Monday, February 1, 2010

Female Priesthood and The Black Widow Spider

Over at BCC today implications of the Fall were vigorously debated on Mark Brown's post Women, Men, and the Fall.  Mark invited readers to consider a quote by Elder Packer extolling the superior divine attributes of woman and whether her natural virtue mitigates the effects of fall and her proclivity to sin.

As might have been expected, women bloggers took issue with the notion.  I have already discussed here on this blog the authoritative support which exists for the doctrine that women are more spiritual than men. But I don't think I adequately expressed the danger that might ensue were the female portion of humankind were to receive the Priesthood.  I will leave it to (then-current) LDS General Authority Hartman Rector, Jr. to do so:

"In order to attempt to get the male somewhere near even, the Heavenly Father gave him the Priesthood, or directing authority for the Church and home. Without this bequeath, the male would be so far below the female in power and influence that there would be little or no purpose for his existence. In fact, [he] would probably be eaten by the female as is the case with the black widow Spider."

(Hartman Rector Jr, President of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to Mrs. Teddie Wood, 29 August, 1978, photocopy in "Utah Women's Issues, 1970s-80s", Western Americana, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah; quoted in Sonia Johnson, "From Housewife to Heretic", and in Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley, "America's Saints: The Rise of Mormon Power" 212.)


Joseph Smidt said...

Look, men and woman are equal. Men don't need the priesthood to stand in the presence of women and women don't have to do anything special to be able to stand side by side with men.

Statements like the ones you refereed to do more harm than good in my opinion.

I'll tell you who did it right. I saw Maria Shriver get asked "Who wears the pants in your home, you or your husband Arnold Schwarzenegger". She said, "Actually we both do because we work as a team."

That is the correct way to describe the relationship between man and women.

Anonymous said...

Of course men deny women the priesthood. This bull about women being "virtuous" is just as insulting as the generations before who insisted that women weren't good enough. Men do not receive priesthood ecause they are good or evil, but because they have male genitalia ad women allow men to control things. Ridiculous. Women should not receive (or be barred from) priesthood because they are good, but rather because they are women and fuctioning compassionate persons capable of doing good!

Bored in Vernal said...

Joseph, if that's the "correct" way to describe the relationship between men & women, then why are the GA's describing it differently?

Anon, I agree that both reasons for denying women the priesthood are insulting. I'd almost (ALMOST!) rather just be told, "because I am God and I said so!"

Joseph Smidt said...

I don't know that GAs are describing it differently.

*These* quotes describe it differently. The truth is there are quotes from GAs that cover the whole spectrum. Some elevating men over women, some treating man and women as equals and many elevating woman over men in some way. (Such as these.)

Bored in Vernal, I'm just curious. Do you have something against the idea that men and women are equal and both are just as virtuous, special, wonderful, holy, etc... as the other?

Is there some cosmic catastrophe that will take place if men and women turn out to be equal in these ways?

Joseph Smidt said...

I'm interested in knowing Hartman Rector Jr.'s explanation to how men weren't destroyed by women when the priesthood was lost from the earth due to apostasy. :)

I mean, history isn't exactly chalked full of stories where women overcame men with their superior power because the priesthood was nowhere to be found. :)

My point is there is zero evidence to show that women overcome men by their power when men don't have the priesthood.

My money is on Hartman Rector Jr.'s quote being just as false as quotes by GAs in the past where women were told their husbands were to rule over them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, BinV, for reminding me of one of my favorite GA quotations of all time. ;)

ZD Eve

Joseph Smidt said...

BinV, despite the tone my comments may convey, I am glad you shared that Hartman Rector, Jr.

I obviously think it is on the same level as when Joseph Fielding Smith said man would never make it to the moon because that is not our kingdom, however, it is a fun quote to read.

Bored in Vernal said...

Joseph, I'm afraid you just don't get me. Thanks for trying, though.

stacer said...

"I mean, history isn't exactly chalked full of stories where women overcame men with their superior power because the priesthood was nowhere to be found. :)"

But oooo, great fantasy story idea! *wanders off scribbling*

Joseph Smidt said...

BinV, no problem. I'm always willing to try.

Keep up the blogging, you do great work.

stacer, yeah, history may have been more interesting if that way. :)

denebug said...

This quote seems to be in the same category as the bizarre justifications for withholding the priesthood from blacks. The difference is that we now see this quote as ridiculous but nothing has changed.
-reader rachel

J G-W said...

Thanks for the great belly laugh...!

Not having the priesthood, now I know why I've played it safe and married a man.

But on a more serious note... Our spiritual power as men AND as women comes from our righteousness. From our love, our faith and our hope, our patience, our service, etc.

I suspect that the severe inequality women have been forced to live under in most modern cultures of this fallen world has forced women to develop some of the traits that make for true spiritual and moral power.

I wonder what the world might look like, though, what we as a human race might be like, when all the lasts are truly first (and there are no "lasts")?

Chelsea said...

I've never heard that quote before, how fascinating. Not only is it really, really funny, it reveals what I've long suspected: there exists among some members a visceral reaction of fear about the idea of women holding the priesthood - just like seeing a spider.

Bookslinger said...

BiV: I don't know if you got my email, so please excuse the announcement here. Mike Ellis, former SP in Muncie, had cancer, and his wife was keeping a blog of their medical journey.

Brother Ellis passed away Thursday Feb 4, 2010, as announced on their blog. (It's public.)

I believe one of his counselors was Dr. John Chipman, who is now a Mission President in Peru. He and his wife Karen are blogging at:

Bookslinger said...

I don't have the Ellis's mailing address or email, but if you want to send them a note, I'm guessing Mike's company will forward to the family:

GEA Architects
Muncie, IN 47305

They're in the phone book, so that's public too.

Bored in Vernal said...

Bookslinger, got your email, and Dr. B. and I appreciated that you thought to let us know. He was a wonderful Stake President and will be missed by our family.

annegb said...

Women aren't equal in my ward. They aren't allowed to give the opening prayer in sacrament. I will never stop resenting that.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how anyone can possibly say that men and women are equal. They are not equal--they are different. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Are apples and oranges equal? If you are going to say that men and women are equal, then you must explain in what way they are equal.

Are they equal in height? No. Generally speaking, most men are taller than most women. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, it is nevertheless true, that most men are taller than most women.

Are they equal in physical strength? No. Generally speaking, most men are physically stronger than most women. Again, there are exceptions to the general rule, but it is nevertheless a fact that most men are physically stronger than most women.

Do men and women enjoy the same length of life? No. Most women live longer than most men. There are exceptions to the general rule, of course, but the fact remains that most women outlive most men.

Are they equal intellectually? I see no evidence that men are smarter than women, nor that women are smarter than men, but I just don't know how you could ever prove either side of the issue, since there is no reliable I.Q. test in existence.

Are they equal spiritually? No. IMO, generally speaking most women are more spiritual than most men. Again, there are exceptions to the rule. How many women would claim to be more spiritual than Thomas S. Monson, for example? And there are some women who are about as spiritual as rocks. But those are the exceptions to the rule. Walk into any LDS chapel in the world, and I will bet you dollars to donuts that you will find more women than men at the services. It is a regrettable fact that most women are more in tune with the spirit than most men, who are out drinking and playing soccer, while their wives are at church.

Why do men hold the priesthood and not women? Because God said so, that's why--pure and simple. But IMO, it's because He knew that if He gave the priesthood to women, the men would be content to let the women do all the home teaching, while they sat home and watched football.
--Tragula (an honest man)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tragula, men are to cover their wives and Christ covers the man. This is presithood, Christ died and now interceeds. Men need to die to their own flesh and start praying for their wives, to interceed means to stand in the way of the evil. God gave out responsibilites both to man and to woman. Both men and woman need to submit who is over them, for men it it Christ and for woman it is their husbands. This is why it is important to be very picky before you marry. Marry a godly man who has already submitted to Christ, these men are humble, meek with their use of authority and loving. In counseling I have found that woman don't mind submitting to that kind of man, and once mens eyes are open to just what Christ did for them, they do have no problem submitting. Best wished to us all in this area.