Good Cop-Bad Cop on Women’s Ordination

September 30, 2013

General Conference is just around the corner.  Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women website is promoting the idea that women should be ordained to the priesthood, and has organized a campaign to try to get admitted to the males-only General Priesthood Session this coming Saturday night in Salt Lake City.  While some women wouldn’t mind being ordained, not everyone agrees that this is a good tactic.  The Deseret News has recently published a Pew Research Study stating that 90% of LDS women do not support female ordination.  Grant Hardy writes about the gender gap on the issue: nearly 50% of LDS men support female ordination.

It’s hard to argue that Kate Kelly hasn’t spurred some changes.  The LDS Church announced last week that the General Priesthood session will be broadcast on the internet for the first time in history.  The movement to Let Women Pray also caused Church Leaders to call women to pray in General Conference for the first time back in April.  “Wear Pants to Church Day” has drawn attention to the issue of female ordination; it caught the attention of the New York Times.

BYU adjunct professor Margaret Young has a different approach than Kate Kelly.  Young is trying to follow the more moderate process that her good friend Darius Gray used successfully in the late 1960s-1970s.  Darius Gray and a few others didn’t publicly protest the temple and priesthood ban.  Instead they approached church leaders and asked what could be done to prevent blacks from falling inactive.  Junior Apostles (at the time) Gordon B. Hinckley, Boyd K Packer, and Thomas S. Monson organized the Genesis Group and put Darius and a few others in charge of this outreach program.  Margaret believes this quiet approach was more helpful in overturning the ban via revelation in 1978 .  Certainly there were loud protests among the NAACP and other civil rights groups, but those protests had calmed considerably by 1978 when the ban was overturned.

This brings to my mind the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine in which

Darius Gray and Margaret Young are the "Good cops" on the left.  Does Kate Kelly's activism make her the "bad cop"?

Darius Gray and Margaret Young are the “Good cops” on the left. Does Kate Kelly’s activism make her the “bad cop”?

The ‘bad cop’ takes an aggressive, negative stance towards the subject, making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy between the subject and himself. This sets the stage for the ‘good cop’ to act sympathetically: appearing supportive, understanding, in general showing sympathy for the subject. The good cop will also defend the subject from the bad cop. The subject may feel he can cooperate with the good cop out of trust or fear of the bad cop. He may then seek protection by and trust the good cop and provide the information the interrogators are seeking.

Could it be that the combination of tactics–in this case the “bad cop” Kate Kelly promoting protests, and the “good cop” Margaret Young who acts sympathetically for the church is a better way to accomplish female ordination– will work better than if Kate or Margaret acted alone?

The Wikipedia article also talks about how to disrupt such tactics.

  • An experienced subject may choose to deliberately bait the ‘bad cop’ with provocative behavior of his own short of violent provocation (such as derogatory remarks about the bad cop or his family, racial, ethnic and gender slurs if applicable, offensive gestures), hoping that the ‘bad cop’ will lose self-control and react violently towards the subject.
  • Severe verbal abuse or otherwise insulting behavior targeted at the ‘good cop’ has also proven highly disruptive on occasion.

When the ERA amendment was going strong in the 1970s and 1980s, the Church excommunicated Sonia Johnson (the bad cop), and they have also excommunicated some who might be considered good cops such as Lavinia Fielding Anderson.  Do you think the church should/would go after either Kate Kelly or Margaret Young in order to disrupt a movement such as this?

RLDS/CoC historian David Howlett argues that Female Ordination in the LDS Church won’t happen in our lifetimes.  

“I’m terming structural forces–LDS leadership succession practices, internationalization, correlation, continuing revelation, peer pressure, and a desire for social acceptance–drive current ordination policies and make women’s ordination relatively unlikely within any living person’s lifetime.”

However, it seems to me that many of his arguments would have applied to the priesthood/temple ban on black members as well.  It is highly doubtful that Margaret and Kate are working together.  However, I do think there is a symbiotic relationship going on there.  What do you think?

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57 Responses to Good Cop-Bad Cop on Women’s Ordination

  1. Hedgehog on September 30, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    I think it takes ‘bad cop’ style activism to direct attention to problems, and make them difficult to ignore. I think this can then open the door for the ‘good cop’ to go in and have the conversation. I don’t get the impression this has happened yet for this issue, and I’m not sure how much the external ‘bad cop’ pressure needs to mount before it does. As I see it at the moment it could go two ways, either the conversations will begin, or there’ll be some kind of 1993 style reaction.

    Given that we are told how concerned our leaders are about rising numbers of young single women leaving the church, I would hope that the response will be the former rather than the latter. Looking at my own daughter, and other young women I know, there’s no way they’ll be prepared to put up with the kind of placatory responses to concerns that I’ve been hearing for decades. They find the invisibility of women both in church governance, and more especially in our picture of eternity as any of alarming/worrying/appalling/abominable/terrifying.

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  2. SilverRain on September 30, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    If single women are leaving the church, why is the average ratio of women to men in singles wards about 2:1?

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  3. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    Great article! I don’t expect LDS female ordination anytime soon. The biggest problem isn’t the entrenched male priesthood hierarchy although that is a very substantial hurtle, the biggest problem is that an overwhelming majority of LDS women oppose it. At this point what is important is that the discussion is beginning to take place. Harriet Nelson’s role was based on a 1950’s model that burned itself out by the mid 60s, add the typical LDS cultural lag time and we will begin to see some LDS female role flexibility as the old guard eventually dies off. Also younger women tend to better understand the difference between praise, ego massage and placation and that will probably give leaders something to consider.

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  4. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    One of the interesting phenomena of activism is their propensity to claim credit for any change that gets made toward the issue they advocate. In some cases, it may in fact be true, but not necessarily in every case. Similar to the person who prays for rain and when it rains, they say their prayers were answered. Which while technically true, may not be actually true.

    For the civil rights movement, the activism resulted in a strong change in public opinion, which forced politicians, who directly represent the people and who, ultimately (though questionable when viewed today) report to the people. At least more so than now.

    In the cases of women’s ordination, if you believe the polls, it is not strongly advocated by the majority of Mormon women and a slim majority of Mormon men, when factored together do not represent a majority of those polled.

    And, in the decision-making bodies of the Church, the leadership probably feels they report ultimately to God, not the people themselves. So the decision-making process is quite different.

    Now, those strong proponents will look at recent events and claim that they were the chief drivers of those changes (broadcast of priesthood session and more training and videos).

    Maybe, they did? But, OTOH, it is also part of a trend to make things more accessible and instructing the local leadership on how to better utilize the female voice in decision-making at that level. This started long before the ordain women’s movement started.

    In my mind, the Blacks/Priesthood issue and the Women’s/priesthood issue are not a comparison. One was a questionable policy driven by social mores of the time and appears to have no precedent nor basis in scripture, history or doctrine. While the Women/Priesthood issue has very clear historical, scriptural and doctrinal basis with very little deviation over the long term. Activists hang their hat solely on small deviation in the more recent past as their basis of precedent.

    As I have stated before, whatever God decides, through His current servants, is fine with me. I find the advocacy to be a bit disturbing and self-promoting.

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  5. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    This started long before the ordain women’s movement started. True, but I doubt it predated the LDS feminist movement. When you track historical female roles in the church from the beginning you see that Joseph gave them the most latitude and power they ever enjoyed, following that you find a trend of reduction of what they were originally given and consolidation under the priesthood via correlation. Basically the boys took it away from the girls. Only since the LDS feminist movement do we see any reversal in this trend

    …the Women/Priesthood issue has very clear historical, scriptural and doctrinal basis with very little deviation over the long term. I’m not sure this means anything with regard to future change, the priesthood has a history of being given to broader and broader groups and slavery once enjoyed a similar precedent to what you present here..

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  6. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Howard,

    I know you like to hold up slavery as some sort of parallel, however, it was a social construct much like the Blacks and the Priesthood issue. I don’t see where slavery had or has an endorsement from God.

    And, if what you say is true about Priesthood, those more and more groups you talk about were always males.

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  7. Mormon Heretic on September 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Jeff, I think you make a valid point on “taking credit,” but those are awfully strange coincidences then.

    I don’t know if you remember my post on Women with Priesthood in Ancient Christianity, but let me quote from that post.

    She references Romans 16:7, which references Andronicus and Junia. Some translators changed the name Junia (female) to Junis (male.) Clearly Junia was an apostle. Early Christian Father John Chrysostum (who lived from 347-405 AD) is quoted as saying, “how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.” (In ep. ad Romanos 31.2)

    Female Deacons are found in Romans 16:1-2 and 1 Tim 3:8-11. Other women mentioned in the New Testament. The following are definite or probable church house leaders.

    *Lydia (Acts 16:14-15; 40),
    *Nympha (Col. 4:15),
    *Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11),
    *Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15-16),
    *Priscilla (Rom. 16:3-5),
    and possibly the “elect lady” and her “chosen sister” in 2 John.
    *Euodia & Synteche are mentioned in Philippians 4:2-3. Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 350 – 428) read this as a struggle between the two women for leadership.

    It is also clear that Mormon women used to lay hands on the sick (both males and females), but that was removed in the 1940s. In the temple, women are to become priestesses (as quoted by Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine.) I don’t see why being a priestess needs to be done in a future life. It is my opinion that had Joseph Smith lived longer, the Relief Society would have been organized fully as a priesthood quorum.

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  8. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Well, the reason I bring up slavery in this context is because slavery has a significant precedent that predates written history and it is condoned several places in the Bible yet by way of the collective heart of humankind expressed as charity the world has come to understand that it is self evident that a person should not be owned by another. Likewise it is becoming self evident that women and gays should not be treated less than!

    We do not have evidence of the priesthood being given to women yet but President Hinckley clearly allowed for the possibility in his interview with David Ransom so it can’t be ruled out.

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  9. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    I think Jeff makes a good point about the comparisons of blacks and the priesthood and women and the priesthood. While there is some historical/scriptural evidence of women having interactions involving the priesthood, and some doctrinal evidence that they may have access to it in future, I think it’s true that the denial of the priesthood to blacks seems to be a policy that was invented whole cloth by earlier church leaders for some (formally) unknown reason, while women being denied the priesthood is rooted in scripture and history. Whether you agree or disagree with the idea that god and virtually all prophet-figures in religious history are men, it’s not really an arguable point. Frankly, I’ve never understood things like the current movement within the church to force the ordination of women. Scripturally and historically speaking, as Jeff has pointed out, the church is on solid footing in its policy of restricting the priesthood to men. And while I find gender/racial/etc. inequalities in any organization distasteful, my answer to that problem is to not associate with groups that I feel do not represent my values. In other words, if these women (or any people, for that matter) are so offended by the lack of respect or value they feel they’re being shown by the church, then why would they continue to associate with the church? There are undoubtedly other religions out there that engage the type of policies and behaviors those people are looking for in this regard.

    I think this is even more true when we’re talking about a religion that claims to be the “True” church. If these people think the church is so out of the way in its policies and doctrines, then they clearly do not accept the idea that the church is actually being run by god and is doing his will on earth. The idea that a person accepts the truthfulness and divine-led nature of the church, but also demands that the church change its policies or doctrines to accomodate that person’s personal beliefs or feelings, seem mutually exclusive to me. If a church claims to be led by divine revelation and that church’s policies are offensive to someone, perhaps that person needs to consider whether he or she truly believes in that church, and if so, it may be that person who needs to make the change, and not the church. Alternately, perhaps that person should find a new church.

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  10. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    …like the current movement within the church to force the ordination of women force? Please support your assertion of the use of force.

    …my answer to that problem is to not associate with groups… why would they continue to associate with the church? My church, love it or leave it! Well, the problem is it’s their church too!

    If these people think the church is so out of the way in its policies and doctrines, then they clearly do not accept the idea that the church is actually being run by god and is doing his will on earth. Sorry but the then in this sentence doesn’t necessarily logically follow the if!

    perhaps that person should find a new church. My church, love it or leave it…again!

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  11. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Howard, you can replace the word “force” with another word, if you’d like. I didn’t mean it as a pejorative. I think that’s what protest is about; forcing a group to take notice and change its bad policies. So I don’t think it’s inappropriate in this situation, but I’m not opposed to something milder.

    I maintain that believing a church is led directly by god and believing that the church is wrong on central policy and doctrinal issues are absolutely mutually exclusive. If we were talking about peripheral issues or simple organizational or operational policies, I could buy it. But this is a doctrinal issue concerning one of the most central tenets of the church; namely, who is authorized to hold the power to act in god’s name. I think it’s possible to believe that the church is true (small ‘t’) and maintain the position that it’s simply getting this issue wrong, but I just don’t think it’s possible for someone to believe that the church’s leaders are divinely inspired yet they’re mucking up this particular issue. Either god is telling them how to run the church, in which case they are right on this issue and church members should fall in line, or they are wrong on this issue, in which case they can’t be being told what to do by god (since the definition of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in this instance is clearly whether god’s will is being followed). I don’t see how you square holding both those positions at once.

    With respect to a “love it or leave it” position, I’m certainly ok with that and I understand it from many perspectives (social, cultural, etc.). I just don’t see how that works to resolve the problem illustrated above.

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  12. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Is OW asserting the church is wrong or simply asking TSM to ask God if it might be time to ordain women?

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  13. hawkgrrrl on September 30, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    “The movement to Let Women Pray also caused Church Leaders to call women to pray in General Conference for the first time back in April.” This statement is not accurate. There were blog posts and discussion well prior to the Let Women Pray movement, and according to inside sources, the assignment of a woman to pray preceded the Let Women Pray movement. It is more likely that the already existing dialogue, partly spurred by Julie Beck asking Mormon Mommy Bloggers for their input on women’s issues, was under discussion and the Q12 scratched their collective heads and said, “Huh, I don’t know why we’ve never asked a woman to pray.” I’m absolutely not saying that MMBs are that progressive, just that Julie Beck asked the question, and I and other bloggers answered it, despite not being associated with MMBs. Those blog posts were well under discussion the year prior to LWP.

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  14. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    MH,

    I didn’t remember that post but I will go back and review it. I fully believe that there have been women in leadership positions within the early Church and that the scriptures appear to document that to some limited extent. However, there is certainly no direct evidence that these women mentioned were ever “ordained” to any Priesthood office, or that they served a Priesthood function in their roles. The references are obscure and highly debated by scholars for many hundreds of years. The fact that feminist theology has latched on to these examples really proves nothing additional other than another opinion at best and wishful thinking at worse. We don’t even know when true Apostolic authority was lost.

    The fact that the early Church did one thing or that the early restored Church did one thing is no indication of ultimate validity. What Joseph Smith would have done had he lived is only speculative. What he did in life was NOT ordain women to the Priesthood. Had the Lord wanted him to have done so, He could have easily made it known to BY or another Prophet at a later time. That does not seem to have happened yet.

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  15. hawkgrrrl on September 30, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    As to good cops and bad cops, bad cops are important in that they move the overton window. The overton window is a political theory that describes as a narrow “window” the range of ideas the public will accept. When someone states a seemingly outlandish position, this window shifts in the direction of that position. So it actually is a great way to open the dialogue. It’s not to say ordination will be the outcome, but if you only ever propose tinkering, status quo is likely to prevail. Given that 90% of women polled are invested in the status quo, that dialogue is important. However, I question that statistic anyway. If the church changed the policy, women would get in line. Mormons are generally willing to get in line, and women even moreso. Mormons submit to authority. And that’s what people are really upset about with OW. They see the movement as not being submissive.

    I agree that the real problem is that younger generations (including my own) don’t see women as fundamentally different from men in the same ways people from my parents’ generation do. Remember all the movies from the 1940s in which women are portrayed as irrational, needing a protector, incapable of handling the stresses of life without a man’s shoulder to cry on? That view of women is incompatible with the reality we all live on a daily basis today. But it is one that my dad still stubbornly clings to.

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  16. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I’ll go one step further, Jeff. Even if Joseph Smith had clearly and unequivocally indicated that women should have the priesthood, I would argue that that does not give anyone justification to reject the prophetic mantle of current prophets, whose voices, for today’s members, are of more import than anything Joseph Smith said or did 150 years ago. Again, this comes down to a question of whether one accepts the divine leadership of the modern prophets and apostles. If one is rejecting their counsel in this day and age, I would argue that that person must answer that question in the negative.

    As an example, fundamentalist Mormon religions are 100% correct in their doctrines if they base their beliefs solely on statements made by Brigham Young. The response LDS members routinely use to counter such beliefs is that the church has living, breathing prophets who receive divine revelation for our day. This issue is no different. Either you accept ongoing revelation, and that the men in charge of the church receive it, or you don’t. This is not a difficult issue, in my estimation.

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  17. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Howard, I would argue that even if OW is arguing that the brethren are wrong about the timeline, or mildly suggesting that they “inquire further”, the implication is clearly that the current policy of the church is outdated or inadequate and needs to be changed. At the very least, this type of movement leaves the principle of Church Stewardship trodden underfoot. I don’t think that’s a small thing.

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  18. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    current prophets, whose voices, for today’s members, are of more import than anything Joseph Smith said or did 150 years ago. Or did??? Boy I’m really tempted to write Bull S#%t here! What has any or even all of the 15 combined who are living today provided that exceeds the restoration of the gospel and priesthood???

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  19. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    brjones,

    I do agree with you and I was wondering if I can petition the Lord to find out why I can no longer serve in the Temple with a beard when He has one?

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  20. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Hawk,

    I do think many would fall in line. But, like the RLDS discovered, many will simply leave, thinking the Prophet has succumbed to public pressure.. And the danger of those folks leaving has a real impact on the Church finances because they are the loyal tithe payers, not necessarily the fringe element demanding the change.

    But, in the end, the membership would accept any change the Prophet said comes from the Lord.

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  21. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    I’m not arguing that they’ve contributed anything more important than what Joseph Smith did. But if the brethren made a statement tomorrow undoing or reversing or contradicting something that Joseph Smith taught in his day, members would be forced to decide whether their allegiances lie with Joseph Smith’s teachings, or whether they truly believe the mantle of revelation lies with the modern church. This is the point. In that sense, the voice of modern revelation is more important than statements made by ANY person who is not currently heading the church. And if one believes in the truthfulness of the church, it’s a moot point anyway, because he or she would believe that Jesus, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc., are on the other side supporting the revelations being given to the current brethren. Ultimately, if the church says it has received revelation on a point, or that it is doing god’s will with respect to a particular policy or strategy, then members must choose whether they truly believe that ongoing divine revelation lies with the modern church. I just don’t see how you can get away from this. There is very little room for nuance here.

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  22. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    brjones,
    SWK made it clear that he does not not believe God approaches man with revelation without man strongly seeking it first. He also made it clear that it requires a lot of work to receive it and that his personal bias interfered. Therefore given human nature it is unlikely that the brethren routinely kneel for months at a time to inquire of the Lord regarding issues that aren’t important to or popular with them. Thus the role of agitation as motivation.

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  23. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    I think you should take to the streets, Jeff. I’m sure you could enlist high single digits of people to join you in your cause.

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  24. brjones on September 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    You make a fair point with the SWK reference, Howard. I guess the question then becomes where is the line drawn when the brethren reject petitions or “agitation” from members on a particular point. In other words, if OW, or any other group, push a policy or doctrinal change and the church rejects it with some degree of finality, what is the responsibility of the member to take no for an answer and sustain his or her leaders? When does an appropriate level of agitation end and insubordination of church leadership begin? It’s a bit of a sticky wicket. I still think you have a problem of stewardship.

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  25. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    is the line drawn when the brethren reject petitions or “agitation” from members on a particular point. Fair question. If TSM were to make it clear that his best efforts were used to learn the Lord’s will regarding ordaining women and the answer was clearly stated “they are not to be ordained”, I would hope that he would explain what he may have learned regarding why, but that would end it for me and I would withdraw my support for those who continued to press it. If the answer was “not now” or “not yet” perhaps the issue should be revisited in the future.

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  26. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    I really wonder if any answer other than yes would satisfy them. Because we’ve already heard that they do not believe the Church has the right to deny them the Priesthood.

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  27. hawkgrrrl on September 30, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    I’m not sure I have enough faith to be ordained. But then I look at the EQ and realize I fit in just fine. ;) I suspect the real issue behind women not being ordained is still the fear that men will leave if they don’t believe they have a uniquely special role and hierarchical power, that they will take their cookies and go home. Well, after hedgehog makes them the cookies, they will take them and go home.

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  28. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    I almost hate to bring up the another sexist angle to this, but can you imagine how a wife and/or husband might feel if a spouse was called in a mixed gender presidency or Bishopric? Or, in another worse case scenario, Not that it would ever happen, A President/Bishop might call the best looking member of the Ward has his or her counselor.

    I already know of several situations where Bishops and Elder’s Quorum Presidents have gotten together with Relief Society Presidents much to the surprise of their respective Eternal companions.

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  29. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Lol! Employ ‘em in the home and keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant, that’s the safest thing to do!

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  30. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    You just can’t put mixed gender Mormons in the same room together, you can’t trust ‘em they’re so sexually repressed and inexperienced they’re like rabbits!

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  31. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    good ridicule, like no one think of these things or that it has never happened….. at church at work or at the local bar….

    Try to get a bit real.

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  32. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Ridicule is way too strong Jeff, I just found it funny and poked a little fun!

    I spent most of my career working very closely with women, still do, including a few married Mormon women and it really wasn’t big problem. Were there attractions and occasional affairs? Sure, but according to you that also occurs in in mostly segregated LDS church environments. So what’s the solution chaperons? Chastity, belts?

    The more you repress sex the more it finds illicit methods of expression, just ask Catholic priests or it sublimates into other types of dysfunction and I will admit in a few favorable cases into religion or true spirituality. We need to get over this perception that sex outside of marriage is a bright line that when crossed results in eternal damnation. It is not, and it does not. Jesus simply said to the adulteress; neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. Of course you won’t get off that easily with your SP but you won’t be eternally damned either. Will you?

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  33. Howard on September 30, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Brigham is quoted as having said: For the first act of adultery you may forgive a man, but if a man beds with a woman and does it 10 times he is guilty.

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  34. nate on September 30, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Mormons are sexually repressed, and they won’t do well in mixed gender quorums. We are not anywhere close to being in a cultural position where women could be given the priesthood. The 90% figure says it all. Joseph Smith could have instituted it, because the church was in a constant state of dramatic flux, and was always on the move. But today, with millions of female members, 90% of whom are against it, such a change would tear the church to shreads.

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  35. MH on September 30, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Brjones, “women being denied the priesthood is rooted in scripture and history.” I think the exact same thing was said about blacks (and was recently cited by Randy Bott for justifying the ban.) Alma Allred wrote an awesome essay on why the previous reasoning was erroneous. I think it could be easily argued that the female ban is subject to cultural [mis]understandings more than theological ones. There are quite a few references to women baptizing in ancient Christianity, passing the sacrament, laying on hands, etc. Historic Christianity has tried to suppress and downplay this evidence in favor of patriarchy, but it seems that in the first century especially, church meetings were usually held in a woman’s home and she often led the services. Most people ignore references to females, but the Apostle Paul did make some passing references to Junia and Priscilla especially that they were missionaries with him. It is also supremely ironic that Christ first appeared not to a man, but the woman Mary Magdalene. If an apostle is a “special witness of Jesus Christ” then she certainly fits the definition to a T.

    Jeff, I do think the squeamishness of a mixed gender-bishopric is a bit 1950s mentality and I think it needs to go. I don’t want to sidetrack the discussion here, but people who sin will sin, and people who are righteous won’t. Both men and women have made covenants to avoid sex outside of marriage, and I don’t think men and women in bishoprics will be so overtaken with hormones that they won’t function by their covenants. To claim otherwise is childish thinking, IMO.

    But the topic is more of whether the Kate and Margaret are (perhaps unwittingly) helping each others’ causes. Don’t you agree that their positions are someone symbiotic?

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  36. Jeff Spector on September 30, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    “Jeff, I do think the squeamishness of a mixed gender-bishopric is a bit 1950s mentality.”

    I’m always amused when this is brought up like there is a 1950’s mentality. Given the fact that a Temple marriage is now no longer a guarantee of a real eternal marriage (not that it really ever was) and the fact that immorality is as high as it has ever been, I am not sure why everyone wants to be critical of this reasoning.

    Frankly, it really has little to do with hormones and more to do with proximity and working toward a common thing. Now, I’ve worked closely with women for more than 30 years, some have been my manager, my employees and my colleagues. I’ve been on travel with them, in close quarters, etc. I have been more than capable of resisting any temptation, not that I ever detected any. But, not everyone can say that. So, even if you do not want to admit it, it is a consideration. Instructions are given today on this very thing. Oh yeah, but that is all 1950’s mentality.

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  37. Mormon Heretic on September 30, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    “Given the fact that … immorality is as high as it has ever been.”

    I don’t buy this, even though it is quite common to say. You may already be familiar with my post that overall violence is going down despite the recent increase in mass shootings. I have also been thinking about doing another Freakonomics post that says that prostitutes are being paid less now than they were in in the 1920s (when taking inflation into account.) Back then they said that something like 40% of men’s first sexual encounter was with a prostitute. That seems to be a shockingly high number to me that I had a really hard time believing.

    Now part of the reason prostitution wages have gone down is because of the sexual revolution of the 1960s (why pay for something you can now get for free?), but I think this also highlights that the “good ole’ days” weren’t always so sinless as we are led to believe.

    So I’m not buying that argument at all. Sin is probably more open now, but it’s not more prevalent. So yes, I think 1950s thinking of mixed-gender bishoprics is smoke and mirrors and no substance.

    By the way Jeff, I’m with you on the temple beards petition.

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  38. Margaret Blair Young on September 30, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    Fascinating conversation here! I will say that I like Kate Kelly. She is focused and passionate. Great characteristics for a disciple. Btw, I’m not used to being so prominent in discussions of feminism. It’s a bit like being pushed onto the stage without a script. Except that I suppose I wrote a few scripts when I blogged. I just didn’t anticipate that so many would come onstage with me–holding scripts of their own.

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  39. Hedgehog on October 1, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    Well, good grief! The work place is mixed gender, and has been for quite some time. Are you guys (Jeff, nate) seriously suggesting that men who are capable of working with women in their day to day employment, will suddenly go to pieces in a church setting? Or are you suggesting that it’s the SAHMs who will be pushed over the edge?

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  40. Jeff Spector on October 1, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    Hedge and others,

    If you read what I wrote, I said that spouses might be concerned because it does happen. You are correct that most people, many people can easily resist any temptation and nothing would happen.

    As someone who had a situation in the workplace where I had weekend change of management due to a work affair, I am a bit sensitive to how that might feel for a spouse.

    In spite of our new modern society, you cannot say that it isn’t a small thought in the back of minds no matter how progressive you want to appear.

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  41. Jeff Spector on October 1, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    MH,

    “I don’t buy this, even though it is quite common to say.”

    Let me see, you buy into a 1950’s mentality in the Church, but not more fatherless children, less marriage, still high divorce rates, more abortions (for birth control purposes), and more sexual transmitted diseases. And you use crime rate as a justification? or trips to prostitutes? And yet, first time sexual encounters by youth are getting lower in age all the time and not just among the boys…..

    Sounds a little like selective shopping to me…..

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  42. hawkgrrrl on October 1, 2013 at 7:02 AM

    While spouses may feel jealous at times, it is important that we not punish women in the workplace for this paranoia. That would be unfair. And yet, I was shocked to find how many FMH SAHMs felt that women should be held back by not allowing men & women to work together on assigned projects or travel together on business. They had all sorts of bizarre anecdotes to bolster their fear. (In one anecdote a female colleague disrobed entirely while someone’s “innocent” husband was driving to a business destination).

    This fear is a phenomenon that BYU business professors deal with in a straightforward manner. You must work on gender-integrated projects or fail the class. No, a note from your wife is not appropriate or acceptable. Honestly, it’s embarrassing that this expectation of total gender-segregation exists. It is not considered normal in the workplace for someone’s spouse to intrude in business matters. I will only add that the worst case of this I ever saw was a non-LDS man who worked for me years ago who had married his school sweetheart. She was intensely jealous, and probably more than a little unstable. She used to follow him to dinners with clients and confront him in front of them. He had never been unfaithful. I’m sure it’s obvious whose career was hurt by that behavior.

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  43. MH on October 1, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    Jeff, we both use selective shopping–and aren’t you in favor of abortion? Mormon divorce laws were the easiest in the nation under polygamy–Brigham Young even got divorced for heaven’s sake. Mormon’s restrictive attitudes on divorce are the result of currying favor with protestants. I think we’ll have to disagree on this point–it’s taking us off topic of good cop/bad cop anyway.

    I totally agree with Hawk on this.

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  44. Jeff Spector on October 1, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Hawk,

    We should not punish women for any type of paranoia, but we should not excuse any untoward behavior by either gender. In the past, it has been, and I suspect still is, the men who attempt to initiate any untoward behavior. That has equalized to some degree, but no one should be punished for not accepting an invitation to cheat on one’s spouse or be abused in the workplace.

    Working with the other gender is a fact of life in the workplace as it is in Church to some degree already.

    MH,

    No, I am not in favor of abortion, who is? I am in favor of choice, even those I find abhorrent. It is a fundamental tenet of our religion to respect choice, even when wrong. And, it is not the ease of divorce that is the issue, it is the reasons for divorce that is the problem.

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  45. Mormon Heretic on October 1, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Jeff, I’m not in favor of divorce or abortion either–I think we are in agreement there. I don’t think the problems of divorce/abortion have changed substantially in this century if we disregard the ease of getting divorce/abortions. Have you thoughts to weigh in on the problems behind Brigham Young’s divorce?

    There were allegations of abortions performed by John C. Bennett even in Joseph Smith’s day, and Warner McCary’s wife (Warner was the last black man to receive the LDS priesthood) was involved in performing illegal abortions in the east back in the 1850-60s. I object to this whole notion that our day is any worse than previous generations–I think the evidence indicates we are much more moral–but that message isn’t what puts people in the pews on Sunday. There is some selective shopping going on here to push this message that the world is getting more wicked.

    “Working with the other gender is a fact of life in the workplace as it is in Church to some degree already.” Then what’s the problem with a mixed gender bishopric? Why is church different than the workplace?

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  46. Jeff Spector on October 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    “Then what’s the problem with a mixed gender bishopric?”

    I don’t think I said there is a problem with it per se. I thought I said that some spouses might have a problem with it because things have happened from time to time.

    Work situations are less voluntary while Church is completely voluntary. And some may not choose to be placed in that situation. I also thought I said it might be a consideration in the overall discussion of Priesthood for Women given how hyper-sensitive the Church is already.

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  47. Jeff Spector on October 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    MH,

    “Have you thoughts to weigh in on the problems behind Brigham Young’s divorce?”

    Frankly, I do not know much about that and I can really only comment on what I have seen throughout my lifetime. And while I do not buy the idea that the end is near because of the wickedness of the world, I find it a less moral place than when i was younger. After all, I lived through the 60’s and 70’s not sucking on a pacifier.

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  48. Phil on October 1, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    No, I am not in favor of abortion, who is? I am in favor of choice, even those I find abhorrent. It is a fundamental tenet of our religion to respect choice, even when wrong. And, it is not the ease of divorce that is the issue, it is the reasons for divorce that is the problem.

    If someone chooses to shoot up people in public, should be respect their choice?

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  49. Jeff Spector on October 1, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Gee, Phil, a bunch of people chose to do this in the recent past. How do we actually stop them? We have laws already. Didn’t they make a choice?

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  50. Phil on October 2, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    He chose to rape someone. We have to respect choice. Sounds a bit ridiculous.

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  51. Jeff Spector on October 2, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Phil, Do you even understand choice? There are consequences to making choices. We do not have to respect a person’s individual choice, but we do respect that God gave us the opportunity to make choices. Some people make very bad choices and hopefully, suffer the consequences of those bad choices. It does not mean we respect rape as a choice.

    That would be ridiculous.

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  52. Phil on October 2, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Jeff:
    The wording just sounded off. For example, this woman was besided herself and said that she hopes she never loses her cherished right to abortion. Cherish and abortion are words that just do not fit.

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  53. Jeff Spector on October 2, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Phil, it appears you are being too literal. the fact that someone might cherish a right, might not mean that it automatically extend to the thing.

    If someone cherishes the right to defend themselves even using deadly force, does not extend to cherishing killing someone.

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  54. Phil on October 2, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    I cherish my family.
    I cherish the gospel.
    I cherish my right to an abortion.
    Do you get it even a little? Some words just don’t go together.

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  55. brjones on October 2, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    I see where you’re coming from, Phil. For one thing, though, you’re arguing a point that is entirely subjective. It may not make sense to you that someone would cherish that type of right, but that’s ultimately just your perspective. It’s not inherently right or wrong. And, to Jeff’s point, there may be a person who cherishes a woman’s legal right to choose an abortion in this country, but who would never, under any circumstances, choose to have an abortion.

    I would also say that you, as a man (assuming your handle here is appropriately descriptive) might not fully appreciate what having such a right could potentially mean to a woman. Since traditionally, men have had the right to do pretty much anything they wanted (collectively, not individually) and women have had precious few rights, I could see how the Supreme Court’s protection of the right to control her own reproductive future could be precious to a woman, regardless of how she personally feels about the act of abortion.

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  56. […] “Yeah, that was a blog about me actually, that I’m the good cop and Kate Kelly’s the bad cop. I summarily reject it. I […]

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  57. […] “Yeah, that was a blog about me actually, that I’m the good cop and Kate Kelly’s the bad cop. I summarily reject it. I […]

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