lds feminism matters

Hi. I’m Hilary.

As a feminist who has grown up in the church, I have spent the last few weeks glued to social media and furiously tapping out talking points and rebuttals in response to the news of Kate Kelly’s excommunication. Sometimes it’s easy to become so caught up in discussing who did what and when and how that we forget to discuss the ‘why’.

Let’s talk about where some of these concerns are coming from in the first place, shall we?

I’m not an evil man eater or anything, I just find many of the cultural and organizational practices of the church appalling. Things like the chewed up stick of gum, licked cupcake, protect-the-men-from-your-shoulders type stuff. And inequalities in budgets for YM/YW, and the fact that women ONLY have a voice inasmuch as the presiding men allow, and that it took so long for someone to wake up and recognize that women *could* actually pray in conference. I don’t like that my value in the church is tied almost exclusively to being a wife and mother, while men are husbands, fathers, leaders, and breadwinners. I don’t like that men handle 100% of the church finances (no wonder YM get such a chunk!). I don’t like that disciplinary courts consist entirely of men who are coming from a position of privilege inside the church. Do you understand what this means when a woman is raped, but the man claims it was consensual? It’s complete roulette, and far too often the bishop decides she needs to repent, too, because he doesn’t understand that erring on the side of repentance victimizes her twice.

The church is appallingly favorable of men, and women have been trying to raise these concerns for decades! But Kate Kelly’s simple act of recognizing the powerful role of the priesthood and prayerfully deciding to ask boldly, but politely, if women might be able to receive it, too, has done far more to open these conversations than any other effort.

These things NEED to be talked about, even if they are inconvenient or embarrassing. They need to be talked about openly and respectfully outside of male-only meetings and private councils.

If Kate Kelly had gone screaming onto Temple Square with picket signs, she wouldn’t have a following and no one would bat an eye about them hauling her off.

But she simply asked. They could have let her in. Why not? There were seats. It’s not tantamount to ordination. Their refusal to so much as offer her an empty seat in the tabernacle last October only highlighted the problem. THAT was when other feminists like Joanna Brooks, who had initially viewed OW less favorably, got upset and decided that they wanted to make their voices heard, too.

Kate’s crime wasn’t organizing and boldly asking, it was putting the church in a position to embarrass itself.

And, don’t forget, she isn’t just a human rights activist. She’s a lawyer, too. She worked hard to follow to.the.letter. any guidelines she had access to. Which brings up another inequality; women have no official access to the the biggest book of rules, the Church Handbook of Instruction 1. We’re told to play by rules that we don’t even have access to.

Maybe she went against the spirit of the law, but if this is the case, it’s time for the spirit of the law to shift away from giving men their special place of privilege and toward a place of equality and respect for both genders.

Frankly, I have four little girls to worry about, so I’m out. I don’t want to bring them up in that environment, and I can’t work so hard to believe in a gospel that would so actively repress 50% of the membership.

But Kate Kelly? She’s actually faithful. She believes, and she wants to work it out. I walked away, but she stayed and is trying to open these conversations.

And she’s the one deemed unworthy of membership? I know apostates. Kate is not an apostate.

The fact is this: the leadership of this church is failing women. Not all women, but far too many women.

And how dare Kate Kelly organize a peaceful gathering of women to walk to temple square and politely ask to join a half-full meeting? Really? This is the excommunicable offense?

That is why this is so personal to more than Kate Kelly. That is why she got over 1000 letters of support from people both inside and outside of OW.

If you don’t like what Kate Kelly has done, there is something you can do about it. Take it into your church life and make sure you are actively talking about and hearing the needs of women in the church.


A Facebook discussion on Ordain Women

Last week a friend of mine posted her Ordain Women profile, and I decided to share it as a way of supporting something important to her, and also because I’ve been rather disturbed to see the harsh online commentary regarding the women of this organization, and also because I have appreciated the dialog their efforts have opened regarding the role of women in the LDS church.

I wondered if it might start some discussion, but had no idea that it was about to turn into a 2 1/2 day marathon of processing perspectives and thoughtful commentary on LDS feminism, doctrine, and history.

I’ve decided to post it here with changed names (yay trees!) as a way of sharing the discussion with a wider audience while protecting the privacy of participants. Please forgive the rough formatting, casual typing, and bountiful typos that are common in facebook discussions. 🙂

My friend (who is a member of OW) is “CHESTNUT”

[insert link to ordain women profile here]

I’ve definitely seen and experienced some of what she talks about at various wards I’ve been in, but I really believe that it is more a manifestation of old-fashioned ideas being carried through by older men (and women). When the ward is working without those individual beliefs coming through I don’t see any of it. To me, it’s just not an issue that giving women the Priesthood solves.
March 18 at 12:56pm

I understand. Ordination isn’t something that has been of personal concern to me, either.

My interest is that I feel strongly that it is important to hear and work to understand the perspectives of others, and Ordain Women has been a woefully misunderstood group.

It also doesn’t hurt that the author, Chestnut, is a friend who I very much respect.
March 18 at 1:14pm

I think there are multiple ways to address inequality in the church outside of ordination. They are however sociologically complex and I don’t see anyone having an organized conversations about those processes.

I do think ordination and the PH do limit the positions women can serve in. For me the largest issue is that the voice of women is often qualified and under valued even by women themselves.
March 18 at 1:17pm

Sadly this group of women don’t see their own worth in the sight of God. I’m afraid all they are doing is causing more rift in Gods church than benefit. To me this seems to be something Satan himself is enjoying to see. Some roles in life men have and some women, we are different and unique that is what makes our world work. Through scripture we learn that. This group of women are not leaders or advocates for women, they are selfish, thinking of only of themselves, they are not in tune with God. If they were, they would know his immense Love for them and their divine role in this life. I feel sorry for them.
March 18 at 2:01pm

I am wondering if you read my post? Because I have an unwavering belief in my worth and my standing before God. And this is anything but selfish. I find it interesting that the same arguments were used to prevent women from voting. I however assume most women do not feel that their right to vote is a selfish or demeaning act.
March 18 at 2:03pm

Spruce, I have the great honor of knowing some of these women. In no way are they selfish, unrighteous, or ignorant of their own worth or the divine nature.

It seems just as likely to me that Satan is enjoying watching so many of the saints turn to harsh judgement rather than understanding.
March 18 at 2:20pm

I did read it. its clear there are some self esteem issues.
March 18 at 2:10pm

do you believe in doctrine?? if you do, then you believe in the reasons why men have the priesthood and women don’t. do you believe in the gospel? then you stand by what the church teaches. Willow I’m sure your friends are very unselfish in many ways, but that is not what is being portrayed in this scenario. its hard to understand how people can’t see what is taking shape.
March 18 at 2:14pm

Spruce, are you aware that you just informed Chestnut, the author and subject of this profile, *directly* that it is clear to *you* that she has self esteem problems?

…Based exclusively on that one profile.

…After she told you personally and unequivocally of her unwavering belief in her worth and standing before God.
March 18 at 2:19pm

I do believe the doctrine. I do also believe in continuing revelation. I also believe that human bias can impact our ability to see light and truth. I do believe that God wanted blacks to have the PH well before 1978 . I also believe that the scriptures call us to seek and to knock.
March 18 at 2:18pm

Self-esteem issues…It’s called saying what one believes. I applaud Chestnut for being brave and for others who support her and accept her belief that women should be ordained. Just because someone believes that things can be different doesn’t believe that they don’t believe in God. Martin Luther stood up for his beliefs which were different than Catholic doctrine and that changed the world. Self-esteem issues…I don’t think so.
March 18 at 2:20pm

willow I have an opinion and am willing to share it with whomever. this isn’t just about women in Ordain Women, they need to understand this affects every women who is a member of the church. this isn’t a joke and I don’t take this movememt lightly. I love this gospel and I fervently stand by its teachings!!
March 18 at 2:20pm

I just have to pipe in here . . and I hope I don’t upset or offend anyone by what I type-I apologize in advance if I do. I personally do not have any desire for women to receive the Priesthood. There are various reasons for that that I don’t feel like going into right now. What I really wanted to say is that I understand the frustration of women in the church not feeling like we, as women, have as much influence as we should in the church. I have been very blessed to be in great wards where I truly feel like the women leaders have just as much influence as the men. . . .but I have also seen wards where the women are “just there.” And that’s not ok. The unequal financial supports for young women vs young men and for cub scouts vs. activity day girls is very frustrating to me. I hope this group and the church as a whole can come to some sort of understanding with each other.
March 18 at 2:21pm

IF women could be ordained, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all would CHOOSE to be ordained.
March 18 at 2:21pm

Cottonwood- I think that is a great comment
March 18 at 2:22pm

Spruce- I am genuinely interested in your perspective, I just hope you can share it without the personal attacks of character.

What is it that you see taking shape? What is your fear?
March 18 at 2:29pm

Cottonwood, I appreciate you commemt as well, and I believe our role in this life is raising our children. Raising our boys to be worthy men and priesthood holders. How much time is being wasted on this cause that should be spent the family. I am In The YWs organization in my ward and we have enough funds to do the things we want. If that’s the issue, then lets make a movement to insist on equal money for all groups.
March 18 at 2:32pm

If our primary role is to raise priesthood holders, I’m out of luck.
March 18 at 2:34pm

Willow, me too.
March 18 at 2:35pm

I just refuse to think that my only job is to raise boys to be good PH leaders. So for me that would be at least another generation away. I think the day I realized how silly that idea is. And why we teach it is beyond my understanding. And the fact that we even have the phrase “raise good future PH holders” is very problematic.
March 18 at 2:40pm

Spruce, I do appreciate the spirit of what you are saying, and it could work well in an Ideal World ™, but given the complexities of family life and modern life and trials of fertility and uncertainty, the beautiful image of a mother and father playing their roles in perfect tandem and unity of purpose is simply not a reality being lived by a huge portion of families, today.
March 18 at 2:40pm

Chestnut-That is not your only job. Never has been. There is much more to being women than just being moms. We do so much more than that. You know that though, I’m preaching to the choir now.
March 18 at 2:40pm

I just don’t believe that it is an either or situation. I do not think that institutional equality detracts from my motherhood. I just dont believe that mothers are more valuable to raising kids than dads.

I just dont think my ability to vote, to read, to drive, or to hold the PH or have a voice in the organization makes me less of a mother.
March 18 at 2:42pm

We need to stop embracing impotence in women as a kind of goodness, much in the way that we regard children as good—innocent, powerless, and harmless. We strip women of their strength and autonomy in the gender narrative and then ask men to take care of them. This may create an ethic of dependency and deference in women, and therefore potentially less overt conflict in marriages. However it does not, in my experience, create strong people, strong families, or passionate, stable marriages.
March 18 at 2:43pm

Here I go. . . . making more comments when I should probably just keep my mouth shut. . . . . . . I never really thought much about women’s roles before I had a daughter of my own and she started asking me questions about why her brother gets to do things she doesn’t get to do. . . and I had a really hard time answering those questions. I think in most things women and men are equal and it’s hard for me to watch society try to change that. Even just today I had facebook friends telling me that little boys shouldn’t carry my little pony lunchboxes because that’s just them asking to get bullied-but you would never tell a girl not to carry a mlp lunch box. Why is that? That really bothers me. . . . And now I feel like I’m just babbling and going completely off topic . . . so I’ll just be quiet now.. . . . .
March 18 at 2:46pm

Don’t read into it so much ladies… one of the main roles were her, look it up. Eve, giving birth, rearing children that love the Lord…. you get the idea. For boys, yes PH leaders, for girls, supporting that role. Opposition in all things. I disagree with OW and this movement, I’ve said it. I won’t back down from it and I’m sure neither with any of you who support it. I guess we’ll see what happens in the end
March 18 at 2:45pm

Spruce- I choose to belive that God gives us all talents and gifts, and I choose to not limit mine or my girls, but I also defend the right of all women to be afforded the right to do as they please, and I think it is sad that Mormon women are not in the front of the movement to make care taking part of the GDP. If we really do value motherhood than I think we need to actually value it, and fight for maternity leave, and economic polices that make motherhood a safe place to be, not the #1 cause of poverty around the world.
March 18 at 3:00pm · Edited · Unlike · 1

An anonymous comment from a friend:

“The last time I saw my mother alive, my brother in law asked if I would stand in on a blessing he was going to give her. I told him I’m sure that wouldn’t fly considering my stance on the church and what my own personal ‘standing’ would be.

“I don’t consider myself a Mormon anymore and will this year have my name removed from the records. I drink, I smoke a cigar occasionally, I curse, I take the Lord’s name in vain, yet somehow, the local Stake President gave special clearance for me to participate. I did not do the actual blessing, but did stand there with my hands on my mom’s head.

“I thought to myself, “how is it, that here are my two sisters, stalwart members of the church, tithing payers, temple goers, doing everything they can to live according to what they believe to be right, NOT able to participate in this?!?! What kind of church thinks it’s okay to allow someone like me to participate in a priesthood ordinance while they stood by and watched. I haven’t asked them how they felt, maybe it will come up eventually, maybe not.

“I just felt it wasn’t right that they could not bless their own mother yet I could still be included.”
March 18 at 2:58pm

Also from him:

“then I thought of all the single mothers in the church. What of them? should they not have the ‘blessing of the priesthood’ in their own homes just because they are single? or is that their burden in life because of perceived unfaithfulness?”
March 18 at 3:00pm

I think men should get pregnant along with the mother of their children.

And I can’t imagine being a successful human without the influence of [my wife]. I hope she feels the same way.
March 18 at 3:00pm

I think it is absurd that something I will spend less than 3% of my life doing (being pregnant) would eliminate me from having a voice in any organization. It is not an either or proposition. I also wish I could pee standing up.
March 18 at 3:01pm

One more comment from Mr Anonymous:

“should they be ordained? only if they want to. I know there are plenty of women who are satisfied with the roles they’ve been given and will continue to ‘just obey’ what their leaders tell them. But for those who want to exercise/ act in the name of God as it were, and do so with steadfastness and praise to God, why not?! Is the balance of the churches teachings so delicate that letting people be equal (who are all equal in the sight of God) will destroy the church as a whole?”
March 18 at 3:02pm

Here is an academic paper that I had published last fall. The belief index of the mormon feminists should be of interest to those who think they are apostate.…/_Im_a_Mormon_Feminist_How…
March 18 at 3:10

Willow I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your salons! There is always so much good conversation and so many ideas. I wish I were with you all in person — it would make it so much easier! I have to say that I have really appreciated the OW movement because it has made me take a step back and think about how and what I feel on the subject and it has made me study the issue and develop a strong testimony on my role as a woman and on the Priesthood. To me, mortal life is all about doing things successfully on Earth that can only be done on Earth and learning and growing as much as we can *and helping each other to do these same things*. To me, everything in the Church points toward helping each other. God is efficient and has given men and women separate ways to accomplish these tasks. By dividing the work, all the work gets done and we get a more individualized education. Nowhere in this perspective do I see the women’s side of things as being merely a supporting role. I think it is only through imperfect mortal eyes that the Priesthood is seen as something that elevates one person over another or that requires drone females to sustain it (sustain in the sense of feeding it and keeping it alive, not the other kind).
March 18 at 3:15pm

Sorry, this is turning out way too long! BUT, I also wanted to say to Chestnut that I love what you said about women undervaluing their own voices. I have felt it in myself and see it so often in the other women in the church. I am now woefully late for something, so I can’t say more, but I think you have hit on an important issue.
March 18 at 3:23pm

Oh! And I’m curious if anyone has information on EQ vs. RS budgets, because in my experience the RS has a ton of money and the EQ has about $50 for the year, but I don’t know if that’s just where I have lived.
March 18 at 3:24pm

I really appreciate and agree with Sycamore’s and Cottonwood’s comments
March 18 at 5:58pm

Well said Sycamore and Cottonwood.
March 18 at 7:49pm

It’s interesting.. A few things keep coming to mind as I consider the different thoughts of OW participants.

As young women, we are reminded every week that each and every individual has great worth and is divine in nature. We are taught the virtue of good works and knowledge, encouraged to pursue them with faith, and to have the integrity to choose our actions and accept our accountability according to our conscience.

Our interpretation of these values may differ within the context of our unique lives, but these very values which are so thoroughly engrained in our faith and souls as young women are evident as common threads that bind the women of Ordained Women.

In the context of my life, those values hold a different meaning right now, but I recognize that I might feel very similarly in their shoes, and those same values are at the heart of why I feel a strong need to speak out in support and respect of their desire to be heard.
March 18 at 10:50pm

I no longer identify as LDS, but I’m all for women getting the priesthood. It took me leaving the church for the inequality to even make a blip on my radar. Once I tuned into it though….wow. The church does a good job of making women feel so special that they don’t realize they’re actually being patronized and treated as second class citizens.
March 18 at 10:51pm

It’s sad to say, but we are equal! Just because we don’t hold the priesthood doesn’t mean we aren’t equal. There are things that most women can do that men can’t! Not including birth! How many times has my husband told me that he wished he were as patient and charitable loving and kind as a woman. The priesthood was meant for men to stand outside their selfishness and help others! Women were born with that. We don’t need it! We have it already through our husbands! We have equality. What my husband has, I don’t and visa versa. Two halves of a whole! God made it that way! And in a ward if men treat the women unequally, then it will be on their heads with god! He has a purpose and we must trust our Heavenly Father! But we are equal! If we all have the same qualities, then why do we marry if we can do it all our own. We have birth rights, men have priesthood. If we ask god for the priesthood, then men should ask for birth rights of god. If any man says we are not as good as men because we don’t have the priesthood, then they will as swear to god. That’s not what the church teaches!
March 18 at 11:23pm

Everyone has choices to make, I’m not judging anyone. I choose to follow the church and all of its teachings for my own reasons I have faith that it’s the right thing. I don’t understand others reasons to go against the church, but I do realize they have their choices. Btw our scouts and activity days have the same funding, and scouts and yw also do in our ward. The scouts have to raise their own money every year and so do yw for their scout and young women’s camp. Plus our elders quorum gets way way way less than our relief society!!! And my sister is a single lady and she has home teachers for a reason! They give her the opportunity to have the priesthood anytime!!!
March 18 at 11:40pm

I have loved reading all the comments on this post and I want to add my two sense…I have had the blessing of serving as a Primary President and a Relief Society President and have never felt that my voice or thoughts were ever considered less valuable then my male counterparts. If anything, I felt they were valued more. In one of my wards, whenever a woman would walk into a meeting, all the men would stand as a sign of honor and respect, even if we were in the middle of a discussion. I also had a father who was constantly telling my sisters and I that the reason we did not hold the priesthood was because we didn’t need it. Meaning that we ,as women, are born with unique qualities that men were not given so they need the extra help from holding the priesthood. It makes sense to me, personally. I am married to a wonderful man, who at this time in his life is not active in our religion and would not feel comfortable in giving a priesthood blessing. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by men who would be ready and willing to give a blessing if needed. If for some reason I was unable to find a priesthood holder and a blessing was needed, I would not hesitate for one second to lay my hands on one of my children, friends, or love ones heads and call on the powers of Heaven for help and guidance. And I truly believe my voice would be heard and my prayers would be answered! I also feel very strongly that just because my hands are not on the head of someone receiving a blessing, or the words may not be coming out of my mouth, does not mean that I am not a part of it. My presents there is just as important as the priesthood holder giving the prayer! I respect and understand what is wanted from these incredible women, I guess I just see the priesthood a little differently.
March 18 at 11:47pm

I feel the same way Aspen! You said it better than I ever could!
March 18 at 11:51pm

March 19 at 4:37am

Each of the above women thoughtfully express some of the frustration they feel regarding the treatment of OW.

And that’s really what all this is now turning into.. Whatever your feelings about OW, the church’s approach is heartbreakingly demeaning.
March 19 at 4:41am

The priesthood is a calling given to step outside of oneself and help others. No woman is barred from that in the church, and if any woman feels she needs to do more, there is always plenty to be done within her stewardship. If you think of a ship, no matter if one or two or five crew members are capable of commanding it, only one should be captain or else there will be chaos. Remember the scriptures that talk about how every member of the body is essential: the foot, the hand, and the eye (Corinthians 12:12-25). Not one part can say to another “I have no need of thee” just as we cannot and should not compare the worth of a bishop with the worth of a nursery leader or visiting teaching coordinator. All have an important role to play, and there is great danger in questioning Heavenly Father over and over again because we don’t understand all the reasons. I think the church has handled it very well.
March 19 at 8:52am

And what do you say to the women who have very prayerfully and faithfully approached The Lord and received personal confirmation of their desire and approach.

Keep in mind, they are not demanding. They are asking for conscious consideration of the subject by the leaders, and thus far there has been no indication that the leaders have approached The Lord on their behalf.

The church leadership is composed of mortal men who are fallible. is it really so impossible to consider that they might make a mistake?

And mistake it is.. They just successfully put all of this on the radar of a much bigger audience than OW would ever have reached otherwise.
March 19 at 9:07am

“In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father. The Christian virtues of love, humility, and patience should be their focus as they seek the blessings of the priesthood in their lives and for their family.” –Elder M Russell Ballard I can’t say it better than he can. We need to look at the eternal perspective, not the human flaws of gender inequality that happen everywhere, in and out of the church. Ordaining women won’t solve this. And they won’t be ordained because it’s not God’s law. I imagine the day that men start bearing children will be the day women get the priesthood.
March 19 at 9:32am

Forgive me, but my ability to give birth has nothing to do with my ability to, say, handle tithing funds or use a wardhouse responsibly without the supervision of a man.

There is an eternal perspective here, because as long as a lack of priesthood is used to justify institutional inequality, women will be marginalized in the minds of men, trapped on a pedestal.
March 19 at 9:40am

And you’re right.. Inequality happens everywhere, but I’m hard pressed to think of anywhere I have encountered with more frequency or acceptance than church
March 19 at 9:42am

So, yeah.. Priesthood or not, the conversation needs to be open.
March 19 at 9:42am

And truly, I don’t want the priesthood, but I do want sisters in the church to feel like they have a voice. A real voice, not just a token voice subject to the approval of the men
March 19 at 9:45am

And sending them off to the free speech zone without even having made the gesture of *meeting* these faithful sisters? It’s incredibly demeaning.
March 19 at 9:47am

I just honestly don’t see why tasks must be divided to be done successfully. I would much rather do things (just about anything) with my husband than by the divide and conquer method. I feel like when we work together we get more than just the work done we also create more than we could ever accomplish alone. I do not believe that for me personally that divide and conquer is the best way. I think it is often the least complicated way and often the easiest but easy does not often equal best.
March 19 at 10:06am

I have an honest question- to those who do not believe women should be ordained what do you think about blacks and the PH. Some f the same arguments were made against that, including that it was not God’s plan. So how do you separate out women compared to blacks? If you are old enough how did you deal with the shift in 1978?
March 19 at 10:09am

[NOTE: The following section contained a few comments which were later deleted by the commenter.. You may have to fill in a few gaps]

Isn’t it reasonable, then, to humbly and sincerely ask whether the work of The Lord might be well served by allowing women (or even some women) to participate in the priesthood privilege?
March 19 at 10:35am

So if women have all the rights in the temple and God has expanded who has the PH before, why not again?
March 19 at 10:37am

I want to be clear that I am equal opportunity indignant. I also disapprove of some of the church’s treatment of men.
March 19 at 11:36am

Then they should say so.
March 19 at 1:16pm

But for blacks and the PH they asked multiple times before they got a yes in 1978.
March 19 at 1:21pm

Including a vote of the 12 in 1963 under David O McKay, where all but one member voted to approve it, but since it was not unanimous is did not pass. It is hard that we do not teach in our manuals the complex parts of history.
March 19 at 1:22pm

They need to do exactly that to put this to rest. All we are hearing is “this is how it’s been”
March 19 at 1:26pm

And doctrine never changes?
March 19 at 1:27pm

And so much of this could have been dealt with sooner and more privately if the GA’s had seen fit to talk to these sisters directly. Shaking hands for the cameras is not the same thing.
March 19 at 1:29pm

Is it not changing because of revelation, or because they aren’t asking?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m very interested in knowing.
March 19 at 1:31pm

Why is it so unreasonable to ask for modern day revelation? Particularly when those asking are humbly accepting of the likelihood of being turned down?
March 19 at 1:33pm

Just think about these things.. These questions are central to OW.
March 19 at 1:34pm

This has been the only way they’ve found a voice.
March 19 at 1:43pm

And they haven’t been told no by anyone in authority in the hierarchy of the church, or even with priesthood authority, for that matter.
(Specifically regarding tickets to priesthood)
March 19 at 1:47pm

And why? Why not let them attend?
March 19 at 1:48pm

Sorry, I’ll stop.. These issues have really eaten at me. Once you let go of the idea that the church can do no wrong and accept that leaders are people, too, it can really give you pause as you examine issues like this and try to sort out what is divinely inspired, and what is human error.
March 19 at 1:51pm

Black men did lobby to attend PH before 1978. Even stepping over the rope in the tabernacle.
March 19 at 1:51pM

I think it really is sad that we know so little of how change has come about in the church, I cannot think of one of the major pillars of the church that did not come from the bottom up. Word of Wisdom, RS, Primary, YW/YM, Sunday School, Young Single Adults, LDS version of the scriptures including the scipture concordance, garment changes (multiple times by women, and the RS), Family Home Evening,, Family Search,, General Conference broadcast online.
March 19 at 3:26pm

The sewing machine was a hotly debated topic back in the day and women totally disobeyed BY and bought them anyway.
March 19 at 3:26pm

Regardless of whether the answer to black members was “no” at the time, we have since been told that was wrong. Is that not an indication that teachings, including doctrine, can be delivered incorrectly? Even from the top?
March 19 at 9:11pm

What about when the current church (led by a prophet) states in no uncertain terms that what previous latter-day prophets declared as doctrine is not and was not? Seems like a precedent for fallibility, even of a prophet called of god.
March 19 at 9:44pm

Well said Birch.
March 19 at 10:24pm

Do we get to call them fallible when the church botches pr?
March 19 at 10:34pm

…because it did.
March 19 at 10:36pm

March 19 at 10:36pm

Does it actually specify anywhere in the scriptures that women are not to receive the priesthood?
March 19 at 11:05pm

Even the temple has seen significant changes.
March 19 at 11:07pm

Considering how far removed I am from the church I don’t feel entitled to chime in on this topic. I do, however wish to comment on how civil everyone is. Considering the sensitive topics that Willow likes to discuss, I’m always impressed by the civility and respect expressed by those who comment. Granted, I have only read about half the comments, they give me faith in our ability to have respectful exchange of ideas. Also I wanted to see if anyone could tell me privately why the church supports the Boy scouts so wholly but doesn’t do the same for the Girl scouts organization.
March 19 at 11:08pm

Thank you Eucalyptus. That is very kind to say. You know, I think the boy scout/girl scout thing as I understand it is that the set up and model of the scouting is different. Boy scouts have focused very much on doing your duty to God and your fellow man and girl scouts haven’t quite had that as a platform. Though I do see that, I personally have never been fond of boy scouts. Having a boy who go one day is causing me great anxiety. I am infallible in this area too I guess.
March 19 at 11:15pm

Oh I will say that I saw today through the Desert News that they are adding pictures of women leadership past and present in some of the church buildings- don’t remember if it was church office building or visitor center- to address the fact that women do play a very important role in the church. I feel they are listening and answering, but we need to be listening to the responses they are making. Women pray in General Conference now.
March 19 at 11:17pm

Conference center.
March 19 at 11:18pm

It’s a nice baby step.
March 19 at 11:19pm

To the question of doctrine. (also this thread is one of my favorite so I keep coming back because the discussion is really mature)

I have thought about this a lot, and two weeks ago I was speaking at the Church History Conference at BYU and The Conference center. Here is what I noticed. I call it the Law of Mormon Doctrinal Conservation. Basically there is in my opinion no real time ability to say what is doctrine and what is not.

Here is the Law: As soon as we find a “doctrine” to be sexist, racist, non productive, hateful, or abhorrent we then call it “policy” or “practice”

So when I hear people say the “policy” that restricted the PH to Blacks or the “practice of plural marriage” I just think how interesting because if you go to the church history library or read the journals online those are clearly taught as “doctrines”. I mean read the journals of plural wives they did not think ‘oh what a nice suggestions, they really felt that this was doctrine” SO I think it is rather dismissive to say that doctrine never changes. When clearly our history shows a patten of change, but we do not call them doctrinal changes.
March 20 at 4:04am

To the issue of the proclamation being doctrine.

– It was NOT included in the 2013 version of the scriptures
– When President Packer called it doctrine in GC it was removed from the actual text
– It was drafted for a legal case in Hawaii. Even the Emeruis Presidency of the 70 in my ward who was there when it happened said it was primarily a legal document that the church knew it had to produce for the future legal battles it knew were coming on same sex marriage

– It was created WITHOUT any input or even the knowledge of the General RS/YW/Primary Boards or presidencies. I would think that a document about families could not be complete without women

_ I think the proclamation has some amazing stuff it in…IT is unfortunate that it gets reduced down to ridged gender roles, a portion that takes up only a few words in the whole document.
March 20 at 4:08am

Birch- to your question about being assigned in the pre-existence (the Kimball quote). Are you also aware that the same argument was used agains blacks? They the sin in the presexistcne would keep them from the blessings of not only the PH but of the Temple?

I think it gets tricky also in religious (christian) history and even in our own history. Women used to be allowed to give blessings of healing until after WWII. There are also earlier manuscripts (pre 400 AD) that show women were in positions of what we might consider PH today, such as deacons and rulers of the places of worship. It is really a difficult thing to say that it is not and has never been then the history becomes less clear. There have been redactions of texts that remove heavenly mother, sophia, references to the devine feminine within the text of the bible.

This is massive amount of information I am trying to convey, but I think that it is not hard to imagine that some of the plain and precious truths removed from the bible were those regarding women. And even the ones we have such as Deborah we seem to try and fit her into the role of a modern RS president rather than the historical fact that she was a judge and a priestesses and a warrior.
March 20 at 4:31am

^and here we see in no uncertain terms that when these women say they have something to say, it isn’t about screaming protest catch phrases.
March 20 at 7:21am

I think there may be some discrepancy as to what is considered doctrine. Not everything said or written is doctrine. Doctrine is like…concentrated, universal truth. A church program can change; temple performances can change because the ordinances remain the same. But I really can’t explain things better than Elder Ballard did in the earlier comment, and I think it is beautiful. I agree that I have enjoyed the civil exchange of ideas.
March 20 at 8:11am

Concentrated, universal truth:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Dot not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

I have long considered Corinthians 13 to be one of the most overused but underappreciated passages in scripture.
March 20 at 8:34am

My favorite quote from a teacher in my institute years, “doubt nothing, question everything”.
March 20 at 8:44am

Birch – a friend sent me this reference regarding the question of doctrine and doctrinal change:…/WhatIsOfficialMormonDoctrine.html
March 20 at 9:21am

This is a great podcast- just in general but also specifically on the issue of women in the NT…/nt-pod-12-junia-first…
March 20 at 9:23am

And this was a really well done (non advocating) look at early church history and the RS…/03/a-kingdom-of-priests/…
March 20 at 9:24am

Gracias. And here is one of my favorite conference talks for review:…/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women…
March 20 at 9:53am

I see major issues with some of the points in this talk. And this is the talk I was thinking about when I posted this comment above … We need to stop embracing impotence in women as a kind of goodness, much in the way that we regard children as good—innocent, powerless, and harmless. We strip women of their strength and autonomy in the gender narrative and then ask men to take care of them. This may create an ethic of dependency and deference in women, and therefore potentially less overt conflict in marriages. However it does not, in my experience, create strong people, strong families, or passionate, stable marriages.
March 20 at 9:59am

Wow, I see it completely differently.
March 20 at 10:27am

I just dont see how he thought that not knowing how to drive and good mothering are connected at all to each other.
March 20 at 10:30am

I value motherhood and parenthood I do not however value someone telling women that their value lies in raising kids and not driving. They are not even correlated. Again it is like voting- voting has nothing to do with mothering.
March 20 at 10:31am

Oh dear. To me it is clear he is emphasizing that our moral force outweighs any “worldly” accomplishment. Do you feel that is true?
March 20 at 10:38am

It’s not an either/or situation. Men have moral force too and no one seems to restrict their ability to change the world. Telling women they can only do one is not true.
March 20 at 10:49am

Chestnut, I just want to say that I love your article. I think that you wrote it in an honest way showing your courageous strength by revealing vulnerability. As people on Willow’s wall already know, I am a strong advocate for gender equality in the Mormon Church. I left the church 12 years ago for many of the reasons that you mention. I felt voiceless and undervalued and so I got out of the church and out of Utah. However, I admire your courage to speak up and question the system directly in a strong yet respectful way. I hope that one day the Mormon Church will learn that women have important things to say and need to be heard. Happy Women’s History Month.
March 20 at 11:06am

March 20 at 11:20am

Birch – quick apology, as I was reviewing the thread I fumbled my phone and accidentally deleted your last comment from last night.
March 20 at 12:21pm

Another fave:…/2013/04/lord-i-believe…
March 20 at 1:08pm

CHESTNUT ^^ fantastic one
March 20 at 1:16pm

One thing I am seeing is a conflicting argument. Chestnut, you say revelation can change right? If that is true, why are you looking in the past and in ancient scriptures to find the answers that are being currently given by modern prophets? If it can change, then it should matter more to you what they are saying now than what has been said. In fact I remember that modern prophets have said that we need to show more respect and obedience to modern prophets than ancient ones. Whether women held the PH anciently or in pioneer times, I don’t know. What I know is it is not what is being done now and I feel the GA have already answered this. And I feel holding up ancient scripture, older talks, etc. But then criticizing what is being said currently shows a lot of disrespect for the church you say you are supporting and the leaders you are petitioning.
March 20 at 1:48pm

Chestnut brought all that up in direct response to a comment from Birch which I accidentally deleted.

I think the answer is more complex. Our own history shows that. I already addressed a lot of the issues. But the PH as we now know it looks very different than it did 150, and even 100 years ago. Our understanding of PH did not just fall out of the sky it has been worked with and negotiated. I’m still wondering how everyone deals with the blacks and the PH issue and multiple times asking multiple times not changing it and there are quotes that it would never happen but it did. There are multiple patterns there that I think often get overlooked.

And the times and seasons is a look at jospeh smith and women and the PH. Not just ancient scripture.
March 20 at 2:12pm

I saw one interesting point/claim elsewhere, and I’d love to have your thoughts on whether it holds true, Chestnut, Peachtree, and Birch.. That the best example of a woman affecting change in the church is Emma and the word of wisdom. What do you think?
March 20 at 2:16pm

I think that was massive.
March 20 at 2:17pm

Are there any other noteworthy examples?
March 20 at 2:18pm

I think women asking for temple ordinances. I really like two piece garments (that one took 30 years).
March 20 at 2:21pm

The whole RS
March 20 at 2:23pm

I feel like Emma didn’t cause the change only the idea to bring it before the Lord. But that doesn’t mean that women and the PH haven’t been brought before the Lord either.
March 20 at 2:23pm

Primary. The young women actually lobbied for a jr relief society they were told no the first few times.
March 20 at 2:24pm

Primary children’s medical center. Food programs run my the RS and child care for poor working mothers.

It’s hard to compare to today since women used to have a lot more autonomy before correlation.
March 20 at 2:25pm

Peachtree- I think you misunderstood my intention with that question. It isn’t a trap, I’m just curious about examples of female influence in the organization and policies of the church.
March 20 at 2:38pm

The reason I ask is that it can be easy to assume that such limited general leadership opportunities would mean that women are almost completely voiceless in the church regarding anything higher than a ward/stake level (which will vary, of course).. I’m just trying to get a better feel for the church-wide reality.
March 20 at 2:56pm

In answer to Willow’s question, the first one that came to mind was in the women’s initiatory being changed. Others that have had women’s influence include the primary, primary songbook and most of the new songs being used today, hymns, and I think the young women’s program and changes in personal progress. Also, to say women had no hand in the creation of The Proclamation I believe is inaccurate. The general authorities meet weekly with councils with women, receive who knows how many letters from women in the church weekly, and frequently talk of the help of their own wives in their callings. I really think they always have our concerns and needs in mind while making decisions, and the same is true in the writing of The Proclamation. It did not happen overnight, and its uses have gone far beyond legal clarifications. Also to note: it did not create any new doctrine. It simply brought together various doctrines about premortality, inherent gender responsibilities and purposes, families, procreation, etc. in one very clear document. Also interesting to note is that along with women’s “primary responsibility to nurture and train children,” men cannot be called to a primary presidency; only women.

Perhaps one of the things that confuses me most is why it is so important for the Ordain Women to attend the priesthood session of conference. Do they feel they want to make a point? If so, it has been noted, and the general authorities are already well aware of their desire. Do they feel they will learn something to help in future roles in the priesthood? It can be watched at home, read later, etc. Do they want to make a public stand? To…change God’s mind?…I really just want to understand the purpose.

I have been thinking much about this topic. I know it is very important right now, and I agree that there are many aspects of the Priesthood that we do not understand, including a role that women play (specifically thinking of the temple). We do have a part, and perhaps that part will grow after this life. The doctrine of the priesthood states that it is God’s power given to men on earth for the salvation of men. Perhaps “on earth” is key. It also states that it is the power by which everything was created. And since women play such a huge role in the creation of life on earth, there must be some aspect there. It is hard to answer everything when all of the answers are not given to us.
March 20 at 8:50pm

Oh my goodness, that was longer than I realized.
March 20 at 8:50pm

Chestnut is obviously in a better position to answer than I am, but I suspect it has something to do with how difficult it is to have an opportunity to actually be heard and discuss anything in any meaningful way with those who actually have stewardship over the church as a whole. Attending priesthood, if they were/are allowed, would be a visible signal that they take this seriously.. It would be both a personal and public gesture of the desire.

I know they get a lot of criticism for showing up after having been denied tickets, but I believe they had hoped officials would feel differently if they were attending on “stand by” and/or in overflow areas.

Also, as another OW friend told me after last conference, there’s something about having the opportunity to show them their sincere desire in person. They wanted them to see that they weren’t there as protestors, and that each and every one of those who came was sincerely hoping to participate.
March 20 at 9:22pm

I think one of the key things I hope people take away is some sense that we can each have a very different understanding of our place in the gospel, as well as how we might appropriately interact with it. OW may be mistaken, but it may also be that the mistake belongs to their critics. Sometimes we just need to let the story play out. Those of us who are playing the role of observers are absolutely entitled to use our judgement regarding whether we participate or encourage OW, but none of us is entitled to judge harshly the characters of these women.

Forgive me for venting so much frustration over the rejection the church sent. I realize that there are people in the church office building who are genuinely trying to figure out how best to handle the situation, but I am quite saddened that they would feel a need to direct these sisters to go stand with the guys who are there to accuse the church of killing babies by being too lax on abortion.
March 20 at 10:06pm

I went out-of-town mid-conversation so I missed all of the fun, but your first paragraph there^ sums it up for me. Of all the people we shouldn’t be judging (which is everybody) I hate it the most when I see Mormons judging each other so cruelly.
March 20 at 10:03pm

I think that issue is that OW have on multiple occasions asked church leaders for meetings. And this is also true of other mormon women in the last 50 years normally the reply is something along the lines of “we dont negotiate with terrorists”. Which is in my opinion overblown.

The church handbook also has taken steps in the last 10 years to limit the way members can communicate with church leader (with obvious reasons given the size of the church). But where as the men who lobbied for the PH for blacks could get a meeting with church leaders those doors seems unable to open for women this time.

the handbook also actually prohibits letter writing or even phone calls to church leaders. So it gets really hard for me to look at the limited options and not say well then what?
March 21 at 2:49am

We can sit here and think well maybe let women pray and the decision to have women pray in GC was just divine coincidence, but sociologically the odds that it happened to go unnoticed for 183 years is bit shocking. I mean how many members didn’t even notice the issue.

The whole point of social movements is to start the conversation. And OW makes the safe space for conversion much wider. I have died on he hill of primary budget inequality 3 years ago, not that same ward is talking about it and fixing the issue. We have seen a lot of changes in the last 12 months in the church in regards to women. And that has been the result of a lot of information and conversations happening.

Regardless of the success of OW the larger Mormon feminists movement is really not going anywhere. The power of the internet, the size of the movement makes it a force for change.

And I the action for this GC made this conversation possible. The whole point of an actual event is to be seen. And it is a reality that the church got really bad PR from turning away women at the lest PH Session, I think the PR statement in the DN really is an attempt to avoid that again. But I think there is value in being seen. Well behaved women seldom make history- is often very true.
March 21 at 2:55am ·

With that, consider this thread closed. I’m on vacation and need to quit thinking about and monitoring this thread.

(My apologies to those whose comments I deleted in the name of cutting things off.. I have saved those comments and will happily revisit them next week if you so wish)

[NOTE: before Chestnut’s closing comments, I deleted a series of comments because I was grouchy and worn out by the ongoing discussion, and on my way out of town. I also deleted my more immediate response to those comments, which was.. Well.. Grouchy. The one point worth preserving from that response is that my main purpose in posting about OW was the hope of building understanding, not in starting a debate on the merits of female ordination. That said, the comments had become more and more heated and taken a natural drift toward debate. I chose to include the deleted comments below because they were thoughtfully composed regardless of whether I agree with them, and I’m not actually very comfortable with playing the role of sensor]


I can see what you and OW are thinking about this Willow. I don’t think we should be judging and I can see that. I feel that they were asking to please not protest, continue to find other avenues for their voice, but if they feel they must, to not disrupt the session. There are people going to priesthood session who don’t want to be hearing anger or frustration, but want to fell the spirit. It’s the same when protestors were there after couples just got married.

I think something I’m thinking is, maybe this may change one day. I have said, again that I don’t think it will, but it did change for black men. I don’t know everything. But I personally feel that there are many GA and leaders who care, a lot. Instead of calling them to repentance from the pulpit or saying they are wrong to ask, they are speaking about how important we are too the church. I feel they have answered pretty lovingly. If they really didn’t want to listen to them, they would be doing nothing to have women be prominent in the church. They even have had the practice of calling single sisters into the RS presidencies so that sisters from all backgrounds feel they are being understood and represented. I also agree that the wives play more important roles than we know. Bishop’s wives have a LOT of pull and say in a ward and I can bet that is the same with GAs.

If the priesthood will ever be given to women, it will be because God feels they are ready to receive it. Asking is okay, inquiring, showing desire. I am more concerned if it feels like trying to counsel God and trying to make a public point. As was stated, black men did this too long before the PH was given. Could it be that it took so long because they needed to be humble enough to receive it? Patient enough to be ready for it? I quote gospel principles ‘Men cannot buy and sell the priesthood. Nor can a man take this authority upon themselves. In the New Tests,sent we read of a man named Simon who lived when Christ’s apostles presided over the church. Simon became converted and was baptized into the church. Because he was a skilled magician, the people believed he had the power if God. But Simon did not have the priesthood, and he knew it.’ If no man can take it upon himself then it may be that it is not something that can be petitioned for, only that it is given when the Lord says it should be. It is His power to give or to be withheld.

I just thought I would give my two cents. While I know this is an issue that is sensitive to women and that, as a man, my comments may come across as biased and, perhaps even, insensitive, I would like to point out a couple things nonetheless. First, here’s a quote from Richard G Scott regarding not having received an answer: “When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.” ( I believe it is a very dangerous position to be in when we start to question the ordained leadership of the church based on their fallibility. It would be more appropriate to follow church leadership in faith and, if we are led astray, the sin would fall upon the leadership of the church and we would be blessed for our obedience. I do not believe that the priesthood was given to the Blacks because of their over-bearing response. I think the Blacks were always intended to have the priesthood from the beginning, it was simply the fallibility of man that kept it from them. For instance, during the time the blacks were petitioning for the priesthood, there was still a lot of unrest towards the blacks in general. Had the priesthood been given to them right away, who’s to say how the general response of members of the church would have affected the direction of the church at the time. The Lord gave the priesthood to the blacks at a time that would fulfill HIS purposes.

One clarification on my previous comment: “It would be more appropriate to follow church leadership in faith and, if we are led astray, the sin would fall upon the leadership of the church and we would be blessed for our obedience.” I am NOT saying that the church is in error on this topic, simply pointing out our responsibility to sustain and obey their direction. Second, I am also NOT saying that we should sit back and do nothing when we are led contrary to the dictates of our conscience. I believe we should always find ways to act and to improve the world around us, but that we should do so according to the direction of the Spirit.

“Procedures, programs, the administrative policies, even some patterns of organization are subject to change. We are quite free, indeed, quite obliged to alter them from time to time. But the principles, the doctrines, never change.

“If you over-emphasize programs and procedures that can change, and will change, and must change, and do not understand the fundamental principles of the gospel, which never change, you can be misled.” -Boyd K. Packer

And so it will be in this case, if the church is true. And I believe it is.

When Christ visited the Americas and talked with the people, he told them that those in Jerusalem were unaware of them simply because they did not ask. Sometimes blessings wait just for the asking. Heavenly Father is willing to give us as much as we are ready for. But if the answer is no, and we keep asking, we may have another lost manuscript to account for.

My perpetual project- Wool and Wood Fairy House

felt and wood fairy houseI started felting it to give to our girls for Christmas. I finally finished it to a giftable point at 4 am on this last Christmas Eve.. three years (and a lot of felting, sewing, gluing, and woodworking) later. But I’m still not done.. there’s always a little something more I can do to make it just a little more fun. It’s my perpetual project, and I figure that by the time we have grandkids, it might just be a fully furnished fairy mansion.


Patterns in Nature Photo Galleries – National Geographic

I’ve fallen in love with the Patterns in Nature Photo Galleries from National Geographic.  The images are stunning, and well worth the visit.  Check it out!

Patterns in Nature Photo Galleries - National Geographic

Patterns in Nature Photo Galleries - National Geographic

Patterns in Nature Photo Galleries - National Geographic

Patterns in Nature Photo Galleries - National Geographic

MADE: competitive brainstorming

tiny felt pictures fused to wooden cubes.  You gotta see this...

Method and Madness

This is a game I created and sold in my Etsy shop.  The basic concept is rather simple: roll the dice for a set of characteristics, then jot down as many items as you can think of that fit the profile given.

When I made this, my kids were a bit young to play so I never bothered to make a set to keep.  It’s time to fix that.


MADE: for aspiring quilters…

It's bright, it's colorful, and you're missing out.


Quilting meets parquetry blocks: All the fun of arranging colorful calicos without the tedious stitching.

I think this quilt-inspired set is my favorite of all the different flannel board pieces I’ve made over the last few years.

To make them, I assembled a bunch of swatches of “felt sandwiches” by adhering quilters cottons to both sides of pieces of white wool felt using Heat ‘n Bond (love that stuff), then cut out geometric shapes patterned after classic parquetry block pieces.  Fusible backing would be simpler and cheaper, perhaps, but it wasn’t what I had on hand and I’m a sucker for felt. 🙂

MADE: something fishy

It's a red felt fish with groovy embroidery, but you don't get to see it right now.

Single Red Fish ISO Blue Fish to make this one fish into two fish.