Ensign Sept 14This month’s Ensign features an article by Elder M. Russell Ballard on “Men and Women and Priesthood Power,” which gives his perspective on the “essential role women have in strengthening and building up the kingdom of God on the earth.”

Some portions of it made me heartsick, partly because the article rehearses the same tired “separate spheres” arguments that became standard fare in Mormonism in the twentieth century, and partly because it came from Elder Ballard, who a couple of years ago mailed me a signed copy of one of his books, personalized and inscribed and entirely out of the blue. He did not have to do that. He said he sent it because he’d read about my testimony and thought I would enjoy it. I did, and was very touched by his kindness.

Through his talks I have come to love and respect the man, but I am saddened by this Ensign article, which apparently is based on a BYU talk Elder Ballard gave in August 2013. Some parts are very affirming, like when he points to the love that Heavenly Father has for all of his children, male and female. But I found other points less helpful.

Here are three “takeaways” for readers.

1)   Women have a role to play in ward council, but in a strictly advisory capacity. After instructing men about the need to “include sister leaders in full partnership in ward and stake councils” – a commendable step forward — Elder Ballard addresses women directly:

Now, sisters, while your input is significant and welcome in effective councils, you need to be careful not to assume a role that is not yours. The most successful ward and stake councils are those in which priesthood leaders trust their sister leaders and encourage them to contribute to the discussions and in which sister leaders fully respect and sustain the decisions of the council made under the direc­tion of priesthood leaders who hold keys.

Here’s what this sounds like to my ears: “Sisters, submit your opinion at times for consideration and then just submit, period, because whatever decision is at hand is not yours to make. Don’t overstep the bounds the priesthood has graciously allowed you.”

2)   Equality is not sameness. Neither gender is more important than the other, says the apostle; both are equally vital to the plan of God. (Amen to that.) However, both men and women have different roles. Women have “unique spiritual gifts” that are in play especially in their own families and in raising their children.

Men, apparently, have the gift for doing everything else.

3)   If you don’t agree that this is what equality looks like, you’re not thinking straight. It’s all too easy to be persuaded by worldly understandings of equality. Elder Ballard expresses his sadness, for example, that reporters who cover the Church would infer that women’s minuscule role in decision-making means they are “second-class citizens” in the Mormon community. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he assures us.

But while the article does a fine job of demonstrating the theological equality that men and women enjoy in eternity and in the eyes of God, I didn’t anywhere see evidence that we are doing more than paying lip service to women as equals in the concrete practices of today’s Church.

It’s clear from the picture Elder Ballard paints of ward councils that while many words of value might be applied to women there – assistant, helper, supporter, or deputy, for example – “equal” is not among them.

I’m saddened by these three points, but even more by the closing warning in which Elder Ballard counsels us specifically not to seek to improve women’s standing within the Church’s earthly organization, which he equates with God’s plan:

Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan. We do not have time for that. It is a pointless exercise to try to determine how to organize the Lord’s Church differently.

I don’t find such discussion pointless at all. It’s clear that many members of the Church feel passionate enough about this issue that if we “do not have the time” for conversations about women’s equality, then we need to make the time or we will lose beloved Saints.

 

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156 Comments

  1. Mette Harrison

    While I agree that we need more discussion about men and women and equality, and I also think that the church has a lot of clearly patriarchal habits, I would say that I have some reservations about American political feminism as a guide to making women’s lives better.

    I am very glad that I have an equal opportunity for education. I am less certain that other benefits of feminism are always for women. The patriarchy ends up re-absorbing so many supposed advances. For instance, are women in the present day less oppressed than a hundred years ago? Is sexism less rampant? Look at advertising. Look at the expectation of women dressing in a certain way, using makeup, and having to be a certain shape. I am unconvinced.

    The idea that you can be an oppressed woman or an oppressing man, one or the other, is part of the binary thinking that is “of this world.” I’d like to believe that the closer we can get to God’s mind, the less we would think this way. Again, I wish, rather than believe, that the Mormon church has done a good job of showing what this other way of thinking might be like, without any hint of sexism permeating through it.

    • I know that it is not everyone’s experience, but when my wife tells other women that she is a stay at home mom one of the most common responses she gets is, “That’s my dream job.”

      I think both men and women would be happier in life if they viewed their family as their top priority. Getting obsessed with social prestige, money, or power just leads to unhappiness. Sadly, many people who want to settle down feel pressured by modern culture to put off marriage and family in favor of careers. Luckily, Mormonism gives me and my wife an excuse to put family first and career development farther down in our list of priorities.

  2. “Some portions of it made me heartsick”
    Yes. Me too. Is this what we have to look forward at the Europe Area sister’s meeting? I’m not sure I can bear it.
    “I don’t find such discussion pointless at all. It’s clear that many members of the Church feel passionate enough about this issue that if we “do not have the time” for conversations about women’s equality, then we need to make the time or we will lose beloved Saints.”
    Yes again. And the sooner we make time the better. My kids are getting older every day just like the rest of us. This issue matters to them.

  3. Reminds me of: “Ain’t nobody got time for that”

    Elder Ballard might not have much time left, but new generations of leaders are hopefully on the way who WILL make time for this crucial endeavor. God help us if we refuse to improve the gender inequality in the Church because leaders continue to assume the status quo is perfect and an accurate reflection of God’s will.

    • Elder Ballard may not have much time left? Really?

      He’s a robust 85 and wouldn’t shock anyone if he lasted another decade or longer.

      Elder Oaks is the only apostle younger than him in order of succession (82), and his recent General Conference talk was received in feminist circles with about as much joy as Elder Ballard’s article in the Ensign.

      Who are these younger generations of leaders from which you expect a new direction?

      In order of succession, Elder Scott (also 85) wouldn’t fit the bill.

      Not Elder Hales at 82 either.

      With Elder Holland we make a dramatic leap to a youthful 73. Anyone wanna lay odds on him altering the course of his predecessors?

      Then we have Presidents Eyring (81) and Uchtdorf (73) in their place in succession. No indication that they harbor doctrinal differences from their predecessors.

      Which leads us to the next generation, Elder Bednar, who turned 62 in June.

      Those of you who pine for the day of a new generation of leaders to make dramatic changes are probably going to be disappointed for many years to come.

      Change WILL happen. What will happen and when it will happen are matters left to God, and those to whom He reveals His will, His servants the prophets.

      Change will happen not because some younger person in a position of leadership wishes it to happen, but because the Father chooses according to His divine timeline to do whatever suits His purposes to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

  4. A bit ago in The Friend there was a ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ section and one girl listed being A Mother. The LDS Pedestal demands everyone bow down to this choice as the ultimate sacrifice of awesome. If, however, an article had been written by a boy and he’d listed wanting to be A Father, everyone would have nodded and said ‘ok, what else though?’. My point is, is with regard to your takeaway 2, not only are men seen as having the gift of everything else, but also the gift that women have of being a parent. Women have the gift to be a parent. Men have the gift to be a parent aaaaaaand everything else. Separate but… separate.

    • I definitely got the message in church that what I did for a living was definitely secondary to being a good husband and father. Employment is simply a way to provide for your family. What the boy wants to do for his employment, as long as it’s honest and allows him to be a good husband and father, is ultimately irrelevant.

      The goal in the church, as I see it, is that both men and women will choose to place family life over other areas of their life. Being a father is the ultimate sacrifice of awesome as well as being a mother. You can do other things, but family roles should take precedence no matter what your gender.

        • Diane.

          Before you quip on people for their church service and the sacrifices made by both husbands and wives to further the kingdom of god I want you to consider the alternative by making yourself abreast of the facts of what the government has done to black familial relationships.

          http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/08/blacks-must-confront-reality.html

          • Very respectfully, what is your point?

            That although the church has policies that are are seen as harmful to some, that they aren’t as bad as some government policies have been to others?

            This sounds more like an admission followed by a subject change.

      • What we do for a living is absolutely secondary to being a good spouse and parent.

        Back in 2008 our Elders Quorum was visited by the Stake President for the purpose of reorganizing the presidency. He took advantage of his visit to offer instruction with regard to our priorities as they pertain to our families, employers, civic duties, and priesthood duties. One of his comments that has resonated with me to this day (and I rarely remember specifics over the long haul) specifically dealt with encouraging that our quorum members consider being “steady performers” at work rather than “All-Star performers,” and he went into various reasons why this should be so. As one can readily imagine, the “All-Star performer” at work may do so at the expense of his other vital duties. He encouraged us to do what was needful to provide for their families, but not to work excessively just to accumulate wealth or live lavishly.

        Just a few days later I stumbled upon the following from Elder Ezra Taft Benson which taught nearly the identical principles four decades earlier – something my stake president had never before seen, but clearly their respective inspiration was derived from the same Source (everything which follows is quoted from Elder Benson’s talk):

        We have many responsibilities, and one cannot expect the full blessings of a kind Providence if he neglects any major duty.

        A man has duties to his church, his home, his country, and his profession or job.

        Duty to Church—Each man, in communication with God, must determine his responsibility to the Church. This becomes a serious consideration in a day when many pulpits are being turned into pipelines of collectivist propaganda, preaching the social gospel and denying basic principles of salvation. The least any Christian can do is to study daily the word of the Lord and seek divine aid through daily prayer. We invite all men to examine prayerfully. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the Mormon Church—which I testify is the Church of Christ, restored to the earth and led today by a prophet of God.

        Duty to home—Fathers, you cannot delegate your duty as the head of the home. Mothers, train up your children in righteousness; do not attempt to save the world and thus let your own fireside fall apart. For many years now the Mormon Church has advised parents to set aside one night a week when the family meets together for an evening at home. At this time family goals and duties are discussed, spiritual guidance given, and recreation enjoyed. To this end the Church has published and distributes, free of charge, a home evening manual with helpful suggestions for each week’s activities.

        The duty of parents is to be of help to each other and to their children; then comes their duty to their neighbors, community, nation, and world in that order. The home is the rock foundation, the cornerstone of civilization. No nation will ever rise above its homes. A modern prophet declares that: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (President David O. McKay, The Improvement Era, June 1964, p. 445.)

        Duty to country—No one can delegate his duty to preserve his freedom, for the price of liberty is still eternal vigilance. There are now thousands of businessmen behind the Iron Curtain who, if they had their lives to live over, would balance their time more judiciously and give more devotion to their civic responsibilities. An ounce of energy in the preservation of freedom is worth a ton of effort to get it back once it is lost.

        Duty to job—Every man should provide the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter for his family. As Paul wrote to Timothy:

        “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim. 5:8.)

        Indolence invites the benevolent straightjacket of the character-destroying welfare state. But a man pays too high a price for worldly success if in his climb to prominence he sacrifices his spiritual, home, and civic responsibilities. How a person should apportion his time among his several duties requires good judgment and is a matter over which each should invite divine assistance.

        (Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1967, Second Day—Morning Meeting 60.)

      • I served in the Bishopric and on the High Council. On Sundays I went to the church at 6:30 AM and didn’t return home until 6:30 PM. When I got home, I had zero energy left and my only desire was to sleep. But I couldn’t, why you ask? Because I had to eat quickly and return back to the church by 7:30 for a fireside, or a Stake leadership training, or Tithing Settlement, or a Bishops Court. Then on Tuesday nights I would rush home from work and with just enough time to eat dinner and change, and rush off to Youth Night. After all the Youth left and cleaning and making sure the Church building was secure, I would usually get home by 9:30 PM. Wednesday nights were typically dedicated to Bishopric meetings which would start at 6:30 PM and often run as late 10:30 PM. Of course Thursday nights were always set aside for Stake Trainings and of course, the Stake always thought we needed to be trained. So inevitably I was back to the Stake Building by 7;00 PM on Wednesdays, usually getting home by 9:30 PM. Obviously I would look forward to Friday nights with my family, usually we would want to get away for the weekend and do something fun. But a lot of times we could only leave town until Friday night because with my calling I had to be back in town for Church on Sunday. Of course, I also had Saturday open for family time, but then again, there was always assignment to clean the building. Our ward had this assignment 4 months out of the year. Challenge was usually only the same members showed up to clean the building. I was over the ward PFR, so when no one showed up, I was down cleaning the building. This happened most Saturdays. Least I forget about Saturday Primary activities, I was over the Primary too and as such was required to preside at these meetings. So yes, another Saturday away from my family. Then of course you have Stake Baptisms, and the Bishopric rotates months on this. So this meant 4 months out of the year I was in charge of Stake Baptisms on Saturdays. So in the end, yes, your point is well taken. The church is all about the family. We should put our worldliness on the shelf and do as the church says. But wait, the church took me away from my family way more than the world did, it wasn’t even close. So please don’t preach to me about how the church wants you to spend more time with your family. It wasn’t until I finally put the church on the shelf that I started to get my life back, my time with my children back, and my authenticity back. I’m sorry. I don’t buy this rhetoric that it is all about putting your family first. This is simply a wolf in sheeps clothing.

  5. Debbie Snowcroft

    Mr. Ballard said: “Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan.”

    I think this is the problem, Mormon leaders think their plan is God’s plan; they think they speak for God.

    They thought they were speaking for God when they instituted and enforced the ban against Blacks holding the priesthood.

    They thought they were speaking for God when they instituted polygamy.

    They thought they were speaking for God when they instituted rules against women praying in church (not recinded until, I believe, the 70s).

    They thought they were speaking for God when they said we shouldn’t use birth control.

    When the church leadership learns humility, and realizes that they *don’t* speak for God, then the LDS Church can progress. Until then, we’ll just have to rely upon public protest and pressure — that’s the only thing that seems to persuade these brethren to make changes.

    • The whole point of the LDS Church is that it is a restoration of God’s church in olden times, a church where there is a prophet who communicates God’s will to the people. The LDS Church will cease to exist if its leaders do not speak for God.

      They may qualify it. They can say that leaders can make mistakes or that God reveals things according to people’s ability to accept the revelation. But if they stop speaking for God than it is no longer a religion.

      • Debbie Snowcroft

        Dan wrote: “The LDS Church will cease to exist if its leaders do not speak for God.”

        God doesn’t need men to speak for him; God speaks to us directly, through the Spirit. Any church that would cease to exist if its leaders didn’t pretend to speak for God is not God’s church — it’s an imposter.

        • So, Debbie, you’re not a Mormon. That’s fine. But for those of us who DO believe in the restored church of Jesus Christ, the fact that God continues to reveal His will through His anointed prophets and apostles actually carries the same weight as the teachings of His apostles of old. In fact, one might even argue that they carry more weight because they are real-time direction from the Lord.

          • Tom, It is obvious that we disagree. That’s okay. Am I an apostate? Absolutely! Am I fine with that? Absolutely! Am I Authentic to myself? Absolutely! Am I happy and at peace? Absolutely! Do I have a direct relationship with Christ? Absolutely! Do I need a religion to be a part of a tribe in order to have this relationship? Absolutely not. Did I spend years of research reading the apologetics work? Absolutely! Did all of this cause cognitive dissonance? Absolutely! Did I find that I could no longer look past the evidence and still be true to myself? Absolutely! Did I seek or read anti-mormon literature? Absolutely not! Am I in Satans grasp? Absolutely not! Are there more members leaving the church today than ever in the history of the church? Yes! Why is this the case, because the Internet has made it such that the true history of the church is being revealed. I wish you the best on your journey of life. If your religion gets you through all of this, more power to you. As for me, I don’t need it anymore. I am at peace with where I am. I will conclude with this. The good things about the church are not unique (every religion has them), but the unique things about the church are not good (e.g. polygamy). BTW, polygamy is now legal in Utah and technically the church still practices polygamy. Brigham Young clearly stated that a man will not receive the greatest blessings of heaven if he doesn’t practice polygamy. Quite the conundrum now for the church. Will be interesting to see this one play out. Get your popcorn.

      • Dan,

        When was the last real revelation offered to the members of the LDS church by it’s Prophet. Be careful here, Ensign articles, Conference Talks, Proclamations, none of these constitute a revelation. So again, if the Prophet speaks for God, when was the last time in written canonized record that the prophet received a revelation from God?

        • I think you are confusing the existence of daily revelation in the lives of these men to formal declarative doctrines intended for the entire church and the world. Let me know when we’ve mastered what we’ve already been given.

          • Tom, I know what a revelation is. And you avoided answering my question. So let’s be straight, when was the last revelation (formal declarative doctrine) given to the members of the church?

          • Probably the last formal revelation was Official Declaration 2.

            Nonetheless, you err in demanding a definition of revelation which requires addition to the canon. Probably more than 99% of all revelations aren’t in the canon at all.

            We add to the canon what the Lord guides His anointed prophets and apostles to add to the canon. He continues to inspire them in myriad ways beyond dictating holy writ, and we are actually under covenant to heed their teachings even when they aren’t enshrined in your Quad.

      • Amy,

        Perhaps any situation where this is the best response to is a situation that deserves a bit more scrutiny?

        Isn’t that argument just basically the grown up version of a parent telling a kid “because I said so?”.

        While a parent might get away with that in the church’s case we’re all adults.

          • Thank you for calling me special, but I don’t think I am. Oh wait, that was a backhanded jab you just offered me. And you dodged the discussion. As I stated, I am not special. But I will say this, it takes a lot of courage to say I don’t know, when you are supposed to know. The church reports that there are roughly 15 Million members. Of those 15 million, how many of them are actually active? It is somewhere between 4 Million to 5 Million. So it seems I am in the majority on this one. Good luck to you too. Since you have Mormonism all figured out, I’m sure you would enjoy the following reading material www.cesletter.com, www.mormonthink.com or even perhaps Bushmans, “Rough Stone Rolling”, you can pick up a copy of this book at Deseret Book. Happy reading!

          • Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” was a great book. I served to reinforce my testimony, not weaken it, which seems to be your mission with people. Sad.

      • Interesting Amy, Please share with me the last time Elder Ballard spoke with God. This would be done by way of revelation. Revelations are canonized. When was the last Revelation canonized? Hint… check the last chapter of D&C. So there you have it. No Elder Ballard does not speak on behalf of God. If he did, he has not revealed it in any proper way in order for it to be canonized. Sorry Amy, your comment just aint so.

        • Jim, I would surmise that Elder Ballard speaks with God daily, and that he receives daily guidance from the Father to fulfill his responsibilities. Not all revelation is given to be received by all. In fact, most revelation is probably quite individual and personal.

          • Tom, So let’s assume that what you surmise is the case, Elder Ballard speaks with him daily. But what if you wanted to know this, what would be the easiest way to find out? In my opinion the easiest way to find out would be to ask Ballard, right? What do you think Elder Ballard would say to this? I’m not exactly sure what Ballard would say, however, I have asked this question one of the current GA’s, and you know what his response was? “Those experiences are way too sacred” and that I shouldn’t be asking such questions. So here is the reality of things. Joseph Smith said he talked with God and he shared his experiences daily, in fact he wrote them down for all the world to read. As you have clearly stated, the GA’s are here to speak on behalf of God for God’s church. And yet, when someone asks the GA what God says, he tells that person it is too sacred. You may not see a problem with this, but I do. Also, isn’t it quite convenient to say, well we have enough revelation, and that the members don’t know what to do with the information they currently have, so why would God give more? Again, this puts it all back on the member, it is their fault, which is why God doesn’t reveal anything new. This could be the case, or it could be that the the Information age and the Internet make it very hard for the GA’s to get away with saying something that can be contradicted at a later date. So they conveniently give the Milk before Meat speech.

          • It takes a special kind of critic to question whether or not an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ communes daily with God. All the best to you.

    • That or the threat that their tax exempt status could be revoked for civil rights violations. Doubt that will happen. The state really needs to be overwhelmed with pressure before they will interfere with religious matters.

    • If you don’t believe that the prophets and apostles speak for God, you probably do not belong in the Mormon church to begin with. Are you even a member to begin with, or just a finger-pointer from the sidelines?

      • I am a member. Served in a Bishopric and on the High Council and I know with every fiber of my being that the LDS Prophets and Apostles do NOT speak with God. If they did, we would have actual revelations coming from them. When was the last real revelation offered? Do a little digging and you will find the answer. I find it very ironic, that will the wars and unrest going on in the world today, the church has no voice on these topics. But if some of the youth decide to get more than 2 earrings, they are all over that one. Seems to me that we have a bunch of men that are out of tune and definitely not talking to God.

        • Jim, you seem to define by your words what it means to be a member of the church on paper, but I’m not sure what else. To declare “I know with every fiber of my being that the LDS Prophets and Apostles do NOT speak with God” is nothing short of an apostate testimony. I wish you well.

    • Yes indeed. Another slap in the face. Once again women are told that they are certainly welcome in the Church, but only on a limited basis. It seems as though he is saying, “Get back in your place and don’t you dare venture out again if you know what is good for you!”

  6. Personally, I am more saddened by the reactions to Elder Ballard’s remarks. What is an apostle to us if only to confirm our personal views? Where is the introspection?

    • JT makes a fair point. What’s the point of claiming membership in a church which proclaims restored priesthood keys and modern apostles if we brush them off as outmoded men whose teachings are to be absorbed buffet style depending upon how much they conform to our personal god that we see in our bathroom mirror?

  7. Elder Ballard is right. If you believe that the Church is led by God through prophets and apostles than there is no point in trying to change it according to your own views.

    If the Church is run by revelation, it is pointless to try to change it. If it is not run by revelation, it is pointless to be a member.

    I personally believe that it is run by revelation, others disagree and that’s their choice. But I don’t how someone can believe that God leads the church through apostles and prophets and then turn around and say that they know how to run it better.

    • It’s not at all that black and white for many of us, Dan. You’re suggesting that either Church leaders are infallible or they aren’t worth listening to. There’s a vast middle ground where they might be inspired but still say and do wrong things.

      • I agree with you, Ziff, that it’s not so simple. I believe the church is led by revelation, but I also believe we have fallible humans at the helm. And in his talk at the priesthood session at last General Conference, Elder Oaks said that there are many decisions — including significant ones such as the age for going on a mission — that have been delegated to the Brethren to make, decisions that can be made without specific instruction from God.

        So to argue that everything our church leaders decide is God’s will goes beyond even what they themselves claim.

        • I love the fallible discussion. So Brigham Young clearly taught Blood Atonement and the Adam God theology. This is indisputable, you can find it in his discourses. The church has since renounced this doctrine. Brigham and Bruce R. Mckonkie also taught that Black’s were cursed and would never receive the priesthood. Actually, their teachings were much worse than this, but I will let you look up those zingers on your own time.

          So you talk about man being fallible and as such I would assume you are including Prophets and Apostles. So here is the question I would like to ask, “If Brigham Young, Bruce R. McKonkie, Joseph F. Smith, and many others who taught false doctrines that were later changed or renounced by the church didn’t know when they were speaking as a man or as a Prophet of God, how am I supposed to figure that one out?”

          Is God just and fair? I would assume you answered yes. Does God try to trick his children. I would assume you say no. But based on the Fallible argument, it seems that God is also trying to trick us. His prophets tell us to follow them, because they speak directly to God. But we are also supposed to figure when the Prophet is speaking as a man and when he is speaking as a Prophet. Brigham was obviously wrong in his Adam God theory, but how is one to know this? God would not allow this to happen, God is just and as such he would not allow trickery to be a part of his plan. Don’t you find it ironic that for every doctrine that has been taught that the church no longer supports, they simply state that this was an Apostle speaking as a man. Quite convenient now isn’t it?!

      • I’m suggesting no such thing. Church leaders make mistakes and are fallible, but it is still pointless for us to try to change they way the Church is run. That is not our calling and God has chosen those fallible people to do it. If God wants his church run differently, he will either reveal something to those fallible church leaders or change the leader. The Church is not run by people agitating at the grass roots level.

    • When was the last real canonized revelation offered by a Prophet of the church? I’m not asking for a guideline. A guideline is not a revelation. I am asking for a true revelation. When was it?

  8. I have a testimony of the savior and his apostles including elder ballard. I believe the church of jesus christ of latter day saints is the lords church restored on the earth today. I believe if we heed the council of the lords servants we will be blessed for our faithfulness even if we dont understand the council given. At bare minimum we will be able to maintain the spirit of the lord rather than lose the spirit in our contention. This testimony i give in the name of jesus christ.

    • Debbie Snowcroft

      I have a testimony of the Savior.

      Adding anything after that statement is just a pretext for one’s true loyalty (which is often to a church, or a man, etc.).

    • Heeding counsel whether you understand it or not is what the members of cults do….not saying you’re a member of a cult, just saying that’s what cult members do. God gave you a mind. You better use it; because in the end only you will be held accountable for your actions.

      • Heeding council is an everyday practice not a ritual only practised by cultists.

        As we all know only a fool will learn from their own mistakes at the exclusion of taking the advise of others.

        I trust in the savior jesus christ and the words of his called prophets. Blessings have come to me when i heed their advise.

      • diane – Heeding counsel whether one understands it or not is an act of faith, based on continuous successful experience heeding other counsel which blesses our lives.

        Elder Packer wisely 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

    • First sentence of your testimony was about the Savior. The rest of it was about your loyalty to the LDS church and you went on and on and on and on on this one. Seems to me the Christ said come follow me. I can’t find anywhere where he said come follow the Mormon religion. Oh wait, maybe liar Joe said something along those lines. Perhaps it was right after he stated that he didn’t practice polygamy Did Liar Joe lie about this one too?. Or that he translated the Book of Abraham that was written by the hand of Father Abraham on the papyrus that were brought from the catacombs of Egypt. But wait, did liar Joe l tell yet another lie? Because it has been proven that the papyrus say nothing about Father Abraham, the papyrus are simply funerary texts. This is proven and cannot be disputed. So what does the church tell us? They tell us it wasn’t a literal translation, it was a spiritual translation. The Papryus was the vehicle to inspire Joseph to write the Book of Abraham. But wait aren’t there copies of the Pearl of Great Price/Book of Abraham where it read that this came literally from the hand of Father Abraham? Well yes there are……teee heee, it’s kind of why I brought it up.

      • Jim – Why do you even bother claiming to be a member of the church when you refer to the prophet of the Restoration as “liar Joe” and otherwise have a testimony that the living oracles do not communicate with God? Serious, dude, that’s whack.

        • Joseph Smith did lie. I am simply stating a fact.

          It is clear that on May 26, 1844 Joseph lied about practicing polygamy, despite claims to the contrary:

          “I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can. This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man does not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this…I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are – whether it will be a curse or blessing to me. I am quite tired of the fools asking me…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.”

          (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 410-411)

          Joseph Smith also practiced Polyandry and lied about it. He also married girls that were 16 and younger and lied about it. Fanny Alger was his first, and he lied about that too until Emma and Oliver Cowdery approached him and the brethren actually called court to discuss Joseph’s fate. Why else did Oliver call it the, “dirty, nasty, filthy affair”?

          Associate President Oliver Cowdery said that he learned of this incident from Joseph Smith and that Joseph had confided to him that “he had confessed to Emma,” seeking her forgiveness.14 Fanny Alger and her family left Kirtland, in September 1836 and moved to Dublin, Indiana, where she married non-Mormon Solomon Custer shortly after on 16 November 1836. Joseph Smith never saw Fanny Alger again.15 Cowdery was probably the first to openly talk about the Alger affair. In November 1837, he “insinuate[d] that Joseph Smith Jr. was guilty of adultery” in a conversation with George W. Harris and again with Apostle David W. Patten.16 In a letter to his brother Warren Cowdery on 21 January 1838, Oliver was more blunt. He referred to Smith’s deed as “a dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Algers.”

  9. This is my summation of the talk:

    “Good leaders will listen to women but women please be very aware that as a woman in the church you have and will never have decision rights.”

    • I have to wonder what church you are talking about? Certainly not the LDS Church to which I belong. Perhaps you have never participated in a Ward Council or Presidency? I have lived in wards and stakes across the US and some other countries, and in ALL of those experiences, women have played a very active role and provided meaningful leadership in the Ward. True, they are not the Bishop, but to me, this is Elder Ballard’s point. All members serve and teach and lead and contribute in some capacity, but there is only one Bishop or President who holds the key of the Priesthood being exercised by men AND women in any of the many units of the Church. That we as members don’t comprehend this is mind-boggling to me. We are lost in the weeds and don’t see the strength of the Church organization because too many are caught up in applying the ways of the world”

      • It’s “mind-boggling” to you that some think that women don’t have an active enough role in the Church? True, they sit in those ward council discussions and even get to speak (yay!). But as Elder Ballard pointed out, women make no decisions at those councils–in fact, as he goes to great lengths to point out, they *can’t* make decisions because they don’t hold the priesthood (which is the thing that authorizes making those decisions).

        Suppose you worked in an office in which 50% of the people were from Texas, and 50% weren’t. If there was a rule in place that said that while everyone’s contributions were “valued,” you had to be from Texas to make any decisions involving company money or any policy decision affecting the employees or company, and that while non-Texans could make some internal decisions that affected smaller groups of people, those decisions had to be approved or ratified by a Texan.

        If you weren’t Texan, you don’t think you’d feel unequal and undervalued in that company? I can’t imagine that, if you’re being honest, you could say anything other than “yes” to that question. And if the company then tried making you feel good by putting up posters and giving speeches saying how awesome and valued non-Texans are, I still don’t think that would change your answer.

        • The problem with your analogy is that all but one of the Texans doesn’t make the final decision either, and that the divine influence of the non-Texans upon the leader carries the same weight as the divine influence of the Texans on the council.

      • And they all go whistling through the neighborhoods with Ned Flanders and yell howdily doodily neighbor how are you? What planet are you from? Let’s stop talking theory and get into the world of reality here.

  10. To Dan the Mormon, Ron, and all the rest:

    I hear what you’re saying about trusting that when an apostle speaks, he is speaking for the Lord.

    This is what I’m stuck on: if you were asked in 1976 whether blacks should be allowed to hold the priesthood or receive temple ordinances, I’m guessing you would have said “no.” And if you were then asked why they couldn’t, you would have said: “Because it’s the Lord’s will that they can’t.” And if you were then asked how you knew that this was the Lord’s will, you would have said the *exact* same thing you’re saying now: “Because apostles and prophets have said so, and they speak for the Lord.” And, if you so chose, you could have then quoted extensively from apostles giving all kinds of reasons why this was so.

    Except we now know that none of that was true. It wasn’t the Lord’s will for blacks to be excluded from priesthood or temple ordinances, and we know this because apostles and prophets have since said that it wasn’t the Lord’s will. And when asked about past statements from apostles saying otherwise, the current ones have said that the past ones were simply wrong.

    So help me here: if apostles and prophets were wrong then about that issue, why isn’t it possible that they are wrong now about this one?

    I’m not trying to fight–I’m trying to understand.

    • From 1976-1978 (and before) we were looking forward to the promised day with those of Black African linage would be allowed to hold the priesthood. I joined the church while in college in southern California in 1966. Our understanding was that President McKay had said it would Not be in his life time, but it would come. Other members had different understandings. (https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Dialogue_V35N01_157.pdf ) This was a topic of repeated study and discussion by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=7885 ). When the announcement came I was Not surprised, but relieved and joyful.

    • Anon,

      There are a handful of things I think about that have helped me understand my relationship with christ and his church. I number them not in the spirit of contention but because these are the things that press on my mind for simplicitys sake. Please take no offense as none is intended to be given.

      1) the lord said to john the baptist to suffer it be so to fulfill all righteousness that he submit to john and be baptised even when john admitted that he was unworthy to baptise the savior.

      1a) the lord sustains those he has called even in their weakness.

      2) the church of jesus christ of latter day saints is described as a living church.

      2a) because the church is a living church it will change i.e.old testament v. New testament practices and so forth. because I am commanded to forgive or I hold the greater sin I have to be flexible enough to change when called upon.

      3)the saviors advise when he told the rich man how to get to heaven.

      3a) the savior in his infinite wisdom gave the worst financial advise on the face of the planet ever given when he told the rich man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. A sound financial planner would have said to put the wealth into a foundation that is tax exempt and use the interest to serve the poor therefore the principle could remain intact forever serving the poor. Certainly the lord knew about wealth management long before the earth was created but what the rich man needed to learn was obedience when given very hard to hear or what could even be called bad advise. Obedience is the first law of heaven. Obedience is the first corner piece to the puzzle of life that you find when all the pieces are spread out on the table. Start at the corner and the puzzle is much easier to build.

      I dont use these examples maliciously towards you but as an example of my frame of mind. Because of these examples of which there are many more I have found in my life I have full confidence thay the lord is running the church of jesus christ through his apostles and it is my privilege to heed their council as if it came out of the lords mouth himself. The path I have chosen is difficult but I recieve blessings for my faithfulness. God bless you in your search for faith because there are challenges that come as well as rich blessings for your faithfulness.

      • Ron:

        Thanks for the examples. But none of them address my point.

        In a nutshell, you’re saying that we can know that when the apostles speak about these gender roles, we can know that they are speaking for God…well, because they are apostles.

        But there were apostles pre-1978 who were saying, from the pulpit, in their roles as apostles, things like that blacks were unworthy of the priesthood because of lack of valiance in the premortal life.

        As it turns it out, they were wrong. Not wrong in the sense of “this is a living church, and while they were right before, the Lord has now revealed more light and thus we’re going in a new direction.” No–they were wrong in every sense of the word. Contrary to what they were saying, blacks *weren’t* less worthy in the premortal life. As it turns out, there was no theological reason why they couldn’t have received the priesthood all along.

        So why can’t the same be true with the women’s issues? I.e., why can’t it be the case that they’re just wrong on this one too? IOW, what makes this issue different from that one in terms of whether it’s possible that they’re just wrong?

        • Its not a question of “Wrong or right” our obedience is a statement of our faith.

          Our responsibility is to be function in common consent by sustaining church leaders including all lay clergy, i even sustain you in your calling, so as to maintain the spirit of the lord.

          When obedience is not maintained the lord wont show us the next piece of the gospel puzzle. Hence the Lord’s request to sell all the rich man had started with obedience.

          • But wouldn’t parents that manipulate their children by falling back on “If you love me you’ll obey me” be considered as less able parents than parents that explain why to their children?

          • Ron, you need to read these thoughts on the very matter you are proposing:

            President Joseph F. Smith said, “We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never.” (Journal of Discources (JD) 16:248)

            Apostle Charles W. Penrose, who would later serve as counselor to President Smith, declared: “President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord’, comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” (Millennial Star 54:191)

            “And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God… would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.” (Millennial Star, vol.14 #38, pp. 593-95)

            Brigham Young said:

            “What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” (JD 9:150)

            “How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.” (JD 4:368)

            “I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied…Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.” (JD 3:45)

            “…Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold sceptres of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course. Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer.” (JD 1:312)

            “President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel [see, for example, verses 9-10: 'If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing...the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.']…said the Lord had declared by the Prophet [Ezekiel], that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church — that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls — applied it to the present state [1842] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall — that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pp. 237-38)

            George Q. Cannon, Counselor to three Church Presidents, expressed it thus: “Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone;” (Millennial Star 53:658-59, quoted in Gospel Truth, 1:319)

        • Anon – Elder Dallin H. Oaks addressed your contention in an interview back in 1988:

          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)

          Anon, I think the days of speculation over the reasons for commandments has largely ended, at least as far as the apostles are concerned. (Heaven knows that Mormons and non-Mormons alike LOVE to speculate about things.)

          What you and others are hearing from today’s living prophets and apostles tend not to be teachings of a speculative nature. And when our leaders speak on contemporary issues, they tend to do so with a united voice consistent with the doctrine that the church teaches.

          • Obedience is a lot like adam burning sacrifices on the alter…it wsd inly after the sacrifice was it explained to him.

            If you dont have an answer to your why question you might just have to wait for the explanation. As for me I have my answer and I pray you receive your answer.

      • How many Apostles and Prophets are we supposed to have on the earth at 1 time? I’m not talking 70’s, and area authorities. I’m talking the top guys. How many are we supposed to have?

    • Anon – You are in error with your priesthood analogy.

      First of all, if you had asked a knowledgeable Latter-day Saint prior to 1978 regarding blacks and the priesthood, you would have been told that the day would come when all worthy men will receive the priesthood, and that we look forward to that day as a church.

      Secondly, the current leaders of the church have made no declaration whatsoever that the ban itself was wrong as you have asserted. They have properly renounced some of the speculative reasons which had been given for the ban which have no known doctrinal basis or evidence, but that is an entirely different thing from saying that the ban was wrongly put into place. As President Hinckley clearly stated, we simply don’t know why it happened, only that it did. It is entirely possible that there was a reason for it, known to the Lord and to Brigham but lost to history, which would readily explain. For believers, we take it on faith that the Lord is in control, and we should worry about the beams in our own eyes before worrying about the motes of past prophets and apostles (not to mention living ones).

      • Latter-Day Saints were taught for decades that the day would come when all worthy men would receive the priesthood, but that that day would be in the next life, not this one. It was not until the 60’s and 70’s that the leadership began to talk about the possibility of it happening before the millennium. In the 40’s and 50’s (and earlier) whenever the leadership was questioned about the ban, they responded that it was doctrine from God and doctrine did not change.

        You are right, however, that the current leaders have not explicitly said that the ban was wrong. But the fact that they are no longer saying that it came from revelation or from God speaks volumes. They have indeed disavowed all of the speculative reasons given for the ban, including many which were given by prophets in Official Declarations (like the one in 1949). False doctrine (and they literally called it “doctrine”) in an Official Declaration! Crazy, but true.

        I think the point Anon is making is that since we now know that in the past prophets have taught false doctrine about why one group was denied the priesthood, it’s entirely possible that they’re doing the same thing with regard to women. Because, after all, every knowledgeable Latter-Day Saint knows that in the temple women are promised that one day they will hold the priesthood (by becoming priestesses). Maybe in the future, just like with blacks and the priesthood, the timing of that will be moved up a bit.

        I’m not saying it will definitely happen, not even that it’s likely. But history has now shown us that it’s a possibility. So I’m keeping my mind open.

        • Fred – You claim that it “was not until the 60′s and 70′s that the leadership began to talk about the possibility of it happening before the millennium,” yet Wilford Woodruff in speaking of that future date did not particularly place a qualifier on it. Unless, of course, you are speaking of the 1860’s and 1870’s!

          There is no question that the prophets and apostles believed, and likely STILL believe, that the ban itself was of God and not for them to change until God saw fit to do so.

          You say that “the fact that they are no longer saying that it came from revelation or from God speaks volumes.” One might excercise caution reading something into what they’re not saying. There’s a difference between acknowledging the lack of a concrete revelatory document and proclaiming that something was never revealed or commanded by God in the first place. If anything, one would ordinarily presume that the living prophets and apostles would defer to the apostolic privilege of Brigham Young and give him the benefit of the doubt that the ban itself was of God according to purposes not made clear to the rest of us. It is fair to question the wisdom of the speculative items brought forth in the 1949 statement, but the ban itself need not fall under the same criticism.

          Furthermore, we are taught that the living prophet will not lead us astray (i.e. turn us from the path of salvation), not that he is incapable of poor speculation. That’s why it’s best to stick to what the Lord actually commands and to avoid putting reasons to the command as counseled by Elder Oaks. We still learn line upon line, precept upon precept. Even the general authorities of the church.

          You wrote: “False doctrine (and they literally called it “doctrine”) in an Official Declaration! Crazy, but true.”

          Actually, you may want to re-read the 1949 statement: http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood/Statements

          The two references to doctrine deal with commandments themselves (i.e. it is doctrine that we do what the Lord commands), and that “the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality.”

          Whether a person wishes to object to the First Presidency considering the ban to be a command absent a formally declared, specific revelation, it is fair to grant the First Presidency the leeway to accept what was passed down from the days of Brigham Young as commandment, because such is the most logical conclusion to be taken from the fact that the ban was ever instituted in the first place. Unlike some of the church’s critics, these men had every reason to trust and revere Brigham Young, and if a policy such as this was instituted under his leadership, they certainly had cause to believe that it was commanded from on high. Again, the principle of following the Lord’s commandments is the doctrine put forth here, not a doctrine declaring the existence and scope of a ban on priesthood ordination itself.

          As for the ramifications of our behavior in the pre-existence on our circumstances here on earth, Latter-day Saints believe that there were various noble and great ones who distinguished themselves in the war in heaven. We know that the Lord ordained Jeremiah a prophet even before he was born. The trap we need to avoid is speculating that one person’s seeming fortunate life and another person’s seeming unfortunate life are indicative that the former was valiant and the latter not so much. Speculating that a given person’s ethnicity is a blessing or curse, and that it is the direct result of pre-existence valiance, is exercizing a measure of speculation that is probably beyond all of our pay grades. The 1949 statement reminds “the details of this principle have not been made known.”

          So Fred, when you say, “I think the point Anon is making is that since we now know that in the past prophets have taught false doctrine about why one group was denied the priesthood, it’s entirely possible that they’re doing the same thing with regard to women,” you are arguing an inaccurate point that false doctrine itself has been taught on this matter. It is fair to raise questions about speculative reasoning which may be given to a given doctrine or command, but that’s an entirely separate matter.

      • Tom W – You are absolutely wrong in your statements that the Apostles were in agreement of Blacks getting the priesthood around 1978. In fact, Bruce R Mckonkie clearly stated that the Blacks would never receive the blessing of the Priesthood until the 2nd coming. Here is an excerpt of what he said:

        One of the most controversial topics that McConkie defended in his writings was the church’s policy of denying the priesthood to men of African descent until 1978. This policy was known informally as the “Negro doctrine.” His basis for this defense was that, in his view, those of black African descent had been less valiant in the pre-mortal life that the LDS believe was a precursor to life on earth. In 1958, McConkie wrote:

        “In the pre-existent eternity various degrees of valiance and devotion to the truth were exhibited by different groups of our Father’s spirit offspring. One-third of the spirit hosts of heaven came out in open rebellion and were cast out without bodies, becoming the devil and his angels. The other two-thirds stood affirmatively for Christ: there were no neutrals. To stand neutral in the midst of war is a philosophical impossibility.

        “Of the two-thirds who followed Christ, however, some were more valiant than others. Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes.

        “Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty.

        “The present status of the negro rests purely and simply on the foundation of pre-existence. Along with all races and peoples he is receiving here what he merits as a result of the long pre-mortal probation in the presence of the Lord. The principle is the same as will apply when all men are judged according to their mortal works and are awarded varying statuses in the life hereafter.”[5]

        McConkie extended this analysis to conclude that God had established a caste system that proscribed intermarriage of other races with the “negro race,” which McConkie believed to be descended from Cain, the murderer of Abel: “[i]n a broad general sense, caste systems have their root and origin in the gospel itself, and when they operate according to the divine decree, the resultant restrictions and segregation are right and proper and have the approval of the Lord. To illustrate: Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.

        “There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, ‘You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?’ All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

        “It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.”[5]

        • I am quite aware of Elder McConkie’s speculation on the matter. Others speculated with a shorter timeframe. In all cases, however, it was speculation – something Elder Oaks has talked about with candor and wisdom, which we should learn from and strive to avoid in the future.

          • It may have been speculation, but it was taught to the members of the church as doctrine. In a pair of official statements from the First Presidency as well as talks in general conference and letters to mission presidents, etc. This false doctrine coming from our church leaders did a lot of damage, so I agree that Elder Oaks is promoting a much wiser course in encouraging all of us to avoid speculation. That is why I believe we haven’t heard church leaders saying women will never have the priesthood in this life. Because we just don’t know what the future holds.

          • It was taught as a command, which the church hasn’t dismissed. The speculatory efforts to explain the command were regrettable, and even arguably hurtful, but there remains a difference. The ban can well be deemed a command even absent documentation to that effect. I provided more detail in another post which hasn’t shown up. I’ve saved the text and may share later if the site doesn’t fix itself.

  11. Dan the Mormon, it is close to impossible in the UK where I live and many parts of the USA for a family to live in a home with room for children without both parents working and well paid to pay the mortgage or rent. The only other option is to be poor enough to be on welfare and have rent for a home with enough bedrooms for the kids paid for by the state. Things have changed utterly since the blanket advice for women to stay at home raising children full time was a realistic option for most people in the developed world thanks to idiot corrupt bankers and housing shortages resulting from poor political decisions and inflated house prices. It’s tragic and my wife would much rather be a full time homemaker, but this and countless other more positive developments for women’s rights and social status (often opposed along the way by conservative LDS voices and leaders until they became obvious reasonable reality) make this issue the biggest threat to hastening any of our work. I simply cannot let any of my female colleagues and also male ones near these kinds of talks and the obviously patronising attitude to women in so much of what they will see at our meetings despite all the awesome and personally empowered member women there who are enduring it while having their patience tested to the limit. Investigators should not have to even encounter the first impression that the Living Church of Christ in the LATTER days is stuck in some kind of frozen time warp and is a cross between the Amish and a 1950s washing machine advert. It is such a frustrating betrayal of our fantastically feminist and forward thinking doctrines.
    I really hope we don’t have to wait for the old and tired generation of GAs to die off as we love them dearly, but it’s looking like either that or the increasing likelihood of a grassroots revolution where local members and leaders just carry on progressing and they have to catch up. The center of gravity of the membership is shifting much faster than they are and we can now use the internet to rapidly share good ideas and put them into practice building on all the openness to progress we have been taught and internalised at church at least as doctrinal concepts if not so much in culture. It is simply inconceivable that men and women functioning as respectful equals in the workplace and public realm can walk through the chapel doors and suddenly leave all that behind for much longer. I personally don’t believe female ordination is necessary but a whole lot else can be reformed without changing any doctrines.
    Exciting changes are afoot and already happening, so this sort of thing is heartbreaking, but it can’t break the movement of the LDS people into the 21st century. We need to hang in there because radical steps forward have already occurred in the recent shifts towards honesty about previous terrible mistakes by GAs and ‘I’m a Morman’ media campaigns that do justice to how modern Mormons really are. Pandora’s box has been opened and the lid can’t go on again however much the Old Guard think it can.

    • The societal complaints you have are valid but they speak to the wickedness of the people and the wicked leaders they elect. The deciples of christ and all the non-believers are suffering and you need no convincing of that. The brotheren are not behind the times. They are offering the solution. Too bad our elected leaders would prefer to follow the council of “evil bankers” and suffer us to be in bondage to overpriced houses and rents among a trove of other things not mentioned but thay doesnt mean the bretherens’ advise is wrong.

      I would like to hear people start to put the blame for societal ills right where it belongs: Satan, instead of the prophets of god and their “outdated message.”

        • To avoid the vain things of the world. Unfortunately we are trapped in a political economy. The jews too looked for a political messiah. We will find that god is a sacrificial messiah. It is our privilege to be a living sacrifice. I have faith in the lord because he has lightened my burdens especially the burden of sin which is greater than any financial burden.

        • Actually, Troy, the church does offer helpful information for people to become as independent as possible, and there is recognition that a two-income household may be necessary to make ends meet. Nobody is criticized for doing what is necessary to keep a roof over the head, clothing on the back, and food in the pantry.

          He ya go: http://www.providentliving.org/?lang=eng

    • Peter, why do women OR men have to give up work to fulfill the roles we were assigned? There is no doctrinal stance on that it was just specific Dan’s situation which he was describing. Why does either sex have to be stronger or weaker then the other in order to fulfill our roles. Simply put, there is a reason for this and if I were to venture to guess I would say it has to do with children and adults (souls entering this world and souls leaving it) we can all help serve BOTH but we each have a clue as to our assigned focus and that is our gender…

    • Peter, you write: “I really hope we don’t have to wait for the old and tired generation of GAs to die off as we love them dearly, but it’s looking like either that or the increasing likelihood of a grassroots revolution where local members and leaders just carry on progressing and they have to catch up.”

      This is how you speak of the Lord’s prophets and apostles who you love dearly?

      “The center of gravity of the membership is shifting much faster than they are…”

      I am reminded of a quote I saw in a local church building several years ago which went something like this, “If you find yourself further from the Savior today than you were yesterday, who moved?”

      The Lord directs His anointed servants to teach the people of the world what He wants them to know in any given era of time, with the intent that His children will heed those words and shift their center of gravity toward the Lord, not the other way around.

      Heaven knows there are traditions within the church which seem to belong to a bubble in Utah, but the overall doctrines and teachings of the church are meant for all of us and are not subject to rationalized rejection. We ARE an international church, with local leaders perpetually being groomed from all corners of the globe. The church is responsive and adaptive to the needs of people on every continent, but consistent with the fundamentals of the gospel.

  12. What Do We Really Understand?

    I taught school for 39 years. It was a job I loved, and provided some unforeseen blessings. During summer lay-off my wife and I often switched many roles with her earning income (13 summers as a ranger-naturalist in Yosemite NP) and me being a full-time father, who cared for children, organizing, cooked, cleaned and ran-errands. It was a wonderful experience for both of us in understanding each other’s vital role in our family. We assure all that both roles are important and challenging.

    Over the years Elder Ballard has taught all of us about the importance of councils in the Church. There is inspiration, wisdom, and safety in councils. During the 5 years I had the opportunity to serve as a bishop of a local congregation my primary role was Not as Dictator or CEO, but as as father of the Ward. My influence was based on service, listening and counseling, and love. I would have been ineffective without the counsel, support and sustaining influence of other ward leaders especially from the Primary, Young Women’s, and Relief Society Presidents as well as inspiration from the Holy Ghost. Our sister-leaders were the best source of insight into the needs of the sisters in their organizations and the ward as a whole. I relied especially on Relief Society Presidents in serving together in helping the many needy members.

    I reality it is Not a matter of who’s inspiration will over-ride who’s as we serve in the callings we receive from the Lord including those in the family. It is about humbly making sure we are all following the Holy Ghost as we serve together. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, are all beloved of the Lord. Let us Not be mislead by false dichotomies, false traditions, and/or false contentions. Let us be one in purpose, one in spirit, and one in the Lord.

    3 day ago, Jana wrote an inspiring piece about anger management. Anger comes especially rapidly when trust is low. Satan encourages estrangement and distrust of good intentions. We need to trust the Lord and, that while human failing and errors occur in all of us, that most of us, including God’s chosen servants, male and female, are doing our best within our human limitations. Heed the promptings and warning of the Spirit and Not the insecurities and fears of the world.

  13. Odd how his logic so parallels the remarks of 60 years ago on race relations. Again it was all about “God’s Will.”

    http://www.mormondocs.org/2012/05/race-problems-as-they-affect-church.html

  14. We are going to have to wait until we get a prophet, seer, and revelator as president in deed and not just in name only. We haven’t added to the D&C because we have men in a calling that don’t use the power given them. We can try to force them to pray, but that doesn’t work. We just have to pray for them. I don’t know what the right answer is to the women & the priesthood, but I do know that the brethren also do not know or they would share it with us.

    • Dave, have we not added to the D&C because our prophets have failed to use the power given them, or because the membership of the church has such pathetic faith that they cannot even embrace what they have already been given?

      Guess what? We don’t have the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon yet either.

      The fact of the matter is that early revelations came fast and furious because a newly organized church required it. The Lord has not ceased inspiring His prophets and apostles to guide us in these latter days, but it is not necessary to perpetually add to the canon just for the sake of doing so.

      In my lifetime we have added two sections to the Doctrine & Covenants and an Official Declaration. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have additionally put forth “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.”

      Perhaps the Lord is holding onto a few things until some of his rebellious children embrace the things He has already given them, because we are accountable for what we have already received, and will become accountable for what we will eventually receive.

      Based on the perspectives of some of the folks who participate on this blog, I think we might be stuck on that Family Proclamation for awhile before we are trusted with anything new…

      • TomW – So it’s all our fault? That answer seems very convenient to me. I spoke with a friend of mine,. He read the BoM 7 times and never received a witness of its divinity. I took Moroni’s challenge every time and after 7, still no witness. I’m pretty sure Moroni didn’t say you had to read it 7+ times to get a witness and I am also very sure of my friends pure heart when seeking. So my friend basically felt like it was all his fault, so went out and read it an 8th time. But this time he made sure he read it in the cold, so as to add suffering to his reading, he also made sure he prayed for 20 minutes before each reading. He did this for several months and then he said he received what he thought was his witness. Seems to me like a brainwashing event. Put yourself in an extremely cold situation, pray nonstop for 20 minutes, and then read for hours……then repeat. This certainly wasn’t a part of Moroni’s challenge or instruction. If it was, then I missed it. But again, I get it. It was my friends fault……right?

        • I am the last person to judge the extent to which a person’s inquiry into the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is sincere. If someone gives it the old college try and doesn’t get anything out of it, I thank them for doing so and wish them the best.

  15. “Now, sisters, while your input is significant and welcome in effective councils, you need to be careful not to assume a role that is not yours. The most successful ward and stake councils are those in which priesthood leaders trust their sister leaders and encourage them to contribute to the discussions and in which sister leaders fully respect and sustain the decisions of the council made under the direc­tion of priesthood leaders who hold keys.

    ‘Here’s what this sounds like to my ears: “Sisters, submit your opinion at times for consideration and then just submit, period, because whatever decision is at hand is not yours to make. Don’t overstep the bounds the priesthood has graciously allowed you.”

    I agree with you on this point, Jana, to this extent. Except as High Priest Group Leader, I have served in every position on the Priesthood Executive Committee and Ward Council, including Bishop. In every case, I too was subject to the final determination of the Bishop, or as Bishop to the Stake President, despite the fact that I hold the priesthood. Just because I was the Young Men President, or the Elders’ Quorum President didn’t mean I always had the final say. When it comes to Ward Council, there must be unity, and there must be one person who has the responsibility of making the final decisions. This is no different in context of the Church than it is in any other organization. In this vein, I was no different in any of my roles than any of my counter-parts in the Womens’ organizations. I got to give my say, and in the end recognize that the final decision rests at the head of the organization (Bishop for wards, Stake President for stakes, the President of the Church for the Church), and when I have given my thoughts, I then accept the final determination and fully embrace it as though it was my own.

    Years ago I had lunch with my stake president, and confided in him my concerns about immigration, knowing that my opinions differed from those of the Church leadership. His advise to me? “Kelly, you need to put your self in line with the Prophet.” When I accepted his counsel, and adjusted my opinion to align with the Prophet, I was no longer conflicted on the matter and had that peaceful feeling we all seek that comes with accepting the Prophet as God’s spokesman for His will here on earth.

    I can only offer this same recommendation- put yourself in line with the Prophet, for in this there is safetyl

    • Well stated, Kelly. Elder Sterling W. Sill once taught, “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.”

      There is safety and peace in following the prophet, who himself is following the Lord. Kicking against the pricks never brings peace.

    • Brother Knight, as a man in the church, you are eligible to be bishop. Bishop is a rotating position and you have been one in the past and may be one in the future. You must take your turn submitting, but you also get opportunities to preside. As a woman, I will never preside, nor will anyone who shares with me the experience of being female, who can relate to the unique experiences I have had as a female. I have not served on the Priesthood Executive Committee or on a bishopric because I am a woman. I have not even been on Ward Council–there are only three positions reserved for women on the Ward Council, and ten positions reserved for men, so men are more likely to have the opportunity to participate than women. Even in informal discussions like this one, my view does not demand the respect and gravitas afforded yours, because I cannot back it up by reporting my experience holding the numerous impressive positions you have held, with the status they provide you. You and I are part of a caste system. You are in the upper caste, and I am in the lower caste.

      • I know of not one single Bishop who loves his role due to the ‘status’ it gives him. I would venture to say that God would not call anyone to serve for the goal of status. Women have a different role in serving our Lord. We have an equally important role that we need to be focusing on here. I’m sitting next to a little girl who has to go home soon to her family who considers her an afterthought. I have been trying to help them make their way to the church for years and I won’t give up. Do I do this because it gives me status in this life? No, I do it out of love and because I perceive it as God’s plan for me. Both she and her brother have been baptized after careful study and understanding of what they are choosing. They have a mother and 4 other siblings who consider me their Godmother. If I were over here focusing on my desire to take the Bishop’s place I would be ‘wasting my time’ which is what Elder Ballard might have meant by his comment. They feel an expediency in these efforts which they want each of us to feel as well. The time to change is Now, the time to act in God’s will is Now. Here and Now.

        • Whether men love or want status was not what my comment was about. I was pointing out that Mormon men HAVE status that Mormon women don’t. Whether they want or love the advantages their higher status gives them is less important than the fact that they have those advantages. If men don’t want or love being within a higher caste above women, all the more reason to eliminate the gender-based caste system!

          I wonder about girls like the one you describe. Will your efforts be wasted, because she will grow up to realize that she is less than at church? Is it wasting time to make the church a more hospitable place for women, so that it is a healthy place for a girl to grow up?

          • April – If you do not bequeath your ward’s Relief Society President the same measure of respect and deference as you do your ward’s bishop, perhaps it is you who has the problem. Concern over “status” is in the realm of worldly pride and has no business in the Lord’s church. You seem obsessed with how you will never be publicly perceived and esteemed the way that you somehow think bishops are. The important thing for each of us, regardless where we serve, is that we do it with a sincere heart and a desire to follow Christ. There was someone in the pre-existence who was rather bent on the idea of drawing glory unto himself, and it didn’t go very well.

            You write,”If men don’t want or love being within a higher caste above women, all the more reason to eliminate the gender-based caste system!”

            If you are so exceedingly bitter about the administration of the church, where is there room in your heart remaining to believe that the prophets and apostles are indeed called of God? How can you truly sustain them in their callings while simultaneously bursting over your perceived gender injustices?

            As for your comments that the little girl described by Grace would “grow up to realize that she is less than at church,” either you are living in the most dysfunctional ward in the entirety of the church, or you have embraced a false caricature of reality. As the father of two daughters, and one who has been privileged to observe the workings of our stake and ward Young Women leadership, I have nothing but deep admiration and praise for their magnifying of their callings, teaching our daughters of their divine nature and helping them to bloom into wonderful women. They are absolutely NOT “less than” anyone.

            That you consider the church not to be “a healthy place for a girl to grow up” is really about as great a shame as I can think of. It is the best place for any girl, or boy, to grow up.

      • April – I could appreciate your dismay if the church were a manmade secular organization. But if you believe, as I do, that the church is in truth the restored church of Jesus Christ upon the earth, then we have to set aside what we expect out of manmade institutions and be more accepting of what God has inspired to be instituted.

        No, you will never be a bishop. Neither will the vast majority of men in the church.

        As for presiding, women do this weekly in Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary meetings, and in the latter case, they often preside over men. (And as a helper at Girls Camp, a woman presides over me so long as they see fit to keep me around.)

        You write, “I have not even been on Ward Council.”

        Do you know what would happen if a male Latter-day Saint were to talk like that? He would be rightfully accused of aspiring to a leadership position, and in all probability would lessen the probability that he would ever be called. When it comes to church leadership, the more somebody wants something, the less likely it would be a good thing.

        You write, “You and I are part of a caste system. You are in the upper caste, and I am in the lower caste.”

        That is not the doctrine of the church. That is not the practice of the church. If you truly believe the church to be the restored church of Jesus Christ, who has called and anointed prophets and apostles to administer His kingdom, then perhaps it might be prudent to honor their administering of His affairs and consider the possibility that you are asking for something which isn’t in the Father’s program, but that his plan for you is as perfect as things could possibly be.

  16. To understand what Elder Ballard is saying, you need to understand how the Church is organized. Elder Ballard says to accept what is ultimately decided by the priesthood leaders “who hold keys.” There are only two people in Ward Council meetings who hold keys: the bishop and the Elders Quorum president. The counsel he gave for women leaders is the exact same I’ve received as Young Men’s president, Sunday School president, bishop’s counselor, ward clerk, etc. Both men and women leaders need to ultimately accept and support the decision made by the priesthood leader in authority, which is the one who holds keys.

    The best bishops hear from everyone in Ward Council (let me say in Northern California that the sisters usually give as much counsel if not more in our ward councils) and then make a decision based on what was said and through inspiration … and with the knowledge he may have that no one else is privy to (such as family situations that were discussed in confidence with the bishop). Every single person in that room, whether brother or sister, should accept and support that decision. Usually, because they are decisions that are made to bless the families of the ward, all feel good about the decisions and are glad they shared their viewpoint.

    As for the gifts men and women have … I think it’s apparent that women have more gifts than men in just about anything and everything, except for overall physical strength. Women would rule the world if it wasn’t for that. Most of my bosses and CEOs have been women, and they have leadership skills I dream of having. Then add to that how much closer many women are to the Lord, and how much more spiritual and empathetic they are. Add it all up, and I can identify dozens of sisters in my stake whom I would sustain as a bishop.

    However, we men have been saddled with that responsibility, and I personally do not know any sisters that want it. I’m not sure that the priesthood can’t ever be conferred on women, and the Lord may someday change that, but I would expect most women in the Church would fight it. When I was bishop, I would’ve handed over the reigns in a heartbeat, but I think God knows that we men wouldn’t grow in the gospel if we didn’t have such awesome responsibilities. We’d just sit around watching sports and playing games, while the women would continue doing everything else that has to be done … and more. I think most women know their husbands well enough, and that’s why they’re happy their men have such callings and want to do whatever to please the Lord, even if it does take them away from their family at times.

    I guess it comes down to: Be careful what you wish for.

    • BigZav–

      Just to be clear–you do realize how insulting your justification is, right? You really think that, as a gender, men are weaker than women? Speak for yourself. I’m a man, and I think I’m doing ok–I work a job, help with the kids when I’m home, and manage to hold down a calling too. Most men I know are doing pretty ok too. Personally, I believe that as individuals, we should be judged as individuals. Making sweeping assertions about whole swaths of the human race based on gender just seems bizarre to me.

      And as an additional point–you realize that your argument (which is a familiar one amongst the conservative mormon crowd) actually denigrates the priesthood, right? The priesthood is the power of God, the very power by which the universe was created and governed. On earth, it is the power by which we heal, and work miracles, and literally govern God’s kingdom. In the eternities, it will be the power of exaltation.

      And yet you–in your haste to find some justification for the gender-ban–want to trivialize it by turning it into a carrot that God uses to get those lazy men off the couch because otherwise they’d be slobs? Really?? That’s what it is to you–the divine equivalent of the donut I promise my 7 year old if he’ll clean his room on Saturdays?

      Personally, if the priesthood is everything that we Mormons believe it is, and if most women are so much better than most men as you seem to believe they are, wouldn’t it make sense for women to have the priesthood, and not men?

      I don’t think so (and I suspect you don’t either). I know you want to defend the status quo. But surely you can do so in a way that doesn’t trivialize both your own gender and marginalize the priesthood of God.

      • Anon – You criticize BigZav for making a relatively easy point which few people would argue against. Women, for whatever reason, possibly having to do with the divine nature of their gender, are inherently more faithful. That doesn’t mean that all women are faithful, and it doesn’t mean that all men are pathetic knuckle-draggers. But I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest that men find themselves struggling harder to develop certain Christlike attributes which at least appear to me to manifest themselves more readily among women.

        Preach My Gospel lists a number of Christlike attributes which we should strive to develop: Faith, Hope, Charity and Love, Virtue, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence, and Obedience. While women are fellow mortals, I believe they pretty much run the table collectively speaking when it comes to Christlike attributes. It is not denigrating to men to suggest that priesthood responsibility helps to orient ourselves to aligning our behavior with Christ in a manner which women inherently do of their own volition. I would consider it highly speculative to claim that this is the reason God has until now only authorized male ordination. We need to avoid speculating on reasons for things, as Elder Oaks taught with regard to the 1978 revelation on the priesthood. But speculation along these lines is not necessarily insulting to men whatsoever. It is a reflection of impartial observation.

        • Prove to me that women inherently align their own behavior with Christ! Prove it! Prove it with stats, studies, analysis. Your statement is based on no research and is clearly your opinion. So prove this to me Tom. I would really like to know.

          • Jim, the church attendance rate among LDS and every other denomination I’ve ever heard of tends to prove it.

        • TomW:

          I would argue it against it, but I’m too busy getting the kids ready for church while my wife gets ready for a stress-free afternoon away from church (she has stopped attending, largely because she doesn’t believe our doctrine anymore, and also because she’s tired of being talked down to based on nothing more than her gender). And, contrary to the perceived truth of your claim, I personally know of several other families where the same gender dynamic (man still active, wife not) holds true.

    • And as a further point, you conservatives keep trying to have it both ways.

      On the one hand, many of you defend the priesthood ban by saying that men and women are different, and that men’s spiritual gifts are more aligned with priesthood governance things, while women’s spiritual gifts are more aligned with governing. (This is the argument Elder Ballard was making).

      But then on the other hand, an awful lot of you (like Bishop BigZav above) take the *exact opposite* tack, saying that men are actually spiritually weaker than women, and that the real reason men have the priesthood is to make up for that.

      Well…which is it? Because as an active Mormon who is trying desperately to understand all this, you guys confuse the hell out of me. Am I supposed to feel like I have the priesthood (but my wife doesn’t) because, spiritually, I’m better equipped to have it than her? Or am I supposed to feel like I have it (but my wife doesn’t) because I’m actually spiritually less-equipped, so this is God’s way of making up the difference.

      Make up your minds–it can’t be both.

      • Hear, hear. Well said.

        We all know the trouble church members (especially leaders) get into when they try to come up with explanations for why things are the way they are (see the racial priesthood ban, for example). It almost always ends up being something both illogical and offensive.

        But kudos to BigZav for acknowledging that it could happen someday–although if it comes by revelation (the only way it’ll change), I can’t see many women in the church fighting it.

      • Anon, you wrote: “Am I supposed to feel like I have the priesthood (but my wife doesn’t) because, spiritually, I’m better equipped to have it than her? Or am I supposed to feel like I have it (but my wife doesn’t) because I’m actually spiritually less-equipped, so this is God’s way of making up the difference.”

        Elder Oaks answered your question in the recent General Conference when he said:

        “The divine nature of the limitations put upon the exercise of priesthood keys explains an essential contrast between decisions on matters of Church administration and decisions affecting the priesthood. The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures—matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. But even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.”

        In other words, you don’t hold the priesthood because you are better spiritually equipped than your wife to hold it, nor do you hold the priesthood to offset your shortcomings relative to your wife. You hold the priesthood because it is “the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.”

        If someday the Lord reveals an amendment to that pattern according to His divine timetable, that’s perfectly fine. At present, however, things are the way they are because it is “the divinely decreed pattern.” It would be speculative to go much beyond that.

    • And a final point: you say that you don’t know any sisters that want it.

      In case you’re curious, here are a few hundred who are willing to publicly say that they do, even though they risk much by saying so.

      http://ordainwomen.org/full-list-of-profiles/

      Perhaps you should spend some time reading their stories and learning why they feel that way. You likely won’t agree with their stand. But at a bare minimum, you won’t be able to keep pretending that this isn’t a problem because no real mormon women want it. There are plenty that do.

      • Anon, I apparently touched a nerve with you and don’t quite understand why.

        1. I’m not minimalizing the power and authority of God. It is an awesome gift and responsibility. I share it with my wife and family. Just because I think women have what it takes to hold the priesthood doesn’t make the power and authority of God any less.

        2. Women are closer to God and the Celestial Kingdom. If you’re able to go to the temple, listen closely and carefully at the beginning before the movie starts. Men do have more to do to gain exaltation, and it’s my opinion that the priesthood helps us to accomplish what we need to do that women just inherently have.

        3. I talked about my friends, not people on a website. Not one woman I personally associate with in my stake and region want the priesthood. Surveys have been done showing the vast majority of LDS women don’t want the priesthood. And, if the prophet were to come to the body of the Church with a revelation saying women now will receive the priesthood, they will accept it (Fred, I was wrong to say they’d fight), but there would be a lot of upset sisters. More upset sisters than brothers, for sure.

        I’m sorry Anon if the way I wrote my comment upset you. I think we’re probably closer to being on the same page than not. I did get a little flip, just as I’d do talking to a friend. “Saddled” with the calling as bishop? Yeah, there are times it felt like that! But I wouldn’t give up that time for anything. The priesthood is here to bless lives, everyone. And it does kick me into gear. I’d rather watch a ballgame than doing my duty sometimes, so I guess I’m just living a terrestrial life. And I know I’m not alone … not by a long shot. Why do you think there’s been so many talks during priesthood meeting on wasting time on video games and other entertainment? Uh, because men of the priesthood are doing that. They wouldn’t be if they were called as bishops, though!

        • Yes, you did strike a nerve, because I’m getting tired of my church getting unnecessarily associated with faulty-group shaming arguments.

          On this question: Which is it? Do men have the priesthood because we’re spiritually stronger at church governing stuff and even ordinance stuff (including giving personal blessings) (while women are stronger at child-stuff)? Or do men have the priesthood because we’re spiritually weaker (and thus in need of prodding)?

          Don’t you see how those two ideas are totally contradictory?

          And, isn’t there a part of you that sees the resemblance to the race-ban justifications of the 1950’s-70’s? There too, defenders of the status quo surmised that the ban had to be based on the idea of “this group is better at X, that group is weaker at Y…”. But in hindsight, those kinds of arguments make us look backwards and racist. 30 years from now, don’t you think we’re going to look awfully misogynistic when people trot out Mormon leaders of our era pretending that men (or women) are inherently weaker than the other gender?

      • Anon – According to a recent blog post by Jana, a 2011 Pew poll of Mormon women showed that 8% supported the idea of female ordination. I do not know if the poll was able to break it down by activity level, which might provide additional insight.

        • The Pew poll did not say what you say it said. (Along those same lines, it also did not say what the Church PR department keeps saying it said.)

          Here’s a good breakdown of this, by a very active Mormon.

          http://www.mormonmomma.com/index.php/2014/do-mormon-women-oppose-priesthood-ordination-pew-survey/

          • For the purposes of responding on this forum, I quoted from Jana’s own prior post. Sorry if you don’t like it. I figured it would suffice for most.

            To the extent you disagree with a specific comment that I made, please bring it. Generalized aspecific criticism is useless.

    • BigZav – Your comments about the participation of women in Northern California ward councils are in harmony with my own experiences, both in NorCal and SoCal.

  17. 3 key messages from Elder Ballard on men, women and Mormon Priesthood
    Has anyone read the Article by Elder Ballard in the September 2014 Ensign? I have and I loved it. I love how bold and clear he is on this topic. We know the position of the church on this matter.
    I love how he states boldly the different yet both valued roles of men and women. And how comparing the roles will cause confusion and failure to think strait.
    I love the caution he gives us not to assume a role that isn’t ours.
    And I love how he tells us not to waste time trying to organize the church differently. Instead let us use our time in better ways – like caring for the many who are needy, hungry, or spiritual starved.
    In the end “it comes down to our faith. Do we believe this is the Lord’s Church?” Let us focus on standing united, supporting each other in our unique roles as men and women and standing for our Heavenly Fathers plan.

    • This topic has come up for me recently as I study and prepare for the Temple. Continually, I recieve personal revalation which aligns with what the Spirit has revealed to the Apostles and Prophet. There is sadness in this realization of being incapable of achieving exaltation alone (I’m very independant and I’m single) but it is simply a Law of this Kingdom which I feel I must accept. There are different rules for different kingdoms and it sounds simple but I’m prepared to accept that I need to be sealed with a worthy member of the Preisthood in order to acheive exaltation. This world is made for couples…:) My role in this life is not to guide men and women into the afterlife. Instead, my role is to lead and guide fresh souls into this earthly sphere. And they need all the help they can get so I hope more and more women will see the value in this role! I don’t have children myself but I try my best to teach and effect the lives of as many children as I can. And yes, we need the men for this effort too; we need to give careful study to lessons we give and to make sure that we don’t lose these kids once they come to the choice to be baptized. This is a real effort with real consequences. I have prayed on this topic and have fasted on it as well and was directed by the Holy Ghost to read: 1 Corinthians Chapter 2
      I don’t discount the sadness we all feel when we realize this truth. But I accept it joyfully with the firm belief that I will come to understand it someday and that many many children will be thankful for my presence in their lives…I hope :) Honestly I don’t think anyone fully understands this law (maybe not even church leaders) But we can come to accept it fully as a truth if we pray about it humbly and listen.

  18. Jana, I am saddened that the teachings of the Lord’s prophets and apostles make you heartsick, and that you consider their arguments to be tired. I tend to take the opposite approach, that when the Lord’s prophets and apostles continually revisit a given theme, it should be of even greater importance that we hearken to their words rather than to despair of them.

    The first of your three takeaways was his comment about the role of women in ward council, and you lamented that women are limited to an advisory capacity. In the years that I sat on such councils, do you have any idea what my role was? An ADVISORY capacity! Unless one is the bishop on the ward level, or the stake president on the stake level, pretty much everyone else – male and female – plays an advisory role. And if I may also add, I hope to continue my lucky streak of callings where my position is limited to the advisory variety! (My fellow ward members might also share in this wish!)

    Your second takeaway had to do with equality versus sameness. Elder Ballard taught the consistent message of the prophets and apostles regarding the unique attributes and gifts afforded the respective genders. Elder Ballard emphatically included roles of leadership and teaching in the church. I found your remark that “Men, apparently, have the gift for doing everything else” to be rather dismissive of a man you sustain to be a prophet, seer, and revelator.

    Your final takeaway dealt with the LDS view of true equality and how it is perceived by outsiders (and apparently a few insiders). Not sure how much this differs from the second takeaway, but I don’t see how Elder Ballard could say anything else other than affirming that women are NOT second-class citizens in the church, which happens to be the truth. We are all fellow citizens with the Saints and of the household of God. On the whole, if anything, Mormon men tend more towards placing women on a pedestal over them rather than on a rung below them.

    Combining elements of each, you conclude: “It’s clear from the picture Elder Ballard paints of ward councils that while many words of value might be applied to women there – assistant, helper, supporter, or deputy, for example – ‘equal’ is not among them.”

    In the Kingdom of God, all of us – whether male or female – are assistants, helpers, supporters, and deputies. AND we are all equal in His sight. For the purposes of administering the Kingdom of God on earth, however, it is necessary that a select few are temporarily set apart as leaders of wards and stakes, and even the church itself, and that they prayerfully make decisions based on the counsel of the men and women in their midst as well as inspiration from above which will pertain to the men and women and children within their stewardship.

    So when we speak of inequality in the ward council, let’s be clear that everyone on that council – men and women alike – plays a supporting role, counseling the bishop in his unique stewardship. The only way to project inequality upon the council organization is to insist upon a heretical requirement (and I use the term without malice in the spirit with which you originally used it toward yourself in a prior blog post) that equality requires female bishops, stake presidents, and presidents of the church. Rank and file Latter-day Saints harbor no such expectations, and are not aggrieved when living prophets and apostles counsel us: “Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan. We do not have time for that. It is a pointless exercise to try to determine how to organize the Lord’s Church differently.” The discussion itself may not be pointless, but it can become an obsession which can lead to personal apostasy if one places more weight upon getting what one wants than in hearkening to the counsel of those who have been called of God to guide us in these latter days. And when we lose beloved Saints through their exercise of agency to reject the counsel of these prophets, that is indeed cause for mourning.

    • TomW – Quit being saddened for her. She didn’t ask you to be sad. She is happy being authentic. You are talking down to someone as if they need succor because they no longer think, act, or participate in the tribe as you do now. Therefore, you quickly assume that you should be sad for her. Be happy for her, she found the place she wants to be. She is authentic, she is an individual, she doesn’t have to belong to your tribe anymore. She is happy!

      • Jim – Jana described herself as “heartsick” and “saddened”. I’m sure she is like any person who experiences a mixture of emotions, but she didn’t use the word happy in the above post. I think this is why TomW may have responded as he did.

  19. I had similar thoughts while reading this as I did during his “Mothers and Daughters” talk back in 2010: Where is my Heavenly Mother in all of this?

    “And so, my dear young women, with all my heart I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors. Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective. Look to your mother. Learn from her strengths, her courage, and her faithfulness. Listen to her.”

    Ballard says to look to our mothers and learn from them and he also assures us that women’s voices are important. He tells us that women are necessary for children to enter the world, yet Heavenly Mother is forgotten in both talks. What is Her opinion? Where is Her voice? How can we hope to hear from women in the ward when we cannot hear Her? How can we believe that we are and will be equal when we cannot see that She is not second class?

    There is a hole in all of this rhetoric and I believe the hole is Her. I need Her to be a faithful pattern to follow.

    This article hurts. I do not feel heard. I feel silenced.

  20. This post makes a lot of sense from a secular perspective. If the organization in question was established and directed by humans, I’d applaud this analysis. But what if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is actively being directed by God through His appointed priesthood leaders? If this is true, it puts the logic of this post in question. God’s ways are different than our mortal ways, so secular logic is incomplete when evaluating what God would or would not do.

    The reason I am committed to the LDS Church is because I believe God is directing this Church through priesthood keys He gave His servants here on earth. Either those keys are valid, and the men who hold those keys are able to receive the revelation they need to lead this Church under God’s direction, or the keys they hold have no real power. If they are valid, we should heed the direction God reveals to us through these keys. If they are not valid, why would women want to have them? What good would it do us to have useless keys?

    Those whom the Lord has chosen as the leaders of His Church stand united in their message about priesthood keys and who can hold priesthood offices in the Church at this time. If the Church was led by mere mortals, we’d be right to be full of suspicion and even indignation that women were denied this right. But if God directs this Church, we can expect that He will confirm to us, individually, through personal revelation, that He is in charge and that the LDS Church leaders do have the power and authority to speak and act in His name, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

    I encourage others to prayerfully study this beautiful message from Elder Russell M. Ballard. Seek God in prayer to know whether or not He sustains LDS Church leaders. God bless you in your journey!

    • I too believe that God is directing this Church through priesthood keys. I believe that the Church is led by inspired, righteous priesthood holders. But I also believe (because this is the doctrine) that they are not perfect. And I also know (from history and the Church’s own essay “Race and the Priesthood”) that sometimes even the prophets, seers and revelators teach false doctrine. In First Presidency Official Statements (see the 1949 official statement on the “Negro Question”), no less! So we have documented cases of the Lord’s servants saying things (in their official capacity) with their voices that the Lord definitely would not have said. The Lord doesn’t lie. From everything I’ve ever been taught about God, He could not have been happy with those untruths being taught. So it makes sense to me that He must have been trying to tell the prophets the truth, but for some reason they weren’t listening. Because despite all their goodness and wisdom and inspiration, they were still men. Imperfect men.

      I will admit that it’s a dangerous path to go counter to the teachings of our leaders. And it’s not something I’d generally recommend. But if in 1949 you read the official statement that said black people’s skin color was a curse and it was due to their lack of valiance in pre-mortal life and said, “I don’t think that’s right and I don’t believe that,” you were actually right! So I think it’s important to have that perspective.

      • There are times I think some people have a greater testimony of the imperfection of their leaders than they do the divine guidance they receive from God.

        And it apparently requires reasserting with regard to the priesthood that there’s a profound difference between having taught false doctrine and having engaged in unfounded speculation surrounding the policy. There really is a significant difference there. But for some it is better to exaggerate the situation in order to justify continuing rationalization for anything else they want to believe or disbelieve, exploiting the matter to set aside the living prophets and apostles according to their whims.

        • I think it’s better not to turn this issue into a personal attack on people’s motives or testimonies.

          I agree that NOW we know it was unfounded speculation–but at the time it was presented as the word of the Lord. From the 1949 Statement: “It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization…” The explanations for the ban were not presented as opinions or theories or anything else but absolute truth. They were taught to the membership as doctrine, and the membership accepted them as such. Do you really think that the church membership in 1949 considered an official statement from the First Presidency as “speculation”? Of course not. An official statement from the First Presidency was the same as an official statement from God. But, as the church has now acknowledged, it wasn’t from God.

          • My concern, Fred, is that people finesse what happened into something doctrinally graver than what actually happened, using it as a loophole to disregard living prophets and apostles at will. Disagree with the First Presidency or a member of the Quorum of the Twelve? No problem! The priesthood ban PROVES how fallible they are, therefore I choose to disregard them.

            Unwise move.

            I have previously pointed out that the two specific doctrines referenced in the 1949 statement had to do with the doctrine that the Lord gives commandments and that our performance in the pre-existence could influence our present assignments in mortality. The speculation on the reasons for the ban were NOT doctrine. Attempts to explain the ban, as authoritative as the attempt to do so came across, remain a different animal from whether or not the Lord had reasons which were known to Brigham but remain undocumented for our purposes. I understand there’s a fine line here, but it is a line nonetheless.

            The church has acknowledged that the speculation surrounding the ban was not necessarily from God, and rightly so. But it cannot declare the ban itself to have been wrong because the historical record is inadequate to make such an assertion. Believers can only assume that the living prophet at the time would not have instituted it without divine involvement in the decision. As for those who do not believe, they will need to develop a testimony of living prophets first before their hearts can attempt to accept this particular matter.

            Believers should never permit this issue to sanction rationalizing whether or not to follow the direction of the Lord’s living prophets and apostles.

            As President Harold B. Lee taught:

            “Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, ‘as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith’ (D&C 21:4–5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).”

            https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-harold-b-lee/chapter-9?lang=eng

          • I totally get your concern, TomW, and I agree that disregarding the First Presidency because you disagree with them is an unwise move. And I understand that people might do just that with this information. But the fact is that it happened. We expect the truth from an official statement of the First Presidency, and in that case we didn’t get it.

            I think it underscores the importance of something our leaders have always taught us–that we have the right to and should always get a personal spiritual confirmation of what’s taught from the pulpit. 99% of the time the spirit will confirm what’s taught. But if in 1949 I read that First Presidency statement and prayed for a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it was true, I wouldn’t have gotten it. Because the Spirit doesn’t lie.

            That’s all I’m saying. I appreciate the friendly and respectful tone of this conversation.

  21. So Elder Ballard is also going to speak to a gathering of Single Adults in Europe. Should they be heartsick because the church didn’t send them a Single Adult? I really hate seeing what amounts to identity politics seeping into the church. It should be a thrill to all of us to participate in teaching moments with living apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter our gender, language, heritage, or anything else.

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    […] Friend-of-the-Report Jana Riess returns to look at Elder M. Russell Ballard’s recent featured piece in the September Ensign on “Men and Women and Priesthood Power,” and she pulls out 3 key points that might make some uncomfortable, including the statement that women *do* have a role to play in Ward Councils, but only in an advisory capacity, that equality =/= sameness, and that if you don’t agree with what equality looks like, you aren’t thinking straight. Ouch. While people might disagree with Jana, I think her points are very important with an issue that is becoming increasingly more divisive concerning gender roles and equality within the Church. […]

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    […] 3 key messages from Elder Ballard on men, women and Mormon priesthood (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “Here’s what this sounds like to my ears: “Sisters, submit your opinion at times for consideration and then just submit, period, because whatever decision is at hand is not yours to make. Don’t overstep the bounds the priesthood has graciously allowed you.” “ […]

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