Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Feminism and Mormonism

Lately it seems there has been an increase in different outlets weighing feminist ideals and Mormonism. The New York Times recently wrote about women and the Church; I found it fairly similar to other pieces of coverage on the matter and it has me thinking about feminism and Mormonism.

One things troubles me a lot about the articles I've read: almost all of them paint the Church is a light of having men rule over women. This is also true of the Ordain Women group. Their frequently asked questions explains that women are not equals in the Church and that men preside over homes, suggesting that the Church teaches women to subordinate themselves to men. While the Church has doctrines that don't mesh well with all of feminism I don't understand why neither media coverage nor the Ordain Women group paint the full picture.

Firstly, the oldest and largest women's group in the world is: [drum roll] the Relief Society. It was organized in 1842; this is the time when married women were beginning to enjoy the right to own property, and the Church created a women's only organization that ran and still runs major social initiatives. This  organization is central to the Church's operations both locally and worldwide, even though it isn't the core leadership by itself.

Secondly, the Church provides mentors and support specifically for young women aged 12-18 - before 12 children are all in the same support system and around time young women turn 18 they transition the Relief Society. Between this organization and the primary (for children under 12) there are 3 women who are on the council for how to run each local congregation. All major decisions are supposed to be made on this council, and all are encouraged to offer their opinions.

Finally, Church leaders preach against any idea of a man ruling his home. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World we are taught that men and women are "obligated to help one another as equal partners." President Hinckley gave a beautiful talk on women and the Church: The Women in Our Lives. He points out numerous ways that The Lord has elevated women and asks: "Why is it that even though Jesus placed woman in a position of preeminence, so many men who profess His name fail to do so?" President Hinckley condemns all of the ideas that many social commentaries suggest the Church reinforces, and he's not alone; the Church has always condemned the subjugation of women.

I know that the members of the Church frequently fail to live up to its pure doctrines. I wish I could say I've never met a chauvinist Mormon, and that I know for sure that no Priesthood holder has ever abused his wife or children. Unfortunately, I know that isn't true, but I also know that those would be true if all men lived the doctrines they are taught, and that's precisely what I wish social commentaries would explicitly recognize.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Testimony of Christ

I know that Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. I know that He descended from a throne to be born in a manger. I know that He lived His life as a perfect example for us; He wanted to show us how to have peace in this life and to return to Heavenly Father afterwards.

I know that He willingly gave His life for us. No man took it from Him, but He gave it, and He took it up again. He lives!

I know that He willingly suffered for you and for me. Despite having power to stop things at any time He allowed Himself to be tortured, so that He could know, according to the flesh, how to heal our pains. He suffered so that we can be healed with His stripes.

I know that He is merciful. He focuses more on the 10% we did right than the 90% we did wrong, especially when the 10% is our best effort. I know He wants nothing more than to apply His Atonement to our sins and make them right.

I know that He did not just suffer for sin: He suffered all of our pains. Every mental anguish, stress, unjust circumstance, trauma, unspeakable and unexplainable pain. He took all these upon Himself so that He could heal us, even the heaviest burdens He can make light.

I know that He watches over us now and seeks to bless us. I know that He lives, and because He lives we can hope for a better world, even when nothing our eyes see backs it up.

I believe in Christ.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Note About Me

I want to explain myself a little bit, because even I wonder about what kind of person writes a blog explaining and preaching religion.

I want to be clear about something: I don't think I'm some kind of sage with all the answers. I do try to become closer to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as a person, and I want to share things that help me with others.

I don't view myself as a righteous man showing others how to be righteous. Never have I felt stronger in the faith and yet never have my many shortcomings been so obvious. Its one of those paradoxical things about life. I try to write about Christ's doctrine as I understand it; I'm in no way trying to suggest that I live up to His doctrine perfectly.

Finally, I want to say that I derive great personal strength from striving to live according to my beliefs and my faith. I have found that the truer I try to be, the stronger I feel.

Learning To Love

Elder Holland said in his talk on Saturday morning that "Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it." This got me thinking more about the link between love and righteousness.
... bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love;
This is from Alma 38:12, where Alma is giving council to his son Shiblon. Reading this scripture as a young man made me ask myself: why is self-control so important for being able to love others? Now that I have been an adult for a little bit and I have a small amount of experience as a husband and a father the answer is a little more obvious. In many cases, loving someone else means putting their needs before your needs. When you have small children, you often need to put their need for food, sleep, a hug, or something else before your need for peace, quiet, or order. Frequently I see myself needing to learn this lesson again and again, and needing more and more self-control to apply it appropriately.

That is one explanation, but there are far more. Not mentioned in this scripture is that Shiblon's brother seemingly had recently committed adultery instead of doing missionary work. It begs the question: can a man who can't control his lust truly love a woman? Obviously, being in control can mean different things, but certainly a man must be in control enough to recognize that his partner is a person and not an object to be used in order to express real love for her.

Imagine how many hateful things have been said and how many relationships have been ruined because of moments of weakness. All kinds of abuse would either greatly diminish or go away entirely if it weren't for times that we really aren't in control of ourselves. All of the commandments teach us discipline and self-control in one way or another, therefore helping us to love and not hate.

I have personal experience in many parts of my life where my attempts at following God's commandments have lead me to deeper love and understanding. I know that trying to be closer to Him makes me closer to those around me; its making more out of me than I could ever make of myself.