The Tolerance Trap
LDS General Conference took place in Salt Lake City this past weekend, and thousands of Mormons descended on the city (as they do every April and October) for the semi-annual meeting of its church’s leaders. During the conference the church’s hierarchy dispensed its usual uplifting sermons and instructions on church business to its congregants; for people outside of the church, conference weekend generally means a healthy dose of controversy from the omnipresent pulpit. This year was no different for non-members when a speech by Boyd K. Packer (an apostle in the church) warned members against changing laws which “tolerate legalized acts of immorality.”
Though Packer never expressly mentioned same-sex marriage, his message comes at a time when the United States Supreme Court is writing opinions on DOMA and Prop 8, and at the local level three same-sex couples are suing the state for the right to marry. Context is king, and we all know exactly what Packer was talking about. At a time when the nation’s views are shifting on marriage equality, Packer warns his followers that, “We need to be careful of the ‘tolerance trap’ so that we are not swallowed up in it.”
Given the church’s reticence to endorse something as simple as a statewide non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT persons from eviction or termination at their jobs, it seems like they are doing a damn-good job of not falling into the so-called “tolerance trap.”
Separate Gender Roles
We wrote earlier this week about a local group’s push to extend the powers of the Priesthood to female members, which happens to coincide with the first time in the church’s history that a woman (Jean A. Stevens) led public prayer. Apparently the church hierarchy needed to clarify that it wasn’t falling into the “tolerance trap” and blurring its archaic gender roles, because several talks were given about the
“separate but equal” “different but equally valued roles” of men and women.
We are not condemning women for acting as the primary caregiver for their children while their husband works. Let us say it again: We are not condemning women for acting as the primary caregiver for their children while their husband works.
We are condemning former Young Women’s general president, Elaine S. Dalton’s recitation of the “Family Proclamation,” which says: “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
The problem is that “divine design” leaves out women and men who don’t want to fulfill prescribed gender roles. Let’s be honest, providing the necessities of life is a long-winded way to say “gainful employment.” That type of unequivocal condemnation against the healthy and personal choice for women to work outside of the home is what we condemn, because we don’t believe in condemning women for choices. Period.
Was there anything else at this year’s conference that you found problematic? How about uplifting? We would love to hear a Mormon Feminist’s perspective. Let us know via our “Contact” page.