Official Declaration 3

October 4, 2011 | 89 comments
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“We have noticed an unfortunate trend in church attendance. Despite thirty-plus years of formal equality, African-American members are still severely underrepresented in church attendance in the United States. In contrast, white church members are highly overrepresented. This may be because of differences in innate spirituality between the demographic groups. Or, it may be due to social forces. Regardless, it is a problem which must be addressed.

Starting immediately and until further notice, all Priesthood leadership in the United States at the ward, stake, and general level will be drawn solely from African-American church members. This will provide additional incentive for members of this group to attend church. It is not a disproportionate advantage for African-Americans (nor a disadvantage for white church members) because of course all church leadership callings are simply opportunities for service. We are happy to provide our African-American members with this opportunity for service, and are confident that they will serve well in leadership callings. Other church members may continue to serve in non-leadership roles, including Scout callings and the activities committee.”

Discuss.

89 Responses to Official Declaration 3

  1. Tatiana on October 4, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Great analogy!

    And why should white people want to say prayers in General Conference? Does it matter what race the people are who say prayers in General Conference? Of course not! That’s why we’ll continue to have only blacks say the opening and closing prayers during Conference.

  2. Kent Larsen on October 4, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Affirmative action in the Church? I can’t see this happening.

    I do support some affirmative action in limited circumstances (please don’t press me on details — don’t have them.) But, I think its a very short move from this to publicly stating that calls are not made by inspiration.

  3. Tatiana on October 4, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Kent, I think he’s intending to show the flaws in the similar argument for letting only men have the priesthood.

  4. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Exactly. As I wrote over at MDADB after watching the Relief Society conference:

    Good conference. I love President Beck. Glad she and Allred and Thompson gave so many shout-outs to Daughters in My Kingdom. Uchtdorf was a cool cat too, as usual (though I, uh, coulda done without the Wonka reference, even though I liked the lesson it was used to illustrate).

    I just … I really, really, really hope that the brethren are praying about when we will be able to call our sisters Priestesses again, just as we once did women such as Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Bathsheba W. Smith, and Zina Diantha Huntington (“forget them not”!). These meetings where they get so close and yet still shy away from the issue are so painful. :(

    (Maybe they’re laying the groundwork for a change? “When all that was promised, the Saints shall be given”? Allred and Thompson even mentioned healing families … *hopeful*)

  5. Jack on October 4, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Is it OK for white women to continue serving in auxiliary leadership positions?

  6. James Olsen on October 4, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Kent, are you saying it’s not possible for the 1st Pres & Q12 to get genuine *inspiration* that we ought, for the immediate future, call African Americans to leadership wherever possible? I think this is actually a very relevant issue: we’re all on board with God, on account of his individual knowledge of us all, inspiring our leaders with specificity concerning individuals. What is the obstacle to collective callings? A useful comparison/contrast point might be commandments – we have some that are temporally and geographically constrained, and others that are (at least at given times) universal.

    Not sure it would work as an Official Declaration. How about a letter read over the pulpit and inserted as an official part of the CHI?

    Finally – while it’s a great part of the post, really shocking to the sensibilities – it’s hard to even imaginatively take seriously the idea that we could have an official statement of this sort that countenanced the possibility of racial activity discrepancy arising out of inherent spirituality differences. Unless, of course, the idea is that the superior spirituality of African Americans is such as to be an inherent obstacle to their activity in our sub-par meetings?

  7. Michael on October 4, 2011 at 8:27 am

    James,

    Shouldn’t they be getting “revelation” about such matters and not “inspiration”. Significant difference between those two definitions. I think it is telling that those two words have been conflated in our Church over the past couple of decades.

  8. Jax on October 4, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I guess its a personal barometer of what issues we look at more seriously… do you see this post being a men/women issue or a black/white one?

    I personally read it as a black/white one, where it was addressing something like affirmative action. My problem with this is why we always use “black” and “white”. What about asians, latinos, arabs? Where do they fit in? Is it white v everyone else?

    I’m also curious what it is about being in a leadership calling that Kaimi thinks would encourage someone to attend church. (please no more discussion on “status” – that was just aggravating) Is there some reason to think that if people aren’t showing up for church to fulfill minor callings that they would show up to fulfill leadership ones?

  9. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I was in an Institute class last week which shed some light for me on a particular attitude which might be contributing to the delay in extending the Priesthood to women. I was talking with an older Brother – of a Joseph F. Smith philosophical bent – who was adamant that the Priestesses mentioned by name in the Bible were only called for specific purposes at specific times (obviously a completely extra-biblical interpretation/rationalization).

    What was interesting to me was how he framed his lesson that evening: his rhetorical stance was “the Church against the world”, in that any practices which originated from “outside” would be a capitulation to corruptible external influences which would imply assimilationism of the same magnitude as flat-out apostasy.

    “The philosophies of men” were discussed *not* in the historical context of which *particular* philosophies were destructive of the belief in physical embodied deities (as the Post-Augustinian Neo-Platonism was after Christ’s time), but rather as if all *philosophy* which originated outside the Church was itself *necessarily* wrong for no reason other than that it could be labeled “philosophy”. By extension, the same could go for “movements” such as women’s rights.

    I think part of the reticence of some to alter the cultural practice of a male-only Priesthood is thus based *not* on scripture or revelation, but rather on exactly what they decry: reliance on the philosophies of men *within* the Church – as if the Lamanites were never more righteous than the Nephites. That is, having themselves assimilated a more conservative traditional-Christian opposition to the idea of Priestesses as “pagan fertility worship” (as if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wasn’t concerned with fertility!), they have neglected Joseph Smith’s insistence that we “should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.” Insisting on the divide between the world and our Church, we neglect the idea that “one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”

    Brigham Young, while obviously a product of his time in many ways (Cain’s curse, etc), was nevertheless adamant that “‘Mormonism,’ so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are.” An *incredibly* open-minded man, for his time.

    So the question is how to persuade our brothers and sisters through (and I must emphasize this in light of the flame wars this topic has started) gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned, that to extend the Priesthood to the women who have every logical right to it would *not* be a capitulation to “the world”, but rather an example of our learning a truth from those who are part of our extended divine family and have every much right to inspiration as we do. As a mere cultural *practice*, it wouldn’t even require an official revelation to change our ways – though I fear that such would be the only persuasion some would accept.

    From a doctrinal perspective, what’s frustrating to me is when we don’t focus enough on the Divine Council, the explicit plurality of Gods in the Book of Abraham who organized the men *and* women in their image, thus implying female deities (yes, plural!). We seem to want to follow our traditional-Christian brothers and sisters in downplaying the *plurality* of Creators, in favor of giving all honor to a single person as did Israel after Josiah’s reforms – edging dangerously close, in my opinion, to the philosophically untenable transcendental monotheism which has so perverted religion over the millennia away from the *humanism* which I think is the underlying beauty of Mormonism.

    It saddens me that we’re not *leading the way* in this – we of all people, who believe that the seeds of divinity are present in males AND females equally. That is one of the most revolutionary concepts I can think of in this world continually divided along gender lines.

  10. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Whoops, somehow forgot to include a key bit: the Brother I was talking to, during his lesson, gave “giving the Priesthood to women” as an example of an outside practice occurring in other denominations which we should resist in the Church.

    I entirely disagreed, but was not able to persuade him to see my point of view – this is where the challenge is, and where we should take the most care so as not to alienate people with our stridency, which will only make for a further obstacle to considering the point.

  11. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

    (Frankly, I’m 26 right now and I can’t imagine this change not happening in my lifetime. I’m pretty sure it’s coming, I just wish it’d hurry up! *grin*)

  12. Bryan in VA on October 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Sigh…

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

    for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

  13. Sam Brunson on October 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Oh, come on Kaimi. I totally believed you until I saw “activities committee.” There is no such thing, and now I know you’re making things up.

    :)

  14. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 8:57 am

    On the other hand, one has to first assume that denying women the Priesthood is part of the Lord’s “way” in order for that overused quoted to make a difference. >_>

  15. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 8:58 am

    (Edit: To be clear, my last was a reply to #12)

  16. Tatiana on October 4, 2011 at 9:16 am

    You’re so right about stridency, Jeremy. It is far better to persuade through patience, long-suffering, etc. yet I fear to some that any voice speaking that which they wish not to hear sounds to them strident.

    Perhaps that means we should speak more gently, still. Yet that certainly leads to a high probability of not being heard at all. So I tend to want to state clearly, unapologetically, and unequivocally that women are mistreated and damaged by the structural violence of our institutional sexism, and we must needs repent and do better. Truly we must.

  17. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Amen.

  18. Dane Laverty on October 4, 2011 at 9:27 am

    This is fantastic, Kaimi.

  19. Dane Laverty on October 4, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Jax, I think you’re right on with the point about affirmative action. A common defense of our male-only priesthood is that “men need the priesthood in order to develop the spirituality that comes naturally to women; women are naturally more spiritual, so if they had the priesthood then they would dominate all the leadership positions in the church.” That’s a perfect example of affirmative action, which is ironic because, in my experience, those who most strongly support male-only priesthood also tend to be those most oppose affirmative action programs.

  20. Last Lemming on October 4, 2011 at 9:39 am

    When imagining a Zion society (or the Celestial Kingdom), there is not an obvious mix of racial and ethnic groups that would seem superior to any other. As long all are equally welcome (and note that I am not arguing that such equality has been achieved in the Church) I suspect that the precise mix will not be of any interest.

    The same is not true of the sexes. From my reading of this (and similar) blogs, there seems to be a strong desire among most for an equal split between men and women–the alternatives being singleness or polygamy. So if certain policies help achieve equality of numbers (and the premise of the post seems to stipulate that they do), I would not be the one raising objections to them.

  21. Winterbuzz on October 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Listen, a church that I can’t feel spiritually superior in is a church I want nothing to do with! ….er, um, I mean. Cool…. yay for those guys getting more power and opportunity, just as long as the declaration is followed up by a really ‘neat’ conference talk where those of us left out are told that we were done so because we’re so darn awesome and we like it that way.

    BTW, this line, “This may be because of differences in innate spirituality between the demographic groups.” Made me laugh so hard.

  22. Kaimi on October 4, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Great comments so far, everyone.

    Some of you have asked whether I’m talking about race, or about gender. The answer is, both.

    The sentence “this may be because of differences in innate spirituality between the demographic groups” is a key (though it really made me cringe to type that). That line of reasoning has been used in both the race and gender contexts, but in very different ways.

    In the 50s, and through the 70s, some church leaders made statements that Blacks were inherently less spiritually worthy (the “fence-sitters in the pre-existence” argument) — and that they therefore should be denied access to the Priesthood.

    Curiously, church leaders use very similar logic in the gender context, while reversing the conclusion. Men are inherently less spiritual — and they therefore should be given exclusive right to the Priesthood.

  23. Kaimi on October 4, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Kent writes (2),

    “I do support some affirmative action in limited circumstances (please don’t press me on details — don’t have them.) But, I think its a very short move from this to publicly stating that calls are not made by inspiration.”

    It’s true that one common objection to affirmative action programs is that they are not based on merit. An objection to this sort of program in the LDS context would surely be that it could run counter to a leader’s inspiration.

    But as others have already noted, we already have affirmative action in the church. No matter how strong Sister Smith is as a leader, no matter how inspired the Stake President feels that she should be called to the bishopric, the church’s institutionalized affirmative-action-for-men will prevent that.

  24. Kaimi on October 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

    James (6) writes

    “Finally – while it’s a great part of the post, really shocking to the sensibilities – it’s hard to even imaginatively take seriously the idea that we could have an official statement of this sort that countenanced the possibility of racial activity discrepancy arising out of inherent spirituality differences. Unless, of course, the idea is that the superior spirituality of African Americans is such as to be an inherent obstacle to their activity in our sub-par meetings?”

    That line is shocking to read. It’s supposed to be shocking.

    However, it’s unfortunately also true that that reasoning was very common in statements from church leaders, for decades. Perhaps I’m just more jaded, but I don’t find it hard to imagine church leaders saying something like this. It’s very much in line with historical church leaders’ statements on race (and in fact, it’s quite a bit gentler).

  25. Jax on October 4, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I never bought the fence-sitter argument against blacks holding the priesthood. There are far to many fence-sitters in this life that do have it for that argument to make any sense at all, and their will continue to be as long as we continue to give the men/ym the priesthood as a reward for aging (turning 12, 14, 16, 18). Has anyone actually heard of a bishop telling a ym that he isn’t mature, trustworthy, or faithful enough to hold the priesthood? I never have.

  26. clark on October 4, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Honestly, I think you err if you think the Church doesn’t do this in places. Getting people involved who are struggling is a constant strategy of the Church. The only reason your comments seem shocking is because it would be done at a global level rather than at a local and because the reasoning would be made explicit.

    I think though that putting this up as a way of invalidating certain claims about male and priesthood is erroneous simply because there’s a lot of evidence that how males relate to religion is quite different than women across most races and religions. The evidence for those of African descent having a different innate spirituality is pretty problematic. The reason we’d call that racist (and I certainly would) is because it goes against the evidence and is just a stereotype designed to put people down.

    I’m all for reversing binary oppositions and seeing how people react. However the problem with that approach is that sometimes we obscure the real structures and differences we need to be acting on. To make a somewhat silly analogy, were we to follow the mindset that you put forth all taxes should be non-progressive.

    Deciding when we justly should treat different groups differently is non-trivial. And I completely agree with the view that the default should always be treating people the same. However in the case of priesthood it’s a bit different since (a) it is a revealed doctrine and (b) there actually is abundant evidence for the difference.

  27. queuno on October 4, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Time to reorganize my stake and ward to include more African-American members in the boundaries.

  28. Kent Larsen on October 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Kaimi (23), wouldn’t it also communicate (rightly or wrongly) to members that there isn’t any inspiration in callings?

  29. clark on October 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

    BTW – by “do this in places” I don’t mean your example. More just offer more opportunities for some struggling group. That group might vary in what its constitution is. However I remember when I was in Louisiana and a lot of African Americans were joining to Church. We made sure to give them more opportunities in order to make them feel welcome but also in order to overcome a lot of the opposition they felt. Most members were culturally different and the converts didn’t feel as at home simply for those differences. Working with the ward leadership but also organizing regular events targeting the new African American members helped them feel more at home and bring up questions in a cultural context they were more at home with. We set up bi-weekly cottage meetings with pot-luck dinners for the African American members of the three wards there. It worked fabulously and I’m told that the ward quickly ended up having more African American members than white. Which is fantastic.

    I know you intentionally threw in some denigrating aspects to your statement, which is a bit unfair. I think though that especially at the local level we should be trying to help those struggling. My point was more that what you bring up has actually been quite common. (Remember when the Church more or less assigned people to run in elections to ensure both parties were represented in Utah?)

    I think the reason many Mormons have trouble with Affirmative Action is based upon the government doing it. I don’t think anyone has trouble with individuals doing things like giving scholarships to particular groups; setting up special tutoring programs; or even hiring groups who’ve been disadvantaged. In fact I’m all in favor of individuals trying to help disadvantaged groups up in the world. So there’s a bit of nuance there you may be missing.

  30. Bryan in VA on October 4, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Jeremy #14

    You may choose to call those verses “overused”. I’ll go with “timeless”.

  31. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Jeremy,

    Excellent comments. You write in (4) that:

    “I just … I really, really, really hope that the brethren are praying about when we will be able to call our sisters Priestesses again, just as we once did women such as Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Bathsheba W. Smith, and Zina Diantha Huntington (”forget them not”!). These meetings where they get so close and yet still shy away from the issue are so painful. :(”

    I hope so, too. I think there’s a sense that once church leaders began to see the race issue as a real injustice (starting with President McKay), its days were numbered.

    I’m not sure that leaders see the gender divide as an injustice, or are praying to know when the Priestesshood will be restored.

    (9)

    “What was interesting to me was how he framed his lesson that evening: his rhetorical stance was “the Church against the world”, in that any practices which originated from “outside” would be a capitulation to corruptible external influences which would imply assimilationism of the same magnitude as flat-out apostasy.”

    It’s fascinating, because exactly the same arguments were used in the race context. It’s us against the world, and we cannot bow to worldly pressure or it will undercut claims of Divine authority.

    “I think part of the reticence of some to alter the cultural practice of a male-only Priesthood is thus based *not* on scripture or revelation, but rather on exactly what they decry: reliance on the philosophies of men *within* the Church – as if the Lamanites were never more righteous than the Nephites. That is, having themselves assimilated a more conservative traditional-Christian opposition to the idea of Priestesses as “pagan fertility worship” (as if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wasn’t concerned with fertility!), they have neglected Joseph Smith’s insistence that we “should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.” Insisting on the divide between the world and our Church, we neglect the idea that “one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.””

    Amen, brother.

  32. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Kent (28),

    Does the same male-only policy have that effect?

  33. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Tatiana (16) writes,

    “Perhaps that means we should speak more gently, still. Yet that certainly leads to a high probability of not being heard at all. So I tend to want to state clearly, unapologetically, and unequivocally that women are mistreated and damaged by the structural violence of our institutional sexism, and we must needs repent and do better. Truly we must.”

    My name is Kaimi, and I endorse this comment.

  34. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Dane (19) writes:

    “Jax, I think you’re right on with the point about affirmative action. A common defense of our male-only priesthood is that “men need the priesthood in order to develop the spirituality that comes naturally to women; women are naturally more spiritual, so if they had the priesthood then they would dominate all the leadership positions in the church.” That’s a perfect example of affirmative action, which is ironic because, in my experience, those who most strongly support male-only priesthood also tend to be those most oppose affirmative action programs.”

    Exactly!

  35. Kent Larsen on October 4, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Kaimi (32), status quo has an advantage — it doesn’t matter if the current policy has that effect.

  36. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Winterbuzz writes,

    “yay for those guys getting more power and opportunity, just as long as the declaration is followed up by a really ‘neat’ conference talk where those of us left out are told that we were done so because we’re so darn awesome and we like it that way.”

    I’m sure that this Official Declaration will be followed in a few years by over-the-pulpit assurances that “the white people in the church are incredible!” :)

  37. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

    You’re on to a good point, Kent, and it echoes things which others (like Jax above) have noted. The race/gender comparison isn’t entirely similar, in part because the demographics are different.

    Most wards or branches (with a few important exceptions) have enough male members that they can function well with male-only affirmative action in place. Most wards do not have enough African-American members to function if this were the policy.

    Interestingly, a few areas are heavily gender skewed. A ward member who served in Hong Kong told me (I don’t know how accurate this is, but it was fascinating, and direct from the former missionary) that cultural norms in Hong Kong strongly discourage the men from talking with missionaries, such that in some areas there are massive gender imbalances, with dozens of women baptized for every male convert. In that environment, women largely run the wards, but can’t hold leadership callings. As my old ward member described it, the church tries to ameliorate this by using male missionaries extensively in local leadership.

  38. clark on October 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Jeremy Orbe-Smith (9) I think part of the reticence of some to alter the cultural practice of a male-only Priesthood is thus based *not* on scripture or revelation, but rather on exactly what they decry: reliance on the philosophies of men *within* the Church

    Why do you think it is merely a cultural practice? D&C 84 is pretty explicit making it male.

    It seems to me the burden of proof is on those saying that this is merely a cultural practice. I understand why some might wish that to be so. And it really would make life easy if the priesthood practice was merely due to people assuming only men could have it. However it seems to me very difficult to make the case that this was so.

  39. Naismith on October 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

    “African American”? Dude, It’s a worldwide church. Would this also apply to Africans? And Afro-Brazilians, and whatever they are called in other countries around the globe?

  40. mapman on October 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    What annoys me about people who say that giving the women the priesthood is a philosophy of men from outside the Church is that it actually makes perfect sense from our doctrine and history to give them the priesthood. I would not consider myself a feminist and have not been influenced by any of their literature, but I’d be all for the women having the priesthood. Our belief and female gods and the usage of the word “priestess” to apply to women in the Church by Joseph Smith and many later prophets (which I was glad to see mentioned in Daughters in My Kingdom) will naturally lead you to the conclusion that women should have the power of the priesthood as well. That being said, I do think that the president of the Church needs to ask for revelation on the matter first before any change like this is made.

  41. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Too many good comments to respond to. This will be machine-gun comment replies now

    Jax writes,

    “I personally read it as a black/white one, where it was addressing something like affirmative action. My problem with this is why we always use “black” and “white”. What about asians, latinos, arabs? Where do they fit in? Is it white v everyone else?”

    I deliberately kept in Black/white in part because of the ties to church history, and in part because the example just didn’t work with some other groups. Latinos aren’t underrepresented in church attendance, for instance. I think that it can be helpful to ask questions about different groups, and to discuss potential reasons for differences in group activity. In this case, though, I tried to keep it simple.

    “I’m also curious what it is about being in a leadership calling that Kaimi thinks would encourage someone to attend church. (please no more discussion on “status” – that was just aggravating) Is there some reason to think that if people aren’t showing up for church to fulfill minor callings that they would show up to fulfill leadership ones?”

    I’m curious about this, too — but again, this isn’t an argument that I made up. It’s an argument that is very commonly cited by people defending the existing Priesthood structure: If men didn’t have exclusive access to leadership roles, they would take their ball and go home.

    Last Lemming (20) writes

    “When imagining a Zion society (or the Celestial Kingdom), there is not an obvious mix of racial and ethnic groups that would seem superior to any other. As long all are equally welcome (and note that I am not arguing that such equality has been achieved in the Church) I suspect that the precise mix will not be of any interest.”

    I think this is true in theory. But then, if society is 50/50 Black and white, and the church is 100% white, this is going to send messages about race and religion, whether intended or not.

    Jax writes,

    “I never bought the fence-sitter argument against blacks holding the priesthood. There are far to many fence-sitters in this life that do have it for that argument to make any sense at all, and their will continue to be as long as we continue to give the men/ym the priesthood as a reward for aging (turning 12, 14, 16, 18). Has anyone actually heard of a bishop telling a ym that he isn’t mature, trustworthy, or faithful enough to hold the priesthood? I never have.”

    Exactly! For men and young men, it’s an almost-automatic advancement (with some exceptions if the Bishop knows that the kid has been smoking, sleeping around, masturbating, or whatever else — it very much varies by bishop).

    Clark writes,

    “Honestly, I think you err if you think the Church doesn’t do this in places. Getting people involved who are struggling is a constant strategy of the Church. The only reason your comments seem shocking is because it would be done at a global level rather than at a local and because the reasoning would be made explicit.”

    I think it’s absolutely true that this is already happening in many areas.

    “I think though that putting this up as a way of invalidating certain claims about male and priesthood is erroneous simply because there’s a lot of evidence that how males relate to religion is quite different than women across most races and religions. The evidence for those of African descent having a different innate spirituality is pretty problematic. The reason we’d call that racist (and I certainly would) is because it goes against the evidence and is just a stereotype designed to put people down.

    I’m all for reversing binary oppositions and seeing how people react. However the problem with that approach is that sometimes we obscure the real structures and differences we need to be acting on. To make a somewhat silly analogy, were we to follow the mindset that you put forth all taxes should be non-progressive.

    Deciding when we justly should treat different groups differently is non-trivial. And I completely agree with the view that the default should always be treating people the same. However in the case of priesthood it’s a bit different since (a) it is a revealed doctrine and (b) there actually is abundant evidence for the difference.”

    I’m not making the argument that “everyone should be treated equally all the time in everything.” That would be silly, and really not sustainable. Context matters.

    I do think that we should be more self-critical about institutional structures which treat groups unequally — that we should ask why, and try to make sure that the policies which are in place are justified. The default should be equal treatment.

    Kent (35),

    Ahh, the status quo. An important point. But status-quo arguments tend to make invisible some of the very real differences in treatment. We do already have this sort of system in place. But we don’t see it, because as the status quo, it’s “just the way things are.”

  42. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Naismith (39),

    That’s why the Declaration itself makes clear that it applies “in the United States.”

  43. Adam Greenwood on October 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    LDS doctrine says that manhood and femalehood are innate. Not so with races. Good thing too.

    Men and women have real biological differences that show up in all sorts of ways across cultures and times. Not so with Europeans and African-Americans.

    The spirituality differential between men and women appears to hold across denominations, countries, and times. Not so with African-Americans, who are quite religious, and as far as I know tend not to be less active Mormons in proportion to their membership than any other American ethnicity. Does Mr. Wenger have any evidence to suggest otherwise?

    Perhaps Mr. Wenger could follow this up with one of his posts analogyzing the Church’s opposition to gay marriage to opposition to ‘miscegenation.’

    For the wise, if any there are, this link may provide some food for thought:
    http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

  44. Ammon on October 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    This appears to be a North American issue. Members of the Church of African heritage hold many important callings in Temple, Mission, and Stake Presidencies as well as bishoprics in South America (Brasil, Venezuela, and Colombia notably) and Africa (duh).

  45. Bryan in VA on October 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Here’s the problem with this whole “agitate from below hoping for change from above” business. The ancent Israelites attempted it and failed miserably:

    D&C 84:23-26
    23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

    24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his danger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

    25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;

    26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel.

    Exodus 20:18-21

    18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people bsaw it, they cremoved, and stood afar off.

    19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

    20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

    21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

    Moses showed the ancient Israelites the pathway to God. The chose a different path and they paid a huge price of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and having to live the Law of Moses. All for agitating from below…

    The Savior who suffered worse descrimination than anyone else who ever lived humbly submitted to the will of his Father in spite of his personal desires. No agitating from below there.

  46. chris on October 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Bryan,
    You miss the point of reason… “How could it possibly be the Father’s will (a will particular to this time and place does not necessarily mean for eternity) that XYZ happen” is a powerful rhetorical tool.

    It basically places the questioner and the potential respondent in the situation of dictating the Father’s will for him.

    It can easily be applied to any situation which appears unjust on the surface, and especially those which seem unjust to all of us with a mortal perspective.

    How could it be the Father’s will to have black men not have the priesthood?
    How could it be the Father’s will to have women not have the priesthood?
    How could it be the Father’s will for innocents to suffer?
    How could it be the Father’s will for his son to suffer excruciating death when they both had the power to prevent it?
    How could it be the Father’s will to have us experience wrongs when we could right them all?

    Mixed in with these questions, I think it’s entirely fair to point out the Father indeed expects us to learn from the experience of identifying and righting wrongs on our own. So it’s fair to say some agitating for wrong righting could be good.

    But we’re faced with the example of the Savior who saw many wrongs, and did not right them. It appears he mostly persuaded, taught, pleaded, wept, and helped bear the burdens of those wrongs.

    It’s perhaps not a very comforting thought when we know we can “fix” something and indeed desire to fix everything in our grasp that can be fixed. But neither is it comforting to contemplate loving your enemy and blessing those that despise you… let alone doing it.

  47. chris on October 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    re: a note on my use of the Father’s will above… I think his Will is clear and unchanging – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. The “will” I refer to perhaps localized to the experiences that can lay a foundation of bringing that will ultimately to pass.

  48. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Good point, Bryan in VA. Agitation from below is a clear no-no. If we allowed agitation from below, we might see things like a prophet’s wife agitating for a rule about tobacco use during meetings.

  49. Winterbuzz on October 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    “Agitation from below is a clear no-no. If we allowed agitation from below, we might see things like a prophet’s wife agitating for a rule about tobacco use during meetings.” Excuse me while I run off to the thesaurus to come up with a different word for “brilliant” (I’m over-exercising that word with you).

    Perhaps we should agitate in the way that works- and since mob justice is off the table, perhaps pressure from the government will work and cause God to give us a revelation. I’m guessing that history is a good oracle for the future and it seems this approach has worked before. Revelation comes about in many ways Bryan #45- it’s not God directly on the horn with Monson. It’s not even a text message from Deity, (maybe a tweet, but def not a text). Changes in doctrine and policy have always come from pressures from within and without the church. Perhaps our Heavenly Parents listen to their children after all, or maybe They’re waiting for us to get up to speed first.

    “incandescent” Kaimi, how does that one work for you?

  50. Rameumptom on October 4, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I spent 16+ years in Montgomery Alabama serving in the inner city, and opening up Tuskegee to the work. For people who grow up in a single parent (usually mother) family, with bad school options, and living around gangs and drugs; thirty years is a very short time to change into the LDS environment.

    There are many black members in the Montgomery Stake. As a part of the stake mission presidency in 1987, I was involved in shifting the missionary work over to teaching and baptizing blacks. It is an entirely different world trying to bring a poor inner-city black person into the LDS culture than it is an educated white businessman.

    The reality is, it will take a few generations for many such black members to rise above the circumstances they were in when we baptized them. Many do not know how to be a leader, teach, say prayers, or raise their own families. They haven’t had to learn to be dependable before. When they cannot afford a car to drive to church, work, or school, then it slows down their ability to progress. When kids have to deal with gangs and illiterate school teachers, how do we expect them to become experts on the Book of Mormon?

    We are now beginning to see an ever growing number of GAs who are not American born or Caucasian. That is good. In fact, that is great! But in most cases the LDS environment around the individual had to first be soundly prepared in order to grow a good crop of potential GAs from those areas. With illiteracy rates and other struggles, it may take longer for many black Americans to join the group of GAs sitting on the stand at General Conference.

  51. WMP on October 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Very clever, Kaimi.

    But is it a commentary about the limits of our ability to justify, or a commentary about whether those called and sustained (by us) as the Lord’s servants are actually doing the Lord’s will with respect to this issue?

    As to the first, I agree we are often awkward and unconvincing when we try to explain the bases for commandments/doctrines/practices when the Lord has not explained His reasoning. This, of course, does not mean the Lord is without His reasons.

    Which leads to the second: Perhaps the Lord’s servants just aren’t getting it yet, perhaps they aren’t asking the right questions, or really taking the issue seriously (all of which, of course, assumes that the current commandment/practice is somehow ‘wrong” in the first place). This, I doubt. I have faith in the Lord and His chosen prophets. For this reason, I have faith that there is a purpose to the Lord’s ways as revealed through those prophets, even if I don’t fully understand those ways.

    But that’s just me.

  52. Wesley Dean on October 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Having the priesthood conferred on you means you are authorized to do whatever God tells you to do. I read that in an Orson Scott Card novel. I think that definition works better in relation to mortality, than simply “it’s the power of God.” Celestial marriage is an order of the priesthood. So I think women who have made covenants in the temple do have the priesthood, but aren’t authorized to use it in someways. Just like the prophet is the only one authorized to exercise all the keys of the priesthood, even though all of the apostles hold them. The difinition I hear most for the priesthood is “the power and authority of God.” And that’s true, but I think more in the long term, meaning the eternities, where we (men and women together) will have all the Father has.

    What I don’t understand about faithful agitators (toward things that apply to the entire church) is who do you think is wrong? I know you don’t think President Monson, President Eyring, and President Uchtdorf hate women, are bound by the rules of Utah culture, are afraid to petition the Lord (even to weary him until they get the blessing). So who are we agitating against?

    Yes, we believe in revelation. As we’re prepared for it. I don’t know all the answers, but I do know we all have just as much right to revelation as President Monson. I feel a lot of times we have not sought our own revelation about things we wonder about. Like this topic for example. I’ve thought a lot about it. I have a lot of ideas about it. I have never once prayed about it. Not even to just ask for additional light as I go about my life. I may be wrong, but think that’s how most of us are. So that’s my takeaway from this, ask the Lord (so I can be on His side of these issues) for truth.

  53. Winterbuzz on October 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Wesley, #52- I’m agitating against hundreds (thousands) of years of gender oppression. It’s absolutely in our LDS culture, we can’t escape it. If the priesthood authorization didn’t affect practical matters, I’m not certain it would be as big and painful of an issue, but I’d like you to regender your sacrament meeting for a minute. Picture your typical Sunday meeting, except where every priesthood holder is involved, he is now a woman and where the women are usually involved, now switch into roles filled by men. Think of how that must feel as a man, to see only women lead you, to have women tell you what to do, tell you how a man should act and feel and be. Think about singing songs only about women, about reading scriptures only about women, about seeing young girls pass the sacrament.
    Seriously, on Sunday, do this. Switch the genders. It’s stunning.
    Women are silent in the church. We have a few obligatory women speak in conference or in sacrament, but their talks are almost always anecdotal, with no heavy doctrine or instruction provided. We’re not ‘authorized’ to, even though God seemed to think in early church history we were. Very rarely, if ever, do women address men in General Conference (this last talk in conference an exception). Does this make the GA ‘women haters?’ No, of course not. But it makes them products of their time, perpetuating tired stereotypes that harm women (and men), even if it’s innocent. The damage is real and women are voting with their feet (women 18-30 are leaving the church in droves) So to answer your question, I have asked the Lord about this. Almost every day. There are plenty of us that pray and know that God does not consider these inequalities (unequal budgets, unequal opportunities, unequal voices) as from God. They are from “Man,” and so I agitate against human frailty and hope for a better tomorrow.

  54. Bryan Stiles on October 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    The damage is real and women are voting with their feet (women 18-30 are leaving the church in droves)

    Aren’t men that age leaving the church in droves too?

  55. Bob on October 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Oh__here I go again:
    Yes, there are Males and Females.
    No, there is no Black race__only a Human race. So, unless you want to talk about a God cursing or blessing people , don’t put Humans into races.

  56. Kaimi Wenger on October 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Aww, thanks, Winterbuzz. You’re pretty incandescent yourself. :)

    “Revelation comes about in many ways Bryan #45- it’s not God directly on the horn with Monson. It’s not even a text message from Deity, (maybe a tweet, but def not a text). Changes in doctrine and policy have always come from pressures from within and without the church. Perhaps our Heavenly Parents listen to their children after all, or maybe They’re waiting for us to get up to speed first.”

    Heck, yes.

    Rameumpton (50),

    “thirty years is a very short time to change into the LDS environment.”

    Agreed. These days, church leadership tends to come from multi-generation members.

    WMP (51),

    Good questions. And of course, perhaps part of the answer is that God is simply waiting for us to ask. This is a common enough scriptural theme, after all.

    Winter (53),

    “Wesley, #52- I’m agitating against hundreds (thousands) of years of gender oppression. It’s absolutely in our LDS culture, we can’t escape it. If the priesthood authorization didn’t affect practical matters, I’m not certain it would be as big and painful of an issue, but I’d like you to regender your sacrament meeting for a minute. Picture your typical Sunday meeting, except where every priesthood holder is involved, he is now a woman and where the women are usually involved, now switch into roles filled by men. Think of how that must feel as a man, to see only women lead you, to have women tell you what to do, tell you how a man should act and feel and be. Think about singing songs only about women, about reading scriptures only about women, about seeing young girls pass the sacrament.
    Seriously, on Sunday, do this. Switch the genders. It’s stunning.
    Women are silent in the church. We have a few obligatory women speak in conference or in sacrament, but their talks are almost always anecdotal, with no heavy doctrine or instruction provided. We’re not ‘authorized’ to, even though God seemed to think in early church history we were. Very rarely, if ever, do women address men in General Conference (this last talk in conference an exception). Does this make the GA ‘women haters?’ No, of course not. But it makes them products of their time, perpetuating tired stereotypes that harm women (and men), even if it’s innocent. The damage is real and women are voting with their feet (women 18-30 are leaving the church in droves) So to answer your question, I have asked the Lord about this. Almost every day. There are plenty of us that pray and know that God does not consider these inequalities (unequal budgets, unequal opportunities, unequal voices) as from God. They are from “Man,” and so I agitate against human frailty and hope for a better tomorrow.”

    Whoa. Now that’s what I call incandescent. :)

  57. clark on October 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Women are silent in the church. We have a few obligatory women speak in conference or in sacrament, but their talks are almost always anecdotal, with no heavy doctrine or instruction provided.

    Umm. What?

    Now I’ll be the first to admit that few conference talks or sacrament talks are terribly doctrinal. (I don’t see that as a bad thing) I don’t think I can agree that this is somehow a difference between men and women. But then I’m merely missing what counts as a doctrinal talk? Further isn’t most doctrinal discussion in the Church primarily in PH/RS lessons and Sunday School lessons?

  58. Bryan in VA on October 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Chris #45 – I don’t understand the point you’re attempting to make. (Please forgive – I’m a simple man.) Are you making a point about rhetorical tools? Are you raising the old “God can’t be both all good and all powerful” issue? Regarding some of the questions:

    “How could it be the Father’s will to have black men not have the priesthood?” I don’t know, but there are plenty of examples on the scruptures of delayed blessings

    “How could it be the Father’s will for innocents to suffer?” D&C 122:7, 8 – Know thou my son that all these things shall give thee experience…

    “How could it be the Father’s will for his son to suffer excruciating death when they both had the power to prevent it?” Alma 7:12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

    “So it’s fair to say some agitating for wrong righting could be good.” If by agitating you mean asking for a private audience to express a concern, I’m with you. Moses spend all day in the wilderness addressing the concerns of his people. If you mean publicly dissenting on a core gospel principle, that’s another matter.

    Sorry, that’s all I can do with your post.

  59. Bryan in VA on October 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Kaimi #48 – The word of wisdom example is hardly agitating. Wife raises a concern, prophet-husband prays and receives revelation for the whole Church. I see a family council and a prayer for guidance followed by a divine response. Where is the agitation?

    There are plenty of other examples where agitation falls flat on its face (i.e, Martin Harris and the 116 lost pages, Laman and Lemuel, Sherem, Korihor, Zeezrom, murmurers during Zions Camp cursed with cholera, etc.)

  60. Bryan in VA on October 4, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Winterbuzz #49 – “it’s not God directly on the horn with Monson”. President Monson Sunday gave an example of being on the horn in conference when he discussed the divine guidance he was given to call on the Dutch LDS leader to speak at the dedication of the Frankfurt Temple in the session that the Dutch Saints were attending. Elder Asay informed that the Dutch leader was not present, but Pres Monson was prompted to announce that the Dutch leader was speaking anyway. The Dutch leader showed up in the back of the room just as the choir was finishing its number and the Dutch leader came forward to speak. Who thinks Elder Asay should have been agitating for a change in program since the first speaker wasn’t in the room? If your point is that not every single correct decision must come via revelation, I agree.

    I personally think Kaimi’s pretty bioluminescent myself.

  61. Jeremy Orbe-Smith on October 5, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I think reading the following two papers is a prerequisite for discussing issues of the Priesthood:

    “Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism” by Jonathan A. Stapley & Kristine Wright: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1754069

    And “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood”, by his son Edward Kimball for BYU Studies: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B7P1x3NXLrqkMjE5NzEwZDAtNjZkOS00YmM0LTk0NjYtZDcyYTQ2ZDQ2ZTIz&hl=en&authkey=CLm4-fMN&pli=1

  62. Cameron N on October 5, 2011 at 2:11 am

    “Curiously, church leaders use very similar logic in the gender context, while reversing the conclusion. Men are inherently less spiritual — and they therefore should be given exclusive right to the Priesthood.”

    Only the ones making up doctrine because they like to extrapolate stuff because then they don’t need faith.

  63. Bob on October 5, 2011 at 3:00 am

    “Think of how that must feel as a man, to see only women lead you, to have women tell you what to do…”.
    It’s called seeing them as peers. In my life, many a women has called me out. From mother, older sisters, wife, boss. Most of the time__ I had earned it. But always, it was them vs me, even if I was being yelled at. Both sides know it was not a boy vs girl thing, and never would go down that rabbit hole.

  64. Mike on October 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

    In the press conference between General Conference sessions when Elder D. Todd Christofferson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he was asked a question about cultural/racial representation within that quorum. His answer was simply that Apostles are not called to represent the peoples of earth to God; rather, they are called to bring the word of God to the people.

    As such, qualification for the Apostleship is based upon Christlike characteristics and attributes, and race becomes irrelevant.

    In any case, the face of the Church is overwhelmingly Caucasian, from the highest councils to the far flung branches of the hinterland. While that is changing, I do not want to sustain a leader because the person is/isn’t a certain race or even gender. Rather, because God called the most prepared person to lead me.

  65. dpc on October 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    American churches (and not just Mormon ones) are probably the last lingering segregated communities. In my experience, having lived in the South for a while, what I see as interesting is that the sermons preached are typically the same. Why are American churches so segregated? I submit that the answer to that question would answer why few African-Americans go to the Mormon church.

  66. Frank Pellett on October 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Adam (#43) – Excellent article. Thanks

  67. Winterbuzz on October 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    #63- Bob, actually it’s not called peers. We call them ‘leaders.’ I don’t say, “Hey, I’m going to go listen to my peers speak over the pulpit at conference.” You’re talking about personal relationships, I’m talking about a structural hierarchy which functions as patriarchy. Because of this, men are in charge of all aspects of the church, including the Relief Society. Our manuals are written primarily by men. Which means lessons like “Lesson 14: The Latter-day Saint Woman” which tells us what our roles and responsibilities are, are written by men. Maybe that doesn’t offend you or bother you, but it bothers many women who believe that within our gender we are able to instruct and help one another know what it feels like to be a woman, because we are women.

    #60- Bryan in VA. I’m not sure I understand. Do you believe the story you mention is exclusive to the prophetic role? I ask because that kind of inspiration you describe in not only quite common amongst everyday Latter Day Saints, but other faiths as well. The prophet feeling prompted to make an announcement does not qualify as a prophetic change in course, policy or doctrine.

    And finally, Clark #57- Show me a talk anywhere, from a woman (post correlation) and show me where a female speaker has brought any new doctrine or instruction to light. You won’t find one. The stories are a regurgitated facsimile of talks given by men, with a humorous purse story thrown in to make it feminine. I know men are supposed to be meat-n-potatoes, but sisters want meat too. Packer can announce a prophetic statement like the world not coming to an end, but women are only allowed to recycle old material.

    Listen, I’m not trying to be troublesome. I understand that many people, and sometimes men in the church, feel defensive of these things being challenged. I believe it’s because we all have a sincere desire to do right and we wouldn’t want to think for a moment that we are perpetuating a a system (or structure) that would hurt half of the membership so greatly. Believe me, women are worse offenders in hurting other women than men are in my opinion. We’re taught to see our inequality as a blessing. We’re taught that God’s will and mode of operation is to tell men how to tell women how to be women. Our doctrine is noticeably absent of our Heavenly Mother (it’s almost blasphemous to bring her up and I still have yet to hear of a good reason why that is). We are taught that our value is primarily linked to our virginity as a girl and being a wife and mother as a woman, rather than measuring our worth by being a child of God. (Ever looked into stonings in Islam. Same- exact- justification.) We accept that only men handle the finances in our church, even though our gender doesn’t make us less qualified. We don’t question callings given to men that don’t require the priesthood like Church Education Commissioners, College Presidents, Sunday School Presidency, or Ward Mission Leaders to name a few. We believe we are being righteous by passing every big decision through a male leader even if we are an auxiliary leader called by inspiration. We study texts that are filled with an overwhelming selection of predominant male voices, even those that instruct as to our ‘roles’ as women. The women’s voices we have are mostly anecdotal and not doctrinal. We accept (although begrudgingly) that God considers women property interchanged by inspiration and to go to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, we have to live plural marriage. We accept our role in the Eternities as being “eternally pregnant.” We accept that the Scouts have bigger budgets than the YW programs. We don’t pay attention that the responsibilities of parenthood are given mostly to women (as evidenced in our lessons where fatherhood is stressed far less than motherhood). We don’t think about the fact that women are required to report to men for their sexual sins and don’t have female representation in that regard. So, please gentlemen, open your hearts to the pain that many of us feel, and the harm that many of the women aren’t even aware they are perpetuating.

  68. Kaimi on October 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Holy cow, Winter. I want to cross-stitch a copy of that comment and hang it on my wall.

  69. Naismith on October 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    “I’m agitating against hundreds (thousands) of years of gender oppression. It’s absolutely in our LDS culture, we can’t escape it.”

    If we want to discuss this seriously, could we please have a bit of reality? How can one argue an unending record of oppression by the LDS church when LDS women are encouraged to get an education, are counseled to be spiritually strong (seeking their own testimony not relying on a man), and could vote before women in the US? I was greatly helped in my education by BYU professors who were supportive of my pregnancies and allowed me to write term papers later, etc.

    Maybe this hyperbole is for effect. But it comes off as unreasonable whining.

    “Our manuals are written primarily by men.”

    The most recent manual was written by Susan Tanner, and yet criticized by many women.

    “Show me a talk anywhere, from a woman (post correlation) and show me where a female speaker has brought any new doctrine or instruction to light. You won’t find one. The stories are a regurgitated facsimile of talks given by men, with a humorous purse story thrown in to make it feminine.”

    I am not sure what your point is here. The church doesn’t dictate to women what they should talk about. They can be as doctrinal as they want. Where I live, 80% of the seminary teachers are women, and at least one Institute class is taught by a woman–the missionary preparation class was taught by a woman last time one of my kids took it.

    “I know men are supposed to be meat-n-potatoes, but sisters want meat too.”

    So stuff to do with motherhood, etc. is less meaty? Why do you devalue what women do?

    Also, note that the Proclamation on the Family was first presented in a general Relief Society meeting. And you betcha that there is a great deal of new doctrine there, such as the notion of gender existing in the pre-existence.

    “We accept that the Scouts have bigger budgets than the YW programs.”

    I certainly don’t. A lot of us speak up at mindless sexism like that, and don’t take crap from men when it is uninspired inertia.

    A while back we were at the Institute and were asked about guest speakers for their “forum” program. I asked, “So at least half the speakers are women?”

    The senior missionary brother agreed, and even asked, “Maybe we should have 2-to-1 women female since we have more young ladies in the program here?”

    Not every woman chooses to play the victim role.

  70. clark on October 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Show me a talk anywhere, from a woman (post correlation) and show me where a female speaker has brought any new doctrine or instruction to light.

    Show me a talk by anyone other than the President who has taught new doctrine.

    If that’s your standard for a doctrinal talk I find myself rather unimpressed.

    Packer can announce a prophetic statement like the world not coming to an end, but women are only allowed to recycle old material.

    Umm. What?

  71. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 6, 2011 at 12:18 am

    A girl being envious of deacons passing the Sacrament? Is the motive for that a desire to serve God and other Church members? Or is it because she thinks beibg a deacon is a special exalted status she feels she us being denied? Some of the commenters strike me as being in the second category.

    In any ordinary context, a person who carries a tray if food or drink around a room is called a waiter ir waitress. It is not a position of prestige but a humble one of service to others. It is training for teenage boys to suppress their natural tendencies to vanity and ego. It is the beginning of learning gentleness and meekness and submission of self to God. If you see it as a stepping stone to prestige and an ego boost, you are seeking something that is contrary to the nature of the thing desired.

    The fact is that priesthood ordination is not a prerequisite to giving service, teaching, or leading. Professor Camille Fronk Olson is chair if religious studies at BYU, a pisition that at some other church affiliated universities would require you to be an ordained minister. Women can teach adult Sunday School and Seminary and Institute and at BYU. They can perform research and writing in secular and religious fields. I have taught Gospel Doctrine for 10 of the last 15 years in various wards, but I have not felt diminished because this is a calling that could be held by a woman, that does nit require the priesthood. What it does require is a wllingbess to study and prepare and seek inspuration, all available to women. If you are willing to make service to God and neighbor your focus, you can be fully occupued in giving service just like obedient priesthood holders are. Except for the promise of eternal rewards, priesthood is just one means to the end if giving loving service. Interestingly, last time I checked, the eternal rewards promised to married couples in the temples don’t make any distinction between men and women.
    Y
    Joseph Smith wrote from Liberty Jail about the abuse of the priesthood in the service of vain ambition and pride. IF women are ever ordained to the priesthood, my humble guess is that the ones who will be ordained to offices of great responsibility will be those who have learned that any office or calling in the Church is an occasion for humble and self effacing service, not a reward to someone who thinks iit is an opportunity to proclaim their iwn greatness, glory and power over others.

    And those who leave the Church in anger and disappointment over lack of prestige and power are following the precedent of others, including Laman and Lemuel, and Lucifer.

  72. Winterbuzz on October 6, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Naismith, you’re comment is a great example of women who try to keep other women in line. The comment about devaluing motherhood shows that you’ll use something that women hold dear, like motherhood and twist it to say we’re fighting against it, especially because we do value it and wouldn’t want to diminish it. Depth in doctrinal context is different than every day parenting responsibilities. I understand from our past conversations that you have very deep, very personal reasons for being so defensive, but no one is trying to take anything away from you. We’re trying to help all women, have access to every opportunity possible, so that a variety of women are able to reach their divine potential. For many, it is motherhood, for others it is not and for some, it’s everything in between. You’ve said yourself that you are more than a mother in your professional responsibilities, so I’m surprised to hear you say that wanting to have things outside of motherhood, somehow devalues it.

    Clark- http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52664839-78/church-lds-packer-temple.html.csp

    71- Raymond Takashi Swenson- Using the argument of ‘vain ambitions’ is a scare tactic and probably an easy one to use since you have the opportunity to have the authority without it looking like you’re striving for it. I could reverse the argument and say you sound defensive and threatened. See how that works? It’s not helpful.
    This isn’t about power, it’s about opportunity. And the fact of the matter is, our church does not provide ‘equal opportunity.’ You could argue it provides ‘different opportunities’ but the problem with this, is it restricts both men and women who have talents and gifts that could be used in many positions, and as you pointed out with the Joseph Smith story, it provides a way for men who do strive for power to abuse their authority. Why couldn’t a man serve in the primary presidency? Why couldn’t a woman be a ward clerk? Is accounting a skill inherent to maleness? Some men are better nurturers than their wives, but the church would tell them they should be providers simply because of their gender.

    There is a developing theory that the countries with the biggest problems of poverty come where women are given the least opportunities. The theory goes that if women are given education and opportunities, they will be able to pull themselves and their families out of poverty. It shows the power (and not in an ambitious, pride-hungry picture you’re trying to paint) that a woman can have. Imagine how great our church would be if we started to let talented and powerful women maximize their full potential and give them opportunities to do so. I’m not even talking about giving them the priesthood, although if we’re talking about church history- I think the stories of women healing and giving people priesthood blessings (like Mary Elizabeth Rollins, or Presendia Huntington or Zina Jacobs to name a few), outside of temple ordinances, are some of the most powerful stories I’ve heard. Women can do amazing things with and without the priesthood, but their abilities are currently limited to policy.

    Also, let’s stop saying that the priesthood is given to men to help
    as you say, “teenage boys to suppress their natural tendencies to vanity and ego.” (Do teenage girls not have vanity and ego that could use direction?) It just shows that boys need power and responsibility to keep them in line, which argues against your other statements of seeking power. I am the mother of two sons and grew up with brothers and many boys and I resent this argument that men are over-sexed, wild creatures that need a way to be humbled. Let’s stop telling our men that they need something like the priesthood to control themselves. Men are very capable of exercising free will as any woman. I know many great and decent men inside and outside of the church that don’t need the priesthood to keep them in line. The priesthood is not a crutch.

  73. clark on October 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Clark- http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52664839-78/church-lds-packer-temple.html.csp

    I have to confess I didn’t see that as particularly doctrinal. My “what” was more about seeing that as the introduction of new doctrine.

  74. clark on October 6, 2011 at 10:48 am

    BTW – check out this article in the Ensign by Janet Thomas. “End is Not Yet”

    Since that night alone in my bedroom with the Pearl of Great Price open on the desk, I have kept that calm feeling as events that seem so threatening unfold. I do not accept the violence of the world and yearn with most of mankind for peace, but I am well aware of the prophecies in the scriptures and have a promise that I should not be troubled.

  75. Sam Brunson on October 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    RTS,

    In any ordinary context, a person who carries a tray if food or drink around a room is called a waiter ir waitress. It is not a position of prestige but a humble one of service to others.

    Not if you’re waiting tables at a good restaurant: being a waiter at a decent place can certainly be both remunerative and prestigious.

    Moreover, limiting the value of priesthood to the service performed takes a fairly reductive view of priesthood, IMHO. Priesthood certainly provides ways for us to serve, but that service also provides growth. (I’ve had at least one bishop say that he thinks every man in the church should be a bishop. And he’s not talking about for self-aggrandizement, least he be accused of that. He works hard at it, spends time, serves, and believes that through his service, he’s grown closer to God in a way he couldn’t had he not been bishop. Non-priesthood-holders, as I’ve said before, are able to approach God, but certain routes aren’t available to them. Maybe that’s God’s will. But whether or not it is, arguing that priesthood entails service doesn’t change the fact that those who don’t hold the priesthood also don’t have that avenue for growth.)

  76. Matt Evans on October 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    For this to work as an analogy of women and the priesthood, this line, “African-American members are still severely underrepresented in church attendance in the United States. In contrast, white church members are highly overrepresented” should be reversed. Church activity is higher among women than men. To me, reversing that line saps the power from the analogy.

  77. Naismith on October 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    “Naismith, you’re comment is a great example of women who try to keep other women in line.”

    That’s the best you can do? If I’m not with you in your pity party and exaggerations about how badly LDS women are treated, then I am a traitor and overseer? Quite a black-and-white worldview. Just curious, how would you describe a woman who would have told the senior missionary that of course we only wanted male speakers, since only men should teach at church?

    “The comment about devaluing motherhood shows that you’ll use something that women hold dear,”

    I’m not the one who brought up motherhood. You are the one who said it wasn’t good enough, that you wanted “meat.” You are the one who dismissed women’s talks as “anectodal.” And who made fun of descriptions of LDS women as “incredible.” I am not the one who describes gender differences as “inequality.”

    “Depth in doctrinal context is different than every day parenting responsibilities.”

    Different yes. But I think parenting is equally as important as doctrine so I don’t dismiss those women’s talks the way you have.

    The biggest difference between us is not our commitment to women’s equality, which I value just as much as you do. But I sincerely do think LDS women are incredible, it is not a joke to me. And I think that Elder Holland’s talk about funeral potatoes and quilts was a wonderful recognition of women’s contributions, not a stereotype to be resented.

    “no one is trying to take anything away from you”

    Well, sure. Good intentions all around. But I have seen well-meaning gender-neutral policies go amok and hurt a lot of women. Like the woman who was flushed out of my grad program when her performance dropped during a difficult pregnancy. And a neighbor who moved away once the female provost at the local university decided that students couldn’t attend part-time (that woman needed a degree, but was also determined to be home with her kids after school). Not to mention my friends who wanted to have more children or wanted to be at home full-time but couldn’t because their husbands expected them to “pull their weight” and didn’t view parenting as “working.”

    But in any event, you clearly do not speak for half of the population of the church so please drop that from your rhetoric when screeching at the men.

  78. UniversaLove on October 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Naismith –

    In regard to the classmate being kicked out due to under performance – without knowing the details, I would say that it was a good call. Exactly how should a professor cater to everyone? Move due dates for someone with a death in the family? How long before everyone has an excuse? If this is your idea of hurting motherhood, I would like to object. If someone’s schoolwork is suffering enough that they are in danger of being kicked out of the program, I would hope that the person would recognize this and take a semester off, which is fairly common and easy to do. As an academic myself, I’ve never heard of a grad program being anything less than accommodating to a mother. However, if the mother cannot keep up with the courseload – again – she should be smart enough to take a semester off. She must complete the required workload, otherwise what is the point of the degree? Everyone else had to do a thesis, but not the mother, since she was very, very busy. Recognize that you need some time off, take the time off, come back when you can commit. The idea that we should reward subpar work to anyone simply because she is a mother actually HURTS women.

    “But I have seen well-meaning gender-neutral policies go amok and hurt a lot of women.”

    You know what else hurts women? Polygamy. But that’s another issue for another time. Lets get back to your personal experience, which you have so freely shared with all of us repeatedly, and held up as what you believe to be a sort of microcosm of America at large.

    I’ve seen you post on several religious/gender blogs, and from the way you speak about your place of employment, I find myself confused and bewildered as to why you remain there. Why would you want to take money from a place so repugnant, so (allegedly) anti-family? I’m shocked that you stay at a place that so offends your sensibilities. Most people with high moral character would want to distance themselves from such a place.

    Unless, of course, you experience frustration in your job, and have decided to frequent blogs which you perceive to hold the same opinions as those you work with, and you simply want a sounding board to complain and complain and complain about your disagreement. And you do it at those blogs because you cannot or will not do it at your job. Which I suppose would be fine, if it wasn’t so tiresome to those who don’t want to bear the brunt of your own bitter frustration and incomprehensible anger at what you THINK feminism is.

  79. Alison Moore Smith on October 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Just saw this. Kaimi, can I express my undying devotion? :)

  80. Bryan inVA on October 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Winterbuzz #67 – “Do you believe the story you mention is exclusive to the prophetic role?”

    No. But I cited an example of God being on the horn with Monson. I believe that prophets also struggle with issues they’re called to deal with (the struggle is part of the divine design – “study it out in you mind”, and all that). But it seems to me anyway that Pres. Monson won’t be in doubt when the Lord is ready to make His will known on a given matter.

    “I ask because that kind of inspiration you describe in not only quite common amongst everyday Latter Day Saints, but other faiths as well.”

    I agree.

    “The prophet feeling prompted to make an announcement does not qualify as a prophetic change in course, policy or doctrine.”

    I agree, but I believe Pres Monson won’t be in doubt when indeed the Lord wants a change in course communicated to the members of His church.

  81. Bryan in VA on October 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Winterbuzz #53 – “Switch the genders. It’s stunning.” Switching the genders sounds more like Primary.

  82. Alison Moore Smith on October 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Just want to add my blog love to Jeremy and Tatiana.

    Great comments. Kaimi. The connection between the “you aren’t spiritual enough for the priesthood” and the “you’re too spiritual for the priesthood” arguments had never occurred to me. Fabulous insights.

    Adam Greenwood #43:

    Men and women have real biological differences that show up in all sorts of ways across cultures and times. Not so with Europeans and African-Americans.

    I don’t know, Adam. All my black friends have melanin. I don’t. I think that would qualify as a “real biological difference.” And I can tell you for sure that mine is not superior.

  83. psychochemiker on October 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    AMS,

    While Melanin content is certainly a “real biological difference” whether or not one is “superior” over the other really depends on the climate. If you live in a climate where there isn’t a lot of sun, having lots of Melanin is a not desirable. If you live in a warm climate where there’s lots of sun (and less clothing worn), having lots of skin Melanin is highly superior.

    But I think it is stupid to claim that the physiological difference between “races” is anywhere near the physiological difference between genders. I don’t know how that relates to gender and the priesthood, but Adam is Moore right than you are on this.

  84. Bob on October 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    psychochemiker:
    Tell me of the Black skin in Tierra Del Fuego. Why?
    Climate and skin tone do relate, as does climate and body weight. But there is no fat race, skinny race, white race, or yellow race__only a Human race.

  85. Bryan in VA on October 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Just follow up to my posts #45 & #59 since I got a few ideas from my seminary teacher. :)

    30 years ago Sonia Johnson agitated very publicly in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and was excommunicated accordingly. If wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Johnson) is to be believed she later changed her mind on the ERA. She was clearly an agitator who went down in flames over an issue that seemed less important to her later.

    Numbers 20 relates how the Israelites are yet again complaining about their situation in the desert. This times they’re complaining about not having any water.

    2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

    3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

    4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?

    5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.

    The Lord instructs Moses and Aaron to strike a rock which will then provide water. In a moment of weakness Moses takes credit for the water and is duly chastised.

    10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

    11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

    12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

    For all of their agitating the children of Israel get their water which the Lord would have provided anyway, they end up with an irritated prophet and a compassionate God periodically telling then that in spite of their wickedness and lack of faith, His hand is outstretched still.

    On the other hand you have the Brother of Jared leading a group of believers to a new promised land. They don’t rebel when confronted with an ocean, but rather build barges as directed by the Lord. When they ask about light in the barges, the Lord prohibits some solutions (windows and fire). Do they agitate? Noooo… They come up with 16 small transparent stones meeting the Lord’s conditions and ask the Lord to touch the stones to illuminate them. The Lord then reveals himself as he complies with their request and the jaredites arrive safely in the promise land.

    So we see that the agitating Israelites end up with a cranky prophet, a delay in arriving to the promised land, and the Lord’s merciful outstretched hand if they choose to change their ways at a later date. The Jaredites on the other hand work within the guidelines the Lord gives them. They arrive in their promised land and have the Lord reveal himself to the Brother of Jared during the journey.

    “And thus we see” agitating just doesn’t cut it. This looks the making of a great sacrament meeting talk!

    I’m looking forward to Official Declaration 4.

  86. Alison Moore Smith on October 7, 2011 at 12:55 am

    psychochemiker #83:

    While Melanin content is certainly a “real biological difference” whether or not one is “superior” over the other really depends on the climate

    Does not. When I was in college I wanted to look like Whitney Houston. Now I want to look like Halle Berry. You are just never going to convince me that pasty white with freckles is better, whether there is sun or not. Trust me on this.

    But I think it is stupid to claim that the physiological difference between “races” is anywhere near the physiological difference between genders.

    Did someone make that claim? Point me to it! I missed it entirely!

    I don’t know how that relates to gender and the priesthood, but Adam is Moore right than you are on this.

    That’s weird, because Adam said that there were no “real biological differences” between races. I said there were. You agreed with me. Just weird.

  87. Jonovitch on October 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    This might not be popular, but here’s another perspective:

    I imagine if the priesthood were extended to women, and they started taking over some of the ward “leadership” roles and other priesthood duties, some of our ward’s boys and men might not have much of a reason to keep showing up each week.

    When I hear trite statements like “the priesthood is for men” or “women don’t need the priesthood” I think of it from this perspective. It’s not so much dessert or candy (where it’s only fair if everyone gets a piece). More like like a vitamin that only men need and women don’t, so what’s the point of taking it anyway? Or, if you will, it’s an extra incentive to make sure men don’t abandon their duties, families, their own souls, etc.

    I’m grasping at trying to get my meaning across. Here’s another try:

    It’s hard enough to keep boys and men interested (and I think everyone would agree it’s not getting any easier). I can’t help wonder if that’s a big part of the reason the priesthood is men only. Not necessarily “no girls allowed,” rather “if men didn’t have it (and women did), the men would stop caring, self destruct, and take their families with them.” Yes, this is hyperbolic, but I think you get my meaning (despite the extreme example).

    Of course, my usual caveats apply: this is speculation and I could be way off, but it makes sense to me. And of course, I’m open to new revelation, and I’d sustain it if this did change. But based on my observations in church attendance and human behavior, I just don’t see it happening in my lifetime.

  88. Bob on October 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Jonovitch: I am not buying your idea_sorry.
    As a teenage boy, I did not show up to church to play priesthood.
    I was there to be with the girls.

  89. Alison Moore Smith on October 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Jonovitch #87:

    I imagine if the priesthood were extended to women, and they started taking over some of the ward “leadership” roles and other priesthood duties, some of our ward’s boys and men might not have much of a reason to keep showing up each week.

    So what’s my reason to keep showing up each week?

    A couple of years ago — in a post I wrote at Mormon Momma asking about the “rule” about only having men say the opening prayer in Sacrament Meeting — a guy actually had the audacity to say something along the lines of “Why do you want to take away one of the few important things left for men to do?”

    Wow.

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