Elder Cook: Doctrinal Development on the Role of Women

By: Bored in Vernal
April 3, 2011

Saturday Morning Session: Elder Quentin L. Cook

Kristine Haglund has pointed out that talks about women by men are always a bit awkward. This is always going to be true as long as LDS men have ecclesiastical power and women do not. Many women across the internet have hailed the conference talk by Elder Quentin L. Cook as progressive, but my final analysis will have to name it awkward.

Elder Cook made three statements in his talk regarding the equality of men and women:

  • “Wives are equal to their husbands.”
  • “Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family.”
  • “The most important organization on earth is the family where fathers and mothers are equal partners.”

But there were three statements which made the talk awkward and pointed up some problems with the assertion that women have full equality in the Church.

  • “A recent United States study asserts that women of all faiths believe more fervently in God and attend more religious services. By virtually every measure, they are more religious.”
  • “Women by divine nature have the greater gift & responsibility for home and children and nurturing…”
  • “From our earliest history, both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.”

The heavy emphasis on traditional gender roles as the best and most righteous choice for females, which continues to dominate in the Church, is a barrier to all Mormons in being able to fully embrace the strength and equality of women. In a recent post at ZD, Ziff wrote about the subtext of Conference talks. To me, the subtext of Elder Cook’s talk was Women are equal to men, except they are more righteous and need to get out of the board room and go play with their children; or maybe Women have powerful roles in the church, except that they are receiving instead of performing all ordinances and have to get approval for all leadership actions.

Elder Cook sought to validate a range of women with his remonstrances. For the stay-at-home mother he taught, “No woman should ever feel the need to apologize or to feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our father in heaven’s plan.” And for the working woman he urged, “We should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding that they are accountable to God for their decisions.” And yes, Elder Cook threw out the typical bone to the single sister: “many hands stand ready to help you.”

I think that by-and-large his talk will satisfy all three demographics. (After all, “LDS women are unique in being overwhelmingly satisfied with their role in church leadership,” he quoted from American Grace.) I also applaud his attempt to encourage Latter-day Saints to be at the forefront in “creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive to women and men in their responsibilities in the home.” But the advances made by Elder Cook’s talk were immediately diluted when Elder Packer fondly stated that the man is the head of the home and the woman is the heart of the home. And when Elder Oaks critically observed that “there are some young women whose desires for a worthy marriage and children rank far below their [implied: unrighteous] desires for a career or other mortal distinctions. Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life.”

Indeed, there remain problems with the way the leadership of the Church speaks about gender. When, for example, do we ever hear talks about the sweet brethren of the church, and their innate ability to lead and administer?

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212 Responses to Elder Cook: Doctrinal Development on the Role of Women

  1. Natasha on April 3, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    Last sentence: EXACTLY. The church has to speak about women in this soothing way because of how it treats women.

    Why does there have to be a head or a heart of the home? You would think that perfect beings would be able to manage complete equality. Why not start now?

    I didn’t really appreciate the message that we shouldn’t judge working women because we can’t know the circumstances. So suggestive that there might be something evil about it in certain circumstances. If so, why not have the gumption to say what those circumstances are? If you can’t do that, then don’t imply that they exist.

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  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 3, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    “From our earliest history, both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.”

    What was wrong with that statement?

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  3. Bored in Vernal on April 3, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Stephen, both men and women pray and sing, but who blesses and passes the sacrament, presides over the meeting, decides who the speakers will be, etc? In our most sacred meeting, things are decidedly unequal, and this attempt to make it seem like they aren’t is galling.

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  4. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 3, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Hmm, I saw it more as an emphasis that those who feel women should not give the opening or closing prayer in sacrament (both heresies have floated around) are wrong.

    I gather you are stating that not having the priesthood creates decidedly unequal situations because women do not bless or pass the sacrament except in Africa.

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  5. Jeff Spector on April 3, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    I’ll make the statement I’ve made before. Some women do not want just equality, they want control. Because you can certainly have equality without everyone having the same role.

    This rebuttal is not about recognizing the amazing contribution of the Women of the Church, but what some want and cannot have.

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  6. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 3, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Once you make it into a women and the priesthood argument, I guess nothing he can say matters. But if you do not approach it that way, I think you get different places.

    Maybe not.

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  7. Natasha on April 3, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    “…even in… our most sacred meeting”. Um, thanks?

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  8. Bored in Vernal on April 3, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    This is not a women and the priesthood argument. The problem here is the rigid definition of which roles are “righteous” and which are not.

    Jeff, while it is possible to have equality without having the same roles, it is not possible to have equality when one sex holds all of the power roles. Yes, women want control — of their own lives, of their own organizations. At the very least, equality would demand such. I’m OK with the Church touting gender roles, just don’t try to pretend there is equality within such a structure.

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  9. Dan on April 3, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    I loved this part:

    I also applaud his attempt to encourage Latter-day Saints to be at the forefront in “creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive to women and men in their responsibilities in the home.”

    Like what they have in FInland and other, well, socialist countries…

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  10. Bored in Vernal on April 3, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    Yes, Dan, I did like that part. I wish he had elaborated. What does he mean by that? On-site daycare? More maternity/paternity leave? We don’t see much of this at the Church Office Building. I wish I knew what was in his mind when he made that statement.

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  11. Jeff Spector on April 3, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    I’ve witnessed first hand where my wife, serving as the President of two auxiliary organizations had the leadership and organization responsibility to guide, direct and make decisions about her organization.

    Sure, she had to sit in counsel with the Bishop, but when I was a Priesthood leader, holding Priesthood keys, not only did I have to sit in counsel with the Bishop, but also the Stake President. I was no more able to make independent decisions than you think that she was. In fact, when it came to guiding the Relief Society, the Bishop gave her more attitude than I received as an Elder’s Quorum President.

    So, I still don’t get what the big difference is in running the organizations.

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  12. Jeff Spector on April 3, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    “Like what they have in FInland and other, well, socialist countries…”

    Actually, the workplace in the US is probably safer for women than in other countries. I have witnessed first hand things permitted in the office in countries that would not be tolerated here in the US any longer.

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  13. Natasha on April 3, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Too general a statement, Jeff. Do you know much about how much more family friendly it is in Nordic countries, in the work place and in general? (Not just Nordic, mind you….) Even Canada has a paid one-year mat leave.

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  14. Bored in Vernal on April 3, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Jeff, #11, while both men and women are affected by hierarchy, the women are also affected by patriarchy. For example, instead of sitting in counsel with her direct leader, the stake RS or YW or Primary president, her decisions went through a man, the Bishop. In addition, all curriculum materials were approved by and consisting largely of quotations by men. This is a huge difference.

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  15. Jeff Spector on April 3, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    “Do you know much about how much more family friendly it is in Nordic countries, in the work place and in general?”

    I was talking about the workplace environment, not the benefits. I am well aware of the excellent family-friendly benefits offered in those countries to both men and women.

    As I said, I have witnessed activities and conversation that would not be tolerated here.

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  16. Jeff Spector on April 3, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    “For example, instead of sitting in counsel with her direct leader, the stake RS or YW or Primary president,’

    It appears that you do not know the structure of the Church. The Stake RS and Primary Pres. are not leaders over the Wards. They are advisers and trainers. They do not interview the Ward leaders and they have no say in what they do. Just like the Stake Sunday School (men) and the Stake YM (men) has no say in what the Ward does.

    Just like the Stake High Counsel (men) are advisers but have no authority.

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  17. Bored in Vernal on April 3, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    The Stake RS and Primary Pres. are not leaders over the Wards. They are advisers and trainers. They do not interview the Ward leaders and they have no say in what they do.

    Exactly.

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  18. allquieton on April 3, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    1. As a priesthood holder not in any leadership position, I don’t think my opinion has any more weight than a woman’s in the church. I don’t think I, or most other men, will ever have any more say in how the church is run than any of the women. I don’t think men are valued any more than women. Isn’t that equality?

    2. Male or female, it is a wicked desire of the heart to be aspire for power in the church. Jesus said the greatest is the servant of all.

    3. Many men take on the responsibility of being the head of the house only with reluctance. To any normal person it is a burden.

    4. It seems to me that men are better at leadership than women. They seem to be wired for it. I know it’s not pc to say this, but it’s what I think based on my own observations/interactions in life.

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  19. Bored in Vernal on April 3, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    allquieton:
    1. That any one male or female does not have value or say in the church does not negate the fact that ALL of our current General Authorities of this church; and ALL of our stake and local priesthood leaders are men. I am not saying this is wrong, or that it is not God’s plan. I am saying it is not equality.
    2. ok
    3. ok. Many of today’s households, in the church and out, are run on an egalitarian basis, which would seem to me to be the optimal situation.
    4. ugh. “wired for it,” or trained for it since boyhood?

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  20. Natasha on April 3, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Ho ho! Wired for it? You have got to be kidding. May I suggest you do some googling? Women are consistently found to be better leaders in CEO positions, possibly in part because they tend to have better communication skills.

    Anything is a burden when it feels forced, when we can’t really choose. I believe that’s BiV’s point and it’s certainly mine.

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  21. allquieton on April 3, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    BIV–
    Yeah, I see your point that men and women don’t share power equally in the church. But I don’t think power counts for much. No one claims that men are superior to, or worth more, or should be treated better, than women. Which I would say is the key measure of equality.

    Maybe, being a guy, it’s hard for me to see. You think this setup hurts women? Or discourages them? Or what exactly is the problem with how things are? Or what am I missing?

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  22. Andrew S on April 3, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    re 21

    allquieton,

    didn’t you just claim in comment 18 that women are better than women at leadership? Do you see a distinction between saying that and saying “men are superior to women at leadership”?

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  23. FireTag on April 3, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Sorry for a momentary threadjack of ignorance and surprise:

    “because women do not bless or pass the sacrament except in Africa.”

    Where did THAT exception come from, and what was its theological justification?

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  24. Brian on April 3, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    “because women do not bless or pass the sacrament except in Africa.”

    Please say more about this. Never heard of it.

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  25. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    This quote from Elder Cook:

    “From our earliest history, both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.”

    made me cringe because I remember exactly where I was when women were allowed to pray AT ALL in Sacrament Meeting in this modern era (forget about the opening/closing debate – women didn’t pray. period. only PH holders could open PH meetings and Sacrament Meeting was for the PH ordinance and therefor a PH meeting). It’s disingenuous the same way we celebrate the Relief Society as having existed since 1842 when there were a good couple of decades where there was no such organization. Don’t like the tough issues of the past? Don’t mention them and they’ll go away.

    There was another point Elder Cook made which stood out in my mind: When the Stake RS President felt she needed to ASK PERMISSION to speak and then how her speech FACILITATED the revelation of her stake president to enact her idea. Having sat in my own share of stake and ward council meetings, I find it appalling that a member of such a meeting would feel – and that a general authority would emphasize – that she needed to ask permission to participate. What kind of water are we swimming in where it seems natural that a woman would feel the need to ask permission to participate in a meeting? Somebody needs to shake things up.

    What if she hadn’t felt brave enough to ask to speak? All those young men would have missed out on becoming Melchizedek Priesthood holders and temple attendees and there wouldn’t have been a story.

    I’m glad that Elder Cook’s consciousness has been raised enough that he appreciates that women are equal partners in homes and that workplaces everywhere need to be more family friendly.

    I’m saddened that circumstances for women in the church are such that a GA would feel inspired to have to reassure us that women have important roles to play and that they shouldn’t be judged for the personal decisions they make. Because we – somewhere in the world – need apostles to remind us that women’s work is valuable, and that it merits equal standing with men’s work, there must be a significant chunk of us who are not playing nice.

    (Which reminds me, I found it interesting that the example he gave of why a [non-Mormon] woman worked was blatantly the “wrong” reasons – new car/carpet. Then he said that’s not always the reason women work – well, how about providing a POSITIVE reason for women working? Using a negative example and then telling everyone not to judge is kind of like the lawyer (QLC’s a lawyer, isn’t he?) asking, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Don’t think about purple elephants – you can’t help it because in order to not think about purple elephants, you have to conjure one up to banish from your thoughts.)

    If we were walking the walk, we wouldn’t have to be talking the talk. Show me you respect me as you walk along beside me – don’t put me up on a pedestal and don’t use me as a stepping stool to make yourself higher. (Not saying QLC did either of these things, but words ring hollow when they’re merely words.)

    I’d much rather have local leaders seeking out and respecting my opinions than telling me how wonderfully righteous I am because I don’t have a y-chromosome. I’d much prefer that they delegate jobs to me because they know I am spiritually and mentally mature and competent and a good steward than because they believe I’m innately spiritual or nurturing because I was born female.

    And I can’t wait to hear Silvia Allred stand up in conference and tell everyone how precious and valued the men of the church are. How they serve diligently in the church and are devoted fathers who are able to facilitate the revelatory process for the women in the church.

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  26. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    I agree that it’s nearly impossible for a man to speak on this topic and not sound patronizing and out of touch. Too bad they don’t realize how it comes across. I think QLC and some others speak on this topic because they are more enlightened than others in the Q15, but that doesn’t mean they are more enlightened than the average American.

    The control arugment doesn’t make you look good, Jeff, any way you slice it. Women should want control for their own lives, which BTW is questionable when only some choices (that leave men as sole providers, for example) are considered righteous or valid. The examples of career women as materialistic are so unequal and miss the point. Why aren’t men characterized as materialistic for having a career? Maybe we should all just go live in a cave like monks and meditate all day if we want to eschew materialism. Why is it OK for men to earn, but not women (unless poverty renders it necessary – we all know that’s the example of a “valid” reason that he has in mind)? It’s just a reinforcement of men being in control of money and women of domestic work, which was an artificial construct when it started anyway. Many cultures don’t do it that way.

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  27. Alison Moore Smith on April 4, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    From our earliest history, both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.

    The problem with the statement is that it simply isn’t true. Given that he’s older than I am, he must know this. When I was a kid women were not allowed to give sacrament meeting talks or prayers. As a matter of policy. And until the most recent handbook last month, there was enough ambiguity that lots of wards didn’t allow women to give certain prayers.

    allquieton, there are lots of problems that come about when only one gender is fully represented — when only men are “authorities — in the church. I fully believe that the disparities often aren’t intentional, but are just unnoticed because of the different perspective and focus the men have. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t harmful.

    For example, I’d ask anyone anyone in the US to post these three numbers from their ward:

    (1) Funding for Primary
    (2) Funding for Activity Day
    (3) Funding for Cub Scouts

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  28. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 5:22 AM

    BIV,

    “Exactly.”

    Exactly what. None of the Stake leaders, men or women have that responsibility. So it is not a good idea to parse out the statement I made to try to spin it a particular way.

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  29. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 5:25 AM

    Hawk,

    “The control argument doesn’t make you look good, Jeff, any way you slice it.”

    Not sure I am getting what you are saying. I was simply stating my own observation having been in various leadership positions and watching how the auxiliary leaders function as well as been responsible for overseeing some of those organizations in my Ward.

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  30. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 5:30 AM

    Jeff. There are NO women leaders who have responsibility over both men and women at the ward or stake level. If you are going to compare RS, YW and Primary presidents with SS and YM presidents, which women correspond with Bishops, Stake Presidents, Area Authorities, General Authorities?

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  31. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 4, 2011 at 6:11 AM

    Alison, I’m 55 and “When I was a kid women were not allowed to give sacrament meeting talks or prayers” is not true for me.

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  32. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 4, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    Bored, when I was in Primary, the female primary president seemed to have control over me, I was just teaching 6 year olds and doing exactly as told.

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  33. shenpa warrior on April 4, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    Stephen (31) My grandma was the first woman to pray in my ward. I should ask my dad when that happened – he’s a little older than you but was an adult at the time.

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  34. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    There are NO women leaders who have responsibility over both men and women at the ward or stake level.

    I would totally dispute that based on my own experience. When I had a primary calling, I took my direction from the Primary President, just as I do from the High Priest Group Leader today. No different. I respected her a great deal and still do. I didn’t go to the Bishop if I thought what she was telling me was not right.

    “which women correspond with Bishops, Stake Presidents, Area Authorities, General Authorities?”

    None. You know that. You’ve always know that.

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  35. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 6:48 AM

    Jeff,

    So, I still don’t get what the big difference is in running the organizations.

    The Relief Society president has no authority over men. The Bishop has authority over women. The Stake President has authority over women. There is no official church position where a woman could possibly have authority over men.

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  36. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    Jeff,

    Sorry, true enough a Primary President does have authority over a teacher in Primary. That’s about it.

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  37. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    Jeff, you said: “I’ll make the statement I’ve made before. Some women do not want just equality, they want control. Because you can certainly have equality without everyone having the same role. This rebuttal is not about recognizing the amazing contribution of the Women of the Church, but what some want and cannot have.” But the discussion was about women being discouraged from taking control in their own lives (traditional gender roles), not about women taking over the church and kicking the men out of leadership positions (the view you often like to take here on women & priesthood). How are women supposed to take responsibility for their choices when they are taught from birth that there’s only one “right” set of choices, and it entails putting a man in charge of your personal life and financial circumstances, a decision you (as a woman) are encouraged to make based on very little life experience? Hallelujah that it doesn’t blow up every single time, but it does fail often enough.

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  38. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    As nursery leader, I had authority over male nursery workers. Ah, the absolute power! You can bet I kept an iron fist on those animal cookies!

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  39. John Taber on April 4, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    Not too far from where I live, a county commissioner who is a high councilor and former bishop, justifies his vote to slash county Head Start funding with the argument that “women should be home with their children.” To those who question him on that, he hands out “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in pamphlet form. Given that, what Elder Cook said Saturday was a real breath of fresh air – I wonder if this brother heard it.

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  40. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    John,

    He probably heard it but concluded that it was something different than what we are understanding it to be. In other words, it won’t affect those who still think women should not be working.

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  41. Paul on April 4, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    #38: Just like your righteous bishop keeps an iron first control over the renegade sisters of the Relief Society. Oh, please.

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  42. sunshine on April 4, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the,” Splendor of Womanhood comment.” I just about rolled on the floor in my living room.

    I am going to be a little tongue in cheek here, but when a man pushes a eight pound baby thru a hole the size of whistle. Then they can talk about the splendor of womanhood. Holy cow.

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  43. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    Paul – my comment is directed at Jeff’s remark that all women are seeking is control, and it was perfectly obvious I was being sarcastic. Power in the church is kind of a ridiculous notion, like Mr. Rogers masterminding a hostile takeover. It’s telling that you immediately assume I’m criticizing leaders just because I think Jeff’s comment about control is off point. That says more about you than about women, and certainly me.

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  44. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    Hawk,

    “But the discussion was about women being discouraged from taking control in their own lives (traditional gender roles), not about women taking over the church and kicking the men out of leadership positions (the view you often like to take here on women & priesthood). ”

    Well, I heard it differently, I suppose. And not what I was reacting to with BIV’s posting.

    I very much allow and support the women of the church to make their own decisions on whether they stay at home with their children or work outside the home.

    I have found that the Church leaders have, in the recent past, made it more acceptable and less condemning for the sisters who choose to work outside the home. There have always been allowances for those who have had to work outside the home.

    so, I am not sure what you think I am saying here.

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  45. Derek on April 4, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    re: 5

    I’ll make the statement I’ve made before. Some women do not want just equality, they want control. Because you can certainly have equality without everyone having the same role.

    If some of the differing roles involve authority and control (ie, the priesthood), then how can it be said that people can have equality? Why shouldn’t it be about control if those roles insist that only men can have control?

    re: 11

    I’ve witnessed first hand where my wife, serving as the President of two auxiliary organizations had the leadership and organization responsibility to guide, direct and make decisions about her organization.
    Sure, she had to sit in counsel with the Bishop, but when I was a Priesthood leader, holding Priesthood keys, not only did I have to sit in counsel with the Bishop, but also the Stake President.

    Yes. The difference is that the Bishop or Stake President was inevitably a man, correct? You could potentially fill that role. Your wife could not.

    re: 18

    It seems to me that men are better at leadership than women. They seem to be wired for it.

    Not only could this be, as BiV suggests, that men have more social training for that role, and more opportunities to practice it, but could it also be that you perceive it so because that is your assumption in the first place? You have been taught that men are supposed to be rulers, and so you see evidence to support your contention?

    Lets assume for the sake of argument that there are indeed more men in leadership positions who are effective as leaders than there are women. It would also unquestionably be true that there are more men in leadership positions, period. By many several times, no matter what sort of leadership you’re talking about (ecclesiastical, government, business). And I’ve had *plenty* of really bad male leaders, in all areas. If you look at the percentage of men who are in leadership positions and are good leaders compared to the percentage of of women who are in leadership positions and are good leaders, it might tell us something completely different.

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  46. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Hawk,

    “Jeff’s remark that all women are seeking is control, and it was perfectly obvious I was being sarcastic.”

    This is what I said, “Some women do not want just equality, they want control.” Not all. I would never said that.

    The vast majority of the women of the church are comfortable with the situation as it is now, as far as I know.

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  47. Andrew S on April 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    If you have a problem with the church’s status quo re: women, then you’re one of the women who wants control rather than equality.

    …is that right?

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  48. Derek on April 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    Isn’t part of equality sharing *equally* in the control?

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  49. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    allquieton #21:

    “Yeah, I see your point that men and women don’t share power equally in the church. But I don’t think power counts for much. No one claims that men are superior to, or worth more, or should be treated better, than women. Which I would say is the key measure of equality.

    Maybe, being a guy, it’s hard for me to see. You think this setup hurts women? Or discourages them? Or what exactly is the problem with how things are? Or what am I missing?”

    I appreciate your willingness to be open and look at this in another way. I know it is not easy for men to understand this, unless they are willing to do so. Your questions deserve thoughtful answers. Here are just a few of the problems as I see them:

    1. In the Church, the women are institutionally treated as children. Though there may be specially designated power, it is always under the authority of a male institutional leader. Bishops/Stake Presidents vary widely in how they wield this authority, but it is always understood that the women leaders must have their ideas “approved” by their patriarchal leader. The buck always stops at a man. A male Primary worker may be under the temporary authority of a woman, but if he appeals her decision the final authority will be male. In these organizations, women (yes, and men) are continually told to look to males for their leadership. For men, male leaders can be seen as role models, but for women this is never the case. They are left in a position of subordination, never able to reach autonomy.

    2. Women are placed on a pedestal (special! incredible!) but at the same time reduced in importance to what they can produce by the fruit of their womb. This sexualizes them and brings about some of the excesses we have seen in the overemphasis of “modesty” directed toward YW. In addition, teachings on nurturing go so far as to take the place of and snuff out intellectual pleasure and skills and gifts that women possess beyond the role of mother. And when we are reduced to our maternal contributions, oh, the agony for those who cannot bring forth children. No matter how powerful their contribution in other arenas, they are always seen as defective and to be pitied. (we will take care of you!)

    3. A woman in church must continually translate male-centered materials into ways that will be meaningful to her. What does it mean to be made in the image of a male God? What does it mean to follow the example of a male Savior? This can be done, but is more difficult when presented through a male structure, male hierarchy, male priorities, etc. Our relationship with the Divine is not always direct, but goes through our priesthood leaders and our husbands (as in the temple ceremony).

    I have only touched the surface here, but yes, I believe this setup hurts women. I think that Church leadership is beginning to understand some of the problems and I am happy to see it. I think that these things were not intended as part of a restored Church, and that Joseph (and thus God) may have had something very different in mind for women. Therefore it is possible that organizational structures may change as long as leaders like Elder Cook are open to new ideas about how women may be of use in the kingdom and in the greater society.

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  50. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    well said BiV (#49)

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  51. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    BTW, I am also enjoying the comments popularity contest that seems to be going on.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 4

  52. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Paul, #41, how about these two examples:

    1. Our Relief Society decided to have a travelling breakfast activity. On a Saturday morning, we all kept our pjs on, donned no make-up, and met at one sister’s house, then travelled together to other houses to eat and drink and talk and laugh and eventually to listen to some unmemorable talk by a priesthood holder at the final destination. (I say “unmemorable” because I didn’t even remember there had been any men involved but a friend reminded me the other day. Now I sit here wondering why he had to be involved at all.) The Stake President said that this activity was never to happen again because it was inappropriate because we were in our pjs. And though he was just a crotchety man with a history of being a jackass such that he needed reporting to a G.A., he had control over our lovely activities. Fisting of the iron variety, I’d say.

    2. Someone made an excellent point on FMH in a post titled The 13 Articles of Chastity, that women, particularly young women, should not be closing themselves up in a room with a man to confess her sexual sins. Too often, this conversation gets specific so that the leader can gauge how bad the situation was. This is a responsibility that could be given to the Relief Society, much like some responsibilities in the temple. A sixteen-year-old girl talking about her sex life, about her orgasms, about her masturbatory habits to a middle aged man in a room all alone? I’m surprised it’s even legal, it’s so many kinds of wrong.

    Jeff, didn’t it used to be that Relief Society sisters, when it was first organised, were able to decide who received what calling? And isn’t it true now that no woman in power gets to decide that anymore? This is an example of where women would like and deserve power. It’s not about control, it’s about avoiding a feeling of helplessness.

    And if you think about all the ways that women are the most vulnerable sex, and how we suffer the brunt of childrearing, if you think about how a feeling of power over one’s self is what influences why women seek out attention from men and make bad decisions (Kathryn Soper’s pathos article, i.e.) we, a church who loves to lavish women with praise over how divine and special they are, should be giving women choice and power at every possible opportunity. Empower women and see them value themselves more (and maybe see anti-depressant usage drop). It’s not just in callings where we withhold. We have these quaint little church-sponsored “Preference Night” dances where women are encouraged to be the ones asking a boy to the dance this time! *gigglegiggle* We also encourage men to do the asking in marriage proposals and we train women to be the well-prepared recipients.

    Like BiV, I am only touching on the surface.

    The reality is that we often don’t notice the discrimination people endure when we don’t find ourselves in the same demographic. For example, the Oaks/Wickham Newsroom article absurdly saying that the church doesn’t ask anything different of gay people than it asks of single people. So offensive and wrong.

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  53. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    Natasha, great points. Along the lines of your #2 — if the Church has to be hierarchical (which I don’t necessarily think it does in all aspects), then why can’t the chain of authority go up the women’s line? We have it, why don’t we use it? Why don’t women “confess” and receive counsel/absolving/discipline from RS presidents? Why aren’t Ward RS/Primary/YW presidencies under real direction from Stake RS/Primary/YW presidencies and so on up the chain? And why don’t these women in leadership make their own callings for their organizations, not subject to male approval? Can’t we trust women for this much without the Church falling into apostasy? This simple change would not be so difficult since the structure is already in place, and would go a long way in making women valued and autonomous.

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  54. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    “Why aren’t Ward RS/Primary/YW presidencies under real direction from Stake RS/Primary/YW presidencies and so on up the chain? And why don’t these women in leadership make their own callings for their organizations, not subject to male approval? ”

    The men cannot do this either. You seem to miss that point. With the exception of the Bishop and Stake President, everyone else in the Stake has to get approvals.

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  55. Chris H. on April 4, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Not looking to get involved in this but…

    “Kristine Haglund has pointed out that talks about women by men are always a bit awkward.”

    I think you plagiarized that sentence off of me. Just saying.

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  56. Derek on April 4, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    re: 54

    The men cannot do this either. You seem to miss that point. With the exception of the Bishop and Stake President, everyone else in the Stake has to get approvals.

    And which sex exclusively holds those positions?

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  57. Andrew S on April 4, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    re 54:

    “Why aren’t Ward RS/Primary/YW presidencies under real direction from Stake RS/Primary/YW presidencies and so on up the chain? And why don’t these women in leadership make their own callings for their organizations, not subject to male approval? ”

    The men cannot do this either. You seem to miss that point. With the exception of the Bishop and Stake President, everyone else in the Stake has to get approvals.

    By virtue of being a man, any man has the potential to become a Bishop or Stake President.

    By virtue of being a woman, NO woman has the potential to become Bishop or Stake President.

    This is why people point out that it’s not JUST a hierarchy issue. True, there are hierarchical limitations that affect both men and women, but beyond hierarchical limitations (e.g., not everyone *is* a Bishop; not everyone *is* a Stake President), you have gender role limitations (e.g., ONLY men *can be* Bishops/SPs)

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  58. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    lol, Chris H., busted. And I searched for it and couldn’t find where she originally said it. So I could be misrepresenting Kris here. I sure hope you got your facts right!

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  59. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    #54, Jeff, I am asking for EXACTLY the same chain of authority that is currently in place, but with women responsible for women.

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  60. Chris H. on April 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    It was on a BCC GC open thread during a similar talk about how wonderful women are. I think. I should be careful when appealing to authority.

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  61. Andrew S on April 4, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Furthermore, the things that people want to say are “exclusive” to women don’t really even fit — from a cursory glance — the idea of “separate but equal” that people are positing.

    For example, to say that the “priesthood” for men is matched by “motherhood” for women misses the mark…because women don’t really have “control” with respect to their motherhood as men have “control” with respect to Priesthood. Consider: in a priesthood setting as we’ve been talking about…regardless of hierarchical limitations, the top person someone will go to in the ward and/or stake will be a man.

    But in a family/motherhood setting, regardless of hierarchical limitations, the top person someone would go to in the family would be a…priesthood-holding man.

    Even the framing of family is determined not by the “mothers” but through divinely-received inspiration primarily received by…priesthood-holding men. To this extent, priesthood-holding men override feminist efforts for women’s controls of their own bodies (or control of their own motherhood to be even more controversial.)

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  62. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 4, 2011 at 6:11 AM said:

    ‘Alison, I’m 55 and “When I was a kid women were not allowed to give sacrament meeting talks or prayers” is not true for me.” ‘

    Perhaps you don’t remember the prohibition because you weren’t directly affected by it, being a man and all.

    Women were not allowed to pray in Sacrament Meeting at all from December 1967 until September 28, 1978 when the First Presidency removed the restriction. Same year as the blacks and the priesthood revelation.

    (The reasoning being that only Priesthood Holders could pray in PH meetings.)

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  63. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    “By virtue of being a man, any man has the potential to become a Bishop or Stake President.”

    I realize this is one of the fundamental arguments used in these discussions, but it is somewhat fallacious. Having the potential to become and becoming are two different things.

    Just because one has the potential does not mean that potential could ever be realized.

    Because we all have the potential for a great many things, most of which will never happen, period.

    We need to stick to the reality of the situation.

    The women of the church do not hold the Priesthood is a reality, so, yes, that cannot become a Bishop or Stake President. but most of us will not either.

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  64. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    I also realize this is a no win discussion.

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  65. Derek on April 4, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    re: 62

    Women were not allowed to pray in Sacrament Meeting at all from December 1967 until September 28, 1978 when the First Presidency removed the restriction. Same year as the blacks and the priesthood revelation.

    So women were allowed to pray in Sac Meeting prior to (and through most of) 1967?

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  66. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    We’ve heard from the GC pulpit how critical it is to involve women in ward and stake councils – their insights are important and they have knowledge about the women they lead which male leaders may not be aware of.

    So, how was the General Relief Society presidency involved in the creation and review of the Proclamation on the Family? The counsel and direction from that document defines women and their roles and sets up the ideal vision for families everywhere, especially LDS families. Pres. Hinckley decided it would be best to introduce the document at a Relief Society broadcast because he wanted the women to know about it and put it into play.

    Did the Q15 ever discuss this document with the women who would be most affected by it or did Pres. Hinckley just show up and tell the RS Presidency he had something he wanted to read in the RS Broadcast?

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  67. Andrew S on April 4, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    re 63:

    I realize this is one of the fundamental arguments used in these discussions, but it is somewhat fallacious. Having the potential to become and becoming are two different things.

    Just because one has the potential does not mean that potential could ever be realized.

    Having the potential to become and becoming indeed are two different things…I do not dispute this.

    But in focusing on the latter, you ignore that the LDS church solidifies a difference in the former. Basically, what you have yet to establish is this: recognizing that there is a difference between potentiality and actualization, why should we ignore inequities in potentialities that may be constructed?

    Regardless of the fact that (as a result of non-gender, logistical relationships), many men will not become a Bishop or a Stake President…you never get past the fact that no woman can ever become one.

    This isn’t an either-or thing. These things work intersectionally

    The reality of the situation, as you want us to stick to, is this.

    1) Many men will never become a Stake President, but the reason they do not become SP/Bishop is not because of their gender.

    2) No woman will ever become a SP/Bishop, and the reason for this lack of potentiality is because of their gender.

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  68. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    “Just because one has the potential does not mean that potential could ever be realized.”

    And yet, we honor all women because they all have the POTENTIAL to become mothers, whether or not that potential is ever realized. ironic, no?

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  69. Paul on April 4, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    #43 Hawk: “It’s telling that you immediately assume I’m criticizing leaders just because I think Jeff’s comment about control is off point.”

    It’s telling that you assume that’s what I assume.

    In fact, I don’t. But I understand Jeff’s comment completely.

    I will never be able to have complete empathy for your point of view, though I do try to understand it. I have sat on plenty of church councils in the past where women’s voices are not heard, where either women were afraid to speak or had given up trying.

    But I also have participated on councils where women and men have shared views, discussed (sometimes vigorously) looking for appropriate solutions to issues in a ward. I’ve led some of those councils. I, for one, am thrilled at the repeated call for greater participation on these councils by women, for recognition that men and women on these councils are not representatives of their own organizations only, but also council members “at large” who can and should have a voice in the affairs of a ward or stake. I also note that such teaching is not new, but because we continually have new leadership around the world, the teaching requires repeating.

    I will also say this: My wife and I discussed Elder Cook’s talk and others of the conference that spoke favorably of a woman’s choice to stay home and care for her children. My wife took great comfort in those remarks, particularly as she faces increasing social pressure to do otherwise in our non-LDS community.

    She is college educated, capable, and the mother of seven, some of whom are high needs kids, who range in age from 10-30; two are still at home. For her it was a balm in Gilead to have her choice to stay home ratified by people who are important to her.

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  70. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Derek – I believe this is the case (about women praying prior to 1967).

    It’s helpful to remember that in the context of church history, a number of women’s programs were changed in the late 1960s-early 1970s which may or may not be relevant to this discussion, such as:

    The Priesthood Bulletin became the official means of communication between SLC and local units during this time which meant that the General RS/YW and Primary Boards no longer had direct communication with their respective stake organizations. Where once women reported to women back and forth and up and down from general to local and back, there was now no way for general auxiliary leaders to speak officially and directly to local auxiliary leaders outside of PH leadership.

    The auxiliary magazines (like the RS Magazine and The Instructor) were discontinued and replaced by the Ensign. Women no longer had a literary voice written, edited and overseen by women. And there weren’t any auxiliary general boards represented on the Ensign’s editorial board.

    Relief Society stopped being a dues-collecting, voluntary-membership association and became the place for all adult women.

    Annual multi-day conferences for auxiliaries were discontinued in 1975, replaced by a general women’s broadcast in September, 1978 – the same time women were again granted the privilege of praying in Sacrament Meetings.

    And prior to beginning general women’s conferences in 1978, women did not speak in General Conference.

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  71. Starfoxy on April 4, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    One thing missing in this whole potentiality debate is the fact that whether or not I personally, as a woman, become a bishop is beside the point. What I see as important is the idea that I will never have the opportunity to have a woman for a bishop.

    I am not saying that women will make better bishops than men (in fact I’d say women and men are likely to be just about the same in bishoping abilities).
    I am saying that having someone who is *like you* in a leadership position changes the way you see your place in that organization.
    I am saying that having a leader who is *like you* increases the chances that you shared life experiences, and that your leader will be mindful of the needs you will have.

    So yes, I will never be a bishop, and my husband may never be a bishop. But because the bishop is a man, like my husband, means that I will always relate to the bishop differently than my husband will. And that can make working in the church more difficult for me than for my husband.

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  72. Paul on April 4, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    #62 LRC: That restriction was on prayer only, not also on speaking in sacrament meeting as the original comment suggested.

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  73. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    “Regardless of the fact that (as a result of non-gender, logistical relationships), many men will not become a Bishop or a Stake President…you never get past the fact that no woman can ever become one.”

    I realize this is an absolute fact, but it doesn’t negate the fact that most men will not either, not necessarily for the same reason, but for all practical purposes, it is the same.

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  74. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Then, finally, how involved were women in creating the RS/PH lesson manuals covering the Teachings of the Prophets and Gospel Principles?

    When the first Teachings of the Prophets manuals were created, was the General RS Presidency aware that those manuals would become the women’s curriculum or was the General RS Presidency working on its own curriculum for women which ended up on the editing room floor?

    So my question for Elder Cook and other apostles: Where are the stories of how our General RS/YW/Primary Auxiliary members speak up in council meetings and change the direction of discussions? Where are the stories about general programs being inspired by the wise and revelatory (prophetic, even) counsel of the women who shepherd the majority of church members (women and youth)?

    Leading by example is wonderful. We hear lots of stories from the women’s auxiliaries about how their programs are approved by the 1P and/or Q12. We hear lots of stories how local women influenced local leaders and provided answers which otherwise would not have been forthcoming.

    Where are the stories of how Julie Beck said something that made Thomas Monson change his way of approaching women’s issues (much less his way of approaching PH issues a la the stake RS president who asked permission to speak at her stake council)?

    If a stake RS president could be inspired about the young men in her stake, couldn’t the same be true for the general leaders? Or is it only possible for the male Q15 to find answers to general church problems?

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  75. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    “So yes, I will never be a bishop, and my husband may never be a bishop. But because the bishop is a man, like my husband, means that I will always relate to the bishop differently than my husband will. And that can make working in the church more difficult for me than for my husband.”

    I can certainly understand this. But, the only way to thoroughly resolve this is to have two Bishops, one man and one women, so each can relate to their own gender. The problem they will not be able to relate to each other because they are not the same.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  76. Derek on April 4, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    re: 70

    Thanks for the explanation. I hadn’t realized the changes in the late ’60s. I wonder what lead to those.

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  77. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    “I realize this is an absolute fact, but it doesn’t negate the fact that most men will not either, not necessarily for the same reason, but for all practical purposes, it is the same.” I think the key difference is that for a man to not attain position in the church can feel like a personal failure, whereas for a woman, it’s off the table from birth. Similarly, slaves didn’t feel too bad if they worked on a less grand plantation in pre-antebellum deep South; it wasn’t their personal failure to contemplate. All they cared about was being well-treated; they were passengers, not drivers, and they knew their role: workhorse, not innovator. Women are disenfranchised in solidarity at least. Men have to go it alone.

    Personally I think Starfoxy’s comment is more like my own experience. Everything in the church HQ comes from a male perspective to a male perspective. As women, we can eavesdrop as the men talk to each other. Locally, though, it’s not my experience at all. I seldom have encountered a local leader who didn’t value the contribution and input of the women in the ward. Locally, they know they can’t do it without the women. The smart ones know they need the minds and input as well as the work of the women.

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  78. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Derek – I believe it was primarily the effect of correlation and trying to cope with the pressures of a growing church (both in terms of geography and population), but it’s complicated.

    It was probably influenced as well by the people who were in leadership at the time. David O McKay was in failing health and we had JFS and HBL coming into power with SWK becoming the President of the Q12. RS leadership was changing as well, as Belle S. Spafford, RS president from 1945-1974, finished her service and was required to split her time between leading the RS and leading the National Council for Women in the late 1960s.

    All of this set against the “worldly” backdrop of the sexual revolution, the women’s movement, race relation changes, Vietnam and hippies. So by the time Barbara Smith took over the general RS presidency, apostles like GBH were directing her in what to say against the ERA and in favor of traditional women’s roles.

    I’m sure some of those more conservative leaders really felt the need to preserve and control many things – both out of practical necessity and psychological/spiritual necessity. When the world is spinning out of control, you need a way to rein things in.

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  79. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    “I think the key difference is that for a man to not attain position in the church can feel like a personal failure, whereas for a woman, it’s off the table from birth.”

    This might be true of some men, but the closer you get to leadership, the further away you want to be from it. There is great personal sacrifice that is made to be away from home all the time.

    We have a SP here, by the name of McConkie (yes, that one) who was asked what it was like growing up with an Apostle, and he said, he didn’t really know because his Dad was never home. They were raised by their mother.

    Anyone who really wants a leadership calling, probably should not have it.

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  80. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    “Personally I think Starfoxy’s comment is more like my own experience. Everything in the church HQ comes from a male perspective to a male perspective.”

    I think we have no way of if this is true or not.

    I do think that LRC’s comment above showed that for a period of time, women’s voices were somewhat muted. Certainly when the RS was run as a separate organization they had their own voice, but were still directed by the Priesthood. And I think now we hear women’s voices more and certainly that is being promoted by the male leaders of the church.

    But, still, some do not like the message or hear the messages very differently.

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  81. Derek on April 4, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    re: 79
    This might be true of some men, but the closer you get to leadership, the further away you want to be from it. There is great personal sacrifice that is made to be away from home all the time.

    We have a SP here, by the name of McConkie (yes, that one) who was asked what it was like growing up with an Apostle, and he said, he didn’t really know because his Dad was never home. They were raised by their mother.

    Anyone who really wants a leadership calling, probably should not have it.

    Most certainly true. But that is a bit of a dodge (especially that last glib cliché) around the message which is sent when one knows one is automatically disqualified from the opportunity.

    I doubt any blacks ever thought “Yes! A church in which I will never risk the burden of authority!”

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  82. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    “But that is a bit of a dodge (especially that last glib cliché) around the message which is sent when one knows one is automatically disqualified from the opportunity.”

    ??

    “I doubt any blacks ever thought “Yes! A church in which I will never risk the burden of authority!””

    I doubt they did either.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  83. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    BTW, I am also enjoying the comments popularity contest that seems to be going on.

    I promise you, the second you make a cogent argument, I’ll give you a thumbs up.

    For the record,

    You seem to miss that point.

    is not a cogent argument. Assuming that you’ve laid out a perfectly convincing arguement and that the other side of a discussion just doesn’t get it is usually an unsafe bet.

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  84. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    Anyone who really wants a leadership calling, probably should not have it.

    The fact that you keep reverting back to this argument means that you must beleive there is someone in this argument who desperately wants a leadership position, and thats what they are seeking. If that is the case, don’t be coy, come out and say it. Who do you think is seeking this??
    If not, drop it. Its a moot point if the other side of the argument isn’t actively seeking a leadership position.

    “Personally I think Starfoxy’s comment is more like my own experience. Everything in the church HQ comes from a male perspective to a male perspective.”

    I think we have no way of if this is true or not.

    That would be true if no one had every been in a position (outside of the church: be it career, social, governmental, etc.) but given the fact that we have other institutions with both genders in leadership positions, its actually quite easy to know this.

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  85. SilverRain on April 4, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    “And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

    This applies equally well to power as it does to riches.

    #77 hawkgrrrl—Interestingly, my own experience has been the opposite. Whenever I have had a personal experience with an Apostle, I have gotten a deep impression that they are very much in tune with women and much of the pain that is caused by men unrighteously wielding the priesthood.

    Quite the opposite from many of my local leadership.

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  86. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Should read:

    That would be true if no one had every been in a position with both genders in leadership positions above them

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  87. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    “I promise you, the second you make a cogent argument, I’ll give you a thumbs up.”

    I’ll not hold my breath waiting for your approval.

    “but given the fact that we have other institutions with both genders in leadership positions, its actually quite easy to know this.”

    One has nothing to do with the other.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 2

  88. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    One has nothing to do with the other.

    Again, not an argument. I’ve laid out reasoning why your statement doesn’t hold water. We can know whether or not women would relate to women in authority at church because we have experience of women relate (or not relating) to women in the workplace. It is a comparative argument.

    Saying “nope” doesn’t refute my argument. Please elaborate what the magical difference is between church and career that makes it so women would relate equally well to men in authority positions at church regardless of what happens in other institutional settings.

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  89. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    I’ll not hold my breath waiting for your approval.

    You can’t whine that you’re not getting approval, and then act like you’re above wanting approval. Goll, men are so indecisive. Its no wonder that God has women be mothers, they’re just naturally so much more decisive.

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  90. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    “We can know whether or not women would relate to women in authority at church because we have experience of women relate (or not relating) to women in the workplace.”

    You missed my point. My point was, in responding to HawkGirrl when she said, “Everything in the church HQ comes from a male perspective to a male perspective.”

    But point is that we have no way of knowing how much influence the women in the Auxiliary presidencies and boards and the wives of the GA have over the actual decisions that get made. I believe there is some influence there, especially these days, but I would not know how much. We make these general statement without really knowing. To assume none is not right either.

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  91. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    #64 No, I think it’s a win-lose discussion and you’re losing, Jeff. Logic wins.

    There’s a big difference between potentiality and actualisation. It’s like the difference between gay Mormons and single Mormons: Even the slovenliest, ugliest single Mormon can have hope that he or she might one day marry and if they don’t get that opportunity they can blame it on chance or some personal unworthiness. But the gay Mormon has zero hope of ever getting married (if he or she wants to be active in the church) and the only reason is that he or she is not allowed. You can choose to live in such a way as to at least be amongst the prospective. It doesn’t matter how much smarter I am than the men in my ward (and I probably am smarter than most of them), how sensitive I am to people’s troubles, how righteous I am, how organised, how efficient, I will never, ever be able to serve in this regard. Thankfully, I don’t want to. But at some point, I wouldn’t have even been able to offer a prayer?! I’m a relative newbie in Mormonism and I did not know that.

    (Sorry if this is repetitive. I haven’t caught up on a slew of comments.)

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  92. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    “You can’t whine that you’re not getting approval, and then act like you’re above wanting approval.”

    I am merely voicing my opinion, not seeking anyone’s approval. No whining here.

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  93. Tom Haws on April 4, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I’ll say it flat: I want several female apostles and seventies. I want to see female bishops and stake presidents. I want to see the kind of security, diversity, strength, and inspirational empowerment that would create.

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  94. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    90 – I see, and thats fair enough. But we do know that a man is the final one to sign off on it, no matter how much input has been gathered from women at headquarters.

    Why does that matter? Well, as an example, I am subject to the owner of the business I work at. Every input I have at work has the final sign-off of the owner. Even knowing this fact tempers what input I make, because I know some things won’t happen regardless of how much I think they are right. Why put up a losing fight?
    I might push and prod over time, but I’m not going to create any battles, and eventually I’ll probably end up seeing things the way she sees them whether that way is right or wrong.

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  95. SilverRain on April 4, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I know that there is some problem with women not being in authority in the Church. I know because I have felt it at times in my life.

    Nevertheless, the methods being used on Jeff to try to “convince” him are just as problematic. Is anyone really interested in trying to demonstrate there is a problem, or just in browbeating those who don’t see it yet?

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  96. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    It’s actually very easy to measure whether communications from SLC are coming from a male perspective or not: Count the stories and quotes in official materials by and about women, and then do the same for those by and about men. Count how many times Primary kids are taught, “I have a body like Heavenly Father’s” and provided pictures of boys’ bodies only. Count the number of times male pronouns are used in hymns and compare that to female pronouns.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s certainly not that way in non-church settings anywhere in the United States much more. And most non-LDS hymnals started using gender-inclusive/neutral language decades ago.

    There’s been some development for Mormons, too – just compare the 2011 VT messages to those of 2010, 2005 and 2000 (for instance). Women are finally sending messages to other women again.

    But if women are saying things like, “Messages I receive from official church sources are male-centric” or “It means so much to me when we sing ‘Good Christians, All Rejoice’ rather than ‘Good Christan Men, Rejoice’” perhaps we should take those women at their word and not write them off because “it’s not a problem for me”; or “it’s not a problem for all these other people.”

    Our language affects the way we think and the way we act. Maybe if we changed the way we speak, hear and read about women by changing the gender balance in official church materials, we’ll change (or at least have a catalyst for changing) the way we treat women in our councils and committees.

    And maybe we’ll be able to understand that a desire for equal voice and recognition is not necessarily tied to a desire to control or direct the conversation.

    Elder Cook pointed out we shouldn’t judge women based on their career choices. He said marriages require full partnerships. What do we miss out on when our church families are not full partnerships and women’s assertions are rejected and dismissed as grabs for power.

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  97. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    #61 Andrew, another problem with the “separate but equal” bit of lip service: Are children not also “equal” in worth and value, in God’s eyes? Would anyone ever say that the comfort or basic rights of a child are less than that of adults? And yet, they’re not equal in what they can contribute. The value of women is irrelevant to a discussion about what women can (inherently or by virtue of imposed limitations) contribute.

    #68 LRC: Bingo. Wish I had thought of that.

    #73 Jeff! We’re not discussing practical potential or outcomes. It’s like you telling a person born without legs: “You think it’s a great blessing to have legs so that one could run a marathon but the reality is that most people will never run marathons, so just because you can’t makes you no different from the rest of us, practically speaking. Marathon running isn’t that great, anyway. It’s such a burden and you wouldn’t like it.” I seriously don’t understand how you don’t get that this is what you’re saying and that you don’t realise how incredibly offensive it is. Boggles the mind.

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  98. Laurie on April 4, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Ah. I didn’t listen to conference. I don’t want to hear someone trying to placate me.

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  99. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    “Boggles the mind.”

    Yes, it does.

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  100. jmb275 on April 4, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Re BiV
    I share your concerns. I guess every one gets to interpret the talk they want, and I think it did help the issue, overall, even if only subtly shot down in other talks. As others have said, I’m concerned about the statement

    “From our earliest history, both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.”

    This just isn’t true, and that saddens me as these types of small historical inaccuracies seem to increasingly make their way into GA talks. Perhaps E Cook just didn’t know (I find this hard to imagine), but it feels a bit like an attempt to “rewrite” history. At some point, at least for me, these types of inaccuracies breech the threshold of “positive spin” to dishonesty.

    I appreciated the highlights of the talk, but I think you accurately indicate why the issue is still so important. I think the strongest message from the talk is that we ought not to judge those women, even mothers, who decide to work outside the home. Even if they do it for materialistic reasons it doesn’t give us a license to judge them as less than righteous.

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  101. Andrew S. on April 4, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    re 73

    “Regardless of the fact that (as a result of non-gender, logistical relationships), many men will not become a Bishop or a Stake President…you never get past the fact that no woman can ever become one.”

    I realize this is an absolute fact, but it doesn’t negate the fact that most men will not either, not necessarily for the same reason, but for all practical purposes, it is the same.

    I guess…for me, instead of collapsing everything into one “practical” lump, I’d rather split and drill down.

    For example, I’d certainly be interested in finding the non-gender inequalities that also exist within the church that cause many men not to become Bishops/Stake Presidents, etc., I would suppose that there are socio-economic, racial, and other background inequalities that should be addressed along with gender inequalies.

    re 75

    “So yes, I will never be a bishop, and my husband may never be a bishop. But because the bishop is a man, like my husband, means that I will always relate to the bishop differently than my husband will. And that can make working in the church more difficult for me than for my husband.”

    I can certainly understand this. But, the only way to thoroughly resolve this is to have two Bishops, one man and one women, so each can relate to their own gender. The problem they will not be able to relate to each other because they are not the same.

    Or what if…I don’t know…we could rotate Bishops and other callings..? but in the pool of eligible Bishop candidates, instead of just considering men, we might open the pool up to women?

    Then, even if women were not “able to relate” to male bishops, at least the system wouldn’t encourage a permanent state of affairs like thus.

    In fact, while the current state of affairs is great at teaching women to learn to deal with men above them…this new proposal could allow both men and women to learn to deal with people of the opposite sex “above” them.

    A novel idea…

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  102. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    I agree with Tom Haws in comment #93

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  103. WMP on April 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Big “like” from here, Jeff.

    It’s a tough thing to have to defend the counsel of one of the Lord’s anointed … on an LDS blog.

    (I also note that there are all kinds of things that are “awkward” to discuss that still must be discussed.)

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  104. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    WMP,

    If we were actually attacking one of the Lord’s anointed…on an LDS blog…then you might have a point.

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  105. WMP on April 4, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Dan,

    I said Jeff was defending the counsel of one of the Lord’s anointed. I certainly hope no one would actually attack Elder Cook. That would be awful.

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  106. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    I’m not sure anyone has even attacked Elder Cook’s counsel. The only thing I think that was said is that it is awkward when a man speaks about how special women are(and the paradoxical contradiction that is inherent in praising a non-empowered gender by the empowered gender for how much greater they are), and that its awkward to have a talk that speaks of equality in one paragraph, and then gives examples of inequality as the standard in another paragraph.

    From there a discussion ensued about whether or not there is such thing as seperate but equal (in gender terms). And some light battles over these ideas have ensued, but again, I don’t know that attacking of counsel of the Lord’s Anointed has yet happened. (Though I skimmed some comments and read others. It is possible I missed some overt attacking)

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  107. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    WMP,

    Thanks for defending me. I was not necessarily defending Elder Cook, he doesn’t need me to do this for him.

    I was commenting on what I thought was an over-extrapolation of his talk.

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  108. Andrew S. on April 4, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    FWIW, I thought much of this conversation was an overextrapolation from what was said.

    But such a fun one!

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  109. WMP on April 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    B.Russ,

    I get it, but the basis for the alleged awkwardness, so perceived, is the fact that only men have the priesthood (and therefore are ultimately “in charge” of everything) therefore what these men say (no matter who they are or from whom their charge has been given) about women–however laudatory, noble, and true–will always be lacking, or unfulfilling, or demeaning, or patronizing, or some such. I think it’s all a bit sad.

    Jeff,

    No prob. And I readily acknowledge that neither you nor Elder Cook need my support. But I’ll try and throw some around anyway.

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  110. diversityoflife on April 4, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Persuasive power is inversely proportional to vociferousness. Why not treat these issues as tough questions for careful investigation rather than jump to the answers?

    Blasting people with clever, mordant rhetoric will win you likes (or dislikes), but it probably won’t change much or get either or you any closer to the truth.

    (this comment directed towards you)

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  111. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    #110, To answer your question: Because problems are only solved by answers? Or, are you taking issue with how quickly the answers arise? If so, what process would you suggest? How many questions do you think need to be asked? How long should it take to come to answers? What if the answers seem obvious— should we still give more investigation for appearances’ sake, so we don’t look so hasty? And what about the fact that these issues have been ongoing for generations? Is that not enough time for investigation and problem-solving?

    Your entire comment is very weird to me. Rather passive-aggressive, too.

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  112. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    So we can put Elder Cook’s talk together with Elder Holland’s talk (the conference audience is not just members) and do a wild extrapolation that Cook-the-former-lawyer was really addressing, as does Joanna Brooks, the issue of religious underpinnings of workplace discrimination at Wal-Mart.

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  113. David on April 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    I found it interesting that in the story Cook shared of the stake council meeting we are taught the lesson that women can ‘facilitate’ revelation. Does this implicitly teach that women cannot directly receive revelation?

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  114. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    So now we’ve taken to parse out each word to extract a meaning and suspicion not intended by the speaker?

    Of course, women can receive revelation. That was make very clear in a talk by Elder Bednar.

    Are you saying that Elder Cook does not believe Women can receive Revelation?

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  115. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Jeff, how can we know what is intended and what is not? When we don’t like it, we just assume he didn’t mean the words he used? When we do like it, we spend ten minutes in Sunday School discussing how meaningful a single word is, how it suggests so much?

    A church leader, who has a command to give a talk to the entire world, who has months to prepare, who has people who can edit, should not leave it up to me to read his mind and assume the best.

    If he didn’t MEAN to use X word that clearly, plainly has a specific meaning, he should have found a different word.

    It’s responsible for me to assume leaders mean what they say and irresponsible to interpret their talks otherwise.

    By using “facilitate”, he is suggesting that women don’t have the authority to decide.

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  116. David on April 4, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Jeff:

    So now you’ve taken to parsing out every single comment to extract a meaning and suspicion *perhaps* not intended by the speaker?

    In all seriousness, if a speaker (Cook, in this instances) states something very specific, are we to look at his words, or not? If he says that women facilitate revelation, does or does not that word mean something? Words necessarily mean something, else why use them? Why not, instead, say “women receive revelation,” or “women bring revelation,” or “women are revelation”? Instead, women only facilitate [i.e. make it easier to come about] revelation?

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  117. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    So now we’ve taken to parse out each word to extract a meaning and suspicion not intended by the speaker?

    Correlation teaches us that this is how we should approach the scriptures, why not General Conference talks as well?

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  118. B.Russ on April 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Although, snark aside, we should probably wait until the transcript is released before parsing every statement. A comment like “women can ‘facilitate’ revelation” can have vastly different connotations depending on its context.

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  119. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I was going to say that I needed to look at the context and I don’t have time to re-watch it. But I suspect it was meant as a compliment.

    but it is interesting how quick some want to jump on an out of context phrase and ascribe something negative to it.

    But then, this whole post and comments has been that way.

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  120. SilverRain on April 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I, for one, am glad that the GA’s don’t agonize over every word they say.

    And I’m even more glad that I’m not under public scrutiny like this.

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  121. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    A lot of things that are meant as compliments are backhanded compliments.

    A single word can change so much. Which was why BKP’s talk had to be changed last conference. If these were just people’s opinions to consider, we could be generous and casual in our interpretations. But, the Institute course The Teachings of the Living Prophets, and other talks, say that what the leaders say from the pulpit is *scripture*. Well, if it’s scripture, best I know exactly what it’s saying, don’t you think?

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  122. David on April 4, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    What I find so funny about Jeff’s [and others] comments is that when someone in the Qof12 or FP says something that someone disagrees with, it’s labeled as “taking it out of context,” or “parsing” it or something like that.

    But, if they say something YOU agree with, but I don’t, then I’m generally views as an apostate and ridiculed for not “paying enough attention” to the words they say.

    “Well, if it’s scripture, best I know exactly what it’s saying, don’t you think?”

    HUGE if, but you’re absolutely correct. And, it doesn’t much matter whether they think it’s scripture, what matters is that most local leaders do… and, if they think it’s scripture, why not pour over it and see if what the man said matches up with scripture?

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  123. Chris H. on April 4, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    The actual scriptures require much work and interpretation to but understood. In many ways they can only be appreciated after grappling with them over time. Conference talks are not scripture in the way that the Bible or the Book of Mormon are scripture. However, when language and words are our medium of communication…there will always be interpretation involved.

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  124. Jeff Spector on April 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    “What I find so funny about Jeff’s [and others] comments is that when someone in the Qof12 or FP says something that someone disagrees with, it’s labeled as “taking it out of context,” or “parsing” it or something like that.’

    I think what is funny about this is that you are making up a scenario so you can be the victim instead of the other way around.

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  125. Paul on April 4, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    115: Natashia, I’ll have to check the transcript to be sure, but I think he was refering to a sister’s facilitating revelation for the presiding officer in a ward council.

    In the Handbook 2 instruction that has now had two different sessions, we were clearly taught that in the end, the presiding authority in the council (the bishop in the ward council; the organization president in a presidency meeting) will have the ultimate revelation on matters that come before the council.

    We also learned that all members of the council are open to receive inspiration in discussions in those meetings.

    So in the case of a ward council, a sister (or brother) might be inspired to say something that will facilitate the bishop’s receiving an answer he would not have received on his own.

    Similarly, in a Relief Society presidency, the same thing might happen, where one counselor might be inspired to approach a subject in a particular way, allowing the president also to have a confirming witness that it is the correct action to take.

    There was no suggestion that I heard in Elder Cook’s talk which excluded a woman from having revelation, especially considering other talks in the conference (such as Elder Bednar, President Uchtdorf, Sister Allred and others).

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  126. jmb275 on April 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    I have a question for Andrew S and Jeff (not necessarily lumping them together though).

    I assume you both recognize there are justifiable reasons why women would feel the need to analyze such talks. You’ve both commented on the “over-extrapolation” of the talk. So I’m curious, what ARE the issues you see with the talk, if any? Was it completely 100% God’s will (just answer in your own way A)? Are there contradicting stories and messages within the talk? What are the high points and low points of it?

    I think David, #122, has a good point that I’ve noticed quite often. Whenever anyone has a criticism of the words of GAs, it’s quickly glossed over as “misinterpretation” or “reading too much into it” etc. Certainly that happens, but I’m often surprised at the “defenses” that arise whenever someone has something less than flattering to say about a GA’s talk.

    One of my very favorite quotes of all time from a GA comes from the very GA in question:

    Let me be clear that all voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced. Furthermore, we should not expect that because some of our views emanate from religious principles, they will automatically be accepted or given preferential status. But it is also clear such views and values are entitled to be reviewed on their merits.

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  127. diversityoflife on April 4, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    #111, Because problems are only solved by answers?
    No, although I’m not sure what you’re getting at this with.

    Or, are you taking issue with how quickly the answers arise?
    No. I’m taking issue with how certain some people are that they’ve got the right answers. I see nothing wrong with proposing possible answers immediately. I just think that the complexities of society and morality make conclusively answering these questions a challenging. It’s because I think these questions are so important that I’m disappointed when people dogmatically cling to their answers.

    If so, what process would you suggest?
    The same process, just less dogmatism.

    How many questions do you think need to be asked?
    Ideally, as many as it takes to get at the truth. Practically, as many as it takes to get us all on the same page.

    How long should it take to come to answers?
    Depends on the complexity of the issue. In this case, probably a lot.

    What if the answers seem obvious— should we still give more investigation for appearances’ sake, so we don’t look so hasty?
    If the answers seem obvious to you, then go with them by all means, but I see a lot more certainty around here than good arguments.

    And what about the fact that these issues have been ongoing for generations?
    All the more reason to think them through very carefully.

    Is that not enough time for investigation and problem-solving?
    Depends on how the generations have been using their time. Perhaps they have the answers.

    Your entire comment is very weird to me. Rather passive-aggressive, too.
    Sorry. I tried to make it very direct (not passive-aggressive) by addressing it to everyone, but it seems I failed. I’m not trying to say that what people are posting has no value; I’m just trying to say that quite a few people are so emotionally attached to their position that they’re not willing to consider each others’ points, and it makes the resulting dialogue less productive.

    I understand that it’s not fun to be accused of dogmatism and empty rhetoric, but I felt like there was a lot of it going around, and I thought the conversation might benefit from some chilling out. I now realize that my comment was unlikely to elicit said chilling out. Sorry. I still think people should cool it. Sarcasm, snappy one-liners, etc. generally don’t convince people, they just provoke similar responses.

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  128. Will on April 4, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    It looks like many of you have itching ears over a few words spoken by an Apostle. Does it change the meaning of the role of Men and Women outlined in the ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’? NO! Absolutely No. Not one iota.

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  129. Howard on April 4, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Great OP and thread! The birthright argument is a legitimate issue but I think a poor one for debate. Jeff makes the point that in their callings he and his wife had to sit in counsel with the Bishop so he doesn’t see the difference. If one views the Bishop as a calling or a third sex rather than a man it makes sense. However despite lip service to the contrary in my view women can be trivialized, marginalized and placated by well intended GAs and leadership this unintended condescension is reinforced by their one down Priesthood-less position.

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  130. Rigel Hawthorne on April 4, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    If the church was to dump patriarchy, what would be the favored alternative among W&T readers here, particularly the women readers? Would it be ‘co-Bishoping’ or alternating gender Pastoring? Would the delightful clerking duties of staying after the church to enter donations, move records and do the pesky quarterly report be shared? The Bishop’s counselor’s bane of finding speakers willing to speak in church and being turned down multiple times…now that’s a fun one. Going to Bishopric training meetings at the stake center after 8 hours of presiding over the ward functions…that’s the way I love to spend my Sunday evenings.

    I can say that my wife doesn’t aspire to do those tasks. She often felt like it wasn’t even worth trying to take the kids to church and try to get anything out of it when I was pulled away to do those things. I don’t want to miss out on my children’s growing up to be the Bishop, call me selfish.

    So, I’m curious to see where this ‘faithfully agitating’ thing will go. Twice or more the potential candidates (if women are eligible) to be the Bishop means lower odds that I will be getting a call one day from the stake executive secretary and I’m all for that.

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  131. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Now, Rigel Hawthorne, our beloved Prophet, even Thomas S. Monson, told us just the other day that, “The gift of the priesthood is priceless. Nothing else to compare to it in all the world.”

    Endure to the end, brother. Endure to the end.

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  132. LRC on April 4, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    Truly, if it’s such a challenge, you can give it up – nobody is forcing you to accept those callings, and there are lots of people to delegate responsibilities to. Heck, there are a bunch of already-PH-holding men commenting right here on this thread who say they’ll never be called to positions of authority – maybe it’s time to look outside of the box.

    If you look outside just enough, well, just imagine – you could get out of church early and have some bonding time with the kids and your wife could hang out in the clerks’ office counting tithing receipts in the company of other adults.

    And since there would be twice as many candidates for those nasty, dirty, tiresome PH duties that are so hard to fulfill, you have more time for whatever it is you want to do (since many hands make light work and, of course, since women are SO much more spiritual and efficient and -ahem- righteous and naturally able to multi-task), the work will be done much more efficiently, thus freeing up both you AND your wife to have time together with the kids that you don’t have now.

    Time for basketball now, since, being a woman, I have no PH responsibilities to fulfill. neener neener.

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  133. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    I had to work for several hours, but I’m back and I’ve read all of these great comments. Thanx for a productive discussion, all of you.

    Rigel, interesting thought experiment. I think there are some good options “if the Church was to dump patriarchy,” even without making many changes to the existing structure. I do like the idea of co-Bishoping, where the husband and wife are called as Bishop much like Mission President and wife. Household duties could be split that way (whoever needs to get out of the house most gets to go to Bishopric meetings!) The wife could counsel and interview females and the husband do males, etc.

    I also think the structure is in place for women to be accountable to their female leaders. RS presidents should be under the direction of their Stake RS Presidents, and up the line to the General RS board and General RS presidency. Same with YW and Primary. The buck should stop at the General level. These women are capable of making decisions on their own about curriculum, funding, etc, without having to get approval from any males. Does anyone have a problem with this scenario?

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  134. Will on April 4, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Does anyone have a problem with this scenario?

    Yes, God does.

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  135. Bored in Vernal on April 4, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    Will, did you read? It’s a thought experiment!!!

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  136. Chris H. on April 4, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    He got tripped up at the “thought” part.

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  137. Howard on April 4, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I love the idea of co-Bishoping but I would like to see the RS president called instead of the Bishop’s wife because I think it would be unusual to find people with these skills married to each other. The same could be done at the Stake. I also love the idea of women being accountable from Ward RS president to Stake RS president to General RS presidency rather than through the Priesthood.

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  138. hawkgrrrl on April 4, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    “If the church was to dump patriarchy, what would be the favored alternative among W&T readers here, particularly the women readers?” I like BiV’s suggestion although I don’t think I would have come up with that on my own, and I truly don’t have time to fill a demanding calling.

    I think there are a few more possible scenarios that would create more equality and reduce the separation of thinking and the control of PH over all women’s orgs:
    1 – democratic “by common consent” style leadership for decision-making. Reduce PH roles to administrative. Speaking of which, there’s no legit reason clerking roles are PH only, not open to either gender.
    2 – women’s orgs report into women’s org at the stake level and then at the HQ level, not into the local PH.
    3 – true equity in the two auxiliaries that have no gender requirement: Primary and Sunday School. There’s no legit reason Primary must be run by women or Sunday School must be run by men. As Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, it’s “tradition!” Presidencies that are a mix of genders would improve the organizations and lead to more creativity and less groupthink.
    4 – Must the PH and RS really meet separately? I’m not sure it’s really justified either. Same manuals, same functions (helping those in the ward who need it, fulfilling the mission of the church).

    Those are a few ideas. I don’t see the need for all the formal structure we’ve created. I also question why we have to have so many men on the stand each week, leaving their wives to fend for themselves with a benchful of kids. Or why we don’t have more mixing of the men & women in the orgs.

    If it’s fear that everyone’s going to suddenly drop their morals in an astounding orgy, isn’t that the same fear that existed when schools went from gender specific to co-educational? It wasn’t founded there; it’s not here.

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  139. Natasha on April 4, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    Super tired and don’t have time to read all of this, but…

    Paul: Okay, but aren’t the sisters always only facilitating revelation if the final decision is made by the bishop or other leader? And in the situations when the sisters can receive their own revelation, where it’s all them and there’s no facilitating someone else’s revelation, why wouldn’t Cook use such an example, if the goal was to show how special women are and how they have certain freedoms or whatever. (Again. So tired.)

    diversityoflife, your second comment makes much more sense to me and is totally fair. I don’t agree with everything you said. Problems are solved by answers and those answers can always be revised. Endless talking does no good. I don’t think any feminist point of view here is overly dogmatic at all. The church is dogmatic, however. What is the Proclamation of the Family if not dogmatic? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a snappy one-liner. Sometimes pith is the best argument. And it’s difficult to not get exasperated by absurdity. Can’t help but notice that Jeff didn’t respond to my handicapped analogy to say why that’s not exactly what he’s doing with this issue. His dismissive perspective genuinely offends me.

    Rigel, I refer you to my legless person analogy. “You wouldn’t really like having power and authority” is not a very good argument for why women shouldn’t be upset about not having the priesthood, about being dependent and subservient. I don’t like everything about being a mom, either. Much of it sucks. But the highlights are that I get to do wonderful good in the world and I get to have these cool relationships. Hey! That’s just like being a bishop! And I really appreciate being able to have the choice as to whether or not I’m a mother.

    Too tired and exasperated to avoid kinda-sarcasm. I am half-heartedly sorry.

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  140. Henry on April 5, 2011 at 6:40 AM

    If women were general authorities, they would be clamoring for gay marriage.

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  141. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    “Can’t help but notice that Jeff didn’t respond to my handicapped analogy to say why that’s not exactly what he’s doing with this issue. His dismissive perspective genuinely offends me.”

    I didn’t respond to it because you constructed it to make your own point. We are not talking about having something and then not having it.

    Where I live, we have soldiers returning from the Middle East who do amazing things in spite of their handicaps including having their legs blown off.. So I do not take that very lightly.

    And I would never tell someone who wanted that challenge not to do it.

    so, I’m sorry, you carefully constructed analogy does not play well for me. And it is not analogous.

    And I am done discussing this anyway. Because my POV is not seemly not relevant in this discussion anyway. I should have quit responding early yesterday. I do not like the contention and i regret i was part of it.

    Today is a new day.

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  142. Natasha on April 5, 2011 at 7:27 AM

    Why would I be making anyone’s point but my own? Did you hope I make your point for you??

    I was talking about being born without something, not having something and then not having it. (People ARE born without legs.) Although, that would have worked too because the Relief Society used to have more independence and jurisdiction than now, from what I’ve been told. Ya, it was a pretty good analogy.

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  143. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    Frankly, I do not accept your analogy, because I personally would never discourage anyone in that situation. While I am glad you think it is so good, I did not.

    “Although, that would have worked too because the Relief Society used to have more independence and jurisdiction than now, from what I’ve been told.”

    I think you need to go and read the writing of some of the prior RS presidents. And listen to Belle Spafford’s speeches given at BYU. While running an independent organization, she willingly and repectively took direction from her leaders, who were men.

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  144. SilverRain on April 5, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    Co-bishoping sounds like an even greater nightmare for the families of said parent.

    And since when have we EVER known the exact meaning of scripture, anyways? Are we not taught to “Search, Ponder AND Pray”? That’s how we should approach any scripture . . . or any information, for that matter.

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  145. Chris H. on April 5, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    Why search, ponder, and prayer if the institute manual can do the work for us.

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  146. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    “Why search, ponder, and prayer if the institute manual can do the work for us.”

    When did that become a substitute? I don’t recall having ever heard that?

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  147. Natasha on April 5, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    (I thought it was a new day, Jeff.)

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  148. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    You’re not a very nice person, are you?

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  149. Chris H. on April 5, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Jeff, it is not. It was alluding to comment #121.

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  150. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    “Jeff, it is not. It was alluding to comment #121.’

    I didn’t think so. Discerning what is truly scripture is the difficult part. I’m not sure i want anyone directing me other than the spirit on that one..

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  151. Chris H. on April 5, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Personal revelation all the way. I am with ya.

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  152. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I try not to get too hung up on what is said, if I think it may be contradictory toward scripture and what has been said in the past.

    But I do so at my own eternal peril….. :)

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  153. Natasha on April 5, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Jeff, I am an exceptionally nice person, thanks for asking.

    You left a comment that basically said, “I’m above the narrow-minded contentious comments here and I can’t believe I actually participated. But I will cease now.” And then you didn’t.

    You haven’t given any sign that you really understand or are sympathetic to opposing views of women who feel discriminated against. People have tried to explain things to you, using logic and examples and you haven’t counter-argued (which works best when you can repeat back what someone said, to make it clear that you understand it and sympathise) so much as just stamped your foot about and complained sarcastically about popularity contests. You don’t come across as very nice yourself.

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  154. Chris H. on April 5, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Jeff, I think you are nice.

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  155. Natasha on April 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    LOL. You would, Chris, you would.

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  156. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Ok, Natasha, in an effort to promote better understanding, I comment on each of your points.

    “Jeff, I am an exceptionally nice person, thanks for asking.;

    I certainly hope this is true, but, for me, the jury is still out. i look forward to finding out this is the case.

    “You left a comment that basically said, “I’m above the narrow-minded contentious comments here and I can’t believe I actually participated. But I will cease now.” And then you didn’t.”

    You are right, I didn’t stop. but, I would dispute your re-writing of that I said. I basically apologized for being part of the contention of the comments. No talk of being above it, and no apology for making comments, only the manner in which I did and for as long as I did.

    “You haven’t given any sign that you really understand or are sympathetic to opposing views of women who feel discriminated against.”

    I am against real discrimination. I do not see that in the Institutional Church. Men hold the Priesthood and women do not. That is the way it is at this point in time. I do not know the actual reasons for it, but I believe it came from God. so, it that vane, it is not discrimination that Women do not hold the Priesthood. Now, have women been mistreated at the hands of some local Church Leaders? Yes, of course, but so have men. Not sure there is a pattern of willful discrimination except by a small group that might have a very narrow mind.

    People have tried to explain things to you, using logic and examples and you haven’t counter-argued (which works best when you can repeat back what someone said, to make it clear that you understand it and sympathise) so much as just stamped your foot about and complained sarcastically about popularity contests. You don’t come across as very nice yourself.

    Men sitting in judgement of women? Part of Priesthood responsibility as far as I know. Not subject to change except by God and the Prophet. Complaining probably does not work. So, I am sympathetic to real discrimination against Blacks, Jews, fat people and others merely for who they are and how they look. This complaint doesn’t make it in my book. end of part 1

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  157. Natasha on April 5, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Jeff, short of inserting yourself into my life, I’m not sure how you could confirm your suspicions or not. We’ve engaged in one conversation online with no body language or inflection. Maybe you’re not coming across as clearly as I’m not. If you want a better idea, visit my blog. The second most common compliment I receive is that I’m “lovely”. So there.

    Our major difference here seems to be our understanding of how revelation and authority works. I don’t believe the Brethren are inspired in everything they do and say. They have been wrong in the past, just plain wrong. From what Brigham said about blacks, to what BKP and Kimball said about gays, and it’s very possible that the only thing stopping the Brethren from getting a revelation that women should hold the priesthood is that they haven’t asked. Or, yes, maybe they have and maybe we’ll never receive it. But it defies reason, for me. As I said earlier, I don’t see why perfect beings could not handle equality in all areas. How can we really make choices if we don’t have all choices available to us? And don’t we believe choice trumps all? And don’t we believe that Eve should harken unto Adam’s counsel simply as a consequence? (Sidestepping a conversation about how our latter-day revealed view of Eve does not align with her punishments, or if it does, then it brings into question how bad we are when we do bad things: can some things be bad and good simultaneously, breaking a law for a higher purpose?)

    We have fundamental differences in belief of how inspired the church is. That’s a discussion that could go on for months.

    And discrimination is discrimination, whether it is commanded by God or not.

    I do think that “complaining” leads to changes.

    I am done with this discussion. I have much school work to do. Stimulating and important. Take care.

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  158. Natasha on April 5, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Forgot to add this to the comment about Eve and Adam: One could argue that Eve harkening to Adam is a consequence of a fallen world and one that will not endure forever, and so could, theoretically, be changed any time. How about next week? :-)

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  159. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Part 2 to Natasha

    “People have tried to explain things to you, using logic and examples and you haven’t counter-argued (which works best when you can repeat back what someone said, to make it clear that you understand it.”

    One of the features of blogging and comments is that we are free to pick and choose what we respond to or not. In the effort to save time, we usually only pick the things we are most interested in commenting on. That is what I did. Logic is certainly in the eye of the beholder, so whether something is logically to me is for me to decide. And I’ve stated that I am not real fond of analogies since they are usually carefully crafted and bounded to support the person’s POV. And because of that do not usually leave much room for discussion. Like your marathon analogy. I didn’t think it was analogous to what we were discussing so I let it alone. But then you insisted that it be responded to, so I did.

    “And sympathize so much as just stamped your foot about and complained sarcastically about popularity contests.”

    Not sure about “stamping my foot” but I thought it interesting that some people were just going though and “liking” or “disliking” comments. I not had some many of my comments disliked before, so I was amused by that.

    “You don’t come across as very nice yourself.”

    Which is precisely why I offered my apology about contributing to the contentiousness. I can be quite snarky if I am not careful. I happen to consider myself a strong member of the Church, not perfect by any means, who generally accepts most of the principles and doctrines of the Church. As many people know, I am not above questioning anything and not afraid of confronting any issue. I have strong faith. And, I also realize that some things in the Church defy logic. And I do not apologize for that.

    So there you have it.

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  160. Chris H. on April 5, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    “I don’t believe the Brethren are inspired in everything they do and say.”

    Me neither. However, I also do not expect them to be.

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  161. Howard on April 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    “Not subject to change except by God and the Prophet. Complaining probably does not work.”

    David Ransom: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church…Is it possible that the rules could change in the future..?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: He could change them yes…But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.

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  162. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    “But there’s no agitation for that.”

    For sure not among the Brethren and brethren. And probably not a majority of the women, either.

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  163. Alison Moore Smith on April 5, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    BiV, loved #49. Thank you.

    Stephen #31, I believe you are mistaken.

    Thank you LRC #62 and #70. Saved me from having to look up the details. Again. I’m continually surprised that people don’t know these things and/or deny they happened.

    Given that even today women do not ever pray in general conference and there are only 1-2 women who speak in all four sessions, it’s baffling that people can’t fathom a sacrament meeting without women praying/speaking.

    Even the general rs/yw meetings (which I have been told aren’t part of general conference like the priesthood session (thus it’s relegation to the end of the Ensign), always have a male keynote speaker. Where are the women in the priesthood session?

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  164. Howard on April 5, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    #102 Jeff there is a difference between no agitation and some perhaps we are at the beginning.

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  165. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Certainly possible, Howard.

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  166. Howard on April 5, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Sorry #102 should be #162

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  167. jmb275 on April 5, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Oh man Jeff, you’ve taken the time to argue with Natasha, but haven’t answered my question. It wasn’t a challenge, or attempt to make you look bad, I seriously wanted to know what your take on the issue was. It seems to me like so far you’ve only made rebuttles to people’s comments, but I wanted to know what you actually thought of the talk and the issues that BiV presented. I asked out of sincere curiosity. You too Andrew S, if you’re still reading this.

    Thoughts?

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  168. Alison Moore Smith on April 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    Derek, #65:

    So women were allowed to pray in Sac Meeting prior to (and through most of) 1967?

    In addition to LRC’s excellent responses, I’d like to add an idea. When the church was restored, it seems reasonable that cultural precedence led to the idea that only men were preachers. I’m not sure that this idea was ever questioned by anyone, but just assumed to be the “correct” way.

    As time went on and new things were introduced, sometimes women participated (such as with pioneer women giving blessings, etc.). The continued to do so until/unless someone (a man in charge) put the kabosh on it.

    I suggest that the official prohibition on women saying prayers in sacrament meeting in the 1960s came about because *over time* enough women had BEGUN to say SM prayers, that someone decided it needed to be stopped. Until then, it was rare enough that no one did anything.

    Similarly, there are a couple of examples of women giving talks in General Conference over a hundred years ago. But then it never happened again for decades (from what I remember). There may not have been an official edict, but it seems apparent that someone in authority at very least ASSUMED this should not be done and this practice was adopted/followed, for some reason. I can’t see how having NO women speak for decades could be a coincidence.

    As someone who has lived in multiple wards, in multiple stakes, in multiple states — over the past decade — that prohibited women from giving opening prayers (for a variety of reasons), this kind of stuff happens fairly regularly.

    Paul #76, I agree that that PARTICULAR prohibition was about prayers. But the fact remains that women were generally not allowed to preach in sacrament meeting.

    LRC #74

    Where are the stories of how Julie Beck said something that made Thomas Monson change his way of approaching women’s issues

    Maybe the real question is: Would anyone who would challenge the prophet be called to be general RS president?

    I actually do have one example (from one of the general auxiliary leadership workshops held annually on Temple Square) where a member of a general auxiliary “took down” an apostle for implying that the women’s issues weren’t “real” church issues. (The woman herself told the story during her talk.) But that’s the only one I’ve ever heard in my life.

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  169. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Jmb,

    Give me a chance to read the transcript and i promise to respond. I just haven’t had the time to view the broadcast again.

    But I will. If not here, then in email.

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  170. Andrew S on April 5, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Ditto what Jeff said.

    I suspect my answer will take a predictably less faith-promiting bent than Jeff’s will, though…I guess the preview of my answer would be this: I highly doubt the GAs put anywhere near as much time into thinking about the precision of the words they use, the historical consistency of the ideas they are pushing, or even the internal consistency of their thoughts with other GAs’ thoughts at the same conference — as we bloggers do.

    So, I guess I would say “never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”

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  171. Andrew S on April 5, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Um, wait, I didn’t mean to copy/paste incompetence there. I meant to say something like “privilege” or “ignorance” (not meant in as connotatively negative a way) or something like that.

    (In before downvotes)

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  172. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    I agree with Andrew. If the GAs thought that each word would be careful analyzed they might be much more careful, or not care. If Elder Cook used the word “inspire” instead of “facilitate,” we might not have had this discussion at all.

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  173. SilverRain on April 5, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    I just want to see how many of us would present a flawless talk when having to do it in front of so many people.

    No matter how many times we practiced beforehand.

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  174. dp on April 5, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    I just listened to Elder Cook’s talk and afterward immediately went looking for the controversial blog post on it.

    I love this topic!

    My take on it is a bit different. I think we are all getting prepped for women taking over the leadership of the Church – I honestly do. I think this talk (although not perfect) is part of laying the groundwork. It’ll take some time, but eventually it will crack.

    Just think of it … doubling the leadership pool! Greatly expanding the missionary army (via ALL 19-year-olds serving missions)! 100% in-house teaching (or whatever it’ll be called)! No more “Priesthood” or RS meetings … it’ll just be meetings in general … TWO HOUR BLOCK MEETINGS on SUNDAY!

    Oh wow! Personally speaking, I can see a good 10 hours a month of time being freed up with this change.

    What other improvements (for men) would there be if all members could have the Priesthood? I’m sure there are more that I’m missing.

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  175. Howard on April 5, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    “If Elder Cook used the word “inspire” instead of “facilitate…”

    This isn’t a wording issue it is a frame of reference issue. They are well intended and want to soothe women but it placates instead from an unconscious level offending those on a conscious level who are sensitive to the issues indicating to them that both the speaker and the church are out of touch. BiV’s excellent comment #49 summarizes some of these issues; women are institutionally treated like children, while they are placed on a pedestal (special! incredible!) they are also reduced in importance to the fruit of their womb (and I’ll add nurturing), church for women is a male centered frame of reference. For those who can’t see it it is like viewing one of those optical illusions of an old woman and a young woman some people can see them easily and others can’t.

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  176. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Jeff (156),

    I am against real discrimination. I do not see that in the Institutional Church. Men hold the Priesthood and women do not.

    Men holding the priesthood and women not IS discrimination. You might not appreciate that word being used because it has a lot of baggage, and I appreciate that, but it is discrimination.

    Feel free to call it “righteous discrimination” or “Godly discrimination” or “virtuous discrimination” if you like, but don’t claim it isn’t discrimination.

    (I say this as a person who is not agitating for (or against) women holding the priesthood.)

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  177. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Re: the marathon analogy

    I can appreciate that analogy, as a rhetorical device, can be somewhat of blunt instrument as Jeff says “carefully crafted” to favor a side of the argument.

    At the same time analogy, as a teaching device, can be very useful in grasping a difficult abstract concept. That is probably why Jesus, and a multitude of modern prophets and apostles, use them liberally.

    I think Natasha was trying to use her analogy to help you understand the pain inherent in being patted on the head by the ruling class and told “you wouldn’t want our trials anyway.” It was a pretty good one, and I think valid.

    But you’re right Jeff, as an instrument of argument, it isn’t very useful.

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  178. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Howard (137),

    I love the idea of co-Bishoping but I would like to see the RS president called instead of the Bishop’s wife because I think it would be unusual to find people with these skills married to each other.

    If a man and woman were to “co-bishop” being married to each other would provide some serious advantages. Bishops already spend too much time out of the home and away from their spouses, if spouses co-bishopped together, they would be spending a lot more time together. However if they weren’t married, they would be spending a lot more time with someone of the opposite sex who wasn’t their spouse.
    I have no problem with people having relationships outside of marriage with the opposite sex. I think it can be healthy, and I think sometimes Mormon culture is overly-defensive in this regard. However, a calling like “co-bishop” spending 5 years working together with someone of the opposite sex in an intimate and extensive manner would undoubtedly ruin some marriages unnecessarily. Many would be fine, but I think many would suffer.

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  179. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    “Men holding the priesthood and women not IS discrimination. ”

    You and I disagree with this notion. If you want to be technical, I suppose it is discrimination, but the practical application of discrimination is that it must be UNFAIR. Women not holding the Priesthood in the Church is not blatantly unfair. There is vast historical precedence for men holding the Priesthood.

    I realize that some might consider it unfair, but in the teachings and beliefs of the Church it is not unfair in the same way as withholding the Priesthood from black members seemed unfair because there is no theological reason for it. There are significant substantiations for male-only Priesthood.

    This is analogous to not letting non-members into the Temples once they are dedicated. Seems unfair, but….

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  180. salt h2o on April 5, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    This talk made me cry-

    I’m a full time working mommy and I know with everything in me, my working is the best thing for my marriage and my family. It’s no one elses business but for the longest time I’ve felt the need to justify myself to many relatives and members. I’m constantly judged. I got over it.

    It’s so nice to finally have an apostle tell all of those who have been off my case “lay off”

    To hear a truth I knew to my core but had never been uttered across the pulpit before, it moved me, and will make life easier to deal with all of those living in Spencer W. Kimball’s misinterpreted 1984.

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  181. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    saltH2O,

    I can sympathize where you are coming from, you have a right to make the decision that is right for you and your family. And not to be openly critized for making a choice. But, at the same time, it might not be such a good idea to cast a stone toward those who might see things differently.

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  182. Andrew S on April 5, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    re 179

    Jeff,

    I realize that some might consider it unfair, but in the teachings and beliefs of the Church it is not unfair in the same way as withholding the Priesthood from black members seemed unfair because there is no theological reason for it. There are significant substantiations for male-only Priesthood.

    But there *were* theological reasons for withholding the Priesthood from black members. Just because we don’t accept these reasons as valid now (calling them “nondoctrinal” or “folklore” or “policy”) doesn’t mean they weren’t touted as theological reasons back when.

    We look in hindsight now and say, “Of course, people of races aren’t that different as to justify difference in priesthood.” Who is to say that in xx years, we won’t look in hindsight the same way at gender?

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  183. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Jeff,

    There is probably much that we don’t agree on, based on different points of view, opinion, life experience, etc.

    What discrimination means is not a point of opinion that we can argue about.

    Not allowing women to hold the priesthood is discrimination no matter what definition you use. Fairness is not a function of discrimination. Discrimination is discerning or differentiating between two things (and treating them differently).

    Again, you can call it “fair discrimination” or whatever you want. It may very well be a differentiation that comes from God himself, that’s fine, I might even agree with you. But discrimination is discrimination. Whether you like the word or not.

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  184. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    But, at the same time, it might not be such a good idea to cast a stone toward those who might see things differently.

    Whaaaaaaaaaa?

    I didn’t read any stone casting in comment 180. What are you referring to?

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  185. salt h2o on April 5, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    #181 Jeff, it’s good people to see things differently for themselves, Elder Cook confirmed that people don’t get to see things differently for me.

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  186. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    “#181 Jeff, it’s good people to see things differently for themselves, Elder Cook confirmed that people don’t get to see things differently for me.”

    Totally agree.

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  187. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Andrew S.

    “But there *were* theological reasons for withholding the Priesthood from black members.”

    Well, I think there were attempts at a theological rationalization for the policy. But you cannot find a 1st Presidency proclamation or letter that clearly states that this is the reason and it is doctrine.

    To me, that is the a big difference.

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  188. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    “Who is to say that in xx years, we won’t look in hindsight the same way at gender?”

    They might, I never rule that out.

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  189. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    I’m curious Jeff, what 1st Presidency proclamations or letters clearly state a doctrinal reason why only men have the priesthood?

    There probably is one . . . but I’m not aware of it.

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  190. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    “What discrimination means is not a point of opinion that we can argue about.’

    So what you are saying is that one must accept YOUR view of this and not use any other source as a reference. Cause I looked in they dictionary and that is what I found. That was precisely why I said “teechnically” versus “practically.”

    In additional, in the common usage today, discrimination as a wor is pejorative and its practice almost always viewed as negative.

    BTW, I didn’t use “fair disscrimination.” Bbecause I don’t believe it is in the practical sense.

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  191. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    “I’m curious Jeff, what 1st Presidency proclamations or letters clearly state a doctrinal reason why only men have the priesthood?

    There probably is one . . . but I’m not aware of it.”

    Really, it has come to this…..? I beleive we call them scriptures. I think it is pretty plain.

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  192. hawkgrrrl on April 5, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    Jeff: “I can sympathize where you are coming from, you have a right to make the decision that is right for you and your family. And not to be openly critized for making a choice. But, at the same time, it might not be such a good idea to cast a stone toward those who might see things differently.” salth2o is not talking about other people’s choices, but about the hurtful judgments thrown at her for her personal choices. I don’t think anyone should be asked to politely accept unsolicited criticism from busybodies.

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  193. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    So what you are saying is that one must accept YOUR view of this and not use any other source as a reference. Cause I looked in they dictionary and that is what I found. That was precisely why I said “teechnically” versus “practically.”

    My sources: Dictionary.com -

    dis·crim·i·na·tion
       /dɪˌskrɪməˈneɪʃən/ Show Spelled[dih-skrim-uh-ney-shuhn] Show IPA
    –noun
    1.
    an act or instance of discriminating.
    2.
    treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
    3.
    the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment: She chose the colors with great discrimination.
    4.
    Archaic . something that serves to differentiate.

    Definition #2 fits.

    Wiktionary.com –

    Noun

    discrimination (plural discriminations)

    1. a distinction; discernment, the act of discriminating, discerning, distinguishing, noting or perceiving differences between things.
    2. The state of being discriminated, distinguished from, or set apart.
    3. (sometimes discrimination against) distinct treatment of an individual or group to their disadvantage; treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality; prejudice; bigotry

    sexual or racial discrimination

    4. The quality of being discriminating, acute discernment, specifically in a learning situation; as to show great discrimination in the choice of means.
    5. That which discriminates; mark of distinction, a characteristic.

    Fits definitions 1-3.

    If you care to argue further, please quote sources in their entirety (i.e. a word doesn’t have to fit ALL definitions to be applicable), or drop it.

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  194. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Really, it has come to this…..? I beleive we call them scriptures. I think it is pretty plain.

    There are scriptures that give doctrinal reasons as to why men have the priesthood and women don’t? I’m not familiar with any. Please elaborate.

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  195. Chris H. on April 5, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    I think Jeff is arguing that it is not misogynist. To deny an entire category of people the priesthood or certain leadership roles is discriminatory. It might not, however, be misogynist….though I think Mormonism carries some misogynist elements, I do not think Elder Cook’s talk was particularly so…though it did reflect a deeply ingrained patriarchy.

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  196. B.Russ on April 5, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Chris, I agree completely.

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  197. jmb275 on April 5, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Thanks Jeff and Andrew S. I look forward to more analysis. I agree with what Andrew S wrote, though I think they’re perhaps a bit naive if they don’t realize the scrutiny that each sentence will be place under.

    However, to this point

    I just want to see how many of us would present a flawless talk when having to do it in front of so many people.

    I present as a specimen, President Uchtdorff, who consistently gives brilliant talks with near perfect usage of language, historical truth, example, and metaphor. And he’s not even a native English speaker.

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  198. Rigel Hawthorne on April 5, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    LRC, “Endure to the end, brother. Endure to the end”; I’m trying Sister! Forgive my murmuring.

    BIV, re: “I do like the idea of co-Bishoping, where the husband and wife are called as Bishop much like Mission President and wife.”

    My grandfather was one of those 20 year Bishops back in the depression era and during a portion of that time my grandmother was the Relief Society president (back in the days when RS was more independent). I wonder if that arrangement hearkened a bit in function to what you are describing, albeit I don’t think my Grandmother was administering ordinances. I don’t think you could call couples with young kids to be a Co-Bishops, but that’s probably an added benefit.

    Natasha, “You wouldn’t really like having power and authority” is not a very good argument…I wasn’t REALLY, truly trying to make this argument. It was more that I was relishing the vision of all aspects of the leadership being shared. Of course, if women were Bishops, maybe the quarterly reports would be abolished!

    Hawk, “There’s no legit reason Primary must be run by women or Sunday School must be run by men” I’ve seen the counselor in the Bishopric run the whole primary when the entire Primary Presidency was out of town. I’ve never seen the SS presidency out of town and run by a sister, but then again, does anyone really notice if the entire SS presidency is out of town?

    Hawk, “I also question why we have to have so many men on the stand each week, leaving their wives to fend for themselves with a benchful of kids” I left the stand a number of times to help with the fam. Kind members of our ward volunteered to sit with our kids while my wife left the chapel to breastfeed, but they would then give me the look when they couldn’t calm a fussy child that just wanted a parent. When my last son was born, my wife stayed home to recover/take care of him and I took the kids and went to church and sat with them on the pew rather than joining the Bishop on the stand. “We’d like to excuse Brother ‘Hawthorne’ who is sitting with his family’, was the announcement. After a couple of weeks of doing that, I got released from the Bishopric. So, brethren…if you want a way to get released, consider that one.

    I’m wondering how to make myself just unworthy enough to take myself out of consideration from Bishop/Bishopric callings without seriously jeopardizing my standing in the church. Do you think drinking red wine for ‘medicinal reasons’ would do the trick. ;)

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  199. hawkgrrrl on April 5, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    Rigel: “does anyone really notice if the entire SS presidency is out of town?” touché.

    “I’m wondering how to make myself just unworthy enough to take myself out of consideration from Bishop/Bishopric callings without seriously jeopardizing my standing in the church.” Just add the phrase ‘if you know what I mean’ with a wink to the end of things you say at random. It makes it sound like you are talking dirty, even when you are not.

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  200. Jeff Spector on April 6, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    “I didn’t read any stone casting in comment 180. What are you referring to?”

    “salth2o is not talking about other people’s choices, but about the hurtful judgments thrown at her for her personal choices.”

    I was just reacting to this end of her statement:

    “will make life easier to deal with all of those living in Spencer W. Kimball’s misinterpreted 1984.:

    People who choose to hold a more traditional view of the roles of mother and father are just as entitled to their opinion as anyone else. They should keep that opinion to themselves with regard to how others choose to live their life. But holding that view is just as valid. So it doesn’t have to be considered a “misinterpretation.”

    That’s it.

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  201. Jeff Spector on April 6, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    “If you care to argue further, please quote sources in their entirety (i.e. a word doesn’t have to fit ALL definitions to be applicable), or drop it.’

    First, I do not consider what I am doing arguing simply because i do not agree with you.

    Here is where I got my definition if you want to trade definitions:

    discrimination (dɪˌskrɪmɪˈneɪʃən)

    — n
    1. unfair treatment of a person, racial group, minority, etc; action based on prejudice
    2. subtle appreciation in matters of taste
    3. the ability to see fine distinctions and differences
    4. electronics the selection of a signal having a particular frequency, amplitude, phase, etc, effected by the elimination of other signals by means of a discriminator.

    discrimination. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved April 06, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination

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  202. SilverRain on April 6, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    jmb275, #197—It is a lot easier to be casual about a language you grew up with. Besides, I didn’t say it was impossible, just that I know that I’m not going to cast stones, or be offended at a word, because I’m thoroughly not without sin in this instance. I’m not really seeing your point.

    I’m all for discussing what was said in Conference, but I’m not going to get all offended about one word’s use over another’s. I know the doctrine well enough to know that I have stewardship over my own behavior, no matter what others say, even if those others are Apostles. I always have my relationship with the Spirit to rely on when interpreting conference talks for myself.

    Pretty much exactly what Elder Holland spoke about.

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  203. Stephen Marsh on April 6, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Rigel Hawthorne — grow a beard.

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  204. Stephen Marsh on April 6, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    Natasha “facilitate” generally means to be the party in dominant control of a group if one is the facilitator. I had not thought to parse the words that way, though now you make me wonder.

    Alison Moore Smith — can you give me a link to a source? Just because I experienced something does not mean that in the Church at large women were allowed to talk in Sacrament meetings, etc.

    But just an ipsit dixit that I’m wrong doesn’t get me very far in agreeing with you that my personal experience has no value and that by implication, I have no value.

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  205. Bored in Vernal on April 7, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    Stephen, are you remembering sacrament meeting talks or prayers? Women were allowed to speak in sacrament meetings, however regarding prayers, the prohibition against women was established by a 1967 Priesthood Bulletin and was included in the 1968 General “Handbook of Instruction (no. 20, pg. 44):

    L. Prayers in Church Meetings
    Prayers in all Church meetings should be brief, simple, and given as led by the spirit by the one who is voice. Their content should pertain to the particular matter at hand.

    Brethren holding the Melchizedek or Aaronic Priesthood should offer the prayers in sacrament meetings, including fast and testimony meetings. Those praying should use the pronoun forms of Thy, Thee, Thine, Thou in addressing the Lord.

    (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints General Handbook of Instructions, no. 20 (First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, 1968), 44.)

    The 1975 Ensign also had this:

    Prayers in Sacrament and Priesthood Meetings. Attention is called to the following instruction which appeared in the July-August 1967 Priesthood Bulletin.

    The First Presidency recommends that only those who bear the Melchizedek Priesthood or Aaronic Priesthood be invited to offer the opening and closing prayers in sacrament meetings, including fast meetings. This also applies to priesthood meetings.

    There are others who have no memory of this, though. So you’re not alone, and perhaps the policy was not followed in every area of the Church.

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  206. Stephen Marsh on April 7, 2011 at 6:47 AM

    Bored, the poster stated both (no prayers or talks). I grew up in an era of 1.5 hour sacrament meetings and “mom & pop” prayers and talks (where both sides of a couple were asked to book-end meetings).

    But I also grew up in branches and wards far away from the core of the Church for the most part.

    Interesting, though, that there was that section in the past. Obviously it wasn’t followed everywhere or there would have not been the 1975 reminder or the later change.

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  207. Stephen Marsh on April 7, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Just noticed that they have gotten rid of “mom & pop” prayers — so that those who are not married are not excluded.

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  208. Bored in Vernal on April 7, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Transcript of this talk is now up:
    LDS Women are Incredible!

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  209. LRC on April 7, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    With an exclamation point, even! No pedastalizing in the headline at all….

    But we could try this now (and thankfully, it’s not nearly so bad as some talks we’ve heard in the past 35 years):

    “Much of what we accomplish in the Church is due to the selfless service of men”

    God placed within men divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.

    …I reflected on the preeminent role of families and men in our faith. Our doctrine is clear: Men are sons of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Husbands are equal to their wives. Marriage requires a full partnership where husbands and wives work side by side to meet the needs of the family.

    We know there are many challenges for men, including those striving to live the gospel.

    A predominant attribute in the lives of our pioneer ancestors is the faith of the brothers….If one had to characterize their most significant attribute, it would be their unwavering faith in the restored gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The heroic accounts of what these pioneer men sacrificed and accomplished as they crossed the plains is a priceless legacy to the Church.

    MEN IN THE CHURCH TODAY ARE STRONG AND VALIANT
    I believe the men of the Church today meet that challenge and are every big as strong and faithful. The female leadership of this Church at all levels gratefully acknowledges the service, sacrifice, commitment, and contribution of the brothers.

    Brothers have key roles in the Church, in family life, and as individuals that are essential in Heavenly Father’s plan. Many of these responsibilities do not provide economic compensation but do provide satisfaction and are eternally significant. Recently a delightful and very capable man on a newspaper editorial board asked for a description of the role of men in the Church. It was explained that all of the leaders in our congregations are unpaid. He interrupted to say his interest had diminished significantly. He said, “I don’t believe men need any more unpaid jobs.”

    We pointed out that the most important organization on earth is the family where mothers and fathers are equal partners. Neither one is financially compensated, but the blessings are beyond description. We of course told him about the priesthood quorums and organizations that are guided by male presidents. We noted that from our earliest history both women and men pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting….

    Our men are not incredible because they have managed to avoid the difficulties of life – quite the opposite. They are incredible because of the way they face the trials of life. Despite the challenges and tests life has to offer – from marriage or lack of marriage, children’s choices, poor health, lack of opportunities, and many other problems – they remain remarkably strong and immovable and true to the faith. Our brothers throughout the Church consistently “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”

    …I have experienced feelings of overwhelming appreciation for the essential role that brothers, both married and single, have historically played and now play both in the family and in the Church.

    …First, no man should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that his contribution is less significant because he is devoting his primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing cold be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that brothers are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Wives and husbands should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.

    You valiant and faithful single brothers, please know that we love and appreciate you, and we assure you that no eternal blessing will be withheld from you.

    Dear brothers, we love and admire you. We appreciate your service in the Lord’s kingdom. You are incredible!

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  210. hawkgrrrl on April 8, 2011 at 12:02 AM

    Most equal sentence above: “We pointed out that the most important organization on earth is the family where mothers and fathers are equal partners. Neither one is financially compensated, but the blessings are beyond description.”

    Statement you will never hear in GC or anywhere in the church: “You valiant and faithful single brothers, please know that we love and appreciate you, and we assure you that no eternal blessing will be withheld from you.”

    Line that makes the speaker sound like Liberace: “Recently a delightful and very capable man”

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  211. Toni on July 18, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    (Addressing the original topic)
    Personally, I believe women should be in the home. I also believe men should be in the home. This society is far too embellished in Babylon. Adam didn’t go off to an office and work while Eve stayed home with the kidlets. The scriptures say that Eve worked alongside Adam to grow crops. They were a partnership. This nonsense that one (or both) should leave the home is an invention of our adversary. I don’t have a solution, because we have been so embroiled in Babylon for so many, many years that I would suspect that very few people can escape it at this point.

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  212. [...] Elder Cook: Doctrinal Development on the Role of Women [...]

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