Did you ever look around in Relief Society or Elders Quorum (or even High Priests) and think “I wonder what the opposite sex meeting version of this is like?” Some people love the time alone with their own sex. Others feel like a fish out of water.
I think it could serve a useful purpose if handled appropriately (such as having the church RS Presidency in charge of the RS lessons), but so far all it does is treat women like children (lessons seem to be about three things: parenting, priesthood, and visiting teaching) and cater to the needs of men.
Which is why I don’t see the point. If you can’t do it right, why bother at all.
The meetings have the primary purpose of conducting the business of the Priesthood Quorum/Group or Relief Society. The lessons are actually a secondary purpose. Yet the lessons are treated as sacrosanct especially by the Relief Society, who seems loathe to skip a lesson. Though seldom do we have 40mins of business, so a lesson happens. I like the discussions the lesson bring as opposed to the lessons themselves. The heavily redacted, ellipsed comments of former Church Presidents does not necessarily do it for me most the time except as a jumping off point. I am usually more interested in their experiences.
If all the gender separation does is get a rambunctious toddler off his overburdened young mother’s hands for an hour while she gets to hang with the girls and Daddy gets some “Quality” time with his little squirt (LoL), then it serves a useful purpose. Else, yes, PH “business” gets done, then we separate to our respective quorums for more pontification on yet more reasons why we’re going to Hell…
I think there is an argument for the benefit of gender segregated meetings. For instance the most inspirational LDS music this side of the MoTabs often comes from the priesthood singing a capella and it’s often impressive to be in that room with them! But in practice priesthood is the most boring hour. It is full of announcements and correction to announcements that could more gracefully be done on a handout. Lessons are typically poorly prepared often amounting to reading the manual by mumbling from numbered strips of paper. The best third hours are often joint sessions with the Relief Society.
Yes I have often wondered what goes on in Relief Society because what goes on in priesthood is sooo boring.
Yesssss-soooo boooooring! Like the separation but wish the sessions were better. As a new convert in the most family friendly church ever, I wonder why RS doesn’t spend time each week for signing up for child care swaps and play dates? Why arent the teenage girls encouraged or expected to babysit for ward members 4hrs a month or something? Weird to me that they don’t.
I don’t see the point. It might be different if the men/women had lessons that were correlated gender specifically, but it just seems pointless AND super boring.
When I attended a YSA ward as a student I sometimes attended the Elders Quorum instead of RS. Usually at the point where I felt I’d had as much saccharine sweetness as I could possibly tolerate. It was a total breath of fresh air.
Newconvert, as the eldest of 7 children the last thing I’d have wanted was to be expected to sign up for babysitting duty every week for other people. Also, in Britain at least, the YW have very little free time in which they’d be able to offer such a service outside of school holidays.
At the risk of sounding like a total jerk, I quit going to RS within months of my baptism ’cause it just seemed to be an opportunity to get harassed about signing up to bring chili to the upcoming cook-off or homemade (NOT storebought!) cookies to a cookie swap. After passing the sign-up sheets around and hearing about how essential it is for us to step up and make chili, we’d listen to someone read parts of a previously given talk. I get more out of skipping it, going home, and reading the BoM instead.
If the men’s meetings are like that as well, I’m sorry for us all.
#8 – If that’s all you have to put with in RS, count yourself lucky.
lessons seem to be about three things: parenting, priesthood, and visiting teaching
If you substitute “home” for “visiting,” you’ve just described PH meetings – except that our joint opening exercises eat up enough time, especially with some skillful stalling on the part of the YM, that the lessons are probably shorter. Amanda, you’re not missing much except fellowship.
The old lesson manuals at least carried the potential for some meat. The new “Read the Blurbs from the Prophets of the Church” manuals don’t seem to give the teacher much to work with to carry the lesson beyond the grossly superficial. This may be partly an issue with the teacher; I think being an EQ, HP, or RS instructor is one of the most challenging callings in the Church and it’s become even more so with the new curriculum. But still – good grief.
“Brethren, today’s lesson is from Chapter 22, ‘Doing Good to Others.’ Brothers Smith, Jones, and Johnson, could you read us the first nineteen Lorenzo Snow quotes on doing good to others?”
. . .
“Thank you, brethren. And so we see how important an eternal principle it is to do good to others. And we’re out of time, so I’ll turn it back over to President So-and-So.”
I’m not a Mormon anymore, but I do lament the erosion and disappearance of gender-segregated spaces. I think it’s important for there to be times and places for men to be with just men, and women to be with just women.
I completely reject a gender-blind society as an ideal.
To me, the biggest advantage of gender-segregated meetings is that they allow targeted, relevant discussion on the nuts-and-bolts of living the gospel. For instance, I have 4 children all in elementary school. How do other families in this situation handle FHE, scripture study etc.? Or what does priesthood leadership in the home look like? Or how does one balance community service with all the other tasks on my to-do plate? A discussion within the quorum brotherhood from those with similar values and a similar phase in life is priceless.
However… My experience, especially in my current ward, fall FAR short of this. My solution involved more discussion, less book reading, and encouraging others to go beyond the simplistic, idealistic answers to something that actually works in the real world. Results so far are not encouraging.
I think that these types of meeting definitely can serve a purpose, however within our church culture we have 1) forgotten how to be honest with ourselves and each other. What good does it do if we met together but put on our “Sunday faces” and just pretend we are all perfect. How can we help and support each other if we are all pretending to live a inauthentic life? 2) We have created a culture of shame were we secretly and and not so secretly judge each other if we deviate from the “path” we have created in our church culture. No one wants to share their disappointments and problems if they will be judged. 3) Women don’t have truly segregated meetings, they are overseen by the men, especially the generally church meetings. While I appreciate that the Prophet or his counselor would attend a general Women’s meeting, there is no need for any other man to be in attendance at any women’s meeting.
Two Sundays ago our RS discussed Jeffrey Holland’s talk “Like a Broken Vessel”. There were open and frank comments volunteered by sisters outlining what they’d learned from their own experiences with depression and mental illness. I’m pretty sure some of them would have felt less comfortable making those comments and sharing what they knew in a mixed group. So, I think the segregated meeting is helpful at such times.