Big Question #7

I’m really put off by patriarchy. Isn’t it a big problem for a modern church?

To many younger members of the church especially, this might sound like a rhetorical question. To them, the idea of men “presiding” in home or acting in any way other than equal partners in a marriage and family seems increasingly foreign. By and large, it’s not the way a new generation of Latter-day Saints is choosing to approach family.

It’s a little different in the church, however. The church is led by men—a patriarchal institution living in an increasingly non-patriarchal world. Some recent changes (including changes to temple ordinances) seem to indicate a subtle shift, but no fundamental changes seem to be on the horizon.

Is patriarchy a big problem for a modern church? Shouldn’t it simply be disavowed as a cultural relic of a bygone era? Or is there something really valuable that we risk losing if we pursue a conventional, “modern” path toward gender equality?

Some point out that (particularly in developing countries where the church is seeing its greatest growth) the church actually serves an important role in challenging men to lead and to show up meaningfully in the lives of their spouses, children and communities.

We have asked Rosalynde Welch, a brilliant young scholar and writer, to address this Big Question. She argues persuasively that, rather than scrapping the church’s gender practices, perhaps we should look at “Repurposing Patriarchy.”

Rosalynde then sits down for a conversation with an iconic “boomer” couple, Linda and Richard Eyre, to have an intergenerational chat on the subject for a perspective on how things have changed and where they may be heading.

We then bring Neylan McBaine, a very prominent Latter-day Saint voice on women’s issues, into the conversation in this great sit-down with Terryl Givens.

We’ve also included Ashley Mae Hoiland’s book excerpt, Searching for Heavenly Mother, which is brief, poignant, and empowering.

Finally, we’re including this conversation between BYU Religion Professor Rachel Cope and scholar and writer Melissa Inouye, about “Wrestling with Patriarchy at BYU.

Articles and videos on this question

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