By Jodi Drake
The Gospel Doctrine lesson 35 manual objective is “to encourage class members to be true disciples of Jesus Christ through applying Paul’s counsel in 2 Corinthians.”
To highlight the need for cooperatively ministering and seeking gender equality rather than the empowerment of one gender over another.
For years, I’ve claimed to be a proponent of gender equality. I’ve made myself hypersensitive to many injustices connected with women, some of which were real; some I may have perceived. It wasn’t until I started dating my husband two years ago that I really started to grasp the need for gender equality.
For every instance I could cite where I felt a woman had been slighted, he had an equally compelling example of how a man’s rights may also have been suppressed. Let me clear up one thing, my husband isn’t trying to deny that throughout time, the rights of women have lagged behind the rights of men. However, as I have listened to his story and merged some of his ideas with my own, I feel even more convinced that gender equality has to be the aim and not merely the empowerment of one gender over another.
I can think of a time when I hardly noticed the limited narrative from women in the scriptures. I suppose I didn’t mind the reduced representation because it often supported my cause.
One Sunday, after primary, my young brother and I sat on our front porch with our mother, being quizzed on the articles of faith.
“We believe that men must be punished for their own sins. . .” I recited. I didn’t need to hear any more. I pulled my knees up and hugged them close to my body, rocking into this sudden realization. A slight grin spread across my face, and I looked carefully at my brother. He didn’t seem to have realized anything. I think I felt bad for him.
Not long after, this brother made me angry. I pinched him hard, and he slapped my hand away. Unfortunately for him, that’s the exact moment my father looked over. My dad caught my brother‘s hand in midair as he pulled away from the slap. Firmly, my dad said, “I don’t ever want to see you hit one of your sisters again.”
So there I had it. Proof. My suspicion had been confirmed. While man had to suffer for his own sins, I got off scot-free.
The drawback of accepting a version of the world where gospel consequences only applied to men was that eventually, I had to accept that under such an assumption, I had no claim upon the blessings of the gospel either.
I cannot press for inclusion yet accept exclusion as it suits me.
The New Testament lesson this week really drove this concept home for me. 2 Corinthians chapter 1 teaches us that if we are to be recipients of Christ’s consolation, we must also be partakers of his sufferings. In Philippians 3:10, Paul calls this a “fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings.”
We stand in this fellowship alongside strong women and faithful men, and we must unite in our cause to emulate the life of the Savior because, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:13).
Paul admonished, “Now I beseech you, brethren [and sisters], by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Choosing Good and Making Change, Bethany Brady Spalding
If you really want to make change, you don’t want to alienate people. I try to be inclusive, find common ground, and recognize the contributions that people can make. Change is slow that way, but I think it’s deeper and more lasting when you approach it in a positive, inclusive, hopeful way.
Choosing God and Abundance, McArthur Krishna
We used to think there weren’t enough women in the Book of Mormon to fill a book, but when I read and researched the Book of Mormon really thoroughly, specifically looking for women, I found over a hundred instances when women are mentioned—even though they’re not often mentioned by name. Our books—including the current Girls Who Choose God Bible stories—have both named and unnamed women. Even if women aren’t named, it’s important to understand that they were active participants.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Reflections on the Divine, interview by Neylan McBaine
Putting Christ in the forefront is actually a gender-neutral solution for focusing on those things that are most important.
Covenant Daughters of God, Jean A. Stevens
I was an eyewitness to the power of covenants as I watched my righteous parents, who loved and lived the gospel. In my sweet mother I was privileged to see clearly the daily decisions of a covenant daughter of God. Even when she was a girl, her choices reflected her priorities and identified her as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I have seen the peace, the power, and the protection that came into her life as she made and kept sacred covenants on her journey. Her life on this earth reflected her love for the Savior and her desire to follow Him. Oh, how I want to follow her example.