Saturday, December 15, 2012

I'll Be Wearing Pants This Sunday



I have an announcement to make! This Sunday, I will be wearing pants . . . sweat pants to be exact. Because just over one week ago, I used the incredible gift of my female body to give birth to a new little life. And this body of mine is now nurturing and comforting that little girl, as well as healing a bit more. If I hadn’t given birth by now, I would be crying for it to be over already for one thing. But, I would also be attending church - wearing as nice a skirt or dress as I could fit my big pregnant belly in to, with a little extra make-up, some pearls, and uncomfortably attractive shoes – the usual extra mile up from my casual week day garb.

Who cares what I would have worn to church anyways though, right? Who really cares what anyone wears to church? If you are wearing your best to church, and you know it, you can feel comfortable knowing that you did your part to respect the sacred occasion of renewing your baptismal covenants with Heavenly Father as you take the Sacrament. 

I’m talking about this whole church attire thing for only one reason: 

There is a small movement going on among some in the Mormon community that has caught some national attention. Some Mormon feminists have declared this Sunday, December 16th as, “Wear Pants to Church Day.” They are doing it to bring attention to the so called gender inequality problem in our church which they believe is evident in our social and cultural practices as well as church policy and doctrine. To them, this is about much more than pants.    

Regarding this event, I got a message from a friend earnestly requesting I respond to the madness that has erupted from all of this. So, not because I care so much what others do or wear – but for the sanity of my dear friend and perhaps some of my like-minded blog-readers, THIS POST IS FOR YOU!  :)
 
The way I see it, wearing dress pants to church on Sunday is the perfect visual metaphor for how many pants-wearing Mormon feminists view “gender inequality” in the gospel: it is simply a non-issue.

Before I really delve, I’ll make one point. Are there jerks, hypocrites, chauvinists, and imperfect people (Hehe!) who are Mormon? Absolutely! In fact, I remember the first time I felt truly discriminated against because of my gender was at a ward Christmas party. We sat at a table. Two men we sat next to were discussing politics – one area of great interest in my life. I joined in the conversation with an educated comment. And I’ll never forget how they looked at me. They were both dumbfounded it seemed that I would offer anything. Then they both shifted their gazes away from me and pretended as if I had said nothing at all. This dinner scene could have been easily re-dubbed with our conversation - except for the husband escorting me out due to embarrassment part:


Squire was as shocked as I was at their response. It was clear that their treatment of me was not just a figment of my imagination. But, I didn’t chalk that experience up to a social or cultural flaw that was integral to my faith – I just saw them as a couple of guys who were being jerks in that instance. There are jerks, hypocrites, and chauvinists – in and out of every faith. There are simply humans everywhere, and everywhere humans will be imperfect.

Some though, take interactions like these with people who are members of our faith, as well as some church policies and project them out as examples of the fruit of imperfect doctrines. I believe that by and large, the need some feel to protest inequality in our church reflects a simple misunderstanding of the priesthood and how it really works in our faith. I love this blog post’s discussion on that topic. It has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. 

Additionally, their feeling a need to protest – assuming they are trying to send a message to leadership for change in policy or doctrine – seems to me quite silly as a practicing member of my faith, as we believe our church’s doctrines and application of church policy are implemented by those in positions of authority who receive the revelation on those matters directly from God, rather than the winds and wails of social pressure

So, in lieu of all of that and in closing, I want to share an excerpt from one of my favorite LDS books. It is called, Yearning for the Living God. It is by F. Enzio Busche, an emeritus member of the first quorum on the Seventy. This experience he shares is one that touched my heart at a time when I was personally pondering the place, importance, and role of women in the gospel. And this story gave so much peace to my heart. I believe every word of it to be true. 

Here is what Elder Busche wrote:

            “One day, not long after I had begun serving in the temple, I met a woman in the American military service who came for her own endowment. She was accompanied by some sisters from her ward, as well as a priesthood leader. As Sister Busche and I began teaching her about the temple, I felt that she had a somewhat unsettled spirit and saw a little of that in the sisters who were with her, who were all officers in the military. When the priesthood leader inquired as to when I thought the Church would receive revelation giving the priesthood to women, I was at first so shocked that I felt a strong desire to give a stern response and even question his worthiness to be in the temple.
            However, as I momentarily withheld my answer and sought guidance from the Spirit, I was witness to something most remarkable. A calmness from someplace else entered my heart, and I heard myself saying things that were somewhat new to me. As I remember, my remarks, in an abbreviated form, were approximately as follows:
            The priesthood is neither male nor female, although it has a male part and a female part. Through the eternal bond of marriage, built on the divine gift of love, the priesthood becomes complete. The roles of the two parts are, of course, vastly different.
            Heavenly Father has given the female the role of bringing new life to this world. She does so in a physical dimension – by nurturing, tutoring, training, and teaching – and in the wearing of the very eternal virtues of chastity, loyalty, and wholesomeness, which are essential for the very existence of humankind. Our Heavenly Father has given the male the role of providing, protecting and admiring. Male and female are in many ways mysteriously different and, because of that, there is a natural desire to love one another in harmony with the divine laws as they have been reestablished by the restoration of the gospel.
            The best way to gain an understanding of the male and female part of the priesthood is to be reminded of a tree. As we look at a tree, it appears to be complete with its trunk, branches, leaves and blossoms; but we know that another equally important part of the tree is invisible. The roots – which, quite unseen, lie deeply embedded in the soil – are constantly nourishing and strengthening the visible parts of the tree. The roots do not argue with the trunk. The both enjoy oneness.
            The temple is the Lord’s essential instrument used to reestablish a true understanding of the male and female parts of the priesthood.  In the temple, both men and women wear the robe of the priesthood and are given the garments of the priesthood. Righteous men and women learn that although women are not physically involved in conducting the affairs of the priesthood, no man can excel in his priesthood callings for long without the blessing and care and guidance of a righteous woman. When we listen very carefully in the temple and learn to understand and accept our male and female roles, we will soon see ourselves in our own limitations. Those who concentrate their efforts in developing the purposes and virtues of their own gender will build tender bonding bridges between men and women on the basis of mutual respect and admiration, inspired by the divine miraculous power of love. A society that fails to accept the eternal concept of this godly design must pay an unbearable price of confusion of the individual, which can, potentially lead to chaos, destruction, and the unhappiness of the soul.
            As I spoke, I felt a warm, comforting spirit come over me – a stimulating vibrancy that filled my whole being with light and joy. I witnessed how that same spirit came over the listeners. Their hearts became enlightened and their attitudes became mild and receptive. As I continued my remarks, I observed that they had tears in their eyes. The priesthood leader was so embarrassed that he could not find enough words of regret and apology. Deeply touched and lightened by inner understanding, they were ready to participate in the additional experiences of their temple visit.” (F. Enzio Busche’s, Yearning for the Living God, pgs.214-216)

So tell me, what will/did you wear to church this Sunday? ;)

16 comments:

  1. Jami, thank you for sharing this. I think that the issue of wearing pants really is a non-issue as compared to the actual gospel of Christ. But the excerpt you shared is such a great way to explain the priesthood and the roles of men and women. I really enjoyed reading it, so, thanks!

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  2. I LOVE that quote from Elder Busche; I've never heard it before! I'm going to have to go pick up that book....

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  3. Oh Jami, I've been dying to see your remarks on this subject! LOVE LOVE LOVED your thoughts! Enjoy sweet little Atley and those sweat pants while I'll be rocking my skirt at church trying really hard not to notice if anyone is in pants. ;)

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  4. I think this whole thing is really stupid. That's a harsh word to use, but the event is silly. I'm sorry. I don't agree with anything the FMH believe in. I think they villify the church for their decisions in life that didn't turn out the way they hoped. In your case: those jerks at the party were representing themselves, not the church. Most people would be able to detach actions from the whole. Unfortunately, the FMH or MFH whatever- don't, won't, and can't detach an individual's negative actions from the whole. I think the point has been missed that it's not the church that creates gender inequality, but the people who misinterpret things or who exercise unrighteous dominion over others b/c of their position in the church and wearing pants isn't going change that- the common denominator in all of that is you and how you choose to interpret any counsel you've been given. I don't feel that I've been oppressed and treated unfairly or that my role was not important to that of a man's. In closing- no one really cares what you wear to church- I for one don't. And another thing for any FMH/MFH that will read this- in lew of recent events- have some respect and reschedule the stupid pants wearing thing. How about wear a flower to remember the children and teachers who were victims of a senseless and cowardly act.

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    1. Amen! My daughter and I will be wearing flowers in our hair tomorrow. What a great remembrance.

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    2. Well put Jami and Lesly. This pants thing was already silly and ridiculous but with recent events now it seems disrespectful too.

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  5. Jami, thank you for this great post on this topic - and congratulations on the baby too! My wife and I were talking about this yesterday. She had heard about it and I was oblivious. We both agree with what you so eloquently wrote.

    While many may think my opinion on the matter is of no value because I am a man, I will put it out there nonetheless. I think the feminist movement in general is grossly misguided. Rather than embracing and cherishing the unique and divine attributes given to men and women respectively, it seems to me that feminists seek to make women the same as men. While there is a great deal of overlap in the capabilities of men and women and individuals add even more variation to the mix, the difference between a man and a woman goes far beyond anatomy. Any parent with at least one boy and one girl knows this very well. My son is can play dolls with his sister, but while she is nurturing, he makes the dolls fight. Likewise, my daughter will play cars with her brother, but the cars are often grouped into a family unit rather than racing and crashing.

    Society today is sorely missing the vitally important influence of true female femininity. At the same time, the male role in our society has been greatly emasculated. Feminism has achieved many of the goals of "sameness", but at what cost? I don't think women should be denied the right to work or vote or anything like that. I do think that society suffers when women who make the choice to work as a mother rather than as a professional are denigrated for their choice. A good example of this was the comments of Hilary Rosen made about Ann Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign. At the same time, many men have relinquished their role as provider and protector and see it as more masculine to live the life of a "free" (irresponsible) bachelor rather than to lovingly commit to a family. Are children better off when they come into this world with women who "don't need a man" and men who feel liberated by not being tied down with family obligations? That is not what I want for my children. I love them and I love their mother. I consider her decision to pursue Ann Romney's profession is noble and honorable. It was her decision and I think her sacrifices and effort will be eternally rewarding to her.

    Thanks again for the great post. I pray that I can avoid passing judgement in my heart on those women wearing pants at church tomorrow.

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  6. I just think its funny because nothing says you can't wear pants to church as it is. There was a girl in the university ward back in Reno who was a convert and a Sunday school teacher. She wore dress pants to church most of the time and no one ever said anything about it.

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  7. This is crazy. Wear pants if you want, just come and focus on Christ, and kindness, and not judging people and all will be well. I will wear a dress because that is what I feel represents the respect I feel for my Heavenly Father (that I went what I feel is an extra mile to make church special). Furthermore, I think it is pointless to do this whole thing, but even if it wasn't I have absolutely zero interest in getting the priesthood and having extra responsibilities. (Maybe when my husband can have kids - and not in some creepy science monstrosity way - and take on some of my special responsibilities, then I'll think that there may be some validity to me taking on some of his responsibilities.)

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  8. Whew! I too thought she was serious for minute! I thought I was going to have to put my big patriarchal foot down, and put a stop to my wife's feminist inclinations.

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  9. Great post, Jami. I love the quote by Elder Busche! As I was reading it, I knew it was true. It encapsulates my own feelings about the many positive - and necessary - differences between male and female gender roles.

    And to Squire - epic hilarity, sir.

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  10. I've never seen your blog before this morning, when my husband brought this article to me because he thought I would enjoy it. I just want to thank you for posting this quote by Elder Busche. As I read it I was filled with the spirit. I have always believed what he said, but the way he said it brought new light to the truth I've always known. So thank you for sharing truth an light. It has blessed my life today. I will be keeping this quote to use for future reference. Thanks again. And all the best with you new little one.

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  11. I wear pants to church almost every Sunday, dress pants of course, for the simple fact I have never, ever liked wearing dresses or skirts. I will, but don't prefer to. I did wear a skirt today, partly to mock said pants-people. I don't go to church to make a statement, I go to be closer to my Heavenly Father and to feel His love for me, and to see His love for all His children. It doesn't matter what you wear, as long as you are respectful to God and to yourself, with reverence in your behavior and demeanor. This "movement" is ridiculous. What's next, "wear a tie to church" day? I also agree that such an outlandish movement should have been cancelled immediately due to Friday's events. Doing something to remember those lost in Connecticut would mean so much more and do more for the world than the mere wearing of pants. Go, Jami! I always love your thoughts and vibrant testimony of womanhood. Say hi to your sweet little ones! I sure miss Lincoln, and can't wait to meet little Atley!

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  12. Hey Jami, my friend posted your blog on her facebook page. My sister and I were literally just discussing exactly what you were saying. In fact, I was telling her about an experience I had which taught me that the Priesthood is given to both-BUT in different forms-male and female. It was great to come across your blog, particularly to read that quote from Elder Busche! Thanks!

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  13. I heard of this movement on Dec 13th, and I think it's just plain silly. Personally, I was taught you dress up for church out of respect-- not just for the building, but for what it represents-- and traditionally "dressing up" means DRESSing up (since, y'know, they didn't have pant-suits in the 1800's). Granted, I have gone to church in jeans and a tee-shirt before because that was all I had with me at the time. (Oh, the dirty looks I got!) But, if dressing down is the difference between actually attending meetings or not attending them, I don't think there would be any celestial objections. This is more an issue of respect and not being rebellious... and also a lesson on judging others-- because you never know WHY someone is dressing "down" unless you ask... but even then, it's not really your business.

    (By the way-- I was excited to have those 3 new members confirmed this Sunday. I didn't even notice 2 of the 3 were wearing jeans 'till after the second confirmation was over... and I only noticed because it was s'posed to be "wear your pants to church day". I found that, before I noticed the pants, my thoughts ran more towards how special the day was for them to be at church getting the Holy Ghost... lol.)

    Being Mormon and a female engineer, I see a lot of sexist prejudice against my choice of occupation (most usually from males-who-don't-know-me because I break gender stereotypes all the time-- I was the first female pole-vaulter at my high school, for another example). I've heard sacrament talks where older gentlemen come out and tell women to "get a degree in something useful like child psychology or education" and it just raises my hackles. (I think I went home early that day I was so angry I needed to go home...) What people seem to fail to realize is that a marriage is about BALANCE... sometimes, you need a math-oriented wife to balance out the less mathematically inclined husband. My husband and I share enough strengths and we compliment each others' weaknesses so there is enough over-lap that together we're awesome. I don't think any other sort of man or woman would have made me or my husband, respectively, a better match! I see that in a lot of relationships that really "work" too... And I completely Love, Love, LOVE the tree analogy. It's pretty spot on.

    Great thoughts, Jami. I'm really glad to have caught this posting. =)

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  14. Hi, Jami. Your comments on The Blaze led me to your Blog and you have a new follower. I really don't have anything more to say than what's already been said, and very well. All this talk reminded me of President Monson's December message where he quotes 3rd Nephi, “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who … stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
    “Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Nephi 11:29–30).
    Thank you for your Blog and I look forward to reding more.

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