Zelophehad’s Daughters

Boys and Girls and God

Posted by Petra

[My friend ajbc wrote this post for her personal blog earlier today, and I thought it was so interesting that I instantly begged her to let me steal it for discussion at ZD. Enjoy!]
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the LDS Faith in God handbook for boys and for girls.  I’ve marked stuff that appears in the boy manual in blue and the girl manual in red.  The boy manual had some typos that I didn’t include.  I’m a little torn: if women can’t have the priesthood, is it nicer to make a separate manual so you don’t have to see the differences, or does that cause a bigger rift between the genders?  I can see it go either way; on the one hand separation allows each gender to be strengthened as much as possible…there’s something to be said for forgetting about issues until they essentially disappear.  On the other hand, separation perpetuates the problem of inequality; if we have to deal with it, it might get fixed faster.

Entertain young children with songs or games you have learned or made yourself. Show that you know how to care for and protect/nurture a young child.  Saw that one comin’.

Learn how to budget and save money. Discuss why it is important to faithfully pay our tithing and how Heavenly Father blesses us when we do (see 3 Nephi 24:10–11). Pay your tithing and begin saving for a mission/an education.  I’m glad it’s not a hope chest for the girls.  In all seriousness, though, this seems a little unfair to the boys.  Were we not moving away from the mentality that every man must serve a mission?

“The Priesthood of Aaron … is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.”/“Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come.”

Complete the following activities while you are 11 years old. They will help you prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and become a righteous young man/to become a righteous young woman and to participate in the Young Women Personal Progress program. Calling first, little gents.

Learn about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 13,D&C 107:20, and Joseph Smith—History 1:68–73). / After studying the thirteenth article of faith, make a list of things that are uplifting and virtuous. Discuss with a parent or leader how you can seek after these things. Is this just filling in the blank page where the Priesthood stuff goes or is it saying something about differing expectations for the virtue of females?

Read D&C 20:57–60 and Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God [Deacon], page 7. Discuss with a parent or leader the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and what it means to do your duty to God. / Talk with the Beehive class presidency or a member of the Young Women presidency about the purpose and importance of the Young Women program.

Talk with the deacons quorum presidency about the role of the deacons quorum. Write in your journal how you can serve the Lord as a member of a deacons quorum/you stand for truth and righteousness. ‘Cause guys just stand for the Man.

Read D&C 88:77–80, 118 and D&C 130:19. Discuss with a parent or Primary leader how important a good education is and how it can help strengthen you as a priesthood holder in your home and family and in the Church.  Men are strengthened by education.  Women strengthen their families.  Hmm…

Children who complete the requirements in the guidebook can earn the Faith in God Award.   Whatever.

In countries where Scouting is part of the Church program, boys work on Faith in God along with Cub Scouting. Many of the Cub Scout activities can fulfill requirements for the Faith in God Award. Completion of all activities in this guidebook marked with a Œ qualifies a boy for the Scouting Religious Square Knot patch. This makes some sense.  I mean, I still wish that girls did the scouting stuff, but whatever.

Parents may help their sons and daughters complete the activities in the guidebooks/this guidebook, especially where it is difficult for children to gather for Primary activity days. Guys can do everything.  Girls can only be girls.

Each year, the bishopric meets with all 11-year-old boys and their parents to help them understand the importance of the priesthood and strengthen their commitment to prepare to receive it. Members of the Primary presidency also attend the meeting. We do?  Good to know.

16 Responses to “Boys and Girls and God”

  1. 1.

    I’ll start:

    1. The fact that the girl’s guidebook talks so little about priesthood at all reminds me of Natalie’s old BCC post asking whether women are, in general, underinformed about the “priesthood line” of authority. Are we disadvantaging our girls by not teaching them about the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood to the same extent we’re teaching the boys?

    2. The girls seem to get a lot of gospel-basics education in place of the Aaronic priesthood education. Are we disadvantaging the boys by focusing on the priesthood to the exclusion of standing in holy places?

  2. 2.

    Petra, those are really good points! Re: #1, I personally feel I know squat about priesthood and priesthood history, oath and covenant of the priesthood, etc. But I’m not sure if having more lessons on this would strengthen my testimony or just piss me off. Re: #2, I think this deserves some serious discussion. It seems like girls are being taught righteousness for righteousness’ sake, while boys are being taught righteousness for priesthood’s sake. I’m not sure what the implications of this are.

  3. 3.

    “Entertain young children with songs or games you have learned or made yourself. Show that you know how to care for and protect/nurture a young child.”

    This is kind of hilarious in that they are supposed to do exactly the same activity.

  4. 4.

    Since either “protecting” or “nurturing” translate to performing the exact same child care actions, I think they should rewrite both the girls’ and boys’ books as follows: “Entertain young children with songs or games you have learned or made yourself. Show that you know how to care for and glack a young child.” Alternatively, they could invite both the boys and girls to “kribble a young child.”

  5. 5.

    “The Priesthood of Aaron … is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.”/“Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come.”

    Notice here how the boys are taught that they will be progressing to degrees of greater authority, and the corresponding phrase in the girl version is about staying put and not doing anything? It reminds me of the recent post “Serving on the Sidelines” at Times and Seasons. (I’ll post the link separately in case it gets stuck in moderation.)

  6. 6.

    I gotta say, as a primary boy up to the obligatory talk or two in general priesthood session we menfolk still get twice a year, nothing makes me start snoring faster than talking about the duties and awesomeness of the Aaronic Priesthood. There’s really only so much to talk about, and then it’s just repeating yourself over and over and over. Yes, it was restored by John the Baptist. Yes, it has the keys to the ministering of angels. Yes, bishop, we have taken a few moments to “ponder what that really means”. I feel jealous of the girls of the 13th article of faith bit–it doesn’t take that long to understand the nuts and bolts of the Aaronic Priesthood, and with all the air time it gets in the manuals, trust me, a boy understands just about all of that by 13. But seeking to follow the admonition of Paul is something that does take decades to really get a handle on, and I think we’d serve boys better by giving them a headstart on that.

  7. 7.

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2011/08/serving-on-the-sideline/

  8. 8.

    Rolf: your vocabulary and cognitive sophistication make me either disbelieve you are a primary boy or stand with a dropped jaw at your acumen at less than 12 years old.

    These double standards / manuals / messages are so tiring. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, inho.

  9. 9.

    I think the last item refers to “Priesthood Preview”. It’s in the handbook in the Primary section, or at least was the last time I was in a Primary presidency. Generally held early in the year, usually orchestrated by the ward or stake Primary presidency depending on the demographical and geographical situation in your stake.

  10. 10.

    Read D&C 88:77–80, 118 and D&C 130:19. Discuss with a parent or Primary leader how important a good education is and how it can help strengthen you as a priesthood holder in/ your home and family and in the Church.

    The wording of this makes it seem like men are implanted into the home, but they have more important duties to attend to, so they don’t have to be involved, and women have nothing better to do with their time.

  11. 11.

    ajbc, thanks for this excellent analysis! This is tangential to the girls vs. boys books comparison, but this line stuck out to me:

    In countries where Scouting is part of the Church program, boys work on Faith in God along with Cub Scouting.

    It seems like there’s a word missing there. They could have easily said “boys can work on Faith and God along with Cub Scouting” or “boys should“. I think it’s telling that they didn’t even go with “boys must.” They just said that that’s the way it is and didn’t even leave space for questioning the marriage between Church and Cub Scouts.

  12. 12.

    Knitter, sorry if I misrepresented myself–I’m a 29-year-old married guy who just had his first child. When I said “as a primary boy up to the obligatory talk or two in general priesthood session we menfolk still get twice a year”, I meant that Aaronic Priesthood talks have bored me since then until now, 20-ish years later, when I still hear at least two talks on the subject in Priesthood Session each conference.

    I understand the reasoning behind the focus on the Aaronic Priesthood in talks and manuals, I think–the GAs think that this focus will help boys mature when they realize the power at their disposal. In my experience, though, this leap is hardly ever made–when it becomes clear that the point of discussion is the Aaronic Priesthood, the brain kinda turns off, like when your accountant cousin starts talking about income tax law. I think teaching boys about Christlike virtues and maturity would do a lot more to mature them than yet another rehearsal of the rights and responsibilities of the priesthood.

  13. 13.

    [...] of these I like best! Maybe that last one. Many people would be happier if we could cut down on the gender indoctrination. (In related news, Orson Scott Card tried to improve Hamlet with a generous dose of [...]

  14. 14.

    I followed up on this thread (and others) at http://www.wheatandtares.org/2011/09/16/what-about-young-womens FYI.

  15. 15.

    [...] http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2011/09/06/boys-and-girls-and-god/ [...]

  16. 16.

    I was never remotely interested in the Scouting programs–although maybe I would have been if I’d been involved in it young–but I do have to wonder why the girls don’t participate in it. There’s Girl Scouting in the regular world–why does the church choose to adopt the program for boys and not for girls?

    This comparison was really interesting; a lot of ideas to look into.

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