Christianity at the Crossroads: Women Bishops

April 25, 2013

Methodist Central Hall, London. The debate venue.

The week from 17 March saw the inauguration of both the new Pope, Pope Francis, and the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. To mark that historic occasion the BBC broadcast a debate entitled Christianity at the Crossroads. The panellists were: Matthew Parris (MP) – former Conservative MP; Dr Anna Rowlands (AR) – Catholic theologian; Rev Canon Dr Sam Wells (SW) – Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields; and Sarah Dunant (SD) – author. John Humphreys (JH) was the chairman.

I really enjoyed this debate, particularly that participants were open in expressing their views on the discussed topics. In general, they didn’t appear constrained by the institutions of which they were a part, a stark contrast to broadcasts I’ve heard in which the LDS church is represented, where the representative generally comes across as both defensive and evasive. The debate ranged over whether Christianity is indeed at a crossroads or in crisis: whether the churches have lost moral authority in society; the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church; the churches as communities of the imperfect; growth of the RC Church in Africa and Latin America; celibacy of Roman Catholic clergy; women and the priesthood; humanism, secular society and faith. In this post I will highlighting the discussion on women and the priesthood.

I was struck by the similarities in the arguments used about women and the priesthood with those I have come across recently in the LDS church. I also thought some of the participants made some important points, that I haven’t particularly seen addressed. I enjoyed the wider view, the context of these debates with those of other denominations. This last general conference was for me, contradictory. We saw women saying both an opening and closing prayer, and that was wonderful. On the other hand, the content of some of the talks seemed to be particularly regressive when it came to addressing the roles of men and women. There are no women ordained to the Priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, and whilst the Church of England ordains women as Deacons and Priests, a proposal for women Bishops failed to pass during a vote last November.

In addition to the panel, audience members Jacques Moreau (JM) of Opus Dei; Pete Myers (PM) of the Church Society, Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin (RHW) – Speaker’s Chaplain and vicar in Hackney, and Rev Canon Rosie Harper (RH) – vicar in Great Missenden and Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham were contributed their views.

I’ll start the transcript a little earlier, to give context to the start of the discussion. My commentary is in the square brackets.

JM: One little thing to show the church isn’t dying is the amount of interest that has been caused by the papal transition, with 6000 journalists there. That’s one thing. The other thing is that the church, the Catholic church, which is the one I know, isn’t. The church itself is growing overall in the world both in absolute terms and in percentage terms, and is growing mostly in the countries that are growing. The church is declining in Europe but it’s growing in Africa, it’s growing in Asia, it’s growing in South America. So I think the picture is much larger than we’ve seen.

SD: … when Jacques says the Catholic church is growing, well actually it’s growing in countries where they have yet to ask deeper questions about the roles of women, about what happens when women would like to be taken more seriously. It’s growing where, actually, it’s going to be easy for it to grow until they hit exactly the same problems that Europe and the West has hit. Where there are versions of what personal freedom and personal identity means. And some of that means the rights of women, and some of that means the rights of priests to possibly be married and have normal families which help them connect better with their parishioners.

[I think Sarah Dunant makes a good point. I've seen a fair amount about growth of the church in South America and then Africa over the years. Is she right in supposing that those countries will hit those problems in the future? Should the LDS church be addressing the issues of women more strongly? What are the benefits or losses of either acting now, or waiting?]

Funnily enough, the campaign colour was purple too.

JH: Sam, women Bishops. You knew we were going to come to that didn’t you. So, women Bishops in your church, how serious a blow was it that you failed to approve them?

SW: I think it’s a very sad blow for the church. It’s been presented as if it was a failure in public relations, or somehow a human rights lapse. I can see why people say those things, but for me, God has given the church an incredible gift, an incredible blessing, through the leadership, not just the ministry, but the leadership of women, and by voting that down, we’re flushing that gift down the toilet, and I think that’s a tragic day for the Church of England. Why did we make that decision? Well, almost all the Bishops voted in favour and plenty of the House clergy voted in favour. What the church decided to do that day was to wait until those who couldn’t find a way to accept this with lots of concessions would come on board. We all know this is going to get passed in the next few years. I don’t think anyone’s in any doubt of that. We decided to wait, some of us with great impatience and a considerable amount of fury and exasperation. I’m grieved, but I’m not altogether ashamed of a church that says we’re about being a reconciled community who makes these decisions together and hurry isn’t always holiness.

JH: Pete Myers, you’re on the, can I put it like this, the conservative wing of the church. Do you accept that analysis?

PM: I think I accept the analysis that what happened on that day was the church decided to all move forward together. The way the church wants to introduce women Bishops is a way that allows everyone’s consciences to be respected. So I’m perfectly happy with moving forwards as long as everyone’s consciences are respected.

[I note he fails to say how those opposed may come to view things otherwise, so essentially it seems to me he's happy because on this view the status quo will be maintained.]

MP: What is all this talk about people’s consciences as far as women are concerned? We are in a Methodist central hall here, we haven’t got a non-conformist on the panel, but the Methodists have had women ministers for, ooh.. about a century. Dinah Morris in George Elliot’s Adam Bede is a Methodist woman preacher. There just isn’t any problem about it. Why are people talking about their consciences?

[I'm not too sure of the priesthood status of Methodist ministers, there appear to both ordained and non-ordained roles, so is this point relevant?]

PM: I think that’s a great question. I think what it comes down to is a similar issue to the celibacy issue [debated earlier]. I’m not catholic. I don’t believe ministers have to be celibate, but I do believe that the gospel requires me to deny myself and to follow what the Bible says. … And while you know, different people look at the Bible and come to a different conclusion on what the Bible says about gender roles, I’m glad that we can try and move forward in a way that respects the fact that we understand the Bible differently.

[By which he seems to mean, not moving at all.]

JH: All right. Thank you Pete Myers from the Church Society. There’s a lady behind you there, you’re wearing a dog-collar so I assume –

Campaign badge.

RHW: I’m Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Speaker’s Chaplain and a vicar in Hackney. I think there is a depth of illiteracy when it comes to biblical knowledge, and I also believe we are kidding ourselves when we talk about ‘lets not hurry’. We’re not hurrying this thing. Women have been knocking at the door for hundreds of years, and if we’re really honest there is a depth of dishonesty as well. If we’re really honest then we will say that we don’t want it to happen in our lifetime.

[Looking at you, Pete Myers!]

JH: And there are those I’d’ve said, think you might be when/if they do get women Bishops, you might be the first one.

RHW: I’m not particularly interested in that because I’m –

JH: You wouldn’t turn it down would you?

RHW: I probably would. … I’m quite happy with what I am at the moment, but I believe that is the church’s loss not to have women in leadership at the moment. That’s my concern.

[Initially, I felt a little like the chairman: what do you mean you wouldn't accept; not another woman preferring not to exhibit personal ambition, I thought. However her career looks amazing – click on the link up top. Once you've been chaplain to the Queen (who is the head of the Anglican church), then why worry about being Bishop? I'll let her off this once.]

JH: All right, lets go to another woman in the front row here …

RH: … I’m Rosie Harper and I’m a vicar in Great Missenden, and I’m Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham. I think we started off saying the church is at the crossroads, and this issue demonstrates the depth of the problem that we’ve got, because there is a vast gulf between the way in which our society ticks, and we’ve worked towards a real good in treating people of different sexualities with honour, and that is the tone of our society. And then there’s this big gulf. And then the church maintains that, some different view, and they’ve got some greater wisdom. And I think it’s the gulf that’s going to catch us out in the end and make the institution seem irrelevant.

[Important question then, is the LDS church attitude to women making it increasingly irrelevant? She seems to be in agreement with Sarah Dunant.]

AR: I think there’s a really interesting point here. I’m sitting here listening to this and very aware of what I might call a tale of two cities. I’m sitting here as a Catholic, but with significant involvement in the Anglican church over many years.

JH: And you don’t even have women priests.

AR: Exactly. And I think the reality is that there remain massive questions for all of the mainstream Christian denominations. There are ways in which there are functional questions about adding women into the equation, about making sure that women are present, that their experiences are listened to, that they have a role in decision-making and authority, but then there are also deeper theological questions about what it means to be a woman in the light of our belief in God. Those deeper theological questions have to be answered alongside the more functional ones. However, there is another side to it, and this is the bit that keeps me as woman, as a Christian. I’m aware that we’ve just heard from two women in dog-collars who are committed to Christian ministry in the church and remain in that place. For me growing up as a woman, I found that one of the few places where there was any kind of counter-cultural voice about women being seen as commodified, about the dignity of what it means to be a woman actually came from my church background. That helped me resist some of those wider streams of culture. So for me this is a tale of two cities, as on the one hand the church has a message of such profundity to speak to men and women about what it means to be men and women, and yet on the other hand we have major issues about the way in which the church has discriminated against women.

[It was interesting to see both ideas – the good counter-cultural voice, and acknowledgement that there is discrimination, put forward by the same person. In the LDS debate they are usually expressed by polar opposites.]

JH: It’s quite hard for you to argue against that isn’t it Sarah?

SD: When I have spoken to senior Catholic women, one of the things they have said is actually, I don’t want to be a priest, I want to revisit the whole notion of the priesthood as having far too much authority. This thing needs to be blown wider open to laity and other people, so it’s not just about women priests. We return to the power of the authority, both sacramental and pastoral, of the figure of the priest, through history and right up to the present day.

[This LDS version of this argument: separating priesthood and administrative offices, has been discussed in various posts on a number of blogs recently.]

JH: Keep going Matthew.

MP: What would Jesus think of us all arguing about the theology of women priests and quoting particular bits of the new and old testament. He would say, please friends this isn’t about the theology of women priests. Are there not bigger things to concern us, are there not more important things –

SD: Well, I think it’s a pretty –

MP: – to do.

SD: – big thing right at this minute actually.

[So that was the: there are more important things argument. And the debate moved on.]

To assemble my questions then:

  • Do you agree or disagree with Sarah Dunant that developing countries where church growth is strong will eventually hit the same issues that now exist in the west, equality for women being one?
  • Many of the participants seemed to agree that denying women office of Bishop was to the detriment of the Anglican church. How do you see the denial of priesthood for women in the LDS church?
  • Are the attitudes of the church rendering it irrelevant in a modern society? How, or how not?
  • How does it make you feel to see that we are not the only denomination having these debates?

Discuss.

Tags: , , , , , ,

19 Responses to Christianity at the Crossroads: Women Bishops

  1. Andrew S. on April 25, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    I will certainly be commenting on this post when I have more time — but for now, I’ll be saying this is a really fascinating summary of a fascinating program.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  2. hawkgrrrl on April 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    “when Jacques says the Catholic church is growing, well actually it’s growing in countries where they have yet to ask deeper questions about the roles of women, about what happens when women would like to be taken more seriously. It’s growing where, actually, it’s going to be easy for it to grow until they hit exactly the same problems that Europe and the West has hit.” IOW, we are appealing to sexist / macho cultures.

    Is this just the tendency of secularization and modernization to undermine and ultimately kill religion? Can religion survive and thrive without sexism? I am serious in asking that question. Are those of us who desire equality just too secular to deal with religion ultimately? I hope that is not the case. Mormonism, with ongoing revelation, seems to be in a unique position to create a non-sexist religion that still remains a cohesive community, but so far we haven’t done it or even really attempted it.

    One of the things that keeps coming up as I travel Asia and learn about these faiths (Buddhism & Hinduism) that are so revered, particularly by new agey types in the western world, is that they are incredibly sexist, at least as bad as Christianity. Islam perhaps goes the extra mile, but that’s because it’s anti-modernization.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  3. Hedgehog on April 26, 2013 at 1:30 AM

    #1, Thanks Andrew. I look forward to it.

    #2 Hawkgrrrl, great comment.

    “IOW, we are appealing to sexist / macho cultures.”
    In a sense, though there was a speaker a conference or few ago, I think, who said something along the lines that, in speaking to LDS church leaders in the African nations, it seems the church is improving the lot of women there nevertheless, husbands treating their wives better (meaning not beating them apparently), and taking family responsibility more seriously (meaning contributing to family income, instead of leaving the raising kids and earning a living to the women). So I kind of wonder if it’s necessary to go through a stage of benevolent patriarchy before it is possible to move onto a more equal society, within a nation. Would an equal opportunities church put off potential members in those countries, where a benevolently patriarchal church can draw them in and then improve behaviour? And how does that balance, in a global church, when the cultures of different countries are in different places, and clearly the west are becoming more than impatient with the whole benevolent patriarchy thing? Is it fair to continue to constrain western women for the sake of improving the lot of women elsewhere, if indeed, that is what is happening?

    “Mormonism, with ongoing revelation, seems to be in a unique position to create a non-sexist religion that still remains a cohesive community, but so far we haven’t done it or even really attempted it.”
    Agreed. At the moment I live in hope that that day will arrive.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  4. RockiesGma on April 26, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    I’ve heard that many cultures won’t accept women leading or having priesthood power because their cultures are steeped in traditional gender roles. Yet we didn’t worry about alienating American culture by introducing polygamy. We didn’t worry about alienating prospective converts by not extending ordination to black men till well after the thrust forward by the civil rights movement.

    I believe the church should move forward and let sincere converts deal with it, rather than continue to hold back the strength and growth of those cultures that are more than ready and worthy to do so.

    I have faith and trust in our leaders that they are seeking revelation on this, notwithstanding all they have on their plates, or their own “traditional” paradigms. I believe they love the Savior so much that they only want to do His will. Thankfully, we believe that God gives further wisdom to those who seek, and without upbraiding the seeker. Because we believe our leaders seek, and the Savior responds, I think the church remains especially relevant in the lives and hearts of the deeply converted of all cultures.

    As to the speed, well……I believe the Savior only gives us more as swiftly as our leaders are willing to seek it. I hope they don’t slow the quest for the Lord’s current will on women’s issues because some of us ask them to make this a priority, rather than waiting to feel it is their inspired idea.

    I also believe benevolent patriarchy may do some good in some culture, but equal priesthood power and authority would do even more. All cultures need to let women at long last take the final steps forward to true Godlike equality in the final frontiers of society. Though the adversary will try to mess that up too, with the power of the Spirit upon us, righteous goodness will triumph, and the church will be stronger and have more light…..and thus far more relevance in this world.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  5. Frank Pellett on April 26, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    RockiesGMA – your comparisons, Polygamy and Black Ordination are interesting choices. A I see it, Polygamy is a good example of what can happen when we insist on getting something we’re not ready for IUnited Order is a better example), causing problems for the members well after its discontinuance, while Black Ordination is an example of how easily a large change can be made when we take the time to change hearts and minds beforehand. To me, Women’s Ordination would be much like the implementation of Polygamy – something we’re not ready for, but would be given if we insisted, having the strong possibility of failing (if we start from where we are) and being removed like polygamy. Getting it back again would then take much more work than it would have in getting it right in the first place.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  6. hawkgrrrl on April 26, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    Frank Pellett – that’s interesting. I see the introduction of polygamy and united order as ways to insulate the tribe and make it nearly impossible to leave it. I don’t see either as an elevated principle above their modern day counterparts. In fact, tithing makes a whole lot more sense than united order now that we are using paper currency (and paperless transactions as the norm) instead of bartering with chickens.

    Hedgehog: I have wondered that same thing about the stages to go from abusive / oppressive cultures to enlightened ones. The problem is how do you have a community that includes both? For example, the PoF elevates the standing of women and equality in sexist cultures. It demotes and limits women in more progressive cultures. Where are we gaining converts? Where are we losing members? It’s easy to see why.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  7. Douglas on April 26, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    The only “debate”, according to LDS practice, won’t happened, because women receiving the PH and being able to be a Bishop would have to be received by revelation. I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future, but I’m not the Prophet nor do I claim special insight into the mind of the Lord. He can make it happen if He wants (and likely the special “She” would weigh in on that).
    What isn’t debatable is that women aren’t necessarily by nature unqualified to serve in leadership positions. If it’s the will of the Lord that He wants a woman bishop, I can’t see a reason to object. Though most bishops have been great, some have really tested my convictions about callings being inspired.
    The question I would ask is; do you think that any changes in women and the PH will occur due to societal pressure (e.g., ‘market forces’ and ability to attract converts and retain members) or will it come out like a “bolt out of the blue”? LADIES and gentlemen (not just Danica Patrick)..start your engines!

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  8. Hedgehog on April 26, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    RockiesGma, Frank,
    On polygamy I tend to agree with Hawkgrrrl. Polygamy was the thing when there were masses of converts emigrating, and making the long journey to Utah. I sometimes wonder how much they knew about it before they left, and by they got there they’d be pretty much stuck. After being tarred with the Utah brush back then, they’d have a hard time returning to respectable society elsewhere (especially women), even if you could gather the means to do so. It isn’t something you’re going to want to be persuading people to practice when you are wanting your converts to stay put in their existing nations, certainly not in those nations in which it is against the law

    RockiesGma: “All cultures need to let women at long last take the final steps forward to true Godlike equality in the final frontiers of society. Though the adversary will try to mess that up too, with the power of the Spirit upon us, righteous goodness will triumph, and the church will be stronger and have more light…..and thus far more relevance in this world.”
    Hawkgrrrl: “The problem is how do you have a community that includes both? For example, the PoF elevates the standing of women and equality in sexist cultures. It demotes and limits women in more progressive cultures.”

    It’s a difficult one I agree. Unfortunately, looking at British society at any rate, there seems to be fine line between true equality, and the really oppressive stuff. It’s almost as though it’s circular, and they meet around the back somewhere. In the ideal model you’d have men and women working together dividing the tasks between as agreed together, as suited to the parties involved, in a family say. In some quarters of society that seems to have mean women working, the men not working, and the women still having to do a lot at home because the men aren’t stepping up at home, to either women kicking the men because they are simply a drain v. aggressive men cowing, and beating up on the woman in their life to maintain their position… It probably isn’t quite like that, and economics has played a part, but those things certainly exist at the bottom rung of British society. Women and men have to move together in this, to keep things in balance, I feel. Education is probably the single most important thing in achieving that. Those who leave education early tend to perpetuate the views and behaviour they grew up with, but many of today’s educated younger men are much more open to sharing roles around to whoever is best suited to them, and the benevolent patriarchy view is now hampering progress amongst the more educated in the west, even as it bolsters the self-esteem of the men, and improves the lot of those women in the lower rungs. So it’s not just western society v. the less developed world. It’s a division I’ve observed here.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  9. FireTag on April 26, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Hawkgrrrl:

    My wife made a statement after a friend’s wedding about a year ago that struck me as very profound. She said that families help lift you up, but there comes a time where they start holding you back, and you have to disentangle from so much family business in order to keep moving forward with the purpose for your life. I think the church as our “extended family” can have the same effects.

    Hedgehog:

    I seemed to get the impression from some of the interview participants that they conceive of the end result of human history as somehow leading to the disappearance of religion and the convergence of the rest of the world on the Western European model. I see the same outlook in some of the British science magazines I read where editorial opinions swiping at backward religionists appear out of the blue in the middle of biology, psychology, or even astronomy articles. I don’t think this is the best of times for the West to be arguing for the short term inevitability of the victory of Western ideals of gender enlightenment. I think it more likely that as the church grows in Asia and the global “south”, that growth will change the Western church at least as profoundly and unexpectedly as contact with the Western church will have on those nations.

    Frank and RockiesGma:

    I do know for a fact that it is possible for a church in the Mormon tradition to ordain women to high priesthood office and more than survive the experience. The RLDS/Community of Christ did it. Whether that made the church more inclusive, or simply moved its boundaries more to the “left” is another question entirely.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  10. Hedgehog on April 26, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Douglas,
    The women bishops in this post would be Anglican bishops, a role significantly different to that of an LDS bishop, and more akin to a stake president in terms of taking charge of a diocese (collection of parishes) as opposed to a parish. The Anglican church work this out by voting on the issue – there are three ‘houses’ that get a vote, and all three need more than 2/3 majority to pass, the vote failed because one ‘house’ didn’t quite make the 2/3 mark. So it is very different to the way we LDS do things certainly. The Anglican church may also feel some societal pressure because the bishops can get a seat in the house of Lords, so church and state are not wholly separate.
    The Anglican church seem to be taking women’s ordination on a piece by piece basis, so that there have been women deacons for longer than women priests, and the move for women bishops is still ongoing. Each time there was fall out, either in terms of Anglicans converting to Catholicism (including Priests), or choosing to attend congregations with only male priesthood. The big thing regarding women bishops is that it will mean there will be male deacons, priests who could have been ordained by a woman bishop, and that is a huge sticking point for those who don’t recognise women’s ordination, and why it is taking so long.
    In answer to your question: “do you think that any changes in women and the PH will occur due to societal pressure” as it applies to the LDS church, I really don’t know. I don’t think the church are immune to societal pressure, but I think there are competing pressures pushing different ways, as my answer #8 would indicate.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  11. Hedgehog on April 26, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    On my #8, that should read:
    ‘by the time they got there’
    ‘that seems to mean’ not ‘to have mean’
    ‘kicking out’ men rather than ‘kicking’ (though I suppose that could be happening too).

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  12. Hedgehog on April 26, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    FireTag
    I’m certainly with you on those weird articles in NS, that seem to assume all religion is anti-science, and the anti-religion tone of some of the other articles. Matthew Parris did go on to make the humanist argument towards the end of the programme. I find it bizarre that Britain (with bishops in the house of Lords), comes across as more secular, politically, than the US, where church and state are intended to be separate.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  13. Chris on April 26, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    I would suggest that whether or not women receive the priesthood, the structure of the Church needs to change so that ecclesiastical leaders have more training and oversight. Years ago when my husband was a bishop, he received monthly training from a stake president. Today bishops receive very little training. Some take their questionable work practices and incorporate them into their leadership practices in the Church, including an over-emphasis on quantitative achievements rather than minstering to individuals, marginalizing women, and micromanaging leaders of organizations. Unless more training and oversight occurs, women who serve as bishops could and would perform similarly. The Church needs a better training program from leaders, more specific counsel in the handbook about leadership methodology, and a way that serious ecclestiastical abuse can be reported by members without fear of reprisal.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  14. Hedgehog on April 27, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Training still happens. My husband was off at bishopric training this week. I don’t think it’s monthly though. That might be because modern communications make it easier to disseminate information by email and such. However, I do agree with a lot that you mention regarding micromanagement, poor business practices and the like creeping in, some of that did get some discussion in the comments here: http://www.wheatandtares.org/2013/03/21/cob-and-the-roman-curia-balancing-management-and-spiritual-leadership/

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  15. hawkgrrrl on April 27, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Firetag: “families help lift you up, but there comes a time where they start holding you back, and you have to disentangle from so much family business in order to keep moving forward with the purpose for your life.” Couldn’t agree more. It’s a great perspective. A lot of the roles of men and women are about taking ownership for making our own decisions, the hallmark of adulthood.

    Hedgehog: “It [polygamy] isn’t something you’re going to want to be persuading people to practice when you are wanting your converts to stay put in their existing nations” Interestingly, we are now in a position to have to tell converts in countries that allow polygamy that we don’t allow it as we spread to African and Asian countries. India allows it as do both Indonesia and Malaysia (under Muslim restrictions – 4 wives maximum). Personally, I think it’s a doomed system anyway. Groups like the Obedient Wives Club (of Malaysia) make my flesh crawl with their guidelines to keep your husband from committing adultery (because it is the wife’s responsibility.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  16. Hedgehog on April 27, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    hawkgrrrl #15
    “A lot of the roles of men and women are about taking ownership for making our own decisions, the hallmark of adulthood.”
    Agree totally.

    “Interestingly, we are now in a position to have to tell converts in countries that allow polygamy that we don’t allow it …”
    Yes, I think I read somewhere, one of the reasons JS gave was to do with, what about when we take the gospel to those countries that practice it. The backlash from the US and Europe was so huge then though. It perhaps wouldn’t be as extreme now.
    The city I grew up in has a large pakistani islamic population, and it wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) so unusual to see families out or a walk in the park on a summer afternoon at the weekend, which included a man, 3 or 4 women concealed by burkha, and children. They don’t seem to be so concerned about the legal status of the marriages, so long as they are islamic. I wouldn’t be so sure about it being doomed…

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  17. Rockies Gma on April 27, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    It seems to me that if the scientific community feels religion is becoming more and more irrelevant, we need to ordain women even more. At least then we show the relevance of equality. Inequality continues to alienate those who view us as particularly backwards. I get such comments all the time…..that we’re controlling right down to our jewelry, and our women are in denial of our subservience. I try to defend, but, honestly, i just end up confirming I’m in denial, and, honestly, there is truth to their views.

    Also, my point about polygamy was that when we came to Utah we didn’t care what the membership felt, or was ready for (especially the women), nor did we care what the membership was ready for when black men were ordained. We teach and do correct principles, and the membership follows in obedience. I truly believe many folks say they aren’t for ordaining women precisely because they’ve been taught that it’s WRONG, disobedient, and even sinful to consider it. It’s deeply, deeply engrained. In other churches they discuss/debate and vote — what a good idea. In ours, we wait for revelation — another great idea. But if quorums and councils could freely express, or anonymously express forward thinking ideas, rather than condemning such thought as always disobedient or not to be of the Spirit, our top beloved leaders might be more conducive to seeking revelation.

    Jesus didn’t wait for even His prophet Peter to be ready to teach the gospel to the “unclean” Gentiles, let alone the members being ready. He commanded and it was up to them to get with His program because it was the right thing to do. The church grew….not fall apart. Members came to see in a fairly brief time period the wisdom of the Lord’s command. Their knowledge and wisdom was expanded. They saw that it was good.

    I know in my tenures as auxiliary presidents, I “knew” what I could say and what was UNTHINKABLE to even hint at. Yes, we are free to speak our minds…..but those who do are marginalized and labeled negatively. There was an unspoken pressure to be a “yes” person — especially women leaders…..soft voices, sweet demeanors, discreet suggestions, profuse gratitude……well……like Elaine Dalton and the Sis. Oscarson, I think her name is. This is what righteous women are taught and pressured to be. But I am more than confident that the members will “follow the prophet” and being ready or not has little to do with the Lord’s will. He expects us to move forward in faith, that we may learn and grow, and that His church may be strengthened and Zion in HER beauty rise…..the “his” beauty has shown forth for millennia.

    What are we actually afraid of? Offending God? Yet He teaches to ask and He will not upbraid. That women will turn into men? Not possible. That men will fall apart or fall away? The vast majority are far more converted than that. That the Proclamation may need to be updated? Surely we can handle that. That, like Elder McKonkie, they may have to say, “Forget everything we said and taught before—we were wrong.” Surely they are humble enough to make that statement, if it is even needed. That the softer side of priesthood may shine forth? Surely that can’t be anything but good. So what is it that keeps us from seeing just what our Heavenly Parents and Their Beloved Son feel about ordaining Their daughters? We KNOW They will give no commandment save They prepare a way to obey. We KNOW They sometimes make “unthinkable” changes and commands. We KNOW that sometimes the Savior comes to the Prophet, but usually it is up to the prophet to come to the Savior, like Joseph and Pres. Kimball.

    So I once again express encouragement for them to “go to Him,” and if He personally says,”not now,” then most of us will continue to wait and abide, even though my heart breaks for those we are losing and will never convert.

    I appreciate all the points presented here —they keep me weighting, considering, pondering, imagining, and they give me more to talk over in my prayers. Thank you for that.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  18. Hedgehog on April 28, 2013 at 1:44 AM

    RockiesGma:
    “It seems to me that if the scientific community feels religion is becoming more and more irrelevant, we need to ordain women even more.”
    Unlikely to be convincing the Richard Dawkins of this world I think. Though I agree it would increase relevance amongst the educated classes generally.

    “Inequality continues to alienate those who view us as particularly backwards. I get such comments all the time…..that we’re controlling right down to our jewelry, and our women are in denial of our subservience.”
    I don’t disagree. Society has so many inequalities however, and I do think they interact in a way that makes it difficult to deal with one, without addressing the others at the same time, if we want a good outcome. And women always seem to be at the bottom of the barrel.

    “my point about polygamy was that when we came to Utah we didn’t care what the membership felt, or was ready for (especially the women), nor did we care what the membership was ready for when black men were ordained.”
    I did get that on the polygamy issue, though my point was that I find it hard to believe they used polygamy as a proselyting tool. I think the overseas missionaries (especially in Britain/Europe would have kept well away from that topic), though there was much rumour about what they were doing with all those women, which I’m pretty sure they’d have denied since much of seemed to take the line of stealing daughters etc., until Utah was sufficiently established, and had visitors such as Mark Twain to pass comment in the media. So I’m very sceptical about how much many emigrating converts knew before they actually got there. On the 1978 priesthood revelation, I think by that point the vast majority of members were more than ready, and extremely impatient for the change, though still it wasn’t without some disaffection and fallout. But I do think it had got to the stage where the damage caused by not introducing the change would have been far greater.

    “In other churches they discuss/debate and vote — what a good idea. In ours, we wait for revelation — another great idea. But if quorums and councils could freely express, or anonymously express forward thinking ideas, rather than condemning such thought as always disobedient or not to be of the Spirit, our top beloved leaders might be more conducive to seeking revelation.”
    Amen. As I said in the OP, I particularly liked that the participants didn’t seem to feel constrained by the institutions when giving their points of view. I found it so refreshing. I find the open campaigning in the CofE exciting.

    “There was an unspoken pressure to be a “yes” person — especially women leaders…..soft voices, sweet demeanors, discreet suggestions, profuse gratitude……well……like Elaine Dalton and the Sis. Oscarson, I think her name is. This is what righteous women are taught and pressured to be.”
    This does make me cringe. I’m no ‘yes’ person however, and will give my forthright opinion. I think I mentioned else-thread I’ve only been required to attend ward council twice in my life, many years apart (I get to be counsellor rather than president), and I certainly gave my opinion both occasions. The first time, I was bawled out by the bishop then and there in the meeting (I was only 17), but I did not let it crush me. The second occasion my view was attended to. It bugs me a lot that RS has lost so much autonomy.

    “So I once again express encouragement for them to “go to Him,” and if He personally says,”not now,” then most of us will continue to wait and abide, even though my heart breaks for those we are losing and will never convert.”
    Amen again. I find it most frustrating that we typically have no idea what they may or may not be discussing, praying about until a change comes. It’d be nice to know it was at least on the agenda. Like you I do feel pain for those we are losing, those who may otherwise not convert.

    “I appreciate all the points presented here —they keep me weighting, considering, pondering, imagining, and they give me more to talk over in my prayers. Thank you for that.”
    Thank you for participating. I enjoy the discussion.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  19. Polygamy in Britain | Wheat and Tares on May 9, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    [...] congruence of comments on my last post, and media broadcast/articles on this subject resulted in my selection of this topic. Hawkgrrrl [...]

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

Archives

%d bloggers like this: