Friday, November 8, 2013

The temple - sexism

In addition to the gendered seating and the veils imposed on the female attendees, the Mormon endowment ceremony held yet another shockingly sexist element. At a certain point in the ceremony the men are told that they will become kings and priests to God, but the women are told that they were to become "queens and priestesses to [their] husbands". Why not to God like the men? It seemed a little weird to me and I felt uncomfortable about it. It was clearly creating a hierarchy in which men stand above women.

I shouldn't have been surprised. The emphasis on Church hierarchy was never hidden from me and should be obvious to anyone who happens to run across the portraits of the General Authorities will notice Thomas Monson at the top of the pile, followed by his two wing men, the big 12, and the First Quorum of Seventy. And the sexism is obvious as well. None of the General Authorities is a woman.

I didn't like what I was seeing and doing, but I really didn't want to think I was part of a sexist church. How could Christ's church be sexists? God certainly wasn't sexist (I thought)! Besides, I had been told before attending the temple that the temple was one place where everyone was equal. There were no bishops, no quorum leaders, no stake presidents, no area authorities, no apostles - just brothers and sisters worshiping their Father. It sounded great. 

I never got over my discomfort of the temple sexism and unsurprisingly I learned years later that it used to be much worse when women had to covenant to obey the Law of the Husband. That "law" was removed in 1990 because the Church surveyed its temple-going members and found out that people didn't care for it. Imagine that! Why didn't those surveyed members just doubt their doubts and go along with the overt female subordination?

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