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When Decent Mormon Men Don’t Get It

No, I’m not a misandrist. No, I’m not a lesbian. No, I’m not an exmo. I’m not even a radical feminist.

When Decent Mormon Men Don't Get It

Rather,  I’m a heterosexual woman, married for 28 years (and counting) to a wonderful man, with six kids. I’m also an active LDS women with a calling and a current temple recommend who has a testimony of the restored gospel. And I’m only a feminist (however you define that) in that I think a lot of LDS church policy is based in culture — rather than doctrine — and I think it’s helpful (and essential!) to distinguish between the two.

Now that we have that out of the way… 

Larry Eastland Is Not Evil Incarnate

When I wrote A Mormon Mother of Daughters Talks to a YSA Bishop About Intimacy, I imagined a place I could point others when I heard, once again, problematic representations of the modesty/chastity/intimacy/pornography/objectification issues that rear their ugly heads so often. Kind of an explain-it-once-and-for-all-and-be-done-with-it kind of thing so I could stop repeating myself. I’ve been surprised at the positive response, but also at the tangential (and often fallacious) discussions that have come as a result.

In spite of what some comments would lead you to believe, I never condemned Larry Eastland to hell. (As if I could.) Given that I don’t know the man (and he didn’t respond to my email to him), I have made no judgment as to his character or his eternal salvation. (As if I could.) In fact, I did not say he was evil, bad, horrible, or otherwise downright awful. Rather, I disagreed with his presentation and wrote my reasons. That is enough to really irk some people.

For all intents and purposes, I assume Eastland is a decent guy. Mostly because every bishop I’ve ever had in my life was a decent guy. I assume he’s trying to serve his congregants. Mostly because every bishop I’ve vern had in my life tried to serve his congregants.

Neither Are You

By the same token, I assume most of those who didn’t like my post (except, you know, the anonymous idiot troll types) are decent people trying to do their best to sort through difficult issues.

Still, sometimes I think a sexist mindset is so deeply ingrained in all of human experience — and also in the church — that we can’t ever get out of it. For example, Jeremy — who appears to be another decent guy — seems blind to the way his perception actually impacts both men and women.

Some of his comments deserve more consideration. Unless otherwise noted, the quotes are from Jeremy.

Modesty and Respect

Does that mean women don’t need to respect themselves and be modest?

First, straw man. I have not suggested that women should disrespect themselves and I don’t recall seeing any comments that did so either.

Second, I’ve often wondered about this and think it’s got to, somehow, become part of the modesty narrative if we can figure out how to make sense of it. But I can’t.

Why does being modest show self-respect? When does it apply?

When I’m alone, I’m not always modest, and it doesn’t seem to make me feel a lack of regard for myself. (Except, of course, that I’m not as pretty naked as I used to be, so getting out of the shower isn’t nearly as fun as when I was 20. But I don’t think that’s what you meant.)

So is modesty about self-respect or about respect for God?

Immodesty As an Excuse for Disrespect

For at some of us men if not all, immodest women are not respectful of themselves and I often see men be disrespectful to them or treat them like an object because they are immodest/disrespectful to themselves.

This is a fallacious argument as far as I can see. Again, you assert that immodesty is disrespectful of self — although I’m not sure why — but again, you are blaming the women for the behavior of men. And that, my friend, just has to stop.

Men do not treat women like objects because they dress immodestly. These men do it because they believe a woman who “disrespects herself” (in this odd parlance of immodesty = self-disrespect) doesn’t deserve to be respected by others.

You simply cannot conveniently leave out the segue from one chosen behavior to another chosen behavior. In other words, you cannot leave out the choice and accountability of the men involved.

However you define this supposed self-disrespect, why do you think “some of us men if not all” think it’s acceptable to disrespect a woman who disrespects herself? Where does this “kick her when she’s down” mentality come from? Wouldn’t the Christlike response be to show her respect? to help her feel worthwhile? to help her respect herself?

What to Do?

So, what do we do about decent LDS men who don’t seem to understand gender issues? We explain our thoughts and hope they care enough to listen. They don’t have to agree, but they should withhold judgement long enough to engage in the process.

As Lisa Loo so aptly stated:

I would hope it would inspire some concern about your Sisters in the faith, how they experience these kinds of talks about female modesty and sexuality, and especially be concerned about the men who would use this line of logic to excuse their own responsibility for acting virtuously in the presence their female friends, regardless of how attractive they find them.

Amen, sister.

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Cambendy November 26, 2013, 4:40 pm

    I’m glad to hear you’re not a lesbian. NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH LESBIANS OR ANYTHING!!!!!

    Your last point about the idea that “we disrespect you because you disrespect yourself” was SOOOO GOOOOD. We just need to keep these ideas out there to get the message out.

    And NOOOOO it’s not about approving of immodesty or trying to be immodest. It’s debunking the bad practice in how we teach it.

  • Meredith November 26, 2013, 4:55 pm

    I could not agree more. You make some really great points. This comment on the other post bothered me but I couldn’t put my finger on it. There you go, giving him the finger. ;)

    You don’t disrespect people just because you don’t approve of something they do!

  • LovingTruth November 26, 2013, 7:36 pm

    Great post!

    It’s one of those ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’ scenarios.

    Curiously enough, though, that’s what I think the Priesthood is truly -for- (and, incidentally, why it is specific to men). It is their divine ‘call’ to responsibility – specifically, the responsibility of caring for and respecting the women and children under their care. -This- is how he can prove his measure as a man: by how well he ultimately magnifies this divine purpose. Thereby is he given the key to his -own- eternal exaltation and every promise connected to it, in the way he most needs to receive it. Truly and honestly honoring this call – is what secures his place in Father’s kingdom. Consequently, this is also why it is so important for us to support them in doing so.

    (The fact that in succeeding at this, he fulfills -our- hope as well, and makes possible -our- joy – doesn’t hurt, either.)

  • Paracite November 27, 2013, 9:00 am

    I think we have to qualify “decent.” You know?

    I have so many male acquaintances in the church who do a lot of service and don’t commit felonies or anything, but when it comes to women, they do a lot of patronizing and scoffing.

    Why is it so hard for them to walk a mile in their sisters shoes (forget the fact that it’s hard to walk a block in most women’s shoes)?

  • Cambendy November 27, 2013, 9:02 am

    The “men need the priesthood because they are such losers” narrative is just as damning as the “women aren’t worthy” one. We are all beings with agency.

  • rameumptom November 27, 2013, 12:38 pm

    Nice thoughts. I am reminded of the musical Man of La Mancha. Aldonza is a prostitute and treated by all the men of the town like a prostitute. Regardless of her dress, demeanor, or lack of self-respect, Don Quixote treats her differently. He even gives her a new name: Dulcinea (Sweetness/Woman of one’s dreams). Even after she is raped by the men in town and is embittered by life, he still insists she is the fairest lady in all of Spain.

    Perhaps it is time we men took an accounting of how we treat women, simply because they dress/act/speak in ways we personally would not consider modest or moral. Instead, we should treat all women as if they are daughters of God, and let our high views of them change them into what we believe they truly are.
    rameumptom recently posted…Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving/HannukahMy Profile

  • Lorian November 27, 2013, 1:26 pm

    I love that you pointed out the logical fallacy of the idea that it is somehow okay to treat a woman with disrespect if you perceive her to be disrespectful of herself. That this is a common error into which people fall is certainly true, but that it should be cited with righteous indignation as personal *justification* for treating another human as an object of lust is really quite beyond reason. Thank you!

  • Tiffany W. November 27, 2013, 3:30 pm

    I apologize in advance for the length of my comment, but I have a lot to say in response to your post.

    I will never forget the discussion I had with my father-in-law where he defended a man who was on trial for kidnapping a young woman and raping her for several days because this girl had once articulated that she fantasized about being abducted and then being rapes. I like and respect my father-in-law, but I was horrified at his attitude which made me realize that attitudes about women, modesty, and rape are systemic, even within LDS culture.

    I think this is where women as mothers come in. I think we need to have these discussions with our sons about how we feel as women about these attitudes so common in our culture. Sometimes we want to leave those conversations to fathers and sons, but I think the mother’s voice has to be present and powerful to make any difference at all. Honestly, after a long discussion, my father-in-law held firmly to his opinion and thought I was totally wrong. I can’t change his thoughts and opinions, but I sure as heck have the power to influence how my sons perceive girls and women and how they ought to be treated.

    My feelings about modesty and male/female responsibility have really been shaped by a recent 18-month period of living in Saudi Arabia. (As an aside: I want to point out that practicing Muslims are all over the world. As I understand it, the modesty rules are actually fairly simple and require that BOTH men and women wear clothes that go to their wrists and to their ankles. The head covering worn by women is called a hijab and has a lot of religious significance. However, the way Muslim women are covered varies from country to country and is not only based upon interpretations of the Qu’ran, but also upon cultural rules and sensibility. So to simply through out the word burka as an example of Islamist extremism is actually pretty offensive because it barely covers the breadth and depth of the ways Muslim women around the world choose to cover in respect and deference to their religious and cultural beliefs.) In Saudi Arabia, women wear an abaya which is a light, loose, black, long robe which covers all clothing. Women have total freedom to wear whatever they choose underneath. Saudi women cover their hair with black hijabs and most women cover the majority of their faces, with slits showing their eyes. How much of their faces they cover is dependent on family and tribal customs and traditions.

    Women dress this way because wearing their hair uncovered or dressing otherwise is a clear signal to all that she doesn’t deserve to be treated with respect. Western women living in Saudi Arabia are often followed and hassled by young men (and even older men) because they do not cover their hair (though we do wear the abaya). Since most men living in Saudi Arabia tend to view western women as promiscuous and willing to fall into bed with anyone they encounter, these men see western women as ripe pickings. This is because this society places the burden of how women are treated upon the women. Saudi men actually understand this pretty well, but instead of questioning whether this is fair or right, they instead make sure their women are covered completely when going out in public and otherwise keeping them cloistered. This is the only way to protect them. Despite all this covering intended partially for protection, women are frequently leered at, groped, and assaulted. Clearly the “signal” doesn’t always work. But if a women is “properly” covered, she is more likely to get help in those situations from police and other people around.

    Because I was a guest in Saudi Arabia I didn’t have the power to change that culture. I did respect the rules and customs by wearing an abaya and carrying a scarf with me at all times to cover my hair in needed because a) there were religious police patroling all public areas ensuring that these rules were followed and b) I didn’t want to send the wrong signals to men. So in other words, it was a “modesty” born out of fear, not out respect for myself or anyone else. On the other hand, the country also felt young men were a bit of a threat to women, so young men were prevented from going to the malls unless they were accompanied by women. And the religious police and security wouldn’t allow groups of young men to roam around large public areas. So there was sort of an idea of protection, but that never moved forward to the idea of personal responsibility for one’s actions and thoughts.

    My point is that while Saudi Arabia is an extreme example of modesty enforcement and double standards, our own culture certainly has its own pernicious problems with double standards.

    I think it is important that we are having this conversation, even though we have to say it over and over again. I feel optimistic that people ARE examining these ideas with more vigor and thought.

  • Michelle November 27, 2013, 7:36 pm

    I enjoy reading your thoughts and feelings. I think it is important that these ideas are being examined. I personally do feel that being modest is one of many ways that we respect our bodies and our selves. Yes, men have their agency and women are not responsible for their thoughts and actions, but we do have an influence. I think being modest shows Heavenly Father that we respect the body he has given us and also respects those around us. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it makes me when another woman is dressed immodest around me.

  • Marco November 28, 2013, 12:24 am

    This is my favorite post, but all the recent ones have been thought-provoking.

  • John2 November 29, 2013, 10:19 pm

    I was in Bishop Eastland’s ward. It’s not that he didn’t try, but he tried in a very hard-lined, legalistic way that was off-putting. Anyway, good posts.

  • Michelle Ann December 9, 2013, 12:05 am

    I have been reading posts starting at the rebuttal of Bishop Eastland’s talk/blog and I appreciate them. They have touched on subjects that I have spent a lot of time and energy pondering throughout my life. I am also an active LDS woman with a current temple recommend etc. and have been an active LDS woman my entire life.

    First of all, I want to say that I wish that Allison Moore Smith would clearly state how she thinks a young woman should be taught concerning modesty. She has stated that the Church has no cohesive commentary on this (with which I agree), I wonder what sort of Young Women lesson she would craft, or what Mother/Daughter talk she would write on this particular subject.

    Second, I would like to share an experience I had with you that maybe encapsulates many topics in one:
    I served a full-time mission in the Texas Houston Mission from 2008-2010. For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t before I had served) a mission is set up in a pyramid of authority (just like the Church) where the Mission President is the highest tier, next are the Assistants to the President, then Zone Leaders, then District leaders, and then everybody else. Because Sister Missionaries don’t hold the priesthood, they don’t hold any leadership positions. I was unaware of that fact and at my very first district meeting I asked loudly, “When can I be a district leader??” The Elders all scoffed and acted as if that was the most ridiculous thing they had ever heard. My companion was so embarrassed as she whispered to me that sisters never get leadership positions. I thought that would be the end of that and promptly forgot about it. Until six months later when my zone leader who had attended my first district meeting had by then become an assistant to the president. Assistants to the president help to decide who serves where and with whom and what position they hold. In jest, though actually more in malicious mockery, he wrote up and sent out the layout of the new transfers. He had placed me as a zone leader and several other people in “ridiculous” positions. I heard about that “prank” for the rest of my mission.

    I share this story with you because it illustrates many of the points you have made in your posts. Some of which are that men and women don’t really understand what it means to hold the priesthood, why it is mostly men who do hold the priesthood, and that men in the Church do largely misunderstand women and thus hold them in contempt.

    It is my opinion that perhaps that the priesthood at this time is reserved for men to hold because it gives men (as in males) opportunities to serve those around them in ways that they could not otherwise do. Women, both physically and emotionally naturally already do serve by; giving life and carrying other people around inside of themselves for nine months, feeding those people with nutrition produced by their bodies, and by being more naturally emotional and physical “nurturers”. The priesthood is not for and does not allow men (meaning males) to dominate and boss everybody around. Rather, it gives them and obligates them to aid others in having a closer relationship with Christ by helping them make covenants through baptism, renewing those covenants through the sacrament, giving blessings of health and strength, and in certain roles, helps people through the process of repentance. In none of those capacities do men (as in males) have power over others.

    Another point I would like to make is that although men “hold” the priesthood, women do also, and that is through their husbands. Just as men have children – through their wives – women have access to the priesthood through the men in their lives that do worthily hold the priesthood. Men and women work together in different roles like a nail and hammer. Both are necessary to complete the job and neither is more important than the other.

    I have often wondered why there is such a gap with what actual doctrine is in the Church (that men and women have different yet equal roles that compliment each other) and what is actually practiced (that men are hot commodities, highly intelligent leaders that deserve our utmost respect but who can’t control their own thoughts and actions around immodestly dressed women, and that women are nit wit ((preferably blonde)) gossips that need to be led by the hand through life by a patient husband). Perhaps it started with the fact that there were initially more women than men in the Church. But at any rate it has created such a gap between the sexes that the two almost cannot even communicate with each other (like Eastland’s talk).

    The issue of modesty altogether is such an ambiguous subject. Yes, people, men and women, should be modest. Why? because it really is about respecting yourself. How? Your body is sacred. Your body is a temple. Just like it is disrespectful to graffiti the physical building of a temple or to broadcast endowment sessions on the internet, it is disrespectful to tattoo, pierce, or mark your body, or to share your most important and sacred body parts in ways that are not within the bounds that the Lord has set for us and that is within marriage between a husband and wife. Men and women are responsible for their own thoughts and actions no matter how they are “wired”. Period.

    You had stated on one of your posts that perhaps women dress immodestly because that is a sure-fire way to garner attention from males. I agree with you. Men (as in males) do not seem to understand that perhaps the “modesty issue” with females was perhaps started and in fact perpetuated by them.

    In conclusion, my words of advise for men (as in males) in the Church are these: “holding” the priesthood does not make you smarter than women, it does not mean that you have special knowledge that women do not (similar to those in Utah, yes I am going to say this because I LIVED there and experienced this as Tiffany W. lived in Saudi, that people in Utah think that that’s really where the True Church resides), and modest women, immodest women, your mother, your daughter, your wife, your girlfriend, your female acquaintance at church, and the hooker you passed in the street, deserve your respect. Period. We are your equals in intellect, leadership capabilities, and management skills. Period.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 9, 2013, 12:10 pm

    I’m sorry I haven’t responded to the great comments here. Not only is Christmas just around the corner, but one of our dear daughters is getting married. Feel my pain!

    I just wanted to quickly address Michelle Ann’s question:

    I don’t know how to teach modesty. I’m trying to work through church teachings, cultural images, common sense — and make them align in a logial way. At this point, I simply don’t have a package to present. I can see the problems in the current teaching, I can see some helpful aspects, but that’s all I’ve got so far.

    I’m hoping that by writing about some of the problems and the cultural issues, we can bring together some ideas that will be useful.

    I appreciate your comments!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Top 5 Ways to Be Annoying This ChristmasMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner December 10, 2013, 6:39 pm

    Wow, I am very surprised to see you here, Alison. Back to wedding plans!! :)

    While I think you make some great points, Michelle Ann, I just have a couple of things I’d love to have you clarify for me.

    – “Women, both physically and emotionally naturally already do serve by; giving life and carrying other people around inside of themselves for nine months, feeding those people with nutrition produced by their bodies, and by being more naturally emotional and physical “nurturers”. ”

    I wouldn’t say this is true of all women, even all LDS women. It certainly isn’t true for me. Nurturing (other than my own children) is something that does not come very naturally to me at all. I’ve had to learn it. And what about all of those LDS women who DON’T carry children? Many LDS women never even marry, not to mention fertility issues, lack of knowledge about how to properly “nurture” a pregnancy or child, or developing a nurturing nature for those of us it doesn’t come naturally to. To use this logic, my marital relationship is super unfair because my husband is by far the more natural nurturer and he ALSO has the priesthood. Why don’t I get one or the other?

    -“The priesthood is not for and does not allow men (meaning males) to dominate and boss everybody around. Rather, it gives them and obligates them to aid others in having a closer relationship with Christ by helping them make covenants through baptism, renewing those covenants through the sacrament, giving blessings of health and strength, and in certain roles, helps people through the process of repentance. In none of those capacities do men (as in males) have power over others.”

    It is certainly not to be domineering of others, but it does carry with it administrative keys that certainly do have administrative power and it is power that women do not have.

    -“Another point I would like to make is that although men “hold” the priesthood, women do also, and that is through their husbands. Just as men have children – through their wives – women have access to the priesthood through the men in their lives that do worthily hold the priesthood. ”

    First of all – again – what about the women who don’t have husbands? What about those who have husbands who do not hold the priesthood? What about those who married a worthy priesthood holder who is now unworthy or uninterested in using to bless his family? There are so many scenarios here. Second, for women who do have a worthy priesthood-holding husband – yes, they do have the blessing of the priesthood in their home and that is a wonderful blessing to have. It is still not having priesthood keys. Third, and I realize this is semantics, while men do not physically bear the children, those children are equally theirs. The children have half their fathers’ DNA. A women isn’t “sharing” her birthed children with her husband just because she’s nice. They are his children. She is the mother. He is the father. He is entitled to things as their father. You can’t say the same thing about the flip side. If a man chooses not to worthily share his priesthood with his wife, she is entitled to exactly nothing. She can still tap into blessings of the priesthood through other worthy men, but she can never have equal rights to the priesthood administration the way men have equal rights to their children.

    -“We are your equals in intellect, leadership capabilities, and management skills. Period.” I agree, we totally are!! :) And yet, your mission example is a wonderful illustration and something I struggled with on my mission as well. You may very well, in fact, be not only EQUAL but SUPERIOR in intellect, leadership capabilities, and management skills. And yet, you will always answer to a priesthood holder.

    Having said all that, I am not necessarily saying that is a problem. I just think we have to be honest about what it is we (women) really have and I don’t believe it’s the priesthood. There was recently a discussion on this topic on Mormon Stories and it frustrated to me to no end because some women equate receiving blessings in the temple, being married to a faithful man, and bearing children as equal to what men have as priesthood holders. It isn’t the same. It is wonderful and a blessing and if used properly, a wonderful miracle to have in your home and your ward. But it is not the same.

    I am pretty much okay with men and women being different and having different ways they serve. There are many things (I’ve posted about them here before so I won’t again) that I think can happen to make the administrative part of the priesthood much more friendly to women. I do not agitate to hold the priesthood. Again, for me it is just calling it what it is. Once you call it what it is, you can decide if it is okay with you or not, but we can’t wish power upon ourselves and poof it is there.

    What you said about modesty I for the most part agree with.

  • Michelle Ann December 10, 2013, 11:32 pm

    Angie Gardner, I will happily clarify my thoughts for you.

    Women typically are more nurturing, especially in regards to their own children, and as you stated yourself, you fit that mold. Not to say that men cannot be nurturing, or that if a man is nurturing, that imbalances a marriage(?).

    The Plan of Salvation is brought to fruition by the females providing the bodies for heavenly spirits, and males assisting those embodied spirits through this life by helping them make covenants through ordinances when they hold the priesthood worthily. Heavenly Father has given us perfect guidelines so that all our roles work in harmony through family units; children being born through the mother, and being blessed to make covenants with help through the father. Being sealed together not only is the only way to receive all of our Heavenly Father’s blessings, is assures us of our equality – “neither the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man.”

    Unfortunately this is an imperfect world. There are women who are infertile, or who may struggle to “nurture.” There are men also who do not have the mental capacity to be able to hold the priesthood. Some women marry men who do not hold the priesthood, or do who not use it. All these are issues that we struggle with in this telestial world but because Heavenly Father loves us, He sent us His Son who provided the way to make all of these issues right. Either in this world, or the next, all women will have the opportunity to bear children, and all men will have the opportunity to hold the priesthood.

    In Church organization, women also have administrative roles. They pick their counselors in their auxiliary presidencies just as their male counterparts do. The Priesthood holders may “set them apart” but that again, is a service.

    And as far as I am concerned, the only priesthood holders I answer to are Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

  • Angie Gardner December 11, 2013, 4:29 am

    Thank you for clarifying. I just have a minute before I pick up seminary kids and then head to work but I did want to acknowledge seeing this. I think we will just have to agree to disagree on some of this.

    Just one quick thing. When you mention women in administrative roles, I do hope you see that there is not a balance there either. A RS president, for example, is chosen by men, set apart by men, meets with men regularly to run the organization she leads (different bishops have different levels of how much they are involved but every RS president reports to her bishop in some way), and every calling in RS is ultimately the decision of men – although they are recommended by the RS president if the bishop does not feel right about it he can override that. Bishops also frequently suggest counselors. It has happened to me before (maybe I’ll post about that later) and I’ve seen it happen with others fairly recently.

    As far as who you answer to, I am sincerely glad you have come to the point where you only answer to God and Jesus Christ, but others may disagree. You aren’t getting to the temple without answering to at least 2 men, nor are you choosing yourself for leadership callings or acting independent of priesthood when you have them.

    Need to run but I’ll try to flesh this out more later.

  • Renée March 7, 2014, 9:23 am

    Loved your post. Enjoyed all comments. I have a question–WHY do we feel that we have to state our faithfulness and standing in order to be received as relevant by our peers within this conversation? Really, it’s no one’s business what your orientation is, whether you hold a recommend, what your political views are, etc. That’s personal and its between you and God.

    I hope that eventually we can move beyond the “us or them” consciousness which discounts viewpoints as irrelevant if the person sharing the viewpoint has any opposing thing about them–be it their sexual orientation, a history of doubt about faith and how to show faith, the “misfortune” of not holding a current temple recommend (which is all too often misused as a subtle badge of acceptance within our culture), or any other social/religious “no-no”.

    Why do we make people wrong for being a certain gender, age, social standing, or simply for having questions or concerns about a commonly held practice? This systemic social behavior reminds me of a child that is afraid of the boogy man hiding under his bed. “Oh no. If they are like THAT, then what does that mean about me? Am I good enough? Are they going to make me not good enough?”

    Thanks for holding space for this conversation. I am grateful for it. And thank-you to everyone who contributes.

    God bless.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 7, 2014, 10:57 am

    Renée, thanks for your comment. Welcome. :)

    WHY do we feel that we have to state our faithfulness and standing in order to be received as relevant by our peers within this conversation? Really, it’s no one’s business what your orientation is, whether you hold a recommend, what your political views are, etc. That’s personal and its between you and God.

    What a great question!

    Absolutely it’s personal. But this is a public forum. I’ve chosen to present my views here (publicly) and I’m hoping people will consider what I have to say. I do think it’s fair for people to examine my biases and view when deciding how to judge my opinions.

    Given the history of persecution the church has endured, we (church members) often take criticism from non-members (particularly former members) as nothing more than misinformation, guilt assuagement, attack, etc.

    In the context of this post, I wanted to be sure that people know I am NOT an outsider just trying to tear down the church. I love the church. I believe in the church (spiritually, authoritatively, and also as a valuable institution). I’m trying to resolve the cognitive dissonance I feel with particular policies and practices by discussing them and, when useful, correcting them.

    As for political affiliation, I did not mention that here but I have at other times. (I’m rabidly conservative with a hard libertarian bent.) The reason I sometimes mention that varies by circumstance.

    When I discuss rather feministy issues, it’s because non-feminists send to assume I’m a raving progressive, so they lump my thoughts into that bag. Showing that it’s inaccurate will, I hope, force people the think about the box they assumed I was in.

    When I discuss political issues, it can explain some of my positions without my having to explicitly do so repeatedly.

    Does that make sense?

    I hope that eventually we can move beyond the “us or them” consciousness which discounts viewpoints as irrelevant if the person sharing the viewpoint has any opposing thing about them…

    I totally agree, but I DO think that those descriptives mean SOMETHING. Maybe not what we assume they mean (like the idea that feminists MUST be liberals), but they mean something.

    For example, given all the counsel for us to keep temple recommends current, if we choose not to do so, there must be a reason. Maybe we are unworthy, maybe we are lazy, maybe we are apathetic, maybe we’ve disregarded the counsel as not applying to us. Lot’s of possibilities, but all of them meaningful, I think.

    Another example you brought up is that of sexual orientation. That also means something. In the context of discussing church policy, in particular, it likely means that the opinions will be less objective, just as any view usually is when the policy has significant personal impact.

    Why do we make people wrong for being a certain gender, age, social standing, or simply for having questions or concerns about a commonly held practice?

    That’s where discernment comes in. I DO think what people think and do matters and impacts there decisions and positions. But, as you suggest, it’s just ad hominem if we disregard a position based on those issues and not on the validity of the position itself.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…I Hope She’s Pretty – Boys Will Be BoysMy Profile

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