge/address the problem? (I’m not saying that you don’t, by the way — again, the general “you”).

  24. Seraphine and Glenn,
    Maybe the reason I am able to take my position regarding Church leaders is, I don’t see the power relationships you see. My leaders are my servants, and sometimes they bring to their service an outdated or simply incorrect worldview. I understand that these things are tricky, because we also believe, as a basic proposition, that our leaders are inspired; it is also a basic proposition of our faith that inspiration sometimes sounds crazy or outdated.
    My personal experience is that the Church doesn’t work for me unless I put qualifiers like “generally speaking,” or “ideally,” in front of even some of its most basic propositions, and I have developed a mental mechanism that inserts those qualifiers into most of what I hear at Church. It’s a useful tool that keeps me from having to swim in exceptionalism all the time.
    I understand all of your concerns for social justice, but I have come to the personal conclusion that the Church doesn’t care about my concept of social justice, so I don’t generally seek it within the context of the Church.
    That is not to say that I won’t try to solve problems and correct people when necessary at Church, but frankly, until the Church becomes consumed with questions of national security, consumption, poverty and the environment, I will not see it as being an institution centered in the ideals of social justice that are most dear to me personally.

  25. Dan,
    I’m really interested in what you’re saying, and trying to understand it better. You indicate that the church isn’t concerned with social justice in a worldly sense (for lack of a better word).
    Do you think the church is interested in social justice at all, or not the kind we discuss in politics or academia?
    Your point that the church doesn’t care about social justice, so why try to find it there just doesn’t make sense in my mind. That is, unless there is an assumption that the criteria that would create social justice are not the same criteria that would create God’s kingdom on earth, or Zion, perhaps.
    I’m also wondering if you’re saying, “Church isn’t the place for trying to create social justice. If you want social justice join the peace corps or something.”
    Interesting ideas, I appreciate your presenting a different perspective.

  26. Dan,
    That is a cool perspective. It’s a choice on how you view the church and how you act and interepret how you are acted upon within it. Do you ever come up against things that are mainstream “here is how you need to conform” and you just say, “nope — not ga daat?” Or do your personal choices and personal direction generally lead you to the same conclusions as others who conform perhaps only because they are “supposed” to?

    Also, when you see a social injustice — and you acknoeldge that many are there — is your response public or private?

  27. Jessawhy,

    I have a long post coming to flesh these ideas out more, and I’m going to trackback so as not to threadjack here.
    But to address your questions briefly, I am a firm believer in private responses to social injustice as much as possible. I have no problem with people publishing their bad experiences on public blogs, though, because I think that serves a healthy support-group function.
    I have to reiterate another point, and I can’t be emphatic enough about this: my bishop is my and my wife’s servant. He has absolutely no “power over” us, whatsoever. He serves us directly through his ministry, and indirectly through Church administration. My wife and I will never lose one second of sleep over whether our bishop has a healthy concept of our relationship, roles, etc. His views on those things don’t concern us, because those questions are between us and the Lord. My wife has absolute autonomy in our marriage and in her personal decisions, and she has education and earnings equal to mine. We live the Gospel as we see fit, and are blessed and happy in doing so. I guess we just don’t give much thought to “power structures,” “patriarchy,” or what other people think.

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  29. Dan, I think your strategies for viewing the church are healthy (i.e. seeing the bishop as a servant, adding qualifiers in front of statements, etc.) Still, I’m agree with RT’s comments in #7 that it is our duty as Christians to be involved in social justice, and I think these things shouldn’t be separate from the church. And, I have a hard time not seeing the “power over” element of the bishop’s relationship with the members of the ward–I’m glad the perspective you have works for you, though.

  30. Equality is great — for the upper 3%. The rest of us have yet to figure out how to find joy in the endlessly loathsome and mundane activities of life at the “survival” level.

    Ah, but why should I worry? At least there seems to be a healthy dose of equality in our poverty level-lives. I work with uncooperative dirty oily machines all day and my wife works with uncooperative dirty oily children. We should be happy!

  31. Great post, Seraphine. I think you’ve really hit on why I’m not necessarily reassured by statements that it will all be fine in the eternities. Because I also hear assertions that LDS women are happier and more privileged than any other group of women, to give one example. So if I find that I often feel more respected and happier outside of LDS contexts, what does that mean about the eternities? Is feeling like a full human being a “worldly” pleasure which I’ll be asked to give up?

    Dan said (#2):

    I would argue, though, is that a lot of us have needs that cannot be met within the context of Church. The Gospel is the most important thing in the world to me, but the Church is only a part of my world. That means that my disappointments in Church are often offset by my enjoyment of other parts of my world.

    I very much agree with this. Though I’d also note that while a bunch of us grew up in Utah, none of the regular ZD bloggers still live there. And at the risk of misrepresenting my co-bloggers, I suspect that most of us would be more likely to be criticized for not making the Church enough a part of our lives, rather than the reverse (we seem to have a lot of anti-social, non-activity-attending types). So I’m not sure that our feminist concerns really arise from focusing too much on the Church, or expecting it to fill all of our needs.

    One other note. I’m certainly interested in the topic of social justice. But for me, this is also about theology. How do I understand myself as a human being, specifically a female human being, from a theological perspective? That’s a question that matters quite a lot to me, and the mixed messages I hear are unsettling.

  32. Lynette,

    I definitely get it when it comes to the theological concerns. And I know it sounds flippant or simplistic, but I really think GeoffJ’s orginial post on personal revelation gets to the heart of the matter, because you have more right to revelation on your status in the eternities than does Pres. Hinckley. And people are correct in pointing out that personal revelation is not always reliable, but it is one of our aims as members of the Church to learn to understand it to the point where we can rely upon it. I’ll be the first to concede that this is easier said than done.
    In any case, though, personal revelation is also the thing that justifies me in correcting my bishop if he is in error, as I mentioned before. Thankfully, that has not happened to me, because my bishops have generally been pretty broad-minded people who understand the scope of their ministry, which is more narrow than we sometimes tend to think.


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