Yes, He Does

February 18, 2005 | 53 comments
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Someone named Katherine posted the following on the What Think Ye? thread:

“The subjects of women and the Priesthood and women and the church are ones I honestly struggle with. My questions are does God love women less than men, does he esteem us less, and are we worth less in the eternities? While my heart says that couldn’t be, I have every earthly and heavenly evidence to the contrary. I beg for your collective wisdom–how can I know that his female children have the same value to him as his male children?”

This statement just about broke my heart. This is why I keep posting on gender issues, even though some of you are sick of it and others note, correctly, that the comments often become contentious.

Let me share with you how I know that God loves His daughters as much as His sons:

(1) I, too, used to struggle with the issue of women and the priesthood. I don’t anymore. My resolution came through the Temple. In a general sense, not appropriate to discuss outside of the Temple, I found ideas in the endowment that helped me see things a different way. (If anyone attempts to discuss this here, I will delete their comments.) More specifically, I prayed very directly in the celestial room and received my answer. I would encourage you to do the same.

(2) Study the mortal ministry of Jesus. Mark (just don’t use pink ;)) all of his interactions with women. You will find that, in all cases, he treated women as worthy of the utmost respect . But he never put them on pedestals, either. He just took them seriously.

(3) A statement that I like:

“Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals. I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality.” –President Kimball

Don’t let behavior of doubtful quality on the part of other Church members become confused with doctrine. People (not just men) say and teach and think some really foolish things about women. But that doesn’t make it doctrine.

Thank you, Katherine, for asking this question. I hope you can find the answer as I did.

53 Responses to Yes, He Does

  1. Lisa on February 18, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    Ms. Julie Smith,
    You are a treasure. And I am so greatful that I’ve had a chance to e-know you.

  2. Janey on February 18, 2005 at 4:39 pm

    Women are equally loved. But we’re not equally useful. I always wanted to be useful. There aren’t any role models (bycommonconsent.com is discussing this now). I need a role model who is useful or respected because of who she is, not because of who she married or who her son is. President Hinckley’s last priesthood address (The Women in Our Lives), was a beautiful tribute, but it again only deals with women in their connection to men.

  3. Julie in Austin on February 18, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    Janey–

    I think the problem is that there is basically one path for men (serve a mission, get married, work 40+ hours a week) and so it is easy to find this modeled.

    But women have more options. In my ward, I admire a mother of young children who works a few evenings per week as a pharmacist. I admire another who has three little girls and runs her own business out of her home. I admire an older, single sister who works at the university. I have mixed feelings about another sister who has three little boys, wrote a book, and spends a lot of time blogging ;)

    It would be very difficult for the Church to advance the One True Role Model for women, because their options are greater. I do think President Hinckley has done a fine job of showcasing different women, such as you mention but also (someone help with the source . . .) the nurse who took care of him who was also a young mother.

    As far as useful: I have a hard time finding the link between role models and usefullness. Please help me see it.

  4. Mark Martin on February 18, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Julie,
    Thank you for creating a post to focus on this specific question, apart from the many other gender questions. I don’t have anything to contribute, but look forward to reading for insight, especially from the women who have struggled with this and found peaceful resolution.

  5. norm on February 18, 2005 at 4:58 pm

    i posted a thought about this (norm, comment #1) another blog this morning that touched on this topic. link: http://www.fayemin.com

    There, Faye is deliberating about going on a mission. This comes on the heels of a few other posts about gender roles. She makes the comment:

    “It’s times like these that I wish that I had the priesthood so my obligations would be more clear cut.”

    Thoughts?

  6. Steve Evans on February 18, 2005 at 5:15 pm

    Julie — you and I are feminists of different cloth, but I like your post here and wanted to say thanks!

  7. Jack on February 18, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    As a father of six–five of whom are daughters–Let me tell you that it would be a fate of the cruelest kind to cross the threshold of eternity only to find that those whom I love the best were of some inferior species. There can be no heaven where my heart and mind at one with the hearts and minds of those I love cannot together stretch as wide as eternity.

    Please forgive me if I indulge, but I WILL place my wife upon a pedistal, and God will forgive me of the sin of idolatry.

  8. diogenes on February 18, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    Julie –

    Each time I become convinced that this forum is entirely given over to benighted drivel, you come along. Bless you.

  9. The Only True and Living Nathan on February 18, 2005 at 5:48 pm

    Janey,

    I hope you won’t think me guilty of the “oneupmanship of victimhood” when I say that I, too, want to be useful, and rarely feel that I am. I think I am talented, intelligent, and even witty upon occasion, but I don’t know that I honestly make a tremendous difference in anyone’s life, especially when compared to my wife’s role in the lives of our children. I think I speak for many men when I say that we frequently wonder if we aren’t fifth wheels in our own lives.

  10. Sheri Lynn on February 18, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    Reminds me of the Smothers’ Brothers: Mom Always Liked You Best. Look, we women have more freedom in how to serve, more freedom in our roles, more freedom in our associations with others. It’s set up that we have less stringent demands to meet to inherit all that our Father hath.

    Sometimes I wonder why men don’t feel loved less.

    My testimony hinges on the certain knowledge that my Savior died for me. He would have gone through all of that for me and me alone, had I been the only child of God who needed the atonement–and done it not knowing if I would accept or refuse the gift. What greater love could there possibly be? What do my chromosomes really have to do with that?

  11. MDS on February 18, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    Julie, thanks for responding to that. It cried out for an answer, and you provided a great one. I agree wholeheartedly that the best way for each of us to know whether he or she is valued by the Lord is to ask Him.

    As far as women’s usefulness, I would posit that it is unlimited. This sister in the church are active participants in the mission of the church, and therefore in God’s work and glory. They can Redeem the Dead by serving as proxy for their ancestors and by family history research. They can Proclaim the Gospel by serving full-time missions, serving as ward missionaries, and sharing the gospel with friends and neighbors, and they can Perfect the Saints in any number of ways: service in callings, as Visiting Teachers, as members of families, by sharing their testimonies, the list goes on. There is no higher measure or indicator of usefulness than helping to fulfill God’s mission.

    The best recommendation I can give is to go back and read the talks given in the October 2000 General Relief Society Meeting. This was the best articulation of the role of the Relief Society in fulfilling the mission of the church I have heard. The focus was on becoming instruments in the hands of God. One quote from Sister Dew’s talk that impressed me:

    “Imagine if we consecrated our energy and our focus en masse to the greatest service of all, that of leading our sisters and brothers to Christ. Imagine what will happen when we mobilize the sisters of Relief Society to stand together to help build the kingdom. We will see the awakening and arising of a sleeping, slouching giant.

    Tonight I invite you to stand tall, to thrust in your sickle and join in this work with vigor. I invite you to rededicate your life to building the kingdom. To reach out to someone who has wandered. To take a new member under your wing. To consider serving a mission with your husband. To look and pray for missionary moments. To make a difference in someone’s life spiritually, especially the members of your own family. None of us have to reach everyone. But what if we all reached someone? And then someone else? And so on. President Hinckley has asked us to “become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 110). As we do so, we will become one of the mightiest forces for good this world has ever seen. For we, the sisters of Relief Society, are women of God. And the work of women of God and the work of the Relief Society has always been to help build the kingdom of God. I believe that we can do more to help our priesthood leaders than we have ever done before. ”

    Sounds like a pretty useful group to me!

    The brethren recognize the absolute need for women in the counsels of the church. President Hinckley spoke of this in the very talk Janey mentioned:

    “I witnessed a very interesting thing the other day. The General Authorities were in a meeting, and the presidency of the Relief Society were there with us. These able women stood in our council room and shared with us principles of welfare and of helping those who are in distress. Our stature as officers of this Church was not diminished by what they did. Our capacities to serve were increased.”

    Elder Ballard has made similar remarks. Priesthood councils simply do not work at maximum efficiency without the input of the sisters who lead. Each of us, regardless of gender, has the potential to be incredibly useful.

  12. Larry on February 18, 2005 at 6:36 pm

    Well done Julie. With 3 daughters and 3 sons I cannot comprehend loving one more than another. Your comments on the temple were very appropriate. I took my youngest son through, in preparation for his mission, on Saturday, along with all the rest who were in town. One of my daughters drew me aside in the Celestial room and asked some probing questions. What an experience to share some thoughts and feelings there with her.

  13. Jared Patch on February 18, 2005 at 6:40 pm

    I believe the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood is actually realized through the temple ordinances. Women receive the same temple ordinances as men with the same blessings promised. Therefore I don’t think it is inappropriate or any stretch of doctrine to read the oath and covenant portion of D&C 84–substituting “temple ordinances” for “priesthood” and “daughters” for “sons.”

  14. John Rauma on February 18, 2005 at 6:53 pm

    I have wondered many times why people think that leadership means better. The leader isn’t better than the follower. Although President Hinckly is our leader, it doesn’t mean his is “the most righteous” Latter-day Saint. I suspect that some of this “the leader is the best of us” thinking is part of your struggle.

  15. Heather Oman on February 18, 2005 at 7:28 pm

    John Rauma–

    Good comment, and very thought provoking. What I hear from many women, however, is not always, “Leader is better”, but rather, “Leader has the control”. And though that’s not exactly the theme of the post (we’re talking about a loving Heavenly Father and how He views His daughters), I think that’s one of the main sources of pain for women. They feel they have no control, no voice, no say in the things that happen in the church. And then comes the feeling that she is not loved, because what she thinks must not matter.

    Julie, thanks for your comment about women having many role models, that there’s many terrific women’s roles to aspire to. I myself admire any woman who could write a whole book :)!

  16. JKS on February 18, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    I think those who look around and think that women are somehow of less value than men, are the ones perpetuating the problem here.
    I am a woman. I have NEVER thought I was worth less than a man. That I was not as loved, as valued, as useful.
    I look around and see many women to admire. I admire them for many qualities.
    It is women who look around and cannot seem to admire women for “feminine” qualities, that should take a look at themselves, not blame society around them. It starts with you.
    If you think your mother/sister/self is intelligent, useful, valued, then you don’t question the worth of women. If you think that female roles are not worth anything and women need to act more like men to be of value, doesn’t that mean the YOU are the one guilty of devaluing women?
    I was raised in a family with boys and girls. We were both valued. My parents valued each other. Everyone’s individual worth was considered great. Every contribution was respected.

  17. Julie in Austin on February 18, 2005 at 8:43 pm

    JKS–Gee, it doesn’t sound like you value Katherine too much :) Be nice, No one is wrong to ask a question.

  18. Dan Richards on February 18, 2005 at 8:55 pm

    Julie–

    President Hinckley has mentioned nurses as potential role models for young women here and here. An excerpt from the latter:

    I was in the hospital the other day for a few hours. I became acquainted with my very cheerful and expert nurse. She is the kind of woman of whom you girls could dream. When she was young she decided she wished to be a nurse. She received the necessary education to qualify for the highest rank in the field. She worked at her vocation and became expert at it. She decided she wanted to serve a mission and did so. She married. She has three children. She works now as little or as much as she wishes. There is such a demand for people with her skills that she can do almost anything she pleases. She serves in the Church. She has a good marriage. She has a good life. She is the kind of woman of whom you might dream as you look to the future.

    Although one might see in these two talks a limiting stereotype (nursing as one of very few careers appropriate for women), President Hinckley’s almost constant mantra of education for both women and men leads me to believe that the field is wide open. Granted, there aren’t that many careers in which one can work as little or as much as one wishes, and it may be that for mothers of very young children the viable options are limited. The fact remains that, in searching for a role model for young women, God’s prophet chose a strong woman who knew what she wanted and went after it.

    After reading your post, I was glad to see that your title “Yes, He Does” was not meant as an answer to Katherine’s question “Does God love women less than men, does he esteem us less…?” After reading only the blurb on the T&S main page I was prepared for snarky sarcasm, but found instead a truly sweet discussion. Thanks.

  19. Keith on February 18, 2005 at 9:08 pm

    My wife put this idea in my head a few years ago and I haven’t ever been able to escape it.

    I guess I’m not convinced we (men or women) need role models. We need a Redeemer and redemption and his life will serve all the role model we need. He did the Father’s will. Each can find that will for him or her self–whether there is a clear human role-model of not–and follow it. Both men and women have access to the blessings of the priesthood that allow one a personal relation to God.

    I admit the others’ lives and examples help open up ideas and possibilities and may point the way we should go. They can also inspire us. But if we use these examples right, what we find is that we do the same thing they did–follow God ourselves. And the gospel and its ordinances show that any individual can do this.

    I also admit that the “general plan of life” sort of thing can be more complicated for women. Still, one can have confidence in one’s ability to know God’s will for her or him and one can follow that will with the confidence God can give to each individual.

  20. Jeff Cook on February 18, 2005 at 9:14 pm

    The Prophet’s main address in the last general conference dealt specifically with this issue. It’s a very good talk.

  21. annegb on February 18, 2005 at 9:38 pm

    I think I’m with Keith. I’ve never been troubled about not having the priesthood. I just feel that this is the right way, not a reward for men. I like that I’m supposed to be taken care of, provided for, protected. I don’t feel second class.

    My feelings of inferiority do not stem from man-woman, but from class differences, or heritage. My feelings of being unloved stem from a societal distinction, or childhood experiences, rather than religious beliefs. I believe that if we love our children unconditionally, they won’t question God’s love.

    Personally, I’d rather not have the priesthood. I don’t understand the debate about woman receiving it. I really don’t see the attraction. This way seems right.

    You know, though, my second husband, the bum who did the pornography, whose dad was a stake president, etc., really tried to lord his priesthood over me. He was always making ridiculous rules. Because I had a strong sense of myself, he wasn’t successful, but I feel for those women who don’t have that, who buy into the idea that their husband is their lord and master. That does not come from God.

  22. John T. on February 18, 2005 at 11:09 pm

    When Hillary Clinton is inaugurated in January, 2009, I wonder how many Mormon women will be secretly cheering? :-)

  23. Bill Schroader on February 19, 2005 at 12:29 am

    #22 – Not my wife. She truly loaths the woman.

  24. Arturo Toscanini on February 19, 2005 at 12:38 am

    I get a big laugh out of people who assume that I don’t like powerful women just because I recognize how truly heinous Senotar Clinton is. I love Margaret Thatcher. She’s my daughters’ role model, and she’d chew up poor Hillary Clinton and spit her out. (Nobody can doubt this who ever watched her weekly debates in parliament.)

  25. Ann on February 19, 2005 at 3:01 am

    Out in the mission field you see lots of capable female converts, and it’s often a struggle to staff wards and branches with faithful and competent priesthood. I’ve never wanted the priesthood, but I’ve sat for years (too many to admit to) in the Ward Correlation Council and watched the conducting leadership struggling with basics such as ‘agendas’ – ‘minutes’ is too complicated a concept for them to grasp at present Hence nothing ever gets followed through, no one is accountable for any assignments because no minutes are kept. We turn up the following month and just ‘start again’. I’ve spent countless hours in unproductive meetings. I’ve been an executive assistant in industry for years and would love to help out – not to take leadership particularly, just to keep things moving and focused . I’ve even offered to show them how (you can imagine how that suggestion went down from a woman), all to no avail. So as a true soldier in Christ I just plod on attending and trying to be supportive. It’s an area where I feel I could be useful but don’t have the ‘right’ because I don’t have the ‘power’. I have had many positive experiences with many wonderful priesthood holders and I bless and honour them for the effect they have made in my life, that’s why I’d like to make their tasks a little easier.

    Otherwise I feel happy, contented, of use and know that I am of equal worth.

  26. diogenes on February 19, 2005 at 11:21 am

    “Women receive the same temple ordinances as men with the same blessings promised.”

    No. There are differences, and they are significant, and wonderful, but Julie is right that this isn’t the place to discuss them. We should all follow Larry’s example from comment #12 and take the next opportunity for a heartfelt inter-gender Celestial Room discussion.

  27. Todd on February 19, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    a few thoughts:
    1) I do believe the main problem with the role of women has to do with (primarily) men who treat women as subordinate–sometimes consciously, sometimes subsconciously. I really believe this is a *huge* problem (period, but also in the church). I see it regularly. I see it everywhere I go (in the church). It’s a problem. It’s mostly a male problem.

    2) I do believe that some women tend towards nurturing more than others. I believe that’s completely normal, natural, ok… imagine that–women are not all the same. But I am concerned about some women who are primarily homemakers taking subtle villifying shots at women who are not (my sister is a victim of this), and vice-versa. Some men want all women to be submissive, but some feminists want to make sure all women have 60 hr a week jobs as corparate raiders. Room for both perhaps…but most women I know fall somewhere deep in the middle. Most LDS women want to be mothers. I hope most LDS men want to be fathers as much as most LDS women want to be mothers…
    a corollary–19th century mormon apologists cited the proper application of plural marraige as a just way to distribute the roles of running a home across multiple female personalities–those women who wanted more of child raising did more of it–those women who wanted to be professionals could find more time to be such. An interesting idea that is either amazingly ingenious or amazingly wacko. But an interesting thought. Don’t flame me for this pls.

    3) my question… I’m at peace with the separate but equivalent roles of men and women. I can understand why men have the priesthood. I can understand that in a righteous marraige there is synergistic faith and gender roles to form a whole greater than its parts. But why a patriarchal order–why do men hold leadership positions? Yes, there’s the RS, but the church leadership influences the RS and not the reverse (at least not in any structural way). The men do the day to day running of this outfit (hopefully they are seeking inspiration). I disagree that leaders are not better than everyone else… Leaders are chosen *precisely* because they are better…they are exemplary members of the church and faithful followers of the Savior. We hold them up as icons of what being Christ-like is like. So why no women? I don’t understand that. It does not disrupt my testimony. But it remains an unanswered question. And no, the answer is not–”but the RS” …the RS is not the apostleship. Any insight?

    sorry for the long post.

  28. Sheri Lynn on February 19, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    I have a strong and unshakeable testimony that some leaders are not called because they ARE better but because they need to learn something from the calling. Some wards could have no leadership at all if the only candidate for bishop were the “best” candidate for bishop. He might be seven years old, not even baptized yet….

    If women could be called to certain leadership positions, female executive secretaries would no doubt already possess the talents and abilities those positions need. The men who would not then be called to those positions would lack the opportunity to develop those talents and abilities themselves. It’s too bad that humility and teachability often flies out the window when a calling to leadership is received.

  29. Jon on February 19, 2005 at 9:59 pm

    Research the term Elohim. I think when you get done you will understand better the role women play in the plan of salvation. Regards,

  30. Clark on February 19, 2005 at 10:27 pm

    Ann, regarding your comment about church leadership in leadership meetings. I don’t think that is a male/female thing. I honestly think that for many people they enjoy going to the meetings and talking. It makes the rest present who have better things to do amazingly frustrated. But if you try and change it with people like this present you’ll almost always meet with resistance.

  31. Stephen M (ethesis) on February 19, 2005 at 11:22 pm

    Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals. I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality

    I’ve often reflected on comments such as this and wondered what else the Prophets are telling us that we aren’t hearing.

    Nicely posted.

  32. Charles on February 20, 2005 at 12:37 am

    To Julie and Katherine,

    Julie I enjoyed your response to this question.
    Katherine, I think there are some very clear points in the gospel already pointed out but something I thought of while preparing upcoming lessons is the talk by President Hinckley last conference. “The Women In Our Lives” It is very clear in this talk that God esteems women greatly. 1 Corinthians, Psalms, the New Testiment all have clear praise for women.

    What I often find to be the cause of much contention is the Priesthood. As Julie pointed out there are examples where this is simply not the case. But I also feel saddened because this is a temporal problem.

    What I mean is that the temporal world has conditioned us to believe that gifts equate to love. That if God were to love men and women equally, He would grant us each the same Gifts. President Hinckley’s talk touches on this briefly, but the truth is we each have different gifts and that is why we are complimentary towards eachother. Men may hold the Priesthood, but from my experience and many personal anecdotes it is women that have the wisdom of when to use it, and in cases of thier own need, the humility to ask for it.

  33. Jack on February 20, 2005 at 12:42 am

    I’ve often reflected on such comments as well, but maybe for different reasons. I mean, when one is reminded over and over and OVER again that one’s behavior may be of a doubtful quality…

  34. Todd on February 20, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    Sheri Lyn: I understand your rationale but for me it neither negates my comment nor answers my question. Whether there is a 7 yr old who would be qualified at a future time is a hypothetical I’m not willing to consider. Perhaps some leaders are called to learn something in their callings (I hope so), but I still maintain that they are selected from the candidates who are the most qualified spiritually (worthy)…where I agree with you is that sometimes people are called into a position with no evidence that they could lead or do that task–except that they are worthy. We tend to call men who are worthy. Why not women? What is it in our innately different but co-equal natures that qualifies only men to be in positions of leadership? The prophetesses of the Old Testament I hold up as counterexamples…why no prophetesses today? Is there even room in the church today for someone as visible, prolific, and outspoken as Eliza R. Snow?

  35. Effe on February 20, 2005 at 9:56 pm

    Well, I am comment #35. . . and to tell you the truth, I got tired of reading all the responses, so I jumped down to where I could leave a comment, because I hadn’t seen up to where I quit reading, the answer I would give. lol (I am not as patient as I should be! lol)

    My answer to you is:

    Equal are Motherhood and Priesthood with different responsibilities. One could not exist eternally without the other. Why should you have to wear two hats, both of Motherhood and Priesthood?

  36. JKS on February 20, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    The Relief Society Pres. in our ward is a really good, sweet person. She’s difficult to work with, though, since she isn’t particularly organized and can’t keep a meeting moving to actually accomplish anything.
    I’ve never viewed priesthood or auxiliary leaders in the church as “better.” A bishop is human, just as the Relief Society President is. Sunday School teachers can be boring. VIsiting teachers can be absent. A ward clerk can be brusk. No one is perfect, and I don’t expect them to be. That way I don’t have to leave the church when they make a mistake. And I don’t have to leave the church when I make a mistake in my calling.
    Gender has nothing to do with incompetence or competence.
    We don’t run for callings in the church. We serve where the Lord asks us to serve, so it is irrelevant who is in what other calling. You don’t seek out “important callings.” You don’t place greater importance on one calling vs. another calling. So thinking women are “excluded” from leadership is sad. We serve where the lord asks us.
    A lot of sexism and racism is present because people seem too preoccupied with gender or race. Does it matter what gender or race people are? Our goals should be to let it not matter as much to us, even if it matters to them.
    When a man makes a sexist comment–or makes any mistake–we shouldn’t think “that MAN is demeaning women by doiing that” but instead think “how sad that that person doesn’t understand _______”

    Julie
    I apologize if my comment sounded not nice. I can’t find italics so I used CAPS and perhaps that sounded like I was yelling? LOL. Anyway, my point was that IMO, Heavenly Father doesn’t tell us that the Priesthood = Love. Heavenly Father doesn’t tell us that masculine qualities/maleness = worth. Katharine needs to look at her views and ask herself why she is asking questions like “Why don’t women get to be like men?” Katharine herself views men as something she wishes to be like.
    I wondered if she knew why she doesn’t appreciate the women in her life, or the female qualities in herself. If she can look at her mother and love her and appreciate all that her mother is. In her own life, is she happy with her role as a woman. Is she happy being a mother (or having the potential to become a mother). Does she think that motherhood and wifehood are worthwhile pursuits?
    When I view men, I don’t see perfection. I see some downsides to being a man. It’s not all great. There are pros and cons to being a woman too.
    We are all individuals who must have changed hearts and dedicate ourselves to the Lord. Gender is not such an important role that everything should revolve around that.

    The proclaimation to the word says we are equal. Everywhere I look, I find no evidence that Heavenly Father loves us unequally. Each individual has so many challenges in life, and no two people have the same raw deal. This is mortality and we agreed to come. Even if it meant a very hard life. I don’t think God loves me more because I came to earth in a happy home. I know God loves every child of his who is born in horrible circumstances and endures the worst of mortality. His love for us is perfect. Mortality isn’t–that is why were are here–to learn from it.

  37. Stephen M (ethesis) on February 20, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    What is it in our innately different but co-equal natures that qualifies only men to be in positions of leadership?

    What is it about the Church that requires all leadership groups to be of the same sex — no men in Primary Presidencies, for example, and that creates a history of sexual transgressions in many of the places that rule is bent. Seems like missionaries should be assigned companions of either sex?

    I’ve seen a lot of problems over the years, and lots of issues there that no one is thinking about, nor other points.

  38. Shannon K on February 21, 2005 at 11:03 am

    JKS,

    Thanks for your posts. I think you are right on. You eloquently stated what I was thinking. Women in the church would be well served to adopt your attitude. It reminds me of JFK’s famous “Ask not” quote. In this case it would be “Ask not what the Lord’s kingdom can do for you, but what you can do for the Lord’s kingdom.”

    Shannon K.

  39. Jim Richins on February 21, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve arrived very late to this thread – perhaps many contributors have moved on to new topics. However, this theme is an important one, and I enjoyed Julie’s thoughts very much, so I’d like to leave a few thoughts.

    Diogenes: I think you are overstating the differences between blessings to each gender in the Temple. The differences are minor, and overall, the blessings are the same. Even more importantly, the blessings are received jointly.

    Ann: I think the situation you relate is terrible. If you have offered to help make Ward Council meetings more productive, and your suggestions have been rejected seemingly because you are a woman, then what a travesty! What a miscarriage of Priesthood leadership! Although I think this sort of thing is very rare in my sphere of experience (although, I may be ignorant and blind)the fact that situations like this continue today is certainly the reason why the Prophets and Apostles continue to stress the importance and value of women. Let’s hope their messages get through to some of the men in your ward soon!

    Likewise, it is sad that both men and women continue to equate “value” or “loved” with “Priesthood holder”. Individuals are different, including and especially across genders. The contributions of individuals are different, but the value of one’s contributions is no more or less of value than another. Indeed, comparing one individuals contribution to the Kingdom to another’s is as irrelevent as asking who will be saved “first”.

    Can we say that the color red is better than blue, or that A-flat is better than middle-C? Indeed, in some cases, an A-flat sounds much better than a middle-C, but this does not make the note “better”, nor does it imply that we love A-flat more.

    The Church does not provide a forum for competition between saints, it provides ways for individuals to help each other across the finish line. Life is not a sprint, nor does it have just one winner, it is like a marathon, where if you even finish, you are a winner!

    Todd: Leaders are most definitely NOT called because they are *better*, whatever that may mean. A Bishop’s role does not include being an icon for a follower of Christ, nor even does the Prophet’s role. This misconception is probably the culprit behind a lot of problems, especially and including criticisms and complaints leveled at local leaders.

    The only example we should follow is that of Christ himself. If a person allows the example of a Bishop, RSP or EQP, or even Stake President, to even share his attention with that of Christ’s, then that person is guilty of idolatry. An eye *single* to His glory. It makes no sense to replace a perfect example with an imperfect one, even if it seems more “accesible” or easier to follow.

    Every member of the Church enjoys equal standing before the Lord. He loves no one less. The Bishop does not enjoy a “free pass” into the Celestial Kingdom, a man does not enjoy any privilege over a woman, the service of an Apostle is valued the same as a Visiting Teacher. Temporarily, assignments come and go. Individually, we are blessed by our service as we bless the lives of others. Bishops are released – does this imply that he is no longer the most Christlike in a ward? No, of course not. It’s simply someone else’s turn. And after a few years, it will be yet another person’s turn, and the released Bishop will be called into the Primary, where his service will be received exactly the same.

    Think of the service of Elder Augusto Lim, as relayed by Elder Oaks in General Conference a couple of years ago. An emeritus member of the Seventy, former Temple president, now serving as second counselor in branch presidency to a man much younger and less experienced.

  40. Mark Martin on February 21, 2005 at 12:54 pm

    I gained new insight yesterday while a woman was commenting yesterday in Sunday School on D&C 110:12. “After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.”

    In God’s covenant with Abraham, Abraham was promised land and seed (posterity). Clearly, the woman’s role is essential in bringing about the promises inherent in the oath and covenant of the priesthood. How could Abraham receive the blessings without the vital role that his wife serves? God cannot bring about His work without the women. Through the seed that they bear and help raise, all generations will be blessed! Does this help women to feel fully loved and appreciated by the Lord? In my personal case, both parents helped shape me and my siblings. However, I tend to think that my mother’s influence was felt more directly in shaping what will be passed along to future generations.

    True, women are not called to preside in the Church or in the home. But if we focus on what “preside” actually means (when done is righteousness and purity) it is not really a position of status or power. (This is where “in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality.”) If most men in the Church lived up to the ideal in Ephesians 5:25, there would probably be few women questioning their worth. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” But, we are mortal and in the learning stages. However, I hope that the Lord’s ideal can bolster the faith of those women who unfortunately are not surrounded by wonderful examples.

    Ann (#25), there are some places where wise and humble priesthood leaders would be delighted to let you help them. It’s too bad that often where the help is most needed, “this is the priesthood’s responsibility” can be the prevailing thought. Thanks for suffering patiently in the present circumstances.

  41. Rosalynde Welch on February 21, 2005 at 1:04 pm

    Jim: The contributions of individuals are different, but the value of one’s contributions is no more or less of value than another.

    Jim, I like your approach, and your words are conciliatory and inspiring. Still, though, I don’t think this statement is quite true: a group of one hundred women could never constitute a ward, whereas a group of one hundred men could. As a missionary I often heard the admonishment to concentrate on finding and baptizing men, because priesthood leadership is so crucial to the success of local units: once I got more experience in the mission field, I understood how valuable this counsel was–precisely because men’s contributions to the church are, in fact, more necessary than women’s. A ward can exist without “auxiliaries,” but not without priesthood leaders.

  42. Julie in Austin on February 21, 2005 at 1:35 pm

    But, Ros, an eternal family–way more important than a ward–can’t exist without both.

  43. Rosalynde Welch on February 21, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    Good point, Julie! And maybe that points up some of the pitfalls of understanding the family as the most basic organizational unit of the church: while this can be a useful perspective in some ways, the family also differs crucially in kind from other church units.

  44. Mark Martin on February 21, 2005 at 1:54 pm

    Julie’s remark #42 reminds me of something I’ve recently comtemplated. As important as we consider our wards and stakes to be, and as much as we may consider the importance of how the Lord chooses bishops and stake presidents, I’ve contemplated the calling of temple sealers and how the sealing power is conferred. Through the sealing power, eternal family units are formed. Like Julie implies, wards and stakes are temporary entities.

  45. Jim Richins on February 21, 2005 at 3:49 pm

    Our language in the Church is not nearly precise enough with regard to the family being the basic unit of organization. I believe the family is best understood as being the basic unit of the Gospel or the Celestial Kingdom, but not necessarily of the Church.

    A Stake President presides over a Bishop. The SP can override a Bishop, but the reverse is not true. This is because SP and Bishop occupy specific places in church hierarchy. However, two parents (together) preside in the home, and no other authority supercedes this. If one parent is missing due to divorce or death, the remaining parent’s authority is still absolute.

    A Bishop presides over a Priesthood-hoding father who also happens to be the patriarch in his home, but this is only in the context of the service that the father offers in the ward. If the Bishop visits the home, he does not preside. This can easily be seen when the Bishop properly defers to both father and mother at the end of a visit when it comes time to choose who will offer a closing prayer.

    Thus, the family as an organization unit does not fall under the umbrella of authority like the Priesthood and auxiliaries do. The church fulfills a specific supporting role, that of strengthening families. Stakes and/or wards may pass away, but families are eternal. In the Celestial Kingdom, we will be organized by family (and then, practically speaking, we will live as couples, since our children will be sealed to their own spouses).

    The temporal organization of the church should not be confused with the more perfect organization that will exist eternally. The temporal church has a fairly vertical, bureaucratic structure (not nearly as much as other temporal organizations), but eternally, the hierarchy will be a very flat model, indeed.

    So, while it is true that 100 men could form a ward and 100 women could not, this fact can not be used to support the claim that women’s contributions are less valuable eternally. Temporally, with a bit of a stretch, perhaps so, but not in the context of families.

  46. Mark N. on February 21, 2005 at 5:58 pm

    Julie: “My questions are does God love women less than men, does he esteem us less…?”

    You’ll pardon my amusement, I hope, in thinking at first that the title to the thread was in response to that particular question. :-)

  47. chab on February 22, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    President Hinkley has mentioned on at least one occasion I remember, something to this effect: the women in the church are not asking to have the priesthood. I think there might be if they were not excommunicated after they speak up. All the women I remember speaking out for the priesthood have been ex’d. What is to say there can not be a reoccurrence of 1978 for women.

  48. Todd on February 22, 2005 at 2:28 pm

    Jim, et. al…
    now I’m concerned that my comments constitute a subtle thread hijack…so I will post here, but I won’t keep going regardless of what comments may follow.

    We call leaders, “leaders” because they are leaders. They are to be held up as examples. They are public figures. Witness the nature of church discipline: if you commit a serious sin as a bishop or some other leadership position, you are *much* more likely to be excommunicated as you have “damaged the good name of the church”. I still stand by my earlier comments. But I think some people have made requirements out of my comments that are not there…

    Any person who is worthy can be called to a leadership position–worthiness is based on temple recommend interview questions, humility, service in the church,etc. Thus it is not absurd at all that an emeritus member of the seventy would then serve as a counselor to a “less experienced man”. I state again–we choose leaders because they are better– experience is not a prerequisite when evaluating worthiness, though it is taken into account–clearly most mission presidents and general authorities were once bishops,stake presidents, and elder’s quorum presidents. I’m a little exasperated at this–there are always exceptions–but *never* to worthiness, which includes humility. I’ve sat in counsels where such decisions must be made–the good news–in my own experience the person chosen is almost always the one whose righteousness and worthiness exceeds the other people who are qualified enough to be considered–there are some exceptions to this–sometimes family circumstances are taken into account….sometimes the Spirit whispers that it’s simply another person—but I can assure you that the Spirit has never whispered to me (or to anyone I know personally) to call a man to a leadership position who is not worthy–who is not capable of being held up as a good, public example of being Christian, of being LDS.

    You can define a leader any way you want…but they must be worthy and they must be men. I understand the former, but not the latter. My point is not to debate leaders (but I feel it necessary to have the elements of my definition in place). My point is–why not women? So many are so worthy. So many possess every single quality to be considered except they are not men. Perhaps there are many circumstances where there are more women who would be qualified on worthiness standards for a particular calling than there are men. But the church is patriarchal in nature. Is there an innate difference? Could it be that the nature of men is actually that they need to grow from such callings more than women?

    It is plausible to me that God simply doesn’t view the role of mother or the role of prophet as any different in terms of importance. I understand that…I really do. But we revere our leaders. We treat Joseph differently than we treat Emma. Our RS/Priesthood manuals are based on the lives of the leaders of the church, not their wives, not joe-average-member… There is no Latter-Day Deborah. Is this by design? or driven by culture? I don’t want speculative answers. I really want to know. I accept some issues purely by faith—but if there are facts to be uncovered…I pray, let me find them.

  49. Laurie DiPadova-Stocks on February 22, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    Women are indeed loved, but are we considered competent by the Church? Wise? Knowledgable? Are we seen as holding important views and capable of adding meaningful input? Are we adequately represented in ward and stake council meetings, or in church-wide council meetings, or do we find ourselves a token in addendance, expected to contradict the view of the numerous men present? How does the Church model men listening to women, as compared with women listening to men?

    A few years back, I substituted for a friend and taught his class–all 11 year old boys. The lesson was on how to treat women and girls. In reading the lesson, I was troubled by the tone of it. So I photocopied the lesson from the manual, and penciled in “your pet dog” as substitution for all references to women, mothers, girls sisters. The lesson read without a hitch. We are to be loved and protected, but are not considered competent.

    Obviously, the Savior (reading the New Testament) considered us more than competent, and even capable to relaying important messages to the brethren (He is risen!) and worthy of stunning information (I am the Savior of the World–to the woman of Samaria).

    While there is no question that our Father in Heaven loves us beyond measure, as individuals, and also that many priesthood leaders are loving, and sincerely seek our cournsel, the multitude of Church institutional messages to the contrary have their impact.

  50. JKS on February 23, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    Rosalynde,
    The reason that missionaries are asked to please find men to join the church, is that it was so much easier to find women and children to baptize. It was far easier to find women at home, than men, and for some reason they seemed to accept the gospel more readily statistically.
    Somebody noticed how sad this was. How many blessings these families missed out on if the father didn’t convert. How many blessings the women missed out on if their were no LDS males to marry in their country and were left with only the choice to marry outside the temple or not marry at all?
    The church would grow, but you had to wait another generation for the boys to grow up and become men in the church.
    I have lived where the church was small. I can guarentee that no one sat around saying “Somebody ought to baptize some men so that we’d have more priesthood leaders because they are more important than all these women and children.”
    Good priesthood holders can be good husbands and fathers. They can be sealed to their family and their children can be blessed for it.

  51. heidiglyn on February 25, 2005 at 8:46 am

    “a corollary–19th century mormon apologists cited the proper application of plural marraige as a just way to distribute the roles of running a home across multiple female personalities–those women who wanted more of child raising did more of it–those women who wanted to be professionals could find more time to be such. An interesting idea that is either amazingly ingenious or amazingly wacko. But an interesting thought.”

    Just one comment on this–I know that one example doth not a case make, but my family has the journals of several ancesstresses who were polygamous wives, and in their case, at least, there was quite a division of labor, even to the extent that all of the wives in this particular family achieved the highest level of education then available on the frontier–I believe one was even a doctor (the first female doctor in Utah). I’ll have to check on that, though. On another family branch we have a truly funny account of two wives (Susan and Suzy)–Susan’s journal entries often refer to the fact that Suzy really enjoyed doing the laundry, so apparently she did it all every week without complaint. I hope Susan (my ancestress) alco chipped in with other household chores. At least now I know where my aversion to laundry comes from.

    A comment to the dicussion in general: I had a fantastic mission and loved every minute of it. My mission president basically turned all of the sisters over to his wife, and she organized us. This was a very small mission, and in a recently communist country, so there was a lot of work to do in the realm of setting up auxiliaries and helping the RS members grasp the idea of visiting teaching. One of the branches I worked in literally had NO male members–the Elders (missionaries) in the branch had to lead the meeting and bless the sacrament, but until some men were found and joined us, it was a pretty strange situation. it was better, not worse, when there were finally men in the branch. As a sister missionary, I really came into my own in my understanding of the role of women in the church. Those elders simply couldn’t have set up the RS and the YW–never having been involved in those organizations–and the Primary leadership was also foreign to them. So basically, the women in the branch were handling all of the leadership positions at the time (since there were no men) and wishing that there were some men who could come and give them a hand. Interesting perspective. I can tell you that no sister in that branch wanted to take on the EQ or any other leadership role at that time.

    But just from a numbers perspectve, the women in a branch or ward generally have more direct influence over the greastest number of people in the branch at any given time–there are generally more Women, YW, and children combined then there are Men and Young Men, and women are the leaders of those auxiliaries. Women also serve as Sunday School teachers, where they influence the entire congregation, both the youth and the GD class. In my ward the chorister and the organist are both women, too. So a woman’s scope for leadership and influence is truly great.

  52. Dani on February 26, 2005 at 8:40 pm

    I have never been to this baord before, but I found it interesting. It is about having our own unique and different divine natures. Men have the priesthood, which teaches them about compassion and love. An Elder cannot give himself a blessing. It has to be a selfless act, sometimes requiring them to go to a neighbor or a friends or a perfect strangers house in the late hours. This is what teaches them sacrifice. Women (most of them) have this beautiful peace of them already instilled within their spirits-we are naturally loving and compassionate and we in the church (more often than not)place others before us. Men, well it sometimes takes a little longer. Women are also given the amazing ability and blessing (yes even during the 12th hour of labor) to give birth to beautiful spirits. A man does contribute to this, and yet, unfortunately, he will never truly experience the feeling of that baby coming to life and stirring within. It is a oneness and a very special relationship in the great plan of our Father’s. We work with him to bring these children to earth and then we spend the rest of their lives raising them in righteous ways, trying to get them back into His arms.
    I am a return sister missionary, and one of the things that I always said was this quote (I apologize that I don’t recall who said it),”The Lord did not command women to go on missions when they reached of age-because he knew that they would ALL go!” Remember, Elders are commanded to go-Sisters CHOOSE to go. This in itself says so much about where our priorities are in serving the Lord. Should we prove good and faithful in being obedient to whatever he asks of us-we will be blessed. Yes, we know that there are times that we watch those poor brethern stumble over themselves, but isn’t nice that we are all blessed with different strengths and weaknesses. Find for yourself-what is you mission here on earth. What does your patriarticle blessing say? Focus on your talents and fulfilling those callings that the Lord blessings you with-those callings that only a Sister has the love, the compassion, the mercy, the courage and the strength to fulfill. Remember, that while the “world is putting together armies to save the world-the Lord is sending down children to change it.” Let us raise a generation of young women who will be doing just that. I have one that I am trying to raise-and I know that she will usher in the Savior, hopefully I can teach her my talents, pass on my strenghts and that she will learn from my weaknesses.

  53. Mark N. on March 1, 2005 at 11:22 pm

    JKS: I have lived where the church was small. I can guarentee that no one sat around saying “Somebody ought to baptize some men so that we’d have more priesthood leaders because they are more important than all these women and children.”

    All I can say is, you probably wouldn’t have liked the emphasis my mission president in France 30 years ago put on “cherchez les jeunes peres” (search for the young fathers). The Church in France at that point, apparenly, had too many women in it, and not enough Priesthood-holding brethren in it. The message was, unless we get some more men baptized, the Church in France isn’t going to go anywhere.