We Need Common-Sense Prom Dress Control Laws, Now!

It was the photo that shocked the world!

A teenage white girl assumed  she could wear clothing that looked like clothing that non-white girls wear. She actually wore a Chinese dress! It’s 2018! Did she think nobody would notice her racism? Did she think it just wouldn’t affect anybody around her?

I’ll never forget where I was when I first saw the photo. Me and my friend from upper-east side Manhattan were sipping soy espressos at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake, discussing the historical oppression of Chinese railway workers by white middle-class high school girls. Then the news broke. There she was, crouched with young men above her flashing violent gang signs. I literally spat out my drink.

For years, progressive women around the country have called for common sense laws to prevent this kind of racism.

Recently the Senate defeated a measure to require background checks on women who purchase dresses at fashion shows or on the internet. They defeated it even though 70-90% of Americans support measures which would eliminate existing loopholes and prevent racist Americans of white skin color from encroaching on marginalized cultures. Right now, you can literally walk into a fashion show and buy any dress you want, with no background check! Even if you are a felon or have a history of mental illness!

Did they not see the thousands of grass-roots Americans across the country who skipped class to protest these kinds of intolerable atrocities in our schools? Enough is enough! White girls cannot just wear anything they want.  It is time to stand up to the fashion lobby and stop racists from wearing clothing that offends people around them.

As feminist Mormons, we understand that it is hateful to focus on the dresses women wear instead of the women’s achievements. But that only applies to dresses that offend non-marginalized men. Modesty standards teach women not to choose clothing that would give men “unrighteous” thoughts, as if it is women’s fault what men decide to think. So when a woman spontaneously decides to wear a dress that just happens to show cleavage, that makes her responsible for the clothes she is wearing? We are only responsible for our appearance if it offends minorities–or at least if CNN tells us it should offend them.

Women everywhere are saying “we need to get past these patriarchal rules and encourage women to wear whatever they want! Except clothes that offend nonwhites, and female Islamic clothing.”

Luckily this time, a cyber-sleuth saw the photo and alerted everyone, so that a collective mob of angry social justice warriors could shame and harass this girl for wearing a dress that kinda has a Chinese motiff. But what we need is our leaders in Washington to act to preserve the rights of marginalized and oppressed communities. We need media platforms to more effectively harass people and to get high schoolers to protest against their own best interest.

Isn’t it about time?

‘As Feminists In Zion…’

As anyone who has attended a public school in America ought to know, women are horribly oppressed by the patriarchy.  We are always pushed down. Always sent to the back of the line.

What is the patriarchy? It is important to know “patriarchy” doesn’t just refer to men. There are plenty of men, even in Utah, who are weak simps, who coddle women and follow our orders every minute of every waking day. I hate them too, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Patriarchy refers to the bishop who sits in a comfy chair and lounges about sipping lemonade all Sunday while you suffer through three hours of church. It is the male college student who effortlessly surfs through college and is destined to high wages and a happier life while you are forced to pay money for feminine hygiene products. The patriarchy is a terrible force of darkness in each of our lives, and we must transform into Social Justice Warriors if we are going to save the world. So gear up!

I am excited for this opportunity to repeat dry sociology theories and radicalize women in the church, particularly among the youth. Sure, I get paid by a male billionaire oligarch to write this, and this platform only exists because Socialism is good for his financial bottom line, but in the end–I am sure–a woman will be sitting in that chair one day making all the decisions. And then it will all be worth it.

As a feminist, I think different. I swim opposite stream from the rest of the fish–unless you are talking about the 52% of America that agrees with everything I say, of course.  My message is in complete conformity with every school textbook in America , with popular culture, with most college professors, with the Leftist communications instructors at BYU-I, with every newspaper and mainstream news source in the country–and that means I think different. That means I think smartly.

So Sisters, join me! Join me on the path of courage! The path of coolness! You can even bring your male partner and male offspring, as long as they are docile and easily controlled. Assuming you haven’t divorced your husband yet or given your son a sex change. I mean, I hate them and I don’t want them reading anything I have to say, but if it turns them into Socialists, that can’t be bad.

We live in a culture that suppresses this kind of free-thinking discussion and punishes open debate. Like, every time I wear pants to church, I get funny glances from one or two other ward members, and then I am reminded of how intolerant and close-minded they all are. They all literally hate me because I am a woman and think for myself. Even though I didn’t come up with the idea of wearing pants, and it is a meaningless idea that has no relevance to anything, it is important because it is my idea. It is my choice, and my choice is more important than anything else.

So come with me, sisters, and bring your dissenting voices! Have the courage to say “I oppose”! Carry this great new ideology with you to your ward meetings, your Sunday School lessons, your potlucks, your church dances, Seminary, and everywhere you go. This ideology of love.

Just as long as you don’t say a swear word. We have to be nice quiet Mormons after all.

You Didn’t Join a Suicide Cult

WWJD: Feed a stranger & starve his kids?

Let’s return to the early days of the European migrant crisis. I had shared an article by Molly Hemingway entitled: “3 Tips For A More Civil Conversation About Syrian Refugees”. I received a fiery rebuttal to Mrs. Hemingway’s tips from an acquaintance, they especially took exception the following in the article:

“Thomas Aquinas discusses whether there is an order to charity. Must we love everyone in outward effects equally? Or do we demonstrate love more to our near neighbors than our distant neighbors? His answers: No to the first question, yes to the second.”

To summarize my acquaintance’s rebuttal, it went something like this.

“You and Thomas Aquinas are cherry picking your Christianity. You are totally ignoring the Gospel’s teachings that Christian love lacks any conditions. It literally says stuff like “love those that hurt you”. The point is that your sister or a sinner or a Syrian refugee are, in fact, equal in the eyes of God and certainly in terms of Christian charity. There is no coherent argument against this without obscuring or ignoring the gospels. From a Christian perspective, we should give all we have, to help the destitute. In the Christian ethic, even if all the refugees were known terrorists, we should help them.”

This is a perfect distillation of the shaming patriotic Christians with a sense of national identity face. It is a very Alinsky tactic whose fourth rule is “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” It is a tactic that can be applied to any idealistic movement. Now to be fair, my friend is not a disciple of Alinsky, but we have been bathed in Alinsky for at least two generations. Reading the Gospels alone and in a vacuum one could be forgiven coming away with that interpretation of Christ’s teachings. Take for example Luke 6:27-30:

“…Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

“Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

“And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

“Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

When considered literally and in isolation, how do you reconcile these with raising a family, with maintaining a nation, or even with something as basic as surviving a winter? I’d like to try and make the case that there is a sustainable Christian approach to charity, and that Christ was not calling us to join an altruistic suicide cult. I’d also like to address some particularly Mormon struggles with this line of argument.

Virtuous Tensions

First, let me make some personal reflections on these teachings of Jesus:

I believe these are to be considered general words of wisdom in dealing with our neighbors, family members, and brothers and sisters in Christ. When these teachings are taken literally things break down quickly. For example, how do we “give to every man that asketh” of us and then practically feed our children? These are children we have been commanded to “replenish the earth” with (Genesis 1:28). These are children who are called in the Psalms “an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). The same Jesus teaches that even we, the wicked and fallen, know that we should not answer the pleas of our child for bread by giving them a stone (Luke 11:11). At some point one must say no or we will be broken and destitute, incapable of helping anyone – even our children. I believe here Christ is asking us to be generous in spirit, to strive for a charitable heart, and to not live life by a strict reciprocal ledger.

This reading does imply that there should be an order to charity and the other virtues encouraged in these passages in Luke, and I think this interpretation is supported by other recorded words of Christ and even more clearly by the Apostle Paul.

For instance, Jesus instructs us to turn the other cheek. Is this a literal call to non-violence? Reading elsewhere in the same book of Luke, before Jesus and his apostles go to the olive grove to pray, Christ asks his apostles to purchase swords:

“Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

“For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

“And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” [Luke 22:36-38]

These verses are a moment when Christ is fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 53:12, and there is a lot more going on in these verses, but I’d like to narrowly focus on one element: His disciples never went and sold their garments to obtain the swords because they already had two swords. Why did Jesus suffer his disciples to travel with him prepared with these weapons of violence if self-defense is a sin? The answer is clear: because it isn’t sinful to protect yourself and your loved ones from violent physical aggression. What is righteous is not escalating conflicts tit-for-tat within your community and family.

Your child died, it’s your fault, and you never went to the funeral

Secondly, we must properly understand the limits of what our shared divine parentage obligates us to do.

Going back to the refugee crisis, how do we as Christians look at the infamous and tragic images of the three-year-old who drowned attempting to reach Europe with his family, and then say no to the next three-year-old doing the same? Especially when “we are all children of God”; when “We are all brothers and sisters”. This is a particularly difficult struggle for Latter-Day Saints. Our whole cosmology emphasizes our shared origin as spirit children of Heavenly Parents, and that we globally, past, present, and future share a divine purpose. This background makes it challenging for modern, western, Latter Day Saints to vote for nationalist policies, or to think as a people with moral self-interests. It is also easily, and frequently, exploited by those seeking to push a Cultural Marxist, multicultural agenda on the historical pioneer stock of Deseret. Just watch a twitter stream of #LDSconf during general conference as an example.

This universal humanism robed in religious language can be countered with a proper reading of the 5th chapter of Paul’s letter to Timothy. We must consider that Christ’s gospels were not only recorded by his apostles, but they were then applied by them as well. I believe the first Apostles and early Christians struggled, as we do, to practically apply Jesus’ teachings that are often in tension with one another. However, because they had the fortune to have learned at Christ’s feet, we should study their interpretation and practice carefully. What does Paul write to Timothy?

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” [1 Timothy 5:8]

Let me attempt to recreate a recent conversation with my children regarding this passage. We had just been over a history lesson, and we were gathered around the computer talking about groups of people being at war with one another.

My daughter made the observation: “So everyone has been fighting their own brothers and sisters.”

“Why?” I responded, “Is it because we are all God’s children?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“That’s true, but we aren’t all the same kind of brother and sister. God sent you kids to mom and I, and that means you should be special to us.”

I then asked her to read Timothy 5:8 out loud and asked her, “Who is our “own” who is our “house”? Our own is our family right here. God is telling us we can’t make someone else more important than our family.”

“Our immediate family, right?” she asked.

“Yeah then after mom and I take care of you, if we have the ability to help, we help our neighbors and our extended family, then our Ward, then our town, then our State, then our Country and then the World.”

I must have been miming concentric circles because she piped in with:    “Like a bullseye!”

I then asked my son: “What if I said hey buddy, everybody is God’s children so I’m leaving you all here and,” flipping to the other side of the Google Maps globe, “helping some kids here. Bye! I don’ t know when I’ll be back, good luck getting money for food.”

“Nooooo!” He shouted.

“But, we are all God’s children!” I rhetorically replied.

My daughter jumped in, “But we are your children. God sent us to you!”

“Right! And God taught us to help our family first. Because the best way to help the world and God’s kingdom is to have a strong family. Then strong neighbors and extended family and so on. Like the bullseye.”

Sadly, it isn’t just children that need this basic order of obligation taught to them, far too many Latter-Day Saints, at least abstractly, think their obligations to Afghan children are morally equivalent to their own children. Paul was teaching how to practically apply the Christian charity Jesus taught.

Love as Virtue and Vice

Thirdly, Love is a virtue, the greatest, but like all virtues it can be malformed with excessive zeal.

Aristotle taught that virtues were a proper balance of behavior or feeling in a specific sphere. For instance, the sphere of confidence and fear: a proper balance in this sphere would be the virtue of courage. A deficit in this sphere would be cowardice and an excess would be rashness or foolhardiness. We can apply this to the question of charity. Charity in the bible is typically a translation of the Greek word for love. We are taught by Jesus that second only to loving God we are to love our neighbor (which in the Greek means those near you). If we are to view the sphere of love in this context of excess and deficit what would it be?

Selfishness <—- LOVE —-> Enablement

Enablement here is meant in its very modern sense. If we possess this excess of love, we are so selfless and “others focused” that we prioritize the other above all else we value. The pathologies of the target of our enablement are not considered; indeed, in this state of enablement they are even desired. The saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is recast as: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease, BUT if I have nothing squeaking in m y life I’ll make sure to find or create something squeaky to “virtuously” burden myself with”.

Also, in this state of excessive love even those natural and healthy extensions of yourself must be sacrificed to the other. There was one mother I was acquainted with that embodies this excess of love. She had two biological children and anywhere from five to six very troubled adopted/foster kids at a time. She helped many kids out of terrible situations, but in turn her natural children were constantly subject to high levels of stress, drama, and constant babysitting of very troubled children. There was real resentment. In her efforts to help troubled foster children, she sacrificed the well-being of her biological children. Needless to say, her position on the refugee crisis was predictable.

Righteous love must be properly ordered, and we must mediate the competing goods with wisdom. Jesus teaches us to order our Love: First God, then our neighbor as our self.

More specifically on loving our neighbor Christ told the well-known parable of “The Good Samaritan” to answer the question, “who is my neighbor”. The Samaritan was a traveler on a highway who by chance encountered a traveler from Jerusalem in immediate and genuine distress after being attacked by thieves. The victim had already been passed by and ignored in his plight by two prominent Jewish travelers. The Samaritan dressed the man’s wounds and concluded that he had the means to pay for his lodgings for a time. Jesus concludes the parable by asking the lawyer who was a neighbor to the victim? The lawyer answers that it was the Samaritan who showed mercy. Jesus then commands us to do likewise.

We learn two things from the parable. One obvious the other not so obvious. First, less obviously is that not everyone is our neighbor, only those that act neighborly are our neighbors. Second, and more obviously is that Christ would have us “do … likewise” and be the merciful neighbor. However, like the Samaritan we must place this call to act as a good neighbor in a context of ordered virtuous tensions. Note that nowhere in the story does he invite the highwaymen who beat and robbed the victim into his own lands. Neither does he abandon his business to stay and personally care for the victim. He generously and practically helps the victim.

Welcome back to church

Again, Christ’s church is not an altruistic suicide cult! It is a church, the kingdom of god, built on the rock of Christ and his Priesthood. God did not want us to immolate ourselves, our families, and His church on a pyre of radical selflessness. If so, there would be no point in commanding us to be fruitful, there would be no need to establish a priesthood order; his church would be built on a foundation of sand.

The prophet David O’McKay famously taught: “…no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” It would seem to me that would include subordinating the needs of your children and family to another person’s child and family, or worse another nation and people’s children.

When The Media Exploits Abuse Victims To Attack The Church

As I see the media every couple of weeks rotate between the same trigger topics to attack Mormons, nothing makes me more sad than when the media trots out victims of sexual abuse–women and children who are hurting and in need of help–into the spotlight like some kind of circus sideshow, like an exhibit that portrays Mormons as grotesque and horrible. “Some see the poor victims of Mormon brutality! Come one! Come all! Hurry, hurry!”

The woman who was allegedly abused by the ex-Mormon mission president did not ask for the anti-Mormons to leak her recorded voice or for the media to propagate it to millions of people. Few people understand the damage it does, the level of humiliation and trauma it inflicts to an abuse victim, when her story is non-consensually proclaimed in the newspapers. The media trumpeted the recording far and wide with zero regard for the victim’s health, because to them it is not really about stopping abuse or helping women. It is about attacking Mormons.

Like the intelligent propagandists they are, the New York Times and Fox News have their rhetoric down to a science. Groups such as MormonLeaks leak private recordings and documents that may damage the church. Then there are low-level Anti-Mormons on Reddit, dutiful sentinels, who vigilantly keep watch for anything that will raise a flag. The leaders of these groups have hundreds of journalists on speed-dial in case anything juicy turns up. The sentinels alert the journalists, and once a fire is lit, these journalists wait for any further news that will pour fuel on the fire.

This weekend, in the midst of an incredible and historic General Conference, the journalists found their fuel for the fire. Did Fox News report on the historic changes in church policy–the new ministering program, the shakeup of local ward leadership meetings, or combining of priesthood quorums? Did Fox News report on the new apostles? Did Fox News report on the new temples in the new frontiers of India and Russia? No. Instead, Fox News took a tiny comment from one of the talks out of context about sexual misconduct to attack the church.

“Mormon leader’s remark on sexual misconduct draws criticism,” is the headline by Associated Press, and we are told that the Elder Quentin L. Cook’s phrase “non-consensual immorality” is bad because it “could be interpreted as victim blaming.” It is hurtful to group “victims of sexual abuse” with immorality, we are told. Yes, that is true. But anyone who has actually listened to the talk knows that Elder Cook was not talking about victims of abuse. He was talking about abusers, and made the correct, oft-repeated point that abusers commit grave immorality. Associated Press is creating an issue out of nothing by taking the phrase out of context.

Biased Associated Press Reporter

The author of this article, Brady Williams, earlier wrote an article on Mormon polygamy. We know the media is always falsely portraying polygamists as Mormons to attack the church, right? The polygamists’ “religious beliefs” prevented them “from working for a woman,” he reported. Oh, Mormons are so misogynist!

But then Brady Williams also wrote a different kind of article on Mormon polygamy. In this other article, Brady called the polygamists “progressive and independent.” Wait, what? Now they are progressive ? Well, yeah, because these Mormon polygamists have “no organized religion.” These polygamists have denounced their “Mormonism” roots and now believe “teachings such as Buddhism.”

So those ex-Mormons apostatized by practicing polygamy are just terrible. They mistreat women. But these other ex-Mormons apostatized by practicing polygamy are progressive?

It is obvious that Brady Williams is heavily biased against the LDS church and will do anything to malign Mormons. He takes people and situations out of context to make Mormons look like they are abusive towards women. He is one smart propagandist out of thousands, and they all know how to take words and events out of context, how to spin and omit facts, and how to coordinate with secretive anti-Mormon groups and online activists.

It is despicable that Fox News, New York Times, ABC News, and the others would take a statement condemning abuse and spin it as hurtful. It is despicable for the media to leak a private conversation without the consent of an abuse victim. It is despicable for them to exhibit human beings to push their agenda against Mormons.

“Come one! Come all! See the oppressive Mormons and their poor oppressed women!”

Many young members of the church cave in to this persecution. It is not easy for a young person to have social justice warriors sneer at him for “hating gays,” or to be rejected by friends because of “how Mormons are.” Women in the church are humiliated every time they are reminded of the church’s history with polygamy. It is not easy.

We can stand against this relentless barrage of propaganda by exposing the media circus show for what it is. We can show real care for victims of abuse and call out unrighteous dominion anywhere we see it, particularly in Hollywood, top Leftist leadership, their push to transition children’s’ gender, pornography–and also when we see it in the church. We must be vigilant to protect the vulnerable everywhere. But we can also can show confidence in the priesthood structure which makes our church the safest place we can be. We can steel our fortitude against the darts of the opposition and winds of the world.

“It’s None of My Business”

Any word about the moral rot and perversion of today is quickly met by, “Why do you care? They can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes and it won’t affect you. It’s none of your business.” This is meant to shut you up rather than address the problems, but it shows two important underlying assumptions: you should only care about someone if it directly affects you, and what people do by themselves doesn’t affect you.

While this may seem “current year”, it’s actually one of the oldest arguments out there. Cain’s first instinct when called out by the Lord for his sins is to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” or to update it “Why should I care about someone else, even my brother?”

People are defensive. They don’t want to deal with others and especially don’t want their sins getting called out. Cain wouldn’t be out of place in a Twitter thread ranting against legislating morality. But does the Lord want us to do that? Not give a toss if someone is destroying himself? You already know the answer.

Prophets are constantly recorded warning people about sin and imploring them to turn to God. Regular members as well are commanded to warn others about sin and invite them to follow Christ. This is contrary to modern sensibilities which is to turn a blind eye to the sins of someone you aren’t responsible for (and sometimes even if you are). As church members, we know we are all brothers and sisters. Shouldn’t we be looking out for our family?

When we see people advocating for causes that go against the Lord’s way, we need to notice it and call them out on it. They may tell you to sod off, but it may also get them to think and change. Being yelled at a bit is worth it if you can help someone get on the straight and narrow.

“But what about the other part?” you may ask. “The part about it not affecting us?” Well, that’s never been true and never will be true. The Book of Mormon is full of subgroups in societies turning away from Christ and the ruin that brings to not only them, but to all people in their society. The Order of Nehors introduced priestcraft to Nephite society, and it led to civil war and oppression. After Christ’s visit, peace and unity reigned throughout the land, but after a few generations, rebels and doubters led to the sorrow of many and eventual genocide of the entire Nephite people.

Prophets are not called to only preach to people who come to General Conference. They preach to societies, nations, and peoples. This of course includes people in the Church, but it also includes all people for we are all sons and daughters of God. Sin brings misery and suffering, whether from getting addicted to heroin or ruining one’s body through mutilation.

This is why the Lord has His prophets sound the trump of warning, and why He expects all of us to fight. Ceding the culture to those who would encourage sin isn’t being respectful. It’s slapping the Lord in the face and inviting the destruction of everyone.

Our duty as members is to share with everyone what we know is right and stand firm about gospel principles. We do this because we love them but also because the culture we live in affects everyone. The Lord expects strong men and women to stand firm against the tide of lies, hate, and bitterness rising everywhere. Let’s not disappoint Him.

Who are working women working for?

In The Two-Income Trap, Elizabeth Warren outlines the argument – bold for a progressive – that the entry of women into the workforce has been an unmitigated disaster for most American families.

At the time (2003), the average worker’s real wages hadn’t meaningfully grown since 1964 – around the time that the women’s movement got serious  and the picture hasn’t got any better in the fifteen years since.

American households bring in a lot more (inflation-adjusted) income today than they did with only one breadwinner – but Warren, a highly regarded scholar in bankruptcy law, notes that this hasn’t made American families any more comfortable or secure.

Foreclosures, bankruptcies, repossessions, and credit card debt have all gone way up; household savings have gone negative, and with no cultural epidemic of Boomer frivolity to conveniently explain it -“certainly nothing that could explain a 255% increase in the foreclosure rate, a 430% increase in the bankruptcy rolls, and a 570% increase in credit card debt”.

Average household productivity has gone up ~400%, real household wages have climbed 43%, and it isn’t all going to hookers and cocaine – at least, no more than it ever did – so where is it going?

Warren’s answer, essentially, is positional goods.

Things like cars and phones and appliances can get cheaper over time, but “a home in the best school district in the city” is a positional good: there’s a static quantity that isn’t going up, so even if everybody became a million dollars richer in real terms, we still couldn’t all live in the best school district in the city.

Partly that causes the two-income-trap: if you’re a one-income family in a bidding war with a two-income family, you’re going to lose – so you’d better become a two-income family. But it’s also an effect of the two-income trap, because when nobody’s home during the day, it becomes a lot more important to secure the right daycare, preschool, and public school, and a home in a safe neighborhood.

So mom’s impulse to protect, nurture, and acculturate her kids – roughly speaking, the “nesting instinct” – gets sublimated into brutal bidding wars, shoveling every cent of surplus into locking down these positional goods for her children. Which means she has to get out and earn more, which makes the positional goods even more important, and so on.

Warren estimates that the average working mom’s $30,000 income breaks down approximately like this:

  • $4,000 more on the house in the expensive neighborhood/school district so that child-rearing can be safely outsourced
  • $4,000 more on the child care that she only needs because she’s working
  • $3,000 more on the second car to drive to work
  • $1,000 more on health insurance
  • $5,000 more on education (preschool + college)
  • $13,000 more on taxes

In other words, the average working mom spends at least two-thirds of her income paying for the privilege to work.

Meanwhile, study after study finds that homemaking moms are better for children at every stage of development, on every axis of child well-being that we’ve ever bothered to examine. Kids raised with mom at home are mentally and physically healthier, less prone to behavioral problems, more academically successful, pick your metric.

And that doesn’t even touch the impact that homemaking mothers have in harder-to-measure matters of culture, faith, and identity.

The prevailing elite narrative is that feminism saved women from a life of stultifying, meaningless drudgery – half the society’s intellectual resources squandered on washing dishes and changing diapers rather than working a million different thrilling and useful professions.

Of course this is ludicrous. The intellectual firepower of women in pre-sexual-revolution America was dedicated primarily to the work of holding civilization together – raising children, nurturing relationships, building communities – and contributing to the family’s support in an ad-hoc way that allowed some flexibility during hardships.

And sure, pre-modern women did a fair amount of drudgery, but A) so did everybody else, and B) most career women today aren’t colonizing Mars or swimming with dolphins. They mostly answer phones, populate spreadsheets, and make copies like everybody else – and all the money goes straight to the daycare so their children can be raised by Disney movies under the supervision of some minimum-wage zookeeper.

Even if you made the case that all of the above is a small price to pay for women to enjoy liberation and fulfillment, you’d be wrong.

Working women still do most of the domestic drudgery that these changes were supposed to liberate them from, and after controlling for socioeconomic status (stay-at-home moms tend to come from lower-SES cultures), levels of self-reported anxiety, depression, and life satisfaction between working moms and stay-at-home moms are indistinguishable.

And that’s only on measures of instantaneous, how-you-feel-right-this-minute happiness. It doesn’t account for the tragic cases of women who spend their best childbearing years climbing the ladder, and then blow every dollar they earned in a panicked (and often unsuccessful) attempt to conceive.

It doesn’t account for bereft, elderly Japanese women turning to petty crime just to have somewhere to go and someone to talk to.

It certainly doesn’t account for the millions of families that have outsourced their child-rearing to public institutions and mass media, only realize what they’ve lost (both in foregone memories, and in suboptimal outcomes for their kids) decades after the choices were made.

So why are women doing this to themselves?

Talking about this kind of thing in the workplace is extremely delicate, so I’ve never gone beyond the facts that my female co-workers have volunteered in casual conversation – but everybody knows something is wrong.

A colleague of mine pays $2,500 a month on childcare, which is most of her take-home pay. She has a good degree from a good school, but her job is not glamorous; she mostly makes PowerPoint charts. She doesn’t love it. She misses her kids, and she’s infuriated by the way they are treated at their (expensive, exclusive) daycare.

As far as I can tell, she sticks with it because somebody told her that this was the only path that would allow her to respect herself – that, were she to stay home and raise her kids, she would be betraying generations of women who fought for her freedom to generate slides for corporate executives at an effective wage of $3/hr.

Who benefits from telling women this story?

Well, it’s pretty clear why government and corporate America are uniformly in favor of working moms. Homemaking labor isn’t part of the formal economy – it can’t be taxed, or leveraged by corporations to depress wages. The value homemakers generate can be enjoyed informally and reciprocally in their community – but it can’t be quantified, monetized, and cycled back into corporate revenue streams.

Losing the taxes generated by women in the workforce would be (at this point) an existential threat to the United States government.

A 100-million-strong army of surplus workers gives corporations tremendous leverage in hiring – enough to reap virtually all the gains from skyrocketing productivity for five decades without paying their people another dime, for example.

And of course, the more people work in the formal economy, the less time and energy they have to meet their own needs, and the easier it is to sell them “solutions” that they didn’t need before.

(In America, this is usually prosaic things like childcare, prepared foods, cleaning services, etc. But in Japan, practically every aspect of romance and sexuality has been commodified for young professionals with no time and plenty of disposable income.)

In short, the people selling you this story are not your friends. They want to use you like any other resource, in whatever way is most profitable. HR wants you to trade your birthright for a pittance, and Marketing wants to sell an inferior imitation back to you – and of course, Uncle Sam wants his cut of both ends.

It’s not a conspiracy; it’s just business. But this is one of those cases where “business” takes on a dark life of its own.

The value of “women’s work” is impossible to quantify, but we can observe the fallout from having lost it.

How much of the hollowness and loneliness of modernity could be avoided if we didn’t have three generations of latchkey kids trying to piece a meaningful life together from stuff they saw in movies and porn? It’s confounded by all sorts of other harmful social phenomena, of course, but Mormons have more than just empirical reasons to believe that it matters.

Still, we can’t lay the blame for all that havoc solely at the feet of feminism. It was all too easy to convince women that homemaking was valueless when it has been so consistently and callously undervalued.

Maybe our great-grandfathers just couldn’t see how much was at stake – couldn’t appreciate the feminine heroism that held their world together. I suppose it’s human nature to feel entitled to what you’ve never had to do without – and a modern failing to undervalue things that can’t be quantified.

But I’m encouraged by what I see in the young Mormon families around me: women entering into marriage and motherhood with a clear-eyed sense of purpose, and men determined not to take that work for granted.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Why Bible-Bashing Doesn’t Work

The scene: A comfortable suburban ranch house. Two missionaries are present, with a callow priest tagging along, and they’re excited because they have finally met the non-member husband of the less-active sister they’ve been visiting.

HUSBAND: I know you’ve got your lesson you want to teach me, and I want to listen, but before you get going would you mind answering some questions I have about the Mormons?

MISSIONARY 1: Absolutely. Just fire away.

HUSBAND: Why do you believe Jesus and Satan are brothers?

WIFE: (nervous glance)

MISSIONARY 2: (deep breath)

HUSBAND: …and that is what it says and either the Bible or Joe Smith is a liar-

MISSIONARY 2: …same thing. They’re the same thing, read it again in your Bible…

MISSIONARY 1: Calm down, guys, calm down, the question was…

WIFE: (sips coffee)

⏩⏩

MISSIONARY 2: (incoherent rage babbling)

MISSIONARY 1: He is sorry, we are really sorry-

HUSBAND: You’re just like the last set.

WIFE: Sorry, boys, I think he just needs a little more time-

The bible bash is a mystery. Why is it so easy to get sucked in? Why don’t our points ever seem to make a dent? How can they move on so blithely from point to point, another anti-Mormon factoid up their sleeve for when you pull out a verse that proves the last one inconsequential?

The easy answer is: you didn’t testify and you brought the spirit of the Devil. This is true, but I think we can dive a little deeper into this subject, and draw on some examples from scripture to guide the tone and direction of our discourse and ministry.

What is conversation for?

The worst takeaway a member or missionary or member missionary can bring from a bash is the urge to store up better scriptures to bring out the next time someone has those questions. This is because the questions an experienced non-Mormon bible-basher has are not actually what we would call “questions.”

What’s the point of a question? To get an answer, right? That’s what conversation is, we talk to each other, we trade information, we might disagree on some things but we see where each other is coming from and we walk away with something to think about. This is attractive for the Latter-day Saints, as we believe in all truth, no matter the source, and so you might just learn something from whatever encounter.

This is not what your interlocutor is asking the questions for. He intends to shame you. He wants you to feel stupid for believing, and I want to make one thing absolutely clear: that is a completely legitimate use of questions.

The problem, and what makes a bash far more painful than it needs to be, is when there’s a mismatch between your expectations of the conversation. Verbal sparring is a time-honored tradition, but when you walk into a spar expecting an exchange of knowledge that works toward a consensus nobody’s coming out happy.

Bear down in pure testimony (but keep those pearls out of the pigpen)

The astute missionary will sidestep the bash – will see it coming, will get out of the way, will defuse the situation, will leave with a testimony and a prayer. Sometimes that works – but sometimes they’re not ready to hear the still, small voice. Sometimes there are people around them that desperately need to see them cut down a peg. Sometimes they need to be humbled before they’ll open their ears.

There are places for polite rebuttals. There are places for mockery and scorn. 1 Kings 18 is one of those places. Can you imagine Elijah treating that like a friendly chat? “So you can plainly see that their, the priests of Ba’al’s, rituals failed to bring the fire from Heaven that was promised, which means that for whatever reason Ba’al has no power here. The logical course of action is to return to the worship of YHWH…”

It wasn’t time for reasoned arguments. It was time for slaughter. Sometimes that happens too.

Always testify – but weave your testimony in with context-meaningful communication. Elijah’s testimony wasn’t polite, but you can’t deny its effectiveness. The gentle, sweet declaration of belief is best saved for those who can hear it.

Bible-bashing without the Bible

The stereotype we’ve been discussing in this article is a mainstream Christian of some sort, most likely a Protestant of a non-denominational or Baptist sect. He is ubiquitous, found most often in the southern United States but drawn by some sort of basher clairvoyance to missionaries all over the world, and all over the world missionaries keep stroking his wolf-skin to try to pull out the sheep they’re sure is underneath.

There’s another kind of basher out there, all the way on the other side of the spectrum, with the sheep on the outside and the wolf on the inside. This kind will still use conversation as a weapon, use words as a bludgeon, but they’ll try to be more Mormon than you are. They want to reach an understanding, they want you to ask questions, and they’re even harder to deal with because when you take them at face value absolutely everything that works on them makes you feel like a jerk.

Of course wolves in sheepskin are polite. That’s the entire point of the wool. They’ll try to use the Gospel to teach their own twisted truths, which they frame as common decency, just the sort of thing all moral people should believe. They don’t even have the decency to try to back it up with scripture. And this weekend they are trying to change Church policy through demonstrations. All in the name of, you know, what’s right. What Jesus would probably do, assuming His moral standards, as they always do, perfectly match up with those found in Western nations in the early 21st century.

Don’t accept their framing

When you try to prove the Church is true from (or at least isn’t disproved by) the Bible, you are accepting the Bible as a source of legitimacy, setting aside the role of the Spirit in conversion, and have lost the debate.

The same thing can happen when you try to answer the gentle, polite, bright-eyed contentions of those people who just can’t wrap their heads around a God who would risk being called sexist; if you try to prove that, as a matter of fact, God as Mormonism teaches isn’t sexist, you’ve bought into lack of sexism as a source of legitimacy and have lost the debate.

It doesn’t feel like you’re letting them set the pace. Not at first. Then it’s an hour and a half into a half-hour lesson and you haven’t even got past God is our Heavenly Father yet. Don’t let them do that. Stick to what you know – that God’s law is eternal, that your testimony is rooted in a witness of the Spirit, that Russell M. Nelson is an inspired prophet – and make them come to you.

When they say the Bible says God is a spirit don’t pull out a verse that says He isn’t, testify that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father in the flesh. When they try to “start a conversation” about when we can expect gay temple marriage don’t nitpick the legitimacy of OD2 and the Proclamation, mock them out loud. Call everyone over to look at this ridiculous wolf in that shabby sheep coat. Ask if their god is asleep, or on a journey. Let them prance and shout and cut themselves.

Maybe all they need is one sharp shock.