Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sabbath Day Musings...

Given the very spiritually touchy subject I am working with here, I decided since it's the sabbath my post today would be based upon the spiritual counsel leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS church) have given their members concerning sex, gender and the role it plays in religion.

The best text for this issue is The Family: A Proclamation to the World. This statement, officially presented in 1995, holds current today the values it presented 15 years ago.

It begins by proclaiming, "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God." Thus we have physical bodies, as God himself, which dictate us as being male or female biologically speaking. This sex-determined state is a definite and we of the LDS faith believe Heavenly Father to be male, biologically speaking.

Right after this open affirmation of sex comes "
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." So it seems to say that gender has been, currently is, and forever will be what defines us in our male/female bodies. Without our gender role, we would lose ourselves and our purpose. In other words, ascribing to our gender roles is imperative to our eternal identity.

Towards the middle of the statement, it very clearly shows roles which with both "
man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife" and as parents have towards their children. These are to "rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." These are the obligations parents have towards their children yet the way each parents is to fulfill these requirements differs, and here is when gender roles comes into play:

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.
The roles are set there, in black ink and without any "wiggle room." Yet, in the last sentence the most beautiful message is taught about the common state of human nature which makes me as a woman understand my role as the "feminine" gender in a different way!!!

In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as
equal partners.

So what's the point? I'll make it quick as this post has been long and for that I apologize but I wanted to use direct quotation instead of summary.
1. Sex is determined
2. Gender is essential
3. Men and women both are responsible for the same obligations towards their children
4. There are gender roles ascribed to parents
5. While these roles are set, it is both parent's responsibility to help each other as equals.

I, as a female with a feminine gender role, am responsible for assisting a male in a masculine role and since I am equal in that assistance I am assisting in both gender roles, masculine and feminine, and thus in a strange paradox of life (there are oh so many!) by recognizing and assisting in gender roles, I bring my state of gender to a somewhat neutral ground! What are your thoughts? Is this an accurate claim to make? A genderless state can be achieved through assisting gender's kind of a crazy thought and is really more of a tangent of my paper's main topic, but still I felt I needed to post something like this so you would know I'm not a crazy feminist with no regard for religious counsel which has been given!


  1. I like all of your thoughts, although I would add some qualification at the end...My sense is that the gender roles might best be described as adding to each other to create a whole, rather than cancelling each other out and becoming neutral. Following this line of thinking, I might suggest "fulfillment of gender responsibilities/roles" rather than erasing gender or becoming "genderless."

    If we think of the different roles, even anatomically, as fitting each other like a puzzle, I think again that the more appropriate image would be two puzzle pieces coming together to create a more complete picture.

    But I like what you say about males in masculine roles and females in feminine roles...I heard someone say that that means they have a certain responsibility, but that responsibility could include the power of delegation to the other partner, at any appropriate moment.

  2. This makes sense within its context (religiously and culturally determined gender roles), but I'm not certain how it relates either to your original discussion of transvestite theater or your developing discussion about self representation and gender online. Are these oranges and apples? After all, I could be a very traditional person embracing my religion's conventional gender roles, but exploring radically different ones online, or I could find cross-dressing in the theater as artistically interesting without it threatening my religious convictions about gender. So what are the connections, if any?