Parker on Excommunication

June 30, 2014

LDS Marriage Family Therapist, Natasha Parker

News has it that John Dehlin met with his Stake President, and no future meetings are currently scheduled.  On another note, Natasha Parker, who blogs at the Mormon Therapist has written several Facebook posts that I think are spot on.

  1.         In regards to the recent Mormon excommunication: the main pushback I’m getting from LDS members who disagree with me is that we should be willing to follow the Lord – His will, not thine or mine, be done. I think that comeback misses the point because I sincerely think we are all in this religious community trying to do exactly that – Kate Kelly included. This is not about how we follow the Lord. This is about how we follow the men who have access to priesthood authority in our church who represent the Lord to the best of their abilities. So do we sustain them through the principle of obedience? Or do we sustain them through the principle of engagement? I think as a culture we tend to value obedience more than other principles – but I think a balance between the two I mention here would be beneficial to all. Otherwise, one gives up all personal authority to another mortal being – and that is not a healthy way to develop spiritually in one’s life. It’s not even doctrinally supported. So let’s please stop assuming that when we differ in our engagement with church leaders – that somehow this means we are not willing to serve or sacrifice for our Lord and Redeemer.
  2.         Another comeback I’d like to address: “why then don’t men ask for the capacity to have babies?” This “ordain women” movement is not about asking for the capacity to ejaculate sperm. This has nothing to do with female or male anatomical functions. This is about having the same power, rights and privileges to offer service, administration and ordination within a religious community.
  3.         Another comeback I’d like to address: “I’m a Mormon woman and I don’t want the added responsibility of having the priesthood.” This one is really confusing to me, because as Mormon women we have TONS of responsibilities. I don’t see us as any less busy than the men. And since when are Mormon women shirkers? These are some of the toughest, hard-working, sacrificing and service-oriented women I know. And since when would we turn away from powers from on high that would help us with the duties we already engage in, as well as be willing to engage in new administrative duties that would balance gendered concerns? I think we just say this as a cultural cop-out in order to make sense of something that doesn’t – because it’s not how we act.
  4.         I promise, my last one tonight: Since when is excommunicating someone via email a loving gesture? That’s worse than breaking up with your significant other via text. And we all know what a ridiculous faux pas that is. I have actually been witness to loving disciplinary action where the person involved was very much part of the process, felt heard, validated and saw the procedure as part of a cleansing and rebirth. This is nothing of the sort.

I think she is spot on.

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31 Responses to Parker on Excommunication

  1. Hedgehog on June 30, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    “This is not about how we follow the Lord. This is about how we follow the men who have access to priesthood authority in our church who represent the Lord to the best of their abilities. So do we sustain them through the principle of obedience? Or do we sustain them through the principle of engagement? I think as a culture we tend to value obedience more than other principles – but I think a balance between the two I mention here would be beneficial to all. Otherwise, one gives up all personal authority to another mortal being – and that is not a healthy way to develop spiritually in one’s life. It’s not even doctrinally supported. So let’s please stop assuming that when we differ in our engagement with church leaders – that somehow this means we are not willing to serve or sacrifice for our Lord and Redeemer.”

    Quite.

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  2. SilverRain on June 30, 2014 at 5:45 AM

    I think it is far more a question of how to engage than whether or not to engage. Do we engage with respect or as a challenge?

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  3. alice on June 30, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    This is the best thing I’ve seen since Kelly was first notified of impending discipline. Well said and thanks so much for sharing it.

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  4. All_Blacks on June 30, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    She raises some good points here, except for 4. because Kate Kelly was offered a video linkup so as to attend the council in a way that was acceptable to both sides, ie linking up to a chapel in Provo or church offices, but instead she chose to hold a PR stunt in downtown Salt Lake City to draw the media to her cause and shame the church.

    Had she accepted that video link they would have informed her first verbally of the outcome via that linkup, but then in writing as required by church policies and proceedures. These days an email is enough if there have been previous email communications.

    Plus, about Kate Kelly, I doubt it was about ´my will be done´ over the Lords or the men folk, but rather how she publically managed to humiliate the church wilst drawing hundreds to her publicity stunts. All have questions in the church, I for one would prefer to see women holding disciplinary councils for women and especially female teens (over abortions mostly) but I won´t obviously hold a media stunt to change the current status quo.

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  5. Howard on June 30, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I agree with SR, how we engage is important. But that is a two way street and the church insists on making it a child to parent interaction with a lot of push back. Contrary to Moses’ example the brethren set themselves up as unaccessible, unaskable and uncorrectable and this invites confrontation because soft subtle approaches are simply deflected and evaded. The brethren: “don’t call us, we’ll call you” (…maybe…but probably never).

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  6. jspector106 on June 30, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    It is interesting how she uses certain “comebacks” as if they are the only ones or even a majority of ones that are out there as a platform to give the responses she want to give.

    It’s called answering your own questions.

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  7. Ken on June 30, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    “So do we sustain them through the principle of obedience? Or do we sustain them through the principle of engagement? …obedience…It’s not even doctrinally supported.”

     Sure it is; it is well document in various sections of the scriptures. The most notable example is Saul who was the first Israelite King who reported directly to Samuel. Saul directly disobeyed a command given to him from the Prophet, who received it from God, and was stripped of his kingship as a result. When rebuking him, Samuel specifically told him ‘it is better to obey, than sacrifice’. Here the priority is clear set which is more important in God’s eyes.

    #2. This is dumb argument on Men’s part, not even worthy of making a point out of it.

    #3.  I don’t see this as a cop out, but a legitimate issue. Both men and women can and do have significant roles. It is an issue of obedience. See #1.

    #4. Unfortunately, our society has come to the point where it is necessary to document everything due to the heavy hand of the legal system. This is especially true in this specific case when you are dealing with an attorney. Tacky: yes, but also necessary.

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  8. Howard on June 30, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Obedience is a just beginning lesson. Obedience is eclipsed and transcended by the mighty change of heart. Did Jesus place hurtles between himself and women or were they permitted to approach him with their questions? Moses?

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  9. Ken on June 30, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Howard,

    The foundation of this church is based on a question – Joesph asking God in faith which church he should join.

    The OW leadership can continue to sell the idea that all they are doing is simply asking and we both know that is not the case, so let’s quit pretending.  “Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders…” That is the problem, they are acting in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the church. This are being disobedient.

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  10. Howard on June 30, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Ken wrote: The foundation of this church is based on a question Of course it was! Now try bringing Mountain Meadows Massacre or Joseph’s teenage wives during the block and let me know how it goes this Sunday. K?

    I’m not pretending. I’m aware of one statement by KK that could easily be interrupted as a demand, but with some spin I think it could also be argued differently. The church could have chosen to read it charitably and simply provided revelatory services for OW as Moses did for Zelophehad’s daughters thereby avoiding this conflict.

    Mindless obedience is for children and mobots. Obedience is a discipline not a spiritual path.

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  11. Ken on June 30, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    “Now try bringing Mountain Meadows Massacre or Joseph’s teenage wives during the block and let me know how it goes this Sunday. K”

    As the gospel doctrine teacher I’m not quite sure how I could relate this to a positive, faith promoting experience, so I think ill pass.

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  12. Howard on June 30, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    So are controversial questions invited or even tolerated during the block? Of course not, that’s exactly why a large portion of the bloggernacle exists. And while “simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy” it doesn’t result in honest answers either which eventually sends TMBs to the internet to complete their apostasy.

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  13. Richard Redick on June 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    I agree with Natasha on all points. Her points were very well-worded, and well-reasoned. I respectfully disagree with All_Blacks (and maybe we are not really disagreeing). I think Natasha’s 4th point is well-made despite the offer by the bishop for a video link. The bishop could have telephoned Kate, and spoken with her to inform her of the decision, and stated that a letter (in the mail) will be following. The impersonal nature of this disciplinary council – that affects Kate (or a member) so personally – gets two-thumbs-down from me.

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  14. Ken on June 30, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Howard,

    I’ve dealt with a few, but it usually defeats the purpose of gospel doctrine. Every lesson should find it’s way back to 3rd Nephi 11, or the doctrine of Christ. In the end that is all that matters — faith, repentance, cleansing through baptism or the sacrament, living by the spirit and enduring to the end. Everything else is just minutia. And, obedience is key to all of these principles.

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  15. Howard on June 30, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Good comment Ken! We disagree a bit regarding obedience. The problem as I see it is the church wants to control it’s message but it’s lost that control to the internet. Now if they want to control the message they need to do it before their naive TBMs discover it on their own. The church needs to both open to hard questions and inoculate.

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  16. hawkgrrrl on June 30, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Ken: This is a threadjack, but the lesson that is usually presented about Saul is an oversimplification at best. “Saul directly disobeyed a command given to him from the Prophet, who received it from God, and was stripped of his kingship as a result. When rebuking him, Samuel specifically told him ‘it is better to obey, than sacrifice’.” First of all, there are two underlying conflicts in this part of the OT: 1) religious vs. civic authority. Samuel is extremely heavy-handed with Saul. He chooses Saul but as soon as Saul doesn’t do exactly as he says, he’s ready to ditch him. 2) pro-Davidic redactors. Many OT scholars consider the treatment of Saul to be biased to illustrate David (the usurper’s) superior claim; Saul was (according to the account) chosen by God, too, through the exact same flip-flopping prophet Samuel. After just under two short years in his role, Samuel started backpedaling.

    The scripture about it being better to obey than to sacrifice doesn’t mean that obeying is always the best thing either. Sacrificing animals was a superstitious quid-pro-quo, buying military victories by killing animals. If it’s Samuel saying it’s better to obey (do what I Samuel tell you) than to sacrifice (do a religious rite to secure God’s support) that puts a slightly different spin on it. Some Talmud scholars are more inclined to believe Saul’s defense that he was in his rights to do the sacrifice. Bear in mind, too, that the thing he neglected to do was take no prisoners. And that military actions in this part of the OT are generally understood to be exaggerated to inflate the power of ancient Israel.

    Saul is presented as having other flaws, too, which may have been more damaging as a leader. We can’t really know. He seems indecisive and willing to be led by his people rather than to lead them.

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  17. Ken on June 30, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    Hawkgirl,

    If you accept the account in the bible, it was Jehovah that called Saul to be the first King telling Samuel about Saul ” there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he”. This deflates any notion he was a weak leader.

    Likewise, it was God who told Samuel to tell Saul “the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel” because of his disobedience, which by the way Saul acknowledged.

    Most importantly, Saul lost the spirit, which crippled his ability to lead. The spirit of the Lord was grieved and amen to the authority of that man Saul. He lost the spirit due to his disobedience. It was after he lost the spirit jealously and pride entered his heart and lead to his fall. It was then that he became indecisive and willing to be led by his people rather than to lead them.

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  18. brjones on June 30, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    I’ve made very few comments regarding the current debate in the church, because it’s not my church and I don’t have a horse in the race. The one thing that I think has been clearly highlighted by this experience, though, is the falsehood of the statement that Mormons are not expected to be blind followers. The church clearly does expect this of its members. The best that can be said to the contrary is that Mormons aren’t expected to be blind followers until their leaders tell them it’s time to shut up and follow blindly or lose their membership. I don’t see how this is a debatable point. Kate Kelly was told exactly what she had to do to keep her membership, and in order to comply she would have had to follow blindly, since she didn’t agree with the position of the church. The fact that the church allows people to BELIEVE what they want is irrelevant, since the question is one of behavior, not belief. No one is arguing that members have to blindly believe, but they are required to blindly follow. In the correlated, modern church, behave according to the dictates of your conscience at your peril.

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  19. hawkgrrrl on June 30, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Ken: “Goodly” means handsome, not that he was a good leader. The account in 1 Samuel shows him to be both good in some ways and weak in others, and says he was both called of God and rejected by God. There’s a lot of subtext to 1 Samuel. But as I said, this is a threadjack – back to the post topic.

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  20. nik on July 1, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Goodly has various meanings, even in the archaic: attractive, excellent, or admirable. Given the context, I have a hard time believing that Jehovah was saying Saul was the hottest guy around.

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  21. New Iconoclast on July 1, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    I don’t mind a good threadjack here and there, in a good cause. Ken, go read 1 Samuel 8 and 9. In Chapter 8, the Lord clearly gives Israel a king, not because a king is a good idea, but because Israel refuses to have the Lord as their king. He tells Samuel to describe exactly how their king will oppress them, and they want a king anyway. (See also Mosiah 29.) In Chapter 9, per Hawk’s comment, other translations call Saul “handsome” and say that he was also taller than average, always good criteria for choosing a leader. ;) “Goodly” is 16th-century English vernacular for “attractive,” not to be confused with “good,” as in, “Jimmy Carter was a good man, which is what made him such an excellent president.”

    {/threadjack}

    I’m glad to hear Parker mention one issue in that last point, which is that she has “actually been witness to loving disciplinary action where the person involved was very much part of the process, felt heard, validated and saw the procedure as part of a cleansing and rebirth.” I think that’s important to have on the table, as the Church disciplinary process has taken a lot of heat during this ordeal. There is significant room for improvement – I see no reason why, for example, a woman can’t have another woman present as part of the deliberation, or have someone (up to her – man or woman) aid in her defense if she feels it necessary. However, the notion that a properly-conducted disciplinary council is never a loving, healing process is simply not the case, and it’s nice to have Parker acknowledge that.

    Karen Trifiletti wrote an article for Meridian Magazine that seems to me to sum up much of what’s wrong with what I’ll call the “non-hysterical” mainstream response to the Kelly situation (i.e., the ones who aren’t gloating openly). Basically, it’s a fairly well-written and well-reasoned, slightly patronizing, argument against female ordination. The problem with that, of course, is that it isn’t the issue for which Sister Kelly was excommunicated, but that seems to have escaped a lot of people.

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  22. hawkgrrrl on July 1, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    nik: Jehovah doesn’t say that, and obviously he didn’t write the Bible either. Samuel is the one who keeps seeing handsome and tall as obvious leadership qualities, as well as the people. It’s why Jesse’s oldest son Eliab looked the part to him to replace Saul, but was passed over for David, who was also “goodly” (handsome) but not specifically tall, in this scripture mastery verse that makes more sense in context:

    6 ¶And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.

    7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

    I don’t know why this has become a threadjack. It’s in the Bible. Hardly controversy.

    Ken: “Likewise, it was God who told Samuel to tell Saul “the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel” because of his disobedience, which by the way Saul acknowledged.” You are reading between the lines a bit. Some of that is implied, and some of it is inferred in our lesson manuals even though there are multiple interpretations available. Different scholars see these matters differently.

    “He lost the spirit due to his disobedience. It was after he lost the spirit jealously and pride entered his heart and lead to his fall. It was then that he became indecisive and willing to be led by his people rather than to lead them.” Read the actual account end to end in 1 Samuel 9-17. That’s not exactly what it says, and the timeline appears to be quite jumbled in the written account. There is evidence from the very beginning of his rule that he is “soft on crime.” As he’s being anointed, there are people who say “Who is Saul that he should rule us?” and he doesn’t put them to death which is the expected response to treason. We could say he was merciful, but he does that time and again in the account. This instance is not condemned, but it’s the same behavior as when he creates a piece of theater for the people so that his son Johnathan’s treasonous actions will go unpunished. When it talks about the “spirit” it says an evil spirit from the Lord (but JST says not from the Lord) entered him. That simply sounds like he was depressed. It’s when he calls for music, and David is introduced to the story as his musician. Saul certainly is portrayed as having some symptoms of manic depression. He’s very unpredictable and moody.

    I just taught this lesson on Sunday, so it’s fresh in my mind.

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  23. Ken on July 1, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    New icon….

    I understand it was the children of Israel pushing the idea of a King, so I am not sure what your point is? My point is that a king was selected under the direction of a Prophet. I tend to agree with nik that the term goodly applied to esteem, not looks. I do believe God directed Samuel in selecting Saul; instructed Samuel do find a new king for his covenant people after Saul’s disobedience; and believe Saul lost his ability to lead when he lost the spirit for his disobedience.

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  24. New Iconoclast on July 2, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    Re. #23, the point is that the Lord would have preferred that Israel not have a king. He told them what a terrible deal it would be for them. They chose to do it anyway. Painting that as meaning that “God really approved of Saul and gave Israel the best deal they could get” is to misrepresent what the scriptures say. So God chose him, through Samuel – so? It doesn’t mean it was a good idea; in fact, Saul was just this side of a plague sent by God for Israel’s stiff-neckedness.

    I tend to agree with nik that the term goodly applied to esteem, not looks.

    Frankly, it doesn’t matter a bit what you and nik think. The ancient language says what it says, and your 21st century interpretation of a Jacobean English expression is irrelevant to the actual meaning. Get another translation, or two, or six, if you really want some perspective.

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  25. Ken on July 2, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    “Frankly, it doesn’t matter a bit what you and nik think. The ancient language says what it says, and your 21st century interpretation of a Jacobean English expression is irrelevant to the actual meaning. Get another translation, or two, or six, if you really want some perspective.”

    Could easily be replaced with:

    “Frankly, it doesn’t matter a bit what New Iconoclast or “scholars” think. The teaching manual approved by modern Apostles says what it says, and your secular interpretation is irrelevant to the actual meaning. Get another opinion from an Apostle, or two, or six, if you really want some perspective.”

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  26. hawkgrrrl on July 2, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    Ken: The manuals aren’t written by the apostles, but the correlation committee. They do the best they can, but interpreting “goodly” as “high quality” is not a revelation from God that trumps what the dictionary and etymological history of the word state.

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  27. Ken on July 2, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Hawkgirl,

    I didn’t say written, I said approved, which they are; I did not say it was revelation either. With all that said, I value thier opinion over any “scholars”. That is what I said reworking New Icon…’s comment.

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  28. New Iconoclast on July 3, 2014 at 6:49 AM

    Every so often you reach a point in a comment thread where someone says something so abysmally ridiculous that any hope of salvaging common sense or meaning from it has disappeared, and so you simply stop trying to shed light, and just pray that this individual will never be your ward’s Gospel Doctrine teacher or your childrens’ Mutual advisor.

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  29. Ken on July 3, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    @28,

    What an arrogant and condescending comment revealing your true colors.

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  30. mh on July 3, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    I hear ya. Some people just dont put a premium on logic, reason, scripture, or historical fact.

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  31. Mormon Heretic on July 3, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Ken, It might be interesting for you to know that Daniel Peterson was on a committee to improve the LDS manuals, and even he thinks the manuals are not very good. It probably won’t sway your opinion anyway, because the brethren can approve no wrong (except in the abstract, and you will never agree to publicize anything in which you disagree with them……)

    Peterson, “Well, we’ve talked already about the fact that I wish church history were taught better than it is. I served for 8 or 9 years on the Gospel Doctrine Writing Committee for the church, and I remember when I was called (by George P. Lee by the way), I said ‘I’m not sure I’m the person you want because I don’t like the church’s manuals very much.’ [Lee said], ‘You’re just the person we want because we want to improve them.’ Well, when I got onto the committee, in fact, there wasn’t much we could do. We were constrained within certain limits…”

    Well then, at one point the stake Sunday School president came into my Gospel Doctrine class and he sat through the whole thing. My lessons still is the way I teach them. I look at the lesson to see what the passages are that I’m supposed to teach, then I put it away. I mean I mean to read it, but I don’t. I never do. Then I read the passages, and then I comment on them and come up with what I think is the theme of the passage and try to give a historical background and so on.

    Well this guy sat through my lesson and came up afterward and rebuked me, that I wasn’t using the Gospel Doctrine manual. Did I not realize that these were given by revelation and so on and so forth? [I responded] Well, you should know that I’m on the committee that writes them, and I don’t like them at all.

    So, that would be one of my complaints about church practice. I would love to see better teaching. I don’t know if we’re capable of it in a typical ward. Maybe this is the best we can do and those manuals are necessary. But there are some places where there are really superb teachers, and I hope they’re not constrained by the manual.

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