Below is the content of the email, it explains my position. The questions for discussion are these:
Do you believe that women are innately smarter, more charitable, and more spiritual than men?
What authoritative evidence validates your position (statements by GAs, scriptures, etc, not anecdotes)?
Have you heard this sentiment expressed in church by others to the extent that it may indicate a widespread belief?
I appreciate your visit to our ward today and the sentiments you expressed about the divine nature of women. I was hoping to catch you after the meeting to share a few thoughts but missed you. I hope you don't mind that I got your email from the online stake directory and reached out in this manner.
Please know that I am sharing my thoughts with you as a mother of three priceless and amazing young men and one beautiful and beloved daughter.
There seems to have developed a cultural notion in the church that women are more spiritual than men. I have spent a little time studying the genesis of this idea in LDS thought and know that statements by some church authorities, slight, gender-based, distinctions in temple rites, and cultural treatment of Heavenly Mother have all been used to justify this elevated view of womanhood. I wholeheartedly agree with your father that the women of the church are key to its growth and spiritual health - mothers are generally the keepers of the hearth, even those who work outside the home.
Acknowledging the elevated role of women however, does not necessitate denigrating men. Saying that women are "more" spiritual, "more" compassionate, or "more" charitable, and certainly saying outright, as you did today, that "men are stupid" not only unjustly exalts women but it sends the message to impressionable young men such as my sons that they are less than their sisters.
This is simply untrue. And as a mother of sons, it is heartbreaking to hear this message in church.
I devote my days to teaching my sons that they are a priceless heritage, a royal priesthood, and of incalculable worth. I try to teach them that all of God's children, rich, poor, Jew, Greek, bond, free, and yes, male and female are entitled to the same privileges, and worthy to access the same spiritual gifts.
We may be different by nature in some aspects but not in our ability to reach the divine, not in our ability to make righteous choices, and certainly not in our ability to be charitable. Charity incarnate was housed in the body of a young, Jewish male.
Please know that, as a woman, I appreciate the efforts of men in the church to value my gender and role. But I beg of you, as a mother, please do not do this at the expense of my sons. Please do not send the subtle or explicit message that they are stupid and less able to be Christ-like because of some imagined gender related flaw in nature. This message plants a small seed of self-doubt that has the potential to bloom in later years to self-justification in sin. After all, boys will be boys, right? They really can't help themselves. This ideological relic of Victorian society also places an unrealistic expectation upon our young women, the weight of which can be overbearing and counterproductive causing them to feel a disparate excess of guilt and shame when they err because they suppose themselves to have fallen from the height of a pedestal that was unreasonably high at the start. Yet another unintended consequence of this notion is that it potentially lowers expectations of male behavior in the minds of the women they later marry. You can imagine what an unhealthy and lopsided relationship such a theology would create in a marriage.
No. Stupidity is a human condition and men are no more prone to the weaknesses of mortality than women. They are every bit as capable of being loving. nurturing, kind, and charitable. They are just as valuable and their role is just as significant.
Sin has no gender bias. Temptations are not limited to men. And the fall, mortal stupidity included, applies to the whole of humankind.
Thank you for the time, talent, and energy you devote to the Lord's kingdom. May God continue to bless you and your family,
PS Brother HCSpeaker, I want you to know that my son's deacon quorum advisor today, following in the same line of thought you expressed, told my son and his peers that "Women are better than men" and that the sealer who married him and his wife explicitly said the same. Ordinarily, I do not write to speakers or teachers to express disagreement but this belief seems to be widespread and I feel strongly that it sends a damaging message to our sons, sets a low bar, and creates an environment where sin may be justifiable and spiritual mediocrity expected. Rather, let us open the minds of all God's children to their divine potential and recount to them the story of their creation in the image of God, for "male and female created He them."
Edited by mercyngrace, 03 May 2012 - 01:27 PM.