David F. Holland on Women in the Church

June 27, 2014 | 78 comments
By

There is no shortage of interviews, essays, rants, and diatribes that you can read on the topic of women in the LDS Church generally or on Kate Kelly’s excommunication specifically.

But for ability to articulate the lay of the land, to fairly describe the positions of the major players, and to clearly explain what is at stake, you can’t beat this. I don’t agree with every word, but I deeply admire his willingness and ability to set forth the beliefs of the various camps in a fair-minded way. We need more discourse like this.

78 Responses to David F. Holland on Women in the Church

  1. Walter van Beek on June 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Julie, thanks for drawing my attention to this great peice of balanced analysis. Temple theology versus institutional practice, good point.
    Walter

  2. Naismith on June 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Wow, thanks for that.

  3. Neal on June 27, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    He is Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s son….

  4. sch on June 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    And a stake president

  5. p on June 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    How is it possible that the LDS leadership could not have foreseen a women’s insurrection coming long ago and taken steps to ameliorate this (i.e., begin TALKING with women)? Are they not as aware as THE MAN ON THE STREET of changing patterns in education, employment (including professional employment), marriage age, family configuration, political alignment, political clout – !? It’s just poor management for the executive leadership of a MISSIONARY CHURCH to allow a situation like this to get so far out of hand and reach the world stage. Right after Sonia Johnson fought for the ERA, somebody up there, one of those Seers, should have figured out that THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN!

    This is just nuts. That train left the station years ago and nobody at the COB knew it was on the way? Unbelievable. This is their job! In any normal, functioning “corporation” heads would roll.

  6. Green Lantern on June 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Um P., In 1993 Boyd K. Packer spoke to the All-Church Coordinating Council and prophesied that future Church problems would come from the intellectuals, the homosexuals, and the feminists. The “Intelligentsia” at the time tore him apart. I thought it was rather prophetic.

  7. David Elliott on June 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    In well articulated pieces like this, I always look for a “money quote”. This seems to be it: “The idea is that just as men become fathers through a woman’s divinely endowed maternal capacity, so women become endowed with priesthood power through that same divine marriage. Through such a marriage, men and women can both be parents and they can both be priests—and thus through that relationship they both progress toward godliness—even as each retains certain complementary functional distinctions, such as the fact that men are responsible to hold priesthood office.”

    I think I have some holy envy for Brother Holland’s insightful prose. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. JH on June 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    This guy is the real deal. I had the privilege of knowing him years ago.

    #5 While the Church is missionary focused, I don’t think the leadership views maximizing the number of converts as the only goal. We want to make the Church attractive, but we can’t change things just to win converts or please the crowd. While the Church can do better talking with women, I suspect the Church will always be unpopular with the intelligentsia no matter what changes.

  9. p on June 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    #8 – “According to data from the Department of Education on college degrees by gender, the US college degree gap favoring women started back in 1978 [Sonia Johnson was excommunicated in 1979], when for the first time ever, more women than men earned Associate’s degrees. Five years later in 1982, women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men for the first time, and women have increased their share of bachelor’s degrees in every year since then. In another five years by 1987, women earned the majority of master’s degrees for the first time. Finally, within another decade, more women than men earned doctor’s degrees by 2006, and female domination of college degrees at every level was complete. For the current graduating class of 2013, the Department of Education estimates that women will earn 61.6% of all associate’s degrees this year, 56.7% of all bachelor’s degrees, 59.9% of all master’s degrees, and 51.6% of all doctor’s degrees. Overall, 140 women will graduate with a college degree at some level this year for every 100 men.” (American Enterprise Institute)

    That’s just women in higher education. Add female workforce/entrepreneurship, political shifts and alliances, changes in marriage/family, growing financial power, and the REAL story here, had David Holland looked a bit more closely, is how the entire executive structure of the LDS Church was caught flat-footed by a woman lawyer and a tiny organization. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t I just see Sister Kelly on the front page of the the NEW YORK TIMES?

    Again, the executives of ANY organization are hired & paid to predict the future and move pro-actively. When the executives in OUR particular organization are also considered Seers & Prophets, well, it just makes you wonder.

    #6 – Elder Packer’s 1993 definition of a “feminist” is very likely not yours or mine today.

  10. Jessica on June 27, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Holland said: The “line of gendered distinction in the priesthood is essentially effaced by a temple theology in which women are….pronounced priestesses.”

    I feel that this argument is so misleading since women are pronounced to one day BECOME priestesses…..to our husbands.

    No woman leaves the temple thinking “I’m a priestess now.”

    In the afterlife, when the husbands of faithful LDS women become exalted, the wives then join in as the husband’s priestess.

    Our doctrine also allows for wives to share their Husband-God with many other Heavenly Mothers/priestesses.

    I don’t see why Holland didn’t even touch on the absence of Heavenly Mother in the temple as well, especially since the temple focuses a lot on the creation and Holland’s argument points to the creative powers of women as the main justification of a gendered priesthood.

    I take these things on faith and it’s hard. Maybe I just don’t understand the doctrine completely….

  11. Aaron on June 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    “How is it possible that the LDS leadership could not have foreseen a women’s insurrection coming long ago and taken steps to ameliorate this (i.e., begin TALKING with women)? Are they not as aware as THE MAN ON THE STREET of changing patterns in education, employment (including professional employment), marriage age, family configuration, political alignment, political clout – !? It’s just poor management for the executive leadership of a MISSIONARY CHURCH to allow a situation like this to get so far out of hand and reach the world stage. Right after Sonia Johnson fought for the ERA, somebody up there, one of those Seers, should have figured out that THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN!

    This is just nuts. That train left the station years ago and nobody at the COB knew it was on the way? Unbelievable. This is their job! In any normal, functioning “corporation” heads would roll.”

    Do you doubt even for one second the destiny of this church and power and majesty of HIM whose work this is? Do you truly believe this is Gods kingdom? Was Joseph Smith the greatest prophet we ever saw or was he a fraud? I submit to you that while there are problems and setbacks, this church is doing better than that statement would suggest and will triumph. We live in a day when other churches are collapsing. This is not one of them.

  12. RW on June 28, 2014 at 2:41 am

    I believe P (#9) is correct. Women will continue to make up a more and more substantial portion of our educated class. If I am not mistaken, this is really our target class for growth, young, dynamic, intelligent people. We are closing ourselves off from this group.

    The Church is still growing. However, according to my back-of-the-envelope calculation, the growth curve has had an inflection point, i.e. its slope has changed. It looks as if we are growing linearly with time instead of exponentially. This inflection happened in the last couple of decades. It has happened even with a substantial increase in missionary effort.

    I cannot, for the life of me, see what a mechanism would be for linear growth. If, every year, an organization adds a fixed fraction to their number, the curve will be exponential. Linear growth means that the growth rate decreases each year in inverse proportion to the size. This says that the larger we become, the more people do not like us. My question is, why? Can it be that things like homophobia, misogyny, and right wing politics have an effect on attracting and keeping people? That the larger we become, the more visible these things are?

    Doing things to “please the crowd” does not exclude doing the right thing, because people will like the right thing.

  13. jimbob on June 28, 2014 at 2:54 am

    I found that about as good a summation as you could hope for.

    I also enjoyed the comments, especially the ones INTERSPERSED WITH RANDOM ALL CAPS. If there’s anything I KNOW, it’s that all caps is an EXTRAORDINARILY persuasive way to WRITE.

  14. Jill on June 28, 2014 at 5:11 am

    Well I know who the gay people are. But who are the Intelligentsia since ‘the glory of God is intelligence’ and we’re all supposed to get as much as we can yet still hearken to God. I would hope to be counted among intelligent people.
    And when I was at BYU around 1978, I suppose a feminist was a female student who graduated with a degree in something useful and she could actually earn a decent living using it in the working world. Today that’s now the norm at BYU–but I suppose the feminists now are the ones who use their degrees? That will change too in another 30 years, thank goodness.

  15. Green Lantern on June 28, 2014 at 6:55 am

    From P: #6 – Elder Packer’s 1993 definition of a “feminist” is very likely not yours or mine today.

    I’m not sure why this matters against your allegations that none of the Seers saw this coming. There is soft and hard feminism, conservative feminism, liberal feminism, radical feminism, etc. It’s constantly evolving. My guess would be Elder Packer doesn’t like Kate Kelly’s brand of advocacy feminism.

    The “intelligencia” I refer to are the people who think they are smarter than the General Authorities. If I have to weigh my Church membership and eternal salvation on the writings (now bloggings) of the learned (“they think they are wise”- 2 Nephi 9:28) or on the counsel of someone like Elder Packer, I’ll side with Elder Packer.

    I am extremely grateful for Armand Mauss’s memoir Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport. Brother Mauss’s work has been featured quite prominently on T&S. On February 14, 2013 Dave Banack wrote a great piece titled “Mauss on Dialogue.” In it he cites the following quote from Shifting Borders (p. 141):

    “[The current and future editors of Dialogue] must find a way to persuade their younger peers to spend less time in the blogosphere and more time in reading and writing in-depth, peer-reviewed literature on the Mormon scene. Blogging has its place, and it is a quick and easy way to get one’s opinions and observations broadcast to a certain constituency. One drawback, though, is the tendency I have noticed for many who frequent the blogosphere to ask questions, or express opinions, in seeming ignorance of the rich literature found in journals and books that would bear importantly upon the very topics they wish to discuss.”

    I’ve been around a while. I was a missionary in Brazil before the priesthood revelation. I still have my copy of the Lineage Lesson that we had to teach before baptism (by the way, our Area Authority was Elder James E. Faust, then an Assistant to the Twelve, who approved the Lineage Lesson). I saw a lot of heartache over that issue but I got to meet some incredibly faithful people. I was at the Rochester Area conference in 1980 when Sonia Johnson had an airplane fly over the waiting crowd with the banner “Mother in Heaven loves ERA.” Later our Regional representative told us he was in a room with President Kimball while they were watching a news report about Ms. Johnson. He said President Kimball started crying and said “I feel so sorry for Sister Johnson.”

    P, please accept my apologies when I tell you that there was a lot of ignorance in your initial statement. My guess is you are still wet behind the ears and have not done the homework you need to do. There is much to gain by being faithful to the Gospel and the Living Prophets. Please don’t tread on them lightly.

  16. Dave on June 28, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Green Lantern, thanks for quoting me quoting Mauss. I think of that quote every time I write a blog post. So I wonder what Pres. Kimball thought Mother in Heaven (whose existence he affirmed in public statements) thought of ERA? I wonder what current leaders think Mother in Heaven thinks about OW?

    One of the interesting quotes in the Holland piece (which I found both interesting but a little off-key in a number of places) was his suggestion that Mormon men should emulate God but Mormon women should emulate Mother in Heaven. That seems rather problematic and raises more questions than it answers.

  17. p on June 28, 2014 at 8:13 am

    #13 THANKS, Jimbob. Besides simple FRUSTRATION, it was to get the ATTENTION of people with names (not to mention psychologies) like JIMBOB that i capped certain words. Apparently i succeeded.

    #15 Your argument is the standard one for those professing fidelity to authoritarian institutions. Log onto First Things and you’ll find the Catholic version. They, too, have ultimate authority, and if you’ll simply listen to the RCC hierarchy, all will be well, you’ll go straight to heaven, etc., etc. This is not how an institution moves forward, and I will submit that at the moment ours is stuck fast in (see #12 above) “homophobia, misogyny, and right wing politics.” This is not effective leadership, and it doesn’t matter how many more new temples you build or how much of Florida you purchase. As our kissing cousins the Republicans are discovering, homophobia, misogyny, and right wing politics are self-limiting concepts.

    “I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent–if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression… This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence or any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. … We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.”

    — Hugh B. Brown

  18. David Holland on June 28, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Typically, I don’t chime in here, but I was touched by Jessica’s thoughtful critique.

    I do indeed wish I had phrased that a bit more carefully, but I also think there is more possibility in the temple wording than Jessica’s post suggests. I don’t see anything in the language of the temple that conclusively determines that the state of “priestessness” is only in the next life. This is undoubtedly our common LDS construction of the term “hereafter,” but that is not the only dictionary definition. It is worth noting that the man’s status as “priest” is also future conditional in that same passage. It may be worth noting that ALL ordinances are future conditional on worthiness and a sealing by the holy spirit of promise.

    This may be a bit of an interpretive stretch, but it still strikes me as well within the range of possibility. I’m trying to be careful here not to be too specific about sacred wording, but while I recognize the phrasing that initially calls women priestesses to their husbands, I love the fact that by the end of that passage men and women, priests and priestesses, are indistinguishably lumped in together. The phrasing opens to me the possibility that while the status of priestess may begin as an indirect conferral through a marital relationship, the eventual end result of that are kings and queens, priests and priestesses that reign in equality. I may be “wresting” the language here, but I do think there are more possibilities there than we typically recognize.

    For me, however, the more compelling evidence is not linguistic, but material: the clothing. Historically, in ancient Israel, the robes of the Holy Priesthood were ONLY worn by the temple priests. In the Reformation, the fights over priestly vestments were particularly intense because everyone recognized those robes as the ultimate symbols of a sacerdotal conception of priesthood. Today, in the temple, the instant you dress women in the robes and garments of the holy priesthood I think you are conveying a doctrine much more clearly than you can through particular phrasing (phrasing that, by the way, is obviously subject to historical evolutions).

    Anyway, all that is hard to get into in a Q&A session, but I do think there is a lot more for us to think about there than we typically do. I think Jessica is completely right when she says that women typically don’t leave the temple thinking “I’m a priestess now,” but sometimes I wonder if that is more our fault than the temple’s.

  19. p on June 28, 2014 at 9:36 am

    IOW, David, Jessica’s argument is moot? This is like the official response to ALL women’s issues: Just dig a little deeper into the theology (or even liturgy) and you’ll see that there really are NO issues. None.

    One more response to this recent excommunication then I’ll shut up and go cut the lawn: In one fell swoop, that event neutralized the entire “I’m a Mormon” campaign. What a lie it all seems now: “We’re regular folk going about our lives just like you Gentiles – only we have the fullness of the Gospel and you don’t so let us tell you about it. (Just keep your mouth shut if you’re a woman and you think you’re a second-class church citizen because if you don’t you’ll be excommunicated.) Come join us!!!”

  20. David Holland on June 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

    P. It is precisely because I thought Jessica’s argument so valid, and the issues so real, that I felt compelled to respond.

  21. Jax on June 28, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I don’t see anything in the language of the temple that conclusively determines that the state of “priestessness” is only in the next life.

    David, I liked your piece, but this remark seems wrong. Doesn’t the temple ceremony specifically state that we have been annointed to become Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses and that they day will come (future) when we will be called up to become such, but that for now we are only set apart to become them. That seems rather specific that it is in the future and not current.

    I don’t think that having a promise of being a Priestess means women get to demand ordination, rather the opposite really. It could be seen as a promise by God that they will be ordained, just not in mortality. Thoughts?

  22. Neal on June 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

    David,

    Thank you for your article and your responses.

    I think if you look at the Temple rites in an historical context there is a distinct assumption in the early endowment that women were indeed ‘holders’ of the Priesthood in some way. I don’t know what may have been different in the earliest ceremonies than in the one we have today, but we have statements to the effect from Eliza Snow and others who are reliable sources. Women routinely ‘assisted’ their husbands in administrations, laying on hands with him. Women also performed anointings without male priesthood holders and gave blessings to the sick. These administrations have been banned over time, for no good reason that I can find. Such historical events serve as a backdrop for the cognitive dissonance many find in the absolute exclusion of women from priestly administrations (outside the Temple) today. Likewise, men have been given increasingly exclusive rights over ALL administrations and practices. For example, I know of no scripture that says a woman cannot prepare or pass the sacrament. Prior to that, women routinely prepared the sacrament. Assigning those duties to young boys was a practice implemented in the 20th century.

    So where does ‘doctrine’ on the exclusion of women from the Priesthood begin? What is its source? What is really doctrine, and what is just policy? Even Elder Dallin Oaks, who said in his last conference address that exclusion of women from the Priesthood is a ‘Divine decree’, could not produce a reference for this doctrine, nor could Church PR in subsequent statements.

  23. Neal on June 28, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Correction: “For example, I know of no scripture that says a woman cannot prepare or pass the sacrament. Assigning those duties to young boys was a practice implemented in the 20th century. Prior to that, women routinely prepared the sacrament.”

  24. Alison Moore Smith on June 28, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Julie, since you pointed me to this post a few days ago I have shared it unceasingly. It’s actually balanced, thoughtful, and cogent, while still coming from a faithful perspective. Something I have rarely (never?) seen in this brouhaha. Thanks to you and to David Holland. Gives a great overview, fairly expressing both sides.

    My only quibble is his toss off to the Pew poll. I don’t think it means what people assume it means — or what he indicated it meant.

    [David, as an aside, your father was “my” BYU president. He has been a saving grace for me more times than I can count. Bless his heart.]

    Jax:

    Doesn’t the temple ceremony specifically state that we have been annointed to become Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses and that they day will come (future) when we will be called up to become such, but that for now we are only set apart to become them.

    Yes, it does. So why are men priests now? Shouldn’t they be waiting patiently on the Lord, too?

    Neal:

    So where does ‘doctrine’ on the exclusion of women from the Priesthood begin? What is its source? What is really doctrine, and what is just policy? Even Elder Dallin Oaks, who said in his last conference address that exclusion of women from the Priesthood is a ‘Divine decree’, could not produce a reference for this doctrine, nor could Church PR in subsequent statements.

    I have (literally) been asking this question since 1968, Neal. The most straightforward answer I’ve ever seen is “precedent and tradition.” :(

    We simply don’t have a good mechanism to distinguish between tradition and doctrine outside of specific revelation. I submit that getting that specific revelation on issues as outside culture changes is vital to the health of the church. Some things can’t change, but many can — and I’m not sure we know the difference.

  25. Cynthia L. on June 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Effaced is a strong word for a situation in which women have essentially no voice in administration above the ward level. Thank goodness they finally, very recently, added the few women that exist to the bottom of this page. However, stories like Sister Okazaki’s (the RS presidency was not even made aware of the proclamation on the family until after it was complete) demonstrate that they are afforded even less voice than the small surface area they are afforded on that page might suggest. And it’s the fact that they need to be “afforded” a voice or “listened to” that is so telling. We will know that women have meaningful participation in leadership in the church when we can say that they are the ones in a position to do the listening, not when they are being very carefully “listened to” (although that would be a huge improvement over the current situation). I know that the focus of David’s remarks was the more priestly aspects of the priesthood, and not the administrative aspects, but these are at least as important in the context of Ordain Women and women’s dissatisfaction about their place in the church.

    Back to the issue of the temple, I mourned for weeks after seeing the new temple videos. Everyone told me how much better they were for women. Eve is somewhat improved, I will grant that. But I mourned on seeing them because a new set of videos resets at 25-year clock on production of new videos (empirical observation), and so it will be at least 25 years before there is any sign in the temple video that women exist outside of mortality. No female preexistence, no female postmortal life is depicted in the film. Not quite as low in status as the animals Eve cavorts with, but perhaps closer to them than to the males we see creating the whole universe. Even Satan is heard to exist in the premortal realm. But no even obliquely suggested female presence. None. Devastating to my ability to feel joy in the temple.

  26. Jax on June 28, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Cynthia,

    What exactly do you want in the Temple video? Everything there is consitent with scripture. There is no record of HM’s involvement, or Eve’s, or any woman’s, in the creation until Eve appears in the Garden. Would you have them make up a role, some voice, that represents women role? Do we KNOW of women’s role? Did they help create/build the Earth?? How do we give them a role if we don’t know?? They only thing I could think of that would fit our doctrine/beliefs without some major new revelation/scripture is having a HM figure standing next to HF when Christ returns and reports all those times. During the voicing we couldn’t add anything, but when we show a depiction of HF, could we not have a depiction of HM as well?? Would that be better? Would that be accurate? Would it be appropriate?

  27. David Holland on June 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Jax and Neal,

    Both very thoughtful and helpful replies. Jax, you may be completely right. I agree, the language clearly does refer to a future state; but, on the raw definition of the words employed, that could theoretically be tomorrow or next week, when, by our faithfulness and God’s grace, we have made good on the initial anointing to the priesthood. I could be dead wrong here–it has happened before–but I see nothing to necessitate that the hereafter is post-mortality. By the same logic and language, men only really become priests in the hereafter, too.

    Functionally, I don’t know what it means to be a priestess…that is, I don’t know what actions or offices that would entail, if any. And I am certainly not suggesting that the temple entitles anyone to “demand ordination.” But those actions and offices, are, to me, wholly secondary to the sacerdotal ontology of the doctrine of the priesthood. And it seems to me THAT element of the priesthood is distributed universally in the temple. My only point was that the language–combined with the clothing in the priestly robes–raises a doctrinal possibility that needs some consideration. I may be making too much of this, but I think historically we have made far too little.

    Neal, you raise key questions and I have no answer for them. I don’t know when or why the prohibitions have tightened outside the temple. But, it is telling to me that the temple–the place where, by our own profession, we step out of history and come closest to the divine–is the place where these ministrations have been preserved.

    I am a little uncomfortable with how loose I have been in this thread in discussing language I consider sacred. My sense of discomfort was reinforced when, in my personal study this morning, I happened to turn immediately to 1 Cor. 3:17-19. I may be slow, but even I know a divine caution/rebuke when I see one. So, forgive me if I ease up on the temple-language discussion a bit.

  28. David Holland on June 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Cynthia, (and also Jessica), re. the word “effaced.” That is exactly the word I wish I had thought through more carefully.

  29. Neal on June 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Allison – I love this statement: “We simply don’t have a good mechanism to distinguish between tradition and doctrine outside of specific revelation. I submit that getting that specific revelation on issues as outside culture changes is vital to the health of the church. Some things can’t change, but many can — and I’m not sure we know the difference.”

    I think this gets to the heart of the issue. We have a very specific example of “traditions of men” creeping into the Church (Priesthood Ban) that had to be reversed and ultimately ‘disavowed’. https://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=race+and+the+priesthood

    This is a conversation we need to be having. These are questions that deserve answering. I hope our leaders will decide to join in. I hope we receive word that they have engaged these questions with the sincerity, openness, and effort that Spencer W. Kimball did when he confronted the question of race and the Priesthood Ban.

  30. Julie M. Smith on June 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Cynthia, thank you for articulating your reaction to the new films. Mine was precisely the same.

    David, thank you for commenting on this thread.

  31. MargaretOH on June 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Jax, I believe that there is absolutely scriptural and modern revelation supporting bringing women into the creation narrative in the temple. The Book of Abraham references the Gods creating the earth. President Kimball had this to say about it:

    “Christ and Mary, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and a host of mighty men and equally glorious women comprised that group of “the noble and great ones,” to whom the Lord Jesus said: “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell” (Abraham 3:22-24). This we know: Christ, under the Father, is the Creator; Michael his companion and associate, presided over much of the creative work; and with them as Abraham saw, were many of the noble and great ones. Can we do other than conclude that Mary and Eve and Sarah and myriads of our faithful sisters were numbered among them? Certainly these sisters labored as diligently then, and fought as valiantly in the war in heaven, as did the brethren, even as they in like manner stand firm today, in mortality, in the cause of truth and righteousness.” -“Eve and the Fall”, 1979

    So yes, speaking of women in the pre-mortal life would be both appropriate and accurate.

  32. Naismith on June 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Um, I don’t know what women’s education has to do with any of this. I have a graduate degree, my RS president is faculty at the local state U. Not sure that any of the well educated women in our ward support OW. Education strikes me as largely irrelevant. After all, it was the church that encouraged me and my daughters to get an education. The Allbrecht et al. research from the 80s suggested that the more educated an LDS woman was, the larger her family size, in contrast to the pattern outside our faith.

    Okay, maybe education does have something to do with it, in turning me against feminism and making me dubious of claims of “equality.” Certainly my skepticism about moving to a male-normative model (everyone ordained) has been shaped by so many negative experiences as an employee of an “equal opportunity” that operationalizes the concept of “equality” to mean doing things the way men always have, disadvantaging women who dare to become mothers. Only at church do I find homemaking and nurtured valued as equal to stuff like earning money.

  33. Cynthia L. on June 28, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Jax, there are PLENTY of things in the video that are not specifically mentioned in the scriptures. That you think the total absence of women is no big deal is exactly the problem.

  34. Green Lantern on June 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Hi Dave (#16):
    I’ve appreciated your Q&As with Armand Mauss too. Thank you for doing such fine work. The Regional Representative who told that story about President Kimball’s reaction to Sonia Johnson was Bryant Rossiter who worked for Kodak. Also with them that day was President Marion G. Romney and Elder Gordon B. Hinckley.

    I’m not sure what the current thinking among the GA’s regarding Mother in Heaven. President Hinckley denounced efforts to pray to Her in his Relief Society talk “Daughter of God” in October 1991but I personally thought that David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido opened the door wide open with their BYU Studies article on Mother in Heaven. https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=8669

  35. Green Lantern on June 28, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    P #17 – I am neither impressed by your condescension nor your arguments. Because I try to be faithful to the leaders of the Church does not mean I lack an inquisitive mind. Your own lack of tolerance is palpable. One of my favorite quotes comes from a talk Elder James E. Faust gave in the October 1989 General Conference titled “Continuous Revelation.” It was reprinted in the August 1996 Ensign as “Continuing Revelation” when he was serving as Second Counselor in the First Presidency:

    “When will this promised revelation come? Only God knows when. It will come as needed. To whom will it come? To obtain the answer to this, we must go back to the words of Amos: ‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.’ (Amos 3:7.) This continuous revelation will not and cannot be forced by outside pressure from people and events. It is not the so-called ‘revelation of social progress.’ It does not originate with the prophets; it comes from God. The Church is governed by the prophet under the guidance and direction of God.”

    By the way, in case you didn’t know, President Faust WAS A DEMOCRAT!!!

  36. p on June 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I hardly know what to say to you anymore, Green Lantern, though it is certainly conceivable that were we to meet face-to-face we’d probably like each other. That’s usually how it works. In the meantime I offer this, a little reality break I take sometimes when LDS-style cog-dis gets thunderously loud:

    Science 7 May 2010: Vol. 328 no. 5979 pp. 710-722 DOI: 10.1126/science.1188021 RESEARCH ARTICLE A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome – Neandertals, the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans, lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 30,000 years ago. We present a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides from three individuals. Comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world identify a number of genomic regions that may have been affected by positive selection in ancestral modern humans, including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development. We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other.

  37. Lisa on June 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    “Lay, volunteer leaders—such as the bishop who officially decided on Kelly’s excommunication—have reason to believe that policing such a line is a matter of existential concern to the Church, but identifying where that line lies becomes an increasingly complicated matter in today’s world.”

    I suggest it would be more accurate and appropriate to say “Leaders of the church–including the professional, paid leaders tasked with providing governing guidance to local authorities and lay, volunteer leaders such as the bishop who officially decided on Kelly’s excommunication–have reason to believe that policing such a line is a matter of existential concern to the Church, but identifying where that line lies becomes an increasingly complicated matter in today’s world.”

    Throughout much of the rhetoric on this issue (not singling out David’s piece), I have been bothered by the lack of acknowledgement of the role higher influence plays in this line-drawing conundrum, which I see leading to the implication that these determinations are primarily issues of local control and governance.

    Yes, Kate Kelly’s bishop was the official decider, the “but for” cause in her excommunication, but he and other “lay, volunteer” leaders do not act without guidance on what lines are of increasing importance for the church through its local branches to police. Local leaders are not puppets for church headquarters, yes, but they certainly don’t police in a vacuum. Bishops could hardly be argued to have the functional equivalence of “judicial independence,” in which their determinations are shielded from the influence of other branches of church authority, especially those branches above them in a hierarchical power structure. Bishops acting properly apply direction they have been given in training materials from the institutional structure to the facts of a particular case–they do not define the policies that they are authorized or encouraged to enforce.

  38. Alison Moore Smith on June 28, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Neal, thank you.

    Jax:

    What exactly do you want in the Temple video? Everything there is consitent with scripture. There is no record of HM’s involvement, or Eve’s, or any woman’s, in the creation until Eve appears in the Garden. Would you have them make up a role, some voice, that represents women role? Do we KNOW of women’s role? Did they help create/build the Earth?? How do we give them a role if we don’t know?? They only thing I could think of that would fit our doctrine/beliefs without some major new revelation/scripture is having a HM figure standing next to HF when Christ returns and reports all those times. During the voicing we couldn’t add anything, but when we show a depiction of HF, could we not have a depiction of HM as well?? Would that be better? Would that be accurate? Would it be appropriate?

    I’m glad you grasp the position women are in. We actually cannot become like our Heavenly Father in many respects. We assume, however, that we can be like our Heavenly Mother, but we have no idea what that means. Wouldn’t it be nice to have “some major new revelation/scripture” to fill in that gaping chasm?

    BTW, a few months ago you said this:

    I think having a temple video with the physical appearance of the Mother in Heaven would be perfectly sound doctrinally. “Heavenly Parents” is a sound doctrine, and having a female presence with a Heavenly Father crosses no unspoken boundaries in my mind.

    Of course, you wanted her to be mute, but at least she was there. :/

  39. stephenchardy on June 28, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I enjoyed David Holland’s piece immensely, and would suggest that parsing it’s word too closely might be unfair. I don’t think that it was meant to be a polished finished work.

    OK, I will admit it. I had to look up “sacerdotal”. He used it twice. It means priestly, or of a priest.

  40. Aaron on June 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Green Lantern,

    I’m not sure I entirely agree with you. You say “This continuous revelation will not and cannot be forced by outside pressure from people and events.” Yet in this church we like to make the claim that policy practices, ceremonies and even doctrine can change with the times, of course as long as the brethren either feel comfortable doing it or are inspired. This does not mean that the brethren are buckling, it means either God is adjusting or He is the one planning it. I guess it would depend on the particular matter.

    You are right in the sense that something that huge will not happen unless there is a revelation, but that does not mean that the trials and pressures of this life the times and problems our leaders face, do not drive them to their knees in tears, which in turn can bring answers.

    Of course it cannot happen in the way Kate Kelly demanded it so arrogantly, disrespectfully and in a way that undermined (not that it can be stopped) the work of God, His oracles and disgraced His work (not that the Lord couldn’t use her still and that is not to say she was under the inspiration of heaven. God uses Satan to fulfill many things and clearly he is far from the spirit).

    I don’t believe females will ever hold the priesthood. There is no precedent for it and as David Holland and others point out we have so much theology against it. Let alone that from Adam and down to Moses (when the patriarchal order ended) and the Levites, to the New Testament Church, to the restoration, there is no such thing. Let alone all the other good arguments against it. Let alone what scripture says and what our prophets are saying. So I don’t want to get this confused. I am not alluding to female ordination and Kate Kelly when I say God could use outside forces.

    Lets look at polygamy. What we know is a huge chunk of the pioneers practiced polygamy, probably more than the brethren have thought. I think I heard Pres Hinkley say 3 to 5 percent and other GA’s say up to 15. We know it was ingrained in them and their families. We know a man by the name of Abraham Linclon came and outlawed plural marriage and that it was very unpopular in the U.S., perhaps one of Abes motives-political and possibly possessing unique character traits that would give him a firm resolve to include in his wide agenda and in my belief execute the Lords will by outlawing polygamy.

    We know the U.S. threatened the church and that the U.S. army was at our doorstep. We know some church leaders were incarcerated. Now I’m not suggesting that MEN felt pressure and buckled. I’m not suggesting that the brethren changed policy due to it. I’m suggesting that in some kind of way it was a factor. That the Lord had a hand in it prepared the saints and later gave them the revelation.

    I would add, lets pretend females may get the priesthood someday. The difference between the that and the polygamy is God entirely created the polygamy problem. The different forms feminist and human wants, insecurities, desires, etc are natural, especially in this age. The Lord may work around that on certain issues.

    How was pressure a factor with polygamy? Well, I’m convinced the prophets and apostles would have continued and possibly went to war with the government if as with Joseph an angel came with a sword and told them not to give in. I would probably also say that the pressure was not as much for getting them to conform, as much as it was to prepare them and the saints to faze it out.

    This of course begs the question than why did God command Joseph to implement it. Which if your interested I would share my thoughts on that more in depth. ( I suspect many out there are interested, though many are uncomfortable talking in this way) I certainly do not believe it was their Abrahamic test as some scholars have suggested, though that could have been a byproduct.

    The Lord could have found countless ways to require such a test without branding His church with a reputation that to many is embarrassing, very troublesome and often looking more like Warren Jeffs (not that Joseph or Brighams polygamy was anything of the sort or were they anything like Jeffs). Clearly, the Lord foresaw all this with such perfect clarity, that it was in some way why He did it-part of the reputation, mystic, intrigue, etc, marketing, sifting mechanism, take away from the priesthood restriction narrative some, though I think because the church is zillions of times greater than anyone can comprehend, the Lord had to bring it down a few notches and disguise it, especially before it’s coming out of obscurity, which I think we are about to see and have saw some.

    I don’t want to take away from eternal principle of plural marriage for those God has deemed suited for it or the other purposes for sealing wives and others wives we do not understand, but all these things could have waited just as they are now. Therefor there are other reasons God did it.

    As far as outside pressure, the last thing I would want to do is simplify it. it’s hard to compare one thing to another, because each situation has so many variables. My personal opinion about Kate Kelly is she was moved upon heavily by none other the adversary, but that it has been good for the church, not bad, especially in light of the thinking we need to do and the challenges Gods people will face in the future.

    Could Ms Kellys actions have benefited the church and could it lead for example to more sensitivity on certain womens sensitivities? It certainly can and probably will and has, not just on the issues she brought forth, but as the church prayerfully figures out how to deal with all the threats to the flock from different strains of ideology, intensifying cultural changes in coming days and how to tighten ship and strike a balance. I actually the church needed Kate Kelly, but now Kate must also think about her actions and whether she wants to recognize what she did.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Lord used her to really send a tsunami of thought stimulation to the church. We of all people know God is at work in the storms as He was in Zions Camp. Perhaps the brethren at the top needed this to open them up to other things, by the mere fact of being so shaken.

    He is very protective of His church and especially when He has went to great lengths to bring it out of obscurity, as well as her shaming it and undermining the brethren. But yet the Lord let her march on in her apostate defiance. He could have removed her out her place in her private life some time ago in some kind of way. I understand she is going to Africa soon. Perhaps for some divine purpose-do some thinking, let things cool, even if she continues in her ways.

    I guess it would be hard for anyone to agree with me if they did not have an overwhelming conviction of Gods hand upon the saints and just how long He has planned the Latter Day Glory and just how determined He is to bring it forth, much more than we think.

  41. Green Lantern on June 29, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Aaron #40 I’m not sure I entirely agree with you. You say “This continuous revelation will not and cannot be forced by outside pressure from people and events.”

    Aaron: I just want to clarify one thing, it was Elder James E. Faust who said “This continuous revelation will not and cannot be forced by outside pressure from people and events.” However, I do support the statement. I understand what you are saying in your post and I think you bring up some very good points. The only thing I would add for your consideration involves the Temple. Wilford Woodruff acquiesed on plural marriage when our ability to do work for the dead in the Temples was threatened. He indicated he had revelations in that regard in statements printed in the addendums to Official Declaration 1 (OD) in the Doctrine and Covenants. With granting the Priesthood to all races, OD 2 states “that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple.” Nothwithstanding the current concerns of the OW movement, the Temple worthy women of the Church have access to the ordinances of the Temple which is a great blessing.

    One sad aspect of those who “kick against the pricks” (see Acts 9:5; D&C 121:38) and go against the Lord’s “anointed” leaders is that “they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house” and “[t]hey shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation” (see D&C 121: 17 – 22).

    I would be interested in your thoughts regarding the origins of plural marriage. As you indicate, this is a rather dicey subject. I have respect for those that practiced it because I know I couldn’t do it.

  42. Jax on June 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Alison,

    I think you pointed out what I said a few months ago because you read my tone as confrontational when asking if that is what Cynthia wanted. What I was saying is that I think that such a thing would be fine. #31 adds Mary and Sarah to the list of righteous women who COULD be in the film, but since we don’t know WHAT they did it would all be speculative so I wouldn’t think adding them would be appropriate. The temple video shows only the most important people, those with major roles. So while the video itself talks about other people, like those who are selling their signs and tokens for money, nobody else is shown. Other than those shown we have no idea what anyone did. Where exactly would you suggest we add another person?? If some woman weren’t mute, what exactly would she say?

    I’d be thrilled with more scripture/revelation that gives my four daughters a greater understanding of their HM! But I’d like to not to be making stuff up in order to fill the void. Let’s wait for that truth, not make up our own.

  43. Alison Moore Smith on June 29, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Jax, where do you think the temple script originated?

  44. Jax on June 29, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Alison, I’m not sure how our script today compares with what Joseph did with the apostles in the upper room of the red brick store or the endowments in Nauvoo. I know in the last 50 years many of the items have changed to make them less severe and more … acceptable (?). Care to enlighten me??

  45. Alison Moore Smith on June 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Jax, given that the script wasn’t poofed down from God onto stone tablets (and even then!) and given that we’ve been able to modify it over the years (I was endowed in 1985 — quite a different ceremony then), I assume the same process could be used to accurately introduce women’s roles in a more developed manner. I assume Mother in Heaven was doing something during this whole thing. I’d rather see her knitting in a rocking chair than utterly absent and unnoticed. But I bet that’s not what she was doing…

    Please note that the changes didn’t occur in a vacuum with people waiting and hoping. People actually gave feedback and it was noted. I think that’s a good thing.

    As the culture changes, the kinds of ceremonies that are impactful on that culture change as well.

  46. Jax on June 29, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Alison, I also would be happy to see Her “knitting in a rocking chair”… haven’t I made that clear?

    But what would we “accurately” introduce when you admit we don’t know what she (or others) were doing? With our current knowledge, anything we add will be a speculation, other than perhaps just her existence.

  47. Alison Moore Smith on June 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Jax, almost the entire endowment script (meaning the human interaction) was speculative until it wasn’t. As I said, the same process used to get the script could be used to fill out the female gaps.

  48. Twila Warner on June 29, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I am less interested in interpreting the temple ceremony, which is fraught with the same sort of double speak/symbolism that is present in almost every talk or discussion of women’s roles in the church from our current leaders. I am very interested in the discussion of how the exercise of Priesthood has become increasingly restrictive and gendered overtime. I think Oaks actually reopened a crack in that door when he talked about women exercising priesthood in their church callings. As David said women used to prepare the sacrament, participate in the laying on of hands, and give healing blessings. That combined with the language of ordination and priests found in the opening Relief Society minutes gives me some hope that we have a place to start in seeking more parity in voice and more respect for women’s perspective and power as it relates to priesthood.

  49. anonymousacademic on June 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I am an outsider, and lurk only. But when I saw that David Holland is reading this, it seemed worth it–just once– to post. Dr. Holland, you remark, “It is important to note that concerns about gender—whether heterosexual, homosexual, or non-binary—are radically intensified by LDS theology. ”
    This will read as involving a pretty basic conflation or confusion, at least to much of the world outside LDS contexts. I understand that there are some especially orthodox LDS members for whom the question of to whom one is attracted is inseparable from the question of one’s gender, such that, for instance, a woman who is romantically attracted to other women is to that extent and for that reason not fully a woman (or less than a woman or somehow confused about her status as a woman). But to the extent you intend such interviews to address those outside the LDS contexts, it is perhaps worth it in the future to be a bit more careful about such things. For most of the 21st century world, a woman who is romantically attracted to other women is, for that reason, something other than entirely heterosexual, but she is not any the less a woman. Gender and sexuality: not the same thing.

  50. Cynthia L. on June 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    “The temple video shows only the most important people, those with major roles.”

    This sentence only puts into starker relief why the near-total absence of women is so heartbreaking.

  51. WI_Member on June 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I agree with Cynthia (#50).

    David, any insight as to why there is no female deity portrayed or even referenced in the temple ordinances? Given the Church’s hyper focus on gender essentialism, it’s odd (and painful) that there’s a gaping hole in the very place where we’re supposed to be learning the most.

  52. Jax on June 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Jax, almost the entire endowment script (meaning the human interaction) was speculative until it wasn’t. As I said, the same process used to get the script could be used to fill out the female gaps.

    But until that further information comes let’s not be rushing to change/add things that aren’t scripturally supported. This entire discussion on the videos started when Cynthia lamented that their was no addition of women into the video. My question is simply ‘what could have been added that would be a true representation?” The only think I could think of was a HM person standing next to HF, which I think would be great. Is there any other specific thing that can/should be added in your opinion? Do you want it to be Peter, James, John and Mary who approach Adam and Eve? When giving directions to Peter, James and John do you want the Savior to tell them “have the women bring forth trees.” Where in the video could more be added ?? Even if we recieved more info about the true role of women in the creation, is there a reason it is NEEDED? Is the current film inadequate? Or are we saying that it should be added just make make us feel better (which isn’t a bad reason, I just want to know if that is the rationale)?

  53. Aaron on June 29, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Green Lantern,

    I would probably have to disagree with President Faust here some as well. I think my earlier post makes that very clear, which does bring one thing to mind I would like to point out. When I was on my mission in 2007 a general authority had said something to say (I’ve encountered this a lot) that people took as gospel, except me. As a result of quietly and sincerely offering my difference of opinion to my companions, I not only had to get more flack as one who did not understand the authority that this man held, but from a few sources I was maligned. With that and a lifetime of experiences with leaders, our history and just thoughtfulness, I came to realize that not everything church leaders say is 100 percent correct and sometimes not helpful. One of these very missionaries now inactive.

    Let me make very clear, I am one of those who has an unusual love, respect and testimony for the divine calling of those put and molded for these high and holy offices, especially the 12 and First Presidency. It even annoys me when I see so many Mormons who don’t seem to make them, especially the prophet a bigger part of their life. After all, I believe that can be one of the best ways to draw close the spirit and be endowed with power and vision concerning the restoration.

    I would also say that there is good reason to share this though some. I mean if we could have only got Brigham to not say some of the stuff he said (true or not) we have less to deal with. Then who knows, maybe that’s not a good thing.

    I’ve met so many people who are so disappointed and sometimes upset or hurt at experiences they have had with bishops. Part of this is we pump peoples expectations sky high. Church talks used to refer to bishops more positively than they now do. I think Elder Packer was the last person I heard say “go to your loving bishop.” That might have been within the last 5 or 8 years, I think, but it used to be more common and it like so many other things led to even greater disappointment when people really had in their mind that these guys are literally the Saviors representatives on earth and would acting with love.

    Remember how often we used to talk about the “gift of discernment.” Ya, we still do, but it’s faded, because many leaders and people are getting more realistic about the humanity and flexibility in those God calls. That gift of discernment belief actually led me to some great disappointment.

    So I am with church leaders on a lot of stuff. Probably more than 90 to 95 percent of the church, but I am not one who bust out scripture with these all these narrow interpretations and quotes GA’s like God just spoke His will and it applies to all. I many have moved in this direction and it is a good one as long as it does not undermine the brethren and their sacred callings.

  54. Aaron on June 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Green Lantern,

    I think I have a post on my views on why God instituted polygamy posted somewhere else on this site in the comments section. I’ll go find it and post it here. I did mention some of the reasons (vaguely) why I believe God did, above in comment 40, but did leave one possibility out. This I believe would be more one of the more unlikely ones out of the more sensible and plausible theories.

    I would get into all the reasons I don’t think this is more one of the unlikely theories (among the plausible ones), but there is a possibility that one of the many (were dealing with God, so one reason does not cut it with me) reasons he instituted it (besides the more likely reasons I referenced above, which I believe there is a lot of truth to) is to familiarize His modern saints with it and subtly prepare them for a future day when it will practiced on earth.

    Assuming the 2nd coming is 50 to 150 years out (my guess is 40 to 80, but it could easily be otherwise) there is a good possibility that this world will and actually is going to go through radical change, even possibly on legalizing plural marriage.

  55. Aaron on June 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    “there is a good possibility that this world will and actually is going to go through radical change, even possibly on legalizing plural marriage.”

    At least move in that direction with many countries and in particular the U.S. and possibly even become more accepting of it. Look at gay marriage and all the filth the world now embraces. Polygamy surely cannot that be that unpopular in a future day, except by many evangelical Bible thumpers and those gullible they can stir against it.

  56. Cynthia L. on June 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Jax, you just dig yourself deeper every time. I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, but any reasonable goal I can imagine you having would be better accomplished by you just stopping.

    “Even if we received more info about the true role of women in the creation, is there a reason it is NEEDED?”

    Your argument is complete nihilistic. By this measure, is anything in the video needed? Are any of the scripture stories needed? Or any of the flowery expoundings of doctrine, for that matter? Is any knowledge of the Plan or creation needed? If we just had the text of the saving ordinances and covenants, we could perform those. Everything else is not strictly needed, right? Plenty of people live whole lives with no more than this all the time.

  57. Jax on June 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Cynthia, and millions have gone through temple endowments without any more female depiction than is current, and they find it a fantastic experience and among the happiest places on earth. I see no need to change what is already a great experience by adding make-believe peices to it. You’re sad that women didn’t have a greater role in the creation? Sorry. Get over it. It’s a bit late to change who did what. The amount of knowledge conveyed in the video has been sufficient to the Lord (in whose house it is shown) for decades. Seems really ungateful to complain about what He hasn’t conveyed yet.

  58. Aaron on June 29, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Eric,

    I make clear the reputation of the church is better now than ever, but I also believe part of the restoration was for a people to be shaped and refined. There could and I’m sure are other reasons for this, such as I’m convinced some kind of strategy God has in marketing the church. I have some good theories on that but that is a side story I won’t get to deep into.

    I do not believe leaders past or present themselves have tried to do anything but put a good face on the church, but what we want or pray for is not always in line with Him who created worlds without end. Lets face it, God has done all kinds of strange things.

    For example, does anyone really believe when God instituted polygamy and polyandry and commanded Joseph to even take a few very young wives that this would not be a massive image problem for the church? WHY would God do this most unnecessary thing knowing this? Surely He saw it as clear as day and its not like polygamy was a necessity in terms of the short term. Whether it is later for some or all and what Gods designs are I do not know. My best guess is at the least some will have to do it, which in the next life would be way different. God could have waited on that and not only do I believe the Lord foresaw it being outlawed by the Feds and a government army on our doorsteps, but I actually believe the Lord used the government to prepare the saints for its discontinuation. I simply cannot accept any other argument.

    To slip this in as well, another reason could be to subtly familiarize enough of the modern membership with polygamy that if in say 2060 it was legal and the prophet received a revelation that key people are to do this, that we would be far more ready, though I think it has more to do with my other thoughts.

    So then why did the Lord allow it, actually command it knowing the problems it would cause? I mean He wants to convert everyone right? Or does He? I’m not necessarily suggesting that was the reason for polygamy, but it could (which the other reasons would be in my eyes why He commanded it, not for any of the more principled reasons, at least more principled in human eyes) have fit in with other purposes of the Lord, while truly being a divine principle. Nevertheless, one that could have waited.

    You could say its a sifting mechanism. Some have suggested that was the Abrahamic test for them. I think that’s foolish. There were bigger reasons with God as it would effect His church greatly. You could even make an argument (I believe there is truth to this one) that this church is so great, so unbelievable, far greater than even the members can comprehend, that God had to bring it down a notch, at least for a period to disguise it. Were just moving into countries cautiously and respectfully as the “Mormons.” With a persecuted past and on some points a strange one. This could also be in harmony with the burst we are suppose to see as we head into the final moments towards the second coming. A David verse Goliath. A persecuted little American sect with a racist and bizarre past. Oh and I’m sure God saw Waren Jeffs when He commanded Joseph to take on many wives and no one is going to convince me otherwise.

    One thing on the restriction. The church would look way different if there never was one and ours was the only church without a racist streak, oh the BoA and BoM didn’t have some things, but still the restriction alone left out would have changed this church drastically.

    Clearly blacks and the priesthood is another one. Polygamy could have something to do with that as well, in creating a bit of a balance and diversion from solely having a racist past as our sole problem. After all, again, God did not have to threaten Joseph to take wives, but He did and that’s usually far more known than the restriction.

    I’m sorry for not being able to articulate this very well and I have many other thoughts on it. I will tell you this, while the brethren may have had some guess work that was flawed on the restriction of blacks, no one is going to convince me it was not the Lords will and I have my own feelings on that, but it really does not matter because no one knows for sure why. We do know all modern scripture has language that is tough for moderns and our obsession and sensitivity over race issues (I share a sensitivity to a great extent and understand it is hard for mortals to understand it’s possible Father in Heaven can do strange and hard things and still be a God whose love is all encompassing, especially when stirred by the likes of certain people. We see God doing much worse for those who opposed His plan when He cast them down to earth without bodies. And modern revelation makes clear all here will go a kingdom of glory. Yet we know all on this earth will receive a degree of glory and even the Telestial Kingdom fits the vague description of Christians definition of heaven.

    Sorry, because I get scattered brained Chris because I have so many thoughts here and some of these points are so sensitive and usually reserved for me or a very select few people I trust. As part of the Latter Day Glory, I will tell you I believe with ALL MY HEART God planned it. And no matter what, even members complaining and questioning the brethren of this church does not matter. It will roll forth because it is Gods kingdom and that is absolutely the truth. We see so many members buying a little to much into the arguments of the world. Hopping on causes and ideologies (not necessarily wrong if done in priority and properly) rather than holding there heads high with a firm confidence that they are part of the greatest cause on earth and regardless of the casualties it goes forward. This to me is one bothersome thing among many about OW! It so undermines the grandeur of the Latter Day Glory and hurts peoples faith.

    The Garden Of Eden in Miss. The continents separating and the Lord preserving this land to a great extent as a result, after the flood. The Reformation! The flood of gentiles into America, not to forget the Jaredites and Lehi and those OTHERS He brought ( I believe that also was planned, and that God had as one thing the DNA argument in mind) the founding fathers, the constitution, the most powerful country the world has ever seen (as the BoM prophecies) Modern Israel next to a dead sea, the seed of Joseph pushing peoples to the ends of the earth and presiding over Israel, (Joseph Smith was a descendant of Ephraim) to Moroni burying the plates where he did, to the Smith family being moved from Vermont through crop failure (divine design) to where God buried the plates.

    What I’m trying to paint and no one fully could understand and see just how far God has gone from before the world to plan the Latter Day Glory and Second Coming and crucial aspects of the plan of salvation is that it has been far more planned than we can even grasp. I suspect and actually believe when (before) God created the world He knew right where the Garden Of Eden would be and right where the church would be headquartered in the last days in the Salt Lake Valley.

    So, with this I do not believe the ODDS and the image problem the church has faced has been by coincidence. It has been of the most EXTREME NATURE. Not that your against this Chris, but if you are, you or the prophet could not convince me otherwise. If I was God that is EXACTLY how I would plan it and revel in it! Oh and the last thing I would do is COMPLETELY bow to human arguments.

    He did not have to curse Laman and Lemuel in the way He did, knowing and I’m convinced, Him being the one who made sure that got in and then raising that record up to have controversial things from the human standpoint, along with the Book Of Moses and the Book Of Abraham which God brought to Joseph through Michael Chandler. How fitting of all the Abrahamic faiths, Modern Israel has the only book written by Father Abraham.

    So He will do things in such a way that is not bowing to us and that creates an atmosphere where miracles will shine forth. After all, your God right? What do some dinky (dinky to Him at least) odds do other than prove the work is true, divine, EMPOWER much of the membership and create a growing narrative in the world. It is really getting peoples attention as something great.The underdog of all underdogs. A work so against all odds that as it progresses, that in and of itself will suggest a power and a divine sanctioning far beyond what we could comprehend along with other fruits and signs.

    The Second Coming I think is supposed to be proceeded by a kind of a climactic explosion. This could be another thing God is shooting for as He has planned the restoration and its coming forth out of obscurity for longer than we can comprehend. It’s a work in progress and I simply MARVEL and I KNOW IT IS GODS HOLY WORK! It was meant to have GREAT odds and challenges.

    People like Kate Kelly are simply taking away from this! As far as the imperfections of the leaders and the clergy not being full time it’s a wonder the church is as strong as it is. That is largely due to the spirit and Gods hand upon it. Most of us have had experiences with leaders that don’t get it. I hope to see a greater perfecting of the work, mentality and the system, but in the meantime I see the greatness of the restoration, the amazing goodness of such a high percentage of its members, the light, etc and I am leaning on the constant witness of the Holy Ghost, Gods living reality and the atonement of the Savior. Truly, this work is true and God really does answer prayers.

  59. p on June 29, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Jax #57, please read #36.

  60. Aaron on June 29, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I gotta be honest, this nitpicking over little details on what is perfectly equal according to what one might think is equal is getting old. At what point does a person, whether coping with the death of a wife and child, overwhelmed by the suffering of people who have severe mental illness, nations that seem destined to forever suffer and lack ( continents, Africa, North Korea being greatly so) not just put it in Gods hands and say “even though this is a little confusing and challenging I trust you God.”

    I only say that because I believe those of you who carry this on so persistently will damage many members and in that sense hurt the church. Otherwise I would I would say continue on. Your hurting yourselves. Can anyone who has felt Gods love and hand, received countless blessings and witness affirming the restoration, really go this far in feeling so void? Or is this possibly linked to other personality problems you have, perhaps of which your not fully conscious?

    If you have not received a witness of this work, been born again and know you have special access to the spirit then I think your doing something wrong and its not hard to see what your doing. Some of you like Kate Kelly say you have faith (she by and large saying that for manipulative purposes) but your actions and consistent words show otherwise.

    I believe you who persist have been tricked by the world and a lack of ability to see an eternal perspective. Yet you act like it’s the Lord and the church that has caused this perceived lack. If you really had a testimony, would you not believe you have far more than anyone else in the world, yet you complain at what you think you lack? and what you think is inequality?

    How do you know that in the end you would not be glad God has done things the way He has? How do you know you will not shout with eternal praises of His wisdom and ways? How do you know He is not partially reserving priesthood ordination for men partially for the majesty and glory of womanhood? HOW DO YOU? He is surely protective of His spouse or spouses. I think few females are looking at this VERY narrowly!

    And by the way, why did God rob me of of the blessing of motherhood? Why can I not be the heart of the home? Why can I cannot be closer to little ones? Why do you get the privilege of baring children and bonding with them in such a special way, if you so choose. Why? It’s just not fair and its just not EQUAL! How could got have done this?

    What you could do is have the love and humility of Samuel The Prophets mom, Hannah, and desire to raise children for the Lord or at least give Him that kind of offering-your total faith and devotion.

  61. p on June 29, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Aaron #60, please read #36.

  62. Miriam on June 29, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I would like to comment on what David Elliot (#7) calls Brother Holland’s “money quote.”
    “The idea is that just as men become father’s through a woman’s divinely endowed maternal capacity, so women become endowed with priesthood power through that same divine marriage. Through such a marriage, men and women can both be parents and they can both be priests—and thus through that relationship they progress toward godliness—even as each retains certain complementary functional distinctions, such as the fact that men are responsible to hold priesthood office.”

    This seems to be how both Elder Ballard (April 2013 conference) and Elder Oaks (this April) recently defined the doctrine of priesthood in relationship to women, and as a way to explain why women are not ordained. For many this complimentary “doctrine” reveals a simple and beautiful symmetry that explains away any experience of pain, sadness, or confusion any women in the church may experience (she doesn’t have enough faith, she doesn’t understand the doctrine, she isn’t lifting where she stands). I admit it sounds like a true oneness and companionship—you both help each other to receive a blessing and opportunity….

    But in our lived experience this “doctrine” raises more questions for me than it answers. Forgetting the many exceptions to the general “ideal” (infertility, singleness, divorce, LGBT, women are mothers and men are fathers outside of priesthood authority) we still run into huge questions in an LDS marriage sealed in the temple. Although my husband was pretty involved in my becoming a mother, I can’t argue against the seven years of sacrifice from my body to gestate, deliver and nurse my four children (and the monthly cramps preparing for the possibility) being distinct from his contribution. I understand the idea that my body’s maternal capacity gave my husband the gift of fatherhood. It is beautiful-we are both parents together. Now that he has that gift he is privilege to all the blessings, privileges, and sacrifices of that holy responsibility. We are true partners—we both cook, clean, read bedtime stories, snuggle, teach, work, provide, nurture, and experience the great love and blessings of being parents together. Sure we compliment one another—he whistles, I sing, he can help the kids reach higher branches, I’m a softer pillow. We bring our individual strengths and weaknesses, our distinct personalities into our marriage, our relationship, and our family, and we are united. Some would say our LDS theology goes so far as to say women not only make it possible for men to be fathers, but the added step of presiding, being the head of the home, or even as my mission president’s wife told me, “to be the final word when you just can’t agree (because he’s not just a father—he’s also a priest).”

    And now we get to the other half of that beautiful symmetry in our lived experience here on the earth, the part about both being priests. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if that were true, if a wife and mother could lay her hands on her husband and bless him and join together to bless their children? If perhaps performing the ordinance that signifies our rebirth and the baptism of fire was the special right of the father, to complement the physical birth through a woman, yet the mother as a priestess was the witness or joined in the circle? What would it mean to be priests together, as we are parents together, to be a full partner in the sacerdotal aspects of family life? Wouldn’t that be lovely?

    Moving to the ward and stake, which serve to become a family for all (and here isn’t the point to be mother/father/sister/brother to all, even those not in the general/ideal scenario) the lack of symmetry is even starker. Where are the women who are priestesses because the blessings of the temple endow them with that power? The ward is full of priests, of fathers. We have a father of the ward. Is there a compliment, a mother? We have a high priest—where is the high priestess? I can understand saying that ordination isn’t necessary, because it’s a gift that comes from divine marriage. Why then are we not able to exercise that gift, as fathers fully exercise their responsibilities and blessings or fatherhood, in addition to their duties as priests.

    Is it so hard to understand why women and men are asking questions, why that nice explanation doesn’t really explain anything, why saying “but you are equal, we do care about your voice,” doesn’t really sink in because it feels like nice words without the symmetrical experience? I’ve served as a RS and Primary president. Ask any Primary president in the church if she feels like she has a true complementary equal voice as she tries to staff the Primary. Ask anyone who has been disciplined in the church if they felt the influence of a priestess was relevant. Ask Chieko Okazaki who remarked in her interview with Greg Prince that sometimes the leaders get so busy they forget we’re here. Ask my 9 and 11 year old daughters who ask me why the Cubs go every week and whether a girl could ever become a prophet. We may have the doctrine correct, as Brother Holland describes, that women and men give each other the opportunity and blessing to be both parents and priests, but if that’s true, we are absolutely not living up to our privileges. And that lack leaves a lot of women wondering if our value transcends our body’s ability to bear children and make a man a father. We know it does, we feel it from our Heavenly Parents, from our interactions in the world, from our service in the church. But do we feel like equal and full companions as priests, in sharing our voice and perspectives in the decision making in our ward families, in blessing our families with our husbands? Not yet. And this leads to asking questions. And when asking the questions in the only way that seemed to be getting attention is bad—it’s pretty discouraging.

  63. DP on June 30, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Miriam #62. Brilliant.

    If men can fully be fathers because of women, why can’t women be fully priestesses because of men?

  64. Hedgehog on June 30, 2014 at 2:10 am

    “And now we get to the other half of that beautiful symmetry in our lived experience here on the earth, the part about both being priests. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if that were true, if a wife and mother could lay her hands on her husband and bless him and join together to bless their children? If perhaps performing the ordinance that signifies our rebirth and the baptism of fire was the special right of the father, to complement the physical birth through a woman, yet the mother as a priestess was the witness or joined in the circle? What would it mean to be priests together, as we are parents together, to be a full partner in the sacerdotal aspects of family life? Wouldn’t that be lovely?”

    Amen.

  65. David Elliott on June 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Miriam, your comment reflects my feelings about the quote I cited in #7. Although Brother Holland may not have written those words with this intent, I felt his ideas might provide a foundation for progressive resolution of the questions being sincerely asked.

    Also, I was taken with the concept that men become fathers through the maternal capacity of women. I hadn’t heard that before.

  66. Cynthia C on June 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    One day while sitting in the temple, I was struck with how historically and symbolically accurate the narrative was in portraying the timing of the emergence of patriarchy–when hunting and gathering and horticulture transitioned to agriculture. Perhaps that section of the ceremony is meant to be more historically descriptive than doctrinally prescriptive. After reading David’s piece and some of the comments, my sense is that the temple is a place that gives us hints of how to wrestle with culture and faith as we try to learn what blessings God desires to bless us with.

  67. p on June 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    “I was struck with how historically and symbolically accurate the narrative was in portraying the timing of the emergence of patriarchy–WHEN HUNTING AND GATHERING AND HORTICULTURE transitioned to agriculture. Perhaps that section of the ceremony is meant to be more historically descriptive than doctrinally prescriptive.”

    Keenly perceptive. There it is, right in front of us! Wonderful.

    Cynthia, please read #36.

    Apparently even oblique reference to Neandertals has wide utility in Mormon culture.

    If you’re not sub-Saharan African, you, Brothers & Sisters, are Neandertal. Nucleotides write their own scripture. (There were no blue eyes or [blow-dried] blonde hair in the Garden of Eden.) Symbolism is a difficult concept for some Saints to understand. “Is sign language the real language of Paradise?” (Hugo Ball) (Hugo Ball [22 February 1886 – 14 September 1927] German author, poet and one of the leading Dada artists.)

  68. Meh on June 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    BY would naturally tell you that if you had eyes to see and ears to hear, Heavenly Mother is already in the temple. But he was eventually rejected and thrown under the bus for teaching that doctrine as we only believe the plurality of God that starts with God and ignores any prior or subsequent diety.

  69. Alison Moore Smith on June 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Jax:

    But until that further information comes let’s not be rushing to change/add things that aren’t scripturally supported.

    Rushing? Really?

    This entire discussion on the videos started when Cynthia lamented that their was no addition of women into the video. My question is simply ‘what could have been added that would be a true representation?”

    Jax, now long did it take us to get the entire endowment ceremony? Nearly two centuries later, maybe it’s OK for women to (meekly and submissively, to be sure) mention that we’d like to have a model of our own. Maybe. But, yea, probably not. I’ll go darn some socks now.

    Even if we recieved more info about the true role of women in the creation, is there a reason it is NEEDED?

    The church seems to think that having a divine model is a good thing for men. Maybe it would be just as valuable for women. Remember, Jax, women cannot be like our Heavenly Father because, you know, women.

  70. Jax on June 30, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Alison,

    I suppose the best way to describe how ridiculous it seems to me for someone to complain about the temple ceremony is to think of a child who gets a fantastic gift from a parent, lets say a bicycle, but complains that it doesn’t have a bell on it. Rather than just pure joy at getting the gift, it is finding something missing to complain about. Or someone providing a free catered lunch for you and your family and friends, but complaining they forgot the butter for the rolls. Seems really ungrateful to say, “well, we’re grateful for what you’ve given us, but why won’t you give us what WE want?” That’s what I get from Cynthia when she says she was sad to see the temple video. Rather than go to the temple and find joy in the ordinances, vicarious work, information/lessons, etc, she sees something that hasn’t been given and mopes.

  71. David Elliott on June 30, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Jax, try imagining the temple endowment video with all the gender roles reversed. How would you feel?

  72. Mary Ann on June 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    WI_Member #51 – “David, any insight as to why there is no female deity portrayed or even referenced in the temple ordinances? Given the Church’s hyper focus on gender essentialism, it’s odd (and painful) that there’s a gaping hole in the very place where we’re supposed to be learning the most.”

    I’m not David, but I feel that the temple makes it very obvious why female deity is not portrayed. Whenever men and women act jointly in the temple (I’m thinking of at least 2 situations), women are literally hidden, even though they are an essential part of the process. When I first went through the temple, I finally started to understand why we don’t know very much about HM. I suspect she has been part of a lot more “Priesthood” things than we realize, even if the only face we’ve been seeing is Heavenly Father’s. There is a lot more to the priesthood (and whatever funky rules must apply) than we are comprehending in this lifetime.

  73. Pj on July 1, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Just a thought wrt #24 and prior comments re anointing to “become” priests and priestesses “hereafter:”

    Since the men who are given this promise have already been ordained to the Mechizedek Priesthood, is it not possible – or even probable – that the Priesthood they hold is *not* what the anointing is about? Could it be that the promised “priest-” and “priestess-hood” is something different altogether? I’m not anyone making arguments about women and the priesthood can honestly claim to fully understand what “priesthood” really is. I know I don’t.

  74. Pj on July 1, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Word missing from last post: “I’m not SURE anyone making arguments…”

  75. Ellie on July 1, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Jax: you’ve made your points clearly. But you cannot see the pain of not being. We all serve in the temple because we love the Lord. We love the temple for many reasons. We find it baffling that you don’t care that women are missing in temple narratives; that you feel women aren’t even NEEDED according to you. You are not discerning real sorrow and pain, nor are you understanding needs unmet. You can’t even acknowledge these needs. I invite you to spend this month of July praying and pondering on these things. Ask Heavenly Father to help you discern what these women are saying, and ask Him to help you understand. Perhaps your fast this coming Sunday could include seeking such wisdom from Him.

    What you are saying is not wrong. Sadly, it isn’t whole. So much of scripture and doctrine leaves women out. This makes us no less grateful for our scripture and doctrine. But they aren’t whole. And we feel that loss righteously, and wonder why we can’t seek more wholeness. You may not notice these things—most don’t. But for those who do and sorrow for needs not met, we do not need your admonition “get over it.” Where is your patience, long-suffering, and love unfeigned? Where is your compassion? Your bearing our burden? Your empathy? You willingness to be taught how we feel, and why we feel these things?

    We’d rather you’d walk with us and talk with us, rather than preach at us, and put our needs and feelings down. We’d rather you listen and hear and feel. We’ve had millennia of condescension and preaching and unmet needs. If you can’t hear us, then at least leave us alone.

  76. kw on July 1, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Miriam, #62,

    What you’ve said is very interesting, and it puts things in a light that I hadn’t thought of before.

    What I hope you and everyone else in the church (including myself) can add to either this thought or any question or opinion about the church is let the Lord’s will be done, and let it be taught to us by the Prophets. Your thought is nothing new to the leaders of this church, so whether whether the gears of change are moving slowly or not moving at all, the Lord is behind it, and the leaders doing His will.

    I’m also sure you realize that saying “asking questions in the only way that gets attention is bad” is a straw man, and is not at all what is in play here.

  77. Brittany on July 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Mary Ann, #72 even though I wasn’t the one who originally asked, I appreciate your comments. I hadn’t put to and two together on that, and found it really enlightening. The Women in the Scriptures blog has a fantastic post called “The Spiritual Symbolism of Veils” that I think adds a lot to that perspective, and I highly recommend looking that up to anyone who seeks more understanding.

    I loved the original article.

  78. William Schryver on November 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I regret that my comment on this post comes so long “after the fact.” Even so, I feel motivated to respond to a statement in one of the early comments (#5) above:

    “How is it possible that the LDS leadership could not have foreseen a women’s insurrection coming long ago …?”

    Dr. Holland cites the results of the Pew Study in relation to the question at hand, wherein 90% of the women in the Church disclaim any interest in priesthood ordination. That being the case (and my anecdotal impression of “things as they really are” in the Church is unquestionably in accord with the survey’s results), I would dispute that there is any such “women’s insurrection” about which Church leadership should have been particularly concerned. The “ordain women movement” and its rather vocal supporters constitute a minuscule fraction of the LDS membership — one whose sympathies quite often extend far afield of this particular political touchstone; sympathies that not only fail to resonate with the overwhelming majority of Church members, but which that overwhelming majority consider to be hostile to the progress of the Kingdom and the pursuit of Zion.

Leave a Reply