Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Kingship Model

Bored in Vernal abuse, feminism, Government, LDS lessons, Leaders, Mormon, patriarchy, Priesthood, scripture 98 Comments

Avatar-BiVOT SS Lesson #21

When we lived in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, I obtained a faculty position in the fairly newly-formed department of Health and P.E. at a university which was strictly segregated by gender.  The women’s side of the university operated independently, with our own female custodians, technical staff, professors and administration,  and very little oversight from the male president.  Our department consisted of five women, and we made all decisions collectively, with no titular head.  After the first semester I was there, one of our staff meetings was dedicated to the question of whether we should have a department head.  Being the newest addition to the faculty, I had little say in this decision, but I did bring up the point that we had successfully administrated the department jointly, and I questioned the necessity of one department head.  It would completely change the group dynamics that we had experienced as a body of women removed from a patriarchal hierarchy and which I very much enjoyed.  The reply from all of the rest of the women, though there had been no problems thus far, was that “you HAVE to have a leader,” that one person MUST be in charge of any organization.

At the time I was struck by how much this assertion resembled the one I have heard from many Mormons justifying the hierarchical, patriarchal system in place in the Church, both within the institution and within our individual families.  The argument seems to be that harmonious resolution of difficulties is impossible without one leader to make final decisions.  I am not entirely sure I agree that no other model beside the “one-leader rule,” or what I will here call the “kingship” model is viable in administrating a successful community.

The kingship model of administration appears to have been particularly desirable throughout history.  It seems obvious that strong personality types would desire to set up a system of governance where they were in charge of making all the decisions.  But the scriptural record and our OT SS Lesson #21 show that groups of people also wish to configure their communities under the supervision of a king.  1 Samuel 8 recounts the story of the Israelite people, dissatisfied with judges and prophets, clamoring for Samuel to get them a king.  Their reasoning is found in verse 20: they want to be like the other nations, they want one strong leader to judge them, and they desire to be under the protection of a military commander who will lead them in battle.

Passages in the Book of Mormon also describe this desire of the general population to set up a monarchy.  In Mosiah 23 the people want Alma to be their king because of their great admiration for him.  In 3 Ne 7 a league of tribes attempt to establish a kingship in order to overthrow the tribal system of government then operating.  In Alma 51 there is also an attempt to overthrow the current leadership and inculcate a kingship, inspired in part by pride and aspirations to nobility.  In each case in the scriptures where there is a desire to crown a king, it is denounced as contrary to the ideals of freedom.  Several reasons are given in these passages as to why kingship is considered malapropos:

  • It is a rejection of divine rule in favor of human rule (1 Sam 8:7)
  • A king would allocate human and natural resources to his own advantage (1 Sam 8:11-17)
  • One man should not think of himself as being above another; kingship gives those of high birth unfair power and authority (Mosiah 23:7; Alma 51:8)
  • Not all kings can be trusted to be just (Mosiah 23:8,13,14)
  • A king can oppress people and lead them into iniquity (Mosiah 23:12)
  • A monarchy is not a free government (Alma 51:6)
Now, apparently hierarchical priesthood leadership in the Church and in LDS homes is considered to be very different than kingship as presented in the scriptures.  I can see how this would be so if there were a clear line of communication from a Heavenly Being to each designated leader.  However, the nature of inspiration and communication from on High is nuanced enough to make this an insufficient rationale.  Observe how each of the reasons given above can be applied to hierarchical priesthood leadership as practiced in the Church:
  • It is a rejection of divine rule in favor of human rule.  When it is not always possible to tell if the leader is receiving revelation, the leader imposes his will upon the others in the system.  The others then obey human directives rather than attempting to gain their own revelation of the divine will.
  • A human being is naturally inclined to direct resources to his own advantage.  With one hierarchical leader this is always a danger.  When a group of people act together, or when there are checks and balances in the system, this temptation is not as prevalent.
  • Priesthood leadership gives those who have been born male unfair power and authority.  This is true regardless of the fact that many good men who hold the priesthood will not take advantage of their position.
  • Not all priesthood holders can be trusted to be just.  To paraphrase: “if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your priesthood leaders, it would be well for you to have priesthood leaders.”
  • A priesthood leader can oppress people and lead them into iniquity.  I will not be so presumptuous as to cite examples of this.  But again, this tendency is ameliorated when more accountability is built into the administrative system.
  • An organization of hierarchical priesthood leadership is not a free government. Under this type of leadership, the choices of the individual can be severely limited if there is disagreement.  Often a member loses legitimacy and power in the system simply for having a differing opinion than the priesthood leader.
I’m sure that there are flaws in my observations on patriarchal hierarchy and kingship, so please dive in and point them out!  I think this should be an interesting discussion.  How do you think kingship (as denounced in the scriptures) and patriarchy (which we all know is encouraged in Church organization) differ and compare?

Comments

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Comments 98

  1. A woman’s entrance into the Lord’s church through baptism is designed by the Lord to be an entrance into freedom. No longer is she a second class citizen, standing behind a man, but is on equal ground with men, having equal voting rights as they do, and having, together with her sisters, the combined capacity to pull down all abuse and abusers by vote. No longer need she obey by virtue of someone’s title (father, husband, police officer, teacher, elder, president, etc.), but is free to discard one’s title altogether and obey only the Christ-like ones and vote down the devilish.

    Because women often get the brunt of the abuse that goes around by tyrannical men, and because they are usually the first ones to detect it, the Lord has given the keys of the church mainly to the sisters, so that finally the women are empowered to rein it in thru the sustaining votes for callings and canonizations.

    The tremendous power of the keys of the church, wielded by the sisters as a voting block to vote their conscience, even if it contradicts the leadership position, presents an insurmountable obstacle to would-be priesthood tyrants. There simply is no way around it. If the sisters wake up to the existence of the keys of the church and exercise their voting power, leadership positions lose all their power and authority.

    The strategy, then, used by leaders, is to talk only of the keys of the priesthood and to never mention the keys of the church. Because no one can exercise a right they don’t know they have, as long as the sisters remain ignorant of this authority, given to them by the Lord, men are free to rule in the church as priest-king tyrants.

    In fact, the leadership has gotten to the point where they hardly use the word “vote” any more. The act of raising a hand for a calling is widely called “sustaining” — while raising one’s hand against is called “not sustaining” — and it is continuously taught that it is our duty to sustain our leaders – presumably by raising our hands for them. This means that a woman who raises a hand in opposition is not “sustaining her leader”, therefore, she must be sinning.

    By getting away from the word “vote,” which has no stigma if you vote your conscience, for or against, and by using the word “sustain”, the leadership has invented a new sin and multiplied guilt and fear. Now everyone is afraid to exercise his or her church keys and the priesthood is free to engage in ecclesiastical abuse with nothing to hinder its progress.

  2. Post
    Author

    Justin, I agree that the sustaining power is underutilized in the Church. But your above comment seems a bit ridiculous from the point of view of a woman. The problem doesn’t really center around abuse. How would you like being a citizen of the U.S., with the power to vote, but never allowed to hold office of any kind, from president to mayor, to school board member; all because you happen to have blue eyes?

    But don’t worry, you have the power to vote for those leaders — and you have full rights to participate as a kindergarten teacher or a secretary.

  3. I’m not suggesting that women should just continue to vote happily. I reject the notion that a woman is never allowed to hold office of any kind.

    While there are some offices, e.g. EQ President, that I don’t see a woman even wanting to hold — I agree with you that denying them any office claimed by “the priesthood” is akin to barrying public office on the basis of eye color.

    You say that “the problem doesn’t really center around abuse” but then go on to describe a form of abuse — withholding a calling solely on the basis of gender — to demonstrate what you mean.

  4. In Italy there is a system of public preschools in the Reggio Emilia district that arose out of the post WWII era. They (originally a single school but now grown to a number of schools of world-wide repute) were formed on a fairly socialist model with faculties and a body of parents holding joint decision making authority. To this day the schools operate independently of one another and without directors but under the guidance of committees of parents and faculty.

    The schools themselves are incredibly creative and raise children to be autonomous members of a community both within the school and in the community at large. They draw legions of teachers from most of the countries of the world to investigate their ground-breaking methods and impressive results.

    The administration of the schools is characterized by those who participate as noisy, sometimes contentious, collegial and enormously productive — both for the schools and the larger communities.

    If anyone is interested in the schools or their process here’s the wiki on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach There are many more scholarly papers available on the web for anyone interested in more in-depth info. There are also videos of some of the mouth-droppingly creative and ambitious projects that these pre-schoolers have done over the years but they seem to be pretty much locked up in proprietary products so I can’t link to them. Notable among them are the “Amusement Park for Birds” project in which the children designed various “attractions” for the birds that inhabited the area around one school. The children’s park rivals the water sculptures at the Pompidou Center in Paris and, more than that, in the process they learned volumes on the science and engineering of water in an incredibly creative process.

    Not sure if this resolves anything about patriarchal hierarchy and kingship but it’s a viable, concrete and really very, very impressive system that has operated on the model of BV’s SA headless department for half a century.

  5. Re #4

    The last sentence in the first paragraph should read: To this day the schools operate … under the guidance of committees of parents, faculty and staff. True to its original socialist vision, the cooking, janitorial and other staff have equal determinative input and authority.

  6. Post
    Author

    I suppose it was your first sentence in #1 that misled me, Justin. I am a convert to the Church, was raised in a religious tradition where women enjoyed all of the same powers and privileges as men, and never felt oppressed until I “entered the Lord’s Church through baptism.” To this day I feel strongly that I made the right choice, but I have yet to see the “entrance into freedom” that you mention.

    Nonetheless, I hope this discussion can focus on the hierarchical aspect of leadership. Why do people in the Church and out, cling to the idea that there must be ONE leader who is in charge, who has the final say? Why don’t we trust our abilities to negotiate and cooperate as equals? Why has the Church settled on a model that seems at odds with what the OT and BoM teach on kingship?

  7. Post
    Author

    Alice, I posted my last comment before I saw your # 4 and 5, but your example fascinates me. I would love to see more of this type of participatory leadership, and I’m glad that at least somewhere there is a place where it is viable and thriving.

  8. RE: #6
    BIV, I qualified that first sentence with, is designed by the Lord , b/c that is how I read the scriptures. I was not trying to describe the experience in positive terms — rather normative ones.

    People want ONE leader to be in charge because they fear using their agency. So long as another person has the final say, fearful people will allow him/her to make decisions for them.

    However, so long as the majority allow/request that ONE person be placed in charge over them — then unrighteous and conspiring men and women will seek out such positions and use them to excercise unrighteous dominion on the rest.

    The model of the church in Corithians was anarchic — a body of equals, each given unique/particular gifts to edify the whole.

  9. I don’t think they are all that different, but there are some issues which I think are important. At the outset I do believe that priesthood power/authority should be given to women, so all of what I have to say implicitly involves them. My concern is that even if we had women as our prophet we could still have a queen-ship model and thus I suggest that looking at how the culture of the institution serves to reinforce king/queenship is what I want to examine.

    First, temporary positions at nearly every level is different to the kingship model. Obviously I am aware that being a Prophet is a life calling, all others involve some temporary responsibility (Apostles and GA’s get moved around in different assignments).

    Second, counselors. I suspect that presidency’s are intended to work as mini-collectives rather than as merely the facade for kingship (where one leader dominates and receives ideas from others) which they may well be in some extreme and rare cases. This would be my second comment/suggestion, that unity is sought after rather willing capitulation once the Bishop has spoken.

    Third, accountability. I think we need to be careful as a Church culture in moving too far toward the ‘kingship’ model because I feel that we are intended to have a communitarian approach to our religious life. However, I think part of the problem with this is the notion of accountability which has been reinforced repeatedly in the Church’s public discourse. The problem I see with this is that we focus upon accountability while protecting the decisions of our leaders without holding them accountable. If this pattern were changed I think we could move toward a far more communitarian culture, even if that is within the current framework of the organisation.

    I think that in all of these we can move toward the type of kingship (and in my mind patriarchy) that the Lord is concerned about. Thus even if women do not have priesthood power/authority I think these changes would be positive in looking at how we avoid coming under the scriptural condemnation BiV highlights.

  10. Justin,

    I’d just like to point out that women are just as capable of being violently abusive as men. My ex-fiancee would often take out her anger on me through the medium of a clenched fist.

  11. Have you read Values-Driven Leadership by James O’Toole? It’s a business book that completely agrees with your point.

  12. Dave,

    I’m sorry to hear that, and I was not writing my comments so as to ignore that reality.

    RE #9
    Aaron, I like your comment about presidencies being mini-collectives. So long as they don’t rubber-stamp the decision of the president — I think it is beneficial.

  13. “Why do people in the Church and out, cling to the idea that there must be ONE leader who is in charge, who has the final say? Why don’t we trust our abilities to negotiate and cooperate as equals? Why has the Church settled on a model that seems at odds with what the OT and BoM teach on kingship?”

    The reason why (and this does not just apply to the Church) is because experience has shown us that a large portion of the populace CANNOT be trusted and do not have the abilities to negotiate and cooperate as equals.

  14. Justin

    “A womens’ entrance into the Lords’ church through baptism is designed to be an d entrance into freedom. No longer is she a second class citizen.”
    .
    1) first the reason for baptism is this: Baptism by immersion by one authority(which in the LDS tradition is always male) is the first saving ordinance of the gospel and is necessary to become a member of the church of jesus christ of Latter day saints. all who seek life must follow the example of the Savior by being baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Baptism in our church has nothing to do with one’s freedom. Baptism is necessary for women/men in order to become a member. The fact of the matter is women in this church don’t have the authority to do any ordinances,( except for washings and anointing as a temple ordinance) which I believe is the point of the OP.

    The only power that women have in this church is weather or not to sustain a leader if she so chooses. I have attempted to voice a concern that I have through a series of emails(28 in total, to voice a concern that I had about my home-teacher using unrighteous dominion over me) and I was met with complete and utter silence by my BP, SP and Area seventy.) No one has ever attempted to call me back to discuss, and or resolve me concerns in an amicable way. This one and only power that a woman has compared to list or powers that men have control over is really quite laughable. Especially given that Temple Recommends are given out by Bishops, and SP so in essence they control that as well.

    2) “People want one leader because they fear their agency.” ARe you kidding me? When ever women in the church have tried to exercise their power its’ been taken away, primarily by the male leadership. In the early days of the church women participated in more areas of the church than they do now, mostly because as more men joined the their power was stripped. Your statement also implies that people are to childish and immature to use their authority or autonomy wisely. pure hogwash

  15. BiV:
    *** I’m sure that there are flaws in my observations on patriarchal hierarchy and kingship, so please dive in and point them out! ***

    I’ll do my best.

    *** [Heirarchical priesthood leadership] is a rejection of divine rule in favor of human rule. ***

    False by definition. The Priesthood is the power of God among men, so Priesthood leadership is a form of, or an extension of, divine rule.

    *** When it is not always possible to tell if the leader is receiving revelation, the leader imposes his will upon the others in the system. ***

    False. Suppose a leader guides by revelation, but those he leads cannot tell it is by revelation. Your argument above says that he is then “imposing his will upon the others”. But since he is in fact leading by revelation from God, he is not imposing his will, but God’s, so your argument fails.

    *** The others then obey human directives rather than attempting to gain their own revelation of the divine will. ***

    Flawed. You are positing a situation where, in your words [my EMPHASIS], “it is NOT always POSSIBLE to tell if the leader is receiving revelation”. There are two possibilities here:

    1. Your situation is realistic; there really are times when it is not possible to tell if a leader is receiving revelation. In this case, your statement above is false. The people are not “obey[ing] human directives RATHER THAN attempting to gain their own revelation”, because it is not possible for them to gain the revelation. You have excluded that as a possibility. The people are reduced to a simple choice: obey or disobey. There is no possibility of receiving revelation.

    2. Your situation is unrealistic; we can always receive divine revelation. In this case, your statement above is false. The people can always receive revelation, and are simply refusing to live up to their privileges. This is then not a failing of the leader, as you claim, but of the follower.

    *** A human being is naturally inclined to direct resources to his own advantage. With one hierarchical leader this is always a danger. When a group of people act together, or when there are checks and balances in the system, this temptation is not as prevalent. ***

    Perhaps this is one reason that we are always led by presidencies, instead of by individual presidents. So you have presented a false dichotomy.

    *** Priesthood leadership gives those who have been born male unfair power and authority. This is true regardless of the fact that many good men who hold the priesthood will not take advantage of their position. ***

    How have you become authorized to define “unfair”? Do you think it “unfair” that women get to have monthly periods? Do you think it “unfair” that men tend to be taller and have shorter lifespans than women? Is it “unfair” that you will live to be 95 and see your great-great-grandchildren, while I will be dead of cancer before I’m 60?

    God has defined Priesthood leadership as a male role. Who authorizes you to proclaim that as “unfair”? Have you become God’s judge?

    *** Not all priesthood holders can be trusted to be just. To paraphrase: “if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your priesthood leaders, it would be well for you to have priesthood leaders.” ***

    Your paraphrase is misleading, since the original scripture dealt with secular kings, not Priesthood leadership. Here is a non-paraphrase: “Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.”

    *** A priesthood leader can oppress people and lead them into iniquity. I will not be so presumptuous as to cite examples of this. But again, this tendency is ameliorated when more accountability is built into the administrative system. ***

    At this point, you are instructing the Church (and by extension, God) on how best to administer the kingdom of God. I believe you are neither authorized nor qualified to do this.

    *** An organization of hierarchical priesthood leadership is not a free government. ***

    Hence the term “kingdom of God” rather than “democracy of God”.

    *** Under this type of leadership, the choices of the individual can be severely limited if there is disagreement. Often a member loses legitimacy and power in the system simply for having a differing opinion than the priesthood leader. ***

    I think this is true. I think this actually happens, both on an institutional and on a family level. But I also think this is the system God has ordained, despite (and perhaps at times because of) its flaws.

  16. The argument in the scriptures against a kingship is that when you give someone that much power, they tend to use it unrighteously and oppress those they govern. The model itself isn’t bad, it just usually leads to bad situations. For example, Mosiah 23:8 states:

    “Nevertheless, if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you to have a king.”

    It’s not having a king that’s bad, it’s having an unrighteous king that’s bad and more likely than not, you’ll end up with an unrighteous king. Also, the scriptures only caution against this model when used for political governance and never for religious governance. I believe this is because the church has no control over your life, whereas the political government does. The church cannot force you to pay tithing, serve callings, attend services, etc. The political government can force you to pay taxes, draft you into the military, throw you into jail for political offenses, and oppress you in many other ways. Of course, we all know or have heard of abuse within the church from unjust men in positions of authority. This is very unfortunate, but not a reason, I think, to change the model of governance within the church. The hierarchical model provides unity and stability for us imperfect humans. Perhaps the model utilized during the millennium or after will be less hierarchical. Or maybe not since I believe everyone then will be more or less just.

  17. Nice example of circular argument, Vort.

    There is always a tension in Christianity between sacerdotalism (the intermediation of priests between God and man), on the one hand, and individualism and congregationalism. See Matthew 23, esp. v. 9-10: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”

    Mark 9:38-40: “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my bname, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.”

  18. I believe that their has always been arguments that women in the church wouldn’t want to be an Elders’ Q President. Who says that? the male leadership and why is that?

    What really would be wrong with women using the same authority that the men do and have within the church?

  19. *** I believe that their has always been arguments that women in the church wouldn’t want to be an Elders’ Q President. Who says that? the male leadership and why is that? ***

    The traditional response is that no one in his or her right mind wants to have the responsibilities of a bishop (or EQ president or RS president or Primary president, etc). This is demonstrably false, however. A better line of reasoning is that any man or woman who wants a calling of authority over others has demonstrated his/her unfitness for the calling. Even this breaks down on closer examination, however: I want to have a position of authority over my children, but that doesn’t mean I’m a megalomaniac. A person might want to be a bishop or quorum president just because he believes he has the qualities and skills to operate effectively and bless his brothers and sisters.

    The best answer might be: A woman in the Church doesn’t want to be an elders quorum president because that is a calling for men, not for women. It would make no sense for her to be called to such a position, a position she would not even be able to fill, since she does not hold the Priesthood.

    *** What really would be wrong with women using the same authority that the men do and have within the church? ***

    You mean Priesthood authority? Women use that authority all the time. Or are you asking why women don’t hold the Priesthood? If so, you need to take that up with Christ.

  20. #18 — The assumption that everything about the present hierarchical structure of the LDS Church results from direct divine instruction, and doesn’t have any human content in it at all.

    As I understand things, the Lord reveals core truths of the Gospel, but leaves it to the best judgment of leaders to work out the details. The level of inspiration that goes into these details, and their infallibility, is uncertain. (Otherwise we have to blame the Lord for occasions where leaders, who were entitled to inspiration, evidently didn’t use it, and got things wrong.) Is the whole Church governance model something that was expressly revealed, or is it possible that there’s some human-influenced content, some of which might be less than ideal, but which the Lord has not seen fit to correct with an express revelation?

  21. *** #18 — The assumption that everything about the present hierarchical structure of the LDS Church results from direct divine instruction, and doesn’t have any human content in it at all. ***

    I neither stated nor implied “that everything about the present hierarchical structure of the LDS Church results from direct divine instruction”. But I do accept as foundational that the LDS Church is in reality the kingdom of God, led by divine revelation. Please explain how this is circular.

  22. BiV — I’ve never even considered this angle. I really enjoy your posts.

    I think there are two ways in which the church’s current priesthood “kingship” models differs from the real kingship warned against in the scriptures:
    1. the degree of power
    2. the duration of power

    Bishops and SPs certainly have power to limit the influence of person within the ward or stake, they have almost no authority over one’s property. They can’t jail you, they can’t confiscate your property, and they can’t force you to do anything. Kings can. There’s a significant difference in the degree of power. Of course, this argument isn’t strong if your church employment is contingent on a temple recommend or if you’re relying on the bishop for financial support, and it becomes even worse when you consider the early days of the church where bishops dispersed property.

    Bishops and SPs have a limited time in power, after which they’re replaced. It tends to help them view their “subjects” as equals when they know they’ll be rejoining the ranks eventually. Saul might have been a great king if he’d known he was only going to be in there 5 years. ‘Course, some leaders are undoubtedly angling to work up the authority chain, but most won’t get that chance.

    Although the second argument sustains the authority model the church has, it also becomes an argument for feminism, since women as it stands don’t get to participate in the position of rotating authority.

  23. #22: “God has defined Priesthood leadership as a male role. Who authorizes you to proclaim that as “unfair”? Have you become God’s judge?”

    “False by definition. The Priesthood is the power of God among men, so Priesthood leadership is a form of, or an extension of, divine rule.” (Yes, but the power to do what? Does it follow from “The Priesthood is the power of God among men,” that all leadership or direction exercised in the name of the Priesthood is actually “an extension of divine rule”? A person can have authority to do one thing, but not another.)

    The point was that your argument that, in making her points about the leadership structure of the LDS Church, BiV was questioning the divine order of things. That is only true if the leadership structure of the LDS Church is exactly congruent with the divine order of things.

  24. I guess I don’t understand the whole “equal power sharing” mindset applied to the Church.

    Let’s say I invited you over to my house for dinner. You need bring nothing but yourselves and your sparkling personalities. I greet you warmly at the door, invite you in, ask you to remove your shoes, and usher you into my living room. My daughter serves you some hors d’oeuvres and my son brings around glasses of carbonated grape juice and Y Sparkle®. Another friend helping me out asks how you like your steaks grilled.

    You then proceed to complain that you don’t like taking off your shoes; that my son didn’t pour the carbonated grape juice out in equal measure; that my daughter arranged the hors d’oeuvres poorly; and that you should really be grilling the steaks, because clearly the one doing it isn’t doing it right. You question why I don’t have another son serve the hors d’oeuvres instead of my daughter, who should be in the kitchen washing glasses. You comment on the gauche color scheme of our living area. You mention that our lawn hasn’t been mowed in almost a week and ask me if I simply lack any pride in my living area. You complain that Y Sparkle® tastes like the soda pop Safeway wouldn’t sell.

    One of the other visitors quietly mentions to you that you were invited to a party, you don’t have to come, and since you’re here maybe you should, you know, just calm down. Your response is to berate this jerk as a fellow enabler. You wonder aloud why your wise advice is not heeded. You get hurt that I don’t immediately change things up to suit you. Eventually, perhaps, you get so fed up with the inanity of my household that you stomp out.

    My question: Huh?

    We have been invited to partake as fellow Saints in the kingdom of God. It’s not our house. It’s not a democracy. It’s also not a big old party all the time, I grant. But it’s a volunteer organization. No one is forcing you to come. It’s God’s organization. He’s in charge. Where do we get the idea that it is our right or our place to start telling people how things should be run?

  25. #24 Thomas:
    *** (Yes, but the power to do what? Does it follow from “The Priesthood is the power of God among men,” that all leadership or direction exercised in the name of the Priesthood is actually “an extension of divine rule”? A person can have authority to do one thing, but not another.) ***

    I do not understand your point. If a man has the authority to preside over a ward, then he has the authority to preside over a ward. If he makes a decision in that presidency, for example, whom to call as Relief Society president, that is his decision to make. It is in fact an extension of divine rule: The woman called to preside in the Relief Society has the same calling she would have had had Jesus Christ himself issued the calling. When she is set apart, she has the same power, duties, and obligations she would have had had Christ himself officiated in the ordinance.

    *** The point was that your argument that, in making her points about the leadership structure of the LDS Church, BiV was questioning the divine order of things. That is only true if the leadership structure of the LDS Church is exactly congruent with the divine order of things. ***

    Not so. If those who set up the “leadership structure of the LDS Church” did so under authority from God, then said leadership structure is divinely sanctioned, whether or not it happens to reflect some sort of congruence with some eternal “divine order of things”.

  26. RE #14
    DBlock,
    For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Once a person enters the community of Christians by baptism, all are equal despite former distinctions. This equality should not exist merely in the Church building — where we all call each other Brother and Sister — but extends to all associations.

    However, I do think that you provided a very concise, correlated answer that the new Gospel Principles manual would be proud of.

    RE #20
    Vort,
    If so, you need to take that up with Christ.
    I don’t think that is who the offending party is.

  27. #27 Justin:
    *** “If so, you need to take that up with Christ.”
    I don’t think that is who the offending party is. ***

    The Priesthood is indeed Christ’s. The decision to ordain men to that Priesthood and not women is also Christ’s. But I agree that Christ is not the “offending party”, unless you choose to be offended by the actions of Christ.

  28. I believe you are overestimating His role in restricting the rights of the priesthood on the basis of gender.

  29. #29 Justin:
    *** I believe you are overestimating His role in restricting the rights of the priesthood on the basis of gender. ***

    Perhaps you are right. Do you have any evidence?

  30. RE #30
    Vort,

    On the basis that women recieve the garment, robes, and keywords of the priesthood:
    Joseph Smith says that “all to whom the Priesthood was revealed” have “the Key-words of the Holy Priesthood” revealed (see Abraham Facsimile 2, Fig. 3). So, if you have had the priesthood revealed to you, then you have also had the keywords of the priesthood revealed to you, for they are one and the same.

    And then on the basis that the presiding high priest of the church has chosen to ignore the authority that women hold — without a revelation justifying that — and thus refrains from ordaining them to any specific office to act…

    I have concluded that the ONE leader in the church is choosing to ignore woman out of some misplaced fear that if women know of their power, then they will devour men like black widows.

  31. #31 Justin:
    *** On the basis that women recieve the garment, robes, and keywords of the priesthood: ***

    This is non sequitur. Receiving said garment, robes, and keywords means that you have made covenants through the power of that Priesthood, not that you are ordained to it.

    *** Joseph Smith says that “all to whom the Priesthood was revealed” have “the Key-words of the Holy Priesthood” revealed (see Abraham Facsimile 2, Fig. 3). So, if you have had the priesthood revealed to you, then you have also had the keywords of the priesthood revealed to you, for they are one and the same. ***

    Again, non sequitur. Having the Priesthood revealed to you doesn’t mean you are ordained to the Priesthood. Do you think that if God is revealed to you, that means you’re God?

    *** And then on the basis that the presiding high priest of the church has chosen to ignore the authority that women hold — without a revelation justifying that — and thus refrains from ordaining them to any specific office to act…

    I have concluded that the ONE leader in the church is choosing to ignore woman out of some misplaced fear that if women know of their power, then they will devour men like black widows. ***

    Then you believe the Church to be in open apostasy. I wonder that you remain a member. Why give your time, your heart, and 10% of your income to a Church in apostasy?

  32. The mainstream view of the keys of the priesthood is a top-down perspective that resembles, and appears to be based upon, the doctrine known as the divine right of kings, which in turn was based upon the Roman Catholic doctrines known as papal primacy and papal supremacy.

    Modern LDS believe that if a president of the Churc were to try to do something contrary to the will of God, then He would kill the prophet. This stems from Wilford Woodruff’s statement, which is pretty much taken as scripture by all members:
    The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.

    There is no such thing as a divine right of kings, nor are there such things as papal supremacy and papal primacy, nor such a thing as a divine right of prophets and presidencies. The same thing that made anointing ONE leader in 1 Samuel 8 applies to allowing the presiding high priest of the church to be the ONE leader of the church.

  33. RE #32

    I don’t know that this is the venue to answer your question, but suffice to say that we have different views on what it means to be in apostasy and how one should respond to ecclesiastical abusers within the church.

  34. Also,

    I find that receiving the garment, robes, and keywords that belong to the priesthood could only be done in conjunction with receiving that priesthood — b/c the effects belong to it.

  35. “Not so. If those who set up the “leadership structure of the LDS Church” did so under authority from God, then said leadership structure is divinely sanctioned, whether or not it happens to reflect some sort of congruence with some eternal “divine order of things”.”

    Consider this possibility:

    The Lord commissions certain people to set up the leadership structure of His Church. However, “it is not meet that [the Lord] should command in all things.” Might not the Lord, in asking his servants to set up a leadership structure, leave some of the particulars to their own judgment? Does the Lord ever leave prophets on their own to figure out solutions to problems? If the exercise of their judgment is involved, is it possible that the measures they decide upon may be less effective than other potential measures? How far from the ideal do you think the Lord would allow them to settle, without nudging them back, by inspiration, towards better choices?

    An example: In the 1950s, the Lord’s chosen stewards of the Church’s finances got the Church into serious, potentially crippling debt. The Lord evidently didn’t see fit to prevent that. I think the Lord is probably a better financial manager himself than those men were, so I’m inclined to presume that they weren’t getting explicit investment advice from heaven. I think they were allowed to do the best they could according to their best understanding — and possibly kept back from missteps that would have been to the permanent injury of the work.

    So how much of the hierarchical structure of the Church — much of which is not contained in canonized scripture — comes from revelation, and how much comes from good men whom the Lord leaves much to work through on their own?

  36. #33 Justin:
    *** Modern LDS believe that if a president of the Churc were to try to do something contrary to the will of God, then He would kill the prophet. ***

    I believe you speak well beyond your knowledge here.

    *** There is no such thing as a divine right of kings, ***

    Please provide evidence to support this. Even in scripture, God clearly recognizes kingly authority, as does the LDS 12th article of faith.

    *** nor are there such things as papal supremacy and papal primacy, ***

    This is clearly false. Very obviously, the pope does indeed have supremacy within the Roman Catholic Church.

    *** nor such a thing as a divine right of prophets and presidencies. ***

    Please demonstrate this.

    *** The same thing that made anointing ONE leader in 1 Samuel 8 applies to allowing the presiding high priest of the church to be the ONE leader of the church. ***

    You mean when the people demanded a king and God gave them one? That’s the same as the prophet leading the Church?

    That is simply absurd.

  37. #36 Thomas:
    *** Might not the Lord, in asking his servants to set up a leadership structure, leave some of the particulars to their own judgment? ***

    Undoubtedly.

    *** Does the Lord ever leave prophets on their own to figure out solutions to problems? ***

    Undoubtedly.

    *** If the exercise of their judgment is involved, is it possible that the measures they decide upon may be less effective than other potential measures? ***

    Undoubtedly.

    *** How far from the ideal do you think the Lord would allow them to settle, without nudging them back, by inspiration, towards better choices? ***

    I have no metric to quantify an answer to your question. Fifty-three, I suppose.

    *** An example: In the 1950s, the Lord’s chosen stewards of the Church’s finances got the Church into serious, potentially crippling debt. The Lord evidently didn’t see fit to prevent that. ***

    Another example: In the early 1980s, the Church cut missionary service for young men from 24 months to 18 months. A few years later, they went back to 24 months.

    We could probably give many such examples. What of it? The Lord authorizes men to lead his Church, then expects them to come up with and test out their own solutions. And, being imperfect mortal men, sometimes they come up with suboptimal solutions. So therefore…what? We are no longer under covenant to sustain them and help them succeed in their callings? God forbid we apply such a standard, unless we ourselves are willing to be judged by it.

    *** So how much of the hierarchical structure of the Church — much of which is not contained in canonized scripture — comes from revelation, and how much comes from good men whom the Lord leaves much to work through on their own? ***

    Fifty-three.

    My response is the same: What of it? I did not covenant to sustain my leaders only so long as they never made any mistakes or came up with suboptimal solutions to problems they encounter.

  38. Vort

    I realize that you are new to the blog from what you your self have posted on another article. Please do not engage in circular argument it really does not lead, nor does it promote discussion.

    The definition of circular thinking is this, when you fail to use logic as a premise and step outside of the original statement.

    Your illustration in response to my question of why shouldn’t a women be allowed to have the calling of a Elders’ Quorum President illustrates my point very clearly.

    “the best answer might be a woman in the church doesn’t want to an elders quorum president because that is a calling for men, not women. It would make no sense for her to called to such a position, a position she would not be able to fill because she not hold the priesthood.”

    1) First, makes not sense to who, you and the other men maybe?

    The point of the op is make people think outside the box and challenge that very same kind of thinking and quite honestly you haven’t engaged in this discussion.the

    the only reason why a woman in The Church of Jesus Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is because men have the authority in the church to prevent them from having the authority, not that they wouldn’t be able to handle the calling, and certainly not because she wouldn’t be able to fulfill the role properly as you intimate. As I stated in a previous response and I’m sure that BIV can support me in what I’m about to say, woman have held these positions in the past, especially when the church was first being formed, it wasn’t until we (meaning the church started to gain more male membership) that their (womens’) authority were stripped. It was done so that the church could maintain the male membership

  39. “What of it? The Lord authorizes men to lead his Church, then expects them to come up with and test out their own solutions. And, being imperfect mortal men, sometimes they come up with suboptimal solutions. So therefore…what? We are no longer under covenant to sustain them and help them succeed in their callings?”

    Can you think of any other “so therefore…what” options?

    What does the term “sustain” mean to you?

    P.S. — “53” — well played, Sir.

  40. #39 Dblock:
    *** Please do not engage in circular argument it really does not lead, nor does it promote discussion. ***

    That’s my point, Dblock. I have not done so.

    *** The definition of circular thinking is this, when you fail to use logic as a premise and step outside of the original statement. ***

    No, actually, that is not the definition of circular reasoning. Circular thinking is taking the conclusion of an argument as a premise for that same argument.

    *** Your illustration in response to my question of why shouldn’t a women be allowed to have the calling of a Elders’ Quorum President illustrates my point very clearly. ***

    This is false on at least three counts:

    1. You did not ask a question about “why shouldn’t a woman be allowed to have the calling of an elders quorum president.” Rather, you stated, “I believe that their has always been arguments that women in the church wouldn’t want to be an Elders’ Q President.”

    Claiming that “a woman wouldn’t want to be an elders quorum president” is much different from asking “why a woman shouldn’t be allowed to have the calling of an elders quorum president.”

    2. I did not respond to your above-mentioned hypothetical question about women not being allowed to be EQP. I responded rather to what you wrote.

    3. There was no circularity in my reasoning.

    *** 1) First, makes not sense to who, you and the other men maybe? ***

    Correct. It does not make sense to me, and it does not make sense to other men (and also women) who recognize the elders quorum president as the president of a group of Priesthood-holding men.

    *** The point of the op is make people think outside the box and challenge that very same kind of thinking and quite honestly you haven’t engaged in this discussion. ***

    On the contrary. I both have engaged and am presently engaged in the discussion. Challenging someone’s thinking is only the beginning. When reasoned discourse begins, you must then be willing to prosecute that reasoning and the various points that arise from it.

    *** the only reason why a woman in The Church of Jesus Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is because men have the authority in the church to prevent them from having the authority ***

    Prove it. (And I think you’re missing a verb in there somewhere.)

    *** not that they wouldn’t be able to handle the calling, and certainly not because she wouldn’t be able to fulfill the role properly as you intimate. ***

    This is wrong on its face. Women do not hold the Priesthood; therefore, women cannot “fulfill the role properly”.

    *** As I stated in a previous response and I’m sure that BIV can support me in what I’m about to say, woman have held these positions in the past, especially when the church was first being formed, it wasn’t until we (meaning the church started to gain more male membership) that their (womens’) authority were stripped. It was done so that the church could maintain the male membership ***

    I would be thrilled for you, or BiV, or anyone else to demonstrate that a woman in the early LDS Church held the office of elders quorum president. I do not believe it.

  41. #40 Thomas:
    *** Can you think of any other “so therefore…what” options? ***

    1) So therefore, you continue sustaining your leader.
    2) So therefore, you stop sustaining your leader.
    3) So therefore, you kind of keep sustaining your leader, at least on the surface, but behind his back (say, on anonymous internet discussion boards), you undermine his authority and gripe and complain about his stupidity.

    Well, I dunno. To me, #3 seems an awful lot like #2.

    *** What does the term “sustain” mean to you? ***

    To sustain my leader means to help him succeed in his calling to the best of my ability. To sustain anyone in any calling means to help make that person successful in that calling to the best of my ability.

    *** P.S. — “53″ — well played, Sir. ***

    [blush] Aw…shucks…

  42. Vort, I sense some major anger issues for you here. You might consider taking some time to cool down, and if this discussion isn’t doing anything positive for you spiritually, you should consider (for your own sake) excusing yourself from it entirely. The big takeaway I’m getting from the discussion is that individuals in the same religious organization can and do have differing perspectives on priesthood, patriarchy, and power in the Church especially as they relate to women, who make up more than 50% of the Church’s membership. It certainly is a nuanced issue, one without clear and definitive answers, and one that should not be dismissed or ignored. Claiming otherwise ignores what many commenters on this post have been writing. Lambasting others whose opinions differ from your own isn’t appropriate in this forum of public discourse (or any other, for that matter). Cheers.

  43. Vort, I don’t understand “sustain” as meaning “my leader, right or wrong,” or pretending a leader is always right when he’s clearly not. Obviously, excessive public disagreement with a leader can undermine the leader’s authority, and ideally, disagreement ought to be expressed first in private. When that isn’t practical, the alternatives are public expression, and silence. Sometimes silence is the option most consistent with the covenant to sustain — such as when the leader’s supposed error is minor and harmless. Other times, maybe not.

  44. #44 SteveS:
    *** Vort, I sense some major anger issues for you here. You might consider taking some time to cool down, and if this discussion isn’t doing anything positive for you spiritually, you should consider (for your own sake) excusing yourself from it entirely. ***

    I appreciate your concern (seriously — I’m touched by the charitable concern of others for my welfare). I assure you that I have no “anger issues”, major or otherwise, on this topic. I suspect some others that have participated here may have such issues, but on this topic I do not.

    *** The big takeaway I’m getting from the discussion is that individuals in the same religious organization can and do have differing perspectives on priesthood, patriarchy, and power in the Church especially as they relate to women, who make up more than 50% of the Church’s membership. ***

    Agreed. People also have differing perspectives on the factuality of organic evolution, but that doesn’t mean that the truth doesn’t exist, or that the evidence does not clearly point in a certain direction.

    *** It certainly is a nuanced issue, one without clear and definitive answers, and one that should not be dismissed or ignored. ***

    I’m curious what you think would qualify as a “clear and definitive answer”, if the current practice of the Church and teachings of its leaders do not qualify. Would nothing short of the divine voice booming from heaven clarify this issue?

    *** Claiming otherwise ignores what many commenters on this post have been writing. ***

    Why?

    If a thousand people write to discuss reasons that NASA faked the 1969 moon landing, am I ignoring their comments when I say that Neil Armstrong clearly did walk on the moon? If so, then what you are saying is that no one should ever state an observation (or even an opinion) with certainty. I disagree with this.

    *** Lambasting others whose opinions differ from your own isn’t appropriate in this forum of public discourse (or any other, for that matter). ***

    For the first time, I am feeling just a flicker of emotion. I ask you to point out anywhere — anywhere on this or any other thread — that I have “lambasted others whose opinions differ from [my] own”. I believe you have made a false accusation.

  45. #45 Thomas:
    *** Vort, I don’t understand “sustain” as meaning “my leader, right or wrong,” or pretending a leader is always right when he’s clearly not. ***

    Nor do I. Nor did I say that.

    *** Obviously, excessive public disagreement with a leader can undermine the leader’s authority, and ideally, disagreement ought to be expressed first in private. When that isn’t practical, the alternatives are public expression, and silence. Sometimes silence is the option most consistent with the covenant to sustain — such as when the leader’s supposed error is minor and harmless. Other times, maybe not. ***

    Agreed. If a leader is using his position to molest children or rape women, he must be stopped by any and all legal means necessary, even bloodshed. But I don’t think we’re talking about that here.

    What grave abuses of authority do you think have been perpetrated by our leaders that would require such expressions?

  46. RE #37
    Vort,

    No king, no pope, and no priesthood leader can or ought to maintain power or influence by virtue of his/her office. I am describing these things in normative, rather than positive terms. Thus rather or not the members of the Catholic church choose to ascribe unlimited power and influence on their pope by virtue of his office is irrelevant in speaking about what men/women are justified by the Lord in doing.

    God only governs by the voice of the people — this concept is in opposition to the doctrine of the divine right of kings/popes/prophets. The Lord removes his authority when the voice of the people manifest it as such. For example, Samuel would not have been justified in not anointing a king, even though that was the proper thing to have done, because the voice of the people had spoken in favor of a king.

    In the Church, unlike in states or the Catholic church, we have the law of common consent — which is a means of dealing with unrighteous dominion/ecclesiastical abuse. Problems will only arise if members allow the votes of common consent to be used as a rubber stamp for any act a priesthood leader chooses to do.

    RE #41
    DBlock,

    If you want to follow your line of thinking, than their in no one true church..
    What is it that Joseph was told in 1820? “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’ He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself alying on my back, looking up into heaven.
    A Church denies agency [the power of God], although it maintains the proper outward appearances. God’s religion properly understood is a tribe or family. Families meet, but they don’t have meetings.

  47. Vort, the issue I’m trying to cover is whether it violates covenants to “sustain,” to consider the possibility that the present exercise of Church leadership by a hierarchy of Priesthood holders, with the Priesthood limited to men, is necessarily because God wills that it be so and no other way. You came down pretty hard on BiV for raising that possibility, suggesting that she was substituting her judgment for God’s. I don’t think BiV’s that foolish; I think she’s unconvinced that the present arrangement is God’s exclusive will. That is, (and I recognize I’m putting words in her mouth here) I take her to be suggesting that while the present leadership may be “God’s will,” in that he has evidently acquiesced in the present arrangement (by virtue of not having removed anybody out of his place, however that works), that’s not to say He wouldn’t have acquiesced in, and possibly even been more pleased by, a different arrangement.

    “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by examination. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”

  48. #48 Justin:
    *** No king, no pope, and no priesthood leader can or ought to maintain power or influence by virtue of his/her office. ***

    I disagree. A king, a president, or any other political leader maintains influence solely by virtue of his/her office. I can assure you that Mr. Obama would have precious little influence on my life if he were not POTUS.

    As for your contention that the Pope “ought not” maintain power or influence by virtue of his office, I’m not sure what to make of that. He’s the Pope. He leads the RCC. That’s how power is delegated in the world. What you say doesn’t seem to make sense, unless you’re saying “The world and its worldly ways are corrupt.” In that case, I agree, but I don’t see what it has to do with the present discussion.

    *** I am describing these things in normative, rather than positive terms. Thus rather or not the members of the Catholic church choose to ascribe unlimited power and influence on their pope by virtue of his office is irrelevant in speaking about what men/women are justified by the Lord in doing. ***

    You think the Lord does not justify Ratzinger in leading the Catholic Church as its Pope? Does the Lord likewise not justify Obama in leading the US as its president?

    *** God only governs by the voice of the people — this concept is in opposition to the doctrine of the divine right of kings/popes/prophets. ***

    How many scriptural examples of the Lord governing despite “the voice of the people”, and sometimes to their destruction, do you require to change this claim?

    *** For example, Samuel would not have been justified in not anointing a king, even though that was the proper thing to have done, because the voice of the people had spoken in favor of a king. ***

    Samuel would not have been justified, but only because the Lord told him to give the people a king.

    The children of Israel demanded a golden calf. Was Aaron justified in making it?

    *** In the Church, unlike in states or the Catholic church, we have the law of common consent — which is a means of dealing with unrighteous dominion/ecclesiastical abuse. Problems will only arise if members allow the votes of common consent to be used as a rubber stamp for any act a priesthood leader chooses to do. ***

    Obviously, this is your contention. I assume that you don’t believe the LDS Church is living according to this standard, and that constitutes further proof to you that the Church is in a state of apostasy. I disagree with that.

  49. Hello

    The early church split not just because of the death of the early Prophet Joseph Smith. The division occurred because of issues of leadership, meaning who held the right to be prophet, indeed in the Community of Church today women do indeed hold the priesthood keys. and OMG they elected a woman Prophet and the church didn’t come tumbling down

  50. #49 Thomas:
    *** Vort, the issue I’m trying to cover is whether it violates covenants to “sustain,” to consider the possibility that the present exercise of Church leadership by a hierarchy of Priesthood holders, with the Priesthood limited to men, is necessarily because God wills that it be so and no other way. ***

    Then there is no disagreement. I certainly do not think that considering the issue violates the covenant to sustain our leaders, any more than I think that considering whether fornicating with my neighbor that I really truly deeply love violates my covenant to sustain my leaders who have told me that adultery is evil. Consideration of an issue per se is not a violation of covenant.

    Now, if my leaders have taught me that sex with my neighbor violates chastity and I start publicly wondering whether it really does, suggesting that maybe sex with my neighbor really wouldn’t be adulterous at all because, after all, we really truly deeply love each other, and everyone knows that God is love and cannot possibly disapprove of True Love® like that shared by my neighbor and me, and maybe my bishop needs to step outside his blinkered shell and consider the issue from a more mature perspective and read his scriptures some more and look at historical precedent, where even in the Church men had more than one wife…yes, at that point, I think I may well be violating my covenant to sustain my leader, and incidentally exposing myself to grave spiritual harm.

    *** You came down pretty hard on BiV for raising that possibility, suggesting that she was substituting her judgment for God’s. ***

    I certainly did not intend to “come down hard” on BiV. My statement was as follows:

    Who authorizes you to proclaim that as “unfair”? Have you become God’s judge?

    It was a rhetorical device; obviously, I did not believe that BiV was God’s judge, nor did I think she considers herself as such. I was pointing out that when one proclaims the operation of God’s kingdom as “unfair”, one is putting oneself in a position of judgment over the kingdom of God, an idea that perhaps she had not yet considered. My question was whether it’s appropriate for us to put ourselves in such a position.

    Now if you don’t believe the LDS Church is the kingdom of God, then fine. Say whatever you wish. But in that case, you’re a fool to devote your life, your time, your effort, and 10% of your income to an organization that preaches fairy tales as the truth of life. And I don’t believe BiV is in that situation.

    *** I don’t think BiV’s that foolish; I think she’s unconvinced that the present arrangement is God’s exclusive will. That is, (and I recognize I’m putting words in her mouth here) I take her to be suggesting that while the present leadership may be “God’s will,” in that he has evidently acquiesced in the present arrangement (by virtue of not having removed anybody out of his place, however that works), that’s not to say He wouldn’t have acquiesced in, and possibly even been more pleased by, a different arrangement. ***

    So let’s apply this logic to something else:

    Someone’s bishop has set up a program for the young women in his ward to allow them to experience some good thing — I don’t know, say a summer camp program. This will involve going to a Church-owned camp for a week. Now, Someone decides that such a program is not the best use of resources. She (Someone) reasons that the girls would be much better served by a two-week trip to the ocean, for beach play and snorkeling lessons, rather than a week around a campfire in the woods somewhere. So Someone proceeds to tell some of her friends that she thinks the bishop is on shaky ground. She stops short of saying that he’s actually wrong to do this, but she openly questions whether the bishop even arrived at his decision through prayer and inspiration. She marshals what she believes to be the facts of the case to argue that the beach is really a much better destination, and that two weeks is far superior to one week. Why couldn’t the bishop have done it her way, she asks? She insists that, had the bishop considered and prayed about her plan, he surely would have done it, since it’s so obviously better. When asked why she brings the issue up, Someone insists that she is only concerned for the welfare of the girls in the ward.

    In the above hypothetical situation, is Someone sustaining her bishop? I believe she is not.

    Considering a doctrinal question in abstract is probably not a bad thing. Indeed, I do not see how we as thinking beings could (or should) avoid it. But publicly proclaiming one’s lack of belief or confidence in a well-established doctrine is a whole different kettle of fish.

  51. In addition to my above statement here is my following research which I must also give credit to the woman of Feminist Womens’ Housewives website.

    1) There are two articles in,”Sisters in Spirit,” by Beecher and Anderson. Its about Mormon women and the Temple
    2} Any woman who received her second anointing received her office in the fullness of the Priesthood and as a Queen and Priestes.
    3) Lucy Mack Snow who shared her husbands’ calling as a Patriarch
    4) Many wives of early mission presidents’ and general authorities were recognized and ordained to their husbands callings
    5) Female Branch Presidents during WW11 both in the U.S and in Germany
    6) Any woman who excercises spiritual gifte in the early church held position of authority recognized by both men/women even though they did not have top- down callings

  52. Fair enough, Vort. Although in practice, I think more changes in the Church are influenced by feedback from pesky ark-steadying ordinary members than is often acknowledged.

    It may well be the case that the Church, being the one authorized Kingdom of God, is the one institution in the world where questioning does only harm and no good. Or the inspired core of the Church may be one thing, and the sphere where the Lord leaves it to us (leaders and laity alike) to reason it out for ourselves, may operate the way the rest of the world operates.

    The example you gave about the gadfly lady with her own ideas about summer camp isn’t unique to the Church. Even in the secular world (where opposition and feedback often serves the positive purpose of preventing organizations from falling into groupthink and its resulting errors), critique can be so nitpicky that it does more harm than good. If I were that lady’s bishop, I’d tell her to go hang. Showing forth afterwards an increase of love, of course. On the other hand, I wouldn’t think I was being “undermined” by a less excessive level of counterargument.

  53. Post
    Author

    Jumping back in:
    First I’d like to clarify the women and the priesthood issue. Women can indeed be said to possess priesthood authority through temple marriage, endowment, or the second anointing. This has been used to greater and (now) to lesser extent since 1843. However, this does not extend to church administrative power, because women are not ordained to any office in the priesthood. There is no historical evidence that any woman in the LDS church has ever been ordained to a Priesthood office. Read more here.

  54. I meant to say Feminist Mormon House wives web site

    And Vort I already know your going to have a problem with this because from your previous responses everyone else here is wrong for thinking they way they do. You have demonstrated yourself to being a right fighter which doesn’t lead to healthy discussion.

  55. #56 Dblock:
    *** And Vort I already know your going to have a problem with this because from your previous responses everyone else here is wrong for thinking they way they do. ***

    Not sure I understand. I have been trying to have a reasoned discussion with you. I have attempted to answer all the points you raise. You haven’t responded to almost any question or challenge I have raised to your arguments. And yet *I’m* the one who thinks everyone else is wrong?

    Obviously, we discuss those issues where our opinions differ. Do you expect me to acquiesce to your view just to make you feel better?

    I admit my response to BiV may have been harsh, though I didn’t intend it as such. For that, I apologize. Otherwise, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    *** You have demonstrated yourself to being a right fighter which doesn’t lead to healthy discussion. ***

    Not sure what a “right fighter” is. Doesn’t sound so bad.

  56. RE #50
    Vort,

    Samuel would not have been justified, but only because the Lord told him to give the people a king.

    And why did the Lord tell him to do that? Because the voice of the people was in favor of it. “Hearken unto the avoice of the people in all that they say unto thee…

    So was this unique to Samuel alone?

  57. #58 Justin
    *** So was this unique to Samuel alone? ***

    Again I ask: The children of Israel demanded a golden calf. Was Aaron justified in making it?

    I would also be interested in your answers to my many other questions.

  58. Again Vort

    Steve stated it pretty clearly, your sounding pretty angry with the statements that people are offering as part of a discussion. please don’t get pissed off at us for voicing our opinions, because that’s exactly how your coming across. In your viewpoint no one who has posted anything on this post has stated anything that is correct.

    We are not asking you to believe everything that we are offering is correct, but you don’t have to beat us over the head with yours

  59. Post
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    I appreciate the many points that have been made by the commenters! I think some of the items that are especially relevant to my post are the following, relating to how the kingship model and priesthood hierarchy differ:

    1. Length of service
    2. The addition of counselors
    3. The amount of control exercised. (Can you think of any others?)

    I wonder if these differences are sufficient to keep priesthood authority from exhibiting the same defects as noted pertaining to kingship. Bishops serve for 5 to 7 years, and Stake Presidents from 7 to 10 years. Apostles and Prophets serve for life. If you will read the Book of Kings you will see that many of the Kings of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms reigned for a lot less time. In practice, counselors will often agree with the final word of the Bishop even when inwardly opposed, exhibiting the type of loyalty exhibited by Vort above, that one must agree with a stated position in order to be supportive. And finally, a Church leader may not be able to put a member in jail or take away property, but to many of the faithful who believe their very salvation rests within the Church, the power is indeed heavy. I personally would do almost anything, including recanting deeply held convictions, if threatened with the loss of my temple recommend.

    Another point that was made that I think is relevant is the degree of divine involvement in the administration of the leader. As I noted in the OP, apparent excesses in leadership would hardly be a problem if everyone could be sure that all actions were being carried out in accordance with revelation. Or, to go one step further, even if one could be sure that every leader were specifically called of God. But recent leaders all the way up to Presidents Hinckley and Monson have described modern revelation as coming by feelings which can easily be mistaken. I think one of the reasons we are on this earth is to learn to distinguish these promptings. Thus, individuals should attempt to gain as much revelation as possible when the instructions of a leader conflict with their personal moral compunctions. It seems to me that for the maximum growth of all involved, different models of leadership that are less hierarchical or sexist might well be considered.

    Finally, I believe that the current system of leadership in place in the Church is simply policy rather than doctrine. It perhaps represents the closest conception that our Church founders had of a perfect celestial organization. Discussing its defects or suggesting changes in no way represents one’s commitment to the Church or the gospel.

  60. #61 BiV
    *** In practice, counselors will often agree with the final word of the Bishop even when inwardly opposed, exhibiting the type of loyalty exhibited by Vort above, that one must agree with a stated position in order to be supportive. ***

    This fails on at least two counts:

    1. I never said nor implied “that one must agree with a stated position in order to be supportive.” Indeed, I said the very opposite. Quoting from #52:

    “I certainly do not think that considering the issue violates the covenant to sustain our leaders…Considering a doctrinal question in abstract is probably not a bad thing. Indeed, I do not see how we as thinking beings could (or should) avoid it.”

    2. The duty of a counselor is not to “agree with the final word of the Bishop even when inwardly opposed”. This is a gross mischaracterization of a counselor’s job, which is to counsel with the president in an open and honest manner. The presidency as a whole is to arrive at a decision that all agree with.

    *** And finally, a Church leader may not be able to put a member in jail or take away property, but to many of the faithful who believe their very salvation rests within the Church, the power is indeed heavy. I personally would do almost anything, including recanting deeply held convictions, if threatened with the loss of my temple recommend. ***

    Your question was how Priesthood authority differs from secular kingly hierarchies. Whatever people think about their eternal salvation, the power to levy fines, seize property, and incarcerate people is far more immediately devastating than any ecclesiastical exercise. People can choose to associate with the Church and they can choose to leave it. They cannot choose whether they want to be subject to the government of the land. This is a huge and extremely valid difference, and ought not be hand-waved away.

    *** As I noted in the OP, apparent excesses in leadership would hardly be a problem if everyone could be sure that all actions were being carried out in accordance with revelation. Or, to go one step further, even if one could be sure that every leader were specifically called of God. But recent leaders all the way up to Presidents Hinckley and Monson have described modern revelation as coming by feelings which can easily be mistaken. ***

    These two things are not intimately related, as you seem to indicate. The fact that modern revelation “[comes] by feelings which can easily be mistaken” in no way suggests that leaders are not “specifically called of God.”

    *** Thus, individuals should attempt to gain as much revelation as possible when the instructions of a leader conflict with their personal moral compunctions. ***

    I’m pretty sure this is standard teaching in the Church.

    *** It seems to me that for the maximum growth of all involved, different models of leadership that are less hierarchical or sexist might well be considered. ***

    This constitutes a “have you quit beating your wife?” statement. I disagree that the current models are sexist.

    *** Finally, I believe that the current system of leadership in place in the Church is simply policy rather than doctrine. It perhaps represents the closest conception that our Church founders had of a perfect celestial organization. Discussing its defects or suggesting changes in no way represents one’s commitment to the Church or the gospel. ***

    This is not obvious. You may believe whatever you like, of course, but that doesn’t make it so. In the democratic or meritocratic model, it is a virtue to point out perceived flaws and try to resolve such issues. Those same rules do not necessarily apply in exactly the same way with a divine hierarchical model.

  61. #63 Dblock
    *** Can we say blow hard ***

    Is name-calling really necessary? Your anger is showing…

    I mean, if you’re going to engage in conversation with me, you might at least answer some of my questions.

  62. “[I]t is my province to teach to the Church what the doctrine is. It is your province to echo what I say or to remain silent.”

    Interesting that the Church has just recently ceased publication of a book by which the man who said the above undertook to “teach the Church what the doctrine is.” The man was speaking out of turn; on certain points, he eventually acknowledged that. Would the correction he eventually received from higher authority have been given as soon as it was, if the debate over those points were limited to the liberal Apostles who disagreed with his and others’ position on the question?

  63. “The Church” did not cease publishing the book; it was never published by the Church. Deseret Book elected to stop publishing it because its sales were too low. Deseret Book might well choose to publish another printing in a few years, if the demand is there. On the other hand, the book is almost 50 years old, and we have the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, so there may well be no need.

    *** The man was speaking out of turn; on certain points, he eventually acknowledged that. Would the correction he eventually received from higher authority have been given as soon as it was, if the debate over those points were limited to the liberal Apostles who disagreed with his and others’ position on the question? ***

    Here’s another question to ponder: If McConkie’s book were so doctrinally objectionable, would he have been called to be an apostle and, potentially at least, a future president of the Church?

  64. Post
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    Vort #62
    Your first point I will concede. Although it has sometimes been my experience that counselors are reluctant to counter the inclination of their president, you are right that it is their function to counsel and advise.

    On your second point, I wish to strongly emphasize the devastation that occurs when sanction comes from the Church. From your comments I am assuming that you believe eternal life and salvation rest within this Church, so you ought to know that one who similarly believes never has the option to simply “choose to leave it.” I have been levied fines by civil authority, and it has not a shred of the power as does a threat from my bishop to release me from a calling. I’d rather spend time in jail than time without a temple recommend. I’m not hand-waving on this one, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. The loss of one’s membership in the Church can be one of the most devastating things a faithful Mormon can imagine, far worse than any punishment a mere civil authority or king could impose.

    On the third point, the two are related because every person who is called to a position in this Church is called by a man who may or may not have been inspired of God to issue the call. If you are positive that every call that has ever been issued in this Church came from God, you have a lot more faith than I do.

    On your last two points, we simply disagree.

  65. ” If McConkie’s book were so doctrinally objectionable, would he have been called to be an apostle and, potentially at least, a future president of the Church?”

    Why not?

    I know very little about how callings are extended. I would only be guessing, if I were to speculate on the precise ratio of inspiration to institutional politicking that goes into it. Maybe there was a faction that wanted to move away from McKay-era liberalism. Maybe the Lord had a work for Elder McConkie to do notwithstanding the occasional doctrinal error. He seems to have overlooked a similar tendency in Brigham Young, after all. (“Shall I tell you what is the law of God with respect to the black race?”

    Re: whether or not Elder McConkie’s book were actually doctrinally objectionable, are you seriously entertaining the notion that the Roman Catholic Church really is the great and abominable church?

    I don’t have a source for this faith-promoting rumor, but I have it that at one point prior to 1978, Elder Brown said, in effect, “The Prophet needs to have a revelation on the blacks & priesthood issue, and it’s our job to help him have one.” There may well have been some of his colleagues who thought he was improperly seeking to counsel the Lord’s divine ordering of the Priesthood. I think he was calling attention to a policy that, because of human fallibility, had been wrongly considered doctrinal for far too long. He wasn’t struck dead for steadying the ark, or presuming to counsel the Lord. Maybe that kind of immunity is only for members of the Twelve or better, but I don’t know of any canonized scripture that expressly says so.

  66. Websters’ dictionary definition of a blow hard.

    an exceptionally boastful and an exceptionally talkative person.

    You have demonstrated these attributes time again thru out the discussion.

    You say you won’t give in to make others feel right in their opinion, no one is asking you to give. Again, why do you feel the need to think and try to show and or demonstrate that yours is the only right way.

    With every opinion stated you have written what basically amounts to a book in your reply. That’s really not necessary, nor is it in good taste, this isn’t a competition on who knows the most on Gospel Doctrine,not who can recite verse. This is a discussion.

  67. Vort,

    To state my point-of-view:

    It all comes down to a principle known as the consent of the governed. This principle can be defined in the following way:
    The Consent of the Governed means that nothing the leader/ruler (king, pope, prophet, etc.) does is legitimate unless the people consent to it.

    The consent of the governed is a true principle that invalidates all divine right theories. Any king, pope, prophet, priest, president, leader, or ruler that claims legitimacy based upon divine approval, regardless of what the people say or without consulting the people, is a liar inspired by the devil. This is because God Himself recognizes the heavenly principle of the consent of the governed. In fact, He is the Author of it. In a word, He has termed it agency. A war in heaven was fought over whether this principle would continue to exist, or be replaced by a divine right doctrine. That war continues here on earth. Currently, the principle is still firmly in place, both in heaven and in the scriptures of the church of God.

    Legitimacy, then, is determined only by the people, not by God.

    Unrighteous dominion is dominion without the consent of the governed.
    If the Lord attempts to assert dominion without the consent of the governed, He engages in unrighteous dominion. The same applies to the servants of the Lord.

    Why? Because the Lord’s authority is only legitimate with the consent of the governed [i.e. His creations]. The instant that consent is ignored or withdrawn, the Lord no longer has authority nor power over those people, nor do His servants.

    His dominion is without compulsory means, meaning that all things obey Him because they want to obey Him, not because they have to or are forced to. His almighty power comes from their combined agencies, freely and voluntarily obeying Him.

    Therefore, the priesthood cannot be used without the consent of those it is intended to serve. It is their agency that authorizes the priesthood, both ordinations and licenses thereof.

    So…If Aaron consulted the whole congregation of Israel and the voice of the people manifested it in the affirmative, then Aaron was justified in creating the golden calf for them. However, I would add that if he brought the issue to be voted on because he wanted an idol, then that’s a different story. I am likening him in my answer to Samuel — i.e. not wanting to do what the people have decided, but recognizing that the Lord requires that he submit to the law of common consent.

    The servants [that is, the priesthood] must hearken to their masters [that is, the church] whom they serve.

    This is wisdom in the Lord, because the members [i.e. the church] make up the greater part of the people, while the priesthood leadership and other servants make up the lesser part — so the odds are in favor of the church choosing the right and the leadership choosing the wrong.

  68. “Is name-calling really necessary?”

    No, but it can be much fun.

    Is Vort short for Voldemort?

    OK, that wasn’t particularly fun, but I am getting warmed up.

  69. Justin — One interesting thing about Aaron and the golden calf is that when Moses came down from Sinai and saw what was going on (and Cecil B. DeMille made it look pretty wild!), it was the children of Israel whom he ordered slaughtered — not Aaron. So maybe there’s something to that. The leaders are justified in acceding to the will of the people (kind of like Mormon did, in agreeing to serve as general over the wicked Nephites); however, the principle of popular consent comes along with popular responsibility. So if the people demand something that isn’t right, their leaders may be justified in giving it to them — but the people are the ones responsible for the consequences. Which of course in the Hebrews’ case meant having the sons of Levi open a fresh can of whoop-patootie on 3,000 of them. (Ex. 32:28.)

  70. “I disagree. A king, a president, or any other political leader maintains influence solely by virtue of his/her office. I can assure you that Mr. Obama would have precious little influence on my life if he were not POTUS.”

    Alright, Vort. Say stupid things about my religion, fine. But it looks as though you have also messed with political science. A better way to put this would be that George W Bush had little influence his last threee years in office despite his office because he had lost popular support. Any office looses pull if the office-holder no longer maintains a certain level of respect.

    Dude, you are bugging the crap out of people around here. But, I must say, I think you are hillarious, though I do not think that is your intent.

  71. Something I just noticed, in reading the OP’s reference to 1 Samuel 8:

    “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel….And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the avoice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

    What were the Israelites rejecting? Evidently, the reign of the Lord — through two corrupt, bribe-taking judges! These were people duly installed as judges in Israel (the Old Testament equivalent of bishops, I’ve been told), by the Lord’s authorized prophet. And they were a couple of Blagojeviches!

    Interesting that the reign of the Lord can be through corrupt servants, and that (evidently) the people “reject” the Lord by objecting to being fleeced by corrupt judges. Not that Saul turned out any better…an interesting lesson, perhaps, in going from the frying pan of divinely-ordained but corruptible small-government judges to the fire of a worldly authoritarian.

  72. The official/ unofficial reason why Deseret Books stopped printing,” Mormon Doctrine,” was quoted as “low sales.” I don’t believe the church wanted the book to be published any more given the changes in the latest edition of Gospel Principles.

    In addition, President David McKay asked senior apostles Mark E Peterson and Marion Romney to review the book Mormon Doctrine.
    They released a new book called,”The Rise and Fall of Modern Mormominism,” which was published by Gregory Prince

    Peterson recommended that of 1067 pages of the book Mormon Doctrine, that 776 pages be changed or left out, because it no longer represented what the church believed, nor stood for/

    Go ahead Vort I know your going to refute that

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  75. Really interesting topic folks. I’m loving it so far. (With an occasional hiccup.)

    Justin # 70 – Fascinating concept. I’ll be interested to go back and read a number of scriptures now through that filter and see how it fits.

    Great post once again BiV. I love the concepts and thoughts you put before us for consideration on a regular basis. They always give me a good cerebral workout.

  76. #67 Biv
    *** I wish to strongly emphasize the devastation that occurs when sanction comes from the Church. ***

    I’m sure you are right, but this is irrelevant. As I wrote before: Your question was how Priesthood authority differs from secular kingly hierarchies … People can choose to associate with the Church and they can choose to leave it. They cannot choose whether they want to be subject to the government of the land. This is a huge and extremely valid difference, and ought not be hand-waved away.

    *** On the third point, the two are related because every person who is called to a position in this Church is called by a man who may or may not have been inspired of God to issue the call. If you are positive that every call that has ever been issued in this Church came from God, you have a lot more faith than I do. ***

    You are missing the point. You seem to think that being “called of God” means that God is sitting behind the bishop’s shoulder whispering in his ear — that the bishop is calling the very same person that Jesus Christ himself would have called in that situation. This is nonsense. The bishop has the authority from God to make those determinations and callings. The calling and subsequent ordination qualifies the person to serve in that position. The “in loco dei” idea doesn’t fly.

    *** On your last two points, we simply disagree. ***

    What about the third-to-last point?

  77. #78 dmac

    I have found that Justin and I see eye to eye on a lot of things. Sometimes when I read what he writes, it’s like I’m hearing my own voice in my head. I once wrote a post on this same concept he expounded above, going into fairly great detail. (I couldn’t help but quote him extensively, but some of my own words are in it, too.) You may want to check it out, to give you more to chew on while searching the scriptures:

    An alternate view of the keys

  78. #50 Vort

    “The children of Israel demanded a golden calf. Was Aaron justified in making it?”

    Vort, you are now my hero. That example never occurred to me. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  79. Vort

    You seem to think that everything you say is right

    Your style of rhetoric prose and verse is not really conducive on this kind of a blog and you will eventually piss off alot of people.

    Again Websters’ definition of rhetoric is described as the followingthe art of prose in general as oppose to verse.

    Verse is describesd as a succession of metrical feet either written, or oral composed as one line of thought.

  80. Well. I have just finished reading the link you gave, LDSAnarchist, #80. Thank you, and it took me all morning. 🙂

    I do understand where Justin’s comment #1 was coming from a lot better now. However, I’m not yet ready to fully accept this view. I realize that in the early days of the Church sustaining was quite a bit more like a vote than it is today. I know that often there was heated debate before the vote was taken, and that it was quite acceptable not to sustain someone, or even to vote in the negative. But I still don’t see such a vote as really constituting power in Church governance, even if, as you say, women make up a majority in most wards and IF they could be persuaded to vote in a bloc.

    First of all, in today’s Church, the sustaining is simply an indication of support, and were 51% of the congregation to vote against the action, the call would still go through. Second, assuming this were not the case, and such a vote would stop the call, the power would simply return to the presiding authority, who would still have the power to issue the call to another of his choices. In such a system, any individual female has very little, indeed a microscopic effect on ward administration, and could hardly be said to possess any keys.

    But your post constituted an interesting way of looking at keys, and I’m glad you left the link here.

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  82. Interesting to see how this conversation has gone. Vort, welcome to the site. I initially concluded that you were a bit pushy, attacking and closed-minded, but I see that it was your rhetorical style, and I appreciate having a diverse perspective here. And Dblock, if thinking you’re right is the measure of bad behavior on the internet, we are all in trouble.

    A few points:
    – The church is both a divine institution and a human organization. Some of the disagreement here stems from differing views about how divine it is vs. how human. I certainly disagree with Vort’s analogy of the church being like a party someone is hosting and we are all invited guests. We are also hosts at this party. We are jointly throwing the party, not just showing up. So rudeness (and lack of gratitude) as guests is vigilance (and care for our guests) as hosts. Yet I do agree that some folks do merely “show up for the party” at church and then take pot-shots at how it is run. To them I say pick up a serving tray. I also agree with Thomas that the dirty little secret is that ark-steadying is an effective catalyst to change. But the manner and tone of dissent (whether insider criticism or outsider criticism) is a huge differentiator in how effective it will be.
    – The structure of the church is not abuse-proof. I’m not sure any structure can be. We have to rely on our own courage and the goodness of people to keep individuals with power from being abusive. I think our track record is fairly good, but (as I’ve said before) with 32,000 bishops, they can’t all be winners. IME, they all fail some people, and they all do great good in serving others. To expect them to have no body count is probably not realistic.

    Back to the post questions, I agree with BiV’s modifications in #61. Priesthood hierarchy’s likeness to kingship is (IMO) substantially reduced by those 3 things, as well as the nature of religious vocation. Even our highest leaders have to work out their salvation with fear & trembling. So, there is no “divine right” of church leaders. Now, do they always remember that? Perhaps they sometimes struggle with humility as do we all. Do they ever mistake their own views for that of God? Demonstrably yes, and likewise, we all have a tendency to do that. Perhaps because of our own flaws, it’s easy to see the flaws of the human side of the organization. Because if Jesus were here, we’d ask Him. In lieu of that, we’ve only got the word of a leader (and if there’s no conflict with our conscience, then no issue) and our own personal revelation (and if we are truly seeking personal revelation, then it might even contradict our human conscience in its limited understanding from time to time).

  83. Hawkgirl

    It’s not just about thinking that one is right and the other is wrong. It’s about coming the the middle of the road and seeing how everyone’s viewpoint has the possibility of being right even if we disagree.

    The other part that I didn’t like in the way Vort was discussing his view points is his quoting what people were saying and then throwing it back in there face. I don’t like that style of debate. “When you quote someones’ words and then repeat it back to them in this forum its’ the same as being dismissive and no, in my viewpoint doesn’t lead to discussion because anyone can recite chapter and verse, but it doesn’t meant that they truly understand what the verse means’, all it means is that they have found a skillful way of making it appear as if they do.

  84. hawkgrrrl
    *** Vort, welcome to the site. ***

    Thank you!

    *** I initially concluded that you were a bit pushy, attacking and closed-minded, but I see that it was your rhetorical style ***

    …uh…well…thank you…I think…

    Sort of reminds me of the high school backhanded compliment: “For a fat chick, you don’t sweat much!”

    *** I certainly disagree with Vort’s analogy of the church being like a party someone is hosting and we are all invited guests. ***

    You are free to disagree, of course, but the analogy is essentially correct, if incomplete. The kingdom of God does not belong to us. We are invited to partake of salvation; we don’t originate the invitation. We can accept the invitation or refuse it. If we accept, we are naturally recruited into helping out, since that is part of what “salvation” means. But it is not our house, not our organization, not our party. We are there as guests and helpers. It will only become ours when, like Christ, we receive all that he received from the Father.

    *** I also agree with Thomas that the dirty little secret is that ark-steadying is an effective catalyst to change. ***

    Possibly, but I’m unconvinced on two points:

    1. Not all feedback constitutes “ark-steadying”. Indeed, there are perfectly appropriate ways to offer feedback and systems through which such is offered, that do not involve us stepping outside our legitimate roles and taking upon ourselves a divine commission we haven’t been given.

    2. When we actually do engage in “ark-steadying”, it is possible that it might well have an effect — perhaps even the very effect we were agitating for. But in this case, I would argue that 100% of the time, that change weakens the system and hurts all involved in the long run. Ark-steadying, which by definition is acting in a capacity to which you have no rights or authorization to act in order to effect change in God’s kingdom, is never, ever a good thing. Wickedness never was happiness.

    There seems to be an underlying feeling in this discussion that if our leader ever asks us to do something that Christ himself would not have asked, or asks us to do something that is suboptimal or somehow not the best possible choice, then we are justified in defying him, telling him he’s wrong, standing up to him. If our leader ever asks us to inconvenience ourselves unnecessarily, we are always justified in refusing him. I think this is utterly wrong, and completely ignores the reality of our covenants, of what the kingdom of God is, and of how it is designed to function.

    As a general rule, I think the vast majority of people would do well to quit worrying about what their leaders ask of them, and instead worry a lot more about how they can obey their leaders and otherwise help them to accomplish the enormous tasks they have been given.

  85. Vort, you are hereby ordered to cease and desist being pushy, attacking, and close-minded. That’s my registered trademark here.

  86. What, by the way, is the doctrinal basis for the notion that a member of the Church has “no rights or authorization” to speak up if he thinks a Church leader has erred? If that’s not what you’re saying, Vort, please correct me.

    Even in the military — where there’s certainly a critical premium on quick obedience — soldiers are only required to obey lawful orders, and in fact are subject to sanctions if they obey unlawful ones.

    There are examples in scripture and Church history of the initiative for innovations or changes in Church policy coming up the chain of hierarchical command, rather than from the top down. See Galatians 2:11: “But when Peter [the President of the Church, according to the LDS view] was come to Antioch, I [Paul, the “least of the apostles”] withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” There’s also a story where a 25-year-old Joseph F. Smith refusing two apostles who wanted him to take a certain rowboat to shore, telling him “Young man, you had better obey counsel.” (As Smith feared — being more familiar with Hawaiian waters than the visiting apostles — the boat overturned.)

    Whether one is overstepping one’s bounds in one’s dealings with ecclesiastical superiors, may depend on whether the ecclesiastical file leader himself is operating out of the scope of his proper authority. The scope of an apostle’s authority may not extend to telling you whether a boat is dangerous or not.

  87. *** Vort, you are hereby ordered to cease and desist being pushy, attacking, and close-minded. That’s my registered trademark here. ***

    🙂

    General comment, pointed at no one in particular:

    I find it entertaining that those who call others “close-minded” invariably target their attack on people who disagree with them. It’s as if they’re thinking, “Well, Jill and Fred agree with me, so they aren’t close-minded! They see the truth! But Billy and Linda disagree with me, and when I tell them the truth, they STILL disagree! They’re so close-minded!”

  88. #90 Thomas:
    I do not believe “that a member of the Church has “no rights or authorization” to speak up if he thinks a Church leader has erred”. I can understand how you might have gleaned that from what I wrote, but that is not the case. I really can’t give you a bright line of action that I’m talking about, more like a hundred situational descriptions.

    There is simply a difference in feel between the brother or sister who says to (or about) his/her leader, “That’s wrong!”, and the one who says, “I think there’s a better way.” And there is a very obvious difference between the Saint who works to implement a plan or program despite personal reservations, and one who refuses to help or even actively seeks to tear down what’s going on.

    I suppose in the present discussion it falls out more or less like this:

    Perfectly acceptable: “You know, I wonder if our current hierarchical, male-only Priesthood model is the last word, or if there is much more to be added — maybe even things like non-hierarchical organizations and women holding Priesthood office.”

    Probably acceptable but very close to the edge: “I think the Church’s current practices are not what they should ultimately be. If we could just overcome all our racism/sexism/otherism, we could have so many other blessings, like maybe women holding the Priesthood and lack of rigid hierarchies.”

    Not acceptable for any Saint: “The Church is a sexist, racist organization. The only reason we don’t have female bishops and Laurels blessing the sacrament is because of the oppressive patriarchy that insists on keeping all power for itself. This awful patriarchal, hierarchical structure is a perversion of what God really wants his kingdom to be like.”

    I do not see the first example as being ark-steadying at all, just reasonable inquiry and conjecture. The second, more strident version still seems to fall short of instructing the Lord or his leaders on how to operate the Church, but certainly seems to tend toward that. The third example is obvious, unrepentant ark-steadying, with the speaker essentially calling for the Church to come out from its apostate state.

    Note that it’s not just about tone. Finding a sweet way to dress up example #3 above doesn’t change the essential nature of what it says.

  89. Vort

    I’m sorry, but the church is sexist, and that’s perfectly fine for me to say. It’s only your opinion that’s say’s it wrong for women for people/women to say that it wrong, not that it actually is.

  90. #92 — OK, Vort, so I think we’re pretty much on the same page. I’m pretty conservative by temperament anyway, so as a general rule I don’t see Church leaders getting much if anything wrong these days. (On the specific question of women & the priesthood, I don’t have strong opinions one way or the other — on the one hand, I hate to see the sisters taking orders so much more than giving them; on the other hand, I’ve seen, with some other old-line churches, what often is associated with the kind of liberalism that accompanies opening the pastorate to women: A college liberal-arts faculty that happens to wear vestments.)

    I just have some kind of atavistic New England allergy to anything that sounds at all like “shut up and stop asking insolent questions.” My general impression in this regard is aligned with Charles Penrose:

    “And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God… would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.”

  91. Thank you Thomas
    I agree with you 100% I wish I were as eloquent as you.

    In addition, Any man who abuses his priesthood, because of the power behind it can expect to loose the very power that the office brings.

  92. Vort – “If our leader ever asks us to inconvenience ourselves unnecessarily, we are always justified in refusing him.” In the above comments, 3 of us said basically this same thing (that church leaders who ask us to do unjustifiable but merely inconvenient things are not an issue): BiV, Thomas, and me. So whether you like it or not, we seem to be saying the same thing on that score. You can count my earrings if you like – just one in each ear, although there are 3 holes in each ear (from before that pronouncement was made). That to me is a clear example of a minor request that isn’t harmful or against my conscience, but it’s pretty obviously just an opinion someone shared at a leadership level. So I complied.

    Thomas – I think your point about female priesthood is pretty rational. What I would suggest (if anyone gave a crap what I think) is more female voices being listened to directly – female participation in discussions, providing counsel and input. In PECs where RS presidents join the discussion, this happens at the local level. It is only when a PH leader deliberately excludes female input that issues arise. The other issue I see is conflating PH with leadership rather than its functional role of service and ordinances. There is both male and female leadership in the church. However, no female leadership is “for life” and some groups lack female input. If it’s just groups of men leading groups of men, whatevs, but when it is overall leadership of both men & women, soliciting input of both men and women yields better results. Many programs of the church are a combination of divine/inspired and human/pragmatic. And women can contribute on both sides of that.

  93. #96 hawkgrrrl:

    I was giving my general impressions of the attitude I had sensed. I had somehow missed the three examples you mention, and going back through, I still don’t see them. In my impressions, I certainly may have misjudged. In any case, whether I did or not, I certainly intended no direct accusation against anyone in this discussion. It is not given me to pass judgment on the inner motives of others, and I don’t have adequate information to fake it, seeing as how I only “know” people here based on what they write.

    *** The other issue I see is conflating PH with leadership rather than its functional role of service and ordinances. ***

    All leadership in the Church is done under the auspices and through the keys of the Priesthood. When a Priesthood holder occupies a position of direct leadership over others, he is required to hold keys in order to function in that office. That is: Without holding those Priesthood keys of leadership, the man cannot lead. Obviously, since women do not hold the Priesthood in the same sense men do, it makes no sense to require that they hold keys, but their leadership is still done under the leadership of those who do have keys.

    In other words, I think the supposed “conflation” of Priesthood and leadership is not conflation at all, but a natural recognition of one of the primary functions of the Priesthood.

    I agree about the utility of soliciting women’s input into issues as well as men’s. In my lifetime, such attitudes have been drilled into Priesthood holders with such force that several men I know have become disaffected due to their resentment of being told (as they supposed) that women are naturally better than men. I grieve that their pride has led them out of Church activity, but I must say I can understand their frustration, given the almost constant stream of effectively anti-male propaganda we heard.

    I would note, though, that to proclaim the falsehood of what our leaders were saying (as some did) would have been overt ark-steadying, and would invariably have led to misery for many involved (as it did). I might bristle at comments and even complain in private, but once I start trying to undermine the efforts of our leaders, however misguided I might believe them to be, I have overstepped my bounds, and insofar as I have acted outside my bounds I am in apostasy.

    Apparently, the Lord is willing to let a generation of his sons be told of their inferior worth to his daughters in order to rectify other pernicious attitudes about women. Could it have been done better? Probably. Was it my place to lecture my leaders about their harmful words? Nope. To paraphrase Brother McConkie, it was my place to shut up about it.

    Interestingly, I don’t see that sort of thing preached nearly as much today. In fact, a few years ago our stake president went out of his way to caution the young men about predatory young women who would seek to seduce and defile them. Talk about a change of tune.

  94. I am really done with this web site.

    I swear god. I get accused of lecturing because I gave an opinion, just as everyone does on this site, and I’m F.. LECTURING. Are you Brethren for real? Do you men have so little self esteem, that you seem to feel that I’ve emasculate you.? If so, that’s how many of this sisters feel on a daily basis. Do you even think about what your saying or do you just shoot your mouths off because many of you sound like arrogant jack asses.

    Let me tell you why there won’t ever be a woman leader in this church, There won’t ever be a woman leader because as quickly as a woman expresses her opinion on any post its’ quickly dismissed, just as it is in the church. That’s why there won’t ever be a woman as a leader.

    I just find Jeff S comment that I lectures on this site to be just completely insane. I have never lectured anyone on this f.. web site. I’ve offered a different way of looking at things. As soon as anyone says anything even remotely different they are cast out. This is reason why I left the church, this is the reason why I’m having my name removed from church records. Because I can not stand how the brethren treat the women in the church, nor on this web site. Its’ dismissive, rude, arrogant.pompus, and self serving. Now that is what I call a lecture

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