Imagine the scene. Women and girls have worked hard to prepare their best dishes for the potluck. They’ve arranged these delicious offerings on nice serving trays and together, dozens of women have set out stacks of plates, silverware, napkins, and cups. Multi-gallon pots of coffee are brewed. Everything is set up. Time to eat.
Men and boys rush to line up and pile food onto their plates. They take their heaping plates to a table and wait for their wives to bring them coffee. Other men crowd in with plates of their own.
Where are all those women who have prepared this feast? Where are their daughters, who’ve eagerly helped? They stand back until all men and boys have helped themselves and taken the best seats. Some women bring cups of coffee to the men.
After the men and boys are served, seated, and eating; the ladies begin to line up. The food is getting cold, the favorite dishes are running out, and the seats at the tables are taken. That’s okay, because they’re not expected to sit with their menfolk to eat. A woman sitting down at a men’s table would be scandalous.
I didn’t think it was odd. I certainly didn’t like it, but like so many other rituals which were set up in favor of men and boys, I had no power to change it. It just was.
Now imagine what potlucks and church events are like outside the FOC. Women and men prepare food to share – mostly women, but many men enjoy cooking and happily add their best dishes to the feast. When it is time to eat, and leader calls everyone to attention and prays for the food. Then people line up and fill their plates. People are not segregated by gender, though sometimes by age. Elderly folks are often invited to go first, or children. But I always get my food with my husband – not for him (he likes to serve himself), and certainly not after him. And we sit together. He would hate to be forced to sit at an all men’s table. How boring!
“…but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever be chief among you, let him first be your servant”