Zelophehad’s Daughters

What does Kate Middleton Have that I Don’t…

Posted by Apame

…that I wish more than anything in the world I could have had for my own wedding?

I know, I know.  It’s like the hardest riddle you’ve ever read.

Here’s a clue:  It’s not a royal fiance or a five foot cake or a McQueen dress or 30,000 flowers.

Nope.

It’s the freedom and power to omit the vow to “obey her husband”.

…and then have everyone be happy about it.

34 Responses to “What does Kate Middleton Have that I Don’t…”

  1. 1.

    YUP!!

  2. 2.

    Love it!

  3. 3.

    I’m not unaware of that fact Matt W.–I was there (the fact that there is no explicit “obey” in the sealing ceremony). My wedding included things that many brides must do as part of their marriage: initiatory, endowment, and sealing. A marriage ritual package if you will.

    Obviously, husband obeying is explicit in one of those three, and implied in all three.

    Plus, even if you are already endowed, women must go through at least parts of the endowment again with their fiances before their sealing.

    P.S. We generally moderate comments that link to temple ceremony transcripts (sorry, just the way things are here). If you’re wondering why you got moderated… You’re welcome to re-post without the link.

  4. 4.

    Also, I think it’s a bit silly to think that the sealing ceremony is the only “marriage” ritual in Mormonism. Like I said…it’s always a package deal.

    Otherwise, I would have just done the sealing ceremony!

  5. 5.

    Good on Kate for doing that!

    I haven’t done sealings in a while, but I’m pretty sure who is given and taken by whom is pretty explicit as well.

  6. 6.

    Apame,

    Obviously, husband obeying is explicit in one of those three, and implied in all three.

    I don’t think transcripts are appropriate at all either, etc. But I have to ask what you’re referring to? Is the actual word “obey” explicitly used in the context of marriage? I understand what you’re saying about the implication, but I can’t think of a time the word “obey” is explicitly used. But, I haven’t been to a wedding in a while. If that specific word is used, I would definitely like to know because that would be really useful to help me control my wife anti-feminist tendencies.

  7. 7.

    And he is joining the select fraternity of husbands who don’t wear wedding rings.

  8. 8.

    As for the giving…. Before, in traditional Christian weddings, it was a father who gave a bride to a new husband. The change to a woman giving herself was a big step in the right direction.

    Now it doesn’t seem so big, but back then it was huge.

  9. 9.

    If we’re talking about the explicit use of the word obey in a covenant, then men are the only ones who make a covenant to “obey” in the temple.

  10. 10.

    Actually, Left Field, in the church, both in and outside of the temple, both men and women make covenants to obey…the Lord. That’s the only circumstance in which “obey” or “keep his commandments” is used as part of a holy promise.

    It may have been different in previous renditions, but right now, that’s the only obedience that is promised: just to the laws of the Lord.

  11. 11.

    And both men and women make it.

  12. 12.

    MB, the wording of the actual covenant is slightly different, and women do not use the word “obey” when covenanting to follow the Lord’s will.

  13. 13.

    Mike and Left Field, it’s been argued — with some validity — that the change from “obey” to “hearken” is mostly cosmetic. “Hearken” feels less problematic, but they accomplish the same thing.

    And MB, I’m actually on board with the idea of ritually giving myself to my husband at the moment of marriage. It seems like a lovely and profound way to perform what I hope will be a union of trust and loyalty. Except if he’s not giving myself to me, in which case I rather recoil from it.

    I can see that it’s partially empowering for women to give themselves away, rather than being given away by a man — it does suggest that, just for a moment, they are their own agents. But why stop there?

  14. 14.

    I for one, in seminary and Sunday School, was taught specifically that “hearken” means “to listen and obey.” So it was like, obeying, one-upped. I don’t know if they taught me this with the temple specifically in mind, but it was a lesson that certainly sunk in, regardless.

  15. 15.

    Melyngoch, we’re not talking about the “hearken” covenant, where women agree to “hearken” to their husband. We’re talking about a different covenant where men agree to “obey” God’s law, and women agree to “observe and keep” God’s law [or words to that effect]. That’s the only instance where the word obey is actually used in a covenant, and it’s the men, not the women who make it.

  16. 16.

    Left Field, I think the point is that “hearken” means virtually the same thing. Especially as plenty of folks still explicitly teach that it means virtually the same thing. So the absence of the specific word does not negate the overwhelming presence of the oppressive concept.

  17. 17.

    That’s an interesting point — one I’m not sure what to make of, if anything — but I’m assuming Apame’s original post (as her clarifying comment in #3 suggests) had the hearken covenant in mind. It’s not just the word “obey” that’s of interest, but the concept of obedience.

  18. 18.

    (nat: as one says in middle school, jinx!)

  19. 19.

    you owe me a coke.

    Except Coke is a horribly unethical company that I would hate for you to support, so I’ll take a freshly squeezed orange juice.

  20. 20.

    I think “obey” and “hearken” have different meanings, although some may have been taught otherwise. Since they have different definitions, I guess I would interpret the covenant to “hearken” (defined as “listening” but without necessarily implying obedience) differently than “obeying.”

  21. 21.

    nat: maybe some Ubuntu Cola?

    Mike: I agree that they have some different connotations. And I definitely prefer “hearken” and feel that it’s a small step in a good direction. But “hearken” is much, much stronger than “listen.” And when men covenant to hearken to God, as amelia points out at the comment I link to, they’re not just hearkening to to listen to him and then do what they feel like. Assuming the hearkening that women covenant to do is the same thing as the hearkening that men covenant to do, I don’t think that you can get away from the element of obedience to the word.

  22. 22.

    Melyngoch,

    Assuming the hearkening that women covenant to do is the same thing as the hearkening that men covenant to do, I don’t think that you can get away from the element of obedience to the word.

    Yes, that’s true, if you make that assumption. But, considering that (1) only men actually make a separate covenant to “obey” God and (2) the word “obey” clearly could have been chosen (or hearken and obey, or listen and obey, or whatever), I’m not sure I’m comfortable making that assumption. It’s an interesting idea, though.

  23. 23.
    Assuming the hearkening that women covenant to do is the same thing as the hearkening that men covenant to do, I don’t think that you can get away from the element of obedience to the word.

    Yes, that’s true, if you make that assumption. But, considering that (1) only men actually make a separate covenant to “obey” God and (2) the word “obey” clearly could have been chosen (or hearken and obey, or listen and obey, or whatever), I’m not sure I’m comfortable making that assumption. It’s an interesting idea, though.

    If different meanings are meant with different “hearkens,” then given the performativity of the language, perhaps we should use different words. It seems like it might be important to be sure what we mean.

  24. 24.

    #16: Really, I wasn’t kidding when I said I was talking about the covenant to obey/observe God’s law, not the covenant to hearken to your husband. The meaning of “hearken” is irrelevant to that discussion since in the covenant I referred to, men “obey” and women “observe,” and neither one “hearkens.” Whether there’s any substantive difference between “obey” and “observe” is another question, but my point (such as it is) still stands in response to #6. Men are the only ones who make a covenant actually using the word “obey,” since women make the same covenant using the word “observe.”

  25. 25.

    (2) the word “obey” clearly could have been chosen (or hearken and obey, or listen and obey, or whatever),

    It actually used to be “obey,” and was only softened to hearken in 1990. I think that context is important. Are the women who took out their endowments before 1990 in a qualitatively different relationship to their husbands, because hearkening is so different from obeying? Though I wish it were the case, I don’t think the church drastically changed course on this when it changed the term.

  26. 26.

    …and remember men covenant to obey God, definitely not their wives. Women covenant to “observe and keep” but also to hearken to their husbands. There’s no reciprocity.

  27. 27.

    Among the living, it’s mostly a generational difference (between obeying and hearkening women). That’s problematic enough. But I wonder what it’s like for all the dead people. Do the obeying women resent their hearkening friends? Maybe it would be charitable of us to hold off on doing any proxy work for a while in the hope that an even better change comes down the pipe. Why lock more dead people into the current structure for eternity?

  28. 28.

    So what’s the difference between the Lord’s law and God’s law? Up until this point, the only named Lord is Adam, who was made Lord of all the Earth.

  29. 29.

    Have you read Macbeth? Surely everyone knows you can’t obey your wife… :)

    Kate’s decision to follow Diana in keeping rather than obeying her husband is an interesting one. I wonder if this is more about individualism rather than gender relations though.

    Is it more that agreeing to obey someone else is objectionable rather than the gender of the person you are agreeing to obey?

    What are the words in same sex arrangements? Do they say obey or something else?

  30. 30.

    Left Field,
    #12
    I think I must stand corrected. I’ll pay more attention next time. Thanks.

  31. 31.

    Actually hearken and obey seem very different to me. Obey implies obeying no matter what. Hearken involves listening and implies finding out exactly what it is that someone wants you to do, so then you can determine if it is actually something good since the hearken is qualified in the endowment ceremony with conditions.

  32. 32.

    Obey implies obeying no matter what. Hearken involves listening and implies finding out exactly what it is that someone wants you to do, so then you can determine if it is actually something good

    Bracketing the question of whether I agree with this definition of hearkening (I’ll save my thoughts on that for Melyngoch’s discussion), I would find it really problematic to be in a relationship in which my role was to listen carefully to figure out what the other person wanted me to do and then decide whether to obey him. That doesn’t sound at all like a relationship of equals–(potential) obedience is still going in only one direction.

  33. 33.

    2 points:

    1. It would be interesting to discuss whether either spouse should ever covenant to “obey” the other. Ever.

    2. If you don’t think it’s right, then any command to either to obey/hearken/etc. is wrong. If you do think it’s right, then I think you must conclude that is HAS to be a bilateral vow.

  34. 34.

    I got married in 1973 and the word was “obey.” However, it didn’t bother me at the time as I saw it (and I think my mother explained it to me) as purely cultural, an old tradition. The friends I had who got married outside the temple had the word “obey” in their ceremonies too (not just LDS). It was traditional and we all pretty much laughed at it and ignored it.
    38 years later, it does bother me, as does the change to “hearken.” It’s time for old traditions to die.

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