Look out for the future, because you never know what it might bring…
Question #88983 posted on 02/16/2017 8:42 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How is the world's view on gender equality different from Heavenly Father's view on gender equality?

-My Name Here

A:

Dear person,

I don't know. For some reason, women are inherently more vulnerable than men in that they are physically weaker and significantly more affected by reproducing (in that they have to go through pregnancy and delivery and men don't). It seems that "the world" (I don't even know what is meant by this phrase anymore) seeks to eliminate this vulnerability where Heavenly Father encourages people, men in particular, to recognize and honor it (including never, ever abusing it). I am not sure why God has made life so that women are more vulnerable, but I sure as heck don't think that it's because He thinks they are inferior.

Also, I have no idea what that should mean in mortality where there are women who have to deal with people taking advantage of or not caring about that vulnerability. For sure I believe in moral realism (that there is a real right and wrong) but I just don't know.

The thing that's most important to me is that Heavenly Father cares equally about the experiences of men and women. I don't think He's about creating a good eternal life for His sons at the expense of His daughters. If I am seriously wrong and He actually is about that, I think that's evil and He can send me to hell.

-Sheebs, who seems to be writing a lot of terrible sounding things as of late

A:

Dear Reader,

To me, it seems as though a commonly held requirement is gender homogeneity rather than gender equality. If we are all to be equal, than we must be afforded identical opportunities. We then painstakingly go through every single activity and organization and rate it for equality based off the degree to which it discriminates. And I think we do this for good reason; judging things for sameness is pretty much the only effective method we have for guaranteeing they have the same quality. (I mean, when we haven't stuck to that, there have been some pretty terrible results; just think of the "separate but equal" thing.)

However, God is not bound by these human constraints. He can perfectly distinguish and ensure equality even without making two things the same. Personally, I think God's view on gender equality is His view on existence. We, His children, exist as females and males, and by the very condition of existing, we exist as equals.

We are taught in the Family Proclamation that gender is an essential and eternal part of identity and purpose. What is not clearly defined at all is what precisely makes up those eternal gender characteristics. I certainly don't believe that it is an eternal attribute of women is to make casseroles, despite being a common Mormon stereotype. Considering women in the Church already operate using priesthood power and keys, I also don't believe that it is solely a male characteristic to hold the priesthood. 

So when it comes down to it, I believe that men and women are fundamentally different in equal ways, but I don't actually know exactly what those fundamental differences are. God does know all those things, and so I imagine His view to be the complete truth.

~Anathema

A:

Dear friend,

I like what Anathema said about gender differences not negating the importance of gender equality. Sometimes in a spiritual sense, it's easy to get the feeling that differences between genders are bad, or that one gender is inferior to the other because of their differences. I feel like this can't be the case. God created both genders in His own image and both have the potential to become like Him, but only if they learn from each other and use their strengths to support the others' weaknesses. 

We learned in one of my classes that to truly have a multicultural society, we can't be "blind" to differences or pretend that everyone is the same. Doing so actually makes people less equal because we're ignoring the differences and implying that they are bad while idealizing one culture's (or gender's) characteristics above another.

By acknowledging that there are some potential differences between cultures or genders, we are opening ourselves to appreciating one another. This makes our societies (religious or secular) a lot more nuanced and accepting, and I feel like it's missing in a lot of discussions about gender equality. Instead of ignoring the differences between genders, maybe we might focus on embracing the unique qualities and learning from one another, in spiritual situations or otherwise.

-Van Goff

A:

Dear you,

This doesn't answer your question at all, but I'd be careful of anyone who tells you that "the world" holds a singular view on any issue. I find that LDS culture tends to set up bad arguments by deciding that what one group of people believes (which is often, conveniently, the most opposed to LDS doctrine or church culture) is representative of "the world's" belief on the issue. This can lead to demonizing any non-member source on the issue, and can prevent us from seeing multiple perspectives.

There have been times when I've disagreed with a predominant LDS cultural belief or attitude, only to be accused of succumbing to "the world's" view on the issue. In reality, though, I didn't have that opinion, because there was more nuance than that.

Being worldly (i.e. shallow, narcissistic, materialistic, etc.) is rightly condemned by the scriptures. However, we need to be careful to avoid setting up a false dichotomy where anyone not in the church is of the world, and therefore worldly.

-Zedability