The LDS Church’sTreatment of Women Members

When my oldest son got married, his future wife had to get permission from her previous husband before she could get a temple divorce and then remarry in a LDS temple.  Mormon males don’t have to do anything similar.  In fact, they can be temple married to more than one woman.

At a family gathering yesterday, one male relative was saying that his first wife (they were divorced years-and-years ago, and he had raised their only son) had requested permission to remarry someone else in the temple.  And he had refused.  He had not wanted the divorce in the first place, so he wasn’t going to consent to her temple remarriage.  Ultimately his ex’s bishop had called and they had worked out a solution.  The bishop would draft the consent letter and put it in the files (or wherever it goes, without a signature), thus allowing the marriage to go forth.

If this is still the practice of the LDS Church, it needs to stop.  This practice is extremely sexist and very unfair to the women of the Church.

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8 Responses to The LDS Church’sTreatment of Women Members

  1. Susan says:

    It all gets so silly that it’s hard to make heads or tails of what is going on. My brother is obsessed with the fact that he left his first wife (and four children) and has since remarried (3 times). He married two of those wives in the temple. But he is still “sealed” to his first wife. I think this is in place so that they (his first wife and he) are “sealed” to their children. But he’s not sure and he at times has heartburn over the fact that what if the “sealing” is not longer valid? Anyway, that brings me back to my original sentence. It is so silly. Don’t you think that if you truly believe there is a God, and that he is a loving and fair God, that he will ensure that all things work out in the end? We spend so much time worrying about things that truly are out of our hands. I don’t believe that God is only going to let the top tier of the Celestial Kingdom have access to see each other for all eternity, divorces or not. I do believe in the hereafter, and I believe that visitation rights and efforts will be taken care of then. A “paper” (consent letter) in the files is just that: a “paper”.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      But if I understand the procedures correctly, if your brother’s first wife wants to remarry, she will need your brother’s approval. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense.

  2. Allen says:

    Some (many?) members don’t understand that temple sealings aren’t actual sealings — they are just promises of what can happen if the people involved are righteous. We use the term “sealed” incorrectly, and this misuse of the word gives some the impression that actual sealings are taking place. For those who attend temple sessions, listen closely to the wording used, and you’ll realize that sealings aren’t taking place but promises of possible sealings in the future are taking place. Church leaders have established policies about marriage in attempts to manage difficult situations, and those policies don’t necessarily seem reasonable to us. As Susan said, God “will ensure that all things Work out in the end”. Mistakes in practice and in policy will be ironed out.

    The church is, almost by definition, a patriarchal organization. Women are taught to honor their husbands as he righteously follows Christ, and men are taught to treat their wives and children as Christ would treat them. Some men feel they have the right, as heads of their homes, to be dictatorial, but they don’t. They are to treat their family as Christ would treat them, with love, kindness, respect, and wisdom. We are taught that husbands and wives are co-partners in their family, that they are equal in importance. Men preside over their families, much as Bishops preside over their wards and Stake Presidents preside over their Stakes. Presiding means they are responsible for the health (both physical and mental) and welfare of family members. No organization can do well with two people presiding, but all organizations can do well with two or more (children) performing specific tasks. Hence, the scriptures and modern prophets teach that men are to preside as Christ would do that.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      From a practical perspective, it seems like excluding 50 percent of the adult membership from the majority of major church positions isn’t a good idea. Just think of all the potential that is lost. I’m pretty sure that women are underrepresented in most Ward and Stake leadership meetings. To me, this is a tragedy. Women should have a much bigger role in several areas of church responsibility.

      Men and women are indeed different. They have different sensibilities. To exclude the female opinion from decision-making means the church loses an important perspective.

      As for the home, in most marriages the responsibilities are divided and/or shared. And these responsibilities aren’t divided the same way in every home. Thus the male doesn’t always have the last word on everything. Your patriarchal portrayal is seriously out of date.

      • Allen says:

        Hi Roger,

        Concerning Ward leadership meetings. Women preside in Relief Society, Primary, and the Young Women Organization. Men preside in Priesthood Quorums and Sunday School. Thus, both men and women attend leadership meetings. In addition, my experience has been that either men or women preside in special committees that aren’t related to the organizations. Of course, the Bishop presides over all things in the ward as a unit of the church. For example, many years ago, I moved from Arizona to Massachusetts. My wife became Primary president in our branch that was as large geographically as the Salt Lake valley. I was called to be the scout leader of the 11-year old boys. I thus served under her and respected her as my Primary President. As a scout leader, I didn’t tell her how to run the Primary. As her husband, I didn’t tell her how to run her Primary. As her husband, I became her “gofer” and did things, at her request, to help her fulfill her calling.

        My comments concern “presiding”. Maybe I should define what that term means to me. Presiding is the overall responsibility for the welfare and operation of the organization. Presiding is not the dividing up of responsibilities between the parents and children. I agree that responsibilities aren’t divided the same way in every home, and they shouldn’t be since each home is different. I also understand that in many homes, the husband doesn’t preside for what ever reasons, and the wife ends up fulfilling the functions of presiding “officer” of the home. There are ways that I don’t preside in my home as much as I should, and my wife gently reminds me that certain aspects of our family need attention. In some cases, I will ask her to proceed with the activity that needs attention. In other cases I will address the activity.

        You mentioned, Roger, that my “patriarchal portrayal is seriously out of date.” That is probably true as far as society is concerned, but it isn’t true as far as LDS church government is concerned. The church is a patriarchal organization as far as “responsibility” is concerned. Men hold the Priesthood and thus have overall presiding authority over church organizations. For example, the Relief Society President presides over her organization, but the Bishop presides over the whole ward, including the Relief Society. The Bishop has overall responsibility for the ward, and he delegates responsibility to the RS president for that organization. She is responsible for the overall operation of the RS, while the Bishop is responsible for the RS fitting in with other organizations the ward.

        One question that pertains to this discussion is whether or not women should hold the Priesthood. That is a topic for another post.

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  4. rogerdhansen says:

    It is Stake Conference weekend for our area. This morning (15 Sep 2013) from 7:30 am to 9:00 am the Stake had a “Priesthood Leadership Meeting.” From the Stake the meeting included, “Presidency, executive secretary, clerks, High Council, and young men’s presidency.” For the Wards it included: Bishoprics, executive secretaries, clerk, elders quorum presidencies, high priest group leadership, YM presidencies (adult) and advisers, and ward mission leaders.”

    I don’t see any girl’s and women’s organizations on this list. I realize that it is a priesthood function, but wouldn’t the Church be better off to call it just a leadership meeting and invite all leaders, male and female?

    • Allen says:

      My stake is also having conference this weekend. My wife and I attended the evening “adult” session, and we happened to sit behind the person running the audio/visual equipment for the conference. The conference sessions are transmitted live to the other buildings in the stake. The person running the equipment was an assistant stake clerk, and as such was a man. A woman could have operated the equipment if she had been given the training and chance. In fact, the brother went outside the cultural hall to check on something, and his wife ran the equipment until he returned. In order to have a woman called to that position, she would be called as a A/V Specialist or something similar. In fact, I think it would be nice to have men called as A/V Specialists and not bundle that assignment in the duties of assistant stake clerks. The church is slowly gravitating to giving women more responsibility, but changes in tradition are slow to come. Some Stake Presidents and Bishops are open to such changes, and some aren’t. We need to have patience while the tradition of men-only in responsible jobs are changed.

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