Why the Woman Submits to the Man, the Man to God

By: Nate
April 2, 2014

christian-husband-click-submit-submission-marriage(Disclaimer: In this post I resort to stark stereotypes in order to make a case for the gender hierarchy in the temple.  But please read in conjunction with this post,where I explain how I believe men and women are also equal.  I am not as chauvinistic as it might appear from a casual reading of this post.)

When the new temple movies came out, I heard complaints from some women that offensive text regarding the place of women in the hierarchy had not been changed or modified.  The new films added some cinematic interpretations which showed Eve in a stronger light, but her doctrinal role within the endowment did not change.  The church today tries to soften this hierarchy by saying women and men are “equal but different” and that men merely “preside, not rule.”  But new phrasing doesn’t change the core hierarchical doctrine in the temple, and the unmistakable implications it has for the roles men and women are expected to take in today’s church.   Why does the church hang on to what seems to be an “outdated” hierarchy, and should it change?

The following theory is my attempt to understand the nature of the hierarchy: Woman to Man, Man to God.  I believe God uses gender roles as ways to tame and subdue the natural instincts of the Man and the Woman.  My theory relies upon recognizing stereotypical, but self-evident gender differences, which I believe are biological in origin, not cultural.  There are many exceptions to these stereotypes, but that does not mean we should ignore them.   A biological stereotype says something very important about the core identity of the majority of men and women.

Women Superior to Men in Domestic and Spiritual Matters

Women are often praised for their unselfishness towards their children, but they cannot really take full credit for this, as much of it is a biological gift of Mother Nature.  The woman finds herself genetically endowed with a powerful instinctive urge to sacrifice herself for her child, willingly renouncing her freedom for years to come.   Even formerly ambitious business women are often surprised to find themselves willingly embracing the SAHM path once the hormones start flowing with the birth of their first child.  Family is the natural, genetically defined domain of the woman.  She has an instinctual passion for it, which far exceeds the passion of the man for family.  The woman is instinctually conscientious, nurturing, sacrificial, and enterprising all matters regarding the home.  If any person should be elected the head of the household, it should be the woman.  The man is a pathetic second class candidate for such a job.

In religion, we can see that women are more inclined to service and devotion, because they bring their natural domestic gifts to bear.  They happen to belong to a religion that values the “feminine” traits of domestic responsibility, conscientiousness, and self-sacrifice.  They have a great spiritual advantage to the man in this regard.  By all accounts, they should be the spiritual rulers and exemplars for the inferior spirituality of the man.  This is evidenced on any given Sunday in any ward, where it is clearly seen that the Relief Society take all their duties much more seriously than the Elders or High Priest’s Quorums.

Men Inferior to Women in Domestic and Spiritual Matters

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 11.57.36 PMWith regards to sex, the Man is the opposite of the Woman.  After giving into his sexual urges with the Woman, he feels no innate responsibility towards her afterwards.  His genetic desires are to have sex with multiple women without regard to consequence.  His passions are not focused on the family, but upon the outside world, ambition, success, power, warfare.  This is not “evil.”  It is rather his nature.  Unfortunately, his nature doesn’t correspond very well to the commandments of God, unlike the woman.

This is more than simply a stereotypical exaggeration.  Centuries of civilizing culture have subdued the promiscuous instinct in the Man, but his core nature is clearly evidenced by the pornographic urge which runs rampant among men today, even in LDS culture.  And even though culture has dictated that men have a responsibility towards to their wives and children, they are usually not up to the job.  Instead of learning to become conscientious, sacrificial and nurturing, they apply their worldly desires for power to their familial duties, becoming unrighteous dominators, ruling their family as they would rule and dominate other men.

Thus in the religious and domestic realm, men have a clear disadvantage to women.  It’s bad luck for men that in our particular religion, God doesn’t value warfare and promiscuity, but rather fidelity and unselfishness.

God Curses the Man with Responsibility, and the Woman With Submission to the Man

Quotation-T-D-Jakes-woman-love-spirituality-god-men-religion-marriage-women-man-Meetville-Quotes-280682God sets us at war with our natures.  “The natural man is an enemy to God.”  For the man, He gives domestic responsibility: to be the head of the house, a duty for which he is not naturally inclined or gifted.  But if he submits to this responsibility, he will find himself tamed and civilized.  In religion, he is given the priesthood.  Priesthood however, is not given to him because of his natural instinct to rule.  Rather, priesthood is about unselfish service, conscientiousness, and responsibility, not dominion and power, so it is still out of his comfort zone.  Rather his true nature is to exercise unrighteous dominion, as Joseph Smith declared.  “We have seen that it is the nature of almost all men to immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

The woman would be far superior in exercising this priesthood, but it is given to the man to subdue and bridle him.  Instead, God removes the woman from her natural place as the gifted and conscientious head of the home, and puts her under the Man, thereby humbling her in her superior gifts, and giving her an opportunity to challenge and refine both the Man and herself in a lifelong battle of the sexes.

I’ve blogged about the under-appreciated virtue of submission here.  I believe gender roles are all about giving men and women something to submit to.  For a man, it is a greater sacrifice to submit to God, thus he is specifically put under God’s thumb.   For the woman, it is not as great of a sacrifice to submit to God, as many of his commandments are already focused upon things domestic and conscientious.  But to submit to a man?  That is a great sacrifice for the woman.  In the end, both genders have to submit to an equal trial of submission, although that submission is placed in different things.

Men and Women as Cursed Equals

Masaccio_expulsion-1427While I might have defined men and women according to these prejudicial generalities, I don’t see them as unequal with regards to their innate goodness or talent.  Men may be cursed with wanderlust, and women with mother-bear instincts, but without these, I see them as equals.  Rather than women being “under” or inferior to man, I see both men and women as part of a strange game played out by the Gods.  I don’t consider women innately “more spiritual,” but rather simply given unfair advantages that will all be evened out in the next life.  That’s why I dislike the theory of polygamy which states that there will be more men than women in heaven.  In heaven I believe there will be an equal number of men and women, as there are in life.

I agree with many of the points feminists make about equality in the abstract.  Their view is the ideal in a society of equals.  Perhaps it is the order of heaven.  I’m personally partial to an androgynous view of heaven, the one from the Gnostic gospel of Thomas:

They said to him, “When shall we then enter the kingdom?”  Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside… so that the male be not male nor the female female…then will you enter the kingdom.”

But we don’t live in heaven.  We live in a fallen world where men and women have been given different natures, different curses, and different commandments.  There must therefore be compromises and contradictions.  I don’t know what would happen if women were given the priesthood, or if they were pronounced equal before God in the doctrinal hierarchy.  Maybe it would be fine, maybe it would be better.  But I think that the current order reflects realities as lived by humanity throughout the ages.  It is true that humanity has changed the rules with the advent of birth-control and such, but I think there is a danger in rewriting those rules with regards to the church, which represents a more transcendent and universal response to the nature and plight of mankind throughout the ages.


  • Should we appeal to self-evident biological stereotypes to understand gender roles in the church?
  • Does the curse of male submission to God, and the curse of female submission to man constitute an equally onerous curse to their respective biological natures?
  • Are there other ways of understanding the God-Man-Woman heirarchy?
  • Do you believe the heirarchy is divine or manmade, and should it be changed?
  • What advantages or disadvantages are there to the heirarchy?
  • What would be the advantages or disadvantages would eliminating the heirarchy?


69 Responses to Why the Woman Submits to the Man, the Man to God

  1. Hedgehog on April 2, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Just to say, I do resent having to play ‘strange games’ as you put it.

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  2. Howard on April 2, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Thank you for removing the PC shackles for the purpose of discussion. Indeed these are stereotypes, much can be learned from stereotypes and from the exceptions to the stereotypes.

    While much of human nature remains the same today as our scriptural examples it is wrong to assume there has been no personal growth since then. Interestingly when a man grows spiritually he does not NOT become a more manly man, more polarized, more essential, he does not become more the antithesis of women rather he takes upon him more of the feminine divine and actually becomes more like her! Is this less essential? So what exactly is so essential about the man woman difference aside from the biologically obvious?

    For other reasons in other conversations I’ve commented on the common even revered but badly mistaken idea of “he/she completes me” or “She/he is my better half”. The math for these very common but dysfunctionally symbiotic relationships is 1/2 male + 1/2 female = the equivalent of 1 whole person or one marriage unit.

    But as she expands beyond a fixed role once predetermined for her by society or the church by introspectively discovering and uncovering who she has the potential to become she grows beyond just a 1/2 person toward becoming a whole person. And as she spiritually connects with the divine and those she loves she grows even more.

    As already mentioned as he grows spiritually he expands toward becoming a whole person and this growth makes him more like her. Unfortunately what creates manly men is a psychological block of their feelings that is not easily removed without therapy (Btw, it was a feature when his role entailed a lot of danger, but today it’s more of a defect) but as life has become easier and with more single mothers raising boys we are beginning to see a lot more softer, feeling men.

    So what’s going on here? As we grow toward becoming whole men and whole women, the stereotypes of so called “gender essential” roles are becoming unmasked by the realization that they are really only essential to 1/2 people and whole people are less polarized, less specialized and therefore more egalitarian than 1/2 people.

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  3. Andrew S on April 2, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    So, let me try to get this straight.

    Men are given domestic responsibility in the house (which doesn’t really involve responsibility for the daily workings of the household but really is about control and authority) because they are inferior in domestic affairs.

    Men are given priesthood authority in the church not because they have natural instinct to rule, but because the priesthood is actually about service (when, in fact, priesthood authority doesn’t change the capacity to which one can serve — as many are apt to point out that the women adeptly serve without the priesthood in Relief Society and Young Women’s, etc. — but is instead about the capacity to lead and manage).

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  4. Dave K on April 2, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    In a nutshell, it seems you are arguing that women are placed in a subserviant role to men because, by their natures, women are spiritually superior to men and, indeed, would be better priesthood holders. Setting aside the benefit women receive from this arrangment (wouldn’t it be better to let them lead men by example if they truly have better examples?) this arguement is in direct conflict with the explanation given in scripture and in the temple for placing men between God and women; specifically, that it was Eve who erred and not Adam. (I’m not in agreement with that, btw, but that is what is taught).

    Moreover, by placing women as superior to men, you risk the natural extension of your argument – that men are superior to God. Paul taught that the husband/wife relationship mirrors that of Christ and the church. So if women are subordinate to men because they are naturally superior, is the church put under covenant to follow Christ because the church is naturally more spiritual that Him? Perhaps the church would make a better Presiding High Priest than Christ, but it’s necessary for Him to have that role so that he can someday grow to become as spiritual and good as the church. Blasphemy? Yep.

    Nate, for a long time we justified the inequality between the sexes by putting down women. We’ve made a lot of progress, but it is not progress to ride the pendulum back the other way and defend the inequality by putting down men. In my calling I get to work with the young men. I can tell you they are equal in spiritual things to the young women by their natures.

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  5. D. Michael Martindale on April 2, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Your disclaimer rings hollow. If you have to resort to “stark stereotypes” to defend something, that something is sexist, and so are you for defending it.

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  6. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 10:34 AM


    It’s a great post and well worth the time you’ve taken to do it. I have a number of initial comments, but I’ll probably have more as I think about it.

    Many will balk at some of the things you’ve said because they view them as negative from their perceptive, even if they are not or not intended to be.

    - Stereotypes are pretty universally thought of to be negative, even though they are merely observational. It is how stereotypes are applied that can make them potentially negative.
    - Submission is also thought of that way, even though everyone one of us is subjected to submission at some level, be it a spouse, a boss, a Church leader, God, etc. There is no one on earth not subject to it. Some may think they fight against it, but at some point, even they, must submit to some authority, even if it is God at the judgement.
    - Equality True equality is not possible because we are all different for a myriad of reasons. I suppose stereotypical equality might be obtained at some level, but as individuals, we are clearly not equal. So striving for 100% equality is a lost cause.

    After all, this is a conversation about an idea. We should enjoy kicking it around without becoming normally hostile to it.

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  7. David Redden on April 2, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Nate, I spend much of my time drafting and evaluating legal arguments, and what I’ve come to find is that most of the time (not all, but most), the shorter argument wins. You just never want to be in the position where you have more explaining to do.

    This observation holds true here . You have made a valiant attempt to make the case for gender discrimination in the temple and church hierarchy, but the length to which you must go to identify an arguably plausible Godly basis for it merely highlights the strength of the contrary conclusion. The much more probable (and, I would add, less speculative) explanation is that the gender hierarchy within the temple reflects not God’s will, but lingering and outdated attitudes toward gender. It’s a hard truth, but there it is.

    The mental twists and turns that thoughtful people like yourself feel compelled to go through to come to some other conclusion are admirable in my estimation, but it makes me sad.

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  8. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Wow, Dave Redden, the irony of your comment is striking. Attorneys and legal arguments are the most long winded, kill you with words things I have ever encountered. If what you said were actually true, then oral arguments would be totally unnecessary as written arguments would be short, to the point and completely understandable by lay persons. Which they are not. And certainly there would be no need for a Supreme Court, if the US Constitution were all that clear.

    So, I think that Nate’s piece is necessary in its length to make the points he is making. And rather than using terms like “mental twists and turns,” just give your opinion. It appears that you disagree.

    That’s only 2 words.

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  9. Rune on April 2, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Jeff, I believe the point was how many individual premises must be assumed to be true along the way in order for the conclusion to be true, not how many words it takes to explain them.

    A lengthy argument is sometimes needed to prove multiple premises for a complicated situation, but in order for that argument to be good, it really also needs to address why it -has- to be that complicated, usually by demonstrating why simpler possible explanations aren’t satisfactory. That’s a tall order, no mistake. It’s also not something that this piece really did.

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  10. Daniel Andersen on April 2, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Jeff Spector, I think you misunderstand Dave. He is simply restating Occam’s razor, which states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

    As is admitted by Ockham, there is still an element of doubt but the most probable truth is that the strong cultural prevalence of assumed male-female distinctions influences the church’s policy and the ideas of its members.

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  11. Leah Marie on April 2, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    If this had been posted yesterday, I would’ve assumed it was an April Fool’s joke.

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  12. DavidH on April 2, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    I don’t believe the Church or the endowment teach submission of wives to husbands anymore. In the 1990, the following passage from Genesis was removed from the endowment: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Thus, there is no longer language of males’ ruling over females in the endowment. And the language of a woman’s “obey[ing] the law of [her] husband” was also replaced by “heaken[ing] to counsel”, and “hearken” means “listen.” There continues to be a disparity in roles in the language of the endowment, but it has been softened considerably. With continuing revelation, it would not surprise me if in futures years or generations, there would be revealed changes to the endowment ceremony as there have been in the past.

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  13. Dave K on April 2, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    David H, you are correct that the 1990 changes significantly reduced the idea that men rule over women, though as you point out, discrepancies in treatment still remain. My point was that the wording of the endownment conditions the differential treatment on Eve’s transgression. The wording, then and now, reads: “Inasmuch as Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit ….” Similar language is found in the POGP and Genesis. That is the explanation given in scripture and in the temple for the notion that men act as intermediary between God and their wives. The notion is dying, but it’s still around. And as long as it persists (such as in the OP), it’s worth pointing out what church doctrine says on the matter. If women are subordinate, it is because they fell first, not because they are superior to men. (Again, to be clear, I disagree with the idea that women should be subordinate to men).

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  14. G. on April 2, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Isn’t it nifty how no matter what logic is used, men always seem to be the ones who ought to be in positions of authority, power and influence? Men should be in charge because women are just to naturally fragile or silly or emotional. Women are naturally better at being selfless and giving, so men should be in charge. No matter what reasoning is given or assumptions are made, it always seems to turn out the same way. It’s as if people just want to prop up a comfortable status quo.

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  15. TheJenonator on April 2, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Howard I agree with everything you said until your concluding paragraph. Gender roles are not inessential to people who ate more androgynously “balanced”. Society requires that balance. Fathers are needed within the home, not just two parents or a single parent. Yes, an individual kid may be able to get by on that, but it has a negative effect on society and increases their statistical risk for drug dependence, teen pregnancy, prison time, and sexual abuse. People who are supposedly happy single parents are lying to themselves and others to try to feel strong and capable, which they are but would take a good spouse in a second if they found one.

    The article itself is very well written to explain beliefs I have that I had trouble articulating.

    Yes Andrew S.

    I actually think sometimes women’s life lessons from God in marriage are much more customized to them as individuals.

    Example: hubby feels that I am “more tapped in” to God. I am a companion on his journey to God. I am extremely compassionate to others and it was only through being married and having kids with him that HF allowed me to realize I was wayyyyy out if balance to the detriment of my own family. Looking back-the lesson was hilarious. My good deeds (driving a russian orphan to phys therapy while he was here on a medical foster care trip) backfired and got my kids ass worms. YES I did just say that and yes, it is possible and no, they weren’t from a pet). I also realized that MY plan to be God’s hands didn’t serve the orphan either. He went back to Russia without a well functioning foot. He now understood how loving families lived in a wealthy country-two things he’d never have.

    My husband supports and enables me to do good more flexibly as a homemaker. He also provides helpful boundaries without domineering. When we cared for a poorly behaved 3yr old while her parents dealt with a bone narrow transplant, it was my husband who wisely and lovingly told them we’d still like to help them but in their home, not ours because our girls are not used to seeing a double standard in our home on tolerable behavior. We were able to empower the other parents in the process as well to prilivude more boundaries for their horribly behaved tornado of a child. I had prayed to HF to use me simehow to help them when I first heard of the diagnosis. They called me out of the blue to accept help that I had not directly offered them. I did a lot if other stuff for them to.

    Without my husband, none if this would have worked.

    He facilitates for me and I facilitate for him the lessons and opportunity for growth. I don’t at all consider him superior and neither does he. We recognize we have negotiable roles and that some ate biologically intended. The free will is part of the beauty if Gods plan, the biological is the other.

    The priesthood draws men out in a great way that can lift them up if they allow it. Make leadership is a true gift to men and to women when applied with Christian principals. Women already do priesthood duties unrestrained at warp speed. We don’t need the church to sanction it. If the church did it would ruin its purpose.

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  16. Kristine A on April 2, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    oh my. I have no words.

    1) I would like to draw your attention to the covenant triangle we use in marriage: God at the top, man and wife on the bottom corners. We covenant to follow and submit to Christ and God’s will. On the horizontal line we hearken and submit to each other.

    2) In the temple I interpret the promise Eve has to make to Adam, to “hearken” as this: “Listen Eve, you just made this massive decision that altered yours and Adam’s lives and all of humanity’s — without even consulting with him! You are married, you don’t make massive decisions without discussing and hearkening to each other!

    3) are women just naturally so humble because they are made that way? or because since the beginning of time they’ve been oppressed and powerless and their afflictions have humbled them (alma 32)?

    4) My dad is the softer, more natural nurturer in my family growing up. I reject these stereotypes. They are harmful. The teachings on gender roles and stereotypes have hampered my spiritual development, and I was quite bruised when I plunged off of my pedestal.

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  17. Howard on April 2, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    TheJenonator wrote: Gender roles are not inessential to people who ate more androgynously “balanced”.

    Well, my comment was meant to be relative, I probably should have said something like far less essential.

    I agree absent fathers do correlate with a lot of offspring problems but is that because the biological father is absent or a male “father figure” is absent or because there is only one parent present? Do parental role reversals correlate to offspring problems?

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  18. Howard on April 2, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Sorry forgot the /em

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  19. Dave K on April 2, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Kristine A, I have to disagree. You actually do have some words. Really great ones. I’ve never considered that interpretation of Eve’s instruction before. I love it. Thank you for sharing. Also, I’m currently part of my ward’s marriage improvement class. We use the covenant triangle each week.

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  20. Nate on April 2, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    There have been objections to my use of stereotypes. But what is a stereotype? In my mind, it is no different than a statistic. It is simply saying, statistically, men tend to behave in this certain way, more than women. If I wanted, I could easily find statistical evidence with a few google searches to back up all my “stereotypes” but why should I? These stereotypes are “self-evident.” The differences between men and women are obvious to everyone, and it is only an artificial culture of political correctness that tries to take them off the table as legitimate items of discussion.

    Kristine A, if you feel you have been harmed by stereotypes, that is a valid claim. But stereotypes themselves are merely reflecting statistical realities. The solution is not to ignore the statistical realities, by claiming it is harmful to bring them up, but to try to change the statistical realities, or promote a greater acceptance of variations from the norm.

    I am open to questioning the virtue of certain stereotypes, but I think we should be careful not to ignore realities in our attempt to move beyond stereotypes we dislike.

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  21. Kristine A on April 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Yes, and I presented an alternative theory as to why the stereotypes exist.

    Those who have been oppressed and powerless naturally have empathy for those in the same boat (women -> children). If one has limited choices in their life and must depend on others for their existence, they identify with others who are in the same circumstances.

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  22. OldJen on April 2, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Whether or not a male>female hierarchy is necessary or desirable in mortality (and I believe that it is neither), temple verbiage sets that hierarchy up as an eternal structure, forever separating woman from God by a male intermediary, her Husband-Lord. Thus, Eve is not redeemed from the fall, and the Atonement of Christ is rendered invalid for womankind.

    Softening the text without changing the outcome is not helpful. Is woman redeemed, or is she not? They have taken away my Christ, and I know not where they have laid him. :’(

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  23. Douglas on April 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Nate, I would hotly dispute the postulation in your OP that “submission” is a “curse”, be it for the man before God or the woman before her husband.

    The trouble is that we’re a few centuries removed from the Feudal and/or like monarchial systems once fairly much the rule. The king was not unlike a little god, and, for all practical purpose, treated as the direct representative of God before the people. Never mind that D&C 121 was fully in effect even then (“we have learned, through sad experience…”), as many kings were hardly “Godly”. One “submitted” before his King in the monarch’s presence, i.e., laid down his arms (if in fact knighted and therefore authorized to bear arms, a commoner bearing arms in the presence of the king would be considered in open rebellion and quickly cut down by the king’s guards), bowed and lowered his head, thus baring his neck. Under said circumstances, if the king was displeased with his subject and found cause to have him executed, it would have been perfectly alright to have beheaded the kneeling man then and there. But, of course, the king could not be capricious, he WAS to his subject as God is to him, and had to treat him with all possible kindness and mercy as they supposed God is. Hence few inpromptu beheadings.

    Though thankful we don’t live in medevial conditions anymore (I prefer baseball to bear-baiting, and modern medicine to herbs and being bled with leeches, etc.), there is some of that cultural vestige. So yes, a MAN is to ‘submit’ to God in the same manner. Where I’m not comfortable is asserting that unilaterally a woman must ‘submit’ to her husband, especiall where either unrighteousness exists (the man didn’t submit to God), or just plain ignorance and/or inexperience is evident. The same apostle Paul that talked about “submission” also said that “neither is the man w/o the woman (and vice versa)”, so to infer that a position of dominance on the husbands part is justified by scripture doesn’t wash. Plus, what do we do about single/divorced/widowed sisters? To WHOM do THEY ‘submit’? Me, I wish that Paul had used the Greek word “thygatrikó̱n” (rough translation: affiliate) instead. AFAIC, both man and woman equally need to “submit” to their Savior, but work TOGETHER.

    I do agree with Nate that if it’s the Lord’s will to place the man in the provebial “captain’s chair” it’s to instill upon him both senses of responsiblity and of sensitivities to needs of wife and children. Any man who’s in it for the ‘praise’ will be inevitably dissapointed, as will any woman unfortunate enough to have accepted his marriage proposal in the first place.

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  24. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 1:12 PM


    You have to understand that there are people that choose not to recognize the innate and biological differences between men and women. Nothing is in-born except gender preference (apparently) and everything else is learned from a negative stereotype-driven, man-created, male-dominated, repressive environment.

    Poor God has taken a back seat to his out of control creation.

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  25. IDIAT on April 2, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    The covenant triangle is interesting because doctrinally, I think the church teaches that all covenants are with God. (I think I have an Elder Holland quote to back that up.) Many people hear the Eve portion of the endowment, and suppose Eve is covenanting with Adam. Certainly it comes across that way as Eve appears to be speaking to Adam, then Adam speaks to God. But what if the covenant Eve makes is actually with God? Then, Kristine’s interpretation becomes more likely, in the sense that Eve is covenanting to ‘hearken’ to Adam’s counsel – to at least listen – to what he says. (The language and exchange between Adam and Eve when I first went through the temple in 1980.) As to the overall issue of equality, I don’t know why generally men are physically stronger than women. If you believe in evolution, then is it men’s fault they have the muscle mass to impose their will? I don’t believe for one minute that if the shoe had been on the other foot (women could bear children AND had the dominant muscle mass) that women would not be in positions of domination today. Egalitarianism is a wonderful idea for the oppressed. And if you believe God made Adam with the muscle mass, then I would assume He did so with a purpose, and He can see the end from the beginning, and perhaps some of the submission stuff makes sense. I have always taken the position that what we know about The Fall is very minute, that there is a whole lot more to the Plan of Salvation than meets the eye, and unfortunately, we won’t understand more until the next life. It is interesting that the stereotypes mentioned in the OP are almost universally found across all cultures.

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  26. Kristine A on April 2, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Also those who defend the status quo are those who usually benefit from it, male and female. I truly, truly tried to cling to my pedestal and my belief in gender roles and with a certainty God “came in like a wrecking ball.” I made sense of the ashes and have actually found more happiness off of the pedestal than I ever had on it. FWIW.

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  27. IDIAT on April 2, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    As an aside I wonder – am I bound by the endowment I received in 1980, my wife by the endowment she received in 1983, or by the endowment that’s given in the temple on the date of my death?

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  28. Kristine A on April 2, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Our highest callings are not priesthood or motherhood – our highest calling is to follow Christ.

    “I do not mean to imply that men and women are exactly the same, but could we challenge ourselves to enlarge our vision? That there can be more than one way to be a Good Mormon Man or Woman? To realize that being a Mormon Male is more than Priesthood Holder; that Mormon Woman is more than Mother? That if this idea is threatened it doesn’t mean we value the priesthood or motherhood less? Can we unlink our gender identities from a role we perform and link our value instead to being like Christ? Who exhibited what we consider both masculine and feminine virtues (leadership and nurturing, strength and meekness, courage and submission) that both men and women should develop?”
    Cultural Gender Identity

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  29. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 1:38 PM


    “Our highest callings are not priesthood or motherhood – our highest calling is to follow Christ.’

    So what does it mean to follow Christ? Does it not mean to fill the measure of our creation? And for what are we created? To become a CEO? For advanced degrees?

    Is it not to multiply and replenish the earth? To raise up a righteous seed unto the Lord?

    Who is to say that our highest calling is not to be parents? is that not part of the commandments that Christ gave us?

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  30. Dave K on April 2, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    IDIAT, I would say you are bound by any convenant you choose to honor. You can let go of any covenant you want at any time and face the consequences, positive or negative.

    I can’t imagine that the different endownment ceremonies will have eternal consequences. Otherwise, some unlucky deceased woman is cursing the fact that her work was performed in 1989. I can hear her saying, “Stupid microfiche. If my granddaughter had been delayed just a little longer I wouldn’t be stuck with a covenant to obey the law of my husband for eternity. Thanks a lot.”

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  31. Nate on April 2, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Kristine A, I think you have a good point about “Can we unlink our gender identities from a role we perform and link our value instead to being like Christ?”

    Ultimately, I think about these gender games as temporary roles we are playing, for whatever reason, but that ultimately, a being like Christ exhibits a fullness of perfection, thus encompassing both the masculine and feminine. Whether the church is doing a good job of achieving that goal for its members is up for debate.

    What I am trying to understand, is why God made us to be playing this strange gender game.

    My answer, which no one has really commented on so far, is that it is all about the concept of submission and humility. It is pride that demands rights and equality. Hierarchies and inequalities exist to create grace (by definition unearned), and submission to realities greater than ourselves, (ultimately God).

    Just as a woman submits herself to the inequality of the priesthood, I submit myself to a God who fashioned me in a way contrary to his commandments, and stuck me in a church antethical in many ways to my perspective and personality.

    I find myself defending gender hierarchies not because I like them or think they are good, practical advice, but because they are a challenge, a war, a trial, and invite us to submit to something that doesn’t come naturally. Inequality is the whole point. That’s a hard point to get across in a democratic society. But the Kingdom of God is hierarchical. Who cares how, whether man over woman, woman over man. Whatever it is, it must not be equal.

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  32. Moss on April 2, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    If the woman is covenanting to God, then why does her husband know her new name? Why does he take her through the veil before they are sealed? What does “unto your husband” mean? Why does the woman need to veil herself at a certain point? I have only found all this to make contextual sense in light of the Husband-God idea. It’s not an idea I’m fond of, but it makes sense in context.

    I appreciate the opportunity for discussion, Nate.

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  33. Andrew S on April 2, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    if it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (a phrasing that gets LDS folks in trouble with traditional Christians), then I think that efforts to challenge inequality represent “all we can do.”

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  34. Carnation on April 2, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    I have heard a similar explanation to Nate’s before, and I found it thoughtful and was grateful to my friend for mentioning it to me since she knew the inequalities in the temple covenant bothered me. Where it doesn’t wash for me, however, is that in this set up, women submit to men because it is a harder sacrifice–therefore, men’s submission to God is for them a harder sacrifice. This implies that women would rather submit to God than men (probably true, from my perspective) and that men would rather submit to women than God (not remotely true, that I can see). I think if that were true, history would reflect it, with God having to constantly correct the men who would just rather listen to their wives than God. I just don’t see much evidence of men lining up to submit to women and having to be told to go against their nature and submit to God instead–rather, women have had to fight tooth and nail for every bit of legal equality and independence they have. It is against human nature to submit, but we all must submit to Christ. He is the only one to whom I could freely give my will, and I suspect most human beings feel the same.

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  35. OldJen on April 2, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Regardless of covenant wording, the eternal hierarchy remains the same. A simple replacement of the word “to” by “with” would fix that problem, and the horrifying prospect of woman’s eternal separation from God would dissolve. Such a small change, yet it didn’t happen. Why?

    Jeff, that is a tired argument. I’m just going to guess here that you are 1. Fertile, 2. Married, and 3. Your spouse is fertile. Amiright? Sadly, a fairly large percentage of the human family cannot claim those blessings.

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  36. MB on April 2, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    I don’t buy it. Seems like an attempt to find a reason for something when that something is misunderstood.

    The “submit” bit about wives and husbands has its origins in Ephesians, chapter 5. The following information gave me a completely different view of what “submit” means in this context. Perhaps you will find it helpful as well.

    Ephesians 5
    vs 21, (members of the church) submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Greek word for “submit”: hupotassomai
    vs 22 Wives submit submit yourselves to your husbands. Greek word used for “submit”: hupotassomai
    vs 23 Husband is the head of the wife. Greek word used for “head”: kephale
    vs 25 Husbands love your wives: Greek word used for “love”: agapeo
    vs 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church. Greek word used for “might present”: parasthsh

    Hupotassomai doesn’t have a direct English equivalent but means something along the lines of “give allegiance to”, or “tend to the needs of ” or “be supportive of” or “be responsive to”. In military contexts it is used to describe taking a position in a phalanx of soldiers; to be united with the group in effort and support. The German Bible translates it as “to place oneself at the disposition of”. This is what members of the church are asked to do for each other and what wives are asked to do in these verses in Ephesians. Its meaning relates very much to the admonition in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens”.

    Very importantly, Greek not only has active and passive forms of verbs, but also a middle form, which is used when the subject of the sentence neither acts on another nor is acted upon, but rather volunteers willingly to a state of being or to a course of action that is self-directed, not imposed. Hupotassomai, in these verses is in the middle form. Paul uses it to invite a purely voluntary action, not as a command.

    “Kephale” is a word used to denote a person who goes ahead into battle, putting himself the most dangerous and vulnerable position in the phalanx.

    “Agapeo” is used here and also in the commandment to love our neighbor and God and our enemies and in Jesus’ description of the Good Samaritan who loved and helped freely another who could not (and probably would not) repay his kindness.

    Agapeo and hupotassomai are very similar words, both involve giving up one’s self-interest to serve and care for another’s. Both mean being responsive to the needs of others. Many scholars recognize this passage of Ephesians as a chiasmus with hupotassomai at the beginning of it and agapeo as an equal term at the end.

    “Parasthsh” means “to stand beside”.

    Knowing the Greek words sheds further light on the passage which the English translation obscures.

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  37. Nate on April 2, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Andrew S, that is exactly true, which is why I disagree with Nephi on that scripture. I believe it does injury to the true nature of grace to tie it to our efforts. Grace is not earned. Life is not fair. God did not create all men equal, nor did he give us any inalienable rights. All is a gift of His grace.

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  38. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 2:21 PM


    “Sadly, a fairly large percentage of the human family cannot claim those blessings.”

    So, what are we to do in that case, Because some people are starving, the rest of us should not eat anything?

    I think we follow President Hinckley’s admonition to “Do the best we can…” All of us have challenges. I don’t know what yours are, you do not know what mine are.

    it may be tired, but teaching God’s plan is what we are asked to do.

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  39. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 2:39 PM


    “if it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (a phrasing that gets LDS folks in trouble with traditional Christians), then I think that efforts to challenge inequality represent “all we can do.””

    I’m afraid that misrepresents what that scripture means. It is about the Grace of Jesus Christ to save us from eternal death and that we have very little to give to merit that grace. it’s isn’t “all we can do” about everything, it is all we can do to merit His grace…. Which is to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I wrote a post about that last year or the year before.

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  40. OldJen on April 2, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Jeff, “what are we to do in that case”?
    We develop compassion, and some ‘but if not’ strategies, so that those not blessed with the ability to ‘fill the measure of their creation’ do not feel like they have failed before they have begun.

    Feast upon milk and honey all you like, but don’t leave the lactose intolerant to starve.

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  41. Jeff Spector on April 2, 2014 at 3:44 PM


    “We develop compassion, and some ‘but if not’ strategies, so that those not blessed with the ability to ‘fill the measure of their creation’ do not feel like they have failed before they have begun.”

    The message of compassion is clear and it is recognized that everyone’s situation may be different. We always need to be careful about the feelings of those who may not have the ideal situation, but that should not stop us from teaching it. That fact alone does not make people insensitive.

    The Savior is there to comfort those who stand need of comfort

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  42. Angela C on April 2, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    As others have pointed out, stereotypes are a huge problem. Let’s say they are based on the fact that a narrow majority (say, 55%) of that sex resembles the stereotype for the most part. That means 45% don’t resemble it. But it still becomes a stereotype because the “majority” are mostly like that. As a person who is very gender balanced, as is my husband, I can’t see the stereotype as ideal in any way. It’s not advantageous. In natural selection, it will go the way of the do-do.

    “Should we appeal to self-evident biological stereotypes to understand gender roles in the church?” No. As I’ve stated, I think if it applies to the majority, it’s a narrow majority at most.

    “Does the curse of male submission to God, and the curse of female submission to man constitute an equally onerous curse to their respective biological natures?” No because a husband is physically present, living with you day in and day out, whereas a God is someone with whom you commune largely on your own terms. A distant God can’t exert unrighteous dominion over you.

    “Are there other ways of understanding the God-Man-Woman hierarchy?” Yes, Kristine A mentioned one above that all of us have heard in seminary; that the man & woman are two parts of a triangle with God. There is no real hierarchy between men and women, just a man-made one.

    “Do you believe the hierarchy is divine or man-made, and should it be changed?” 100% man-made / cultural. Yes, it should be changed. When I hear the messages of the gospel and of Jesus Christ I hear the same version a man hears. This is just stupid cultural stuff that limits potential.

    “What advantages or disadvantages are there to the hierarchy?” It limits potential. At best (for those who fit the stereotypes) it describes them. At worst, when it doesn’t describe someone accurately, it makes them broken or less than ideal, in a position to be judged or forced into a box that doesn’t fit them.

    “What would be the advantages or disadvantages would eliminating the hierarchy?” There is no disadvantage except where men have been so conditioned to expect supremacy that they feel like they’ve lost privilege. Most Mormon men I know are not complete a**holes, though. Most of them do act like an equal partner and don’t throw a hissy fit when their every demand is not met.

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  43. Angela C on April 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Howard:”I agree absent fathers do correlate with a lot of offspring problems but is that because the biological father is absent or a male “father figure” is absent or because there is only one parent present? Do parental role reversals correlate to offspring problems?” Studies I’ve read show that the real cause is the stress placed on a single parent with no support. What is even worse is a non-absentee father who creates even more of a mess by being there than he does when he leaves (one reason many poor women are better off as single mothers than saddled with a money-sucking man-child). In a similar vein, charitable giving studies show that if you want to lift families out of poverty, give money to mothers, not fathers. Fathers at the low end of the economic scale generally drink it or gamble it away. Women invest in nutrition and education.

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  44. Kristine A on April 2, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Nate: “My answer, which no one has really commented on so far, is that it is all about the concept of submission and humility. It is pride that demands rights and equality. Hierarchies and inequalities exist to create grace (by definition unearned), and submission to realities greater than ourselves, (ultimately God).”

    Okay Nate, I’m going to jump into your thought experiment. If a man’s “passions are not focused on the family, but upon the outside world, ambition, success, power, warfare” wouldn’t it make sense to make them submit to women and to have them develop their domesticity, instead of putting them in a position of power? And if women have natural “advantages” in this life, wouldn’t it make sense to have them use that in presiding, to develop the side they are “naturally weaker”?

    Despite what we see in the US, a large majority of women of the world are oppressed and abused. “Women comprise 70 percent of the world’s poorest people and own only 1 percent of the titled land. Of all the primary-school age girls globally, 20 percent are not in school. Women aged 15 through 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Some 99 percent of maternal deaths (one every 90 seconds) occur in poor countries, and most are avoidable via basic health care. Far more women and girls are shipped into brothels annually now, in the early 21st century, than African slaves were shipped into slave plantations each year in the 18th century.” Half The Sky.

    Read that paragraph again and tell me that inequalities exist to create grace, that it is pride that demands rights and equality.

    First world feminism and global feminism do look at different issues, but the same thing causes the issues in both cases: demands of submission. I’m all for submitting to God, to His will – and I believe it is His will to have us correct injustices.. This is humanity’s greatest work left undone: to liberate the captive. Until men can care enough about the plight of women that they fight their own given ‘authority’, where will we be?

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  45. Nate on April 2, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Angela, thanks for answering my questions. It would be interesting to look at the stereotypes more carefully, with statistical evidence to see how prevalent they really are.
    The masculine stereotype, particularly that of aggression and promiscuitity, has been carefully conditioned out of most men. But that doesn’t mean they don’t live with it as part of their personal struggle with the “natural man,” even when behaving as an honorable citizen.

    I’m admittedly seeing this from the male perspective, but I say with confidence that for a man to be given priesthood and family responsibilities and authority is an extremely refining influence. Marriage and it’s accompanying responsabilities and covenants have tamed and civilized billions of men over the ages. Priesthood ordination and responsibilities have an undeniably positive influence on men and their battle with the natural man.

    But my argument breaks down from the female perspective. Men are tamed and refined by the church, but what does it give women? I argue that it gives them an opportunity to submit. But Angela, I’m sure you would say that there is little virtue in submission to an imperfect man, or one exercizing unrighteous dominion. In fact, you would probably say there is nothing redeeming about it. So the reality is that men are given much more out of church than women are.

    In today’s church, women are encouraged to behave like stereotypical women, and men are encouraged to behave like stereotypical women too. But maybe the church should encourage women to be a little more like men as well. Maybe one should strive for a balance of typical gender attributes in both men and women.

    Brigham Young did this by saying that women should get educations, run businesses, and teach schools, and do anything a man does, and not be content simply to stay in the home.

    But Brigham Young wasn’t living in a society where women had access to birth control, and were being encouraged to put work over family. Today’s General Authorities are trying to counterbalance what they see as too much worldly emphasis on women to become like men, while still encouraging their men to become like women.

    In a way, women in the church were more equal with men in the 19th century than the 20th and 21st, because of the way the church has reacted to trends in the outside world.

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  46. Howard on April 2, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    …I say with confidence that for a man to be given priesthood and family responsibilities and authority is an extremely refining influence.

    I strongly agree with this. Now let’s find a way to do it without subjugating women.

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  47. Nate on April 2, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Kristine A, my view of the Kingdom of God is that it is a benevolent heirarchy. I don’t think God looks kindly on unrighteous dominion around the world. But for some strange reason, in His church, He has not abandoned the male heirarchy, even while He has warned His men not to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    The big question is, is temple heirarchy is inspired or an outdated cultural relic? Which came first, God putting man at the head, and man subsequently abusing his position? Or, man dominating woman, controling religion, and creating a theological structure that resembled his usurped power?

    You seem to believe the later, and I believe the former. But I sympathize with your view. I could even believe that perhaps God simply allows less than ideal heirarchies to prevail while we work out our differences.

    But ultimately, my allegiance is to the priesthood and current prophets. I have to try to find a way to submit to that and understand “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants it is the same.” That is why I try to engage in hopeless apologetic exercises like this.

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  48. Howard on April 2, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    Submission is an important lesson to learn but I’m not convinced that a life of submission has much value or teaches much, in fact long term submission suppress growth.

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  49. Kristine A on April 2, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    I think since the rhetoric of temple heirarchy in the temple continues to soften, that it indicates some malleability. What if the story of Adam and Even when he commanded Adam to rule over all the earth; that he was actually commanding them both together? Sometimes I wonder what our scriptures would say if women had had access to education and the opportunity to write and if their stories were collected and preserved the same as mans. Would it be a different story? My view of the Kingdom of God in the next life is one of co-rulers. We are to be one and sit side-by-side and counsel with each other.

    Wouldn’t giving men and women the same access to responsibility and accountability be in line with our belief in the plan of salvation of having the freedom to choose and be accountable for our choices?

    Ultimately my allegiance is to my God, and I sustain my current prophets. They are men of God whom He has chosen to be the leaders of the Church for this time.

    “It seems to me that the most productive response to ambiguity is at level three, where we not only view things with our eyes wide open, but with our hearts wide open as well. When we do that, there will be many times when we are called upon to take some action at a point where we think we need more evidence before knowing what to do. Such occasions may range from following the counsel of the Brethren on birth control to accepting a home teaching assignment. My experience has taught me always to give the Lord and his church the benefit of any doubts I may have when some such case seems too close to call. I stress that the willingness to be believing and accepting in these cases is a very different matter from blind obedience. It is rather, a loving and knowing kind of obedience.” (Hafen, on dealing with uncertainty)

    This is not saying that I agree with everything they say or how things currently are, but I still obey.

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  50. Carnation on April 2, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Nate, I apologize if I’m misreading you, but you seem to be saying that the hierarchical relationship with men between women and God is not a negative, even unintended, consequence of the Fall, but a reflection of the divine will and of the eternal nature of things. In this case, I must reiterate what OldJen has said above: this has incredibly damaging implications for women’s worth in the eternities.

    Let me tell you that since learning about the inequalities in the temple covenants, contemplating an eternal existence in which I am permanently separated from God, with true exaltation and reconciliation through the atonement of Christ forever out of reach, scares the living daylights out of me. On my bad days, I wonder if women are some other class of spirit entirely, like the animals, who are to fulfill the measure of their creation, but not to be exalted. On my good days, I’m sure it’s nonsense and a loving God would never create me with an intelligent mind and desires for progression if it was impossible.

    Even if I can get myself to swallow the idea that women have been placed in a subservient position in this life by divine design for some unknown purpose (again with the games!), I simply cannot countenance its place in the eternities. The atonement of Jesus Christ is about healing my relationship with God. Submitting to any other being will not save me. Christ is the way.

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  51. rah on April 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    Wait. So if your stereotypes are true then women shouldn’t vote right? Men should be civil servants and take on this responsibility while women stay out of the public sphere? Should women be able to own property or was that “a curse” for their own good in traditional biblical society as well?

    I am sorry I can’t take as serious an argument which boils down to “Men naturally want to have indiscriminate sex with as many women as possible and watch porn ergo they should be “punished” with the “curse” of all decision right authority and being the intercessor between wife and God”. Seriously? “Women so love to nurture and are so spiritual they need to learn their lesson by forgoing all decision right authority and submittin to their husband and his friends.”

    I am with one of the Dave’s earlier. This logic is so convoluted, narrowly drawn and self serving there is no way I could possibly worship a God who thought this way. My God is much, much bigger than that, much, much smarter than that, much, much more caring than that. My God doesn’t inspire racist folk doctrines about black people being spiritually inferior and deserving a curse due to their ancestors and my God doesn’t punish his daughters for Eve’s transgressions. However, my fellow men…..those sex obsessed, potential porn addicts with the testosterone drive to dominate others? Yeah they do that, in spades. All over the world and all over history. I am willing to bet that is where this tendency to conveniently decide that men should have all the decision rigthts is “for their own good”.

    I prefer Joseph Smiths vision of our women as a kingdom of priests and priestesses “unto the Most High God”. I desire to believe in that vision. I have faith in it. Your idea causes only a stupor of thought. It is definitely not one that I can teach my daughters. They will submit to know one but God, whose daughters they are. They will strive to be true equal partners with their spouses. They will be endowed with power and the promise to be “priestesses and queens unto the Most High God” not Brigham’s heretical Adam God embedded theory BS version of “queens and priestesses unto their husbands” (which tragically is still the wording in BY’s endowment).

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  52. rah on April 2, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    “no one” gah…

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  53. Angela C on April 2, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    Nate: “Angela, I’m sure you would say that there is little virtue in submission to an imperfect man, or one exercising unrighteous dominion. In fact, you would probably say there is nothing redeeming about it. So the reality is that men are given much more out of church than women are.” That thought has occurred to me, yes. I’m fairly certain it’s not a message we are going to hear said aloud during General Conference, and yet it is frequently an unstated message many of us hear. Of course, according to Jessica Moody, we are an insignificant minority, not even worth noticing. Or to paraphrase, while quoting the Breakfast Club, “You may as well not even exist at this school.”

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  54. Douglas on April 2, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    #44,#53 – Oh, “Bruuuthhherrr…” (pun intended).

    What “studies”? Please cite which “studies” beyond common inferences and hunches show that men of a lesser financial stature cause more harm by being involved in their children’s lives than by their absence. True, there’s unfortunately no shortage of males that can be sperm donors but not necessarily fathers; they fail to grow up and live up to their responsibilities. However, likewise there are females whom served only to birth their child but are disasters as mothers and as irresponsible and wicked as any “jailbird” it’s been my displeasure to know.. You seem to have bought into the welfare statist and feminist assertion that single motherhood should be subsidized with tax dollars (first,relevant child support payments should be collected if they can);and that women by nature can do no wrong and rarely choose the ‘wrong’. This, I assert, does far more to propogate generational welfare dependency, illegitimacy, and crime far more than any other government “do-goodism” that I can think of: The role of the wage-earning husband is replaced by the hard-earned tax dollars of John and Jane Q. Taxpayer.

    As for their even MORE important role to head a family in person, if you can’t recognize the importance of same, Hawk, then it causes me to wonder if you truly comprehend the Gospel. This “patriarchy” is intended to serve, NOT rule. For myself, I feel absolutely no aggrandizement by virtue of holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. I do feel gratified when honored to exercise it I’ve never felt threatened by any honest desire to serve, Hawk, and if that’s your motivation, then great, how can you be fulfilled now? I can’t tell our Savior what do to with His PH, nor call my own self to any position outside what the “hierarchy”. Neither should you or anyone else signing up with this misguided tantrum called “Ordain Women”. I can only hope that your talents do somehow get put to use in a manner that you can take spiritual satisfaction from. If you kick against the pricks, waiting for the Lord to change things as YOU see fit, it could be VERY long.

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  55. Hedgehog on April 3, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    So to clarify my initial comment. My hope is that God isn’t expecting that we play a game. I just can’t be doing with that kind of nonsense.

    Since my main beef is with current hierarchical structures Nate, I have to say your view of heaven isn’t one that appeals in any way.

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  56. Nate on April 3, 2014 at 4:16 AM

    Carnation, rah, and Hedgehog, let me retract my phrase, “the kingdom of God is hierarchal.”

    I don’t know anything about it actually. It could be completely egalitarian. Maybe like the scripture says, “Every valley shall be exalted, every hill made low.”

    What I should have said is, God’s church on earth is hierarchical, and clearly not democratic. But heaven supposedly is more “fair.”

    Carnation, my arguments are entirely premised upon our mortal biological gender differences, and thus completely of the flesh, or of this world. The curses are a response to mortality and the natural flesh we are born into. Heaven could be completely different. Maybe Joseph Smith was trying to bring the order of heaven to earth which is why he started giving women certain priestly roles in the temple at least.

    I’m not saying the hierarchies are ideals in any way. What I said in the OP is that “We live in a fallen world where men and women have been given different natures, different curses, and different commandments. There must therefore be compromises and contradictions.”

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  57. The Other Clark on April 3, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Kristine A. (in #16): I like the idea that men and women should hearken (listen carefully) to each other. It’s a great–essential?–trait for all happy relationships. BUT, this isn’t what the temple covenant says.

    And the question of why Church authorities didn’t alter the language to reflect your view–which I think is a good one–and kept the archaic, divisive phrasing is worth pondering.

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  58. IDIAT on April 3, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    TOC #57 – I think it does say “hearken” as opposed to “obey,” hence me wondering earlier whether my wife (endowed in 1983 when the language was obey) should follow that covenant or the language found in today’s endowment. Either way, the fact that there is any kind of covenant at all committing sisters to interact with men in some way, and no covenant that addresses men interacting with women, is, as you say, worth pondering.

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  59. The Other Clark on April 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    IDIAT, that was precisely what I was getting at. I wonder if we’d be more enlightened if we tried to understand–instead of fight against–the fact that temple hearkening is hiearchal (woman–>man–> God).

    It’s not reciprocal (woman–>man and man–> woman) or triangular (woman–> God and man –>God). These last two arrangements may sound nicer, and maybe even be nicer. but they’re not a realistic represention of the temple covenant.

    Why weren’t changes made? Because of the biological differences Nate proposes in the OP? Because our Church leaders are old men that some claim are stuck in the 1950 cultural mindset? Something else?


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  60. Angela C on April 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Douglas: The studies I cited were from a few years ago and related only to low income families. There were studies in the US (seems like it might have been Newsweek) showing why women in low incomes were financially better off to be a single mom, although it was otherwise a huge disadvantage (lack of support). The other study was based on international data with charities. Sorry, but I don’t have time to find those again today. That’s roughly what I was quoting from. It’s certainly not optimal to be a single mom, but it’s better than being abused or having a spouse who gambles and drinks away your money. That was the point of the studies. Yes, having a decent father in the home as an equal partner with a decent mother is ideal for children.

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  61. Kristine A on April 3, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    The Other Clark #57: ” I like the idea that men and women should hearken (listen carefully) to each other. It’s a great–essential?–trait for all happy relationships. BUT, this isn’t what the temple covenant says. And the question of why Church authorities didn’t alter the language to reflect your view–which I think is a good one–and kept the archaic, divisive phrasing is worth pondering.”

    I have pondered it. In the Garden of Eden story Eve is the one who acts without hearkening, and later in the story when confronted with the choice – Adam *does* hearken. He considers and discusses together before making the decision. He hadn’t crossed that line. Thus only Eve is given the commandment, “because eve was the first to eat of the fruit . . . ” YMMV

    as to why they didn’t alter the language, let’s echo elder holland at the missionary age press conference: ‘one miracle at a time, baby steps’ Some of the changes they made certainly are perspective shifting to many people who thought they already had it all figured out. No one knows ? We have seen changes in the past, I’m not going to assume there won’t be further changes.

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  62. hawkgrrrl on April 3, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    “I’m not going to assume there won’t be further changes.” There absolutely will be. There have been a ton of changes since my parents converted in 1955. At that time, it was 4 hours long. I’ll leave it at that, but big big changes.

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  63. The Other Clark on April 3, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    We believe that emn will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. Women, on the other hand, will be punished for Eve’s transgression unto the latest generation.

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  64. Douglas on April 4, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    Hawk wrote: “It’s certainly not optimal to be a single mom, but it’s better than being abused or having a spouse who gambles and drinks away your money.” That’s a “lesser of two evils” situation, or at best, one evil, one downside. Neither would I suggest that a woman keep the ‘sperm donor’ around if he’s well more than a net drain, being an abusive, overgrown man-child. That’s certainly NOT the fatherly image I have in mind. Your argument strikes me as condescending and elitist, focusing more on the man’s ability to be the ‘rainmaker’. Not that if a man’s wages are inadequate to provide that he should be lackadaisical in improving the situation! Still, when a woman births children under less than ideal circumstances, then claims (coincidentally, in both LDS and feminist eyes, funny how that works) by dubious merit ‘saintly’ motherhood for herself and her brood welfare benefits well in excess of even the proverbial “working man’s” wages would otherwise provide. Again, the “state”, meaning we suckers, the taxpayers, pay for this cycle of failure.

    Me, I have something far more Dickensian in mind…(“are there no workhouses?”). That is, sure, when the father is a bum, divorce his sorry heine and glean what support can be had (often it’s a joke b/c the man’s earning ability is non-existent, and all the jailings and court orders avail nothing to turn around these cretins). But, if the woman, having been adult enough to marry and procreate, now wants to stick her hands in the pockets of John and Jane Q. Taxpayer, then either let her be rendered incapable of foisting further kids that the taxpayers would have to support (should likewise the irresponsible father be sterilized? I think quite so), OR, place the kids into orphanages and/or foster care until she gets herself capable of providing for her brood. Harsh? You betcha. Welfare should be for those whom life has dealt a cruel hand (illness or other incapacity), NOT for those than deliberately screwed up their lives and expect others to pay forfeit. A few gut-wrenching examples will serve notice that society is tired of these parasites. I”d rather send Rocky Balboa out to rough up a deadbeat and break his thumb (so the other deadbeats get the message and pay up!); else it gets rougher or I’m outta business. And I ain’t going outta business…

    It’s for this reason that the whole thing about “submitting” hits a nerve. If a wife is to trust in her husband, her certainly has to EARN that trust! The key, I suppose, is that he is even more inclined to submit to the LORD, hence first setting the example. But even then, I don’t want my wife dependent on me for her relationship with the Savior, is she not sufficient to build her own testimony? That’s why I like the triangular model (equilateral or isosceles?) better than the linear “hierarchy”…the ‘latter’ (pun intended) can degenerate, for those familiar with some corporate or military cultures, into (stuff) rolls downhill…and since I”m fairly sure that the only (stuff) the Savior would dispense would be if He were running a lawn and garden shop (I doubt He’s in that business…), then guess where the (stuff) is coming from? Again, “We have learned, through sad experience…”

    FOUR hours for Sunday meetings? Glad I joined in 1979. After the standard three, I’m ready to blow outta there. That’s why I quit driving my Mustang (puts out 370 hp on the dyno on pump gas!)…leaving a 100-yard long patch when pulling out of the Church parking lot doesn’t leave the best impression on the rest of the ward.

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  65. […] it. In one corner we have Ordain Women. In the other, we have righteous Mormons who understand the importance of gender roles. It seems like it wouldn’t be so hard to find a solution, but the CoJCoL-dS has […]

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  66. gr8rgood on April 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Why is all this subservience necessary? What does it benefit the church or God?

    As a manager in business I choose to focus on the gifts, talents and natural abilities of the people on my team; bringing them out and giving them power not squashing them and forcing them to do things opposite of what they are good at.

    If there is a God I’m pretty sure IT would be a better manager than I am.

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  67. rah on April 7, 2014 at 5:13 AM

    Nate it is precisely because we are in a fallen world that systematic submission to men because they happen to be men would not be something advocated by God. Out of curiosity how do you practically put that in practice in your own house. This is a serious and completely honest question. Do you and your wife interpret this to mean that when it comes down to it you have the divine right (after listening in love and compassion, discussing, praying together etc) to make the final decision for all temporal and spiritual matters if in the end you feel strongly about something? Or does it mean something else for you?

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  68. Emily U on April 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    I haven’t read the comments, but I call B.S.

    I can’t respond to every particle of S. in this post, so here’s just one: “Both genders have to submit to an equal trial of submission, although that submission is placed in different things.”

    So men submit to God and women submit to men and God and that is an equal trial?

    Thanks for the crystal clear explication of a tired, false justification for fallen doctrines in great need of the Restoration.

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  69. Rethinking Gender Hierarchy | Wheat and Tares on April 10, 2014 at 2:36 AM

    […] extremely unpopular post of last week caused me to do a little soul searching.  I recently took the Ambivalent Sexism […]

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