Posts Tagged motherhood
I’ve come across a few articles recently which have gone back over the idea that men have Priesthood and women have Motherhood. These are trying to make the case that each gender has it’s own sphere and should be content with that. The reasoning used for this comes mainly from Valerie Hudson Casslers’ speech The Two Trees. She brings in information from the Eden story to declare that men are “gatekeepers” of the ordinances required for salvation while women are “gatekeepers” of mortality. She equates this with the two trees mentioned in the Eden story, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve ate the fruit of the second tree and gave to Adam from it, so women are in charge of making mortality. (She also asserts a few things that LDS “believe”, but that’s another post.)
Overall, I think it’s a good speech with some good ideas and thoughts, and while I’m glad for those who have found some measure of peace and understanding through it. However, I find the conclusion of it, the very premise that men are gatekeepers of salvation while women are gatekeepers of mortality, to be overly simplistic and potentially damaging. I know I’ve written on it before, but it needs to be said more often, so people will start to get it.
Making babies is not analogous to Priesthood.
To the point of rebutting Casslers’ analogy, the saving ordinances performed by men with the Priesthood can be done with no input whatsoever by a woman. As far as being a “gatekeeper” for them, the analogy works. Creating mortal bodies, however, cannot be done by a woman alone. Women may stand at the gate, doing the work of guarding and the very nearly all of the work of opening the gate,, but only men have the key. It takes both to open this gate. You can’t call women “gatekeepers” of a gate they have no power to open on their own.
There are also the standard arguments against equating Motherhood and Priesthood, like Motherhood being available to nearly all women while Priesthood is available to fairly few men, and that neither can be the ultimate meaning of a persons’ life, but I’m glad to leave those for other times.
I do think there are many, many wonderful things waiting for us in the future. I may be completely wrong on what they are, but I do know that whatever there is, it will be wondrous for all of us, men and women. I believe we will have the balance that we know exists in our Heavenly Parent’s love for us, but I despair at some of the rationales we develop to try and convince ourselves that we have that balance now.
I’ve been reading some interesting conversations on comparing motherhood, fatherhood, Priesthood, and the current, not-but-kinda-equal-to-Priesthood, Relief Society. There is the usual argument about Priesthood being equal to motherhood (which I disagreed with in a previous post), but one aspect of this, the roles we are given, struck a chord with me. What roles do men and women have, in the eternities, that are comparable to the roles we have here on Earth?
In creating children here on Earth, a man’s role is limited to providing half of a blueprint. The remainder of the work and materials is provided by the woman. Will this be somewhat the same in the eternities? No, I do not mean that women will be resigned to baby-making in the eternities, doing nothing but popping out babies like a queen ant. What I mean is that in organizing worlds, is it possible that while both men and women will be capable of organizing the raw materials of worlds, will the creation of life itself be only possible by women? Could it be that a man alone could only organize lifeless worlds, and thus needs a woman to create the vast variety that is life?
This is -highly- speculative. At this time, with all our knowledge of science, we are nowhere near being able to define how life begins or ends. Aside from obvious systemic errors, we don’t know why there are instances where there are babies born that do not live once they are taken off the life support of their mother, nor why bodies cease to function. Creating life is so common as to be taken for granted and so mysterious that we cannot find the why of it happening. There is so very much we have to learn, if we are to become as our Heavenly Parents. I hope, as I continue that journey after this life (hand in hand with my beautiful wife, of course), I will be able to accept the truths available then and let go of the misconceptions I develop in this life.
Being of a somewhat feminist leaning, I was a bit taken aback when one of my 11 year old Primary students brought out an axiom he learned from his mother – “Men get the Priesthood and women get the babies”. I tried to mitigate this a bit, since he was telling it to one of his female classmates, but to me this is a lot more complex than a simple axiom.
Motherhood does not equal Priesthood. Yes, there are responsibilities that each entail that cannot (at this time) be done by the other, but to me, there is so much more that makes up men and women beyond these two simple tropes that the axiom is too much of an oversimplification, and potentially damaging. It may be an easy simplification for children, but certainly more teaching would need to be done to expand both things that are bare facets of what makes up men and women.
Not all women can be mothers, at least not in the strict sense of childbearing and breastfeeding. Similarly, not all men have the Priesthood. Yes, all worthy males are given the Priesthood in the Church, but the subset of men with Priesthood in the world is much, much smaller than the subset of women who are mothers. Neither is the “ultimate calling” of men and women, nor are they adequate definitions of what make men, men and women, women.
Trying to compare the two is not even comparing apples and oranges, as there have been times (and likely will be again) when there have been roles now considered only of the Priesthood that have been also done by women, such as prophesying, healing the sick, etc., and it is impossible (without extensive surgery and technology) for men to bear children. It’s like comparing apples and ostriches.