Men, Women, and Priesthood Session

priesthood sessionIn case you haven’t heard, members of the Ordain Women movement tried to attend the priesthood session of general conference and were turned away. I think that turning them away was a mistake, but I also think that it would be a bad idea for women to begin attending the priesthood session of conference.

First, why I think excluding Ordain Women was a mistake. I can understand why Church authorities would turn away the Ordain Women activists. The rationale, it seems to me, would be something along the lines of, “This is an attempt to turn a sacred meeting into an organized media event designed to embarrass the Church into changing its doctrine. We don’t want to encourage this group or other groups to use Church meetings in this way.” I understand and appreciate that reasoning, but I think in this case it was mistaken. As a threshold matter, regardless the meeting was going to be used as a media event. Allowing the Ordain Women activists to attend the meeting would have largely defused interest in the story and in any case would have given journalists a less hard-edged narrative. More importantly, however, the number of women seeking entrance to the meeting was very small, there is no reason to suppose that their participation would have been anything other than decorous and respectful, and it would have signaled generosity and goodwill toward these sisters. I don’t think that there would have been any real downside in allowing them to attend.

Second, why do I think that it would be unfortunate if women generally were to begin attending priesthood sessions? I think that it would probably be a good thing if women were ordained. There would be costs and benefits to such an action, but I think that the benefits would outweigh the costs. Obviously, this is not my call, but that’s my opinion if it were my call. I have blogged about this in the past, and have even been mistakenly contacted by a journalist as a supporter of the Ordain Women organization. I think, however, that something important would be lost if priesthood session were turned into a mixed gender meeting. As I understand the reasoning of the Ordain Women organizers, the all male priesthood session is both a symbol of female exclusion from authority within the church and a mechanism by which male power is reinforced. The first part of this reasoning strikes me as difficult to either demonstrate or refute. Symbolism is going to vary a lot depending on the context in which the symbol is seen and interpreted. It makes sense that feminist would read priesthood session’s symbolic meaning in the way that they do, but their reading, it seems to me, is neither necessary nor self-evident.

The second part of the reasoning — namely that female exclusion from priesthood session is a mechanism for reinforcing male power — strikes me as mistaken. The implicit analogy here seems to be to cases like Roberts v. United States Jaycees, where the U.S. Supreme Court required the Jaycees to cease excluding women from their ranks.* Part of the rationale in that case was that much important business was conducted within the Jaycees and excluding women from their meetings in effect excluded women from these important mechanisms of power. Furthermore, the Court in effect reasoned, there was nothing about maintaining an all-male membership that was necessary for the Jaycee’s mission. If I am reading the Ordain Women movement correctly, part of the drive to gain access to Priesthood Session is the perception that this is an important meeting where important matters of general church governance are thrashed out and men are given inside access to power. Equality requires that women have their seats at the power table.

This is the part that I think is mistaken. To be sure, there may be times when important aspects of general Church governance are thrashed out in priesthood session, although after a lifetime of attending the meeting I can’t think of any specific instances. Mainly, priesthood session is a meeting where the leadership of the Church speaks to men as men. The topics tend to revolve around fatherhood, mission preparation, avoiding pornography, and what it means to be a good and righteous man. The talks are important in that they assume a male audience. (Incidentally, I assume that this is why men without the priesthood are given access to the meeting.) This, I think, is to the good. I think that Mormon men and the Mormon community are better for creating a forum in which men are addressed as men by their leaders, called to repentance, and exhorted as men to more godly lives.

There are two objections that one might make to the idea of having an all male forum. First, one might argue that any messages directed toward men may be directed toward them when women are present. This is clearly true. On the other hand, I think that there is something different about the experience that one has if one is in a single gender context. Think about the difference between a lesson on motherhood taught be a woman to a group of women, and one taught by a woman to a group of women and men, even when the content of the message is the same. It seems to me that an important part of the experience of the message is the context in which it is given. There is a solidarity and sense of identification that comes from being in a meeting of brethren (or sisters) that is altered when we have a mixed gender context. (I think that there is an analogy here to some complaints made of late by some Mormon feminists about the way that “male allies” distort their discussions and fora.)

The second objection is that there is nothing to be said of any substance to men that should not also be addressed to women and vice versa. Accordingly, a single geneder forum serves no purpose. This, I think, is mistaken. First, I am sufficiently gender essentialist to think that there are sins, concerns, and challenges that are not evenly distributed across the population and hence that there is substance which is especially relevant to one gender or the other. Second, and more importantly, I think that gender is a central part of how we experience life. To the extent that the Gospel speaks to the human experience, at times it should speak to us as men or as women. Not doing so would be to imagine that something universally important to our experience is accidental or unimportant. Another way of putting this point is that I believe a universal that denies particularity is either vacuous or pernicious. Hence, I think there is value in speaking of the Atonement for men, not because there is anything about the Atonement or its application that is uniquely male, but because to speak of a universal phenomena like the Atonement requires that we talk about how that phenomena plays out in the particularities of our experiences, including the experience of gender.

I have no problem with women being present at priesthood session. I would welcome women speaking at priesthood session. Something important would be lost, however, if the audience at priesthood session ceased ultimately to be a male audience. I understand that male identity and priesthood are wrapped together within Mormonism in ways that many find troubling. I want to resist, however, the destructive impulse inherent in liberal egalitarianism that sees every messy, contingent, and asymmetrical institution or practice as evil. The reality is that priesthood session is a meeting for Mormon men. That is central to its tradition, and that tradition is something honorable and worth cherishing.

*The holding was quite a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the gist of the case.

149 comments for “Men, Women, and Priesthood Session

  1. Rosalynde
    October 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Nice analysis. FWIW, my sense is that the OW organizers recognized that there is no substantively unique authority or information conveyed in priesthood session. I think they approached it solely as a highly visible, media friendly event with symbolic value. I would welcome correction on this point, though.

  2. October 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    A solid statement of your position, Nate; thanks for spelling it out. I agree with you that the liberal egalitarian position is often a destructive one, and for that reason am not anxious to see all single-gender forums compromised, anymore than I want to see all-boys or all-girls schools closed. (Though, to add to the above, I suspect it is mostly the “liberal” individualist side of that term which does most of the destroying, and not the “egalitarian” equality side; take the notion of individual rights out of the equation, at least as much as possible, and I think “messy, contingent, and asymmetrical institution(s) or practice(s)” are far less likely to appear inherently unequal, and thus in need of challenge.) I do not think this piece does the hard work it implicitly poses, though: namely–and I realize this is a problem you’re aware of, having brought it up in the context of the fate of the third priesthood/Relief Society hour of the church block–exactly why don’t your arguments against the integration of the Priesthood session of conference constitute an argument against extended the priesthood to women entirely? After all, if you think “there is value in speaking of the Atonement for men,” then why do you think that it would be worth it to lose the ritual and bureaucratic structure by which most Mormons believe the Atonement’s blessings are differentially administered and received by women and men? Obviously the one doesn’t entail the other, of course, but it’s by no means clear to me why someone who thinks otherwise than you about female ordination couldn’t use your arguments about not integrating the Priesthood session of conference to support their point.

  3. Nate Oman
    October 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Russell: Not surprisingly, I think that you have the destructive influences within liberal egalatarianism backwards. I think that the it is generally the egalatarianism that proves destructive. Generally contract and exit rights are sufficient to get a modus viviendi between liberalism and the messily contingent and asymetrical.

    I think that awarding the priesthood to women would be destructive in many ways. My own judgment is based on an assessment of costs and benefits. I think that you’d get a lot of administrative and pastoral benefits from female ordination. My judgment here is prudential rather than principled. It’s one of the reasons why the liberal egalitarianism of the Ordain Women movement’s rhetoric does not move me powerfully. When they talk about service, the spirit, respect and belonging to tradition, and the concrete difficulties created by current practice, I find what they say more compelling. My suspicion, however, is that most of the fervor comes from liberal egalitarianism, which isn’t something I am particularly fervent about in a religious context.

  4. Scott
    October 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    “I want to resist, however, the destructive impulse inherent in liberal egalitarianism that sees every messy, contingent, and asymmetrical institution or practice as evil.”

    Among other good things I could say about the post, I couldn’t agree more with the statement above.

  5. Nate Oman
    October 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I am NOT particularly fervent about in a religious context.

  6. Steve Smith
    October 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    “I think that turning them away was a mistake”

    +1. There really wasn’t that many women there and it would have been hardly noticeable to have them present. If anything it drew more attention to the church for them to turn them down than it would have to allow them to attend.

  7. Publius
    October 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    there is no reason to suppose that their participation would have been anything other than decorous and respectful

    Seriously? They weren’t trying to make a scene, just looking for a place to watch conference?

  8. Nate Oman
    October 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    To follow up on the latter, Joanna Brooks has a RD article up today that in effect tries to downplay the “subjective” experience of many Mormon women by insisting on the overarching importance of their “objective” subordination. If I read her correctly, this is a pretty straightforward appeal to unilateralist conceptions of equality. This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t move me much in this debate. I actually find it far more compelling to hear about the subjective experience of alienation that many women feel. Obviously, this experience is mediated through universalist notions of equality, etc. in many cases. What matters to me is the subjective rather than the universal. Brook’s error, it seems to me, is to insist that the universal claims of equality are somehow prior to or more real than subjective experiences and ought to have a greater claim on our moral responses.

  9. Kristine
    October 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Nate, would it seem fair to you to also let the General Relief Society meeting be a women’s meeting, not presided over by a man?

  10. Howard
    October 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    The church is involved in a delicate balancing act. Progressives are knocking at the door seeking inclusion, so they won’t easily be offended away. The orthodox and the literal who make up a significant % of the tithe paying base would love to see progressives either submit and in the process be silenced or leave. The balance are either irritated of entertained by the drama. So the church’s response must include something for everyone without offending away the base and it’s response needs to be camouflaged enough so that TBMs can argue coincidence with almost a straight face instead of causation. But like it or not the church IS moving in a progressive direction and in doing so they are moving away from the Old Testament and entering the New as they become more Christlike in their treatment and judgement of others.

  11. John Shaw
    October 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    What do we all think about the idea of combining RS and YW General Meetings and holding them 2 times a year, and incorporate them into the weekend with GC. I think this would go a long way with with the transition from YW to RS. With this change I’d also like to see the YW and RS meet together each week on Sunday like the men/boys do.

  12. Julie M. Smith
    October 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I agree with the idea of opposing the methods of OW while still thinking the church made the wrong move in keeping them out.

    FWIW, I would have loved to have seen Pres. Monson end Sat. afternoon by saying, “Sisters will be permitted in tonight. However, we’d ask them to recall women-only events that have been meaningful to them and make the same experience possible for men by making the choice not to attend tonight.”

  13. Chris Kimball
    October 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    It feels like the “male audience” argument lost much of its power when the Priesthood Session was broadcast over the Internet. With that move the audience became the whole world. What’s left is a fairly powerful example and archetype of exclusion–you may not enter here.

  14. Nate
    October 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Chris: Yes and no. I think that it probably heightened the sense of exclusion for the OW crowd, which is regrettable. I don’t think that the broadcast change altered the assumed audience for priesthood session. I understand the desire to make it easier for men to listen by broadcasting but frankly I think there will be a real loss if it undermines the tradition of priesthood session attendance and the male solidarity around that tradition. As I clearly stated in the OP, I have no objection to women listening so long as the audience remains men. It is a mistake to conflate audience and access. I can access the election debates in the UK. That doesn’t mean I am or should be the audience for such debates.

  15. Mtnmarty
    October 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm


    You write ” I think that it would probably be a good thing if women were ordained.” in the OP. Is your language “I think that awarding the priesthood to women would be destructive in many ways.” in comment 3 adding commentary about why you only “probably” think it would be a good thing rather than evidence contradicting the first statement?

    I think activism like Ordain Women is going to complicate the “muddle through” approach that church has been on. It is hard for me to imagine that a line in the sand will not have to be drawn for active LDS protesters, but who knows where this is heading. it would seem to me that people are going to have to take sides on something like this because the issue is not going to go away easily.

  16. October 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Great stuff, Nate. I can really imagine a separate that is legitimately equal. The problem is that our current separate is totally unequal. I’d rather fix that. In that way I might actually be more conservative than you on the ordination issue.

  17. Nate
    October 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Kristine: If the prophet attends he will necessarily preside. I don’t see how you get around this if you take the idea of priesthood seriously. As I understand the OW movement they do take priesthood seriously and don’t want to simply transform it into another liberal right. (Or at least at their best this is what they say. They cannot really escape much of the language of liberal egalitarianism. Alas.)

    I think that it would make good sense to have women conduct the meeting and I’d welcome female speakers in priesthood session.

    (I am assuming your point was about changes short of female ordination.)

  18. October 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Nate: I agree with you. I wish that I had written it — but I am glad you did so you could take the heat. I believe that the real dynamic here is twofold: (1) these women did not really want to attend a meeting or just listen to talks; they wanted to convert a religious meeting for male issues into their personal political soap box and statement; and (2) there were numerous ex-Mormons among them pretending to want to attend a meeting that that they could watch on TV. I believe that it is the appearance of rather obvious lack of good faith on the part of some (perhaps not all) regarding a feigned desire to attend a meeting when the real desire is to make a political point that is at work. Otherwise, any sister who wants can take my place in the meeting while I stay home and eat protein bars while I watch.

  19. October 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I was there and I’ll vouch for Rosalynde’s first comment- I think most of the OW participants are ok with separate sessions for men and women, but that really, the women’s session isn’t even a session of conference and it’s only once a year. We were there saying that we’d like to be considered potential elders (like the YM and non-member men who are allowed to attend), not that we want to invade a male space.

  20. Paul Bohman
    October 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Possible solution:

    1. Ordain women to priesthood offices.
    2. Hold mixed gender priesthood meetings.
    3. Create a new annual global meeting for men, as a non-priesthood meeting.

    And, if you want to finish the job:

    4. Open up the relief society to men, to give everyone, regardless of gender, the opportunity to serve others in an explicitly non-gendered non-priesthood capacity.
    5. Hold an annual global meeting for women.
    6. On Sundays, use Relief Society meetings as action-oriented meetings to actually plan service, rather than teach lessons. And use priesthood meetings to focus on carrying priestly duties and managerial concerns, rather than teach lessons. People would attend the meeting most relevant to their current church duties, and both meetings would be open to both genders, since we’d have people of both genders in both groups.
    7. If people still yearn for men-only or women-only meetings, hold those once a month instead of the standard Relief Society/Priesthood meetings.

  21. October 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Cynthia (and Nate),

    I can really imagine a separate that is legitimately equal. The problem is that our current separate is totally unequal. I’d rather fix that.

    Ditto for me. There is an expansive theoretical language in supportive of, and dozens of policy suggestions which could arguably bring about, a separateness which does not contribute to unequal, socially alienating or oppressing, discriminatory practices. Egalitarianism does not equal identitarianism. Contrary to Nate’s claim, I really do think that is primarily under the liberal presumption that obliges us to begin with individual rights that the demand for equality turns destructive of difference. (Which points towards the idea, which I’ve been tossing around for a while, that some of the strongest “conservative” voices in the American church are, whether they realize it or not, actually conventionally liberal.)

  22. Old Man
    October 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    “…no reason to suppose that their participation would have been anything other than decorous and respectful.”

    That is a rather naive assessment. Having many friends and colleagues associated with LDS Church security, I can verify that for 40+ years, feminists have been anything but decorous and respectful to LDS leaders and property. And all it would take is one incident and the world would witness the LDS Church ejecting women from priesthood session.

    Kelly and her minions WANT a response. The other night many of her supporters were crowing to the world that a garbage truck had been parked in front of the entrance to the conference center, to block their entrance to the building. Photos revealed it was some poor church employee who pulled a utility truck up close to the entrance to get some work done during priesthood session in prep for the Sunday sessions.

  23. Julie M. Smith
    October 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I don’t support OW, but I strongly reject language like “minions” used for OW (or anyone else). The official Church representative’s statement on Saturday included this line: “Even so, these are our sisters and we want them among us, and hope they will find the peace and joy we all seek in the gospel.”

  24. Bryan S.
    October 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    “I can really imagine a separate that is legitimately equal. The problem is that our current separate is totally unequal. I’d rather fix that.”

    I can’t really imagine anything short of total parity that would satisfy all activists. Some (including you) yes, but any difference can be shown to be a cause of inequality.

  25. October 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Amen, Julie.

  26. October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Love this very thoughtful post.

    As for “Kelly and her minions” — sheesh. I’m not part of OW, but my experience with them has been that they have gone to great pains to be respectful and civil. They should be judged on their own behavior, not on some sweeping, nonspecific claims about general feminists.

    Since it appears that most of these women aren’t even 40, it’s hardly fair to place the burden of “40+ years” of watching feminism on their shoulders. But if you want to play that game, “Old Man,” why don’t your explain your racist history to us.

  27. October 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    BTW I would vote for Roslaynde as prophet if the Church were an egalitarian democracy. Please run for something Ros!

  28. Jax
    October 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Why did no one choose to address Elder Anderson’s talk who seemed to address this in GC?? It seems to me that he had much to add to this discussion…

  29. Mtnmarty
    October 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm


    OW may be civil but I don’t believe they are respectful. They are applying civil norms to a private, religious space which is disrespectful on its face.

    If they were “taking great pains” to be respectful couldn’t they have called ahead and ask if they would be allowed to attend? Wouldn’t most people think it disrespectful to attempt entry to an event where you are most likely going to be turned away?

  30. Mtnmarty
    October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm


    Exactly, between Anderson and Oaks, it was practically a “Give me gender essentialism or give me death” conference.

  31. Julie M. Smith
    October 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    “Why did no one choose to address Elder Anderson’s talk who seemed to address this in GC?”

    Can’t speak for anyone else, obviously, but I want to read the talks before I respond to them (which I will, if I have time–several very interesting new directions on the gender front this weekend). I heard them all, but I don’t trust my memory enough!

  32. Bryan in VA
    October 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    My comment may be more broad than the topic of this post. But it seems that our religious bottom line is to have our “confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (D&C 121:45) Does the OW crowd believe that women will be more confident in the presence of our Father in Heaven and our Savior by having the priesthood conferred on them? If so, why?

  33. Moderate Midwesterner
    October 7, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    The thing on Saturday night was a publicity stunt, plain and simple.

    The March on the Conference Center was designed from the beginning to force a reaction and gain maximum attention (the press was invited to enjoy every juicy morsel, of course). As such, the more I read about the event, the more respect I lost for the organizers and their movement. And I commend the Church for not playing along.

    They could have watched the session anywhere (anywhere! live! and in high-definition color!) but that wouldn’t have caused a ruckus, which was of course the entire point.

    We know the intended audience for the Saturday night session is boys and men, and we know there is real merit for having one session directed only toward them, as discussed above. Tickets are scarce enough that it doesn’t make sense to turn away any earnest boys or men from attending a meeting that’s designed especially for them, simply to assuage a bunch of attention seekers. I’m sorry, but that’s just selfish.

    I’m sure I’ll get flamed to pieces for this opinion, but I’m just calling a spade a spade. The whole thing had publicity stunt written all over it. And the manipulative nature of it makes me wince with embarrassment.

    (Note: this comment has nothing to do with the concept of women and the priesthood, only the scripted event that happened this weekend.)

  34. Howard
    October 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    In my view OW were simply placing their request for TSM to inquire of the Lord in a way similar to Zelophehad’s daughters (see Numbers 27): Then came the daughters of Zelophehad…And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying…And Moses brought their cause before the Lord. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, The daughters of Zelophehad speak right… The big difference here is TSM is far less accessible and accommodating than Moses was.

  35. kaphor
    October 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Re: #35, Good point Howard.
    And what did TSM say to their request?

    Through the conference he presided over? It would seem he said something to the effect of, “The Priesthood is for men, you have a unique, equally divine destiny to play through the power of the Priesthood that does not require you to be ordained to a particular office and administer in equal capacity to the men.”

    Will the answer to the question be heeded? Do you or others believe the other Apostles who touched on this issue were out of sync with the Lord or what TSM would have said?

    Please don’t dodge the issue by pointing to accessibility. There have been several answers given on this subject. And even if some don’t feel the direct question was asked and directly answered, no answer is indeed an answer.

  36. Jax
    October 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    In my view OW were simply placing their request for TSM to inquire of the Lord in a way similar to Zelophehad’s daughters (see Numbers 27):

    Right… like he hasn’t heard the plea before through media outlets, letters, etc. They had put up their request LONG before Saturday night, they just refuse to accept any answer except the one THEY think is right. They do, and will continue to disregard all of the comments rejecting their reasoning even though it comes from both the men AND women in the church hierarchy. I don’t see this as a simple supplication; I think that argument is just a convenient cover for refusal to accept the counsel already given.

  37. Howard
    October 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I think we’re all still waiting to hear what God had to say about it.

  38. Old Man
    October 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Julie M. Smith and Cynthia L.,

    The O.W. adherents and many advocating for the ordination of women have used much stronger descriptors of church leaders, as well as derogatory language while characterizing traditional LDS beliefs, practices and temple ordinances.

    But I can see your point, and I apologize to anyone wishing to engage in civil dialogue, especially you two, who may be offended by my use of the word “minions.”

  39. BobtheBuilder
    October 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I was moderately symapthetic until I read the accusations that by “using a garbage truck to block their entrance the [Church] is saying women are garbage.”. At that point my sympathy changed to eye rolling and loss of respect.

  40. Leonard R
    October 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm


    The key aspect, I think, for their exclusion was not simply to preserve a male-only space (their allowing men to be present, in addition to the “presiders” and speakers at the Relief Society session demonstrates). It was because they wanted to attend in their self-proclaimed capacity as prospective elders. And in that regard I agree they were mistaken. They should have welcomed them saying, “this meeting is for priesthood and prospective priesthood holders. While we don’t view you as such, we welcome you as sisters in Christ.”.

    That being said, I hear what you are saying and I am in agreement re: the desirability of a continued male space. In the same way, I hope that if there were any changes, that Relief Society would continue to provide a female only space (though obviously an extension of ordination would allow them to preside at their own meetings.)

    But this post seems to do exactly what talks at the last two conferences have gone at lengths to not do – namely equate “priesthood” with “male”.

    And there is no reason to assume that the male space would have to be done away if women were ordained. We would only have to change the name of the session.

    I think maintaining our “third hour” meetings segregated by sex is a non-issue. Young Women and Relief Society members could easily be ordained and formed into their own sex-specific quorums. I think the only issue would be to ensure either these gender specific quorums were treated as co-equal and there be co-equal presiding presidencies at teach level (say Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies co-equal with Ward and Stake RS presidencies). Or the Bishoprics, Stake Presidencies, Seventies, Apostles, First Presidencies could be drawn from members of both the EQ/HP and the RS quorums.

    In other words, RS could become part of the priesthood, and have an increased/equal role in both church governance and sacral roles, and men could still have their own meeting.

  41. SWM
    October 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Is anyone getting flashbacks to the time the blacks protested the priesthood ban out of existence? If you are you’ve got a faulty memory. That’s the last time anything near as big as what OW wants to happen happened, and it was preceded by decades’ worth of prophets praying for it to happen.

    We were reminded yesterday that there is an essential difference between the genders. There is a yin and there is a yang. We don’t understand the first part of what makes them different, and here we are demanding something happen that we might come to understand as obscene, with just a little more knowledge. I wish I knew what the Priesthood was, I really do. I wish I had the fundamental knowledge that OW seems to have, to demand that priesthood be conferred upon people who are as fundamentally unable to bear it as men are fundamentally unable to bear children. Not in a women-are-weak-and-can’t-take-it way, in a men-don’t-actually-have-uteri way.

  42. Howard
    October 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    I think demand is the wrong word, use request instead and I think it will make mose sense to you SWM.

  43. Chris Kimball
    October 7, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Re #15 Nate: My wife listened to the Priesthood Session on her laptop computer sitting in our family room. She paid more attention than I did. I applaud the fact that she listened and the fact that she could do so with no hint of impropriety. And my subjective experience was that it was no longer a men’s meeting but simply another session of *general* Conference.
    Others may have a different threshold. Perhaps you are saying that your threshold will be crossed when there are women in the seats, in the live audience. For others that threshhold may have been crossed when the proceedings were published for all the world to see. Or maybe that threshold was crossed for some back when the audience grew beyond the men who could crowd into the Assembly Hall (by way of telephone lines to Stake Centers, recalling my teen years).
    But for me as audience (of one), it turns out that when the session is broadcast live without limit or invitation it no longer feels like a men’s meeting.
    A similar question could be asked about the speakers. And when I play the (purely hypothetical) image of speaking at a Priesthood Session, if I knew there was a live and unrestricted video feed I would shift my approach and choose my words for a general meeting rather than a men’s meeting.

  44. Howard
    October 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Humm, I wonder if women ever feel a similar inhibition regarding their meetings?

  45. October 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    “To be sure, there may be times when important aspects of general Church governance are thrashed out in priesthood session, although after a lifetime of attending the meeting I can’t think of any specific instances.”

    Do you know what one of my clearest memories is? Amidst serious other issues that already had my soul injured and my testimony of the human administration of the church tested to its breaking point, the change in temple recommend renewal from every year to every two years was announced.

    In priesthood session.

    Why? Did this not affect the women equally with the men? Are we not told over and over and over, “Don’t worry about the priesthood. You are blessed by its power with your husband/through your home teacher . . . [some variation].” Yes, we could find out just fine when our husbands came home, when our home teachers came to visit, at church the next Sunday, when the Ensign came out in a month. That is not the point. Men received the information. Women would find out somehow. Don’t worry that this is a church governance issue and you are on a need-to-know basis (even if every one is in the need-to-know category). It is insulting.

    To you, it is probably no big deal. After all, it changes nothing. It is not a secret. But, reverse the roles in you mind for a moment. What if women received the church administration and procedural changes first-hand, from the mouth of the prophet. Then, they would let you know. They would always let you know, of course, but afterwards. Always the second tier of those who know.

    ” . . . namely that female exclusion from priesthood session is a mechanism for reinforcing male power — strikes me as mistaken.”

    Absolutely, I think you are right that it is not a devious and malicious male plot. However, I think it does achieve this effect. I honestly do not dwell on the above temple-recommend interview change in policy announcement usually. What brought it to mind? I did listen to the priesthood session broadcast on TV (and you are right–a lot of guy stuff). Do you know what was said in the opening prayer? He offered thanks that you could be there to be “instructed in church governance.”

    Think about that. Think about that prayer, about your session being an official part of conference, about the structural lesson that is being experientially and subconsciously taught to generations of young men. They will govern the church. They go to an extra official session of conference, unlike their mothers and sisters. Men may pay lip service (and real service) to how special women are, but structurally this is the message being reinforced: We men lead the church and the women will follow our leadership. Whether you want to admit it or not, the message is that men are better than women. Women may be the mothers in Zion, but men are likewise the fathers in Zion. Leadership is something outside the mother and father role. It is something predominantly reserved for the men. The men are special. Again, I don’t think this is a conscious evil plot to undermine women. However, it is the effect of the structure on how men view women–and, maybe worse yet, how young women grow up thinking about themselves. Do you know how long it took me to unlearn this?

    I have said this in one of my own posts, but I ask it here again. Do you really think that our Heavenly Mother is excluded from the councils of heaven and from governance? I don’t. I think she has an equal voice with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. That is church governance to me–all worthy men and women acting under the inspiration of God together. To me, this is what the ideal councils of the church would look like, in some manner. That pattern is supposed to be the model for couples in leading their families. It does not seem far-fetched to me to have an additional order of the priesthood for women that is heard more equally in the governance of the church on earth. (When I say things like this, I do not suggest that I or any mortal instruct God on the church. I am saying that this is something I could see asking God about.)

    What follows is my point of view only; I do not speak for any other woman or organization. Women are told that they already have priesthood power in some form (see above wording variations). If that is the case, then it should not be a big deal for them to attend priesthood session since they do not have a priesthood session of their own to attend. It is not that we (I) want to invade your priesthood session or your time to talk about manly issues. But, we women have been denied, thus far, our own priesthood session.

    Your priesthood session is the only one that exists, currently.

    So, some sisters asked to sit at the master’s feet rather than to pick up the second-hand crumbs that fell from the master’s table.

    Some sisters made the prayers of their heart visible, they bared their souls at the door. Many of us don’t want to intrude on your space. You have a right to your space. I think we women have righteous desires to serve more fully and more equally our fellow sisters and, yes, even to be heard in the governance of the church in general. I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t pretend to know what that looks like. God knows. I humbly wait for that organization to be revealed.

    Emma Mae @ Earthly Sisters

  46. October 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm


    OW may be civil but I don’t believe they are respectful. They are applying civil norms to a private, religious space which is disrespectful on its face.

    And there’s the rub. The governing body in the church, the power of God on earth, is a “private, religious space.” For people like you, there is NO WAY for women to approach the subject without being deemed disrespectful.

    This, even though non-member males are welcomed and included and never seen as being interlopers int he “private, religious space” of priesthood authority. Why is that?

    If they were “taking great pains” to be respectful couldn’t they have called ahead and ask if they would be allowed to attend? Wouldn’t most people think it disrespectful to attempt entry to an event where you are most likely going to be turned away?

    First, who the heck do you call? Is there a “please treat me like an equal” number I wasn’t given?

    Second, they DID ask ahead of time.

    Third, they didn’t “attempt entry,” they REQUESTED entry. Wow, for freaking rude!

  47. Jax
    October 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    This, even though non-member males are welcomed and included and never seen as being interlopers int he “private, religious space” of priesthood authority. Why is that?

    I don’t like having non-members there either Alison. It does bother me… If it were up to me I would exclude them as well for the obvious reason that THEY DON’T HAVE THE PRIESTHOOD! So don’t use the superlative “never”. A question though, would a generalized viewing of them as interlopers by the hierarchy make YOU feel better?

    Emma Mae Speak: the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was given at General Relief Society meeting. I don’t know any brethren bothered that something affecting everyone was delivered to the RS,

    Yes, we could find out just fine when our [wives] came home, when our home teachers came to visit, at church the next Sunday, when the Ensign came out in a month. That is not the point.[Women] received the information. [Men] would find out somehow.

  48. October 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Good point, Jax. However, the Proclamation was not a change in church policy or procedural processes. It was setting out of long-held beliefs in a Proclamation, in a very clear and coherent form.

    Emma Mae @ Earthly Sisters

  49. Jax
    October 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Emma, I rarely ever hear anything at Priesthood session except “YM, keep clean”, “Do your home teaching”, etc. Very, Very little by the way of changing church policy or procedural processes (Temple Recommends being the only thing I can remember AT ALL). IMO, the only other thing that might be close is the “don’t gamble” from Pres. Hinckley, but that was just setting out long-held beliefs in a very clear coherent form. The prayer may have been “help us learn church governance”, but my life long attendance has netted just one such occurrence.

  50. Sally
    October 7, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Yes the Proclamation was read in the RS meeting but Chieko Okazaki was in the RS presidency at the time and expressed in a later interview frustration that the sisters had no opportunity to have any input in it. So where it was read didn’t mean much.

  51. Howard
    October 7, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Privilege blindness requires open mindedness, empathy and introspection to cure.

  52. SWM
    October 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    It wasn’t a request. If they thought there was any chance they would be let in it might have been a request. It was a protest, and protests are demands. If they’ve been eating crumbs they’ve been at the wrong table. There are other tables. They do not understand their own femininity. They don’t know what it is. Not that any of us do. Whatever it is, it’s incompatible with priesthood, which we also don’t know what is. We don’t understand masculinity. These are forces far beyond our comprehension, that’s what the apostles reminded us yesterday.

  53. whizzbang
    October 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    If some women want the priesthood why don’t they join a church that already ordains women? besides of which some of the women on the ordainwomen website aren’t even members. Stand out in front of the font first and get baptized!

  54. mtnmarty
    October 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    For people like you, there is NO WAY for women to approach the subject without being deemed disrespectful.

    Well, I think the bishop would be a good place to start. I had not heard of OW before, but I did hear of them in the media and thought it was sad. Its not so much from my gender politics but my loyalty politics that give me that feeling. Friends don’t fight in public. If you try to make someone lose face in public, its a war.

  55. palerobber
    October 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    nice post, Nate.

    i have one question for you…

    The reality is that priesthood session is a meeting for Mormon men. That is central to its tradition, and that tradition is something honorable and worth cherishing.

    how would you extrapolate this to the pre-1978 context? if you were writing back then, would you still view priesthood session as a meeting for all Mormon men, including those who did not hold the priesthood and had no prospect (according to the doctrine of the time, hindsight notwithstanding) of holding the priesthood?

    i hope you can see this is not intended as a “gotcha question”. i’m sincerely interested in your thoughts on this.

  56. Cameron
    October 8, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Emma, surely the impact of temple recommend invervals is less meaningful to you than the proclamation?

  57. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 1:38 am

    If you try to make someone lose face in public, it is not a war, it’s politics. A war maims bodies and deprives people of life, family, and security. Let’s please not use a war metaphor to describe this.

    “If some women want the priesthood why don’t they join a church that already ordains women? ”

    Because they love this church and still want to be a part of it. I don’t think anyone raising these kinds of “love it or leave it” dismissals has stopped to listen to these women. I know a few of these women. These are not fire-brand proto-apostates. They’re daughters of God, and nothing they’ve done constitutes apostasy that I can see. Especially after some of the talks in this last conference.

    I have *no explanation*, other than Church tradition, to offer my daughters, who have already asked me about this, declared it unfair, heard me express my helplessness about that and the conviction I have that even if perceived unfair, it’s still a true church, still their best hope for happiness in a mad world, still a place where no leader means to inflict harm on a follower. I want a better answer than that to give my kids and grandkids. They’re smart people. They deserve a better answer than that. They deserve better than “love it or leave it.” They’re being left to themselves to work out an answer before the Lord, and if anything is true about young people, it’s that they’re still learning the shape of what that is, and could very easily fall to error over it.

    If there’s a complementarian case to make, please, show it to me in canon. I would rather have an explanation myself.

  58. ji
    October 8, 2013 at 5:49 am

    A better answer? Teach your daughters Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Charity in the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them not to let any one issue become a stumblingblock, but to rejoice in the breadth and depth of the message of the Gospel. Teach them that the Church is the community of Saints organized on the earth. You don’t have to apologize for the Church. As a father, you want to set an example of sustaining and upholding and honoring. Please, hold them close to the Church.

    A couple members of the Twelve had something to say on this matter during last weekend’s General Conference. Can you share those messages with your daughters? While those messages might be unsatisfying to you, maybe they will meet your daughters’s needs?

  59. Steve
    October 8, 2013 at 8:50 am

    ji, seeking the priesthood can’t be regarded to be a “stumbling block” to activity in the LDS church so long as the women who seek it remain active in the church. Would you consider blacks seeking the priesthood prior to 1978 to have been tripping over a stumbling block?

    You don’t have to agree with everything that is said in conference to be considered a member in good standing. The church leaders are not infallible in word or deed, nor have they ever claimed to be.

  60. October 8, 2013 at 9:55 am


    A question though, would a generalized viewing of them as interlopers by the hierarchy make YOU feel better?

    It would be CONSISTENT. Whether or not I agree, at least it removes a gross stupidity from the discussion. As it stands, it’s genitalia and/or chromosomes that matters. Maybe we’re due for a Mormon Yentl experience. (Did any other old-timers watch that movie and think, “Wow, I know how she feels!”?)


    Well, I think the bishop would be a good place to start.

    Why would the priesthood be less of “private, religious space” in the bishop’s office? And how do you know they haven’t already done so? How does doing so even help since the bishops don’t have the authority to make such decisions?

    I’ve talked to lots of priesthood leaders over the decades. They tend to be uncomfortable about the topic, uninformed about the topic, uninterested in the topic, or they simply don’t know what to say, because they have to toe the party line even while they try to help, They have no answers because the only authoritative answers are things like, “That’s the way it’s always been done, that’s the pattern.” and “Well, we don’t know, but you are super dee duper important!”


    If some women want the priesthood why don’t they join a church that already ordains women?

    Holy cow. Thus we see the problem.

    Let me suggest something to you, whizzbang. If I didn’t believe the church was God’s church, I wouldn’t give a flying fig about it’s fake priesthood or it’s exclusionary policies. And I would have been gone as soon as I moved out of my parent’s house (and maybe before, if I could have gotten away with it).

    I have a very libertarian bent. Generally speaking, I think religions and businesses and individuals should be able to do what they want unless it involves fraud, etc.

    If I really wanted to patronize a men’s only club/golf course, for example, I would not sue for the “right.” I’d try to find a better golf course to patronize or I’d build a better course that was inclusive or all female or something or I would try to persuade them that it would be best for all involved to admit me.

    BELIEVING Mormons have an obvious problem because they have few options. They can’t go elsewhere, they can’t create their own church. The only avenue they have for inclusion in what they long for is to plead with the powers that be.

    Rob, do you mind if I quote you? That was awesome. Although I’ve had these issues all my life, I kept them to myself (or to myself and my parents and my husband). It was when I had daughters who asked me the same questions and had the same concerns that I began writing about it publicly. They can’t help but see it.

  61. October 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Personally I thought that John Shaw articulated the solution that most directly and completely addresses the perceived gender inequity in General Conference and Sunday meetings – combine Young Women and Relief Society in a way comparable to the way that Young Men and Melchezidek Priesthood groups interact – that might necessitate dividing the Relief Society into a generally more seasoned group and a younger group comparable to the Elders Quorum and the High Priests Group. (I’ll bet many sisters would prefer not to be just like the brothers if it meant going that far.)

  62. Howard
    October 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Once upon a time black skin was incompatible with the priesthood and that was what the apostles reminded us of. OW were not demanding entrance, they knew it would not be granted, they were requesting that TSM inquire of the Lord regarding female ordination. President Hinckley allowed it may be possible but suggested without agitation it would not go forward. You may not like it, it may make you feel uncomfortable but given these things plus the precedent of Zelophehad’s daughters these women are on pretty solid ground and so far the church has taken no action against them so why should you or anyone else?

  63. Moderate Midwesterner
    October 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Emma, I’ll tell you why I think the temple recommend thing happened in priesthood session: because it affected bishops, their counselors, their secretaries, and their clerks; and stake presidents, their counselors, their secretaries, and their clerks *far* more than it did any individual member of the Church, male or female.

    Temple recommend renewals required an enormous amount of time and effort by the men serving in those callings — across thousands of stakes and tens of thousands of wards and branches. Because it was an administrative change more than anything else, and because it affected the men in attendance (and their wives and children?) more than anyone else, it seems that the priesthood session would indeed be the most appropriate place to tell them all they’d be getting half of their lives back.

  64. mtnmarty
    October 8, 2013 at 10:24 am


    I have no idea what the future will bring in terms of feminism, priesthood and changes in the LDS church.

    I guess I’m too literal or lack a complementarian vision but I can’t see where you are inviting anything but pain and heartache for your daughters with a hopeful vision. I certainly felt empathy and pain for the leader of OW for the rejection of attendence.

    If they are smart they will see that gender equality and the forces that inform their sense of fairness are cultural developments that have been opposed by LDS prophets.

    The arguments Elder Oaks speaks of seem straightforward. The decline in marriage and size of families is a warning sign of a culture in trouble.

    I’m not much motivated by the intentions or lifestyles of the people who play politics with religion. We’re all childrem of God.

    Again, I admit its likely a lack of faith on my part, but I view OW like people in a doomed marriage. Their struggles are heart-rending and you realize their wishful thinking hoping for change makes sense to them but you can’t helping thinking they would be better off divorced.

  65. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 10:29 am

    #60 – Ji, of course my daughters are also taught those things, and it fills my heart with gladness (to quote the poet, Rod Stewart) to see them live their lives that way, but what you offer are not direct and simple answers to the posed questions. (By and large they accept the instructions their local leaders give them not to worry about it.)

    #61 – Alison, quote away; I put it in a public forum.

  66. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 10:59 am

    #65 — I don’t think that the condescending implication you give that OW should leave the Church behind (“doomed marriage”) is any kind of an answer, any more than an outright “love it or leave it” as in #54 is a solution.

    In any case, what I seek for my family is a canonical explanation for the way things are. Without it we’re left to speculation and tradition, and the imaginations of the unimaginative, or at the very least the humbly ignorant. The Proclamation on the Family is one such exegesis and it comes to a close explanation, but it constrains itself to family roles proceeding from gender. If they offered something like that specifically describing the bases for the complementary nature of priesthood administration, it would help. Even a clear Conference talk by Elder Holland, who has offered such things in the past, would help.

  67. mtnmarty
    October 8, 2013 at 11:46 am


    I see. My experience is that canonical explanations are tough to come by. Myth and parable seem more common but I hope you and your daughters find what you are seeking.

  68. October 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    mtnmarty: I doubt that feminists are really interested in the canonical argument. Here it is, first from the Book of Abraham:

    2 … I became a rightful heir, a fHigh Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

    3 It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.

    4 I sought for mine aappointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed. . . .

    25 Now the first agovernment of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.

    26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

    27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of aPriesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry . . .

    The priesthood was a right handed down in a patriarchal order from the beginning. Pharaoh laid claim to it through the wrong lineage, a matriarchal lineage.

    The patriarchal nature of the priesthood is once again emphasized in D&C 107:

    40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

    41 This aorder was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:

    42 From Adam to Seth, who was bordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years . . .

    In the Levitical priesthood, it is expressly stated that the fathers and sons are to be ordained. See Numbers 18. When Jesus chose his 12 apostles, he chose only men to represent a continuation of Israel (hence the number 12 for the 12 tribes). Similarly, the 70 were all men. The bishops mentioned in the NT were all men. The elders mentioned in the NT are all men.

    The canonical basis for the patriarchal order of priesthood is solid. Of course God could change it like he changed the Law of Moses. But this issue is not like the racism that drove withholding the priesthood and its blessings from our wonderful Black brothers and sisters. There was never a canonical basis for that practice.

  69. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Well, you shouldn’t come away with the idea that we’re in very much turmoil about it. It’s an intellectual nit that doesn’t contradict the plain personal revelation we in my family share that God really is with us and our leaders, even in our ignorance, and that one day it’ll make sense. This has calmed our hearts.

    My request still stands. If our general leadership can offer something more than Meridian Magazine’s frownsmiley lecturing, all of which is so reminiscent of the stuff that swirled around the idea of Blacks being ordained before 1978, it would go a long way toward calming our minds.

  70. Cameron N
    October 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    67 – Rob, I think that several apostles might respond to your wish by asking, ‘didn’t we talke about these things twice 6 months ago and 3-4 times this past weekend?’ I think they have covered this, perhaps not just in the wording that would provide clarity for you?

  71. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    #71 — Without a doubt, I’m sure some of them would. And my rejoinder would be “can you help me see in the standard works where this pattern is ordained?”

    They were very good talks. I will have to read them much more carefully to see if the intellectual and canonical bases are covered. I pressed a couple of relatives whose knowledge of scripture I respect ten months ago to see if they knew… what I got in return was a lot of angry bluster and a promise that I’d be shown. I’m still waiting for him.

    #69 — Blake, as arguments go, it’s a start, but it seems like there are weaknesses in the argument if it stops there. I’ll have to think about it, especially in terms of how the English language uses the masculine when genders are unknown or mixed, and in terms of Deborah, Huldah, Junia, Phoebe, etc. I don’t think those two passages comprise a complete argument.

    And, put simply, there were many canonical arguments against ordaining Blacks. Joseph F. Smith wrote several.

  72. Howard
    October 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    The patriarchal nature of the priesthood predates the idea that women aren’t chattel, home automation and the birth control pill.

  73. mtnmarty
    October 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm


    What kind of canonical answer would help and why?

    We know genetically what makes males and females but do we have any explanation what it means to be a gendered pre-mortal intelligence.

    I believe that God answers prayers. Way more than from a canonical sermon, why not just study it out in your own minds and pray about it?

    I believe you will receive answers, even if one of those answers is a stupor of thought.

  74. mtnmarty
    October 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    God predates them too. Didn’t seem to be a high priority for him then, but we’re rolling now, aren’t we?

  75. Steve
    October 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    The LDS church has crafted all kinds of policy and doctrine without canonical arguments. There is no precedent of a first presidency in the LDS canon. There is also no precedent of a nation-state, much like the state of Deseret which Brigham Young tried to create. There is also canonical precedent of the temple endowment ceremony. Lastly there is no canonical precedent of the second anointing, a secret temple practice performed by the Q12 and First Presidency on only a select few leaders. Tom Phillips, former Stake President in the UK, talks of the second anointing and relays how wives in the ceremony would give their husbands blessings with the laying on of hands.

    So this idea that LDS doctrine and policy has always been informed by canon or needs to have a canonical basis is simply not true. So who cares about what the Book of Abraham or the Old Testament says. Besides there appears to be nothing in LDS canon forbidding women from holding the priesthood. Furthermore, doesn’t the idea of “continuing revelation” in the LDS church obviate the need for a canonical basis for policy and doctrine changes?

  76. Mtnmarty
    October 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm


    I agree but the argument cuts both ways. The advantage of revelation, is that we can presume the current set up is just fine until it changes and then we can like that too.

  77. October 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Steve: I would hope that LDS care what our canon says since it contains the present revelation applicable to us. Where do you think we find the revelations in the doctrine of continuing revelation? Until overruled by some later pronouncement of revelation, these are the revelations given to us to guide us. So I care.

  78. October 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Steve: BTW you are wrong about there being no canonical precedent for the temple endowment or First Presidency. It is beyond revealing that you cite Tom Phillips as an authoritative source but won’t accept what the canon states. I suspect most LDS are not going to accept that priority of authority. I know that I do not.

  79. Howard
    October 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    The advantage of revelation, is that we can presume the current set up is just fine until it changes and then we can like that too.. While I appreciate this sentiment, when you consider the black ban fiasco it becomes clear that this statement presumes too much. We must guard against repeating that kind of blindness.

  80. October 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Steve: Let me add that the trek and gathering of the Saints was self-consciously patterned after the order and camp of Israel.

    Howard: The concern you state is well taken, but ignoring the canon is not the answer to that concern. However, I think I could agree that the argument that “well, we have just always done it that way” doesn’t hold much weight. Nevertheless, “we did it that way because that is the way God said to do it” carries a great deal of weight — and it ought to.

  81. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    The reason I think a canonical basis would be persuasive is because I find Elder Holland’s “of Souls, Symbols, and Sacrifices” exegesis persuasive. The general officers of the Church are at their most persuasive when they’re able to start with a basis in the Standard Works and proceed with their reasoning from there, as Holland did when contextualizing the doctrinal reasons behind LDS standards of sexual purity.

    I have yet to hear or read something that powerful in connection with a justification behind not ordaining women.

    That we have an open canon also presents the possibility that we’ll simply be told one day, “here’s how it is,” with the doctrine set before the Church for a sustaining vote. I’d be fine with one of those as well, but I don’t have the sense that this last Conference’s talks met that standard.

    Meantime, the Spirit whispers “stay, serve, and wait upon the Lord,” while at no time also whispering, “but keep your trap shut and your head down.” It would be gracious of everyone, #74 included, if they would proceed from the assumption that these things have already been part of a personal wrestle with God.

  82. Steve
    October 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Blake, LDS people do by and large tend to care what the canon says, you are living proof of that. But the LDS rank and file do often tend to ignore the fact that not all of the LDS church’s doctrines and policies are actually based on LDS canon. The specifics of the temple ceremony are not at all found anywhere in LDS canon. That should be quite obvious for anyone who has been through the temple ceremony or watched it on youtube ;). But the LDS church regards the temple ceremony to be modern-day revelation nonetheless. Also, a lot of the canon is not applicable and irrevelant. The LDS church doesn’t believe the 613 commandments laid out in the Torah/OT to be at all binding. But you kind of seem to have the attitude that women cannot have the priesthood simply because there is no canonical basis. The buck stops with FP and Q12, not the LDS canon and TBM interpretations of it. Sure, the FP/Q12 try to base their injunctions on the canon so as to give them a more established basis. But what’s to say that Thomas S. Monson can’t up and claim a revelation much like President Kimball did in 1978, that women can hold the priesthood? Furthermore, what’s to say that pressure from inside the LDS church won’t prompt the FP/Q12 to undertake a policy/doctrinal change and claim it as a revelation?

    As for Tom Phillips, sure it would be nice to have some other sources that corroborate his words about the second anointing. But I have a hard time believing that he was just making that stuff up. Embellishing, perhaps, but not complete fabrication. Besides, we already know that women perform the washings and anointings as part of the initiatory ceremony in the temple for other women. Should we up and decry that practice because it has no canonical basis?

  83. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Steve, it’s very difficult for me to accept that the specifics of the temple ceremony are not found anywhere in canon. The specifics are everywhere in canon. There isn’t a meaningful line of Temple ritual, from the baptismal font all the way to the sealing, which aren’t filled with references to canon, citations of canon, context of canon. Much of it is based in modern-day canon.

  84. Steve
    October 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Rob, think more specific.

  85. Howard
    October 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Well said Blake although it is often difficult to decern the principal from the letter and there seems to be a tendency to casually declare some things eternal laws that simply aren’t or logically shouldn’t (couldn’t?) be. Also attempts to decern actual meaning tend to result legal exegesis which may or may not express God’s intent. So in the end I think referencing canon is important but in many cases not at all compelling.

  86. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Steve, my stance is very specific; I spent years in the Temple officiating in these ceremonies.

  87. Steve
    October 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    OK, the idea of a temple, the ordinances, and some of the narrative is based on canon. But the specific handshakes, clothing, etc. isn’t. And the more specific you get about temple ritual, the less of a canonical basis it has. I’m not saying that it isn’t based on revelation. That’s clearly what Joseph Smith claimed was the origin of the temple ceremony.

  88. Steve
    October 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    “When Jesus chose his 12 apostles, he chose only men to represent a continuation of Israel (hence the number 12 for the 12 tribes). Similarly, the 70 were all men. The bishops mentioned in the NT were all men. The elders mentioned in the NT are all men.”

    Yeah, they were all probably non-blacks as well. Still, with the exception of some interpretations of Abraham chapter 1, there is no specific piece of canon that forbids blacks to hold the priesthood.

  89. Chet
    October 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Not sure if any change will happen based on age and nationality of current apostles.

  90. Rob Perkins
    October 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    #88 — Incorrect, in my view. The more specific you get, the easier it is to associate with a passage of scripture. Some of the clothing (for one example) is specifically contextualized using passages of scripture during the ordinances. In two places the officiator actually lifts up a book of scripture, referring to it in connection with covenants. The rest offers signals pointing to Leviticus, Kings, Chronicles, and some passages in the psalms, and the “lesser Prophets” at least, mostly centered around the idea of a covenant relationship with God. The ideas aren’t only there in general, they’re specifically canonical.

    When Joseph Smith revealed it, he used a form of fraternity familiar to the Nauvoo saints, and both the Bible and the new revelations. It’s all there, found in the canon.

  91. Mtnmarty
    October 8, 2013 at 9:36 pm


    I’ve been looking at this all wrong. How about a two-fer, women ordained and we bring back polygamy?

  92. Jax
    October 8, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Really. I’m a bit stunned. We’re only 2 days from when an apostle, whom I assume we all raised our hands to sustain, told us that the priesthood is for males only and that’s just the way it is – why do we have people saying “yeah, but we should ignore him and do it anyway”??? Doesn’t “sustain” mean “I’ll support him, talk kindly about him, when others ridicule him I’ll stand at his side, when people call him a fake I’ll bear testimony to his call, i’ll not work against him, I’ll help him accomplish the goals he sets and won’t work to oppose him, I’ll not say he doesn’t understand, I’ll treat him like a prophet/seer/revelator and ACT like he is…etc”

    How can a person possibly say they “sustain” someone whom they don’t support? or work toward different and contrary goals then they have expressed? That isn’t “sustaining” in any way is it??

  93. Howard
    October 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    …told us that the priesthood is for males only and that’s just the way it is. Really? Gee, I must have missed this. Please provide the exact quote. Did he exclude the possibility of that changing in the future because President Hinckley’s interview clearly did!

  94. Howard
    October 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Correction: President Hinckley’s interview clearly allowed for change.

  95. Steve
    October 9, 2013 at 12:28 am

    “The ideas aren’t only there in general, they’re specifically canonical.”

    Really?? Maybe with some mental gymnastics. Compare temple worship with masonry. I’ll think that you’ll find greater parallels there than with the Old Testament. But I think I’ve beaten this dead horse enough.

    #93, sustain doesn’t mean treat as infallible in word and deed and to agree with every last word that they say in conference. I can support and offer suggestions for change. Also, no one is “ignoring” or “ridiculing” the prophet with regard to the question of priesthood. I don’t see any wards or stakes directly flouting the higher leadership by ordaining women or 11-year-olds and having them perform ordinances. Of course, I often forget that you’re not on here for serious debate. You’re here to stir the pot and go on crusades against people with serious questions. But I might as well shoot down an easy target.

  96. Kristine
    October 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

    #69: “The canonical basis for the patriarchal order of priesthood is solid. Of course God could change it like he changed the Law of Moses. But this issue is not like the racism that drove withholding the priesthood and its blessings from our wonderful Black brothers and sisters. There was never a canonical basis for that practice.”

    But a huge majority of church members and leaders believed that there was for many, many years. They cited specific verses of scripture and the words of priesthood leaders as prooftexts for their practice. And then they learned, by revelation, that their interpretation of the canon had been wrong.

    Undoubtedly, their desire to know the Lord’s will came from whisperings of the spirit, but it ALSO came from social and cultural pressures and the pragmatic needs of the Church, and from reading the scriptures with the questions raised by those cultural forces in mind. We wouldn’t need prophets if the scriptures were self-interpreting.

  97. stephenchardy
    October 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Blake, #81 said this:

    “Nevertheless, “we did it that way because that is the way God said to do it” carries a great deal of weight — and it ought to.”

    The problem that I have with such a statement is simply that (to my knowledge) God did not say “to do it.” Or not do it, as the case may be.

    In terms of Africans and priesthood, there is no scripture that explicitly banned Africans from having the priesthood. There were some scritpures and traditions which were used to justify it, but these scripture needed to be coaxed, or parsed, or to use a BoM phrase, they needed to be “wrested” to support the conclusion that the entire African race was under a God-inspired curse.

    For women and the Priesthood, there also is no specific ban from ordination. Sure we have scriptures, mostly taken from a time when women were considered to be property, and not deemed capable of independent thought or action, which speak of a Patriarchal priesthood, or saying something like “a man” will be ordained. But such scriptures are not a roadblock to ordination of women. There is no stated or clear ban against the ordination of women.

    Those of us who believe that God may be OK with giving the priesthood to women take note that God never said not “to do it.”

    One may say or believe that this Church is run entirely by revelation, and thus that every practice and tradition is set by explicit revelation from God. Or more to the point, we may believe that God would not tolerate significant shortcomings or problems in His church. If we believe that, then it’s time to say “amen” to further and new revelation. We don’t need it. “… we have a Bible.”

  98. October 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    stephenchardy: I believe that Pres. Hinckley disagrees with you:

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

    In his ABCTV interview with David Ransom Pres. Hinckley stated:

    DR: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church. Why is that?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: That’s right, because the Lord has put it that way. Now women have a very prominent place in this Church. They have there own organisation. Probably the largest women’s organisation in the world of 3.7 million members. And the women of that organisation sit on Boards. Our Board of Education things of that kind. They counsel with us. We counsel together. They bring in insight that we very much appreciate and they have this tremendous organisation of the world where they grow and if you ask them they’ll say we’re happy and we’re satisfied.

    DR: They all say that?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Yes. All except a oh you’ll find a little handful one or two here and there, but in 10 million members you expect that.

    DR: You say the Lord has put it that way. What do you mean by that?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: I mean that’s a part of His programme. Of course it is, yes.

    DR: Is it possible that the rules could change in the future as the rules are on Blacks ?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: He could change them yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.

    DR: So you’d have to get a revelation?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organisation are very happy. Ask them. Ask my wife.

    I believe that the scriptures and precedent I cited are very clear regarding women and the priesthood. Regardless of my own personal preferences, your assertion that it is not addressed and is an open question just ignores what has been said in scripture and the by modern prophets. Now if God desires to give a revelation to change it, I am all for it. Until then, bending and ignoring history will not get us very far.

  99. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that the best source we have on this issue comes from a TV interview! Why? Because an outsider will actually ask the question and the audience expects a reasonable response.

  100. October 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Howard: I guess if you don’t like the scriptures I cited then TV interview is the best you have. Of course I could start citing all kinds of conference talks; but I doubt that would settle it for ya.

  101. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    What else can you point to that is this explicitly stated?

  102. Nathan Whilk
    October 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    “We know so little, brothers and sisters, about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place.” Elder Maxwell, April 1978 General Conference. Quoted approvingly by President Faust in October 2005 General Conference.

  103. Nathan Whilk
    October 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    “These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood—but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord.” President Kimball, Women’s Fireside, September 15, 1979.

  104. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    the Lord has put it that way…He could change them yes…But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied.

  105. stephen Hardy
    October 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Blake: I agree with you that President Hinkley would have not agreed with me. President Lee would have disagreed with me about Africans and the priesthood, and President Young would have disagreed with me about the demographic make-up of the eternal family. Our founding documents, our scriptures, never forbid women from being ordained.

  106. Nathan Whilk
    October 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    “In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Priesthood is conferred, as an individual bestowal, upon men only, and this in accordance with divine requirement.” Elder Talmage, October 1914.

  107. Raymond Takashi Swenson
    October 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    My wife and daughter really enjoyed the rpevious week’s church-wide Relief Society meeting. My impression is that they found it “empowering”, in the sense of giving them a sense of both accomplishment and mission. To add men to the audience in such events would dilute that message. And by the same token, having woemn and girls in every priesthood meeting would dilute the sense of accomplishment and mission for male Mormons.

    While it may bother some feminists, the fact is that men and boys need to be taught how to experience joy in their role in God’s kingdom. There are new generations of boys and men who need to be built, to be “edified”. To deny that there is anything significant about being male is to deny sustenance to a real part of our male personalities, just as females need targeted encouragement on occasion.

    The LDS scriptures and teachings make clear that the gender part of each of us is a core part of each of us, and needs to be integrated into the rest of our personalities and behaviors. While some other Christians believe that gender is a transitory phenomenon, we Mormons believe that turning ourselves into better men and better women has lasting, even eternal value. The notion that all gender differences are mere social constructs that can be torn down and discarded at will is false, and to the extent that critiques of the LDS priesthood and how it operates are based on such assumptions, they are incorrect.

    The fact is that as our society is increasingly based on technology rather than physical skills, women have been surpassing men in gaining education and in advancing in professions that rely on intellect, including law schools and law practice. If not for the desire of many women to give higher priority to raising families for part of their lives, they would already be dominating many workplaces. For men to compete in this environment as equals, they need more of the habits that come more naturally to women. My view is that priesthood service teaches those disciplines. We will need it for men to stay even with their female peers in many fields of endeavor.

  108. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    RTS these phrases seem like strawmen to me: To deny that there is anything significant about being male… The notion that all gender differences are mere social constructs that can be torn down and discarded at will is false Can you point to anyone supporting female ordination who actually makes these claims?

  109. Nathan Whilk
    October 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    “By divine fiat, the Priesthood is conferred on the men.” Elder Widtsoe, March 1942.

  110. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    From Elder Anderson on Sunday

    Some may sincerely ask the question, “If the power and blessings of the priesthood are available to all, why are the ordinances of the priesthood administered by men?”

    When an angel asked Nephi, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Nephi answered honestly, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

    When we speak of the priesthood, there are many things we do know.

    We know that God loves all His children and is no respecter of persons. “He denieth none that come unto him, … male [or] female; … and all are alike unto God.”

    As surely as we know that God’s love is “alike” for His sons and His daughters, we also know that He did not create men and women exactly the same. We know that gender is an essential characteristic of both our mortal and eternal identity and purpose. Sacred responsibilities are given to each gender.

    We know that from the beginning the Lord established how His priesthood would be administered. “The Priesthood was first given to Adam.” Noah, Abraham, and Moses all administered priesthood ordinances. Jesus Christ was and is the Great High Priest. He called Apostles. “Ye have not chosen me,” He said, “but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” In our day heavenly messengers were sent from God. John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John restored the priesthood to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is the way our Father in Heaven has administered His priesthood.

    The initial question he states is “why only men?” and he answers, “This is the way our Father in Heaven has administered His Priesthood.

    He also conveniently tells us why the GA’s can’t change it AND why agitating to them does no good, “Ye have not chosen me,” He said, “but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” It is the LORD who calls and sustains priesthood holders, not the GA’s. They are simply the messengers. Don’t blame the men in the church, for we are all bound by the Lord in this thing. If you feel you must “agitate” for a change, fine! But agitate to the ONLY person who can make that decision (God) and let the rest of us worship and serve in peace, without all the controversy you cause.

  111. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Here is Sister Stephen from Saturday morning

    There exists today a great need for men and women to cultivate respect for each other as sons and daughters of God and reverence for our Father in Heaven and His priesthood—His power and authority.

    He has a plan for us, and when we exercise our faith and trust in His plan, our reverence for Him and for His priesthood power and authority will be strengthened.

    I think that the women AND men who want the priesthood given to women would do well to think on this quote as well (truly all of us could use some thinking on it really). I think they’ve lost respect for the men and the priesthood. We’d all do well to acknowledge that He (God) does indeed have a plan for us, that the male only priesthood is part of that plan, and that if we’d show him trust and reverence for HIS wisdom that the priesthood power that we see WILL be strengthened. I think any other course only weakens… and we have enemies enough outside of the church, we don’t need weakening from within as well.

  112. Mtnmarty
    October 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Raymond said “For men to compete in this environment as equals, they need more of the habits that come more naturally to women. My view is that priesthood service teaches those disciplines. We will need it for men to stay even with their female peers in many fields of endeavor.”

    So the priesthood is like an affirmative action program so men can keep up with women. Best answer yet!

  113. Caffeine Drinker
    October 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    In the end, I’m not sure it will really matter which gender is labeled with Priesthood: things are going in the direction that the Ordain Women crowd wants.

    It can only help to have women participate more.

  114. Mtnmarty
    October 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    You mean like diet coke in the Sacrament cups?

  115. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    It can only help to have EVERYONE participate more…

  116. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    He also conveniently tells us why the GA’s can’t change it Yes I agree. AND why agitating to them does no good No! I disagree. Agitation motivates our prophets to find their knees for the purpose of asking. And they need that motivation because SWK made it clear that the Lord doesn’t come to him rather he must approach the Lord and in doing so he found himself wrestling with his own bias and it took months of work to finally receive OD2. So convince me that TSM will go or has gone through that effort without agitation. Finally don’t forget that President Hinckley’s quote strongly implies agitation is necessary and clearly states it could be changed, in fact that is where the word agitation came from regarding female ordination.

    I think they’ve lost respect for the men and the priesthood. Well, let’s see for 182 years those men “forgot” to invite women to pray in GC. Humm, I wounder what else they just glossed over regarding women?

    He (God) does indeed have a plan for us, that the male only priesthood is part of that plan… You are speaking to the future here and President Hinckley allows that change could occur, so you are aiming beyond the mark with this declaration.

  117. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Howard, SWK said that he “agitated” to the Lord about it for months… shouldn’t we therefore agitate likewise and to the same person??? I can gripe to my wife all I want about wanting a pay raise, but if I want it to happen I should talk to the boss! What good is agitating to someone who can’t change things?

    I think they’ve lost respect for the men and the priesthood. Well, let’s see for 182 years those men “forgot” to invite women to pray in GC. Humm, I wounder what else they just glossed over regarding women?

    And so we shouldn’t respect each other?? Despite the counsel to do so?? Is that your point?

    I don’t think I was speaking to the future any more than Elder Anderson was, nor any more than those quoted by others. Male-only priesthood IS how he administers the ordinances. Meaning it IS part of His plan… I think it wise to assume that He knows more than we do and we should act with faith and trust that His plan is best…

  118. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Jax wrote: SWK said that he “agitated” to the Lord about it for months… No. He pondered and prayed for months. shouldn’t we therefore agitate likewise and to the same person??? No you must have missed this part: SWK made it clear that the Lord doesn’t come to him rather he must approach the Lord So we can agitate to the Lord but until TSM approaches the Lord (not the other way around) which apparently requires months of work nothing is expected to happen! Agitating to TSM is the way to get it done.

  119. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    K Howard, give me that threshold that must be crossed here. You say TSM must approach the Lord… Can you tell me if he has or not? What is the satisfying mark here? Does TSM have to come out and say “I’ve been praying for months and been told the priesthood is for men only.” ?? Will that satisfy everyone? or must it be a agitation from now until you get the outcome YOU (and others) want?

    In the meantime, why do authoritative statements get absolutely no respect on this issue. Many have been given on here already, and they’ve apparently been received with a collective “who cares!” by the OW crowd and their supporters. Why? Elder Anderson’s relevant remarks haven’t even had time to be printed in the Ensign yet, and they have already been discarded as obsolete. Is it just because you don’t like the implication of the words? Or do you think it was just a waste of time to say them because they are meaningless anyway?

  120. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Jax you may enjoy this BYU Studies .pdf by Edward L. KimballSpencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood It’s long but illuminating.

  121. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Does TSM have to come out and say “I’ve been praying for months and been told the priesthood is for men only.” Well that’s pretty much what Moses did for Zelophehad’s daughters. Joseph used to say “Thus saith the Lord” a lot.

    In the meantime, why do authoritative statements get absolutely no respect on this issue… “who cares!” Because we’ve been here before with the ban on blacks and all of those “authoritative statements” turned out to be trash.

  122. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Because we’ve been here before with the ban on blacks and all of those “authoritative statements” turned out to be trash.

    So your position here is that Elder Anderson’s GC time was wasted, and so was mine for listening to him.

    So let me get back to the definition of “sustain” please. Are you sustaining/supporting/upholding Elder Anderson as a prophet, seer, and revelator by saying essentially that him comment will turn out to be trash? How does conveying that thought to others sustain him in those roles?

  123. Howard
    October 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Well I and many others are simply having a discussion with them so no I wouldn’t call it a waste of time. And in doing so speaking for myself only I am following the Spirit by participating in the discussion so I guess you could say I’m sustaining the Spirit.

  124. Jax
    October 9, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    You’re “sustaining the Spirit”?? Really? Raised your hand to sustain the Apostles, and they were listed BY NAME, but instantly disregarded what at least one of them had to say. And you justify your not doing what you said you would do, by doing something no one asked you to do.

    At least you’re honest about having lied about your sustaining vote… that’s something at least

  125. Rob Perkins
    October 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Now, that will do.

    I’m pretty sure that upthread someplace was my stance. I question it, because I don’t understand it. I want to understand it, so I won’t be silent about it if the conversation turns to it. Meanwhile, I sustain the leaders and wait on the Lord, take church assignments as they’re given and try to keep the commandments. And note that merely asking the question causes so much dissonance in some of the people I love and respect that they begin to behave rather badly toward me. (I’m referring to personal interactions, not this online discussion here.)

    And in the meantime, there’s some pretty serious mistreatment of women around here who also don’t understand it, and either want to, or want to see it changed. I’m worried quite a lot more about those who take a stance of enmity towards OW or their fellow travelers than I am about OW.

  126. Steve
    October 10, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Howard, no need to feed trolls out of their cages.

  127. Howard
    October 10, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Jax wrote: At least you’re honest about having lied about your sustaining vote… that’s something at least Jax this is your fantasy. Do you really mean to call the Spirit “no one”? Following the Spirit trumps all mortals, how could it be otherwise? If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

  128. Howard
    October 10, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Steve, Jax and I go back a ways. I often respect what he has to say. Right now I’m turning his frame of reference upside down and it gives him vertigo but he’s a nice guy.

  129. Mtnmarty
    October 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I think the ordination issue is a sideshow to the cultural issue that Elder Oaks talked about. The cultural issue is the decline in the number of children per women in traditionally Christian western countries.

    What will reverse the trend? I don’t see how ordaining women and moving towards less gender differentiation does much to reverse that trend.

    It will be interesting to see what effect many more female missionaries will have on childbearing. Will it lead to even more delayed marriage ages which are correlated with fewer childbirths or will it expose women to various high and low fertility rate countries and increase fertility through showing that western ways are not universal?

    Along with increasing equality, democracy has been an ascending value, but a fundamental fact of democracy is that if you can’t outbreed them its very hard to outvote them.

  130. October 10, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Jax, take it down a few notches.

  131. Jax
    October 10, 2013 at 10:52 am


    A list of names were read out during conference Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, …, Neil L. Anderson. Then a very simple question was asked: All those who can sustain these men as Apostles, Seers, and Revelators, please show by the uplifted hand. I assume you lifted your hand which is then saying: Yes, I will treat these men as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. Did the spirit tell you that they aren’t prophets/seers/revelators? If so, then I assume you never raised your had to say that you would treat them as such.

    By your own admission you don’t sustain them as such because of problems in the past. To justify yourself you say you are sustaining the Spirit (which I never called ‘no one’). But at no time in conference were you asked for that sustaining vote. What was asked of you is to sustain the duly called Apostles. Should you follow the spirit? Yes, always. Do I think the spirit will tell you to not sustain the apostles? I’m doubtful.

    You haven’t turned my frame of reference upside down, you’re trying to turn the functioning of the church upside down.

  132. Howard
    October 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I’m a sell what you have, give it to the poor and follow Him disciple and have been for 10 years now. As a result I enjoy easy access to the Spirit, frequent and profound personal revelation. Walking in the Spirit IS my life. Adam and Eve were given contradictory commandments. Did they fulfill both? No. So sometimes we must choose. If God beckoned you to a path you didn’t expect would you tell him no based on a history of having raised you hand?

    Many people have found themselves right with God and wrong with the church, it seems odd at first but it happens. This occurred during the ban on blacks, those opposed turned out to be right, the church was wrong. It is occurring today regarding the ban on women and the ban on gays. Succession and the requirements to reach the church leadership succession funnel insure long term stability at the helm but sustaining this course without at least occasional profound Joseph like revelation (not just inspiration which is far more man than God) insures some course error and blindness to that error like what was uncovered when OD2 was announced.

    I know you and many other “faithful” members dislike any criticism or questioning but the fact is the brethren are participating in this dialog and the conversation is healthy for both the church and the world.

    The church will be in a much better position to continue it’s growth once these and the other dozen or so controversial issues are creditably addressed and inoculated.

  133. Howard
    October 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Jax wrote: All those who can sustain these men as Apostles, Seers, and Revelators, please show by the uplifted hand.

    Jax, how does an Apostle or Prophet, Seer and Revelators magnify their calling without revealing?

  134. KLC
    October 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Jax, to help you with Alison’s request here’s a suggestion. Read everything Howard writes with the voice of Sheldon Cooper. Try it with this:

    “As a result I enjoy easy access to the Spirit, frequent and profound personal revelation.”

    You can’t help but smile.

  135. Howard
    October 10, 2013 at 12:30 pm


  136. October 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    As I already linked in the sidebar, this may be of interest in this discussion:

    Mormon apostle edits ‘feminist thinkers’ from sermon

  137. October 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Jax, I wasn’t kidding. Tone it down or I’ll mod you and pass the info to Nate.

    Take a look at our comment policy which you have, apparently, forgotten. In particular I point you to #3 and #8.

  138. October 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    The conversation may be healthy for the church, but only to the extent that we each moderate our passions and words so they don’t become inflammatory. Remember that after Jesus gave Nephi power to baptize, he commanded:

    “And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been” (3 nephi 11:28).

    I find it instructive that this command was uttered: 1) within this priesthood authority/power conferral context; 2) immediately after he had pronounced the Oneness between himself, his Father, and the Holy Ghost; and 3) immediately before declaring that the devil is the father of contention.

    Does this mean we need to stop talking about important issues? I’d argue not. But we should guard ourselves against the influence of him whose priesthood none of us wants to bear.

  139. Steve
    October 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    James Strang (132), I figured out the problem. You have the wrong church. The doctrine of infallibility is held by the Catholic church about the pope, not the Mormon church. That’s OK, though, people get those two mixed up all the time. Let me redirect you to the forum you probably meant to go to:

  140. Jax
    October 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm


    I don’t know if you are reading my comments with an angry voice in your head, but I’m not writing them that way. I am not using personal attacks, but reasoned out arguments and am explaining the train of thought in a logical manner and using some questions.

    I don’t know how to tone it down from that. I didn’t use any exclamation points in the last post, nor any capitalization to convey yelling/anger/emphasis. I haven’t called into question his righteousness, but have questioned his reasoning for his POV. I haven’t cursed or used rude humor. The only accusation against “him” was his not sustaining the apostles, which is by his own admission.

    If I am somehow over the line, please send me an email outlining how I’ve violated the comment policy. Steve (127) seemed to think I was maybe out of line, but Howard seemed to not think so (129).

  141. Leonard R
    October 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Jax – to me it seems more like your using your interpretation of what “sustaining” means and necessarily entails, and thereby accusing Howard of being an apostate. I think one should always be hesitant in doing that, and recognize that “sustain” is not a clear-cut word.

    While I recognize that one could take your accusations as an invitation to explain how Howard views sustaining, I think it would be more effective and Christ-like to take a “To me, sustaining the brethren entails… From what you’ve said, I assume you view it differently. Can you tell me how you reconcile your views and your commitment to sustain the brethren?”

    Small shift, but one that takes on more the role of a questioner than an accuser.

  142. October 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Jax, no. I’m not going to send a personal email outlining specifics to you. I suggest you take a look back at your comments and think about how they might be problematic.

    And Leonard R gave you some good advice.

  143. Jill
    October 11, 2013 at 2:46 am

    Emma, I don’t know why Heavenly Mother hasn’t made an appearance but she hasn’t. I doubt it’s because she’s been locked away by Elohim. No, she’s all right with whatever her status is and whatever she does. She didn’t appear with Heavenly Father and Jesus during the First Vision. She didn’t show up for J.S.’s next visions in protest that she wasn’t a part of the First Vision–which was pretty darn important.
    And it was J.S., a male, who God chose to restore the gospel–not his mother or father or anyone else. And it was Jesus, a male, who atoned for the sins of world. I don’t know why it wasn’t a female but it wasn’t. And in my book, whoever atones for my sins and everyone else’s gets to be in charge of everything. Do you think he doesn’t know that some women are upset about not being ordained to the priesthood themselves? How do we know TSM hasn’t prayed about this and hasn’t changed policy because he didn’t receive direction to do so?
    TSM is aware of your concerns. You have been heard by him and by Christ himself. You’ve done your part. What if Christ himself says “No” to you? Will you accept that or will you keep after him because you know he’s wrong? Sometimes God says “No” to me and I wish it were
    a “Yes”. I have to humbly accept what I don’t understand or like. We’re to be tried in all things. That means everything possible, but the reward will be worth it. If Heavenly Mother can be okay with not being seen or heard from ever, then that tells me the rest of us aren’t seeing the whole picture.

  144. stephen hardy
    October 11, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Jill: Maybe Heavenly Mother was there. In Joseph Smith’s first written account of the vision he only mentioned that he saw “The Lord.” The significance of what he saw (that there was more than one personage) wasn’t immediately apparent to him, and he didn’t even record it. Maybe HM was there, but he simply didn’t notice her.

  145. Jax
    October 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Stephen, anything could have “maybe” happened.

    Agitating for what the OW crowd wants could “maybe” happen. There an unlimited amount of “maybe” available…

    Something that isn’t a “maybe” is that agitating by a prophet (JS) on behalf a change someone else wanted led to the lose 118 pages of sacred text. So “maybe” agitating for female ordination could be good, and “maybe” is won’t. Are you wise enough to KNOW for sure?

  146. Ed Marcus
    October 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Hmm…I’ve seen women attend the session at the Marriott center without any hoopla. Doctrinally, I’d think that women will eventually have priesthood in some form either here or in the world to come. Don’t women Priesthood keys to preach the gospel on missions? Which brings me to my next point, the dynamic in the church will certainly change as more and more sisters go into the mission field. The fact that the church has created mission leadership positions for sisters is an interesting dynamic.

    Ultimately I do strongly believe male only meetings have significant value.

  147. jill
    October 19, 2013 at 12:29 am

    JS noticed that the Lord had a physical body. He would have noticed big time had one of them been female.

  148. PA
    October 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Something we haven’t addressed, it seems, is the importance of considering whether men and women actually need to be valued in different ways, or the importance of the two sexes actually having to rely on each other–being bound by what they don’t have. These questions open up a can of worms but for me, they are the most important issue. Separate spheres is not just about creating the opportunity to address different problems, but also about binding the sexes together. If a young man has something a a young woman needs, she admires him, respects him. If a young woman has something a young man needs, vice versa. Yes, there may be inequality here–especially when we consider the changing nature of gender expectation brought on by birth control pills, etc–but that inequality doesn’t obviate the need to really discuss the problems of a liberal, individualistic, egalitarian world that so many assume to be ideal. What of deep-seated instinct. It’s there. To pretend otherwise is to fall into the trap of savvy social scientists who decry “essentialism” as a sin.

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