Knocking at the Gate

Michael Austin is Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of English at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, a member of the Dialogue Board of Directors, and a friend of the blog.

“CHRISTIANA began to knock . . . she knocked and knocked again. But instead of any that answered, they all thought that they heard as if a dog came barking upon them. A dog, and a great one too; and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for awhile to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them. . . . . Knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back they durst not, for fear that the keeper of that gate should espy them as they so went, and should be offended with them. At last they thought of knocking again, and knocked more vehemently than they did at the first. Then said the keeper of the gate, “Who is there?

—John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Part II

Even by the standards of 1678, the first volume of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is hostile to women. When the hero, Christian, discovers that he is among the elect, he turns his back on his wife and sets out to find salvation on his own. Though The Pilgrim’s Progress book went on to become the bestselling book of the century (and of the next two centuries after that), readers expressed great dismay over the fate of Christian’s wife.

But Bunyan changed his mind. Six years later he wrote a sequel, Pilgrim’s Progress Part II, chronicling the salvation journey of Christiana. Unlike Christian, who experiences an irresistible call to grace, Christiana sets out with her children to find salvation without an invitation. When she comes to the gate that begins the journey, she is denied entrance. So she knocks. When nobody answers, she knocks again. And she keeps knocking harder and harder until she is finally admitted. In the terms of Bunyan’s theology, she wills her own election because she refuses to take no for an answer.

The scriptures are full of people knocking on God’s door until they are answered: Jacob wrestles with the angel (Genesis 32: 23-32), Zipporah talks God out of killing Moses (Exodus 4:18-31), Enos prays until God blesses his people (Enos 1). God expects us to ask for stuff, and he “giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). It is never wrong to ask God a question. We can always knock at the gate.

This is even true when God says no. The Book of Job (about which I have recently written at some length) is the story of a man who believes that he has been treated unfairly by God. He complains bitterly about God’s injustice and demands that God answer his questions. His friends—we call them “the Comforters”—turn against him. They accuse him of blasphemy and defend the justice of God in the most vigorous terms possible. In their defense of the God, they turn away from their friend.

When God finally does answer Job, we discover that Job has been wrong all along. He was not being punished; he was simply working with an inadequate definition of justice. God explains this to Job, and Job accepts the answer. And then God does something remarkable. He rebukes His staunchest defenders (Job 42:7). They, not Job, are the ones who misunderstood God—even though they were unwavering in His defense. God didn’t need their help to win an argument; He needed them to comfort their struggling friend.

This is all a roundabout way of saying some things about the Ordain Women movement and about the news that its leader, Kate Kelly, has been summoned to a disciplinary council to answer charges of apostasy.

The Ordain Women movement has been knocking at the gate for some time, often loudly and not always with the deference that Latter-day Saints expect towards their leaders. But they have also raised issues of real concern to thousands of women in the Church. They are asking questions in public that have been asked politely in private for many years—only to be dismissed at the local level by priesthood holders who imagine that they know what is best for the sisters.

According to LDS theology, the answers to these questions can only be revealed through prophets of the Church, to whom they have no direct line of communication. That is why they knock. It is the only line of communication open to them for talking to the people they need to talk to.

Let me be very clear here. I do not know if women will ever be ordained to the priesthood. It seems very possible to me that the male-only priesthood in the LDS Church is an artifact of nineteenth century, when just about every religious organization had a male-only priesthood. But that is my human perspective. I acknowledge that there could be fundamental universal laws in play that make female ordination a cosmic impossibility. Like Job, I lack the perspective to understand everything that God does.

But I do know that we are allowed to ask him why He does things. And we are allowed to ask Him to change His mind. Like Christiana, we can knock until our fingers are bloody, and we can cry until our voices are raw. God can handle it. He will either open the door or he won’t, but He is not diminished by our requests. Those who are knocking at the gate have taken upon themselves the difficult and necessary task of wrestling with an angel. It is an ancient and honorable occupation that sometimes works out and sometimes does not. But, on balance, it has caused the arc of history to bend a bit more quickly towards justice.

Gate knocking and angel wrestling are tough jobs. Those of us on the sidelines have it much easier. All we have to do is decide what kind of Comforters we are going to be. We can be like Job’s Comforters and criticize the knockers, telling ourselves that, in doing so, we are defending God from those who would disrespect Him and disrupt His church. But we should keep in mind that God saved his harshest rebukes for those who invoked their religion against their suffering friend.

Comments

  1. “God didn’t need their help to win an argument; He needed them to comfort their struggling friend.”

    Absolutely perfect.

  2. “I do not know if women will ever be ordained to the priesthood… that is my human perspective. I acknowledge that there could be fundamental universal laws in play that make female ordination a cosmic impossibility. Like Job, I lack the perspective to understand everything that God does.”

    Yessssss. Also, God’s got this. He is in charge, and He will bring about His will regardless of our actions.

  3. melissa says:

    **clapping wildly**

  4. Bravo, Michael.

  5. MDearest says:

    Amen.

  6. A. Mathews says:

    All examples are of people knocking (praying) on God’s door. Job was humble and prayed to The Lord. In my opinion, the Ordain Women group should take their prayers to God, not to the internet and public demonstrations. Fasting and prayer have always been the humble way to get God’s attention. They can continue to pray and ask, but demonstrating seems to say that they don’t really believe that God answers prayers, and that they need to make a public display to get his attention. The Lord taught that we should pray in private and that the Lord who hears in private will reward us openly. If we truly believe that, we should follow His formula. On the contrary, He teaches “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

    I just think the members of Ordain Women are going about it the wrong way. They should trust that God answers prayers, and they should continue praying if they so desire, but always knowing as well that we must accept the Lord’s will and His timeline. Getting frustrated and turning to public means seems to demonstrate a lack of faith in the power of prayer and a lack of faith that God answers prayers. We all have an open communication with God. Doesn’t that seem more effective? It’s going straight to the source. Blaming the Brethren for not asking makes no sense to me. Nobody can prohibit me from praying to God for anything. Answers to our prayers as it relates to church doctrine or organization will always come from God to the Prophet, but the asking can come from all of us.

    Just my thoughts.

  7. Amen and Awomen.

  8. So, basically, A. Matthews reads this piece and then decides to do exactly what is talked about in the piece: “We can be like Job’s Comforters and criticize the knockers, telling ourselves that, in doing so, we are defending God from those who would disrespect Him and disrupt His church. But we should keep in mind that God saved his harshest rebukes for those who invoked their religion against their suffering friend.”

  9. Brilliantly written. Ultimately, If Kate Kelly is cast in the role as merely a seeker of blessings or asker of prayers then the leaders of the church come off very poorly. Of course people defending the church would argue that the disciplinary hearing is not about merely asking questions, or as the post elegantly frames it, “gate knocking.”

    Unfortunately it seems like people who disagree on the issue are talking past each other at this point.

    Finally, for what it’s worth, Ordain Women has published the letter from Kate Kelly’s stake president. It specifically states that the discipline is not for personal beliefs or asking questions.

    http://ordainwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014-05-22-Informal-Probation-Letter-to-Kate-Kelly.pdf

  10. As Church discipline is a personal and private affair I am amazed at the publicity it has garnered. For me this says more about her motives than almost any other approach she has taken. There are many better ways to seek answers from God if that is her motive, while there are few better ways to gain publicity and a spotlight if that is her motive.

  11. I can’t believe those uppity women haven’t been praying in secret long enough, and that they want a way to talk to the leaders who have direct access to God. If they would just do this the right way, then it wouldn’t be so threatening, and other people with the same question(s) would feel as alone and hopeless as they always have, because they wouldn’t know there were other uppity females who felt the same way.

    I’m glad you were around to explain it all to us A. Mathews. /end snark

    I wonder if you have ever considered that maybe the men and women involved in Ordain Women have spent a lot of time praying, and that their actions are what they were told to do when they prayed about it? What would you do, if you received very clear revelation that the Lord wanted you to go and knock at the Temple Gate, and that you should keep doing so until you received other instructions? This isn’t an answer to ask the whole church to do the same thing, or a revelation for the church, but it is a revelation, that came after hours of prayer and fasting? Would you be brave enough to follow Christ’s call, when he asked you to let others know about what you are doing, so if they have similar inspiration, you can answer the call together?

    I have been praying to understand the role and importance of our Heavenly Mother for years. I received very direct spiritual direction to start the Finding Heavenly Mother Project. Within days of that revelation, I met others who had similar promptings at almost the same time, and I have been strengthened as we have worked with other organizations that also focus on Heavenly Mother.

    Ordain Women is not my specific call, and at this point I have not been asked to take public action to put the request for more light and knowledge about her, directly before the public. I have no idea if someday that call will come, but I will follow it if it does, because I will not give up the companionship of my Savior, that I know would come if I was not willing to follow a clear directive.

    I hear lots of people who want to add more prayer to the equation, but not what they think someone should do when their prayer is clearly answered, which makes me suspect that it is not prayer that they want to have happen. Real and intense prayers lead to answers, for that specific person. While sometimes the answer is to wait, I have found that much more often, the answer is spiritual guidance about how and when to act, and advice on finding others who have also been praying, and received the same answer.

  12. Dan, you do realize that her stake president said he was going to go public with it if she didn’t, right?

  13. Hedgehog says:

    Dan, she reports, in response to that criticism, that she was told to make her status public, and that if she didn’t they would (http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/06/kate-kelly-speaks-fmh-podcast-episode-112-kate-kelly-on-being-disciplined-by-the-church-of-jesus-chris-of-latter-day-saints/). It’s also indicated by “you can no longer represent that you are a member in good standing in the Church” (see the letter linked above). Since she previously had represented herself as a member in good standing, what else could she do?

  14. Hi Julia, I didn’t realise that. I know the Stake President wrote to Kate informing her that she could no longer represent that she is a member in good standing, but I saw no statement in that letter that he would go public himself.

    Hi Hedgehog, given the other content in the letter I think there were many ways Kate could have complied with this request that did not involve media interviews or posting her letter online. I’m sure you could think of many alternatives too. I notice that the Ordain Women website is still live, thereby demonstrating non-compliance with other parts of the request.

    Hence my concern about her motives, and concern about representations that Kate is simply a victim. Her response to the letter she received seems to me to demonstrate that Kate can no longer argue she is merely asking questions, I am concerned that Kate is now following different motivation.

  15. Dan,
    Have you seriously ever considered that she is following personal revelation? Have you thought about the amount of time and prayer that almost everyone involved in OW have put into the decision to post a profile?

    I know dozens of people with profiles up, and I have been privileged to have a number of them share the spiritual experiences that brought them to that choice. They were not decisions of rebellion, but made out of personal revelation and much fasting and prayer.

    You are doing a great job standing in for Job’s friends, I will give you that.

  16. Outstanding.

  17. Hi Julia. With respect, by all means equate me with Job’s friend if you wish, but I don’t see myself in that description, any more than I see Kate as being equivalent to Job.

    In truth I have considered, seriously, the question you pose about whether Kate and OW followers sought personal revelation over this one. I cannot attest to whether they did, or the source of the answer, we have to take their word for it. But it is my opinion that 150 members rallying round an emotive cause are more likely to be misled than the President of the Church and the Quorum of the 12.

  18. Hedgehog says:

    Dan, given the OW actions also appeared in the newspapers and other media whilst she was a member in good standing, I view it as reaching the same audience.
    With regard to not having taken down the website etc., the disciplinary action is pending. I think it best to wait to see how that works out before casting stones in judgement.

    Try listening to the interview link, which explains exactly how this occurred at the most inconvenient of times in her life. She’s in the process of moving overseas, temporarily staying with family before she goes. She was in that stake and ward long enough, that they need to wait for her to be packing and moving out before delivering any of this.

  19. Carl Youngblood says:

    Without necessarily disagreeing with anything you’ve said here, I would add: God can certainly take it. But we shouldn’t take for granted that the Church can also. Dissension takes a toll. It certainly presents an opportunity for maturation and growth, but it can also accelerate decline.

  20. JohnnyS says:

    Hi Dan,

    First, I don’t mean to pile on at all. I think you’re asking legitimate, serious questions and I respect your attempts to discover more information. I don’t think Kate thinks of herself as a victim. She’s a competent, educated and (in my opinion) sincere and engaged member of the church and she’s a feminist. And I think a large part of what’s going on here is that what Kate’s doing is as much about a push for transparency regarding church policy/processes, which I’m not sure is an “emotive cause,” as much as it is a push for women to be ordained. IMHO, I think more transparency and less opacity regarding church policy/practice is a good thing.

    My main point, though, is that, in fact, sometimes members have more wisdom than our leaders. If you are familiar with the Lowry Nelson/First Presidency letter exchange, it’s clear that Lowry Nelson was correct (the change in church policy thirty years later clearly indicates that) and that the First Presidency was wrong, not to mention the fact that they were racists. They weren’t merely racists, of course; they were also men of God chosen to lead this church, but history has shown that they were wrong. So that’s one example. And I think it’s important to recognize that this church is a progressive organization that generally eventually catches up with evolving social thinking, it just progresses very slowly (TOO slowly for some members’ tastes) because it feels like it can’t admit that it’s just as subject to changing/evolving social views as any other institution. Just my two cents. The link to the Lowry Nelson exchange can be found here:

    http://mormonstories.org/other/Lowry_Nelson_1st_Presidency_Exchange.pdf

  21. Kristine says:

    Part of the reason the book of Job is in the canon and Pilgrim’s Progress is not (thank goodness!) is that Job is a complex text that resists easy identification of heroes and villains. Most of Job’s friends are well-intentioned. Job is too perfect for any of us to fully identify with him. God and Satan are almost comically not quite godlike enough for us to interpret their words literally. We are all Job in our sufferings; we are all Job’s friends in our efforts to alleviate and explain suffering; none of us understands God well enough to carry out His will. It’s a story that, most of all, ought to make us humble and remind us to remain silent, or at to recognize that our opinions ought to be cautious and provisional, in the face of things we don’t understand (which is pretty much everything).

  22. Hi all,

    I’m not an educated man, but I do know that I raise my hand several times a year to sustain the Prophet and the Twelve as Seers and Revelators. I also know that we have been counciled to follow the Prophet, that he will not lead us astray. I also know that our ways are not the Lord’s way, and our timing is not the Lord’s timing. I know that this is the Lord’s church, and He is at its head. As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord. No criticizing of the Lord’s anointed, no judging of others, and enduring to the end in all things. Sometimes it is just that simple…..after all, shouldn’t we become as little children and simply obey Father?

  23. Most sane man on the Internets.

  24. A. Mathews says:

    Juliatnepoet-My point is that the OW already have “direct access” to God. You say they have prayed in secret “long enough.” Who decides that? I’m just saying that we all have access to God through prayer. Now we wait for his timeline. If the Brethren asked that they don’t disrupt the spirit of conference than they should follow that counsel, if they truly believe that God speaks to these church leaders. Again, seems like they say they want to get through to the church leaders because they accept that they speak directly with God, yet when those same leaders ask them not to come to priesthood meeting because it is distracting, they ignore the request. As if the only thing they believe comes from God are things that they want to hear.

  25. A. Mathews says:

    Ifokus – exactly

  26. Hi JohnnyS, I am already familiar with the Lowry Nelson exchange, and regardless of how it may be read in hindsight I have only this to say. When I read the reply of the First Presidency I felt the Holy Spirit witness to me.

  27. JohnnyS says:

    Hi Dan,

    I completely respect your witness and your take on that exchange. When I read what the First Presidency wrote, I am horrified and actually feel the spirit withdraw itself. I’m not saying you’re wrong and I’m right, just pointing out that not everyone is going to get the same response all the time to everything. And honestly, I wonder if that’s what this is really all about. Is it possible for some people to receive a certain revelation about something and others receive a different response? I think it is and so am less troubled by the OW folks’ claims about revelations/witnesses they’ve received. Maybe the Lord is using the OW folks to push along the notion of female ordination? As Kristine implies, human beings don’t know nearly as much as they think they do, but on the other hand, I don’t think that people having different feelings about things like the OW issue ought to lead to the divisions and snarkiness I’m seeing on both sides of this issue. It’s a shame, really, because as disciples of Christ, the one thing you’d hope we would get right is loving and not condemning/judging folks who don’t think exactly the way we do. I think we have a long way to go.

  28. Thank you. So much.

    “Those who are knocking at the gate have taken upon themselves the difficult and necessary task of wrestling with an angel. It is an ancient and honorable occupation that sometimes works out and sometimes does not. But, on balance, it has caused the arc of history to bend a bit more quickly towards justice.”

    To say this is an ancient and honorable occupation is the best compliment I could receive.

  29. ifokus, Kate Kelly is an endowed member of the Church, thus arguably also one of the Lord’s anointed. Are you criticizing her?

  30. Article is nice but sometimes the answer is no. I thought of raising children are there times that they ask us to do something and we tell them no and then it’s done. This may be a poor example for some but for my children it suits me they are 5 and under if they want to use a sharp knife what’s my answer going to be No, going to the pool by themselves no, leaving them in the car on a summer day no

  31. Iris,
    It seems as though you think that we women are just like little children 5 and under wanting something that will cause us harm. How will the power of God on earth be so harmful to us? What sort of responsibility can my 13 year old son have that is too dangerous for me as a grown woman to handle?

  32. Can I look at pornography no….. can I go drink beer no….can I cheat on a test no…… can I steal from a store..

  33. OW isn’t asking to do those things.

  34. it's a series of tubes says:

    Have you seriously ever considered that she is following personal revelation? Have you thought about the amount of time and prayer that almost everyone involved in OW have put into the decision to post a profile?

    Julia, what if OW opponents make the same claim? The “my personal revelation is better than your personal revelation” debate is a fruitless, tail-chasing exercise.

    It’s possible that the FP and 12 are wrong on this one. It’s also possible that OW are wrong. Each of us are free to stand where we will, and, provided that we do so in good faith, I can’t see the harm in the debate as long as it remains civil.

  35. This is an excellent post that makes an incredibly important point.

    It’s sad to see how many comments don’t address the post and the very important point it makes in any way. In the words of Pres. Uchtdorf, to those who criticize people who act differently than they would, “It’s not that simple.”

  36. It’s got nothing to do with being untrustworthy, but rather where our focus ought to be. That being said we are still certainly children to God, but sense he trusts us with the creation of and responsibility to raise his children it’s not an issue of not being trustworthy with responsibilities. It is entirely a question of where our responsibilities lie. Some church responsibilities have fallen on the men, by nature of tradition stemming from biology. Some responsibilities have fallen on women, by nature of biology and tradition.

    I realize that’s unacceptable for some who drink from the waters of modernity, but I’m not pleased to see incessant murmuring trying to change what is beautifully harmonious to me. My wife certainly has the blessings and power of the priesthood, and we have all the authority we need to act to bring to pass much righteousness. Everything else that is being demanded or asked for really does miss the point.

  37. It seemed to me that the goal of Ordain Women wasn’t to knock, but to break down the door entirely–to force a revelation, when revelation cannot be forced.

    I believe that we can always ask God, but there is a big difference between asking and telling Him what to do. He has clearly stated through his prophets that “only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood.” (Oaks, The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood). He has opened the door and responded to Ordain Women. Now is the time to take that answer and move forward with faith that He will always bless those who act upon his answers.

  38. Dq, please read the proclamation about the family more carefully. It doesn’t say what was said in my early adult years. Yes, it lays out traditional responsibilities, but it doesn’t stop there. In that particular case, “drinking from the waters of modernity” actually is “following the prophets” – and sticking to the prescribed roles of the past is not.

    Al, nothing that OW has done can be seen reasonably as trying to break down the door. At most, it has been knocking more loudly and differently than we are accustomed to hearing – which is what the post is saying. Agree or not with OW, they have not acted in a way that should be compared to trying to knock down the door.

  39. it's a series of tubes says:

    Agree or not with OW, they have not acted in a way that should be compared to trying to knock down the door.

    Ray, while you may feel that way, there are likely many others who feel otherwise. As one who respects your opinion, may I suggest we all would probably benefit from keeping opinion and fact separate, and not labeling opposing opinions “unreasonable”.

  40. Point taken, tubes. Thanks.

  41. OK, I’ll concede that. But would you agree that the knocking has issued a clear answer from God?

  42. Iris, so the power of God on earth is now comparable to illegal and immoral acts? Again, I’ll ask if the power of God on earth is so illegal and immoral for me, why should my 13 year old son have access to it?

  43. “But would you agree that the knocking has issued a clear answer from God?”

    I haven’t heard one. I’ve heard many opinions from people at various levels of church hierarchy, but nothing that sounds like a clear answer from God. I’m still praying for that.

    As an aside, the Lowry Nelson letters made me cry. He was so, so right and it seemed like they wouldn’t even consider what he was saying, let alone pray about it. It’s things like that that make me feel it’s not always right to follow the prophets. I don’t know if OW is right either, so I’m trying to be patient with and generous to both sides. But I feel like I can’t trust any individual’s words because even a prophet can be wrong and make mistakes. So I’m still waiting to hear something from God.

  44. I think Elder Oaks said quite clearly that they feel it would take a revelation from God which hasn’t come.

  45. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” –D&C 1:38.

    I know that God loves us, and never tries to confuse us or lead us astray. I know that He has restored His Church and priesthood, has called prophets and apostles and other leaders so that we won’t ever be led astray. Whether the answer comes in the form of a Priesthood session address by Elder Oaks, a talk by Elder Ballard during Education Week, or an official statement from the Church PR department, we can and should take that answer as if it came directly from the Lord’s own mouth.

    If doubt still remains, we can always study these words and then ask in faith if they are from the Lord. I know that anyone who sincerely acts in doctrine will come to know from the Holy Ghost that the words of the prophets, seers and revelators are from God.

  46. “A prophet is only a prophet when he speaks as a prophet.” – Joseph Smith

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell when the apostles are speaking as prophets. I have prayed sincerely about this issue, but the answer that I’ve gotten is not the one some on here are suggesting I should/will get. The answer I’ve gotten is that both the apostles and members of OW are sincere in expressing their personal opinions and beliefs. But not that either group is absolutely right or wrong. For me, I think it’s probably somewhere in the middle. But as Pres. Uchtdorf recently said, “Your truth is not necessarily my truth.”

    As for Elder Oaks, what I heard was that it would take another revelation and as that hasn’t come, I stand by what I said: I haven’t heard God speak clearly on this subject. So I pray and I wait. For something that feels right.

  47. Just perfect. Perfect.

  48. @MOQT YES!!! Ditto, ditto, ditto!

    In my opinion, the Ordain Women group should take their prayers to God, not to the internet and public demonstrations.

    @A. Mathews:
    The actual praying and fasting of OW has NOT been in public.
    What about when whole wards are asked to participate in prayer and fasting for an individual or family? That isn’t kept private, with only those in close association praying and fasting, because we’re told there is strength in numbers when praying. We can’t be told that there’s strength in numbers when praying for some things but not in others.
    I was not personally fasting and praying about women’s issues because I didn’t realize there were issues. I’m thankful that my eyes have been opened by their public discussion, and I can now add my prayers (privately).

    @Dan:
    Confidentiality should belong to the individual, and the individual should have the right to waive it as to what goes on in the court proceedings (particularly when, as here, a woman being tried by an all-male court is a key element of why she’s taken the path that is leading to being tried in the first place).

    But I do know that we are allowed to ask him why He does things. And we are allowed to ask Him to change His mind. [...] God can handle it. He will either open the door or he won’t, but He is not diminished by our requests.

    @Carl Youngblood: The Lord’s church should be able to handle it just as much as he can.

  49. 1. Where did President Uchtdorf say that “your truth is not necessarily my truth?” I read the talk he gave “What is Truth?” but didn’t find any such quote. I did read the part where he says,

    “The thing about truth is that it exists beyond belief. It is true even if nobody believes it.”

    2. I don’t like using the whole “a prophet is only a prophet when he speaks as a prophet” thing when it is used to discard those things we don’t agree with. Elder Oaks may not be speaking as a prophet when he’s conversing at lunch. Giving an address in conference is an entirely different animal.

    Gospel Principles states:

    “We should follow his inspired teachings completely. We should not choose to follow part of his inspired counsel and discard that which is unpleasant or difficult. The Lord commanded us to follow the inspired teachings of His prophet:

    “Thou shalt give heed unto all his [the prophet’s] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

    “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5).

    The Lord will never allow the President of the Church to lead us astray.”

    3. Where does Elder Oaks say that women’s ordination to the priesthood would require another revelation? I’m not doubting you, I just don’t remember where he said that. Last Priesthood session?

  50. “The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures—matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. But even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.”

    If they see it as a divinely decreed historical pattern, then change can occur only through revelation (a new divine decree).

    Elder Oaks’ talk said, essentially, that the only restriction on women right now is ordination to offices and the callings attending those offices. In all other things, women (and all baptized members) have access to Priesthood authority and can exercise Priesthood power. Ordination aside, I wish all members understood and accepted everything else he said in this talk.

  51. Molly Bennion says:

    You are a wise man, Michael. I always drop everything to read your latest post and I’m never disappointed.

  52. Al, President Uchtdorf said that during the BYU symposium this year. I was there and wrote it down when he said it, but I don’t know if it appears in the official transcript.

    As for #2, we could go back and forth all day pointing out scriptures and quotes to support our different takes on this matter because there are enough contradictory scriptures and GA quotes to justify both of us. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe the Lord, knowing that His children are different and need different ways of connecting to Him, provided us with options so we could do what works for us individually. So let’s do that and just agree to disagree. You can follow the prophet no matter what he says or directs you to do. And I will follow him only when I get personal confirmation from the spirit and can feel peace of conscience in doing so. That’s the best I can do, because as long as there are examples like the Lowry Nelson exchange, I can’t just trust that they will never lead me astray. (We may have different opinions of what it means to be led astray and that’s also fine.)

    For #3, I think Elder Oaks more implied it than stated it verbatim. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that we would need a different set of priesthood keys to ordain women – which I took to mean some kind of additional revelation or angelic visitation. President Hinckley, however, did say specifically that it would take another revelation. Regardless, I’m still waiting on more information. The only clear answer I’ve gotten from my prayers is that there is more to come. I don’t know what it is, but I’m waiting for all that he will yet reveal.

  53. Even if I believed the knock has been answered with a “no” (which I don’t), the story of the Canaanite woman teaches me that it’s okay to keep knocking, as long as the request is a righteous request.

    I don’t see how a group of women asking for ordination so they can serve God in new and expanded ways can be seen as anything other than righteous.

    So I hope they keep knocking. Loudly, even.

  54. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

    And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

  55. “Elder Oaks’ talk said, essentially, that the only restriction on women right now is ordination to offices and the callings attending those offices. In all other things, women (and all baptized members) have access to Priesthood authority and can exercise Priesthood power. Ordination aside, I wish all members understood and accepted everything else he said in this talk.”

    The way you summarized that, Ray, makes it sound like Elder Oaks was clearly teaching that women can lay their hands on someone’s head and give them a MP blessing to heal the sick. No office is required for a MP holder to give such a blessing.

    I do not think this is what Elder Oaks said or meant (despite the historical precedent for exactly this priesthood power being exercised by women up through the mid twentieth century).

  56. For example, I’m reasonably certain that a man asking his wife to join him in the circle blessing a baby would still be seen as “apostasy” by 99% of bishops in the Church — and such an action is even far more benign than a woman giving a blessing to heal the sick.

    Do you think that Elder Oaks’ talk is going to effect revolutionary change in this manner, e.g. by restoring women’s ability to give blessings of healing and health or by inviting them to join in the circle giving baby blessings, or even voicing those blessings?

  57. “No office is required for a MP holder to give such a blessing.”

    Ordination to the MP automatically includes ordination to an office in that MP. I don’t see that example as in conflict with what I said.

  58. I’m sorry I wasn’t very clear in a part of my earlier comment. I tend to believe people when they tell me that they have prayed about a situation, and wrestled with the Lord, whether their answer is the same as mine or not.

    My grandmother taught me, and all of her grandchildren, that no matter what the teaching is, who has taught it, or where it was taught, that we have a responsibility to pray and receive an answer to the truthfulness of the teaching. As a teenager I had the first answer that something was not true, that had been taught by a GA. I had no idea what to do, and after discretely talking to a number of people about it, simply decided that I had to follow the answer I was given.

    It was another 10 years later that I had a chance to regularly visit with my grandmother, and other temple workers, in the celestial room of the temple. In pouring out my sorrow over that particular teaching, as well as others that go along with it, several of the temple workers shared their experiences with praying for confirmation of a teaching or principle, expecting a confirmation and then receiving the opposite answer. Sitting with women, and a few men, who were willing to discuss their own experiences, struggles and personal revelation, taught me that God answers prayers according to that which we are called to do.

    During one of those conversations, I found out that my grandmother, and several other temple workers, had almost left the church over the priesthood ban. My grandmother had prayed about the teachings, the supposed reasons for the ban, and as an adult convert who loved the gospel, she didn’t know if she could continue to follow prophets who were teaching things that her personal revelation told her was absolutely wrong. She was in deep despair, because she had two sons on missions, and yet she was fighting through every Sunday school lesson denouncing the “worldly focus on civil rights and the revelation that she just did not believe, that a member of the temple presidency and hus wife spoke in their ward. During the wife’s talk, she shared the Joseph Smith quote, and her testimony that prophets are not infallible, and that we should always pray for our leaders to see beyond their weaknesses, and to pray that we also will be able to see beyond ours.

    The temple matron was sitting with us that day, and she expressed her concern that the “Follow the Prophet” focus was taking away the teaching to “search, ponder and pray” for our own guidance and revelation. All four of us then quietly discussed those things that personal revelation had revealed that was different than currently church policy or revelation. Another decade has gone by, and I see many of those concerns have been reflected in changes that have been made, while others have become more entrenched.

    I believe that our Heavenly Parents do not answer questions that we refuse to ask. I believe that two people asking the same question, will often get different answers, that are appropriate to their level of understanding, their situation and what the Lod most needs them to do, as well as their willingness and current ability, to step outside their comfort zone.

    Tubes – I think that we agree more than we disagree, and I thank you for bringing me to write a more thoughtful and less flippant answer.

  59. Carl Youngblood says:

    CG Said: “@Carl Youngblood: The Lord’s church should be able to handle it just as much as he can.”

    “Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people.” (Mosiah 27:13)

    “But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.” (D&C 124:32)

    Clearly, the Church has the possibility of failing, both in former times and now, depending on our behavior. If it does, God just finds someone else. He is able of these stones to raise children unto Abraham.

  60. Terry H says:

    I’ve been fascinated by all the comments on this topic. All I will add is that Michael’s book on Job will be available from Kofford Books in a few weeks. I CAN’T WAIT!!! Even though it appears that Michael has an “unorthodox” approach to the book, its something that will open doors for many and his comments on Job above are particularly apt in this situation. That’s the beauty of the best scriptures, they open it up for our interpretations at many levels (and usually, all of them are correct).

  61. Follow the prophet. If you can’t do that then start your own RLDS and do what you want.

  62. -Michael says:

    You wrote, “According to LDS theology, the answers to these questions can only be revealed through prophets of the Church, to whom they have no direct line of communication. That is why they knock. It is the only line of communication open to them for talking to the people they need to talk to.” This is false. Also, question on ordination was asked and answered. I am sure everyone has the phrase memorized by now. Elder Oaks said that “even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.”

  63. -Michael: Certainly you are right: An apostle has stated that the leadership of the church does not feel free to alter the current pattern. For a change to occur, they would have to ask God for the blessing of universal priesthood on behalf of the members. OW’s entire point is to ask that they do so; the movement accepts that a change may (or must, if that is what you believe) require further light and knowledge from the Lord.

  64. Lew Scannon says:

    Those who are defending the status quo here are forgetting all we learned with the 1978 revelation changing priesthood access for worthy black members. General Authorities over the years made many statements that proved to be not just wrong but based on unsound doctrine. When a courageous prophet pled over and over for light on this difficult topic, he eventually received it. But it wasn’t easy. David O. McKay prayed about it too, but the time wasn’t right. Why wasn’t the time right? It very well could be that the Church wasn’t ready for it in the 1950s or 1960s. By 1978, the Church was ready. That it didn’t happen earlier is our fault, not God’s. I’m not saying that women will ever receive the priesthood in this life (although, apparently, since they are promised in the temple that they will someday be priestesses, they will receive the priesthood at some point), but I am saying that we should stop telling God what he can or can’t change. Are we, as Latter-day Saints, willing to accept any change God sees fit to make? Are we willing to allow him to leave things unchanged? It may be that our attitudes are the determining factor. If we are ready, after all these centuries of telling women to be subservient, to grant them true equality, perhaps God will allow this. But if we aren’t ready, I doubt that he will give us what we aren’t ready for.

  65. OW isn’t knocking gently in hope for an answer. They’re ringing the doorbell to the point of annoyance to everyone inside the house. Those in the house obviously don’t want to answer the door although they were willing to chat for a sec through the window. Who knows… they may let them in later, they may not. But now they’re just pissed that OW keeps ringing the doorbell and shouting throughout the neighborhood that the door isn’t opening in a timely manner. They start shouting even louder and ring more frequently until those inside threaten to kick them off the porch if they keep it up…. or something like that

  66. I dont’ understand where some of the commenters are coming from with regard to the level of deference or obedience to the leaders of the Church. Every reference I’ve searched out indicates that we are asked to obey God, but to follow or heed the prophets. Somehow, to Mormons, we’ve equated follow and heed to mean the same thing as obey. They don’t.

    Also, Catholics believe the Pope is infallible and then act as if he isn’t. Mormons believe that the Prophet is not infallible and then act as if he is. So which is it?

    Finally, these same commenters seem not to know about one of Brigham Young’s biggest fears: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” (Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 12, 1862. JD 9:150)

  67. BHodges says:

    Looking forward to the book, Michael Austin.

  68. RockiesGma says:

    To all who feel OW is ringing the doorbell too long I wish to say, women have been knocking at the gate for millennia. We have been pleasant. We have been patient. We have been very, very, very long-suffering. This request for equality is not new. It has fallen on deaf ears, prideful ears, mean ears, and violent ears throughout time in every culture and society. Collectively, our feminine hands are bleeding from that knocking. Our knees are arthritic from tearful, pleading prayers. And until our wonderful leaders can believe there is, in fact, unequal yoking and inequality in running this church, we will go on knocking and ringing the doorbell long after we are all dead and gone and the rising generations of women take our places.

    How wondrous and merciful is God in leading and guiding our knocking, and in His sustaining strength to see us endure amidst angst, snark, meanness, ignoring, deafness, and disciplinary councils. We ask for the bread our brethren all eat, but we are given stones, if given anything at all. Usually, we are given nothing but traditional views that have kept women from being all they could be —-if they had had the power of God to act in His name as part of their discipleship.

    If 50% of society is not granted the same tools and powers that 50% is held back and all of society has lost the blessings and goodness they could have rejoiced in.

    How long must God wait for us to see? To hear? To learn?

    A hundred years from now when our descendants look back to this time in history, what will they say we knew, achieved, contributed and offered? I want my life’s record to testify that I served all my days to lift women to their rightful places of growth, opportunity, godly power, and most of all…equality in every facet of life. We are daughters of God, and we must be treated with every opportunity and gift given His sons.

    When the people inside the house don’t answer the knock, or send PR reps to say go away, or be quiet, or use a softer tone, or leave us alone—–we are left to knock ever longer and stronger. Remember, women have been denied rights, powers, privileges, and equality since Mother Eve. We must not stop knocking. And if Job or Enos or Jacob had had an internet and a media to go to to seek support for their causes, they surely would have been grateful for such great tools.

    So please, please answer the door. Please stop giving us stones. Please believe the cause is just and looooong overdue. The Holy Ghost is helping us. He comforts us when we feel we can’t knock one more time. Take one fast and go to the Lord as if you ARE Kate Kelly and you feel all hers and our righteous desires. Act as if you actually believe they are righteous. Ask the Lord if women can be ordained to become better women of God?—to grow the kingdom with priesthood power beside our fathers and brothers and sons. Ask as if you feel it is a wonderful thing, but how does He feel about it?

    I promise, no….I testify……that by fast’s end you will hear a pleasant knocking on your paradigm doctrinal door and you will feel a sweet welcoming of those who knock. You will have a desire to invite them into your heart and to visit with them. You will be pleased to get to know them and rejoice in the discussions you will have. Then, asking the Lord what His will is for ordination at this time will be a wondrous labor, and a hopeful labor, of joy and love.

    All our members concerns and questions should be treated with an invitation at first knock to come in, sit down, have prayer, the sacrament, and then discuss openly and without fear of rebuke, discipline, rejection, or condescension. Those who knock, and those who are asked the questions—all of us must have open ears, minds and hearts. Pride must be checked at the door.

    This is perhaps our generations’ moment to stay the ancient course, or boldly go where Heavenly Father wished we had gone long, long ago. We cannot afford fear, nor pride, nor blindness, nor deafness. We must walk in the other person’s shoes and genuinely try to see what they see, and know what they know. We must stop our certainty that though only a few knock, or even just one, that they must be led by the adversary and don’t have a true testimony and must be cut off.

    Women have been held down and back for millennia. Many women just go along and make the most of it, never realizing there are millions of Kate’s who paved the way for the rights and privileges women do have thus far. But there is work yet to be done. We could use bandages and soothing oils. We could use kind support and love. But most of all, could you please just open the door and let us in?

  69. Yes, there has been knocking for millennia. There have also been many women already inside who have been having the discussions, helping make the change, and keep having everyone in the house be distracted by those not just knocking, but lining the walls with siege carts.

    If you’re knocking on a door that only the Lord can answer, you may have a long wait, but (if it’s actually a door) it will be opened, by the Master, in His time. If you’re banging on doors expecting men (or women) to answer, you’re knocking on the wrong door.

  70. Kristine says:

    “There have also been many women already inside who have been having the discussions, helping make the change,”

    Frank, that is simply not true, despite the Newsrooms repeated assertions. Unless you count hanging some portraits as change.

    Also, you’re dangerously close to questioning RockiesGmas faithfulness, which we try not to do around here. Watch yourself.

  71. I said absolutely nothing about RockiesGMA’s faithfulness. I’ve found her to be very faithful, and continue to look forward to her postings, here and elsewhere.

    As for it not being true that women have been having discussions, you’re ignoring those who have said, even recently, that they were involved, as well as many RS and other Presidencies who helped make change in the Church. Despite what some believe, these women are not told to stand in a corner until asked to talk in conference about how good it is, nor are these women used to muffle the sound of knocking.

    Hanging portraits is a very visible change, but it is certainly one of the smallest. Most changes come without fanfare.

  72. On Fathers day my dad had a chat with me about OW. I expressed my opinion that women are under-represented in decision making. My father, who has been in lots of leadership positions, responded that if our ward and stake councils functioned properly, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem. He then listed off who would attend one of these councils, counting men and women….and a light bulb went on over his head. That’s my hope for the rest of our leaders, to recognize that the status quo is not enough.

  73. Kristine says:

    Frank, I’m not ignoring the people who were involved. There have been a few instances of soliciting women’s opinions. But it is extremely difficult to discover substantive changes resulting from those discussions (whether or not they come with fanfare–I pay pretty close attention).

  74. Kristine says:

    Mark–I think those kinds of discussions are one of a few redemptive results of this episode.

  75. also, putting up portraits and writing a press release about it is more a sign that “see there are problems” than “see how much we love women”

  76. “It is the only line of communication open to them for talking to the people they need to talk to.”

    The idiomatic phrase, “There are more ways to skin a cat.” comes to mind. There must be more than one method, more than one tool in the toolbox to use that will be effective in accomplishing the goal of speaking with church leaders on topics of concern. From my vantage point, the church has repeatedly asked for members to find another way to attempt to communicate with leaders, one that doesn’t involved staged actions on temple square. My guess is that the church would have been able to overlook the rhetorical imperative inherent in the name of Ordain Women and possibly even the statement of belief that would should be ordained that appears to be sticking in their craw if those agitating for ordination were to have chosen a different way of getting the church’s attention.

    This is usually the time when I hear protests of, “We tried and they didn’t answer our letters!” to which I respond the church has publicly stated why letters sent directly to church leaders or PR are not responded to in the way that members would like. Most often letters from members are sent back to the stake president in whose stake that member resides. This may be unexpected news but that is actually a helpful hint that members can follow up with the stake president and have a chance for their letter to make it directly to the First Presidency.

    From the CHI (https://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/selected-church-policies#21.1.24):

    “In most cases, correspondence from members to General Authorities will be referred back to their local leaders. Stake presidents who need clarification about doctrinal or other Church matters may write in behalf of their members to the First Presidency.”

    This policy outlines another mode of communication that can be employed by church members, another way to knock that appears to be the church’s front door instead of sneaking through the yard knocking at the back. It seems like Otterson, Isom et al have hinted at this procedure though they haven’t quite so clearly come out and referred people to the CHI. When I called and asked this question of PR, the person I spoke with directed me to this written policy.

  77. anonymous says:

    A quick anecdote: We recently had a change in our Stk Presidency. At SC our new SP & his wife stood up together & said they’d prayed together to decide on counselors. I don’t know if this is anything new or rare, but it was new/progressive to me.

  78. maustin66 says:

    Jenne, just for the record, I don’t even know one way to skin a cat :-)

  79. Kristine says:

    Jenne, I’m not exactly sure how “send us letters that we will not read”* amounts to an invitation to communicate.

    *and which we will send back to your local leaders so they can know that you’re a troublemaker…

  80. solaceformothers says:

    If someone employs this method of communication and gets a response from a member of the First Presidency, doesn’t that imply one of the presidency read the letter that the stake president sent? Do you have evidence to support your claim that a letter sent by a stake president is forwarded back to the stake president without being read? If the stake president is the one who sent it, wouldn’t he already be alerted to the attitudes and perspective of the member whose thoughts he forwarded to the First Presidency?

    Maybe you missed that part of my comment, but letters sent by the stake president on behalf of a member considered communication that is in alignment with the statement policy in the church handbook. For the years I have been around the bloggernacle, I have not encountered anyone else who has attempted to strictly follow that policy. Most people who have attempted to communicate with church letters try to send their letter directly to an apostle or member of the first presidency (which is expressly counseled against). If folks want the respect of being dignified in a response, then its only equitable to heed to procedure outlined by those to whom they are speaking. Its like getting pissed off at the editor because they won’t publish your journal entry without peer review. Peer review is required for publication. The Stake President is the reviewer. Until folks try it and learn firsthand how that policy works, there is little point in assuming that it won’t.

  81. *solaceformothers is the same commenter as Jenne (wordpress is being glitchy)

  82. I have witnessed various attempts to use the method Jenne refers to. And you can get all kinds of results. Unfortunately, only a few of them result in what anyone could call communication. (I.e., of the two-way kind where there is at least a two-part conversation of the person asking his or her question and the then that same person receiving an answer from the General Authorities.

    Only a very few of the ones I know about resulted in a response arriving from Salt Lake City to the bishop or the stake president, who then was instructed to ask the questioner into his office and then read the enclosed response to the questioner but not let him or her have the enclosed letter. Sometime the leader wouldn’t even let the questioner look at or read the response him- or herself.

    More often the results was that the bishop didn’t think the question merited a letter to Salt Lake. Or the questioner was told not to ask Salt Lake or that the answer was unnecessary or that the bishop or the stake president didn’t feel like writing a letter or didn’t want to send a letter to Salt Lake. Or they told the questioner they would consider it, but never did anything further. Or in a few cases, they did send a letter to Salt Lake but never got an answer.

    Now admittedly, the General Authorities are too few in number and too busy doing a lot of things to have the time to be fielding all kinds of letters with all kinds of questions from all over the world. But regardless, none of the above, short of the very few that got a response, could be honestly called a conversation. And there is no official mechanism for one member, or a small group of members to ask a question or carry on a conversation with more than one general authority simultaneously. There are no group discussions and only very rarely even a Q&A when a GA comes to speak at the local or stake level, other than possibly with the local leadership only.

  83. “More often the results was that the bishop didn’t think the question merited a letter to Salt Lake. Or the questioner was told not to ask Salt Lake or that the answer was unnecessary or that the bishop or the stake president didn’t feel like writing a letter or didn’t want to send a letter to Salt Lake. Or they told the questioner they would consider it, but never did anything further. Or in a few cases, they did send a letter to Salt Lake but never got an answer.”

    To my understanding, this is the standard range of outcomes from this procedure, which is why some members with such questions (the “troublemakers” as Kristine sardonically notes) have been experiencing significant levels of frustration for decades now. OW and KK is just the most recent example and the most well known because of the publicity tactics that they have used (presumably precisely for this reason).

  84. My most recent attempt at this, after the first OW action, which was specifically to ask about the term prophetess, and how it pertains some personal revelation I have received over the last several years. My bishop told me he didn’t know the answer, and that he thought that it was something that the stake president might be able to discuss with a GA who would be in our area. I met with him, and one of his first questions was whether I was a member of OW. (Being a feminist is not new, so it didn’t need to be asked.) I told him that I was not, and that I was still praying about whether I should join. He told me that my standing in the ward and stake would not change, whatever I decided, but that several Area General Authorities were not pleased, and putting pressure on local leaders to “control the feminists in the area as best they could.

    I was told that my stake president would usually be willing to pass my question on, but since Area General Authorities decide what gets passed on to Salt Lake, and he didn’t think that the leaders who would make the decision, would be open to any questions from women, in the current climate.

    The only real “response” I got was the stake president including that all spiritual blessings mentioned in the Articles of Faith, and in several sections of D&C, were open to all of God’s children, without regard to race, gender or church membership. The GA who spoke after didn’t disagree with him on the stand, but that is as much of an answer I got to my questions.

    Honestly, I got the distinct impression that my stake president didn’t want to be considered too soft on feminists. Since his wife and several of his daughters are known to be feminists, and certainly our stake isn’t releasing feminists from callings in YW, if anything it is the opposite. So, I can understand his reluctance since he said that he was told to ignore any members with OW profiles, and not to pass on anything from them, and to discourage liberalism as much as possible. He also told me that he felt that I should follow my personal revelation, so it isn’t like he ignored my question.

  85. RockiesGma says:

    In response to Frank Pellett, please let me point out that the Savior has designated the way to knock. We study it out in our minds through scripture, personal prayer, and a great deal of pondering—all of which is to be done by inviting the Spirit to guide our study, pondering and praying. Then when we have questions, we go to our prophet who holds the keys to revelation for the church. It is the prophet’s door we knock on because we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We cannot seek answers for the church. It is not our stewardship. Thus, we go to the one whose stewardship it is. We knock and ask to present our deeply studied questions and to ask him to ask our Father in Heaven if this blessing may come forth at this time.

    In my humble opinion, it is a mistake—not a sin—-but a mistake to turn away those who seek further light and knowledge. Agitating irritates too many people. If we would listen to those agitating, doing so face-to-face, perhaps much good would come forth for all parties. My washing machine agitates to loosen impacted dirt. If my clothes were current policies, I can see great value in loosening them up, discarding the soiled, and refreshing and renewing things again. agitation. My clothes have no feelings so agitating never hurts them. But it often irritates my husband–do you have to do that now? The clothes don’t look dirty to me? You’re making too much noise with the laundry. Etc. agitating bugs him. He’d rather never hear the washer and wishes I’d run it only when he’s not home. But he sure does love his clean clothing! He loves the good that comes forth, despite the irritating agitation. There was a time in our early years together when I had to do our laundry in the bathtub by hand. It took all day and there was almost no agitation because my arms could not swish dirt loose very fast, you see. I thought of how my mom and grandmother—all my grandmothers back to Eve washed their clothing in streams, lakes and rivers. All by hand for millennia. It’s still done this way in too much of the world, sadly. It took me all day to do the wash that now is done in 30 minutes of agitation and spinning by a very fast machine.

    Agitation saves me a great deal of time and physical suffering. The good is accomplished at a tremendous pace. This is quite a blessing. So I choose to see Kate as a high-efficiency agitator who is very good and reliable, and endeavor in goth loosen old traditions and perceived locked-in doctrines that MAY–MIGHT change if we can get the prophet to ask Heavenly Father if it’s His will. But I think he may be much like my Honeybun…..he doesn’t like the noise she makes. He’d rather she not make the noise around him. He’d rather she not do the wash at all. But perhaps he’d enjoy the possible good results of her efforts if he would allow her to do her work and visit with her for a spell. I’m not implying the church is dirty. I’m saying policies can become stains that MAY need loosening or refreshing. Asking Heavenly Father is a wonderful tender mercy of grace and love. It is His ordained pattern. If we can just get the prophet to overcome the irritation of being asked to ask. There would be no words sufficient to express my gratitude, even if the revelation Heavenly Father gave was not now, or no. But I want it to be revelation, not perceived inspiration, for I’ve seen how often our personal biases and foibles can manipulate our perceptions of inspiration. But until he and the other beloved 14 WANT to ask for such revelation, we are aligned to go on agitating and knocking on their stewardship door where only they have the proper keys.

    I love this pattern, though I wish we’re we’re not expected to still agitate by hand in rivers and streams, but were encouraged to use wonderful modern-day tools to be much more efficient and timely. That’s how this ancient old sister sees things, anyway.

  86. Leslie Nelson says:

    Kristi, You have the power of God on earth, as do I, as does Kate Kelly. You equate ability to call down the power of God to “holding” or being ordained to the Priesthood, which simply isn’t true. I have friends who I love and are deeply involved in this issue. I completely disagree with them. Does that make me like Jobs before mentioned neighbors? Or does it make them like unto Jobs before mentioned neighbors for acting in ways that they were asked not to act. OW was asked time and time again to keep things quiet. They did not. OW was asked time and time again not to protest and try to gain admittance to the Priesthood session. They did so anyway. OW was asked to stay off Temple Square, with their open fight against church doctrine, they came anyway. Kate Kelly knocked…..she didn’t like the answer. So she made a lot of noise. Who is most like Jobs before mentioned neighbors?

  87. Leslie, this is an argument that I just don’t understand. If all of us have the priesthood, then what is the purpose of the laying on of hands and being ordained? Why was it such a big deal when my son became a deacon? Why could I not stand in the circle when my babies were blessed? Why can I not join my husband in anointing and blessing our children? Or bless my husband when he needs comfort? Why could I not baptize my children? Or confirm them? Or even witness their baptisms? I am not asking facetiously. I honestly would like to know.

  88. Christiana is a good metaphor for Kate Kelly, in the sense we need to be kind to those who knock. Another, maybe better is CS Lewis’ Orual who deliberately goes about ruining her fellow sister’s life out of envy. In response, to set the record strait she writes out her own story in the book “Till we have faces.” Her hope is that she will be brought to Greece, where she has heard that men are willing to question even the gods. She too knocks and not so much to question, but to accuse God of injustice. She knocked and screamed and accused but in the end she realized she cannot meet face to face with god until she has one. Much of the ordain women movement felt to me more like a faceless accusation than a pilgrims questioning. For me, it is easier to get behind someone who knocks to understand like Christiana, and harder to love the faceless who stands to accuse God. It’s a big difference to me. But I am not done and have a way to go in my own pilgrimage.

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