Children Are Not Optional

November 16, 2007 | 185 comments
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Several women I know and like recently signed on to an anti-President-Beck’s-talk statement.

A signed rebuke to a General Conference talk shows a basic lack of understanding of how the Church does (and should) function. As far as the content of their statement, most of the petition is fine (if a little self-assuredly PC and guilty of missing the mark) but largely irrelevant to President Beck’s talk. Whatever. But I was surprised that these women would sign their names to this line:

We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.

(Bold in the original.)

I’m all over the “when.”

“How” makes me a little nervous.

But unless the signers understand something different than I do by “whether,” then I think that their statement is not in harmony with the established teachings of the Church. In the context of a temple-married LDS couple, children are not optional.

I’m going to channel m&m for a minute here:

“To the first man and woman on earth, the Lord said, “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Moses 2:28; see also Gen. 1:28; Abr. 4:28). This commandment was first in sequence and first in importance.”
–Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, page 72f.

“Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” a commandment that has never been rescinded.”
–Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Answers to Life’s Questions,” Ensign, May 1995, page 22f.

“(Gen. 1:28). That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled.”
–President Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1969, pages 10-15f.

“(Gen. 1:28). This injunction has never been revoked.”
–President Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, October 1966, pages 101-105f.

“We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
–The Family: A Proclamation to the World

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185 Responses to Children Are Not Optional

  1. East Coast on November 16, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    I agree the “when” part is interesting; try telling all of my infertile friends or family members who are trying to adopt that they get to choose “when” to become parents.

  2. Tanya Sue on November 16, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Julie, children are optional. What about the couple where one of them is mentally ill? Or seriously physically ill? What if having a child would, quite literally, kill the mother? In my mind, that is where the “whether comes into play”. I wish more parents prayerfully considered the stewardship of becoming parents (vs. those who just start having kids depending on their parents or welfare to support them). There are some very real circumstances when “whether” comes into play.

  3. Jacob M on November 16, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Tanya Sue, you are talking about the exceptions, of which there always seem to be. I don’t think most people who decide to have children are mentally ill. For the most part, God wants his children to come down here. That is and should be the abiding rule. I’m with Julie on this one.

  4. queuno on November 16, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    When this topic comes up, I’m reminded of an uncle who would say that members who marry and yet deliberately choose not to have children are just looking for a legal loophole to justify a sexual relationship.

    A bit vitriolic and not entirely correct, but I can understand where he’s going with it.

    Another uncle I know would probably retort that “thank heavens, those people aren’t propagating…”

  5. queuno on November 16, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    (I noticed a BYU administrator on the list of names, but she’s probably long retired. If you worked for the Church/BYU, would you be so brave as to actually sign your name to that?)

  6. Tanya Sue on November 16, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Jacob-how many people are really going to come out and say that? I have a friend who’s husband is an alcoholic. They are both members of the church. She doesn’t see this is as a reason to divorce him, however she feels it is unfair to bring children into that situation. As the child of an alcoholic, I have nothing but respect for that. We never know someone’s reasons. I feel we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

  7. Bob on November 16, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Who are these women? How did this ‘offer to sign’ get to them? Why no Latin or etc. names on their list?

  8. ECS on November 16, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by “optional” in this context. We already know that married couples have the “option” to decide how many children to have. I believe married couples should follow the spirit and are entitled to receive personal revelation for all family planning decisions. Including whether to have children in the first place.

  9. Jacob M on November 16, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Tanya, I’m not really arguing about specific situations. I’m talking about a general rule. Of course there are exceptions. Julie is not saying that their shouldn’t be any exceptions. She’s just giving the general rule that when people get married, they should have children. In some situations, that is not going to work, but I think the emphasis is rightly placed on having children, as opposed to not having them.

    The women should really be more charitable to Sis. Beck.

  10. Andrew A on November 16, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Most of the statements in the “rebuttal” letter don’t seem to be responding to anything that Julie Beck actually said in her talk. Rather, the entire letter seems to be responding to unnecessary, uncharitable misinterpretations of Beck’s words.

    For example, in the first paragraph of her talk, Beck referred to “2,000 exemplary young men” because “they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” That outrageous remark earned Beck the following “rebuttal” statement:

    “We . . . reject the glorification of violence in all its forms. We are filled with unutterable sadness by the Book of Mormon story of more than 2,000 young soldiers whose mothers teach them that faith in God will preserve them in battles in which they kill other mothers’ children. This is not a success story. It is a story of the failure of human relationships and the horrors of war.”

    This would be a fine rebuttal statement if it were actually responding to something Beck said, but it isn’t. With all this bending over backwards to find something to disagree with or be offended by in Julie Beck’s talk, it seems a group of LDS women were just itchin’ for a fight and seized on this talk as an excuse to voice long-standing feminist gripes.

    I’m NOT saying that feminist concerns aren’t legitimate. What I AM saying is that this particular instance of seizing on Julie Beck’s talk as an excuse to grind the feminist axe was just downright silly here.

    But I doubt my opinion on this letter will get much weight because I have male anatomy, and in my experience the feminist injunction to take women’s opinions more seriously usually only goes one way.

  11. JimD on November 16, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Two interesting parts:

    “We are created in the image of the divine—. . .”

    Umm, isn’t the ability to create new life–to become a parent–what separates the gods from the ministering angels? How can you lay claim to ultimate divinity while insisting, to paraphrase Brigham Young, that someone else raise up your kingdom for you?

    “We are filled with unutterable sadness by the Book of Mormon story of more than 2,000 young soldiers whose mothers teach them that faith in God will preserve them in battles in which they kill other mothers’ children. This is not a success story. It is a story of the failure of human relationships and the horrors of war.”

    OK, I can see opposing Iraq (which is probably what these women are getting at). But this comes perilously close to asserting that the sons of Helaman were fighting an unrighteous war. I have a hard time seeing how someone who has actually read the Book of Mormon could make that kind of statement in good faith.

  12. Bob on November 16, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    More and more couples are having only one child, is this an option to ‘children’?

  13. Melanie2 on November 16, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    ECS (8),
    I agree that personal revelation should take a major role in childbearing decisions. But when we already have institutional revelation, I don’t think we should go seeking for personal revelation that counters it. Many prophets over many years have declared that this commandment is still in force–why should we expect the Lord to tell us any differently?

    I don’t doubt that there may be exceptions for various reasons. But the whole point of church-wide revelation is that it applies to everyone.

    Nephi didn’t decide he wanted to kill someone and then go to the Lord looking for approval to break a commandment. The exception to the commandment that allowed him to appropriately kill Laban came by inspiration first, not his own idea. I would suggest that the decision to not have (or to not attempt to have) children should be the same. It’s not our place to make ourselves the exception–we shouldn’t be seeking to initiate ways around an established commandment.

  14. ECS on November 16, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Melanie2 – God directly communicated to Nephi that he should ignore the general prohibition against murder – laws recognized by both secular and religious institutions – and kill Laban. Given this example, it’s certainly possible that God would directly communicate to a husband and wife that they should ignore the general counsel to have children and not have any.

  15. Melanie2 on November 16, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    ECS,
    Yes, absolutely God could communicate that to a particular couple. We’re probably saying the same thing in different ways. I guess I’m just reacting to the people I know who treat their own preference for no children as the default position, and then expect God to approve it, without regard for past revelation. I would say that the prophetic counsel should be the default, with direct inspiration providing any exceptions. I do think there are exceptions–but I suspect there are more of us who consider ourselves to be exceptions than there actually are.

  16. Molly Bennion on November 16, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    Like you, Julie I know and like, no, respect and love dearly, many of the women who have signed the statement. I am so saddened that such a statement, as full of wisdom as was Sister Beck\’s speech, seemed the only way to express the pain many of us feel for the lack of dialogue among the women of the church and with the men of the church. Sister Beck\’s speech may be faulted for some poor juxtapositions (Ironing, for instance), but it is hard to fault the wisdom of her words. It\’s what she didn\’t say, the subjects treated so briefly as to make the rest of the story seem untrue or unimportant, that put a most likely unintended load of guilt and shame on women and that opened the door to leaps Sister Beck may not have had in mind at all. Oh how I wish Sister Beck would invite a number of the women who signed the statement to talk with her. They have valid concerns. That dialogue must reach the highest levels of church government. Yet I also hope someday soon the perceived need for a public statement is no longer perceived. It is itself a sign of dreadful frustration and its effects are not entirely positive. Neither is hitting the mute button on thousands of LDS women. Surely, surely there are people of goodwill on both sides of this divide who can start a loving dialogue. Isn\’t this the Church of Jesus Christ?

  17. Coffinberry on November 16, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    I was about to say, I don’t know any of these people, are they real women somewhere? Then I noticed the sister that helped make my son’s Eagle Project happen. Hmmm….

  18. East Coast on November 16, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    “We are filled with unutterable sadness by the Book of Mormon story of more than 2,000 young soldiers whose mothers teach them that faith in God will preserve them in battles in which they kill other mothers’ children. This is not a success story. It is a story of the failure of human relationships and the horrors of war.”

    I think the last time I read the Book of Mormon, this was a story about 2000+ young men whose fathers had been converted from warring heathens, had renounced war and buried their weapons, and were killed in huge numbers by the enemy armies, leaving many widows and orphans including many of these 2000+ warriors.

    It’s fine to renounce war, but sometimes it will be pursued, and someone needs to be prepared to step in to stop genocide, protecting both the general population AND those who have renounced war. So…I very definitely state that the 2000+ warriors were performing a noble service and I see this as a success story of epic proportions.

  19. Steve M on November 16, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    This comment may be unwelcome, but I personally don’t feel that it is the prerogative of any person, institution, or entity (not even the Church) to pressure a married couple one way or another when it comes to decisions about child-bearing. In my opinion, this is an area where those parties outside the marriage would do well to be hands off.

  20. Ray on November 16, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    This is sad, on multiple levels. I can understand the frustration and even the action, but I can’t accept it – especially in its present form and misdirection.

    Frankly, directing it at Sis. Beck and her talk was . . . (I really want to say “stupid”, but I don’t want to convey any judgment about intelligence.) . . . ill-conceived.

  21. surfbaby on November 16, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    From lds.org’s Gospel Library – Gospel Topics:

    “Birth Control – Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity. When husband and wife are physically able, they have the privilege and responsibility to bring children into the world and to nurture them. The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife.”

    As the Church specifically identifies childbearing decisions as “private matters”, why are we here debating the righteousness (or lack thereof) of the decisions of those husbands and wives whose “decision of how many children to have” is

  22. Sally on November 16, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    It is so frustrating to see comments picked apart. Sister Beck says women should nurture, and she is told men can nurture too. Julie says the injunction is to multiply and replenish and she is bombarded with exceptions to that. Talks can only cover a few things from a few angles and Sister Beck is challenged because she didn’t include every possible senario. I’m sure the we could talk just about any talk from general conference and find something to take exception with, if we were to look. I have never heard a male speaker have his talk picked apart like this. Why do we feel that a female speaker is open season?

  23. surfbaby on November 16, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    #21 – whoops – weird cutoff there

    “decision of how many children to have” is to have no children.

    Furthermore, any decision that is entered into “reverently” as per the letter writers’ definition, implies that such decisions are made thoughtfully and carefully, not selfishly or disrespectfully. For others of us to accuse husbands and wives of being less-than-perfect in living up to covenants to multiply and replenish the earth smacks of unrighteous judgment to me. If a couple prayerfully and carefully comes to the decision that for them, they are called to replenish more than to multiply, it is our responsibility as gospel family members to provide them with kind, loving, charitable support – not to call them to repentance or to chastise them for their actions. Just as if a couple prayerfully and carefully comes to the decision that for them, they are called to multiply many times over, our responsibility remains the same – to support and love them and assume that their decisions have been made in conjunction with the Lord.

  24. Lupita on November 16, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Well, I didn’t sign it. I found myself saying yes, yes, no, not really, I kinda agree, well, in some cases, yes, yes, perhaps, not quite, etc.
    Manifestos don’t make me feel better. Recognizing names on the list didn’t make me feel less enlightened or empowered or engaged in the common good. I find it increasingly difficult to sympathize with those who are profoundly disturbed by this talk.

  25. C Jones on November 16, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    “Why do we feel that a female speaker is open season?”

    Exactly. The anti-Beck statement is the kind of pity party stuff that I heartily regret in my own gender.

  26. Jeremy B on November 16, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    “Children are not optimal.” This statement terrifies me — very severe, unmodified, and probably offensive to some. Lots of folks may and should have meaningful relationships if financially, spiritually, or physically unable to raise children.

  27. SilverRain on November 16, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    It is one thing to be unable. It is quite another to be unwilling.

  28. Steve Evans on November 16, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Jeremy B, I didn’t name my kids Pareto and Vilfredo for nothing.

  29. Steve Evans on November 16, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    …..and they’re twins, too, and one is Weak and one is Strong.

    Frank, good enough for you?

  30. Ray on November 16, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    #27 is spot on. The Church has never told couples who are unable to have children that they are responsible for that inability – or unmarried members that they need to have kids. To assert exceptions as proving the inaccuracy of a general standard is a straw man of the weakest variety.

  31. Dan on November 17, 2007 at 12:03 am

    If I were looking at life through mere selfish lenses, I gotta say, I am at my happiest moments when I spend time with my wife and with my lovely daughter. They bring the most joy and most satisfaction in my life, beyond everything else that I’ve experienced. If you are able to have children but you choose not to out of selfish reasons, then you really don’t understand yourself or happiness and satisfaction. For myself, there is nothing more satisfying than being a father.

  32. Ann on November 17, 2007 at 12:04 am

    My husband and I decided together, six years ago, “whether” we were going to have any more children. We decided against it. We are allowed to make that decision. It was our decision to make and no one else’s.

  33. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Thank you, Julie Smith.

  34. Bob on November 17, 2007 at 12:09 am

    #27, #30: Most Mormons today are unwilling to have more kids long before they are unable to.

  35. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 12:11 am

    #32 – Ann, the operative word in your comment is “more” – which excludes you from the “whether” advocates. Every one of us makes the decision at some time to have no “more” children.

  36. jimbob on November 17, 2007 at 12:13 am

    But how can the signed statement be wrong when it features so many multi-cultural pictures of such able women? I mean there’s clipboards and beakers in those pictures. CLIPBOARDS AND BEAKERS! If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

  37. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 12:14 am

    #34 – Bob, I disagree completely. That is true if you define “unable to” only in physical terms, but I reject unequivocally anything that even implies the Church teaches its members to keep having kids until their bodies fail them and they can’t feed the kids. Sorry, but I think the comment is preposterous.

  38. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 12:15 am

    I agree, ECS, that God could tell someone to be childless just as God can command Nephi to kill Laban. But I wouldn’t sign a manifesto saying
    We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether to behead our neighbors.

    ————–

    As the Church specifically identifies childbearing decisions as “private matters”, why are we here debating

    Probably because, I dunno, one of our leaders publicly talked about childbearing being a superior choice and a bunch of misguided Saints took it upon themselves to publicly rebuke her. These things were not done in a corner.

    And, frankly, no one’s private choice has been criticized. Instead we’re debating the meaning of public statements made by the church, which don’t bear the meaning you give them. Zero is not just another option.

  39. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Most Mormons today are unwilling to have more kids long before they are unable to.

    How can this be preposterous, Ray? Its not about what the Church teaches, its about what people do. I suspect its right, though I can’t be sure.

  40. Larry on November 17, 2007 at 12:18 am

    The ironic thing is that it is easier to talk back to Sister Beck because she is not one of the brethren.

  41. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Its also ironic that its going beyond the mark for Julie S. to disagree with these manifesto signers but not, apparently, for them to publicly disagree with Sister Beck.

  42. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 12:24 am

    No one I know, thank God.

  43. MLU on November 17, 2007 at 12:36 am

    I’m glad the church is not often governed by manifestos, protest marches, and democratic assemblies. I look forward to hearing from the leadership at conference twice a year.

    I sometimes, rarely, hear things there that seem slightly “off” to me but I think I would withdraw from the church if I really believed by own wisdom were superior to that of the appointed leaders in ways serious enough to require public utterance.

    I note with chagrin that when I was younger I more often thought I understood things that the leaders didn’t properly understand.

  44. queuno on November 17, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Petitions like these generate more heat than light. Does anyone think that Sister Beck is any more likely to taken counsel from the signers than if they’d gone back-channel and private? This kind of approach, with so few signers, rarely works. I think you’d have to have thousands of signers for it to have any real impact.

    Of more concern to the conspiracy theorists might be the fact that surely the COB police have noted the names of the signers in the big black book.

    At any rate, the statement “children are not optional” is less an issue of deciding how many children to have than it is an issue of having any children at all. I think that’s what Julie is getting at. There are couples today who are *deciding* not to have children at all.

  45. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 12:40 am

    jimbob, LOL!

  46. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 12:44 am

    Clipboards and beakers are not optional.

  47. Ann on November 17, 2007 at 12:54 am

    “Whether” is a perfectly good word to use to describe the decision to have a(nother) child, regardless of how many children one has had before. Most of y’all are in your 30′s or so, I would guess, so you’re looking at this from the “young enough to reproduce easily” perspective. Many of the women who signed that statement are in a different time of life.

    If my husband and I had met just last year, when we were both closer to 50 than to 40, would we not be allowed to decide “whether” to have a child? Should we forego marriage, because it’s just an excuse for sex if we think the risks of having a baby would be too great?

    Sometimes the 30-something paradigm is quite myopic.

  48. Ann on November 17, 2007 at 12:57 am

    And furthermore, I completely uphold and respect Julie M. Smith’s right to disagree with the letter, or with Sister Beck, or both, or neither. Yeesh, since when is disagreeing with someone the same as saying they have no right to express an opinion?

    (There’s probably something back in some of the comments saying just that that I’ve overlooked, and just as well. I often disagree with Julie, but I love her writing.)

  49. Rosalynde Welch on November 17, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Can somebody articulate a principled—rather than merely arbitrary bright line—distinction between “the responsibility to choose how, when and whether to have children” and, say, “the responsibility to choose what kind of child (boy, girl, neurotypical, genetically optimal) to have”? Plenty of folks seem to accept the former, but I hope most are troubled by the latter. And reproductive mores are highly susceptible to slippery slopes.

    I think that the language of reproductive choice will become increasingly outdated as we move into a new technological age. Assisted reproductive technologies are already vexing ethical questions of personhood, instrumentality, and parental prerogative, and the mainstreaming of embryo screening would render the vocabulary of choice even less equal to the task of describing our relationships to the unborn. If I were an abortion rights/reproductive freedom advocate, I’d be working on a new phrasebook, and fast.

  50. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 1:23 am

    Ann, you are addressing someone who has six children and also has decided to stop having children – and who is not 30-something.

    The statement doesn’t even imply “having more children;” it says “whether we become parents.” That *explicitly* addresses the FIRST child – not additional ones, and it *explicitly* addresses choice in the matter – not those who have no choice. Let’s at least talk about what they actually said, not something different that applies to other situations.

  51. Eric Russell on November 17, 2007 at 2:05 am

    jimbob, awesome.

    The thing that gets me about this proclamation is the random swipe at the Sons of Helaman. What’s up with that? These young men courageously save their people from slaughter and yet it’s “not a success story.” What an odd, twisted statement.

  52. Frank McIntyre on November 17, 2007 at 2:23 am

    Thanks for this, Julie.

  53. John on November 17, 2007 at 3:01 am

    I discovered the bloggernacle less than a year ago and have spent WAY to much time since browsing its corridors. My thoughts and spirit have been stimulated and very infrequently have I commented. Many regular names are familar now and I can almost predict with certainty how they’ll comment about a given issue. I have also found that some people have pet issues. I think we’re all like that to some extent. Sister Beck’s talk has become such an issue for some here. I’m reminded of a talk I read or heard years ago. I think it was by Elder Packer (another pet issue for some!) and it compared the gospel to a piano. If we utilize all the available notes the piano offers beautiful melodies will result. If we limit ourselves to three, or two, or even one note, our music is limited. So it is with the gospel. He said some people get caught up in one “note”, perhaps genealogy, and lose sight of the rest of the keyboard.

    I guess this is a lenghty prelude to what I really want to say. The issues that some have with Sister Beck’s talk are real to them, but they run the risk of losing overall sight of the big picture. I certainly have my areas of “focus”. Scouting, for example. Love it. So there. But I don’t think it will ever be a one-note program to consume my life.

    What really will be interesting will be her talk six months from now.

    The mothers of the sons of Helaman were well aquainted with the horrors and terrors of war. I dare say more so than any of the signees of the statement. They had renounced it and paid for their convictions with their lives rather break their covenants. All the more heartwrenching the sacrifice they made when they let their sons go to the aid of their Nephite brethren. They were not promised in advance that their sons would not be killed. Even Helaman was amazed that all survived.

    Well, on to the children thing. As has been mentioned, it’s a personal and private decision between a wife, husband, and the Lord. Some can, some want to but can’t, some don’t want to (and probably shouldn’t), some wait too long, some don’t wait long enough, some protest to much, etc. etc. And some are insensitive to others, some couldn’t care less, and others are too thin-skinned.

    Enough rambling. Kudos to Julie S. for bring this up. You’ve had a few thoughts I haven’t quite agreed with, but you are spot on here.

  54. m&m on November 17, 2007 at 3:26 am

    Thanks for this post, Julie.

    I found that document deeply disappointing, all the more so because I know and care about people on that list, too. (I also have issues with some of the other things they said, which seemed to not just take stabs at Sister Beck but also at other teachings from our prophets and other leaders.)

    I also can’t get over the irony of how many people complain we don’t hear enough from the women, but then many of the same people turn around and complain about what they say or how they say it or what they didn’t say or what wasn’t quite right.

    And as much as I know Sister Beck hopes for unity, I don’t think she is ignorant to how this talk might have not been what all people wanted to hear, or that it might not apply to everyone in obvious ways. But I suspect she also knows, as I suspect all our leaders do, that 1) you can’t say it all in 10 minutes and 2) sometimes your talk will have a defined focus and 3) you can never please everyone anyway. So you preach what you feel inspired to preach. And you hope people will listen with open hearts and a good dose of charity, and then take the details of the implementation and application (or even the frustration, if it exists) to God in prayer.

    I wish there was more recognition that our leaders don’t exist to simply perform to our liking. (Sidenote: Didn’t you sense that Pres. Hinckley was saying that a bit…that it’s hard to be a speaker because of the expectations that are there? Say something new. [Say it right. Say it all. Don't forget the exceptions.... Good grief. Really, would any of us want their job? Let's cut them some slack already!]

  55. Matt Evans on November 17, 2007 at 3:27 am

    I love that they manage to squeeze in every plank of the Democratic platform and still expect us to believe it’s a response to Beck’s talk. Anti-war, health care reform, employer family-leave policies, and “affordable, high-quality child care”? The only things these Hillarys forgot they know are Kyoto and Roe.

  56. MikeInWeHo on November 17, 2007 at 3:35 am

    That’s Hillaries, Matt. Harsh.

  57. Téa on November 17, 2007 at 3:48 am

    We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents. Many of us have adoptive and foster children and grandchildren from diverse ethnicities and cultures. We have given birth to children who range widely on every dimension—from personality, appearance, and sexual identity to physical, social, and mental ability. No matter what their differences, we care for them all.

    I don’t see anything contradicting LDS doctrine in this statement, Julie. In the text of the letter, children and parenting are mentioned in 11 of the 13 paragraphs, referenced without any disparaging remarks.

    Are there any out there who do not reverence the responsibility to choose whether to become a parent? For those of us who have the ability to choose, making prayerful decisions is a means of honoring our obligations. Venerating our agency when it comes to parenthood doesn’t sound so terrible to me.

    Sidenote–One of things that drew me to Ralph Nader’s 2000 campaign was his stand on reproductive rights. That platform was the first I’d seen which included defending a woman’s right to have children…

  58. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 3:56 am

    It might be harsh, Mike, but when you look at the document itself . . . it’s as much a political statement as it is a religious one. Also, most of the things they assert are not denied (and even are asserted) in Sis. Beck’s talk.

    This simply is sad.

  59. Matt Evans on November 17, 2007 at 4:08 am

    “first I’d seen which included defending a woman’s right to have children…” Against who or what did this right supposedly need defending? Who will be the first presidential candidate to bravely defend Americans’ right to celebrate the 4th of July?

  60. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 4:17 am

    Tea, I wanted that section to address reproductive freedom, if that is what was intended. I support fully a woman’s/girl’s right to not be forced into parenthood, and I couldn’t argue at all if that was the stated meaning – or even if it was implied in that section. I went back again and read that section to see where it could be saying that.

    It doesn’t. It simply doesn’t. Nowhere. All we get when we parse what actually is said is a statement that appears to be designed as a direct repudiation of the Church’s (and Sis. Beck’s) clear statement that the foundational principle of marriage is to “multiply and replenish the earth” – that those who can have and support children (within a legitimate marriage) should choose to do so. Reading anything else into it is adding what is not there.

    (In fact, mentioning their adoptive and foster and biological children as the text of that section is baffling to me, as it is perfectly in line with Church teachings and is not in opposition to anything in Sis. Beck’s talk – and seems to reinforce the need to have children one way or another. It mentions children, but never says that some of them are married without children. That simply is odd, given the “whether” statement.)

  61. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 4:46 am

    BTW, it also leaves wide open biological parenthood outside of marriage,which obviously is in opposition not just to Sis.Beck’s talk but also to the core principles of the Gospel as taught in the Church.

  62. BiV on November 17, 2007 at 4:55 am

    I recently sent my name (my real name!) in to be added to the statement, and I loved what it had to say.

    I took the wording of how, when, and whether we become parents to mean the decision to have a child each time it occurs, no matter how many children we have previously borne, adopted, fostered, etc. Ann’s comment #47 rightly points out how differently this can be taken when in a different stage of life. Sister Beck’s talk similarly reads differently when you are out of your 20′s and 30′s.

    I started my childbearing years with a “default position” of having children until the spirit revealed otherwise. With the lack of any forthcoming spiritual brake pedal, I learned that I must quickly learn to make some decisions on my own or reap the consequences of a physically depleted body and emotionally depleted soul.

    I rejoiced at the statement on the glorification of violence. I don’t disagree that righteous leaders sometimes see war as the only way to combat a greater evil. However, all too often we leap to violence when other more measured peaceful approaches might be viable. I think we need to be prodded every so often to remember this.

    Amen to Molly #16:
    Oh how I wish Sister Beck would invite a number of the women who signed the statement to talk with her. They have valid concerns. That dialogue must reach the highest levels of church government. Yet I also hope someday soon the perceived need for a public statement is no longer perceived. It is itself a sign of dreadful frustration and its effects are not entirely positive. Neither is hitting the mute button on thousands of LDS women. Surely, surely there are people of goodwill on both sides of this divide who can start a loving dialogue. Isn’t this the Church of Jesus Christ?

    I am glad some women are willing to speak publicly on these issues, or how else could these concerns reach the highest levels of church government?

  63. m&m on November 17, 2007 at 6:19 am

    BiV, I guess what puzzles me about what you have said is that I don’t think Sister Beck would disagree with you…about making prayerful decisions about having children (she never said have them at all costs, or without consideration to adopted, fostered, or other children in one’s care). I can’t fathom that she would disagree with you about the horror of war. So much of these statements seem to suggest that Sister Beck disagrees, and on so many things, I really just don’t see it. It’s like so much of it picks a fight based on what isn’t really there.

    Also, if the desires are peaceful and Christlike discourse and/or getting the attention of church leadership, this format seems not to support either desire. I understand that frustration exists, and I suspect our leaders actually do know that, because I have heard them acknowledge it. But don’t they deserve respect, even in times of disagreement or frustration? For women who profess to want to proclaim peace, this didn’t seem like a very peaceful way to approach the issue. War can be in our hearts, too. It’s not just about blood and physical weapons and bodies lying on the ground. There are casualties of this war of words, too, with severe consequences that can’t be counted in numbers, but are recorded in hearts and relationships and damage to the body of Christ.

    Personally, I think blogs have the potential to help with dialogue on ‘both sides of the divide.’ We do each have a voice, and we are sharing our voices with each other. Blogging has helped me gain understanding and compassion by listening to others’ voices (believe it or not), and I’ve appreciated that. This website, however, to me felt like a step backward…a deepened dividing line, solidified by signed names and no desire for discussion.

    Anyway, it’s way too late. ‘nite.

  64. m&m on November 17, 2007 at 6:22 am

    p.s. I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that those who signed this document are the only ones contributing to the war of words. I think most if not all of us have all contributed to it in one form or another at one time or another. I have long wondered where the line is between good discussion and dividing words, between war and peace, between frustration and compassion. A tight rope to be sure. But I do think we could do a lot better. We need to!

  65. Andrea on November 17, 2007 at 6:51 am

    I\’m not sure why the \”how\” would make you nervous… some may become biological parents. Some may adopt. Others may opt to care for foster children. I really doubt they were referencing kidnapping or cloning : )

    But I firmly believe each person and/or couple should have the right to choose not to have children – without guilt… even if they are selfish reasons. Some people just don\’t want, and are are not meant to be parents – and that\’s ok, IMO. They can still lead full lives, impacting and influencing for good. I believe that is all this document is trying to say.

    And would you honestly want children coming into a home which didn\’t really want them?? Let those little spirits go to homes that are eagerly awaiting them.

    It\’s interesting to read how different people interpret the What Women Know document – I didn\’t think it was at all confrontational, but found it very affirming and positive. I realize it went beyond addressing items that Sis. Beck spoke about, but it appears to me that her talk with the impetus – and once they began the response it made sense to formulate a comprehensive statement. At least that\’s how it seemed to me.

    I\’m going to go sign it now.

  66. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Can somebody articulate a principled—rather than merely arbitrary bright line—distinction between “the responsibility to choose how, when and whether to have children” and, say, “the responsibility to choose what kind of child (boy, girl, neurotypical, genetically optimal) to have”?

    I can’t think of one. One could argue that God has given us the keys to make the one decision and not the other, but that’s not what you’re looking for.

  67. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 9:51 am

    I firmly believe each person and/or couple should have the right to choose not to have children – without guilt… even if they are selfish reasons. Some people just don\’t want, and are are not meant to be parents – and that\’s ok, IMO. They can still lead full lives, impacting and influencing for good. I believe that is all this document is trying to say

    There’s nothing wrong with being terrestrial, its just not celestial, and we shouldn’t pretend like it is. If people don’t want children, that’s a problem they need to do something about.

  68. Adam Greenwood on November 17, 2007 at 9:54 am

    But did Ralph Nader defend a man’s right to have children? Sexist.

  69. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 11:15 am

    I read the ‘proclamation’ (or whatever it should be called) and I thought it was well done and despite the seemingly left field statement on war, it’s spot on.

    I’d hoped the church had removed itself from the business of telling people when, whether and how many children to have….in part because I’ve seen so many people in bad situations as a result of following the church’s legacy “kids first, kids now, alot of kids” counsel without first applying some common sense and some long term perspective. My mom and dad followed the church’s general counsel to multiply and replenish – having 8 kids…..starting soon after they were married. As a result of their young and large family, my mom did not finish her education and my parents had a role based relationship precisely as portrayed by Sister Beck. The model worked perfectly, until my dad died when I was 10. Suddenly, after more than 20 years, my mom had to go back to school while working full time to try to earn a living wage. As I watched what my mother (and us kids) went through for years, I couldn’t help thinking how much better it would have been if my mom would have waited a few years to have kids – at least until she was done with school. But, she was told she shouldn’t put off having kids for anything….so she didn’t. I hope, on top of everything else she was dealing with, she didn’t worry about whether my shirt was white – or whether my sister’s hair was brushed to perfection…but knowing my mom – I’m sure she did.

    Then……when my wife and I were first married, my bishop felt it was his duty to reinforce the the idea (pulled specifically from the words of President Kimball) that we should NOT delay having children. It was obvious to me that his suggestion, while well intentioned, was both none of his business and not wise. I knew this, in part, because his model of appropriate family relations would have seriously compromised my wife’s education – something that would have been devestating for her and short sighted for our eventual family. Additionally, his counsel would have required me (or her) to get another job (which would have impacted my academic pursuits or her role as a mother) or it would have left us dependent on family and possibly the church.

    So while I appreciate the position of our leaders to emphasize the importance of families, I disagree with images, scenarios or direct quotes that leave the impression that you are compromising or “terrestrial” if you put off, limit the number, or choose not have any children at all. Families are important, yes – but so is education, self sufficiency, mental health, a contingency plan and freedom from guilt for not falling into an overly broad ideal.

  70. BiV on November 17, 2007 at 11:17 am

    m&m, to me the document seems like a good example of “peaceful and Christlike discourse and/or getting the attention of church leadership” and not at all a war of words or a dividing line.

    Perhaps you can suggest to me what an example of peaceful discourse would be–while still calling to the attention of the women’s leadership how deeply frustrated and hurt some of us are by the (perhaps unintentional) discounting of our concerns.

    It seems to me that you, and others who defend this talk recommend that those of us who have concerns should shut our mouths and, as we have so many other times, fall to our knees and beg the Lord to remake us into the image of the perfect Mormon follower.

  71. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 11:45 am

    “It seems to me that you, and others who defend this talk recommend that those of us who have concerns should shut our mouths and, as we have so many other times, fall to our knees and beg the Lord to remake us into the image of the perfect Mormon follower.”

    Actually, I’d recommend this:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3887

    But I like your idea, too.

  72. Matt W. on November 17, 2007 at 11:50 am

    I just want to go on record as saying I think anyone who would build a petition type website which is basically a personal attack against a single individual is reprehensible. Anyone who would submit their name to such a petition is a fool.

  73. Russell Arben Fox on November 17, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Well, allowing for differences in technology 40 years ago, I guess that pretty much confirms Martin Luther King and everyone who supported him to the “reprehensible” and “fool” categories. (See New York Times v. Sullivan for the specifics.)

  74. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    “But I like your idea, too.”

    Hmmmm….

  75. Lupita on November 17, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    So now I’m curious. For all you research nuts out there, has anyone come across anything written by anyone in any Church position ever intimating that specifically doing everything in one’s power to prevent ever becoming a parent is in harmony with the gospel? I don’t condemn people who make this choice, I honestly don’t understand it and obviously, I don’t have to be the one who does. I do agree that iff it isn’t a celestial law then isn’t that the simple litmus test?
    I have personally benefitted from Pres. Beck’s talk. I don’t feel it needs defending. I don’t exactly know the definition of ‘the perfect Mormon follower’ but I hope that my heart is always open to instruction.

  76. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    RAF-

    Yep, it’s not always the pragmatist, the voice of reason or the conformist that has bettered our society….or our church.

  77. Seth R. on November 17, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    I agree that sending it to Pres. Beck was a bit ignorant since she’s not really the top source for the idea in the first place. She’s simply stating the established Mormon conventional wisdom, echoed by the talks of many other General Authorities.

  78. Melanie2 on November 17, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Since when is “fall[ing] to our knees and beg[ging] the Lord to remake us into the image of the perfect Mormon follower[s]” NOT a good idea? I know there are things to be done beyond that, but surely that’s an excellent starting point.

  79. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Come on, Russell. Surely you find a distinction between the forms of conscientious objection that are appropriate in the Church versus in the political realm.

    I have no interest in helping these women (do they accept male signatories?) reach their objective, but if I did, my first bit of advice would be to tell them that this sort of public grandstanding never, ever, ever gets you anywhere with GHQ–it just gets you labeled as (at least borderline) apostate. If I were to advise them, I’d recommend carefully worded private letters to general leaders outlining ways in which Pres. Beck’s talk does not agree with long-established church doctrine/practice and/or in which long-established church doctrine/practice is unscriptural. (Neither of which is true, but hypothetically.)

    In fact, if there were a group with a foolish agenda and I wanted to be sure that their cause was DOA, I’d recommend a PC-jargon-laden personal attack on a general church leader delivered in a public setting. Oh, wait . . .

  80. Matt W. on November 17, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    RAF:

    hmm… Wikipedia notes: “Commissioner L. B. Sullivan, whose duties included supervision of the police department, wasn’t named ” Seems like that makes it apples and oranges to me.

  81. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    “but argued that his position as a commissioner there meant that the inaccurate criticism of the actions of the police were defamation against him.”

  82. paula on November 17, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Matt, #72, As the webmaster, I’d like to thank you for the love and fellowship. I’m one of the signers, not authors. Let me clarify a couple of things that have been asked here. I don’t have time to address all the issues here. First, a copy of this was also sent to Sister Beck, explaining why we decided to do this. Second, we tried very hard to make positive statements, rather than being critical. And yes, all the signatures so far are real people. I’ll be adding more signatures later today. To sign the petition, click on the email link right above the signatures. A section for men will be added later today. When you send the email, you’ll get a response email asking you to respond to it, before we actually add your name. We thought about using a petition site, but felt that it was too open to fake names.

    The paragraph about the stripling warriors has been the most controversial of the whole thing. Some people have refused to sign only because of that, others have signed specifically because they agreed with that paragraph.

  83. Matt Evans on November 17, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Seth, I suspect much of the indignation stems from their feeling that Beck has betrayed her gender.

    Julie, if I were to offer them advice, I would point out that including the signature of someone excommunicated for apostasy was incredibly unwise. Everyone expects a woman excommunicated for apostasy to take issue with the RS president, so her signature adds no value, and by including her signature it forces signatories to side with her rather than Beck. That’s a dumb obstacle to place in front of members.

  84. Ardis Parshall on November 17, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Families are important, yes – but so is education, self sufficiency, mental health, a contingency plan and freedom from guilt for not falling into an overly broad ideal.

    With the possible exception of “education” — which in gospel teaching has never been restricted to the academy, as the word would seem to be used in this case since it implies putting off family due to the time and debt required for formal schooling — the only one of these so-called “important” things that I recall from all I ever learned of the plan of salvation is families. Families are not just an important purpose of mortality, but one of the very chiefest of purposes, right up there with gaining a body and learning to be like the Father by living in faith.

    Individuals without families can/should/do accomplish tremendous things in life. But nothing a family-less individual could ever do — no honor, no achievement, no charity, no act of faith, no education, no missionary endeavor, no martyrdom, no nothing — is an equivalent substitute for family. Without family, whether by choice or fate, mortal life is always going to be second best. Why would anyone deliberately choose second best?

  85. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Julie – the only difference I see with your method of dissent is that the church could keep things more quiet. Writers of the letters you suggest would still get their names on the apostate list, their letters would still be DOA (IMO). But with a quiet campaign, leaders may be less inclined to admit there may be a problem or to address the issue (if there is one) directly.

    That’s one of the things that bothers me so much. There is no forum (that I’m aware of) where people who feel strongly about Sister Beck’s talk (or other church HQ/membership issues)can discuss the issue openly, candidly and respectfully with church leaders – without the fear of being labeled, having their records marked, etc. And the open discussion on threads like this seems to have divided everyone into either a sheep or an apostate.

  86. SilverRain on November 17, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    At the risk of sounding repetitive:
    It is one thing to disagree. It is another thing to sign a public manifesto to that purpose.

    Also:
    It is one thing to believe that something is wrong and should change. It is another thing to take it upon oneself to force the changes.

  87. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Ardis – I’m not sure I’m reading your comment the way you intended it – but I was not setting up a dichotomy between family and what you call the “second best” (and I struggle with that categorization, by the way). Family, and a contingency plan….for example, are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

  88. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    adcama, another difference is D & C 42:88.

    As for your second paragraph, perhaps that’s because the church isn’t a democracy. Several comments on this thread about dialogue and exchange of ideas and having our voices heard have given me the impression that several people think that our leaders should be teaching what we think they should teach instead of what God thinks they should teach. What’s the point of going to church to have your own ideas preached to you? I want inspired leaders, not in-touch-with-the-people leaders. Which is not to say that any leader will ever have perfect inspiration, but I wouldn’t anticipate that their level of inspiration would improve based on having a better grasp of what Women Who Know (TM) think of their thoughts as opposed to spending more time in prayer and pondering, etc.

  89. C Jones on November 17, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    #83 Matt Evens

    I don’t think it’s Sister Beck who is betraying her gender. The greatest affliction of Mormon women is often other Mormon women.

  90. Rhonda on November 17, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    # 67 said: “If people don’t want children, that’s a problem they need to do something about.”

    What are you afraid of?

  91. SilverRain on November 17, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I might add that some believe it commendable to do the latter. That is their prerogative.

  92. East Coast on November 17, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    OK. I will admit when I made my comments above disagreeing with the language in the “manifesto,” I had not actually looked at it. I disagreed with the two statements that had been pulled out and my points were:

    1. The choosing “when” to have children is a little silly, and

    18. The stripling warriors were stepping forward to protect both the normal people and the pacifists and were very successful.

    Okay. That said, I have now looked at the Manifesto. My reaction is… (drum roll) … (I know you’re all waiting with baited breath to hear the reaction of an educated-but-common sense-rather-than intellectual, living-outside-the-Mormon Belt, mother-of-multiple-children, blog-reading, thirty-something woman). Anyway, back to the part about “My reaction is…”

    1. “Huh?”

    2. Why did they feel this needed to be said? What exactly are they trying to accomplish?

    3. They don’t seem to be reacting to Sister Beck’s talk as much as to the Proclamation on the Family.

    4. I agree with the former poster who says that it seems like a political statement. Personally, I feel that if it weren’t for the anti-life agenda of the Democrats, most Mormons should align themselves with the Democratic party based on issues of social justice. But that’s beside the point.

    But to feel the need (as Matt W. pointed out in #72) to attack a single individual because you didn’t like the manner in which she delivered her message? Childish.

  93. John on November 17, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Sister Beck’s talk is microanalyzed, picked apart, commented on ad nauseum, etc.

    The response (by “Women Who Know”) is likewise microanalyzed, picked apart, commented on ad nauseum.

    I guess what is good for the gander is good for the gander (if you get my drift).

  94. Kaimi Wenger on November 17, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Julie,

    The “multiply and replenish” commandment is given a total of two times in scripture. At both times, there are less than ten people alive on the face of the earth. Things have changed a bit since then, no?

    Multiply and replenish is a real necessity for Adam and Eve, or for Noah. If Eve chooses not to have kids, the whole human race is over.

    We are not in the same situation now, are we? There are very important structural differences in human society between Adam’s time and right now — the main one being that, with 6 billion people alive, the human race will do just fine if any person chooses to limit their reproduction.

  95. Stephanie on November 17, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Many of the ideas in the statement are fine, but singling out Julie Beck as a pretext for a rebuttal statement is cruel.

    This kind of sister-against-sister intellectual [ed: attack] is appalling.

  96. Rosalynde Welch on November 17, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I’m not interested in signing this statement for a number of reasons—not least the cringeworthy language like “we are authors of our own lives, and this is the story we know to be true”—-but I have to say that I have some sympathy for the difficulty of their position. I have no truck with their particular menagerie of causes, but their general predicament is a tough one: what do you do about private conscience? The statement never uses the word “conscience”, but it’s clearly couched in that vocabulary. And there are very few native LDS doctrinal, historical or scriptural resources to use if one is claiming a conscientious epistemology—that is, if one is saying “I know because my conscience tells me.” Mormonism does not have a robust concept of conscience among its raw materials. The 11th article of faith isn’t much help, since it’s clearly oriented toward civic religious pluralism, not intra-institutional dissent. The next best place to go would be D&C 42:92, where the offended party is advised to meet privately with the offender. This mechanism works pretty well for the priesthood chain of authority, since it reaches all the way down to the local level. But since correlation and the abolition of real governing authority on the part of auxiliary leaders, there IS no chain of authority by which rank-and-file sisters can reach Sister Beck. The stake RS pres has no jurisdiction over the ward, the General pres has no jurisdiction over the Stake, etc. You could frame it as a matter of personal revelation, but while that would solve the epistemological problem (maybe) it would generate a whole new set of institutional problems.

    And in a culture as narcissistic as ours, statements like “we are authors of our own lives, and this is the story we know to be true” can seem pretty naturally compelling, pretty close to the center of one’s sense of identity. So that leaves these sisters in a very difficult position.

  97. Katie on November 17, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I find this discussion a bit strange. Some of the comments suggest that having the first child is not a choice but having children after that is a choice. I hope that everything we do in the church is a choice. Our choices are based on our personal beliefs. If we believe that we should have children (if we can) in order to gain personal salvation then we choose to have children.

  98. Ann on November 17, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Oh, great. Y’all mailed the letter to Sister Beck? I just thought this was going up on a web site. I liked the document on its own, just as a statement of ideals and beliefs. I didn’t frame it as an effort to advocate change.

    I love the Sunstone crowd, really I do. But when will y’all get a grip on the fact that The Powers That Be don’t CARE what we think? It’s one thing to share our thoughts and ideas with each other, and another thing entirely to assume that we have an obligation to “dialogue” with the people in charge. If they want our ideas, they’ll ask us. Since they don’t ask, it’s reasonable to assume that they aren’t interested.

    If Julie Beck wanted to come look at the web site, that would be totally cool. But really, sending a letter? I missed that part of the plan.

  99. Blake on November 17, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    I agree that many, many shouldn’t have children. It would be morally irresponsible for them to have children and populate the earth with more people that will likely turn out to be like they are. As long as I get to be the Child Czar and choose who has the children, I’m sure we could come up with a better world. In fact, if a person chooses not to have children, I generally think that is a good idea. Maybe their self-centered world won’t get replicated in succeeding generations. I’d like to be the Child Czar that gets to choose who has children. Let’s see, where do I start? I’ll throw my hat into the ring now and urge you to join me in creating the Child Czar position for the United Nations and to nominate me so that I can decide who gets children and who doesn’t. But if you don’t want children, I’d suggest we start with you and you should follow up on that decision and certainly not populate world further. You’ll be doing a favor for the world and the children you might otherwise have had.

    On a more serious and somber note …. I’m a trial attorney. We hire trail consultants often to aide us to assess how people really make decisions. No PC considerations — just how the world really works. Here is what stunned me: Invariably, women are harder and more prissy with other women. What is so strange to me is that the studies of our jury consultant show that women especially resent other women who exercise authority. In a sexual harassment trial, If I represent the Defendant sleazy employer and sexual harasser, the studies show that I want a jury full of middle-aged and older women who are well educated and who will judge the seductive young thing and hate her for her ability to manipulate and seduce. They will mistrust the other middle-aged women who they assume are conniving and manipulated the entire affair. If the women is a manager or business owner, she’s toast and women of all ages will fry her. Women are less likely to believe other women than men in these studies. Why? Now these are un-PC generalizations. They simply describe in general how the world really works. I doubt that they would even dare publish these kinds of results. The PC-police for such publications would squash them in a minute.

    The jury studies suggest that women begin as teens to learn to savage other women. For some reason there are always three — but when the third isn’t there, the two young women savage the third. They practice relationship skills by manipulating and shaming. That’s important information just in case a woman is the jury foreperson. Like I said, it’s not PC. But in my business, we don’t have the luxury of being PC — we get to study how women actually deal with others.

    Why do I make these observations? Read The Letter.

    Does God command us to have children? That is what I understand the teaching of both the biblical religions and the LDS church to be. Is there something more important that begetting others in one’s own likeness and image as Adam and Eve did with Seth? (See Gen. 5:1) Is there anything that better prepares us to share and develop the sometimes frustrating divine love? Those who choose not to have any children will never know or learn what they could have from their own likeness and image. There is no way to know the love, the frustration, the soul-deep joy or gut wrenching ache that come with children. Is there any work more important than rearing children in one’s own home? Not as I understand the statements of the prophets. Yet perhaps the physical and mental health of both parents must be considered.

    In my view The Letter was uncharitable in extremis. If it were written as a response to Beck in a college class on argumentation it would get an F for failing to engage what she said. If it were written as a persuasion piece it gets a D-. But it was written as a critical open letter publicly criticizing a female leader in an arrogant tone of self-assumed superiority that is self-defeating.

    I see this kind of arrogance a lot. I see it when my wife tells other women that she chose to stay home and be a home-maker (and she actually uses those words). She holds a college degree and has a successful home-business. She has held lots of responsible callings and blessed the lives of lots of others. But mostly she has blessed my life and the lives of my children. It has meant everything to me and to them that she is at home when they get home from school and yell, “Mom are you there?” That’s all they want to know. Sometimes they’re snotty to her and to me. Yet she has done what I couldn’t do.

    I sometimes see the self-assumed arrogance from other women when she says, “I’m a home-maker.” They look at her like she wasted her potential. I know she sees it too. But she is far to kind to let it get to her. But it gets to me a bit because I am awed at the irony. That is what The Letter reminded of again. Women savaging women.

  100. Ugly Mahana on November 17, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Well-stated, Ardis.

  101. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Julie – I’ve known people who have tried to take issues to general church leaders, to deal with their offences “alone”….and for practical reasons….this can’t happen. And letters of concern, generally, are sent back to local leaders. If local leaders don’t speak up their chain of command when issues are bubbling (which I think can be a huge problem)….general authorities may not even be aware that there’s an issue. While it is an inspired organization, this type of organizational communication seems flawed. If it’s not important for leaders to know what church members are thinking/feeling/saying so that they (the leaders) can prayerfully consider how to help them (the members)….I am, indeed, mistaken. But my feeling is that revelation is sometimes a game of give and take (counseling among the general membership and leaders) – and it’s not always top down. While I agree this is no democracy, it is by common consent.

    If it has to be “alone”, can’t we at least put a suggestion box next to the tithing envelopes – or fill out a “confidential” feedback/membership survey after watching general conference online?

  102. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Kaimi writes, “The “multiply and replenish” commandment is given a total of two times in scripture. At both times, there are less than ten people alive on the face of the earth. Things have changed a bit since then, no? . . . We are not in the same situation now, are we?”

    Julie responds:

    “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” a commandment that has never been rescinded.”
    –Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Answers to Life’s Questions,” Ensign, May 1995, page 22f.

    “(Gen. 1:28). That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled.”
    –President Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1969, pages 10-15f.

    “(Gen. 1:28). This injunction has never been revoked.”
    –President Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, October 1966, pages 101-105f.

    “We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
    –The Family: A Proclamation to the World

  103. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    All:

    I realize that we’re on a hot button topic here but I’ll ask everyone to scale down the rhetoric and play nice. I don’t want to close comments just yet but I will if this gets unfriendly.

  104. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Adcama # 101–

    What you say makes sense, but there’s no getting around the fact that this was, first and foremost, an attempt to publicly shame Beck for her words. Actually having Beck hear and consider the words was, if Ann’s post is to be accepted, an afterthought.

    Stephanie # 95–

    Never have I heard such picturesque yet inherently troubling language used in the bloggernacle.

  105. SilverRain on November 17, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Adcama – a “suggestion box” idea depends on whether you truly think the church is run by men or by God. God works through men, ’tis true, but I think He is good enough at what He does to use imperfect beings to bring about His perfect work.

    Prayer is your “suggestion box.” Unlike most suggestion boxes, it should be used to change the suggester more than the establishment. If the Lord wanted the policy changed, He would change it. Pleading with the General Authorities is rather like pleading with your neighborhood cop to establish a peace treaty with Iraq. They just don’t have the power to change things of themselves. I’m fully confident Sister Beck was aware of the pain in many of her stewardship before she even shared her talk. I’m just as confident she was aware of what these women were thinking without their letter dropping into her mailbox. They are not blind or deaf to our needs, hopes and desires. Neither is the Lord. But He knows what will help us most in the long run. He has a perspective none of us can match. When we turn our minds from asserting our own ideas to drinking up His ideas, we open up a whole new way of life, a whole new way of thinking. As Isaiah said, His thoughts truly are not ours.

    That is a good thing.

  106. Kaimi Wenger on November 17, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Julie,

    If I believed everything Elder Benson said in conference in the 1960s, I’d believe that Martin Luther King was a communist agent and that the Civil Rights movement was a communist front. And, don’t let’s start with the Proclamation. :P

    But you’re right on the broader point, that it has been repeated since then. :)

    On the other hand, for the structural reasons I mentioned earlier, the commandment _can’t_ be as important now as it was for Adam and Eve, can it? (If only because it was _the most important thing_ for those two to do.) It may be the first commandment given to Adam (and repeated for Noah); but when Jesus gave the great commandments, he didn’t list multiply or replenish, did he?

    You’ve got statements suggesting that the commandment is still “in force”; do you really think it has the same relative importance now as it did in Adam’s day?

  107. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I dunno, Kaimi. I think you’re confusing the “ends” and the “means”. People were not made to fill the earth. The earth was made as a home for people. As long as there are still spirits waiting to receive bodies, our obligation (tempered, of course, by our own abilities and means) is to create those bodies.

  108. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Kaimi, I’m not willing to ignore everything Pres. Benson ever said just because some of his political ideas were, um, searching for an accurate-yet-polite word here . . . can’t find one. Anyway. Moving on. I think that the idea that the commandment is still in force (i.e., temple, but let’s not elaborate on that) is not disputable.

    As to why Jesus’ ministry didn’t emphasize childrearing the way that Genesis or modern prophets do, we can speculate. I love to speculate! By just because a small collection of preserved texts don’t iterate the idea (any more than, say, Matt 18:6) doesn’t leave us free to disregard its repeated mentions in the church today.

    “You’ve got statements suggesting that the commandment is still “in force”; do you really think it has the same relative importance now as it did in Adam’s day?”

    Does that matter? It is really (really, really) important to us and whether it would get a few points higher or lower on the Commandment Importance Rating in Adam and Eve’s time doesn’t strike me as a particularly useful line of thought.

  109. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Sorry, hit post too early:

    The degree to which the earth is or isn’t filled is, theologically speaking, wholly irrelevant.

  110. East Coast on November 17, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Let’s everyone attack someone who is preaching a message of family love, cohesion and caring for children in a practical way (Sister Beck) when we all know the major alternative is so much better… (sarcasm). I read this disturbing article in my local paper right after reading this discussion.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/CHILD_ABUSE?SITE=PALAP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    PS The Wilcox in this article is not the Wilcox known in Mormon circles.

  111. Grant on November 17, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Adcama:

    The Church’s official views on a number of issues such as homosexuality and women’s issues have evolved in the last two decades. Why? At least partially, I suspect, because members bothered to write private, thoughtful letters to their leaders. It seems that if the General Authorities were serious about our not writing to them, they would stop quoting our letters in their General Conference talks. Essentially, what Julie said in the second paragraph of 79.

  112. Ardis Parshall on November 17, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    for the structural reasons I mentioned earlier, the commandment _can’t_ be as important now as it was for Adam and Eve, can it?

    Is the purpose of the commandment only a structural one — survival of the race? If that’s all that matters, there’s a lot of baggage we can toss, starting with the Proclamation.

  113. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Grant – Elder Oaks recently said:

    “If you feel you are a special case, so that the strong counsel I have given doesn’t apply to you, please don’t write me a letter. Why would I make this request? I have learned that the kind of direct counsel I have given results in a large number of letters from members who feel they are an exception, and they want me to confirm that the things I have said just don’t apply to them in their special circumstance.”

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=ca5be2270ed6c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

  114. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    In #99, Blake nailed exactly why I have been so sad and disappointed in the response of many to Sis. Beck’s talk.

    The statement CANNOT be read and discussed without considering the preface. In it, the authors singled out Sis. Beck, but they never once quoted the talk with specific references to things with which they disagreed. The preface makes it appear like the points that follow contradict things that Sis. Beck said, when, in reality, very little of what they said actually is opposed to what she said. As a former teacher, I also would have given it a very low grade if it were submitted as an assignment – actual content being irrelevant.

    This is introduced explicitly as an personal attack on a woman and what she said that then turns around and espouses much of what she would accept and what she actually taught from the pulpit in her talk. Again, what Blake said in #99 is profound and deeply disturbing.

  115. Ardis Parshall on November 17, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    If somebody really is struggling to know whether his personal circumstances are an exception, or whether his heart is in the right place, or how to best follow a commandment in his own life, or whether he understands a principle, or whatever the problem is, the established system of counseling with local leaders who know us and our circumstances and can advise us individually in a way that no distant leader can, is in place and works just fine. When people write to Elder Oaks, or post manifestos in response to Sister Beck, or stage protests of other kinds, they don’t seem especially to want to put their own lives in harmony with God’s will. Their purpose, rather, seems to be to instruct the leader or convince a leader of their superior wisdom or demand change in something that the protesters have no stewardship for.

    That is likely why there is no “suggestion box” mechanism.

  116. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Adcama, Elder Oaks is talking about people who take exception to one specific policy (specifically, his discouragement of choosing to “hang out” rather than date). I don’t think you can take that specific counsel and apply it to every policy with which one doesn’t agree.

    Furthermore, he’s talking to people who wish to disregard a policy on an individual level (while acknowledging its general applicability), not people who advocate the change of a policy on a church-wide level:

    “As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.”

  117. LostinDreams on November 17, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    I now have a few more lines to add to my long list of un-Christlike quotes by TBMs and GAs on what they think of people who disagree with them. Nice.

    The part this discussion that interests me the most was the assumption that this document is a ad hominem attack is Sis. Beck, when it is clearly not. We are disagreeing with ideas and the culture of judgmental thinking she reinforces in her talk that are counterintuitive to me as a member struggling to remain a member.

  118. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I wish I had posted #114 after #117.

  119. Mark B. on November 17, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    It seems that the only judgmental thinking evoked by Sister Beck’s talk has been done by those self-appointed judges who have considered her words and rejected them and condemned her for saying them.

    Has anybody who has expressed support or agreement with Sister Beck’s words been pointing fingers at the childless or the “working” mothers or indifferent housekeepers or parents of children with 37 body piercings and spiked hair? I haven’t seen it.

  120. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I’m not sure I’d agree that everyone who writes a letter to Elder Oaks (or other GA) has an issue with wanting to put their life in harmony with God’s will – and writing letters is what some have suggested the manifesto posters should have done.

    Since revelation is sometimes a collaborative process and leaders (including their interpretations) are imperfect – it’s my opinion that general feedback and upward communication is important. Again I ask – what is the forum? It’s not posting a manifesto, it’s apparently not letter writing – local leaders will listen….but the feedback isn’t going to get past the stake center. The suggestion box would be cheap (some kid could do it for his eagle project). :)

  121. Nate Oman on November 17, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I have a duty not to kill people. That duty, however, is defeasible in a myrian of circumstances, e.g. a homocide committed in self defense, a homocide committed in the defense of someone else, etc. Does the defeasibility of the duty make the decision to commit homocide a choice? I think not. Those who disagree with the notion that one has a duty to “multiply and replenish the earth,” are free to do so. On the other hand, the example of the infertile couple, etc. etc. does not demonstrate that we are dealing with a choice, only with a defeasible duty. Choice and defeasability are not the same thing.

  122. Téa on November 17, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Perhaps it’s the context, Julie, that you read this as an anti-LDS Church doctrine statement. The line you quoted and the paragraph that followed still seem in harmony with the doctrine we have.

    And Matt Evans (59) Nader sought to defend this right for women around the world as well. I think it’s important for the US to affirm the right to bear children before it comes under a more serious attack within our own borders. The humorous “Child Czar” in #99 is gaining actual support out there.

  123. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    “the feedback isn’t going to get past the stake center”

    Then perhaps there is a reason for that. I don’t hear many people complaining that they can’t get a personal audience with W to express their ire over the Iraq war; if we don’t expect access to leaders in a democracy, I’m not sure on what grounds we expect access to leaders who shouldn’t be swayed by us in the first place.

  124. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    “The line you quoted and the paragraph that followed still seem in harmony with the doctrine we have.”

    Explain to me how this is so, because I don’t see it.

  125. paula on November 17, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Ann, I just found out I mispoke. There was discussion that they should send the letter to Sister Beck, also, as personal correspondence, much as Julie suggested should be done. And it wasn’t going to have all the signatures. But it wasn’t done, and probably isn’t going to be done.

  126. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    “much as Julie suggested should be done”

    LOL! You’ve got to be kidding! What I said was this:

    ‘I’d recommend carefully worded private letters to general leaders outlining ways in which Pres. Beck’s talk does not agree with long-established church doctrine/practice and/or in which long-established church doctrine/practice is unscriptural. (Neither of which is true, but hypothetically.)”

    What you said fails to be “as Julie suggested” on at least three counts.

  127. East Coast on November 17, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Ditto on 124. The Letter reminds me of the little story from church history about the member who thought he could write a revelation better than Joseph Smith.

  128. Blake on November 17, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    LostinDreams says: “The part this discussion that interests me the most was the assumption that this document is a ad hominem attack is Sis. Beck, when it is clearly not. We are disagreeing with ideas and the culture of judgmental thinking she reinforces in her talk that are counterintuitive to me as a member struggling to remain a member.”

    You really are lost in your dreams. Come on. The Letter names her. It even quotes her and points at her as the chief exemplification of the “culture of judgmental thinking.” The fact that you don’t see it as a personal attack is revealing indeed. I trust that someone suggesting to women that families are first, that being a mother is important and more important than any other worldly gain isn’t a reason for struggling with the church is it? Further, the “culture of judgmental thinking” — is that anything like the generalization for the “the LDS culture” or “the GAs?” Just wondering who is engaging in judgment here.

  129. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    “don’t hear many people complaining that they can’t get a personal audience with W to express their ire over the Iraq war; if we don’t expect access to leaders in a democracy, I’m not sure on what grounds we expect access to leaders who shouldn’t be swayed by us in the first place.”

    Like I said, for practical reasons….this can’t happen – I’m not suggesting members are owed a personal meeting with W or President Hinckley. But how should members go about addressing concerns like these with general church leadership if it’s not letter writing, it’s not personal meetings, it’s not manifesto posting? Maybe I’m naive thinking they would want to know if a significant number of people get heartburn over x,y, or z? Perhaps this won’t change the counsel….but it might help leaders deliver it differently?

  130. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    . . . how should members go about addressing concerns like these with general church leadership if it’s not letter writing . . .

    Adcama–

    You. Are. Taking. Elder. Oaks. Out. Of. Context.

  131. Eric Russell on November 17, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    JimD, I’m sorry man, but whoever told you adding periods after each word of a sentence was a good way to invoke emphasis was wrong.

  132. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Hmm. I’m open to suggestions. :)

  133. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    All caps is always a classy touch.

  134. Ann on November 17, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Blake, EVERYBODY is engaged in judgment here. You are judging the women who wrote the letter as engaging in ad hominem attacks on President Sister Beck; the women who wrote the letter are judging President Sister Beck’s talk and finding it lacking, Julie M. Smith is judging the meaning of the word “whether,” I am judging the meaning of the word “whether,” and most people in this thread are judging each other motives and erring on the side of a decided lack of charity.

    Sister President Beck made some strong statements. No weasel words, direct and emphatic. Good for her! Disagreeing with those statements is not a personal attack on her (or your wife), any more than her statements were a personal attack on me. I haven’t criticized Beck’s life choices, her motivations, or her values. I disagree with some of the things she said in her public statement. I’m allowed to do that.

  135. Jonathan Green on November 17, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    After the line, “Several ideas within the body of President Beck’s talk conflict with our inspiration and experience,” anything that follows is going to be problematic, whatever it is. They could have written, “We proclaim that all frowns should be turned upside down and smiled away,” and it would be problematic. The claim that one’s inspiration is superior to that of a church leader speaking in conference precludes any useful contribution.

  136. Ardis Parshall on November 17, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    adcama, I’m still struggling with why you think members need to “go about addressing concerns like these with general church leadership.” If I have heartburn because I don’t understand a piece of counsel or think I’m an exception or otherwise need help in adjusting my thought and action, my local leaders are the best ones to advise me.

    If I have heartburn because I think a general leader is wrong about a piece of counsel, then exactly why do I want to inform the leader of that disagreement? Because my inspiration for a leader’s stewardship is greater than the leader’s own? Because I’m smarter or a better writer or a more compassionate speaker than the leader? Because without my enlightened input, they won’t know that some women don’t like housework, or like marketplace work, or don’t want children? This is a secret known to all of us but hidden from all of them?

  137. ME on November 17, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Since when does \”I disagree\” or \”I have a different experience\” automatically equate to \”My claim is superior\”? I didn\’t see anything that supports the read that the statement\’s creators were claiming to have superior inspiration.

  138. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    If I have heartburn because I think a general leader is wrong about a piece of counsel, then exactly why do I want to inform the leader of that disagreement? Because my inspiration for a leader’s stewardship is greater than the leader’s own? Because I’m smarter or a better writer or a more compassionate speaker than the leader? Because without my enlightened input, they won’t know that some women don’t like housework, or like marketplace work, or don’t want children? This is a secret known to all of us but hidden from all of them?

    Well, I can kind of see a reason for it. First, we know leaders are fallible. It’s conceivable that in a church with thirteen million members, at least one of those members might get a revelation that a church leader either has not yet gotten or has misinterpreted. As long as it’s done in a deferential manner, I can see a member’s contacting a GA and asking “are you sure this came from a revelation? leading to the adoption of a better policy.

    Second, the ministry of the GAs is to help all of God’s children come to Christ. Where a church policy is creating a stumbling block between me and Christ, and where the local leadership is unable to resolve my concerns, I submit that it is entirely proper for me to write to a GA with a “help me to understand this” attitude; and that it is the GA’s ecclesiastical duty to provide counsel, advice, or explanations as the situation merits.

  139. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    JD – I posted the link for ya, feel free to explain why you think I took it out of context.

    Ardis, I believe that inspiration/revelation isn’t always perfectly understood by us or by our leaders – nor is it always given/received without looking at all sides of the issue (please don’t take that as accusatory in this instance). There’s the whole “speaking as a man or as a prophet” thing. Properly voicing concerns (however that is) may or may not cause our leaders to look at their own assumptions/feelings, etc more closely. Perhaps church leaders will take issues to the Lord again, or in a different light after looking more closely at the concerns of members. Maybe at the very least….as striving leaders, they want to know what people think or feel – as I said, so they can approach a certain topic in the most effective way. I don’t think we can assume they always do – nor do I think it’s true that our leaders always realize how many feel about x,y,z.

  140. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    JD – if I did take it out of context, it’s only because I’m trying to start a business putting suggestion boxes in church buildings worldwide……

  141. Ardis Parshall on November 17, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    It’s conceivable that in a church with thirteen million members, at least one of those members might get a revelation that a church leader either has not yet gotten or has misinterpreted

    JimD, this is such a fundamental misunderstanding of how things work that I cannot read further. You need a basic refresher course on the nature of revelation and stewardship.

    ME, I have yet to see a circumstance where someone saying “I disagree” is saying “My understanding is inferior to yours.” The writers and signers of the Letter are not simply batting around ideas with Sister Beck attempting to reach a consensus, either.

  142. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    “may not cause our leaders to look at their own assumptions/feelings, etc more closely.” I meant “may cause”…….this new business idea is causing too much stress.

  143. Mark B. on November 17, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Ann’s got me confused (134): Is it President Sister Beck, or is it Sister President Beck?

    If we keep at it, we can out German die Deutscher and start calling people by all their titles:

    Frau Schwester Doktor Praesident Beck!

  144. Ardis Parshall on November 17, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    adcama, I appreciate your measured tone and the evident sincerity of your position. I just can’t share your concern. When members ask prophets to ask the Lord for second opinions on revelations, we tend to get circumstances like the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon. And general church leaders don’t live in isolation — they have families and friends and colleagues, they constantly mingle with church members on their travels, the hear constantly from church members through already established channels. I just cannot imagine they don’t have any clue about the heartburn of members who take exception to counsel.

    Thanks for a good discussion and courteous exchange, adcama.

  145. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    You too, Ardis…..I always like it when I see your name pop up in a T&S thread!

  146. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Adcama–

    Apologies for coming off as somewhat hostile; I assumed you had seen my 116 and were deliberately ignoring it. Have a look at it and let me know what you think.

    Ardis–

    “I disagree”. ;-) Sort of. I also probably didn’t express myself very well to begin with. It would have been better to state something to the effect of “it’s conceivable that in a church with thirteen million members, at least one of those members might recognize a need for a revelation that a church leader has not yet noticed.” I also think it’s conceivable that a church leader might take for granted as a “revelation” something that was actually implemented long ago solely as a temporarily expedient policy; under such circumstances it might take a member from the laity to encourage the church leader to re-address the issue.

    That said, once the issue has been (privately) raised and submitted to the appropriate leaders, I think it would be totally improper for the member to try to initiate a grass-roots movement to “raise awareness of” (read: “shame the church leaders into changing”) the policy.

  147. JimD on November 17, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Didn’t see your 144, Ardis:

    When members ask prophets to ask the Lord for second opinions on revelations, we tend to get circumstances like the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon.

    I agree with this. But I think there’s a difference between this exchange:

    “The answer is no.”
    “Ask again”.
    “The answer is no”
    “Ask again”
    “The answer is no”
    “Ask again”
    “Oh, what the heck . . .”

    and this one:

    “Are you sure that’s what you received?”
    “Yes”
    “Alrightty, then. Tell me what you want me to do.”

  148. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    There is one more aspect of this discussion that has not been addressed yet, and I actually hesitated to mention it – since I think Blake’s #99 is the most disturbing issue in this whole discussion. However, here it is:

    Hopefully, some people will read the original talk (that was linked in the statement) along with the statement itself, compare the two and come to a reasoned conclusion about the entire discussion. However, I have absolutely no confidence that will happen with 99.9% of the people who read the statement **who have not already heard or read the talk**. (Particularly those who are not members of the Church) They will skim right past the link to get to the statement, read the statement and **assume** that Sis. Beck (and, by extension) the Church she represents reject what is in the statement – when, in reality, most of it is in harmony with what the Church teaches.

    Public statements like this do not occur in a vacuum. I will not specify, but I’m sure the statement is receiving press on certain blogs – which will extend its reach outside of members of the Church into circles who are vocally opposed to the Church – and on and on it goes. I am concerned that this “measured and sincere” attempt to express concern will turn into “proof of that oppressive, manipulative, backward cult of Mormonism” in some places and do real harm as it is misinterpreted and misapplied and misconstrued and used in ways that are far from the intent of most of its signers.

    I just get back to seeing it as ill-conceived and sad – plus a frightening example of what Blake described.

  149. bbell on November 17, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    My thoughts exactly:

    #79 “In fact, if there were a group with a foolish agenda and I wanted to be sure that their cause was DOA, I’d recommend a PC-jargon-laden personal attack on a general church leader delivered in a public setting. Oh, wait ”

    #83 “Julie, if I were to offer them advice, I would point out that including the signature of someone excommunicated for apostasy was incredibly unwise. Everyone expects a woman excommunicated for apostasy to take issue with the RS president, so her signature adds no value, and by including her signature it forces signatories to side with her rather than Beck. That’s a dumb obstacle to place in front of members.”

    After the line, “Several ideas within the body of President Beck’s talk conflict with our inspiration and experience,” anything that follows is going to be problematic, whatever it is. They could have written, “We proclaim that all frowns should be turned upside down and smiled away,” and it would be problematic. The claim that one’s inspiration is superior to that of a church leader speaking in conference precludes any useful contribution.

    When I read the statement I was getting flashbacks to the late 70′s and Sonia Johnson and to the early 90′s with the female members of the September 6. Then I read the names and LFA was there.

    I think we are seeing the 3rd “cycle” of misguided feminist activism in the church here in 2007.

    The jury is out on whether it will result in church courts that will suppress it for a while and then will pop out again in say 2020.

    The church will keep on going as before……….

  150. Timer on November 17, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    NOTICE TO LATECOMERS:

    For those coming late to this post, let me see if I can summarize the bulk of the discussion so far to save you some time:

    I. APPROPRIATENESS OF THE WEB PAGE ABOUT SISTER BECK’S TALK

    A. Don’t you think people have a right to disagree with Sister Beck?
    B: I guess so, but this was tacky.
    A: But don’t you agree that the content of the message is mostly pretty innocuous and uncontroversial, even if the phrasing has some left-leaning political overtones?
    B: Yes, but the line preceding the statement was arrogant and insulting. “Several ideas within the body of President Beck’s talk conflict with our inspiration and experience. We are authors of our own lives, and this is the story we know to be true.” Gag. Who says things like that?
    A: I guess you’re right. It was arrogant and insulting. But won’t you at least concede the pictures were nice?
    B: I did like the pictures.

    II. MORAL DUTY TO HAVE CHILDREN:

    A. Married Mormon couples who choose not to have children are wrong.
    B. Okay, but here are 47 perfectly valid reasons for a married Mormon couple to choose not to have children (medical issues, lack of ability to care for children, mental incompetence, age, etc.). Are you really saying that people who choose not to have children for these reasons are wrong?
    A. I concede that the 47 reasons you gave are good reasons not to have children. But I still maintain that not having children for the wrong reasons is wrong.
    B. But isn’t that just a tautology?
    A. Okay, let me be more specific. The people I really want to smack are the smug, liberal, overeducated, Hillary-Clinton-supporting, Manhattan-dwelling Mormon couple comprised of two perfectly healthy 32-year-olds (with a combined annual income of $500,000/year and a beautiful pre-war apartment on the upper east side) who choose to remain childless simply because they enjoy their lives and don’t want children interfering with their precious little bohemian bubble.
    B. I’d like to smack them too. Still, the population you refer to can’t be all that large, can it? Do you really know anyone in that category?
    A. No. But anyway, if there are people in that category, wouldn’t you want to smack them?
    B. Yes, yes, we’ve already established that. But let me put this another way. If you knew a couple in your ward had made a conscious choice not to have children, would you immediately assume that their reasons were bad ones?
    A. Of course not. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt. I know lots of childless couples. Do you think I go around pointing fingers and judging them all? I am not the kind of person who judges other. For example, I don’t go around judging people who, like you, consistently ignore Christ’s very clear injunction to visit people in prison.
    B. But you still want to smack those self-centered Manhattanites?
    A. Do you know anyone who doesn’t?
    B. I can’t think of anyone.

  151. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Timer, you’re hired.

  152. m&m on November 17, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    SilverRain (86, 105) and Julie (88), well said.

    Ray (148) that is a concern of mine as well. Nothing is ever done in a vacuum, especially not in a public, linkable, searchable medium. Something for all of us to always keep in mind, no?

    Ann earlier said that she feels the leadership doesn’t care. I feel so sad that people feel this way, but I am absolutely certain that those feelings are not based on reality. I am not sure what would need to happen to change people’s minds on that, but if there is anything I feel like praying for about now, it’s that all who struggle can truly know that our leaders do care, and that God is aware of their struggles, concerns and questions.

    (I can’t help but wonder if there was a basic trust that they do care, if reactions to their words would sometimes be different. I know that if I doubt the motives of someone, it doesn’t really matter what they say — I will perceive their words as something that validates my wrong assumptions about their motives and feelings toward me. Is it possible that this is sometimes what happens with regard to our leaders?)

  153. C Jones on November 17, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this whole idea of agitating for change as it applies to the church. Aside from my strong distaste for the anti-Beck statement and the method of presenting their disagreement, I wonder what might be an alternative. Adcama proposes a suggestion box for “expressing concerns” to church leadership. But how would that play out in reality?
    Take Julie’s topic– whether the general church teaching as expressed in the Family Proclamation is the default ideal for those who are in a covenantal marriage.

    So if I disagree with that, I write it up and put it in the suggestion box.
    Then the bishop gives it to the SP and on up the chain until the First Presidency gets it.
    So then what? Do they hire Western Wats to take a phone poll? Or send out ballots for a vote?
    And if the vote goes in my favor, should they then declare that the injunction to multiply and replenish the earth doesn’t apply anymore?
    And then what about those who don’t want to belong to a church that no longer emphasizes the family so strongly, with all that supports that position, including the temple? Where do they go?

    Sorry, but I’m gonna hafta go with the system we have now of inspired prophets giving direction, and me being able to pray and get revelation and decide for myself.

  154. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    C-Jones – just to make sure you know, the suggestion box thang was silliness – meant to provoke discussion on this important topic. Besides, I’ve thought alot about it and have concluded that the church FM group would likely be responsible for hanging all of those wooden boxes next to the tithing envelopes – the more I think about it, there’s no money in it for me.

  155. C Jones on November 17, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Yes, I know it was tongue in cheek, but that still leaves me at a loss as to any good way to agitate for change beyond what Julie and a few others have outlined in their comments here. Too bad about the comment boxes, though, that would be an awesome HPFE craft project.

  156. Denise on November 17, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    This is why I\’m grateful to have left the LDS church. I have never wanted children. I realized as a teenager that I didn\’t want children, and at almost 50 I\’m continually thankful that I made the choice not to have them. The housewife\’s life described in Julie Beck\’s talk would be a nightmare for me. Whether or not my reason for remaining childfree is \”acceptable\” to someone else really doesn\’t matter. It\’s my life, not yours.

  157. John on November 17, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    #156

    You may have left the church, but apparently you’re still glancing in the rear view mirror occasionally to see how far you’ve really left us behind!

  158. adcama on November 17, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    You may be right….

    As I’ve tried to say, I think upward communication and feedback (positive and negative) are important for every organization – including the church. Some argue that our leaders are aware of all these issues – and that they understand the feelings of members about how this type of counsel is received, I don’t necessarily agree as I don’t see how the brethren would know without having someone tell them (circles of friends/family don’t always share the cold hard truth – and they tend to be somewhat biased). Obviously, blogging has kind of filled the un-identified mechanism I’m advocating – although not completely.

    I remember listening to President Hinckley during his October 1997 announcement of smaller temples:

    “Now as you hear me say these things, I think stake presidents in many areas will say this is exactly what we need. Well, let us know of your needs, and we will give them prayerful and careful consideration, but please don’t expect things to happen all at once. We need a little experience for this undertaking.”

    The part of this statement that stuck out for me was “let us know your needs, and we will give them prayerful and careful consideration…..”. While President Hinckley may have been speaking solely about needs as they related to these smaller temples, it struck me as having broader meaning. Perhaps I’m speculating or over-parsing, but it seems to me that sometimes in the church, needs and issues don’t immediately appear on the CHQ radar – and when they do, it’s a crisis – or too much time has already passed, or maybe something could have been worded in a more understanding tone. It seems like I’m coming across more and more people who are feeling hurt or disenfranchised – or are unnecessarily suffering because they don’t understand the rules of generalized counsel (maybe this is just me). Perhaps local leaders speak up the chain, but that hasn’t been my experience. Usually, faithful leaders don’t want to seem like they’re complaining, don’t want to burden the brethren or simply think the brethren always know the score. Again, it’s my position that perhaps a little more upward openness and communication may be good for the church and I think that’s what revelation requires sometimes. God may still want it done a certain way – I can take that. But if nothing else, sometimes being heard and understood goes a long, long way.

  159. Bob on November 17, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I still don’t see a different between ‘unwilling’ to have child 4,5,0r 6…, and unwilling to have child 2 or 3? My Grandmother had 13, because that’s what Mormon Culture and the Church of her day expected of her. Her chances to make the CK would have been in doubt, had she stopped at 2. Please don’t argue ‘times were different’, then says the time of Adam and Eve is the standard.

  160. East Coast on November 17, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    About #156, this is the central thing that I don’t understand about the reaction to Sister Beck’s talk. As I understand it, everyone has to live in a home of some sort. Even those healthy 32 year olds with the half a million dollar income and the gorgeous home on the upper east side have to perform some functions of homemaking, even if it consists entirely of directing the cook, maid, handyman, and interior decorator. If we’re going to have homes, the fact of which I can’t see anyone escaping without actually dying (and then certain people I know will worry about whether the coffin lining clashes with their outfit and who the new neighbors are), we might as well make them the best homes possible. Is that such a terrible thing to say?

  161. Ugly Mahana on November 17, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Let’s assume I have not read the statement. If all it says is “We believe individuals are responsible to seek God’s will in making child-bearing decisions, and should be accountable to God and not the Church at large for decisions regarding child-bearing,” then, within certain unstated-but-likely-implied conditions (i.e. not deciding to bear children out of wedlock), this is a fairly benign statement. In fact, it is one that Sis. Beck would likely agree with. Both this statement and Sis. Beck’s talk make finding the will of God central to their message, and both value children. If the statement is intended to say “We believe that the Church is wrong to encourage child-bearing” then it is so wildly out of sync with LDS beliefs as to be less a statement of disagreement and more a statement of desired disaffiliation. My read of the comments is that the statement’s defenders interpret it according to my first summary. However, that reading is weakened by the fact that the statement is positioned as a rebuke. It’s positioning suggests that the statement is intended to make clear that Sis. Beck does not speak for, or authoritatively speak to, some individuals. In other words, it uses benign language – language that in many instances does not so much disagree with Sis. Beck’s talk as extend its themes to a new audience – to disguise a statement of desired disaffiliation. Viewed from this perspective, I become concerned that the statement coopts the language of my first summary to advance the agenda described by the second.

    If the benign interpretation was all that was intended, then the statement could have simply addressed those areas not addressed by Sis. Beck – individual circumstances where her words need to be applied carefully, and in light of the whole gospel. Instead, by positioning itself as a rebuke, it smacks of something other than sustaining, perhaps even a disguised attack.

  162. Molly Bennion on November 17, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    Some have questioned the wisdom of including Lavina’s signature on the statement. Though I have chosen not to sign, I considered the statement more seriously because of her signature. Few make as important a contribution as Lavina to objective and effective Mormon scholarship. And few are as Christian in their treatment of others as Lavina. She gets more credence in my book than those signers who have left the Mormon community. I do not agree that an excommunication about which few know much is sufficient justification to see her as an instant negative. I could argue it would have been if this were designed solely as a winning political argument, but many aspects of it, including the form of publication, argue for other motivations, motivations which I can only guess.

  163. alas on November 17, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I tend to think that in order to pray about an issue, the prophet needs sto know about that issue. Joseph Smith didn\’t pray about the word of wisdom until after Emma complained about having to clean up after the group of the male church leadership\’s spitting tobacco. She complained, he listened, he prayed, God answered. So, I feel that if there is an issue, it is our duty as church members to do everything in our power to bring it to the attention of those in authority. The women who wrote and signed this document were just doing that. AS has been pointed out, there is no other way for a woman down on the very bottom of the chain of command to get a message to the top. If she writes directly to the general authority, the letter is opened by a secretary, and then sent to her stake president, who calls her in and tells her to repent and stop complaining. He doesn\’t bother passing her concern up the chain of command, because after all, it CAME to him form up the chain of command. The fact that no one read it up the chain of command is irrelevant. If there was any way of getting our concerns up the chain of command in a peacrful way, I think that there would be a lot less of the feeling that our leaders do not care and do not listen. When the church was smaller, there were ways to address a general authority with a letter and have it read and answered, but as the church has grown, communication from the bottom up has been lost. I too feel it has reached a point where I feel that our leaders do not care because they do not bother to become aware of some of the issues. Rather than attempting to open up more communication to make up for what has been lost as the church grows, they are now into a mode of condemming anyone who brings up any opinion contrary to their own. If Joseph Smith had been like that, Emma would have been chastised for being critical of the servants of God, and rather than having the word of wisdom, we would have a chapter in the D&C telling us to never bring up problems.

  164. Jim Cobabe on November 17, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Interesting considerations.

    I find myself thinking I would have found it more instructive and useful if these women — proclaiming that Beck’s talk conflicted with thier inspiration and experience — would have been more direct in comparing their differences. I cannot identify exactly how they think Beck’s counsel varies from their own wisdom. It would seem most likely to me that such an expression is a better indication of antagonistic dissident posturing and incipient apostasy than any intent to “improve” the Church. Perhaps their differences stem from more general issues with Church leadership, doctrines and policies, than with any of the specific matters Sister Beck addressed.

    In attempting to derive the most significant messages from inspired counsel, I personally seek first to align my own thoughts with those who speak. If my personal feelings seem at conflict, my first assumption is that I have either misunderstood, or that I need to readjust my thinking. When I have differences with the Church, the problem is in me. I have yet to encounter a situation where the Holy Spirit testifies that I am right, and the Church is wrong.

  165. cat on November 17, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    #84 – I’m hoping you were making an unsuccessful attempt at sarcasm in your post about those of us who by choice or fate not having children never being more than second best, no matter what good we do. Wow, that has undertones of the most un-Christlike attitude I’ve heard in quite awhile. I guess I should just stop all of my good deeds, hard work, dedication to my calling and go get me a baby.

  166. Mark D. on November 17, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Alas (#163),

    If these women wanted to motivate the leaders of the church to additional consideration of the question, they chose exactly the wrong way to go about it. If that was their objective they should have been polite, diplomatic, patient, and supportive. Angry, rude, impatient and dismissive will have the opposite effect.

  167. Dr. B. on November 17, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    I have read the comments here with great interest. I have to admit I was disappointed that my own wife seems to have shifted over the twenty years since we stood behind Ezra Taft Benson. Even though he played down prideful behavior I was actually proud of my wife that she chose to have eight children at the cost of abuse and ridicule by many of the same women who today accuse Julie Beck of turning on them. I guess they felt it was alright to have them say that “Ezra Taft Benson was an old man who didn’t understand the times” but different for Julie Beck to take a stand and put herself in alignment with what the prophets and apostles have always said. The few statements today about choice do not refute the stand held for all those years since the leaders of the Church have an optimistic viewpoint that we will choose to have children. I sat with ETB in the Jordan River Temple with my wife. He was appalled that people in China were aborting their unborn children. He told us that we as Latter-day Saints needed to be less materialistic and that we could have a few more children so that the righteous spirits could come here and bless us and the kingdom of God. To me to reverse that sacrifice is like Lot’s wife who turned to look back and was turned to salt. I would rather stand firm on the Lord’s side of the line than to have the praise of a bunch of hedonistic flip floppers who in my opinion won’t be in the celestial kingdom since parenthood is a theological condition that LDS must adhere to in order to enter in to the highest degree. I guess there needs to be a few ministering angels to minister in the next life.

  168. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    cat, I will let Ardis speak for herself, but you are addressing “one of us” (a single woman) when you complain about her comment, and your “solution” is ridiculous – exactly the type of polemic that turns a deeply thoughtful comment into something to ridicule and scorn. (Again, read #99.)

    There truly is something about putting your life on the line to bear a child, going through the hellish pain of doing so, having to exercise properly absolute and total power over another (then having to let go of that control as that other grows and develops, etc.) that simply provides experiences and insights unavailable to those who do not raise infants. That’s not a statement of “second best” status as a person; it’s simply a statement of fact. Ardis’ worth as a person is not one bit less than my wife’s just because she does not have children, but my wife has experienced things and learned lessons that Ardis simply has not.

    There was no scorn in her comment; there was in yours. That is one of the issues we are discussing here in this thread – how people react and are likely to react when faced with andn dealing with this statement.

  169. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Dr. B., you just proved that vitriol is not limited to one side of this discussion – and that incorrect doctrine can flow from both sides, as well. The Church does not teach that any single woman loses her chance at exaltation do to her status as a single woman. If Ardis and Sheri Dew, for example, don’t qualify, I’m not sure I want to do so.

  170. Ray on November 17, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    “due to her status” not “do to” – Yikes! (Always proofread; always proofread; always proofread.)

  171. Naismith on November 17, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Getting back to the original essay–

    Julie, I wonder about the title theme, because of the story of Ardeth Greene Kapp, who is an amazing LDS woman. I remember reading that when she and her husband learned they were infertile, they chose not to adopt.

    And this was a long time ago, pre-Roe and before the acceptability of single parenthood, when it was much easier to adopt babies.

    So really, they chose not to be parents, when they easily could have, through adoption. And yet nobody doubts their devotion to the gospel.

  172. Kristine on November 17, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    bbell,

    ” I think we are seeing the 3rd “cycle” of misguided feminist activism in the church here in 2007.”

    Just out of curiosity, what were the first two??

  173. Julie M. Smith on November 17, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Naismith, that’s an interesting thought. One possibility is to say that adoption isn’t mandatory the same way that childbearing is. Another possibility is that Sr. Kapp is one of those exceptions. In any case, I think Sister Kapp would be the first to tell you that if she could have had children, she never would have chosen otherwise.

  174. Nate Oman on November 17, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Timer: Best comment ever.

    Ann and acadama: I am puzzled by the notion that GA’s are uninterested in hearing from ordinary members. The only GA statements that I have heard that encourage members NOT to contact GAs are in the context of requesting that GAs provide specific counsel or validate specific personal decisions. In other words, I take it that Elder Oaks, for example, is saying something like, “Look, there are exceptions to my counsel. If you think that you are one of them, please don’t write me a letter asking that I validate your decision. Your are a grown up. I am trying to teach correct principles. Go govern yourselves.” I don’t think that this can or should be interpretated as something like “Don’t write me letters with your thoughts because I don’t care.”

    I think that where GAs get touchy is not when someone writes a letter experssing concern, disagreement, or proferring potential insights. I seriously doubt anyone gets “blacklisted” for such activity. Rather, I think that the concern comes when the authority of church leaders is directly and publically challenged in a way that is percieved as giving ammunition to hostile critics of the Church. For myself, I think that this last set of concerns is vastly overstated in our culture. On the other hand, I don’t see that these concerns are anything like, “We don’t want to hear from you.”

    The attempts at faux-eloquence in this particular manifesto make me blanche a bit, and I thought that the posturing on the FMLA was a bit gratuitious. (Also, since I think that the FMLA would benefit incumbent women in the labor market at the expense of women trying to enter the labor market, I have doubts about its wisdom as a vehicle for increasing female welfare. On the other hand, when I have tried in the past to have this discussion with folks who support the FMLA it rather quickly degenerates into “You are such a meannie.” This, alas, is a trivilially true statement. FMLA tangent over.) Still, I think that I probably agreed with about 80 percent of the actual substance of it’s claims. Alas, there is much more going on in the manifesto than the substance of its claims. Hence, I don’t see that concern about and rejection of this sort of thing necessarily implies that one objects to making one’s voice heard to GAs.

  175. Ardis Parshall on November 18, 2007 at 12:30 am

    165: cat: there was no sarcasm. I meant and believe exactly what I wrote, and it isn’t an easy realization or something I say casually. As Ray suggested, it describes my own situation. I simply will never know in this life what it is like to bear children, or be responsible for their nurture, or look forward to the blessings of posterity. While not impossible, it is also extremely unlikely at this point that I will have the experiences and learn the lessons of marriage, in this life. (You’ll see that I qualify both this statement and the original one with “in this life” or “in mortality.” My family-less-ness will not be an eternal condition.)

    Any good thing that is within my reach is secondary to those greatest of blessings and cannot provide the rewards and lessons of family. That is all I mean by second best. I do not believe, and did not write, that a life such as mine has lesser value, or that I am second-class, of less worth to God, less deserving of any gift or challenge or opportunity within the power of this world, or should abandon good works.

    Nor did I write that second best achievements are not worthy of my life and effort. There’s second best, which I’m striving for, and 3,458th best, which is the approximate ranking of the course you propose.

    But I do understand how you could read into my comment something I did not intend. If someone smug in multiple parenthood had written my words, especially if *having* children but not *raising* children were that person’s main achievement, I might have assumed the worst, too. I apologize for assuming readers would recognize my position without my having made it clear.

  176. Ann on November 18, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Nate, I think my observation that “they don’t care what they think” is an extension of my experience in the DaMU, where so many people who have lost their footings in their faith feel the need to explain, often in very long letters with lots and lots of detail, exactly what they think and what they feel, with the explanation, “I want them to understand where I’m coming from. I want them to know how I’m thinking.” And my response to them is the same as my response to those who would like to engage in dialogue with church leaders about issues like this: “Nobody cares what you think.”

  177. Dr. B. on November 18, 2007 at 1:37 am

    It is amazing to me that my dear wife collected every statement we could find by the General Authorities every one of them talked about not curtailing our families. People tend to use Homer Ellsworth who is “not an General Authority nor was he ever one.” Even President Hinckley reiterated what President Benson, President McKay, and others said. It has never changed its opinion even the Handbook of Instructions doesn’t change what was said in the past. It just assumes we are more righteous so we can make the right choices. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. The fact is that President Benson received thirty thousand letters from angry women, he was villified in the editorials of the Utah newspapers. He would have probably had letters from people like my wife. Julie Beck who wasn’t as outspoken is taking the same heat. ETB later received 70,000 letters from women who decided to try out what he said and told him he was inspired. Do you honestly believe people who curtail their families in this life using abortifacents which is murder since the sperm and egg have divided will be Gods in the next life. I don’t think so nor do a few prophets. Do the research yourself? My wife did and had eight children. She was told by her Mormon doctor as after having toxemia that she would not carry a child (second of eight) to term. I will stick with the Prophets not your feeling. It is between you and God but I wouldn’t put my salvation on the line because I took innocent life. You can argue all you want about quickening or the moment of conception but I will stick with ETB on this one. All the letters from all the women won’t change the Church’s position any more than if we were Catholics it would change the Pope’s opinion either.

  178. bbell on November 18, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Kristine:

    Era battle late 1970′s

    The feminist part of the September 6 situation in the early 1990′s.

    I expect to see it again in what 2020-2025

  179. Jon W on November 18, 2007 at 3:26 am

    Ok I am cross posting this because I think it applies though a lot of it unfortunately is a rehashing of others:

    Mindbogglingly stupid.

    I found the whole thing completely silly. I understand that many might find her comments a little jarring but after re-listening and re-reading the talk I find this whole argument pointless.

    It seems like a typical situation where no one in my ward here in Canada would even have noticed or cared but seems to just grab the Utah saints. Yes I know the letter was signed by people who are not all from Utah. But I also know that no one either in relief society or elders quorum here in Canada seem to go ballistic about it.

    If you do not agree with it then do not listen to her. If you think it is just her personal opinion then fine. But women who get offended by talks like this should go read the Priesthood session of conference. We are called to repentance for a whole lot worse not mildly pointed out that we can do better. These talks are just as frank and harsh.

    Personally, my wife and I have chosen together that she was to stay with the kids in the home as much as possible.

    Some times that has not been economically sensible but we made the choice because all the social studies done, as well as common sense and the general authorities have suggested it. We have suffered financially but in our case this is nothing compared to what might have happened for our son who has learning disabilities was left to the school system to teach.

    After living in Britain for four years I can say that I have seen what can happen when kids are not raised responsibly or in the home and it is ugly. They have school from 3 years old and are talking about fully funding nationalized daycare from six months old. Personally after seeing what is happening to Britain’s youth I would not wish that on anyone.

    I believe that this argument is being launched because Julie Beck is an easy target. You are not attacking the “bretheren” there is an idea that you can get away with it easier.

    It also seems be an agenda which is focused around ideas that the Church is not progressive enough for some people so rather than take a soft approach some want to agitate. So hitting at Sister Beck is just an underlying way to hit every conservative leader in the church who are against feminist ideas and the feminist approach. Much like Harry Reid’s diatribe at BYU against conservative Mormons who apparently are sheep who follow right wing leaders because they were Apostles.

    Hurt feelings and expressions of protest will not change the opinions of the leaders, or most of the members. I would dare say that they do go a long way to hardening attitudes. Creating as straw man arguments against the talk, putting meaning into Sister Beck’s talk which may be unintended seems a great way to make a statement which makes others look at the weakness of your argument over the validity of it.

  180. abbyr on November 18, 2007 at 3:52 am

    Can anyone confirm that the Marjorie Hinckley who signed the letter is Pres Hinckley*s daughter?

  181. Kaimi Wenger on November 18, 2007 at 4:04 am

    Abbyr, I’m not finding any record of a daughter by that name on the internet. According to one webpage, “The Hinckleys were married 29 April 1937 and have had born to them three daughters and two sons—Kathleen H. Barnes, Richard Gordon, Virginia H. Pearce, Clark Bryant, and Jane H. Dudley.”

    (See http://personal.atl.bellsouth.net/w/o/wol3/hinckgb1.htm ).

  182. adcama on November 18, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Nate – I didn’t mean to say that GAs are uninterested in hearing the concerns of members – but based on Elder Oaks’ words, I questioned whether or not writing private letters to GAs was the proper forum to express concerns some may have with this type of general counsel. I do think that church leaders care, but I’m searching for a feedback mechanism wherein Jane Doe and a thousand or so other active mormon women can respectfully and effectively communicate concerns about general counsel as given by Elder Oaks or Sister Beck (or whomever).

    Perhaps Elder Oaks was referring only to letters requesting apostolic confirmation when a personal exception is suspected. I did not see a conjunction (but it’s okay to write letters in other scenarios) – but maybe it wasn’t Elder Oaks’ responsibility/purpose to describe all exceptions to his counsel on letter writing :). And to me it seems, based on what Elder Oaks said, that a single private letter (or a series of seperate letters received from individual concerned members….such as some have suggested the manifesto writers should have pursued) expressing general concern with counsel would likely be seen in the context of a “personal exception” anyway – and therefore is something Elder Oaks discourages.

  183. abbyr on November 18, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you for checking, Kaimi. Since President Hinckley married 70 years ago, she could easily be a grandchild or great grandchild. Whoever it is, I think it*s great that a Marjorie Hinckley endorsed this letter.

  184. John on November 18, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Re: 183

    Or just as easily, and more likely, to not be related at all.

  185. Julie M. Smith on November 18, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    All,

    Thanks for the discussion. I’m closing comments now. You can continue some aspects of the discussion on either of Kaimi’s two new threads.

WELCOME

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