Like many of the Saints, I find that the temple has a variety of messages. Some are gender-related. For example, there’s the exterior stone structure. The high granite walls rise for seven floors. Their smooth surface is unbroken except by a single door through which both men and women pass, presenting alike their recommends and then entering the House of God.
Then there’s the offices. The three offices assigned to the presidency are grouped together in a single hallway off the main hallway. This gives them access to the staff in the Recorder’s work area, which is something of a nerve center for the temple. Each office is quite roomy and features beautiful dark wood paneling, a couch, and a large desk with a high-backed executive’s chair. There’s also a bathroom, obviously intended for just these men.
The matron’s office is across the main hall, off a secondary hallway giving her access to the Nursery. Her office has wallpaper, a couch, and a nice writing desk of the type traditionally associated with women. The offices assigned to the matron’s assistants are about 75 feet away, in opposite directions from each other, outside and down another main hallway. The walls are painted a stark white. Each office is about half the size of the janitor’s closet at the end of the hallway.
So there’s a second message here, too, but in drywall, paneling, and paint rather than stone. And although I have a certain morbid curiosity about the gender-relationships of the person who designed the interior, I don’t really want to look too closely at the message it conveys. It’s certainly not the fault of the current occupants.
Finally, there’s a third message, this time in the organization of the folks who work in the temple. Unless you have served there, you will probably be surprised at how much of the hour-by-hour operation is run by women. Discretion prevents further explanation, but it seems to simply be the best way to “git ‘er done.” And nobody, male or female, really thinks much of it as they work together in their assigned tasks. It’s just the way it is.
I think I have seen this pattern elsewhere. We all live together under the stone-solid promise of passages such as Gal 3:27-28:
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There are, however, events, activities, and situations that seem unlikely to meet the inclusivity of Galatians. Sometimes I sense that those involved feel a little like they’re trapped in a “layout” they didn’t design. At some level, they’d rather it were different if they could just figure out how to make it so without gutting the place.
But there’s also real joy in serving together. There are men who can somehow “season” the traditional with enough love, laughter, and common sense that it’s a pleasure to be part of their efforts. And there are women who routinely exercise initiative with their own spiritual, emotional, and intellectual contributions, matching the best formal leadership from less formal positions. It’s one of life’s great pleasures to be around them when they stand together to “git ‘er done.”
In the end, it’s like we have a structure without quite all ideas we need in order to make the interior match the exterior. It’s like knowing the end state, and not knowing precisely how to get there. But it’s a good experience to come out of the “offices” and deal as best we can with what we have while we wait and work in Christian hope for the better state that will eventually unite us all.
P.S. I know this is quite a break from our usual nerdified atmosphere. Those of you who feel faint should click here.