Defer! Defer! To the Lord High Executioner!

Warning: angry church rant ahead.

I never feel the sense of “I don’t belong here” so strongly than when I’m in Relief Society. Today our lesson was on the family. After hearing countless women talk about their husband “presiding” and “leading” I eventually asked the group what those terms meant for their families on a practical day-to-day level. Because honestly, I’m curious. Husband and I don’t roll like that. We couldn’t if we tried.

Anyway, these were the answers, and I hope my paraphrasing of them is fair:

“Presiding means that when there are disagreements you defer to the leader.” As if two reasonable adults who are committed to love and respect each other would need a trump card? I don’t think so. Not in my marriage.

“The husband leads the family in spiritual things. He calls on someone to say family prayer. He makes sure we read the scriptures.” In my family, the person who is paying attention gives the blessing. Just our preference.

“My husband doesn’t have the priesthood but I still think it’s important for him to lead the family in prayer and scripture. So I remind him that this is his responsibility.” So basically, your husband is leading because you told him to lead. This is not leadership. It’s bureaucracy in the family.

“Women have motherhood. Men have the priesthood.” Nope. The logical pair to mother is father. The logical pair to priest is priestess. I am sick to death of this oft-repeated, placating, misleading statement. Instead of creating false relationships, let’s just be up-front that the church does not have equal roles. Furthermore, it’s a huge disservice to children when you replace fatherhood with priesthood. They’re separate responsibilities. And fatherhood is arguably MUCH more important.

“Both my husband and I can give our children good advice. But when he does it with the priesthood, it’s not just advice. It’s something more. It’s more than I can give my children.” You’re shitting me, right? I’m not squeezing a melon out of my vagina and then throwing up my hands in incompetency for the rest of their lives. A mother’s advice is no less meaningful, powerful, or relevant because she does not have the priesthood.

One woman responded directly to me in a way that suggested “You’ll know better when you have kids.”

I don’t understand or relate to these women AT ALL. If they want to defer to their husbands, it’s none of my business. But I can’t imagine myself tolerating that life.

Finally, mercifully, one woman said, “We don’t have set roles. We act in the moment. My husband usually puts the kids to bed. But sometimes he’s not up to it and asks if I can. Just last night he was exhausted, so I told him not to worry about cleaning up, because I could do it. Even for work, one year I might be an better position to provide. In others, he’s in a better position. We don’t worry about following defined roles because we just work together to get everything done.”

PRAISE THE LORD FOR SENDING ME THIS WOMAN. I was beginning to feel completely alone.

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2 thoughts on “Defer! Defer! To the Lord High Executioner!

  1. Thank you for posting this… I have felt some of these same frustrations when I attend relief society. My favorite part:

    ” “Women have motherhood. Men have the priesthood.” Nope. The logical pair to mother is father. The logical pair to priest is priestess. I am sick to death of this oft-repeated, placating, misleading statement. Instead of creating false relationships, let’s just be up-front that the church does not have equal roles. Furthermore, it’s a huge disservice to children when you replace fatherhood with priesthood. They’re separate responsibilities. And fatherhood is arguably MUCH more important.”

    I wish we had more women like you. Thanks again for posting this. I needed it today!

  2. We’ve talked so much about this in the past that I’m not sure what I can add to the discussion. Of course I agree with you, and I find such well-intended RS discussions maddening to the supreme. I think sometimes the most staunch perpetuators of patriarchy in our religion end up being women.

    The thing I can’t get over is the continual comparison of motherhood to priesthood, something else we’ve talked about extensively. 🙂 They’re not the same thing. I realize people certainly disagree with our perspective, but intuitively it doesn’t make sense to me.

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