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Sunday, June 08, 2014

Karen Trifiletti's Open Letter on the Ordain Women Movement and the Call to Give the Priesthood to Mormon Women

On my LDSFAQ page on LDS practices, I mention a newly published essay from an LDS woman I know and respect, Karen Trifiletti, who tackles some of the major assumptions in the Ordain Women movement.

Karen is a Philadelphia-born, second generation Italian, and an LDS convert since 1980 who describes herself as a "perfectly imperfect but graced follower of Christ." She is a mother of two, a writer, and a business professional. In "Open Letter to Kate Kelly, Ordain Women, and Questioning Onlookers" at LDS.net (2014), Karen discusses some of the critical assumptions behind the Ordain Women movement and in so doing, helps us better appreciate the current role of women in the Church and their future role in the Church and in the Kingdom of God. What follows is just a small portion of her response, this one dealing with what she labels as Assumption #3 in the Ordain Women movement.
Oppressive Patriarchy vs. Liberating Patriarchal Order

How about ASSUMPTION 3?:

Assumption: We have a patriarchy in which men make all the decisions and one sex is therefore oppressed.

This assumption comes up in various ways in Ordain Women venues.

First of all, it speaks directly to a point Hannah Wheelright made as she shared her very reasons for becoming part of Ordain Women. She was concerned when she read in Genesis that men "ruled over" women, and thought that being ordained to the priesthood would be the only way to level the playing field, as I understood her remarks. (I listened to them 3 times, but correct me if I misunderstood. There were related reasons shared as well, which are addressed here, and some which are not because they fall into the cultural discussion, which I think is a separate and important one.)

This is an unfortunate, blatant misunderstanding of doctrine, and was a significant factor in a leader of OW turning to ordination as the solution for the perceived inequity.

As Bruce C. Hafen, formerly of the Seventy, and his wife, Marie, explained:
Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to 'rule over' Eve; 'rule over' uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling 'with,' not ruling 'over.' … The concept of interdependent, equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel. Eve was Adam's 'help meet' (Genesis 2:18). The original Hebrew for meet means that Eve was adequate for, or equal to, Adam. She wasn't his servant or his subordinate.
This is also reflected on the OW website FAQ, as follows:
The Church's Proclamation on the Family declares that men preside over their wives and families, thus preserving an antiquated and unequal model in both the domestic and ecclesiastical realms.
The word, "presiding" here is misunderstood and implies "ruling over." This misconception allows women to think they need to set things right. Any woman who simply defers to her husband's every whim because he is male is not exercising the priesthood power she has, nor does she understand the doctrine as a point of order rather than of dominion. She has the ability to think, consult with, disagree with, and share her every consideration, and to have that be considered fully before a united decision is made.

As Glenn Pace stated, "Unfortunately, however, some look upon the patriarchal order as a monarchal order. The patriarchal order is not an authority of command, but a point of order" (Spiritual Plateaus, 75).

That's important doctrine and an important distinction. Patriarchal order isn't the eclipsing of women, nor is it a carryover from other cultures whose system is hierarchical or oppressive. Our view of the patriarchal order, and of marriage and relationships, is not hierarchical or gender-disequal. As Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
In some cultures, tradition places a man in a role to dominate, control, and regulate all family affairs. That is not the way of the Lord. In some places the wife is almost owned by her husband, as if she were another of his personal possessions. That is a cruel, mistaken vision of marriage encouraged by Lucifer that every priesthood holder must reject. It is founded on the false premise that a man is somehow superior to a woman. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
As Elder Earl C. Tingey, formerly of the Presidency of the Seventy, has said:
You must not misunderstand what the Lord meant when Adam was told he was to have a helpmeet. A helpmeet is a companion suited to or equal to [the other]. [They] walk side by side … not one before or behind the other. A helpmeet results in an absolute equal partnership between a husband and a wife. Eve was to be equal to Adam as a husband and wife are to be equal to each other.
If we turn to scripture, we see that the root for helpmeet in Hebrew is ezer. We read that word in Psalm 30:10, "O Lord be thou my helper." Sixteen times in the Old Testament it's used to reference God or Yahweh as the helper of His people. As Victor Hamilton notes, "Any suggestion that this particular word denotes one who has only an associate or subordinate status to a senior member is refuted by the fact that most frequently this same word describes Yahweh's relationship to Israel. He is Israel's help(er)" (The Book of Genesis: The International Commentary on the Old Testament, R.K. Harrison, ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990, 175).
"The patriarchal order is not an authority of command, but a point of order."
Do we have an equal voice and should we? Absolutely. Should our contributions be equally valued? Absolutely. And where they may not be, we have to address those voids culturally, as we are not yet perfect, any of us. But I'll address that, again, in a sequel. I'm speaking to the doctrine so we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and hide behind the need for ordination when in instances following our foreordination as women is all that's needed. As Elder Perry affirmed: "There is not a president and vice president in a family. We have co-presidents working together eternally for the good of their family" (EnsignMay 2004). So the matriarch is equal to the patriarch, the woman equal to the man in value and capacity. And similarly, President Kimball noted, "We don't want our women to be silent partners or limited partners" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, 1982, 315).

Holding an office in the Church organization isn't tantamount to having greater power and it isn't the solution to being ruled over, since being ruled over isn't the doctrine to begin with. Similarly, the person presiding as a point of order has no more power than the one presided with. A male presiding in a meeting has no more power than a woman speaking or a man speaking in that meeting. Power comes from doing our job with the Spirit of the Lord under the umbrella of the priesthood power of God which covers us all.

These OW statements and conclusions are based on misperceptions and are non-sequiturs, unless you hold a paradigm of functionally same equality, which if you look at answers to these assumptions, becomes a non-issue.

Again, there are instances where these principles are violated, and those clearly need to be addressed. But we change the culture by living the doctrine; we don't change the doctrine to undo misunderstandings of the Savior's teachings.
Karen makes many more important points in her article. Thanks, Karen!

I have to admit that I have a hard enough time understand the needs and concerns of men in the Church in spite of being one, so I'm certain that I'm tone deaf on many of the specific challenges sisters face. I've had some help from the very diverse perspectives that some of the women I'm close to have shared with me, and appreciate their input and their faith and patience. It's clear that men need to do a better job in listening to women and respecting their contributions, their input, their leadership, and their inspiration. We need more conversations and discussion to better appreciate what others face and feel. We also need to recognize that those who are effective in gaining publicity may not speak for a majority, and that there are women of high intelligence and faith who offer different perspectives also worth considering.

52 comments:

Illuminated said...

I'm sorry, but this whole thing just sounds a bit like having your cake and eating it. "Yes, men preside but they don't really preside", is the jist of this argument.

Why can't we declare our doctrine boldly, nobly and independently, instead of trying to change or sugar coat our doctrine to appeal to the tiny fraction of trouble-making women (yes, "trouble-making") who are pushing priesthood for women thing?

Same thing goes for the gay movement. As a church it seems, as if from the top all the way down, espoused the mentality that we have to downplay all the uncomfortable parts of our doctrine to appease the general public.

We're no longer supposed to be a peculiar people, but as ordinary and "normal" as can be. Articles like this won't work because Satan is behind these attacks on us. Trying to downplay our doctrine to appease them will only amount to them moving the goalposts again and again.

Stand for something.

Illuminated said...

Reading a little more of this just boggles my mind:

Holding an office in the Church organization isn't tantamount to having greater power and it isn't the solution to being ruled over, since being ruled over isn't the doctrine to begin with.

I couldn't disagree with this more. Having a calling very specifically grants you more power than others to operate in your calling than someone else.

Similarly, the person presiding as a point of order has no more power than the one presided with. A male presiding in a meeting has no more power than a woman speaking or a man speaking in that meeting.

And yes, the person (Bishop, Stake President, etc) absolutely has more power than the rest of us because they, and ONLY they, have been delegated the Priesthood Keys to administer.

Power comes from doing our job with the Spirit of the Lord under the umbrella of the priesthood power of God which covers us all.

No, the Priesthood power of God does NOT cover us all, unless we have been specifically granted both the office AND keys to administer in said job. You standing up and saying "I can do the same job as the Bishop" because the Priesthood "covers me" is just false. The Bishop's calling has been sealed in Heaven and on Earth at that time. Nobody else has the same granted powers as he.

It is extremely troubling to me to see this going on in the church. And that it's becoming more and more widespread. If we are simply changing for the times we live in, to adjust to what is "socially" acceptable, how can we claim to be God's true Church on this earth?

How can we be afraid of what men will do? Do we think that God will abandon us if we declare his word without hesitency, without firmness, and without offending someone? If you're someone who truly believes that, I pray that you can find that testimony of His power again.

Anonymous said...

Very well put, Illuminated. People should know what the Church stands for.

One of the biggest problems with Trifiletti's letter is its use of the informal logical fallacy of equivocation (shifting strategically between various meanings of the same term). In particular, she equivocates on the word "power."

Jeff is a pretty smart guy, so I'm surprised he didn't catch this.

Anonymous said...

What KT has to say is her particular opinion but it sounds like what you're saying, Jeff, and what the church is saying is that men should learn to do a better job of patronizing women.

OW is NOT -- repeat NOT -- about not being oppressed. It's about not being held back. STOP doing that and stop the double speak justifying it.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

(new anon)

"Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to 'rule over' Eve; 'rule over' uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling 'with,' not ruling 'over.' … The concept of interdependent, equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel. "

Haha, really? Wow, every scholarly bible translator got it wrong. Maybe they should've put that member of the seventy on literally every single biblical translation committee out there. There is not a Single version of the bible that agrees with this statement.

Grasping for straws. But it sounds good, so why not fall for the nonsense?

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Anonymous (8:47). If people like Trifiletti (and Jeff?) are willing to twist scripture this much to support some namby-pamby public-relations agenda (by making patriarchy out to be a version of gender equality), how will they be able to object when feminists twist scripture to support their own agenda?

And, really, "equal partners"? OW might or might not be right to object to gender inequality in the Church, but the gender inequality OW is objecting to is real.

I mean, how many women have the authority to excommunicate a man?

(Anonymous 7:34 above)

Sagittarius said...

According to the apologists' criteria for what constitutes "official doctrine" in the church, there is no "official doctrine" that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. There is only doctrine. It's worth remembering this the next time apologists attempt to define doctrine.

Illuminated said...

I believe this is going to come to a head very, very soon, sooner than we think. In the next 2-5 years. There will come a point when judges, government leaders, perhaps even our President will come down on the church forcing us to do this or we lose our tax exempt status, our members become persecuted beyond words, and even leaders going to prison. Anyone naive enough to think this won't eventually happen is not seeing reality right now. And what does that remind you of?

"This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. A large number has already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it; but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have."

I sustain the bretheren as true servants of Christ and I truly pray I'm wrong, but my fear is that they will capitulate when the Church's very livelihood is threatened.

But as I stated above, I have to ask, as the true Chuch of Jesus Christ why are we so afraid men? If you truly believe this to be Christ's Church, do you fear that He will not come to our aid if we decide to stand strong in the face of persecution? Did Lehi soften or apologize for his message when the stones started to fly? What about Alma and Amulek when confronted by Zeezrom? Noah? Moses? Jonah?

Could the Saints in New York, Missouri or Nauvoo not have avoided their misery if they had but capitulated a little on their faith? Of course. But they didn't. They walked the walk, even when it was horribly uncomfortable.

When Jesus knew his apostles and followers would eventually be hunted, tortured and murdered for the Faith he could have decided to soften his message to Pilate saying, "well I'm sort of The Son of God, in a manner of speaking...but not really." Jesus could have saved the first Saints from persecution, but he stood strong. He kept his message no matter what.

Have we become so comfortable and complacent that we cannot stand with the prophets, early Latter Day Saints or Jesus? Let us follow His example. Let us NEVER apologize or soften our message in the face of persecution. Let us state it boldly: Only worthy males can hold and exercize the Power of of the Priesthood. The practice of homosexuality is a VILE sin in the eyes of God, and Gay Marriage is anathema to God's Plan for the Family." Period. Watch your thoughts, words and deeds. Thoughts are where sin starts. No need for Bible re-translations, apologetics, or anything of the like.

Do what is right and let the consequences follow.

Illuminated said...

[This was supposed to post before the other]

I truly hope I'm wrong, but I fear we are quickly approaching a major schism in the church. The feminist and gay movements have become fervent and very successful at either silencing or forcing people to comply with their demands.

I apologize for taking this a bit off topic, but I lump the gay movement together with this because it seems they have been cut from the same "equality" cloth. And it seems that an increasing number of people both inside and outside of the Church excusing one also excuse the other.

Was I the only one who felt uncomfortable with the talk, Elder Oaks gave at the last Priesthood Session in April (The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood)?

"We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function."

I've been a member my whole life, but I've never heard something like this spoken before by an Apostle. Never. I don't think he's truly saying that women have the Priesthood, but the way he says it sounds a lot like he's toeing the line awfully close.

I think those in the LGBT and OW movements are scaring a lot of our members into silence or appeasement. I believe they desperately want to force their will onto the church. No matter how much we cozy up to them and try to "prove" we're not against them, I believe they will not stop until they see women ordained and gay and lesbian couples marry in LDS temples.

What else to explain the fervor in forcing Utah to legalize same-sex marriage? Why force the Boy Scouts to accept gays or lose tax exempt status? They are surrounding the Church, taking down all barriers around it first before they go in to try to finish it off.

If a judge can say that "Equal Protection" trumps both Religious freedom in the case of the Cake Bakers in Colorado, and States Rights in cases around the country, then why couldn't they just as easily say that it trumps a religious institution itself?

If the 14th Amendment trumps both the 1st and 10th Amendments in the case of gay marriage, there is absolutely nothing stopping a judge from ruling LDS Church's must provide temple marriage ceremonies to same sex couples.

Illuminated said...

Things are really heading this way from what I see. I come here often when I need a testimony boost. But when guys like Jeff Lindsay, someone I've seen for many years as a great example of the Faith, applaud people like this and start falling for this stuff it shakes my faith in this Church's membership.

I ask myself, if they've gotten to a guy like Jeff Lindsay, who else have they gotten to? It's like The Day of the Triffids movie where no matter where you turn, even to your trusted friends, they've been turned.

I'm asking myself some terrifying questions lately. If the Church starts ordaining women to the Priesthood, or even harder to cope with, if it comes to the point where homosexual couples are allowed to marry in temples...

Can this be the true Church of Jesus Christ? I sustain the Prophet 100%. If he asked me to jump, I would jump. If he asked me to pack my bags, drop my job, and go on another mission, I would do it. But ask me to to go against what has been cornerstone of God's commandments and doctrine since Adam and Eve? I can't do that.

Anonymous said...

When you fear the Brethren threatening to give in to those cut from the same "equality" cloth, Illuminated, does that mean that you think they already capitulated in '78? Or is it possible that the Heavens are still open to us and we are a church of ongoing revelation?

Ryan said...

Just my two cents... this idea of men presiding but not dominating is nothing new. At least, that's what I was taught growing up. My mom and dad worked as equal partners, making decisions together. I try to do the same with my wife. With regard to a Bishop, Stake President, or whoever, presiding, I offer the following insight: Years ago my dad, having been a Stake President, asked a group of young men getting ready to become Elders what happens when a Stake President and his counselors can not agree on a certain point. I said "The Stake President makes the decision." He looked at me and said "No. They keep studying, praying, and working on it until they can come to a unified decision." Maybe that was unique to my dad in his tenure as president, but I think that principle should apply to any church counsel. I get the sense that it DOES apply in the higher counsels. The First Presidency and quorum of the twelve can deliberate on a topic for years before coming to a consensus, and at no point does the Prophet say "this is what we're doing, deal with it." The same thing should apply to bishopric meetings, ward counsels, and marriages. At least, that's how I see it, that's how I've seen it for years, and it seems consistent with D&C 121.

Pierce said...

Illuminated, I wonder about your name.

"Why can't we declare our doctrine boldly, nobly and independently, instead of trying to change or sugar coat our doctrine to appeal to the tiny fraction of trouble-making women"

You're not wanting to promote doctrine as much as culture-driven viewpoints on doctrine. The second part of your comment demonstrates your lack of understanding of OW and of the feelings of many women AND men in the church who though they may not be as outspoken or even "extreme" in their views, have concerns about women and their place in the church organization.

"We're no longer supposed to be a peculiar people, but as ordinary and "normal" as can be. Articles like this won't work because Satan is behind these attacks on us"

So the devil is making us recognize women as equal partners in the family and perhaps in church structure? I wonder what his grand scheme is. Females are just one of the tools in the adversary's vast arsenal? Your fear is archaic, and it is no wonder that folks who follow your line of thinking are being marginalized.

"I couldn't disagree with this more. Having a calling very specifically grants you more power than others to operate in your calling than someone else"

You can't disagree more that having a calling in the church doesn't allow you to rule over others? That a person doesn't have more "power" over another person? Nobody in the church exerts power over MY wife, no matter the calling. Disagree with that if you like.

"And yes, the person (Bishop, Stake President, etc) absolutely has more power than the rest"

And what is that power? What does that word mean to you? Because I think it is a concept that is very vaguely used but rigorously defended.

" You standing up and saying "I can do the same job as the Bishop" because the Priesthood "covers me" is just false."

Who is saying that an individual can just stand up and supplant a bishop? Nobody--this is a straw-man on your part. This is said in the context of people like RS and primary presidents, sister missionaries, etc. who carry out their calling with the power of the priesthood--from which they received their callings to do so. Why would a home teacher be doing their task under the umbrella of the priesthood, but not a visiting teacher?
Which means that you should answer Elder Oak's question: if they are not under the power or authority of the priesthood, similar to a man, than by what power or authority do they administer their callings? That question was meant for you to answer, since you disagree with it.

" I pray that you can find that testimony of His power again."

Look, what you are allegedly praying for is for everyone to continue on in their cultural traditional viewpoints of male superiority, and to squash any discussion of re-evaluating it or even trying to understand the priesthood better. If people didn't have a testimony of His power, they wouldn't be fussing with this, would they?

"I have to ask, as the true Chuch of Jesus Christ why are we so afraid men?"

Why are you so afraid of women?

"Have we become so comfortable and complacent that we cannot stand with the prophets, early Latter Day Saints or Jesus?"

Who is comfortable and complacent? It is more complacent to say "we have viewed a doctrine THIS way for so long, why should we re-evaluate it?" Besides, where did Jesus say that women should not have an expanding part to play in the Latter-day Church?
You have Elder Oaks speaking conference and shedding a little more light on the relationship between women and the priesthood (this only scratched the surface of concerns), yet you are just saying "nuh-uh." Why honor the opinions of "early Latter-Day Saints," but not consider current ones living in our time?

Pierce said...

" I lump the gay movement together with this because it seems they have been cut from the same "equality" cloth."

This is absurd. Being a woman is not sinful behavior. They are not breaking commandments for being a woman or for practicing womanhood. Lumping it together with the gay agenda just makes a complex issue (which church leadership seems to see it as such)easier for a simple mind to dismiss.

"But ask me to to go against what has been cornerstone of God's commandments and doctrine since Adam and Eve? I can't do that."

What, exactly, is the conerstone of God's commandments and doctrine to you? You mention Adam and Eve. In our temple endowment, men and women are equally blessed, equally commanded, and have an equal promise of godhood in the afterlife. For years, I have believed that women must have inherent access to the priesthood because of what is stated in the temple endowment. Again I ask with Elder Oaks: If this is not done by the priesthood, then what is it?

P.S. I am not an OW advocate. I do, however, believe that our understanding of the priesthood can expand. I believe that our cultural shifts are allowing women to be a little more free and independent. I believe that women do not need to be marginalized because of their gender and that there are many things in the church that they can do that they were or are superfluously restricted from doing (remember how they could not pray in conference before last year?). So why come late to this party instead of lead it?

Anonymous said...

"There will come a point when judges, government leaders, perhaps even our President will come down on the church forcing us to do this or we lose our tax exempt status, our members become persecuted beyond words, and even leaders going to prison."

Hahaha. Wow, the stunning Mormon persecution complex, in full.

Take your schizophrenia pills, old man.

Illuminated said...

I'm not responding to the ad hominem from Pierce or Anon@2:53. If either of you want to discuss this with me while being honest and respectful, I'm glad to oblige.

Anyway, Anon 12:28:

I've never had a problem with the 1978 decision because it conforms to scripture. God has changed the assignment for Priesthood bearers (and changed the inclusiveness) throughout scripture, like removing it from Aaron and his sons and giving it to the tribe of Levi for example. But it has always been designated for worthy males. Even the female "prophets" in scripture were not actually set apart and given offices for keys for Priesthood ordinances.

There is just no solid/consistent evidence women would be bearers of the Priesthood in Scripture.

On the OW side of things, this is just as much about the timing and the capitulation as it is about the doctrine. That the church is watering things down and capitulating precisely as a result of the OW activists is disturbing to me. That's not to say that church leaders have never changed doctrine because of members asking for it. The Word of Wisdom came about because of Emma's complaints of tobacco at the School of the Prophets.

But, again, God has always had changing laws for health. It doesn't shock or surprise me when the Prophets come out with doctrinal changes when it conforms to Scripture.

But throwing out Priesthood ordination only for men? That would be a really difficult pill to swallow doctrinally.

I do believe in continuing revelation, but there has to be a balance between it and Scripture. Scripture is our guidepost, the tool that should conform to modern doctrine. If modern doctrine starts going too far off the farm, especially in light of it being brought about in response to hostile activists, it's not a good sign.

And, these are hostile activists. The brethren have heard their desires loud and clear. To continue hammering it, staging protests every 6 months, and wearing purple at church tells me they have no interest in what God wants to do about this. It's abundantly clear they want to tell God what they think is best for the Church. The Church giving in to their demands, even in small ways, just makes it worse.

Pierce said...

Ad hominem, Illuminated?

Come on now. I just went point by point through your many posts, and explained my viewpoints very intelligently and clearly. Your archaic fears warranted some sarcasm, according to the dictates of my own humor. My questions were completely honest and you are simply sidestepping it all. Do you truly not have a response to what I have posed to you?

Anonymous said...

Illuminated, do you have any ear at all for the hostility in your posts?

I've read a lot of grace, dignity and humanity in the writing of most of the OW women. I read NONE in yours. You might ask yourself where the Spirit is.

Illuminated said...

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." 1 Sam 15:22

Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God" Jer 42:26

"And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;" Isaiah 49:2

Pierce said...

. . .and instead we get three unrelated scripture quotations. He asks why our doctrine can't be declared boldly, yet shies away from some simple questions about what he is saying. I guess we all won't be similarly "illuminated."

Anonymous said...

"Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God" Jer 42:6*"

On the contrary, Pierce, I think we've seen all we need to to realize what kind of person this is.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of doctrine, what exactly is the doctrine Trifiletti is referring to when she writes the following?

"[W]e change the culture by living the doctrine; we don't change the doctrine...."

So, what exactly IS this doctrine to which she keeps referring?

In her letter, Trifiletti refers to an interpretation of Genesis 3:16 by Bruce C. Hafen and his wife, Marie. Is this interpretation to be understood as doctrine? Or is it just Hafen's opinion?

Trifiletti also quotes Glenn Pace's assertion that "The patriarchal order is not an authority of command, but a point of order." She then refers to this explicitly as "doctrine." But is it, really? Or is it just Pace's opinion?

Ditto for the statements of Earl C. Tingey, Victor Hamilton, and so on.

The fact is that the Church has long been dodgy in its use of the idea of "doctrine." Apologists will quote this or that as if it were doctrine, and then, when doing so is no longer advantageous, they will take the very same statements and recast them as "just some guy's opinion."

For examples, just look at some of some of the extremely embarrassing statements in Bruce McConkie's Mormon Doctrine. Why would the Church allow a member of the Quorum of the Twelve to repeatedly publish such statements unde the title Mormon Doctrine if they were in fact "just some guy's opinion"?

It was only after McConkie's blatant racism, anti-Catholicism, and the like became socially unacceptable that they shifted from "doctrine" to "just some guy's opinion." Frankly, it's a shameful habit that reflects very poorly on the Church.

Pierce said...

Anon,

You are a bit misinformed about the circumstances surrounding McConkie's Mormon Doctrine. Many authorities were opposed to the book, it's premise, and its name. The "Church" did not officially endorse it, so it did not officially rescind it either, as you assert. Perhaps you're just referring to general feelings that the membership had toward the book, and that's ok, but is irrelevant.

We are living in a great time in the church. I believe that culture, tradition, and neo-orthodoxy is fading out as information has become more readily available and those who lived through the neo-orthodox time are getting older and are being replaced by a newer generation who, having almost unlimited access to information, do not find a need to bind themselves as much to tradition as much as they do to simple, revealed doctrines. So we are in a transition period and are questioning what doctrine is and what it isn't.

"So, what exactly IS this doctrine to which she keeps referring?"

Well, she mentioned it earlier. Priesthood doesn't invest a man with more "power" than a woman. You cannot rule over someone because you have priesthood. Yet the author, along with many others, feel that a culture has been built around priesthood which includes these ideas. She is saying that these practices and this culture are not doctrinal, and can be changed by living by what the doctrine truly is--which is what has been revealed by God. There are many examples of this that were not listed in the article, but can be found elsewhere online or merely pondered upon. For example, that priesthood is God's authority to act in an official capacity in His name is doctrine, and can be found in scripture. That women don't need the priesthood because they are busy being moms is not doctrine, as it is not scriptural. That the priesthood is used to bless the sick is doctrine. That women could not pray in general conference because they are not priesthood holders was not doctrine (and has changed). So by identifying actual doctrine, and living by it, we will start to see a shift in culture. And she's right--it's already starting to happen, which is what Illuminated is currently mourning and fearing.

For me, understanding that God has never said "women will NEVER hold priesthood" means that it is possible that it may change in the future, so I am not going to be three steps behind when it does the way that many members where with the 1978 decision.

Anonymous said...

Well, OK, Pierce, let's go ahead and take a look at "the circumstances surrounding McConkie's Mormon Doctrine." Here's how you characterize those circumstances: "Many authorities were opposed to the book, its premise, and its name," and "The 'Church' did not officially endorse it."

But one could also characterize it this way: Even though McConkie publicly and repeatedly made extremely offensive racist and anti-Catholic statements, and characterized them as doctrine, he was not disciplined for doing so. As far as I know, the Church never actively discouraged people from buying Mormon Doctrine (e.g., I believe it was sold at BYU). As late as 1981, McConkie was chosen to write headnotes for the new edition of the Book of Mormon.

Compare his treatment to that of women who have made much milder and much less damaging statements, without ever proffering them as doctrine, about things like praying to Heavenly Mother (e.g., Gail Houston, fired from the same BYU that sold McConkie's garbage).

I suspect you'll agree with me that OW's statements are a lot less at odds with genuine doctrine than McConkie's claims about black people and Catholics. Yet McConkie was never termed a "dissenter" the way OW spokeswomen have been. He was not treated as a threat to the Church. Unlike OW, he never had any trouble meeting with the leadership; he was the leadership. I trust you'll agree with me that there's some incredible sexism at work here.

When I asked for an example of what Trifiletti meant by doctrine, you gave me this: "Priesthood doesn't invest a man with more 'power' than a woman. You cannot rule over someone because you have priesthood." But (a) this statement is NOT doctrine, and (b) it's a good thing, too, since it's so obviously false, or at least misleading. I mean, c'mon: priesthood is a necessary step up the leadership hierarchy; it is a step toward exercising certain kinds of power that does indeed amount to "ruling over" others (denying temple recommends, disfellowshipping, excommunication). Denying women the priesthood denies them a kind of power to rule over others that is not denied to men. OW gets this, Trifiletti doesn't. The Church leadership almost certainly does get, but doesn't want it bruited about.

I agree with you that "understanding that God has never said 'women will NEVER hold priesthood' means that it is possible that it may change in the future." When it does change, the Church will be better off. Perhaps at that time the Church, and maybe even Jeff Lindsay, will even have some nice things to say about OW.

Pops said...

I recall having heard the word "priestess" used in reference to exalted woman. What does that mean?

Satan's definition of power is the polar opposite of God's definition, in my opinion. In a lot of discussions, we vacillate in our meaning but tend to lean toward Satan's definition. If priesthood power is understood as being according to Satan's definition, then OW has a real beef. But if priesthood power is understood according to God's definition, then they should be grateful that God has institutionally and categorically commanded men to serve women.

Anonymous said...

Illuminated has made some valid points.


Anonymous said...

I love the hole Mormons dig themselves:
"But if priesthood power is understood according to God's definition, then they should be grateful that God has institutionally and categorically commanded men to serve women."

This isn't even a caricature. It's like you're saying "Yeah, God says men command women!"
Everyone else: "Wait, why should that be true?"
Pops: "Because I had this feeling in my gut that said all this stuff is true!"

Some Mormons do all the work for the anti's.

Anonymous said...

So, Pops, are you suggesting that OW is satanic?

If so, do you really mean it, or just engaging in some sly rhetoric?

Anonymous said...

"Illuminated has made some valid points."

I agree. He has really effectively made the point that Mormon male-centered culture has the potential to incubate toxic misogyny in weak minds.

Anonymous said...

Illuminated's scriptural choices stress blind obedience (obedience whether it be good or evil) violent imagery.

Pierce said...

"Even though McConkie publicly and repeatedly made extremely offensive racist and anti-Catholic statements"

They weren't extreme for his time. Let's not retrofit history with our current culture. He merely adopted an explanation handed down by leaders from previous generations as to why there was a priesthood ban. Racist? Sure. Extreme? No.

"he was not disciplined for doing so. As far as I know, the Church never actively discouraged people from buying Mormon Doctrine"

Why would he be disciplined for writing a book about his views on what doctrine was, even if they were his views? Again, he merely published what many in his time and times before believed--even though there many who disagreed with some of the more extreme viewpoints. You're also missing the part where church leadership bargained a revision out of him (and another revision if I'm not mistaken). The book, though it contains some views which most don't accept, is still a great book despite it, and many have found it to be a very useful reference. Why you support the "church" going about to censor what members read is beyond me--I'm sure you don't believe that generally, only selectively.

"Yet McConkie was never termed a "dissenter" the way OW spokeswomen have been. He was not treated as a threat to the Church"

Your comparison is completely faulty. When did you see BRM leading protests AGAINST church leadership at conference, trying to reverse policies and ideas by completely turning them on their head? BRM was orthordox in the extreme--OW is absolutely on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are going to go about to make radical changes, of course you will meet resistance! BRM did not set out to do that. While I wouldn't call OW "dissenters," the comparison is false, and the accusation of "sexism" sprouting from it is also false. Men equally get the appellation of "dissenter" for their views, such as Denver Snuffer.

"But (a) this statement is NOT doctrine, and (b) it's a good thing, too, since it's so obviously false, or at least misleading."

Then you must define what "ruling" is. I don't view being an administrator as "ruling." I also think your (b) statement is interesting, considering the accusations of sexism being leveled at people. I don't think men ruling over women is a good thing. You do?

" it is a step toward exercising certain kinds of power that does indeed amount to "ruling over" others"

People who view the priesthood in this way do not deserve to have it. Read D&C 121. The kind of priesthood the author is referring to more reflects the actual purpose of the priesthood--and it is not to exercise dominion over others and rule over them. There are a lot of administrative responsibilities that come with certain offices in the priesthood, and I am not necessarily opposed to those being filled by women. But, for those who want priesthood simply to be in a position to administer, or rule, over others--amen to the priesthood of that man (or woman).

So yes, the author may be talking about a different side of the priesthood--the side that really counts.

Anonymous said...

The NYTimes reports Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are now officially on the fast track for excommunication.

Problem solved. All is once again well in Zion.

Illuminated said...

The NYTimes reports Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are now officially on the fast track for excommunication.

Just saw this. Good news.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Pierce, well said. Priesthood is not about ruling over people. Certainly there are top leadership positions that involve a lot of responsibility and decision making, but the act of ordaining someone is not about making them rule over others, but primarily preparing them to serve more effectively. Look at how young men are prepared to receive the priesthood and be deacons. "Dude, I'm gonna get the priesthood next week and then with my awesome Deacon power I'll totally rule over those annoying Beehive girls!" Nothing approaches that. They are given a sacred duty to serve and follow Christ in their role as young men and men. The women of the church are called to serve and follow Christ also. You can disagree with gender roles and who gets ordained, but don't mistake priesthood as a tool for power and ruling over others.

I'm also quite surprised about the comments on B.R.M., and am puzzled that someone would not be able to distinguish someone supporting the church from someone protesting against it. Everyone has stupid and ill-founded views--some of which might seem normal today but might be seen as pathetic and offensive a century from now.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday Pierce wrote this:

"We are living in a great time in the church. I believe that culture, tradition, and neo-orthodoxy is fading out as information has become more readily available and those who lived through the neo-orthodox time are getting older and are being replaced by a newer generation who, having almost unlimited access to information, do not find a need to bind themselves as much to tradition as much as they do to simple, revealed doctrines. So we are in a transition period and are questioning what doctrine is and what it isn't."

Today we learn that Kelly and Dehlin are being threatened with excommunication. A great time, indeed.

This baring of the fangs is refreshing. It cuts right through all the namby-pamby mumbo-jumbo offered up in this post by Jeff and Trifiletti. Clarity is good. The LDS is a sexist church, and will clearly remain so for some time to come. My recommendation is that progressive members acknowledge these truths about the Church, vote with their feet, and just leave. And conservative members like Jeff should be forthright enough to admit that the Church, for what it obviously considers good doctrinal reasons, is sexist. Stop trying so mightily to be politically correct and just own it.

Illuminated said...

Priesthood power. Nothing is wrong with saying that. It's how you're using that power that is wrong.

"Dude, I'm gonna get the priesthood next week and then with my awesome Deacon power I'll totally rule over those annoying Beehive girls!"

It seems the OW supporters continue to use that as a straw-man to support themselves, when I don't know of a single active Priesthood holder who talks like that. And if I did, I would quickly educate them on how the power of the Priesthood works. That it is only used in humility, love, service and respect.

But again, I'm tired of the sugar-coating of it by the apologists. It IS A POWER. It was used to part the red seas, it was used to raise Lazarus, and it's used every day by the bishop, stake president and worthy father in his home. You don't just get it under the "magic umbrella" by the mere fact that you have the Holy Ghost or were called by someone with the Priesthood. If you don't have that power you don't have the power to do such things. Period.

But keep setting up (or responding to) the straw-men that all Priesthood holders are evil, power-hungry, tyrants and all the poor women are being oppressed. That is simply not happening.

Speak calmly and with love, but with directness and honesty. Stand up for your values without apology.

Anonymous said...

"...the straw-men that all Priesthood holders are evil, power-hungry, tyrants and all the poor women are being oppressed..."

Illuminated, can you quote someone in OW making these kinds of claims?

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and how, in some ways, it reinforces the message of OW. For example, John Dehlin and Alan Rock Waterman (who is also now subject to excommunication) were notified by their SPs. They are "priesthood holders" and will be tried before their SPs and judged by a panel of 12 men after they hear from another "priesthood holder" appointed to represent them.

Kate Kelly was notified by her bishop. She will be tried before her bishop and a couple of his "priesthood holding" advisors -- all men. She will have no representation other than whatever statements she cares to make on her own behalf (in absentia because she will be engaged in a move to Africa, I might add). She is, after all, entitled to no more process or courtesy because she is a mere woman and not a "priesthood holder". It's gonna be hard to call that a "court of love".

Anonymous said...

"Court of love" has a nice Orwellian ring....

Pops said...

To clarify my earlier comment: "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned". That's God's definition of power. Satan's definition of power is coercion. It's apparent that OW relies on Satan's definition of power rather than the God's definition, but so does the rest of the world. That doesn't mean they're Satanic. It just means that they don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Oops! Looks like the church is engaging in Satan's coercion itself.

Anonymous said...

With today's news, the LDS church has another Prop 8 on its hands. It can publish all the essays it wants to, broadcast all the commercials (with their patented HeartSell* technique), and send all the bright-eyed missionaries into the world, but it doesn't make a lick of difference. The truth is, they will curry no dissent from their members. They'll act like a cult when someone dares open their mouth or brain.
The news of 3 probable excommunications is on its way to going viral, and the genie's out of the bottle. You can claim to be Christian till your face is blue, but the way these 3 end up being treated will speak volumes to the audience you're trying so hard to court.
Change is coming.

*google it

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 11:07 PM

How so? The Church is free to establish its own standards, being a private organization, and people are free to come or go as they choose. OW petitioned for change. The response was a very polite "no". Choosing to continue to disagree is a choice to leave. Where is the coercion?

Anonymous said...

So, Pops, "Satan's definition of power is coercion," eh? And God's is "persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, and love unfeigned"?

Well, now, I've read the Bible, and I call bullstuff on your ad hoc theology.

Did the serpent coerce Eve into eating the forbidden fruit? No. And didn't God use coercion to free the Hebrews from Egypt? Yes.

When Moses asked God, "Why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?" do you think by "power" he meant "persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness"?

I see what you've done here. You've used a bit of Buddy Jesus rhetoric to cook up a bogus definition of divine "power" so that, for cheap rhetorical purposes, you could associate OW with Satan. But you're not going to fool any intelligent, biblically literate reader for a second.

Anon at 8:26 cuts through all the clutter and gets it right: ultimately, it's the Church's way or the highway. The men who will conduct the upcoming proceedings have the power to do what no woman in the Church can do, which is to kick someone out. Given that, all talk about how women really are "equal" in the Church is just so much stuff. It's the same sort of "separate but equal" talk that so impressed the judges in Plessy v Ferguson. Gender inequality is basic to the Church, and (at least for now) that's the way the Church wants it.

The pending excommunication procedures promise to be vastly entertaining. One can already smell the sweet aroma of God's infinite love in the air....

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:55 AM

I suppose Christ himself was unchristian by your definition, as he suffered scourging and crucifixion rather than change his doctrine to appease Jewish leaders. He also chose exactly zero women to serve as his Apostles.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Anon 9:03. As far as I know, Jesus did not "change his doctrine to appease Jewish leaders." But that was Jesus, and the LDS Church is not Jesus. The Church has changed its doctrine (polygamy and blacks/priesthood) -- in the one case to appease Congressional leaders, and in the other to appease the larger culture. The Church does what it has to do, but not until it really, really has to do it.

Pierce said...

Illuminated said:

"You don't just get it under the "magic umbrella" by the mere fact that you have the Holy Ghost or were called by someone with the Priesthood. If you don't have that power you don't have the power to do such things. Period."

Not period. What you are saying not only contradicts Elder Oaks, but it also contradicts language used in the temple. You are essentially saying that women absolutely do not have access to the priesthood, and you are incorrect.

"But again, I'm tired of the sugar-coating of it by the apologists. It IS A POWER"

You are referring to a different type of "power" than what is being discussed. The power being discussed has to do with power over other people, like how the U.S. President is powerful because of his position. People like one of the Anonymous's (honestly, put a name on your posts) are focusing in on this aspect of priesthood (authority and decision-making). I don't think anyone is talking about the aspect of priesthood power that divides the red sea.

Anonymous Again said...

@Anonymous 8:44 AM

In the real world, choices have consequences. Just because a person doesn't like the consequence that accompanies their choice doesn't make it coercion, except perhaps in some fantasy universe where you get to have your cake and eat it, too.

That's not ad hoc theology. That's how things work. Satan would have had it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in the real world, choices have consequences. Duh. Has anyone here said otherwise, Anonymous Again?

Now for your statement that "just because a person doesn't like the consequence that accompanies their choice doesn't make it coercion." Again, duh. The thing that makes it coercion would be...get ready...coercion.

What I said at 8:44 about Pops' ad hoc theology stands.

If anyone ever wonders why the Church has yet to produce an Augustine or Maimonides or Kierkegaard, just have them read around a bit in Mormanity.

(Anon 8:44)

Anonymous said...

Just some food for thought from Joseph himself:

I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (History of the Church, 5:340)

Anonymous said...

I like the quote from Joseph Smith about being allowed to think and believe as one pleases. I don't think he would have advocated excommunicating anyone for thinking or believing that women ought to be ordained to offices in the priesthood. He might have had a different attitude, however, toward those who engage in a public campaign against the leadership of the Church to establish their beliefs over the current doctrine and practice of the Church.

Orbiting Kolob said...

Anonymous @ 9:53:

You are absolutely right about "those who engage in a public campaign against the leadership of the Church."

Think about what the leadership did to William Law, and what a shining moment in Church history that turned out to be.