Do not enterYesterday, a spokeswoman from the Public Affairs department of the LDS Church released a statement saying that any women who plan to request seats in the male priesthood session during General Conference weekend take their argument outside—literally. As the Salt Lake Tribune reported this morning,

Mormon women seeking tickets to the faith’s general priesthood session next month will not only be denied access to that all-male meeting, but also may be shut out of Salt Lake City’s historic Temple Square altogether.

There is something deeply symbolic about yesterday’s statement, for it reveals what the Church apparently thinks of the feminists within its fold. We, as faithful and active members of the Church, are being lumped together with the same anti-Mormon protestors who routinely crash General Conference and shout that the Mormon religion is of the devil. These protestors have started fistfights with conference-goers and even stomped on or burned temple garments.

I have little in common with those people. I love my Church and consider myself a believing and active Latter-day Saint. Temple Square is Mecca, my axis mundi.

But as someone who supports the ordination of women as the fullest expression of spiritual equality, I am being told my views are anathema.

There is some irony in how this is being done. Even as the Church has been forced to respond to the vocal and visible requests of Mormon feminists like me, it wants to make feminism appear powerless and insignificant. In yesterday’s church-owned newspaper the Deseret News, a patronizing lead sentence informed us all that “a small activist women’s organization is detracting from thoughtful discussions about women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The article positions Mormon feminism as a lunatic fringe, a mere distraction, a mosquito to be swatted off Temple Square.

The newspaper article is correct that only small numbers of Mormons say they favor women’s ordination (though it would be interesting to gather more recent data than the Pew survey to see if the numbers are still the same).

And that’s to say nothing of the fact that some women and men would participate in the demonstration or post public profiles on the Ordain Women website if they weren’t afraid of ecclesiastical reprisal. One couple I know just had their temple recommend renewal denied for their views on women’s ordination and same-sex marriage. So it’s not entirely fair for the Deseret News to paint the pro-ordination crowd as a tiny minority; there are more of us than the 200-odd participants in October’s walk would suggest.

Ordain WomenIn its response to Ordain Women, the LDS Church has sent a mixed message. On the one hand, Ordain Women is small—minuscule, actually; did we mention what a tiny minority they are? On the other hand, the group is apparently influential enough that its members are detracting from “helpful” discussions about Mormonism and gender, and dangerous enough that they need to be banned from Temple Square.

The real question is: where, exactly, are these “thoughtful discussions” about women’s roles in church allegedly happening?

Perhaps they are happening in discussions of the Quorum of the Twelve. Perhaps they are happening among the Seventies and area authorities. Perhaps they are happening in stake presidencies and stake high councils.

I certainly hope so.

In other words, the best-case scenario of these “thoughtful discussions” is to leave Mormon women hoping that conversations about their spiritual future are occurring . . . in all-male leadership meetings to which they have no access.

So we blog, and we speak out in unofficial ways about the need for change, since there is such a limit to what we’re allowed to express within institutional channels.

What changes have come are ones that feminists should claim a little credit for. For example, the Church didn’t magically decide after nearly two centuries of its existence that it might be about time to have a woman pray in General Conference; those conversations were prompted by women and men raising the question online and elsewhere at least a year and a half before that historic prayer occurred.

Mormon feminists will continue speaking out in all our variety. Many of us don’t support full ordination for women but seek smaller changes within the existing structure of the Church. Part of the reason that some of those smaller changes have occurred, however, is that it is in the Church’s best interest to show that it is flexible and it is listening: if it can’t accommodate the demands of full ordination, it can at least offer some crumbs from the master’s table.

If Ordain Women is the radical fringe movement that the Deseret News paints it to be, it is a radical fringe that will help to galvanize the middle ground.

306 Comments

      • Jana,
        Why don’t you write to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and ask to meet with one or two members of the Quorum, the General RS President (and perhaps her counselors) and Kate Kelly, Joanna Brooks and yourself. No media, no recording devices, except the church’s of course. Just to let them say Yes or no. If you pound this out today you might get an answer before General Conference because of the threat at conference that exists.

        • first because we are officially instructed NOT to write to the 12 in the CHB. We are informed that such letters will be returned to stake leadership. They usually are. However sometimes you you will get a nice form letter back from the secretary.

          Second this has been tried repeatedly over years and years. it rarely if ever works especially for any one who has a serious professional profile. If any access line this happens it is usually through access to family or an incredibly small network of those intimate with leadership.

          Seriously go try it and see how far you get especially if you express the least degree of serious critique.

          • April, that is good that those letters were written and sent. I assume you have now written Sister Jessica Moody, attached copies of the previous letters, letting her know you have been ignored and perhaps said something like, “when children cannot get their parents attention in a normal, healthy way, they raise the bar… . Actually, all determined people do this, not just children. We are raising the bar. You can stop this now by getting us an appointment for a serious meeting. Can you do that?”
            Do not think that I am supporting your cause. I am not. I am totally supporting intelligent, articulate people being heard. I have read much of Jana and Joanna have written, and they certainly qualify – I am hoping Kate Kelly does also.
            I am also an eternal optimist who thinks that this second potential event during general conference may be enough to get you the meeting. It seems to me to be a lot less painful to have the meeting than the disruption.
            Maybe the Church will set a criterion, that when followed, a meeting will take place.

          • “Leaders” is a kind of generic term and could mean almost anything. Were the letters open-ended enough to have suggested willingness to meet with someone from the General Relief Society Presidency or Board, or did they specifically request access to the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve? Most of these people have very heavy schedules, so it might make a difference as to what is actually being requested.

          • Thanks for your reply, April. While I’m concerned about the precedent that could be set by granting meetings to anyone who grabs enough headlines, I really do hope that you someday are able to have the conversation that you seek, and likewise hope that all involved will put the Lord’s will ahead of any preconceived expectations wherever it may lead. At the end of the day, I think the overwhelmingly majority of Latter-day Saints would go with the program either way so long as it is indeed manifest by the Holy Spirit as His will.

        • Ok,
          Don’t you think that in the earliest days of the restoration of the church the men tried to give the priesthood to women?
          If this was God’s well to give the priesthood to women you all would have it all ready.
          Women can do something that men can not do: bring life earth.

      • Seems to me that those women (or men for that matter) who feel the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should allow women to hold the priesthood, don’t understand the Gospel in even the most basic way.

        Now before you jump up on your soapbox, realize first that I am not trying to insinuate that you are stupid.

        If you truly believe that the LDS Church holds the one true gospel and that the President of the Church is a Prophet of God. And for that matter, you believe that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith Jr., and that the D & C, Pearl of Great Price and even the Bible are all Scripture (The actual words of God and his Prophets). Then you have made a graven mistake. Not in a spiritual sense, but in a logical sense.

        You see, the LDS Church isn’t like some Elks lodge, Masonic Temple or even a diplomatic political organization where the rules or laws are open for interpretation and discussion. At least not in the sense that they are changeable based on yours or my beliefs or our ability to get a majority vote on the matter.

        God’s house is a house of order.

        Now I know you are chomping at the bit to throw the change in Blacks ability to hold the priesthood in my face. A logical knee jerk reaction to the argument I just made. However, again you would be gravely mistaken.

        The priesthood has never been given to a women. It had been given to men of color (insert you desired politically correct description or term here) before Brigham Young announced that it would not be given to anyone with the mark of Caine.

        Now, regardless of your feelings on the giving or taking away of the Priesthood to Blacks. It truly has no merit in this argument.

        The issue isn’t why women can’t hold the priesthood. The issue is why certain women (or maybe even men) don’t have the faith to trust their appointed leaders “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators” in regards to these Spiritual Matters.

        Those who will stand in front of the LDS Conference Center during General Conference and picket and protest this issue, are without a doubt not worthy to hold the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So it really isn’t an issue at all.

        When someone comes to the realization that their Church can’t be the word of God because it no longer represents their own personal beliefs and views, I think it’s time for you to move on to a church that better suits you. Because your view of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is obviously not in alignment with what the Christ of the LDS Church’s is.

        If you don’t believe the Gospel, and your interpretation of the Gospel doesn’t count here. Then please move along. You will be much happier somewhere else I promise.

        Just in case you want something to quote that is from an authority on the matter and not a reporter.

        Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley,

        “Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world… They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world…

        “The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”

        – About the author of this rant.
        You may be surprised to know that yes I am an active member of the LDS church. No that wasn’t the surprising part.

        I am an Atheist or at the very least I am Agnostic. I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet or that the Book of Mormon was or is the inspired word of God.

        However, I do believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a positive, loving, caring, organization and that if I did believe in a loving higher power that cared about me and my life, I would choose the LDS Church as the only True church on the face of the earth because I believe this is the type of church he would create.

        • James, I don’t mean to sound rude, but (don’t you love the “but”?) you’re the one showing your ignorance and faulty logic.

          The problem (as discussed in General Conference by President Uchtdorf who acknowledged mistakes have been made) is that God’s “declarations” have been communicated and interpreted by fallible men.

          The Church itself has had to let go of false beliefs and ideas once taught as truth–and the real clincher is that doctrine changes over time. Don’t believe me? Read this book:

          http://gregkofford.com/products/this-is-my-doctrine

          • The problem is your argument is a fallacy. Just because a “Man” acknowledges that “man is fallible” and that the Church has made mistakes. We are not talking about man’s mistakes here. We are talking about Doctrine of the Church. Show us one place in the scriptures (not including D & C, because that is where the water gets muddy with mans mistakes) that shows God’s or Christ’s acknowledgment (or approval) of females holding the priesthood.

            Your argument works fine for issues such as polygamy that have been clearly influence by man. However, there is no evidence that women have ever held the priesthood.

            The second part of my argument is that although doctrines may have changed throughout the history of the church, this does not mean that all doctrines are changeable (here is another fallacy you are implying), nor does it mean that, as you state false beliefs and idea were once taught as truth so therefore current doctrine is somehow false or fallible.

            As I stated previously “The issue is why certain women (or maybe even men) don’t have the faith to trust their appointed leaders “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators” in regards to these Spiritual Matters.”

          • “Show us one place in the scriptures…that shows God’s or Christ’s acknowledgment (or approval) of females holding the priesthood.”

            Show me one place in the scriptures that shows approval of 12 year old boys holding the priesthood. (There isn’t any–but that hasn’t stopped the Church from ordaining prepubescent boys).

            At least in the scriptures we have record of prophetesses like Deborah.

            Moreover, just as you are correct that simply because doctrines HAVE changed does not NECESSARILY mean that current doctrines will change, I’ll speak as a historian–the only only constant in this church is change. And the 9th Article of Faith assures us that “many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” are yet to be revealed, notwithstanding what is or isn’t currently written in our cannon. I have enough faith to trust in THAT (regardless of any previous poor track record of fallible prophet-leaders).

        • James,
          Thank you for sharing your thoughts and some common sense. Like you I think what it all really comes down to is whether or not the members of this church (men and women alike) have faith in their appointed prophets, seers, and revelators. If the members of the OW group really and truly believe that this church is lead by a prophet and apostles who have been APPOINTED BY GOD. Then I would imagine they would have the faith to follow the councils and doctrine that have been revealed by and through them. Logically speaking if you believe that Thomas S. Monson and the twelve apostles are called of God to lead HIS church then to speak out against them would be to speak out against God himself. If, however you believe they are nothing more than mistaken falable men, then as James said you may leave and find a church or religion better suited for you.
          Thank you again for your comment, even as a non-member I believe you have a better understanding of the doctrine than many “active, faithful members” may have.

          • My sentiments exactly! As a female member of the LDS church, I must either accept that our prophet and apostles are God’s spokesmen here, and declare His will for us, or they do not, in which case, they should just leave.
            These women of OW are playing right into the hands of those who still believe that our church treats women as second class citizens, good only for keeping house and making babies. In fact, I personally don’t know any women in our church that WANT the priesthood. I know I don’t.

  1. On Sunday, during Sacrament meeting, our ward listened to a member of the high council who spoke about the OW movement in negative terms. He thought the purpose of the movement was to embarrass the church. It’s the first time I’ve heard anyone speak so negatively in an official way. I don’t think he understood or was trying to understand what is going on with OW. But it especially worries me that he used his official position.

    On the other hand, I think the way the church is handling this is a major public relations gaffe. Clearly, someone did not like the moving photos of woman after woman being turned away from the door. And I would imagine it was also painful for those who had to deny entry. But asking the women not to go onto temple square, and banning photographers, is a truly wrongheaded and mistaken alternative. The media attention from that, especially on the Internet, will be far worse than any pictures would have been.

    I am trying to understand what the church said in its letter, and finding that to be hard, too. I do get it a little bit. Church leaders want that meeting to be a picture of harmony, not of disagreement. But the problem is simple. Where else can women take this disagreement? There isn’t a place. And when there isn’t a place, you have to make a place. Being silent might not be polite, but in a social system where being silent is taken to mean complete agreement, sometimes you have to make it plain that there is no agreement.

    I am not part of OW, but I am deeply sympathetic. My thinking is that we are not ready as a church; we fall too far short in too many other areas. Our current doctrine on this point seems shaped by society’s misogyny, maybe a few decades out of date, and not by divine truth. I see far more of U.S. culture circa the 20th century than I do anything else in how women are currently treated and expected to act (or not act, not think, not speak….)

    But it is not sustainable.

    • If our faith is placed in Jesus Christ and we believe that He truly restored His church to the earth, then we might soften our tone toward His anointed prophets and apostles. Suggestions that they are perpetuating misogyny, that the church is out of date, and that it is not guided by divine truth do not just reflect upon our leaders who we regularly sustain by the uplifted hand, but on our Redeemer who called them. It is one thing to have questions. It is another to suggest answers from our limited view which paint the Lord’s leaders negatively.

      • TomW, at what level of calling does one become incapable of making mistakes? No man is called to positions of authority because he is now free from error. Rising to our callings is a beginning of ongoing inspiration or education, not the end of either.

        Just as the Brother of Jared went to the Lord at the request of his people, our prophets should represent both our voice to God and God’s voice to us. When there is something that causes His children pain, I would hope that our leaders wouldn’t be defensive about their position or inspiration. I would hope that my prophet would listen to these stories, hear them, take them to God and ask what can be done to make a difference.

        I like to think this is what happening, but if it is, the PR Department isn’t doing a very good job of expressing it.

        • Andrew, I have never claimed that people are incapable of making mistakes.

          At the same time, members of the church might spend more time on their own beams than casting aspersions upon the alleged motes of their leaders.

          President Marion G. Romney once recounted:

          “I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’ [Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78]”

          There are a lot of people out there of whom I have no assurance about them leading people astray. I have confidence the prophets and apostles that we sustain.

          It should be noted that there is a difference between leading someone astray, i.e. leading them away from salvation, and erring in some fashion which has no eternal ramifications. The Lord remains at the helm.

          As the Title Page of the Book of Mormon concludes, “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.”

          Sounds like a winning proposition to me…

      • I agree wiyth you completely. As a woman, I have the Priesthood already, through my husband. I don’t really get what women are so anxious for this or what exactly ordinatio.n would do for them if they had it

        • If I am told one more time that women “hold the priesthood through their husbands,” I’m going to scream. No, we don’t. Particularly those of us who have no husband.

          If you were to say something about holding priestesshood through the temple, but it’s not exactly been clarified for us what that means, okay. But not through your husband. Sorry, if that were true, women would be allowed to hold their babies during baby blessings, or to be witnesses for their own children’s baptisms.

          • I hear you, stacy! This mystical “priesthood through my husband” never made any sense to me. You have either been ordained or you have not. By all means, the blessings of the priesthood are available to all, but the priesthood itself is not, and sayings like that are fairly meaningless.

          • Hi Stacy,

            I don’t have a husband but I don’t think it’s fair to tell someone they don’t “hold the priesthood through their husband,” simply because we don’t know what that means to HER.

            If she feels a sacred connection to the Priesthood through the sealing covenants she’s made and her relationship with her husband and/or in some way feels the experience of holding something- who are we to tell her she can’t or doesn’t?

            Again, I am not married. And I don’t know exactly what she meant by that. But we need to be open to other people’s experiences being different from our own and when it comes to the sacred and divine we can’t be too generous in assuming that we don’t understand all things.

            She feels something special. Let’s rejoice that she has that wonderful experience, even if it’s not ours, and not try to diminish that for her or take that away somehow.

          • e., no. Sorry. Not good enough. Because every time it comes up, it’s a way of dismissing concerns about women not holding the priesthood. And not all women are married–a huge percentage of women in the church aren’t married at any given time. And to dismiss women without husbands in this kind of way is just par for the course in this church, and it’s a stupid argument.

      • TOMW; Well said, I joined the LDS church 5 years ago and I still love to see how the originaly foundation of the church is Christ here in our times. If we believethat this is the church of Jesus Christ we Should believe in the way Christ teach us the fundation of his church, calling men worthy to serve as apostles, teachers and presbyters. Men and Women are equal in this church, even God gave us diferents physical qualities That make us unique, qualities That men would like to have from the women, but God love us in the same way, gave us different Characteristics Also like different Responsibilities, sometimes I think the info we have to keep up the priesthood magnificent creation god gave us That eternal companion as the woman.
        Its true this is a living church with continuous disclosure so ask God about it with a sincere heart. IRVING

        • TOMW; Well said, I joined the LDS church 5 years ago and I still love to see how the originaly foundation of the Christ Church is here in our times. If we believe that this is the church of Jesus Christ we Should believe the way Christ teach us the fundation of his church, calling worthy man to serve as apostles, teachers and presbyters. Men and Women are equal in this church, even God gave us diferents physical qualities That make us unique, qualities That men would like to have from the women, but God love us in the same way, gave us different Characteristics Also like different Responsibilities, sometimes I think the info we have to keep up the priesthood magnificent creation god gave us That eternal companion as the woman.
          Its true this is a living church with continuous disclosure so ask God about it with a sincere heart. IRVING

      • I read somewhere that, when polled, 48% of LDS priesthood holders said that they had no problem with women holding the priesthood. However, 90% of LDS women said that they did not want to hold the priesthood.

        What’s interesting is, that my husband, a faithful priesthood holder, said that he doesn’t have a problem with women holding the priesthood. And I do not want to hold the priesthood, nor do I think it’s something that women should do at this time.

        He also made an interesting observation, as to why only men can hold the priesthood at this time. He said that, as a rule, women are more apt to attend church services than men are, and that many times, men are more apt to attend when they have some sort of responsibility within the church. I dont know, but it makes sense to me.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I think my biggest pain as a Mormon woman and Mormon feminist is feeling like my perspective really isn’t being listened to when it matters. So the statement in the church public affairs letter that there are unspecified thoughtful discussions happening somewhere (who? where? how do I get in on them?) kind of stings. How can I possibly know if these conversations represent the issues I care about if I can’t even hear what’s being said?

    Thanks, Jana, for what you do to give voice to the concerns of women like me.

    • It stands to reason that such discussions would take place with the presidencies and boards of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations. Why is there an expectation that attendee lists and meeting notes be disseminated publicly? We don’t do that in any other council of the church at any level, nor would we WANT the details of our council meetings to be fodder for general ward or stake discussion. For leaders to express themselves freely, they too deserve an expectation of confidentiality between each other.

  3. “One couple I know just had their temple recommend renewal denied for their views on women’s ordination and same-sex marriage.” I find it curious that you point this out, when this is exactly what is supposed to happen when someone disagrees with the doctrinal positions of those who have been appointed by God to lead the church. The recommend questions specifically ask, do you affiliate, support, agree, etc.. with any groups, parties, people, ideas, that go against church doctrine. Access to the temple is the highest privilege a member can enjoy, but it also requires the highest amount of obedience to God’s laws. Anyways, not that you or any other members of the OW movement haven’t already heard this, but it never hurts to encourage some (civil) discussion. I do appreciate that this article is written without the vitriol or anger that I’ve seen in some other blogs, that makes it easier to read. Personally, it seems to me that the whole premise of the movement is flawed, claiming to be faithful, yet does faith not require that we trust in God, and by proxy the leaders which he has ordained? Trust that although we may not currently understand, God has our best interests at heart. Anyways, If you don’t think there is true equality blessing wise, then I recommend, ironically enough, going to the temple and seeing if there are any differences in what the women are promised as opposed to the men( There aren’t, just in case you wanted to know right now). Regardless, may God keep you and yours safe.

    • Alex,

      I don’t know what temple you go to, but the blessings are different in the LDS temple. I don’t want to go into detail, but both in initiatory and in the endowment, there are different blessings given to men and women. One hint, the women are blessed to be something “to their husbands” rather than on their own.

      • 1 Corinthians 11:11 spells it out simply. There is no measure of exaltation that a man can achieve without his eternal companion at his side. Having set aside mortal pride, selfishness, jealousies, and other weaknesses, they must be one with each other. Such relationships transcend the complaint expressed here.

    • Many, many faithful LDS women have done exactly that, and what we have learned is that the blessings, promises, and covenants are not equal. May I suggest that YOU pay close attention the next time you attend the temple?

        • Requiring that an exalted man has one (or more!) women at his side is *not* the same thing as saying the promises and covenants are equal. It just makes the woman the man’s ticket.

          • The oneness required of an exalted sealed marriage doesn’t entertain the flawed premise of anyone being just a man’s ticket. I’m sorry you misunderstand this beautiful doctrine.

          • Perhaps you’d be so good as to explain how this “oneness” you rhapsodize about is compatible with the woman covenanting to hearken to the man, but the man making no parallel covenant to hearken to the woman.

            I’m so very deeply sorry that you’re willing to do mental gymnastics to ignore the real inequality built into our ideas about sealing.

          • And for that matter, you’re still not saying anything to answer my previous point. Just because a man needs a woman to be exalted *does not* necessarily mean that the covenants and promised for men and women are the same. And, in fact, as I noted in my previous comment, they’re clearly not the same.

          • The kind of celestial, eternal love associated with exaltation transcends your petty mortal philosophies on equality. Either one trusts God on this, or one does not. I choose trust.

            I will never be the equal of our Savior, Jesus Christ, yet I can be one with Him and share in all of the blessings of exaltation. What kind of pathetic fool would I be to scoff at being a joint heir with Christ in all that the Father hath?

            In His intercessory prayer, the Savior petitioned the Father:

            “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” (John 17:21-23)

            I cannot even fathom the pride involved in dismissing the glory of celestial oneness. In that realm, I don’t think anyone gives our mortal philosophies of equality a fleeting thought.

          • My point is that unity and oneness do no require all things to be identical.

            Yes, Christ prayed that we might become one with Him and the Father, as they are one with each other. We strive for such unity within our marriages and families without necessitating that we be identical in all things.

    • “Access to the temple is the highest privilege a member can enjoy, but it also requires the highest amount of obedience to God’s laws.”

      Actually, access to the temple really only requires a member to give the right answers to the questions in the temple worthiness interviews. A person can easily lie to get a temple recommend. If only honest people had access to the temple, then why do temples have lockers in them? Whether I agree with people who advocate for female ordination or same-sex marriage or not, I admire them for their integrity in honestly answering the temple worthiness questions and being willing to suffer the consequences of listening to their conscience and struggling with complicated issues.

    • “Personally, it seems to me that the whole premise of the movement is flawed, claiming to be faithful, yet does faith not require that we trust in God, and by proxy the leaders which he has ordained?”

      You lost me with your last phrase. I know it’s a popular idea in the LDS church that sustaining leaders means we have to go along with whatever they say, because they’re either truly or in effect infallible, but this is actually false. Sustaining leaders includes pointing out where they’re missing the boat.

      • Sustaining leaders does NOT include publicly calling them out and organizing fellow church members to demonstrate. It also means that we continue to sustain them even when we do not always get our way, even if we feel confident that our way is better or more correct.

          • Incorrect assumption on your part. The church does not have an infallibility doctrine. But we do have doctrines pertaining to the pattern of revelation to the church. And we strive to follow the leaders we sustain, even if we have our own ideas.

            You wrote, “Sustaining leaders includes pointing out where they’re missing the boat.”

            I don’t necessarily disagree. But there’s a difference between doing it publicly or in private. And to the extent that the people in question really are our leaders, we sustain and follow them even when we feel they are missing the boat. We will be blessed for our obedience, perhaps even more so when it is contrary to our personal preference.

          • Great! So you’re going back on your infallibility argument from before. So you realize that the Church is set up so there’s *no* feedback mechanism to get ideas from the bottom to the top, right? I mean, the letter is read in sacrament meeting every year or so telling us to never under any circumstances try to contact a GA directly, because our communication will just be sent back to local leaders. Going public is the only option people have for getting a message to GAs.

          • Your entire premise of the infallibility argument is itself loaded with fallibility! The church has a feedback mechanism; you just don’t like it. There are approximately 15 million Latter-day Saints around the world, and you seem to think that direct access to the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, or even the General Officers of the church is completely reasonable to ensure your personal opportunity for bottom to the top feedback? Would you expect the same direct contact if the membership of the church were 30 million? At what point is it reasonable in your world for the top leadership of the church to tell individual members, kindly, to take a hike?

            The reality of the matter is that the growth of the church has already brought us to this point long ago. As you have pointed out, we are periodically reminded not to contact Salt Lake with our questions.

            In a letter dated Oct. 6, the First Presidency wrote:

            “Dear Brethren and Sisters:

            “Members of the Church continue to place telephone calls and write letters to Church headquarters about doctrinal issues and personal matters. By reason of their callings, local leaders are entitled to the spirit of discernment and inspiration to enable them to counsel members within their jurisdiction.

            “Accordingly, correspondence from members will be referred back to their local leaders for handling. Stake presidents who have need for further clarification about doctrinal or procedural issues may write to the First Presidency in behalf of their members.

            “It is our desire that all members will feel they have the support and guidance they need; however, all things should be done in wisdom and order. We believe that both members and local leaders will be blessed as they pray and counsel together in an effort to resolve matters of concern to them.”

            Signed by the First Presidency:
            Thomas S. Monson
            Henry B. Eyring
            Dieter F. Uchtdorf

            http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/60087/From-the-First-Presidency.html

            The fact that you are not satisfied with the idea that local leaders provide a buffer between 15 million Latter-day Saints and the handful of General Authorities of the church does not mean that the policy is unfair or inappropriate. And to the extent that people have a testimony that this is the Lord’s church, and that it is administered in His way under His direction, the request of the First Presidency to express one’s concerns via local leaders who themselves act under inspiration for their stewardship is not only doctrinally sound, but practically sane.

            Perhaps some Latter-day Saints would have been happier living 150 years ago when direct access to church leaders was easier. By the same token, the church had its share of agitators and apostates then too despite such ready access. Some things never change.

    • No its not. There were clear instructions from the church that noone was to be disciplined for disagreeing politically on SSM. And the leaders of OW have been told they were not to be disciplined. You neednto listen to your church leaders more yourself if you think they want all the wards and stakes excommunicating people for these differences. This is the last thing they want.

      • Excommunication is not undertaken lightly. Such actions are not taken merely for holding an opinion contrary to the expressed teachings of the First Presidency. It can happen, however, if such contrary views are escalated into something else. When people complain of witch hunts I generally withhold judgment until the broom is presented.

  4. 1 Nephi 16:3

    “And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.”

  5. Thank you for this! My sister and I have been talking about the idea of these “thoughtful discussions,” especially in light of the recent New York Times articles. We both agreed that it’s pretty sad (and telling) if the only way we as LDS women can let our leaders know how we feel (and know that they may actually see it) is to tell the New York Times about it.

    • In fairness, it has been established that our leaders DO know how you feel. What they haven’t done is respond the way you want them to respond. There’s a difference.

    • 1) Most LDS women feel very differently than you
      2) The apostles know how both groups feel
      3) OW has declared that their objective is non-negotiable, and have repeatedly rejected what the apostles and other church leaders have said, including female LDS leadership

  6. I love this post, Jana. This, in particular, puts a very fine point on the problem:

    “In other words, the best-case scenario of these “thoughtful discussions” is to leave Mormon women hoping that conversations about their spiritual future are occurring . . . in all-male leadership meetings to which they have no access.”

    • This statement is based on a faulty assumption that such matters are never discussed in the presence of the General Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies. As one who has personally known a former General YW President, I can assure you that the assumption is incorrect.

      • Right. The thoughtful discussions you suppose are happening are including only the women who have risen to high positions by showing their willingness to not rock the boat. In other words, very unlikely to overlap with anyone who is going to raise any serious concerns with the GAs.

        • You seriously have no clue about the strong leadership among the women of the church. No sane person would consider Sheri Dew (my personal favorite) to be a patsy. And the women who have led the other general auxiliaries of the church in my lifetime have likewise been profoundly strong women. If you’re looking for a strong woman who also happens to hold priesthood leaders in contempt, I’ll concede there aren’t any such women who will fill the ranks of leadership.

          • You seriously think Sheri Dew, regardless of how strong a personality she might have, was going to make any points to General Authorities that she didn’t suspect they wanted to hear? Knowing that she served in her position only as long as they allowed her to, and that her position was time-limited while theirs were not? You seriously think that having a few women give some input here and there is as good as having actual women in actual positions of decision-making power at the general level?

            You seriously have no clue how structural disadvantage can serve to silence anyone put in a powerless position.

          • Chieko Okazaki, a former counselor in the General Relief Society Presidencies, is one of my personal favorites, and she was frustrated that she was not included at all in the counseling about the Proclamation on the Family, which defines the eternal roles of both women and men. She said that she would have suggested some changes had she ever been consulted. She was righteous, powerful, and influential, but you bet her influence was limited, and she was disheartened by it. There is not a reverencing/honoring the callings of Relief Society Presidency like there are for Priesthood offices.. even after Sheri Dew served in the RS Presidency, the book she wrote about women and the Priesthood was subtitled with the disclaimer: “What One Mormon Woman Believes”, which seems a concession that she has no authority on the topic.

          • Ziff, you seem to be suggesting that Sheri Dew, strong as she is, wouldn’t be one to speak her mind. I get the exact opposite vibe. I think she has been such a mover and shaker in the upper echelons of the kingdom for the very reason that she can be trusted to say EXACTLY what is on her mind while still honoring and respecting the callings of those who have sought her counsel. I sense that you might only be satisfied by a female leader who is periodically not in harmony with priesthood leadership and wages public warfare against them. Good luck with that. All of the leaders of the church, male and female, seek to be in harmony with God as their foremost desire, so it stands to reason that the more they deliberate and weigh their respective points of view, the closer they will actually come to unity through the guidance of the Spirit. If the church is true, that’s pretty much what one should expect. I don’t know why anyone would claim the church is true and expect something different.

            Jess, you actually undermine Ziff’s point to an extent, because your example of Sister Okazaki proves that the Brethren do not surround themselves with people who only say what they want to hear. It also bears mentioning that she never stopped honoring and sustaining the Brethren, even when she felt hurt at being excluded from framing the language of the Family Proclamation. Considering that she was a counselor, it would be useful to know to what extent the actual presidents of the RS, YW, and Primary were included in any conversations with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. I sincerely doubt that they were all shut out completely. Even so, since when is it necessary that official declarations of the First Presidency and/or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles require deliberation with ANY other entity? Perhaps there are people out there more familiar with the history than I am, but I cannot think of other circumstances where such involvement has taken place. It would likely be the exception rather than the rule in any case.

            The comment about the subtitle of Sheri Dew’s book is a non-starter. No one knows better than Sister Dew that virtually every book published by prominent church leaders is to be taken as the personal responsibility of the author, absolving the church from defending its content as bearing the weight of canon. Considering the high level that she is revered by both women and men in the church, perhaps she wanted to emphasize this reality on the very cover of her book. And perhaps the point was to draw attention to the fact that the content was indeed a woman’s view rather than necessarily a woman expressing the church view or a male view.

        • Gillian Wiles

          Your comment seems to indicate that Women who are called to the General Presedency have worked their way up to the position in the same way that someone in a firm works their way to the top job, surely if this is the Lord’s church He calls who He wants to the position? As I understand the sustaining process, when we raise our hand to the square we are accepting the Lords choice in the person for a calling, warts and all. I have found that callings that I have been given have helped my spiritual growth not just those I have been called to serve.

  7. You’re reading a lot into these statements that isn’t there. Not allowing demonstrations doesn’t imply anything about shouting, starting fights, or anything of the sort. (And some of those who peacefully protest at the designated sites wouldn’t be pleased to see that’s what you assume those sites are about.) It doesn’t imply any view is anathema. By any applicable standard OW is correctly described as a small group, but that implies nothing about lunatic fringe. Nothing in the statement implies all the helpful conversations are male-only, in fact the statement appears to contradict that.

    If you’re going for red meat, you’ve got it, but this isn’t the kind of piece likely to advance understanding.

  8. I’m rarely accused of brevity…

    Jana, you write: “We, as faithful and active members of the Church, are being lumped together with the same anti-Mormon protestors who routinely crash General Conference and shout that the Mormon religion is of the devil. These protestors have started fistfights with conference-goers and even stomped on or burned temple garments.”

    Like it or not, what Ordain Women is organizing IS a protest. If they would prefer their own Free Speech area apart from the more hostile element of protesters, perhaps that could be arranged, albeit being lumped together might be the price that has to be paid for a society wherein those other groups might sue for having unequal protesting rights.

    Jana: “But as someone who supports the ordination of women as the fullest expression of spiritual equality, I am being told my views are anathema.”

    But Jana, what if it turns out that you are incorrect about priesthood ordination really being “the fullest expression of spiritual equality”? What if Heavenly Father’s position on this is different?

    In a church which believes that the Father and Son came down from the heavens and personally restored Their church to the earth, and that we have had an uninterrupted line of Their duly anointed prophets, seers, and revelators ever since, there are certain unassailable points of doctrine that we must consider, among them being the doctrines we affirm when interviewing for a temple recommend.

    Do we have a testimony of the Restored Gospel?

    Do we sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator, and the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all of the priesthood keys?

    Do we similarly sustain the remaining apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?

    If so, should we not tread very carefully when suggesting that the very individuals we proclaim and sustain to be called of God to administer His affairs on the earth are withholding something as vital as the priesthood from women, that God would reveal this as His will if not for some flaw on the part of those very souls entrusted with administering His kingdom on earth?

    Jana: “There is some irony in how this is being done. Even as the Church has been forced to respond to the vocal and visible requests of Mormon feminists like me, it wants to make feminism appear powerless and insignificant. In yesterday’s church-owned newspaper the Deseret News, a patronizing lead sentence informed us all that “a small activist women’s organization is detracting from thoughtful discussions about women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The article positions Mormon feminism as a lunatic fringe, a mere distraction, a mosquito to be swatted off Temple Square.”

    In fairness, Ordain Women IS “a small activist women’s organization.” Statistically it is reasonable to depict the group a fringe, whether or not it is also lunatic. And insofar as Temple Square is concerned, rank and file members of the church really aren’t keen on the site being used for demonstrations which oppose the teachings of the church whether their participants claim a love or a hatred of it, especially at a time when LDS gather from around the world and strive to spiritually prepare themselves to receive instruction from the Lord’s anointed servants.

    Also, in fairness, one might have pointed out the exaggerated references in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/07/us/from-mormon-women-a-flood-of-requests-and-questions-on-their-role-in-the-church.html) which overstate the position of Ordain Women, beginning with its headline: “From Mormon Women, a Flood of Requests and Questions on Their Role in the Church”:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose priests and governing authorities form an entirely male gallery of leaders, is facing a geyser of questions from women who want more participation and visibility in virtually every aspect of Mormon life.”

    “In response to an article in The New York Times on Sunday (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/us/a-growing-role-for-mormon-women.html), in which church leaders said they were interested in expanding opportunities for female members, Mormon women poured out requests: to be Sunday school presidents, to plan worship, to be allowed to teach seminary while they have children under 18, and to let their daughters serve as ushers.”

    A flood. A geyser. Women pouring out their requests.

    According to the unbiased New York Times, of course!

    And while I’ve heard all manner of grievances over the years from women who seek priesthood ordination, isn’t it scraping the bottom of the barrel to want to be Sunday School President or an usher? Ever since we switched to the 3-hour block and eliminated Sunday School opening exercises, the active role of the Sunday School President has been largely reduced to Hall Monitor. As for ushers, one must live in a pretty gigantic ward for the depth chart to necessitate the calling of an usher to give somebody something to do.

    Jana: “And that’s to say nothing of the fact that some women and men would participate in the demonstration or post public profiles on the Ordain Women website if they weren’t afraid of ecclesiastical reprisal. One couple I know just had their temple recommend renewal denied for their views on women’s ordination and same-sex marriage.”

    To the extent that their views cross a threshold where one can no longer honestly affirm the key points of a temple recommend interview, such might be expected. It would be interesting, without naming names, to know the details of this particular case, because it became clear during Prop 8 in California that mere support for same-sex marriage was not itself a recommend killer.

    Jana: “So it’s not entirely fair for the Deseret News to paint the pro-ordination crowd as a tiny minority; there are more of us than the 200-odd participants in October’s walk would suggest.”

    The Salt Lake Tribune put the number at about 130 women. (http://www.sltrib.com/csp/cms/sites/sltrib/pages/printerfriendly.csp?id=56963037)

    The Deseret News put the number at about 150 women and men. (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587795/Women-hear-LDS-Priesthood-meeting-but-not-at-conference-center.html)

    Considering the relative availability of Mormon women within driving distance of the Conference Center, that really is quite a small number. Honestly, when one tacks on the number of women who aren’t the least bit active in the church, or who aren’t even members of the church, who would love to give the Ordain Women movement a shot in the arm to embarrass the Church, they should easily be able to garner 10-20 times as many supporters. Yet if the numbers on April 5 should swell beyond those of last October, Ordain Women will paint it as monumental – with the New York Times in tow to validate them.

    Jana: “In its response to Ordain Women, the LDS Church has sent a mixed message. On the one hand, Ordain Women is small—minuscule, actually; did we mention what a tiny minority they are? On the other hand, the group is apparently influential enough that its members are detracting from “helpful” discussions about Mormonism and gender, and dangerous enough that they need to be banned from Temple Square.”

    Small, but vocal. And since Ordain Women has gained media attention, even if perhaps disproportionate to their support within the church, they rise to the level of being on the radar screen. To the extent that their presence is a distraction to the Spirit which church members generally seek when attending Conference, it is legitimate to create a bubble around the Conference zone where attendees may be free from such distractions.

    Jana: “The real question is: where, exactly, are these “thoughtful discussions” about women’s roles in church allegedly happening?”

    As you already mentioned, “they are happening in discussions of the Quorum of the Twelve,” and “among the Seventies and area authorities, “and in stake presidencies and stake high councils.” But the General Officers of the Church are not limited to these bodies. The presidencies and boards of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations participate in regular discussions with priesthood leaders, and this same concept is duplicated at the local level as well.

    Thus it is completely disingenuous to maintain that these “thoughtful discussions” take place solely within the confines of “all-male leadership meetings to which [women] have no access.” The sisters who participate in the councils to which I have been privy would be surprised at how little voice they allegedly have.

    Jana: “What changes have come are ones that feminists should claim a little credit for.”

    Credit should be given where it is due. The question of women praying in General Conference had merit, and clearly the Brethren concurred.

    But there are other things which some Mormon feminists agitate for which are less reasonable (http://www.ldswave.org/?p=402), and which place many faithful Mormon women in an uncomfortable situation aligning themselves with those whose aims are not entirely in harmony with what they accept as coming from the Lord.

    When Kate Kelly proclaims, “The ordination of women would put us all on equal spiritual footing with our brethren, and nothing less will suffice” (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865586996/LDS-Church-responds-to-priesthood-meeting-request-by-activists.html?pg=all) she doesn’t leave a shred of an opening for the possibility that what she desires might simply not be in the Lord’s program.

    It’s one thing to petition our church leaders to inquire of the Lord with regard to the desires of our hearts. It is a completely different thing to insist in advance that nothing less than one’s desired outcome is acceptable.

      • My primary audience is Jana, who took the time to write out her thoughts in full. I believe she deserves the dignity of a well thought out response.

        To the extent that others elect to read or not read my response, it’s up to them.

        • No, it’s really not. TomW ignores the biggest flaw in our religion – how do we, the common member, access the top? How do we get our questions answered? There use to be a Q&A in the Ensign, but it was full of problems. Many of the answers were incorrect, opinionated and/or non-doctrinal. None were, to my knowledge, new revelation. This is a topic that requires revelation, regardless of what side you take. Either we sustain these men as prophets and let them do their job and add to our cannon of scripture or we do not. But anything NOT in our scripture is not doctrine and can change like a leaf in the wind. It took a long time and a lot of study to allow young men to hold the Aaronic priesthood. Why no one bothered to just ask the Lord, I do not know. There needs to be a path for the common person to take a question to the Lord through the prophet. What that path is, I do not know. I do not think that trying to gain entrance to a place you know you are not welcome is the way to do it, as this is continuous. However, the Church, as an organization, has left the OW members with no alternative path. TomW ignored this problem in his opinionated rant. In my mind, TomW is on the same path as the OW movement, looking to prove himself right and others wrong rather than just asking the brethren to ask the Lord.

          • Yes, we can pray, and I have received lots of answers I can’t talk or do anything about because I am not the prophet. So we need to be able to aim a little lower. I’m not able to start my own religion, and it is a real problem that we have to wait for so many of the Lord’s anointed to die before we get someone that understands issues that mattered a few decades ago.

          • I addressed what you consider the biggest flaw in our religion. You just don’t like the answer.

            The fact of the matter is that the General Authorities cannot POSSIBLY be accessible to 15 million members on a whim. That is why the church has always been organized with layers of local authority.

            To insist that “There needs to be a path for the common person to take a question to the Lord through the prophet” is a ludicrous assertion which has not been remotely feasible in over a century.

            If people are not content expressing their concerns through local leadership who have been called and set apart to address the needs of the local membership, they’re going to have to settle for the off chance that the prophet and/or the general authorities/officers of the church might respond to the letters we have already been counseled not to send directly to them.

          • TomW, you just contradicted every argument you have stated on this comment section. You stated over and over that the Brethern are infoulable, that they cannot error. In a sence, you make them out as gods. But unlike the true God these men serve they cannot hear all 15 million people in our Church. You are correct in this statement, making you wrong in their infoulablity. This is why revelation is so important, even if you can’t see it. If these men looked to God for a way to hear us, He would give them a way. There is no “can’t” with our God. So you still miss the point and prove yourself wrong at the same time. You can’t have it both ways. Either they are infoulable and can make a way to hear the members or they are human and need the Lord’s guidance. You can’t have it both ways.

          • Gillian Wiles

            I have recently been release as our Stake Indexing Director, from the moment I was called I realised that I needed an assistant in each of the eight units in our Stake. As the number of indexers increased that need was finally met by several of the Wards who called Ward Indexing Directors. I could have gone to each Ward and tried to meet with all the indexers but to have someone that I could meet with and who could then pass on instruction to their individual Ward indexers was what was needed. The First Presidency could not possible be in contact with all 15 million members and answer their concerns and questions. Like has been said by a number of people, that’s what Home Teachers, Bishops, Stake Presidents and so on are for. If anyone were able to talk to a GA they would probably ask if the person has spoken to their Bishop?

          • David, you write: “You stated over and over that the Brethern are infoulable, that they cannot error. In a sence, you make them out as gods.”

            That is a lie. Not once have I ever made such a claim, let alone repeatedly. Feel free to quote where I have said exactly what you attribute to me (spelled correctly, of course).

  9. Thank you for this post! It is very thoughtful. The fact that women don’t have more of a voice is the #1 thing I’d like to see change in the Church. I personally don’t care whether I get the priesthood or not–though I totally respect the argument ;) –but I would like to see more women conducting meetings, having stewardship over men and (not just women and children), and having influence in important decisions. I get that the Lord is in charge, by why does that somehow imply that men get the monopoly on revelation for everybody and the administration of everything? This is a point of the “ongoing discussion” I’d like to emphasize.

    • Jana Riess

      Great points, Mimi. I think your views represent those of a lot of women, certainly more than mine do. And this is most likely the direction the Church will take — to make room for more leadership opportunities for women without giving us the priesthood. Neylan McBaine, a feminist who does not support full ordination for women, has a terrific list of things the Church could do to give women more responsibility. Some of the things on that list she generated in 2012 have already happened since she published it. I think she is marvelous.

    • Mimi West: “men get the monopoly on revelation”??
      Basic beliefs of the Church include revelation for every member and the ability–no, the necessity–to go to the Lord in prayer and ASK whether any decision or revelation is in accord with his will.
      Are you saying that women are unable to pray?

    • The keys of administration fall to the priesthood, so you’ll always have more men conducting meetings than women.

      As for stewardship over men, I’ve been on committees headed by women who had stewardship over me. I’ve worked in the Primary, where women had stewardship over me. I help at Girls Camp, where women have stewardship over me.

      As for “having influence in important decisions,” this already happens constantly at the ward, stake, and general levels. I’ve NEVER sat in a ward council where the influence of female leaders was not instrumental in the final outcome of any decision. I can’t imagine the dynamic changing at the stake or general levels of the church. In fact, Elder Ballard wrote a book on the topic (Counseling With Our Councils: Learning To Minister Together In The Church And In The Family) making it extremely clear to priesthood leaders to solicit and value the influence of the women of our councils. Men do not hold a monopoly on revelation whatsoever. Not in the LDS church.

      Elder Ballard taught: “Too often in the Church we take productive priesthood leaders and put them on high councils where their perceived role is simply to give rubber-stamp approval to stake presidency plans and programs and to run ecclesiastical errands for the presiding brethren. Under such conditions, high councilors quickly become “dry” councilors; without the spiritual nourishment of meaningful service, they lose enthusiasm, energy, and commitment to the work. Similarly, talented and spiritually gifted women called as auxiliary leaders are too often treated by priesthood leaders as though their only function is to take in casseroles and arrange for stake and ward activities. The fact is that they are spiritual leaders who should be encouraged to actively contribute, under the direction of the priesthood, to the spiritual leadership of the ward, stake, or home. When stake presidencies allow stake councils to feel some ownership of the program, they are more likely to become a dynamic part of the solution to the problems facing the stake.”

      In a section called “Involving All Council Members, Both Men and Women,” Elder Ballard addressed this topic in a manner that I cannot help but think would resonate with 99% of church members:

      “A wise stake president or bishop will see his auxiliary presidents as spiritual leaders rather than as organizers and party planners. Too many women leaders are underutilized and unappreciated, at times because priesthood leaders don’t have a clear understanding or an enlightened view of the significant contribution the sisters can make. They too bear the mantle of presidency, and they have been set apart and blessed to assist the priesthood in bringing women and their families to Christ. In addition, faithful and devoted women are typically very receptive to the Spirit and can play unparalleled roles in helping foster spirituality among women, children, and youth.

      “President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaking several years ago in a general conference, emphasized the need for faithful and inspired women to make their influence felt within the Church:

      ” ‘We need women who will applaud decency and quality in everything from the fashion of clothing to crucial social issues. We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. There is a great need for women who can receive inspiration to guide them personally in their teaching and in their leadership responsibilities. We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous. We need women who can discern those positions that may not be popular at all, but are right. (“Relief Society,” 8)’

      “Brethren, remember that the purpose of having women involved in our councils is to get their input on the weightier matters of the Church. And remember that they are eager to support and assist you in accomplishing the Lord’s work. I believe their feelings are well represented in this comment from a former stake Relief Society president: ‘If auxiliary leaders feel that they are heard and that they are seen as legitimate spiritual leaders, they will move heaven and earth for the priesthood leaders under whose direction they serve.’

      “In a general Church council meeting I attended several years ago with the presidencies of the women’s auxiliaries, the sisters told me that very few women in the Church express any interest in wanting to hold the priesthood. But they do want to be heard and valued, and they want to make meaningful contributions to the stakes and wards in which they live. They want to serve the members and the Lord and to help accomplish the mission of the Church.

      “An illustration of the importance of a woman’s perspective came in one such meeting when we were talking about the worthiness of youth to serve missions. President Elaine Jack, then serving as the Relief Society general president, said, ‘You know, Elder Ballard, the sisters of the Church may have some good suggestions on how to better prepare the youth for missions if they were just asked. After all, you know, we are their mothers!’ The sisters’ suggestions can help equally regarding temple attendance and a host of other matters with which priesthood leaders may be struggling.

      “Again, brethren, please be sure you are seeking the vital input of the sisters in your council meetings. Encourage all council members to share their suggestions and ideas about how the stake or ward can be more effective in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead.”

      Note that this book was published in 1997. For at least that long, the brethren have been aware that some women in the church have an interest in priesthood ordination. The idea wasn’t born over the past couple of years. The brethren have discussed it with the women leaders in the church. I’m sure it comes up every now and then, even if we are not privy to the details of the conversations.

      Elder Ballard’s comments are in line with everything I have been taught about the proper functioning of councils in the church. To the extent that anyone has experienced something different, it is not that the church doesn’t value the contributions of women, but rather that a given individual leader isn’t heeding the counsel that he has received.

      • Just thought I’d add another insightful excerpt from Elder Ballard’s book, “Counseling With Our Councils”:

        “To be most effective, women need to learn to work effectively with and under the direction of the priesthood. Sisters, be prepared both mentally and spiritually to discuss the needs of those who fall within your stewardship. Be bold. Be assertive. Feel confident about raising weighty issues and concerns. You have as much right to input and inspiration as any other council member. The priesthood leader to whom you report will be strengthened more than you can imagine if he hears what you have to say. You will in many cases view the needs and concerns of women, youth, children, and families with greater empathy and insight than will your priesthood leaders. Prayerfully identify concerns and suggest solutions. Then, with other leaders, be willing to follow and support the counsel of those who hold the priesthood keys of administration in your area. Everyone prospers, at all levels of Church government, by following and supporting those who hold the keys. Both the sisters and the brethren need to understand and practice good judgment and balance in counseling with our councils.

        “President Howard W. Hunter often spoke about the strength and power that results when men and women combine their strengths, faith, and testimony, and when they work together for the benefit of those whom they serve. He said that ‘we, his servants all across the Church, need you, the women of the Church, to stand with us and for us in stemming the tide of evil that threatens to engulf us’ (“To the Women of the Church,” 96).

        “Perhaps we might look at the respective contributions of men and women in this way: You have no doubt visited the ophthalmologist for an eye exam. In the process of determining a patient’s correct vision, the doctor will typically test the patient’s eyesight by asking him or her to look through a variety of settings on a machine, some of which are blurry. Not infrequently, the doctor will find that the patient has one eye that is weaker than the other. Only when he can determine the exact prescription for both eyes can a patient’s vision be corrected precisely.

        “In much the same way, men and women express themselves differently and tend to have different skills, talents, and points of view. When either viewpoint is taken in isolation, the resulting image may be blurry, one-dimensional, or otherwise distorted. It is only when both perspectives come together that the picture is balanced and complete. Men and women are equally valuable in the ongoing work of the gospel kingdom.”

  10. Jana, the way Feminists are going about this is terrible optics. There is a right way and a wrong way to ask the Lord for things. This is the wrong way. It makes people look at OW and think that they put their will above the will of God and believe they are so much smarter and more inspired than the prophets and apostles. If women ever do get the priesthood in the same way men have it, this will not be how it happens. There are 9 women who serve as general officers in the Church and wives of every leader who are consulted and give great counsel. It will be in these discussions held in love not threat that might impress apostles and prophets to inquire again of the Lord on the matter. Your threats to damage the Church in the media if you don’t get what you want is offensive and not about love. That is the optic that my wife and my daughter see. A group of women trying to damage the Church in the eyes of the media if they do not get their way. OW demands their will be done, not God’s will. We do not dictate to God nor his prophets what assignments and responsibilities we have.

    Try a new strategy: Public support of the policies and counsel of the prophets even on this matter–you trust them and believe they are inspired in this matter. That you are willing to accept their direction and God’s will expressed through them even if it disagrees with what you hope for. Stop trying to micromanage who God chooses and what they do and say and what their policies are. Share in polite terms your ideas and hopes and willingness to hold the priesthood someday if God should inspire that change, but in the meantime focus on what you have actually been called by God to do instead of what you would rather do if you had the priesthood.

    • Thomas, I think you probably don’t know very much about the Ordain Women movement, because that is exactly the way they’re going about it.

      The optics are bad because someone in Church PR decided to villainize the movement. Much prayer, study, fasting, and meditation has been spent on this subject within the Mormon feminist community.

      • Libby, I WISH that this was exactly the way they were going about it.

        And perhaps there are those affiliated with the effort who truly feel that way.

        But Kate Kelly has articulated her position this way: “The ordination of women would put us all on equal spiritual footing with our brethren, and nothing less will suffice.”

        That’s not a mere request for the brethren to make it a matter of sincere prayer and supplication, the Lord’s will be done either way. It is a line in the sand.

    • There are a number of interesting assumptions in your comment.

      -Where do you get the idea that the OW participants are putting their will above God’s? I’ve read a number of them who are participating explicitly because they believe it’s God’s will

      -Where has OW ever threatened the church or demonstrated attempt to harm?

      -You say “this is not how the change would happen”. On what do you base this? How well do you know the history of change in the church?

      -You claim OW is not demonstrating public support of the leaders, much to the contrary of their own claims.

      -Finally, you assume a direct “all-in-one” relationship between God and church leaders. To my understanding, the Godhead is the only relationship that shares such perfect unity of will and purpose. Church leaders must seek out inspiration, overcome their own prejudices and blind spots, etc. In short, *they are not God, and their actions and behaviors are not necessarily in line with God’s will*.

      • Trevor, they may believe female priesthood ordination is God’s will, but if they also believe that this is God’s church and that He has called and anointed our prophets and apostles to be His living oracles, then we owe a measure of respect and benefit of the doubt to the prophets and apostles that they are constantly striving to act in harmony with His will.

        That means, despite deeply held personal beliefs about what God’s will on the matter may be, faithful Latter-day Saints hold open the possibility that their personal impressions may not in fact be correct. It is absolutely fair and reasonable to ask the Brethren to earnestly petition the Lord on the matter. It is absolutely unfair and unreasonable to insist that the only acceptable answer is the one that they want. It is contrary to gospel teaching that revelation for the whole church will come to certain individuals while bypassing the Lord’s chain of command.

        OW doesn’t threaten the church physically, but I don’t think it can really be disputed that they hope their actions will cause embarrassment leading to the result they demand. If the church were a political party this might be a useful strategy. But since faithful Latter-day Saints view the prophets and apostles as God’s chosen leaders for our day, we cringe at internal efforts to publicly embarrass them.

        I agree that agitation sometimes gets results. Martin Harris agitated for the manuscript, and he got it.

        You are correct that “Church leaders must seek out inspiration, overcome their own prejudices and blind spots, etc.” Nonetheless, it is through the Lord’s imperfect anointed representatives that He manifests His will for the church, and as faithful members we sustain them. And I would stop short of accusing them of not necessarily being in line with God’s will. I am not so presumptuous to suggest that I know the workings and will of God better than they do.

    • Jana Riess

      “There are 9 women who serve as general officers in the Church and wives of every leader who are consulted and give great counsel. It will be in these discussions held in love not threat that might impress apostles and prophets to inquire again of the Lord on the matter.”

      Thomas, you seem to be saying that the roughly eight million women of the LDS Church are well represented by nine women in general auxiliary leadership whose every decision is approved by priesthood authority, and by the wives of male leaders who may or may not take their opinions into consideration when they make decisions that affect all members of the Church. That is not enough.

      • With due respect, how the Lord chooses to administer His kingdom IS enough. If we have a testimony that the church is true, we must exercise faith that the kingdom is generally administered in harmony with His will. It is not our place to define what is enough.

        • Again with the infallibility argument? Do you really think that the Church is run in every particular 100% in line with how God wants it? Seriously? And if not, then why don’t you agree that GAs can get things wrong sometimes, and that they can use helpful input from the rank and file?

          It’s *not* the Lord administering his kingdom. It’s a bunch of mortals. Or maybe your ward is different.

          • You confuse faithful discipleship with infallibility. And when the Lord has something to reveal for the entirety of the church, it will follow His established channels.

          • No, I don’t. You do. You’re saying never question, always go along with everything leaders say. Never bring any concerns up. Even if you don’t have the word “infallibility” in your head when you’re saying this, what you’re advocating amounts to arguing for treating GAs as infallible.

          • You are the ONLY one saying “never question, always go along with everything leaders say. Never bring any concerns up.”

            You seem to confuse blind obedience with informed obedience.

            Elder Boyd K. Packer insightfully taught:

            “Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.

            “We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ‘under this head are [we] made free.’ (Mosiah 5:8.)

            “Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.”

            https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1983/04/agency-and-control?lang=eng

            In my more than 4 decades on the planet, I have had multiple opportunities to experience the consequences of obedience and disobedience to the teachings of the Lord’s anointed. Their track record is sufficiently solid that they have earned my confidence in every respect.

            That means that if they present something which is not in harmony with my preconceived notions, I nonetheless give them the initial benefit of the doubt and sustain them as an act of faith, and then I take it to the Lord in prayer. Rarely does this process go without fairly swift confirmation from the Holy Ghost that their direction is inspired. Sometimes I am even blessed to receive a measure of insight as to the bigger picture of WHY their direction is inspired, perhaps as a little divine reward for exercising faith.

            The greater likelihood of my having any concerns to raise would be at the ward and stake level, not so much the overall church-wide level. And my bishops and stake presidents would be able to affirm that we haven’t always seen eye to eye on every jot and tittle. Sometimes they have been persuaded to my view on things. Sometimes they have been unpersuaded. But they are accessible and my voice is heard. And by virtue of the authority of their callings, which they did not campaign for (and which most sane people would never campaign for), I generally respect and honor their final decisions.

          • Gillian Wiles

            I believe that when a GA gives their own opinion they could be wrong or not quite on the mark, we all understand things differently, but when the Prophet speaks in the Lords name the debate is over. For many years the Negro was denied the Priesthood, the time came, and it was the Lords time not mans, that EVERY worthy male member of the church was ordained to the Priesthood. I’m sure that the Brethren petitioned the Lord on a regular basis about this. Likewise, IF the Lord in His wisdom decides that women should hold the priesthood in any capacity, He will tell the Prophet and it will happen.

      • Not enough? I hope I am mischaracterizing your view, but I’ll take whomever the Lord appoints and accept it, irrespective of gender. An example that ocmes to mind is Balaam, who listened to his ass when it became clear that it was speaking for God, protecting him from certain doom. Who am I to tell The Lord whom to call or not call as his annointed, and to reject the word based on the messenger or any aspect of that messenger such as gender, professional learning, financial standing, or physical appearance. “Sorry God, but I didn’t listen to you because your messenger wasn’t the right gender” or “because you don’t have enough messengers of the right gender”. Perhaps the church should begin taking annual census, ensuring that all of its leadership is exactly reflective of the demographics of it membership. OR we can choose to believe that the church is what it says it is, divinely inspired, and that God is calling whom he wants to call. If we believe that, who are we to take offense?

        • ” Perhaps the church should begin taking annual census, ensuring that all of its leadership is exactly reflective of the demographics of it membership.”

          This would be comical if it weren’t so sad. The Church is so *so* far away from doing this. In fact, they actively resist any step toward parity of representation. That’s what the whole OW thing is. They’re not going to allow one single woman into the ranks of the decision-making GAs. And you’re mocking OW and saying they want leadership to exactly represent membership. It’s miles away from that, okay? You’re safe from having any troublesome women preside over you.

          The example I would look to is of Zelophehad’s daughters. God had set up his inheritance rules, but it didn’t work for them, so they went to Moses, who checked with God, and God said, “Hmmm, their suggestion sounds good.”

          • Ziff, we are far far away from that. My point is where does this stop? How do you satisfy everyone? I am content in letting The Lord select whom he will and remove whom he will. I really dont care what demographic they fall into, which is the cause for me not understanding why it is so important to some on this board.

          • My point is that maybe the Lord is actually interested in moving more toward a representative set of GAs, but the current GAs can’t imagine such a thing, so they don’t even take it seriously enough to ask.

          • Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the leadership we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators several times a year. Which makes me want to ask, Ziff, do you consider yourself an active member of the church in the first place? If so, how is it even possible to drag yourself to church every week considering your apparent low esteem of those the Lord has called to administer His kingdom? If I felt as much contempt as you have illustrated in your posts, there are a LOT of more pleasurable activities I would rather occupy my Sundays with, starting with sleeping in!

    • TomW. As a Latter-Day Saint woman who pays a LOT of attention to how people converse and methods of reaching goals- I have to say I agree with you.

      When Lehi was murmuring, Nephi did not call him out and publicly chastise him. He went to him and humbly bowed his head and asked for direction. In this case Lehi WAS in the wrong. And Nephi demonstrated a perfect spirit of humility and faith in his earthly father and his heavenly father.

      Let us say that God’s will is that everybody have the same priesthood and the prophets just can’t hear it. God’s will is not going to be accomplished by publicly shaming our leaders. Last year the Church said no- sisters will not enter. What does OW go? Tell EVERYONE they are going anyway, invite media to attend, and make a big and showy spectacle. The Church ALREADY gave them their answer. Did they accept it? No.

      This conference they are being asked by the administration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to NOT do this again. Their leaders have asked them to not to this. They will not be allowed entrance and please do not disturb the peace again.

      What are they going to do? Show up with cameras and make another spectacle. Is that the Lord’s way? Or is that the world’s way?

      I have only feelings of sadness and disappointment about this. I don’t feel my sisters involved are bad or that they are less valuable than any other member of the Church. I simply completely and wholeheartedly disagree with their choices. They do not represent me. They do not represent my desires nor my chosen methods of inspiring change. I feel they have raised their voice so loudly that the world cannot hear the voices of other sisters who LOVE that their brothers have a special gift called the preisthood.

      What news media is reporting on the millions of women who treasure the orchestra of variety of gifts, talents, and callings that are given to individuals and groups? Who is telling of the very special interdependence between men and women and the sacred relationship this ties them with when we literally need each other for things we cannot do for ourselves.

      Power in the world is loud and obvious and gets attention. True power in the gospel is quiet and humble and works miracles that can only be seen with the eye of faith. Those miracles do not show up for press conferences. You cannot force them to happen by methods of forcing people.

      Satan’s wardrobe is very shiny and flashy. The Lord’s is simple and does not distract from His work which is performed in absolute humility and charity and unity. Contention and division are not his way.

    • Have they studied it out in their minds? Have they plead before God about it? Have they prepared themselves mentally for a possible ground shaking response? Have they accounted for incorrect assumptions, biases, and past mistakes?

      Well?

      • You can rest assured that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are well versed in the operations of prayer and revelation. I have less confidence in the humility and patience of the general membership of the church, however.

        • Ok, so then, according to you, they’ve earnestly sought God’s direction on female ordination. They’ve emptied their souls of preconceived notions about incorrect assumptions, biases, and past mistakes, and begged him to show them if a change might need to be made, and they’ve mentally prepared themselves for what that change would mean for the church.

          Ok, so why don’t they just say so? That would 100% undermine OW’s current approach.

          • I have no special knowledge of what they’ve specifically done, but to the extent that you patronizingly question whether or not they have approached the matter with sincerity, and whether they’ve sufficiently genuflected to your satisfaction – that’s just plain condescending.

          • Vin – Do you trust the Prophet and the Apostles? If you trust them and listen carefully to their words you will know they are always striving to do the Lord’s will and seek His guidance in ALL aspects of the Church.

            Asking them to speak about their speciic spiritual experiences to satisfy a lack of trust is like asking for a sign. Signs do not lead to faith. We are cautioned not to be sign seekers.

            I am all about asking questions. I ask them all the time. The older I get I realize that you have to ask the right questions, to the right sources, at the right times. If you ask the right question to the wrong person- you probably won’t get the right answer. If you ask the wrong question to the right person- you won’t get the right answer.

            SImply raising our voices louder in asking does not change anything. It must be the right question to the right source.

            It seems to me the most important question is – are these men chosen of God to lead me and teach me? Are they LITERALLY chosen to lead me and teach me?

            If yes, I better listen carefully and not try to lead and teach THEM. If not- it doesn’t matter what they say, they have no authority.

        • In your frame of mind, you’re operating on millions of unquestioned assumptions, so it makes any discussion that requires critical thinking pretty much impossible.

          You falsely accuse people and impugn their motives endlessly.

          Nothing whatsoever about my questions are patronizing, except to those like you who continue to pretend the leaders are infallible.

    • That isn’t remotely how Pres. Kimball’s experience went, RLM. After many decades of pleading by righteous members (there was only a very small vocal minority, but a larger silent minority) that the Church reconsider its doctrine on Blacks and the Priesthood—and those decades were not filled with calm declines or gentle rebuttals by the First Presidency, but sharp and direct censures based on “The Lord’s revealed doctrine” about the purposeful inborn and spiritual inequality of those of the race of Cain—Pres. Kimball admitted to having to go to the Lord to ask Him remove his own biases on the matter, and only then, after weeks of fasting and prayer, did the “revelation” come.

      • JR, I appreciate your interest in setting the record straight on blacks and the priesthood, but refuting one speculation by offering another probably isn’t the best way of doing it.

        First of all, it had been long established teaching that the day would come that blacks would receive the priesthood. It was never a question of “if,” but of “when.”

        Secondly, the desire of the Brethren that the priesthood be expanded to all worthy males goes back many decades prior to the revelation received by President Kimball. Several of his predecessors petitioned the Lord on the matter, and were not granted the revelation they sought.

        Elder Neal A. Maxwell once taught, “Faith in God includes Faith in God’s timing.”

        Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught, “The exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is always subject to the order of heaven, to the goodness and will and wisdom and timing of the Lord. That is why we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing. When we have that kind of faith and trust in the Lord, we have true security in our lives.”

  11. As a Mormon woman, my voice is heard at church and in my family. Ironically, though, in the media, the voices of the Mormon women who are most quoted, don’t represent mine or the vast majority of Mormon women. In the New York Times article, Joanna Brooks and Maxine Hanks were quoted at greater length than Linda Burton, who gave an hour and a half interview, even though Sister Burton represents the largest women’s organization in the world.

    I belong to a church that teaches the Atonement as it’s foundation. Jesus Christ, a man, is the head of the church. Somehow, through a supreme sacrifice, the life of one man, saved all men and all women from sin and death. While on earth, Jesus called men to be His apostles while showing great love and concern for women. I’m thankful for the good men of the church who humbly follow the Savior and who are taught to treat women the way the Savior exemplified.

    Men and women are different. Due to our biology as the bearers of children, women are more vulnerable. I’m so thankful that God has asked his sons to protect us so that motherhood can be safeguarded. There are men who haven’t lived up to what has been asked of them and we are told that they will be held accountable. I don’t know how to express in words the gratitude I feel for the good men of the church who strive to follow the Savior and most particularly, my good husband who has honored and protected me as I’ve shouldered the physical vulnerability that comes with maternity and the care of infants and children.

    I won’t be trying to get in the doors of priesthood session. I trust in the leaders of this church and believe that they actively seek inspiration from heaven.

  12. You don’t “ordain” someone to the priesthood, you confer the priesthood. You ordain one to an office. So having “Ordain Women” as your name…kind of shows how little you understand about the Priesthood to begin with. Which is apparent since you believe women not having it is about spiritual equality. It has nothing to do with that.

    It has to so with the fact that GOD HAS ALWAYS ORGANIZED HIS PRIESTHOOD THIS WAY SINCE ADAM. If you have a problem with that, go protest outside the gates of heaven and take it up God himself.

    • In all fairness, the men of the church mix and match terms like “confer” and “ordain” with regularity. And we frequently refer to “priesthood ordination” and virtually never to “priesthood conferment.”

  13. Brad Heitmann

    It’s not a question as to whether such discussions should occur, but the manner in which they occur is important. I don’t think General Conference is necessarily an appropriate venue for such a discussion because it is one of those rare occasions when the Church goes on stage before the world, but it’s also fair to say that a legitimate, thoughtful, open vehicle has not yet been provided for heterodox points of concern and inquiry within the Church. This is largely a cultural issue that spans the full height and breadth of our organization. We have a tendency as a people to cling to what we “know” — our past, our institutions, our traditions — but these will not save us. Faith works in those parts of our lives where we don’t know, where we are unsure, and where everything we thought we knew is always at risk of being shattered by something unprecedented and unforeseeable. But this is not a space we live in because it is too uncomfortable. We seek a sure foundation, but we too often look in the wrong directions, established culture and social norms being among them. If our foundations truly were established in faith, we would not fear or feel threatened by such discussions or the flood of other issues that can and will beset us as an organization. But we do fear them. It seems we too have our Tower of Babels to which we turn, thinking they can withstand the onslaught. But like all towers, they eventually fall if built on the wrong foundations. Both sides of this issue would do well to approach these concerns with the respect, humility, openness, and love they require. To the extent we are not doing this, we are not a Zion people. As for me, I’m staying out of the line of fire on this one, but I am concerned both sides have a tendency to create unconstructive contexts. Real sensitivity is required in this case, as well as a bit of pragmatism regarding the current state of the Church and its members. Feminists: if you are right, would you be willing to put aside any personal feelings in order for the Church to take 30 years to gradually phase in changes if that is ultimately in the best interest of the majority of Church members or will you demand immediate change now for you? Leaders: are you coming to these discussions with a message to dispense, or are you coming with an open heart, seeking to learn and understand, and open to the possibility that you might be wrong? Or perhaps that there is a more nuanced interpretation of things that is now available to you as an opportunity? The way all of you approach these discussions says everything about who you are and the nature of your relationship with God and with your fellow man. So do it right.

        • It would be just as arrogant of you to assume that because you believe differently that YOU “know” the mind and will of God.

          The “mind and will of God” has always been communicated through fallible human beings. A little more epistemic humility on all sides would be wise.

          • Know the mind and will of god…nope. But, you must admit Jana Reise would leave the LDS church if Monson came out tomarrow and said “I enquired of the lord, and he told me “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness” and “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” that this means that women will not be ordained to any office of the priesthood. You know its true, I know its true, Jana knows its true, even if she can’t admit it on a public blog.

          • Sven, once again I’m surprised by your epistemic arrogance and presumption of knowing the mind and will and feelings of Jana Riess.

            Humble yourself first. Remember that whole moat and beam in the eye thing?

            Furthermore, motherhood and fatherhood are a totally separate subject than priesthood and any implication that they are clearly connected by divinely inspired gender roles is, well, not clear at all.

        • Sven, the only thing I can say with a surety is that Kate Kelly, Chairperson of the Ordain Women Action Committee and an official Ordain Women spokesperson has stated, “The ordination of women would put us all on equal spiritual footing with our brethren, and nothing less will suffice.”

          I have never seen Jana put her personal thoughts in such absolute language.

          She can certainly correct me if I am wrong, but I suspect that while she deeply desires to see women receive the priesthood, she’s not hitching her wagon to the position that the church either grants this desire or it is acting against the will of God.

          Over the past couple of years I have seen several women who sympathize with the moment say something along the lines of, “I would like for the Brethren to earnestly petition the Lord on the matter of ordaining women to the priesthood, and am willing to submit to His will regardless of the outcome.”

          Personally I think the vast majority of the church, whether they have an interest in female ordination or not, would embrace His will on the matter regardless of what it is.

          Some 90% or so of church members currently oppose ordination, but I think this is mostly a function of sustaining the current trajectory of the administration of the Lord’s kingdom as being the will of the Lord, and they would readily embrace any changes that are revealed to the Lord’s servants – as we have done in the past on other matters.

          While I would be interested in Jana’s own comments about the degree to which she concurs with Sister Kelly’s statement, or how she may differ in certain respects, I think it is presumptuous for any of us to assume what she ‘really’ thinks unless she comes right out and says so.

          From what I’ve gleaned over time, I do believe there are subtle differences in their positions.

        • My, Sven. You’re quite the psychic. I’ll take a shot at it too. I can tell that you’re so virulently opposed to the ordination of women that if the Church came out and said they were going to do it, all of your belief in prophetic infallibility would vanish in a puff of smoke and you would leave to form a more fundamentalist version of the Church.

      • The OW asked questions, got answers, then rejected them outright, and now are making demands. Do you agree with Kate Kelly that “nothing less will suffice” than female priesthood ordination, even if it against the will of God?

        • Jana, Brian asks an interesting question that I wish to modify a bit.

          It has been said that there are likely more women who identify with the Ordain Women movement, but who do not say so publicly because they are concerned about repercussions.

          In light of Kate Kelly’s “nothing less will suffice” line in the sand, can it not be reciprocally posited that there are a fair number of women aligned with Ordain Women who are anxious for the Brethren to make it a matter of fasting and prayer, but who would be content to abandon the cause if the answer were to be “no,” yet are timid about expressly saying so on threads such as this where their fellow OW comrades might read it?

          You yourself have hinted that you do not share that line in the sand, yet haven’t necessarily outright stated it either…

        • I totally agree. They asked once. They were told no. They showed up with cameras. They were told no. They asked again- they have been told no AND asked to leave Conference in peace.

          They have publicly announced they will not respect this answer nor the request and they will show up again with cameras so that when they are told no AGAIN they will have an audience.

          Raising our voices is not valuable if we do not also open our ears to hear responses. They ARE being answered. They are refusing to accept the answers.

  14. “I love my church”. It would be great to hear the things you love about your church. After following your blog for quite some, it seems that the church and the shortcomings of leaders and members are often discussed. It would be uplifting for you to share more things you love about the church.

    • Jana Riess

      Here I will point you to three other sources if you are sincerely interested in my love for Mormonism.

      http://www.amazon.com/Book-Mormon-Selections-Annotated-Illuminations-ebook/dp/B004WPIXOE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1395233646&sr=8-2&keywords=Jana+Riess+Book+of+Mormon

      http://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/148-20-26.pdf

      http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/lifestyle/52745310-80/riess-says-mormon-church.html.csp?page=1

  15. I have two questions about the OW movement? I’m not trying to pick a fight or be negative in any way, I’m trying to better understand the OW point of view.

    1) why do you want the priesthood? Personally, I have no desire to add on more responsibility. I feel like I have enough responsibilities in the church already. And I have never felt oppressed in those responsibilities.

    2) why attend a church when you don’t believe in some of its doctrine? If you feel so strongly against some of the teachings then why not attend a church you believe in?

    • Jana Riess

      Great questions. Thanks! I believe that spiritual responsibilities help us to grow, and that our task in life is to grow to become more like our Heavenly Father. One of the ways we can do that is by exercising the priesthood that He restored to the world. Currently, women have access to some of the blessings of priesthood by being recipients of priesthood ordinances; however, Mormonism is a religion of active faith, not passive reception. We learn and grow more when we are full participants, acting in God’s name to bless the world.

      Your second question is about why I continue being Mormon when I don’t believe in every part of its doctrine. Well, as a first step, let’s think carefully about the difference between culture and doctrine. It’s not doctrine if women wear pants to church, for example; that’s a cultural question. It’s not doctrine to note that the church needs a more progressive approach to how it deals with social justice; that’s already a significant part of our doctrine but we (I!) don’t always live up to it.

      If we’ve taken that first step and thought carefully about the culture/doctrine issue, if we still find that we’re on the “other side” of a question than our religion teaches, we have a choice. We can stay or we can leave. There are only a few questions that the Church has defined as doctrinal where I disagree with the Church’s current position: same-sex marriage, women and the priesthood, and our pneumatology.

      But I am certainly not going to abandon a religion that has blessed my life in a thousand ways just because of a few areas where I disagree. The items in our temple recommend interview are the core teachings: I believe in Christ. I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is inspired. I love the temple. I try my best to live the standards of my religion.

      Is the church perfect? No. (Am I perfect? NO WAY!) I don’t think it’s fair to expect perfection from my church, and I don’t think it’s realistic in this life for a single institution to meet everybody’s requests. The church is changing, not as quickly as I’d like, but enough for me to maintain hope for the future. I love both the church and the gospel. While I have found much beauty and depth in other religions, Mormonism is my spiritual home.

      • Thank you for teaching me a new word! “pneumatology”.

        As for your loyalty to the church, I dont understand it based on your disagreements. I promise I would not be a member of this or any church unless I believed it to be divinely led, and if divinely led, then doctrinally correct.

        While I would still obey the principles of the gospel which I know or believe to be true, you would never find me attending a church I believe to be anything other than God’s very own, giving a false church more than 10% of my income and 15-40 hours of my week every week.

      • The bigger question for me is, does our Mother in Heaven exercise this same godly power called the Priesthood that our Father in Heaven wields? If she does, and we women were created in her image, and should aspire to be like her, then why shouldn’t we women have this godly power conferred upon us?

        In 1876, Brigham Young stated that eternal mothers and daughters as beings after the resurrection will “be prepared to frame earths like ours,” just as our heavenly parents did before us.

        Bruce R. McConkie said that the power of the Priesthood was “the power by which the worlds were made.”

        So, it seems to me that our Heavenly Mother shares this great power with our Heavenly Father as she was a co-framer of the plan of salvation and a co-creator of worlds. If, as Brigham Young said, we mothers and daughters are to “be prepared to frame earth’s” and If, as Bruce R. McConkie said, worlds were created via the power of the Priesthood, then we sisters may as well start preparing now as our brothers are doing by learning to use the wonderful power called the Priesthood.

        • Well, Windjammer, since it doesn’t appear that the answer to your bigger question has yet been revealed, we continue to strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been revealed, and as it is now revealed, and patiently await anything which may yet in the future be revealed, ever abiding in the attitude of “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

        • Gillian Wiles

          I think that perhaps rather than actually participating in the creation process (in the case of this earth that was done by Jesus Christ and Michael under the direction of Heavenly Father) that Heavenly Mother was a part of the planning process. Possibly the head of the design department, as it were, for the flowers and all things delicate.

          • That hurts my heart. Is this the awesome role that is reserved for God’s daughters? Celestial decorator? A being meant to plan out how things should be prettied-up rather than an active participant in creation?

          • Gillian Wiles

            I think it would be a very important part of the planning process to give the earth it’s beauty. But as I’m not there I can’t ask Heavenly Mother what part she played in the creation process or either this world or any other so it is all supposition. However, I do believe that what something looks like is extremely important. How often do we go out especially on a sunny day, and admire the beauty of the flowers or the magesty of the mountains? I would feel pretty satisfied if someone admired somthing that I had helped to design.

          • While I’m not going to speculate upon Heavenly Mother in any respect whatsoever, I don’t find the concept of playing a role in beautification to be the least bit degrading. Who doesn’t want to be immersed in beauty?

          • See, I could not care less about designing pretty things. I can enjoy the beauty of the earth and (sometimes) the works of other women’s hands, but I’m more of a functional creator. I don’t care that much what it looks like as long as it works.

            I was always the odd one out in Young Women’s because we were always doing crafts (loathe them), gardening (I kill plants), or other stereotypical “female” activities. My leaders always made a big deal about us girls being responsible for bringing the beauty to the world, and I died a little inside each time because the “bringing beauty” role just wasn’t me. It still isn’t, and my kids seem to be growing up just fine without a cutely decorated house and hairbows that match outfits. I have plenty of other talents.

            So, please understand that I had a very emotional reaction to your vision of woman as the beautifier (I hope that’s not all you see women as). I was hurt by this vision of women’s potential. I’m sure you didn’t mean to evoke this reaction, but it makes it even worse when I tell you that what you said hurt, and your reaction was to justify what you said and say that YOU would be satisfied with it.

            Sincerely,

            A Woman Who Doesn’t Like Flowers

          • Gillian Wiles

            I would imagine that those who are worthy of exhaltation would work together with their spouse in the creation of their worlds and if your husband were happy to let you actually take an active part in the creation then that would be up to him. The difficult part for each of us is getting to the stage at which we can participate in the creation of worlds. We know that in the scriptures we are told that ‘many are called but few are chosen’, there will be many that follow the prophet but not all of them will exercise the faith needed to accept fully what the Brethren tell us. There will be those that will argue that this should be the case or that and still attend sacrament and fulfil their callings and Satan will very slowly and subtly lull them into a false sense of security. Then at the last moment will let them fall, and they will then realise what has been happening when the Saviour says ‘depart from me, I never knew you’. I don’t think that there is anything wrong in petitioning the Lord for things that we feel are right and good, but we also need to be prepared to accept the Lords answers that He gives us through His chosen mouthpiece. When anyone gets to the point that they are not prepared to accept that answer then I wonder whose camp they in regardless of what they profess. Surely when the Prophet speaks on the Lord’s behalf there should be no more debate. If Jesus Christ came in person and gave the same answer there would, sadly, still be people who would argue the point. We sing ‘Come listen to a Prophets voice and hear the word of God’. The Prophet knows who’s church this is and I doubt that he would give an answer to something like this without asking God about it first.

          • I’m not a member of Ordain Women, but your post reminded me why I do consider myself a feminist. Can’t you see how hurtful it is to tell me that my divine potential and my eternal agency is dependent on what my husband will allow me to do? My husband is not my god–Heavenly Father is. I have a testimony of God, and I have a testimony that he did not create one gender to be eternally submissive to the other. I know it; and my testimony of this kept me in the church ten years ago when I was so hurt by attitudes like the one you have displayed that I considered leaving the church.

            Per lds.org under the heading “Equal Partnership in Marriage:”

            Latter-day Saint theology teaches that gender difference does not superimpose a hierarchy between men and women: one gender does not have greater eternal possibilities than the other.2 As Elder Earl C. Tingey, formerly of the Presidency of the Seventy, has said: “You must not misunderstand what the Lord meant when Adam was told he was to have a helpmeet. A helpmeet is a companion suited to or equal to [the other]. [They] walk side by side … not one before or behind the other. A helpmeet results in an absolute equal partnership between a husband and a wife. Eve was to be equal to Adam as a husband and wife are to be equal to each other.”

          • Sister- there is no point being hurt when someone says something rediculous.

            Rise above it. You know the truth.

            I hear a lot of things about “being hurt” when it comes to people saying their opinions. We can express our view. But by “being hurt” we are letting someone else dictate our energy and life.

            We are free. It doesn’t matter what some guy writes or thinks. No matter how many people it is. Live the truth you know! Don’t give attention or energy to lies.

          • e. Your reminder to “let it go” is wise council. I do think that sometimes honest, “what you are doing/saying is hurtful” conversations are needed, though. Gillian’s first post was triggering for me because it brought me back to hurts I felt as a youth when my leaders (whom I trusted) said similar things. I was a kid, and I internalized what these leaders said about women. It led to sorrow because I felt that God didn’t love his daughters the same way he loved his sons. Or at the very least, God only loved certain types of women (mothers who cooked, cleaned, and made crafts). I embraced feminism because it allowed me to be myself and still be Mormon. Becoming a feminism saved my testimony.

            I made a point in my comments to describe the hurt these (doctrinally inaccurate) views of women can cause in the hopes that the poster would think about his position a little bit. We are, after all, commanded to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. In my second post, I even pointed out that it didn’t seem to phase the commenter that he’d been hurtful.

            So while I do support the idea to be slow to take offense, will anything ever change if people never speak up and say that what’s being said wounds? My hope is that if I speak up now, my daughter will grow up in a more loving, inclusive church.

          • YES! I’m all about speaking up.

            But let’s own our feelings. My feelings are mine. No one else owns them. I’m not going to go around being at the mercy of other people saying things like a wave on the sea.

            Say what you want. But I’ll own my feelings and there is nothing you can do about it.

            That’s what I hope we can learn to do.

          • Gillian Wiles

            I’m sorry if you found what I suggested hurtfull, it was not meant to be. I was answering another comment. Personally I feel that the possibility of being involved in the design of a world is in no way of lesser importance than the actual creation side of a world. I was looking forward to a time when those who are worthy of exhaltation have the chance to create worlds of their own. God will always be our God, I am not denying that but I do believe what has been said in that ‘as God is man may become.’ I have never felt that I am anything less than my husband and I don’t feel that Heavenly Mother is less than Heavenly Father.

          • I cringed at the line, “if your husband were happy to let you actually take an active part in the creation then that would be up to him.”

            I suspect that in a celestial marriage, husband and wife already see eye to eye on such matters.

          • Gillian Wiles

            Appologies if I put my point across poorley. Those who achieve exhaltation will certainly see eye to eye on all things as they will be of one mind and one heart. I guess my point was that although the actual physical creation was important, it wouldn’t have got to that point without a planning stage. My suggestion was that MAYBE Heavenly Mother was part of the planning process as opposed to the physical creation, She may well have had a hand in some creations. This is something that no-one knows and it is not important for our eternal progression, therefore is complete speculation. Please don’t critisize me for that. We all speculate on things that we don’t know, and don’t always get it right.

  16. Pollux Polaris

    This perspective is a great example of why this will never work. When author considers the rights that have previously been extended to female mormons as “crumbs from the master’s table”, the leadership is more justified than ever to withhold any more rights, in order to keep them sacred and not be reduced to crumbs. Treating the priesthood as a privilege instead of a duty completely undermines it and demonstrates that ordain women does not understand the purpose of the priesthood.

    But I do hope that ordain women continues with this. Although it will never work, it provokes some very healthy introspection and gets people off the fence. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

  17. I’m glad that OW’s voice is being heard (unlike the Who in Whoville), but the who public attention/media pressure on the church is what i’m concerned about. But, as a father who has to explain the “unexplainable” why to my daughters, i understand, and share their pains.

    • What exactly is so unexplainable?

      We believe that the true church was restored by God.

      We believe that the Lord administers His kingdom through his anointed prophets and apostles.

      We have faith that the Lord will pursue His will via the channels He has established to do so.

      We have faith that the Lord knows things that we do not, and that we can trust in Him even if we do not understand (or even LIKE) some things.

      A key challenge for us all is to align our will to His will rather than seeking to get Him onto OUR program.

      Elder Sterling W. Sill once put it so well, “What a tremendous benefit we could bestow upon ourselves by calling off the war and learning to live at peace with God, not only in obeying him but also in agreeing with him.”

      • TomW, I don’t think anyone here is necessarily disagreeing with God or His timing.

        Where we may disagree is how accurately the mortals that make up the collective church reflect God. Because I don’t hold that obedience to God’s mortal servants is automatically the same thing as obedience to God.

        But then again, that may be one of the biggest difference in perspectives between Iron Rod Mormons and Liahona Mormons.

        http://www.zionsbest.com/people.html

          • TomW, apparently you’ve never read “What the Church Means to People Like Me” before since Richard Poll coins the terms “Iron Rod Mormon” and “Liahona Mormon” to “help us all to look beyond the things which obviously differentiate us toward that ‘unity of faith’ which Christ set as our common goal.”

            http://www.zionsbest.com/people.html#sthash.H9S1LNnV.dpuf

          • I’m simply not into separating people into classifications. I don’t like it politically, ethnically, or spiritually.

  18. I agree there needs to be more dialog regarding women’s roles in the church. Why is it so hidden? Who is participating in these things? Who is representing me and my concerns as a woman?

    I am an advocate for teaching women how to use their priesthood power to assist in blessing and healing the lives of others. I am always peppered with questions with faithful women who do not realize they have every right and privilege to lay they hands on and call forth healing There is much confusion and I don’t believe we will be observed as a standard of the bearers of God’s priesthood on earth until men and women are using this power in tandem with respect to their specific gender. It needs to be clarified and we need to be encouraged to use this power together.

    As I observe OW I see women crying out for clarity, for the opportunity to express the powers they feel are innately theirs. Our feminine gifts are not being magnified to their fullest expression within the governing body of Latter-day Saints.

    I have to say it though….I cringe at the way OW is going about it. I do not see it as inspired or effective and I agree it is interfering with progress not assisting it. They may be getting the world’s attention with their intellectual vernacular but faithful women look for leaders who articulate and express themselves with compassion, humility and faith in Jesus Christ and His prophets.

    Dear OW your vision is good and worthy, but please dismantle your approach it is interfering, use your gifts more productively for this movement. The work I have done in my sphere of influence is being thwarted because the women I have been teaching are now watching your online demonstrations and questioning their view because of the lack of humility. Yet again I feel I have to start all over helping women have permission to step into their divine feminine power because of the way OW is going about it. Please stop it.

  19. Would you please clarify how making a show of asking for tickets to the Priesthood Session of General Conference could be considered anything other than a protest? Asking for tickets privately is not a protest; standing in line for the cameras is. I would have a lot more respect if you would just own up and call it a protest. And no, staging an honest protest does _not_ mean you have to burn garments and attack people.

  20. This is a blog post I wrote about this topic last year. I’d dyslexic, so sorry for all the typos.

    There is a movement now asking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to ordain women to the priesthood. The idea is that this would lead to “greater equality” by adding female leadership to the Church. There are a few questions those on both side should ask themselves and a few things both side need to realize to be realistic on what this topic is really about and before any changes should be or not be made.

    First off, the idea of petitioning the Church to make this change is as rational as petitioning the Church to let men carry and give birth to babies. It’s not that the priesthood is a male right that women could never have. The issue is that the movements pushing and rejecting this issue seems to forget that it is the Lord that sets up the Church and who does what in it. He set up the creation, he organized the religion. Yes, the leaders of the Church can and do make policy without asking for a new revelation before doing every little thing. But, larger changes like this would require revelation and always have. (See Acts 10.)

    When Joseph Smith set up the Relief Society it was more exclusive – not every woman was permitted to join. At one point Smith stated that ”he was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Paul’s day” but this never happened. It maybe that was good for then and women should get the priesthood now. But, it is the Lord that directed Smith to set up the Relief Society and it should be the Lord that allows women to receive the priesthood – not a petition. Somethings are policy, and policy can be changed by the Brethren. Others are not and must be taken to the Lord. It is irrelevant what men and women want, and it seems both sides have forgotten this in their arguments, based on interview and articles popping up on the web.

    Looking at their Facebook page, the Ordain Women group claims that they are “Mormon women seeking equality and ordination to the priesthood.” They further state that,

    “Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormon women to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

    Likewise, when interviewed President Linda K. Burton, president of the Relief Society, stated that

    “I don’t think women are after the authority; I think they’re after the blessings and are happy that they can access the blessings and power of the priesthood. There are a few that would like both. But most of the women, I think, in the Church are happy to have all the blessings. That’s what matters most to them, and it doesn’t matter who holds that umbrella. They’re happy to let someone else hold the umbrella because we have different complementary roles and are happy with that.”

    Public opinion is not, nor should it be, how things work. What both sides should be looking for on this issue is revelation from God, not just a pass or fail from the brethren or the wishes of the members.

    In addition, the thing that is bothersome at closer examination is that no one is looking making men equal to women. Should men start going to Women’s Conference? Should men be admitted to the Relief Society? It was wonderful that women have their own organization to care for each other back when women had less rights and were seen more like property, existing solely to care to the needs of the men and to bring babies into the world. Perhaps in this new modern world, men and women have identical needs and the “separate but equal” roles should be abandoned and we should disband the Relief Society all together. Who is to say, other than the Lord?

    Most members are likely all for a new revelation declaring the Lord’s will on the matter at this point anyway. It has been talked about for decades. When will we hear the voice of the Lord on the matter? I would argue the Joseph Smith would have gone to the Lord and printed his will by now. Add to the D&C – that’s what it is there for. There is no reason a religion that is based on revelation should wait for generations to make changes. Remember the chastisement of the brother of Jared.

    “And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.” – Ether 2: 14

    His people were left without direction because he didn’t pray to the Lord. Of all the Book of Mormon stories, this is the one we should understand best. When Joseph Smith wanted to know what to do, he added to the D&C. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if the majority of women want it or not, it is the Lord’s decision and not man’s. Any woman, or man, quick to say “women need it” or “women don’t need it” does not get the issue. The real question should be, “what does the Lord want?” Let’s look to the Lord for revelation and settle this question.

    There is a another thing to ponder in doing this and it is the second thing members should be looking at, the personal level of the question. Those apposed to females gaining the priesthood should ask themselves, what if the Lord says yes? But they are not alone. The question LDS feminists should ask themselves is, what if there is a revelation and it says to keep the status quo?

    Members on both sides need to be sure of their testimonies fist off and foremost. Are we asking for what the Lord wants when we take side or are we just looking to convert the Lord – have Him simply tell us what we want to hear? We should be looking to do what is right in all matters, not just what is convenient (keeping the status quo) or what is politically correct (changing for the sake of change).

    No one bothered to ask the Lord what he wanted when it came to “blacks” and the priesthood until the 1970′s and we found out we were wrong in our policies. Let’s not make that mistake again.

    This brings us to the third point – speaking of “blacks” and the priesthood, look at what giving blacks the priesthood did for them. Organizationally, nothing. It is wonderful that the Church finally changed its policy to reflect the will of the Lord, and it has certainly blessed the lives of people – men and women – all over the world. Yet, the chances of seeing a “black” Prophet/President of the Church at this point are still zero. We would likely see as many women General Authorities in forty to fifty years as we see black General Authorities now. This makes the feminist point of view moot.

    Yet there is another point to the feminist argument, and a valid one at that – why aren’t men looking up to the women? Or at least, what aren’t women feeling that men are taking them seriously? Women are in leadership positions, they speak in General Conference. Are men taking these women with a grain of salt? This is a personal question each man should answer and has nothing to do with the priesthood. It has to do with the lack of understanding some men (and women) have with the organization of the Church. If all leadership are called of God, then all leadership are equally worth our ears when they speak, regardless of gender.

    On a final note, there is one group of people that has been left out – non-members. To be blunt, those that are offering opinions outside the religion should mind their own business. If they truly care, they can be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and get to doing the Lord’s work. What we do is not easy to understand without having faith in Christ, having repented for sins and received of the saving ordinances. Without the knowledge of Christ, our very organisation should be irrelevant along with all the things these women are wanting to do. Without remittance of sins, who are they to cast the first stone? Without the Holy Ghost they will not be able to pray for guidance and revelation on what to do in these matters. Therefor, their opinions are unwarranted and unnecessary. This is why our scriptures ask us not to interfere with other faiths (Articles of Faith 1: 11), without a harmony of beliefs we will never come into agreeance on these or many other matters.

    Conclusion:

    The questions to this issue are simple, why do we chose the sides we do, or sides at all for that matter? What does the Lord want? And, what do we really want the Lord to change; feminist’s minds, the role of women, the will of the Lord or our own understand of how the Lord works? If we can answer these with anything reflecting the Hymn “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” then the answers do indeed matter as we will be looking to the Lord for guidance, rather then choosing sides at all. If the answers do not reflect this, then it is time to either rethink priories or move on to another faith that will give members a god that reflects a more human likeness.

    The idea that we, as a religion or a Church, should give in to the demands of protesters is simply ludicrous. If people demanded we stop worshiping Christ, should we do it? No. While this is a legitimate topic that should be examined, there is not enough evidence – historical or otherwise – to make a clear determination. Additional new revelation are needed, and once gained would be required to become scripture to ensure the correct path for the Relief Society.

    • Dave, I take immense issue with your comments about blacks and the priesthood. It is patently untrue that “No one bothered to ask the Lord what he wanted when it came to ‘blacks’ and the priesthood until the 1970′s and we found out we were wrong in our policies.” Leaders of the church petitioned the Lord on the matter for many decades prior to President Kimball’s revelation.

      We know something of the timetable of when the ban was instituted under Brigham Young. We know nothing whatsoever about the reasons why. It is due to this lack of knowledge that many Latter-day Saints (including many LDS leaders) offered speculation on the matter over the years. To say that the policy was wrong from the beginning is to assume that there was never anything legitimate behind it in the first place, and as President Hinckley has pointed out, we really “don’t know.”

      If it were a mere matter of “Brigham got it wrong,” the Lord would have been happy to rectify the problem with any number of Brigham’s successors who petitioned Him on the matter. President Kimball was far from the first who tried.

      With regard to speculation and this issue, Elder Oaks once commented in an interview: “If you read the scriptures with this question in mind, ‘Why did the Lord command this or why did he command that,’ you find that in less than one in a hundred commands was any reason given. It’s not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do we’re on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that…. The lesson I’ve drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it… I’m referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking… Let’s [not] make the mistake that’s been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that’s where safety lies.” (“Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban,” Daily Herald, Provo, Utah (5 June 1988): 21 (Associated Press); reproduced with commentary in Dallin H. Oaks, Life’s Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011), p.68-69)

      Dave, when you say “It is wonderful that the Church finally changed its policy to reflect the will of the Lord,” you are essentially offering your own speculation and calling into question the prophetic leadership between Brigham Young and Harold B. Lee. I wouldn’t be so quick to hop on that line of thinking. It really is okay to say, “we don’t know, but we trust in the Lord.”

        • Racist — lets look at the history before name calling. In the beginning Christianity was only for the Jewish. Remember it took the vision of Peter before it was taken to the Gentile. (and even then it was met with resistance). The Lord does things in his time, for his reasons. One day we will have the big picture and will understand all the variables.

          And since I’m bothering to throw in my 2 cents…..
          What spiritual blessing does having the priesthood give men, that I don’t have?? I can serve and bless the lives of others. I can visit the sick and offer healing and prayer. I get all the blessings of the temple. I have access to the atonement and the promise of eternal life if I live faithfully. My opinion and advice is sought in ward and stake councils – and I feel it is respected and considered. I get personal revelation for me, my family, and my callings.
          Women do perform ordinances in the temple without having the priesthood. And as far as the much earlier “who harkens to who” comment — “he” does have a “harken” responsibility and there is a conditional “out” to “her harkening”…. the bottom line is obedience to the Lord and his commandments.
          I realize at this time that I do not lay my hands on someone’s head to pronounce blessings (healings or otherwise) and I do not officiate in certain meetings or in certain ordinances. I think that’s it…. what’s the big deal? (historically women have performed the laying on of hands for blessings of all kinds without the priesthood, it would be interesting to learn why this had changed. Could it be the Lord had a reason for giving this responsibility to men and we women were denying them the blessings and learning they needed from the experience?) I personally have enough responsibilities and opportunities to serve and can rest quite easy when it is time for a new bishop to be called.

          I found the whole pneumatology disagreement quite revealing – isn’t that it in a nutshell. If there is a disagreement in the how of the the workings of the Holy Ghost – how can one be confident of receiving revelation and knowing God’s will? No wonder there is a lack of trust in the GA’s. This is a key component of a full testimony!

          On writing to the GA’s – I’ve written to church headquarters on an issue, it was sent to a GA, who invited me to write to him personally in more detail. Sure this was years ago, and it was not a doctrinal issue. Often times a GA will reference a letter he has received in a talk he is giving. Certainly they receive and read their mail. Now if you have a question about a doctrinal issue – there is a chain of command for that. If you want to argue the issue, frankly the chain of command is a good business model to buffer the problem. No body likes getting a no for an answer – but it sure frees up the busy GA’s schedule if someone downline handles the arguing. I have every confidence that the guys upstairs are hearing about the issue and are discussing it. But it would be inappropriate for them to get into a direct confrontation over an issue. (Here is that trust in the revelation process issue again and waiting for the Lord in his time) The few little changes we have seen are evidence that the ideas are being discussed/considered and respected. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if blogs and websites aren’t read too. Helps them keep tabs on the needs of the members.

          Years ago I remember watching a group of nuns petitioning the church in Rome for ordination. I remember commenting to my husband how uncomfortable it must be to be in a church that is guided by the whim of social pressure. Changes to key doctrine has occurred over the history of the early church because of the arguments put forth in religious councils and social pressure. Popular bishops (Augustine) and others had powerful sway on the hearts of the leaders. The loss of many plain and precious truths have contorted the original church to something unrecognizable. The priesthood authority was lost and the compass of revelation was closed. This was foretold as the falling away.
          The restoration of the gospel in the last days has restored the truth about the nature of God, His Son, and the Holy Ghost. Reminded us of the complete plan of salvation. Returned the saving ordinances of the Temple and true priesthood authority. God again speaks to us through a Prophet.
          When I was first learning about the church (I’m a convert), I remember being baffled about the “no tea” rule. Why? I asked a young man who was a member. His answer has guided me in many questions. “I don’t completely understand why – but I do know this. Heavenly Father knows far more about this than I do, and I trust his directions on the subject.”
          hmmm, maybe that is a nickles worth of my thoughts.

        • From a faithful Latter-day Saint perspective, it can mean nothing more trivial than that God sees a broader picture than we do, and that when all is known we will find ourselves once again kneeling before Him, acknowledging that His wisdom is righteous.

          While I think it would be perfectly fair to suggest that some of the non-doctrinal speculation surrounding the reasons for the ban may have their roots in commonly held racial beliefs of the era in question, I cringe at the use of the term “racism” in association with the roots of the ban because of what it typically implies in our modern context. As the LDS newsroom release points out [https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng], in the same 1852 time frame that the policy was announced, Young is also on record as saying that “at some future day, black Church members would ‘have [all] the privilege and more’ enjoyed by other members.” If Young were a racist in the contemporary connotation of the term, implying a sense of hatred and/or hostility toward a given race, it would be odd to say anything whatsoever about such a future day when blacks would enjoy all of the privileges of church membership. That he would speak of the future in that manner suggests that we are lacking significant information perhaps known only to Young and maybe a handful of his peers which is completely lost to history.

          It is a matter of record that there were a number of occasions in the following century where various LDS leaders petitioned the Lord regarding the policy, and despite what by all accounts was seemingly a sincere desire to end the ban, none were granted the divine sanction they eagerly sought until Spencer W. Kimball in 1978. (Granted, at this point one must choose to view the story from the perspective of a faithful LDS church member who has every expectation that God will reveal His will on the matter to His servants the prophets.) While there were some who felt that the absence of evidence of a revelation leading to the ban granted leeway in rescinding it without a revelation, the prevailing attitude remained that a revelation of some sort should be received to do away with it.

          In all my research on this topic through the years I have never read anything to suggest that any of Young’s successors harbored sentiments which would suggest that the policy was perpetuated by hate-influenced racism rather than a sincere belief that the ban was the will of the Lord. The attempts to figure out the Lord’s reasons often led to non-doctrinal speculation which in some cases might be viewed as racist in effect, yet they were not accompanied by racial animosity.

          I was raised in the LDS Church prior to 1978 and always held the expectation that the priesthood would eventually be granted to all worthy men regardless of race. (Which, on a separate note, is where I part ways with the Ordain Women folks, who sometimes point to Kimball’s revelation as evidence that they will someday obtain what they desire as well, even though there is no corresponding underlying history of teaching that this will someday happen.) Racist sentiments would never have been welcome in my home nor in the ward or stake where I was raised. And doctrinally speaking, it wouldn’t have been sanctioned anywhere.

          So perhaps a better distinction is to say that the policy was discriminatory (which doesn’t necessarily suggest racial animus) rather than that it was “rooted more in racism than revelation,” as was written in a Salt Lake Tribune news account at the time of the newsroom release.

          I have every confidence that when the final trump sounds and the Lord wraps up this whole mortality thing for us and our posterity, we will see things differently than we do today, and we will see His hand in all things.

  21. Um sorry ladies, but you are a fringe group. A loud one, but probably like 5% or less of the LDS female population.

    Of course there is injustice and inequality in the church. We’re all human. We’re trying to be better and make it not so.

    Ya’ll are getting offended, and at some point when you go stomping out of the church it will be your doing, not because of some mass conspiracy against women but because you didn’t get what you want.

    • That is irrelevant. We use to go to the prophet and ask questions. He would then go to the Lord and get revelation. This is no longer the case. It really doesn’t matter what the few or the many want, just the Lord. What I want to know is, why won’t the prophet ask Him? Why won’t we add to the D&C? The statement “we just don’t know” would NEVER have exited the lips of Joseph Smith. It make me sad to see it said so much in my lifetime.

      • You are making assumptions about Joseph and his successors which are extremely speculative. The Lord doesn’t always give us everything we want to know according to our own timetable.

        • Tom, you can take all the offence you like. The Church posted their position on blacks and the priesthood and I am on their side. As to my thoughts on how things work, I never make assumptions. I thoroughly research everything I say. Lets look at blacks and the priesthood. The brethren were divided on the issue for decades. David O. McKay put together a team to look into the issue and they came back with 0 evidence in the scriptures to support it. They found no revelations to support it. He died and Joseph Feilding Smith squashed the issue. It wasn’t until Kimball that someone took the matter to the Lord and we found out that it was not the Lord’s will. Why wait? Smith didn’t. But that’s just what we do now. We make committees, we search history etc like a Catholic or Protestant church. Young was never more correct than when he stated that the Holy Ghost is the only God with which we have anything to do. We reject looking to Jesus Christ for new revelation and new answers. Maybe there is some secret document I’m not aware of that tells us to do this. If there is, it should be sustained as scripture and thus doctrine binding to the religion. But if there is not, we need to go back to the Lord. Lorenzo Snow was the last prophet to say “thus sayith the Lord…” I’d love for Monson or the next prophet to go back to our roots and get back to direct revelation.

          • Yes, Dave, the church posted about the matter, and you have grossly misinterpreted what was actually written.

            It remains is patently untrue, and not the least bit corroborated by the church’s statement, that “No one bothered to ask the Lord what he wanted when it came to ‘blacks’ and the priesthood until the 1970′s and we found out we were wrong in our policies.”

            Try again.

          • TomW, There is nothing to try.

            “The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority that had been used to argue for the legalization of black “servitude” in the Territory of Utah.”

            Not revelation.

            “Nevertheless, given the long history of withholding the priesthood from men of black African descent, Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy, and they made ongoing efforts to understand what should be done. After praying for guidance, President McKay did not feel impressed to lift the ban.”

            This is not true. He asked the 12 to vote and they were divided. He would not lift the band until the 12 were united. So, if he prayed for guidance from the 12, then this would be correct, but there was no real revelation from the Lord telling us exactly what to do. Keep in mind that the ban did in fact go agaisnt our articles of faith. It claimed that black men were not worthy of the same grace Christ gives all of us as children as protection from the sins of our forefather, Adam. Logically, Christ’s grace would extend to any children with a cures ancestry.

            Finally,

            “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

            So we admit that the ban was a mistake, as were the rediculas theories that came with it.

            Now that this has been given, I can tell you that the Lord told me this a little over 2 decades ago. I’ve been waiting patently for the Church to admit it. The Lord speaks to those who will listen. But, only those with the keys can do that which the Lord requires.

          • Dave, you are welcome to read between the lines to come up with a story which you fancy, but the fact of the matter is that the church has clearly avoided characterizing the ban as having been wrong. The newsroom release [https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng] provided some historical context, including an important clarification that speculation about the ban was unsubstantiated and is now disavowed.

            The revised introduction to Official Declaration now reads, in part: “During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance.”

            Since there are no records to offer “clear insights into the origins of this practice,” the church isn’t going to claim that the ban itself was wrong or that Brigham Young and his successors violated the will of the Lord. The church has done what it CAN do, which is disavow speculation.

            That there were discussions and votes over the years only serves to reinforce the reality that the Brethren recognized the limited scope of the ban and generally sought its end. It is not unreasonable that some of the apostles believed it could be stricken as a policy matter while others believed it required a revelation. In a way, we should be grateful and humbled to know that even prophets and apostles struggled over the most appropriate means of addressing the matter, and that they sought God’s divine approbation of any action which might be taken.

          • Well, Dave, you are entitled to your opinion. If compelled to choose between competing opinions, I’ll align with the Lord’s servants every time.

          • Tom: That’s fine. I’ll stick with the Lord. People are human and make mistakes. He is divine and does not. That’s why our Church exists, so we can ALL follow the Lord. We are not some Nazi community, forced to bow down the ideas of men. Yes, the Lord’s servants are His, but they are still foulable and human. The idea that they are perfect and lead the Church perfectly is a lie the Devil pushes to tempt people to leave the fold.

          • You err in your assertion that I have claimed the Brethren to be infallible.

            You also err in your prior assertion that the church has admitted that it was wrong on its former policy. It is presently incapable of making such an admission, because by its own statement it remains unknown why the policy came into being. We can only disavow speculations on the matter which are unsubstantiated by revelation.

  22. I’ve thought about how the church might have handled this situation and had it come out much better. This is all fictional, but what if the church had written the following letter as a response to enter the meeting…..

    “Dear Sisters of Ordain Women Movement.

    We know many of you will be in Salt Lake near downtown Saturday evening of General Conference weekend. Priesthood Session starts at 6pm. Starting at 4:30pm in the Joseph Smith Building Ballroom, we would like to invite you to a buffet dinner. The General RS president will host a dinner for you, with a live feed coming in from priesthood session. After the session, the building will remain open until 11pm with snacks, ice-cream, internet access, and plenty of cozy sitting areas for small or large gatherings to discuss the messages. If you wish, you may invite your spouses, but this evening will be for you sisters to enjoy each other company.
    If any of you are coming from great distance, we wish to host you as an overnight guest of ours in a nearby hotel.
    We hope to maintain the reverence you sisters brought to temple square six months ago and hope this opportunity to gather, mingle, and listen to the words of men who have been called as leaders will inspire you to achieve great things. We believe in you so much. Welcome to Salt Lake City.

    With Warm Regards,
    The First Presidency.”

    • Fiction is always fun to ponder, but I guarantee you that such a letter would have been greeted with equal if not more contempt than the letter that was actually written.

      I can already hear the complaints of how condescending it is to presume that their heartfelt petitions can be swept aside with food and comfortable accommodations. Now if such were offered to my Elders Quorum, we’d be totally up with that!

  23. It’s very surprising of how many supporters there are for this. And I feel bad for you. I feel bad that are not realizing the importance of you in the church. I feel bad you dont realize your importance of being a woman, and why your different. I feel bad that your not happy with yourself right now, that you need the priesthood to make you happy. If you put this much effort into your callings how much more blessed would be the people you serve. I feel bad that you feel like your incomplete in a sense, because your being ‘left out’ of priesthood blessings. I feel bad that at your temple recommend interviews that you can’t truthfully answer the question about sustaining your prophet and local leaders. I feel bad that you feel like no one is hearing you, I bet there has been countless meetings with leaders on the church about your proposal, whether your invited to them or not. The church is a house of order, so of course you can’t run up to Pres Monson on the street and ask him yourself. That’s out of order.
    Maybe nothing will happen in the next 5 or 10 years about this, but its the Lords time, not yours. So quit forcing yourselves into priesthood meetings, quit pushing it, quite holding protests. You have been heard, I’m sure of it. Let it go.

    • I feel bad for you because of how arrogant you come across and it’s embarrassing to see someone self-righteously jump to so many assumptions and ill conceived assumptions and judgements of others and their motives/hearts.

      My advice: try first to seek to understand others how THEY see themselves rather than projecting logical fallacies at them to comfort yourself.

      • In all fairness, Clean Cut, Megan is probably simply guilty of reading and taking at face value what many of the supporters of the movement actually say.

        So long as we all concede that there are varied opinions within the movement itself, it isn’t necessary incorrect to point out how some people within the movement do openly portray themselves.

    • Let’s not forget church history. How do you think the FLDS, or RLDS church came about? The same action as those of the OW, forcing issues. The church is not being a bully or rude, but with the letters threatening actions and protests of the OW, the OW hasn’t been very nice either. So they can’t claim innocence like they have been.

  24. DISCLAIMER: Any thought followed by a “?” is a sincere question. Not a statement, not trying to trap. Simply trying to understand a group and a viewpoint of which I know very little.

    Personal Belief: It is far more likely God will reveal truth and policy change to those whom he has annointed (specifically for the purpose of receiving and administering such revelations) than he is to the masses or a few individuals outside of that circle.

    Why I think so: It is logical to me that policy changes or ideas behind them in a church led by God have to be top down (or am I wrong)? Policy changes in a church led by Men could be either top down or bottom up. Testimonies aside for a moment, our church purports (and I firmly believe) that it is divinely led and inspired. If you truly believe that how can you argue with and try to argue with The Lord’s annointed (or do you not believe they are truly his annointed)? The current approach by OW and supporters/sympathizers seems to be urging a bottom up movement, which would suggest (to my mind at least) that you do not believe the church to be devinely led (Am I mistaken?). Whether OW & sympathizers are right or wrong on the issue I can’t help but think the dialogue is being held in the wrong manner. My suggestion? Fasting and prayer to know the truth and for it to be instilled whatever it may be. Also sincere letters to the proper authorities for clarification and for concerns. If letters are given to the Stake Presidencies why is that not enough? Let the concerns mount and this news will suredly reach the bretheren.

    My limited observation of the OW movement is a vocal (but well behaved) minority who speak in an accusatory manner, and forces needless confontrations that hurt meaningful dialogue and serve as a stumbling block to some. I fail to see how this is productive. I see only hurt feelings and hurt pride.

    My personal view on the issue? I feel like Women are free to act in the Name of God and in accordance with their faith as Disciples of Jesus Christ with no less (no more) power than a man. I don’t know that anyone would dispute that as anything other than fact. However, I don’t believe power is the issue at hand. It’s authority. It’s the priesthood authority and positions in the administration and structure of the church that many desire and see as a point of equality.

    I disagree with the viewpoint that the priesthood authority is needed to achieve equality. I think the church’s policy on the priesthood is based on revelation and inspired understanding as to the divine nature of gender, and its eternal roles.

    As I believe it a matter of revelation that men are the authoritative priesthood holders, I believe OW and those holding sympathetic feelings are wrong, that said I harbor no ill feeling towards you for voicing sincere opinions and desires though I disagree with the methods employed to do so and wish you could believe, and have faith in the church and our leaders on ALL issues.

    Back to the issue and question of ordaining women, I suspect that most of our membership feels as I do…if a prophet were to ever reveal that the world was now ready for women to hold the priesthood, that this is the true order of the priesthood and was withheld until we as weak, curruptible, and selfish beings were ready and open enough to humble ourselves and submit to leadership regardless of genger…and then instituted change by way of official proclamation, I would be excited and happy for those sisters who sought after and prayed for it.

    I suspect that this will never be the case however as I believe the priesthood is currently instituted in accordance with the correct order and doctrine, divinely inspired and properly reflecting the divine nature of our eternal gender roles.

    I readily admit that I may be 100% wrong, but seeing how my views reflect what the Lord’s annointed are and have been teaching, I not only doubt it but would be surprised to hear otherwise. I don’t doubt that there are people I know who feel contrary, but think my views reflect the vast majority.

    • Chris, I agree with most of what you wrote, and concur that most members of the church would do so as well.

      The one thing I might expound on is your comment: “The current approach by OW and supporters/sympathizers seems to be urging a bottom up movement, which would suggest (to my mind at least) that you do not believe the church to be devinely led (Am I mistaken?).”

      While revelation for the church does indeed come from the top down (God to His prophets), the inspiration for seeking revelation from God may come from anywhere. I’ll give you an example from my mission which made a major impact on my thinking.

      Once upon a time a couple of missionaries got themselves into a difficult situation, to some extent facilitated by local members, but also to some extent made possible by the silence of other missionaries in the area. Had the Mission President been made aware of the early symptoms, he could have taken action to head off what ultimately resulted in much heartache. Upon interviewing those peripherally involved, one missionary commented that he (or she) didn’t speak up earlier based on the assumption that the Mission President was inspired and that the Lord would reveal to him what was going on.

      What my Mission President taught us all afterward was something I can never forget: “Not all inspiration comes from above. Sometimes it is intended to come from others who are in a position to know.”

      Now please nobody take that comment to mean that the Lord bypasses His prophets to reveal His will to others, whose job it then becomes to inform the prophet.

      But it would not be contrary to the teachings of the church that the general membership might be inspired to suggest ideas to their leaders which prompt them to inquire of the Lord about something which they might not otherwise have felt to petition Him about.

      For that reason, it is perfectly reasonable that some who consider themselves to be Mormon Feminists might offer valuable insights and suggestions which appropriately rise to the attention of the Lord’s anointed prophets and apostles, which they then can take up with the Lord to learn His will. The key is whether or not we are able to humble ourselves as little children and embrace whatever the outcome, whether it be a change in policy, or even continuing silence from the Lord on the matter.

      One can attempt to influence the Brethren from the bottom up, so to speak, without necessarily implying that the Brethren aren’t divinely led.

      • Agree in principal, but we have long since passed the point of suggesting an idea. We are asking for a revelation a dramatic change which would change the structure of the church and family… after those making this petition and or demand, have pointedly made it clear that they recognize this desire, and their efforts to pressure and would like them to “take their argument outside”.

    • Chris- “However, I don’t believe power is the issue at hand. It’s authority. It’s the priesthood authority and positions in the administration and structure of the church that many desire and see as a point of equality.”

      This is right on. Power comes from God according to our faith. Positions of administration reflect specific JOBS. If we believe that certain jobs indicate supriority, then it might seem like everybody having the same jobs would give “equality.” If we believe that ALL jobs in the Kingdom are of the same sacred nature and no one is superior to anyone else- if we TRULY believe this, then we will see that it doesn’t matter what your job is. Your value in the Kingdom is the same, no matter what little corner you are in. Or big corner.

      I think people who claim having women in Priesthood admin. jobs would be a “Step up” must believe that other callings are a “step down” and not as important. Why have we not heard people clamoring for ALL members to be janitors of the chapels? You know- for equality. Because that’s not a job that most people esteem as being “important.” There is no worldly glory and thus it seems everyone is fine to let whomever is called to it have it, with no aspiration to be called to it themselves.

  25. Susan Humphreys

    I have a question for many of you, why do you stay? Why do you stay where your growth and spirituality are stifled? The question goes to the Catholic Nuns that are also beating their heads against a wall. Why do women stay where they aren’t wanted? I am not criticizing you for challenging the church leadership or church teachings, they obviously need to be challenged. I can understand how difficult it is to vote with your feet and leave, BUT all of us leave places we are used to sooner or later in our lives. Some leave loved ones behind for new job opportunities some because they know they have to leave an abusive relationship, some because they know they have to leave the enablers that have helped keep them addicted to their bad behaviors (drugs, alcohol, people), some because we feel stifled and realize that in order to grow we have to move on. IF enough women left the church and took their children with them (which I understand might not be easy to do IF the husband refuses to leave) the church would have no choice but to change it’s ways.
    IF there is a God, and I am an Atheist, but it seems to me that IF God is what people claim He/She is then He/She will understand and would want you to become all that you can be, even if it means leaving one church for another or for no church.

  26. So many of the follow up comments start taking on a life of their own. I don’t think “Ordain Women” is the real issue of concern here. I think Blair Hodges hit on the real issue and summarized things nicely when he wrote the following long ago:

    “It’s the old dilemma about following imperfect prophets:

    “Is prophetic revelation a messy, imperfect process where doctrines and practices change and evolve over time and even prophets see through a glass darkly (like the rest of us)? Or do prophets and apostles really have the kind of clear, direct pipeline to God that merits unquestioning obedience? It seems like most members and leaders of the church like having it both ways.

    “The slippery slope goes like this: “If leaders in the past made mistakes (potentially the priesthood ban or something like it) then what about now?” I personally see the problem as part of a direct invitation to take more personal responsibility for our relationship to God. Sort of like when Nephi took things straight to God even though his dad had visions and so forth, and later when his dad “spoke as a man” leaving it up to Nephi to get some personal revelation on where to find some grub.

    “But what if you take some personal responsibility and you take an issue up with God and arrive at a different conclusion than the prophets? It seems that Mormon culture encourages questioning/asking, but always with the assumption that we will, of course, arrive at “the right answer.”

    “I think the hope is there that we arrive at the “right answer,” but in my own experience it hasn’t always worked out that way. There have been times when my own answer differed or I didn’t feel I received an answer at all either way. Granted this is not a common occurrence and it generally makes things a lot more difficult of course. But at the same time I recognize that I received my answer, not a charge to spread it as far and wide as I can.”
    http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2009/11/i-see-through-glass-darkly-and-i-kinda.html?m=1

    • Not that anyone cares what I think, but I personally have adopted Richard Poll’s words as my own:

      “The pillars of my faith are two of the Articles of Faith defined by the Prophet-Founder of my church and an interpretive principle provided by a Founding Father of my country.

      “The first article of faith affirms: ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.’

      “The ninth article of faith affirms: ‘We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.’

      “James Madison cautioned: ‘When the Almighty himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated.’ Because I believe with Madison that everyone, including Paul and other prophets, sees eternity “through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12), prophetic infallibility, scriptural inerrancy, and unquestioning obedience are not elements of my faith.”

  27. A wise person would realize that when the Church lumps you in with anti-Mormon protestors, something must be wrong with your stance. You are headed into apostasy with you inability to accept the Lord’s plan, and your virtual outrage at the Church’s official stance on your beliefs and practices. To those of us who put all of our faith in the Gospel, you really do belong with the anti-Mormons. Maybe you should do more humble praying, and seek God’s will instead of pushing your own agenda.

    • Gotta love the calls to humility coming from commenters who arrogantly assume (in the fact of direct contradiction of OW’s stated mission) that these participants aren’t seeking God’s will…

    • It’s not about the stance as it is about the activity and the place and time.

      The leaders asked them not to protest. If they choose to come to share their message they are asked to do so in the space dedicated to those who are there to share a message- who are NOT the leaders of our Church at the podium.

  28. You pose a question as to where are these thoughtful discussions about women’s roles in church happening. I would suggest looking at Julie B. Beck’s 2010 General Conference address. She urges Mormon women to look at the history of Mormon women. Understanding our history can help us understand what our roles were meant to be, especially with regards to Relief Society, exercises of faith, salvific work, and in the temple. “Daughter in my Kingdom” is a readily available source, and “Women of Covenant” (which is more scholarly in focus that DIMK) is also excellent.
    As someone who is currently studying Mormon women’s history, I can testify that this has given me a renewed sense of purpose and importance within the Church. It’s truly empowering.
    I don’t want to dismiss the OW movement or their goals, but suggest that there are ways we can understand what roles we play in the work of salvation.

  29. Sorry, but when you arrive en masse at a sacred gathering to which you are not invited, then you are no longer *just* a Mormon feminist, you are a protester.

    The course that OW is on is so profoundly ill-advised, and shows such disdain for the leaders of the Church who accepted the unsolicited call to dedicated the balance of their lives in service to the Church. They ask that the protesters not disrupt what for many is sacred space and sacred time, and the response is, in effect, an emphatic middle finger.

    And heaven forbid that mass protests actually result in a change in the Church, as such a process may become the universal maxim for Mormonism, where earnest members gather outside of the Holy of Holies in the Temple to protest the limited accessibility of that room to only General Authorities, or the 8 year old Primary kids protest the age requirements for passing the Sacrament or the men protest that Relief Society is limited to women or traditionalist protest the use of water instead of wine, etc. etc. etc.

  30. I really haven’t studied the OW movement. I have been reading through the comments, however, and find it so interesting that most of those who vehemently oppose it here seem to be men.

    • For the record, I do not oppose female priesthood ordination.

      I am perfectly at peace with anything the Lord sees fit to reveal to His children through His duly anointed servants.

      I do oppose the tactics which some people choose to employ to gain attention for themselves.

      At the end of the day, the guiding principle for everyone on all sides of the issue should be, “Thy will, O Lord, not mine be done.”

  31. One hundred and fifty years ago some Mormons were spontaneously asked to pack up and leave their families to serve missions. Now some Mormons throw a fit when asked not to protest (errr, “demonstrate”) on temple square.

  32. The reason that the (supposedly LDS) women protesting the Priesthood session – which you can watch AT HOME, by the way! – are being lumped together with Anti-Mormon protestors is because you’re doing the EXACT SAME THING! Just for a different reason.

    The Prophet and other General Authorities have much, much more to deal with than a minority of women (only 10% of women support ordination; the other 90% wouldn’t accept it if it was offered) who could easily understand the Lord’s will for them at this time if they would just ASK HIM [the Lord]. The temple endowment explains, very clearly, why it is that women don’t need the Priesthood. Also… We have callings. We serve. We participate fully in temple ordinances! In certain cases, WOMEN CAN ADMINISTER BLESSINGS. All WITHOUT ordination! Why are you all demanding more, when you have exactly the same blessings minus the extra responsibilities?

    Also, to the women of the OW movement: If you’re not fulfilling your Relief Society and other responsibilities (which by taking time to protest and ruining Conference for your husbands and sons, as well as refusing to sustain your leaders and shirking your duties to protest, you’re not), how on earth do you expect to fulfill the responsibilities of the Priesthood AND Relief Society at the same time?

    Remember, bishops have to be at church 2-3 times a week, for hours, doing interviews, financial stuff, figuring out who should have what callings in prayer, disciplinary councils (which one alone can take 2-3 hours!), ward councils, etc. etc. – Stake presidents are something else entirely. As a woman, I’m not convinced that any other woman on this earth can take on all that, plus Relief Society/Primary/other callings they may have, plus family (if applicable), plus work (if applicable).

    There is a reason Heavenly Father gave us different roles: we’re equal, but we do not have to be the same. The OW movement seems to be striving for a homogeneous Church, and in denial of the divine goodness and moral forces of women, and the power that women have as we are.

    Also: the Church owns Temple Square. Thus, it’s the right of Church leaders to close off Temple Square if they so desire. A peaceful protest is one thing, but blatantly trying to go into an event where you are not invited and trespassing is something else.

    Sisters of the OW movement, please petition the Lord with a sincere heart. If you have any callings, please magnify them and work in them – those you’re supposed to teach and work with need you far more than you apparently realize. The Priesthood session of any conference is the one time where they are encouraged, and bolstered, and motivated to do better; don’t take that away from them. Us women are exalted and put on pedestals every Sunday and at every activity; give the men a chance to be lifted up by their brethren without being selfish. Thanks.

    • This is by far the best response I have seen on here and I completely agree. A lot of people are acting like there is no voice for women. There are plenty of leaders for women in the church and they do go to meetings where such matters are discussed. If you are actually a true believer of the church and its teachings then you would be able to trust our prophet and leaders. I can tell you one thing for sure, man may have flaws but God does not. His plan will go forward and will be done. If He wanted to make changes to the church He would let the prophet know. I can assure everyone on here that our prophet does have your best interest at heart but what you want or see as being right will not come before God’s plan. The fact that you are considered a threat to any meetings or to anything involving the church is not a good thing and you are putting a negative light on the church that is not needed. And also that you’re talking about protesting against the church, calling the church a bully or that there is a victory to be had over the church is absurd. Do you really think this is the proper way to get things done in the church? You asked a question and got an answer. Just because you didn’t get the answer you wanted does not mean you’re not being heard. There are guidelines and principles of the church that have been set. Traditions or preferences like who says the prayer in a meeting are very different. I think the adversary is playing a huge part in this and you need to see it. If it was God’s plan then it would happen. You as women have a great responsibility here on this earth and His plan could not be completed without you. Women have a huge, and I mean huge role and great responsibilities in the church and it would not be the same if you didn’t. If you don’t realize that then you really need to learn what they are and magnify them to the furthest extent. I have been in many meetings where the majority of the meeting had to do with the Relief Society and what they’re doing and what we can do to help them. That wasn’t to please them, it was because of the amount of things they were involved in and the importance of what they do.

  33. Phillip C Smith

    I believe that women who are concerned about the priesthood issue should be able to talk about it with anyone. There are certainly Church leaders open to such discussions. I have held discussions with several leaders on issues I feel are important vis a vis the Church.

    On the other hand do we have the right to disrupt others or force our attentions on them when they would prefer, at a particular time, to conduct their affairs another way? Would Kate Kelly wish me to force my way into her house to air my grievances? Even if I felt that I was in the right do I respect also the rights of others in such matters? I would hope so.

    It is interesting to me, as found in John 16:2 Jesus indicating that, relative to his leaders at that time, that “whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” Or, as the Jewish leader said to those who were pressuring the Church at Peter’s day that they should desist lest “ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:39)

    • Good point. I wonder what Kate Kelley would say if I tried to talk her into finding a different method during the protest and wouldn’t stop talking to her about it.

      She’d probably be like- um- can’t you see I’m trying to accomplish something here? I could ask- I am your sister. Am I not important? Don’t my concerns matter? I come and represent many of my sisters- why are you trying to push me away?

  34. Referring to the usual protestors at Temple Square you state:

    “I have little in common with those people”

    So you do have something in common with them? What would that be?

  35. I Think what the women of OW need to ask themselves is why do they want to hold priesthood offices. Is it for themselves or for the benefit of others. The 2 most basic things that the lord has asked us to do is to obey God and to serve our fellow brothers and sister.

    So, does this movement serve others who are in need.

    No being, will ever in the eternities, be allowed to have gods full knowledge and power but he who has learned to be completely selfless.
    We will not attain this here on earth but we should be striving for it.

  36. Sisters (and brethren), do you not believe in revelation from God? Do you not have faith in God? You say you’re not trying to embarrass the Church. But it is evident that you are. That shows a real lack of testimony, understanding, and faith. And you’re playing right into the hands of the Adversary of all righteousness. I consider myself an intellectual and a feminist. But this is he Lord’s Church. It doesn’t work the same way as the world.

    (Brother) Dane Bounds
    Hammond, Louisiana

  37. Gillian Wiles

    As I’ve read through most of the posts I have noticed in several of them comments by faithful members regarding the acceptance of Gay marriages. I accept that we need not to criticize people for how they choose to live their lives but to support gay marriages I feel goes against what is taught in the scriptures. In Leviticus in the old Testiment it clearly states in v 22 ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination’. Paul also wrote about it in Romans 1:26 – 27. I think there may be a couple more besides. Surely if it was an abomination then it still is today. Married couples do what married couples do. We know that God is the same yesterday, today and forever which means that His teachings on homsexuality are the same now as they were in the Old Testiment times. We are adults and know the intimacy that there is between a married couple. To accept and even support gay marriage is like saying that God has got it wrong. To love someone is not wrong but to take that love to a higher level with someone of the same gender goes against what God ordained. When He created Adam and Eve He created one man and one woman, it is the natural order of things. Had God created two men or two women the human race would never have got started. If a gay couple want to have a child they have to involve someone of the opposite gender in some way. That is the way God ordained that it should be. The scriptures are full of references to ‘husband and wife’ or male and female. With a few exceptions, the animal kingdom follows the same rule – one male and one female = offspring. I’m not saying that we should ostrasize them just because they choose to live as they do but I cannot accept that a marriage between them is something that God would give a blessing to, if that were the case then God would be a lier and if a lier then He would cease to be God. But He is God and we should live by what the scriptures teach, no where in the scriptures has God indicated that He has changed His mind about this and I don’t know of any GA’s talks that tell us that it has changed. If you do, please enlighten me.

  38. I believe that men and women have different responsibilities.
    I have grown up in the church with active parents and I noticed my mother would encourage my father to act on his priesthood duties.. “so and so needs a blessing because of a hurt shoulder,” or “one of your daughters needs a blessing for school.” As mothers, women have a tendency to have nurturing feelings and see needs of others. When my mother saw a need, she would help my father to see it as well so he could help by administering a priesthood blessing. They actively participated in the role of the priesthood together, though their roles were different. I personally think (and I could be wrong, but this is what I believe in my heart) that the priesthood helps men to develop more nurturing feelings like our Savior had and that women can help them achieve this by asking for blessings and also helping them to see others around them who have a need as well.
    And I just want to comment on Jana Riess’s earlier comment: “Currently, women have access to some of the blessings of priesthood by being recipients of priesthood ordinances; however, Mormonism is a religion of active faith, not passive reception.”
    I personally believe that it takes just as much active faith, if not more, to humbly ask for and receive a priesthood blessing and act in faith that you will receive an answer or for peace and comfort. When I have trials of my faith or questions that arise in my life, it takes a lot of faith and humility to ask my husband or my father for a priesthood blessing. When I ask for one, I act in faith just as much as my husband does when giving me a blessing.

    • After reading the blog you left a link for, I feel to comment on what was written. By the way, I consider myself an intellectual and feminist as well as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

      The blogger JoAnna pointed out that herr ward’s young men went on a high adventure but not her young women. What’s to stop the young women from doing the same? If err YW didn’t go on high adventures, it’s most probably because female youth and adult leaders have not plan and work for it. The funding guidelines are same for both YM and YW programs.

      I agree that we should be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. But we cannot take from those people the responsibility to learn to deal with the trials given to them by the Lord. We can love and comfort and counsel. But they must think and pray and do for themselves. And if we flagellate ourselves by thinking we can or should make them change, we will only frustrate ourselves and harm them. As the father of 4 adult children, I have found that I have to be there for them but not control their lives. They must solve their own problems to receive the important and essential growth designed by our loving and all-knowing Heavenly Father. Our Savior never taught that we must relieve all suffering and trials of others. His Atonement will eventually equalize everything.

      The blogger wrote of the childless single person in the Church. I am glad she feel empathy for them. But God, knowing exactly what experiences we need and also needing to try us, gives each of us tailor-made, difficult situations in life. All one can do is love the person struggling and include the person but let them find their own way. As they feast on the word of God and stay close to the Spirit, person will find the balm she/he needs. We must not take that struggle away from them.

      The changes in the Church that she cited are superficial, non-doctrinal practices (e.g., missionary grooming standards and temple ceremony details, meeting prayers by women). Basic doctrine comes to us from God through the channels he established: His prophet united with his brethren of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” announced by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve was given at the General Relief Society Meeting in September of 1995. It layed out the official doctrine of the Church and the mind and will of God about gender roles and family. It was given in a time when there seemed to be no apparent need for this declaration. But in the ensuing 18 years, we have seen the foresight of God. I agree with the blogger that changes in policy and practice have come after asking about them. But changes in foundational doctrine will never occur. When the Gospel was taken to the Gentiles, when the priesthood was given to those other than Levites, when the priesthood was given to worthy men regardless of race, the changes made were to practices and not eternal principle. When plural marriage was required of members and then later rescinded, the basic doctrine still stayed the same: eternal marriage by priesthood authority.

      JoAnna claimed that Motherhood=Fatherhood. I disagree. I know of few fathers who make an impact for good on their children’s lives as mothers do. She then reasoned that the roles can be switched. They cannot. Therefore, her conclusion that there’s no reason for women not to have the priesthood is false. I have always told my children (three daughters and a son) that we can only qualify for eternal life only if we become Christlike. We become Christ-like by repentance, obedience, humility, love, and service. I believe that mortal men need some extra incentive and prodding to serve. The vast majority of women seem to serve naturally.

      I hope our sisters realize that women already hold a type of priesthood. When we are baptized (male and female), we take upon ourselves the name of Christ (i.e., the responsibility and authority to act as Christ would act in blessing the lives of others). Joseph Smith taught that women could lay hands on the sick and offer counsel. Further, women are priestesses in the third priesthood in the Church (the temple). They lay on hands and administer ordinances. Priesthood is the authority and power from God to act in His name for the salvation of His children. In the eternities, exalted women and men will be the ones who have the power which will be eventually delegated to their mortal sons as priesthood. The Relief Society is organized much as the priesthood is with a similar charge as quorums have.

      JoAnna said that women can’t make decisions in the Church. Our wards and stakes wouldn’t work without the decisions and actions of righteous, authorized women. General authorities have told local leaders many times over the years to make decisions through councils and to listen to the women. Priesthood bearers wouldn’t do as much if it weren’t for the counsel and reminders (i.e., support) from the women in our lives. The blogger wrote, “I know we are told as women that we support the Priesthood, but this feels like telling fathers to just ‘support’ mothers in their child rearing duties, while they in fact have actual roles in and of themselves, along with supporting the mother of their children.” Her logical error here conflates support and performance of duty. The performance of a father’s duties in child rearing is not the same as a father’s support of his wife’s role in child rearing.

      You seem to claim that the Church has hidden its doctrine of a Heavenly Mother. I believe that the reason She hasn’t been spoken of more is that She and Heavenly Father have not revealed much about her. I can’t explain why. But I am going to trust Them on that. That’s faith.

      I personally see no reason why women shouldn’t wear pants to Church. A nice modest pantsuit would be an improvement over some of the dresses I’ve seen worn. The guiding principle for clothing and grooming is modesty and humility. But having lived in Utah at one time, I can see why some women feel oppressed. I grew up in the Southern United States in two families where the women were powerful and unfettered. Most Southern women I know are that way. I can see many women in Utah would be resentful toward men. But don’t take it out on the Church.

      Sisters (and brethren), do you not believe in revelation from God? Do you not have faith in God? It is good to question and think and seek for answers. But this blog shows a real lack of testimony, understanding, and faith. And it’s playing right into the hands of the Adversary of all righteousness. Remember that this is the Lord’s Church. It doesn’t work the same way as the world.

      (Brother) Dane Bounds
      Hammond, Louisiana

      • Gillian Wiles

        One thought on why Heavenly Mother is not mentioned could be the love that Heavenly Father has for her. Considering how the world treats Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I am sure that He doesn’t want her to be put through that kind of abuse.
        A thought on the need for trials that we need to go through, when a chick hatches they have to fight their way out of the shell as that gives them the strength they need to survive.

      • Brother Bounds,

        I am JoAnna, from the blog post. I want to first thank you for your careful reading of my blog. A lot of time and thought went into it and I appreciate views from all sides. I do feel that you made some assumptions that were not written, and seeing as we do not know each other and this is easy to do, I would like to clarify a few things.

        First, this post is why I consider myself a Mormon Feminist, NOT a post about why women should be ordained. While I am open to that, it is not something that I fight for, personally. Most women who are part of OW would say they are feminists, if not all of them. But not even close to all feminists are OW supporters. I feel like this is a very important distinction to make. While I support those men and women with their questions, and my post was put up in support of understanding anyone with different beliefs, you comments seemed to all come through a lens of defending male-only Priesthood, and my post is not about that.

        Second, you opened with a huge assumption that I must have just not done anything to not be able to go on a trip like the Young Men. It felt a little condescending to be honest. I tried for three years. I saved money. I planned fundraisers that were never allowed to happen. Why? Because I was told again and again that we had to have a Priesthood holder with us on the trip, and that none would go with us. I had women leader who not only were willing, but wanted to go. We were not allowed because we had to have a man and no man would join us. Trust me, I tried. If you want even more details about that, I can share, but I think for now you get the point.

        You talk about me writing of women who do not have children. Although I do not share your exact opinions on this, I do not really disagree. But my point was that women have more value than just motherhood. Although that is sacred and wonderful and divine, it is not all we are as women.

        Yes, the changes I want to see ARE more superficial. That is my point. IT ISN’T DOCTRINE. That is the whole point of me coming out as a feminist. There are so many small, “superficial,” changes we can make to ensure more gender equality and that women are valued in our ACTIONS the same way we say they are with our WORDS.

        You say that motherhood and fatherhood are not gender equivalents. I don’t even really know how to address that. They are both part of parenthood, one is the male role and one is the female role. You can’t have parenthood without either one, even though each has their own part. YOU, sir, are the one who concluded that I mean that there was no reason for women to not have the Priesthood. This was not even close to what I wrote. I said that, given that reasoning, there are also Priests and Priestesses in the Priesthood, and that this point seems to never get fully addressed.

        Women do not make major church decisions. We make decisions for the primary and for the Relief Society. Sometimes good men who understand our importance choose to include us. They do not have to. And you can read about past Relief Society General Presidencies and their words if you doubt this. Google Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, former 1st Counselor of the General RS Presidency, and her interview with Gregory Prince. You don’t have to take my word for it, just read her exact words. She sites specific examples. Only the men make the decisions for our church and women absolutely could and should be more involved in the process.

        And I don’t confuse “support” and “performance of duty.” Again, you basically make my point, just don’t take it far enough. As women, we are only really told to “support” the Priesthood. I wan tot know more about my “performance of duty,” as you call it, in that capacity. Because, as you point out, there is a distinct difference in those two ideas.

        I never once said the church hid doctrine of Heavenly Mother. Again, it feels like you twist words to make me sound like a conspiracy theorist and an extremist. I simply said, why don’t we talk about her more? There must be more. You may disagree or have explanations that justify why we do not, and I accept that, but please do not put words in my mouth.

        I think modesty is important. The way it is discussed is not correct. And I have read in a personal communication from an apostle that there is agreement in my statement there, so your words do not upset me because I know I have the full support of the Lord’s anointed in this. I do not feel oppressed. I am from Pittsburgh, not Utah. I am not resentful in any way toward men. I am actually not sure how you could get that from my post. And I certainly am not taking it out on the church in any way. I love this church. I want to continue to add to it and improve it as has always been done.

        You say I lack testimony, understanding, and faith. And my entire post is about how that is the exact incorrect assumption about people who support gender equality. I know exactly to whom this church belongs. And I know how He feels about the hurt, mistreatment, and misrepresentation of His daughters, even by loving, well-intended individuals.

        I hope you will think twice before you make such brash judgments in the future about a person’s testimony. If you want to write about how you disagree, that is fine. But do not try to undermine my opinions and my ideas by trying to paint me as a misinformed and misguided individual who is under Satan’s influence. You are the exact kind of personality that caused me to write my post in the first place. Thank you for continuing to prove that what I have to say is not only relevant, but necessary.

        I truly do appreciate your time and your words though. I hope I have maybe caused you to pause and re-think some of your opinions, but either way, I know that even if you don’t realize it, we are on the same side of this fight and you are my brother and I do love you.

        Sister JoAnna, West Virginia

        • Sister JoAnna, I have endeavored below to reply to your last post. Your paragraphs begin with >.

          > … A lot of time and thought went into it and I appreciate views from all sides. I do feel that you made some assumptions that were not written, and seeing as we do not know each other and this is easy to do, I would like to clarify a few things.

          JoAnna, I can appreciate how much time you spent. In reading back over my hurried response to you, I saw typos and incomplete edits and word choices I would change now had I spent more time with my response. It is difficult to craft prose to express what you want to say without the benefit of voice inflection and body language to help convey meaning.

          > First, this post is why I consider myself a Mormon Feminist, NOT a post about why women should be ordained. While I am open to that, it is not something that I fight for, personally. Most women who are part of OW would say they are feminists, if not all of them. But not even close to all feminists are OW supporters. I feel like this is a very important distinction to make. While I support those men and women with their questions, and my post was put up in support of understanding anyone with different beliefs, you comments seemed to all come through a lens of defending male-only Priesthood, and my post is not about that.

          Forgive me for implying that you were a part of the OW movement. Since I was linked to your blog from blog posting supporting it, I addressed it as well. I probably should not have. I have always taught my children and my early-morning seminary students that honestly questioning doctrine and authorities is not a bad thing. That’s how we learn.

          >Second, you opened with a huge assumption that I must have just not done anything to not be able to go on a trip like the Young Men. It felt a little condescending to be honest. I tried for three years. I saved money. I planned fundraisers that were never allowed to happen. Why? Because I was told again and again that we had to have a Priesthood holder with us on the trip, and that none would go with us. I had women leader who not only were willing, but wanted to go. We were not allowed because we had to have a man and no man would join us. Trust me, I tried. If you want even more details about that, I can share, but I think for now you get the point.

          I’m sorry that you encountered such resistance. I frankly can’t imagine that happening in our part of the country. If no man would volunteer to go on the trip, then men would be asked to go. My wife who has been a YW leader for many years wondered if you had approached priesthood bearers in other wards in your stake for possible help. I apologize that it seemed condescending to you. That was not my intention.

          > … But my point was that women have more value than just motherhood. Although that is sacred and wonderful and divine, it is not all we are as women.

          I agree with your point that women have more value than childbearing. My wife and I tried instilling that in our daughters.

          > Yes, the changes I want to see ARE more superficial. That is my point. IT ISN’T DOCTRINE. That is the whole point of me coming out as a feminist. There are so many small, “superficial,” changes we can make to ensure more gender equality and that women are valued in our ACTIONS the same way we say they are with our WORDS.

          Then we agree. Perhaps, we’re speaking past each other. I’ve noticed that written communication can’t express all the ideas that we convey in person. If I understand the definition of the word feminist as a person believing in the equal worth of the genders deserving of equal rights where the activities of males and females are equivalent, then I am a feminist. Moreover, Church doctrine is feminist. I hope that in this Church you never had to hide your belief in that principle.

          > You say that motherhood and fatherhood are not gender equivalents. I don’t even really know how to address that. They are both part of parenthood, one is the male role and one is the female role. You can’t have parenthood without either one, even though each has their own part. YOU, sir, are the one who concluded that I mean that there was no reason for women to not have the Priesthood. This was not even close to what I wrote. I said that, given that reasoning, there are also Priests and Priestesses in the Priesthood, and that this point seems to never get fully addressed.

          I understood your “Motherhood=Fatherhood” to mean that the two roles are the same, that is, interchangeable. I agree with your point that they are gender equivalents. But my point is that motherhood–from my vantage poin–consists of some activities and influences which fatherhood does not possess. They are complementary. They, therefore, are not the same. By the way, “YOU, sir” sounds awfully uncivil and assumptive on your part.

          > Women do not make major church decisions. We make decisions for the primary and for the Relief Society. Sometimes good men who understand our importance choose to include us. They do not have to. And you can read about past Relief Society General Presidencies and their words if you doubt this. Google Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, former 1st Counselor of the General RS Presidency, and her interview with Gregory Prince. You don’t have to take my word for it, just read her exact words. She sites specific examples. Only the men make the decisions for our church and women absolutely could and should be more involved in the process.

          I have not read the interview with Sister Okazaki. All I know is what I have heard apostles say about including women in decisions impacting them. I also understand that they are included in those types of decisions at the highest level of Church administration.

          >And I don’t confuse “support” and “performance of duty.” Again, you basically make my point, just don’t take it far enough. As women, we are only really told to “support” the Priesthood. I wan tot know more about my “performance of duty,” as you call it, in that capacity. Because, as you point out, there is a distinct difference in those two ideas.

          I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying here. Again, I think we’re talking past one another.

          > I never once said the church hid doctrine of Heavenly Mother. Again, it feels like you twist words to make me sound like a conspiracy theorist and an extremist. I simply said, why don’t we talk about her more? There must be more. You may disagree or have explanations that justify why we do not, and I accept that, but please do not put words in my mouth.

          So another accusation: I twist words. I promise you that I do not twist your words. That would be intellectually dishonest and ethically wrong.

          > I think modesty is important. The way it is discussed is not correct. And I have read in a personal communication from an apostle that there is agreement in my statement there, so your words do not upset me because I know I have the full support of the Lord’s anointed in this. I do not feel oppressed. I am from Pittsburgh, not Utah. I am not resentful in any way toward men. I am actually not sure how you could get that from my post. And I certainly am not taking it out on the church in any way. I love this church. I want to continue to add to it and improve it as has always been done.

          Pardon my misunderstanding in this area of my response. I see that we want the same things here.

          > You say I lack testimony, understanding, and faith. And my entire post is about how that is the exact incorrect assumption about people who support gender equality. I know exactly to whom this church belongs. And I know how He feels about the hurt, mistreatment, and misrepresentation of His daughters, even by loving, well-intended individuals.

          > I hope you will think twice before you make such brash judgments in the future about a person’s testimony. If you want to write about how you disagree, that is fine. But do not try to undermine my opinions and my ideas by trying to paint me as a misinformed and misguided individual who is under Satan’s influence. You are the exact kind of personality that caused me to write my post in the first place. Thank you for continuing to prove that what I have to say is not only relevant, but necessary.

          My point was that most of the problems people have with doctrine come because they simply accept what others say and don’t get their own witness of the Spirit (i.e., testimony). Testimony is the basis of faith. And since we don’t always know why Heavenly Father does what He does, we must accept things on faith, trusting His love, omniscience, and justice. But real faith comes from real knowlege. It cannot be based on simply believing what a parent or leader believes

          Did I once say that you were under Satan’s influence? No, I did not. You are reading far more into what I wrote than what I ever intended to. And here you make the assumptions that you excoriated me for: “You are the exact kind of personality that caused me to write my post in the first place. Thank you for continuing to prove that what I have to say is not only relevant, but necessary.” You don’t know me and you don’t how I feel toward women in the Church. It appears to me that you are simply marginalizing me so that you can dismiss what I wrote. Your apparent anger toward me mystifies me.

          >I truly do appreciate your time and your words though. I hope I have maybe caused you to pause and re-think some of your opinions, but either way, I know that even if you don’t realize it, we are on the same side of this fight and you are my brother and I do love you.

          And likewise, I hope I have caused you to pause and re-think some of your opinions. I agree with you that we are on the same side as our sisters. Everyone understands that male leaders in the Church aren’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean all male leaders should be painted with the same broad brush as those who fall short.

          With love (really),
          -Dane

          • That was a great response, Dane. I think you are right that without knowing people personally and being able to talk in real life where we have body language, inflection, etc. it’s easy for there to be misunderstandings.

            I really like that you took the time to respond and try to find mutual understanding. I think it’s so important that we do that. I hope Joanna repsonds to you.

          • Dane,

            Thank you again for a careful and thoughtful response. I am truly glad to hear that we agree on much more than we originally assumed. These types of internet interactions can be tricky to navigate.

            And about my YW experience, yes, that’s why I bring it up, because there are enough people who never experience those types of challenges and therefore feel it is not a problem. Just because one person has never seen/experienced something does not mean it isn’t happening elsewhere. My next ward was over an hour away. I didn’t really even know those people. Nor did I really realize that asking the stake leaders was an option at that point in my life, so no, when my Bishop said no because there were no men to go, he didn’t budge and I assumed that was where the buck stopped. My uncle was a scout leader at one point and knew how much a trip like that would have meant to me. During my early college years he planned a trip with me and we took my sisters and cousins for a week in Canada. So at least for me, personally, there was a little bit of a happy ending, no thanks to my church youth program (which did other wonderful things, but failed me miserably in this instance).

            And I totally agree that our doctrine is feminist. And I agree with your definition. It is truly sad to me that so many do not understand this and treat some who declare themselves feminists as outcasts or apostates.

            And yes, then we agree about motherhood and fatherhood. I disagree about being uncivil. But yes, I was letting you know that I was getting a little frustrated with your constant misinterpretations of my words.

            And you didn’t read the interview. But you still stand by your statement. In order to be fully educated on your point, I urge you to read it. If you still feel the same, at least you can say you do so with adequate facts. Of course there are times when the influence of women have impacted apostles. But how many times were women not even asked for an opinion? Again, you can disagree, but I suggest reading the interview before you do.

            We probably do speak past one another, as you say. I’m just saying that with respect to Parenthood, there are two distinct gender roles. Both support each other in their respective role, but both also have their own individual role to play. They have duties AND support each other. I feel that the Priesthood is the same. I feel that both genders support each other and both have roles. But the role of women and the support that men give to women with respect to the Priesthood seem to be often overlooked and not discussed.

            I do feel that you twisted my words. I did accuse you of that, and without anger, but with boldness, I stand by that. You said, “You seem to claim that the Church has hidden its doctrine of a Heavenly Mother.” I did not claim that and that was a twist of my words. Which is, yes, wrong.
            Also, I know what your final point was. And again, I was not angry, but I will boldly stand up for myself. You say that your point was that people do not get their own witness of the spirit, which sounds nice here as you say it, but your exact words were, “But this blog shows a real lack of testimony, understanding, and faith.” So if that was your original point, you should have said that, instead of calling my testimony and faith into question of issues that you actually say you support (such as questioning and learning). And I am sorry, you did not say I was under Satan’s influence. You said I’m “playing right into the hands of the Adversary of all righteousness.” Which I consider to be similar, but fine, we can go back to your exact words and I still stand by what I said. That is not an assumption, you said it.

            I don’t know you. You don’t have to assume I am mad because I am defending myself in a very straight-forward way. And I don’t know exactly how you feel toward women in the church. I only know what you posted here. I did not have to assume anything. I am not marginalizing you, I am calling you out where your criticisms of my post fall short.

            Instead of being defensive and calling me angry, an apology for saying I lack testimony, understanding, and faith would be appropriate. But I won’t hold my breath for that.

            Know that I am at peace. And though I will respond and write and post and probably never stop, it doesn’t mean I am angry with you or even at all. I don’t paint men with one broad brush, I just want all people to see where we can improve our church institution and in turn improve ourselves.

            Love,
            Jo

            (And PS, not everyone does understand that church leadership, both male and female, are not perfect. They may say it, but they do not understand it. Again, this is why I speak up and I post.)

          • I wish more of those that have commented on this site would work things out in the same way that you two have rather than making it not much more than a place to be critical of others even though we, most of us, belong to the same church with the same general beliefs. I have read a number of messages where the response to someones post was to refer to the author as an ‘idiot’ or some such derogatory term. Each of us see things from different perspectives and some don’t have the eloquance to express things in a way that cannot be missunderstood. Each person in a leadership calling will do things as they feel they should, and no, they don’t always get things right. Quite often it would seem, that the Lord gives us callings to help us to grow just as much if not more than those we are called to serve. As we progress furthur into the last days the adversary will work harder on our leaders and our youth. The leaders to try to stop them being effective servants and leaders of the membership and the youth because they are our future leaders. When people on sites like this don’t work things through and try to understand what others have said, bad feelings will result and that’s when Satan steps in. Like you, we need to close the gaps in the conversations by trying to understand what is being said and not jumping to incorrect conclusions and ridiculing anothers opinion. Well done for setting a great example of how sites like this should work.

          • Jo, my web browser program is not giving me a Reply button to your last posting. Therefore, I’m replying to my last posting.

            > And you didn’t read the interview. But you still stand by your statement. In order to be fully educated on your point, I urge you to read it. If you still feel the same, at least you can say you do so with adequate facts.

            I have not had the time to find the interview. I’ll try to find it and read it. By the way, the way I read your words shown above, makes me feel that you are combative and condescending.

            > I do feel that you twisted my words. I did accuse you of that, and without anger, but with boldness.

            For the record, I did not twist your words. And I’m glad to read that you did it without anger. But your boldness comes across in your writing to me as angry.

            > I don’t know you. You don’t have to assume I am mad because I am defending myself in a very straight-forward way.

            I bet if you had someone else read those passages from your posting which I quoted, she/he would agree that you sound angry and defensive.

            > Instead of being defensive and calling me angry, an apology for saying I lack testimony, understanding, and faith would be appropriate. But I won’t hold my breath for that.

            I apologize for claiming that you lack testimony, understanding, and faith.

            Finally, I cry “uncle!” I don’t want to be the source of any more contention.

            With sincerity and love,
            -Dane

          • When a woman speaks with boldness, men in the church almost invariably call her angry. That’s on you and the culture that brought you up, not on the woman who is speaking boldly.

          • Stacy Mar 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm
            >When a woman speaks with boldness, men in the church almost invariably call her angry. That’s on you and the culture that brought you up, not on the woman who is speaking boldly.

            You are probably right there with many men, Stacy. But had a man written those words, I would have felt that he were angry, too.

          • Dane,

            Well I guess for the record we can peacefully agree to disagree. I feel that you twisted my words and you feel that I was angry. I guess that’s just good old-fashioned differing opinions. And just so you know, I actually did have my posts read by people close to me before I sent them. As I said, there was certainly frustration that I was not trying to hide at all. And I was actually hurt by your calling out of my testimony. But I appreciate your apology for that and I do believe it to be sincere. And in the same spirit I do apologize for coming across as condescending. That is something I do have to watch from time to time, and being called out on it is good for me. You have, indeed, helped me to analyze my commenting and my interpretation of others’ comments, as well as helped me to ease the frustration I was feeling. Thank you for seeing this through. I truly do mean that.

            Maybe our paths will cross again someday.

            Also with love,
            Jo

  39. Let me put forth a question: If you wanted your husband or child to change something, would you run to the media to try to shame them into it or would you quietly and respectfully handle it privately? When you pull publicity stunts–which is all this is–you bring negative publicity to the church. The media reacts as if most women want ordination, and most women don’t–both by study and by my own observations. We trust God to take care of things. If I wanted something in the church change, I’d pray about it. I wouldn’t run to the newspapers. The NYT article authors asked some of us for either positive or negative experiences as women in the church. Somehow they only found room for the negatives. My positive story wasn’t interesting to them. Neither was any other positive story. This leaves the impression the church is abusive to women. I put my story out on my own to make it clear that isn’t true. But the rest of us are handling the fallout of these publicity stunts. We have to try to get the world to see how much the church gives its women–more than most churches do. It harms missionary efforts and testimonies. People sometimes leave the church because they’ve been mislead into seeing only the negatives. This is serious stuff with eternal consequences. Not having the priesthood won’t keep you out of the celestial kingdom–costing someone his testimony or keeping him from converting…that’s pretty risky. Is it worth it?

    The women may be offended at being asked to go to the protest corner, but if you’re protesting, that is where you belong. It doesn’t matter if you’re a member or not. It’s still a protest. It tangles up the line, keeping the men from getting their tickets and it chases away the spirit, as protests always do.

    If the priesthood meeting becomes unisex, the women’s meeting will also and then they will merely do away with both–they would merely duplicate General Conference. You don’t have a right to try to take something away from me that is valuable to me. I need a meeting that celebrates true womanhood. Unfortunately, the world wants us to believe that all that is feminine is bad and all that is masculine is good. That’s not how I see the world. I am proud to be a woman and I want a meeting that celebrates my womanhood.

    • Gillian Wiles

      One thing that is of concern in all this is that Satan is slowly but most assuradly sowing a certain amount of discord within the membership of the Lords church. As I was reading through the comments yesterday and thinking about them today I realised that this is how he is working in these last days. When we are told that even the very elect will fall, perhaps the GA that said it wasn’t talking just about the GA’s and leaders in the last days but the general membership as well. My Patriachial Blessing tells me that ‘if I am faithful I will be a channel whereby some of the choicest of spirits will come to the earth in preparation for His return’, doesn’t that indicate that our children now being born are some of those elect spirits, they are tomorrows leaders. Not to say that there haven’t been elect spirits come before, there have at the time when they were needed here, but I believe that those that are being born now are some of the choicest of spirits, held back until this time because they need to be here when Satan is trying his hardest to destroy the agency of man. They were probably those at the front of the battle putting up the biggest fight against Satan and those that chose to follow him. The points that have been made, though valid, could sow disharmony and discord among the membership which would have a knock on affect with the children. As has been said, we don’t know why the Lord in His wisdom does or doesn’t do things, why he calls certain people to callings of authority, why the women of the church have not been ordained to the Priesthood, the list goes on. What the Lord seems to expect of us is obedience and faith. How many times do parents, when their child asks why, tell them ‘because I said so’? When Abraham was told by the Lord to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, he didn’t ask why or argue the point that human sacrifice was wrong, he took Isaac to a mountain and was about to sacrifice him, for that’s what the Lord had commanded him to do. For Abraham it was a test to see just how far he would go in his obedience to the Lords commands. I doubt that the Lord would ask anything like that of us, but sometimes he asks us to obey without knowing the why? I can see Satan whispering to some that they NEED to know why. He tells them that certain things that the GA’s are saying are incorrect or that they are not moving with the times. The Bible is as we have it now, minus the plain and precious parts of the gospel because Satan told translators that they didn’t need this or that the people wouldn’t understand that so it doesn’t need to be in. He convinced greedy men who didn’t want the poor people to know certain things to change what the scriptures said. Satan knows that he is running out of time and so will use subtle ways to divert people from the truth, tell us that men and women in the church are not equal and that to be spiritually equal women NEED to be ordained to the Priesthood as if it is something to be given to a person just because they want it. Do you give your children EVERYTHING they want? No, because some things would do more harm than good. As a parent you have had more exerience than your children. Heavenly Father has had more experience than us, maybe we should put more trust in Him that He knows what He is doing, and more trust in His servants because He put them there.

    • Jana Riess

      I don’t quite see how a group of women requesting to be seated at a Church event qualifies as “shaming” the Church to the media or the world at large. In fact, the first channel those women utilized to voice their request was to write to the leaders of the Church. The response the Church issued on Monday was in answer to that private letter.

      • The letter may have been private. But the fact that it was publicized and carried by news outlets all over the world doesn’t seem very private. Also, its website is not private. These are all worldly tactics designed to embarrass the Church into submission.

      • The Church’s response was also private. But they were bombarded with requests from media who had been given the original letter- to know their response. Eventualy the gave in a published it.

        • Gillian Wiles

          I wonder if some of these people who keep trying to push the point are hoping that the same thing will happen as happened with the 116 pages, that if they don’t accept the Lords first, second and third answers that He will eventually give in and say ‘Yes’?

  40. How long do you gnaw this bone? How many “no’s” do you get before you accept it? You didn’t like the answer the church gave? You think they’re wrong or misguided?
    What happens when you meet with the prophet and he tells you the exact same thing? Is he also wrong and misguided?
    I’m pretty sure that the prophet is aware of this movement. Don’t you think he has taken the matter in prayer before the Lord? Don’t you think that by now, he would have made some kind of announcement if there was going to be a change?
    Doesn’t continuing to beat this dead horse lead to your leaving the church? If you want to leave the church, you should leave. Don’t blame your choice on women not getting the priesthood.

    • Jana Riess

      No one is talking about leaving the church over one issue. Your assumption that it would does not strike me as a particularly Christian response. The body of Christ does not tell the hand or the eye or the foot that it is superfluous or unwanted; the body of Christ functions as a whole. It seeks to appreciate the gifts of all its members.

      • That is not what I said. I’m not telling you to leave the church, or that you should be excommunicated, what I am saying is that this campaign will most likely lead to your leaving the church.
        And you’re the ones who don’t appreciate the value of each part of the body of Christ, ironically. Men have their roles. Women have theirs. We aren’t all eyes, or hands, or feet. I appreciate that I have a role to play, and that it is different from a man’s. That doesn’t make me less, or him more. I appreciate that. It is you that wants us all to be the same.

      • Jana, Kit raises an interesting point with regard to your body of Christ analogy. What if women do not have the priesthood because it’s simply not a component of the body of Christ which they represent? That wouldn’t diminish women in any way whatsoever. I’m assuming Christ is still the brain regardless what the rest of us are. (I suppose some might consider Him to be the heart, but perhaps that’s what many women contribute.)

  41. Here are my thoughts regarding the way we view our sisters who have different experiences and perspectives. I think that Satan is loving the contention and the division and that there are things each of us can do to steer us in the right direction.

    Here is my effort to that:

    http://seekfirst2understand.blogspot.com/

  42. The only way to get the attention of the First Presidency and the Q12 is to have someone rich and famous support a cause. The Salt Lake leaders will meet with Marie Osmond or Gladys Knight in an instant! Sad, but true.

    There is a double standard in the LDS church when it comes to gender. Also when it comes to rich and famous.

  43. First off, this is not an indication of the Church’s view of feminism. This is not a reaction to feminism. It is a reaction to Ordain Women, one organization that takes a certain path of Mormon feminism that is distinct and different than other paths of Mormon feminism.

    Second, OW is holding a demonstration. Whether they feel it is justified or not, it is what it is. And there is a designated space for demonstrators at Conference. Instead of it being telling of the Church’s attitude toward feminism, why is it not telling of the OW movement’s attitude that the only other groups that demonstrate at Conference are “anti-Mormon protestors who routinely crash General Conference and shout that the Mormon religion is of the devil”?

    • I don’t know if you have noticed but some people SEEM to feel that because they are members of the church that they have certain rights and privilages that non-members don’t have even though their behavour is no different than that of the non-members and they expect those rights to be upheld. As has been pointed out, what the OW are planning for Conference is, for all intents and purposes, a demonstration. Just because they are members of the church does not give them the right to demonstrate on Temple Square but that it should be done where all other protests are done. Maybe I have got it wrong, does anyone else see it that way?

  44. The gross caricature you paint of the LDS leaders only adds support to their decision to ask protesters not to enter temple square. Their wording was very simple, direct and non-judgmental. They said the meeting is for men, to please not come onto temple square to protest/demonstrate, and there is a place designated for you outside of temple square if you wish to demonstrate.

    It really is this simple: you, and every other member and non-member, are more than welcome to enter temple square. You, and every other member and non-member, are not welcome to enter as part of a protest against the church (or any other type of protest I would imagine).

    For you to take that and claim, “See! They marginalize us and make us out to be as despicable as the fist-fighting, temple garment-burning whacko’s”, is either very immaturely reactive of you, or very dishonest of you. I can only imagine if the Church had simply asked you not to come, and had not even suggested you protest in the designated areas. The line would instead perhaps be something like, “See! They marginalize us and make us out to be even WORSE than the fist-fighting, temple garment-burning whacko’s, who are at least allowed in the designated protest area. We weren’t even invited THERE!”.

    And what if they were to call your group “large” instead of “small”? Instead of “They are trying to marginalize us by calling us minuscule”, would we have gotten, “They are trying to paint us as a juggernaut out to crush them”?

    The truth, it seems, is that no respectful response would have been acceptable to you, other than, “Yes, please enter our meeting.” You don’t have to agree with the Church’s position to see that they handled it very politely without belittling or demonizing you, and you handled it very rashly.

    Going to ask for those tickets is a form of protest/demonstration. There is no way around that. The main point of your doing it is to make a point–and to do it visibly and for publicity for your cause. I am not saying making a point publicly, protesting, seeking publicity, promoting a cause, etc, are always bad things. I am just making it clear that what you are doing is a form of protest.

    In that regard, you do indeed have some similarities with the whacko protesters. I mean that ONLY insofar as you want to be seen, be heard and deliver your message by disrupting an event. To some degree, that is part and parcel with protesters. Which, again, is why you were “lumped” with the lunatics. You were, in reality, lumped with the PROTESTERS, because that is what you are. How is that mean, rude, marginalizing or insulting. “You are hear to protest? OK, please do not do it on our grounds. Do it the designated areas.” Makes sense to me.

    Protesters in general, and your group specifically, have been asked NOT to enter temple square for that purpose. There is no way to respectfully enter private grounds you have specifically (and politely) been asked by the owners to not enter (assuming you are there to protest/demonstrate). That’s called trespassing, and is not respectful, no matter how nice you act while doing it. Nevermind the scene it causes with the cameras and reporters–i.e., the very type of disruption of a sacred event that the Church and those attending this meeting do not want (and understandably so).

    You asked last year. You were politely told “no”. You have now asked and politely been told “no” ahead of time this year. Respect their wishes and don’t make a scene. RESPECTFULLY disagree, or you marginalize yourself and your cause.

    Oh, and the whole “…it is in the Church’s best interest to show that it is flexible and it is listening…”? Your attitude seems to be that you are in a better position that the Prohpet and Apostles to tell the Church what is in its best interest, and whether the leadership is indeed acting in its best interests. That seems to be a pervasive attitude among those who have a beef against the church–I know better than the leaders. They are wrong. I need to correct them. They are not doing what is best for the church. I, a Den Leader in Texas, am privy to some information or truth that the brethren either have not thought of or have dealt with erroneously. It is on me to correct them. Now, I realize I am putting words in your mouth (and a lot of them), but I am just trying to express to you how it comes across to me. I am curious what your feelings are behind this.

    Also, I know I say “you” and “your group” a lot, without knowing if you are a part of that group. But you at least seem to be sympathetic to their cause, so please forgive the short-cut if it incorrectly lumps you in with them.

  45. the whole truth

    I am puzzled, after seeing a picture of the woman who heads the ordain women movement, I don’t see what the problem is. She is obviously really a man in drag. Just admit you are a man and you can be ordained.

  46. Jana Riess, I am a 60-year-old, happily married, ultra-orthodox, fourth-generation, true blue support-the-brethren, Utah Mormon, who can hardly fathom why any believing woman would even think of asking to be ordained to the priesthood. BUT I have been following you for at least a year or two, and I am a total fan. I bought your book “Mormonism for Dummies” just because you authored it. I love the thought provoking questions you pose in your blogs. I love your tone. I love your approach. I hold my breath every time someone fires an insult towards you, and am so relieved each time you emerge seemingly unscathed, unfazed and unoffended. I am happy every time a change is made that empowers women within the church, be it prayers in general conference, or temple presentations or missionary age. Effervescent, toe-to-toe, (but still civil), debate is so powerful in getting our brains to fully engage and understand the core issues. It is a helpful step in the process of receiving revelation. It is the ultimate application of Section 9 — study it out in your mind. Keep up the good work. You, all by yourself, are an essential part of OUR church!

  47. My 12yr old son and I happened to be traveling through SLC the weekend of conference, and although we were in street clothes, decided to attend the priesthood session in the tabernacle. I must admit that seeing OW participants standing in line killed the spirit for us…at least for a timeframe. It was difficult to focus on what was happening inside, knowing what was going on outside. So, OW, if your point was to detract from the spirit, I can say for me and at least one 12yr old who attended priesthood session—mission accomplished.

    (Before any of you who support OW allow all the blood to rush to your head, please know that I’m not trying to be a jerk. I am a very open-minded, sensitive, non-judgmental, loving person. I have a great sense of humor and love hanging out with people. If we were neighbors I’m sure we would be the best of friends!)

    I’m really not anti-OW. I have read much about the movement—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can see that many OW supporters are intelligent, level-headed, and spiritual people. Many who don’t support OW fall into this same category. For every meaningful argument, there seems to be a meaningful counter-argument. After hours and hours of reading (with a sincere desire to understand), however, I find myself becoming more and more disenchanted with the whole issue. I don’t mean this negatively toward either side, but I really am starting to experience the same feelings I do when watching a dog chase it’s tail. After much contemplation there really is only one question that plagues my mind—a sincere question, the answer to which will help create some finality for me. Will someone who has ties to the hierarchy of the OW movement please tell me the direction OW will take if a meeting with a general authority is secured, and his answer is that the brethren have prayed about it and that women should not be ordained to the priesthood? I would like an honest, sincere answer from someone who is in “the know.” Please don’t share an assumption or gut reaction. As I mentioned earlier, I firmly believe that intelligent women are heading this movement. Surely the scenario I am suggesting has been discussed, and a plan has been formalized. An honest answer to this question would be very helpful to me, and possibly others on this blog. Thank you.

  48. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not here to bash. I also mentioned that my twelve year old son and I were at temple square Saturday night, confusedly trying to figure out how to enter the tabernacle
    with a mock line of women wrapped partly around it. I meant it when I said that OW’s actions killed the spirit for me. It did because I’m a nice person. There may be some men who had a “haha!” attitude as they walked past the line of women, or as they witnessed them being turned away. NOT the case for me. And while I have no data to back it up, I would bet many, many brethren feel the same as I. My eyes watered when I realized what was going on, and it was very difficult to “get into” the spirit of the meeting knowing what was going on outside.

    I avoided saying anything like this in my previous post because I know it’s hard to have a civil exchange with anyone when they are on the defense, but I think the tactics OW employed were extremely selfish. And it is really beyond me that some OW supporters don’t understand how a “small group of women requesting to be seated” at priesthood session negatively impacts the men who are asked to attend.

    Jana and others, please try to put yourselves in our shoes. This only comes around twice a year. Consider the PRINCIPLE of the tactics that are being employed. I know this is a stretch, but OW’s tactics are analogous to having a group of uninvited people standing outside your front door on the day of your birthday (please, please don’t reply asking why they weren’t invited to the party…that’s not the point). Kind of hard to celebrate, regardless of the civil attitude of the uninvited guests who refuse to leave your doorstep. The cake and ice cream just don’t go down as well when you know they are standing out there. This example may seem silly, but I know you have a heart, so if it does seem silly please think of some other important event in your life or the life of your children. Then look me in the eye and tell me the excitement of the event wouldn’t be kicked down a notch or two if an uninvited group persisted outside your door.

    In short, Jana and others, if you are an OW supporter…fine. But PLEASE stop propagating the idea that lining up around the tabernacle is no big deal. It is a big deal. My fear is that your casual “what’s the big deal” statements are impacting young impressionable minds that aren’t mature enough to sort through these difficult issues. Please take your cause up with the right people (I know, I know, you tried taking it up with the “right” people!). And take it up at the right time. I would be ashamed if I knew that my actions at a church event had negatively impacted “innocent” brothers (or sisters!) who were asked to attend. Sadly (and really the thought does make me sad), I know there will be a time when some OW supporters will find it difficult to look themselves in the mirror. I’m sure some non-supporters will feel the same way. Maybe those of us who are blessed to have slightly more intellect and heart can set the example???

    • Jason, I can tell you’re very sincere. I hope I can share a different perspective without taking anything away from your own.

      What I don’t understand is why it’s such a big deal to the Church NOT to allow them inside. To me, the way to make sure you don’t detract from the Spirit is to just say “the more the merrier” and let them in. Having sisters inside next to us doesn’t distract from the Spirit in our other meetings. If we must have gender segregated meetings (and I’m all for that) then let’s call it the “Men’s Meeting” along with the General Women’s Meeting they just held the week before the Priesthood Session. Our leaders have made it very clear that men ARE NOT the priesthood.

      Also, please consider how saying that it is all about YOU and YOUR feelings without considering those “selfish” women’s perspective comes across, ironically, as very selfish.

      Finally, please take the time to read this excellent post by a friend and former colleague of mine (who recently completed five years of service as a bishop) and who went to witness Ordain Women in person at the very same meeting as you:

      http://buddhainthebeehive.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/pride-of-lionesses-my-experience-standing-in-line-with-ordain-women/

      • Thanks for your response. I will look at the former bishop’s post tonight when I have time.

        Also, please know, that I knew I would be accused of being selfish for focusing on my perspective. I hope you don’t think I’m arrogant for admitting that…but you can probably tell I am very careful in how I word things as I would like to attract as few eggs as possible. In short, while I understand why you would say that (you not having access to the inner workings of my brain), because I anticipated that comeback it really wasn’t ironic for me to say what I did.

        From reading your other posts, I can tell that you, too, are a very nice and intelligent person. That being the case, I can see that I really did a poor job with the birthday party analogy. Or maybe my words weren’t taken seriously??? I don’t know….but I tried hard to focus on the PRINCIPLE of OW’s tactics. The principle is that they are not currently invited to those meetings. I, too, have no problem sitting next to a woman in anything. And I don’t care what they call the meeting. OW’s presence at Temple Square Saturday night was saddening, not maddening. I’m assuming this former bishop you are referring to was enlightened by the experience (I know, I need to read it). Assuming that is the case, what is enlightening about seeing a group of people you love (what can I say, I love everyone…all shapes and sizes) hurting, and knowing they still are at the very time you are supposed to be feeling inspired? It is a detraction for those who care about our “team”. It doesn’t matter if the detraction makes a person sad, mad, confused…..or even glad (which is why you will never see a juggling act on temple square). A detraction is a detraction. And is in complete opposition of the spirit of the proceedings. Because of this same principle I ask my children to be respectful of others during sacrament meeting, or even a public event for that matter, as it is not the appropriate time to have whatever is plaguing them validated (their restlessness, boredom of the participants, opposition to the rules of the venue, etc). I know this makes me sound like some holier-than-thou-jerk-of-a-dad-peter-priesthood kind of a guy. I’m not. Not even close. The noises I make with my armpits (when the timing is right) can be matched by no other.

        I don’t think I’m being selfish at all in asking some Mormon feminists to exercise some common decency. Referring back to my birthday party analogy, their tactics would be inappropriate at any venue. It’s ok if you and I “agree to disagree” on certain issues, but please tell me deep down in your gut you agree their approach should be reconsidered. Thanks

        • “It’s ok if you and I ‘agree to disagree’ on certain issues, but please tell me deep down in your gut you agree their approach should be reconsidered.”

          To be perfectly frank, Jason, I’m somewhat ambivalent about it.

          On the one hand it’s clear that they were asked not to come and they came anyway (although by all accounts were well behaved and peaceful), but because of this there are some who obviously see this as rude and disrespectful and therefore not “well behaved”.

          However, there are others who view the request for them NOT to come or to stay in the “free speech zone” as rude and equally disrespectful.

          There’s probably truth to the fact that some on both sides view the other as irrational and unChristlike. (I personally think it would have been completely rational to simply honor their request in the first place since women are allowed to watch the proceedings anywhere else. And had the Church done so there would have been no harm, no foul.)

          If you put yourself in the shoes of the supporters of Ordain Women, it’s kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, don’t you think?

          Laurel Thatcher Ulrich coined the phrase “well behaved women seldom make history”. (I actually bought my wife a key chain with this quote at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.)

          Speaking historically, I have no problem with civil disobedience of the past, whether the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the Lunch Counter Sit-ins. I’m sure those white restaurant owners and patrons thought that those blacks that peacefully sat in at the lunch counters and politely asked to be served were viewed at the time by as “rude and disrespectful”.

          If you pin me down and force me to tell you what I think, here’s what I think I’d say I agree with:

          “I won’t cower to, privilege, or be afraid of authority. I give respect only where respect is deserved.”

          “The very notion of Jesus being the author of women’s subjugation and spiritual disempowerment is a contemptible sacrilege. Mormonism’s contemporary sexual politics has more to do with outdated American 20th century cultural and social practices than it has to do with God.”

          “If this religion is the international movement that it purports to be it might be time to shuck the barnacles of its host nation so that it can finally become both universally relevant and locally appealing – and that, as a minimum, means healing the institutional breaches in religious practice and leadership between men and women.”

          See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kiwimormon/2014/04/reflections-after-temple-square-furious-musings-from-the-periphery/#sthash.KRCNJCKP.dpuf

          • “The very notion of Jesus being the author of women’s subjugation and spiritual disempowerment is a contemptible sacrilege. Mormonism’s contemporary sexual politics has more to do with outdated American 20th century cultural and social practices than it has to do with God.”

            “If this religion is the international movement that it purports to be it might be time to shuck the barnacles of its host nation so that it can finally become both universally relevant and locally appealing – and that, as a minimum, means healing the institutional breaches in religious practice and leadership between men and women.”

            I have read all of the posts on this subject and I must admit that there are some points that I agree with and some that I am not quite so sure about. The attitude in the above statement is something that I felt I needed to express my own opinion on. Centuries ago King Henry vlll of England started his own religion because he didn’t like what the Catholics were telling him he could and couldn’t do. Many other religions also started up because their founder didn’t agree with the established church at the time. If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the earth and Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s mouthpiece then the comment that Mormonism’s contemporary sexual politics has more to do with outdated American 20th century cultural and social practices than it has to do with God is not the comment of someone who has a firm testimony of the gospel and the Saviours position at the head of it. Either this is the TRUE church or it isn’t. If it is then we need to have faith in President Monson and accept what he teaches us and tells us is the will of the Lord, if it isn’t then we are all being deceived by very clever men. If the latter is the case then the Lord will judge us on what we have believed to be the truth. If the Prophet says that the sisters are not going to be ordained to the Priesthood, I doubt that he would say it of his own back but after consultation with the Lord.

            I think it was the Presiding Bishop that mentioned in conference about the Temples and that the authority that the female Temple workers hold is the same as the brethren who hold the priesthood. The ordinances that they perform is of equal importance because the authority is the same. There is no sexual inequality in the church only different roles. The sisters fulfil certain roles and the brethren fulfil others, just because the women do not have hands laid upon their heads to ordain them to offices within the Priesthood does not make them inferior or unequal to the brethren especially in the eyes of the Lord. When a Relief Society President or Primary President is called they are given the keys for that calling and thereby have the same authority to act in the name of the Lord in that calling as a Young Men’s President or a Elders Quorum President has in theirs. Like I said, the ONLY difference is that the sisters don’t fulfill the same roles as the Priesthood holders. You may or may not agree with my opinion, that is your right but I felt that I needed to share my thoughts.

          • Thank you, GR, for sharing your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate the conversation. I hope I can disagree with some of what you share without coming across as disagreeable.

            You wrote: “the comment that Mormonism’s contemporary sexual politics has more to do with outdated American 20th century cultural and social practices than it has to do with God is not the comment of someone who has a firm testimony of the gospel and the Saviours position at the head of it. Either this is the TRUE church or it isn’t.”

            This binary thinking is extremely problematic, not the least of which would mean that the Lord doesn’t honor the agency of the prophet at all, and that the prophet is therefore nothing more than a puppet. Also of consequence is that you then directly put the blame on God for the status quo where one half of the membership is barred from certain offices based solely on their gender, rather than chalk it up to the fact that we are all products of our time, and that we and all the prophets “see through a glass darkly” as we walk by faith rather through direct knowledge as though we (or the prophet) has a clear Heavenly Fax/Phone number. The church has continually evolved and adapted throughout time as humans bring their concerns before God and God honors the desires of our hearts. The one true constant in this church is the fact that it continually changes and improves and progresses past the “status quo”–and thank God for that or blacks would still be barred from our most sacred temple rituals, and black men from holding priesthood.

            Please don’t assume that things are the way they are because God wants them that way. God doesn’t micromanage us. Acknowledging the human element in the Church, as well as the fact that there have been errors in the Church in the past (such as that priesthood ban and also the rationales once used to defend it and now completely disavowed) and logically the fact that errors can occur today doesn’t mean there is no divinity in the Church. It’s not all or nothing, black or white.

            I wish that more members would be less prone to dig in their heals and defend the status quo as though their testimonies depended on it, and allow for change and revelation of many great and important things, as their faith should require of them. Hugh B. Brown, who served with David O. McKay in the First Presidency, once said: “while I believe all that God has revealed, I am not quite sure I understand what he has revealed, and the fact that God has promised further revelation is to me a challenge to keep an open mind and be prepared to follow wherever my search for truth may lead.”

            The Church is not an essentially divine organization marred only by the human weaknesses and foibles of its leaders/members. We–the church–are entirely a human organization responding to the divine with which we have in faith been touched.

            Please allow me one final correction to your comment. It wasn’t the presiding bishop but rather Elder Oaks who said that women in this church already exercise priesthood power and authority, but that they do not hold priesthood keys or offices. (And by the way, neither he nor President Monson have ever said that women shouldn’t be ordained. Elder Oaks simply said that they (the “Brethren”) don’t have the authority to make that change by themselves–meaning that only God can make that change through a revelation.

            I openly admit to being perplexed, however, and not because my faith may be less sufficient than yours. I’m perplexed at how Elder Oaks definitively claims that this is the way things are by “divine decree”.

            I don’t think it was ever divinely decreed that 12-year-old prepubescent boys could or couldn’t hold offices in the priesthood, and yet they now do.

            It is encouraging, however, that Oaks concedes that women exercise priesthood authority and power. But I still wonder how long before he realizes it’s not that much of a stretch to assume that if women can currently exercise priesthood authority, that it really shouldn’t be a big deal for them to also hold priesthood offices. And as far as I know, God hasn’t ever said that his daughters cannot hold priesthood offices or keys simply because they were born female.

          • Thanks again for your response. I can tell you have put much thought into your position. And you obviously have many great quotes at your disposal. I don’t. And I’m sorry for that as I know it would help make my feelings seem less my own.

            While I agree with you on some points, I really am trying to understand where you are coming from on others. I read your response carefully. But try as I might, I just cannot wrap my brain (or heart) around your position in reference to OW’s tactics. To compare slavery and the bigotry that followed afterward (and that still persists with some people) to OW’s concern is a leap I just can’t make. I really do feel badly that OW supporters feel an injustice exists (and I don’t mean to imply it doesn’t). But I’m sure all will agree that no one has been lynched, whipped, or spat upon; no kids have been ripped from their families; an entire people has not been stolen from their homeland. I am a firm believer that the “punishment” should fit the “crime.” I wholeheartedly believe that any reasonable measures, regardless of public opinion, should have been employed when blacks were seeking equality. Anyone who felt uncomfortable with the tactics that were being used in an attempt to overcome that injustice needed to grow a spine. This is hardly the same thing. Believe me, I know it means ALOT to feminists to be treated equally, but the “punishment” they dealt Saturday night does not fit the “crime.”

            The other day my son made me aware of an incident that took place at the school he attends. He recently befriended a girl who is a victim of bullying. As he and this girl were leaving the school one of the bullies (who earlier that day had been reprimanded by a counselor and was asked to “make up” with the victim) walked up to the victim, and in a very insincere voice said “I like your dress”, then made a small grunting noise, turned, and walked off. Yesterday my oldest daughter and wife had a disagreement. My daughter did not kick or scream (she strives to be civil), but as she was leaving the house she did close the door much louder than normal hoping to make a point. A year or so ago we all heard the “Good, Better…..Best” talk. It is my opinion that the behaviors in the examples I just shared fit into the “Better” category. They definitely don’t fit into the “Best,” and the tactics OW employed Saturday night don’t either. Just because you are doing something civilly doesn’t make it right.

            I agree that OW supporters are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation”. When I know I will be damned either way when approaching a fork in the road, I personally choose the path that will negatively impact the least amount of people. As a common courtesy they should take their issue up directly with church leaders, not with people like myself (albeit indirectly).

            To say you give respect where respect is deserved is completely unfair when referencing my point. Your implication is that the general lay people of the church deserve no respect….that those who attended the priesthood session in the tabernacle were somehow doing something wrong. I’m sure that must not be what you meant as that line of thinking is so irrational that to discuss anything further would be pointless.

          • Of course I didn’t mean you or anyone attending the session. I was referring to respecting leaders requests simply because they’re leaders regardless of what one’s conscience tells one to do.

            I’m sure OW were following the dictates of their conscience. I highly doubt they did what they did to “punish” you–not even close.

    • Jason- I had a similar thought when I saw a pic. of the OW leadership lunch posted on their page. I thought- what if I had forced my way into the restaurant and tried to sit at the table with them. Obviously, they would have asked me to leave. What if I had said- fine- and then stood outside the window looking in at them to show my rejection? I would have distracted them.

      And if they said- Oh, I’m sorry, this lunch is only for the OW leadership, and I said- Well, aren’t I your sister? Am I not good enough to be invited? Do you think you’re better than me and so I can’t join your meeting?

      What would they have said? I can’t think of ANY answer they would have been likely to give me that wouldn’t show the logical fallacy of their protest. What could they have said to me that wouldn’t have ALSO applied to only a certain group of people- men 12 and over- saying this is our meeting?

      I could have returned all their reasons with my own arguments- I won’t say a thing. I’ll just sit here quietly. Oh, and can my friends come in and sit around the table? There are plenty of chairs in here. They won’t say anything either.

      It would have been DISTRACTING to their purpose. They had a reason for only having it be their little group. There was a unity and a togetherness they found in it that wouldn’t have been possible with a bunch of other women huddled around them in chairs, listening.

      They had other events were EVERYONE was welcome. Events that had different purposes.

      • Thanks for your comment. We are totally on the same page. That was a great analogy. Although, oddly, it could almost be stretched to say that distracting them at their meeting would be acceptable. Why? Because they are the decision makers! By that same token, and I mean this with all due respect, OW please go “bug” the brethren who can actually affect a change in your area of concern. I can do nothing about it. Nor can the other hundreds of men and boys who were simple doing what was asked of them by attending priesthood session.

        I really have thought and read a lot about this issue and concluded my argument about having some respect for other members of the “team”, some common decency, is the only one that holds any water. People can (and will) argue for decades about what Joseph Smith intended, or Brigham Young said, or what God wants—-unfortunately not one of these topics will ever be sorted out on this side of the veil. But it really is beyond me how any rational person can argue that “it’s no big deal” to wrap a line of women around the tabernacle when those who were asked to attend are trying to do so. Some say “it was only a small group of women”. Well, guess what? If OW would have had it their way, there would have been 10,000 women wrapped around the tabernacle 20 times!

        I have been studying the issue of blacks and the priesthood in an attempt to better understand OW’s position. At this point I don’t claim to be an expert on it. Interestingly, however, I can’t find one incident of an active black member of the church employing tactics similar to OW’s (I know, the NAACP protested at Temple Square—not the same thing). And that’s pretty insane when you really think about it. I mean, really, although it’s still wrong, it can be easy to draw a line in the sand over gender differences. But over skin color within the same gender??? If OW has a right to be irritated, those black men had a right to be outright ticked! That may not be a fair comparison, but it is an interesting thought and further confuses me as to why OW was so hellbent on “crashing the party.”

  49. I just considered changing my posted name from “Jason” to “Redundant” as I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record regarding my inability to comprehend how anyone would think OW’s tactics at the priesthood session are acceptable. Unfortunately for those of you who may be annoyed…I do have another thought for your consideration.

    I guess this is really more of a question. And it’s directed toward Jana. I don’t ask it to set a trap…or to be a jerk. It really is a sincere question, and I’m hoping for a sincere answer, because I really am confused at this point. Maybe you can be the one to set me straight regarding my accusation that OW is not acting decent.

    Jana, you wrote a book called “Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor.” The last part of that awesomely creative title caught my eye: Still Loving My Neighbor. Now I haven’t read your book, but the title conveys to me that while you are admittedly imperfect in some areas of Mormonism, you shine (or at least make an overly concerted effort to) where it really counts: giving those around you the love and respect they deserve. As I was thinking about this I saw your picture and had the feeling that you really are a decent person.

    I noticed one of your earlier posts where you applauded the fact that two posters, while sharing their differing viewpoints, were still able to model what you felt was a meaningful and respectful exchange. This helped further support my opinion of you…that you are a firm believer in human decency.

    Then I saw your post where you indicated (I don’t remember the exact wording) that you don’t see what the big deal is about a group of women showing up at Temple Square.

    What????? Now I’m confused….

    Does it not seem indecent, and a complete lack of respect for those who were asked to attend, for OW to line up at the tabernacle and create a distraction….when none of the brethren they have a “beef” with are even there?

    • Jason, I get what you’re saying. I really do. And I know you’re wanting Jana to answer that, but in the meantime I just thought I’d weigh in.

      Again, when pacifist blacks sat in at the lunch counter it probably “seem[ed] indecent, and a complete lack of respect for those who were” used to having segregated eating establishments. I’m sure that to those accustomed to the status quo saw it as a huge distraction to their feast that black people would have the gall to want a seat too.

      It’s all about perceptions. We all have our own blind spots but if we step outside of ourselves and try to see the opposite perspective, we can benefit.

      And for what it’s worth, my understanding is that the leaders of Ordain Women and tried repeatedly (multiple times) to meet face to face with the “Brethren”. They were ignored.

      • Clean Cut, I agree that OW has been left with few choices because church leaders refuse to meet with them. However, I disagree with you completely that OW’s attempt to attend priesthood session parallels pacifist blacks waiting at a lunch counter. I addressed this in a previous post, but let me add a different perspective. Sadly, at that time, there were two different “teams.” There were definitely fence sitters, but there is no question that one team was black, and the other was white. A resolution to the situation required the underdogs to stand firm, to get under the opposing team’s skin, to make them squirm a bit.

        What gripes me is that we (OW and the boys and men who attend priesthood session) are all on the same team! Part of the same family. Has OW forgotten that? Are we invisible to them? They claim to be active church members. It would be right to assume that those who attended priesthood session are too (why else would you spend the holiday we call “conference weekend” sitting on a wooden pew?) I have no numbers to prove it, but I would bet my favorite tie those who attended priesthood session would raise their right arm in support of women being ordained if the announcement was made. That being the case, OW’s tactics Saturday night make about as much sense as my daughter kicking my son in the shin because she disagrees with me and I won’t give her audience.

        Do I mean to imply that the leaders they “should” be harassing are not part of our team? Well, if we are going to stick strictly to the spirit of my analogy, the answer, I suppose, would be “yes”— those men have the ability to affect a change that I do not. Nor do the hundreds of men who attend priesthood session.

        • I know the principle that is trying to be put over using the example of the situation that existed some while ago about the Negro not holding the Priesthood, but it doesn’t fully fit the situation that exists now. With the Negro it was still a ‘Brethren holding the Priesthood’ thing. It was never about gender. The announcement that ALL worthy men regardless of skin color could hold the Priesthood was bound to come at some point. However, I think it will be a case of ‘don’t hold your breath’ when it comes to the Lord having His prophet announce the ordination of women to the Priesthood – as in having hands laid on heads and being ordained to a Priesthood office. Some while ago a large number of people (probably men included) within the Catholic church (I think it was), campaigned for women Bishops and a group of men met together,talked about it and gave them the o.k. I would be curious to know how many of the OW leaders have fasted and prayed about women being ordained to the Priesthood and what they feel their answer was and if it was an unmistakable answer. Surely this kind of revelation is something ONLY the prophet will get. 116 pages of the Book of Mormon were lost because Martin Harris pestered Joseph to ask the Lord to allow him to take them to show his family, even when the Lord said no Martin asked again and again. When the Lord finally said yes it proved to be a mistake. Is it not possible that to ordain women to the Priesthood in this way might also prove to be a mistake? Surely if the Prophet has asked and the answer has come back ‘No’, that should be sufficient. The scripture tell us that in the last days there will be many that will be deceived by the adversary, I’m sure one of the deceptions will be the thinking that some are correct and just in what they want the Lord to allow or do and many will be let astray from the true church because of it.

    • Jana Riess

      Jason, thanks for your question. If I believed that Ordain Women’s requests were merely a “distraction,” as you say, then I might agree with you that Temple Square was not the place to make such a request. However, given the great importance of their question and the fact that the women had already attempted to raise it more privately to church leaders and been ignored, I think they handled it all quite wonderfully.

      It does not seem at all indecent or disrespectful to me for women to ask to attend a church meeting. No one was shouting, carrying signs of protest, or delaying the proceedings in any way.

      You seem astonished that I would not be astonished by, as you put it, “a group of women showing up at Temple Square.” My question to you is, why *would* anyone be astonished at a group of women showing up at Temple Square?

      Note that I don’t monitor the comments on older posts very frequently so don’t take it personally if I don’t respond again on this particular discussion.

      • Thanks for responding. And I am really not expecting to hear from you again. Strictly from the matter of common decency I have referred to in many posts, it would be unfair for me to expect an additional response. I know your platter is full (I’m being sincere).

        Although this will likely be read by few, if any, I feel compelled to answer the question Jana posed:

        ” My question to you is, why *would* anyone be astonished at a group of women showing up at Temple Square?

        Well, here goes–
        hmmmm…..wow….suddenly, I really can’t answer that. Why? This is going to sound kinda silly, but have you ever had a time when you were saddened by something to the point your brain shut off? I’m there. What can I say?…I’m a sensitive guy. It has finally sunk in that OW does not see me in the same light that I see them.

        Their is actually a reason that I would never try to distract from their distraction, while they are lined up at Temple Square. (remember, by “distraction” I am referring strictly to OW lining up outside the tabernacle while men and their sons are trying to figure out how to get in)

        There is a reason that “e” (see her posts—she made some enlightening points on this topic) would never distract from the lunch meeting OW leaders had at the restaurant, or from Kate Kelley’s interview with reporters outside Temple Square.

        The reason is simple: it just doesn’t feel right. These our members of our LDS unit, our family. And referring back to my analogy of my daughter kicking my son in the shin because she doesn’t agree with the way I’m ruling the house—I ain’t gonna kick anyone’s shin. The people of OW matter to me. I obviously don’t matter to them.

        Two last things—both of which I know will seem a little crazy:

        1. I love it when people are willing to call a spade a spade. I love it when they are willing to lean in real close while standing in front of the mirror and say “hey….what I’m about to do, in some small way, doesn’t feel quite right… but I’m gonna do it anyway.”
        I don’t know….I guess acknowledging there’s a degree of wrongness kind of humanizes them.

        2. I actually fully expected that Jana, or Clean Cut, or some other ardent OW supporter, as a bare minimum would offer no excuses and admit to me that they felt badly. In a recent stake conference the Stake President counseled “never ruin an apology with an excuse”.

        In a perfect world (this is really going to show how naive I am) I was hoping an OW supporter would post something to this effect:
        “To the priesthood brethren who attended priesthood session that day—We’re sorry. We acknowledge that, at least at this time, we shouldn’t have been there. We know this was your meeting, your time…and have we mentioned?….we really are sorry. We love you guys, and we appreciate the respect you are showing us as we strive to find a resolution to our concern.

        • Jason, I don’t see myself as making excuses. You were saying you “felt” the way you felt and I was saying why I “felt” differently.

          I get that you are sensitive but you’re taking this all too personally. This was never about you. (And it’s not about me either.). Your perspective is not the only valid perspective. “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken”.

          Please consider the women before you get so defensive:

          http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2010/12/womens-place_10.html

          http://rationalfaiths.com/why-arent-the-women-included/

          • Thanks for once again taking time to respond. I will take your words into consideration. And I apologize for coming across narrow-minded.

  50. Ruth Bezdjian

    The enormous elephant in the room is this, the very act of asking for the Priesthood reveals a fundamental belief that what men do is superior to women. That being female is inferior. How sad. For myself I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be a man when they have been blessed to be a woman. What men do is not superior, it’s just different. Learn to love yourself. Embrace who you are. Find the absolute superiority in being a Woman!

  51. The biggest issue with the reaction of Ordain Women from being barred presence in General Priesthood Meetings, is those meetings aren’t the place to be carrying on the discussion. All others who are protesting any other aspect of the church – LDS members or not – are asked to remain in certain areas and not cross certain lines… Their status of being an LDS member doesn’t grant them audience in an event to which they have not been invited. Regardless of their view, these women are bullying the church into submission of their desires. The church hasn’t changed (and isn’t likely going to ever change) priesthood roles between men and women. And Kate Kelly and you, Ms. Riess, know full well the meeting you attempted to attend in furthering your agenda wasn’t a forum of sorts where open discussions and arguments on doctrine take place. None of the 12 hours of conference (8- General Conference, 2 Women’s Conference, 2 – Priesthood Conference) are anything more or less than instruction from the men and women sustained by the body of the church as prophets, seers, apostles and general authorities and auxiliary leaders of the church.

    Even when black men were being restored to access to the priesthood, you didn’t have male black members picketing temples or seeking news outlets demanding that anything less than them receiving the priesthood would be appropriate. Certainly, there was a discussion among church leaders as more and more black men and women proved faithful and questions of their access to temple and priesthood blessings were entertained from the level of bishop on up to the President of the church.

    And, if you women really do have a testimony that these men you’ve sustained into their callings in the church are indeed God’s spokesmen, then why can you not be satisfied with their answer? Should it matter whether you hear it from President Thomas S. Monson himself – face-to-face? If a Bishop or Stake President has the authority to call your actions to question locally – acting within the authority he was given through the direction of the President and Quorum of the Twelve, what gives your cause more weight than any other act of apostasy to LDS doctrine that is handled at the local level?

    Jana, the women of the church – within the Ordain Women organization or not – have all received their answer. Local church leaders have issued requests (not demands) to attend a disciplinary council. How is it that you might consider this as a part of the repentance process for others who have sinned or transgressed, but those in your group choose to see this process as a way of silencing you? The church refused your admittance to a priesthood meeting. A meeting that isn’t done in secret. It’s accessible online to all and the words spoken are found in print shortly after as well.

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  53. Why change something that is running smoothly. Woman have domain over birth, motherhood, life. Why do woman insist on having domain over ever life event? The men are doing just fine and actually because men are running this church, this church is just as it was a hundred years ago when men ran the country. It has consistency, stable thinking, clean, family oriented. when you add woman’s altering emotional inputs into any organization, you get disorder and confusion. Just like the world is today. Look at history ladies, we are to emotional and tempermental (having one week per month being emotionally unstable)to rationally sustain anything for long periods of time. ITs a fact that since womans rights have been in effect the whole nation and family has been destroyed
    . today the only safe haven left for family and stability is with in the Mormon church and we are going to destroy that family oriented religion because of our own vain selfish desires.

  54. What astonishes me here is the blanket assumptions that the women of OW are acting as they are in opposition to the will of God. We’re taught from childhood that each of us is entitled to seek direct revelation from the Lord, and that when that revelation is received, we must act on it to be true to our faith. We’re taught that the Lord works through our hands and hearts, often in response to our questioning and asking. Yet, when these sisters do exactly that, the assumption is that they are wrong, because their answer isn’t the one expected. I’ve always cautioned when I teach that we should be wary of assuming we know the Lord’s mind and will behind His actions and revelations. It may be that these sisters are doing exactly what the Lord needs done at this time. Had President Kimball not kept questioning and importuning the Lord, the revelation on extending the priesthood to all worthy men might not have happened for a long time. The weight of tradition is particularly heavy in our church. Their answer may not be your answer, but that doesn’t automatically make them wrong or at odds with the Lord, or deaf to his word, or disrespectful of leadership. It may only mean that they have been given a different message to act upon, for a purpose that will be revealed in time. Greater equality in the Church is not something that is going to happen spontaneously: it’s unlikely to be a question the Brethren will ever ask the Lord in depth without prompting, and unasked questions rarely receive an answer. At the very least, we need to respect the spiritual autonomy of each individual, and that’s exactly why they are doing as they are doing: it’s not being respected. They’re being told in explicit terms that only as long as their answer in revelation matches everyone else’s is theirs valid.

  55. Direct revalation for yourself, for those things over which you preside. This topic falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of God. We get to learn of his will through those who preside over the church in his stead…. namely The Office of the First Presidency, and The Office of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We can receive confirmation of the word, but we must first humble ourselves and truly seek it.

  56. Gillian Wiles

    I am in total agreement that we have always been taught that each of us is entitled to PERSONAL revelation, that which affects us and our families. However, in reading through some of the comments that were made yesterday I could feel a certain amount of irritation in the way things were said. This is one of the tools of the adversary and though I can empathise with many of the things that were said I am sure that Satan will use this irritation to try to damage and undermine the testimonies that are not as strong as others. If a proportion of the members feel that something is not as it should be or they feel they need clarification on something then perhaps it is something they should pray and fast collectively about and listen to the talks at conference to see if they are given their answer. I feel that protesting about it whether quietly or otherwise gives amunition to the anti-mormon groups as well as the adversary. He has a habit of getting people to blow things up out of all proportion. I would imagine that to the children who see what’s going on and that are old enough to understand what is being said it can be quite confusing, on the one hand these people say that the church is true and that they believe that God called these men to be His leaders and then on the other they are being told that these men have got things wrong – how confusing is that for the children.

  1. […] Nu när feminister i kyrkan som vill protestera vid generalkonferensen upplever att de får mothugg av kyrkan, finns upprörda röster som anser att kyrkan inte kan likställa feminister med antimormoner. Detta anser ivarjefall den kända mormonbloggaren Jana Riess som har bloggen Flunking Sainthood. Den 18 mars i år skriver hon en artikel med rubriken ”I´m a Mormon feminist, not a anti-mormon protestor. ” […]

  2. […] Nu när feminister i kyrkan som vill protestera vid generalkonferensen upplever att de får mothugg av kyrkan, finns upprörda röster som anser att kyrkan inte kan likställa feminister med antimormoner. Detta anser ivarjefall den kända mormonbloggaren Jana Riess som har bloggen Flunking Sainthood. Den 18 mars i år skriver hon en artikel med rubriken ”I´m a Mormon feminist, not a anti-mormon protestor. ” […]

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