Is it a good policy that men should only teach in tandem with another man or their wife when called to Primary?  Or does this policy just discourage Primary Presidents from calling male Primary workers?  Is the church truly worried about male pedophilia/child protection, or is this a litigation prevention tactic in light of the Catholic Church’s problems? Is this policy an extension of the caution to never be alone with members of the opposite sex?  Are men rabid sex-monkeys incapable of controlling their urges, even in a church setting?  Is this the Mormon equivalent of the 1% doctrine?  (If there is even a 1% chance that a man will not be able to contain his urges, we must treat it as a certainty that he will act on those urges in church).

On the flip side, why is it that a man must be present when there is an RS meeting in the church?  I have heard this is so, although in practice, I’m not sure I’ve ever been aware of it.  Perhaps the wards I’ve been in don’t take the requirement seriously, or the Priesthood leaders are just really good at lurking.  Since it’s not a general requirement that women individually have one-on-one male escorting, why was this guideline added?  Is it to protect the women from terrorists?  To make sure they aren’t plotting the overthrow of the bishopric?  To prevent lesbian orgies?

Lastly, why is it OK for a woman (even a very young woman) to be alone with a member of the bishopric behind closed doors with no window, but not alone with a co-teacher of a class who is not her spouse in a room that does have a window and several children?

These are some oddly specific rules that have become very tangled over time (and I do remember a time when most of these rules didn’t exist).  Clearly these changes were made for a reason, but as with most policy changes, these things were just handed to leaders with no official explanation given to those of us who work in and run these organizations, leaving room for speculation.  Consider:

  • Primary.  OK for women to teach children alone (only 15% of pedophiles are women, and none of the Catholic priests who molested children were women – perhaps because there are no female Catholic priests).  OK for men to team-teach children, with another man present or their own spouse.  Not OK for men to be alone with a non-spouse female in a room teaching children, nor for a man to teach children alone.  Implication:  Men can’t be trusted to be alone in a church classroom with children.  Men can’t be trusted to be alone with any woman other than their spouse.
  • Missionary dinners.  OK for missionaries of either sex to eat dinner with the family, provided both husband and wife are in attendance.  Not OK for elders to eat dinner at the home of a single mother.  Implication:  Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson!  Not OK for sisters to teach a single man.  Implication:  a swinging party will erupt spontaneously over the First Vision.  On this second one, a district leader actually accused me of this very thing after he saw a single man we had given a Book of Mormon to drop us off at the church.  Like giving the guy a BOM was our pickup line.  Moron.
  • Youth Sunday School, Gospel Doctrine & Gospel Essentials.  Anything goes.
  • Relief Society Meetings (during the week).  A Priesthood holder must be present.  Implication:  Women need to be monitored by a male authority.
  • Girls Camp.  A Priesthood holder must be present.  Actually, I do remember this was true when I was in YW, that the men should show up on the last day, and frankly, it seemed a little creepy to my 15 year old self, like someone’s dad hanging around a little too much at a sleepover.  Implication:  Even 4 or more female leaders of Young Women are not trusted with the Young Women unless there is a man present.
  • Youth Interviews.  Members of the bishopric can interview youth of either sex alone, one on one in an office with a closed door, including asking chastity-related questions to young teenage girls and boys.  Implication:  Male leaders are above suspicion and can be trusted in situations everyone else is cautioned to avoid.

Is duplicating callings in order to include men in Primary necessary?  This is fine in wards that are very large where there never seem to be enough callings to go around and silly callings are invented to keep people busy, but it probably means smaller wards will never have male Primary workers, giving an undue burden to the sisters to man (no pun intended) this large organization.  One suggestion I would make to solve this is to collapse the Elders’ Quorum and High Priest Group into one organization (as the Relief Society is one organization for all women age 18-grave) thus eliminating the duplicate administration required to staff two solely male organizations.

So, why have these rules come about over time?  Is it because we don’t trust people (and by “people,” I mean men) to control their lustful or sick urges?  Is it to avoid law suits or bad PR?  Or to avoid contention between people in wards along the lines of reality TV (e.g. “I saaaaw you lookin’ at ma man!”, “O no you diduhn!,” followed by shrieking and hair pulling)?  Is it necessary?  Is it better than the alternative?

I have mostly been in wards where these guidelines were routinely ignored out of either necessity or maybe people just didn’t realize the rules existed, but there are some wards that conform to these requirements.  What do you think?  Discuss.