Sunday, September 8, 2013

When Priesthood Meets Chinese Patriarchy

It can be disastrous when priesthood meets Chinese patriarchy. The similarity between these two is as simple as it indicates: both involve men and authority.

Two years ago I had the opportunity to interview several LDS women from Hong Kong for my MA dissertation. I love all these women I interviewed and they gave me great insight of what their lives are as LDS women in Hong Kong. It is interesting to find out by observation that these women seem take themselves distance to the “men” or “priesthood” issues. Most of their responses are “these are the men stuff, they know how to deal with it”. It implicitly implies two reasons for this response, either these women don’t really care (I don’t think so) or they are reluctant in raising their voices when it comes to dealing with the priesthood.

In order to have a better understanding of this, let’s look at the interrelation of priesthood and Chinese patriarchy, especially by looking at their similarities and the misconception. It is commonly perceived that men are the breadwinners of the family in Chinese culture. Chinese women are still subjected to men after the baptism of several waves of feminist movements both in the West and in the East. With this idea, mostly unconsciously, embedded in women’s mind, together with the fact that men hold the priesthood in the Church, it is understandable to a certain degree that why Chinese women are reluctant in raising their voices. Not to say that all women are like that in Hong Kong, but for the matter of fact that “women are subjected to men” in both Chinese family and the Church is still happening, either women unconsciously imbibe this idea to their mind, or men unintentionally promote this idea while practicing the priesthood.

The possible solution is, for both men and women, to seek a better and greater understanding of the priesthood. Let me quote the official definition from the Church. It said the following,
“First, priesthood is the power and authority of God. It has always existed and will continue to exist without end. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He exalts His obedient children, bringing to pass ‘the immortality and eternal life of man. Second, in mortality, priesthood is the power and authority that God vies to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. The blessings of the priesthood are available to all who receive the gospel.” (
The above statement clearly explains what priesthood is. Priesthood is not “men’s power”, or a power that shows male domination. As men and women are able to have a better understanding of the priesthood and practicing and using the priesthood righteously, ideally and hopefully those arguments on priesthood would be cleared up. Women will no longer have to think that they are subjected to men because they hold the priesthood and men will no longer use the priesthood to dominate women.


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