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#181 of 195 Old 03-07-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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It's important here to remember that this was Paul's (and the authorship of 1 Timothy is contested by scholars, so it may be someone other than Paul) advice to Timothy, NOT the word of Jesus or a commandment. The author was simply working within the societal and cultural norms of the age.

The Catholic Study Bible, in the commentary on this passage, says:
I don't have a commentary or a footnote on that passage.

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#182 of 195 Old 03-08-2009, 01:31 AM
 
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I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is [also] a minister of the church
'Minister' is a strange translation. The word is diakonos, which means 'servant' but is sometimes transliterated to 'deacon', an office. A deacon is one who 'ministers' to people, but given the modern usage of 'minister' as a pastor 'deacon' seems a clearer translation. Phoebe was either a deacon or simply someone who served the church, sans the official title; I tend to go with the former, but some disagree on the grounds of 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

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Again, it's pretty much an apples to oranges comparison. Being under the control of political authorities or a master (if one is a slave, who were also exhorted to submit repeatedly in the NT) is a condition imposed on the person due to external conditions, not because of some inherent quality in that person. In other words, under different circumstances, the person could not submit and be within God's will. Also, the slave-master relationship or the ruler-subject relationship is never set up as a godly ideal. The submissive husband-wife relationship described in the Bible is a) based on inherent qualities (gender) and b) very much held up as an ideal, even as a model for the relationship between Christ and the Church. Mind you, I agree with you that God doesn't have to give reasons for His commandments, nor am I against voluntary submission. I'm just saying that the reason why people react differently to the issue of women submitting to men than to the other examples you gave isn't because of some kind of feminist spin about it, which is what you seemed to be implying, but rather because it really is because it is fundamentally different.
OK, I see what you're saying. One could argue that the ruler-subject ideal is held up as godly to some extent, though (side note and all, but): the Old Testament uses the God-as-king imagery as well as the God-as-husband imagery.

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So if women have some quality that makes them unfit/not optimal to be in authority positions in the church, it seems a logical next step is to say that while women might be *allowed* authority outside the church, surely it is better for all concerned to have the optimal person in power -- a man. Now, you may not personally make that connection, but history has shown that a lot of people have, and do to this day.
I don't see there's a necessary logical connection between a position of spiritual authority and one of earthly authority. It certainly has been taken that way by many historically, but then what? As I said before, misinterpretation of a doctrine is no reason not to teach it; one should just make sure to teach it correctly and to ask the misinterpreters to explain themselves.

It's interesting that in the Old Testament the Jews didn't take the prohibition of women in the priesthood to extend even to other spiritual callings, such as being a prophetess. Perhaps the many ceremonial laws helped with that in a way - those disqualified from certain religious duties (such as eunuchs and lepers) don't seem to have been treated badly in other ways or prevented from holding secular positions (well, there were some obvious issues associated with leprosy, but you know).

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I believe there is textual evidence of editing. Quite coincidentally, just this morning I started reading Misquoting Jesus which deals with this very matter. I haven't read enough of it to be able to tell you anything about it, but the author's premise is that both intentional and accidental editing occurred, that textual analysis shows this clearly, and that our Bibles contain some texts that aren't in the earliest versions.
Haven't read the book but I did listen to a lengthy debate by the author of Misquoting Jesus and some other guy. While some of his points were valid (though by no means new, such as the woman caught in adultery pasage), he seemed very keen to take a sensationalist view of editing - for example, he attributed the change of one word in somne manuscripts to deliberate alteration instead of error despite the fact that the two words looked extremely similar (IIRC they both opened with the same letter-shape and finished with the same six letters) and that changing it wouldn't have really changed any key doctrine - in other words, it would have been a kinda random thing to change. So it's important to realise he holds a deliberately skeptical position. Still, any textual evidence of change in the passages relating to women in the church should certainly be examined: what does he say about them?

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#183 of 195 Old 03-08-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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The nature of authority in the Bible is an interesting question, and it does seem to relate to this discussion.

Authority does seem to be a natural way that human groups operate, as with some of the higher primates. I guess it is part of being a social being that hierarchies develop. In human life and elsewhere they often reflect particular abilities - the stronger, smarter, faster, more experienced, are often in a position of natural authority over others.

I don't think that this is, in itself, a bad thing. I can imagine that if we were not fallen, or there were no evil or ill-intentioned people, that this would work really well, so I can't see any "natural" argument that authority is in itself a bad thing.

The biblical evidence, and that of tradition, both seem to support the idea that we should submit to lawful authority. If hierarcical societies are part of human nature, that would be to be expected, because God does not try to change the nature of his creation.

The big problem seems to be that there are ill-intentioned people and that not all authority is lawful. How do we tell the difference? How do respond to evil rulers or laws that overstep their bounds? There are reasons to think that Biblically, we are still subject, even to imperfect rulers, but this doesn't always seem to be the case.

All of this to say; we are all bound by authority. Most of us act both as subjects to it and weilders of it, and both position mean a kind of constriction of our 'freedom'.

As well, all though some authority does seem to be on the basis of greater ability, that is not always the case. Sometimes it seems to be the office, not the individual that is important.

I'm not sure if this is a tangent or will add something to the discussion; I guess we'll see.

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#184 of 195 Old 03-08-2009, 02:26 PM
 
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I don't have a commentary or a footnote on that passage.
The first 525 pages of the Catholic Study Bible (Second Edition) are dedicated to lengthy commentary on each book in Scripture. It's an excellent resource.

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#185 of 195 Old 03-08-2009, 07:04 PM
 
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I don't see there's a necessary logical connection between a position of spiritual authority and one of earthly authority. It certainly has been taken that way by many historically, but then what? As I said before, misinterpretation of a doctrine is no reason not to teach it; one should just make sure to teach it correctly and to ask the misinterpreters to explain themselves.
Yes, you are right about this. My original comment that started this exchange was agreeing with Karen that this scripture (along with others) create an environment that encourages women to submit to men. I'm aware that many people believe that comprehensive female submission is a misinterpretation of this scripture, while others believe with equal sincerity that it the true meaning of the scripture. Personally I'm not inclined to believe it is as clear as you think it is, especially because the author brings in Eve and her sin. However I don't know enough about the original Greek to definitely weigh in on one side or the other. I am simply pointing out that it has and continues to work against choice for women, which is the hill that I am personally willing to die on .
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Haven't read the book but I did listen to a lengthy debate by the author of Misquoting Jesus and some other guy. While some of his points were valid (though by no means new, such as the woman caught in adultery pasage), he seemed very keen to take a sensationalist view of editing - for example, he attributed the change of one word in somne manuscripts to deliberate alteration instead of error despite the fact that the two words looked extremely similar (IIRC they both opened with the same letter-shape and finished with the same six letters) and that changing it wouldn't have really changed any key doctrine - in other words, it would have been a kinda random thing to change. So it's important to realise he holds a deliberately skeptical position. Still, any textual evidence of change in the passages relating to women in the church should certainly be examined: what does he say about them?
Well, I can't speak to the example you give since I don't know which variance it is, but I can say that in his book he does very much recognize that variances happened both by accident and on purpose, and discusses several instances where variances were clearly accidental. I would also correct your impression that he starts from a skeptical position - he originally started his studies as a diehard fundamentalist evangelical who believed in the total inerrancy of the Bible. Graduated from Moody Bible Institute, the works. It was his studies that eventually led him to his skepticism, not the other way round.

He doesn't say anything about the passage in 1 Timothy, but does make a case for his belief that the passage in 1 Corinthians 14 which says it is shameful for a woman to speak in church and she should ask her husband later if she has questions is actually an addition made by scribes. This website lays out the issues but makes the opposite conclusion that Ehrman does. http://www.helpmewithbiblestudy.org/...Criticism.aspx

To me, the crucial issue is not so much whether this or that passage was in the original text, because there will always be people with good arguments on both sides and I'm not sure the truth can really be known. My concern, were I basing my belief system on the written word of the Bible, is that 1) there are tens of thousands of variances in the different manuscripts that we have -- granted the vast majority of them completely insignificant, but some are of consequence given that the meaning of a passage sometimes hinges on a single word (such as "saved by childbirth" or "saved through childbirth") -- and 2) our oldest manuscripts date back to (if I remember correctly) some 200 years after Christ. So while one can argue, let's say even argue correctly, that the variances we know of do not change the core beliefs of Christianity and therefore do not affect the inerrancy of the Bible, we cannot make the claim that variations absolutely do not affect inerrancy because we can only trace the variances back to AD 200 or so. Nobody knows what the original texts looked like, or what variances occurred during those first 2 centuries. Scholars can compare texts and make educated conclusions about which variances are the correct ones based on the manuscripts we have, but they can't correct variances of which they are not aware. So it seems to me there are only two arguments left for the inerrancy of the Bible; one is that variances only started happening from our earliest extant manuscript, which would be a pretty hard position to defend, and the other is to presuppose that God would not allow it to become inerrant i.e. God would see to it that any edits or mistakes made by scribes either did not affect the underlying meaning or would be corrected. In which case the whole issue is moot; there would be no point talking about reliable transmission since the bottom line is whatever happened to the text, it was God-approved.
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#186 of 195 Old 03-08-2009, 07:28 PM
 
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Thao I am really enjoying your posts in this discussion. I'm enjoying everyone's posts actually.

Thanks everyone
Karen

Blessed partner to a great guy, and mama to 4 amazing kids. Unfortunate target of an irrationally angry IRL stalker.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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#187 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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There are Biblical manuscripts which date to earlier than AD 200 (even assuming you just mean the New Testament); but more to the point, the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy does not, as I understand it, mean that textual variations in the transmission of manuscripts does not occur. I'm not even sure it means there couldn't have been scribal errors (spelling mistakes, for instance) in the original manuscripts, although I'm sure there are heated differences of opinion on this one too. It's true that we have to take it on faith that no significant, doctrine-altering variations occurred between the original manuscripts and the earliest extant ones; but I don't think this is an unreasonable assumption, given a) the enormous consistency of the large numbers of documents we do have, and the fact that the more notable variations of which we are aware tend to occur in a number of manuscripts rather than appearing out of nowhere, and b) that without an unusually skeptical attitude, it is difficult to see why it is plausible that the original texts were markedly different from what we have. Scholars don't tend to angst over whether or not other ancient documents were the 'real' ancient documents, despite far less documentary evidence.

The sovereignty of God is still not a bad argument either: it makes sense that God would want His word transmitted to His people and not lost, and He certainly has the power to make that happen. It isn't an attitude that need stifle Biblical scholarship, as the means by which the truth of nuances of His word is known could still very well be scholarship.

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#188 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 02:34 AM
 
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There are Biblical manuscripts which date to earlier than AD 200 (even assuming you just mean the New Testament); but more to the point, the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy does not, as I understand it, mean that textual variations in the transmission of manuscripts does not occur. I'm not even sure it means there couldn't have been scribal errors (spelling mistakes, for instance) in the original manuscripts, although I'm sure there are heated differences of opinion on this one too. It's true that we have to take it on faith that no significant, doctrine-altering variations occurred between the original manuscripts and the earliest extant ones; but I don't think this is an unreasonable assumption, given a) the enormous consistency of the large numbers of documents we do have, and the fact that the more notable variations of which we are aware tend to occur in a number of manuscripts rather than appearing out of nowhere, and b) that without an unusually skeptical attitude, it is difficult to see why it is plausible that the original texts were markedly different from what we have. Scholars don't tend to angst over whether or not other ancient documents were the 'real' ancient documents, despite far less documentary evidence.
It goes far beyond simple spelling errors. There are many cases where words are different, and of course a few famous cases where entire phrases or passages have been inserted (the last 12 verses of Mark, the story of Jesus and the prostitute, the Johannine comma, none of which are disputed). Scholars have discovered and corrected these; but what if such changes were made earlier? I did a quick search online and it seems the earliest manuscripts are fragmentary; the oldest complete NT dates to the 4th century (I stand ready to be corrected if we have a bible scholar in the house!) So there is a lot that could be changed in that time. Ehrman also makes the point that the earlier manuscripts contain more variances than later ones, because in the early church the copies were made by church members who happened to know how to write (i.e. non-professionals) whereas later copies were made by monks and scribes that devoted their lives to the work.

I think it is reasonable to say that the core doctrines of Christianity weren't changed, as they permeate the texts and so even if changed in one place they are confirmed in another. But the peripheral issues, the ones that are supported by a small number of verses and tend to hinge on one word (does it say Junia was "noted" among the disciples or "foremost" among the disciples? Does it say women are saved "by" childbirth or "through" childbirth?) could be very much affected. The whole female submission doctrine is based on 3 or 4 passages at most I believe, and the prohibition on homosexuality is based on only 1 or 2 -- what if those were corrupted?

As for God using scholarship as a means to correct errors and ensure inerrancy, it begs the question of what people were supposed to do all those hundreds of years before the errors were corrected? I have no doubt but that Christians throughout the ages have been examining the scriptures word by word and squeezing every drop of meaning out of it as we do today, but it is quite clear that a thousand years ago they were working with vastly inferior translations (like the original King James) and so probably arrived at some wrong conclusions.
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#189 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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As for God using scholarship as a means to correct errors and ensure inerrancy, it begs the question of what people were supposed to do all those hundreds of years before the errors were corrected? I have no doubt but that Christians throughout the ages have been examining the scriptures word by word and squeezing every drop of meaning out of it as we do today, but it is quite clear that a thousand years ago they were working with vastly inferior translations (like the original King James) and so probably arrived at some wrong conclusions.
Having spent the last 3 years taking a course that spends a lot of time of textual criticism, I've come to the conclusion that it is really not all it's cracked up to be. Which isn't to say that it is worthless or uninteresting or never leads to better understanding of the Bible. But as far as the basic fundamental doctrines and truths Christianity holds? It seems to make no difference at all. And I can think of many cases where too much focus on textual criticism seems to obscure the text, because it gets in the way of other types of reflection.

Many people have rejected the Bible as anything more than a vague "guide" because of textual criticism, which does make for a whole different take on Christianity, but not one that is really compatible with a more traditional view of scriptural inerrancy. After all, if we decide that error is possible, it doesn't matter how old or good the documents we have are; they are still only a human document which could be fabricated for some personal reason of the writer.

So in the end, I think an individual needs to decide what side of the fence he or she is on on the issue of scriptural inerrancy.

Of course, interpretation of unclear passages can be a bit easier if we believe in some kind of tradition of interpretation.

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#190 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 01:20 PM
 
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I am simply pointing out that it has and continues to work against choice for women, which is the hill that I am personally willing to die on
Hmm, so what does choice really mean in human life, and for a Christian? What kinds of choices do we have the right to, or can we expect? Are choices ever really made freely?

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#191 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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Having spent the last 3 years taking a course that spends a lot of time of textual criticism, I've come to the conclusion that it is really not all it's cracked up to be. Which isn't to say that it is worthless or uninteresting or never leads to better understanding of the Bible. But as far as the basic fundamental doctrines and truths Christianity holds? It seems to make no difference at all. And I can think of many cases where too much focus on textual criticism seems to obscure the text, because it gets in the way of other types of reflection.

Many people have rejected the Bible as anything more than a vague "guide" because of textual criticism, which does make for a whole different take on Christianity, but not one that is really compatible with a more traditional view of scriptural inerrancy. After all, if we decide that error is possible, it doesn't matter how old or good the documents we have are; they are still only a human document which could be fabricated for some personal reason of the writer.

So in the end, I think an individual needs to decide what side of the fence he or she is on on the issue of scriptural inerrancy.

Of course, interpretation of unclear passages can be a bit easier if we believe in some kind of tradition of interpretation.
As always, you bring up really good points, Bluegoat! There is no question but that errors have occurred in the manuscripts; the question is whether they affect the inerrancy of the manuscripts. I agree with you that it ultimately comes down to faith, rather than being something that can be argued for based on the evidence. Because the evidence is incomplete.

I also agree with you that variances in the manuscripts likely don't affect the core Christian beliefs. But do you think they might affect the side issues which were not central to Christ's message, for example the one we are discussing on this thread?

And, by "tradition of interpretation" are you referring to a church tradition? I'm not sure I understand.
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#192 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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Hmm, so what does choice really mean in human life, and for a Christian? What kinds of choices do we have the right to, or can we expect? Are choices ever really made freely?
Wanna start a new thread for this one?
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#193 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 05:02 PM
 
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what if such changes were made earlier?
That's a fair question, but it isn't particularly useful without proof. The big changes you mention, such as the addition to Mark and the story of the adulteress, have been relatively easy to spot from within the text; anything else that appears to be changed requires a similar textual or visual suggestion of alteration, or at least soe significant doctrinal discord. Certainly treating some portions of the text as automatically suspicious because they do not reconcile with feminism is an unscholarly approach. I'm not sure what the significance of a complete NT is; portions of it from earlier days can be compared against the whole. And just to clarify, the word for 'saved through childbirth' isn't (AFAIK) in dispute at all, just the meaning of the word. 'Through' can mean 'by' in English ('I graduated Uni through hard work') or 'through' as in 'via' ('saved through fire'); same issue in Greek. There's no question of error or change, it's just a matter of interpretation.

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As for God using scholarship as a means to correct errors and ensure inerrancy, it begs the question of what people were supposed to do all those hundreds of years before the errors were corrected? I have no doubt but that Christians throughout the ages have been examining the scriptures word by word and squeezing every drop of meaning out of it as we do today, but it is quite clear that a thousand years ago they were working with vastly inferior translations (like the original King James) and so probably arrived at some wrong conclusions.
Indeed; in fact, as a Protestant I believe the church was in grievous heresy for over a thousand years. But it's a little like asking what happened to people in places where the Bible had not reached, or what happened to the Old Testament Jews before their canon was complete. Without enough knowledge to gain salvation, people were damned; with enough knowledge to gain salvation, they could, even if the 'peripheral' issues you mention (or even some pretty major ones) were unclear or wrong.

ETA: Forgot to say that even traditional Biblical scholars sometimes hold an editorial, redactive view of inspiration. Portions of Proverbs, for instance, weren't 'biblical' originally, but the idea is they were sanctified/verified by inclusion into the canon under God's sovereignty.

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#194 of 195 Old 03-09-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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That's a fair question, but it isn't particularly useful without proof. The big changes you mention, such as the addition to Mark and the story of the adulteress, have been relatively easy to spot from within the text; anything else that appears to be changed requires a similar textual or visual suggestion of alteration, or at least soe significant doctrinal discord. Certainly treating some portions of the text as automatically suspicious because they do not reconcile with feminism is an unscholarly approach. I'm not sure what the significance of a complete NT is; portions of it from earlier days can be compared against the whole. And just to clarify, the word for 'saved through childbirth' isn't (AFAIK) in dispute at all, just the meaning of the word. 'Through' can mean 'by' in English ('I graduated Uni through hard work') or 'through' as in 'via' ('saved through fire'); same issue in Greek. There's no question of error or change, it's just a matter of interpretation.
Right, I'm not trying to prove it, I don't think you are getting my point. My understanding is that you were earlier using the reliability of textual transmission to prove the reliability of NT texts, and I am disputing that. It is likely that the Bible contains variances of which we are not aware due to lost manuscripts, but no one can possibly know which doctrines if any those variances affect. Biblical inerrency is ultimately an article of faith, in which case bringing in textual transmission is a moot point.

Oh, and I'm definitely not saying that passages are suspicious because they contradict feminism! Don't know where you got that one?

The significance of my comment about the first full NT is, unless those earlier fragments happen to cover every verse of the NT (I don't know, but I'd say it is unlikely) then there are portions of the NT for which our earliest manuscripts date to 200+ years after Christ. It's not a terribly important point, though, because even a manuscript dated 10 years after Christ's death had probably been copied multiple times by then.

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Indeed; in fact, as a Protestant I believe the church was in grievous heresy for over a thousand years.
This is an interesting statement. If you believe that such heresies were in part brought about by the inferior translations/manuscripts they had available to them, when in your opinion did the written Bible start being an inerrant document that you could base your entire worldview on?
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Absolutely and also no. On one side when a man can carry a child and give birth then we can talk about being able to have the same jobs being vital to equality. The truth is men and women are just different and I think it does a disservice to women to expect them to want what men have (on some levels). We downplay the importance and sacredness of what we as women do by nature when we do that, IMO.

I think the jobs men and women have can serve to compliment each other. I think that's the way it was meant to be. The way I view my faith, where men hold the Priesthood and women do not, is that Motherhood and the Priesthood are equal in importance and vital to the Plan of Salvation. And they compliment each other. They serve each other. I used this mental image with a friend of mine who feels the same way and she agreed so let me see if this makes sense- I, as a woman, am sitting in a tent in the wilderness breastfeeding my child and there is work to be done and a livelihood to defend. Now I am perfectly capable of this but when I place my husband between me and the job outside that needs to be done I can have more time and more ease in caring for my children (of course we share in these roles but not exactly 50/50). Now I am in no way saying all women should be barefoot and pregnant in their homes while the men go out and work I am just trying to illustrate that these two jobs are equally as vital to my family but my role is made easier when DH is fulfilling his- whatever those roles might be. I think we all have roles and that we need to find what they are for us and our families. I guess it's like yin and yang.

BTW I use to feel the same way as you. I left the LDS church in my teens because of it. I do have a different understanding though. I still believe in equality of the sexes and that women are just as important just as intelligent just as capable but in my mind I can see now that we have fallen into the trap of expecting sameness from women. We have confused sameness and equality and that took away from the importance of "women's work". If we didn't view "women's work" as lowly as we do I don't think we'd be having this discussion, ykwim? It's no longer desirable or honorable to be a woman and mother as traditionally defined. Our lawyers and doctors are way more important than the moms who raised them and stayed home cooking meals and doing dishes.

On the flip side (the more "worldly" side) I'm for choice. I'm for women being able to leave home if they want and go to school and get a job and so on. But some things are just going to be separate and I am ok with that too. I think that we can't expect everything in life to treat men and women exactly the same.

I also am for women in general. I am for the choice to fulfill traditional roles being more accepted and more respected. The pendulum has swung- now the women who leave home are respected and those who choose not to are looked down on. I want women exercising their choice to always be a beautiful thing.

K did I go off on a total tangent from the OP or what?

ETA- I feel like I need to clear up my above mess by saying in answer to the question quoted above some things are what they are and therefore "forced". Men and women are just different. But in other things we have the opportunity to open it up to everyone regardless of sex.
Amen, Sister! :
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