Zelophehad’s Daughters

Fathers are Just Irreplaceable; They Don’t Need to Preside to be Important

Posted by Kiskilili

One popular way of slashing through the Gordian knot that is the term “preside” in Mormon thought is to assert that it is merely ceremonial and thus utterly insignificant to the power dynamics of marriage. In this model, specifically in order to be consonant with a system of equal partnership, “presiding” by definition must entail the fulfillment of tasks of such a thoroughly trivial nature that they in no way impinge on the wife’s status as full equal–such as calling on someone to pray, or (presumably) showing up at Family Home Evening in a ceremonial miter–activities inconsequential enough that they no more risk disequilibrium than does the wife’s turning on the stove without reporting to her husband first. In this system, “presiding” in the home entails the following situation: (a) it must involve performing tasks that are fundamentally insignificant, lest the equal partnership balance be tipped; (b) by their nature, insignificant tasks tend to be simple activities (virtually anyone can perform them with minimal expenditure of effort: hence their insignificance); but (c) these tasks must nevertheless be assigned to the father exclusively, “by divine design.”

In other words, our twisted model of presiding that is sprouting up around equal partnership rhetoric suffers from its own internal tension: presiding must be insignificant at the same time it must be of eternal import. Its value, therefore, is not inherent to our model of appropriate family government (in contrast to the more traditional model of presiding, in which the father’s role is absolutely central), but is artificially assigned.

The oft stated rationale for this model is that fathers tend to float on the periphery of family interaction, drawn to other family members by the weakest of gravitational forces. Although they’re not an inherently necessary or even important element in family dynamics, something should nevertheless be done to at least keep them in orbit.

Purportedly this is a way of claiming that fatherhood is non-fungible. Unfortunately, our extension of trivial tasks the average two-year-old can carry out to fathers, far from making a statement about the essential, irreplaceable importance of fatherhood, is a tacit admission of exactly the opposite: fatherhood is entirely expendable. It’s a made-up calling, like ward bulliten board straightener: if no father is present to choose someone to pray, the situation will simply take care of itself. (I’ve witnessed this repeatedly with roommate prayers: rather than waiting for a stray father to wander into the room and preside, someone just volunteers.) The fact that we’re bent on making fatherhood matter is itself an indication that we think it really doesn’t.

(Of course, fathers have a more strenuous assignment–”providing”–that can be accomplished without any family interaction. But the focus of this post is fathers’ significance to personal family dynamics.)

Or maybe presiding is simply the lure. Maybe once fathers start calling on people to pray, they’ll become interested in those people’s lives, while if they weren’t given such a duty, they’d remain entirely oblivious and emotionally inaccessible. But if this is the ultimate desired outcome for which presiding is merely a hook, why not be explicit about it? Presiding doesn’t ineluctably lead to family involvement any more than asking the cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts for a receipt leads to lifelong friendship.

Thus our solution to the apparent incongruities between presiding and equal partnership only raises further problems whose implications are deeply troubling. The assumptions underlying this model strike me as entirely false and demeaning to fathers. Undoubtedly as a result of nature and nurture operating in tandem, men and women are different, and while there’s a lot of room for overlap, a male parent is just a flat-out irreplaceable asset to a family, regardless of how spectacular or flexible a parent the mother is. Fathers don’t need to be patted on the head and given hollow ritual duties; we don’t have to ask them to flip the light on in the morning and then sit patiently in the darkness of voluntary helplessness until they wake up. Fathers matter in ways far more profound than providing or our attenuated definition of “presiding” indicate, and a father’s absence reverberates far beyond confusion over who should bless the food. Fathers matter not because they preside when present, but in spite of the fact that mothers can easily preside in their absence. In fact, fathers’ ideal duties might best be represented by the term “nurture.” But I don’t think we have to be afraid that gender confusion will result because this is the mother’s primary role. If we’re serious in our claims that men and women are naturally different, we have nothing to fear from the prospect of fathers and mothers nurturing together. Let’s acknowledge fathers’ natural centrality and importance to the family rather than concocting vacuous tasks to keep them minimally at the periphery.

Conclusion: If presiding means exercising authority, fathers are indispensable but mothers are infantilized. If presiding means carrying out trivial and inconsequential ritual functions at family meetings, fathers are entirely dispensable. How about just retiring an overworked term?

205 Responses to “Fathers are Just Irreplaceable; They Don’t Need to Preside to be Important”

  1. 1.

    Fantastic post. The argument that presiding = asking someone to pray because men have to do something is akin to priesthood = men have to do something and are so wicked otherwise that they have to have the priesthood to be as great as women. Both ideas are a misguided attempt to smooth over the very real issue of inequality in the language used to discuss men and women. Not only do such tactics avoid tackling the central issues, but they denigrate everyone by attempting to achieve equality between the sexes can by painting men out as lovable losers.

  2. 2.

    Amen starfoxy!

    In our family, we both emphatically disclaim that fathers should preside, by any definition of the word. We’re also one of those truly 50-50 partnerships in parenting and housekeeping and about a 70-30 split in financial providing.

    anyway, we have never had a crisis where a dinner prayer was left unsaid on account of not knowing who to ask for it, nor in 8 years of marriage have we had the “chaos” I hear about of two people wanting opposing things and no pre-assigned “leader” to resolve it. And thankfully, no church leader or member has ever said a word about how we run our family.

  3. 3.

    While I agree that Father is an important part of a family, more than just giving him a ceremonial role would indicate, I think that the PotF model of Mother in the Home minimizes the role of Father in the life of the family. Just go earn that paycheck, Dad.

    As long as the church promotes as God-ordained the Donna Reed vision of family life, Father is going to have to do SOMETHING in the home to matter. So he’s in charge of not only calling on people to say prayers, but making sure that prayers are said, scriptures are read by the individuals and the family, FHE is held and good doctrine is taught there. I see it as similar to the “servant leadership” model held up by the Baptists as how a home should be run.

    It doesn’t float my boat at all, and that’s not how we do things.

  4. 4.

    Just when I thought you’d retired the “preside” topic :(
    Thanks for bringing it back!

    (now to read the post . . .)

  5. 5.

    Kiskilili,
    I think you’re channeling a little of Mark IV on this post. Isn’t he the one who’s always talking about the church talking down to men and minimizing their importance?

    Excellent points, as always. I particularly like your conclusion. Perhaps your request to retire the term would be met with more praise if it were retired to a Hall of Fame somewhere?
    Let’s send it out with glory!

    As for our family, my husband is a FAR better nurturer than me, he’s more patient, more in tune to the children’s needs, and less focused on the minutia of running a household (which he can afford to be, since he doesn’t).
    I very much agree that fathers are more important than what they do to preside.
    In the end, I think the term is just a way to reinforce the patriarchy of the church. Preside is just an extra special something, like a secret ingredient. Letting go of that would be difficult/impossible for the church’s collective consciousness.

  6. 6.

    Just because adults view some tasks as insignificant that does not mean that children view them the same way. I preside at home because otherwise my children would never see Dad in action. Mom does everything. She even tells Dad what to do (My honey-do list is finally getting shorter, however). Truth be told, my wife does as she pleases regardless of what I say. And many of the family histories I have read describe the same thing.

    But when I comes down to it, My kids need to an example of how Dad has authority over them. And being asked to say the prayer is not an insignificant task, to a 6 year old.

  7. 7.

    Cchrissyy- I didn’t write this post- though it would be seriously awesome if I did.

    Kiskilili- I totally agree with everything you’ve said. Being assigned a token role in the family indicates that we don’t think there is a natural or obvious place for fathers.

    This may sound off-topic but it’s not I promise. For the most part in our culture the definition of masculine is “not feminine,” or to put it another way masculinity is reactive- men and boys must first determine what is feminine and then do the opposite in order to be masculine. (“I can’t tell you what being masculine is, but I can sure tell you what it ain’t. It ain’t crying, baking cakes, or having feelings.”)

    This very easily turns into an anti-female mindset- it isn’t enough to simply like the color blue, and trains, and doggies, they have to actively eschew (or even better, hate) the color pink, dolls, and kitties.

    I think that a large part of male misogyny can be traced back to the negative or reactive definition of masculine. It is hard to actively eschew all things feminine, while still respecting people who are feminine.

    I think that it can also explain some of the fears behind women moving into traditionally male activities. They aren’t so much appalled by women acting like men, they are instead afraid of having the range of acceptably non-feminine (and therefore masculine) activities so constricted that there is literally nothing left.

    I’ve read things (and I wish I could find them again) that indicate that simply having a male caregiver during childhood provides boys and girls with an active definition of masculinity. Having an active definition of masculinity, boys no longer feel the need to eschew (or hate) feminine things. It would then be enough to like trains and doggies- without actively hating dolls and kitties (and by extension girls).

    So all of this is to say that men providing care for their children is an indispensable part of creating a masculinity that is not misogynist.

  8. 8.

    If fathers are so “irreplacable” why is it that so many kids are born to unmarried parents. That so many children grow up without living with their father. That so many kids grow up without having a real relationship with their father.
    I think we ought to be talking about what the church does right in their teachings about presiding and equality, not whether it is confusing or outdated.
    Let’s take a poll. How many wives feel like the church’s teachings about presiding and equality have helped their husband be a better husband?
    Let me vote. I think my husband is a better husband because he’s been taught about presiding and equality. And my father is a better husband and father because he’s been taught about presiding and equality.
    I just really, really doubt that many men have been worse fathers or husbands because of being taught these things.

  9. 9.

    Excellent, insightful post, K. The same justifications you give for why a father must preside over his family I hear given for why the Church must maintain a male-only priesthood and specifically exclude women from leadership positions. Unless men are in charge of women, they won’t work with women, and – a corollary – men can never, gasp, defer to women.

    I think Mormon men have a lot to learn from Colonel Jessup.

  10. 10.

    JKS, if I may ask you, what, exactly has the church taught your husband about presiding? My experience has been that we are taught to serve, and in our current discourse, the words _serve_ and _preside_ are almost interchangeable. And I think we are all very grateful that the church reinforces that behavior.

    But the real question is this: What, exactly, does it mean to preside in the home? Is an LDS father who holds the priesthood supposed to do something that a different man of another faith doesn’t do? I really would like for somebody to spell out for me, in concrete terms, what, exactly I’m supposed to be doing. My current understanding is that I should be loyal to my family and put their needs before mine. Fair enough, but isn’t my wife expected to do the same thing? In what sense, then, am I presiding?

    Jessawhy, Yikes! It sounds like I need to toss out that broken record. But yes, I am bracing myself for Saturday night.

  11. 11.

    ECS,
    You’ve seriously heard that? That’s horrible. I’ve never heard (in public or in private) that men’s inability to defer to women is a (or the) reason for a male-only priesthood. And although I can’t offer a good reason for it, anyone who uses that as a justification needs to be quickly and firmly corrected (or maybe get a job someplace that has, you know, women in roles of authority) (or at least get our more) (or something!).

  12. 12.

    Mark,
    Don’t throw out your record! You make good points. It was K’s line of thinking that reminded me of your views on this issue (good luck with Saturday night, I’ll be out partying whilst you’re getting lectured :)

    Starfoxy,
    Great points. I have read (don’t know where) that the presence of a father helps both girls and boys better develop their sexual identity (that may not be the right term). But, it encourages femininity in girls and masculinity in boys, or something to that effect.

  13. 13.

    Or, for that matter, get called into Primary where, under the current organizational structure, he will have to defer to the woman who presides over Primary.

  14. 14.

    Oops! OK, great thoughts and writing Kiskilili, and hat tip to Starfoxy for being the only other blogger I respect and agree with as much as Kiskilili !

  15. 15.

    Please keep in mind that lots and lots of church members don’t have the trouble some do with the P-word.

    I have great sympathy for those who struggle, but I understand this in a way that makes sense to me and has worked well in my family. I don’t see it as “twisted” or “vacuous.”

    Maybe we should give up the p-word, the same way that the word “gay” has been stripped from its original meaning by the persistent and widespread use of a different meaning.

    So what word are you going to use instead to describe the unique contribution that dads make to their family?

  16. 16.

    That’s a good question, Naismith.

    I think that we first need to identify what those unique contributions are. What are the things that a father can do for his family that nobody else can?

  17. 17.

    So what word are you going to use instead to describe the unique contribution that dads make to their family?

    Instead of “Presiding”, how about “Parenting”?

  18. 18.

    Thanks as always, Zillah and cchrissyy! I’m always glad to see you commenting, and I’m of course honored to be confused with Starfoxy. :)

    You make a good point, Ann, that one issue I’m eliding is mothers’ obligation to stay home, thus spending the lion’s share of the time with the children and effectively sidelining the father. This model in which fathers then need authority in a sense to make up for their relative lack of time spent with children doesn’t float my boat either–one reason, as I’ve blogged about before, is that I think if one parent is expected to spend all the time with the children, that parent should also preside; they simply have more information about what’s best for the family.

    Jessawhy, I’ll retire the topic when the Church retires the term. :) This is at least a completely different angle from what I’ve addressed in the past, though. And I think you’re onto something that it would be difficult for us to deliver a coup de grace to our patriarchal language. Using the word “preside” is a way to cling to patriarchal values without owning up to it.

    Hi, Bruce! Thanks for commenting here–I enjoy reading your thoughts. I generally agree with you; I just think our official model of fatherhood should extend beyond calling on people to pray; kids should see fathers in action both exercising authority over them as well as in other contexts. Presiding involves a triangle: the father’s relationship to his children (presiding over them), his relationship to his wife (presiding over her?), and the mother’s relationship to the children (refraining from presiding over them so the father will have something to do?). I don’t disagree with your “right” to call on someone to pray, but I wonder whether your wife has the same “right”? (See the third leg above.) You mention that your wife doesn’t submit to you and that there’s evidence that in practice wives didn’t submit even in the past. I guess I wonder why, if Mom tells Dad what to do and that’s acceptable, the Church is telling us it’s of eternal import that Dad presides (let alone why women in those family histories were probably swearing obedience to their husbands if it wasn’t actually expected of them, a not unrelated issue).

    Broken record alert: We have lots of tricks for trying to escape the text’s obvious implications. For example, we collect empirical data and use it as evidence for what the text means, which is pretty backwards considering we disregard all sorts of commandments (think about how this could be applied to eating meat sparingly–on the basis of observations we might interpret that verse to mean we should eat meat every day, since we know Mormons who are doing it!). Or we look for translations of phrases we don’t like in other languages to see whether they clarify (read: are more appealing). In what universe do you look up translations of things in languages you don’t speak natively, things written in your own vernacular, in order to understand them better? Would that be the universe of denial and motivated misunderstanding?

    Great comment, Starfoxy! I’ve read similar things to you and Jessawhy–girls and boys both benefit from active involvement of a father figure, and I think you’re absolutely right that boys benefit from a more expansive and flexible model of masculinity than just reflexively eschewing girly things. It seems like a shame for boys’ (and girls’) interaction with their fathers to center exclusively on the exercise of authority, as though this (and anti-feminine attitudes) circumscribe masculine identity.

    JKS, I appreciate your willingness to engage me even though we obviously disagree. Regarding the beginning of your comment, I’m not sure what you’re concluding–I absolutely agree with you that huge numbers of children grow up fatherless or virtually fatherless. Is the implication that fatherhood must be expendable or God would not permit this? Obviously people make do, but I think fatherlessness is a genuine loss and far from the ideal.

    You don’t specify in your proposed poll: a better husband than what? Because the question relevant to my post is, would your husband be a better father and spouse if he’d been taught to preside (pick your model for what that means), or if he’d been taught a model only of equal partnership and nurturing?

    Like ECS, I’ve heard repeatedly, both online and in real life, that the latter model is simply a pipe dream. That it’s unfortunate that men are hardwired to dominate women, but there’s simply no getting around it: the best we can hope for is to create a relatively benevolent patriarchy that entices them into family involvement. That their aggressive tendencies need to be channeled into exericising priesthood authority over others or they’ll turn derelict. That we either have to let men run the show or they’ll defect from family relationships and embrace a life of crime. But this doesn’t actually fit my experience, for which reason I have a lot more faith in men than that.

    Mark, don’t ever toss out a broken record on my blog! I have no room to complain if people sit at the piano and hit the same key repeatedly. :) Anyway, you ask such relevant questions: if presiding is just all-around good living, why on earth are men asked to do it to the exclusion of women?

  19. 19.

    Naismith, I’m glad you’ve come to a conclusion that works for you. My point in the post wasn’t that most people dislike the term “preside,” but more that I think there’s a trade-off: we do women a disservice with hard definitions of preside, excluding them from power; we do men a disservice with soft definitions of preside, implying they are fundamentally unimportant to the family.

    It’s not a problem of one definition replacing another. It’s a problem of no definition replacing a former definition. I like “parenting.” But if it’s specific to fathers and resists reduction, why not hijack the word “father” as a verb? (We still have “sire” and “beget” for what “father” traditionally means.) What fathers should do in their families that no one else can is father.

  20. 20.

    I think something that doesn’t enter into discussions on this is that I think presiding implies a certain responsibility in a stewardship sense…like maybe men really are answerable to God in a way that women aren’t…in how they treat their wives and children. I don’t know exactly how that works, but seeing as there is that oath and covenant of the priesthood that men have…. I dunno.

    Just something to throw in the mix. I really don’t think preside means the same thing as serve. And I really don’t think it’s just about the parenting role, either. I understand that we may not always capture it all well in our discourse, but I don’t think it’s simply something that can be thrown away for just being a father, because presiding involves more than just fatherhood. When my husband is presiding, he’s creating an umbrella for our home and family to thrive. He’s anchoring himself to God first, and then bringing me in as his equal partner, and choosing to be engaged in our family. This goes way beyond choosing who says the prayer.

    There are many women out there whose husbands don’t even do the first. And I think that when men don’t preside, the whole family is thrown off.

    Implicit in the presiding notion is that women need to allow that to happen. But I realize that for many will open a whole other can of worms….

    To me, it’s like I said elsewhere. This kind of stuff requires a whole different set of assumptions and perspectives and definitions to really work. Power, equality, etc. just mean different things in the gospel, imo.

  21. 21.

    This kind of stuff requires a whole different set of assumptions and perspectives and definitions to really work. Power, equality, etc. just mean different things in the gospel, imo.

    I agree. Could you perhaps give us some indication of what the different set of assumptins and definitions are and how they work in the Church?

  22. 22.

    When my [wife] is nurturing, [s]he’s creating an umbrella for our home and family to thrive. {S}He’s anchoring [her]self to God first, and then bringing me in as h[er] equal partner, and choosing to be engaged in our family. This goes way beyond choosing who says the prayer.

    m&m, doesn’t it work just as well that way? In other words, I don’t think we are any closer to understanding what men are supposed to do that is unique to them.

  23. 23.

    Of course, there’s the “Princess Bride” model of the problem, which basically translates to “maybe we don’t yet understand Heavenly Father’s idea of the concept and its execution, and we have a truly limited linguistic ability to describe it, and so we just need to do it and swallow our collective pride, and have the faith that we’ll understand it better.”

    In other words, maybe the word doesn’t represent the concept the way we think it represents the concept, and since all we’ll do is bash it, we’re no closer to truly understanding it.

    (And yes, I have certain problems with it. But I’m muddling through.)

  24. 24.

    Queuno, speaking for myself, the main problem I have with the term is that I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do with it. I’m not bashing it, I’m asking somebody (anybody?) for help in understanding just what it means.

    I’m totally on board with the idea that God understands things we don’t. But I can’t be expected to do something that I don’t know I’m supposed to do, right? This weekend in conference, if Pres. Monson askes us all to qwporiqohti, we can be expected to ask some follow-up questions. That isn’t bashing, that’s trying to do what you are supposed to do.

  25. 25.

    the main problem I have with the term is that I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do with it.

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my husband. Somehow the conversation led to me saying “I mean it’s not like you preside over me.” (where preside is “take charge and boss me around). Feeling that I had just accused him of breaking a commandment he says “Hey! I preside!” I responded by asking him what he does that counts as presiding and he just stared at me.

  26. 26.

    Kiskilili, an excellent post; thanks.

  27. 27.

    Mark, to qwporiqohti is to kuzuitikikilouta, especially while hovattramorking, but never while zudkrudgelkivining. I’m kind of surprised you didn’t know that. It’s pretty clear if you read D&C 1 carefully. :)

  28. 28.

    More seriously, I think you make a great point, Mark. I find it strange that we’re willing to put up with such clashing of meanings in this area, and to even claim the clashing of meanings is a good thing.

    What if there were a question about presiding in the temple recommend interview: “Do you preside over your family?” (if male and married) “Do you support your husband in presiding over your family?” (if female and married) and perhaps versions that talked about “preparing” to preside or be presided over for single people. I wonder if that would push more people to wonder as Mark does what the Church is precisely asking us to do.

  29. 29.

    Ziff, I’m pretty sure hovattramorking is illegal in Louisiana.

  30. 30.

    President Kimball explained:

    The husband presides in marriage. In the beginning when God created man and the woman, he said to the woman, ‘Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule [but I like the word preside] over thee’ (Gen. 3:16)

    Elder John A. Widtsoe:

    The Priesthood always presides and must, for the sake of order. The women of a congregation or auxiliary—many of them—may be wiser, far greater in mental powers, even greater in natural power of leadership than the men who preside over them. That signifies nothing. The Priesthood is not bestowed on the basis of mental power but is given to good men and they exercise it by right of divine gift, called upon by the leaders of the Church.

    President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that this relationship extends to the home.

    “There is nothing in the teachings of the gospel which declares that men are superior to women,” he said. “The Lord has given unto men the power of priesthood and sent them forth to labor in his service. The woman’s calling is in a different direction. The most noble, exalting calling of all is that which has been given to women as the mothers of men. Women do not hold the priesthood, but if they are faithful and true they will become priestesses and queens in the kingdom of God, and that implies that they will be given authority. The women do not hold the priesthood with their husbands, but they do reap the benefits coming from that priesthood”

  31. 31.

    Ziff and Mark, Ha!
    So funny. I am going to start this conversation with my husband, “What does presiding mean to you? How do you do it?”
    Of course, chances are I’ll be accused of having a hammer and seeing everything as a nail. . . that’s how those kind of conversations go :)
    Such is the life of a Mormon feminist. (sigh)

    #23 Queno. I’ve seen Princess Bride many times (I’m not a cult follower, tho) and I don’t have any idea how you’re comparing it to this post.

    #28 Ziff
    Actually, I think having this as a temple recommend question wouldn’t do much. I think people would just answer “yes” like they do for all of the other questions, without much discussion. But, perhaps I’m a little cynical, or like Naismith, think that most members aren’t confused by the apparent contradictions.

    #30 Howard
    First, those can’t be the most recent quotes about presiding, so I’m pretty sure those are some of the ones that are “out of style” in the church. I’m also not sure exactly what your point was in making them. Care to expand?

  32. 32.

    Kiskilili, I love this post.
    I lovfe you.
    Will you marry me?
    I’ll preside, you nurture.
    I’m tired of nurturing.
    Okay?

  33. 33.

    Sure, according to President Kimball we are to preside (rule) over our wives. We are to avoid unrighteous dominion such as verbal, physical, or emotional abuse.

    Quotes are from Sam B.

    Out of style is an interesting phrase when applied to a Prophet’s reading of Genesis. Please point me to something more “in style”.

  34. 34.

    Interesting quotes, Howard. Thanks.

  35. 35.

    Sorry, the link should read “Liahona June 1990″ not Sam B.

  36. 36.

    Howard, thanks for defining the extreme position that “preside” is too soft a word. Here’s hoping that in another generation, Kiskilili’s wish will come true, and we’ll have a prophet read that verse and say, “rule over, and some have said ‘preside’, but I prefer ‘be an equal partner with’”.

    Ann, I am shocked to learn that the good state of Louisiana is going to prevent Mark from living his religion! Where is the ACLU when you need them?

  37. 37.

    “You don’t specify in your proposed poll: a better husband than what? Because the question relevant to my post is, would your husband be a better father and spouse if he’d been taught to preside (pick your model for what that means), or if he’d been taught a model only of equal partnership and nurturing?”

    My point is that I think husbands are better for having been taught about presiding AND “equal partners”. It’s not an either/or thing about which is better.
    My feeling is preside doesn’t just mean serve, it doesn’t just mean ceremonial, it isn’t about power or control. It is about accountability (m&m refers to this). The church puts men’s eternal soul on the line for their spiritual actions in their family.
    I’m not saying Mormon men are perfect. But I think the church helps men become better husbands and fathers. The whole “preside” and “equal partners” does a lot of good.

  38. 38.

    JKS, the options I was thinking of are these:

    (a) Learning about equal partners AND presiding.
    (b) Learning both parties should be equal partners and nurture (without any mention of presiding).

  39. 39.

    “Regarding the beginning of your comment, I’m not sure what you’re concluding”

    I was saying that in our society fathers are completely replaceable. It means very little except that you provided sperm. Single mothers can raise children just fine, so many claim. And if they can’t, the state helps out, no problem.
    You and I know that fathers are extremely important. I wish everyone understood this. My point is that telling someone “You are a father” isn’t really enough to make them be even a mediocre father. I support the church in the high standards they expect from fathers and husbands.
    I think that if you take away the whole “preside” concept you will start losing a whole lot more. And as I am a SAHM woman with 4 children and a husband who just turned 40, I like that my husband has societal pressures from the church (and internal pressures from his testimony) that his obligations to his family are important and that he needs to be a spiritual leader in his home. It helps balance out the Hollywood societal pressure and liberal Seattle societal pressure that if your marriage isn’t perfect you can look around, divorce is no big deal, soccer practice is more important than families living together and God doesn’t expect anything from you so you can just let your wife do it.

  40. 40.

    Just to clarify: there are a number of possible ways to reconcile presiding with equal partnership, but I think they fall into three general categories:

    1. Presiding entails genuine authority and accountability; thus “equal” involves something other than power (traditionalist).

    2. Presiding is ceremonial and involves no true exercise of power (revisionist).

    3. Presiding can be reconciled with equality in a special way that surpasses mortal understanding and in which we must exercise faith (ineffabilist).

    The intent of the post was to explain one objection I have with the second position particularly. (I personally reject all three options and hold instead that the two are irreconcilable.) Perhaps I’ll write a follow-up discussing the problems I see with what I’m calling the ineffabilist position.

  41. 41.

    *Look out – Super Stinkin’ Long Comment Coming*

    Ok, so, I haven’t read all the comments, but I have a thought here, so I’m sorry if it turns out to be redundant.

    I love that my husband is supposed to “preside” and let me tell you why. He works full-time and goes to graduate school which also includes an internship, so clearly, he’s not home much. Needless to say, this situation can feel overwhelming at times, at least to me anyway. We have 4 kids, age 6 and younger, and I’m dog-tired and worn out by the time he gets home, and frankly, I’m tired of being in charge of everything and everyone all day long. I love being a mom and all, but it’s a heavy responsibility at times–trying to tend to physical, educational, emotional, and spiritual needs throughout the day.

    When I think of him “presiding,” even with the example of calling on someone for a prayer, I love that he does that when he’s home. Often, at least in our house, it means refereeing an argument over who gets to say it, who said it last time, but *I* wanted to say it this time, blah, blah, blah. When it’s him calling on them, it’s NOT me, therefore he’s refereeing the fight. Conflict resolution (at prayer time, lol), father’s blessings, gathering the family for FHE, interviews with children — these things provide a way for my husband to get to know his children better since he is out of the home so much providing (and learning in grad school ways to provide more effectively).

    Daily, I call upon someone to pray and resolve any ensuing conflicts. I’m always gathering the kids together (for something or other). I “interview” them every day after school. And I can call upon HF to bless my children just as effectively as my husband can confer a priesthood blessing. I don’t know why it’s one way for him and another for me, but hey, we don’t pee the same way either. I guess I figure it doesn’t really matter that much.

    These “presiding” opportunities, service opportunities really, give my husband more opportunity to know his kids and they him. It also means when he’s home “presiding, ” he is helping to bear my burden (and therefore fulfilling his baptismal covenant). With me home taking care of our children, I help bear his burden because he knows that our home is being taken care of. Neither of us is dispensible.

    For me, I feel that him “presiding” when he is here is absolutely *essential* if only to me (and my sanity). He has expressed that often he is tempted to defer to me, not because he wants to shirk his responsibilites, but because he feels I know better because I have more experience in the home. At this point, that is true, but I feel presiding helps him gain some of that experience and learning. Let’s face it, for most of the day, I’m responsible for EVERYTHING. I feel, it would be unfair to ME (and the kids) if he didn’t “preside” when he was home. Should a husband and father do all these things without being called upon by a church hierarchy to do so? Yes. But I think it’s nice that we have it spelled out for us. I think it’s nice that we have a prophet today too, even though we have the scriptures before us and we should already know how to live.

    I guess I think of it more as him presiding over the home when he’s there (and me presiding in his absence, which is most of the time actually), and not him presiding over me. I guess maybe I think of it as an upside-down triangle. I feel like this model helps me to be a better mother and wife and he a better father and husband. That’s my experience in MY family anyway, I have no judgment on what others do in theirs. I have no stewardship there (nor do I “preside,” lol)

  42. 42.

    You know, Lisa, I am a Massachusetts resident. ;)

  43. 43.

    Now now, Kiskilili, aren’t you married to your blogging first?

  44. 44.

    33. Howard,
    My comment about the quotes being out of style was tongue in cheek. It’s just that I hear a lot of people quoting prophets, modern and not-so-modern, and they seem to contradict each other, in much the same way as we’ve seen through this discussion.
    Everyone seems to agree that the most recent prophet’s statements overturn the previous prophet’s (to the extent that they disagree, which no one can ever agree on). So, I was just noticing that your prophet quotes weren’t very recent. That’s all.
    Not really stylish, I suppose, just dated, and potentially no longer doctrine. . . (Here is where I should spend a great deal of time to find more modern quotes that potentially contradict yours. But, I haven’t the time, nor the energy, nor really the desire)
    Thanks for the links, though. You did your research ;)

  45. 45.

    HeidiAnn, would it be fair to characterize your position as traditionalist (a la comment 40): presiding entails genuine authority and goes beyond mere ceremonial significance? If presiding involves serving and opportunities of getting to know the kids, how exactly do you understand his presiding (when he’s around) to differ substantively from your being in charge (when he’s not)? It sounds like it’s a smart idea for you to trade off childcare responsibilities and for him to spell you when he gets home. How does this fit specifically with a model of presiding?

    JKS, I think you and I are in agreement (and probably disagree with extreme feminists) that men and women are not always interchangeable and that fatherhood is important. Where we disagree is that I think telling men to be involved fathers–to father in a parallel fashion to how mothers mother–is a much better message than simply telling men to preside, partly because nobody seems sure what exactly the latter is all about.

  46. 46.

    Ziff: thanks for defining the extreme position that “preside” is too soft a word.

    Preside as used in the OP appears to be too soft according to President Kimball who chose to softened “rule” by substituting it with preside.

    We can also be guided by The Apostle Paul: Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it

  47. 47.

    Jessawhy (#31) you’re probably right about the temple recommend interview question. I was just thinking maybe if presiding were on there, we could have more arguments about it like sometimes come up around the edges of the Word of Wisdom (like what kinds of teas are okay) or tithing (the eternal gross vs. net debate).

  48. 48.

    Howard, it sounds like you definitely belong in my camp 1 (traditionalists). Although the post wasn’t addressed to the particular set of issues you’re raising–I was examining one rationale for the revisionist stance–my objections to your model are many and varied: in short, women’s personal agency is severely curtailed, their access to God is oblique, and their interaction with the sacred generally is narrowly circumscribed. If women are in no way in inferior to men, as Joseph Fielding Smith alleges, what could possibly justify such a position?

  49. 49.

    Kiskilili,
    God is no respecter of persons, are we inferior to President Monson? Is our access to God oblique or limited by his calling? Do we have less agency?

  50. 50.

    Are we playing the question game?

  51. 51.

    If so, may I pose one? Are we told we should be equal partners with President Monson?

  52. 52.

    I would argue that our access to God is less direct than President Monson’s and our agency is more limited (I, for example, am not entitled to change Church policy; President Monson is). But subjection to leaders is probably necessary to smooth functioning on a scale of 13 million. Is it equally necessary on a scale of 2?

    Furthermore, wives’ subjection to husbands occurs on a more intimate, personal scale entirely: in your model, wives’ agency is curtailed in every aspect of their personal lives. Observe that there is no realm in which married or underage women are not presided over; the same cannot be said of men, who are allowed to make decisions that affect their own lives as well as their wives’, and are held accountable for those decisions where their wives are infantilized and never allowed to function as adult members of the community, making their own decisions and taking responsibility for them. Do women really never attain maturity beyond the level of children?

    The God who asks Eve to hearken to Adam and wives to submit to their husbands is undeniably a respecter of persons. This is another instance in which our sacred texts are simply at odds.

  53. 53.

    I would argue that our access to God is less direct than President Monson’s and our agency is more limited
    Does President Monson’s priesthood, calling or direction limit our access to God or do we limit our own access? According to McConkie men and women may enjoy equal access to God as any of the Prophets enjoyed.

    I completely disagree that our agency is more limited. Agency is our right to chose good vs. evil, a woman’s agency is not curtailed by following President Kimball’s quote her agency is required and invoked to follow it.

  54. 54.

    If so, may I pose one? Are we told we should be equal partners with President Monson?
    No not you Ziff, but I’m sure Mrs. Monson expects to be an equal partner with him.

  55. 55.

    Howard, my point in asking was already articulated by Kiskilili: Having someone preside over the Church makes sense, given its size. There’s no real need in an organization of 2. So accepting President Monson as presiding over us does not imply that women need men to preside over them in their marriages.

  56. 56.

    m&m, doesn’t it work just as well that way? In other words, I don’t think we are any closer to understanding what men are supposed to do that is unique to them.

    Mark, at some point, we are each supposed to figure out what we are supposed to do by doing our best to study the doctrine and then live it. I have my own thoughts on this, but my thoughts aren’t binding on you or anyone else. And my experience has been that I have learn more about what nurturing means by trial and error and seeking the Spirit than simply by definitions and checklists.

    It’s like any gospel principle. What does coming to Christ mean, really? What does having charity really feel like? What does the temple ceremony really mean? To a degree, figuring all of this out is part of the process and ends up being individual, methinks.

    All I can say is that I am more free to nurture when my husband truly presides. Our home is different when he does. And I know it when it is happening, and so does he. :)
    (Of course, it stands to reason that it’s also noticeable when my heart is really in my role, too. But in the end, it’s such a symbiotic thing that at some point I can’t really explain it all. But I am learning to recognize what it all feels like.

    Weird, perhaps, but that is how it is for me.

  57. 57.

    My point in the post wasn’t that most people dislike the term “preside,” but more that I think there’s a trade-off: we do women a disservice with hard definitions of preside, excluding them from power; we do men a disservice with soft definitions of preside, implying they are fundamentally unimportant to the family.

    I understood your point the first time you made it; your essay was clear and cohesive and compelling. I simply don’t agree with it. Saying it over and over is not going to convince me. I honestly don’t think we do women or men a disservice in the current church usage of preside.

    I truly have compassion for those of you who don’t feel comfortable with the current church teachings on this particular issue. But lots of us do seem to “get it.” This doesn’t mean we are smarter or more spiritual. I have no advice for you on how to “get it,” because a lot of spiritual things we know come as a gift.

    It just means we see things a different way. And maybe the reason there is no groundswell to get rid of the p-word is that there are lots of members who see it like I do.

    Yes, I have a lot of respect for the power of fatherhood. My daughter’s non-member husband is an amazing and supportive father. A great dad.

    But he doesn’t attempt to preside. The notion is outside of their frame of reference.

    My husband does a lot for our family in his role as presider, distinct from his role as father. He uses his priesthood to serve and bless the lives of everyone in the family. He takes responsibility for priesthood functions like blessing babies, giving blessings to those who are ill, helping set us apart in callings, and giving father’s blessings.

    That is hardly “unimportant,” even though he doesn’t dictate or make unilateral decisions.

  58. 58.

    So accepting President Monson as presiding over us does not imply that women need men to preside over them in their marriages.
    Ziff, President Monson as presiding over us was offered as a clear example that exercising righteous dominion as a male priesthood holder does not limit a woman’s agency and access to God. The same is true for a woman’s Stake president and her Bishop. So how does her husband’s righteous dominion within the family limit her agency and access to God?

    Kiskilili,
    Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

    As a people, we are in the habit of saying that we believe in latter-day revelation. We announce that the heavens have been opened, that God has spoken in our day, that angels have ministered to men, that there have been visions and revelations, and that no gift possessed by the ancients has been withheld.

    But usually, when we talk in this way, we are thinking of the examples of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or Spencer W. Kimball. We are thinking of apostles and prophets. We are thinking of them and of the Church itself operating on the principle of revelation.

    But revelation is not restricted to the prophet of God on earth. The visions of eternity are not reserved for General Authorities. Revelation is something that should be received by every individual. For the Lord said in D&C 1:35 “… I am no respecter of persons …” and every soul is just as precious to him as the souls of those who are called to positions of leadership. Because he operates on principles of eternal, universal law, any individual who obeys the law that entitles him to get revelation can know exactly what President Kimball knows, can speak with angels just as well as Joseph Smith spoke with them, and can be in tune with all things spiritual.

    There are two kinds of knowledge, intellectual and spiritual. While we are in school we seek knowledge primarily in the intellectual area, which knowledge probably comes by reason and through the senses.

    This is a tremendously vital and important thing—we encourage all people who desire to progress and have enlightenment and advancement in their lives to improve their intellect.

    But, I suggest that we need to devote an increasingly large portion of our time in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. When we deal with spiritual realities, we are not talking about gaining something merely by reason or through the senses. But we are talking about revelation—about learning how to come to a knowledge of the things of God by tuning the spirit that we have to the eternal Spirit of God. This is the channel and the way that revelation comes to an individual.

    It does not concern me very much that somebody evaluates either a doctrinal or a Church problem of any sort when he does it from the standpoint of intellect alone. Everything spiritual is in total and complete accord with the intellectual realities that we arrive at through reason. But when the two are compared as to their relative merits, the things that are important are spiritual things and not intellectual things. The things of God are known only by the Spirit of God.

    It is true that you can reason about doctrinal matters, but you do not get religion into your life until you feel something in your soul, until there has been a change made in your heart, until you become a “new creature of the Holy Ghost (2 Cor. 5:17). Thanks to God, every member of the Church has the opportunity to do this because, after baptism, every member of the Church obtains “the gift of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 33:15), which means that he then has the right to constant companionship of this member of the Godhead, based upon his personal righteousness and faithfulness.

    Now I say that we are entitled to revelation. Every member of the Church is entitled to get revelation from the Holy Ghost; he is entitled to have angels visit; he is entitled to view the visions of eternity; and he is entitled to see God the same way that any prophet in reality has seen him.

  59. 59.

    Kiskilili; we do women a disservice with hard definitions of preside, excluding them from power
    The power difference between men and women within the church is the priesthood. Men have it, women don’t and this was decided by God, our maker. You might think of Genesis 3:16 as instructions from the human user manual.

    When a man presides in righteous dominion over his wife he is NOT excluding her from power, he is including her in the power he has been ordained to receive. As m&m points out, she feels part of this power when she righteously exercises her agency by submitting.

  60. 60.

    Howard, wht happens when a wife’s personal revelation conflicts with her husband’s? You could quote another hundred pages from Elder McConkie, and it would not even begin gto address that question.

    Ziff (27),

    you are a regular Gazelam! And you have provided evidence, assuming any more were necessary, that Z’sDs is a True blog. One must possess a Urim and Thummim and seerstones in order to read it.

    Ann(29),

    I think I’m scheduled to work a shift at the storehouse during the first week in November. Maybe I’ll stop by and we can get together for some hovattramorking. Just think — a first-week-of-the-month HT visit!

    Jessawhy(31)

    chances are I’ll be accused of having a hammer and seeing everything as a nail.

    This is a very interesting point, and presents the opportunity for a great threadjack. Conversations like this make it clear that we Mormons struggle to define the patriarchal order in a positive way. We want it to be good, but we have a hard time explaining it in concrete terms. It occurs to me that secular feminism also struggles to define it, but in a negative way. That is to say, everybody agrees that it is bad, but how, exactly? For instance, I’ve seen the current mess in the financial markets blamed on the partiarchy. When people struggle in their relationships, even lesbians, the problems can be traced to the patriarchy. We seem to use patriarchy as a stand-in for heirarchy. In that sense, even a matriarchy is a patriarchy. Clear? And don’t laugh, lots of people take this very, very seriously. As near as I can discern, our working, secular understanding is this: everything that is bad = Teh Patriarchy. Incomprehensibility on this topic isn’t limited to just Mormons, by any means.

  61. 61.

    Mark Brown, Your example is not gender related. What happens when your personal revelation conflicts with your Bishop’s, your Stake President’s, the Prophets?

  62. 62.

    Howard,

    The thrust of Elder Oaks’ talk in conference on this topic is that presiding works differently in the church than it does in the home. Even though we use the same word, in the church, preside necessarily means having a organizational chart with somebody at the top. Nobody even makes a pretense of being equal partners, so the conflict dioesn’t exist there. However, in the home we are supposed to have equality AND presiding. So I will repeat my question: Assume marriage partners both have what they feel is personal revelation on a topic, but their inspiration conflicts. What should the presider do?

  63. 63.

    Mark Brown,
    There are many similarities and some differences in the way priesthood authority functions in the family and in the Church. Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

    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. The concept of partnership functions differently in the family than in the Church.

    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”

    Sure, one is a hierarchical government the other patriarchal government. Both are governed by the power of the priesthood. Men and women have separate (read different) responsibilities by working together we are equal partners even though we are doing different tasks.

    The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. This is to be respected in both forms of government.

  64. 64.

    What should the presider do?
    Lead in righteousness. In the event of conflict lead the family in fasting and prayer. If the conflict continues consider taking the issue to your Bishop who has the power and authority to receive inspiration and revelation for both of you.

    She has the agency to follow your righteousness lead or not just as she does to follow her B, SP and Prophet’s righteousness lead. The style of government changes nothing. The power of the priesthood does not interfere with her agency or her personal access to God.

    If you were looking for a way to compel her as might be implied by an organizational chart I do not think you will find it in the gospel.

  65. 65.

    The power difference between men and women within the church is the priesthood. Men have it, women don’t and this was decided by God, our maker. You might think of Genesis 3:16 as instructions from the human user manual.

    Genesis 3:16 ain’t my human user manual, any more than I consider Proverbs 23:13 an acceptable childrearing manual (“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”)

    You accept that there is a prescribed power difference between men and women but rather than acknowledging that this dynamic truncates women’s agency you instead state that the dynamic is divinely inspired. Maybe it is, but that’s not entirely relevant. Whether inspired or not, it truncates women’s agency.

    When a man presides in righteous dominion over his wife he is NOT excluding her from power, he is including her in the power he has been ordained to receive. As m&m points out, she feels part of this power when she righteously exercises her agency by submitting.

    She submits to participate in his power. But in submitting, she renounces her own power. Agency means choices. In your system, women are asked to defer to men rather than make their own choices. This is an abbreviation of their agency. In order to submit to men’s power, they have to trade in their own power over their lives.

  66. 66.

    She has the agency to follow your righteousness lead or not just as she does to follow her B, SP and Prophet’s righteousness lead. The style of government changes nothing. The power of the priesthood does not interfere with her agency or her personal access to God.

    True–she can do whatever she wants, just like passing laws against murder doesn’t limit my ability to shoot someone in the head with a gun. But let’s say she wants to live the system. She submits to her husband’s “righteousness lead,” as you call it. As a willing participant in the system, she’s now voluntarily limiting her choices and her responsibility.

    You yourself quoted Paul above as saying “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.” This model puts the husband between the wife and God, thereby channeling her access to the divine through her husband.

    If the “style of government” proposed doesn’t actually structure our relationships to God and to each other, what on earth does it do?

    If you were looking for a way to compel her as might be implied by an organizational chart I do not think you will find it in the gospel.

    Ah. So there’s no problem because the wife should voluntarily submit to the husband’s authority so the husband doesn’t have to compel her? Effectively, she should be compelled to submit by gospel principles, not by his own personal insistence? What’s the substantive difference? Either way she’s compelled to submit and defer her agency to her husband’s “righteousness lead.”

  67. 67.

    Agency. Please explain how a woman’s agency is truncated.

    The priesthood is not his power; it is the authority to use God’s power for righteousness within our stewardships. By submitting, she announces her power; she announces that she is ready to participate in God’s power through the priesthood held by her husband.

    Imagine Christ wanting the cup to be lifted but instead says not my will but thine be done. That is power.

  68. 68.

    This model puts the husband between the wife and God, thereby channeling her access to the divine through her husband.
    No, she has multiple channels, her own relationship with God and also through the priesthood of her husband, B, SP & Prophet.

    She is not compelled, she chooses to submit or not just as Christ choose.

  69. 69.

    You bet. Agency: the ability to choose and act for oneself. Single woman makes life choice. She exercises agency. Married woman defers to husband’s decision about life choice. She refrains from exercising her agency.

    Several on this thread have defined presiding essentially as the exercise of priesthood, but since you take seriously women’s submission, let’s not conflate the two (related) issues. Priesthood is God’s power. But it also confers power in the marriage relationship on the husband. If he blesses a sick infant and she recovers, that’s God’s (priesthood) power. If he makes life decisions that affect both parties, that’s his power.

    In the case of Christ, his submission to God’s will, a deliberate limiting of his personal choices in the moment, resulted in God’s bestowing increased power on him. But how does that happen for women? Or is power just some feel-good metaphysical nonsense word swirling around righteous people like a halo but with no clear definition or implications?

    She is not compelled, she chooses to submit or not just as Christ choose.

    I’m not following your reasoning: are you saying that since a woman can choose whether or not to limit her agency by submitting to her husband, then if she does choose to submit, her agency is not limited in that situation?

    I can choose not to follow my advisor’s suggestions. But if I want to stay in my program, I’m compelled to conform my will to his. Agency allows me to leave. It doesn’t allow me to do whatever I want and still get the degree.

    If women want to stay in God’s program, they submit to their husbands’ wills (in your system). They can choose to leave and go to hell or they can choose to submit. But if they do choose to submit, what that submission entails is accepting limitations on their agency.

    If submission has absolutely nothing to do with renouncing power/agency, then why not have men submit to women? Why not make the wife the head of the husband, presiding over him in righteousness? If everyone has the same access to God and same level of agency regardless of the structure, what difference does the structure make?

  70. 70.

    Re HeidiAnn in #41:

    Thanks for your comment. You did an excellent job articulating something that I’ve never articulated well, but that I think is completely understandable to most SAHMs of young broods and probably explains why Elder Oaks said that this was “more comfortable” doctrine in that case.

  71. 71.

    Married woman defers to husband’s decision about life choice. She refrains from exercising her agency.
    No, she does not refrain from exercising her agency. She exercised her agency by deferring to her husband’s righteous decisions not his whims and she re-exercises her agency each time she chooses to follow him.

    Priesthood is God’s power. But it also confers power in the marriage relationship on the husband.
    Sure, and motherhood confers power on the woman. This is God’s plan.

    But how does that happen for women?
    Women both in and out of the church make sacrificial choices all the time for family and the power comes from the strengthening of family ties that result. In this example it empowers her by providing additional access to God through her husband’s priesthood.

    I’m not following your reasoning: are you saying that since a woman can choose whether or not to limit her agency by submitting to her husband, then if she does choose to submit, her agency is not limited in that situation?
    She like Christ exercised her agency to lay down her will. Her agency was not limited by her decision, her decision was the literal exercise of her agency. You may be conflating agency and will.

    But none of this means you are not a participant. You may receive inspiration and revelation easier and more directly than your husband. Share your inspiration and revelation with him and ask him to pray about it before making a decision.

  72. 72.

    If submission has absolutely nothing to do with renouncing power/agency, then why not have men submit to women? Why not make the wife the head of the husband, presiding over him in righteousness?
    This might be a good place to begin. Why don’t you fast and pray about this question.

  73. 73.

    Howard, re your #71: Kiskilili doesn’t actually have a husband, so I’m afraid at this time she’s been tragically deprived of the divine opportunity submit her (allegedly) greater propensity for divine communion to arbitrary masculine review. The loss of such opportunities to demonstrate her charming femininity by submitting her will to a man’s is rather a sore point for her–she feels the loss intensely, as I’m sure you can tell–so let’s not dwell unnecessarily on a painful topic, shall we?

    re your #72: Fasting and praying for further inspiration are always excellent things to do. However, urging others to do so in order that they might come to the conclusions to which you yourself have come is problematic, for a number of reasons. In general we’ve found discussions more productive when participants are able to give publicly accessible reasons for or accounts of their own experiences and conclusions. Assuming or claiming that if others engaged in more strenuous spiritual exercise they would come to one’s own conclusions tends rather to eviscerate the principles upon which a public discussion stands. If even the apostles do not all come to the same conclusions on important spiritual matters, I think we’re far from authorized in thinking that random, anonymous people in an online forum have failed to second our own views simply because they have not adequately fasted and prayed.

  74. 74.

    Eve; arbitrary masculine review…urging others to do so in order that they might come to the conclusions to which you yourself have come is problematic

    Gee, I see you’ve missed the main points nicely

  75. 75.

    I didn’t have time to read through all the comments, so perhaps this is already commented on. But fathers are indispensable? Male parent irreplaceable? Tell that to all my lesbian friends raising children with no male parent in the equation. Surely one of the them can adequately assume and execute the “father’s role” in raising their family and another the mother’s role. Or even better, why should distinct roles even be necessary? Committed, responsible adults can do anything and everything a “father” and “mother” supposedly can do together. We live in the 21st century. Many have sacrificed in order for us to be enlightened. Let’s leave old myths where they belong: in the distant past.

  76. 76.

    R. Seacrest:

    My friend, first of all, please don’t attempt an unauthorized threadjack. This post is brilliant (though disturbing). But since you bring it up, let me query you: ask a child: which is unnecessary, your father or your mother? The answer, of course, is that they are both necessary. Fathers indispensable? Yes. Mothers irreplaceable? Absolutely. Families with fathers and mothers both: the indispensable cinderblocks of society. I’m sure your lesbian friends are doing a great job (relatively speaking) and here is not the venue to get into a long, informative discussion of what the Bible says in respect to their status before God (hint: it isn’t good). But the ideal is still a father and a mother, and though the State must tolerate same gender relationships, it will be the death of us all if the State actually endorses them. Where was I? Oh yes. I will point out that our talented authoress is indisputably correct about issues of presiding (except where the Bible utterly disagrees with her, which applies to 98% of the post).

  77. 77.

    P,
    A child of lesbian parents is no more able to answer “which of your moms is replaceable?” than could the fictional child in your post.

  78. 78.

    I apologize for my ignorance. Is that because children in lesbi-gay homes are not traditionally educated (unsure whether to intend pun) or because both moms are equally valuable to the child? I only offered the above as a hypothetical because I don’t have any lesbian or gay friends, nor do I plan on having any in the future.

  79. 79.

    would it be fair to characterize your position as traditionalist (a la comment 40): presiding entails genuine authority and goes beyond mere ceremonial significance?

    Possibly. I also lean toward your #3 though too. I don’t agree with #2.

    If presiding involves serving and opportunities of getting to know the kids, how exactly do you understand his presiding (when he’s around) to differ substantively from your being in charge (when he’s not)? It sounds like it’s a smart idea for you to trade off childcare responsibilities and for him to spell you when he gets home. How does this fit specifically with a model of presiding?

    I’m not sure that it does differ that much, except that he doesn’t do things the way I always would, he interacts with them differently, and asks different questions of them in a different way. Do I chalk that up to having different personalities, backgrounds, genders, or him exercising priesthood authority? I don’t know. Really, I guess I think of the two of us as the presidency of our home. Does that make me the “1st counselor”? I suppose. But I don’t accord the earthly prestige to our “presidency” as I would for, say, the presidency of a company, where the president gets more $$, benefits, perks, what-have-you, than the vice-president. In a business (or earthly) context, the president is more important than the vice-president, but I don’t think that’s the context HF intends for our families.

    Julie (#70), I can’t tell you what a compliment that is coming from you. I’ve seen many of your posts and comments throughout the bloggernacle, and I’m in awe of you.

  80. 80.

    P,
    It’s because from the point of view of the child raised in a 2-parent home, both parents are loved and indispensable, no matter their gender.

    my children go to school with these children in public elementary and private preschool. they’re good kids and they have devoted parents.

  81. 81.

    cchrissyy:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. As I noted in my post, two responsible and committed adults (mothers, fathers, mothers mothers, fathers fathers, two grandfathers, two grandmothers, complete strangers of distinct ethnicities with common goals, hopes, and dreams, etc) can do the job of raising children. But you really brought it home: ALL of them would be irreplaceable in their respective spheres!! Mothers and Fathers like yin and yang, two complementary pieces of a grand whole?? Baloney! So a kid is raised by two men and then grows up to be a successful and moral strength of his community. What then? Looks like he didn’t need a “mom” doesn’t it? Women preside, men nurture, the planets roll along in perfect harmony, nothing really changes! Throw your tradition out the window, it’s denying good people the privilege of doing more good!! No wait. Wait. Don’t toss your tradition. Add to it. Transform it. Carve it into something different, something better, more adaptable to the present. P. Buchanan and his “benevolent Christianity” needs to start looking at facts and stop trying to hide behind his precious Bible, the interpretation of which is the longest running dispute in the history of humankind, not to mention the source of unimaginable brutality. No, I don’t want to offend believers. I myself am something of a believer. I’m not an atheist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But back on point. There’s nothing my mother did that my father couldn’t do, and there’s nothing my father did that my mother couldn’t do. They’re not inherently complementary. I’m sure your kids could have been raised by two men or two women and if these parents were just as committed or responsible as you, they would have turned out essentially the same. Am I right?

  82. 82.

    Howard, my point when I made the following comment apparently wasn’t clear, so I’ll try to make it more directly:

    If submission has absolutely nothing to do with renouncing power/agency, then why not have men submit to women? Why not make the wife the head of the husband, presiding over him in righteousness?

    It sounds to me–and please clarify if I’m misrepresenting you–like you believe structural inequalities (subordinating woman to man and man to God) are acceptable for two reasons: (a) since everyone is subordinate ultimately to God, the other arrangements make no difference, and (b) the structure that puts men over women doesn’t actually structure anything.

    My quote above was addressed to the second of these issues: if it doesn’t structure anything, if the particulars of the arrangements are immaterial, then why adhere to those particulars? As I hear you presenting it, the structure apparently doesn’t affect anyone’s agency or relationship to God or interactions with each other in any degree, meaning, below the level of God, we mortals all subsist in a sort of anarchy enjoying equal power and access to God with no one wielding authority over anyone else. So then what does the structure do? My question was a thought exercise: if we turned it around, it would make no difference to this loose anarchy–so what prevents us from turning it around? (My own answer is that the structure actually does structure our interactions and connection to God, and our unwillingness to turn it upside down betrays its significance.)

    As far as I can tell we’re basically in agreement over the agency issue–I’m merely emphasizing that when a woman chooses to defer to a superordinate–let’s say she makes a long-term good-faith commitment to hearken to her husband, for example–then he doesn’t have to compel her to follow his lead or exercise unrighteous dominion. She’s exercised her agency to enter into a relationship whereby she habitually defers actively exercising her agency. Technically, she hasn’t lost that agency, since each time her husband makes a decision then she can choose to rebel against it. But she’s committed herself to a basically passive stance toward her agency.

  83. 83.

    In this example it empowers her by providing additional access to God through her husband’s priesthood.

    This is apparently a tacit admission of exactly what I said earlier: women have less access to God than men, and their access is through men. Otherwise why would it be necessary for a wife to submit to her husband and his priesthood in order to gain that access–as you phrase it, “empower” her?

    Share your inspiration and revelation with him and ask him to pray about it before making a decision.

    This is a charming idea. Too bad a good Mormon husband wouldn’t be under the same obligation to follow a wife’s advice, having never covenanted to hearken to her, as she would be to follow his. It’s an imbalance; there’s no way around it.

  84. 84.

    Wow.
    Awesome conversation. Kisilili.
    You’ve got folks coming at you from the right AND left.

    I’m going to get out the popcorn (ala Ray at fMh).

  85. 85.

    R. Seacrest, it’s a great (albeit thorny) question, and one I considered in composing the post but obviously didn’t address. (I just didn’t know whether I had the energy to take on gay marriage and presiding simultaneously!) My status as a flaming liberal is undoubtedly in question since I claim fathers are irreplaceable. Like you, I’m opposed to assigning gender roles, and like you, I’m not opposed to gays adopting. But I still believe the ideal is for children to have a wide range of involved adult role models, and a set of differently-sexed parents permits a wider range already in the home than do same-sex parents (which doesn’t mean children won’t have opportunity to encounter such role models outside the home, obviously, and doesn’t mean gay parents can’t do a fantastic job–in any case I would hope that regardless of parental situation, children have important relationships with other adults who differ and are separate from their own parents). But I do think there are probably some innate differences in general tendencies between women and men, in addition to the fact that every culture codifies these differences in some way. Much of our culture’s childrearing responsibilities already rests in women’s hands, from Primary teachers and presidents to elementary school teachers, where women predominate. So, just off the cuff, I guess I think that the children of two gay men likely won’t have difficulty finding female role models but the children of single or lesbian women, on the other hand, may have virtually no entree into the world of adult masculinity until they themselves reach adulthood. That seems like a shame. I guess if I were in the latter situation, I would hope I could enlist some male’s involvement in my children’s lives in some way. (Speaking of which, why don’t we have godparents in Mormonism? It seems like a cool idea.)

  86. 86.

    Yeah, Jessawhy, it’s a pretty fun tug-of-war, huh? It’s always exciting when I can shake people up on both the right and the left!

  87. 87.

    Kiskilili:

    You almost go far enough. Almost. A wide range of adult role models? Eh. Take it or leave it. One person’s Utopia is another’s dystopia. Enlist some male’s involvement? Why would two mothers do that? If it happens to be the case there is an uncle or good male friend that comes around regularly, fine, but effectuate positive or negative changes or influences on the child simply because he’s not the sex of the mothers? Irrelevant. The child doesn’t needany particular sex to become any particular thing. S/he just needs responsible adults. Whatever responsible means. Zero males in the case of lesbian parents, zero females in the case of gay parents. What. Ever. I think it should be obvious I don’t buy that hocus pocus that both women and men need to be a part of a child’s life as if that produces such an amazing benefit that couldn’t be had otherwise. You believing that children should have a wide range of contact with both sexes strolls down my friend Buchanan’s road more than it approaches mine.

  88. 88.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree, but I appreciate your comments. I think a somewhat (but not entirely) similar case could be made when it comes to race. For example, what if I chose to adopt a Native American child and raised her myself in my cosmopolitan but non-Native American community? What if at some point she really wanted to meet someone of her own ethnic background and felt it was important to her developing sense of self? I could tell her that race is a social construct so it makes no difference who her role models are. And I’d be absolutely right that it’s a social construct, and thus, theoretically, might not matter. But in our culture, it does, and I think she could make a compelling case that she’d benefit from interaction with another adult of a different race from me.

  89. 89.

    My poor misguided Seacrest. You cannot even acknowledge light when it shines in your face. Kiskilili brilliantly concludes that children do indeed need exposure to a wide range of adult influences, from both sexes (though her status as a liberal is encrusted in titanium, I can assure you). You still refuse to admit that there are differences between genders; whether socially constructed or genetically present, they are there (by the way, guess which way the Bible argues; it’s not the former). One guarantee of such exposure is being raised by a man and a woman in holy matrimony. Many families do not fall under the ideal, but why should that prevent us from holding up the ideal as the ideal?

  90. 90.

    It sounds…like you believe structural inequalities (subordinating woman to man and man to God) are acceptable…we mortals all subsist in a sort of anarchy enjoying equal power and access to God with no one wielding authority over anyone else.
    Generally the man is not between the woman and God any more than my Bishop is being between God and I. The woman is free to petition God for answers about anything. She is also free to share those answers with her husband. If they agree, it was a joint decision. But, two-way partnerships lack a tiebreaker God gave the tie breaking vote to the man in the form of the priesthood thus avoiding anarchy with the caveat that the woman submits, otherwise you have a recipe for anarchy.

    As far as I can tell we’re basically in agreement over the agency issue
    Yes, it sounds like we are pretty close.

    But she’s committed herself to a basically passive stance toward her agency.
    I would agree if you substituted “will” for agency. She is activly employing agency.

  91. 91.

    P. Buchanan, thanks for the assurance that my liberal credentials aren’t in question! I’m relieved to hear they’re “encrusted in titanium”–that’s a great phrase. :)

  92. 92.

    My lands this conversation is polarized. Liberal? Conservative? How about human? Seacrest and Buchanan are both fumbling in the dark (Kiskilili’s light notwithstanding). Seacrest: Read more sociology. There is material that supports both sides, but for now, sociology does agree with Buchanan, on thw whole. A mother and father provide the best possible conditions for children to have integrated involvement in community and society as adults. Buchanan: stop with the ant-gay bigotry. Liberals and conservatives have for too long used scripture as a club to crush the heads of the other. Any intelligent, level-headed person would have serious reservations with scriptural interpretation in both camps. Both camps are chock full of narrow-minded people who think they are anything but and accuse the other camp of the same. Ideology inherently narrows, limits, and throws boundaries over the mind with artificially conceived and politically motivated categories. Both of you should be ashamed.

  93. 93.

    two-way partnerships lack a tiebreaker God gave the tie breaking vote to the man in the form of the priesthood thus avoiding anarchy with the caveat that the woman submits, otherwise you have a recipe for anarchy.

    Do you have a scriptural or general conference reference for this tie-breaker theory?

    I’ve heard about it from people and in blogs, but I’ve never heard about it officially.

    I’ve been married for 30 years, and we’ve never needed a tiebreaker. Anarchy hasn’t been a problem.

    In your experience, what kinds of decisions need this tiebreaker?

  94. 94.

    it empowers her by providing additional access to God through her husband’s priesthood.
    If he is righteously exercising dominion and she refuses to submit she is opposing God’s will not her husband’s.

    It’s an imbalance; there’s no way around it.
    A tie breaking imbalance is all that is required to make it work. From a practical standpoint, when both people are in touch with the Lord there is no imbalance at all.

  95. 95.

    I’ve been married for 30 years, and we’ve never needed a tiebreaker. Anarchy hasn’t been a problem.
    Anarchy won’t be a problem unless you disagree, will it?

  96. 96.

    Anarchy won’t be a problem unless you disagree, will it?

    We disagree all the time. My husband is a recreational arguer, as it happens.

    The point is, we find other means of reaching a decision than “letting my husband decide.”

    We have all kinds of strategies for our various disagreements. None of them involves me submitting.

    But this doesn’t answer the question: When do you act as tie-breaker? What kinds of situations are those? Help us see how this works, since you think it works well.

  97. 97.

    A tie breaking imbalance is all that is required to make it work. From a practical standpoint, when both people are in touch with the Lord there is no imbalance at all.

    You’re right: if both people are always in touch with God’s will and always follow it then there’s no need for an imbalance of power between them. So the very existence of imbalance (tiebreaking or whatnot) that you acknowledge is an admission that both people are not always in touch with God’s will.

    We mortals are fallible. Sometimes we mistake our own will for God’s. And sometimes God doesn’t give us the answers and lets us be anxiously engaged. And in those situations–I would suggest most of the time–men have power over women. Of course, women can choose to disobey their husbands even when their husbands claim (rightly or wrongly) that their view is God’s. But that doesn’t make the Church’s model, in which men are supposed to have power over women, if women will just submit to it, fair to women. Women’s perspectives are sacrificed to the idol of unity and smooth functioning.

  98. 98.

    sacrificed to the idol of unity and smooth functioning.
    There is much to be said for of unity and smooth functioning contention is of the devil.

  99. 99.

    So is lack of agency. And an anarchy of two need not result in contention.

  100. 100.

    I move that Seacrest, Buchanan, and Lieberman stage a public debate to be aired tomorrow night at the same time as the VP debate! I’m not sure which would be more entertaining to watch.

  101. 101.

    I move that the bouncer start doing his/her job.

    And I simply cannot tell you how thrilled I am to learn about this tiebreaker news. I’m on my way home right now and can’t wait to tell my wife about it. I guess we’ll find out if she is in tune with the spirit or filled with pride when I tell her that if she doesn’t see things my way, she just needs to fast and pray until she does.

  102. 102.

    But that doesn’t make the Church’s model, in which men are supposed to have power over women, if women will just submit to it, fair to women.

    I’m not sure that is an accurate description of the Church’s model.

    I didn’t join a church that believed this. I would never agree to that kind of deal.

  103. 103.

    So is lack of agency. And an anarchy of two need not result in contention.
    Maybe, but I have seen it cause a lot of contention. There is no lack of agency.

  104. 104.

    Mark Brown (what happened to IV? is that your alter-ego?)
    I’d be willing to bet that your wife is fully aware of who gets the tie breaking vote.
    She does :)

  105. 105.

    You’re right, Naismith, that this isn’t the only model the Church is teaching, but this is the problem with having a conversation with traditionalists and revisionists at the same time. It’s the model Howard endorses, so while I realize the Church more recently has put out a lot of additional obfuscatory static, I’m accepting it for the sake of the argument with him.

    Howard, I’ll ask you: as you see it, what do women give up when they submit to men?

  106. 106.

    They choose to set aside their will on a specific issue in favor of following their husband’s righteous leadership.

  107. 107.

    Friends, there is one aspect of the original post that has not received the attention it deserves. I refer, of course, to the ceremonial FHE miter.

    I’ve just looked through the catalog from the church distribution center and can’t find one, and I think I really need it. My children and my wife all display a shocking amount of disrepect to my divine role as presider and spiritual leader in the home. When I call them to repentance in FHE, all I get are glares of defiance. When I am righteously laying the smack down on them as part of the lesson, I get a lot of yawning, poking, squirming, and eyerolling.

    All I ask is that I receive the respect that should be given to the designated tiebreaker in the home. Perhaps a robe and miter might inspire the correct mix of awe, respect, and reverence that is my due.

  108. 108.

    I think we’ve come full circle, Howard, so maybe here we can identify where we disagree and call it good: I think it’s unacceptable for adults to set aside their will in their personal lives, even for righteous leadership. This is what children do, and it’s expected of them because they lack information, experience, and maturity. Adult women should contribute as much to decisions in their personal lives and be as accountable for them as are adult men. Submission is infantilization.

  109. 109.

    In other words, maybe the word doesn’t represent the concept the way we think it represents the concept

    #31 Inigo: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    I usually lurk here to keep my bloggernacle posting to a minimum but I couldn’t leave jessawhy hanging!

    Great post, as ever, Kiskilili.

  110. 110.

    Thanks, CWC! In all of this ping-pong match of a thread, I’d forgotten I’d even asked!
    I saw your post at fMh, and I’m glad you’re blogging over there!

  111. 111.

    Thanks Crazywomancreek! :)
    I really should do a post on the “ineffabilist” position (as I’m calling it): apparently the word “preside” doesn’t mean what anyone thinks it means. When I propose possible various definitions I’m rebuffed with the stout insistence that its meaning is one of God’s well-guarded state secrets.

  112. 112.

    Mark, you’ll be thrilled to hear that I’m developing an exclusive line of luxury miters for use in private Family Home Evenings, sporting whimsical and attractive patterns including (among others) pictures of the cow jumping over the moon and the sky falling on Chicken Little’s head. Available materials include glitter-studded linen, glow-in-the-dark fabric, and scratch ‘n’ sniff paperboard, not to mention miters with delicate gossamer chiffon flowing from the top. Also available will be jewel-studded scepters, useful for pounding the ground and calling fractious participants to order, as well as particolored cloth shoes whose toes curl up.

  113. 113.

    This is what children do
    Children particularly young children are compelled due to circumstance, they do not typically exercise agency in choosing to comply.

    Submission is infantilization.
    Would this include Christ’s submission? If not, please explain why.

  114. 114.

    Or, another option would be to call it “bad” and keep on sparring.

    My reading of scripture is that Christ submitted because he agreed with the Father that his actions were both necessary and good even as he wished there were another way. We don’t have an example in scripture of Heavenly Father and Jesus quarreling and Jesus submitting to the Father although he suspected the Father was misguided. Further, our scripture claims that Heavenly Father is perfect; if so, his being misguided is a logical impossibility.

    But this isn’t an adequate model for human marriage. Husbands aren’t perfect, so their spouses potentially have good reason to disagree (just as husbands have reason to disagree with wives). If God really is perfect, submitting to God and turning our will over to him is a very different situation from submitting to a fallible mortal and laying our will down for them. Husbands are supposed to submit to God: fine. When wives are expected to, that’s fine to. What’s not fine is wives submitting to husbands. Husbands are a poor stand-in for deity.

  115. 115.

    Husbands are a poor stand-in for deity.
    Husbands in the righteous exercise of the priesthood are literal stand-ins for deity.

  116. 116.

    Children particularly young children are compelled due to circumstance, they do not typically exercise agency in choosing to comply.

    Actually I think children do exercise agency in choosing to comply or not–it’s not like circumstances compel them to pick their toys up and brush their teeth before bed–as evidenced by the fact that some children dig in their heels and refuse–and yet such expectations are usually set up for them. Certainly by 8 the Church acknowledges they have freedom to make choices and understand the consequences, or why call it the age of accountability?

    It sounds like you think children’s subordination to parents and women’s subordination to husbands are qualitatively different–and thus both are acceptable. I think they’re structurally identical; the only thing that renders the former acceptable is that children are less mature.

  117. 117.

    Husbands in the righteous exercise of the priesthood are literal stand-ins for deity.

    Which means, as I pointed out above, women’s access to God is less direct than men’s: it’s through their husbands, who stand in for deity.

    And I’d add that just because this model has them standing in for deity doesn’t mean they’re adequate stand-ins, which is the whole point.

  118. 118.

    Access to God and the authority to act in his name are two different things. Women have equal access to God.

    doesn’t mean they’re adequate stand-ins, which is the whole point.
    Some are and some aren’t. Choose wisely.

  119. 119.

    Submission is infantilization.
    Would this include Christ’s submission? If not, please explain why.

  120. 120.

    So, this all boils down to the fact that men (prophets specifically) have told us that men (priesthood holders specifically) are the ones who can stand-in for God (male trinity) in church and families. While women . . . submit? reproduce? watch?
    It just seems too imbalanced (not the best word, but this bizarre feeling does not have a word) to be ideal, or even suggested.

  121. 121.

    If you marry a man who holds the priesthood and exercised it in righteousness you are submitting to God vicariously through your husband.

  122. 122.

    Either you believe that the priesthood was restored or not. Either you believe that your husband holds that priesthood or not. Either you believe that he exercises it in righteous or not.

    Your testimony and will determine you willingness to submit and under what conditions.

  123. 123.

    I think the wisest choice is just not to commit to wifely subordination to begin with. There are some fantastic men out there. None of them is really on a par with God.

    Men stand in for God and yet women don’t access God through them? Between whom and God are men standing in?

    Men hearken to God and women hearken to men. Men are the head of women as God is the head of men. As soon as you stick men between women and God, women’s access to God is oblique in some way or the structure is meaningless, and if it’s meaningless there’s simply no reason to continue propagating it. It has nothing to do with priesthood or the authority to act in God’s name specifically.

  124. 124.

    None of them is really on a par with God.
    Yes I agree. But where would we be if he wasn’t willing to work with who we are, warts and all?

    Men hearken to God and women hearken to men. Men are the head of women as God is the head of men.
    I think Paul would agree; For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.

    But “women’s access to God is oblique in some way” does not necessarily follow. See the McConkie quote in 58 assuring you of unlimited access to God.

  125. 125.

    Submission is infantilization.
    Would this include Christ’s submission? If not, please explain why.

    Well, you could argue that it is infantilization in a sense: Christ was less mature than the Father, was the Father’s child, and submitted accordingly. Would you make the same claim for wives–that they’re less mature and experienced than their husbands? Christ submitted to a perfect God. Would you make the same claim for husbands–that they’re infallible?

    If you marry a man who holds the priesthood and exercised it in righteousness you are submitting to God vicariously through your husband.

    Submitting vicariously simply isn’t good enough. If I’m going to submit, if I’m going to defer to God’s will and God’s perspective, I think God owes me the dignity of interacting with me directly.

    Either you believe that the priesthood was restored or not. Either you believe that your husband holds that priesthood or not. Either you believe that he exercises it in righteous or not.

    I believe priesthood authority is God’s power and authority. That doesn’t mean I also believe its distribution based on sex is acceptable. Nor does it mean I think husbands invariably exercise it in righteousness. What recourse does a wife have if she suspects he is not exercising his priesthood appropriately or genuinely communing with God? She’s asked to submit nevertheless to his tiebreaking vote.

    Your testimony and will determine you willingness to submit and under what conditions.

    My testimony is only one factor. My conscience is another. I feel I’ll have more integrity if I stand before God having refused to embrace flagrant injustice simply because it was promulgated in his name than if I submit to that injustice. If he sends me to hell for it, I’m prepared to go.

  126. 126.

    Yes I agree. But where would we be if he wasn’t willing to work with who we are, warts and all?

    I’m glad God will work with bewarted men. So am I. I’m just not willing to treat them like god-figures and grant them undue power in my life.

    But “women’s access to God is oblique in some way” does not necessarily follow. See the McConkie quote in 58 assuring you of unlimited access to God.

    Actually, it does logically follow. Anything else is Chicken Patriarchy. We can’t make presiding and equality compatible by reciting incantations (“women are equal partners but men preside”) any more than we can make a triangular model of marriage (God on top and men and women side by side) compatible with a linear model (God–man–woman). If you want both models, at least you can’t have them operating simultaneously. If you want equal access, you can’t insist on a linear model.

  127. 127.

    No, I would argue that it took extraordinary maturity for Christ to realize that he must give up his life for our benefit by willingly submitting to the will of the father and allowing his own brutal crucifixion to occur.

    Similarly I argue that extraordinary maturity is required for a woman to understand that she may be required to give up her will for the benefit of her family.

    What recourse does a wife have if she suspects he is not exercising his priesthood appropriately or genuinely communing with God?
    Check him with your own personal revelation. Lovingly present your findings to him. Ask him to confirm them and consider them. Ask to speak with your Bishop.

    If he sends me to hell for it, I’m prepared to go.
    Bravo, excellent example of exercising agency. You go girl!

  128. 128.

    Then in your system women (and children) are at an advantage. So the imbalance remains but the question is the reverse: why not give men more opportunity to show their maturity by submitting? This certainly wouldn’t be difficult–one way to do it would be to run the Church like a totalitarian government, making decisions for every aspect of our lives, men and women alike. Certainly it would reduce contention and encourage unity and smooth functioning. What is it about men that God expects them to (immaturely) exercise their will and take responsibility for their choices?

    One reason: this is how God behaves, and men need the practice in making good choices and being accountable. But why don’t women?

    A woman’s personal revelation, even presented lovingly to her husband, is still subject to his willingness to indulge her. He’s under no systematic obligation to take it into account. If women and men have equal access to revelation and equal ability to make good choices, this is just a fundemental weakness in the system: women have equal ability and benefit equally from exercising their will but are given fewer opportunities.

    And the correct form is “brava.” I’m feminine.

  129. 129.

    Brava!
    well done

  130. 130.

    :)

  131. 131.

    Brava!

  132. 132.

    :) [insert demonic smile]

    At some point I need to get offline and go prepare to teach my students about Aeschylus’ play the “Agamemnon,” in which Clytemnestra, the Greek antitype to the faithful good wife Penelope, murders her philandering husband who sacrificed their daughter and left her for 10 years to fight a war over another woman. I wonder whether there’s a way I could tie that into this conversation somehow?

    Nah. I guess bringing murderous, faithless wives, child-killing fathers, mother-killing sons and all the rest into a conversation about appropriate family dynamics will only muddy the waters. Maybe my next post.

  133. 133.

    Check him with your own personal revelation. Lovingly present your findings to him. Ask him to confirm them and consider them.

    Howard, I am still having a hard time understanding what sorts of decisions that these involve, that you think men have the right to make the call. Why won’t you provide a concrete example of when you think it is appropriate that the man make the decision.

    Also, do you really think it is due to priesthood, or do men also have those rights in a non-member household?

    Similarly I argue that extraordinary maturity is required for a woman to understand that she may be required to give up her will for the benefit of her family.

    I would argue that both men and women grow as they sacrifice for the benefit of their family. I don’t see why that blessing should be reserved for women.

  134. 134.

    Naismith,
    The subject could be literally anything Paul said: so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. It could be an important decision the family faces such as a move, job change, more children etc., or just the typical things that couples seem to argue about like money, time, sex or children.

    Gen. 3:16 reads; ‘Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee’
    Genesis is not specific to any religion so this applies to everyone. The priesthood adds an important dynamic of leadership and divine guidance within the family stewardship allowing a modern prophet President Kimball to soften this scripture by substituting the word “preside” for “rule”.

    I would argue that both men and women grow as they sacrifice for the benefit of their family. I don’t see why that blessing should be reserved for women.
    Good point, I agree.

  135. 135.

    why not give men more opportunity to show their maturity by submitting?
    As you pointed out earlier, men submit themselves to the Lord.

    Clearly God does not view men and women as being interchangeable in all things. We are given different bodies, different roles and different responsibilities. You may not agree with God but according to the scriptures this is how things have been parceled out.

    Also God’s ways are not our ways and the application intelligence and logic will not make God’s ways our ways. Study it out in our minds, sure but then we must ask if our conclusions are correct.

  136. 136.

    Getting more popcorn.

  137. 137.

    Good idea Ray.

    D&C 132: 52-56 Emma is commanded to abide and cleave unto Joseph.

  138. 138.

    Ray! Glad to see you here. You can have some of my popcorn. (as long as you don’t try to “preside” over it)

  139. 139.

    Howard,

    Pretty inflammatory. Reading this last night made me sad, this morning sick, the gag type sick.

    A husband can not have the tie breaking vote for sex, that is called rape. Rape does not have to include physical violence. Requiring a “faithful” wife to submit, subject herself to her husbands demands based on his “right” to rule, preside, etc, puts undue pressure on the woman. She either gives it up, or is a sinner. You then explain, that woman should loving explain her objections to this presiding man, all the while knowing she doesn’t have to be listened to. I can only imagine how demeaning and damaging to the soul that conversation would be. Then, Howard, you say if she has a problem, she should adjourn to her bishop. How would a “faithful” woman feel having to negotiate out of sex through a third party male?

    Reason #5,000,001 why we really have to think again about the consequences of this wording and our human family continuous growth in the understanding of needed rights.
    Remember it was only a generation ago that marital rape was considered legal.

  140. 140.

    miles,
    Rape?

  141. 141.

    Howard, what is the point of your link?

    Also, I’d love to hear from you wife on this issue.
    Any chance she’d favor us with a comment or two?

  142. 142.

    miles,
    The tie breaker has nothing to do with the husbands demands if he does this he is not leading in righteousness. Bishops regularly council couples regarding sex.

    jessawhy,
    The point is to define rape for miles. Rape is not a part of this.

  143. 143.

    “The unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.”

    Yeah. Here’s the senario- woman does not want to have sex, husband does. Since he presides, and therefore gets the tiebreaker, he decides that they will be having sex despite her clearly voiced objections. Her options are to comply with his decision, or to refuse to comply.

    The question of whether or not it counts as rape comes down to what she believes the consequences for her refusal to submit to her husband’s presiding authority are.

    Is her refusal to comply a violation of covenants that will bring upon her the wrath of God, or is it just a minor annoyance that that does little else but make her husband grumpy for the evening? If presiding comes with any real authority then there must be real consequences for a refusal to comply.

    To a faithful woman who believes in her husband’s right to preside the words, “As the Head of the Household I think we should have sex anyways” mean essentially the same thing as “have sex with me or suffer the wrath of God” and are no less threatening or coercive than the words “have sex with me or I’ll kill you.”

  144. 144.

    I think sex is a very good example. Rape is obviously the extreme end, but sex is definitely an issue that some couples don’t agree on, that requires compromise, or that potentially one spouse could use his trump card with.

    The tie breaker has nothing to do with the husbands demands if he does this he is not leading in righteousness.

    This is according to you. But, another husband could decide that he is entitled to sex weekly (that’s not unreasonable, right?) and therefore is righteous in his demands. But, if his wife doesn’t want to, but feels pressured to, maybe that’s marital rape.

    It’s just a slippery slope, don’t you think? As the patriarch, the only person who decides if he’s righteous is him. There’s not really a balance or check.

    (there’s another good post on a similar subject)

  145. 145.

    As always, Starfoxy, much better said.

  146. 146.

    #138 – Jessawhy, I have stayed out of this thread, because I loathe some of what is being said. The idea of the Priesthood providing a tie-breaking vote is reprehensible to me – and that isn’t strong enough a word for how I feel about it. Bringing sex into it only makes it beyond repugnant to me.

    In the immortal words of the great Mr. Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

  147. 147.

    This is according to you. But, another husband could decide that he is entitled to sex weekly (that’s not unreasonable, right?)

    It is unreasonable if it is unreasonable to the wife. If it is, then the husband is exercising unrighteous dominion over her and he has lost the power of the priesthood, and thus the power to preside.

    The idea of the Priesthood providing a tie-breaking vote is reprehensible to me

    I agree it doesn’t work that way and in matters of differing opinion the issue should be taken either to the Lord (in honest joint fasting and prayer) or to a Bishop, etc.

  148. 148.

    When I saw that people were attempting to associate male authority with rape, I realized I wouldn’t be contributing.

    Narrow-minded, extremist fanatics.

  149. 149.

    Tim J,
    That was the main point of 64.

    What should the presider do?
    Lead in righteousness. In the event of conflict lead the family in fasting and prayer. If the conflict continues consider taking the issue to your Bishop who has the power and authority to receive inspiration and revelation for both of you.

  150. 150.

    Right, Howard.

    The moment the Priesthood is used as a trump card is the moment the Priesthood ceases to function.

    This isn’t to say that men in the Church haven’t used the Priesthood this way, but when they do, they are under severe condemnation for it. One could certainly fault the Church for not making this as clear to the brethren as it should be.

  151. 151.

    Howard,

    You are pretty far out of bounds here. Bishops have no authority whatsoever to instruct people about their sex lives beyond advice to be faithful and considerate. All the training and hanbooks they are given tell them to steer away from fixing people’s problems, not only with sex but everything else, too.

    Random guy, what is male authority? Is it different from female authority? Every ward in the church contains men who abuse family members in the name of priesthood authority. In some cases, that includes sexual abuse. If recognizing that makes me an extremist fanatic, I’ll gladly wear the label.

  152. 152.

    Random Guy, I’m sorry you find it offensive, but marital rape being okay seems like a pretty clear logical implication of the approach Howard is advocating.

    Tim J, that’s a nice ideal that men’s authority is yanked away the instant that they’re unrighteously dominating. But the reality is much messier, as almost all priesthood holders and all husbands probably try to unrighteously dominate at least a little, at least some of the time. Add to that the fact that the lines between righteous dominion and unrighteous dominion are not always bright. Throw in our general preference for the status quo and you get a situation where women are frequently asked to submit to the questionable demands of their husbands. Only if their husbands are really really out of line do we support them in opposing their husbands.

  153. 153.

    TimJ – Howard, in comment #134, suggests all women are subject to their husband presiding regardless of religion or priesthood. So I don’t know when he thinks a man looses his right to preside and therefore tiebreak…. I gather you think that once he pushes his expectations on her he has lost this right. What does a woman do then? Howard’s suggestion again is if a wife disagrees and the husband will not be swayed, her only recourse is to submit or sin or take the problem to a the bishop or other religious authority. I find it disgusting that to justify her refusal she has to talk not to her husband, but another presiding male.

    Howard – Yes I am serious that anyone having any upper hand, tie break, etc. in a sexual relationship is rape. Coercion and guilt can cause submittion and submttion does not equal consent. Just like arousal does not make sex consensual.

    I am equally appalled that you think a husband has the tiebreaking vote on children too. I just picked to comment on the item that can actually get someone arrested.

    Random Guy – I am not associating all male authority with rape, I am associating a comment that a “presiding” male can make a tie breaking decision in a discussion about sex in which his wife must submit or sin.

  154. 154.

    almost all priesthood holders and all husbands probably try to unrighteously dominate at least a little, at least some of the time.

    We can only try our best in our imperfect and fallen state.

    Isn’t equal partnership an unlikely ideal as well?

    The Ensign article Howard links to in #33 is very good at explaining unrighteous dominion. Your right, the lines aren’t always bright, but there are ways to know.

  155. 155.

    The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. It is God’s power not ours. It cannot be used unrighteous, God will not allow it.

  156. 156.

    My spelling sucks.

    I meant …. Coercion and guilt can cause submission and submission does not equal consent.

    Random Guy- Ziff said what I was trying to say much better.

  157. 157.

    So I don’t know when he thinks a man looses his right to preside and therefore tiebreak…. I gather you think that once he pushes his expectations on her he has lost this right. What does a woman do then?

    Tell me, what do you think a woman should do? I don’t think our answers would vary that much.

    I don’t think Howard’s language here is as strong as some assume it to be. Everyone keeps reading their own biases into a lot of Howard’s comments. I don’t think he’s ever said Priesthood is a tie-breaker in all household decisions.

  158. 158.

    Tim, priesthood doesn’t need to be the tiebreaker in all household decision to be offensive. The fact that someone is using it to justify tiebreaking in ANY decision is what is offensive, and totally out of line.

  159. 159.

    The fact that someone is using it to justify tiebreaking in ANY decision is what is offensive, and totally out of line.

    I don’t think anyone here has argued against this point. A husband saying, “I have the priesthood, therefore my decision is final,” is wrong. This is unrighteous dominion in its simplest form.

  160. 160.

    Tim, exactly right. So why are we even talking about a tiebreaker? The entire concept is foreign to the gospel. Even Presidents of the church don’t act without the unanimous consent of their counselors. It boggles the mind to think of somebody laying the priesthood tiebreaker rule on his wife.

  161. 161.

    I think woman should run away from men who think they have a right to push their expectations on them. Get thee to a safe place.

    I am guessing you want to know what a woman should do who is not in physical, emotional danger of abuse.

    It is here I get confused. If I pray and disagree with my husband, but he will not be swayed. What do I do? In my household there is no movement unless we agree or compromise. What does a woman do if the husband is forcing the issue and all fasting and prayer don’t change it. If he feels he has the right to tie break, as Howard suggests. See right here I feel that the right to tie break is abusive emotionally, so I would say get some help, if not get away.

    I can just see a woman having to run to the bishop and explain her husband won’t listen and we pray and we disagree so could you, please pray and guide us as to if… we should buy this house, spank our kids, change jobs, have another baby

  162. 162.

    Mark, the tiebreaking verbiage has been inserted by others into a lot of what Howard has been trying to explain, when in fact that isn’t, to my knowledge, what he’s been advocating.

  163. 163.

    Tim J. That is exactly what Howard has been arguing.

    Comment 90 (emphasis mine)

    If they agree, it was a joint decision. But, two-way partnerships lack a tiebreaker God gave the tie breaking vote to the man in the form of the priesthood thus avoiding anarchy with the caveat that the woman submits, otherwise you have a recipe for anarchy.

    Comment 94

    If he is righteously exercising dominion and she refuses to submit she is opposing God’s will not her husband’s.

    In comments 93, 96 and 133 Naismith asks for a “concrete example of when you think it is appropriate that the man make the decision.”
    In comment 134 Howard responds:

    The subject could be literally anything Paul said: so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. It could be an important decision the family faces such as a move, job change, more children etc., or just the typical things that couples seem to argue about like money, time, sex or children.

  164. 164.

    If he feels he has the right to tie break, as Howard suggests.

    Where does Howard suggest this?

    I can just see a woman having to run to the bishop and explain her husband won’t listen and we pray and we disagree so could you, please pray and guide us as to if… we should buy this house, spank our kids, change jobs, have another baby

    The Bishop’s job would not be to tell you the answer, and if he thinks it is, he is wrong. His job is to counsel you both on how to find the right answer together. What that method might be, would depend on more than a simple vague hypothetical.

  165. 165.

    TimJ – I disagree Howard used the tie breaker analogy in comment # 90 and later on.

  166. 166.

    Starfoxy, thanks for the quotes. The first quote, Howard gives the caveat that the woman submits. He is not saying she is forced to submit, and Howard has explained what happens in those instances.

    The second quote, Howard inserts “righteously” into that. If he is “righteously” following the Lord, how can his decision be wrong?

    I know that would then beg the question as to how we would know that, but that’s another discussion altogether.

  167. 167.

    The husband and wife are eternal mates. Their exaltation depends on their helping each other achieve that goal. But they must stay together and endure to the end to get there.

    When we understand the symbiotic nature of this relationship we begin to see Paul’s point; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church This is a very kind and loving way of leading. But Paul also adds; Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

    When we are submitting to one another as Paul advises there is no conflict. When we loose sight of this, conflict arises. What should we do about it? Paul stated that the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. Clearly the husband has been placed in charge but he is to lead in righteousness.

    Mark Brown; Even Presidents of the church don’t act without the unanimous consent of their counselors.
    I’m not sure this is true. But I am sure that during a disciplinary council SP’s strive for unanimous consent but will act without it if it cannot be acquired.

  168. 168.

    Howard 155 (emphasis mine)

    The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. It is God’s power not ours. It cannot be used unrighteous, God will not allow it.

    and 90

    God gave the tie breaking vote to the man in the form of the priesthood

    I find these comments at odds. Either God has the power or man does. Or perhaps the tie-breaking vote is separate from the power? Please explain.

  169. 169.

    Tim J-

    I was being sarcastic about a woman running to her bishop to get an answer, but this is what Howard suggests as her recourse.

    What recourse does a wife have if she suspects he is not exercising his priesthood appropriately or genuinely communing with God?
    Check him with your own personal revelation. Lovingly present your findings to him. Ask him to confirm them and consider them. Ask to speak with your Bishop.

  170. 170.

    You really find Howard’s suggestion to be unreasonable?

    jessawhy, there is a difference between the power of the Priesthood and Priesthood authority.

  171. 171.

    (Does anyone remember the link to the prairie wives? It was a while ago, maybe when Mark did his questions on the limitations of feminism . . .)
    That ridiculous link might put some of this conversation into perspective ;)

  172. 172.

    Tim J
    Indeed. That is for another thread. It’d be a good one, tho.

  173. 173.

    Prairie Muffins, Jessawhy.

  174. 174.

    Howard, the principle of unanimity is well established in church governance. Each member of the quorum of 12 apostles holds veto power of any decision made by that body. This has been repeated over and over again, even in general conference. I’m surprised that you question it. Dallin H. Oaks wrote a book entitled The Lord’s Way which gives lots of details and examples. In one case, he was serving as a counselor in a SP. The president and the other counselor wanted to buy a certain plot of land to build a chapel, but DHO was in favor of a different plot. This dragged on for over a year, when finally he began to see why the other plot was a better choice, even though now it cost substantially more. When he went to the SP to say he was now in favor of the original idea, he apologize for holding up the process and to express regret for causing more needless expenditure of money.. The president reassured him, saying that the cost of acting without unanimity was far greater than whatever the additional amount of money came to. If an SP acts without the informed and unanimous consent of his counselors and the assembled high council, he is on very thin ice, and likely to make incorect decisions.

    And please notice, there is an even number of members of in the quorum of the 12. with no need for a tiebreaker of any kind. Somehow they manage.

  175. 175.

    Tim,

    If he is “righteously” following the Lord, how can his decision be wrong?

    LOL! Let me count the ways!

    Your questions assumes that there is always only one right answer to the question at hand. In actual practice, there are often many acceptable answers. It is entirely possible for two different people to both come up with different good answers. My wife and I have had ongoing differences for most of our marriage on some fairly substantial questions, but neither of us has ever felt the need to burden the bishop with our questions or demand that the other shape up. The idea of a guy busting out the tiebreaker would be hilarious, if it didn’t have such tragic consequences.

  176. 176.

    Mark Brown,

    CHI 1998 – Church Discipline: After consultation and prayer, the stake president makes the decision and invites his counselors to sustain it. The stake presidency then returns and announces the decision to the high council. The stake president asks the high councilors as a group to sustain his decision. The high council cannot veto the decision; it is binding even if it is not sustained unanimously. However, if one or more high councilors object to the decision, the stake president should make every effort to resolve the concerns and achieve unanimity.

  177. 177.

    Tim J asked

    You really find Howard’s suggestion to be unreasonable?

    Howard’s suggestion is as follows:

    What recourse does a wife have if she suspects he is not exercising his priesthood appropriately or genuinely communing with God?
    Check him with your own personal revelation. Lovingly present your findings to him. Ask him to confirm them and consider them. Ask to speak with your Bishop.

    I have issue with a wife having to come to her husband, who thinks he has the power to break a tie and avoid anarchy, and petition him with her revelation, pleading he listen and pray. If he doesn’t she has to go to the bishop for support or counsel. Remember the husband could just throw down that tie breaking vote whenever he feels he has done “enough.”

    Just seems to take away from the trust that you will always work together for a common good, even if that means waiting for awhile or forever to find common ground on some issues. Now if the husband has no right to ever make a tie breaking, anarchy freeing vote, well I guess its OK, but still do you really need the bishop to referee?

  178. 178.

    Your questions assumes that there is always only one right answer to the question at hand.

    No, I said it wouldn’t be “wrong”. I didn’t assume anything. I just said his answer wouldn’t be wrong regardless of how many “right” answers there might be.

    And no, we all shouldn’t have to run to the bishop with every marital disagreement we encounter. My wife and I have never received counsel from the Bishop matter large or small.

    And again, I will never say the Priesthood should be used as some sort of tie-breaker. Compromise obviously has to happen for a marriage to properly function.

  179. 179.

    Howard,
    I appears you put a lot of stock into the teachings of Paul. It probably won’t influence you, but scholars are pretty convinced that all of that stuff about women submitting from Paul– isn’t really Paul speaking at all, but some monk much much later.

    I

  180. 180.

    Howard, your views have a very long and illustrious history; you could find quotes from Biblical and other sources to support you ’til the cows came home. But if they represent God’s will, I would be very, very, very surprised. I submit (no, not that way) that Paul and many other religious leaders and writers were products of a sexist culture, who unfortunately perpetuated that sexism through their teachings.

    The things you are liable to read in the Bible, they ain’t necessarily so.

  181. 181.

    Trust me, Tim. I find Howard’s suggestions ludicrous. Don’t extrapolate your own emotional response to me; just take my word for it.

    (I’ve only got a few minutes to wield my righteous authority to preside over all you cats and kittens on my thread right now–yesterday I had the day off for Rosh Hashanah but today it’s back to the grindstone.)

    If we say that a man’s authorization to preside only comes into play when husband and wife disagree, the problem is when they agree there’s no need to broker a solution. So in other words, we’re saying women are free to do whatever they want as long as it’s also what their husbands want. If it’s not, they’re free to change their minds and agree with their husbands or be destroyed. This is a pretty circumscribed brand of freedom.

    I think marital rape is a good illustration of what’s wrong with this entire system propounded by Howard, Paul, J (author of Genesis 3), and a legion of others. If a man wants to have sex and a woman doesn’t and he casts the tie-breaking vote, how can we consider this anything but rape? Even if she willingly chooses to submit to his authority, she’s submitting under the weight of institutional pressure. It’s simply not a fair choice.

    This situation is exactly parallel to any other issue on which she submits and he makes the decision for both of them. Some on this thread are suggesting that it’s a perfectly just model for the reason that she’s never coerced into submitting: God asks her to choose to submit and she’s allowed to refuse. But what sort of choice is this? She can submit to her husband or risk hell? She can submit or be destroyed, a la Emma? Choosing to be presided over or destroyed is not a fair choice, and it’s not freedom in any meaningful sense of the word. It’s disingenuous to advocate institutional pressure on women to submit to their husbands, with the expectation that they will, and then turn around and say such pressure shouldn’t affect the quality of their choice.

    (Aside: Howard, Genesis is by no means non-specific to any religion. It’s the province of ancient Israelite religious thought, one intellectual ancestor of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.)

    Howard writes:

    The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. It is God’s power not ours. It cannot be used unrighteous, God will not allow it.

    Maybe the priesthood–God’s metaphysical power in the world–can’t be exercised unrighteously. But the husband’s authority by virtue of his holding it most certainly can.

    Tim, equal partnership may be an unlikely ideal, but it’s a worthy one. The argument isn’t that patriarchy should be eliminated because it’s unattainable. It’s that patriarchy should be eliminated because it’s stupid.

  182. 182.

    Are mmiles and miles the same person, or different?

  183. 183.

    Hmm, I didn’t read mmiles’ comment before submitting my comment. My basic opinion on those passages is the same either way – if they do in any way represent divine revelation, I think they were filtered heavily through some very fallible human, and I do not take them at face value.

  184. 184.

    Something more recent then? D&C 132:54

    And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph

  185. 185.

    Kiskilili,

    It’s that patriarchy should be eliminated because it’s stupid.

    And I’m done here.

    I wish you the best in reconciling your differences in the Church and hope that at some point you will feel satisfied with your place in the Church, wherever that might be. Until then…

  186. 186.

    It might be helpful to the discussion to point out that there’s likely a fundamental split in how several of us are approaching scripture: a classical “conservative” (for lack of a better word) approach takes it as axiomatic that scripture and other Church teaching, God, and goodness are inseparable from each other. Therefore, to demonstrate that the Church teaches/has taught something is logically to demonstrate that it is good. A classical “liberal” approach makes no such assumptions.

    It’s clear the Church has taught a model of male authority over women, and statements can easily be marshaled to demonstrate it. To my mind, that does nothing to prove that such a model is good, just, or even acceptable.

  187. 187.

    jessawhy-
    miles and mmiles are two different people.

  188. 188.

    Random Guy:

    When I saw that people were attempting to associate male authority with rape, I realized I wouldn’t be contributing.

    (I’m sorry to belabor the point, but since this is technically my party I can blather if I want to.) Logically, how do we disassociate them? Howard suggested that one situation in which husbands might appropriately exercise their authority over their wives is sex. I see two possible situations: wife wants to have sex and husband does not. Husband decides they will not. Husband wants to have sex and wife does not. Husband decides they will anyway. Nonconsensual sex is rape. It doesn’t have to involve a gun to the head.

    The relationship between patriarchy and rape is not what’s in question: on a theoretical level, marital rape is undeniably a page in the book of traditional patriarchy. Patriarchal norms hold that men make decisions for their wives in every sphere: why would sex be excluded? And empirical evidence bears this out more generally: patriarchal cultures tend to have a much higher rate of rape than egalitarian ones.

    The association between male power and rape is simply undeniable–the latter is just one instantiation of the former. All that’s in question in this discussion is whether it’s possible within the sphere of the Church’s teachings on patriarchy specifically.

    One suggestion is that it’s not because women should submit willingly to what their husbands decide. Hogwash. Pressure to submit is pressure, and sex under pressure is nonconsensual. The other suggestion is that it’s not because men will lose their authority if they make an unrighteous decision. Balderdash. They may lose the Holy Ghost. They may jeopardize their eternal bliss. But, to paraphrase Starfoxy, no Spanish-Inquisition-style Amen Squad is going to bust down the door and handcuff them if they make an unrighteous request of their wife and pressure her by virtue of their God-given authority.

    These are the uncomfortable realities of male authority.

  189. 189.

    And, even though it’s seriously disturbing, I think the example of rape helpfully illustrates some of what is morally cancerous about patriarchy: (a) it’s a graphic and jolting example of activities that unchecked male authority permits, and (b) it’s a good metonym for and encapsulation of what’s wrong with patriarchy generally: it violates the personhood of women.

  190. 190.

    Just popping in to say that #184 has nothing to do with any of this conversation.

    Personally, I will hang my hat on the Proclamation to the World, and that doesn’t even imply that the Priesthood gives men the final say. It says men and women are obligated to help each other in their primary roles as equal partners – and that other circumstances may necessitate individual adaption of roles.

    That was signed by all 15 apostles and prophets. I’ll stick with that until they say something different in a united voice.

  191. 191.

    A couple points. First, I don’t believe that women invariably suffer most when a husband and wife disagree. When my husband was called as bishop and high counselor, the stake president checked with me, and stated that the calling would be nixed if I didn’t approve. And he followed up on that by interviewing wives of bishops and high counselors personally, so that he could see if the husband could continue in the calling. So I had a great deal of power over him. Also, I know a man who had to work for 15+ years, for 60+ hours a week at a lucrative business he didn’t love, but provided for his wife and ex-wife and children (he was finally able to pursue the career of his choice when the kids got older). His wife had tremendous power over him. So I don’t think it is all one-way.

    Second, I taught gospel doctrine for years, and when we got to last year’s discussion of Paul’s teachings, the manual was clear that men did NOT have the right to make decisions for the family, that couples should be equal partners–there was an appropriate quote from a general authority about that.

    Third, I totally agree in consensus and know it can work. We’ve never needed a tie-breaker in three decades of marriage. We don’t always defer to my husband; we consider things like whose life will be affected most, who cares the most, who has expertise in this area, whose idea has the highest opportunity cost. Howard’s approach makes me want to puke, too.

    But finally, I do respect my husband’s priesthood and appreciate him presiding. It’s because I see his presiding as using his priesthood to bless the family.

  192. 192.

    If we say that a man’s authorization to preside only comes into play when husband and wife disagree,
    A man is authorized to preside all of the time.

    the problem is when they agree there’s no need to broker a solution. So in other words, we’re saying women are free to do whatever they want as long as it’s also what their husbands want.
    Sure both parties have agency, as long as they agree they are free to do what they want be it good or evil.

    If it’s not, they’re free to change their minds and agree with their husbands or be destroyed.
    This is your exegesis of D&C 132? Emma was commanded to allow Joseph to have many wives, still abide him and cleave to him only or she shall be destroyed.

    Martial rape has no part in this; we have already discussed the fact that she is not compelled to do anything by her husband.

    Even if she willingly chooses to submit to his authority, she’s submitting under the weight of institutional pressure. It’s simply not a fair choice.
    Is exaltation institutional pressure?

    God asks her to choose to submit and she’s allowed to refuse. But what sort of choice is this?
    It is the sort of choice that flows from a mature understanding that the two of you are in a symbiotic relationship that requires you to work together and support each others weaknesses with the eventual reward of becoming Gods.

    patriarchy should be eliminated because it’s stupid.
    So you don’t believe that patriarchy is of God, or do you believe that God is stupid?

    it’s not because men will lose their authority if they make an unrighteous decision. Balderdash. They may lose the Holy Ghost. They may jeopardize their eternal bliss. But, to paraphrase Starfoxy, no Spanish-Inquisition-style Amen Squad is going to bust down the door and handcuff them if they make an unrighteous request of their wife and pressure her by virtue of their God-given authority.
    This has nothing to do with leading the family in righteousness.

  193. 193.

    Ray,
    The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

    The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

    God commanded them to multiply, in other words God commanded Adam and Eve to have sex. Please explain how they would multiply if Eve refused to have sex.

    In D&C 132 God commanded Emma to allow Joseph to have additional wives, she was also commanded to abide and cleave to him and only him.

    It seems that God isn’t as bashful about these things as we are.

  194. 194.

    Btw; We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. means that we are commanded to have sex as well.

  195. 195.

    First, #193 and #194 have absolutely no relevance to this discussion, either. Nobody in this entire thread has said that couples shouldn’t have sex. Nobody. I actually mentioned the paragraph in the Proclamation that deals with what presiding means – not the command to have sex. My wife and I have six kids; we understand the first commandment quite well.

    Second, “abide” and “cleave” have nothing to do with this discussion of presiding. Both of them simply mean to stay with, not to let him have the final say in everything.

    This is why I stayed out of this thread, and it is why I’m bowing out now.

  196. 196.

    Ray,
    Sex was just one of a laundry list of possible issues. But sex sells and before you know it many people wanted to talk about it, even making it the main example. So it’s part of the discussion now even though it was unintended.

    Thank you for endorsing A Proclamation to the World because it provided an opportunity to demonstrate that God commands us all to have sex, at least during the child bearing years.

  197. 197.

    Howard,
    This goes from the man “presiding” by having the tie breaking vote in sex, to women NEVER wanting to have sex.
    Where is the leap?

    I’m still honestly curious about what your wife thinks about this conversation. Have you discussed it with her?

  198. 198.

    Starfoxy,
    I forgot to thank you for the Prairie Muffins link.
    I don’t know how I could forget the Muffin part!

  199. 199.

    jessaway,
    Multiply in this context means to make more numerous. Would it be fair to say that this means to at least have more children than simply replacing yourselves?

    In any case A Proclamation to the World doesn’t give us any indication when to stop multiplying. So, “never” has no place here, does it.

  200. 200.

    Are you for real, Howard? Just to be clear, do you believe that marital rape is justified by (a) the multiply and replenish command, (b) the husband presiding, or (c) both?

    Kiskilili:

    Balderdash. They may lose the Holy Ghost. They may jeopardize their eternal bliss. But, to paraphrase Starfoxy, no Spanish-Inquisition-style Amen Squad is going to bust down the door and handcuff them if they make an unrighteous request of their wife and pressure her by virtue of their God-given authority.

    Howard:

    This has nothing to do with leading the family in righteousness.

    This has everything to do with how families are actually led by real, fallible men. When the (theoretical) check on men’s power doesn’t come into play immediately, and likely not until the next life of what good is it in this life?

    I get the sense that we have very different ideas about how often men make mistakes or sin or dominate unrighteously. I suspect pretty much all of us husbands make mistakes constantly. This is why I think it’s crucial that husbands and wives work in a genuine equal partnership. Naismith’s #191 (third point) sounds like a good example. Howard, you sound like you think that men make mistakes so rarely that the “amen to the priesthood” can actually be applied every time, or at least that it’s practical to have a long round of fasting and prayer, followed by counseling with the bishop.

    That’s not how we men are. That’s not how people are. D&C 121 says that it’s the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, to exercise unrighteous dominion. I think that’s a very good description. It’s not that some people are prone to unrighteous dominion, or that we’re slow to get into it. As soon as we get a little authority, we pretty much drift right into it. So “humbly share your opinion with your husband and hope he takes it into account” and “go to the bishop” and “wait for his priesthood to be taken away if he sins” are not helpful answers for what a wife should do if dominated unrighteously. She needs something immediately useful, like a genuine equal partner relationship.

  201. 201.

    Ziff, I have repeatedly stated that rape has nothing to do with this. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness. Much of this discussion has been about defining “preside”.

    On the contrary Ziff, “amen to the priesthood” occurs immediately when the priesthood is misused. It is not possible to misuse the priesthood, God won’t allow his power to be misused.

    D&C 121 says that it’s the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, to exercise unrighteous dominion.
    Sure but that doesn’t stop the church from calling men to leadership positions. If we follow your fearful direction we should immediately release all male callings, but the Lord continues to call men to leadership positions.

  202. 202.

    Yes, Howard. Logically, I must either believe (a) patriarchy is uninspired or (b) God is stupid. I don’t have enough information to make a judgment about which is the case. But no one has made a compelling argument that patriarchy is anything other than morally objectionable.

    You don’t seem to be getting the point, so let me try one more time. In your system, if someone puts a gun to a woman’s head and convinces her to have sex lest she be blown to kingdom come, she hasn’t actually been raped (provided she wasn’t physically compelled): she always had the choice of resisting and risking death. But these two alternatives do not offer a fair choice. Hence rape is the only appropriate term.

    Pulling the presiding-authority-tie-breaker trump card is the equivalent to a spiritual gun to the head. She can either submit to his will or risk spiritual death (hell). This isn’t a fair choice, and if this pressure is her reason for submitting, it’s rape. The end.

    You’re right about one thing, though.

    Martial rape has no part in this.

    One offensive topic at a time, brother! Let’s stick to marital rape for now, and leave what armies do for another conversation, shall we?

    It is the sort of choice that flows from a mature understanding that the two of you are in a symbiotic relationship that requires you to work together and support each others weaknesses with the eventual reward of becoming Gods.

    Actually, no. That’s called “equal partnership.” If a man is “presiding all the time,” a woman’s opinions are being shut down. Don’t fool yourself into thinking patriarchy means women have as much freedom as men. Don’t flatter yourself that a subordinate wife defers to you because your ideas are superior and not because the structure puts that obligation on her.

    And see, Howard, here’s the problem with saying since God commands us to multiply, there’s nothing wrong with a husband’s insisting on sex: you’ve categorically eliminated rape of fertile women as a possibility. They can’t be raped because it’s God’s will that they be reproducing. Is it also God’s will that they have no choice about with whom and in what circumstances they undertake that project???

    Newsflash: women have a right to refuse sex. It’s not up to a man to make the decision to reproduce by himself. Sure, marriage should involve conjugal relations. But use persuasion. Trump cards have no place in a discussion of sex.

    The only reason you’re convinced rape is irrelevant is that you think presiding over your wife’s sex life is not a form of rape. You’re wrong.

    Howard, I’ve been more than indulgent with you. In theory I think anyone should be able to argue their perspective as long as it’s neither personally rude nor vulgar, and, if unacceptable, their views should be refuted rather than expurgated. But since your arguments are both morally repugnant and logically incoherent, it’s just not worth the time it takes to shoot them down. (I might also point out that, strictly speaking, not a single one of your comments was actually on the topic of the post, which I assume you never read.)

    So I’m sorry to the rest of my brilliant commenters who have contributed here that I’m exercising my presiding authority and shutting the thread down.

  203. 203.

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  204. 204.

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