I Have Seen the Axe

HawkgrrrlMormon 173 Comments

Alice Walker, who wrote about the heartbreak of female genital mutilation quoted an African proverb in the beginning of her book Possessing the Secret of Joy:  “I have seen the axe, and the handle is one of us.”  Are women our own worst enemy when it comes to reinforcing stereotypes and norms that limit women?
There was recently an excellent post on Exponent II about the difference between “good” feminists and “bad” feminists at church.  I wanted to broach this topic at Mormon Matters to get your thoughts about the role of sexism and feminism in the church.
Here are some anonymous comments from a panel of LDS women discussing issues women face in a patriarchal church, especially from other women:
  • I don’t know if women do the most harm, or if it is most hurtful when women do the harm because I want to feel that they should know better. Margaret Toscano made the point once that women who are benefiting by fitting into the patriarchy have more to lose by it going away than do men. So, the RSP has power, and (for the most part) women who are true to the church are the RSPs, they are the ones pushing the patriarchy the most. For instance my RSP says we can’t have enrichment without a defined higher purpose because “we can’t take women out of their homes” without cause.
  • Men can’t really preach the patriarchy because they know how sexist it makes them sound, so they leave it to women. I admit it has gotten better, but how many times do women say “I don’t really want the priesthood” as a reason no woman should be able to make that choice. It is very rare for a man to even admit that women are excluded.
  • There is also a huge culture war between the SAHM and working mother, and I think people who made that decision out of fear or authoritative institutional pressure are the first people who have something to lose when the church eliminates predefined gender roles. Those who made their decisions themselves are more confident in them and don’t receive their worth from a statement in the proclamation on the family.
  • As a professional with a graduate degree, and as a wife without kids, I’ve been surprised at the sexism promoted by other women. I have unfortunately been blindsided by this more than once in very painful ways. I figure if a woman wants to have kids, then great! And if she wants a career at the same time, or a career without kids, great too! But I notice a lot of other women are uneasy with women who seize their opportunities and power. They feel they should get to make the choices for other women, or more accurately, that other women should be forced to make the same decisions they have made. I had one friend, a SAHM, call me and condemn me (using the prophet’s counsel) for not having the faith to have kids – only for her to break down minutes later crying about how bad her financial situation was. And it’s not just a SAHM v. career woman thing: I’ve witnessed sexism especially by other career women. A woman getting a promotion can be much more controversial than a man (and it’s the women, I’ve noticed, who are more outwardly bugged about the promotion than the men). Legally and ethically, sex and family circumstance should not lead into those business decisions, but the culture has a hard time getting over that.
  • Women are great cultural enforcers. We keep the codes of society together. And one of the best faces patriarchy can have is a female face. A woman who says, “I would never want the responsibility of the Priesthood” appears meek and humble, making women who would like to be empowered, or see other women empowered, looking anything but holy. I see this on Mormon feminist blogs each time we post on a directly feminist topic.  From an article I read:  “Often, when women live under the weight of silence and fear speaking out, they have the least tolerance for other women who break the rules — they use them as targets to discharge their pain and rage.”
  • Obviously, it’s both men and women who are accepting this culture the way it is. My business partner who is a great therapist/couples counselor always tells her clients “you are your own advocate, nobody else will do it for you.”
  • I don’t think it matters who is perpetuating the situation, but women not only accept the situation, they compound the situation when they do not question the status-quo. If women rose up and spoke up or even just started asking questions, the men would address the issues at hand. At the very least, the more assertive women are making a difference in their individual wards by expecting respect and action.
  • When Susan (name has been changed) was writing about how she thought she’d get dismissed as a feminist heretic by her bishop, I thought “Good!” At least he’ll know some of those cool sisters out there are feminist heretics.” I wonder how many men in leadership roles realize how important equality is to so many of the sisters. We need to own our equality in order see change in our individual lives. The community will follow.
How do you feel about the concept of patriarchy in the church?  Does patriarchy limit women’s choices?  Does female exclusion from the priesthood constitute sexism?  Does the Proclamation on the Family’s description of male and female roles limit women or protect the interests of families?  Is there a culture war between SAHMs and working moms in the church?  Are women the most oppressive toward other women in the church in limiting women’s roles and choices and lashing out at women who don’t conform?  What constitutes lashing out (e.g. silence, criticism, guilt, ostracism, correction)?
And a quick poll, to make it even more interesting:
[poll id=”11″]

Comments 173

  1. There is certainly a degree to which the Patriarchy is embedded into Mormon Culture. I know a Bishop who when he was first called wanted to have the RSP come to Bishopric because he felt that women should be more involved in the decisions in the ward. She refused because that was not her place.

    I don’t whether the SAHM vs. Working Mother thing is less-prominent in England because practically every women I know works. I think that patriarchy does limit women in the Church, although I not sure that it is easily gonna change. I think that some small steps that would be good would be the reinstatement of healing practices among women and washing and anointing powers for those who are having children (both discussed in a Sunstone presentation – A Gift Given; A Gift Taken). Plus I think women should be present at every meeting the Church holds. These could be easily made without having to rock the boat too much.

  2. I agree that some women benefit and even defend the patriarchal way. Men do it with that ‘respect whoever presides’.

    But this SAHM v Working Mom cultural war wont go far unless the hierarchy take part imo. Change in the church depends on the brethren and on them only. The history of blacks and the priesthood is the best example I know of to show that everything depends on the brethren only.

  3. Patriarchy is successful because everyone is included. When women try to dominate, they usually start worhsipping goddesses and get involved in things like witchcraft and they only want women to participate and no one else.

  4. My guess is that receiving the Priesthood – alone – wouldn’t solve the problem with the relative equality of women in the church. (Witness this: even without deep set reactions to gender, all men who hold the Priesthood are certainly not viewed equally simply because they do hold it.) Men who tend to look past women would continue to do so. Women in leadership positions would get the ear of the same men, and women, that they do now – and would fail to get the ears of the same folks that let them down now. There would only be an exception, I think, if and when women held executive positions (bishopric, stake presidencies, etc.), but only just. Those women and men, who, for whatever reasons, have a tendency in themselves to minimize the contributions of women would now be subtly minimizing the work of their executive leaders. I’m not saying these things as an argument against women holding the Priesthood – only that holding Priesthood offices would not solve the problem alone.

    I think there are things that could be done quite easily now – some without church approval – that would foreground the fact that baptized, confirmed, covenant-keeping women have the exact same right to spiritual gifts as baptized, confirmed, covenant keeping men.* How about having the Relief Society Presidency sitting on the stand in Sacrament Meeting, opposite the Bishopric? (I would love to hear from the pulpit someone excusing the Relief Society President because she is traveling). While that might be tough to pull off independently, it would be easy for a Bishop to make sure that the Relief Society President sits in a privileged position, right with his counselors, during Welfare and Ward Council Meetings. I think the elimination of the PEC meeting in favor of three Ward Council meetings per month would be a net gain. (Trust me, ime, the exact same things are discussed in PEC as in Ward Council – except that in Ward Council you have the _benefit_ of the female leaders.) Elder Ballard, in the recent past, emphasized the failure of wisdom in Bishops who fail to treat female leaders as councilors. That kind of thing could be said more often – locally as well as by GAs. Clearly, more stories emphasizing woman’s contributions in the history of the church are greatly needed. President Hinckley eluded to this a few years back. But, also, more constant foregrounding of the spiritual gifts being exercised by women and young women and girls, locally, is needed, imho. Beyond this, I think we need a consistent emphasis that personal revelation and spiritual feasting isn’t set apart for leadership, Priesthood or otherwise, and that every baptized member, woman or man, who is genuinely trying has access to powerful and deep spiritual insight as soon as they are prepared for it, and that being in the position of friend, companion and fellow traveler with the Saints is just as important as any administrative position could possibly hope to be. The woman or man who speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost in testimony meeting, or in a comment in GD, or just in speaking to a friend, is making a profoundly important contribution and will find a deeply gratifying experience.

    * The only spiritual gift out of the standard list (Sec 46, Moroni, Corinthians), that women do not currently have equal access to is healing because that has been contained in a Priesthood ordinance. I _personally_ see _nothing_ wrong with a women pronouncing a healing blessing if truly moved to do so by the Spirit. This same restriction applies to Priesthood blessings. The “Rights of the Priesthood”, and the conditions under which those rights can be exercised, that are discussed in the last parts of Sec 121 apply equally to women whose rights are also Priesthood rights.

    my 2 cents ~

  5. Thing to keep in mind is that this entire post could have been written in reverse from a SAHM who feels picked-on by a bunch of unfriendly and domineering career-girls.

    Cuts both ways.

  6. In most cases I can recall, where more fundamental/”traditional” roles were preached to women, it was other women doing the preaching. For example, every time I’ve heard complaints about what women should/shouldn’t wear (pantyhose, dresses, no sandals, etc) in leadership meetings, it’s always come from other women, and receives little male commentary. It’s been a very long time that I’ve heard a man authoritatively state that women should stay home instead of working (although, it may be mentioned as an ideal), yet I’ve heard several women ‘tell’ women that this is what they ‘should’ do in Sunday School classes.

    So, I would agree that from my experience that most of the ‘oppression’ I’ve witnessed towards women, has been initiated by other women. I agree that generally, most men are now finding it less comfortable to make such comments and be viewed as a sexist (unless mentioned as jokes in EQ, quickly followed by, “Don’t tell my wife I said that”).

  7. The reaction of women, or anyone, to oppression has been used by the oppressors to reinforce their superiority. The fact that women are repressed to the point of removing their clothes and dancing for men doesn’t mean that it isn’t degrading. The fact that a woman stays with and lies for an abusive husband doesn’t mean that he isn’t hitting her.

  8. We live in a sexist society. The gains made by feminism in terms of income equality have been incremental and are far from complete. The church is no more sexist than society at large; they are merely more overt about it.

  9. re 4: I really like alot of your more subtle suggestions. Although I get the feeling that many women would not want to sit on the stand or would not want to come to more meetings.

    However, emphasising the history LDS women I think is really valuable and especially in relation to the spiritual gifts.

    re 6: Further, although no men in my memory have made comments about female dress (apart from Pres. Hinckley’s earring thing) I wonder how much of the female input is not inspired behind the scenes by male leaders?

  10. Before this discussion goes any further, I think everybody should study the “tragedy” of Lamech as taught in Moses chapter 5.

  11. Great post and very interesting quotes from sisters. I have only recently been realizing some of the points Thomas makes about how giving women Priesthood would not necessarily solve the gender inequality issues. I think that gender roles may be something that can more easily change to be more flexible and accomplish even more good to both the lives of men and women in the Church. I think already in the history of the restored Church gender roles have changed. Women have lost some things and gained other things.

    Fortunately, many of the drawbacks of defined gender roles have started changing in practice if not yet in theory. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for one unrighteous sister or brother in a position of leadership or power to temporarily topple or cap the progress that has been made.

    Being a SAHM is hard. Being a working mother is hard. We need to all cut each other a break, but it would help if the Church were able to more outwardly support both types of women. And by “the Church,” I mean GAs/RSPs/men/women/all of us. It’s our Church and what we say and do makes a difference.

  12. Re: female dress, I can think of a few examples recently where GAs have commented. How about Elder Callister’s talk in the May Ensign or June, his comments on women being beautiful their husbands and others. I recall a talk from Elder Oaks, I think, about not wearing sandals to church, which inherently means women since more women than men wear sandals to church. Of course, Pres. Hinckley’s advice on not wearing more than one set of earrings.

    Then there’s my mission president who told me that now I know better on how to dress when I get home and I should dress just like the women’s general leadership. no thanks!

    And Seth, yes it can go both ways, but within the church the majority of women are SAHMs and therefore women in the church with careers are more likely to get harassed about their decision. That’s what happens when the Church comes out with a blanket statement on gender roles and what the ideal should be. Then it turns to what if I don’t want to conform to the norm or ideal, does that make me bad that I want what my husband has a career as well? Thank goodness women have careers…I’m so glad that I can go to a female LDS OB in my area. Also, one of my companions on my mission is about a year away from becoming a pediatric doctor. It’s something she’s always wanted to do. It’s not something she chose to do because she couldn’t get married or anything like that. And when she does get married she’s not going to quit her career and be a SAHM, she’ll be both a mother and a doctor as well as a wife. But I know she’ll get a lot of flack for choosing to do this and probably has already. I got a lot of flack from my father-in-law about not having kids the night of my husband and I’s honeymoon, he quoted to us the evils of holding off on children and how evil birth control is. I wanted to finish off school so sue me. Also with my old companion, what if she marries a man who decides that he wants to a SAHD because she makes enough money as a doctor and so he can stay home with their kids. What’s wrong with that?

    So IMHO the patriarchal nature of the church establishes a status quo for women and if they don’t fit that ideal then we’re looked down upon. Pres. Hinckley said women should only work outside the home only if it’s necessary to bring in the basic necessities. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with that. Women have lots to contribute outside the home as well, just as much as men do. If women want to work because they want something else besides being a mother and wife then what’s wrong with that? If women want to stay home that’s great too! And if men want to what’s wrong with that? I know a lot of men get flack for doing so if their wife works and they’re not going to school or anything, but being dad at home. So it is a double standard.

    And since men have the priesthood it seems to suggest that women just aren’t as important because they don’t have it. When on my mission we were told to contact only business men so we can get more priesthood in the area to me that translates as women aren’t as important. So we can’t have branches, wards, or stakes without men so where do we fit in as women in the church??? Only to be child bearers? Is that my role in the eternities as well a silent partner who does nothing but bear spirit children for all my husband’s worlds? So IMO patriarchy is inherently unequal in this life, but maybe I can see a purpose for it in mortality, but in the next life??? Why?

    If we’re equal with our spouses why does someone need to preside? Why can’t it be both presiding? John Bytheway has come out with a new book called “Behind Every Good Man: Helping Your Husband Take the Spiritual Lead at Home.” I haven’t read it, but the title alone repulses me. Why does my hubby have to take the spiritual lead? Let’s take the lead together! Why should I be sneaky about getting him to be the example in the home? And why does a woman have to be behind a man anyway?

    So yes I think it limits women (patriarchy) in a lot of ways.

  13. The core of what you’re describing isn’t unique to the church. The way I see it, feminism has two core challenges when it comes to women working together:

    1. Women/girls make up more than 50% of the population, hence they have incredibly diverse needs and interests. It’s way too easy too see what’s best for yourself as being what’s best for women in general. It’s very hard to look at the big picture and think in terms of what benefits women whose situation is very different than your own.

    2. It’s incredibly difficult for women to “have it all” in terms of career, family, and other goals. (Well-nigh impossible, actually.) So you have to make choices and prioritize what’s most important to you. But no matter which choices you make, you’ll get criticism and probably occasionally regret whichever choices you missed out on. It’s a psychological defense mechanism to convince yourself “my choices were RIGHT, other choices are WRONG, for all women, PERIOD,” instead of recognizing that we all have our challenges and we all have our gifts — so there are different right answers. My choices don’t have to be right for you in order for them to be right for me.

    (My point #2 is related to your third bullet point: The more confident you feel about your own choices, the less threatened you feel by people choosing otherwise.)

    To me, the core of feminism is expanding the range of real options for women. Even women who want to make choice X benefit when they’re given the opportunity to actively choose X for themselves rather than being forced into it. It’s just that having empathy for people whose gifts, challenges, choices are different than your own is easier said than done…

  14. As a man, I will NEVER bear a child. Sign of a sexist God?

    Perhaps. It depends how “sexist” is defined. My conviction is that God values his sons and daughters equally, yet has given them different roles to fill.

    Boyd K. Packer has A LOT to say about the topic in “Mine Errand from the Lord” including:

    “A man, a father can do much of what is assumed to be a woman’s work. In turn, a wife and a mother can do much–and in times of need, most things–usually considered to be the responsibility of the man, without jeapardizing their distict roles. Even so…there is a distinct masculine nature and a distict feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and family. Whatever disturbs or weakens or tends to erase this difference erodes the family and reduces the probability of happiness for all concerned.” (p.253)

    Regarding #13 “If women want to work because they want something else besides being a mother and wife then what’s wrong with that?” Elder Packer answers the question clearly and at length (pp. 296-298).

    To be sure, women can do much more in the Church than at present, and some (many?) sexist traditions remain, but to say that men and women will ever be interchangeable in the Church is to deny the fundamentals of gender.

  15. As Clark said, women shouldn’t have power, authority, the priesthood, etc., because they have…MOTHERHOOD. And Mothers Who Know know that that trumps all.

  16. Post

    Lots of great comments so far.

    #1 – Aaron – I like the idea of women being present in all meetings, esp. if it is practical and doesn’t ADD meetings. One area specifically is that women who go through disciplinary action have no females in there with them. That just doesn’t feel right.

    #3 – Jon Miranda – interesting comment. Note that you said “when women try to dominate,” but that’s a double-standard. Men don’t “try to dominate” because they are put in those positions. Therefore, the things you describe as being subversive worship tactics (goddess worship and witchcraft) exist because female power was marginalized in the firstplace. Only the women unwilling to play along (humor the men) are doing the things you describe. The vast majority of women in the church are in for the long haul and are not rocking the boat.

    #4 – Thomas Parkin – good list, and I agree with the notion that women having the priesthood doesn’t create equality. The downside of the current system is that most women don’t give a fig for the priesthood because it doesn’t pertain to us outside the temple or in a practical sense. Women focus on the spiritual gifts we have. This just minimizes the importance of the priesthood. Women who are willing to be “cheerleaders” for the patriarchy and/or the priesthood are rewarded by the priesthood leadership. That makes a self-sustaining system that is not prone to change.

    #5 – Seth R. – just to clarify, some on the panel were SAHMs. Ideally, women should respect and value each other regardless of personal choices. The men don’t go around saying “Well, Bro. So-and-so isn’t as valuable because he’s a contractor and not an accountant.” They don’t give a crap. The women only start being intrusive when they wish to validate their own choices, which isn’t necessary when all choices are considered equally valuable and acceptable to the community.

    #8 – Ann – true about society at large. Where I think the church lags behind is in what rhetoric is acceptable.

    #10 – Aaron R. – I too wonder about the role of male leaders in encouraging these types of “standards” talks.

    #11 – Cowboy – as to the example of Lamech, you would be hard pressed to find a woman in scripture portrayed truly favorably. Most are harlots (or reformed harlots), manipulators, or property used for breeding or appeasing other males. It’s quite obviously written from a male perspective based on the impact women have on men (seducing or manipulating them or bearing their children), not women as individual people on equal standing with men. Lamech’s story is not the only one like that: Lot’s daughters, Eve, Jael, Rachel & Leah, etc.

    #13 – Kaylana – I agree that the word “preside” is simply problematic. It puts a strange spin on a partnership. In practice, I’m not sure I see it as an accurate description either.

    #14 – chanson – I agree that the key issue is that choices have to be personal. Even having an “ideal” causes difficulty. There are many caveats applied to it, but calling it an “ideal” makes it prescriptive, and gives justification to treat those outside the norm as inferior to those inside the norm. Whether that’s men or women doing the marginalizing doesn’t matter. One size just does not fit all.

    Another problematic aspect is the impact on men when women are marginalized. I totally agree with Thomas Parkin that there are some men who are prone to do that, and others who do not. Almost regardless of the setup of the system, you’ll have that. But if there were some things done to make it clear that the counsel of women in the wards is necessary to good decision-making and to a well-balanced committee, we’d have far wiser local leadership.

  17. So if a woman truly doesn’t want the priesthood, she is aiding and abetting male domination and betraying her sisters?

  18. in the same way that women who truly don’t want to be engineers are aiding and abetting the idea that women are simply “inherently worse” at math and that’s a fundamental aspect of gender

  19. #17 “The counsel of women in the wards is necessary to good decision-making and to a well-balanced committee, we’d have far wiser local leadership.”

    I agree completely. In my marriage, my wife occasionally uses what someone at Zelophad’s Daughter termed a “Matriarchal Veto.” I think this occurs in most marriages. It must be in the “unwritten order of things.”

    Proof is found in surveys that indicate women have the final say in major decisions (home buying, car shopping, family size, etc.) at least 80% of the time or more.

    Could the Matriarchal Veto be used in a Church setting? Not anytime soon, but if it was, it would create a better decisions, methinks.

  20. As I get older I start to think that, perhaps, the Brethren just give counsel and make decisions that maintain some semblance of Orthodoxy in the Church, and simply are not at the “cutting edge” of Civil Rights and other similar things. This means marginalizing some. It sucks, but I think the Lord must wait until the transition would be smooth… and I don’t think something big like “extending Priesthood to women” would be smooth at all.

    We don’t live in a post-Gender society. To expect our members to suddenly embrace some sort of post-Modern interpretation of gender roles would result in chaos, in my opinion, in the same way that expecting Church members in Moses’ time to live a “higher law” just wasn’t realistic at the time, or to expect the Church in Joseph Smith’s time to all quit smoking and drinking at once wasn’t realistic at the time. We have to wait for the society at large to shift, sometimes we have to wait for older generations to pass away, and it’s still very hard to make these large-scale shifts in ways of doing things. And sometimes they never happen.

    Anyone who has been on the subway in New York City knows this principle. The subways in NYC were built in a confusing and sometimes counter-intuitive way, because when it was originally built they needed something that worked “at the time.” They kept adding more junk (epicycles) to it to expand it, now it’s running at capacity in some places, it looks bad, it smells, there are rats, etc. Sure, we could pull the whole thing up and build a nice, shiny new one with none of the old problems, but is it worth digging up all of NYC and the billions of dollars to fix it?

    Similarly, it would be so much better if everyone used Dvorak keyboards, right? Because the letters are perfectly spaced, you can type 15% faster, the vowels and consonants alternate, blah blah blah. But do we really want to throw away all our keyboards and buy new ones and re-learn how to type?

    All these things must be gradual, and we must receive principles of the Gospel line upon line. I don’t necessarily see a “gender revolution” in the Church anytime soon. Maybe one day, but right now I say the subway works “well enough” despite its problems and changing it all would be bad right now.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe that change does and SHOULD happen all the time. I believe in continuing revelation. It’s just “big things” take time and effort.

  21. I don’t buy the women have motherhood argument because men have fatherhood. They can give birth to children, but that is only one part of the process of being a mother and of being a father. Also the idea that there is an essential masculinity/femininity is a little problematic in my book. I am assuming that E. Packer thinks women are nurturers, but i have seen men who do that just as well.

  22. Interesting topic. In relation to the SAHM vs. the working mother, it has been interesting for me to talk to several women close to me who have children that are raised now. Three different women have said to me that at some point in the years when their children were at home, they chose to go back to work. Now, however, as they look back they are wishing they would have not gone back to work when their kids were home, specifically in their teenage years. Each of them are quite different from one another so it is has been interesting to hear each of them speak of this topic. They each brought it up to me in conversation, I did not ask about it, so it is something that is on their minds even now. Each of them have children who have struggled with drugs, etc. and I think they relate their absence to their children’s struggles. One woman specifically said that her first few children that she stayed at home with are successful and have avoided drug addiction, etc., but her last few (when she was a working mother) have struggled significantly with drugs, etc.

    I think a great majority of LDS women feel a great responsibility for the outcome of their children’s lives. It is sad to me that these women now struggle with regret and wonder if their children’s choices are because of some failure on their part. I don’t know that they will ever be able to let go of this and it is sad to see. I can see how other women can be a great contributor in helping other women feel negative or guilty about working away from home when they still have children at home. I feel it is a decision to be made between the woman, her husband (if she has one) and the Lord and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else says.

  23. I support the church’s stance on gender differences and such, but, I agree %100 with whoever said that women should be at all church leadership meetings.I think that much is lost by not having the Relief Society sisters at PEC meetings. I guarantee that if I am ever in that position, I will invite the Relief society in. It really doesn’t make sense not to.

  24. I have a hard time with women who feel slighted in the church but don’t acknowledge that there are real differences between men and women. The thing is, difference isn’t necessarily inequality. I think it would be weird to have a woman as the EQP or a man as the RSP. (In the wards where I’ve been party to leadership councils, the women are very minimally ‘repressed’ by the male leadership, but are a valuable asset to the ward. Women offer insight that men don’t have, and working together has made those wards more effective than otherwise. But maybe these situations were the exception.) And I agree with Ian that it makes sense for women to be at leadership meetings. I really do feel that men and women contribute equally, though differently, within the church. Maybe it’s different; maybe it has something to do with my perspective, or maybe I’m missing something.

    I think physical differences are part of the social differences. My wife’s going to be the one to actually bear our children, because I can’t. I can’t nurse our children either. I can and will help raise them. I don’t have kids yet, but I do think about my future as a parent and there are days when I think that being at home with the kids sounds fantastic, and days when I’d love to be advancing my career. My wife feels the same, when we’ve talked about it. Still, there are some things that the children (particularly infants) need that I can’t give them. It seems there is little that can be done about that.

    However, for women who choose/need to work, I have no problem as long as the children are not neglected. If that means the father stays home, fine. If that means an extended family member helps care for them, fine. If quality daycare is available, fine. It’s irresponsible for a mother or father to choose a career because that’s what they want (different from need — e.g. a single parent situation), if the child’s welfare is neglected. Otherwise, what seems most sensible is a prudent and thought-out decision on whether the mother, father, or both work outside the home.

    I honestly don’t think some of the feminists I’ve known have had a clear perspective; their extreme fervor has clouded their judgment. The calmer and more clear-minded feminists I know seem to be the ones that are more effective in their cause.

    Can’t we all just get along? 🙂

  25. I think that much is lost by not having the Relief Society sisters at PEC meetings

    True, as said above in #4 PEC and ward council are the same except for the women being present or more correctly “the auxiliaries” present in WC. They overlap needlessly. And Bishopric meetings are the same too except for the sacrament agenda discussions or being told that a disciplinary council will be held on x day since Bishop does the interviews first himself in private.

    but to say that men and women will ever be interchangeable in the Church is to deny the fundamentals of gender

    This is why women presiding, as Bishops or SP, will never happen! I think the brethren think that those roles are an extension to the roles of husbands and fathers ie Bishop is the ‘father of the ward’ and SP the daddy of the stake. So although a bishop here or there will include a RSP as a defacto councilor, it wont change much. But then again I’ve come across so many Bishops who view ‘Presiding’ as synonymous to ‘commanding’ or ‘I’m the boss’ that I wonder why they even bother with male councilors!

    Having said this I do agree that some kids miss out on not having a mom at home when they return from school or not having a soccer mom. A dad may stay home here or there but it’s not the same. Men are raised differently from the very start -as hunters and gatherers- and to change this we would need to change everything about society. Women can certainly have careers but then with mothers the issues is different imho.

    Will it be different in the next life? doubt that too, according to Jose Smith (somewhere in D&C) we will have the same society or associations there as we do here

  26. I always make this same comment when this topic comes up. I have never experienced the SAHM vs. working mother dynamic, either in or out of the church. I really don’t get the feeling that the SAHMs are judging me for working. I don’t notice a divide at church or really, anywhere else between SAHMs and working women. Am I just too socially retarded to notice this stuff?

  27. E, I’m sure it varies from place to place. Also, I’m sure sensitivity to it varies from person to person. Are you asking to suggest that because you don’t experience it, then everyone who claims to experience it is making it up? If so, I believe the answer is pretty clearly no.

  28. Carlos, there must be something evolutionarily deficient in my husband, because he does fine taking kids to soccer practice. He also does OK greeting them after school and seeing that they get a snack and do their homework. Maybe he gets his hunting and gathering instinct taken care of while buying milk at Costco.

  29. J.Ro:

    I have a hard time with women who feel slighted in the church but don’t acknowledge that there are real differences between men and women. The thing is, difference isn’t necessarily inequality.

    My impression is that you’re mixing up two separate meanings of “differences.” Of course I acknowledge that men and women may have different characteristics. But in your next line you’re talking about different treatment. In a few obvious circumstances, different characteristics do reasonably suggest different treatment. For example, it’s reasonable to not equip church buildings with rooms in which men can breastfeed their babies. But beyond that narrow range, it all just sounds like post hoc justification to me. Women can’t attend PEC because . . . they have uteruses? A ward clerk can’t be a woman because . . . women are shorter than men on average? The vast majority of the differential treatment of women and men in the Church seems to be in no way justified by the actual differences between them.

  30. Post

    Just to clarify, IIRC, men (in the stone age) were the hunters while the women were the gatherers. Men didn’t do both while women were watching soaps and eating bon-bons or doing each others’ nails between pillow fights (or whatever other silly things men think women do to occupy their time). Women collected foods (berries, nuts, etc.) near the home while men went out in groups to bring down the woolly mammoth. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  31. This is one of those issues (we know the other one) where any opinion you have is likely to make someone mad.

    I think the women of the church have a tremendous amount of influence in spite of not hold those proverbial high calling of responsibility. When you think about it, nine to twelve women of the ward have the ability to minister and positively affect the lives of the majority of ward members. And, the spouses of the male leaders, for the most part, have the ear of their husbands.

    Now I realize that some women are not satisfied with not having control, but these few women are not satisfied because THEY don’t have the control or the influence they desire. In most of the wards and Bishoprics I have been a part of, the opinions of the sisters were just as important as the brethren in the leadership meetings. The RSP attended the PEC meetings in most situations, as my wife does now. the bishopric let the women run, YW, primary and RS as they saw fit. things that got vetoed were just as likely to get vetoed if the Priesthood suggested it.

    I think the SAHM movement started after WWII as the men came back from war, they got the jobs and women, for the most part were sent home. this was not the case prior as many women either worked on the farm, along side their families or took jobs outside the home. Extended family was there to care for the children.

    What is a shame now is that the kids, who used to be cared for by grandparents or older siblings are now warehoused in day care centers where strangers raise them and their parents often miss the most important movements of an young child’s life. This is not progress. A parent or extended family member should care for the children for the first 5 years until they go to school. We were very lucky to be able to do this as my wife’s income at the time would barely cover child care expenses and the cost of going to work.

  32. Ziff, I’m actually trying to say the two are interconnected. My comment was a bit of a ramble, which I apologize for. (I do, in part, attribute that to the variety of points made in the post which, while informative, was also a bit of a ramble.) Anyway. For example, at my job, women take a different approach than our men do when we both perform the same tasks. Neither result is worse than the other. We’re just different. I personally don’t really feel like I’m trying to justify much of anything and I think you’re ignoring what I said holistically, and generalizing statements out of context.

    I have never found an explanation for the questions you propose that satisfies everyone. As far as I’m aware, the one qualification for those particular situations (other than having the actual calling) is holding the priesthood. Why God decided to give the priesthood to only men, I don’t know. It may be sexist. But I don’t lose sleep over it because I still feel like women and men can contribute equally, though differently (but not necessarily in the same old gender roles we seem to fall into). And I think contributing differently is okay because we are different. I would personally rather see not a matri- or patriarchal structure, but one where men and women lead together. But the system we have is the direction God has given us, and my opinion is that we ought to do the best with what we’re given.

  33. Post
  34. E, “Maybe he gets his hunting and gathering instinct taken care of while buying milk at Costco”, ja-ja, probably 🙂

    #32 True technically, but then if your history teacher was about to retire as mine was when she covered this, well.. (its her fault 🙂 )

    #35 Why God decided to give the priesthood to only men, I don’t know Maybe its because we -priesthood holders- are doing Jesus’s work and taking his place -and obviously Jesus was male- or filling in for him and not for Mary or M.Magdalen or any other women? but then people get offended when I suggest this so I better not.

  35. #35 Why God decided to give the priesthood to only men, I don’t know Maybe its because we -priesthood holders- are doing Jesus’s work and taking his place -and obviously Jesus was male- or filling in for him and not for Mary or M.Magdalen or any other women? but then people get offended when I suggest this so I better not.

    Oh but that just begs the question of why women can’t do Jesus’ work just as well, etc. etc. We can guess and guess all day, but when it comes to the specific reason, I’ve never heard or read anything that amounts to actual doctrine, more than speculation. I can’t get my hands on anything that explains it satisfactorily, leaving me to just say that’s what we’ve been given. So, I don’t know.

  36. Is it possible that God has/does/would give priesthood to women if the Church allowed, like the blacks issue? It seems to me that there is a pretty strong historical and doctrinal case for doing so. Just to add, this does not mean that we would have women in-charge of EQ or vice versa, just that the Priesthood would function in these organisations and that it would require greater participation at the highest/lowest levels of the Church in areas where it is sorely needed, like taking confession or disciplinary councils.

  37. J.Ro,

    begs the question of why women can’t do Jesus’ work just as well

    Because women had a different role in Jesus’ life. He chose apostles, seventies and so on…maybe if we look at it the other way around it easier to grasp: the 16yold male priest will step into Jesus shoes when he blesses the sacrament but the 16yold laurel will do Mary Magdale’ part….errr… during an Easter show? :))

    Anyway remember that women are called to be priestesses in exaltation so maybe all this is a pre-millennium setup which will radically change during the millenium since there we will be organized more as family groups.

  38. Just a few things:

    1. RSP is quite possibly the most time consuming, heart breaking, back breaking, and least recognized job in a ward. Nothing can replace an effective and engaged RSP in the functioning of a ward. Any Bishop that does not recognize that is shooting himself in the foot and is quite possibly and idiot.

    2. If having the Sisters in the church go to PEC and Bishopric meetings would do one or both of the following, shorten the meeting or keep me from having to go, then I am all for it. I have participated in wards where the women were very involved in the decision making and in ones where they were not. The more involved the women were the better the ward worked.

    3. My wife’s decision to work or not has always been her own. She has recently gone back to work, and we both feel very fortunate that she has a job that allows her to work from home. We still have a pre-school child at home, however, we have always been able to work our schedule in such a way that when my wife is not available I am (much to my childrens dismay, they all often wait until Mom is available to ask permission as they feel Dad is less likely to grant it). I know of no situation in which my wife has been ridiculed or looked down on because she chose not to work or to go back.

    4. During my time in Bishoprics my wife has always been very helpful with decisions that I needed to make and that I could share with her. Her council has always been wise and much more Christ like.

    Probably a lot of other things I thought of as I read through the above, but cannot now remember. I would have to say in my self analysis of things that I probably would be considered by most to be way to old fashioned in my approach to gender roles (although I find that term offensive) if my daughter wants to do X then fine let her do it (although I am not sure I would be terribly excited if she threw on a helmet and wanted to join a football team, who knows).

  39. Hawkgrrrl:

    I intended comment #11 to be entirely sarcasm. The fact that Lamech’s plot in the first great secret combination recorded in mortality was foiled by his wives could be seen as an example of righteous women. I have never been able to tell whether the scriptures intended for them to be seen as whistleblowers, or just careless gossipers. In either case, that story provides an under emphasized basis in Mormon mythology for the orign of the “boys only clubs”.

  40. Post

    Cowboy – glad to know you were kidding!

    The point about men being like Jesus while women are like (role models notably absent – Mary Magdalene? Really? She’s barely a walk-on unless you consider gnostic gospels) is spot on. Women are in the role of “other” or “outsider” in the same way that a daughter is to a father or a son is to a mother. We can love them and learn from them, but we understand ourselves in relation to them as being “different” or how we are “not like” them.

    That puts women outside or apart from those institutional functions. Which is OK by me personally because I can get what I want to get from church without it, but it does make women feel detached or not care about church leadership or priesthood too much as it is completely male voices and doesn’t pertain to us directly. And the female voices that are there are frankly worse than the male voices at representing the women of the church. But again, that’s OK by me because I don’t need a representative. I have access to God all on my own.

  41. Hawkgrrrl, I agree with you in that each of us has equal access to God, men and women alike. I have no desire to hold leadership positions, but at the same time, it would be nice to have a female to go to for interviews, etc. I would prefer the same for my daughters. I also worry about the women in the church who may feel less empowered to follow their own path, as well as those who are held down by a dominating husband or father. This happens far too often in a patriarchal system. Fortunately for me, our family is not patriarchal. In our home, the PARENTS preside.

  42. Post

    pinkpatent – I agree. I think the result of patriarchy is detachment for women. Although, maybe that’s just by contrast. Maybe women don’t attach in the same way as men. Or maybe I just like detachment.

  43. I guess I am selective in my attachments. I easily attach to beauty I find, and I just as easily detach from the ugly. Many years ago, DH and I had a bishop tell us it was time to have another baby. We thought that was an ugly thing to do…..and you would have been amazed at how rapid was our detachment….:)

  44. Carlos-

    Either my comment didn’t get along with my browser when I tried to post or it got deleted. I think your interpretation here is a stretch. Hawkgrrl addresses those thoughts well in her first paragraph of 43 and I don’t want to mangle it right now. Which brings me back to my “I don’t know” position. I am normally supportive of women who want more equality opportunities and rights (as long as they approach it with a clear head and reasonable methods; the radical feminists are a bit over the top and don’t seem to help their cause). But God has made it clear a number of times that the priesthood is extended to men and not women; I don’t know why that’s the way he wants it, but I accept it and try to make sure women still have equal respect.

    Hawk is right about each of us having equal access to God, which I think is the most important thing. And with things like the heavy emphasis on strengthening families, our homes can be places of holiness, righteous parenting, etc. etc., I feel that the balance of power in the family and the spirit that the parents have in making decisions and raising their kids is probably more important than what callings are available to who. Like pinkpatent, my family is not patriarchal (nor was it ever when I was younger), but my wife and I preside equally. I may be the presiding priesthood holder, but that does not put me above my wife, rather next to her.

  45. to have a female to go to for interviews, etc. I would prefer the same for my daughters

    That could be done today without giving women the priesthood. As an ex bishop I would’ve prefered to deal with male youth -typically masturbation, WoW and mission issues- and left the young women’s presidency to deal with the girls. I certainly never asked the girls more than generic questions on morality, which encourages a generic ‘yes’ answer unless they were deep in sin (and there’s only one I can remember). So whatever they were doing was a mystery to me!

    Also its awkward at times to judge women who committed adultery and listen to the excuses of why and that, with them I would’ve preferred to have the RSPcy deal with them and then we could just do the paperwork. Its just about delegation. To say that Bishops are the only judges isn’t the entire story since a branch president also sits in judgment although he isn’t specifically an ordained ‘Bishop’ so I don’t see the problem with delegating to RSP/YWP.

    By the way I never got into that ‘have a baby now’ business. Its really people’s own personal choice and if one does encourage that and then things go wrong, like a stillbirth or divorce during pregnancy, its then “the Bishops fault because he told us to do it” and so on. Its best avoided plus there’s plenty of work to do anyhow, in bishoprics 🙂

  46. I understand that men and women are different. I get that’s for certain reasons. I feel that my hubby and I really do complement one another. I can’t remember which comment said it…Carlos, I think, that Joseph Smith said our relationships would probably continue the same in the next life. I’ll have to issue with that. I agree that we’ll be in family units if we happen to make it that far, but not everything will be the same. I think it’s just hard, at least for me, I love God and have a testimony of the Gospel, but I just feel that I’m not as equal to a man. I don’t want to be pregnant throughout all eternity, I don’t want to be a silent partner in the eternities. I didn’t like being pregnant here. So if the “ideal” is for me to be super happy being a mommy of many and a wife…then I think I’m pretty screwed. I don’t want the “ideal.” I enjoy my little boy very much and love him so much, but do I want another one? Nope. So it’s think that I have to live up to a certain ideal, while men can have the career, be the father, husband and if I want something more then there’s something wrong with me. Not that everyone feels this way. It’s just when there’s an ideal set= something to live up, the best, what everyone should want. and not everyone does. So I guess I’m evil and not in accordance to God’s will, but that just doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for the next life either…

  47. Kaylana, I’m sorry. I understand it’s immensely saddening to feel like the ideal of the next life is something you don’t want. I don’t know how much this will help, but you’re certainly not alone in feeling this way. You might enjoy Lynnette’s post at ZD last year on the question of “Do you want to go to the Celestial Kingdom?

  48. #50-Kaylana-

    I believe we each have our own purpose in this life and God’s will for you is not necessarily the same as God’s will for me, even though we are both women. Pay attention to what you desire and ponder and pray about it. I have found that if I am sincere in my prayer’s to God and want to know His will for me, my desires tend to align with what I am needing to do at that time in my life. If you feel you don’t want to have more children, maybe it is because there is something else you are needing to do now. I don’t believe we were all intended to have as many children as possible or that once we get married, we are never to become anything more except wives and mothers (not to say that isn’t a lot!)

    Also, I don’t believe the Celestial kingdom is where we go and do things we don’t want to do. We have no comprehension of what it will be like there, so I think it is easy to assume it will be like here, just with gold sidewalks and no blood. 🙂 I have no doubt that it will be far better than we could ever imagine because that is the type of Father in heaven that we have. He loves us and wants us to be happy and even if it doesn’t feel like it while we are here, it is true and He will do everything in His power to help you find happiness.

  49. Kaylana:

    My words probably mean nothing to you but for here is what I think.

    Give yourself a break. I think it is wrong and unhealthy to try and mold your wants and desires into what you perceive the Church or God would want from you. It’s ok to be yourself and it’s ok to not want more kids and to not think heaven sounds very fun. A world where people are taught that it is wrong to pray to their heavenly mother seems odd to me, and unfair to women. We are all different and accepting yourself and being true to yourself is a bigger component to happiness, in my opinion, then doing what you think the Church or God wants from you.

  50. Post

    Kaylana – ditto what others have said. There’s no way the CK is just a baby farm. That would make God a misogynist, and if you can get to be God and still be a misogynist, well, I’ll be very surprised. We just don’t know. I think the most important thing is to grow to be the best person you can be in this life, and from what I see of you in the b’nacle – you’re doing just fine!

  51. Wow, thanks everyone for your comments! I’m trying not to be myself up too much! Ziff, thanks for sharing that post on the CK! I found it very enlightening. Derek, your words definitely meant something to me! Thanks for sharing as well!

  52. Oh. I don’t even know where to start. I’m afraid brevity is not my forte and this topic will be worse. And yes, I want to wretch when I hear women say, “Oooo, I would never want the priesthooooooood.” So we tell our boys it’s this awesome power to act in God’s name and it’s an incredible responsibility and we have a number of lessons on it’s awesomeness every year–and we tell our girls it’s icky and stinky and SOOOOO much trouble?

    There’s been a little back and forth on just this issue on Mormon Momma this week. It comes around every few weeks or so and it makes me crazy. And I said something along the lines of one premise, that women are their own worst enemies sometimes. Honestly, I would trust a male bishop to keep a confidence much more than a female–just based on the stupid yakking I hear too often from females. Maybe we need to buck it up and have better leadership qualities. But will it make any difference?

    I’ll try to calm down and just address your actual questions:

    How do you feel about the concept of patriarchy in the church?
    It makes me crazy most of the time–like any time I’m awake and conscious.

    Does patriarchy limit women’s choices?
    Of course it does. How many women make the final decision over ANY group in the church. ZERO. Everything at the local, regional, and general level has male oversight.

    Does female exclusion from the priesthood constitute sexism?
    You have to define “sexism” to answer that. It obviously differentiates based solely on gender. I think the real question is whether on not GOD wants/approves of/supports all the gender divisions. I mean, does it really matter how we label it if God himself puts women in a particular place? It’s not like we can override his vote. But how I wish it would be addressed more pointedly than, “we don’t know” or “it’s not a problem for our women.”

    Does the Proclamation on the Family’s description of male and female roles limit women or protect the interests of families?
    I think it limits both genders AND protects families. I really wish the official position was that the primary role of PARENTS was to nurture their children and that secondary to that, they needed to figure out how to provide for them–without interfering with the first objective. Are we too selfish? too prone to make excuses? too whatever to handle such self-governing? I don’t know. I’m a SAHM because the prophet said so. ONLY because he said so. I have, since staying home learned the great wisdom in that counsel. Could the positive outcome we’ve had have happened with my choice in counsel? Yes. Would it? I don’t know.

    Is there a culture war between SAHMs and working moms in the church?
    Yes. But I do think it is somewhat misrepresented in these examples. Or at least it’s only partially represented. As I said, I’m a SAHM originally under duress. I understand wanting to work. I understand NEEDING to work (when I became a SAHM, by husband was in grad school). But I don’t think we can re-interpret prophetic counsel to fit our desires and I don’t think THIS particular counsel has a lot of wiggle room. Same for having kids (per the comment above). Sorry, we ARE supposed to multiply. Now I’m not going to call someone else up and rag on them if they choose not to have kids (and I’m adopted, so I get that part, too), but if you’re going to say it’s just fine to choose not to have kids, I’m going to argue with you.

    Are women the most oppressive toward other women in the church in limiting women’s roles and choices and lashing out at women who don’t conform?
    This statement was profound, “women who are benefiting by fitting into the patriarchy have more to lose by it going away than do men.” I’d never thought about it that way before. It’s so true. I have been a Relief Society president and held a number of other leadership positions. I’m not exactly black-balled for my writing now, but I do feel that I have to choose between, for example, asking my bishop (my last FOUR bishops, actually (in both Florida and in Utah) why the heck he won’t let women give opening prayers in Sacrament Meeting and having a “choice” calling. Women who rock the boar simply are NOT looked kindly upon.

    But to answer the question, I think the oppression is shared. I know just as man men who treat concerns of women like hormonal outbursts that they must endure until they can get onto the real stuff as I do women who address concerns from other women with statements like, “Well, the Spirit confirmed it to ME.” The trump card. You must be a spiritual nincompoop.

    The older I get (I’m 45) the more the whole gender thing in the church makes no sense at all to me. Why would God think “women can’t invite the Spirit to a meeting”? Why would God want such a huge disparity between the boys and girls programs? Why wouldn’t God want to have some women in on the decision-making processes that affect them?

    When you read the conference issue, the talks are all given in chronological order, except for the women’s meetings, which are in the back, even though they occur first? Why would some of my priesthood leaders actually say that it’s wrong to say “Young Women and Young Men” and correct to say, “Young Men and Young Women”? (Seriously!)

    During the solemn assembly, my family was gathered together to sustain the new prophet. As the groups called to stand went on and on and on, one of my younger teen daughters–who don’t ever hear my feministish rantings–finally turned to me, exasperated, and said, “When are they ever going to let the women vote???”

    Anyway, thanks for the article. And congrats if anyone made it through my post.

  53. Post

    AMS – “why the heck he won’t let women give opening prayers in Sacrament Meeting” – I have only ever heard of this, but not experienced it in any of my wards firsthand. I know it happens from hearing others mention it. You have clearly drawn the short straw several times in a row!

    “But I don’t think we can re-interpret prophetic counsel to fit our desires and I don’t think THIS particular counsel has a lot of wiggle room. Same for having kids” Well, the wiggle room is that GBH said couples have to make these decisions together prayerfully based on individual circumstances. While I’m glad it has worked out for you, not all couples got the same answer that it was right for them to do the SAHM/one career only thing. Is that re-interpreting prophetic counsel to fit our desires or following prophetic counsel to make decisions together as a couple prayerfully? I am confident in my choices, and they have brought happiness, but I’m not a SAHM, and I do have kids.

  54. This was always a big deal to me studying the church, and it’s still something that concerns me deeply since my daughter is being raised in both religions. I can’t talk it over with my husband, either. He’s absolutely convinced that every policy involved in the current way of doing things is from God and my few attempts to discuss it with him have hit a stalemate, fast.

    Going back to the OP though, I think I am more decidedly bothered by the women who support patriarchy than the men who support it, because when I bring the issue up, 95% of the time the response I get from men is “it doesn’t bother my wife” and the response I get from women is “it doesn’t bother me.” When the situation is compared to the denial of priesthood to blacks, LDS apologists will say it’s hardly the same situation because “most women” in the church today don’t want the priesthood, so there’s no need to change things.

    Like it or not, I think the frequency of this type of response highlights the real problem. The church runs itself like a good business and the leaders aren’t going to improve their product until it really begins to affect customer satisfaction and consumption. So long as “most” women are okay with this system and it isn’t harming the number of people joining the church, the question of whether it is right or wrong will continue to be completely ignored in favor of its utility.

    So, for the most part, I do blame the women who are “okay” with it. It really is their fault.

  55. Alison,
    I recall reading an Ensign article (possibly a conference talk) where a prophet or GA said that the Church’s counsel is general–there are exceptions. Yes, in general we should marry and have children. I remember the article mentioned mental illness being genetically passed on in a family as a specific example of one valid exception.
    I bring this up because some 35 years after reading that article–I know ofdevout LDS families ruined by mental illness and I can see why a dear friend of mine is adamant her daughter stop the cycle and not have her own biological children. I understand why
    a bi-polar or schizophrenic woman shouldn’t have a child. And yes, one day she can in the Millenium.

    The article also mentioned that not all LDS people should marry–there are exceptions.
    I think it’s fair to say that in every family ward there are a few single older people who never married and we look at them and wonder why because there’s nothing we see
    “wrong” with them. But they must have their reasons and a variety of reasons some which may not even occur to the rest of us. I think the article mentioned illness or disability being a reason for an exception. Also, people with abusive pasts would be a valid reason or those who have a deep rooted problem with the opposite sex.

    I can honestly say that I’ve known very few women who I think wouldn’t make good mothers but I can think of some who don’t seem nurturing or naturally inclined to be
    good at it–Michael Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe–pardon me but I just can’t see her acting motherly even though she went through pregnancies, etc. I don’t know that all
    women should be mothers–I would like to think of course that is how it should be but in reality you just know some women are not cutout to be good mothers. Just as not every father is good at it just because he fathers a child. Michael Jackson seemed more natural gentle and nurturing parent than Ms. Rowe is. That woman seemed to have sold her children to him and cut her ties with them–it may not have been a wise idea for this woman to have borne children at all.

    My banker is a thirty-something female with children and her husband stays at home with the kids. She says it’s because he’s better at it and she’s better at working outside the home. Perhaps it’s a difference in temperament or patience. But it clearly works for them so who am I to say they’ve got it reversed and what a shame.

    Anyway those are just my observations over my lifetime for whatever it’s worth!

  56. Alison – you seem to have come across a lot of people with unfortunate attitudes. In my own experiences in a number of regions, the kinds of things you mention are less the rule and more the exception, and are almost entirely the result of folk doctrines or strange perceptions of actual doctrines. But that’s just my experience. I’m sorry you’ve run into so much of the frustrating side.

    I don’t want to pick through your post piece by piece — though I did read it all 🙂 — but I would like your thoughts on one question: Do you think all the situations that gave rise to the complaints you share would have happened if the ward was directed, in person, by any given apostle rather than Bishop _____ or Brother What’s-his-name, relatively average church members? (Note that I’m not asking about a specific GA, just in general; the thrust of the question being whether it comes from local leadership or higher-level general church leadership.)

  57. pinkpatent, I thank you and apologize for the torture! I apologize in advance for the length of my response. I can feel it.

    Hawkgrrrl, yes, I have drawn the short stick! I wrote about it a couple of years ago (The Prayer Thing: Why Women Aren’t Worthy to Open Meetings. From the feedback I’ve had over the past two years, it looks to me like this “rule” is enforced in about a third of the ward I’ve been in contact with.

    As for the decision to be a SAHM, yes, I’m well aware of the flexibility. I would never tell anyone that they had made the wrong decision or call someone out about their particular choice. How could I do so reasonably? But I do think when upwards of 50% or more of our members have found themselves an exception to the general counsel that, collectively, we’re probably too easily calling ourselves exceptions.

    mary, I agree that there are also exceptions to the rule to multiply. But I do think real exceptions are “exceptionally” rare. Again, I wouldn’t ever speak to an individual about such a choice and will INDIVIDUALLY assume that each person is the exception they thing they are. I have no right to do otherwise.

    I do think, however, we have to be careful with the notion that “I’m sure I wouldn’t be a good mother” makes us an exception. Often that just means, “I’m more interested in other things.” Believe me, I understand both. But I do think that just as we can accept a calling that we think is beyond us or manage through a situation that we never thought we’d have to face, we can also become good moms even if we aren’t innate baby-lovers or something.

    When I was in college I told every guy I dated, “I’ll have two kids…if I like the first one a lot.” I have six. They are the best thing that ever happened to me. No, I’m still not a cooing googy-baby mom. And I do a lot of really dumb mom things. I have a ton of regrets. But my kids are amazing–even if they got warped by me.

    I know a great family (LDS) who has the role reversal thing going, too. And I’d like to feel more flexibility in the church’s position. But I don’t see it yet. I tend to be of the mindset that it’s fine to try to change the rules, but you keep them while doing so.

    J.Ro, that’s a really good question. I hope I an answer it in a way that makes sense.

    Yes, I think most of them would have. I HOPE they wouldn’t, but I think most of them would. And it’s the distance between my ward(s) and the general leaders that gives me that hope.

    For example, I do think that most GAs would call only men to open Sacrament Meeting–the handbook notwithstanding. I think that because women NEVER give prayers in General Conference and because it is my understanding (unconfirmed) that the “directive” mentioned in my article was from Boyd K. Packer–and he’s up there at the top of the food chain.

    I think there would be a huge disparity between, say cub scouts and activity days,because the programs are designed that way on a general level.

    Obviously putting all women after every man on the planet in sustaining would happen, because they did it that way.

    I actually HOPE that the reason we have some of the policies and practices that we do is because there are generational issues (my mother–born in 1929–was a very educated, bright, independent woman, but she couldn’t for the life of understand why (at the age of FOUR) I thought things were so unfair), because so many women don’t/won’t speak up, and because they are removed from the masses of regular women.

    I’m really hoping that they just don’t know instead of thinking they do know and don’t want to bother with it or that God really wants it this way.

    I hope that answers your question.

    Again, sorry for the length.

  58. This is going to be nit-picky and somewhat ridiculous, given my lack of involvement in this thread thus far, but . . .

    “I understand why a bi-polar or schizophrenic woman shouldn’t have a child.”

    The irony of that statement in this particular thread about having seen the axe is striking.

    My mother is schizophrenic and I am one of eight children. None of us are a blight on society. Medication and my father made it possible. I know MANY good women who are bi-polar and wonderful mothers. I would love to see the day when such statements are never uttered, at least not without detailed disclaimers.

  59. When the women in my wards would comment on my “working outside the home” status, I would just say: “I love my children dearly, and I love being a mom. But, I am a BETTER mom to them when I am not with them 24 hours a day. Don’t you think my children deserve the best mom I can be?” They never had a response to that. The fact is, each of us is a different person, with different stregths and weaknesses. Accepting yourself is the only way you can make the most of your life and, in turn, the lives of your children.

  60. Ray, I agree with you. Life is a crap shoot. We don’t know what traits we will pass to our children and what challenges will come their way without genetic influence. IMO, the desire to be a parent is the number one qualification to becoming a parent. Every person has traits that would be considered negative. If even half of the people who risk passing along negative traits were to refrain from having children, we would be shy alot of awesome human beings.

    The saddest part for me in this whole thread is the willingness to judge others’ choices as somehow “less correct” if they differ from the perceived norms. Parenthood is hard enough without throwing a bunch of unwarranted judgements and condemnation into the mix.

    Sadly, I do agree that much of this condemnation of working moms comes from other women in the church. I get the idea that they feel like my choice to work outside the home is somehow a sign that I don’t value their choice to be a SAHM. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I support their choice and wish that society would give more help to SAHMs. Its just that I made a choice that worked better for me and my family.

  61. I am deeply troubled by the impertinence displayed by LDS women who covet the priesthood. In fact, by the authority of the priesthood which I hold, I COMMAND you all to cease from this wicked pursuit.

    Any inclination to “obey” me? If so, get professional help. The LDS priesthood simply does not work that way.

    I don’t know what’s sadder–that some LDS women view the priesthood as a tool for the control and coercion of others, or that they desire this tool for themselves.

  62. Steve, I believe the purpose of the priesthood is to bless the lives of God’s children. Service….Service…..Service. I hope everyone understands that. I also believe that one does not have to hold the priesthood to serve, regardless of gender, age or religion. I think alot of these issues would be diffused with more humility from all involved. Holding the priesthood does make a person any better than any other person on this earth. It is the ultimate paradox. The power is strongest when the holder is humblest.

    I don’t know when, or if women will hold the entire priesthood. I trust God to deal with all of that. I do know that I love going to the temple and seeing women officate in priesthood ordinances.

  63. Oops….Holding the priesthood does NOT make a person any better than any other person on this earth. Sorry about the typo.

  64. #67 Jen ~ That’s about the size of it. That’s not to say that the men who are okay with it aren’t at fault as well, but I think that the women who support such discrimination against their own sex are more culpable because they’re the ones whom the men who set these policies will inevitably hide behind.

    Of course, this only applies to women who are okay with not holding the priesthood and therefore don’t believe the policy should be changed. It’s entirely possible for a woman to not mind the current policy as it applies to her, but still want it to be changed for the benefit of the women who do feel marginalized by it.

  65. #71-BJM

    “Of course, this only applies to women who are okay with not holding the priesthood and therefore don’t believe the policy should be changed”

    I would say I fall into this category because I haven’t ever felt a need for the policy to be changed. I think it is quite a stretch to say that I am discriminating against my own sex because I don’t feel a policy should be changed. To each his/her own though.

    My experience with real men of God is that they care more about the welfare of women and children then of their own and they have no need to hide behind anyone.

  66. #72 Jen ~ The LDS church does not allow women to hold certain offices and carry out certain responsibilities based solely on their sex. That is a textbook example of discrimination. If you support said discriminatory policies, then you are supporting discrimination against your own sex. There’s nothing to stretch. I suppose you could be apathetic to the policy and neither support it nor desire to change it, but that’s still a type of support because qui tacet consentire videtur.

    My experience with real men of God is that they care more about the welfare of women and children then of their own and they have no need to hide behind anyone.

    I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean or how it’s a response to anything I said. Men at the highest levels of church leadership have regularly pointed to the fact that LDS women don’t mind the current situation as a justification for why it shouldn’t change. For example, see the Gordon B. Hinckley interview with Larry King from 1998:

    CALLER: Yes. Since we’re getting into the 21st century, President Hinckley, what is the chance that women may hold a priesthood in the Mormon church?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Well, they don’t hold the priesthood at the present time. It would take another revelation to bring that about. I don’t anticipate it. The women of the church are not complaining about it. They have their own organization, a very strong organization, 4 million plus members. I don’t know of another women’s organization in the world which does so much for women as does that, as this church has. They’re happy. They sit on boards and governance in the church. I don’t hear any complaints about it.

    I’m laying the blame for the toleration of this policy at the feet of LDS women who “are not complaining” about it because that’s exactly what LDS men are doing.

  67. Holding the priesthood does NOT make a person any better than any other person on this earth.

    Excellent point. The “better” people (however you choose to define that) do seem to be the ones who don’t make themselves the focus of their calling, or even the smaller things. And to be fair, I think that’s true for both sexes.

  68. Post

    Honestly, I’m in the “count me out” on the priesthood camp, too. Or at least I don’t really care one way or another. The priesthood is not for the holder. There are no benefits to having it, only more work. It is only used for others. We don’t have a paid clergy, and if a priesthood holder lacks humility, they become ineffective.

    The problem is when priesthood is conflated with other things, and that, IMO, is a real problem in perception among both priesthood holders, local leaders and others. When someone is viewed as being more worthy or more special because they hold it (and someone without it is viewed as less than) – for example, the prayer thing having to be done by a priesthood holder. An opening prayer is not an ordinance of the priesthood. There is an amount of priesthood worship going on in the church that is not supported by our theology, IMO. Those lovers of formality and tradition are probably the unwitting perpetrators of that mindset.

    So, BJM, count me in your “axe” category on that one in that I am completely uninterested in more work. But I don’t see a justification for women to not have it (other than tradition) nor do I judge those women who feel it shouldn’t be gender-specific. What we really need to change, IMO, is the way gender differences are viewed and break down the limiting stereotypes.

  69. #73 BJM-

    I am curious, are you someone who desires to hold the priesthood? I am with Hawkgrrl in that I don’t have a desire to do more work. I would never want to be a bishop, GA, prophet, etc. and I don’t envy people who hold those positions. My focus in life is my relationship with the Lord, not to aspire to have a specific calling in the church. I don’t judge those women who feel they want more, I just don’t feel the same as they do.

  70. #75 Hawkgrrrl ~ Here’s one thing to understand about the “I don’t want more work” argument. In an egalitarian system where both men and women have the priesthood, you wouldn’t necessarily have to do more work. Having the priesthood does not have to equal more work for you personally. My husband is a TR-holding, faithful, active member of the church who served a two-year mission in France when he was 19. He’s never baptized anyone in his life, he hasn’t given any blessings since we’ve been married, and in almost six years of marriage, I think I can count the number of times he’s passed sacrament on one hand. He jokes that he wears colored shirts to church on purpose so that they won’t ask him to pass the sacrament. He doesn’t even have a home teaching calling, apparently having been overlooked by his EQ president, and again he jokes that he isn’t going to tip off the EQ president to this fact because he doesn’t want more work to do.

    You can technically hold the priesthood and there isn’t anyone who is going to force you to perform baptisms, pass the sacrament or hold a calling in the bishopric. You can still be essentially what you are right now. But it doesn’t work the other way around for women who think they would like to hold the priesthood and have access to those callings and responsibilities; they’re completely out of luck.

    BTW, I do agree that there are a number of things the church could change to improve the status of women without technically giving women the priesthood. I posted a list to fMh back in March which quite a few people liked. I think every one of the things on that list could be fixed without giving women the priesthood except women performing rituals, and even that could be improved somewhat if women were allowed to give blessings again as they did back in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    #76 Jen ~ I’m not LDS; I’m an evangelical Christian who’s married to a Mormon and we’re raising our daughter in both religions. If I were LDS, would I want the priesthood? Definitely! I think LDS rituals are one of the most beautiful things about Mormonism. Who wouldn’t want to perform them? Well, you and Hawkgrrrl apparently ;), but I would be pretty sad if I were told that I couldn’t participate in baptizing and confirming my daughter solely because of my gender.

    Anyways, I could wax on about this topic all day, so I’ll leave you all in peace. Thanks for hearing me out.

  71. Kaylana #50,

    I hope its not too late for this, I just got up and have to go to work now (i’m in the other side of the world). Just a few points.

    a)The Smith scripture is DyC 130:2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy

    To me that means the same relationships we see here in our families, extended families, ward/Stake/and general conference levels (wouldn’t it?) which means that there may be a few pregnant women but they will be in the minority when the full CK is considered. In normal wards today there are many kids around but only 2 or so pregnant moms at a time. (‘normal’ wards that is)

    b) Remember that pain in childbirth started with Eve, and Adam’s ‘punishment’ was to labour all the days of his life. In majority catholic countries even today work is kind of a form of punishment. US culture has changed that notion around but the God of the Garden of Eden was fairly clear: pain in childbirth and work for men are the consequences of mortality. Hence in the CK things will be different since its an eternal world and with maximum glory. I guess that the discomforts of pregnancy are just another consequence of mortality? Maybe this having spirit children will be a privilege, joy and pleasure and nothing to be concerned about plus since our ‘sociality’ as Joe Smith called it, will be the same there will no doubt be single people (angles), childless couples, parents with small children, parents empty nesters, senior retired parents, grandmas babysitting, men hiding in fishing, bloggers etc etc….. Maybe the bloggers in the CK though will communicated telepathically 🙂

  72. This is why Jack leads in the nicest evil villian category. She’s nice, and she’s devilish – but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing in her case. 😉

  73. I find it something of a straw man when the desire to hold the priesthood is conflated with aspiring to callings or envying those who have position. Does your husband/son want the priesthood? Or is he upset at having to deal with the burden? Did those you know dread turning twelve and having to face all that extra church work?

    The priesthood is a blessing! Isn’t that what we are taught again and again? Isn’t that what the lessons say?

    How do you reconcile the notion that, “I’d never want to do so much work, so I’d never want the priesthood or any of those callings!” with, say, your sons? Do you say, “Gosh, I feel sorry for you. I’d never want to have to pass the sacrament or collect fast offerings. What a bother.”

    And is the implication that those who hold the priesthood “do more work” in the church even accurate?

  74. Post

    AMS – Well, I do openly pity my menfolk when they are moving people in and out of the ward twice a week. But, of course you are correct that priesthood is not required to do that. I really am just referring to the potential for extra work by getting a huge calling like Bishop or whatever. That type of thing would certainly be more work, and hats off to the bishops for doing it! But the priesthood, you must agree, is a blessing through service, not directly to the holder (unless used in service).

  75. AMS-

    I never said that I don’t see the priesthood as a blessing and I think you are going overboard with the whole “I’d never want to do so much work, so I’d never want the priesthood or any of those callings!” As a mother raising 7 children right now, I am quite busy and it would be tough to juggle being a bishop as well, especially when bedtime hit. 🙂 I don’t have priesthood envy. I am grateful to have a righteous priesthood holder as my companion and I trust that God knew what he was doing in giving the priesthood to men. I have enough personal experience with the blessings of the priesthood to know that, when exercised righteously, it is a wonderful blessing to a couple. I love it just the way it is.

  76. In the CoC, women can hold the priesthood, but unlike the LDS church where the priesthood has become a rite of passage largely based on age (deacon at 12, teacher at 14, priest at 16, elder at 19, high priest at 45 or bishopric calling, whichever comes first), in the CoC you come forward if you feel “called” to have the priesthood (IIRC). Under that scenario, I simply don’t believe I would feel compelled to request it.

    Getting back to something BJM said: “But it doesn’t work the other way around for women who think they would like to hold the priesthood and have access to those callings and responsibilities; they’re completely out of luck.” I have often observed that those who seek the calling of bishop are the last ones who should ever be in that calling because they would probably make everyone’s life a living hell. That’s just a personal observation of those I’ve seen who transparently “lobby” for those positions or attempt to suck up to the SP in hopes they might be the next bishop.

  77. “To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited for it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” – Douglas Adams

  78. And thus we see the Catch 22 faced by women who want equality in the church. If you don’t complain about not having the priesthood, the leaders use that as evidence that things are great the way they are and there’s no need to give women the priesthood. If you do complain about not having the priesthood and express a desire to have it, you’re told that this is evidence that you are power-hungry and therefore completely unsuited to hold it.

    I thought the priesthood and its offices were about service though, not ruling people. What’s so bad about wanting to serve others more?

  79. #86-


    I don’t think it is bad to want to serve others more. The reality is that is you are an active member of the church, hold a calling, are a VT/HT, attend the temple, etc. it is challenging enough to fit all of that in, in addition to doing family history work, family home evenings, and everything else involved. All of the things I have mentioned are considered serving and they fill a member’s daily life. Maybe we should consider that if women aren’t complaining about not holding the priesthood, it is because they are busy serving and they aren’t really thinking about ways to serve more because they are just trying to accomplish what they already have on their plate.

  80. Bridget, serving does not require the priesthood.

    I am curious about your position.

    If you truly believe the the priesthood is the authority to act for god, then how can you question who god chooses to give it to? I understand you are nor mormon, but if you were, and you wanted the priesthood, it just seems like a contradictory position to take.

    If it really is the power to act for god, then can’t god choose who receives it? And if he does say only for men, doesn’t that mean something? It’s his power you want, after all.

    The only way your complaint makes sense is if you are claiming that god wants men and women to have it but the leaders of the mormon church are mistakenly only giving it to men. Is that your position?

  81. Dexter, fwiw, I don’t believe the Priesthood is the power to act for God, and I’m a firmly believing member. I think it’s the authority to administer ordinances – and even that can be done by women in the temple. Also, women used to do things in the early days of the Church that now are considered by most members to be Priesthood things reserved for men.

    I don’t lobby for women to perform “organizational ordinances” outside the temple, but it wouldn’t twist my Mormon knickers a bit if that happened. I believe endowed women absolutely possess Priesthood power and authority – and that they carry the proof of that with them when they leave the temple. I believe in a mother’s blessing, just not in citing Priesthood authority to bless. I think women should be able to do much more than they can in some wards, where the men control too much and don’t understand the responsibility and authority members and presidencies are intended to have regardless of sex. I respect those who want more radical change, and I wouldn’t offer a word of complaint if it occurred, but I’m fine waiting to see if it happens.

    Of course, I’m a man, so I can afford to feel comfortable waiting.

  82. Dexter ~ The only way your complaint makes sense is if you are claiming that god wants men and women to have it but the leaders of the mormon church are mistakenly only giving it to men. Is that your position?

    If I were LDS, that would definitely be my position. Now I can believe that God can be sexist and not give the priesthood to women. The Bible is full of examples of God setting sexist policies.

    However, the Bible is also full of examples of God setting racist and pro-slavery policies. Yet racism and slavery have been abandoned by every major Christian denomination out there. Mormonism essentially bypassed the slavery controversy, but it was a racist church until 31 years ago, and it has since abandoned racism along with the rest of the Christian world.

    Now I’ve got the Eastern Orthodox, the Catholics, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many evangelical Protestants all asking me to believe that God is no longer racist or pro-slavery, but He’s still sexist.

    Nope. I don’t buy it. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Funny how that passage touches on those three issues—racism, slavery, and sexism—yet most Christian churches today are only 2 for 3 in obeying it.

  83. Ray-

    “The priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. That authority is essential to the fulfillment of His work on earth. The priesthood we hold is a delegated portion of the eternal authority of God. As we are true and faithful, our ordination to the priesthood will be eternal.”
    Richard G. Scott, “Honor the Priesthood and Use It Well,” Liahona, Nov 2008, 44–47

    Maybe it is a wording issue, but isn’t this essentially saying that the priesthood is the power to act for God?

  84. Jen, let me clarify:

    I don’t think the Preisthood is the exclusive power to act for God. I think ALL righteous men and women have the right, power, authority and responsibility to act for God – since they all are his children and have been promised access to him in one way or another. All who are baptized take upon them the name of Christ and promise to stand as witnesses of him – thus, acting for God. Those who receive their endowment covenant to act for God. Those who believe in and dedicate their lives to God promise to act for God, regardless of religion or denomination.

    I’m saying we tend to take a general concept (acting for God in the administration of ordinances) and extrapolate it FAR more generally than it should be applied.

    If you are interested, read what I posted this morning on my personal blog:


  85. Jen, one more thing:

    The Article of Faith mentions two things, and two things only, that require the Priesthood – preaching the Gospel (and women certainly can participate in that) and administering the ordinances thereof (and women certainly can participate in that in the temple).

    I understand the ideas and beliefs that have accumulated since that AofF was published, but it’s instructive to me that the original statement is worded as it is.

  86. Ray ~ One question. What are the requirements for a woman to administer washings and anointings in the temple? Can any 18 year-old endowed woman with a temple recommend sign up to do it?

    Dexter ~ I think a relevant passage on this issue in the New Testament is Matthew 19:8, when the Pharisees are questioning Jesus about Moses’s divorce laws and Jesus tells them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so,” and then He goes on to repeal the divorce allowances. Jesus is referring to Deuteronomy 24:1: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house.” That is tremendous to me. God didn’t really want men divorcing their wives left and right, but He let them do it because of their weakness and their sinfulness. He was willing to work with their prejudices instead of correcting them.

    So no, I don’t think God is racist or changed from being racist to being not racist. I think that, throughout history, He has worked within an already racist society constructed by men to accomplish His purposes. God sometimes tolerates racism when people can’t do better. I feel the same way about sexism. God isn’t sexist, but sometimes He tolerates sexism when men and women can’t do any better.

    And I simply think the LDS church can do better.

  87. I just don’t buy god communicating with JS in such detail regarding what mission so and so should go on and to where but he chooses not to inform prophets that women should have the priesthood.

    If god is leading the church, then for whatever reason he feels that women should not have the priesthood. If he is not leading the church, then its not a religion you should want to be a part of, in my opinion.

    But if you believe it is led by men, I suppose you have every right to be in favor of them extending the priesthood to women. It certainly wouldn’t bother me.

  88. Bridget, how was the world “an already racist society”. You act as if god came upon the scene after it was created, after humans inhabited it, and after those humans developed racist tendencies. That doesn’t make any sense.

    In fact, a better argument can be made that religion has caused racism. The mark of cain, the curse of the lamanites, the racist teachings of the Bible.

    Further, I disagree that god would slowly teach people how to be better. Why not teach correct principles from the get go? Why wait 2000 years to teach that divorce is wrong, or that racism is evil, or that sexism is wrong?

    What is alarming to me is that religion has to follow society. If religion is so inspired, why does it follow modern society? Why does the country accept blacks first, and then the LDS church after? Shouldn’t an organization that is led by an omnipotent, omniscient god be LEADING the way on these types of issues, instead of following?

  89. Dexter ~ According to some people, God did inform JS that women were to hold the priesthood. Later prophets and apostles (namely Brigham Young) repealed this.

    You act as if god came upon the scene after it was created, after humans inhabited it, and after those humans developed racist tendencies. That doesn’t make any sense.

    I’m not sure what there is to not make sense. God created people, people separated into different kinds and began to hate each other for their differences, God couldn’t get them to stop so He worked within their biases.

    Why not teach correct principles from the get go? Why wait 2000 years to teach that divorce is wrong, or that racism is evil, or that sexism is wrong?

    For the same reason Prohibition failed in the U.S. It doesn’t matter how correct and true something is; if people refuse do it, you might as well go preach it to a bucket of paint.

    What is alarming to me is that religion has to follow society. If religion is so inspired, why does it follow modern society? Why does the country accept blacks first, and then the LDS church after? Shouldn’t an organization that is led by an omnipotent, omniscient god be LEADING the way on these types of issues, instead of following?

    You’ve just asked one of the questions which makes me doubt the LDS church’s claims, and I couldn’t agree with you more, but now I’m curious as to what exactly you are. So far you’ve been sounding like an active Latter-day Saint. In any case, there are Christian denominations which have done much better on these issues than the LDS church has. The Salvation Army, for example, has been ordaining women since 1865 and nearly half of its clergy are women. Different Christian denominations throughout U.S. history were fighting against slavery and racism throughout the controversy (though there were many on the pro-slavery, pro-racism side as well).

    The LDS church itself didn’t start off so bad. Ordaining Elijah Abel and other blacks to the priesthood, staying mostly aloof from slavery, letting women perform blessings and ordinances, being some of the first to give women the right to vote and let women hold political offices. Seems that things started to go downhill with Brigham Young.

  90. Bridget, I am flattered that you are curious as to what or who I am. I like to consider myself to be a loving and intelligent member of the species known as homo sapiens. Many will dispute both the intelligent and loving part but they are wrong. 🙂

    I was merely curious as to your position and I am very familiar with the teachings of the LDS church but I do not believe in a god that would be racist or sexist, or support racist or sexist tendencies, as the god of the bible did, as you pointed out. I do not believe in a god that would choose BY to be a prophet and then stand idly by while BY makes mistake after mistake after mistake and teaches what has been called heresy by modern leaders.

    You said god “couldn’t get them to stop so He worked within their biases.” This is strange. Why would god work within evil biases? I don’t believe in a god that would support racism bc he is powerless to get the people to stop, as you said.

    You also compared the work of god to the government’s attempt at prohibition. Surely you cannot be comparing god to the US Government. Doesn’t he deserve some more credit?

  91. Post

    I agree with Ray, and I think Bridget’s points are valid as well. BY is clearly the author of many of the most racist and sexist policies of the church. I don’t know what other options there were for church leadership at that time. BY also was a great uniter. But he was deeply flawed as well.

    In short, I don’t believe God is sexist, but I do believe that people often are even in our enlightened society today.

  92. Dexter ~ I believe in a God who gives people their agency. That means, if men and women are dead set on being sexist or racist or whatever, He lets them. And yes, I believe in a God who is gracious enough to work with us in spite of our being evil. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for a God who works with men and women even though they have shortcomings, because there’s no way He’d have anything to do with me if it weren’t so.

    I’m not sure what you believe God should do to get people to give up these biases and prejudices when they choose not to. All of the options I can think of are pretty frightening to me.

  93. #100 (isn’t that special…number 100!)


    “I like to consider myself to be a loving and intelligent member of the species known as homo sapiens.”

    Dude, you totally set yourself up here, but being the loving person that I am, I will refrain from taking advantage of it. 🙂

  94. #102-

    “I’m not sure what you believe God should do to get people to give up these biases and prejudices when they choose not to. All of the options I can think of are pretty frightening to me.”

    All I know is the flood option is out….gotta love those rainbows!! 🙂

  95. Great point. God is so loving and kind he won’t jeopardize free agency but he will flood the earth and kill all of them? This makes no sense.

    Would it be so hard to tall Moses (while telling him other things) that racism is wrong, or that slavery is wrong? Apparently.

    Further, it is absolutely untrue to act like god just allowed humans to be racist. According to the prophets, did he not establish that only certain people could have the priesthood? Did he not order a prophet to kill all the male inhabitants of a town? Did he not curse Cain with black skin?

    This is not just waiting thousands of years to teach correct principles, which in and of itself makes little sense and challenges the perception that god is great, but, according to the bible, god also taught principles that led directly to racist tendencies. You cannot have a “chosen” people without thereby labeling everyone else as inferior.

  96. Dex-

    “Great point. God is so loving and kind he won’t jeopardize free agency but he will flood the earth and kill all of them? This makes no sense”

    I don’t know why everyone looks at death as such a bad thing. Just because the physical body dies doesn’t mean the person doesn’t live on. I believe that God takes people sometimes because they are stuck in a cycle they cannot get themselves out of it and to me it is an act of mercy on His part.

    So, it does make sense that God is loving and kind. DUDE…you’re not remembering the bow. It is full of color and love. 🙂

  97. I saw a whopper of a rainbow just a few weeks ago and I chuckled to myself.

    But Jen, even if death is not a bad thing, I think more proactively teaching what is right and what is wrong makes more sense then encouraging racism and then being disappointed that everyone is racist, and then shelving the topic for thousands of years.

  98. Dex-

    I understand what you are saying and I have a question for you. How many people do you think would really listen and follow what a prophet said if he were to say to us, from the very beginning of time, all of the things that you are referring to? Honestly, how many people even listen to the prophet and do what he asks now? Look at how many people ignore the prophet’s warning to avoid pornography. How many avoid watching rated R movies? How many keep the Sabbath day holy? Maybe God has allowed us to live as we do because we aren’t that great at listening to Him when He does speak. I really think this has a lot more to do with us and choosing what we want than with what kind of God He is.

  99. That is perfectly acceptable. But according to the bible, he did not teach people not to be racist. Instead, his teachings led to racism. I could more readily accept the bible if it were silent on the issue of racial relations, but when it teaches racism, and then today everyone says god is not racist, what am I supposed to think?

  100. Dexter ~ This conversation is really getting off topic and into the general “problem of evil” territory, but okay. I’ll go for one more round.

    Great point. God is so loving and kind he won’t jeopardize free agency but he will flood the earth and kill all of them? This makes no sense.

    Actually, I think you’re making my point for me beautifully. Let’s pretend for a second that everything that the Bible says happened actually happened. That means God has already tried:

    ~ Putting people in a perfect paradise where they had eternal life and mutual, loving, equal relationships (Garden of Eden)
    ~ Near-annihilation of the human race (see the Flood) and He put a reminder in the sky of this fact (rainbows) so that people wouldn’t forget what happened and would remember to behave
    ~ Coercion with destructive miracles (see Pharoah)
    ~ Gentle guidance with positive miracles (Israel wandering through the wilderness)
    ~ Letting people be racist and destructive (the examples you cited)
    ~ Coming down here Himself and showing people how they should behave (Jesus)
    ~ Directly teaching that there are to be no divisions between races, sexes and social classes in the church (Gal. 3:28)

    None of these things have been enough to convince people to treat each other right. You keep on telling me that I don’t make any sense, but you aren’t putting any of your own ideas on the table. What do you think God should try and do to get people to treat each other right? And you can’t just say, “Teach correct principles;” that’s a cop-out. What should God do if He does that and people won’t listen?

    And it is a frequent theme of the Bible that people refuse to listen to God when He teaches correct principles.

    According to the prophets, did he not establish that only certain people could have the priesthood? Did he not order a prophet to kill all the male inhabitants of a town?

    You don’t know that this was God’s Plan A or merely God’s approach to a society that was already steeped in racism, segregation and bloodshed. God’s plan A was the Garden of Eden, and there was no racism, sexism or slavery there. And seriously, what’s your proposal? That they let all 3 million members of Israel be priests? They might have a little bit of trouble fitting all those priests into the temple. That they approach all hostile towns with flowers and chocolates and try to love them into submission? You keep complaining about the way things were done, but you don’t say how you think it should have been done.

    Did he not curse Cain with black skin?

    Absolutely not. That isn’t in the Bible.

    This is not just waiting thousands of years to teach correct principles, which in and of itself makes little sense and challenges the perception that god is great

    God taught people “correct principles” in the Garden of Eden. They didn’t listen. I guess we know what God’s Plan B was; I’m eagerly awaiting yours.

  101. Dex-

    I don’t know what you are supposed to think. We all have to work through those issues and decide what they mean. I think that some things we aren’t going to fully understand in this life.

    My approach is to ask God. I have had many answers come after continually seeking to truly understand His ways. Honestly, I have been surprised by some answers that have come. Surprised in a good way, not a bad way. I have come to understand things that I never would have even considered or thought of. It is extremely cool. That is why, for me, it makes it ok to not understand everything right now because I know there is understanding out there, we just have to seek it (from God, not MM 🙂 )

    I went through some extremely difficult things in my life and I was angry for a long time. After many years I came to understand why and I was immediately healed. When we lack understanding for things that seem unfair, it is hard not to be angry at God. If we can just give Him a chance with our patience and long-suffering, light and understanding will come. I don’t understand a lot of things about church history or the Bible, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any explanations or understanding to be had. You just have to go to the right source and be patient. At least that is my opinion and HEY! that’s worth a lot! 🙂

  102. I was asked how I would run things if I were god. I do not wish to offend anyone but I do intend to answer the question. So please, if this type of hypothetical thinking-out-loud on how god could do better, and how I would do things if I were god is likely to offend you, please do not read on. Thank you. And by the way, I think this is a very interesting exercise so even if you don’t read this, I hope we can all agree it is fascinating to try and understand god better by imagining what you would do if you were him, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.

    I’ve always wanted to play god, and someone finally asked. I will gladly provide a plan that makes more sense, in my opinion. And by the way, my arguments about god not making sense were not to say that god does not know what he is doing, rather, my belief is that there is no god. So while you may think I am saying god is not good at what he does, that is not really the case. I’m saying there is none, or if there is one, he is not involved at all with humankind. And now back to King …. no, God Dexter.

    I don’t know what you believe, Bridget, but mormons believe that Adam and Eve could not procreate in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, they were given two conflicting commandments. Commandment 1: do not eat the fruit. Commandment 2: multiply and replenish the earth. Right off the bat we have an illogical situation. Two commandments are given and to obey one, Adam and Eve must violate the other. I would avoid this. I would place Adam and Eve in the earth and set them free. If free agency were truly super paramount, then perhaps I would not intervene at all. Perhaps God does exist and that is what he is doing. If free agency is as important as many claim it to be, and I believe it truly is that important, then wouldn’t intervening at any time for any reason threaten free agency? If free agency is paramount, I probably would not intervene and I would not answer prayers. I certainly wouldn’t only intervene once in a blue moon. How is it fair to intervene for Billy and not for Suzie? Teaching foreordination conflicts with free agency and I would not teach it. I would not teach or encourage anyone to teach that people made promises before they were born. This smells of manipulation more than teaching. How can you remind someone of a promise that they cannot remember? What is the point of telling someone that they promised to do x and y before they lost their memory? Wouldn’t a remembered promise make more sense? I would not have strange tests and I see no value in faith. As William Gascoyne said, “I’m not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers.” Even if correct faith is somehow beneficial, how is it a good thing when so many do so many horrible things in the name of faith? Naturally, due to my love for free agency, I would not prevent men from teaching other men about faith, but I would not teach it. I would teach, if I chose to teach anything at all, that men (and by men I mean humans, men and women) inherently have the ability to determine right from wrong and that they should do so and they will be judged based on whether they were good for the sake of being good. Not based on a checklist or a reward in heaven. Basically, I would either teach nothing at all and do nothing at all, or I would make my teachings apparent. I would appear once a year and clarify any extreme wrongs (slavery is wrong, too bad the bible didn’t clear this one up, huh?) and invite them again to be good for the sake of being good. No other reason.

    Isn’t teaching things as clearly as possible how you teach your children? Aren’t families on earth similar to heavenly families? How do you teach your children? Do you do what god does? Do you command your older sibling to kill his younger sibling to “test” him and see if he will obey you? Then, just before he does it, would you stop him and hug him and tell him it was just a test and that you are so proud of him? I don’t think any of you would do that. I don’t think any of you would want any parent any where to do that. Therefore, I propose that you think, like I do, that there is a better way to teach. Do you ignore your children for months and then, if they keep asking you for something, suddenly give it to them and say, this is for your patience! You have kept the faith so now I will reward you! I doubt any of you do that. So why, if god does those things, is he so great? Parents on earth are a type and shadow of eternal families, yet, if parents on earth parented the way god does, with the hide the ball routine, where would our families be? They would be in terrible shape. They already are in bad shape but things could be worse.

    If I chose to have prophets, which I don’t know if I would, I wouldn’t tell them contradictory things. I would step in and clarify the Adam God theory or else I would kill BY before he could teach such a teaching. I would not command JS to take on plural wives secretly. If it was my commandment, it would be made known to the people or it would not be my commandment. I would not allow My church to be racist for 142 years. I would not change my position on racism, or divorce, or anything else. I would truly be the same yesterday, today and forever.

    Hmmm….this is a very interesting exercise indeed. In fact, the more I think on it, and as I said above, this is just thinking-out-loud brainstorming, so go easy on me if you are critical of it, if I had more time it would be more organized, etc.

    But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that for god to be fair, he would need to have a very hands off approach. If free agency is so important, which it is, and god must be fair to all, which he is supposed to be, how do you intervene sometimes? How do you answer some prayers? And this s totally fine with me. If god, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen to create the world and set it spinning and let humans truly choose what they will, I am fine with that. BUT, this is not the god of the bible, this is not the god of the BoM, this is not the god of the latter-days. You cannot promise to answer prayers and be with the inhabitants of the earth always while at the same time letting people choose for themselves and not intervening. So, whether there is no god, or whether he is simply watching from a distance, without intervening, there is no need for religion, there is no need for faith, there is no reason to base decisions on the afterlife, or on what god is trying to whisper in your ear. I guess that is what it boils down to for me. Maybe there is a god. Maybe there isn’t. But the god of the bible makes no sense to me. The god of the LDS church makes no sense to me.

    But hey, I could be wrong. If the church makes you happy, go for it. I am a strong believer in the idea that people are free to choose their path and do what makes them happy. I used to feel that way. But I don’t anymore. I guess I wish members were willing to say, “I could be wrong.” But some are so convinced that they are right that it makes an open discussion difficult. I proudly proclaim I could be wrong and I hope my honest and open thoughts were not offensive to anyone and as a final word: BLESS YOU ALL!

  103. By the way, obviously there are a million more issues that could be discussed, and if, as god, I were constrained to “laws of the universe” that even god cannot disobey, well, then I would obviously have to stay in line with those, whatever they are.

    Thank you.

  104. I know I’m a late comer to this conversation, but I just have to interject one thing. It will absolutely not do to say that god “allowed” or “worked within the confines” of racist, sexist or otherwise distasteful or unsavory belief structures that originated with man. God COMMANDED and INSTIGATED countless absolutely abhorrent and repulsive teachings and acts in the old testament. It is not even a minor exaggeration to say that he ordered people to murder (including, frequently, children), torture, enslave and perpetrate all other manner of horrible atrocities on other of his supposed children. I don’t know how you believers square that, but it is completely disingenuous to say that god didn’t really have a choice on a practical level, and the people forced him into it. How many times in history have we found god COMMANDING people to do things that they were absolutely loathe to do. Do you think Abraham wanted to murder his son? Do you think Nephi wanted to murder Laban? Purportedly many of the early LDS brethren were sickened by the commandment to be involved in polygamy and would rather have been dead. God was the actor – the mover and shaker in these situations, and these things ORIGINATED with him, and were, according to the bible, ignored at the individual’s peril. Obviously if you believe in the bible then you think these things were righteous, but to act like poor god, he did the best he could, is preposterous. He was god, for heaven’s sake! If god can’t do it, no one can. Are we taught that if our children reject our righteous teachings, we should just throw our hands up and encourage them to do evil things that they WILL accept? This entire line of thought represents the absolute worst mental and moral gymnastics, which is exactly what is required to reconcile the things the god of the old testament (who was Jesus, don’t forget – Jesus commanded the murder of children and the enslavement of young girls) did, with things that as an enlightened society we know to be completely dispicable.

  105. I also meant to say that I agreed wholeheartedly with pretty much all of Dexter’s comments in this thread (except the one about how awesome he is).

  106. Dex and brjones-

    Ok, since we are past 100 comments it seems fair game to bring this up. Neither of you believe in God, is that correct? And both of you are NOT LDS any longer, but obviously were at one time right? Do you consider yourselves atheist?

    I think people can get easily confused as to where you stand, at least I know I do.

  107. Only if you tell me about these hard times you were talking about.


    Well, I think I’ve been pretty consistent all along. What did you think I was before this batch of posts?

  108. Dexter ~ I will try to get back to you at a later time. I’ve really got other writing commitments that I need to get to. But I do appreciate you taking the time to give your thoughtful answer. There’s a lot more that I’d love to discuss with you, but I’ve got to move on. Hopefully sometime in the future.

    Brjones ~ I really recommend that you read up on argument from outrage. The only specific example of God’s alleged atrocities that you cite which I would believe as an evangelical Christian is, “Do you think Abraham wanted to murder his son?” Abraham didn’t murder his son, so I don’t see what the problem is here.

  109. Dex-

    I have seen you write about being a RM, so I knew that at one time you were an active member (not necessarily believing though). I don’t know how old you are, but I am assuming you are in your 20’s. I wasn’t sure if you had any belief in God or not, but from what I have gathered in these posts you do not. I already told you once before that God sent me to work on you because he knew I was one of the few people that would put up with your bad attitude, so I’ll just keep working on you til’ you get it right. HAHA

    As far as hard times, I have written in a few posts about my abusive father growing up. Because of him I struggled to believe that God was loving or even concerned about me. But, after finally getting out of the situation I came to know many things that I never understood before and learned a lot about why I went through what I did. I know the answers I needed came from God and after years of suffering abuse and watching it happen to family members, I was healed of all the sorrow and pain immediately. There is no way I could ever deny that the Lord healed me because I was carrying a very heavy and painful burden. I came to know that not only is the Lord very involved in our lives, but He deeply loves each of as well.

    I know that you see this from a different perspective, maybe that the Lord shouldn’t have allowed the abuse in the first place, etc. I used to feel that way as well, but I understand much more now and I am grateful for the experiences I have had to make me who I am today. I have much more ability now to help others who are struggling with similar issues and I can reach people who I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, especially children.

  110. Wow. Well….wow. It’s funny you asked me where I stand since you pretty much hit a home run in defining me. And here I was trying to be all mysterious. Just kidding, I am pretty open on here. This site is a good outlet bc I don’t feel comfortable being totally open with my feelings and beliefs in all settings. My parents pretty much don’t believe me when I have tried to be honest about my new beliefs. And I have avoided labeling myself as “atheist” or as anything else because this is very new to me and I am still on a path of discovery, in my opinion. If I label myself I feel like that means I have arrived at some belief destination and I do not feel that way at all. And further, if I was completely entrenched in a specific belief system I don’t think I would visit this site. It has been a surprising year or two and it still amazes me the way things have gone. I did not expect to be where I am now at all.

  111. Oh, and Jen, I appreciate your openness. I truly commend you for being able to look at what you went through in a positive light, as a way to help others. But I am very sorry you had to go through that. Whether we agree on whether god exists or the nature of god, I am proud to say I agree with you 100% in that we need to use our life experiences to empathize and help others bc we definitely need each other. Whether god is helping out or not there is plenty of work to be done in helping our fellow man (and woman). I just don’t see why god needs to be involved. I believe in people. I believe that most people do the right thing most of the time. And if I were to found a “religion” god would not be involved. Perhaps religion isn’t the right term. (Thats why I put it in quotes). But a community or whatever you cant to call it, where the focus would be on people being better people and people helping other people. I agree that it is dangerous to trust in the arm of flesh. But is that really a healthy belief? Don’t we need to be more trusting? Not less? If we put “faith” in each other, wouldn’t that help? From my limited view of the world, if something needs to be done, we need to do it. Not god.

  112. Jen, I am 35 years old, and until about 18 months ago was a completely active member of the LDS church. I had ancestors on both sides of my family that made the trek to SLC, and our family was very active growing up. I served a mission and was sealed to my wife in the temple. Although I am technically still a member of the church, I don’t believe in it anymore and don’t participate, and I don’t believe in god.

    It seems like you did a pretty good job at pegging Dexter, although I doubt he’s in his 20s. Dexter, are you married? If so, how does your wife feel about what you’ve been going through?

    #118 – Bridget, are you saying you don’t believe in the Old Testament as an evangelical Christian, or are you saying I am misrepresenting the Old Testament? Are you familiar with the book of Numbers? Do you recall the story in which Moses instructs his generals as follows:

    “Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him. But all the women-children that hath not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” – Numbers, 31:15

    Perhaps you don’t believe Moses was a true prophet, or perhaps you are like many here and feel that Moses was just out on his own and that god is blameless. Your thoughts?

  113. “And if I were to found a “religion” god would not be involved. Perhaps religion isn’t the right term. (Thats why I put it in quotes). But a community or whatever you cant to call it, where the focus would be on people being better people and people helping other people. ”

    Sounds an awful lot like Unitarian Universalism. 🙂

  114. #24 – I didn’t click on it, but I’m assuming it’s a link that explains how the Midianites’ behavior justified genocide, including the wholesale murder of women and children, and the slavery of virgin girls. It wasn’t spelled out why they were only to keep the virgin female children as slaves, but I think we can do the math. Bridget, this sentiment would be comical if it wasn’t so disgusting. Where have I heard it before…hmmm…let me think….oh, that’s right, at Matthew Shepherd’s funeral and outside the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.

  115. brjones ~ It’s a little disingenuous of you to complain about these topics if you can’t be bothered to study them out to see if there are reasonable answers to your objections, and your comparisons to what happened to Matthew Shephard and the nonsense being carried on by Fred Phelps are extremely crass. It’s also apparent that you didn’t read up on the argument from outrage fallacy or you’d know by now that you aren’t going to win any points with me by hopping up and down and shouting that something is too disgusting to be justified. Disgusting, outrageous things get justified even in our modern, “enlightened” society all the time. Hiroshima anyone?

    It wasn’t spelled out why they were only to keep the virgin female children as slaves, but I think we can do the math.

    I invite anyone who actually is interested in this topic to read the article for themselves.

  116. Oh, and by the way, the article also explained how it wasn’t the entire Midianite race, but just a sub-group that had very specifically attacked Israel. So your “genocide” claim is false in this case as well.

    Only 12,000 Israelite men go into the battle. That would imply that the Midianite force would have been estimated in the 8,000-15,000 person range. This, of course, means that we are not dealing with all of the Midianites, but only just this small tribal sub-group (i.e., its not a genocide thing). [Other Midianites will be attacking Israel in force within 30 years, as will Moab.]

  117. #127 – Did you seriously just say that I need to study this issue to see if there are reasonable answers to my objections? TO THE MURDER OF CHILDREN??? I feel fairly comfortable in stating that I don’t need to read any articles to understand how I feel about the murder and enslavement of children. You made the statement that, in effect, those people brought it on themselves. I’m not sure whether you’re talking about the children who were murdered or the parents of the children who were murdered, and I’m not sure which interpretation is more disturbing. But thanks for clarifying that it was not genocide, and only isolated instances of mass infanticide that your god commanded. I’ll sleep much better tonight. And your comparison to Hiroshima is absurd. The story about which we are speaking is not regarding the collateral damage of war. Moses gave a direct order to murder children and take others as slaves, and he also criticized his generals for allowing too many people to live. If you wait long enough, though, someone is sure to post a comment about how that was a different time and we just can’t understand the customs and culture of the times, so we really shouldn’t judge child murder. One of the things that comforts me as one who does not believe in god is the sweet knowledge that if, on the off chance, the sadist known as Jehovah in the OT is real, I will not have to endure his presence when I die. Sweet justice.

  118. brjones ~ TO THE MURDER OF CHILDREN???

    I’m so glad you typed it in caps this time. Logical fallacies are always more convincing in caps.

    And your comparison to Hiroshima is absurd. The story about which we are speaking is not regarding the collateral damage of war.

    Let me get this straight: you compare an act of war to a hateful public nuisance like Fred Phelps, and you’re calling me absurd for comparing an act of war to… an act of war? As they say in the Buffyverse, that’s insane troll logic.

    If you wait long enough, though, someone is sure to post a comment about how that was a different time and we just can’t understand the customs and culture of the times, so we really shouldn’t judge child murder.

    Not at all. It was a different time and those of us who don’t have our fingers in our ears screaming “LA-LA-LA-CHILD-MURDER-LA-LA-LA-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU-LA-LA-LA” can understand the customs and culture of the times just fine.

    And for future reference, brjones, next time instead of asking me what I think of a particular passage in the Bible that you have a problem with, please be up front and acknowledge that you don’t care what I think because your mind is made up and there can be no justification for it. I prefer to spend my blog commenting time interacting with people who are actually interested in having a conversation.

    One of the things that comforts me as one who does not believe in god is the sweet knowledge that if, on the off chance, the sadist known as Jehovah in the OT is real, I will not have to endure his presence when I die. Sweet justice.

    Yeah, except you’ll have Fred Phelps for company. Have fun with that.

  119. Bridget, #86, spot on!

    Dexter #88
    “If you truly believe the the priesthood is the authority to act for god, then how can you question who god chooses to give it to?”

    Perhaps you remember Elder Holland’s recent story about how he ALWAYS hoped and prayed that blacks would get the priesthood. He did this, in spite of the overwhelming number of prophetic and apostolic quotes saying that blacks were less worthy, would NEVER get the priesthood, and that they could only be SERVANTS in the celestial kingdom.

    Similar quotes about women are rare, if existent at all.

    So why is what some of us are doing “questioning God” and what Elder Holland did, perfectly fine?

    My position has always been that I can’t see ANYWHERE that God sent down an edict prohibiting women from having the priesthood. And I think there’s a huge possibility that it’s just a cultural assumption. Given prophetesses in the scriptures, prophetic statements about priestesses, female temple ordinances, women’s actions in the early restorative church, and the like, I think the idea isn’t nearly as far-fetched as you imply.

    Jen #111
    “When we lack understanding for things that seem unfair, it is hard not to be angry at God. If we can just give Him a chance with our patience and long-suffering, light and understanding will come…You just have to go to the right source and be patient.”

    If I understand your point, I had a similar discussion earlier today on Mormon Momma. You seem to be saying (in the context of the women/priesthood issue) that it’s easy to be angry at God when this exclusion seems unfair. But if it seems wrong to you, you will get light and understanding if you just have the patience and long-suffering to attain it.

    If I misinterpreted, please let me know.

    This is almost exactly what a woman posted on Mormon Momma today–and has done so on other topics as well. I want to suggest that YOUR personal revelation isn’t necessarily meaningful to ME–or to anyone else. I am not saying that I don’t care about it, but that with regard to MY personal revelation, what YOU received has no bearing at all.

    The fact (I will not venture to deny someone else’s claim to personal spiritual insight) that YOU are not angry, that YOU feel your patience brought you peace and understanding is wonderful. But it does NOT mean those who do not have that same peace:

    (1) are spiritually inferior

    (2) are less spiritually in-tune

    (3) are less enlightened on this matter

    (4) have not had patience

    (5) have not been long-suffering

    (6) have more spiritual work to do on the matter

    (7) haven’t gone to the right source

    (8) are deceived

    (9) are less faithful

    Now, if you respond as most people do on these points, it will be to say, “No, that’s not what I meant!” But sincerely, I don’t see how else such statements an be interpreted.

    There are myriad reasons why YOU might feel just fine about something and *I* might not–that have nothing to do with lack of faith or being impatient or being led astray, etc.

    As I did this morning, let me give you just one example.

    It is possible that you have peace about the “unfairness” of women being excluded from the priesthood because your skills, your personality, your circumstances better lend themselves to focus on other things.

    And it’s just as possible that my lack of peace is because my skills, my personality, my circumstances mean that I could be someone who is heard “complaining” (as President Hinckley said) in a way that may help bring the issue to the few who can act upon it.

    My “unrest” could be every bit as God-given as your peace!

  120. My position has always been that I can’t see ANYWHERE that God sent down an edict prohibiting women from having the priesthood. And I think there’s a huge possibility that it’s just a cultural assumption. Given prophetesses in the scriptures, prophetic statements about priestesses, female temple ordinances, women’s actions in the early restorative church, and the like, I think the idea isn’t nearly as far-fetched as you imply.

    True. Though, there are times that God has limited the priesthood to just those from the tribe of Levi, for example.

    patience brought you peace and understanding is wonderful … but what does it mean when one person finds peace and another has not found peace? That is a huge issue in grief work, since most people eventually find peace of a sorts with their losses and grief. I’m curious what you mean and how it applies in the broader context.

    Yeah, except you’ll have Fred Phelps for company. I hope not, no matter what happens.

  121. #130-


    The comment which you are referring to is in reference to the abuse I experienced as a child. I told you already that women holding the priesthood has never bothered me so I have never felt angry about it.

    You said: “Now, if you respond as most people do on these points, it will be to say, “No, that’s not what I meant!” But sincerely, I don’t see how else such statements an be interpreted”

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me how you choose to interpret what I wrote. That fact that you can’t see beyond anything else tells me something about you. So, interpret away! Like I said, not having the priesthood doesn’t bother me one tiny, itsy, bitsy bit.

  122. #129 – Bridget, actually I’m very interested in what you think. Just because there’s nothing you can say that will change my mind doesn’t mean we can’t have a discussion about it or that I’m not fascinated by your thoughts and beliefs. Are you only interested in having conversations with people who either believe what you beleive or are amenable to changing their own beliefs? You and pretty much everyone else on this site are the same as me. We all have strong beliefs and values that have been formed and shaped through years of study and experience. It’s very rare that anyone with a substantially different point of view from our own is going to change those beliefs or values. And if you wnat to characterize me having my fingers in my ears about child murder, I don’t really have a problem with that. There is no justification in the world for the murder and/or enslavement of children, and I find it disturbing and enlightening that you or anyone else would continue to attempt to justify it. In my opinion, the only rational and moral position for an adherent of the OT to take is to say that you don’t understand why those things took place (if you’re a literalist) but you have faith that god knew what he was doing, and leave it at that. But by all means, feel free to continue to send links explaining why dozens of children deserved to be eaten by bears because they made fun of Elisha’s bald head. Here’s your disclaimer, though: no, it’s not going to change my mind.

  123. As an aside, as repulsive as Fred Phelps is, I’d take an eternity in his company in a heartbeat over the god of the Old Testament. Phelps is all talk. In his wildest dreams he couldn’t conjure up the horrors wreaked in the bible. Besides, if a person believes that the things that went on in the OT are correct or in any way holy, I find it difficult to understand why they would have a problem with Phelps’ philosophy in the first place. His church’s teachings are Old Testament lite.

  124. Pingback: Notes From All Over For Week Ended July 11 | Times & Seasons, An Onymous Mormon Blog

  125. Stephen M #131
    “True. Though, there are times that God has limited the priesthood to just those from the tribe of Levi, for example.”

    Absolutely. And if God were to say, “For now, I’ve decided that women can’t have it.” followed either by a reason or “I’m not going to give the reason,” then, hey, what can I say? It’s God’s will. For his reasons. But I can’t see that we have more than an assumption (by humans) that, “Well, of course women don’t have the priesthood because, well, they’re women.”

    “but what does it mean when one person finds peace and another has not found peace?”

    That was the question I was addressing. Often those WTIH peace present it as a kind of evolution. Once you reach a certain point (where they are) or gain the “line upon line” understanding (that they have) you will have peace as well. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, nor do I think any of us is in a position to make such a statement.

    Jen #132


    “The comment which you are referring to is in reference to the abuse I experienced as a child. I told you already that women holding the priesthood has never bothered me so I have never felt angry about it.”

    Yes, I did read your posts. But your statement was general and in this thread about women/priesthood. In the portion I quoted were you specifically advising about child abuse? Or were you using your experience with child abuse to explain how to work through a difficult situation?

    “Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me how you choose to interpret what I wrote. That fact that you can’t see beyond anything else tells me something about you.”

    In spite of the fact that I asked for clarification and/or correction, your response is just ad hominem?

    “Like I said, not having the priesthood doesn’t bother me one tiny, itsy, bitsy bit.”

    You may have noticed that I didn’t question whether or not you are bothered, not did I suggest you should be.

  126. Alison-

    Actually my comment was a response to Dexter in an ongoing discussion with him about how to work through a difficult situation. I wasn’t thinking about women and the priesthood at all when I wrote it. I define a difficult situation differently than you I am sure. I see abuse as a difficult situation, or dealing with a child or spouse addicted to drugs, not whether I hold the priesthood or not. For you, not holding the priesthood seems to be something you struggle with a lot. In my experience in fighting against pornography, I have had really difficult days. I have been able to come to a basic peace about the fact that I am doing all that I can and the Lord is in charge, so I trust Him with the rest. I think that if something is unsettling to you, then you have to do what it takes to find peace for yourself. I never suggested that your unrest couldn’t be God-given, so follow your heart. I believe that is what brings us peace, is following what we feel we need to do. That’s all any of us really can do.

  127. Church members should not participate in groups that:
    1. Challenge religious and moral values …..
    This is why women who question unrighteous dominion from leaders in the church are labeled as apostates. My request was to allow my tithing to be recognized under my own name. That request was denied, and I was told, “We don’t do it that way.” I believe women should be able to pay tithing under our own name. After finding a Bishop had embellished and complicated a simple procedure, of renewing my temple recommend. I asked to meet with the Stake President, which was allowed but only under these conditions, (1)My husband had to arrange the meeting and my husband had to attend the meeting with me.
    At the meeting, it was determined that “I should wait until my husband wished to attend the temple, then I could attend with him.” My husband has not paid tithing and was not seeking a temple recommend.
    When the bishop violated cofidentiality, I received a long scolding letter from a sister in my ward. I spoke with the Bishop who had violated confidentiality and offered to “teach confidentiality as I was certified in the state as a school psychologist and school counselor. His reply to to my identifying which rights had been violated, was enlightening. He stated, “This is not the legal system, this is not the academic system, this is religion.” He laughed at my supposition that individual members had any right to respectful treatment.
    The church does not offer individual members a set of rights, so leaders can operate in any way that they wish, as there is no oversight committee and nothing happens when Bishops demonstrate very sexist behavior. Are we a charismatic religion that allows unrighteous dominion?
    Let us look to the lessons learned in our lifetime. Lessons taught us on the Alabama bus by Rosa Parks, who stood up by remaining seated, and noted that she had paid equally to ride the bus and that she should be treated with equal respect. Martin Luther King came to her defense against the Alabama bus company and they changed the law, not only to prevent people of color to not be required to sit in the back of the bus but to require that people of color be allowed to be bus drivers to end the Jim Crow discrimination by white male bus drivers. Mahatma Gandhi preached that the lower castes of a social group must refuse to be discriminated against and must be vocal in their desire to be treated as equal souls. We need to be vocal and uphold the ethic that all God’s children are deserving of equal love, respect and opportunity to grow spiritually. Women, through their perceived powerlessness and secondary position, do not always feel that they have a voice to ask for equal participation. They allow others to be discriminated against.
    Spiritual gifts, such as in being able to give a blessing for healing, were once allowed to women, however it was taken from us, when a former leader decided that the gift of a healing blessing should only be given by men.
    I would like to see the church develop its ethics in regard to its treatment of individual members, including women and in light of what we have learned of institutional sexism and of the gifts that women can bring to our church. I have a dream of a church without sexism. Let us ask in prayer to allow our leaders to see the value and worth women have and the gifts they can bring to our religion, if we truly want a world where all God’s children have equal worth, respect, and spiritual potential.

  128. #136 – Jen, you may have discussed this before, but what is the significance/details of your fight against pornography? Is this something personal to you, or is this just a general moral matter for you? I hope those questions aren’t too personal, your comment just made me curious.

  129. Jo, you have shared your experiences on multiple blogs in multiple threads. Every time, you have been told by MANY other commenters that those experiences are exceptions – that, unfortunately, they do happen with specific leaders but absolutely are neither the norm nor the ideal. Every time, the vast majority of responses have expressed sympathy and shared your concern that you have experienced unrighteous dominion – while again explaining that they are neither the norm nor the ideal.

    I will repeat that here:

    Your experiences should not occur. Women CAN pay tithing as individuals, no matter their marital status. Women CAN meet with Bishops and Stake Presidents without their husbands. 99.9% of all Bishops would NEVER laugh at someone asking only for respectful treatment.

    Frankly, after reading your comment over and over again all around the Bloggernacle, I am left with three conclusions:

    1) If your account is accurate (and I only say that because this is the internet and I don’t know you personally), you have been wronged greatly;

    2) You appear to believe your experiences are typical (or, at least, very widespread), despite repeated assurance from even very liberal women on very liberal blogs that they are not;

    3) You appear to be bitter – convinced most Bishops and Stake Presidents act as you describe in your account and rejecting all comments to the contrary out of hand.

    I sincerely wish you peace as you go about your life – and I wish you God’s grace as you struggle to forgive. All I can say is what you have heard already from dozens of others:

    Your experiences absolutely do occur (as others here can attest, to even worse degrees than yours), but they are not the norm. They are not typical. They most certainly are not what the LDS Church itself teaches.

  130. Ray is so kind.
    137- Jo, I am the last person in the world to advocate for patriarchy, particularly as espoused by the LDS church but I want to give you some feedback on your narrative as I’ve read it here and elsewhere. What I hear is less a call to arms or attempt to engage in a dialogue with a church you claim to want to belong to and more of an exercise in narcissism. It kinda drives me nuts.

  131. #138-

    “Is this something personal to you, or is this just a general moral matter for you?” It is both really. I have specific desires to help in the fight against child pornography, but with pornography in general as well. There are many who suffer silently and have no one to talk to. It causes a lot of heartache and pain, especially in marital relationships. I realize that not everyone feels this way and they see it as no big deal. I am talking about the people who it is hurting and who are looking for help and relief.

  132. Thank you for the feedback crazywomancreek and Ray:
    The arguments that you present are as follow:
    My experience is not typical – They are more typical than you might think as women are not provided a due rights process and are disallowed to voice a complaint easily when these situations occur.
    As a school psycholoigist/school counselor, I have heard from many women and worked with children who have experienced various forms of abuse.
    I cannot provide you their stories, because of confidentiality issues that I will not break. I have blogged on two other sites extensively and expanded solutions that may be taken to reduce sexism. Reread my statement here and understand that I am asking for rights for all LDS members and for leaders to develop a due process system (best practices) that is simple to follow. We do this in the legal system and in the educational system, so there are good models of this process to follow in our society.
    The solution given to me was to take the abusive situation as it was, or leave it. I was even told that I would have to remeet with the stake president and ask to be allowed to attend another ward, since I did not wish to be further abused in my ward. So much for leaving it. My account is accurate and I hold proof through letters, tithing receipts, tithing settlement statements and an objective witness (an educator) who overheard the demand by the stake clerk that I would not be allowed to schedule a meeting with my stake president and I would not be allowed to meet with him. Only my husband could schedule the appointment and he was required to attend the meeting with me. He witnessed what was said in the meeting. It was so sexist, that when we left the meeting he looked at me and asked, “How can you stand to be in a church that treats you like a second class citizen?”
    I worked for a year and a half, trying to rise above the situation and reach out in love to improve and educate the brethern in my stake. Many things were said to me and I responded well enough that their final solution was to send a home teacher to my house, who was not even present in any of the meetings, to tell me, “It never happened.”
    So I, as one of many women who have reason to complain about the untrained lay ministry and the way that the church overlooks sexism and attacks the victims of sexism, am speaking out.
    Rosa Parks was scolded for not just forgetting about the “bus” incident. Black Americans who objected to Jim Crow laws were also publicly ridiculed and even jailed.
    Martin Luther King said it best when he was told to just stop complaining. M. L. King said, “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.”
    So, instead of being bitter, as I do attend church, when I travel, I am one of many voices, asking for the change needed in the Church. That change needed is:
    Individual rights for members, a trained lay clergy, especially on matters regarding treatment of women and children and confidentiality.
    Due process, which allows procedural rights and remedies to the individual member (male or female).
    I have a dream of a Church where there is a strong focus on ethics rather than the main focus on charismatic leaders, such as what was created in the U.S.A., by our founding fathers, who we considered inspired of God.
    An oversight committee, to review situations where typical procedures are not followed.
    I forgive the individuals that were not enlightened enough to think that the usual process and procedures should apply to me, but I do not want this type of discrimination to be inflicted on others.
    Since our voices are not easily heard in the church, and my voice and offers to assist were dismissed by the leaders in our area, I am participating in these discussions regarding unrighteous dominion.
    I am not bitter, as I support my daughter and son-in-law, brothers and sisters and father in their church participation. I attend with them. I don’t wish to add to my local wards discrimination of me, so I stopped attending church and will not pay tithing when I am not acknowledged for my tithes.
    I finally figured out their motive, when my DH, whom I teasingly called “The object of their affection.” let me know of the pressure on him. They were crediting him with my tithing and using me to strong arm him into being more active. They wanted to encourage him to get his endowments in the temple so they took away my access and made it conditional on his temple attendance to allow me to return to the temple.
    That is where we are, as there is no process available to me and the local stake just wants me to “pretend it never happened”. These are the exact words of a sister, who gave me this advice in love.
    I want to do more than pretend it never happened. I want to ensure that it does not happen to anyone else. Rosa Parks and MLK required that the Alabama bus company hire bus drivers of color to lessen the likelihood that discrimination would happen again. It may be time to allow women to also drive the “church bus” and hold leadership roles, to reduce the likelihood of discrimination against them.
    The arguments and reassurances that I continually receive from well meaning souls when I describe “the view from the back of the bus” is akin to “Busses are Good” & “God loves busses.” Pretending that there is not discrimination on the bus (in the Church) is not a good approach. Dismissing discrimination and sexism as “not typical” is not a good approach. Dismissing activists who ask for specific change needed in the Church as “bitter” is not a good approach. (Ray, are you sure that your favorite scripture on this shouldn’t be interpreted as “better fruit, rather than bitter fruit”.)
    I do belong to this church, born under the covenant and a daughter of the pioneers and I do not wish to participate or support ongoing discrimination, against myself or others.
    In public schools, I have recommended that the appropriate team member call authorities when situations (some church related) called for action when children were being abused. My teams advocate.
    Our religion is top-down and I would like to find a way to help leaders become aware of individual members rights or lack of rights and increase their sensitivity to current discriminatory attitudes and actions.
    The Church teaches one way and acts another way. This is what I have learned and this is the message that I am sharing with you. My apologies for you if that bores you. Just look away and don’t worry, be happy.

  133. #137, 142

    Wow! Which church is this? And when did this happen? I have to go along with Ray and say that I have never seen any behavior like that where I have attended church. And not with any Ward of Stake leaders i have been associated with. Seems like the cornerest of corner cases.

  134. #141 – Jen, thanks for the answer. When you talk about those suffering in silence, do you primarily mean spouses of men who are addicted to pornography or those who suffer from the problem themselves? I hope you aren’t reading any judgment into my questions, I’m genuinely just curious. And although I think you’re right that not everyone agrees on the degree to which pornography generally is a problem, I think pretty much every civilized person recognizes the abhorrent and devestating effects of child pornography, and would appreciate anyone who is working to solve the problem.

  135. In Washington state. My husband asked that I not keep trying to address the problems directly here, after I reached a dead end and the home visits were coming fast and furious, with some very late night (9 pm and later). Once we asked our ward to stop home visits to us, we had some unfortunate incidences occur at our home that we cannot directly attribute to the church, such as vandalism and having our door kicked in late at night. I think members must be careful when portraying couples as “apsotate”, when their teens are around. Teens may take retalitory action to an extreme, when they feel righteously justified. We did have some demands made upon us to remove our names from the church. I replied that they can run the local stake like a boys club, rather than like the LDS church in other cities. No one was stopping them. I wanted my name to remain on church rosters. I will move our names when we physically move to another city. After all, It had been required of us that, if we wanted to attend another ward, we would have to get the stake president’s permission. I wasn’t about to go through that sexist little dance charade again as I didn’t need to have my husband watch me treated as a second class citizen again.
    We are being shunned, which took us both a while to notice, and hurt my DH’s feelings much more than mine. I am puzzled by what impact they think that has in this day and age. I attend Church on those Sundays, when I am out of this very provincial stake and city.
    My DH and I are well educated and both hold multiple advanced degrees, so our work takes up many hours of our week. We are not bored or lonely. My father is wealthy, so we have more access to travel and some of the advantages that comes with association with wealth. The deference shown to my father, due to his position and wealth is stunning in comparison to the treatment of me, a woman and a public education employee.
    I like my anonymity, and the fact that I chose to work in a job that helps children, especially those children with special needs. I like that people don’t constantly want me to spell my last name (maiden name) when they hear it, and then ask me if I’m related to my father. That image of earthly wealth made dating anyone introduced to me by my family difficult as there are those out there who marry for money.
    My own earnings make me middle class and I choose to work in high needs schools, even when my family does not understand why. They think of me as the “Peace Corps” type. My father has asked me, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” I laughed out loud. My mother and I exchanged smiles, as she had been a public health nurse and knew the reason why I chose this field and to serve these children.
    There is so much work for all of us to do in this world. I wish the LDS church would allow us to choose our paths and take down the barriers that man hath wrought to bar women from leadership, from spiritual progression and from being able to help in ways that they are trained to help in the secular world. We have so much to offer if they could just stop working so hard to hold us down. I dream of a better church than what we have now. We know what needs to be done, let us begin to ask for the change needed in the church. There is an old joke when getting into a car called “Let’s ride Mormon” This means, boys in the front and girls in the back. Right now, it is true. Lets allow everyone to be evaluated by their driving (leadership) skills. Let all souls not be judged by the color of their skin, the country of their origin or their sexual features. Gender in leadership, should be as relevant as whether you have an innie or an outie belly button. It will be a joyous world when children know that the child who is capable is also able. Take down the “no girls allowed” signs and lets get to work together.

  136. #144-brjones-

    I am referring to the women who suffer in silence, particulary in the church. I am sure that there are many men who are suffering as well, but my focus has been on the women because I feel that much attention is given to the men who are involved with pornography, but not to the women who love them.

  137. Hawkgrrl:
    I want to support your idea about women who suffer in silence. Here is why I keep bringing up the fact that my tithing donations were credited to my DH. The LDS church has, in many stakes, held to a policy of tithing and other contributions being credited to “Head of Household”. Women who are married do not automatically get credit for their monetary donations. This provides opportunities such as in my case, where leaders can look at tithing records and deny priviledges such as renewing temple recommends, based on records that show no tithing from that woman.
    In days of slavery or even Polygamist home industries, all income and donations were under head of household. So Brigham Young’s wifes contributions would appear under head of household and all income from the home industries started by BY’s wives were considered his income.
    This contributes to another problem, the “auxillary group” as it has been described (Relief Society) is not a separate and equal organization. Women are required to pay tithing, which goes to the main group and is controlled by the Priesthood. We are not allowed to pay tithing to support only the RS. If women wish to have their influence recognized, they need to request that tithing be paid in their own names and that their tithing be allowed to the auxillary group. That is just a beginning, to show the LDS church that we are contributing and we want equal participation and equal decision making and equal value.
    Until we can show our influence, we will be treated as secondary and abuses, such as unrighteous dominion will continue to occur. Women are so vulnerable right now, and to show our strength and our influence would encourage the LDS church to recognize the value of women to its organizations.

  138. Jo,

    I think one reason you are not getting as much support from other members is that they believe the Church is run by Jesus Christ. This fact weakens your comparisons to Rosa Parks and other heroes of change because most people recognize that no matter how wonderful the USA was in the 1960s it still needed serious improvements. But the USA was a country run by men. The Church is run by god, according to members, so they don’t feel that it is their place to picket and sign petitions and shout out their disapproval. They feel that if god wants to change it, he will change it, and that they should focus on the good and support their leaders. This is not meant to insult any member of the church, I am simply illustrating that making a change in your town or your country requires some loud protests and aggressive action. But in the church, this is not how change is brought about, generally.

    Personally, I have no problem with your efforts and I would be tremendously annoyed if my leaders treated me the way yours have treated you. But I think you need to appreciate that even those members who may agree with you, that changes need to be made, they may feel it is proper to do it in a more silent way.

  139. Post

    “This contributes to another problem, the “auxillary group” as it has been described (Relief Society) is not a separate and equal organization.” But it WAS originally with no priesthood oversight and its own separate budget. It only changed mid-century at the suggestion of Harold B. Lee (apostle). Personally, I don’t think it was practical for all the auxilliaries to operate totally separately. That was also back in the day of ward budgets (on top of tithing contributions).

    Your example of having your income listed only under head of household is appalling. I have to think there’s a remedy to that.

  140. Hawkgrrl: Thank you for your response as I was feeling that my point was being overlooked by Ray and Crazywomancreek. They seem to be here to attack anyone providing evidence of a problem in the Church.
    When I asked for my donations and tithing (not income) to be listed under my name as it was written from my separate checking account, with only my name listed on that account, and was earnings from my employment, the bishop simply stated, “That’s not how we do it here.” My tithing settlement notice for taxes showed tithing in my husbands name only. They had crossed out his name in pencil and scribbled in small writing my name at the lower margin. My brother in law and sister in law, who is also our accountant, was amused by that and sent a card with the sentiment that “We do not think you are nothing.” Their daughter attended Harvard University and is working for a major corporation. My DH has many powerful women on his side of the family, who are Catholic, and I was so embarrassed by my LDS Church’s attitude toward me and their actions against us. The Church is aware of what they are doing when they disallow women from showing contributions under their own names. The attitude that it shows is that we, like earlier slaves, are property and not entitled to recognition for donations from our own earnings. The GA’s must think that only men in families contribute to tithing and other contributions when they see all contributions listed under head of household.
    This may not be the procedure followed everywhere as my last ward in Boise, Idaho, did not conduct itself this way. This is part of what makes our LDS Church inconsistent in its performance. We do not respect the type of rule of law and individual rights that our nation was founded upon. A leader can easily corrupt the processes and procedures and set a tone and climate in a ward that is hostile to women.
    I know it is at the stake president’s whim, what tone he wants to set in his stake and how he wants the women treated under his domain can vary widely. The discrimination and retaliation from leaders that I have experienced and witnessed is what has led to our being inactive members. I will not participate locally by tithing under these circumstances. The LDS Church is not ready to view women as equals, or to give us equal respect, even for our tithes. There is no remedy, within the church, according to my Bishop, as they can list donations in any manner that they wish. If you wish to know the true attitude of the LDS church, follow the money trail and see what we are allowed to fund with our donations, who gets credit and who makes the decisions for expenditures. There will be a power gap, when it comes to money, donations or expenditures. Thank you for allowing me to enlighten you to some of the techniques used to disempower women in the LDS Church.

  141. Ray #138:

    Your experiences should not occur. Women CAN pay tithing as individuals, no matter their marital status. Women CAN meet with Bishops and Stake Presidents without their husbands. 99.9% of all Bishops would NEVER laugh at someone asking only for respectful treatment.

    I do not have a history with “Jo.” I can’t recall seeing any post of hers before. But it sounds to me like she has an OLD, festering sore about church policy. The things she speaks of (women not being allowed to pay tithing under their own name, women not being able to set appointments, etc.) area all things that absolutely were church policy/practice in my lifetime. And I’m not all that stinking old.

    When I was first an adult, men were asked permission before a calling was extended to his wife. But he was called alone.

    And, heck, you very well know that my last FOUR WARDS, in TWO STATES have had a prohibition against women giving the opening prayer in sacrament meeting.

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there were a bunch of leaders who still held onto some of those other antiquated and, yes, sexist practices. Brushing them off as “exceptions” might not be as accurate as you think.

  142. Dexter #148:
    The Church is run by god, according to members, so they don’t feel that it is their place to picket and sign petitions and shout out their disapproval. They feel that if god wants to change it, he will change it, and that they should focus on the good and support their leaders.

    Given the actual history of the church, I sincerely think it’s ridiculous to take the position that “if god wants to change it, he will change it.”

    What percentage of revelations came about as a mandate of God’s will as compared to being an answer to a question, first posed by a human being?

    Someday, I’m going to chronicle all of God’s reliably recorded revelations and put then in two columns:

    Poofed Down by God
    Answers to Human Questions

    If memory serves me, the latter is going so skunk the former.

  143. Alison, I agree that it is ridiculous to believe that god will change anything.

    I was speaking for what members believe. Members may certainly believe that revelation may come from the 12 and the first presidency asking god questions, but not from members voicing their disapproval about women and the priesthood by writing on blogs and giving petitions to their local leaders.

  144. The problem with dissent is that the organization isn’t like a company that feels beholden to its members as if they were employees or customers. Members who voice dissent are prone to be dismissed as not representative of the 99% of membership that leaders consider faithful and happy (probably assuming on some level that the church experience is the same for all who live the commandments). That also assumes that the life experiences of the Q15 are either average or (worse) ideal, so understanding diverse viewpoints is not sought. Personally, I think that’s the mindset of a bygone generation, and there is evidence of a shift as new apostles are called. But change is slow in a gerontocracy, and current young generations do not revere their elders as did the Silent Generation (WW2 era).

  145. Jo, I am not a believer in the LDS faith, but I have to say that at this point your rant is growing tiresome. Personally, I understand and agree with everything you have said. I think the things you’ve experienced are horrible and are indicative of individuals that are acting without the least bit of guidance from on high, if such guidance does exist. But what in the world is the point of continuing to rail about it here or in any other context? You have said numerous times that you are now inactive. Wonderful. If you don’t want to go to the mormon church anymore because it’s a sexist organization, then don’t. If you want to have your name removed then do it. Those choices are yours to make, and no one can stop you. Alternatively, if you believe the church to be the one and only true church on the earth, you can try to get past the slights and insults and continue to be involved. Your treatment at the hands of your local leaders is, by now, well chronicled. Why in the hell would you want to be part of an organization that you feel is so corrupt in the first place? I’m not sure what you are hoping to accomplish with this ongoing conversation. You’re not open in the slightest to anyone defending the broader church to any degree; even those who have sympathized with your plight and condemned those who have mistreated you. I just don’t understand people who feel marginalized by the church (or any church) and constantly complain about how they’re marginalized. Why not go find a church that appreciates you and will treat you with dignity? It seems like the answer to your problems is to leave the church, which you’ve apparently already done. What else are you looking for?

  146. Alison, I don’t know if you’re an active member of the LDS church, but if you are, I would ask you the same question. I really don’t understand people (some gay mormons are a good example) who feel they are mistreated and discriminated against by the church (which I would frankly agree with, by the way), but who remain in the church and complain about it. If the church is true, then the discrimination is from god, and those who believe the church is true should stop complaining about it, because their real complaint is against god, not the church. If the church is not true, then why in the world, in light of what one sees as its gross misdeeds, would that person want to be involved in it? It is nonsensical to me.

  147. “If the church is not true, then why in the world, in light of what one sees as its gross misdeeds, would that person want to be involved in it? It is nonsensical to me.”

    Because for many, many members of the church being Mormon is way more about who they are than what they believe. Its their culture. This is true for me, although I am also a believer, but I know its also true for my dear friend who is Catholic. I consider myself Mormon as much as, or more than I consider myself American. It might seem weird to those who don’t understand, but its just the way it is. My husband is a disaffected Mormon, but he remains an active LDS for the sake of our family. He knows I would never leave the church. Its part of me, leaving would be like having my heart ripped out. He knows I am a believer and will not leave the church. So, he remains because the most important people in his life are inside the church.

    I think the same is true for alot of people that have issues with one thing or another. They want the church to change, but it doesn’t, and so they become angry and can’t let go of their anger. I agree with brjones that constant railing is not the best answer. It usually only causes more pain to the person who is already upset. I am not saying, “LDS Church, Love it or Leave it!” Because I want everyone here. But I am saying that letting go of anger is one of the steps to healing.

    Jo and Alison, I wish you peace.

  148. Just back from a short vacation. Amazing level of personal attack on some of your responses. I’m not seeing much discussion on the ethics of what this thread is discussing, just random negative feedback that reflects the sender’s bias. Think of this as an ethics question. Is benevolent patriarchy the ideal ethic in an organization? Is it ethical? Like the historic concept of benevolent slavery, which was an idea accepted in this country before the Civil War, is the idea that there is a ruling elite based on circumstances of birth, ethical?
    I am hearing some interesting descriptions of this messenger, who has experienced unrighteous dominion, but not much on the actual ethics discussion. I still attend the LDS church, when I am out of this very provincial city. I won’t pay tithing or donations right now as it would be credited to this stake, which committed the unrighteous dominion. Since committing unrighteous dominion has no consequences to the leaders here,as the LDS Church does not have an oversight process in place to address unrighteous dominion, as indicated by the GA, who is in charge of Ethics in this region (including Washington State), my wish is to raise awareness and request that the LDS Church provide individual rights to members, a due process system and an oversight system. Currently,Stake Presidents have broad dominion over their stakes, they can operate as they choose, righteously or unrighteously. So, whatever way they charismatically choose to operate, is your LDS Church. warts and all.
    The intention of this blog site and others, is to raise the level of awareness of how the LDS Church operates. We then discuss the ethics involved in how the LDS Church operates as compared with our understanding of what is ethical. Simple in its intention. Truth and time will tell if we allow all voices in the discussion.
    BroJones noted that the comparison of sexism and racism is growing “tiresome”.
    My tithing settlement statement for 2007 was credited under my DH’s name only, with his name crossed out and my name scribbled in pencil underneath. My accountant noted that he could explain this as sexism, if needed to the IRS. After all, it is the LDS Church, so no further explanation would be necessary. My accountant knows that it is a common practice and the IRS knows that the LDS Church leaders have very sexist practices, resulting in many situations such as what I personally experienced.
    How would we imagine a church without the sexism that I and others have experienced? Deny that there is sexism in the LDS Church? Deny that abuse is widespread? How often does abuse have to occur to determine that there may be a problem? Does this elitist attitude contribute toward further abuse toward women, such as what we see in pornography and child abuse. We don’t seem to connect the idea of lack of equality and respect to women as a contributor to participation in pornography and abuse of women and children. When men think they belong to a higher caste, who are more valued by their society, than others, we, as their society, create the conditions for them to abuse with fewer consequences. I have worked with children, who have been abused, so I do know how our religion is used to pressure little girls to recant their reports of abuse. I have had to advise my team to contact law enforcement to intervene when children have been abused. Using religion to hide or justify any type of abuse is unrighteous.
    Do women have a right to wish for a Church that treats them with equal dignity and respect? Do we have a right to voice that wish without retaliation?
    Thank you to Hawkgrrl, Dexter and Alison Moore Smith for having the ethical intellect to join constructively in the ethics discussion.
    Pinkpatent, I wish you truth and justice.

  149. Jo, here is my problem in a nutshell – and why I stand by my first comment to you. In two of your comments, you said the following:

    “Thank you for your response as I was feeling that my point was being overlooked by Ray and Crazywomancreek. They seem to be here to attack anyone providing evidence of a problem in the Church.”

    That is not and never has been my position here or anywhere else. CWC is not even a member, and if you knew anything about her you would realize how ludicrous your statement is. It is one of the most ridiculous accusations I have heard in the Bloggernacle in the years I’ve been commenting. Please understand I mean that: You have stereotyped two people incorrectly and, in doing so, done EXACTLY what you accused them of doing – brushing off differing opinions thoughtlessly.

    “Thank you to Hawkgrrl, Dexter and Alison Moore Smith for having the ethical intellect to join constructively in the ethics discussion.”

    In essence, you just called everyone who didn’t agree 100% with everything you said ethical morons – and you accuse others of not being constructive?

    I’m not going to continue that sort of conversation – as it isn’t productive in the slightest, especially since I agreed totally that what you have experienced is wrong and should not happen to anyone.

  150. Dexter:

    Alison, I agree that it is ridiculous to believe that god will change anything.

    I didn’t say that it’s ridiculous to believe that God will change anything, so I have no idea what you’re agreeing with.

    I was speaking for what members believe.

    No you weren’t. You were creating a straw man. And a stupid one at that.


    Alison, I don’t know if you’re an active member of the LDS church, but if you are, I would ask you the same question. I really don’t understand people (some gay mormons are a good example) who feel they are mistreated and discriminated against by the church (which I would frankly agree with, by the way), but who remain in the church and complain about it.

    There probably isn’t much in the way of the LDS to-do list that I don’t do. We attend all our meetings, even “optionals,” attend the temple, hold callings, have FHE and family scriptures, pay tithing and offerings, and I did a service project at the bishop’s storehouse on Thursday. You decide if you qualify that as “active.”

    I “complain” because it’s apparent–from their own statements–that our church leaders don’t think anyone has a problem with the issues that are discriminatory and inappropriate.

    If the church is true, then the discrimination is from god

    I don’t know you personally, but I’m thinking most people who can type full sentences (including you) can barely breathe through the lack of logic in such a statement. But kudos to you for doing the i-am-no-longer-active-but-i-will-pretend-to-make-authoritative-statements-anyway thing.

    And funny you should bring up the word “nonsensical.”

  151. Ray: Complimenting someone for contributing constructively does not automatically translate into an insult for everyone else. Your comments included far more than agreement.
    I value you, as you are also contributing to the discussion, in your own way.
    “If the church is true, then the discrimination is from god”
    If I interpret this phrase correctly, you believe that the gender discrimination is from God. That is a common theme of “God is male, therefore only males are Godly.”
    If we look at the Godhead, there is God, his son, Jesus Christ and “The Holy Spirit”
    1 Ne. 11:27 states “Holy Ghost is (the) Spirit of revelation, 1 Ne. 11:27 Holy Ghost abide upon the lamb in (the) form of (a) dove.
    The Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit in the New Testament is The Spirit of truth according to John 16;13.
    That truth will be revealed upon the second coming with the return of Jesus Christ as indicated in John 14;17, Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive. and John 16:13, When he, the Spirit of Truth , is come.
    The most important example that we have in the restoration is Joseph Smith, at age 14 in the grove, when he asked in prayer and through the spirit of revelation, received an answer.
    That said, we know that God tries, and man fails, so each of us may receive an answer in prayer.
    We know that because mankind is imperfect, we must diligently seek truth through prayer. Our Church has made great gains in the last 50 years, as we are no longer racist and maybe, soon,
    we will no longer be sexist.
    Are we ready to give up sexism and treat all souls as having equal worth in the eyes of the Lord?
    The same arguments that supported racism, such as orderly society, biology is destiny, etc. have been presented, many times, previously, to support racism. We have, as a religion, barely shook off that bias. Are we now ready to be enlightened regarding gender bias? Are we prepared to stop discrimination against women? The first step in this process of becoming prepared to be enlightened is for those who face discrimination to ask of God through prayer and then to speak truth to power. Women are here, speaking their truth.

  152. “[Ray,]I value you, as you are also contributing to the discussion, in your own way.”

    Ah ha ha! I want to add condescending to narcissistic, in my earlier comment. I know, I know; they seem similar enough to not warrant an addition but reflect a little; it works. I would like to add my own non-sequitur-rejoinder: the Beatles sold an album…in their own way.

  153. Jo #147

    I have served as a Financial and Ward Clerk under 3 different Bishops and can say with some certainty that there is no official policy that all tithing donations need to be put under the head of household. Many of the couples had divided tithing reporting. It is pretty easy to do actually. However, it was a smidgen easier to have all of that data input under a single person at times and I could see a lazy Financial clerk not wanting to go through the imagined hastle.

  154. RobertM
    That is the problem, no official policy. We have no consistency in how donations by women are treated. When I asked for my tithing and fast offerings to be put under my own name, it should have been done per my request. I found a tithing settlement report from 2003 and it showed my donations under my own name, not my husbands. Years later, it was changed, without explanation to reflect his name only, even though he had not, in that time donated a penny. He is generous, but with political parties.

  155. Jo, I also have served as a Fainancal Clerk. There is an official policy – that the donation be made as the donator requests. That was Robert’s point – that not doing so is a result of an incorrect personal decision at the local level to not follow the policy.

  156. Hello Ray:
    I’m pleased that you are speaking to me again, and that we have found a point of agreement. I do understand that the decision to place my contributions under my husband’s name was a decision made at the local level.
    In a review of records, I found a curious thing. My 2003 contributions were under my name. My 2007 contributions were under only my husband’s name, not mine. From speaking with my husband on the subject, he indicated that there was “pressure put on him” to get his temple recommend and seek his endowments. He didn’t wish to do that because he really likes his coffee in the morning. He roasts his own beans and I have tried his coffee, as his request, and found it to be very good, as coffee goes. I’m not a big fan and due to the folic acid deficiency, am advised against consuming anything containing caffine or even alcohol.
    This is sad to me because I would really like to show some rebellious behavior in addition to this apostate blogging.
    This is my theory on why our situation occurred. The high priests group wanted to ensure that all of their priesthood holders were married in the temple, so they put pressure on my DH in order to make him conform to their wishes. It wasn’t working, so when I requested that my temple recommend be renewed, they saw an opportunity to increase the pressure by denying my temple recommend on the condition that it would be provided, only if my DH agreed to seek his recommend and go to the temple with me to have our endowments together.
    The relationship with my ward here has been interesting as they asked me to observe a child, with parent approval, in primary to make recommendations and provide management suggestions for his behavior.
    They also allowed me to present a review of special education services available through the schools, which was very well attended. I think I made a social error following a Sunday School presentation where a woman explained as a supporting point to the discussion, that she was allowing her parents to support her because her husband claimed he could not pay child support because it was a good opportunity to :”invest in his private business” and that his business needed his support. I spoke with the sister, after the meeting and said that I could provide her a list of resources for her to contact, that would be able to review her husband’s income and base child support payments on that. Also, if he did not have an income, such as fathers who choose graduate school over work, a presumend income amound could be determined. She agreed that it was important for him to pay something for his two children, as she was not working and her parents were not wealthy.
    The Bishop became very chilly after one notable incident, when I had to set professional limits on him during a funeral held in 2004, at a high school which I contracted with for psychological/counselor services,, when he brought the coffin into a memorial service, held in the school auditorium. I sent word to him, through one the male staff, that the coffin would be allowed, but they could not open it.
    An open casket service, in an after school event, with other students in the building could cause a child to arrive home with the statement, “Guess what I saw at school today, a dead body.”
    So, they really liked my DH, but I didn’t fit the usual stereotype in our ward, which has few professional women.
    My DH, earned the nickname, “The Object of Their Offections.”
    The pressure to conform to a stereotype made us both uncomfortable as we don’t like to be pushed. The denial of my temple recommend based on tithing by the stake president bothered me because when I explained that I had been paying tithing and clarified that it was under “head of household”, it was treated as if that was not enough and my DH should also work toward his temple endowments, so we could attend together.
    The violation of confidentiality following this meeting was in retaliation to my explaining to my Bishop, that I was not being treated fairly and that this treatment set a tone in the ward that was sexist.
    I asked for due process and was told that I could meet with the Stake President again, as the Bishop is the “judge” in these matters and the Stake President supports him. We had already been down that route. The Bishop did not understand the confidentiality ethic as he thought that it was “Whoever he thought needed to know.” When I explained what professional ethics should be in this situation, he disagreed. I suggested that my DH and I might be a better fit with another ward and was told that we would need to meet with the SP, to get “permission” to change wards. I said I would not do that.
    An interesting response came when I explained that requiring husbands to schedule the appointment and attend the appointment with the SP was similar to the Muslim Sharia law that women cannot represent themselves and must have a male represent them. This is a third world attitude.
    The Bishop accused me of violating confidentiality, by allowing another educator to overhear the phone discussion. I explained that there was not an expectation of confidentiality in that situation as I didn’t expect to be discriminated against when scheduling a meeting with the SP.
    I know that I have explained my situation more than once. It is important as it indicates some larger issues for Church policy and procedure.
    Does treating women in a third world fashion, as second class citizens, hinder the development of religious ethics in the LDS Church?
    As women succeed in the secular world, will they be disallowed to bring their strengths to their service in the church?
    Since cultural practices are the critical element in the evolution of the human mind and society, does limiting women’s monetary or social contributions as a cultural practice, limit the progress of the LDS Church.
    There was a wonderful presenter at the “Learning and the Brain” conference at Harvard University in 2005, Stanley Greenspan, who presented “The First Idea, How Symbols, Lanaguage, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans”. His theory was that the critical step in our human development was not a “genetic leap” but a learned capacity. That capacity depended on specific types of nurturing interactions and other cultural practices which were passed down and thus learned anew and further developed by each generation. It also purports that these practices are transformed from generation to generation and that emotional, not cognitive processes, are the foundation of these cultural practices. These emotional interactions are the missing link in the evolution of symbols, language and cognition that work together in mankind’s development.
    What emotions support treating women in a limiting and secondary manner, and what are the consequences to women as a result of being treated in this manner?
    How do we transform the LDS Church, in our generation, to better include and support women in our religion?
    Ray, I also wanted to expand on why I am participating in these blogs. We have not yet developed a set of rights in the LDS Church for our individual members. We do not have a process of oversight and review that is working for members who have faced unrighteous dominion. This blog offers a way to “process trauma” by gaining some understanding of the context and impact of that trauma through the cathartic consolation of finding others who have been traumatized. The interesting aspect of traumas value as a fucrum for organizational change is useful. Organizations tend to stay as they are until something happens to move them. For example, in my work I had a vulnerable student (low vision) who was placed in a classroom which also had an aggressive student. It took the trauma of having that child targeted and bullied by the aggressive child before the district made a policy that children with behavioral disorders, as demonstrated by aggression, should not be placed into classes with children with sensory deficits. In this case, the child was vulnerable because the child could not “see it coming” and thus it was the district’s responsibility to provide an additional level of protection by permanently removing the child who was bullying from the vulnerable child’s classroom.
    Long example, but it highlights the fact that the LDS Church has left itself vulnerable to the idea that it is operating in a sexist manner, when it allows SPs and Bishops to take actions against women, such as in my situation. Does the LDS Church have an obligation to “make it right” instead of “pretending it didn’t happen”?
    By my statement of making it right, I requested that they allow me to provide “training” to the church leaders on confidentiality and best practices. I offered to provide my sister in laws company, at my expense, which trains school districts. She is a PhD and runs a very successful company that has used the same national training that some LDS Companies have hired to assist their managers. She has male trainers under her hire. Her presenters are nationally certified and qualified to provide leadership training to companies.
    So, Ray and others, what are your thoughts on this.

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