Women’s Issues

(also see “Modesty”, “Sexual purity”, and “Priesthood”)

 

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Many people in and out of the church, including believers and nonbelievers, struggle with the marginalization of motherhood by society at large. Many women who stay at home feel looked-down on by other women who work and have difficulty finding and remembering the value of being a full-time mother. Mormonism rightly champions the idea that those mothers who choose this role are not less-than or inferior to those that work.
 
In a confused world, many believers feel that it is wonderful to have defined roles for man and woman. Men are to preside in their home, women are responsible for the nurture of their children, and both are equal partners.  The ability to understand how men and women’s differences can complement each other is a gift that the church gives us. Indeed, man and woman are nothing without each other.
Many people in and out of the church, including believers and nonbelievers, struggle with the marginalization of motherhood by society at large. Many women who stay at home feel looked-down on by other women who work and have difficulty finding and remembering the value of being a full-time mother. Mormonism rightly champions the idea that those mothers who choose this role are not less-than or inferior to those that work.
 
Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Thousands upon thousands of faithful woman are torn apart by how the church has treated woman historically and how current doctrine and policy affects women now. They desperately believe in the church and want it to improve how it treats women.
 
One source of sadness for many faithful Mormon women is that their destiny is to become a birth mother in the eternities. The family proclamation implies that traditional gender roles are eternal, and the church does teach that we have an eternal mother. And yet, the church admits that we have a limited knowledge of our Heavenly Mother. Where is she? Why can’t we talk or pray to her? Why isn’t she involved in the rearing of her children? What does this imply for the future of the women in the church? Why can’t the church get more revelation on this topic? Is it Heavenly Mother or Heavenly Mothers?
 
While on the one hand it’s understandable to encourage families to focus on rearing their children, why is there such stigma associated with women who choose to work instead of stay home with the kids? Or even for women who need to work instead of stay home with their kids?
 
Why do women not have the priesthood? Why were there female prophets in the Bible but not now? Why does a 12 year old boy advance in power in rank in the church, but nothing of equivalent significance happens to a 12 year old girl? Why did Joseph Smith seem to give priesthood keys to the relief society: “I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time”? Why did women used to give blessings and lay on hands but later became discouraged to do so? Why do women exercise priesthood authority in the temple but not outside the temple? Why didn’t women pray in general conference until  2013? Why didn’t women have approval from the first presidency to pray in Sacrament Meeting until 1978?
 
Why do women have limited authority on a local and no authority on a general level? Why is the Relief Society President submissive on all accounts to the Bishop? Why can woman not be a prophet, apostle, general authority, patriarch, stake president, bishop, elder, priest, teacher, or deacon? Why is there much in the temple that puts women below men? Why do women only have marginal input into local and general decisions? Even in council meetings where women are allowed to attend, why are they often discouraged from talking? From Elder Holland: “We sometimes have not been as inviting or as encouraging or as outreaching to the women sitting in the council as we should be”
 
Why were women traded like property and “given” as wives? Why can woman only be sealed to one man but men can be sealed to multiple women? Why was polygamy started in the first place?
 
The nonbeliever is likely to agree with the cons listed in the believing section, and they are not reproduced here for the sake of brevity.
 
To a person who does not believe that salvation or authority lies within the Mormon church, or in other words to the nonbeliever, sexism and mistreatment of woman is such a big issue that it alone can justify leaving the church.

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although I admit it can be difficult (and I might fail) to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

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