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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pure Patriarchy

First, I must provide a bit of a caveat for this and any future “religious” post because this is my opinion. It may or may not reflect the church as a whole. Sometimes I form an opinion then discover that I was wrong. No, I don’t have a problem admitting when I’m wrong. Bully for me. I’m Just Say’n.

I am a Mormon. I am a Mormon Woman.
I am not a pushover. I am not a conformist.
I believe in the Priesthood and in gender roles. (I am not talking about transgender or gender confusion, that’s for another post.)  And for the sake of the argument here I am inter-swapping the terms Priesthood and Patriarchy. 

The church is set up as what they call a “Patriarchal Order,” which is in God’s terms, his order. So this description applies to all men (the males, I’m not using “men” here as a generic term for humans) who hold the Priesthood and may or may not be in a position of authority within the church and within their homes, as is how we believe.


I do not believe that men have ALL THE POWER or that they are FREE to act alone in whatever manner they choose. As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Being a Priesthood holder is a great power. Rather, it has the potential to be a great power, if wielded correctly. If not, well then, as the scripture says, “Amen to the power of that man.”

What scripture you ask? Why, this one:

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121:41-45.
41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood, only by cpersuasion, by dlong-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By akindness, and pure bknowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the csoul without dhypocrisy, and without eguile
 43 aReproving betimes with bsharpness, when cmoved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase ofdlove toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of adeath.
 45 Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews from heaven.

I’ve known men that like to use this as “proof” of their authority. Um, yeah. Hey Mister, if this is proof of your authority then let’s have a look-see, shall we?
41: No power or influence can or ought to be maintained 
by virtue of the priesthood

Without having to call up or, this is an easy one. Basically having the priesthood does not make you the “boss.” 

Let’s talk about “power” and “influence.” These are powerful words. They imply control, however because Agency is such a big deal to mortality we are just going to take the whole concept of “control” off the table. Priesthood, maleness, a Penis; does not make you in “control” of anything or anyone. Except yourself. Everyone has the right to be in control of themselves. If you are being controlled by some other force or “power” then there is an imbalance in your life and you need to change something. 
Got it? 
Nobody has the right to have “power over” anyone else. That is NOT what this is saying.

The concept of “power” in this verse is directly related to the Power of the Priesthood, which is specifically the power of God given to man, for mankind to act in the stead of God on the earth. For example, Moses is said to have moved a mountain. That’s a pretty big deal. He used his priesthood “power” to do this. First of all, God told him to do it (permission to use the power is a big deal). Secondly, when Moses was told to do this it was so the children of Israel could pass through safely. They were already in the dog house for being idol worshipers, but God being a forgiving being, he didn’t totally destroy them but let them wander around for a while (40 years) without a home. In the meantime he provided for them to be safe from marauders and enemies. Moving the mountain was how that was done. 

(I have thoughts about this concept of Miracle, because I believe God acts within the boundaries of laws, like scientific laws, so the movement of the mountain could be explained by an earthquake or whatever, but the point was that Moses did something to provoke the power in a manner that a miracle took place. Is that clear as mud?)

So for whatever reason, the humans with the dangly part get to have the “gift” of the Priesthood, or the power to act in God’s name on the earth for the good of mankind (i.e.; men, women, children), or if you prefer; Humankind. That’s pretty much it.

So, let’s talk about “influence.” Influence implies suggestion. Not force, or again, control. Influence is about encouragement, inspiration, impact. In referencing the thesaurus, influence can also mean manipulate (bad), persuade (good), induce (good-ish), power (bad), pressure (bad), authority (depends on how it’s wielded). See the pattern here? Anything that attempts to remove agency is BAD Bad bad!

So let’s look at the recommended use of that power and influence;

Only by persuasion, by long-suffering, 
by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.
42: By kindness, and pure knowledge,

Persuasion sounds a lot like “influence.” Long-suffering? Yeah, that doesn’t sound impatient, curt or intolerant. To “suffer long” sounds like extreme tolerance. Without getting annoyed or irritated.

Good luck with that.

I don’t know many people that can “put up with” other people’s garbage with that kind of patience. This is a biggie too!

Then we get into the more gentler emotions; gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned.

That means not harsh, without hubris (or pride) and with great love; aka empathy. The teachings of Jesus are big on empathy which is interesting to me because (in general, I’m stereotyping here) I don’t know a lot of empathetic men. 

Really, God? You want the sausage-wearers to be the ones with the “power” and “authority” of the Priesthood with the caveat of having to be EMPATHETIC? I’m surprised any man even wants this! The amount of self-control necessary to wield a power, any power, without pride, and with empathy (not Sympathy, there is a difference, it’s not about pity!) and love is like, well, Everest-climbing tenacious. I don’t know very many males that are “naturally” prone to this temperament. You?

Kindness is self-explanatory. That means no blaming, no judging and no finger-pointing. You is Kind! Say it again Aibileen!

What exactly is pure knowledge anyway?
One meaning that can be derived from the footnote link has to do with faithfulness to your spouse, or, in other words, only being with your spouse; fidelity. Erm, sexual stuff.

Another interpretation (and I like this) is:
There are two types of knowledge. The first one is pure knowledge and the second one is applied knowledge. Applied knowledge may benefit you directly and immediately but pure knowledge benefits you indirectly in the long run.If there are some things that you have studied or understood that you are unable to put into practice, do not get disheartened. Sometime in the future, if you do not discard the knowledge you have as impractical, it will be of use to you.Often people discard the pure knowledge for its lack of immediate application. In fact these two types of knowledge complement each other. Applied knowledge without pure knowledge remains weak. And pure knowledge without application will remain unfulfilled.Do not discard or label the knowledge as impractical. Do not label yourself as weak or unworthy because you are unable to apply the knowledge in your day-to-day life.Sometimes when you are alone in nature, silent, taking a walk, looking at the sand on the beach, a bird in the sky, or while meditating – suddenly the knowledge will emerge and you will recognize the knowledge dawning in your life.

Pure enlightenment. The light bulb. Truths that are self-evident through human experience; like the sun rising every day (which is really the earth turning because the sun doesn’t actually move, as we know, and we are not the center of the universe—which is also an interesting take on this whole Power thing because MEN are NOT the CENTER of the UNIVERSE!)

which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile

“Enlarge the soul?” The soul being the combination of our body and spirit, which includes our consciousness and subsequently our sub-consciousness, as well. Because it is our subconscious that controls so much of our behavior and impulsive response.

Wow. So “pure knowledge” or enlightenment will “enlarge the soul” or expand our consciousness and help control our subconscious responses, “without hypocrisy, and without guile.” Obviously, hypocrisy has absolutely No Place for manifestations of God’s power. This is so blaringly obvious to me I am baffled by those who do subscribe to the thought  that they can meet in back alleys and darkened hotel rooms with transgender prostitutes then preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and claim rights to his Priesthood power. Huh?

Sorry. Does. Not. Compute.

And guile? Well, that would be the tricksters and manipulators! Synonyms for “guile” include; cunning, slyness, craftiness, deviousness, deceit. Yeah. Lying.
Ya'll know where liars go, don’t you?

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness

when moved upon by the Holy Ghost;

and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love 

toward him whom thou hast reproved,
lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

So a little bit about this. It sounds like they are talking about discipline, like reprimanding a child. 

Synonyms for Reproving include criticize, admonish, chide. I have issues with criticism so I can see this as a negative but I think what they are trying to say is that when you see someone doing something that might cause them physical, but more specifically, spiritual harm, it is the duty of the Priesthood holder to step in and make a case.

A man of God should not stand by and let his flock sin. The problem is that it must be done with love, no judgment or punishment. Reproving does not equal punishment. As a matter of fact the very next thing states “showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him (or her).” Because you are not the enemy, you are trying to help. The “trying to help” part of this action should be emphasized.

Also, if you take into account that Priesthood holders are the leaders in God’s kingdom then a righteous and good leader will point out the flaws and try to fix them. This is actually something men are good at, they just need to temper it with patience, kindness, blah blah blah. Capice?

44: That he may know that thy faithfulness 
is stronger than the cords of death

Here’s the thing. If you truly want to wield the almighty power of the priesthood then you will sacrifice your attachment to all these things we’ve pointed out that are not part of a priesthood holder. By doing that you prove yourself worthy of that power. Basically you put the power to do good in God’s name ahead of the lures of humanity. Your faithfulness to the faith, the good news, the truth of Jesus Atonement; you Believe Him when he says you are forgiven. I paid the price. You believe it! Because you believe it you are given this amazing gift.

45: Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, 
and to the household of faith

(He said “bowels” hee hee hee!) Okay, so rather than thinking like 12-year-olds let’s think about the language of this. I found an article about the scriptural use of bodily organs.

“The bowels mark a person’s humanity. The innards, especially the bowels are the felt site of some of our most intense passions; they are the vital center of emotional life."

Emotionally, then, to wield the power of God for humankind the passions of the man using that power must be guided by charity (which is the pure love of Christ) towards all men (this term here includes women & children). AND to the household of faith; meaning the church organization.
So a Priesthood leader, especially a leader, but Men, are considered the Leaders in their homes by virtue of the Patriarchal order, so this applies to all of the male persuasion.

By the way, the pure love of Christ or “charity” is not judgmental. In any way. And as this verse says, men are to be charitable toward ALL men (aka mankind) and all church members (household of faith). That means whether in the church or out of the church (whom they are to be serving with their “power”) are to be loved unconditionally. No judgment of the level of their faith or belief. No criticism of their ability to follow X, Y, & Z commandments. UN-conditional. No conditions. No caveats. No qualification or stipulation. Period.

and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly;

This is another section of verse I think is self-explanatory. Virtue is synonymous with goodness; righteousness, integrity, honesty, morality. “As a man thinketh, so is he.” What garbage is chosen to go into the brain is what will come out. Conversely, that which is good (uplifting, cheerful, positive) should be sought out.

then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God;

So the term we use when a man wields the power of the priesthood is “exercise.” When you “Exercise” the power of the priesthood in doing good to and for others, you should feel confident that God is with you and that you are doing something he wants you to be doing. It’s kind of like knowing you are in the right place at the right time. Confidence is synonymous with faith, belief, trust and loyalty. You must believe that God will give you the power or words to do the work that needs to be done and the conviction that you are worthy of that blessing; the blessing of USING the power of God. This is not something to be taken lightly. By everything You’ve seen here do you think there are really as many men as you thought before that are truly worthy and truly ready for this kind of power in its TRUE form?

I have known some but not many.

It is not an easy thing to act in the name of God. The requirements for this thing are pretty steep. But God being a forgiving God (through Jesus, don’t forget that part; we can have a discussion about justice and mercy later) let’s men use the power anyway, even when they are not worthy but it’s not easy. Sometimes the power is based on the one receiving the blessing or work.
Imagine the comfort of soul that comes from striving to be this kind of man. And I mean male.

and the doctrine of the priesthood 
shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

The “doctrine of the priesthood.” Huh. What is that?

The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes, line upon line and precept upon precept, by the power of the Holy Ghost to those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. (See D&C 98:12.) (Bruce R. McConkie, April 1982)

I love the imagery of “dews from heaven!” The image of God’s love and mercy showering down almost imperceptibly on your soul.

Even though it is referenced before all of this instruction, the most important information about what kind of man GOD expects a Priesthood bearer to be can be found in these verses of section 121:

 36 That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness.
 37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
Remember what I said about “control.” Yeah, it’s a fallacy. Control is an illusion. The verses before this talk about how a man, any male church member, may be conferred the power of the priesthood (that means given to him by the power of another man who already has the priesthood through an ordinance called “setting apart.” See Articles of Faith #5)

But the actual use of that power is “handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” Those principles are what this uber-long post is about. LOL
So all the things they (the male-type peeps who have the priesthood conferred upon them) have to do and/or avoid include; covering their sins (lying, being a hypocrite), gratifying pride (opposite of meekness, humility) or vain ambition (because it’s all about me, baby!) or…
I love this part!

“When we (dudes with priesthood, the patriarchs) undertake to (do that crap I mentioned already, or, most importantly, IMHO) exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men (okay, this means basically EVERYBODY; other men, women, children)…” Then the thing is given a condition, “in any degree of unrighteousness.” Oops. 

This is the loophole for @$$holes. 
“Oh, well I was behaving with *righteousness.” 
Uh huh. Be careful with that buddies. Thin. Ice.

See all that ish I talked about being loving (read non-judgmental!) and meek and empathetic, yeah, anything that deviates from that could be construed as “unrighteous.” Unfortunately it is a self-regulating issue and seemingly open to interpretation. There have been a lot of talks about this from the brethren, especially in recent years. I found this article on Unrighteous Dominion by H. Burke Peterson, who was then in the First Quorum of the Seventy. In part, he said,
Exercising unrighteous dominion can follow many patterns. It may be relatively mild when expressed as criticism, anger, or feelings of severe frustration. In more extreme cases, however, unrighteous dominion may emerge as verbal, physical, or emotional abuse. (Peterson, July 1989)

The concept of Unrighteous Dominion is good fodder for another post. I think this is unfortunately a common problem for women in the church and I don’t entirely blame the men because sometimes how someone treats us is how we have taught them to treat us because we have not stopped it. (I am absolutely NOT saying it's okay because of this, I'm saying that the bad behavior feeds into itself. Men and women learn the dynamic and then in turn teach it to their children, however, it is on a man to know the correct way to treat a woman.)

And, actually, I think it’s an issue for women everywhere, both in and out of the church. The difference is that women should have the priesthood on their side; meaning church leaders and those in authority over other men. When those men are also practicing Unrighteous Dominion in their own homes then we have a church wide problem and we start to see General Conference addresses on how to behave in the home.

Oh wait. We have those here and here and here!

Are you still reading? Woohoo if you are because here is the bottom line about Priesthood and TRUE or Pure Patriarchy as interpreted by Moi, based on LDS scripture and teachings of Latter-day prophets.

If a man “misbehaves” (see all the bad stuff above) then;

behold, the heavens withdraw themselves;
the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn…

The withdrawal of the spirit or influence of the Holy Ghost is a big deal. Basically the man is totally stripped of his power (which technically is not his, as I’ve said, because it is a “gift” from God and if you abuse that gift then KABLAMMO!)

Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

He is rendered impotent (not literally, but wow that would keep men humble, don’t ‘cha think?) and the Priesthood is just a word on paper.

The thing about the huge gifts from God, like life, is that when you mess with them he’s not very happy. God has no qualms about taking that away. Just because he is willing to forgive does not mean he is a fool.

Which, if you’re making God out to be a fool then you are in danger of breaking Commandment #2, the taking of the name of God in vain. Then we’re talking locusts, flies, cats and dogs, living together…

Women have nothing to fear from Pure Patriarchy or the priesthood unless the men wield it unworthily. (Which actually looks easy for them to do, unfortunately.) The point is that the behavior is neither taught nor condoned.
Keeping those jerks out of your life? That’s also another post…

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