{feminine} A Response to "Let Us Think Strait" Part III

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This is part three in a series based off of Elder Russell M Ballard's BYU Ed Week Devotional, "Let Us Think Straight'', given 20 August 2013. You can find part one here, and part two here.

"Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean, brothers and sisters, that they are the same. The responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature but not in their importance or influence."         -Elder Ballard

Though this is a common point made in the discussion of gender roles, I really believe that it a powerful one. One of my points of dissonance with the current feminist movement is the baseline assumption that equality equals sameness, which leads to a cultural ideal that women must be similar to men in ambition, career, positions of power, characteristics, etc to be considered equal. That baseline assumption leads to the conclusion that anything feminine and separate from masculine roles and characteristics are somehow secondary in value or forced on us women in an oppressive way.

In contrast, the ideals that resonate with me from historical women's suffragettes and feminists are those that women are valuable and that their unique perspective, experiences, and characteristics are inestimably valuable. 

From Elder Ballard:

"I mention this simply because there are those at times who become confused and fail to think straight when comparing the assignments of men to those of women and the assignments of women to those of men."
It's a common observation that comparing ourselves to others doesn't lead to happiness. I find in my own experience that when I compare myself with others that I am usually trying to fill a void. I am trying to explain why there is a difference between my mortal self and my expectations and desires for myself. Perhaps when we compare the gender roles of men and women we see something that we desire in the role of the opposite gender. Perhaps that is power, influence, value in the eyes of others, or one of many other things we seek as men and women of this telestial world. In seeing that value in another's role and responsibilities and feeling the lack of it in our own lives, perhaps we end up viewing the roles and gifts we've been given with impaired sight. Perhaps the unequal footing we see ourselves on is one of our own creation. In any aspect of life, if we seek another's role or possessions in this world we end up devaluing ourselves and what we hold.

The truth is that Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, their gospel, and their church put incomparable value on their spiritual daughters.
"Women come to earth with unique spiritual gifts and propensities. This is particularly true when it comes to children and families and also to the well-being and nurturing of others in the Church as well as in the family."       -Elder Ballard
In today's modern world feminine tastes like chiffon and pearls, flowers on the kitchen table, domestic arts like sewing and baking, are all seen as trivial and frivolous. But they are only the exterior symbols of divine heritage of feminine values and characteristics. Daughters of God have a divinely given ability to see other people, to see their needs, to feel as they feel. They know that flowers on a kitchen table aren't meant to impress guests, but to brighten the home with their beauty, to bring back childhood memories with their scents, to express love from those who bring them. Likewise, the true nature of feminine gender roles doesn't lie in cooking and cleaning. staying home, or wearing skirts on Sunday. It lies in empathy, compassion, nurturing nature, and love unfeigned. To focus our impaired sights on the outer expressions of femininity and call them discriminatory is to deny the divine and Christ-like qualities that are ours as women and daughters of the Most High God.
"Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord in the Church. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. Let us be careful that we do not attempt to tamper with our Heavenly Father’s plan and purposes in our lives. "     -Elder Ballard 
Our feminine natures are designed to compliment the masculine nature of our partners. One is not whole without the other. Coming together gives each the opportunity to be so much greater than we can be on our own. Our church, our communities, and our families need us. They need examples of grace and love, beauty and strength. They need us as we are designed to be, they need us as daughters and as women.
President Gordon B. Hinckley declared to you women that “our Eternal Father . . . never intended that you should be less than the crowning glory of His creations” (“Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 98).
Our Father in Heaven has perfect sight. He knows us as we truly are and as we were created to be. Instead of relying on my imperfect and partial sight, I choose to try to see myself as He sees me and cultivate the divine nature that is in me so I can me the best and brightest version of me that I can be.

I have a feeling that Monica will still love roses on the kitchen table.

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