Dear Bishop

Kristine A. grew up in Idaho with a life goal to be barefoot and pregnant. Heavenly Father had a different plan for her. She now lives in Rexburg with one daughter via IVF and is a relatively vocal moderate mormon feminist. She is most proud of the fact she has suffered a reading injury.

Dear Bishop,

I’m a moderate Mormon feminist with a variety of questions and issues about the Church organization. After repeatedly being told the only approved avenue to have these concerns addressed is via a bishop’s meeting, I’ve prepared this short summary to reference in our meeting.

1. Equitable structure, funding, and support of programs
Why do we invest more in sons than we do in daughters? Boys’ and girls’ programs don’t have to be the same or even equal, but they should be equitable. Relief Society gets more money than Priesthood. Ward funding should be equitable per person. Yes, inequities should be remedied wherever they exist.

2. Gender roles and the motherhood/priesthood paradigm
I do believe men and women are different, but I don’t think those differences are described by the words “lead” and “nurture”. Why is priesthood the way a boy becomes a man and mother-hood the way a girl becomes a woman? Can instead I choose to become a woman of God by following Christ? Can we unlink our gender identities from a role we perform and link our value instead to being like Christ, who exhibited what we consider both masculine and feminine virtues (leadership and nurturing, strength and meekness, courage and submission)? All women are not mothers, all women are not by nature nurturing – and I would love to celebrate their contributions as women of God with valiant characters as just as important.

3. Gender Limitations on Callings in the Church
Why can’t I serve as a financial clerk, stake auditor, or in the Sunday School Presidency? Can we reconsider each calling and determine if there’s really a need for gender restrictions? Even if priesthood is to only be used by men for completing saving ordinances – why can’t women serve on any board in equal number to the men in decision making roles? If women are innately unique and are different – wouldn’t it only strengthen our decision making boards to have a 50/50 split that represents a full-breadth of experience in the Church?

4. The Shame and Fear surrounding our Rhetoric on Sexuality and Modesty
Why are we so focused on hemlines we miss the true definition of modesty? Why do we teach women and girls are walking pornography, and that we’ve got to be Guardians of virtue because boys will be boys? Why don’t we ever, ever talk about consent, sexual assault, and rape? We can’t ensure our youth will be bold enough to withdraw their consent in situations if they aren’t taught they’ll be listened to, or that an offender that doesn’t listen has committed sexual assault, regardless of what she’s wearing.

5. Mormon Temple Theology and Teachings of Women and the Priesthood
Why is the temple filled with references to how I will officiate in ordinances of the priesthood, but I’m an apostate for suggesting the same outside the temple? The teachings in our temples raise more questions about women and priesthood and our eternal purpose than they answer. How do I reconcile those teachings with Elder Oaks’ recent teachings? What do they mean and how can I magnify the gifts I’ve been given? And how do I reconcile those with historical teachings of how women were able to heal, bless, and anoint in the past? Why can only men serve as witnesses? During a time when women couldn’t even testify in court as a witness, Mary was chosen to be the first witness of the most holy miracle in history. In the YW motto, why don’t we say, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Parents who love us, and we love them?”

6. Lack of Voice of Women in the Teachings and Leadership of the Church
Why can’t a woman serve as a spiritual leader to women and men, and not just women and children? Why can’t an equal number of men and women speak in General Conference? We have plenty of female leaders on general boards to draw from. Why don’t we have any curriculum materials about teachings of female leaders of our church? Implementing “Teachings of Eliza R. Snow” as church wide curriculum would be wonderful. Why is a mission president called and his wife only accompanies him? Why aren’t they both mission co-presidents? When those calls are made, why does the church publicize the name of each and every male, but I don’t even know the names of the women serving on the RS General Board?

Locally, are there things you can do to improve the experience of girls and women in our ward? For example can you hold a pinewood derby for girls? There are many wards in the church that provide as adventurous experiences for boys and girls. Still, if improvements are enacted locally, but these inequities remain in the general structure, policy, and practice of the larger Church organization, I will still have these issues that send messages to me about my value, voice, and place in the organization. A common criticism of feminists is that people don’t understand why we feel less than men. We do know we are equal, we just don’t feel our policies, structure, practices, culture, and traditions reflect that inherent equal value that God places on both his sons and daughters.

I don’t know what expectations to have about our meeting tomorrow night. I fear they would be counter-productive. I have a few hopes. I hope I am not needlessly taking you away from your family. I hope we both can have a spirit of mutual understanding and love. I hope I’m not censured or punished. I hope there is some way for my ideas to be heard by those who have ability to make changes. I have a feeling the message from the Brethren is that inequities may exist, but the burden isn’t likely to be lifted anytime soon. Meanwhile they give me advice that may help strengthen my neck to bear the load. If this be the case, I’m determined to carry the load – but my conscience can’t allow me to bear it in silence while I see my fellow saints in need of love and understanding.

Sincerely,

Kristine A.
Moderate Mormon Feminist

Update:
I just returned from meeting with my bishop. I wouldn’t call my bishop a feminist by any means, but open enough to listen. I brought this letter and took about an hour going through the whole thing. He has some issues about my assertion on how we teach modesty, but said that doesn’t make my perspective invalid. Throughout the whole thing he would often say, “that’s a great question” or “I’ve never thought of that before.” At the end he said, “Well there’s nothing I can do about those. Why don’t you write to SLC?” I told him I had written to SLC and received an answer that I should seek answers to my questions through appropriate channels. So here I was. He then counseled me to ensure I was bringing these questions to Heavenly Father in prayer. Done, doing, will do!

There was a break in the conversation and I asked him if there were any way we could try to forward the questions up the ladder to SLC? He hadn’t thought of that and agreed that we could try. He would send a copy of my letter to the Stake President with a preface that it was from an entirely faithful, sincere sister in his ward with some questions he was unable to address.The end. Would that all women could have my Bishop in their ward.

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for sharing your very interesting experience with trying to go up the chain. I trust you’ll let us know if there are further developments.

  2. Yes, next stop Stake President. One problem I feel I had face is summarizing about a novel of questions into a two page summary and a one hour meeting.

  3. I love your bishop, Kristine! Your questions are thoughtful and well articulated. Do let us know how it progresses.

  4. It does seem odd that they would restrict auditor and finances positions to men, when there are probably women who are CPA’s who would no doubt be qualified.

  5. Angela C says:

    Well done! The thing that prevents me from pursuing this is that it’s so obvious bishops really don’t have any power to change this stuff, but maybe the message is that if we really want things to change, we have to get bishops and SPs to understand these issues and bring them up the ranks. While it could be interpreted that only they have a voice (maddening, I know) it could also be that women are doing the heavy lifting to help get this influential contingency on board.

  6. Emma, that one was an especially painful sting when they called my husband last year to be a stake auditor, and I’m an accountant. They didn’t even bother to have me there for extending the calling. A few tears were shed as my marketing husband stood by flabbergasted.

    I brought up the question with the high councilman serving in the stake over auditing, the one who called my husband. He said it was because, in particular, there is especially one knuckleheaded, know-it-all finance clerk in the stake who doesn’t think he has to follow the rules and he ended up getting four exceptions. He said my husband was valued, not for his accounting skills, but for his diplomacy of how he was able to approach jerk finance clerk and fix the problem.

    So the reason I can’t be an auditor is because (1) they don’t think women can be diplomatic or (2) finance clerks are so misogynistic they would never listen to the counsel of women? That answer disturbed me more than my first question.

  7. Thank you for your courage.

  8. Joe Hackett says:

    Your Bishop is a patient man. I wouldn’t be so patient with these questions. The fact of the matter is you are questioning church leadership, counsel, and revaluation, and direction which is the first sign of apostasy. Why does it matter if you are a finance clerk of if the Relief Society gets more money in the budget than the E.Q. These are very unimportant matters in the grand scheme of things. I’m afraid you are missing the bigger picture of doing the little things in your life to serve to your fullest in the current calling you have and not question God’s leaders.

    if you truly believe in this church and revelation, then you’ll believe that the men guiding this church actually are inspired and received true inspiration and revelation from a supreme being whom is leading and guiding this church. It’s better to be obedient than to constantly question and wonder why you don’t have as many rights as the men in this church. If God wanted it a different way, don’t you think that he would have communicated to his priesthood leaders (the prophet and his apostles) exactly what he wanted for his church in regards to your feminine views?? I see a real lack of faith here on your part but I wish you all the best in getting answers to these really “unimportant questions” in the grand scheme of things in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  9. Joe, thanks for your feedback.

    Since my bishop has stewardship over me and has the right to judge where my heart is on these matters I’m going to trust him when he tells me the ward is lucky to have my faithful service as the ‘best primary chorister in the church’ and that he finds me incredibly faithful and worthy in every sense of the word. When I told him I was attempting to improve Zion with a heart full of love, he said “I’ll make sure I’ll forward that on.”

  10. Bethany West says:

    I find it telling that it never occurred to the bishop to try to get your concerns to the top. Apparently that’s not how the structure is used, no matter what the instructions have been.

  11. The thing that prevents me from pursuing this is that it’s so obvious bishops really don’t have any power to change this stuff…I agree with Angela. I think it’s disingenuous to take an hour of your bishop’s time, away from his family or other matters, when surely you have enough life and church experience to know he could not answer most of your questions nor implement the changes you seek. You can feign innocence and good faith and that you’re just following the advice in Otterson’s letter, but your questions read like the talking points of every Mormon feminist blog on the internet. I can just imagine the excoriation your bishop would have received if he had not patiently listened to you read your manifesto.

  12. I wrote a letter to a GA and received a response that specifically told me to address my questions through the appropriate channels. In addition to the advice of Otterson’s letter, I felt like it was a matter of obedience to try. I don’t think I was feigning innocence, but trying to be obedient. I certainly don’t think I would excoriate my bishop if he weren’t open, I’ve had some knuckleheaded experiences with bishops before feminism was even a blip on my radar – and I forgive and love those men. I think I would have been disappointed… but excoriate? Please, give me more credit than that.

  13. Jason K. says:

    Respectfully, Joe, this letter shows that Kristine A is following the counsel given in Michael Otterson’s letter, which emphasizes the close coordination between Public Affairs and the leading quorums of the Church. This counsel invited women with concerns to take them up with local leaders. In that light it is hard to construe her action as anything but faithful. I am glad for her courage in doing so, as well as heartened by the compassionate response of her bishop.

  14. Scary to think that somebody like Joe Hackett could be somebody’s priesthood authority somewhere. Kristine, I am impressed by your charitable response to his vile comment. Good for you.

  15. Wonderful post! Well done!
    So proper faithful channels amount to a circular runaround? I’m stunned!

  16. Michael says:

    I have a lot of the same questions and concerns as you. I’m not sure I think your approach is entirely honest. A few of your questions are somewhat loaded (ie why do we teach women and girls are walking pornography?), or otherwise suggest that you seem to have already drawn your own conclusions. Also, were you transparent with your bishop that you’d be posting the exchange on the internet and using his name? After all we don’t even know your name. Doesn’t seem entirely fair to him. Just seems like this is an experiment designed, intentionally or not, to feed controversy more than to satisfy honest inquiry. I’m not sure this is the approach Otteson had in mind. As you said, none of us knows your heart, but at the same time you’re posting this in a very public forum and I think a little bit of constructive feedback is fair.

  17. You are right, feedback is fair.

    Am I wrong with the “walking pornography” bit? I swear I’d heard that taught from the pulpit over the last 10 years that we have to be careful to avoid becoming walking pornography. Can somebody help a girl out… if I’m wrong and the term has *never* been said, it was an honest mistake.

    I may have already drawn conclusions I think in my opinion would be best, but I think I’m also open to the prospect of being wrong. One reason why I’m sharing is that I felt like my voice should be a part of the conversation, not because I think I’m right about everything.

    I should have asked permission to post the exchange, that never occurred to me in the middle of it. But then again when I was in the Rexburg newspaper and I quoted something my bishop said, I went to him and apologized for referencing him and he said he had no problem with it and that he thought I represented what he said very fairly. My blog did come up in the conversation and he did mention that he’d visited it, so he’s aware that I share these thoughts and concerns publicly and regularly. But all good points, I’ll send him an email now.

  18. I’m not sure where the “walking pornography” came from (I swore I’ve heard it too); but the quote that lands closest to the mark is this one: “And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.” – Dallin H. Oaks “Pornography” Ensign, May 2005 (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2005/05/pornography)

  19. You do not need your Bishop’s approval. I think their is a fine line between constructive feedback and constructive mansplaining,

  20. Chris I don’t think it’s needed, but I could always do with banking as much goodwill as possible in my column (a little accounting humor for y’all). Necessary? no. Doing all I can to not exacerbate a problem I’m trying to fix? Doesn’t hurt to email the man.

  21. This stuff is utter crap. Learn to live within the revelations and knowledge God has given you and the church collectively as a whole. Pine wood derby for girls? Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Do you see men clamoring to attend enrichment night or YM recognition night? Men and women have different roles and genders within this church because God made us as such. I cannot begin to tell you how dissapointed I am in these sill and unimportant questions

  22. Kristine, good luck. I am not disagreeing with you. I think the those challenging you are lacking the charity you are showing them. I hope the admins have your back. You are going to need it by the looks of things on this thread so far.

  23. Chris, it is a public forum…she put her opinions out there. Go read Dallen H. Oaks most recent talk about the priesthood. Maybe Kristine should also re read it…what she doesn’t realize is Elder Oaks already told her she has priesthood power but it’s never good enough for these Mormon feminists.

  24. This was such an excellent and well thought out post kris. These are questions I have been asking myself often, and I’m so grateful for someone as well spoken as you to articulate them for me.

  25. Glenn, I know what a blog is. You are lucky I am not looking for Steve Evans to ban me this week. I will pray for the women that have to encounter you in real life.

  26. I only rarely comment, but I’m really surprised by some of these comments. I guess analytics can tell if they’re coming from a link posted somewhere else. Good on you for going ahead and sharing your concerns with local leadership, even if that seems to be earning you scorn from some folks.

  27. Ugh. Trolls.
    I actually feel empowered by this post. I like the idea of sufficiently saturating the proper channels with the sincere concerns of active, serving, ward-leading types. Thank heaven for bishops like yours (and mine) who respond as he did!

  28. Glenn, I’ve reread it several times. I loved it! I was so grateful for further light and knowledge that expanded on our understanding of women and the priesthood. I also think it raises more questions than it answers. And I see it as the beginning of a lot of beautiful future possibilities as more light and knowledge is revealed line upon line. I’m not even an advocate for priesthood ordination for women, not even a blip on my radar. But since we do train boys up from age 12 to understand how to use their priesthood power and authority, I’d like a little more understanding and training of my own about this power/authority that I never knew I had or been taught that I had.

    Does it need said that I’m neither OW or MWS? Just FYI.

  29. wreddyornot says:

    What is “utter crap” is not accepting truth and not being accountable for our ignorance and sin. What also is “utter crap” is not receiving revelations and knowledge from God to progress to a higher level, one that does not discriminate. What is “sill[y] and unimportant” is not showing the love and respect for those who want to contribute to even a higher level and to help us all to do better.

    As a privileged man in the church who has held many positions heretofore and presently unavailable to women, I accept blame for my part in perpetuating the inequalities shown to women by having done little or nothing to question, to challenge, and to thwart it. I am trying to do better and have taken steps I have not taken in the past. Would that every priesthood holder, including myself, had the courage and conviction to admit these inequities and to start asking, as Kristine A. has related here, why things can’t change for the better.

    Ask, seek, knock.

  30. You continue to say that you re grateful for further light and knowledge yet….just as many other Mormon feminists says that it raises more questions than answers. Just be grateful for the insight of Elder Oaks without trying to raise more questions. He also pointed out to care and do more with your responsibilities than worrying about your rights. You need to re read it. It hasn’t sunk in to you yet. A majority if not all of your questions can be answered by President Oaks talk if you are teachable….give it a try.

  31. John Harrison says:

    I am full of questions and wonder. The thing this existence seems to do for me more than anything else is provoke questions and create feelings of wonder. How sad it would be to feel the need to repress either.

    On a less serious topic, I disagree on Point 1. Ward funding need not be equitable on a per-person basis. The budget for the Sunbeams need not be the same, per person, as that of the Mia Maids. I do agree that at any particular age the budgets should be equal on a per person basis, but we also have to take into account existing infrastructure that different groups can take advantage of. The YM in the US have the BSA, which provides infrastructure but also can be expensive. The YW can, in some areas, take advantage of Church owned camp facilities for basically nothing. I don’t see a good way to make expenditures/investments “equal” as long as the programs are so incredibly different.

  32. Wreddy or not,

    Go read E. Oaks talk. Since when have our leaders asked us to question current doctrine or revelation? Where are you fellow saints getting these ideas. The first sign of apostasy is questioning revelation and doctrine. Be cognizant of that…some of you are on very dangerous ground

  33. Angela C says:

    Kristine A’s graciousness speaks for itself. I’m so glad we women have so much experience with mansplainers and tone arguments that we can still carry on when Lewis’ Law inevitably rears its ugly head (which is: the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism).

    Maybe if every bishop and SP suddenly gets it and escalates these issues to the brethren the brethren will see our readiness for further light and knowledge and will provide more information about the things women (and men) yearn to understand.

  34. Ah – the summary in point one should include is that if the programs and structures are creating the inequities that are causing a vast difference of funding, the programs should be changed so my daughter is invested in as much as the boys are. So I agree, members of the same age should be given the same budget per head. If you’ve got to lose BSA to make it feasible, I won’t stand in your way. Also the point about RS is that for all the extra funds they receive I don’t see an extra amount of relief being given in my community. I referenced funds per person because men have EQ and HP and I didn’t want to say RS should get the same as EQ, but it should be distributed per capita in those organizations.

  35. Angela C says:

    Glenn, the entire D&C exists because members asked leaders who asked God. E. Oaks’ talk is not the final word any more than anything in this church is, and as Kristine A points out, it opens as many questions as it answers. Like Kristine A I found much in the talk that was helpful, but at least as much that is still unclear. The heavens are not closed, but open. The first sign of apostasy is being an asshat on the internet. Physician, heal thyself.

  36. Angela,

    Most if not all Men and women don’t care about the things these Mormon feminists are bringing up. I speak with fellow members often and men and women are content with the church and their roles in the church. I’m disgusted with many of the comments on this forum and believe many of the elect as foretold in the scriptures will be deceived and fall away in the last days. This is only the beginning.

  37. Asshat? Hilarious. Way to show your true colors.

  38. Angela C says:

    I can’t wonder that few women confide their feelings in someone so hostile. I can assure you that the women I sit next to in Relief Society every week, women of all ages and life situations, have all these same types of questions whether they identify as feminists or not.

  39. Kristine,

    Can you ever be content with the way the leaders are running the church or do you have a suggestion for everything from ward budgets to callings, etc?. it’s Absolutely nauseating.

  40. Yes, there are quite a few numbers of silent women who have reached out to me thanking me for being a voice and “taking the heat” that they are avoiding by staying silent. I just feel like I should speak for those who are scared to face the Glenns of the world/church.

  41. Angela,

    Quit speaking for the entire ward relief society. You are incorrect and inaccurate. Women including my wife, sisters, and all others within the church are content with their roles and what has been revealed. Your assumptions are not accurate.

  42. “Take the heat?” It’s sad that you guys are so on the defensive when I’m simply helping you to cot text your way of thinking and steer away from apostasy. I’d love to be able to furthest this discussion tomorrow but I need to retire and get some sleep.

  43. Kristine,

    Hate to tell you this but there are many people whom do not agree with your views within the church and whom even are disappointed in the views that you have adopted whom know you personally and taught you as a youth

  44. Angela C says:

    Well, Glenn, you would certainly know better than I would what women think. The women I know who’ve told me otherwise must be lying. Maybe I was menstruating when they were talking to me, and in my irrational state I hallucinated it. I’m sure you’re right since you have the priesthood and are a man, and I’m just a silly woman with “absolutely nauseating” ideas like Kristine A.

    Also “who” not “whom” when it is used as a subject (rather than an object), including in a prepositional phrase. You’ve got three “whom”s in a row that should be “who.” But I’m sure you know best, being a man and all.

  45. wreddyornot says:

    Glenn, your typing errors could be said to reveal where you’re coming and what you wish to perpetuate (e.g. “…all Men and women…”). :)

    I have and will read E. Oaks’s talk again, probably many times. However, a conference talk does not equate to “current doctrine or revelation” nor foreclose further light and knowledge. We see through a glass darkly and our aim is to see clearly. Seeing clearly means we need to work and not sit contented.

    I thank you for cautioning me and others; I did that with my kids whenever they were doing something I considered dangerous. I’m certain it is well meant. I will be careful.

    Your tone betrays you. “Most if not all…” “…are content with…” “I’m disgusted with…” “…will be deceived…” “it’s Absolutely nauseating.”

    I’m sure that you know what the Lord says about judgment.

  46. I’m sad to see that this thread has become unnecessarily hostile when there could be so much meaningful conversation. I have also known kris since we were kids and I am nothing but proud of her. She respectfully spoke with her bishop, and her bishop is taking the appropriate chain of command. I wish I was so brave.

  47. “Hate to tell you this but there are many people whom do not agree with your views within the church and whom even are disappointed in the views that you have adopted whom know you personally and taught you as a youth”

    Is that you, Dad? if so, I love you too! Well and I guess if you aren’t my uncle or dad or whoever, I’ll love you as well.

    Yes, I am well aware of the loss of standing I have in my family, wards, and faith community. I think I’m more aware than you think that I hold minority views, but still don’t feel they need to be silenced, and don’t think they indicate a lack of faith or diligence.

  48. Wow, I’m disappointed in the tone of some of the commenters here. Kristine A is following Otterson’s advice. Her bishop doesn’t have a problem with her raising these issues. That should be enough for anyone.

  49. Glenn (and others): everybody hates a change until it’s made. I had many men just like you telling me that their “wife, sisters, and all others within the church are content” with women not praying in general conference, and that I was wrong to suggest the idea. Now women are praying in general conference. I’m sure all those men’s purported wives, sisters, and others, are fine with it. Maybe you could take a more open approach to things and not just attack strangers on the internet just for having an idea that’s not how things are currently done. Honestly, sometimes I wonder how people change the annual color flowers planted out front of the chapel without approval from the Twelve. It’s ok to suggest things!!

  50. Oh, Glenn, PS: Our Stake President has decreed that girls will henceforth participate in Pinewood Derby in our stake, if they wish to. If you were in our stake, would you say these words to his face? “Pine wood derby for girls? Are you kidding me? Are you serious?” Because I think that would put you in the category of doing this, at least in our stake: “The fact of the matter is you are questioning church leadership, counsel, and revaluation [sic], and direction which is the first sign of apostasy.”

    Our Stake President has also instituted as many of the suggestions on this list as he can. (http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/2012-fair-conference/2012-to-do-the-business-of-the-church-a-cooperative-paradigm) Yep, that’s right, a passionately feminist priesthood holder Stake President. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  51. MDearest says:

    I’m another silent woman in Relief Society who wonders about many of these same things, but between the lack of any appropriate forums to ask questions, and the presence of people like our hostile brother, I have no confidence in being heard, and little hope of finding answers and solace. Thank you so much to Kristine A and your bishop, and other commenters, who ease the heaviness I feel and give me hope that maybe the church won’t always seem like it appears to be in Glenn’s comments. I appreciate your articulate good humor, straightforward approach to some difficult issues, and commitment to remaining faithful to the good in the church.

  52. Glenn:
    I cringe to think what would happen if your wife, daughter, or sister came to you with questions or concerns. I suspect they never would, because they’re scared to death of you, because you’re clearly a person that is quick to anger. I mean my goodness, if you can get this worked up by the blog post of a stranger, who knows what kind of dysfunctional dynamic the people who actually live with you have to calibrate their comments to.

    You claimed that “the first sign of apostasy is questioning revelation and doctrine.” Please show me where you learned this. It seems like a very, very strange thing for a person to believe if that person also subscribes to a religion whose whole founding rests on the idea that a young, slightly rebellious, questioning man believed the Bible when it told him that if he took his impertinent questions to God, his Heavenly Father would answer his questions and “upbraideth him not.” It seems that you’re trying to step in and do all the upbraiding that God is missing out on. Since we’re enlisting apostles in this argument, I’d encourage you to reread your Uchtdorf: “In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly that it was restored by a young man that had questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth.”

    Questions are not the first sign of apostasy. Indeed, questions were what got us out of apostasy. The scriptures tell us what one of the first signs of apostasy for priesthood holders actually is: unrighteous dominion. Men, we are told, *as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose,* began to exercise unrighteous dominion. In other words, unrighteous dominion is an early indicator of moral peril. I wonder if this has ever been a temptation for you.

    Joe Hackett said:

    “If God wanted it a different way, don’t you think that he would have communicated to his priesthood leaders (the prophet and his apostles) exactly what he wanted for his church in regards to your feminine views??”

    The way that God “wants it” is for his children to exercise their agency, study out difficult questions, reason together, and go to him with questions and proposals. You must have a very stunted, childish view of what revelation is if you think every inspiration that comes to the brethren appears on a scrolling LED marquee in the Holy of Holies of the Salt Lake Temple. Heavens no. Pres. Kimball took the question about blacks and the priesthood to God, in part, because people had brought the question to him. I’m quite certain that the change in the mission age came up in a committee discussion with lots of people involved before the brethren took it to the Lord. We would be lazy servants indeed if every time anything needed to change we all sat around waiting for God to tell the brethren to tell us to do it. Kristine A has simply asked questions. There is nothing antagonistic about asking questions–certainly nothing to warrant the remarkably angry antagonism with which people like you and Glenn respond. Sometimes God or his servants might give us answers we don’t want; sometimes they might say “I don’t know,” or “I can’t tell you right now, try to tough it out for a while longer,” or “Figure it out yourself.” But God never says “HOW DARE YOU WONDER THAT?” God gave us brains and expects us to use them; to have a question in your head but never summon the courage to ask it is to be a slothful steward over the brain God gave you.

    +++

    But all of that aside, gentlemen. Even if I were on your side as a member of the red-faced bulgy-veined He-Man Feminist-Haters Club, I would tell you guys to mellow out. Because from a purely strategic standpoint, do you really think that, in an argument with women who feel their talents are underutilized and their opinions are undervalued, the way to convince them that their complaints are unfounded is to tell them to shut the hell up, quit whining, and get their asses back into the kitchen?

  53. Peter Yates says:

    JOT,

    Thank you! I really thought at first that Glenn and Joe must be comedic plants dispatched to liven the discussion. But then after putting my ear up very close to my phone, I could hear the heads of their respective wives bouncing on rocks as they were being dragged by their hair back into their caves.
    BY worried early on that the Saints would take his word for things he preached rather than taking the matter to the Lord. Kristine has done that and is now following the best kind of advice available anywhere: Direct counsel from God. And she’s being pretty damn patient about it in a very generous and amiable approach considering the retaliation risk and perhaps anticipated double-speak run-around she may ultimately receive.

  54. hemshadley says:

    For what it’s worth, our Stake Activity Days leaders hold a Pinewood Derby as part of their annual Stake Activity Days events. It’s wonderful — a great father/daughter bonding event. I was in a social setting with a member of our Bishopric when they were discussing a decision by the Stake that had a negative impact on their young daughter. I got the nerve up to make a thoughtful suggestion that a Stake Primary leader’s voice in that decision (i.e., her presence in the meeting) would have been helpful as his daughter’s advocate. The suggestion was well received. I don’t see those kind of suggestions as disrespectful or apostate. God gives us problems all the time and expects us to figure them out. He gave the Brother of Jared floating footballs for boats with no light, air, or navigation, filled with swarms of bees and animals. But the Brother of Jared had to figure it out and so will we. I have faith that God will give us the tools to solve these problems.

  55. Kristine A, great post. Did you send the letter before hand? In terms of others who might be thinking about pursuing the same path, would you recommend sending the letter beforehand?

    “Women including my wife, sisters, and all others within the church”

    Glenn, surely you can see the extent of the ridiculous in these claims you are making. I have no idea who you are, where you are from, or why you are so upset about this rather sensible post but it sounds like you’re hyperbolic claims are only convincing yourself. Like Angela, I know many women and men, in more than one ward/stake, who have these same concerns. They may be a minority but they are not a small minority, at least in the UK.

  56. Kristine, I’m briefly breaking my moratorium for you. Kudos! Well done! I can promise you that you will need patience in this process, but you aren’t alone in it. I’ve been through it many times with many leaders, so if you need advice or to vent at any time, drop me an email.

    Don’t let those on either side who are more interested in fostering contention or who understand little of God’s ways deter you. This is where the work of the Lord can be done, and by doing it you are learning to wield the power of God. Stay strong and prayerful. And thank you.

  57. Glenn’s “shut yer mouth woman and get in yer box” response could not have demonstrated any better the culture of minimising women’s concerns (if not outright misogyny) that exists in the church. Thanks Glenn!

  58. Jason K. says:

    Kristine A: very impressive grace under fire.

  59. Peter LLC says:

    “If God wanted it a different way, don’t you think that he would have communicated to his priesthood leaders (the prophet and his apostles) exactly what he wanted for his church in regards to your feminine views??”

    You sound like someone who has never been troubled by the problem of evil, or at least like someone who uncritically believes all states of affairs, even the undesirable ones, enjoy divine approbation. In my view, scripture, history and modern revelation suggest otherwise–Zion is not yet upon us, we continue to see through a glass darkly, and we are under a measure of condemnation for failing to seek additional light and knowledge.

  60. I would second John H.’s comment from above regarding the difficulty in equalizing the YM and YW budgets. Our Boy Scout Camp this year is roughly $300/boy which is probably about average if not a little on the cheap side of things. There’s really nothing that could be done to make this any cheaper. Meanwhile, Girls’ Camp is only $100/girl. The experiences, for the most part, are largely the same. Thus the only way to equalize this, would be to make Girls’ Camp more expensive. Not sure that makes a whole lot of sense.

    The place where the budgets should be equal though, are in the standard YM and YW budgets used for mutual and other activities. Even here, I’ve seen inequalities that should not be present.

    As a current Bishop, I would love to have a sister (or any member for that matter) approach me in this manner. In fact, it is my hope and prayer that I’ve created a culture and an atmosphere in my ward where one might feel completely comfortable doing so. This is a good remind to ensure that I do so.

  61. Hedgehog says:

    This is great Kristine.
    And you’re way more patient than me.

  62. Thanks for your thoughtful replies. There isn’t a lot a bishop can do about equalizing budgets, and it’s indicative that most of my concerns are general ones to be addressed higher up. I’d hope in the future that our sons and daughters have equitable investment. Their programs don’t have to be the same but I’d like there to be an equitable structure, funding, and investment in boys and girls. With a husband as a Webelos leader and having a daughter in AD, it really is hard to watch her tag a long and want to be a Webelo while we gather ever month as big groups to clap and applause boys when they learn how to tie knots, or the boys get to go on a tour of a play on campus to learn the technical, artistic, and performing aspects that go into a production; while my daughter paints rocks and learns how to set a table.

  63. Even if I disagreed with the premise of every question on the list (which I don’t, I think the questions are good), I can’t see how that leads to believing Kristine has gone about this in the wrong way. Taking it to God in personal prayer and approaching local leaders with questions or concerns is exactly what we are told to do!

    One of the fundamental principles of our religion is freedom of conscience and personal belief. Taking someone to task for their sincere beliefs seems fundamentally anti-Mormon and anti-Christ, and I am shocked that there has been more than one random crazy person promoting these ideas as if they were compatible with our religion.

    There is no debate, Kristine is following the counsel of our leaders, and those who wish to disparage private belief and sincere questioning through appropriate channels are not.

  64. How dare you ask questions??? The GA was only being polite when he didn’t call you an apostate.

    For serious though, Kristine, the post is great, the updates are great, the patience and being/expecting others to be genuine are great. Overall, just great. I hope things go well with the SP. Can’t wait to hear more.

  65. Kristine, you have inspired me. The idea to sit down with my bishop has started percolating lately but I keep thinking it’s futile. I love your letter and your responses and everything about this. Thank you.

  66. Kristine, my already considerable admiration for you is increased greatly by your charitable and temperate responses to the brethren on this thread who have possibly read Elder Oaks but clearly never read Section 121. May God continue to bless you. If my son at BYU-I ever ventures out into a family ward in Rexburg, I hope he lands in yours; it sounds like he’d be in good hands with your bishop and with you and your family. :)

    The world and the Church both have an abundance of chauvinist asshats (thanks for the correct term, Angela), but I have to wonder if they’re not more prevalent in the Church nearer the core than out here in the hinterlands. Ten years back when I served as Ward Clerk, our stake had a (professionally-qualified) female auditor. I don’t know if that’s because our then-SP, a bean-counter himself, was less concerned with gender than with competence, or if there has been some directive since then disallowing women from serving in that role. I’ve been out of the leadership loop for some time; I don’t think they quite know what to do with me anymore.

  67. John Harrison summed up my thoughts on point #1 well. I was the one to originally bring up the RS vs MP funding inequities in a different thread. I did it not to bemoan the lack of money adult men get but to point out the futility in this kind of thinking. I will agree that Activity Days needs to be seriously beefed up. I will agree that BSA imposes more costs on boys programs. But the idea that per capita financial differences must mean something more than numberic equity is not so clear. Should we take the ward budget and divide it by the number of people in the ward, infant to sr. citizen, and then give everyone their fair share? The numbers would be equitable but to what end? The constant litany that YM get more money than YW, while sometimes but not always true, is nothing more than a cheap debating point.

  68. Steve Smith says:

    “Your Bishop is a patient man. I wouldn’t be so patient with these questions. The fact of the matter is you are questioning church leadership, counsel, and revaluation, and direction which is the first sign of apostasy. Why does it matter if you are a finance clerk of if the Relief Society gets more money in the budget than the E.Q. These are very unimportant matters in the grand scheme of things. I’m afraid you are missing the bigger picture of doing the little things in your life to serve to your fullest in the current calling you have and not question God’s leaders.”

    Ah yes, infalliblism rears its ugly head yet again. You equate the LDS leaders with God, Joe Hackett. They are not God, or gods, and have never claimed to be. They are liable to err and have erred in the past, not just in deed but also in word. My advice is to read the correspondence between Lowry Nelson and the First Presidency in 1947: http://mormonstories.org/other/Lowry_Nelson_1st_Presidency_Exchange.pdf

    Note that the overwhelming majority of LDS members and leaders now share the views of Lowry Nelson, and only a very small fraction (if any) share the views of George Albert Smith on interracial marriage as “repugnant.” Nelson was called to repentance at the time for his views. But now his views are seen as right on.

  69. KLC, you’re right, I see your point. But the fact that RS is getting a much larger share of the funds, mostly to have social activities and not much “relief giving” prompts me to think there’s not much harm in making it a little more even? And I’m not sure the YM/YW disparity is a cheap debating point when so many of us have personally lived through the disparities and come away a little uncomfortable with it. The fact that I was aware and uncomfortable of it 20 years ago, I wonder how many YW feel the same way today? Cheap debating point? eh. . . .

  70. Tim J.:

    “Our Boy Scout Camp this year is roughly $300/boy which is probably about average if not a little on the cheap side of things. There’s really nothing that could be done to make this any cheaper. Meanwhile, Girls’ Camp is only $100/girl. The experiences, for the most part, are largely the same. Thus the only way to equalize this, would be to make Girls’ Camp more expensive.”

    Well, that’s not the ONLY way to equalize it. Another way, of course, would be to finally drop BSA as the official YM activity arm in the U.S…

  71. Wow. As a non-Mormon, there are some really disturbing comments on this post. So Mormons are not allowed to question their leaders about anything? Questioning who does what jobs in the church or how funding is distributed is no different than denying the resurrection of Christ? That is unbelievably unsettling.

  72. “Well, that’s not the ONLY way to equalize it. Another way, of course, would be to finally drop BSA as the official YM activity arm in the U.S…”

    Would if I could. But that’s not really an option for me so we do the best we can.

  73. I had to steel myself to read these comments, but I’ve come away uplifted and inspired. Thanks (most) everyone who contributed to the conversation, and thank you Kristine for a beautiful, well-articulated post, and for being an example of charity and reason in your replies to the trolls.

    JOT, I will be laughing about “a member of the red-faced bulgy-veined He-Man Feminist-Haters Club” all day. What wonderful imagery.

  74. “But the fact that RS is getting a much larger share of the funds, mostly to have social activities and not much “relief giving” prompts me to think there’s not much harm in making it a little more even?”

    I don’t want to turn this entire thread into another debate about budgets, but I wanted to respond to this. Any “relief giving” should be paid for with Fast Offering funds not the RS budget (or EQ or HP).

    The reason for the discrepancy is simply because of the program. The RS has to pay for quarterly activities, the RS Birthday, and others while there isn’t really an equivalent for the EQ or HP. Any budget we’ve ever given to the EQ or HP usually ends up paying for the Christmas party at the end of the year as it has typically gone unused as that point.

    I would also love to see some alternate programs for the Activity Days girls. It should be noted that they get their budget from the same place as Cub Scouts, that being Primary.

  75. Christian J says:

    emmasrandomthoughts: A keen observer once said:

    “If there’s one thing Mormons excel at, it’s enshrining the status quo and assuming that if we do anything, there must be a good reason for it, and if there’s a good reason, it must have been revealed as the only way to do it, and if so, then it must have always been that way in all dispensations.”

    unsettling indeed.

  76. And my hands are tied as Primary President to equitably distribute the funds because we follow the handbook in implementing Cubs. So Primary has no ability to adjust that, it’s a structural issue.

  77. As a member of a bishopric (not the Bishop :-)) I find I am as interested as much in the comments as I am in the letter. Good job Kristine! Since I am the father of one child, a daughter, I put as much effort into raising her as possible. I made sure that she understood that she had as much value as anyone else, and that her opinions and ideas were worth as much as mine. On some days I wonder if it would have been as easy to raise a son in that way. One point about the comments, and it was addressed in one of the other comments above; Priesthood Dominion is a tricky thing, as in any human endeavor, it can and will be mis-used. I personally hope and pray that any who share it, male or female, use it wisely and in the manner that it was given to us (mankind). Many of the points in Kristine’s letter are able to be addressed by her bishop, if only in the fact of fostering a sense of equality in his ward. The budget is his responsibility to divide. Here, YM and YW get equal amounts for the year. If one organization gets more it is because they are being asked to do more. Somtimes during the year, we have a ward activity where anyone can build or race a derby car, or we put wheels on a potato and have a “Tater Derby”. I would like to see the results of YW derby race and the designer cars they would build. The result is a community building activity that all can participate in. What is the point of being here? Learning to love God and our neighbors and ourselves, all should have an equal opportunity to do just that.

  78. it's a series of tubes says:

    I tend to take a moderately conservative view of things, and so it’s no surprise that I disagree with certain parts of Kristine’s letter. Other parts I wholeheartedly support. I believe she is acting in good faith, as is her bishop (even though a couple of his responses demonstrated a bit of cluelessness as to the guidance already available to him in Book 1 – suggesting that she write to SLC, and never thinking to bring the issues to the SP on her behalf, indicates that he might not be too familiar with guidance already available to him).

    That being said, Kristine’s tone and approach in this thread has been remarkably gracious, and the tone and approach from certain of those who disagree with her has been reprehensible.

  79. The Other Clark says:

    It seems no one has yet tackled the “Why can’t women serve in finance positions?” question, so here’s my take:

    The ward clerk counts donations every week with one of the bishop’s counselors behind a locked, windowless door. He then delivers said donations to the bank, with the counselor riding shotgun. Church policy has such a phobia of mixed-gender interaction that CHI policymakers would never approve of a rule that would lead to a female clerk being alone with a MAN. I suspect that similar reasons are raised for a female auditors or Sunday School positions.

    (Women are spiritual beings akin to angels and would never make a misstep. But men are hormone-driven enemies of God that cannot be trusted to control themselves, you know…)

  80. I’m late to the party (though not that late!), but I just wanted to say, nice post, Kristine. Those are legitimate questions, and you’ve hit just that tone that Mormonism (for better or worse) demands in asking them. So thanks!

  81. I think this post and some of the more nakedly patronizing comments show us exactly the severity of this problem. Nice work Kristine A. And, yes, Oaks said that women “become pornography.” Asking about that is no more a “loaded” question than asking if Joseph Smith said he saw God. Not wanting to know, or deal with, an honest answer does not invalidate the question.

  82. melodynew says:

    Kristine – I don’t know you, but I have an incredible amount of respect for your courage and your fortitude. You make a difference – here and in your intimate circles of influence, no doubt, including your ward and stake. Thank you for being a voice for those who are less able, or less gifted in this way. Thanks for making yourself vulnerable to undeserved criticism. Thanks for following your heart and using your mind to articulate the process. This letter is golden.

    And this is my favorite part: “A common criticism of feminists is that people don’t understand why we feel less than men. We do know we are equal, we just don’t feel our policies, structure, practices, culture, and traditions reflect that inherent equal value that God places on both his sons and daughters.”

    God bless you. God bless us all.

  83. Sorry, Tim J, I have to bite: Any “relief giving” should be paid for with Fast Offering funds not the RS budget

    So the purpose of the “RELIEF society” is not in providing relief but four social activities a year? Is this some kind of overfunded social club I’m in or can we actually do service projects above and beyond fast offerings?

  84. Sam correctly writes: …you’ve hit just that tone that Mormonism (for better or worse) demands in asking them.. Great! But, what tone works to actually get them answered?

  85. Bryan S. says:

    I appreciate this letter and I’m glad you did it. I find it interesting that so many people have said that they have thought about going up through the channels but figured it was futile and so haven’t bothered. I thought that one of the main reasons for bringing the fight to the public stage was that everyone has tried to go through their bishop and stake president and found it to be a fruitless exercise.

    I suppose we have a Game Theory problem here. If everyone went to their bishops en masse there would be a good chance for change on a high level. But going to by yourself would be fruitless and there is a chance of punishment if you happen to have a less charitable bishop. So no one goes.

    On the other hand, I do remember FMH organized a letter writing campaign a couple years ago. I’m not sure what happened of it. It seems OW may have encouraged something similar.

  86. I’d split #5. The YW oath mentioned at the end seems a bit incongruous, but that could be just trying to fit so much under one point.

    There are a lot of really good points in the letter, and I hope that it gets pushed up by your Bishop and listened to by your SP.

    I wonder, though, if some of these would get through more if we picked one item at a time to ask about, together. Praying in Conference, Pants, and Unclean Baptisms movements all seem to have gone well; is there another we can gather data about or ask collectively? I know there’s a lot that needs to be done, but we do get these one step at a time, even if they’re much slower than we’d like.

  87. Kristine, first I should have started my comment by applauding your honest and thoughtful letter. It was well done and you have continued to engage in the comments, even when some have not been worthy of that effort. My cheap debating point comment was wrong. I should have said, the budget numbers are data, not arguments; the inequities that exist prove nothing by themselves, but they may indicate places for improvement. Use that data as part of a discussion about whether our current programs and efforts are the best way to help our children grow up to be successful adults and members of the church. Keep up the good work.

  88. “So the purpose of the “RELIEF society” is not in providing relief but four social activities a year? ”

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that when the Relief Society provides relief, the funds used for that should come out of Fast Offering funds (depending on the activity). There is no budget for Fast Offering funds whatsoever so the opportunity there is basically unlimited. In other words, the Relief Society can provide as much relief as they want and are unencumbered by any budgetary restrictions.

    The actual budget granted to the Relief Society is to pay for the activities (formerly enrichment/homemaking meeting) and other events.

  89. AZ in GA says:

    What stops the girls from holding a pinewood derby now? In our ward the Elders quorum holds a “No Rules” pinewood derby every year. They use the same track the scouts use.

    It seems to me that with some of the items in question, the thing that is holding up the progress you seek is the young women leaders willingness to simply act. I have been in many wards, and I can’t imagine many where the bishop would say no if a YW or Primary leader asked to hold a pinewood derby. In my experience, the leaders over the YW and Primary simply never asked to do it.

    When it comes to funding, if YW is less than YW, and RS is less than Elders in terms of budget, wouldn’t the simple answer be to move some of the RS budget to the YW?

  90. AZ in GA says:

    Better yet, don’t even ask, just plan it.

  91. Kristine, I am all for dropping the BSA and giving the boys access to the girl’s camps.

  92. Church policy has such a phobia of mixed-gender interaction that CHI policymakers would never approve of a rule that would lead to a female clerk being alone with a MAN. I suspect that similar reasons are raised for a female auditors or Sunday School positions.

    Um…yes, Except for every woman who has ever met with her bishop or stake president behind closed doors.

    [Also, nice work, Kristine A. You've dealt with some horrible trolling here, and done it with dignity]

  93. That’s what my bishop tried to say last night, that we’re not stopping the AD girls from doing anything or withholding funds from them. I get that. But not stopping them is different than not providing the experience. Our local AD/primary leaders don’t see the discrepancy and don’t care. I submitted a list to my primary presidency of ideas that activities that AD girls can do to fill their requirements that are actually very similar to the cub scouts . . . BUT it requires the AD leaders to do about 10x as much work as they are actually required to do. My suggestions stopped there and I never heard another word about it.

  94. Church policy has such a phobia of mixed-gender interaction that CHI policymakers would never approve of a rule that would lead to a female clerk being alone with a MAN. I suspect that similar reasons are raised for a female auditors or Sunday School positions.

    and of course the solution is to limit all women from serving in those ways because they are sexual temptations just waiting to happen . . . instead of saying, hmm – we could actually have two female (membership etc) clerks if we choose to have women serve here that could serve the two-deep rule.

  95. What a great model you have provided for anyone who desires to sit down with their local leaders and discuss the church’s structural inequalities. That your commitment to the church has been questioned by men for doing exactly what you have been instructed to do by the general authorities speaks volumes about what it means to be a woman in the Mormon church.

  96. GreyBarron says:

    I am currently serving as bishop in a part of the world where we constantly struggle to have enough priesthood to staff the wards. At the present time I do not have any clerks or secretaries, no elders quorum presidency,nor high priest group leadership and my Sunday school president and ward mission leader are basically inactive. I do have an exceptional young men’s president but he was just called to the stake so I have lost him! My ward is not unique. For example, one ward recently went a year without a bishop and another 4 months. On the other hand, my women leaders would compare with the best anywhere in the Church.

    Last Sunday I asked my stake president if I could call some women as clerks, ward mission leader and Sunday school president to solve some of my problems. He said I couldn’t. I asked him if he would ask the area president who could check with Salt Lake. I was again refused. I have 2 fantastic counselors and with their help and the great work that the women do we have an amazing ward. We could do better if the women were allowed to do more.

    I would be happy if women could hold the priesthood or at least be allowed to serve more. If nothing else it could solve a lot of problems where the church isn’t as strong. I recently attended a Catholic mass and noticed women set up the altar and girls were serving along with boys at the altar.

  97. Christian J says:

    GreyBarron, Great example.

  98. GreyBarron – SL refused, or he refused to ask?

  99. (also, insert a general grumble on priesthood creep affecting the setting up of sacrament)

  100. hope_for_things says:

    Kristine,

    Excellent post and gracefully handled comments, thank you for the inspiring leadership on these important issues. I am currently a finance clerk, have also worked on the stake audit committee, and I wanted to add a couple comments from my perspective.

    Firstly, the Bishop has complete discretion to spend budget money for the ward the way he chooses to. Typically he asks the auxiliary leaders how much money they anticipate needing, and compares that against prior year spend to set the budget for each year for each group. However, he can change that budget however he wants and its completely within his authority. It would be fairly simple to come up with a plan to equalize budgets between the YM and YW organizations and even base it on a rate per person within those organizations, makes total sense to me.

    Secondly, for scout camp money, funds spent on scout and YW camps are considered “other” account funds. They don’t come out of the ward budget, rather the parents contribute directly for these activities. There is nothing stopping the ward leadership from planning more expensive YW camp activities as this is totally at the ward leader’s discretion, and I’d be all for having better camps for the YW as long as the members can afford the expense.

  101. hope_for_things: I’m not so sure about your comment that money spent on camp does not come from the ward budget. That might be how it is in your ward, but the handbook says that all activities, including camp, should be paid for out of stake and ward budget funds. It says that if there is not enough money in the ward budget, then families can be asked to make up the difference, and that if families cannot make up the difference, then a fundraiser is authorized. https://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/activities?lang=eng#13.2.8.

    I’ve struggled to get our ward to follow those provisions. Instead, around here many think that the way it works is (1) we have a fundraiser, and (2) we ask families to make up the difference. The ward budget (3) doesn’t come into it.

  102. Grey Barron: there is current precedent for women serving as executive secretaries and branch mission leaders:

    In the overwhelmingly female domestic worker branches of Hong Kong, however, the Relief Society President exercises stewardship over nearly everyone in the congregation, and the executive secretaries and branch mission leaders are women. (When I asked a sister in the Island 1 Branch if the branch mission leader was really a woman, she gave me a blank look, as if I had asked whether President Monson, the Prophet, was really a man.)

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peculiarpeople/2013/03/how-conference-comes-to-hong-kong/#ixzz33nC8xjOT

  103. As far as questioning, I defer to President Uchtdorf:

    Now, the next issue. What about doubts and questions in principle? How do you find out that the gospel is true? Is it all right to have questions about the Church or its doctrine?

    My dear young friends, we are a question-asking people. We have always been, because we know that inquiry leads to truth. That is how the Church got its start, from a young man who had questions. In fact, I’m not sure how one can discover truth without asking questions. In the scriptures you will rarely discover a revelation that didn’t come in response to a question.

    Whenever a question arose and Joseph Smith wasn’t sure of the answer he approached the Lord. And the results are the wonderful revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. Often the knowledge Joseph received extended far beyond the original question. That is because not only can the Lord answer the questions we ask, but even more importantly, He can give us answers to questions we should have asked.

    Let us listen to those answers. The missionary effort of the Church is founded upon honest investigators asking heartfelt questions. Inquiry is the birth place of testimony.

    Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn’t feel that way. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a precursor of growth.

    God commands us to seek answers to our questions and asks only that we seek with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ. When we do so, the truth of all things can be manifest to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Fear not. Ask questions. Be curious.

    http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2009/11/12/pres-uchtdorf-%E2%80%9Cis-it-all-right-to-have-questions-about-the-church-or-its-doctrine%E2%80%9D/

  104. Here is wisdom. Feminists don’t want equality, they want supremacy.

  105. Angela C says:

    Jon: “Here is wisdom. Feminists don’t want equality, they want supremacy.” Only over idiots who make ridiculous assertions like this.

  106. The Other Clark says:

    Growing accomodation to the LGBT may drive change in regard to the men/women alone thing. That gay executive secretary (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52486958-78/mayne-gay-lds-ward.html.csp) can control himself in PEC. I’m sure the relief society president (or a hypothetical female bishopric counselor) could do the same.

  107. GreyBarron says:

    Re: missolea, It was my SP who would not give me permission and told me he wouldn’t ask the area president. I am now serving with my 2nd SP and I also approached the previous one twice with the same result. The first time he thought I was joking and had to convince him I was serious. In my tenure as Bishop, I have never had a face to face with an area authority and would not raise the issue unless asked if I had any issues because my line goes through the SP.

    As a general comment I would like to thank all the bloggers and those who comment. Because of your good works,I have adjusted the way I conduct interviews, extend callings, do settings apart, handle disciplinary issues, teach temple preparation and and share counsel. Thank you!

  108. sctaysom says:

    anyone who isn’t God and who begins any statement with “Here is wisdom” is, by definition, either speaking sarcastically or preparing tell you the least wise thing in the world.

  109. BHodges says:

    Can someone please tell me what the second sign of apostasy is? People always warn folks about displaying the first but for some reason you never see anyone identify sign #2.

  110. Here is wisdom. I am a doofus.

  111. BHodges says:

    Anyone? Second sign?

  112. GreyBarron says:

    Re DavidH, thanks for the link. After years of trying we still only have 15 active adult males and most of us are in the bishopric or stake callings. As a result it is not uncommon for the Bishopric to be the only males at ward counsel or missionary coordinating counsel. We do not have PEC. It is not unusual for all the Sacrament meeting talks and/or prayers to be done by females. We usually have enough AP to take care of the sacrament. A bishop could not be prouder than I am with the women leaders in the ward.

    Last Sunday an 11 year old primary girl was watching me preparing the sacrament trays. She grabbed a couple of them to help me carry them into the chapel. I explained only priesthood holders could do that and we had a little talk. I asked her if she would like to receive the priesthood and she said ” No, I just like to help”. I wish the women of the church were allowed to help more.

  113. Second sign of apostasy: Take your right hand with your thumb folded in and four fingers extended up. Now cross your ring finger and middle finger together. Hold it up with your palm facing toward you. It should make the shape of a “W”. Now yell “West-side” in your best white-person-impersonating-a-gangster impersonation that you can muster. Now do the same with your left hand but with your fingers pointing down and in the same manner yell “Mormon!”

    That, BHodges, is the second sign of apostasy.

  114. And when stilesbn makes all of the Diet Coke I just sipped come flying out of my nose, that is the third sign of apostasy.

  115. Glenn, lighten up…

    Kristine, a great post. As a former Bishopric member, father and husband of a young son and young daughter I applaud your efforts.

    I have seen the pain unequal treatment within the church to women has caused my wife firsthand. It is not pleasant to see or deal with. My wife is a very intelligent, talented woman and feels underutilized within the church system and programs. She has also run into situations, many times, where male leaders simply dismiss her input and opinions in Ward Councils/leadership meetings. Frustrating is a word that may not suffice.

    I also worry about my very intelligent young daughter and the opportunities she’ll have within the church framework as it currently exists. Will she have similar opportunities to grow and be utilized for her talents as my son will? Answering that question affirmatively as the church structure and culture are now is debatable.

    There is certainly room for discussion, questioning and improvement within the Church. The Gospel is perfect. The Church is run by imperfect mortal beings…

  116. Steve Evans says:

    I dunno what the 2nd sign is, though I’ve heard tell that Demi Moore is the 7th sign.

  117. Kristine A, thank you for a wonderful post, and such a great example of handling some pretty awful comments with grace and a great attitude.

    When I served as bishop some 15 years ago, I can only hope I would have reacted as positively as your bishop did. I suspect that I may have acted insensitively on a few occasions, but primarily out of ignorance. Now, I serve as ward mission leader, because the bishop’s first choice, which I heartily endorsed, is a woman, so I am the WML. She as a ward missionary does so much more great work than I do. I have certainly changed many of my attitudes over the years, and at this point, basically agree with all of your questions in your letter to the bishop. Thank you for being brave enough to ask them, and to your bishop, for reacting so positively.

  118. SmallWardBishop says:

    GreyBarron, I am in a similar situation serving as a bishop. We have about 15 active MP holders in our ward. I feel the same way you do about allowing women to hold the priesthood or in the short run to serve in priesthood callings when authorized by local leaders.
    Most of the YW in my ward have commented that girls not holding the priesthood is not fair. I tell them that I agree with them and hope it will change.
    Thanks for your comments.

  119. Well for my first BCC guest post, I survived. Wow, what a trip! I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received, obviously some more than others. I think there are enough areas to at least have discussions and I don’t think I have all the solutions. I do have some trepidations about my daughter and the messages she’s already received at age 9 while she tags along with her Dad in Webelos and goes to her own AD meetings. Took a while for us to convince her she wasn’t also a Webelo and couldn’t earn an award.

  120. WI_Member says:

    I wonder why people are not calling the women who Brother Otterson credited with contributing to the change in missionary age change for women apostates.

    In October of 1997, President Hinckley addressed the reason for the higher age for women.

    “We do not ask the young women to consider a mission as an essential part of their life’s program. Over a period of many years, we have held the age level higher for them in an effort to keep the number going relatively small. Again to the sisters I say that you will be as highly respected, you will be considered as being as much in the line of duty, your efforts will be as acceptable to the Lord and to the Church whether you go on a mission or do not go on a mission.

    We constantly receive letters from young women asking why the age for sister missionaries is not the same as it is for elders. We simply give them the reasons. We know that they are disappointed. We know that many have set their hearts on missions. We know that many of them wish this experience before they marry and go forward with their adult lives. I certainly do not wish to say or imply that their services are not wanted. I simply say that a mission is not necessary as a part of their lives.”

    So how is it that the current leaders asking for change is ok, even though the prophet clearly stated that they didn’t want large numbers of women serving and were keeping the age requirement high to discourage them, yet asking for other changes is not ok?

  121. To echo so many others, I love this post, Kristine! Great points on issues that need to be addressed, and I love that you’re trying to do what you can to get them to the ears of someone who can change something.

    And also, you have the patience of Job with the crazy people.

  122. The Other Clark says:

    WI_Member, thanks for bringing up Pres. Hinckley. Elder Holland specifically linked the lowering of the sister missionary age to the efforts of feminists. I wonder if the WML calling will be the first PEC calling to be separated from the priesthood. With the increase in sisters serving, I know of a few wards where it’s really awkward for the WML to coordinate efforts, because he can’t meet alone with the sisters, and he can’t go on splits either. His wife, on the other hand, could do both.

  123. GreyBarron, where is your ward? I’m interested in moving.

    Seriously though, as somewhat who has been in similar shoes and who has similar views on the need to involve women more, I feel your pain. In many ways local leaders have even less leeway to take questions or concerns directly to SLC than average members do.

  124. Thank you for posting this, Kristine – and for your absolute graciousness in the face of such uncharitable behavior.

    Those who chastised you for your meeting and questions are the ones who are choosing to reject the words and directives of the people they say they sustain as prophets. Sometimes, irony really is delicious.

  125. And I know it’s not really on the post topic, but it would be remiss of me not to ask: Kristine A, what in the heck reading injury have you sustained?

  126. @JoeHackett @Glenn

    You’ve been tagged for Unrighteous Dominion. Your priesthood is now null. Or as they say: Amen to your priesthood.

    If you’d like it back, simply follow these steps:
    1) Publicly apologize.
    2) Pray and study until you can see and understand Kristin’s point of view.

  127. FarSide says:

    For those who have vehemently attacked Kristine and labeled her an apostate, stop and think a moment about how an outsider would react to this discussion. In fact, you don’t really need to speculate; rather, simply read the above post by emmasrandomthoughts. I hope and pray that Glenn et al. are never considered for missionary service.

  128. unanswered questions:

    Did you send the letter before hand? In terms of others who might be thinking about pursuing the same path, would you recommend sending the letter beforehand?
    I did not send the letter beforehand. But knowing I had 5 days before my meeting and not knowing how to bring everything up in an articulate way, it helped me to write it in letter form. I brought it with me, told him I’d prepared it, after the meeting he asked me to send it to him. I’d recommend to do whatever you feel is best for you and your situation.

    what in the heck reading injury have you sustained?
    As an introverted bibliophile who manages to occasionally binge read (it’s my netflix), I was so engrossed in a book I don’t think I moved for a few hours curled up on the couch. I stood up and ended up limping through the next two days; even missed the first ward sledding activity in our new ward here. Apparently it lent me an air of weird-mysteriousness to hear the ward members ask about a missing wife and be told she’s home with a reading injury.

  129. anonymous says:

    I left the church about 20 years ago, but occasionally I like to check into BCC to see what church members are thinking. For the most part, BCC strikes me as what more wards should be like: places where people can honestly discuss anything no matter how difficult, frequently express disagreeing opinions, usually with respect and intelligence.

    Yeah, this comment thread has a couple of notable exceptions to the “respect” part. It boggles my mind that a significant number of Mormons think that questioning is wrong. One person’s questioning is someone else’s “diligently seeking”. It seems obvious that the Mormon goal of achieving godhood requires a lot of questioning because there is a lot of understanding/learning to do on the way to exaltation. Or, is god just blindly obeying the inspired guidance of whichever divinely appointed priesthood leader is next up the chain of authority?

  130. anonymous says:

    While I am grateful that you shared this experience and feel gratitude that you found the listening response from the bishop validating, two thoughts come to mind. I see our Bishop busily trying juggle his time with new converts that need lots of personal contact, youth on the cusp of going on missions, individuals who feel inspired that they need to be released from callings, and eccentric individuals that don’t generally function well in society and need lots of hand holding and verbal encouragement to do simple callings.

    6 months ago my wife and I lost a child in a tragic accident and we have still not recovered from the life devastation and the crisis of faith it brought on. Despite years of understanding ‘families are forever’, suddenly a bunch of black holes that didn’t seem relevant before became gaping issues to grapple with.

    The bishop came to visit us in our home during those first few days. I have met with him in his office twice for about an hour each–feeling that his concern and advice exemplified his having been chosen of the Lord for this position. Nevertheless, at the end of that hour, I had some guilt that I had actually taken that much of his time, despite his reassurances that he was happy to have given it.

    My wife’s struggle has been a hellish one. She has not emotionally been able to resume working in her previous church calling, yet has not been released. She has avoided contact to every degree possible with all but a couple of people in the ward. People have learned that she is not ‘nice’ to them and her desire to avoid contact has been respected. She has been sitting in the car during the third hour of the block. She feels she can never stand and speak in front of a group ever again.

    The bishop eventually asked me during the second of our two meetings in his office if he should break the ice and ask her to meet with him. I thought it might be spiritually helpful for her to vocalize the anguish of her soul to the Lord’s representative. He approached her that next Sunday and with previous obligations with our family and his time, the following Sunday was decided upon for a meeting.

    I made suggestions to my wife in opening up about her faith crisis and that she might either feel unburdened from her connection to the church and move on OR she might find meaningful counsel that will help her stay in. She anticipated the meeting, but the following Sunday, he seemed to backtrack and asked me if I still thought he should try to meet with her and whether it should be a Sunday or a weekday. Perhaps his memory of that verbal commitment to meet that day had slipped.

    I was slightly taken back when immediately after church, a newly visiting couple who had lived in the boundaries for awhile and finally showed up and made their presence known were ushered right in to his office at the end of the block. I had the selfish thought that FOR ONCE, cannot the INACTIVE, marginally participating members access to the bishop be put in line BEHIND the struggling ACTIVE members? I silently asked for forgiveness for harboring that thought.

    So yes, I worry about the Bishop’s time away from his family and his being given a list of things that he has no power to change. But I recognize that this is my issue and not Kristine’s and that I have no right to judge. My wife won’t push the issue and simply infer from his backtracking that he doesn’t want to meet with her.

    The second thought is how a Bishop can meaningfully take your discussion to the next level with a SP. I don’t see that merely sending the letter to the SP is going to assist the Bishop with further light and knowledge. I remember asking my MP challenging scriptural questions and he seemed annoyed that I was not directing my attention to the more pressing matters of carrying out the missionary work I had been called to do. I can see one possible outcome of the SP reacting with a similar response to that of my MP, which would then make the Bishop wonder why he ever asked in the first place. But, there are some SP’s with outside the box thinking that could certainly give the Bishop ideas that, while they may not change the organization of church callings, may help him think differently about them.

  131. anonymous (2) — Many blessings to you and your wife in this time of grief and mourning. I’m so sorry about the death of your child. It’s unfortunately common for grieving parents to find themselves in a similar situation with their wards and church leaders not knowing how to help, and it can be quite a shock. I hope you are able to find the help and comfort you need.

    For anyone reading this discussion, a few years ago BCC put together a list of posts on the topic of mourning with those that mourn. Here’s a link, not for anonymous, but for the rest of us.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2012/12/28/mourning-with-those-that-mourn-a-how-to/

  132. I’ve served for many years in YW and my husband has served for years as both Scoutmaster and YM president. Scout camp may cost more so the boys here do a yearly Christmas tree drive that raises thousands of dollars. Boys go to a week long scout camp until they are 14. For the next four years they get to go on the week long High Adventure. Our boys have been sailing in the San Juan Islands, kayaked the Snake River, and spent a week boating at Lake Chelan. The $100 the girls get pays for three nights at the same Church camp for their first three year. Their fourth year they get to go on a three night hike. The 5th and 6th year they are back at the same church camp, again for 3 nights only. This is just one of the structural inequalities that exist. Yes we tell the YW we love them just as much as the YM, we just don’t show it. Girls first get this message loud and clear in Primary where they are offered only two activity days a month while the cub scouts their age meet weekly, have a monthly pack night, AND get a week of day camp in the summer. It’s not OK.

  133. Naismith says:

    As a moderate non-feminist, I wholeheartedly agree with you on 1, 4, 5 and 6.

    I do not see numbers 2 and 3 quite as clearly.

    On 2, I do not believe motherhood=priesthood but I do believe that men and women can both serve equally yet in different ways. To view men’s contributions as only “leadership” leaves out a lot of great men who never happen to be called to lead. Besides, our LDS model of leadership is servant leadership, not a top-down dictatorship.

    But I do feel that our church comes much closer to any other organization at respecting and supporting mothers. I was surrounded with assistance and a sense of normalcy as I birthed and raised my family with a number of children that was socially unacceptable in the world outside the chapel doors. If bringing souls to earth is as important as some talks/lessons suggest, then this is a worthwhile work in which all of us can support and share.

    But I have gotten absolutely zero support for my parenting by those in my workplace, and lots of derision. So if I had to choose one system, neither of which is admittedly ideal, I would choose the church status quo.

    As for #3, I don’t see those policies as restricting women as much as creating a stewardship for men to step up. The value of our integrated system of men using their priesthood to serve their families was pointed out to me by a grad school compadre who is a baptist minister. His denomination was struggling a lot to retain men and give them a purpose. Many churches are adding men’s ministries as an auxillary in response to such concerns. There is an entire body of research and thought on the challenges of engaging men, including Unitarian minister Kathleen Rolenz’ award-winning sermon “The Vanishing Male,” David Murrow’s book “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” and so on.

    But when I have brought this up, men insist that they would continue to participate. And they might, but when they “bear testimony,” expect me to believe them, and ignore the massive body of research, I am not particularly impressed. And I feel sorry for the young dads I know who used to take satisfaction in blessing their babies, in finally having the chance to contribute something to the cause after only being able to coach their wives through pregnancy and labor. Nowadays, however, they are made to feel like selfish pigs if they don’t want to have their wives do the same thing they do.

    Every change has a cost and benefit, Perhaps the benefits outweigh the costs, but let us please not pretend that there are no costs to change.

  134. anonymous 5:14

    I am so sorry for your loss. I actually share your concern about the needlessly taking time away from our leaders. I believe they only have so much time reasonably away from their families and I do not think my issues were more important than other balls he was juggling. I was disheartened to learn this is the only counsel I am given to follow, and wanted to show my obedience to follow counsel from our Brethren. I do wish there were a way to send these concerns to a general Public Affairs email that could be consolidated and presented to a committee in SL somewhere (or something??) so that I do not further take my bishop’s time away from others or his family.

    My husband was EQP for 3+ years. During this time he worked 50-70 hours per week for his job, while he completed night classes 6 credits per semester for his master’s degree. By and large I don’t think most members really understand the sacrifice these families make for these men in leadership. During this time we were foster parents, well more accurately, I was a foster parent while my husband was an EQP. On average my family had my husband in the home while we were awake one night per week. Living in a very transient ward, on average we saw my husband one Saturday per month, if we were lucky. I do not want to minimize others’ issues and make mine as more important – I can handle this, but it should be understood by someone out there, and I’m looking for a way for that to happen.

  135. Naismith, just as every change comes with a cost, every time we maintain the status quo — or as we’ve found the last few years every year we retrench even further (a la the Ensign’s latest motherhood/nurturing article/meme; or the uptick in hemline modesty lecturing for YW) comes with a cost as well.

    Perhaps we have a bit created our own problem about men and church? For what can we expect of boys from the age of 8 who have been taught that roomfulls of people show up every month to clap and give them awards for learning how to play a sport, tie a knot, or build a fire? If men need to be in charge to be active in the Gospel . . . I don’t even want to go down that rabbit hole. Because then we open the privilege discussion and how giving one person the equal privilege that you hold does not remove the privilege from you. And if you think it does, it’s more of a power/psychological issue for those who feel so. But I really don’t want to discuss privilege right now.

  136. I admire how you’ve chosen to approach this conversation and your willingness to go through the proper channels, as they say. When I hear the “discuss it with your local leaders” line, it reminds me of when my kids are bugging me about something and I tell them to go bug their father for a change because I don’t want to deal with it. Everyone knows there’s not much bishops can do on a local level, they don’t have any more answers than we do, and they have enough to worry about without people like me burdening them with unanswerable questions. So I, like most people, figure there’s no point trying. But I admire that you are trying, the way you’ve been told to try. I’m very interested to know what happens with your SP.

  137. I do not believe this to be the case, but a cynical person, perhaps one with much more experience in disappointment and marginalization than I have had, could be excused for thinking that Br. Otterson’s letter may serve some leaders as a way to flush out the “rebellious and critical.”

  138. KerBearRN says:

    Kristine, thank you SO much for verbalizing these points so well. When I can gather the courage to do so, I will take them (plus a couple of my own) to my bishop. Maybe if we just start asking local leaders for more equal consideration, this really will get forwarded up the chain. Done diplomatically and with love in our hearts, it really couldn’t hurt.

  139. Rosemary N. Palmer says:

    While I do not agree with all of the issues in the letter (e.g. that equality demands that priesthood have the same amount as the RS, when the RS program calls for regular meetings that must be funded, and the priesthood does NOT; and the Proclamation paradigm isn’t lead/nurture, but provide/nurture —doesn’t say one word about who cleans the toilets or takes out the trash), I disagree with those here that say bishops cannot solve things so why bring them up. The Church welfare system was started in a ward and a stake and was the single light for years until the headquarters got wind of it. Whenever issues are raised and there is no prohibition in the Church Handbook, or explicit instructions about something, then a bishop absolutely has the power to address it. With revelation, bishops can do things differently than the handbook for their wards. Bishops can have whole sacrament meetings where only sisters talk. Bishops can assign on high council sundays, a sister to give the one other talk. Bishops can make sure ward councils that discuss ways to do things in the ward include as many women as men. Bishops can let women auxiliary leaders lead fully (except when he knows confidential stuff that the presidency doesn’t), counseling and praying together if their revelation appears to disagree.

    More importantly, one of the important ways things do get changed is when concerns percolate up through normal channels to do so. And that always starts at bishops/branch presidents.

  140. Naismith says:

    “If men need to be in charge to be active in the Gospel . . . ”

    That’s not what I am suggesting. I am suggesting that men need to have a way to serve (which might not be the same way they serve now).

    And I don’t see the ideal of leadership in the church today as being “in charge,” not in the home and not in the ward. There are various models of leadership, and there is a whole body of research around “servant leadership” which is what I see the church promoting.

    As bishop, my own husband was responsible for the ward, but never “in charge.” He was at the beck of call of every member, had to deal with assignments from the stake and mission, and always make decisions on his knees. Since he is “in charge” in his workplace, the difference was pretty stark.

    As pointed out here, one of our problems in discussing the “status quo” is that it varies so much. Most of the temple marriages I know are true equal partnerships, much more equal than supposedly egalitarian marriages outside the church, because the work of homemaking and child production is valued. Most of the church leaders I know are humble servants.

    But of course there are those who cite scriptures to justify abuse and control. And I’m not sure how that would magically change is women were also in those same positions, since women can also be abusive and uninspired.

  141. Naismith, I know, I know. In charge was a loaded term and not what I meant. A leadership calling is putting others’ needs before ones own, I saw that as an EQP widow. There is a distinct difference between being in a position to wait for your voice to be heard and having your voice be a part of the conversation in the first place. Either women are listened to by nature of the structure of the organization, or they must wait for an open ear.

    I’ve been on all sides of the working/SAHM&childless/mother situation; I am an infertile woman who in no way cherishes my motherhood less than anyone else (maybe even more so). But we can appreciate mothers and value their contributions AND appreciate others and value their contributions. Saying “the most important thing you can do in this life is to be Christlike in all that you do: as a parent, spouse, neighbor, coworker, etc.” How does that devalue your contributions as a mother? I get that SAHMs LOVE being told they are doing the most important thing, but what I’m doing to build the kingdom is less important? Even though that’s what God specifically gave me for me to do in my life? And I don’t buy the “all women are mothers” line.

  142. Leah Paige says:

    I must say, I disagree with many of the points in this letter. Some I agree with, but others… make my blood boil.

    I understand wanting equitable funds, but BSA is important for boys growing up. If there is a GSA (or other female scouting opportunity) available in the area, however, I feel it should be pursued by church leadership with as much importance as the BSA is. (I sorely regret only having Girl’s Camp and Adventure Camp as the only wilderness education I had the chance to receive.) Besides that, I feel this is kind of a warm-up point for your bishop to get started in on difficult subjects. It seems trivial compared to the other controversial aspects.

    The second point is a commonly feminist viewpoint, and I start getting red-eyed when I read this type of stuff. Not because I’m all “boo, women suck. Stay in the kitchen!” but because I’d really like for men to be men and not boys. While I do agree that we should be defined by Christ-like attributes instead of gender-amenable titles, like strong and meek, many men are losing their abilities. As we continue to overindulge feminism, we lose masculinity. I am so sick of boys. They don’t know how to take control any more. They wait to be told what to do, the lack confidence, they have no reason any more. Not unreasonable, but the reason of their very existence is strained and reduced (check out Gods of the Copybook Heading for the end result of *that*). If a male doesn’t lead and provide for his family, all he’s there for is reproduction and women don’t like being put in that position, so why are we constantly striving to put men there?!

    Which brings me to her third point. Why are women not in more leadership positions? Because men need a purpose. Not calling women to these positions isn’t an intention to devalue women, but to increase the value of men. Plus, they need to learn how to take control, and their dads aren’t currently very good role models. Also, somewhere in the comments, her husband being called as a ward clerk, but not her, was brought up. The answer as to why she wasn’t called was that there were adept people already in place, but her husband was called for his diplomacy. She instantly jumped into her not being diplomatic enough because she was a woman. I hate that. I am good at writing, but I wouldn’t jump down the throat of my leadership because a male friend was called to write a ward newsletter because I’m a woman! He may need the blessings or trials of the calling; he may be a better fit, personality-wise, than me. Making personnel choices based on personality and inspiration is not an affront to your gender. Don’t make it about it.

    The fourth point, I do agree with. A lot. When I was fourteen, I was given a lesson on being virtuous by a women who felt the same. She hated that we dance around the issue of sex and told us straight up, “This lesson is on sex.” Another lesson by another teacher, we were told the exact definitions of “petting” and “passionate kissing.” I hate the fact that I’m never told of the spiritual blessings that come from dressing modestly, but instead am told that men can’t control their thoughts and women are responsible for these diabolical thoughts. I get to some extent, yeah, walking around in a bikini is the same as wearing just a bra and panties and is similar to the beginnings of porn, but, at the same time, men, take responsibility for yourselves! This principle taught as is makes me very unhappy.

    I do not have my endowments yet and am, thus, unqualified to rant about point five.

    The sixth point is half-and-half. There are far more males in leadership positions in the church and I feel that, speaking wise, we have a pretty decent balance per capita. While it would be wonderful to have a female leader-based curriculum, is any of our curriculum “teachings of this random apostle from a century ago?” All of the “teachings of” are “teachings of (insert prophet name).” Mission presidents need the priesthood and they act as a kind of bishop to their charges. Bishop’s wives aren’t called as a co-bishop. I would like to have the names of the General RS published, but, then again, I never look at the 70s published, either, so.

    (I am truly sorry you’ve lost some standing with your family, ward and faith-based friends because of your views. Just because I don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends.)

    I hope I have provided a new way to look at things. If you feel devalued by my comments, please let me know so I can better explain a point, as I am not trying to make any woman feel less than she is (a daughter of God.)

  143. Leah, yes we disagree on issues – maybe even passionately disagree. I really hope we would still be friends if we knew each other, too. I feel the same for the other passionate disagreers (ie Naismith, etc.). I think if we knew each others’ hearts and experiences all would be plain in understanding of our positions.

    For instance I do think of Eliza R. Snow as a prophetess, one who prophesies. There’s probably a deep treasure trove of doctrinal teachings that aren’t even touched/taught/learned because they are from a woman without the priesthood ( but WAAIT, we just learned we do have the priesthood power and authority the whole time, so . . . ). Yes we have the basics, and great teachings from our others leaders, but the whole line upon line thing . . . I’m just saying it would be great.

  144. Leah Paige says:

    Kristine, even if Eliza R. is a prophetess – not disagreeing, some of her hymns are the essence of inspired word – she was not the head prophet of the church. We don’t have teachings from any of the apostles from any time period, despite how they are called as *prophets, seers and revelators* unless they are called as *the* prophet, will all of the keys active at all times. There are plenty of books with their teachings just as there are a plethora of books from the women of the church (maybe not as many, but per capita…). I am interested on your thoughts on my perspective of the overindulgence of feminism creating weak men. I haven’t been able to get a solid answer from any of my feminist friends/family. My sister is a staunch supporter of the feminist movement (Hi, Lacey Lu!) and every time I mention that her views of feminism may be damaging men, she only can redirect it to how women are being treated unfairly. (I fear we have reached a day where many believe that to support women, they cannot support men.)

  145. Kristine A – for Eliza R Snow, did you see that her journal has been digitized?

    Church History Catalog – Eliza R Snow Journal

    There’s some good stuff in there for Eliza fans. :)

  146. “I am interested on your thoughts on my perspective of the overindulgence of feminism creating weak men.”

    As gently as I can say this, feminism is not to blame for weak men – and not taking charge automatically does not make a man weak.

    Finally, I know of nobody who believes that we have to denigrate men to support women. I think that is a false dichotomy – and it absolutely is not being advocated in any of the comments in this thread or the post itself.

  147. Leah Paige says:

    Ray, I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I believe the feminist movement is creating a generation of degenerate men.

    Similar to how minority races still desire atonement for the action of the “whites” (funny how we can say that, but not “blacks”), many members of the feminist movement desire for men to make amends for their previous history of being elevated above women, such to the point that women would be elevated above men. That is certainly what I hear in many of the “make it equal” comments in this post. No offense to Kristine, but if there would be an equal portion of women to men speaking in conference, the leadership of the church would be misrepresented. There are more men in leadership positions. Imagine there only being a Senate instead of a House of Republicans. Wyoming’s inhabitants would be over 500 times more responsible for the laws of America than a Californian. I don’t think it’s fair to put that much strain on the women, when there are, oh, eight quorums of the seventy now? If you think about it, women speak at conference an inordinate amount of time, per capita.

    But this generation of men has degenerated. I’m not just talking about taking charge – though that does play a factor – I’m talking about every whiny boy you’ve ever met (shockingly a high number, yeah?). I’m talking about the boys who are 21-30 years old that still live at home, that don’t have a license or a job, that don’t have any desire to get up and do something. I’m sick of boys that don’t have enough balls (pardon the expression) to get up and ask a girl out. Most boys that I’ve asked about this have said that they’re waiting for the girl to ask them. And this is the exact same attitude they take towards everything. They’re waiting for their mom to apply to college for them or for their mom to take them out job hunting or their wife to tell them what to do. I believe this lack of action is due to constantly being told that their job can be done just as well or better by a woman. If you were told everyday that you’re job could be filled just as well by such-and-such and (s)he’d do better, wouldn’t you start to buy into it and stop bothering with trying? Now, I don’t believe it’s the only thing that is making this change, but I do believe it plays a large part.

    By removing many of the jobs that men now hold and women, we are telling them that they aren’t doing a good enough job and that women would do better (check out Pastor Gungor’s explanation in “A Tale of Two Brains” for why that is detrimental to them here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29JPnJSmDs0)

  148. Leah Paige says:

    Apologies, the full Tale of Two Brains is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nR3zbf3fn0 and here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIA575TCf7Q

  149. ” If a male doesn’t lead and provide for his family, all he’s there for is reproduction and women don’t like being put in that position, so why are we constantly striving to put men there?!”

    Leah, why in the world would men stop leading and providing for their families? In my feminist vision of the world, both men and women lead their families together, and mothers and fathers work out a work/family schedule that makes the best use of both of their talents and passions and needs. Sometimes that will mean that one or the other parent is home full time, but it shouldn’t be automatic based on gender and the parent at home is certainly good for much more than just reproduction.

    Your idea of feminism is skewed – I love men who are fully realized adults. I just don’t buy into the crazy idea that they can’t be men without having dominance over women. Sharing opportunity or leadership is not at all the same as losing it. I know so many confident, competent men who in turn value confidence and competence in women and are happy to both lead and follow. These are manly men, not the immature boys who can only feel powerful if they subjugate others.

  150. Ah, the emasculation of men. Again, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I love my husband’s masculinity, his manliness – and I think there are some very serious cultural and traditional issues we have when we think that the power of God equals masculinity, or that sharing space at a council table would lessen masculinity. I do think there are cultural issues abound that in some ways men are lagging, but the cause of that is that women have entered as competition – and things are so easy and just handed to them quite as they were before, they’ve got to step it up and yes, raise the bar.

    I truly believe that our obligation under the Family Proclamation is to provide and love and teach your children in the way that works best for you and your husband; don’t follow a pattern, follow what works for you. My stay-at-home dad friends don’t feel emasculated, why would you assume so? Is that your issue or theirs?

  151. Leah’s comment is amazing. This is why the Internet exists.

  152. Thank you for sharing this. My concerns echo yours in so many ways. They came out naturally in an interview with my Bishop and it ended with his prayer that my “heart would be softened.” I saw my legitimacy slip away and don’t imagine callings in my future. My questions don’t come from a hardened heart, but a sincere, seekingheart. I have heard that I should leave, but I care about my faith community and I believe in revelation. I am saddened that a church built on questioning the status quo and individuals turning to God for further enlightenment now ostracizes those who follow this course today.

  153. I do understand your plea for more female involvement in the everyday decision s made by the leadership of the church that affects you as an individual and others who feel left out when it pertains to what is being taught, when it comes to the more vital areas female issues dealing with the aggressive, unbridled nature of men or young men, we do not need our young women hurt or taken advantage of by those who they should be protected by.
    I myself have been passed by when it comes to the teaching of the children, this is because I tell it like it is. What do I do about it I trust my Father that He loves me and I am often reminded that pride is the killer of faith and I talk to Him so He can give me that encouragement to carry on without envy or strife that His will continue s to roll forth as it should, and I those events in my life are for His purpose and not mine. A scripture came to mind that our Father work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man and so if that is His purpose then it is my purpose, for I am not in the service of my God, I am in the service with my God. One last item, if one seeks after position because they feel entitled to that position then it cannot serve the needs of those who would benefit from the services rendered by that person serving them with the attitude of entitlement. Or in other words the Priesthood has no dominitive power over individual s, it is given to us to benefit the lives of those it serves.

  154. You mentioned healing in your post. While healing can be accomplished through the priesthood, I think most priesthood holders have no idea what healing is really about or how to act in this capacity. Healing is a gift of the spirit and can be practiced and learned with or without priesthood authority. Moreover, healers exist in every nation and culture around the world regardless is belief system. The women in the early church performed blessings and healings, but my understanding is these were not done through priesthood authority. Seems Dialogue ran an article on this topic several years ago, which I found compelling. We’re all healers in Christ’s stead if we simply accept that mantle and commit to practicing in righteousness.

  155. I’m disappointed by the lack of empathy from some who’ve posted. I’ve grappled with some of these same issues, others don’t bother me, but that’s not really the point. Who among us, who love the LDS church and are in it for the long haul no matter what, have not had concerns or questions about the Gospel or life in general that have frustrated us and disturbed our peace? This woman is sincerely seeking for peace about the things that are troubling her. Kristine, you keep searching, asking, working, praying and trusting God, and you’ll eventually find the peace you crave. And who in the world said we can’t question our leaders??? Respect, yes. Support, yes. Not speak ill of? Absolutely. But never question? The Gospel would never have been restored if Joseph Smith did not ask questions. And Gospel doctrine does not change, but policies change all the time, as knowledge increases and needs change. The Word of Wisdom never would have been revealed had Joseph Smith not seen a NEED and asked about it. The Lord expects us to ask, encourages us, even, and then asks us accept the answer, whatever it is.

    Maybe the Lord will reveal to our leaders to change some of these things now, some of them in the future, and some never, but one thing is for sure–some things will not change unless we show we are ready by ASKING Him.

    Kristine, you go, girl!

  156. In the youth Sunday School class I teach, we are going over Elder Oaks’ most recent talk about the Priesthood – and the youth understand and accept the new framing he presents much more readily than many adults do. It’s been inspiring to see their reactions to this very different paradigm.

    New wine and old bottles, I suppose.

  157. Suzanne says:

    Hi … Some of following this will get a kick out of the following article (cut & paste the whole address for best results): My favorite mens request: “How come there’s a mother’s lounge but not a father’s lounge? Women get to nurse and feed their baby in a dark, quiet room while fathers have to walk around the Church looking for an empty classroom or use the “stand-and-sway” method to put babies to sleep. Even if we find an unused classroom, we don’t have the rocking chair.”

    https://buzz.io/4219/some-lds-women-want-the-priesthood-well-lds-men-have-some-requests-too/?fb_source=timeline&ref=profile#_=_

  158. Daniel Andersen says:

    GreyBarron, if, by any chance, you are still reading this comments novella I have shared your experiences on facebook and they are steadily coming up on 200 likes. It has been suggested that you submit them for an Ordain Women profile.

    Leah, regarding your concerns about men no longer having a role other than reproduction. Although I am a man, I am a food scientist, and have more cooking knack than my wife. I’m also a capable cleaner, work from home and am naturally more interested in caring for children than my wife. My wife makes six figures working for Intel and loves her work. Neither of us specifically leads at home.

    We are a special case. This being said, we demonstrate that gender does not determine one’s skillset. We would both be less effective at raising a family if we attempted to follow the standard masculine/feminine roles. Families will in general be most benefitted by a the feminist ideal that a woman and a man should be encouraged to choose whichever role within the family that best suits them based on their situation. Some men line up with your definition of masculinity and working outside the home will suit them. Some men, like myself, are more inclined toward housework and childcare. I feel blessed that I will be able to care for my children all day long because my wife does not feel ashamed of pursuing her career. That’s what feminism is about.

  159. We live in a small regional branch in a small district (5 units: 3-4 hours drive between the furtherest) outside the US. We don’t have any funding equity issues, there is no BSA, no church owned camp site, no pinewood derby, we are lucky to meet in a church owned building for which we are rostered to clean and maintain, our chapel is also our recreation area. We recently joined with a stake in the city which had a ‘youth trek’, all the units contributed funds to support the families who couldn’t afford the cost of sending their youth.
    Incidentally, my wife passed the sacrament today, she passed it to me, I was sitting next to her. Now lest you think this a remark designed to belittle the concerns raised above, it is not. It is to draw attention to the way in which all, children included, are participants in administering the sacraments of the kingdom, through which both the doer and the receiver are greatly edified, notwithstanding the manner in which we are organised, called or chosen.

  160. Kristine, as a pioneer-stock, temple-married and -going, returned missionary, former bishop (twice) former high councilman (can’t count that high), never-miss-a-Sunday grandfather, I’m with you. I’ve noticed something interesting. Whenever I raise these questions, I don’t get a lot of pushback from the brethren. It’s the sisters who jump all over me, and not in the way that I wished for in college.

    My wife and I were out with a couple not long ago. For some reason now lost to the fog of memory I found myself called upon for an opinion on just such a matter. My response evoked a nod from my fellow high priest and a mild, “That makes sense to me.” But the wife put me in my place with a long and impassioned “lead” vs. “nurture” speech to which I could only respond, when the opportunity eventually presented, “So. Anyone up for dessert?”

  161. Dennis McCrea says:

    I remember reading several years ago an analysis paper written by Pres. Kimball’s son Edward of what transpired before the announcement in 1978 that all worthy members could receive the fullness of the ordinances of the gospel. After it was determined that there was no revelation that set the original precedent of forbiddance, Pres. Kimball and the brethren who were supporting him in his quest to determine what The Lord really wanted him to do, determined that one of the biggest hindrances to the implementation of the proposed change in policy would be the willingness of the Church membership in general to forgo their ingrained racist tendencies and sustain this policy. Reading comments from people such as Joe Hackett and Glenn only confirms this sentiment that there are some or even many in the Church today who would not be able to accept and sustain any change in Church policy as it pertains to the female membership.

  162. I know I’m late to this but going along with GreyBarron’s comments, we’ve also struggled with wards that have very few priesthood holders, and it has especially been a disadvantage for our teenage boys. We’ve had to homechurch a few times and now live in a ward where my 15- and 13-year-old boys don’t speak the language and therefore aren’t able to participate much at all in church. There are a few men in the ward who speak English well, but all have intense callings that don’t allow them to interact with our sons in any meaningful way at church. They’re certainly not getting any mission preparation at church.

    Also, because of the lack of priesthood leadership throughout the country we’re in, the general policy in our area is to not call YM leadership unless there are at least 10 YM in the ward. Our ward only has about 6-7 so there are no YM activities and very little support for the YM from the leadership. There are YW leaders.

    I don’t say this to complain that boys are getting the short end of the stick in comparison to girls because I don’t see that at all, but instead that the requirement that men fill most of the leadership callings in a ward or branch can leave some other callings unfilled that really would benefit from having men in them.

  163. Your questions remind me of my own. A few years ago I wrote down 100 “Questions to Gospel Answers”, for which I didn’t believe the LDS Church provided answers. I then followed the admonition found in D&C 11:7 and, along with study, I prayed for wisdom every day for several weeks. Within a year I had received (or located) answers to more than half of my questions. Heavenly Father had heard my prayers and given me the faith I needed; I no longer had a need to question, only a desire to be faithful.

  164. So for you having questions and desiring to be faithful are mutually exclusive? Wisdom is such a blessing, you are right. I don’t allow these questions to rule me, but they provide a vehicle that prompts me to rely more on my Savior. Perhaps, as Elder Bednar posits, this is part of my load that enables me to return to Him. I don’t require answers, I make no demands.

    I appreciate you sharing your own personal experience. Desiring to understand and love each other is the first step of empathy and Christlike love.

  165. Big Papa! says:

    Krissy (this IS Dad), I would NEVER speak to you the way Glenn did, and I’m rather disappointed that you even asked the question. However, putting that aside, I thought you’d be happy to know that we had a discussion Sunday morning in PEC about the possibility of MIA Maids and Laurels being Visiting Teaching companions in the ward…all because I let the Bishop read your blog while we were on the way to the Temple last week. I think we may be moving ahead with it in some form or another. I’ve also sent a copy of your blog and the Bishop’s reply to our Stake President…FYI.
    DADDY (Luv’ ya’!)

  166. Interesting discussion and kudos on your bravery & diplomacy. What a great dad BTW!

    Whenever I tell a member of a bishopric or other male leader how I feel about girls being overlooked in the church and give examples, the #1 response I receive is the “I never thought about it before” response you received. Whenever I tell a female leader how I feel, I get a nod of approval or a hushed agreement with the occasional call to repentance by a few (my mom’s generation mostly 80 yrs +)

    We all need to open our mouths and educate!

    My personal pet peeve is monthly cub pack meeting for boys with the whole family attending and nothing remotely similar for the activity day girls. I know that the Lord loves ALL of His children. It would be nice if His church reflected that.

  167. rgfuller says:

    Socializing boys requires far more deliberate effort than socializing girls does. Poorly socialized adolescent boys pose far greater risk to others (especially to girls) and to society than girls do. It makes perfect sense to invest more effort and expense into socializing boys. That doesn’t mean girls are less loved, less important or deserve less attention.

  168. Glenn, you are a tool

  169. heiddi's says:

    Thank you for you for sharing these thoughts. It’s nice to see this kind of thing shared in a respectful manner instead of demands. I agree with many of your points. When I was young (and now on occasion) I was jealous of my brother going on campouts and different things he got to learn as part of scouting. Why can’t I learn to shoot or learn to swim from church leaders? I know that camping with periods isn’t the most practical but that doesn’t mean that girls can’t camp or do things other than crafts on Wednesday nights. There are solutions to this we just need to get people thinking about them. (Maybe the bishop could mention in in ward council)

    I’m not really a fan of the primary teaching but I like teaching the young women. I might like teaching RS too but I haven’t done that yet. Women can be called to teach any Sunday school class although they are not called to the presidency. I feel that one reason this may be (and for ward clerks and bishoprics) is that if both men and women could be called there might be more one man one woman time which can lead to affairs. If you can take measures to prevent affairs, shouldn’t you do all that you can? And maybe women are called to primary because the men would have more inappropriate problems than the women (thinking of the pope/bishop problems) and because women are in charge of this important group the men have to have a consolation prize of officiating over other things.

    As for the priesthood, I think that men need it in this life more than women. Men are better able to learn service and empathy (and hopefully righteous leadership skills) through using the priesthood than they might otherwise. Most women already get the service/empathy thing. and in the next life when we have a perfect knowledge of things and we don’t need the separation for men to see their role as a priesthood holder has value. We can both use the priesthood in the next life is my feeling but it really isn’t necessary for us to learn to be the best we can be. (sidenote, I would rather not go to more meetings if that’s ok with everyone) Men and women do, however, serve side by side on the ward council. There may be more men but everyone gets an equal voice. Talking about every ward member and their needs is probably the MOST important thing that goes on in the church. I don’t really know, I’ve never been it’s kind of an exclusive club but that is what I feel from what I hear goes on there.

    Maybe the RS has such a large budget because there are a good many RS members who wouldn’t want to go to a cheap activity (although I know some RS members who don’t go to any activity but maybe the budget helped them wait to stop going) Also, I doubt that my husband would go to a social activity without the family. If he is called because of a certain position he will probably go. (This also would work the other way but I feel it acknowledges a lot of our divine differences)

    Unrelated note, who is this Glenn guy? Wow. He has some strong opinions about not asking questions. Ever. Wonder Why.

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