This past week there was and interesting program on TV about the Mormon faith; Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC.
Here is the program in it's entirety if you are interested in watching it.
Overall, I think this story was well done. They did a great job showing the efforts the church puts into helping the poor and the needy. I think they also successfully showed that we Mormons really are just normal people who are quite happy living our faith. I do think there are points where they over-emphasized parts of the religion that really don't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, or that may seem controversial to the outside world. I also didn't love their interview with Ms. Huntsman, but I'm sure they tweaked a few things. And she is obviously entitled to feel however she wants to about the church. People within the church are still individuals,their understanding of church doctrine and policies can vary and they may feel differently about any number of topics. That is normal and as true in our religion as it is anywhere else in the world.
The only part of the story that I felt really needed to be corrected, at least from my point of view, had to do with the use of one simple word that really makes a HUGE difference when it comes to understanding the beliefs and practices of the LDS church.
The word is EQUALITY.
At one point toward the end of the story Brian Williams states, "...kids grow up in a church where the two genders, male and female, are not equal. That is one tradition among many that has survived despite all of the changes going on in the world outside the church."
I'm sorry to tell you this Mr. Williams, but that statement is WRONG. It may be an accurate way of depicting what some people may think about certain things, but it certainly is not the truth.
Being equal and being the same are two very different things. The church absolutely believes that men and women are equal. We are of the same worth and value to our Heavenly Father and to the world. But, the church also recognizes that men and women are not the same. They never have been...they never will be...and they are not intended to be. Ask any modern-day scientist and they will assure you that men and women are simply 'wired' differently.
As members of the church we understand that men and women are inherently different. They have different strengths and weaknesses.These differences allow us to compliment one another. They allow us to give and take here and there working together and making up for each other where we fall short. This is what makes a thriving family unit possible. We don't need to be the same, and we recognize that, as with all of God's intents, this is for a wise purpose.
I, personally, have no problem with the fact that my husband holds the Priesthood and I do not. And just so you know, those feelings are not at all based upon the fact that I can bear children and my husband cannot. I don't think that makes us 'even'. But the fact is, this is not a competition, as many seem to think it is. The whole issue has been turned into something as silly as "He got more ice cream than I did!" or "He got the bigger half of the cookie!" It seems to me that this fight over who should have 'rights' to holding the Priesthood shows nothing more than a desire for power.
The Priesthood is partly defined in the church as being "the power of God upon the Earth". Anyone, man or woman, who thinks they should have the 'right' to hold the power of God is horribly mislead and arrogant. God chooses whom He will allow to use that power on His behalf. He knows all things and leads and guides us. For us to think that we would know better than He does, that we would know better what is fair and acceptable in regards to this issue is ridiculous!
But even more to the point, is the idea that women somehow miss out on blessings because we do not hold the Priesthood. It is simply not true. Men do not use the Priesthood as a way to bless themselves. The Priesthood is used to bless others. It is a tool for them in their stewardship over their families. It is we, the women and children in a home, who are most blessed by our husbands or sons or brothers holding the Priesthood. One of the main reasons men are given this charge is to help and bless those around them. When we understand that, we can recognized that men having the Priesthood is quite literally a way that God blesses women. It's not about having a 'right', it's not about a selfish desire for power, it's not about bragging rights or being 'higher up the chain of righteousness' or having a 'better' position in the church. The Priesthood was given to bless us and to ease some of life's burdens. To make temporal things eternal. To allow love and relationships to last forever. To bring peace. It is a magnificent gift from God, and He absolutely has the right to decide whom He will allow to use it.
Men and women in the church are absolutely equal. We are both of great worth and have much that we are able to accomplish in this life. But we are not the same. And the fact that we, as members, understand that and are okay with it, does not mean that we are settling for less than we deserve. On the contrary, it allows us to understand our strengths and use them to better our own lives and the lives of our families. And I believe that having that understanding, in general, makes us more successful in this life.