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Matriarchy and Patriarchy at Baptism

My brother called me up a few days ago and asked me if I would serve as a witness to his son’s baptism. Of course! I’d be honored. Then I realized why he asked me. Traditionally, it seems that grandpas serve as witnesses at LDS baptisms. But grandpa died a year ago. While I was happy to do the honor, it was also strange to realize that I was taking the role of my dad.

I know I haven’t blogged much here. Things have gotten exceptionally busy, and I am on to other projects. Back in 2014, I was concerned when dad broke his hip. Certainly is did limit his mobility profoundly. One leg was now shorter than the other, and he had a shoe with an extra 2 inches of sole to help with walking. He lived 4 years after that, and died due to complications of congestive heart failure. On the one hand, he didn’t need to die. He didn’t listen to doctors and take better care of himself. On the other hand, he had said for decades not to cry when he died. Certainly I was sad that he died, and I do miss him, but I have also been surprised at my lack of tears, especially compared to when my brother and sister died.

But yesterday was the first time in a long time that I took on the patriarchal role in the family. And that seemed a bit weird to me. I miss him, and yet sometimes I don’t. We arrived at the church a few minutes early. The bishop greeted us and said they had forgotten to turn on the water for the font, and the baptism would be delayed about an hour.

The thought that occurred to me that the exact same thing happened when my brother was baptized. But my dad threw a fit, got angry, and refused to wait. So we all returned home. That’s the dad I also knew. My brother was baptized a few weeks later. My mom reminded me that he got baptized on her birthday. I hadn’t remembered that.

So, in a way, it was nice that dad wasn’t there. Because he was notoriously impatient. Instead of having refreshments after the baptism, we had them before, and visited with family and friends for an hour. It was fine, and we were glad dad wasn’t there to be annoying. Did I miss my dad? Yes. Was I glad he wasn’t there complaining? Yes. It was definitely mixed feelings.

The service started, and as I looked at the program, I was both pleasantly surprised and pleased. Opening and closing prayers were given by women. Talks on the Holy Ghost and baptism were given by women. I didn’t attention of all the female representation to anyone else, but I was impressed that women dominated the program, except for the duties that men “had” to do: the baptism, and the witnessing (and bishop conducted.) I can’t ever remember a baptism in which women were so visible, and I’m grateful. It’s not like my family is full of feminists either. In fact, I’d say I’m probably the biggest feminist of them all. But it was a nice service, and it was great hanging out with family. (My brother came to visit from California.) Anyway, I just wanted to share. And it’s a bit weird to realize that I am the pseudo-patriarch now that dad is gone.

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One comment on “Matriarchy and Patriarchy at Baptism

  1. My wife was a witness for our children’s baptisms. Not the church’s witness of course. But for me and our family she was. She stood frontside. I looked to her first after performing the ordinance and when she approved then looked to the church witnesses for the same. The practice breaks no church protocol

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