Church by Men for Men

By: hawkgrrrl
April 22, 2014

This is a post I actually wrote over two years ago, long before Ordain Women was founded, before a woman prayed in General Conference.  I was surprised to find it in draft, fully written, and yet still mostly timely.  I’ve done a little updating to include some current references and five suggestions for next steps given today’s situation. 

Discussions with faithful LDS women have illustrated to me how frequently women feel disenfranchised and misunderstood in the Mormon church, as if the messages are crafted by men for men, and we are simply there watching passively like outsiders.  Even many of the talks that are ostensibly meant for women are often really directed at men – telling men to appreciate the women in their lives or telling the women why they are valued, but only relating it to ways in which women are a blessing in the lives of men (bearing their children, making their homes a heaven on earth, kissing their skinned knees as boys).

Is the Mormon church a church by men for men?

What would an all-male organization look like?  I can think of a few places that are stereotypically viewed as havens for men:  the locker room, an abbey, the MTC (at least when I was there), a harem, a comic book shop, a strip club.  These are ostensibly male enclaves, designed by men for men.  So, what do these things have in common with the Mormon church?

  • Protects male privilege and interest
  • Doesn’t understand or cater to female interest or needs
  • Speaks to women as an extension of male interests

Conversely, I was wondering what an all-female organization would look like?  A few possible places come to mind:  a hen party, roller derby, salons (except in Scottsdale where I have sometimes been the only woman getting a pedi, surrounded by middle aged men, natch), the Girl Scouts, Ann Taylor.  What if women ran the church?  What would it look like?

  • Men are feminized and domesticated
  • Women’s interests trump male interest
  • Speaks to men as an extension of women’s interests

What is interesting about these lists is that in many ways, the church displays the characteristics of both a male-led and a female-led organization.  Is this a byproduct of gender essentialism?  While the church claims to be a patriarchy, it also makes exaltation for either sex contingent on a successful pairing with the other sex [1].  In making male / female bonding essential to exaltation, both sexes are defined almost exclusively in relation to one another.  Both sexes are limited in their value (from the church’s vantage point) to what contributes to the family and the marriage.  To the feminist ear, attuned to hearing women’s issues, much of the church’s rhetoric sounds like (and indeed, is) sexism.  But often men in the church cry foul because they too feel limited and defined by their role in relation to women, marriage and family.  The sexism (or gender essentialism) cuts both ways.

Clearly, there is male privilege in the church.  No matter how worthy, righteous or connected to God a woman is, she will never be a leader over men in the ranks of Priesthood leadership.  Even if she leads an organization (of women, girls or children), her budget and leadership decisions will all be subject to review by a male leader.  If she is empowered, it is through male generosity.  Her worthiness to enter the temple, including her sexual purity, will be assessed by a man in authority over her behind closed doors.  Should she ever run afoul of the church, her very membership will be determined by a panel of men with no female representation.

The type of female privilege the church generally provides is reparative and apologetic.  In some cases, women are given the benefit of the doubt or lower expectations whereas men are held to a higher standard and given greater responsibility.

Can the church get past gender essentialism?  I really don’t think so, although I wish it could.  Although our worship of the family was less central in the 1980s when I was growing up, it has only gained momentum and focus in the last two decades, crystallizing around a very stereotype-based narrative of the sexes.  We are very invested in marriage and family being our core doctrine.  To unbox that would be extremely difficult at this point.  And we got here ironically through our rejection of polygamy (although an anti-gay marriage campaign certainly upped the ante).  80% of Mormons consider polygamy to be one of the worst sins possible.

Of course, gender essentialism doesn’t require an all-male Priesthood.  On the contrary, if we continue down the path (and indeed we do in our temple ceremonies), it’s quite clear that women too have the power of Priesthood (insert caveats from E. Oaks’ latest talk).

So, what happens when the sexes integrate?

According to an observation by feminist Caroline Kline, women disappear when men and women integrate.  She is describing is the problem of inherited sexism that I have explored before, that existing systems were built with men in mind and therefore continue to favor male interests even when females are integrated.  An example of this is when women joined the workforce in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s.  For decades, women were still disadvantaged by a system accustomed to male communication styles, workstyles, and work-life balance needs.  In many cases, women are still disadvantaged by this existing structure.  Ms. Kline uses the example of Relief Society as an organization run by women for women (until it was placed under the supervision of the all-male Priesthood).

This has been my chief concern about female ordination; as a woman, I don’t find the existing male priesthood structure appealing. (Unfortunately, I often find Relief Society equally unappealing).  While it’s true that the more gender-integrated an organization becomes the less hostile it is toward either sex, it can take decades of unpleasantness to get there, and it’s hard to declare victory when it is rising from the ashes of a one-gender structure.

Full gender integration certainly doesn’t seem to be on the cards anyway, despite the efforts of some very bright women and men to promote it.  Regardless the outcome, the current situation would be improved through a few simple means:

  1. Promote female spiritual equality through equal missionary service.  We’ve gotten really close on this one with the mission age change.  I believe this is the groundwork to putting women on truly equal footing with men, preparing them for equal stewardship in the church.
  2. Integrate women fully in all decision-making bodies; grant them full authority without priesthood (following E. Oaks’ rhetoric).
  3. Cut the stereotypes.  While it’s true that men & women are different, it is likewise true that not all men are the same as all other men and not all women are the same as all other women.  When we only preach to stereotypes, we miss the very high percentage of people for whom those stereotypes simply don’t resonate.  Stereotypes are often based on a narrow majority of a group having a characteristic. [2]
  4. Completely eliminate sexism from the temple ceremony.  Enough said.  Any men who don’t find it sexist should cross the aisle next time.
  5. Women should address men in the Priesthood session.  When men are accustomed to being taught by women, they will value their input more. [3]

Let’s get your input.

  • Is the church really just men talking to men or is gender essentialism creating rhetoric that primarily talks to men in relation to women and women in relation to men?
  • Is gender integration necessary to achieve equality for women in the church?
  • What are the best next steps to improve female voice?

Discuss.

[1] For purposes of this post I’ll ignore the unsettling yet excellent point made by elisothel at FMH regarding only males being exalted.

[2] For example, in the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator psychometric, results show that 55% of women are “feelers” preferring to make decisions emotionally, and 55% of men are “thinkers” preferring to base decisions in logic; bear in mind that this means that 45% of men and women do NOT fit these stereotypes.  That’s too many people to be treated as outliers or exceptions.  So it is with many gender stereotypes.

[3] At bare minimum the newly minted term “Sister Leaders” needs to stop immediately.  They’re just “leaders.”  Calling them “sister leaders” is like going to China and asking for some Chinese food.  It’s just food there.  Either they are leaders or they are not.  Adding “sister” to the front sounds like it is a qualifier, clarifying that they are not actual leaders.

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74 Responses to Church by Men for Men

  1. ji on April 22, 2014 at 4:51 AM

    Is the church really just men talking to men?
    No. It is friend and neighbor and fellow member talking to friend and neighbor and fellow member, sharing and encouraging the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Is gender essentialism creating rhetoric that primarily talks to men in relation to women and women in relation to men?
    You wrote earlier, “We are very invested in marriage and family being our core doctrine. To unbox that would be extremely difficult at this point.” Our core doctrine should be faith, hope, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ. Families are important, very important, and maybe the church is here today to protect the family (as Esther was placed where and when she was just for that one reason that she found). I know that some members feel some pain when our worship services focus on families more than on faith in the Lord. But to your point, as a man I understand the feeling that it seems that none of my traits or potentials or gifts or possibilities are appreciated in the Church except to the degree that I have a wife. What’s the quotation? The first question the Lord will ask me when I get to the other side is where is my wife…

    Even so, one can generally choose what one sees. I see the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as good people magnifying their callings and sanctifying themselves and the preparing the earth for the second coming of the Lord. All the emphasis on re-shaping the Church into a pattern that better fits today’s modern viewpoints is a distraction from the reality.

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  2. Hedgehog on April 22, 2014 at 5:25 AM

    “I don’t find the existing male priesthood structure appealing. (Unfortunately, I often find Relief Society equally unappealing).”
    Yes! To both.
    Sometimes it is just so grim. Especially when there are particularly trying leaders, which if that isn’t hard enough to handle, the conversation in RS then goes along the lines of… well we can’t expect anything better from men, and generally running men down… and so the divisions are thoroughly entrenched. i hate it.

    And although you seem to link this to the importance we give to family, my feeling is that it bifurcates family in ways that are unhelpful at best, and harmful at worst.

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  3. rah on April 22, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    ji

    Ignoring issues is not the way to build Zion. To me that sounds a lot like “And thus they shall say” All is well in Zion, yeah Zion prospereth, all is well….” Under this line of thought we should have just ignored the whole blacks and priesthood thing as a “distraction” given to us by “modern viewpoints”. In fact, we did that for generations. It didn’t help us bring the gospel to many parts of the world. We are meant to wrestle with these questions. It is what the gospel is about, “who is my neighbor?” and “treating others as you would want to be treated”. Right now, we have many women saying, “we are not being treated well” by a system that privileges the development of men over women. It is a system where there is more deference to past male leaders than there is to empathy for the spiritual wounds inflicted on women by their culturally defined interpretations. The inequalities are real and the consequences of those inequalities play out in significant ways in the lives of many women. Sometimes it is in rarer but very acute ways, the “mistakes” of lay ecclesiastical leaders with a male gaze and insufficient checks and balances to their biases etc. For more it is the consistent boxing in and undervaluing of women. We are making some progress on these issues, but we only make progress when we face up to them and recognize the systematic nature of the problems. The very fact you define as a “distraction” what so many women experience as a core part of their struggle in the church is a prime example of how male privilege has guided and shaped the church in ways detrimental to women. Are women’s issues the only issue we face in building Zion? Of course not. Do basic Christian principle’s provide a good guide for how to handle them? Yes! So lets get to work treating women as if “all are alike unto God”. Lets get to work continuing on with the Restoration by fully including women within the governance structure of Zion and seeking more light and understanding about their eternal destiny. Lets do the hard work of facing up to polygamy in our doctrine. Lets finish the work of building a temple ceremony free from BY Adam-God heresy. Lets banish systems that have let the specter of spiritual, emotional and physical abuse linger to long among our people. Lets live up to Christ’s teaching both individually AND institutionally.

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  4. forgetting on April 22, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Rah, ditto.

    This is what I hear when we are having this conversation. I think it echoes what harkgrrrl is saying: (Written by Henri Tracol) “For that is where the trouble lies: what we didn’t have courage enough to look for inside, we have thought we could find outside. Not that we have given up hope of a change, of a better use of our powers; but without knowing it, we have stopped really counting on ourselves to bring that about. Not that we have given up entirely, but now we wait for a miracle from outside. And we have begun to have wild dreams of favorable circumstances, of better conditions of life, or of some exceptional encounter. To feed our hopes, we have pounced greedily on the most absurd fictions and the stupidest arguments; we flung ourselves at the stockpile of ready made notions, at the leftovers of the great thinkers, at the whole doctrinal flea market. Anything would do to save us from the terrible effort of facing ourselves.”

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  5. The Other Clark on April 22, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Regarding temple changes: If women get the promises of men in the endowment, I insist that men receive the statement of forgiveness extended to women in the initiatory.

    Regarding Church structure: If women are treated equal to men in non-priesthood essential callings, let’s have men treated equal to women in the same. (No double male primary teachers because we’re child molesters, etc.)

    Missionaries: We’ve made progress, and there’s still progress to be made. But once again, let’s make it truly equal. Sisters can serve at any age. For single males, the window closes at 25. Permanently. Even senior missions are open to sisters and couples only.

    Finances: Sure, the YM sometimes have a bigger budget than YW. But every building I’ve been in has a dedicated RS room and YW room, each with a piano and padded chairs. NONE have had a specific room set aside for any Aaronic or Melchidek priesthood quorum. Similarly, changing tables and feeding rooms for little ones accessible only through the women’s restroom. Talk about stereotypes!

    There’s significant data showing a “feminization of Christianity.” Meekness, forgiveness, compassion–typically female attributes–are lionized in Mormon culture far more than Christ’s masculine traits like courage, strength, rescuing the downtrodden, etc.

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  6. handlewithcare on April 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I think your suggestions are excellent Hawk, Hard to take issue with them in my opinion. I think starting with specific, achievable goals that encourage forward thinking is as much as can be expected from the current generation of leadership. I also like your suggestions Clark, even if you do think that padding my chair justifies my exclusion from more interesting activities than those that can be done sitting down.

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  7. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    I have seen ward buildings with changing areas for men to change diapers. Frankly given that changing diapers is no prize the absence of them in the men’s area is a burden to the women.

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  8. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    The Other Clark: you’ll get no argument here that equality should go both ways. All are alike unto God so these inequalities are cultural and of men.

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  9. Exponent II April on April 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    The Other Clark:
    It appears to me that during the initiatory, a woman is declared clean so that she can be pure and delightsome when a man receives her as a gift in a subsequent temple ceremony. Believe me, I would be happy to forego this cleansing if it meant I would still be considered an autonomous person, not a piece of merchandise, after completing all of my temple covenants.

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  10. Exponent II April on April 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I had not considered the possibility that the church has characteristics of a female-led organization. I will need to chew on that a bit more before I opine, but I appreciate this fresh and interesting perspective.

    With regards to the discussion about “integration” of the Relief Society, I do not think it is appropriate to call what happened to Relief Society “integration,” so I do not think it is a good case study for evaluating the results of integration. If the Relief Society had actually integrated with male priesthood, men would have become members of RS, women would have become members of the priesthood, and both men and women would have been eligible to administer the new, merged organization. If that had happened, it might have been useful to look at whether men or women were selected as leaders and draw conclusions about integration. What actually happened is that male priesthood leaders took over administration of RS programs while women continued to be the only members of RS.

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  11. tired mom on April 22, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    I have no problem with The Other Clark’s suggestions, either. I would like to see a time when attributes like compassion, strength, and so forth are not gender-ized at all but are considered simply attributes that all of God’s children are working on in order to become more Christlike.

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  12. Parker on April 22, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    *But every building I’ve been in has a dedicated RS room and YW room, each with a piano and padded chairs.*

    Who was it that decided women needed a room with padded chairs and a piano? Women?

    But the big question is do women get to determine what goes on in their room with padded chairs and piano?

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  13. jks on April 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Brilliant thoughts here. I will spend some time thinking about this.

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  14. Jeff Spector on April 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Hawk,

    “Clearly, there is male privilege in the church. No matter how worthy, righteous or connected to God a woman is, she will never be a leader over men in the ranks of Priesthood leadership.”

    Neither will most men.

    “Even if she leads an organization (of women, girls or children), her budget and leadership decisions will all be subject to review by a male leader.”

    So are the men. With the exception of YM, The older priesthood groups get little money and their leadership decisions are checked by the Bishop and the Stake President.

    “If she is empowered, it is through male generosity.

    So are the men

    Her worthiness to enter the temple, including her sexual purity, will be assessed by a man in authority over her behind closed doors”

    So are the men

    “Should she ever run afoul of the church, her very membership will be determined by a panel of men with no female representation.”

    The DC will be held by the local leaders whom she knows and may be comfortable with and who may be more sympathetic. For the men, it is the Stake President and High Council, many he may not know and will be sitting in harsh judgement.

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  15. Jeff Spector on April 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Hawk,

    ‘Ms. Kline uses the example of Relief Society as an organization run by women for women (until it was placed under the supervision of the all-male Priesthood).’

    It always was. That never changed.

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  16. Kristine A on April 22, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    hawk, I love this. I have really been thinking about actionable steps on how to move forward. I love your suggestions, and have been vocally advocating for #2 for months: incorporate mixed genders on all decision making boards of the church that make decisions for mixed gender groups (not YM etc). No priesthood offices need, just changing the stewardships of some callings (general RS board, etc.).

    I see some of the changes as easier than others . . . and would love to see a group be able to come together across a wide range of beliefs to advocate for the lowest hanging fruit. I’m not sure what: writing letters or mass approaching bishops about the pain of gender stereotypes?

    I’d love to see a retooling of primary manuals to come next, and reorganizing the activity days/cub scout disparity. I just rubs that at such a young age we so obviously invest in the future lives of one gender so much more prolifically than the other. As much as I’d like to believe that change is low hanging fruit, our current mix of leaders is likely to table any such changes.

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  17. Andrew on April 22, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Jeff – Your “so are the men” arguments fall pretty flat when you think about them. In order to understand the issue at hand, you need to compare apples to apples. How would men feel if the leadership of the church was comprised completely of women? How would men feel if all their budget and leadership decisions were subject to review by a woman? What if the only way men were empowered was through female generosity? How would the men feel if their worthiness to enter the temple, including their sexual purity, was always assessed by a lone older female behind closed doors? How would men feel if they ran afoul of the church and had their membership determined by a panel of women with no male representation?

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  18. Winifred on April 22, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    Female led organizations give way to goddess worship, witchcraft.

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  19. Kt on April 22, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I don’t think it’s possible to have equality in the church even with a ‘separate but equal’ situation so long as men and women are being defined by their relation to each other and the family unit (which is very true, and very well stated btw). The reason is because even though men are also defined by their relation to women, they are given the outlet of their ‘careers’ for their individual talents, which is a completely separate sphere. Women are not given this allowance, even when they do work outside the home because it’s ‘not the ideal’, or it’s a fallback, etc. It doesn’t seem to be socially and culturally accepted within the church community, whereas men are lauded, respected, appear to be given ‘higher’ callings, etc when they have successful careers.

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  20. Ellen on April 22, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    4.Completely eliminate sexism from the temple ceremony. Enough said. Any men who don’t find it sexist should cross the aisle next time.

    To my mind, #4 is #1.

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  21. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Ellen, hear hear! I agree – that’s the most fundamental sexist issue in the church, and before anything else can be meaningfully addressed, that must be.

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  22. Geoff - Aus on April 22, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    I believe the leaders of the church are in the process of transitioning us from, “obedience is the first law of heaven” to “love is the first law of heaven”. Under the obedience paradigm it is inappropriate to question or consider how life might be improved. Any change will come from above. Under the love paradigm it will be important that we all be concerned for the welfare of others.
    The Gospel we all love is different from the church. Much of the difference is the culture of the leaders of the church. As the Church comes closer to the Gospel these cultural problems are being dealt with. In my life time in the church these have included, withholding the priesthood from some men, opposition to inter racial marriage, opposition to birth control, opposition to homosexuals, and gay marriage, and now opposition to equality for all members.
    Do we really believe God treats his children differently because of their gender. I don’t. So why when I believe the Gospel treats women equally would I not expect the church to also. As soon as Love becomes the central culture of the church, instead of obedience, then the culture of the leaders can be valued as it should, and dispensed with, and we will be closer to living the Gospel.

    I hope this process will not take more than 10 years. As the 10 oldest, and most conservative, apostles are in the high 80s I expect they will be replaced, hopefully by less Utah conservative, men, who can then usher in these changes.

    I would like to see a retirement age for Apostles, perhaps 80 or even 70 though that would exclude Uchtdorf, who I attribute much of this change to. He was the one of those who gave talks about the Gospel and church being different, he is able to see that much of the church is conservative culture being taught as gospel, because he is an outsider. If he can cause these changes as second councillor in the first presidency what could he do as Prophet. He could even ask the Lord for approval.

    Do any of you know who is responsible for the more honest explanations on LDS.org. Does it come from the first presidency? I see this as part of the change from obedience to Love, which includes honesty.

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  23. Nate on April 22, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    “What are the best next steps to improve female voice?” I thought all your ideas for improvement were good ones, and it’s interesting that you say them without wanting the priestood to go along with it. Is this because you just don’t like what you see of the priesthood, or you don’t think women are supposed to preside by divine mandate?

    “Have women address men in priesthood meeting.” The most memorable stake priesthood meeting I ever attended, Chieko Okasaki was asked to be a special speaker, and gave an amazing, hell raising talk decrying the deplorable lack of priesthood listening to the sisters. The visiting general authority tried to mop up after the talk, “brethren, the Lord loves you SO much!” Okasaki was talking like a man, and the general authority was talking in primary voice! What a role reversal!

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  24. Jeff Spector on April 22, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    Andrew,

    “Your “so are the men” arguments fall pretty flat when you think about them. In order to understand the issue at hand, you need to compare apples to apples. How would men feel if the leadership of the church was comprised completely of women?”

    Firstly, it’s a hypothetical that currently does not exist, so why bother? Especially, when we have reality to compare with. Tell me, in your experience, what do you think I’ve said that is wrong?

    If you’ve ever taught Primary, you would also know that the men are subject to the Primary President just like the women.

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  25. Katie on April 22, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    I wish there was a way to get across to some people men why padded chairs are not a substitute for leadership and decision-making opportunities. And also why “Most men won’t get to be leaders” is not in any way similar to “Women will never get to be leaders”. The keyword is “most”. The potential is there for one but not the other.

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  26. Ken on April 22, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Hawkgirl,

    The notion that we are equal is one of the big social problems in our society — the push for equality. Nothing in nature grows or develops equally. We were not equal in the pre-existence, we do not enter this life as equals, we do have equality in our challanges or blessings here on earth and we will not be treated as equals in the afterlife. We have equal opportunity for exaltation and will be judged fairly by our Savior, but we will not end up in the same place because free agency results in inequality. When we accept this truth, our society will function properly and when we try and accept the lie that we are all equal (or all of us can be), things fall apart.

    Men and Women are different, and as you correctly pointed out, they are all at different levels. Not all men can be equal and not all women can be equal. Framing this as an equality issue is flawed, as we are not even equal within our own gender.

    It is an issue of respect and decency.

    We accept Jesus as a male as our Savior and judge, why is it problematic to accept the authority of male common Judge of Israel (Bishop)? We pray to a male God, why is it problematic to ask a male Stake President for a recommended? We are instructed in the scriptures to pray to our Father in the name of the Son, with no mention of our Heavenly Mother in any scripture. This seems to suggest our Heavenly parents have Devine roles that that both seem to respect. So why can’t we accept these roles?

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  27. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Nate: I’m not dead set on the PH because I don’t think it’s going to happen, and personally, I’m probably in the same club as Jeff that I’ll forever be in the lower decks anyway; I just don’t care to play the game at church. I don’t really care that much about it. But I acknowledge that without it or something equivalent, women really don’t have any voice in how curriculum is written (even when we teach) or what policies and doctrines are created (even the ones that only affect women).

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  28. Jeff Spector on April 22, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    Katie,

    “And also why “Most men won’t get to be leaders” is not in any way similar to “Women will never get to be leaders”. The keyword is “most”. The potential is there for one but not the other.”

    This is one of the great misnomers of the argument. Many men in the church have no potential to become leaders. They are no well connected, do not exhibit any inclination toward leadership and they don’t “show” well enough to eve be considered. or, they did and had a crash and burn experience never to be considered again.

    So, no there is no potential.

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  29. Jeff Spector on April 22, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    “But I acknowledge that without it or something equivalent, women really don’t have any voice in how curriculum is written (even when we teach).”

    You don’t think there are women on the curriculum writing committees? At last Conference, they released the men AND women who were serving on the Sunday School general board. And that no women were involved in the new youth lessons?

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  30. Katie on April 22, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Ken, let me understand…. Jesus (only perfect person who ever lived) = Bishop, and God (omnipotent, omniscient) = Stake President?

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  31. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Ken: Where to start? Here are a few thoughts: “We accept Jesus as a male as our Savior and judge” I have always assumed that if I am to attain godhood, I too would have to take a turn as a Savior. Am I precluded from that because I’m a woman? If so, why? Why shouldn’t I progress in the way all men would be expected to progress? I’m not looking for a picnic in the park here. I’m talking about becoming a god the way Jesus did. Is that or is that not our potential? Is it not my potential only because I’m a woman? Are there no female saviors?

    As to your questions about accepting male human authority while agreeing to accept male deity, I would add a few thoughts: 1) most feminists feel that Heavenly Mother is likewise a deity worthy of our worship but that patriarchy has hidden female deity from our view, 2) kowtowing to human beings differs from worshiping deity in lots of ways – certainly you don’t need me to list the differences, 3) why is the male viewpoint the one represented? Well, the ancient Hebrews did worship Heavenly Mother (Asherah) openly as proven by the archaeological record. The Priests were pushing monolatry in favoring El over Asherah, and the OT actually tells us this. The priests are pulling down the Asherah idols (and trees) to change the focus of worship to the god they favored (and conveniently vice-versa). The victors tell the story. The victors were the monolatrous priests who pulled down all the female idols. I certainly am not saying our current male leaders have done this. It goes back to the OT. We’ve just not corrected it. Why is Heavenly Mother hidden? Beats me, but I most certainly don’t assume it’s because it’s the right thing. If it is, fine, but I don’t just accept that without any good reason just because it is that way.

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  32. Ken on April 22, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    “I have always assumed that if I am to attain godhood, I too would have to take a turn as a Savior”

    That is not correct. His atonement is infinite AND eternal. There is no need for anyone else to bear that burden.

    “most feminists feel that Heavenly Mother is likewise a deity worthy of our worship but that patriarchy has hidden female deity from our view”

    Including Jesus? He had the opportunity to call anyone to the 12, both in the old and new worlds, yet he choose to call only men. Is he sexist, or is that just the eternal pattern? When he taught us how to pray, he choose to address the father. Why not address his eternal mother too?

    She is perfect, but like you, I don’t know why she isn’t addressed or discussed much. I flatly reject the idea “it is hidden from view by males”. Seriously? If God wanted his wife to be mentioned in the scriptures, she would be and if some male human were blocking his will, he would replace him with someone who would.

    To both you and Katie, I was not suggesting human worship, I was simply pointing out the shared gender. You restated it correctly by suggesting we (the world in general) accept male diety, why is it hard to accept male leaders?

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  33. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    It’s not hard to accept male leaders. It’s hard to accept that there are no female leaders and that this would be somehow the destiny of women and by divine design. Just as men of sense do not want silly wives, why would God be married to someone who is not his equal and worthy of our notice?

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  34. hawkgrrrl on April 22, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Ken: one more note on the path to godhood, I’m not convinced you are correct. That is not the doctrine I was taught growing up in the church. All we have to do to become a god is just sit back and obey? That’s like saying all you have to do to build muscle and have optimal body fat is to sit on the couch and eat potato chips.

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  35. Ken on April 23, 2014 at 4:40 AM

    “It’s hard to accept that there are no female leaders…”

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by the term leader. I think you erroneously equate leadership with the corporate ladder and only apply the term leaders with the presiding positions within the church, such as a Bishop or Stake President. I choose to look at the term leader to mean power or influence.

    I can honestly say the people that have had the most impact on my life have not been in these presiding positions at church. It is those people that have lead by example and applied correct principles in thier lives that have had the most impact on my personal progression.

    This type of true leadership knows no gender or social class.

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  36. Ken on April 23, 2014 at 4:47 AM

    “All we have to do to become a god is just sit back and obey…”

    The only thing we can offer our God is obedience to his will. He has everything else.

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  37. Geoff - Aus on April 23, 2014 at 4:56 AM

    Ken, I think the logic in 26 could be applied to all the past exclusions of women , the vote, etc.

    2Nephi 26: 33. All are alike unto God black and white, bond and free, male and female, which is quoted in the preamble to Dec 2 on the priesthood.

    They are alike unto God, why are they not alike in the church, could it be the culture of the leaders and others who can’t see the Gospel because it doesn’t agree with their culture?

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  38. howarddirkson on April 23, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    What’s the point of giving the priesthood to a life support system for a uterus?

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  39. Ken on April 23, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Geoff-

    The purpose of a democratically elected leader is to protect citizens and increase their country’s influence in the world. Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Thatcher are (or were) as effective as Presidents Reagan and Kennedy in this regard.

    The purpose of a business is to make a profit.  Indra K. Nooyi is as effective in her position as CEO of Pepsico as Rex Tillerson is as CEO of ExxonMobil.

    The purpose of a Church is to edify and uplift one another.  Both men and women can edify and uplift one another in any position. A leader or advisor to youth can and should have as much influence as a Bishop. A good teacher can have more impact than a Stake President who members may hear two or possibly three times a year. An effective auxiliary leader can and should be able to serve the members under their stewardship more effectively than an Apostle can or does.

     The church is not a democracy or business, it is a Kingdom and the sole purpose should be how well we serve Christ our King and this non-sense about who is in what position is nothing more than a distraction in that service.

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  40. Otto on April 23, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    “This type of true leadership knows no gender or social class.”

    Absolutely, Ken. That’s why I don’t understand the whole kerfuffle over black men and the priesthood. Wouldn’t the church have been better served if the people in the Genesis group and so on just stopped wasting their time on advocacy and focused on being TRUE leaders. How sad that they felt the need to cheapen their true leadership by with ordination.

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  41. hawkgrrrl on April 23, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Nobody is arguing the church is a democracy but some of the most successful monarchies were led by queens

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  42. Douglas on April 23, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Hawk (using the ‘voice’) of Master Yoda…”So certain are you, young Hawk, that grown up, you have. Hmmm?”

    #41 – or PMs (the late Maggie Thatcher). Trouble for Feminists is, she was ultra-conservative by UK standards. I would have no issue with Kay Hutchinson coming out of retirement for a President run in 2016 (but she’d be 73 when sworn in on 1/21/2017), and I can think of quite a few others (Bachmann, for example) who not only would make a fine President but are “fine-looking” (it’s undignified to have a “hot” President). Who knows? There may be a Black Female President within a few cycles, and she’ll probably be a Republican (Mia Love is already eligible, being USA-born and past 35, but first she’d likely have to win her House seat to be viable).

    It was interesting to watch a OLD episode of “Petticoat Junction” on MeTV this AM and see the episode where June Lockhart (fresh from “Lost in Space” at the time) takes over the matronly role from the late Bea Benadaret, and there’s a nice debate from the rustic locals about the “Lady Doc”. Quaint.

    No, men and women aren’t EQUAL, but there are many ways they can be EQUIVALENT. There are certain biological roles and behavioral pre-dipositions, and all the feminist hoo-hah isn’t going to alter that one iota. Neither will what the Lord has decided insofar as running His Church.

    NO Female leaders? I beg to differ. Women run the more important auxilliary organizations (RS, YW, Primary) for a REASON. Not just due to their “nuturing” abilities (which I’m secure enough in my manhood to profess that I like have exercised with my brood when little and am happy to do so for when I “rent” my grandkids), but also b/c from what I can tell after some 35 years of membership, men would just be a grand “Cluster-Fool” in those areas. What few roles that men play in Primary, for example, are fine, but let there be no ambiguity that the ladies are in charge. Just TRY to run ANY ward or branch w/o the assistance and leadership abilities of the sisters! Any bishop worth his calling would be the first to express his gratititude for the sisters and what they bring.

    Perhaps part of the trouble for you self-styled LDS Feminists is that you haven’t been shown enough appreciation for what you have done or can yet do; hence why you kick against the pricks (pun intended). Of course, some “pricks” DESERVE to be kicked against no matter how much it hurts!

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  43. el oso on April 23, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    Hawk #31 and others,
    I think Obadiah may agree with Hawk on the need for current humans to be saviors. The exact nature of that role is not really clear to me, I believe that our temple work based understanding of that concept may be only the beginning.
    On teachings of and worship of Heavenly Mother, I do not know the reasons for the lack of explicit teachings in the scriptures. There is no record of authentic (or perhaps I should say holy or sanctified?) rites or modes of worship of Heavenly Mother in scripture. I agree with Hawk that the absence of such does NOT mean that it is bad, unproductive, or unfaithful to try to get further light and knowledge on this subject. Maybe using the explicitly endorsed methods of raising issues at church could lead to useful results.
    Anyone want to write a respectful letter or two on these subjects? I suspect something like this would be treated like a hot potato by my current Bishop, but the Stake President would probably thoughtfully and prayerfully address this.

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  44. Geoff - Aus on April 23, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    I’m not sure whether those men who are claiming that women are already equal above, are being obtuse, or defending patriarchy.

    It is very obvious that women in the church can hold no position of decision making. Only some men can but, but the fact that all positions of decision making are reserved for men is uncontestably

    The Lord says all are alike unto God, male and female . The church say only male, the church will have to include the women in order to come into line with the Gospel.

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  45. Jeff Spector on April 24, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    “It is very obvious that women in the church can hold no position of decision making. Only some men can but, but the fact that all positions of decision making are reserved for men is uncontestably”

    I do not understand why people keep saying this. It is factual not true. The women leaders in the Church have the same decision making authority as the men. Every male leader in the Church has to answer to someone including the Prophet.

    Decisions are made every day that do not get anything more than a passive approval, if that. If male leaders do not trust their female leaders to be inspired and make good decisions for their organizations, that is clearly the fault of those particular people, not the system.

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  46. New Iconoclast on April 24, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Maybe the next poll should be on whether comment #18 or #38 is farther out in left field.

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  47. howarddirkson on April 24, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    only to his daughters has God given the power to be a creator of bodies This quote helps ground #38. Women are mortal body makers while men broker their spiritual relationship.

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  48. Jim Cobabe on April 24, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Changing diapers. What a great example of projection. And how representative of these so substantive arguments.

    The men have always done their share of changing shitty diapers. At least I know that I did. Never thought it was a big deal. Just wash your hands afterward.

    I suppose it was women who insisted that the luxury of custom changing stations only in the women’s area was denigrating. Are they nice? Never got to use one myself.

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  49. hawkgrrrl on April 24, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    The changing areas and nursing areas vary in quality. I found that the nursing areas universally smelled like curdled bottle milk. Not pleasant. Fortunately, I’m well past that phase of life, and my husband always did his fair share.

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  50. Ziff on April 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    “The women leaders in the Church have the same decision making authority as the men.”

    I’m not sure I understand this argument, Jeff. So because everyone has to answer to someone, then *no* amount of inequality in decision-making authority counts as anything? Or to put it another way, is there any hypothetical church structure that you would point to as having unequal decision-making authority for women and for men? What if Primary and YW were presided over by men, and RS were somehow reduced to one woman presiding over a single other women, and other than that, no women held any positions of decision-making authority at all? Would you call that unequal? Or like you do for the current structure, would you say that since everyone is answerable to someone, no inequality exists?

    I think it’s pretty obvious that we *can* measure decision-making authority, and it does differ–dramatically–for women and men, even given your point that everyone reports to someone.

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  51. New Iconoclast on April 24, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Well, Howard, in re. #47, my original comment in #46 was going to be something like “which is more ridiculous,” and you’ve certainly made a lunge for the gold medal. Phrasing like “life support system for a uterus,” in addition to being offensively dismissive, is irrelevant. One might as well say, “Why give the priesthood to the sperm donor instead of to the one who actually nurtures the human life?” Neither the sperm donation nor the gestation is relevant to the holding of the priesthood, which is (correct me if I’m wrong, if anyone is still bothering to beat this dead horse) the point of those who say that comparing and equating Priesthood and Motherhood as the Two Great Blessings of the Complementary Genders is not a valid argument. Exactly what do reproduction and priesthood have to do with each other?

    If anyone is still following, it’s possible that Howard’s inane comment has allowed me to clarify some thinking here for myself, if not for others. You be the judge.

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  52. howarddirkson on April 24, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Indeed New Iconoclast, I see you get it! Thank you so much for making my point!

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  53. howarddirkson on April 24, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Btw New Iconoclast, I think you just disagreed with Elder Oaks.

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  54. New Iconoclast on April 25, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. I apologize, Howard; I must have been having an extremely literal day. Usually my sense of irony is much better honed than that. (Hanging head in shame.)

    It isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with that worthy brother, and doubtless won’t be the last. I don’t, however, regard him as the pit bull of orthodoxy as some seem to; I like the way he thinks most of the time. There’s usually order and logic to it.

    I see myself as doctrinally orthodox and culturally heterodox. :)

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  55. New Iconoclast on April 25, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    And by “worthy brother” above, I meant Elder Oaks, not Howard. Which is not a comment either on Howard’s worthiness or ability to think logically. Sorry. I’ll try to get some sleep this weekend. :)

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  56. Hedgehog on April 26, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    NI, #54. “I must have been having an extremely literal day.”
    I have those too. Glad it’s not just me. And I loved your comment #46.

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  57. Jeff Spector on April 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Ziff,

    “then *no* amount of inequality in decision-making authority counts as anything? Or to put it another way, is there any hypothetical church structure that you would point to as having unequal decision-making authority for women and for men?”

    Firstly, you all keep wanting to posing these hypothetical in order to prove something when it does not exist that way. It doesn’t speak to the topic being addressed.

    Secondly, You cannot point to what is actually unequal in actual decision-making?. Give me an example of a real life unequal decision-making situation.

    I can give you one important, real-life situation. The EQP holds keys to preside over the Elders in the Ward. However, any change he wishes to make to HT has to be approved by the Bishop. While he can call a secretary or an instructor without approval, he cannot prevent a Bishop from working with the Stake to take away a counselor to teach primary. He might be informed, but cannot prevent it. He can call a Home Teacher, but if the Bishop does not want that person to Home Teach, guess what, they do not Home Teach.

    Very similar circumstances for the auxiliaries, run by men and the Women.

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  58. rah on April 28, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Jeff,

    That is right – “priesthood keys” means “decision rights” in the LDS church. That is the very definition. When you have a position that holds a “priesthood key” then you have the recognized right to make or delegate a decision. We live in a structure where a women can NEVER hold a priesthood key BECAUSE she is a woman. That is structural gender inequality. To pretend otherwise is simply to reinforce cultural gender inequality. Men play in a system where when they submit to someone with keys they can do so with the possibility someday they will be asking others to do the same thing. Women live in a system where that can never happen, because they are women. The possibility of something happening has real value. This decision making structure has shown to time and time again have real systematic negative effects on spiritual and temporal outcomes for our women. Church discipline has been systematically meted out to women differently then men, YW and YM budgets are systematically more likely to be unequal to women. The church has lagged significantly in dealing with appropriate training and checks and balances in dealing with issues of spousal abuse (of all kinds). Women have had unequal access to missions. There has been a systematic regression of women’s autonomy in the church – discouraged from giving the blessings that their grandmothers were allowed to give, their organization losing control over its own curriculum and finances and right to call their own officers. Women being barred from praying is Sacrament meeting in the late 70s and 80s. Ignoring reasonable concerns about bishops giving sexual counsel and interviews to girls alone (which has led to all sorts of abuse, if rare, almost completely avoidable). There voices have been systematically exclused for the local meetings such as PEC where the most important decisions were being made for DECADES before we started moving things to the ward council. Studies for BYU show that even the gender split we have in ward councils these days leads to underrepresentation of women’s voices. I personally have witnessed the church come in and with its effort to protect the church preference a male child abuser over the female children abused and at risk of being abused. A temple ceremony that clearly baked inequality into our marriages finally after years and years and years of spiritually wounding women slightly softened. The Proclomation on the Family written, considered, discussed with the knowledge of or a single pience of input from a single woman (according to Chieko). I know these are just “mistakes, exceptions and unfortunate errors”, but they systematically fall onto our women. They are real and often they are the types of mistakes that are the most egregious and harmful spiritually, emotionally and temporalily. Heaven and Zion can’t run like this. My wife and daughters deserve better in this life and they better have it better in the next life. The deserve the right to hold keys, have decision rights and govern in the church. The church would be a far better institution when we find ways of incorporating women more fully and giving them real authority. As you point out most men in the church don’t have it anyway so for most of us it won’t be giving up much will it?

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  59. Ziff on April 28, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Jeff, the reason the hypothetical matters is that it’s a test of your “equal decision making” label. If your label can be applied to *any* situation, regardless of how unequal the decision-making actually is, then it’s meaningless. And indeed, it appears that this is the case. It’s like a hypothesis that isn’t falsifiable. If there’s no possible structure that would lead you to decide that decision making *isn’t* equal, then it’s meaningless for you to say that it is.

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  60. Jeff Spector on April 29, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Rah,

    “When you have a position that holds a “priesthood key” then you have the recognized right to make or delegate a decision.”

    Not exactly. Maybe in theory, but not necessarily anymore in practice. And in practice, the RSP, PP and YW President have as much right to inspiration and decision making for their organizations as the men do for theirs.. I’ve seen it many times. While the Bishop may have to “approve” some things, it is no different for the men of the women.

    You keep using these well-worn complaints, but can you provide a concrete example where there is a significant difference?

    We all know that women do not hold the Priesthood in the same way as the men do, but it is not a decision of the Church but a Doctrine of the Church given by God. And again, there is no proof to the contrary at this point.

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  61. Jeff Spector on April 29, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Rah,

    “There has been a systematic regression of women’s autonomy in the church – discouraged from giving the blessings that their grandmothers were allowed to give, their organization losing control over its own curriculum and finances and right to call their own officers.

    Again, with the exception of the blessings part, which was discontinued, it is totally false to claim that the women’s organization were autonomous and had complete control over curriculum, finances or anything else.They have always been under Priesthood supervision.

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  62. Katie A. on April 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Jeff, if you’re really interested in evidence that demonstrates that your assertion about control over curriculum and finances is false you could check out Helen Claire Seviers’ essay in the Winter 2014 issue of Exponent II titled “What Mormon Women Have Lost in My Lifetime”. You could also check out Gregory Prince’s interview with former Relief Society General Presidency First Counselor Chieko Okazaki called ““There Is Always a Struggle”: An Interview with Chieko N. Okazaki”. You could read “Do Women Disappear When Women And Men Integrate? A Mormon Case Study” by Caroline Klein or watch the stream of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s lecture “Stirring Up LDS History”. All of these sources you could check out demonstrate that correlation has altered the structure of the Relief Society.

    You could, but I predict you won’t. You keep asking for evidence, but then keep dismissing it when provided it. From my perspective, you ask for a duck, are provided with a bird that looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but keep insisting that it’s not a duck.

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  63. Jeff Spector on April 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    I’ll be happy to read those things. I am interested in the subject, after all.

    “All of these sources you could check out demonstrate that correlation has altered the structure of the Relief Society.”

    Correlation altered the entire Church, no doubt about it, in not so positive ways, But eliminating the plethora of teaching material was both good and bad. the vanilla replacements are only now being fixed.

    However, I would also point you to this link where you can read about the fact the RS was always under Priesthood supervision.

    http://archive.org/stream/reliefsocietymag53reli#page/86/mode/2up

    Check this out.

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  64. Geoff - Aus on April 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    To me the question is not whether women have always been under the control of the priesthood but whether that was the will of the Lord or the culture of the times.

    Suppose we lived in 1975 and were having this conversation about those who were petitioning the prophet for a change to the doctrine to not allow negroes the priesthood?

    Those petitioning then were doing exactly what these women are doing now. Asking that the prophet ask the Lord to change a doctrine that had proclamations defending, that apostles gave conference talks proclaiming as the unchangeable word of God, that was the culture of the Leaders.

    At least you could petition the Prophet then, and in fact members of the 12 met with those who wanted change.

    These women have asked to talk to the leaders, and been denied, even when they request conference tickets the response comes from the PR dept. What options are they left with?

    What have they done that is so terrible? They asked for tickets to the PH meeting, they were refused but there is an overflow for those without tickets. They joined that queue, and were refused because they did not have penises. You don’t have to hold the priesthood to get into the PH meeting, you don’t even have to be a member, all you have to be is male.

    20% of the US Mormon politicians are democrat, could that mean that at least 20% of members don’t see the Gospel and church the same way as conservatives do. 3 million members. Is it the Gospel you are defending? Is it the church you are defending? Is it conservative culture that is being defended?

    Julie Is it not possible for there to be members who are faithful and see the church differently from you, and is it really your responsibility to find that person wrong and defend the church against them. They love and live the Gospel as you do, just differently.

    They see incredible inequality in the church. In the new preamble to the Declaration on the priesthood of 1978, it says “all are alike unto God black and white, male and female. The culture of the world has valued women as inferior, they could not vote, they could not own property, they could not get employment in many jobs, they were not worth educating. Would anyone like to justify any of these?

    It seems to me the Lord/Gospel sees women as equal, but the culture of the leaders and many members is preventing the Lords will being implemented, (again like in 1975) There is no scripture referring to the priesthood, that says it is only for men.

    Like blacks, Joseph Smith ordained women at the LORDS behest, D&C 25 ;7 and Joseph Smith papers of when RS set up to be a kingdom of priests. Why could women give priesthood blessings of healing from 1846 until 1946 but can’t now? Did the Lord change his mind (there is no revelation) or did conservative Utah culture intervene?

    Do women in the endowment put on the robes of the holy priesthood, so they can officiate in the ordinances of that priesthood, just like the men?

    So what are you defending – Utah culture, and what are you defending it against, the Lord/Gospel? It is more obvious to those who are not of the culture, that the culture is a problem.

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  65. Jeff Spector on April 30, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    Geoff -A,

    “To me the question is not whether women have always been under the control of the priesthood but whether that was the will of the Lord or the culture of the times.’

    I guess what occurs to me is what “times” are you referring to? Because certainly , great strides have been made in the secular world on women’s issues and equality. Did God make that happen, let it happen, have nothing to do with it? I am not sure.

    But the history of the Bible is replete with the idea that the men are in charge via the Priesthood.

    so, I am not sure which culture you are pointing at. Seems to be it is a culture that existed from the very beginning and seems designed by God. No one has shown real roof to the contrary, Joseph Smith statements and actions, notwithstanding.

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  66. The Other Clark on April 30, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Blacks vis-a-vis Women is not a valid comparison. Every prophet, even Brigham Young and John Taylor, made it clear that someday blacks would have the blessings of the priesthood and the temple. (The understanding was that it would be in the next life, but still, they agreed that blacks would someday have it.

    No prophet has ever said women would hold the priesthood, (in the sense of keys, ordaining others etc.)

    For me, this is a major distinction that makes comparisons between the two situations invalid.

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  67. Katie A. on April 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    Although I myself lean towards other modes of thought in Mormon feminism, I don’t think that people who support female ordination are entirely without foundation scripturally or even among modern day prophets. For example, in the Bible there are at least two female prophets (Deborah and Huldah), and Junia (whom most Biblical scholars agree was a woman) was referred to as an apostle by Paul. The quote from Joseph Smith about making the Relief Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day is indeed in the Relief Society minutes on josephsmithpapers.org.

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  68. Naismith on April 30, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I am a Democrat, but I am not a supporter of OW (not a detractor either). So not sure if any numbers can be extrapolated reliably between those two data points.

    I am not convinced that women would be any more female-friendly in leadership, because I’ve had female bosses who were not particularly supportive of my goals as a woman. As the OP pointed out so well, we are more different as individuals than we are alike within a gender. And theoretically all church leaders are servants who are making decisions on their knees, so the answers would be the same whether or not the petitioner has a penis.

    Many of us have found (and Joanna Brooks has noted) that the church does an outstanding job of recognizing and appreciating and supporting mothers. When I was pregnant, it was such a comfort that my husband was committed to supporting the family so that I could spend my days lying on the couch puking. My contributions in breastfeeding and homemaking were seen as equally valuable to wage-earning, so I never considered myself “not working” and my husband never felt that he had more right to his paycheck because his name was on it. This was a sharp contrast to the other women in my playgroup, who felt guilty about not continuing with their paid jobs, felt dependent on their husbands, and were in some cases bullied by their husbands about their lack of contribution (!@#!?!)

    Yes, that is only one segment of women who is being advantaged. But it is a hugely important group in the gospel scheme of things. And since women who are not mothers are on an equal footing with their sisters out in the world anyway and get all kinds of respect for other things they do, they would seem to be in less need of that kind of support from the church.

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  69. Jeff Spector on April 30, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    There were actually seven women in the OT considered Prophetesses by the Jews: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther. While they are highly regarded in Jewish literature, there is no evidence that they held the Jewish Priesthood since it was patriarchal and transmitted from father to son. There is no reference to them in modern revelation or any teachings about them.

    With regard to Junia, the jury of experts is mixed on her position. Some say she was an apostle (little “a”) and some say she and her husband were highly regarded by the Apostles. So, I don’t think you can build that out to any case for female ordination to the Priesthood. What Joseph Smith meant, is also open to considerable debate.

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  70. Jeff Spector on April 30, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Naismith,

    I think you are on to something with regard to the outside workforce.

    “I am not convinced that women would be any more female-friendly in leadership, because I’ve had female bosses who were not particularly supportive of my goals as a woman.’

    The best Manager I ever had was a woman and the worst manager I ever had was a woman. And the mix over my career is about 60/40 men to women managers. So it is highly individual. some people were more sympathetic to personal issues, either men or woman, and some were not, both men and women. Actually, the single versus married might have had something to do with it. Married Managers with children were generally more sympathetic to those individuals in the same position.

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  71. Katie A. on April 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Jeff, that’s entirely my point. It is open to debate, and therefore that’s why I think it’s not completely out there for people to interpret that as support for female ordination. You’re choosing to dismiss that as evidence, but supporters of female ordination find it compelling. Both are legitimate viewpoints.

    Naismith, I agree it’s far too absolute to suggest that ALL women leaders would be more female-friendly. However, that doesn’t mean that in general having avenues open for female leadership isn’t a positive thing. I really don’t agree that because women who aren’t mothers are on equal footing out in the world that they are in less need of support from the church.

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  72. Geoff - Aus on April 30, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    Jeff, 65 There have been very few cultures where men and women had equal opportunities, but we are getting closer to that now.

    I’m not sure men were in charge in the past, because of the priesthood or just the prevailing culture? Were women more equal in tribes that didn’t hold the priesthood?

    The other Clark 66 What vision for exaltation of women do you have, and for that matter how do you see mother in heaven, do you see women equal and sharing with their husbands, or do you see them as eternally pregnant, or some other vision? What is the Lords ideal situation for women. My wife and 4 daughters are all past child bearing, and their vision is of sharing equally with their husbands.

    Naismith 70 is the question, whether women would make better leaders, or whether they should be excluded from any possibility of leadership, over men, because they are women? Does the lord see women as equal, but the culture of the world has prevented this from implementation, or are we already perfect in this regard?

    I believe the Lords ideal is for women to be equally able to hold the priesthood and that those who oppose it are defending the culture that prevents it. They of course believe they are defending the church and perhaps even Gods will.

    This is where I see the comparison with racism, that those who defended it also claimed it was gods will – and had the scripture to support them.

    The future will be very interesting – I expect women will hold the priesthood equally within 10 years – we’ll see. But then I also believe the culture of the church will change from “Obedience is the first law of heaven” to “Love is the first law of heaven”.

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  73. Naismith on May 1, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    First of all, can we please drop the myth that women are never leaders over men in the church? Men report to women all the time in Primary, family history, public affairs, music callings, and specific assignments in other callings (e.g., since the RS president has certain responsibilities around welfare, she may delegate bits to an EQ president with a single dad household, and he reports back to her to ensure that the family’s needs are met). Not to mention that we have friends serving elder missions where the wife has the degree/skills that landed them in the position (medical, teaching) and so he is serving as the supportive appointment setter and paperwork handler. Also, our stake recently sustained a woman as an assistant ward clerk since she is the webmaster, with men under her supervision. And the director of LDS humanitarian services is a woman, not to mention the many female deans and department chairs at BYU (including the department of ancient scripture).

    I am by no means claiming that those patterns and callings are as frequent as men or women reporting to men, but it happens often enough and with zero-to-few problems in my (outside Utah) experience that any concerns about men reporting to women is a non-issue.

    “Does the lord see women as equal, but the culture of the world has prevented this from implementation…”

    I think the Lord actually does see women as equal, and views women’s contributions as equal, even if they are not the same as men. It is NOT the church that promotes a male-normative view of equality and denigrates women’s efforts as “not working,” only recognizing what men do as having worth. That it the attitude that I find in my place of employment and in the town where I live.

    Except that not every woman buys it. I have those non-member colleagues and friends who wistfully admire our LDS complementarian view of equality.

    I actually don’t have a strong view one way or another about women being ordained–I can see costs and benefits in either direction. I just don’t believe that the only way women will be “equal” is if they do things the same as men.

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  74. The Other Clark on May 1, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    To Geoff-Aus in 72:
    *What vision for exaltation of women do you have–For exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, a man and a woman are equally dependent on each other. It’s a couples-only ticket.

    *For that matter how do you see mother in heaven–So little has been revealed about the Divine Feminine that virtually any opinion is purely speculative.

    *Do you see women equal and sharing with their husbands, or do you see them as eternally pregnant, or some other vision? The Church is pretty clear that the official doctrine is “equal and sharing,” and it officially shot down the “eternally pregnant” trope recently.
    https://www.lds.org/topics/becoming-like-god?lang=eng In fact, that document does a pretty good job of outlining Church’s official stance on exaltation.

    The bottom line is that we know virtually nothing about what day-to-day life in the Celestial kingdom will be like, and what relationships will be like there.

    But this entire comment is a threadjack from the OP, so I’ll bow out from further conversation.

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