Friday, March 04, 2011

"the greater sin"

I mentioned in my post on the Mormon Maryland county commissioner attacking Headstart that I had a liberal Mormon friend. Here's the quote on the pamphlet: a pamphlet from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"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," the pamphlet reads. "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."
And here's my friend's response - which I'm posting because much as I hate, even despise, the recent political activities of the LDS church in California, for instance, or here, my friend makes the point that not all Mormons agree with those positions. True, that doesn't seem to stop the church, but ... Anyway, here's my friend's response, which is pretty interesting in itself:
Yeah, he's using a statement on family out of context to make a point that most Mormons probably wouldn't agree with. Whatever sins he sees in Head Start, he's clearly committing the greater one of attempting to exercise what we call "unrighteous dominion" -- i.e., enforce "righteous" behavior by removing choice. In a unique chapter of Mormon theology that you would probably find fascinating, we hold that such compulsion was (and is) Satan's plan for humanity, the very blueprint that led to his "fallen angel" status in the first place.

You most often hear that statement he's quoting in a different context, namely: since the burden of raising and nurturing children falls disproportionately on the mother, her wishes regarding timing and number of children take precedence over the father's. We had problems as late as the 1960s with men who seemed to think it was the other way around. Not coincidentally, that was also when the Church flipped its position on birth control... or more accurately, articulated one that contradicted what many traditionalist Mormons assumed was the Church's position. I note that Mr. Smith is of the generation that came of age about then, the generation that has traditionally been more reluctant to relinquish the gauzy Old Days.

I doubt working mother percentages among Mormons differ significantly from any other group. There's certainly no stigma. A situation where the mother is free to stay home with the children is still idealized in Mormon culture, to be sure. [My wife] wanted it, and with some sacrifices we were able to make it happen. My daughter on the other hand, like most LDS mothers her age, is a working mother and probably always will be. I can't imagine that anyone in the Church is frowning at her for it. Well, maybe Paul Smith of the Frederick County Commission. He's entitled to his opinion, God and I are entitled to ours.

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