This was made crystal clear to me last night when I attended the church-wide Relief Society broadcast, a meeting for all women of the LDS church 18 years and older. Before the broadcast, our Stake held a dinner in the cultural hall of our building. When I walked in, the room was packed with round tables, each filled with women sitting and chatting. Moving amongst the tables were men wearing aprons and carrying trays as they served food to the seated women. The men were all priesthood holders who had given up their evening to come to the church and serve the women so that we could enjoy our evening with one another.
Later as I watched the broadcast, I was touched by the story told by the General Relief Society President, Linda K. Burton. She told of a handcart trek she took over the summer with youth of the church as part of a celebration of the LDS pioneer heritage. She explained that one part of the trail, a steep hill, was set apart as a “women’s pull”. The men were to step aside and only the women were to pull the handcarts up the hill, in order for them to fully experience what the widowed and single pioneer women had to face those many years ago.
Image from the Central Oregonian- not a photo of the same trek, but a similar event.
In our church, women do not hold the priesthood, it is true. But we uphold every priesthood holder, and they know it. These stories I’ve shared with you are certainly not uncommon or isolated incidents. Boys are taught from a young age that women are to be loved, protected, and most importantly- listened to and respected. We know that our role as homemakers and mothers is sacred and that we are the heart of the family and the home. And we know that the home and family are the foundation of the church. We are constantly reminded by our priesthood leaders that we are counselors for our husbands, and that our thoughts and opinions take the utmost priority. These are not just patronizing platitudes- I have read transcripts from the church-wide priesthood meetings in which men are constantly reminded to show love and respect to their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, and chastised when they fail to do so.
The women of the LDS Church are anything but oppressed! On the contrary- we are treated as queens and equals, and we are made better women because of it.
**Update: Due to the multitude of harsh comments, I have chosen to close the comments section for this post. While I appreciate many of you who have been able to respectfully share your differing views and contribute to the discussion, the post was intended as an uplifting and positive message, not as an invitation for contention. Mormon Mommy Writers is not a battleground, and while I welcome a constructive sharing of beliefs and ideas, when the discussion becomes toxic I feel it is better to agree to disagree and let us part ways. Thank you again to those of you who shared your opinions in a thoughtful way, and I truly appreciated the opportunity to read your words.**