Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More thoughts on modesty

There seems to be an ongoing discussion among some of my friends about what modesty means and how it should be taught. Many of my friends say that teaching modesty (or "the way it is taught") is wrong, and their reasons are very persuasive but feel very wrong.

I realized today that Anda is going to be taught about modesty by someone other than me in the next few years as she joins Young Womens. And I realized that I'd rather her be taught the traditional way, not the "new-and-improved" way some of my friends are proposing.


The new way doesn't appropriately or accurately deal with the true, biological nature of men. It, in essence, says  that men should be women and see the world the way women do. This is neither fair nor realistic. While I agree that boys should be taught that they are responsible for their own actions and for learning to see women as people, not just bodies, it is important for women to understand that men notice bodies, too, even on women they like as people.

The other thing I want Anda to understand is that her clothes choices are her chance to inform every person she meets how she wants to be treated. While it's a lovely idea that we should be able to dress however we like, our clothes are really a text that informs people how we wish to be perceived. If we treat ourselves as bodies only, people will treat us as bodies only. If we treat ourselves as people, we will be treated as people. And how do we inform others of how we wish to be treated? By what we wear. And all the theories and lovely ideas about how stupid that is are totally disconnected from reality, no matter how appealing they are.

If we want to be treated with respect and dignity, we have to dress with respect and dignity. Period.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I'm Okay with Elder Oaks' Talk.

I have a lot of friends who are having emotional/spiritual crises of varying intensities because of Elder Oaks' talk about the Priesthood in Conference. I think it's because he said that the Lord said the Priesthood is only for men, and it won't help to petition the brethren because they don't even possess the keys to change that, no matter how much you beg.

The problem many of my friends are having stems from the fact that they decided they were right and essentially gave the church an ultimatum. Giving women the Priesthood--now--was non-negotiable because it makes a lot of sense to them.

I feel sad for my friends. They're all suffering right now, trying to reconcile their personal beliefs that conflict--because as of Saturday night, they no longer had the freedom to say, "Apostles speak for Jesus Christ and direct the Church according to His commands" and "God wants women to have the Priesthood." (And my friends were, surprisingly, uninclined to question the second statement. Instead, they were all struggling with how to reconcile the first to the second). Why? Because they've all thought through it thoroughly and truly believe that their understanding of both women and the priesthood leave no space for women not to have the priesthood. They've really considered this deeply, and it makes no sense to them to do it any other way. It's just not fair.

So why did Elder Oaks' talk give me not one whit of distress?  Because I believe that women should not have the priesthood.

And I can tell you nearly a dozen reasons I think that's a good idea.

The thought process that led to those nearly a dozen reasons was like this (in a series of questions that I prayed about--over many years):
1. Is God real? Yes.
2. Does he care about  me? More than I do.
3. If God is real and wants us to know about him, would He have more than one right church out there, all teaching different things? No.
4. So if there is one right church, someone must be in charge or there is chaos with all people believing what they will. So who is in charge? A prophet.
5. If it is truly God's church (and Jesus is in charge of it), would He leave the prophet to figure things out himself? No. That would be silly.
6. So is it reasonable to accept that God created the structure of His church to be led by a prophet and apostles, and that they are in active contact with Jesus to direct the Church according to His will? Yes.
7. Are people, including prophets and apostles, fallible? Yes. But would God ever allow them to lead the entire church astray on important matters (like who holds the Priesthood of God)?  No. So we can assume that if a matter is important, God and His prophets have conversed about it.
8. Is it possible for me to comprehend or see all that God can comprehend or see? No.
9. So if God and I are at odds on some point of doctrine or practice, who is most likely to have made the mistake? ME. He can see and know more than I possibly can, and he care more for me and the people I love than I possibly can even comprehend. So I should probably trust Him, and if I don't understand, try to see it from His perspective (as impossible as that task actually is) instead of insisting He see it from mine (because He already does, thank you, and that doesn't mean He's going to do it my way).
10. Who do I have stewardship over (and therefore the right to receive revelation for)? Well, not the prophet or apostles, that's for sure. But they do have stewardship over me. And I do over me, too, and also over my children while they are young. Probably not anyone else. Maybe my spouse. Maybe. Not assuredly, though. So therefore the right questions to ask God would mostly likely be about me--my beliefs, my behaviors, my attitudes--and not about what the whole Church should be doing, or even what God should be doing.

So, once I had answered those questions (which didn't happen in one night--it was a journey), I was fairly confident that if the prophet or apostles gave us direction, it would be wiser for me to pray for understanding--of the instructions, of the doctrines, and of what I should do--than to sit around asking the Lord to change his mind.

In other words, I asked, "So you don't think women should have the priesthood. I can accept that. Can you help me understand why?" instead of "Please give me the priesthood--I think I can serve best that way." (That's a silly statement anyway--we can all serve to our capacity without the Priesthood. Nobody is required to have keys and ordinations to see suffering around us and try to ease it).

Anyway, I now have lots of reasons not to need the priesthood, and some new insights into the fact that we've devalued women's assignments but that doesn't mean the Lord has.

I do not believe women need or should have the priesthood. Maybe some time I'll write down why.