Grrrrrrrr!

The fearsome spectre of mixed-gender bishoprics/presidencies has reared its hideous head again in the comments. Unfortunately for the innocent commenter who always manages to provoke me without trying (I heart johnf, really!!), this happened on a day when I had to tell my children, who desperately want to have the missionaries over for dinner, that we can’t do that, because, apparently, I can’t be trusted to refrain from seducing boys half my age in front of my preschoolers. (I phrased it differently to the children, in case you’re wondering).

May I ever-so-humbly suggest that learning to regard women as human beings, and not always first and foremost as potential sex objects (who are, weirdly, also more “naturally” spiritual and righteous than men) might be an important step in the establishment of Zion?

Comments

  1. Amen

  2. Yep. In the non-Mormon world, men and women manage to work closely together on professional stuff every day without having even a little bit of sex. Are Mormons so much more fragile, so much weaker? So much more sex-crazed?

  3. Eric Russell says:

    Kristine, I think you have it backwards. It’s not women’s sexuality that Mission Presidents are worried about.

    JNS, it does happen often enough that it’s dangerous from a zero-tolerance perspective.

  4. To be fair, the comment of mine that you link in the main post did not presuppose that men regard women first and foremost as potential sex objects or depend on that assumption as a premise.

    In that comment, I noted an aspect of human nature that could surface in marriages (the fallacy to the comment might actually be in assuming that this could surface in marriages — I actually have no data on that point but it just seems logical):

    It might be irrational but marriages are just like that — it is common in a marriage for a spouse not to be too enthusiastic about his or her spouse spending tons of time alone or in close company with a member of another gender so there could easily be hard feelings.

    This comment was phrased in a gender neutral way and relies on the assumption that it applies equally to both men and women in marriages. The comment overall points out practical considerations that might come into account in evaluating the issue. The comment was not presenting those considerations as an apologetic for the status quo but just offered them for the sake of the discussion.

  5. It works both ways, which doesn’t make it right I know. I had missionary correlation yesterday morning with our Sister Missionaries. I was the only one who showed up so we had to leave the Church classroom door wide-open. I also can’t give them rides and have to meet them at an investigators house if they want me to go along.

    I would also say the dinner rule is to protect you more than it is to protect them.

    But for the most part, I agree.

  6. …it does happen often enough that it’s dangerous from a zero-tolerance perspective.

    This also becomes an argument for having gender-segregated wards. People in the same ward with each other do have affairs sometimes; from a zero-tolerance perspective, I guess, that’s dangerous, too.

  7. Kristine,

    What are your views of the current church policy that forbids a man from teaching primary children alone? I don’t ask to be critical–I’m genuinely curious to hear your thoughts.

  8. JNS, you’re acting like the concern is just so ridiculous as to not even merit discussion. It might very well be and perhaps the concern isn’t really held by any real people but is only theoretical.

  9. Eric Russell says:

    This also becomes an argument for having gender-segregated wards.

    Only if you employ fallacies of equivocation with the word dangerous.

    You know there’s a world of difference in danger between what you describe and what John F. describes in the above-linked comment.

  10. Obviously, Kristine, you never paid attention to When Harry Met Sally. Or, if you did, you didn’t believe it.

  11. Mark Brown says:

    Eric, john f.:

    The thing is, we already have men and women working together. Cub scout committee meetings, activity committee meetings, YW/YM presidencies meeting to plan youth conference – maybe those situations really are hotbeds of adultery and I’m too clueless to figure out how to get in on the action. But I’ve been in countless church planning and administrative meetings with women, at church and in private homes, and it never occurred to me that people might be getting ready to fornicate.

  12. I think the policy is wise. I have seen to many situations develop between single sisters and Elders. All it takes is one event between a single sister and an Elder to set missionary work back in an area for a long time. Yes I saw this on my mission and had to deal with the fallout.

    If this policy is relaxed I would wager it would be even harder to create a Zion society cause the level of incidents would increase.

  13. Though there is a zero tolerance policy, I think we’re all aware of the challenges missionaries have in this regard as compared to grown adults serving on ward councils. Though the slope may be a little slippery, people can use their judgment to avoid the pitfalls of adultery/fornication. But sad experience, I would think, has led us to multiple bright-line missionary rules that probably don’t make a ton of sense in the “real world.” I’m okay with that. Small sacrifices.

    Mathew, there is no prohibition on men teaching primary, only guidance that we use our judgment.

  14. Mark Brown:

    I wrote:

    It might be irrational but marriages are just like that — it is common in a marriage for a spouse not to be too enthusiastic about his or her spouse spending tons of time alone or in close company with a member of another gender so there could easily be hard feelings.

    Are you taking the position that this is a reference to “hotbeds of adultery” or people “getting ready to fornicate”?

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    These missionary policies didn’t exist when I was on my mission in the late 70s. We could teach a single woman in her home or have dinner with her, as long as we were together, the presumption I imagine being that our companionship of two constituted a built-in chaperone. Somewhere along the line the policy clamped down (leading to a lot of practical difficulties in trying to actually do missionary work), and I’m curious what the circumstances were to lead to this Chinese wall of separation between the sexes. Does anyone happen to know the origins of the more recent and stricter missionary policies?

  16. Only if you employ fallacies of equivocation with the word dangerous.

    You know there’s a world of difference in danger between what you describe and what John F. describes in the above-linked comment.

    Eric, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Men and women working together professionally almost always don’t have sex; same with men and women in wards together. Both groups sometimes do have sex. Isn’t that the danger? If so, I suppose we could quantify rates, etc., and have a danger contest. But really, it’s silly — it happens in both contexts, at small but nontrivial rates. Mixed-gender leadership within the church wouldn’t change that.

    What are your views of the current church policy that forbids a man from teaching primary children alone?

    In California, for example, this policy places the church in partial compliance with state law — which requires two adults to be present whenever primary-age children are being taught in church contexts. We comply with that legal requirement regarding male teachers, but not female ones.

  17. It might be irrational but marriages are just like that — it is common in a marriage for a spouse not to be too enthusiastic about his or her spouse spending tons of time alone or in close company with a member of another gender so there could easily be hard feelings.

    I agree, John. And yet, this is one of those jealousies that we have to get over. Most people who work outside the home is going to spend tons of time in close company with someone of another gender on occasion. This may cause hard feelings, but they’re the kind of feelings that we just have to work through. Unless we want to adopt sharia and create separate worlds for men and women, or something.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Mark Brown #11, my immediate “priesthood file leader” is actually a woman. I’m the community relations guy on the stake public affairs council; our PA director is a woman. At our last meeting, halfway through our SP counsellor had to leave for a different stake meeting, and our media person (also female) wasn’t present, so she and I concluded the meeting ourselves. In a room. Alone. Business was done, matters were resolved, the kingdom was advanced.

    I recognize people certainly might have concerns in this area that are well worth discussing, but I personally don’t think this would be such a big problem. Perhaps that is because I’m in law, where I’ve often worked with and sometimes reported to female superiors and it seems entirely natural to me.

  19. Unless we want to adopt sharia and create separate worlds for men and women, or something.

    . . . . because that is what people who might have this concern must be advocating?

  20. No, John. I don’t think you’re advocating the creation of totally separate spheres for men and women. I think you’re raising an admittedly irrational emotional concern. My response is to point out that we have limited choices here: (a) confront the irrational emotions as human weaknesses to be overcome, or (b) adopt hurtful, damaging, and limiting policies to evade dealing with those emotions directly. Do you think there are other alternatives, besides either just getting over the emotions or artificially limiting women’s opportunities for contribution and service?

    Anyway, don’t you advocate keeping women out of leadership positions? For these reasons? That’s the separate worlds thing.

  21. Eric Russell says:

    JNS, the situations afforded by working in a presidency together, to include close relationships and one-on-one opportunities, is on an entirely different level than the everyday relationships provided by normal interaction among ward members.

  22. Anyway, don’t you advocate keeping women out of leadership positions? For these reasons? That’s the separate worlds thing.

    No.

  23. JNS, the situations afforded by working in a presidency together, to include close relationships and one-on-one opportunities, is on an entirely different level than the everyday relationships provided by normal interaction among ward members.

    I only partially disagree here. There are a lot of opportunities for cross-gender emotional and social intimacy in normal ward interactions, especially for those who take callings like home teaching seriously. And presidency situations mostly involve groups — a presidency is four or more people, counting secretaries.

    The work analogy is, of course, more precise. But neighborhoods, wards, social organizations, political activism, book clubs, library volunteer programs, and so forth all involve men and women working together in close proximity. The objection to mixed-gender presidencies has to include substantial discomfort with these other realities, as a logical implication.

    Anyway, don’t you advocate keeping women out of leadership positions? For these reasons? That’s the separate worlds thing.

    No.

    Please explain, then. You objected to mixed-gender presidencies here, for example. Your justification for the objection was: “It might be irrational but marriages are just like that — it is common in a marriage for a spouse not to be too enthusiastic about his or her spouse to be spending tons of time alone or in close company with a member of another gender so there could easily be hard feelings.”

    You did offer the alternative of requiring either all-male or all-female presidencies. But that’s just another version of separate worlds, isn’t it? Either in this way, or by blocking female leadership, you’re advocating making real-world limitations in order to assuage possible emotional concerns that, in other spheres of our life, we just grow out of.

  24. Mark Brown says:

    Eric,

    It isn’t clear to me what you mean. I consider myself to be pretty close friends with three of four women in my ward. One of those friendships arose from working together in callings that necessitated close collaboration. I don’t think the quality of the friendship is any different.

    I don’t mean to belittle your concern. It is cetainly a tragedy whenever jealousies develop. But we would have to discontinue church basketball if we do away with everything that might cause contention in a marriage.

  25. Re # 23: Please explain, then. You objected to mixed-gender presidencies here, for example. Your justification for the objection was: “It might be irrational but marriages are just like that — it is common in a marriage for a spouse not to be too enthusiastic about his or her spouse to be spending tons of time alone or in close company with a member of another gender so there could easily be hard feelings.”

    In comment # 4, I noted that

    The comment was not presenting those considerations as an apologetic for the status quo but just offered them for the sake of the discussion.

    As to that discussion, you have made the point that such a concern, if really held by anyone at all, is ridiculous enough that it needn’t be a consideration in answer to Kevin’s question about whether the current policy will change.

  26. Peter LLC says:

    #9:

    Only if you employ fallacies of equivocation with the word dangerous.

    I see your criticism and raise you a “Style over substance” fallacy.

  27. John, good point — I didn’t notice the final sentence of your #4. Eric does seem to have some version of this concern, but I agree with you that it shouldn’t be a consideration. Please forgive my earlier misinterpretation of your position.

  28. Mephibosheth says:

    I think it’s important not to confound the mixed-gender leadership issue with the fellowshipping rule for missionaries. When I was on my mission in Europe, my mission president once asked Elder Scott if the fellowshipping rule could be relaxed, as it didn’t really make logical sense that two young men couldn’t visit a single sister, but the addition of a third makes it ok. Elder Scott responded with, “If you knew how many young men’s lives were ruined, and how many millions of dollars the church had lost because of this, you wouldn’t ask for the rule to be relaxed.” Apparently the word of one missionary in support of another doesn’t stand up in court.

  29. re 26, Peter, I raise you a straw man and call.

  30. Eric Russell says:

    Mark Brown, all I’m saying is a truism. If you significantly increase the opportunities for men and women to have close extramarital relationships, then on the whole you significantly increase the frequency with which those relationships will go further than they ought to.

    In any case, I agree with what I understand John F. to be saying. I don’t think this discussion really matters because I don’t think this is actually the reason for a male priesthood.

  31. #7
    What are your views of the current church policy that forbids a man from teaching primary children alone?

    Is this an actual church policy? I have heard it talked about but have never heard it from any qualified source – i.e. direct quotes from the CHI, or over the pulpit at church.

  32. Snow White says:

    I think what’s being left out is the “appearance of evil”. I think part of the reason some of the missionary rules were changed was to remove any opportunity for even an insinuation of impropriety. As like a safeguard. For the same purpose that an Ob-gyn has a nurse present during certain parts of the exam. It’s not that anything is going to happen, but just as proof, in case allegations were later made, that nothing out of place occured. However, there have been instances of missionaries misbehaving (they are young guys after all) and generally the Church finds it important to both safeguard it’s reputation and to also safeguard the mishies from temptation (see rules regarding t.v. use, etc.)
    As far as meetings between the sexes go, would you be in danger meeting once or twice alone with a member of the opposite sex? Probably not. But it has been proven that proximity plays a strong part in attraction, and sustained contact can lead to undue temptation, as well as opening you up to the suspicions of your spouse and ward rumor mill.

  33. Snow White says:

    Btw, prohibitions against men teaching alone must be either very new or variable, because my husband taught primary by himself a few years ago.

  34. According to the GSS (supposedly, I didn’t actually check the numbers myself) 25 percent of men report having had extramarital affairs, 17 percent of women. It is quite possible that this is under-reported for all the usual reasons. As such, unless Mormons are very different from most Americans, adultery is not a minor issue. It is a big issue. It happens way too much. Thus it is quite possible that the Church would be interested in doing things that lower that probability if the cost of doing so is low enough. The key being finding things to do where the costs are less than the benefits in lowering adultery.

    Does not allowing mixed presidencies meet that test? God knows, but the people on this list, brilliant as they are, probably don’t. We don’t have a good sense of the costs, nor a decent estimate of how much less adultery one would get.

  35. Gilgamesh-
    It is from the First Presidency and was handed down to PP’s through Bishoprics in the last few years. I was a PP when it happened. I’m not sure if it’s actually in the handbook now, or if it’s general counsel, but we took it seriously. From what we were told, it was more for the protection of the male teacher, since so many false accusations had been raised previously. However, knowing the importance of protecting the children, we decided (Bishopric and Primary Presidency) to implement a 2-teacher policy whether they were male or female. Not surprisingly, our decision ended up alleviating other problems we had been having (reverence being one).

  36. May I ever-so-humbly suggest that learning to regard women as human beings, and not always first and foremost as potential sex objects (who are, weirdly, also more “naturally” spiritual and righteous than men) might be an important step in the establishment of Zion?

    Brava. Let’s find a way to address directly the sexual-objectification of others, not dither with endless rules to deal with the never-ending symptoms of the illness.

  37. Men can teach primary, but if at all possible it is supposed to be team taught. There are also rules about leaving doors open and having a Presidency member look in on the class. A directive to this effect came down a year or two ago. It cost my son a great teacher.

    All scouting functions are required to have two deep leadership. The probability of a problem is low, but, if a problem occurs, the damage to those involved can be astronomical. Does such a policy make children into sex objects as Kristine implies other current policies do to women? I don’t think so. I think it is a good idea, even though it is often onerous and costly to implement.

  38. “Brava. Let’s find a way to address directly the sexual-objectification of others, not dither with endless rules to deal with the never-ending symptoms of the illness.”

    Let me know how that goes.

  39. I think you guys are off on a threadjack.

    In response to #28 I saw a lawsuit involving the church and a Missonary who had been sent home and Exed who had sex with a 19 year old investigator over her pregnancy. In the end the child was not fathered by the elder so the court case went nowhere but I am sure the legal process was expensive.

  40. I hear you Kristine,

    Ok this is timely for me, as a dear friend and I have been having this ongoing discussion on this topic for several weeks. My friend is a widowed mother of a teenager. As a single sister she is not only not allowed to be a chaperone for the youth dances; she is not allowed to even peek her nose into the gym to check on her son. She argues that if what is going on at the youth dance is so risque that it may cause her to lose her mind/morals/good taste to seduce one of the 14 year olds; well then her teen is not attending.

    Question: Does anyone know if this is indeed a church rule; or is one of the Stakes in Gilbert Arizona running amok?

    DH MIke chaperoned the sister missionaries while they visited an elderly (90’s) brother in our ward. This is getting out of hand.

    Personally I blame our sex obsessive culture on polygamy. I don’t have the sources, but towards the end of the polygamy era morals got out of hand with all the young men competing with their Dad’s for the attentions of the young women. Even after polygamy our great/grandparents were good about not smoking or drinking, but everything else was ok.

  41. Mark Brown says:

    Frank:

    We don’t have a good sense of the costs

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? There really are costs (I’m assuming you’re not just being sarcastic), but it is good to remember that.

  42. The key being finding things to do where the costs are less than the benefits in lowering adultery. Does not allowing mixed presidencies meet that test?

    These are good questions. But, as Frank points out, we have no idea what the operative values are here. Would allowing mixed presidencies increase opportunities for adultery? My guess is that such a minuscule treatment would have little if any effect, given the manifold opportunities for adultery that everyone already has. Yet even if there is an effect, it must be traded off over against the costs.

    The costs, let us be clear, are real and known. They involve social segregation, exclusion of women from leadership, and limitations on women’s contribution to our community, among other things. Are these costs less than the hypothetical benefit of reduced adultery? Impossible to answer. Why, then, presume in favor of the hypothetical and against the known.

    Even if the cost-benefit question turned out against mixed-gender presidencies, we still have to worry about why it’s okay to impose the costs on women only.

  43. Aaron Brown says:

    What you’re all ignoring is the possibility of latent homosexual tendencies in our priesthood holders, heterosexually married or otherwise. Not likely a very common problem, of course, but surely an occasional one. So isn’t the possibility of unwanted sexual advances just as real in same-gender context as it is in the context of mixed-gender meetings?

    We need a zero tolerance policy. Better not to have meetings at all, I guess. Now THAT would be Zion.

    Aaron B

  44. “Why, then, presume in favor of the hypothetical and against the known.”

    This is silly. For example, just because we don’t know the benefits of global warming abatement doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act, even if abatement has large and known costs. What matters is our best guess about those costs and benefits, subject to a healthy dose of risk aversion. Fortunately, even though we are woefully ignorant, those costs are not unknown to God, and He is at the helm.

    “Even if the cost-benefit question turned out against mixed-gender presidencies, we still have to worry about why it’s okay to impose the costs on women only.”

    This is inaccurate, Primary presidencies are typically female. And, although maybe in your world members regularly desire high and mighty callings, in the world I know many members are actually very happy to not be eligible for time sucking callings.

  45. Do you remember the BYU experience of about 10 years ago? A female student was assaulted on campus, and if I recall correctly, the administration was trying to implement a rule that after dark, no female student could be out on campus alone without some escort. Some enterprising female students lobbed the rule back over the fence with the question, that since the perpetrator was male, perhaps it was more appropriate that no male student could be out after dark alone without escort. The whole rule issue was dropped after that.

    Kristine, I think that even though you are right to be a little angry, the church appears to be coming down on the side of doing everything they can to prevent problems. I am aware of these kinds of things both anecdotally, and from second hand observation. Perhaps inviting the mission president and his wife to dinner at your house with the missionaries might help highlight the problems with this issue.

    And I second the “When Harry met Sally” thesis, unfortunately. Most of us know how to control those thoughts, though.

  46. Just skipped all the comments- wanted to direct this straight to the OP-

    K, have them over anyway. I did and do. Before my husband converted, I would have the missionaries over all the time- quite often he wasn’t home. I didn’t make it a big deal, and neither did they.

    I’m sorry for the pain this causes.

  47. Frank, look, it’s quite likely that the costs of mixed-gender presidencies are zero. There are already so many opportunities for sex that substitution effects probably cancel out any possible effect of mixed-gender presidencies on adultery rates. By contrast, it isn’t plausible that the benefits are zero. The logic just doesn’t go through.

  48. tracy m-
    But isn’t that encouraging to break the rules? Rules that might not make sense to them or you, but rules just the same? If we take that stance, isn’t it easy enough to justify other things?

    I had a boyfriend that went on a mission (state-side). He ended up being ET (emergency transferred) four times before they sent the guy home. He kissed at least 2 girls (that I know of) while serving, and one of his baptisms ended up being his “fiance” at the time of his dishonorable release. Of course, I was still his “girlfriend” back home (according to him –I was young and had already moved on). He may be the exception to the rule, but by golly, I know that if he and his companions had been following the rules explicitly, he wouldn’t have been put in a position to cause harm. I spoke to some of his former companions (years later! How random is that?!) and they confessed that they broke the rules a lot.
    Man, I never wanted to smack somebody so much in my life.

  49. Name (required) says:

    What would Jesus do?

    Jesus didn’t run from the woman at the well–even though he was alone with her while the disciples were away.

    Jesus didn’t seem to care at all about the ‘appearance of evil’ argument. He was quite happy to eat with the sinners.

    Have we put a bunch of law of Moses type rules ahead of what the Savior would have done?

  50. And, although maybe in your world members regularly desire high and mighty callings, in the world I know many members are actually very happy to not be eligible for time sucking callings.

    You have to consider that these time sucking callings effect both parts of a marriage. All the time my husband spends at meetings is time that I have to be a full time caretaker for our small children. Preferentially calling men to time consuming callings means that women have to more of the same work that they’re already doing. If men could be relied upon to pick up the slack (so that women don’t end up with double duty, doing full-time childcare and their callings) then preferentially calling women to ward leadership would provide a refreshing change of pace to several families.

  51. JNS,

    First off, you and I really don’t have a clue what the costs of a mixed gender presidency are. You present a plausible argument from substitution for why the costs might be zero, but I can tell you that I’ve seen plenty of similar arguments relegated to the dustbin once we actually had data. And others were fully born out– the point is we don’t know.

    Second, suppose the costs of global warming were 0 with a 90% probability. Would that still warrant action to reduce CO2 emissions? It depends entirely on the expected benefit. Suppose 1 in 10000 mixed presidencies resulted in an adultery that otherwise would not have happened. Is that too little to warrant the policy? I don’t know, because I honestly don’t have a sense of the tradeoffs, despite your quick but unquantified assurances as to the sizable benefits.

  52. Kristine here is a different look at missionaries and single sisters. I was a new member of a few months, 24, attractive and the only “friends” I had in the ward were missionaries. I had been taught by sisters but met the elders often as the sisters invited me on pday activities and then the sisters transferred and elders were in. This one elder (elder s) had been “hitting” on other sisters on his mission (I found out later). The missionaries used to have dinner at my house often. A few weeks later elder s was a trainer and his greenie comp was really quiet and timid. The comp was in the livingroom while elder s came into the kitchen and we were joking and he tickled me etc and that turned into making out. I had been attracted to this elder but also naive and felt a certain safety in that he was a missionary.
    It was a difficult lesson for me but even though now I am double the age of most missionaries, married with children I see the wisdom in the rules.

  53. No, I don’t buy that I was encouraging the breaking of rules. At the time, I didn’t even know about the rule, and now, I really don’t care.

    Look, the Elders are always in twos- they were never alone with me, the evil-sexually-predatory woman of three small kids- so there was already a safeguard in place. Two of them, me and my little kids- really, that should be enough.

    You might be able to get me on board if the Elders travelled alone- but they don’t, so I just don’t buy it.

    And as far as an Elder being repeatedly transfered because of breaking the rules, that shows his diobedience and penchant for rule-breaking; why punnish a sinble mother who desires the missionaries in her home because of one Elder’s inability to control himself? Send him home, and send some the new Elders to visit her home.

  54. Starfoxy,

    I think the opportunity cost is a great point, but outside of the Bishopric I don’t know that there are that many ward callings for men that are more time consuming than for women. Primary is all female leaders. Activity Chairs are women as or more often as not. I doubt the EQ and HP combined do all that much more than the RS. SO it seems like largely a wash.

    And how many women would really rather be in a Bishopric over being with their children? Surely some, but I know what preferences in my family would be.

  55. Frank – How many men would really rather be in a Bishopric over being with their children and spouse? Surely some, but I know what preferences in my family would be.

  56. Zehill,

    And I think there are more people like me than like you! Of course, the best of all possible worlds is that neither of us would have to be in the calling.

  57. JNS, (just a small point) I think you err in focusing on the risk of increased “opportunity” for adultery posed by mixed- gender presidencies, instead of focusing on the increased “temptation” for adultery.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that allowing people to get together for an occasional meeting is going to make it easier to commit adultery, in terms of the logistics of the act. You are right that “opportunity” is already there, and those already intent on committing adultery can find a way rather easily.

    What may increase are the temptations among people who weren’t already looking for a chance to commit adultery. That is, meeting and working closely together could create feelings of closeness, attraction, whatever, that weren’t previously there, or were previously resistible.

    I’m not arguing that this is certainly the case. Only that by focusing on the “opportunity” rather than the “temptation,” you’re failing to appreciate the real (possible) risk.

  58. Kristine:
    The problem isn’t that you can’t be trusted not to seduce boys half your age, it’s that others can’t. Examples…my missionary companion back in the 60’s, my Scout Masters daughter being molested by a Bishopric member, our Ward mission leader and a Sister missionary getting it on, a member of our Stake presidency involved with boys. I could go on. Surely we are all aware of the ridicule the Church faces from the public when these horrible examples become exposed by gleeful critics. Rules are put in place because of the actions of the minority and the majority have to deal with it I guess.
    P.S. This is the reason all the classroom doors have windows in them now.

  59. Tracy-
    Fair enough. But as Audrey pointed out, sometimes it doesn’t matter if they are in pairs. Which makes me think that the “bar being raised” (as has been discussed ad nauseum already) really is a good thing, even for just this instance.

    #49
    That is lame. Jesus was perfect.

  60. Ryan and Alan, I have to agree with your points, btw…

  61. Name (required) says:

    I think the temtation is greater because of the policy. Without the policy, if I was alone in a church setting with someone of the opposite sex, I wouldn’t think much of it. But even with the policy, there are inevitable times when you end up alone with someone of the opposite sex in a church related setting. In such times, the policy reminds me the church expects fornication/adultery to result.

  62. Name (required) says:

    #59–Following the example of Jesus is ‘lame’? No wonder some people don’t think that we are Christians.

  63. JA Benson, #40 – I have *never* heard that a single parent can’t chaperone a stake youth dance. That is definitely Gilbert AZ stake policy running amok. That is so bizarre, I can’t think of any justification for it. Seems like they’d be grateful for all the involved parents they could get!

    Kristine, I don’t like this rule either, especially since it can be beneficial to your kids to see the ward missionaries and have some sense of participating and helping by giving them a meal and an opportunity to try out their latest devotional message on a family. Once I had signed up to have the missionaries over and then my husband had to be out of town. I delivered “takeout” to them in the church parking lot from one car to another. I “fed” them, but no spiritual nourishment happened, in either direction.

  64. No, your question was lame.

  65. Sorry, that sounded rude. What I mean is: Your inference that a 19 year old missionary should, in fact, right at the moment, be perfect just like Christ, is a little unfair.

  66. Name (required) says:

    #65–I agree with you. The problem is that the church never lets people ‘grow up’. These rules don’t end with missionaries. There are policies (just in my stake?) about all adults not being alone with members of the opposite sex.

  67. Steve Evans says:

    Frank: “And I think there are more people like me than like you!”

    Saints and angels preserve us.

  68. Of course the church has policies. Of course they have boundaries. But it’s not really fair to blame the church for this attitude, though. I would blame all of those that caused it. The molesters, the abusers, the adulterers –they are the reason these policies were implemented. Then throw into the mix a bunch of false accuasations against good and decent men, and there you have it –opportunity for more sin and dissonance.

  69. As a 33 year old woman that hasn’t slept with a HT, priesthood leader, missionary or the men I work with daily I must be a walking miracle. In fact I am here pretty much alone with a 24 year old male. May I better leave before something happens….

    Seriously though, I have worked extremely close with male co-worker before on a daily basis including traveling. There has never been a temptation. We cannot use the excuse of what MIGHT happen as to why we don’t do things. Next time I go out ona date with a guy I MIGHT get turned on, have sex with him and get pregnant. In fact my singles ward bishop told me once that in a night with 20 interviews that 19 will be sex or something associated with it. It MIGHT happen, yet all singles are encouraged to date so we can get married and have babies. Why? Because they greater good is worth the risk. I think that we should realize everything is a risk of some sort.

    If someone wants to be unfaithful they will-it won’t happen because they are in a calling together. That may be the person they choose but if not that person, then it will be someone else. When someone is unfaithful in a marriage it usually indicates a bigger problem than mere sex drive. I have never heard of someone “falling” into bed with someone-it is usually a process.

  70. I will apologize up front for saying this, which means I probably shouldn’t say it, but I just can’t find a charitable way to express my reaction to:

    “The problem is that the church never lets people ‘grow up’.”

    I have been told over and over again by multiple teachers in our district that it’s amazing how more mature Mormon kids are than the other kids in the district – and this is in Ohio.

  71. What about single sisters and their HT’ers? Does the rule apply there? Come on.

    Last week I had a meeting with my Bishop- it was just he and I in the office, the door was closed and the little light was flipped on- was that inappropriate? Miraculously, nothing happened.

    While I’m aware of breaches of conduct- at least that I’ve read about online- I think we just carry it too far. If I can’t meet in private with my Bishop, what good is private councel anyway? How can he take in my confidence if the door is open and Mary and Joe Jones in the hallway can hear my teary confession?

    Back to Kristines OP- have them over anyway. I know it always helps my kids when the missionaries come over, husband or not.

  72. Peter LLC says:

    and this is in Ohio

    A backwater for sure. 8)

    (P.S.-I lived in Bowling Green for two years and enjoyed every minute of it)

  73. Okay, folks, startling personal revelation.

    In college, I was married my senior year, and was the manager of the college radio station (broadcasting and journalism major). There was a single, divorced female student who was also a senior, same major, and a RM. We ended up that last year taking probably 75% of the same classes, did study projects together, produced joint video and audio projects together, and were frequently just hanging out at the studios together. We walked back and forth to many classes together. I viewed her as a friend.

    Strangely enough, neither one of us thought any more of it than just friends (at least I didn’t, nor do I suspect she had any ulterior motives). My wife was a little uncomfortable, as she had already graduated and was teaching school, but she knew this girl, and knew we were just friends.

    However, every other staff member of the radio station, many of our classmates, the editors of the school newspaper, who we also worked closely with, all thought we were having an affair. Even to the extent that one of our classmates wanted to ask her out on a date, but assumed that we were involved, so he never did. When just before graduation, this information came out, we were both shocked, embarrassed, and totally clueless.

    I only say this in that sometimes appearances do matter. Everyone knew I was LDS, married, and supposedly above such things, but that didn’t stop them from thinking something was going on. Needless to say, I’ve been gun-shy ever since of spending any significant amount of time with members of the opposite sex without my wife. The reality was that with my wife teaching some 40 miles away and commuting, I may well have been spending more waking hours with this other girl than with my wife. Could something have happened had this gone on for a longer time? I don’t think so, but in retrospect it was not a good situation for either of us.

    Now compare that with a RS president and Bishop who have to meet together often, and discuss things that they can’t discuss with their spouses, and sharing the anxieties and concerns involved with their callings. You can’t always rule out the really long shot odds, but if you can do something to decrease that possibility of a problem, I can understand why it happens. Not Kristine’s fault, not the missionaries fault, but there are bad actors out there who sometimes will take advantage of a situation.

  74. Peter LLC says:

    Okay, folks, startling personal revelation.

    College radio!? Hey, me too!

    I take your point about appearances, but I reckon that most Gentiles would expect you to be working on the polygamy angle one way or the other, due largely to a relatively small number of what would have been considered “good actors” (prior to 1890 anyway).

  75. kevinf, the kind of long-time close contact relationship you describe is not even close to having the missionaries over for dinner.

  76. I think many of these comments are made by people who have never been around missionaries. We have a single mother of a teenage boy in our ward writing letters to a missionary that transfered out of the ward several months ago. The letters are perfumed and inappropriate.

    Adultery and fornication are rampant in this society and our members are involved. Much of it occurs at work, and sociological studies have shown that physical proximity produces relationships. One of the most accurate predictors of whether any 2 people will form a relationship is if they spend time together, and the amount of time they spend together.

    Mixed gender presidencies would be a disaster. Meeting in a small room when other members of the presidency don’t show up for whatever reason, on a regular basis, would be even worse than the workplace which is generally much more public. Sexuality at the work place is common, and is almost the norm. It is so common that every large company has policies in place to regulate it. The Churches policies appear designed to prevent it, rather than regulate it.

    If we define sexual success as confining expression of one’s sexuality to one’s lawful spouse, then the vast majority of men in this society and this Church will never achieve success.

  77. Mark Brown says:

    The mother of an acquaintance left her family and decided she was a lesbian after associating with her visiting teacher, who, it turns out, was also a lesbian. I propose that we do away with visiting teaching. How can we possible trust these people?

  78. Tanya Sue says:

    Mark Brown-exactly! We cannot trust people to live with the spirit and make the right decision-we must protect them at all costs.

  79. Ardis Parshall says:

    71 – Tracy, my 86-year-old home teacher sat in his car in front of my house for more than a half hour yesterday waiting for his partner. He wouldn’t come into my warm apartment and wait because of “the rules.” I don’t know which of us was being protected, but if one of us got pneumonia we know who it will be.

    It bugs me that a 16-year-old had-to-get-married-girl who fornicated her way from one end of high school to the other gets more official trust and respect than I do, but that’s the way it is. Grrrrr! indeed, Kristine.

  80. Tracy (75) – no it’s not anywhere close, but we don’t know the background behind the various rules and commandments that we have. We can fall into dangerous rationalization games if we try to parse out which rules to follow and which to break (based upon incomplete understandings no less). There is a general rule in the church and I believe that it is for our general safety that we adhere to the wise counsel.

    I’m not advocating blind obedience. I think that the motivations are obvious, but that you are chaffing at someone supposedly calling your morality or worthiness into question. The counsel isn’t about you, it’s about everyone. I don’t think they made this rule just to tick you off, but that your mood is an unfortunate side effect.

  81. Kristine–Regarding dinner with missionaries, I’ve had issues with this as well and here are a few things that have worked out fairly well. When I was new convert and had my missionaries but a very anti-Mormon family, I made dinner for them at my grown-up friendshipper’s home. The other Laurels and I also fed them at the church as a service project.

    Then when this came up with my family (my husband was working in the evening) we would deliver dinner to them or eat at the park across the street. Once we set up a picnic type-thing in our front yard. (A couple of days later I got a funny letter from an anonymous neighbor warning me about the dangers of meeting with cultists.)

    It is a shame that the sexualization of women and children in our culture results in so many anti-child things in an effort to protect them. Kids can’t have the missionaries (or their example and spirit)in their home because Elder so-and-so might seduce mommy. Nursing babies get to eat under stifling blankets in a crowded closet called the mother’s room. Brother so-and-so who is the best primary teacher in the ward needs to have a watcher to keep everything on the up and up. And on and on.

    Current church policy seems to me to be analogous to how people were reduced to sleeping on their weapons in the BoM when conditions became so very wicked. That couldn’t have been comfortable. No one wants things to be so bad that we have to be paranoid all the time. We all wish that we lived in a world where the horrid things we’ve been discussing didn’t happen and if they do that we could tell who the “bad guys” were going to be.

    Writing policy as if all were pure in heart results in some people being victimized. Writing policy as if all were lying in wait to seduce can hurt a lot of feelings, but results in less victimization. It can’t be easy to make these decisions. I don’t envy those who have to make them.

  82. Mark Brown says:

    One of the funniest experiences in my church experience happened when I was in my late twenties. I was asked to chaperone a single adult (note: NOT YSA) dance. I thought it meant I was supposed to make sure the punch bowl was full and there were always cookies out on the table, but I got a call the night before from the HC representative over single adults. He made sure I understood that I was to make sure the lights stayed on, dress standards were observed, and that church standards overall were upheld.

    I spent the next evening at the dance with single latter-day saints in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, many of whom had spent more time married than I had. The way we infantalize single people in the church is simply bizarre.

  83. TracyM, you are right, this was a long term friendship. Perhaps not an equivalent example, but one that I thought worthy of sharing.

    But let’s put a well-intentioned sister in the role of being hit on by a home teacher who comes by alone, or a missionary that finagles a few minutes in the kitchen alone.

    Sadly, it can degenerate into a he said/she said adversarial situation, even if the sister kicks the offender in the groin at the first sign of trouble.

    Part of the problem with some of the sexual predators the church has had to deal with is that everyone around them never suspected them of that kind of issue. Ardis and Kristine, your intentions are good, but all one has to do is read the papers, and know that these things get ugly quickly.

    I’ve seen first hand as a bishop what can happen when something gets to an emotional level, and it’s often the victim of unwanted attentions that gets the short end of the public opinion stick. And that’s wrong and sad, but unfortunately, true.

  84. #66- What Ray said in #70.

    Jami-
    I also hung out with the missionaries in our front yard until my husband got home from work –we later received news that our neighbors didn’t realize we were in a cult (this happened just last year). It was classic.

    I really liked what you said. I was thinking about how Satan is always “lying in wait” to decieve us. It’s sad how many men and women, with good hearts and strong testimonies, end up doing the very thing they never thought they would do.

    Tracy, I get what you’re saying. But it’s not really fair to claim that the rules don’t apply to you or Kristine, or anyone else, just because the rule isn’t understood.

    Mark-
    Actually, that doesn’t really suprise me. My FIL has been married almost 4 times (don’t make me explain the “almost”). His second marriage had to be civil because of pre-marital relations.
    Is it any wonder how fast divorced LDS re-marry? Does this mean they are all that way? Of course not. But it sure as heck exists!

  85. Let’s see, the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) recently installed a woman into its First Presidency. Now, this is not a presidency full of octagenerians. If the “apostates” can figure out a way to have women serving in mixed-gender pregnancies from the bottom to the top of their organization, surely the “True Church” should be able to do the same. After all, we call ourselves Saints.

    JNS has pointed out that there may be very little cost to having mixed-gender presidencies, and think of the benefits we could all enjoy – less burnout for the HP’s called to lead local congregations, new channels of inspiration (if for no other reason than that women are more in tune with the needs of women and children because they are more directly affected by and aware of those needs), no more dissolving of wards or delayed formation of wards from branches due to lack of male priesthood leaders, the ability of YW and women to have moral worthiness interviews with a female bishopric member (talk about removing temptation and opportunities for abuse), etc.

    I think the benefits far outweigh the costs, and for all of you concerned with “appearance of evil” arguments – get over it. The Lord knows what’s in your heart and in the hearts of others.

    Finally, for all of you who are so sure insurmountable temptations will arise, feel free to turn down the calling and explain to the bishop/SP why you think it’s a bad idea. And if the temptation comes up unexpectedly, ask to be released.

  86. Left Field says:

    I’ll add a couple of my own horror stories of weird rules run amok. When I was in my early thirties, still single, living in Texas, the stake singles planned an overnight trip to Sea World in San Antonio. The stake insisted that we had to have “adult chaperones.” I didn’t go, but if I had, I not only wouldn’t have qualified as an “adult chaperone,” I actually was considered, at age thirty-something, to have been in need of a chaperone myself. As it turned out, one of the “adult chaperones” that went on the trip was a 20-year-old married sister. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around a policy that assumes (1) people in their 20s and 30s need a chaperone just because they’re not married; (2) a 20-year old (just because she is married) is a suitable chaperone for adults in their 20s and 30s; and (3) sending a 20-year old married sister alone on an overnight trip with a bunch of singles (some of who may have fairly recently been on a date with her) somehow makes it less likely that something untoward will happen.

    A few years later, different state, different stake. I was serving as a stake missionary. At one missionary correlation meeting, a question was raised about the propriety of me providing a ride for single sister about my age who was also a stake missionary. I had to point out that our being in the car together under other circumstances could be called a “date,” and there were certainly no rules against that. What were they afraid of? That two single people riding in a car together might develop an emotional attraction? Fortunately, the absurdity became apparent, and the issue was immediately dropped.

    Sometimes rules just seem to be implemented reflexively without really thinking them through.

  87. Name (required) says:

    #70,#84–see #82.

    The way we infantalize single people in the church is simply bizarre.

  88. Oh, come on. It’s not limited to single people. ;)

    Left Field-
    I always find it interesting when people assume our leaders don’t think things through.

  89. Peter LLC says:

    #76:

    sociological studies have shown that physical proximity produces relationships.

    CW,

    Certainly proximity is a necessary condition for the adultery and fornication we all abhor, but it’s still not sufficient.

  90. Left Field says:

    Yes, there’s no doubt that the First Presidency carefully thought through a policy forbidding two single people from riding in a car together, and then informed me of the policy via an offhand comment by another stake missionary in a ward missionary correlation meeting.

  91. #85,

    Using the COC to make a case for something is a pretty hard sell.

    The liberal poicies of our cousins have resulted in a serious decline in membership and a case study in religious demographics gone the wrong way.

  92. First, am I the only one who is disoriented by lumping HT/missionary rules in with mixed gender bishopric/presidencies in the same discussion? One is real, one is hypothetical.

    And re: #85-
    All or nothing thinking doesn’t seem too helpful in this discussion so far. As #86 and others point out, implementing even simple rules can quickly turn absurd, but no rules at all is naive.

  93. #50: Someone may have said this already, but that obviously goes both ways. My wife has served in several time consuming leadership position, and it is I that have had to pick up the slack at home with the kids, etc. And, although I admittedly am much more sensitive to this type of issue than most, it isn’t always just mixed gender that creates the issue- it can be hard for any spouse to consistently be left at home for significant amounts of time while the other spouse is out (even with same gender) meeting, visiting, magnifying his/her calling, and otherwise having more “fun” than the other spouse that is left home.

  94. C Jones
    Both sides of the discussion have to do with men and women being alone together in potentially emotionally intimate situations.

  95. I usually don’t jump in so late, but this is a topic I feel strongly about…

    I don’t live in a world where I can say to a single colleague, in or out of the church, ‘I’m sorry I can’t meet with you because I’m afraid we might become sexually involved.’ I don’t believe it myself, and it makes us all look like Calvinist idiots. The ‘appearances of evil’ angle is crap, frankly.

    We need to sort out relationships between men and women instead of merely avoiding them. Chastity comes from within, not from never having the opportunity.

  96. The problem with all of these types of discussions is blanket statements that don’t apply to all. Sure chastity comes from with in, in most cases, but life is a continuum. For some people these rules are unnecessary. For others they are the vital safeguards that help them to stay on the path until they are able to “cling” to the iron rod on their own.

    If a rule is unnecessary for you, fine, but maybe it is essential for others. Why generalize from your own (perceived) spiritual strength and criticize rules that are quite important for others? One size (your size) fits all?

  97. Norbert
    Just a thought, I think a far greater danger to most members is not that they will break the LoC but rather that they might find themselves in a situation where they feel “in love” with someone other than their spouse. I don’t think we can easily defend ourselves from that weakness. Or that we can even know if we are at risk. Sorting out relationships between men and women can be complicated, given that many of us just ignore disturbing things in our own psyche.

  98. Also worth noting that the whole “appearance of evil” idea is a mistranslation. The unique scriptural source here is 1 Thessalonians 5:22, which in the KJV says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

    Better translations clarify this point: “Abstain from every form of evil” (NRSV) or “Avoid every kind of evil” (NIV). This website explains the translation issues. What’s really at stake here isn’t avoiding behavior that makes other people think you’re evil; Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. It’s avoiding behavior that definitely is really evil.

  99. Norbert, I agree that appearances shouldn’t matter, but we all know that there are gossips and rumormongers and self-righteous judges of others behaviors that can cause a lot of grief.

    It’s not right, but it’s true.

  100. JNS I might yield that point to you, but it doesn’t change my perspective on “living a life above reproach”. (I do agree that avoiding evil is more important than avoiding the appearance of evil.)

    A person might interpret living a life above reproach as saying you will not do any behavior that could be mistaken. However if you allow yourself to be in a situation, where any person can make a false claim about your behavior, even though your behavior is perfect, you are not keeping yourself above reproach.

    My rule, for me, that I enforce on myself, is I will never be in a situation where I have to rely on the honesty of the other person I am with. Boy Scouts have a youth protection training wherein they encourage you to interview youth in full view of the whole troop. Separated by some distance so your conversation is private, but in full view.

    At Church the policy is to have another adult in the hallway outside the bishops office. My policy is that in addition to that I leave the door cracked an inch. I will never be in a situation where a false accusation can ever be made.

    I sleep great at night, and don’t spend time worrying about false accusations. Anything less than this, for me, could allow me to come under somebody else’s power. And I believe false accusations are almost as prevalent as the real thing.

  101. Mark Brown says:

    At Church the policy is to have another adult in the hallway outside the bishops office

    CW, can you tell me where this policy is written? Because it isn’t in the handbook.

  102. K, have them over anyway. I did and do. Before my husband converted, I would have the missionaries over all the time- quite often he wasn’t home. I didn’t make it a big deal, and neither did they.

    My vote is don’t. Missionaries care about the rules and, imo, I don’t think we as members should discourage that or encourage behavior that breaks them, even if in our particular cases, it would be completely harmless.

    I think that comment 28 probably reflects the reason these rules exist and we ought not underestimate the risks that the leaders want to avoid. Of course, problems like that shouldn’t exist, but we also have to deal with reality and it appears to me that reality is that the rules are necessary, frustrating though they may be.

  103. Tanya Sue says:

    CW-if my bishop left the door cracked during the interview I would not say anything. If he wanted to do that, that would be fine, but I also know my HF doesn’t want me to have to confess my sins to whomever might be walking down the hall or have their ear to the crack.

  104. Okay, I’m going to throw the stupid comment in here. It seems I remember that at BYU they discouraged those who were dating from reading scriptures together. The message was that they could confuse the feelings of the spirit with feelings of love. So, perhaps working closely together with members of the opposite sex in a church setting might be different than working with them in a non-church setting. I’m sure you all will think it’s dumb and I’m not sure how much it would apply to older, more experienced people, but I think there could easily have been young couples who misinterpreted the calm, peace, and comfortableness the Spirit brought during scripture reading as a sign that the relationship was a good, “right” one.

  105. #96 CW Well said.

    People who went to high school in the 70’s in a rural area can remember pulling into the parking lot with their 22 rifle in the gun rack in the back window and nobody batted an eye. Same with handing out aspirin to your friend who had cramps.
    Then came the beginning of attacks in the schools and rampant drug abuse, and rules had to be made to maintain the safety of the students. Eventually the rules became so strict that absurdities due to enforcing them happen now on a regular basis.

    Absurdities or not, the assumption that the church’s rules are aimed at only women because our leaders think of us a sex objects is flat-out wrong.
    The church’s rules are just like the school rules– they are there to protect everyone, male and female, and unless you can argue convincingly that the gun and drug rules at schools should be tossed out because some people get their feelings hurt when they are enforced in silly ways, then the rules are necessary for all of us because unfortunately they are needed by some.

  106. If the missionaries hadn’t come to my home, I wouldn’t be a member of the Lord’s church right now. End of story.

    Yes, the rules are there for a reason, but that doesn’t mean we should toss our own reason out the window.

    And Norbert is right. Chastity comes from within.

  107. Left Field says:

    J., It’s worth noting that the LDS version of the KJV has a footnote for 1 Thess. 5:22, clarifying the translation issue you mention.

    The KJV is ambiguous, but I wouldn’t really characterize it as a mistranslation. If we ignore the usual misquote (Avoid even the appearance of evil), the actual KJV wording (“Abstain from all appearance of evil”) can be read as meaning “Abstain from evil whenever it appears” or “Abstain from evil of every appearance.”

    In any event, the usual misinterpretation is nearly the opposite of the intended meaning, in that it would have us avoid neutral or even virtuous acts on the grounds that they may “appear” evil to someone else.

    “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things [unless someone else might think it’s evil].”

  108. CW (#100),

    So far as I know, Jesus never commanded us to live so that no one can tell lies about us. In fact, He said we’d be reviled for His name’s sake. And we are not responsible for others’ decisions to bear false witness against us – that’s their sin, not ours.

    If we live His gospel, we’re doing our utmost. And one of the things that entails – explicitly, according to the scriptures – is taking social risks that open us to scorn, hatred, even punishment, if those risks enable us to better live as the true body of Christ.

  109. Chastity comes from within.

    I really doubt anyone would argue with this. Lots of things should come from within — that is the goal of life, I think, to become truly principle- and doctrine-driven, and not rule- or anything-else-external- driven, but truth be told, rules help us along the way until we really internalize things.

  110. Kristine, I am now officially sharing in your GRRRRRRR….

  111. Kristine

    I just went back and re-read the original post.

    “learning to regard women as human beings, and not always first and foremost as potential sex objects …might be an important step in the establishment of Zion”

    Yes, I agree that would be a mighty important step.

  112. Just a related thought for consideration:

    Most of us understand and accept a Word of Wisdom standard that is adapted for the weakest of the weak. Most of us would not become addicts if we drank a glass of wine each night, and it might improve our health, but we abstain for what I believe are VERY good reasons. Most of us are affected “negatively” (constrained with no real *personal* need) for the benefit of those whose lives would be destroyed by not following the guidelines.

    I’m fine with that.

  113. CW #100, to follow up on my lovely wife’s point, where do you get the idea that we ought to live lives that are “above reproach,” and whose reproach are you worried about?

    As you probably know, the idea that Christians ought to live a life “above reproach” is at best weakly scriptural; indeed, the phrase “above reproach” never appears in the LDS standard works. A version of this idea arises in 1 Timothy 3 as a prerequisite for being a bishop: the bishop must have a good reputation among non-Christians. Likewise, in 1 Timothy 5, there’s a recommendation that young women not give the devil opportunity to reproach.

    Over against these two specific pieces of advice, we have many statements that describe reproach and false accusation as necessary consequences of Christian discipleship. Consider Luke 6:22-23, a beatitude passage:

    Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

    Here, we’re supposed to rejoice when outsiders reproach us and accuse us because of our faithfulness. Likewise in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

    Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

    We see the same idea in 1 Peter 4:14:

    If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

    In fact, even 1 Timothy — the source for the two existing relative commendations of the idea of being above reproach — contains a passage in which suffering reproach for Jesus’s sake is seen as a necessary part of Christian discipleship; Paul says of himself:

    For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

    So it seems that there is substantial scriptural evidence in favor of the proposition that we, as followers of Jesus, are supposed to be subject to false accusations. But, just for fun, let me point out the logical impossibility of maintaining a standard of living such that nobody can ever reproach you: one might read my comment, TNS’s above, and Left Field’s helpful remarks as all being reproaches toward the goal of living above reproach. So, if you have the goal of living above reproach, it would seem that goal in itself brings reproach upon you and is therefore self-defeating…

  114. JA Benson says:

    A couple of points. THere is a big difference in protecting kids and allowing for the free agency of two consenting adults. MIssionaries are adults. They are old enough to vote and die for their country; they are old enough to have sex and face the consequences. The companionship should be enough to stop most situations. If not, then getting sent home and x-ed is the consequence of sin.

    BSA is for two deep leadership men or women. They don’t care if you molest each other as long as you don’t molest the boys. Also this policy allows for a witness in case of false accusations.

    It is completely wacko and insulting to singles that they are somehow less moral than their married counterparts.

  115. StillConfused says:

    Thank you for this comment. I have begged and pleaded for home teachers and other priesthood holders to come to my home for my son’s benefit (his father is gone). We are now on over three years and I am still waiting. Apparently, I too am too sexy for the priesthood

  116. StillConfused says:

    I also love response number 49. My children and I have been really struggling about how often times Christianity is lost in LDS-land. My daughter called from Chicago absolutely beaming because a man had offered to give her and her friend a ride home from Church (they had taken a train, a bus and walked a mile in 3 degree weather). She said “Mom, this man brought Jesus back to the Church.” Whoever that man is, I hope he knows what a great impact he has on others. (good thing he didn’t care that she and her friend are in their early 20s and he is a 40-something-unmarried man)

  117. JA Benson says:

    #115 That is so sad. The scriptures are full of admonishments about caring for the widow, and the fatherless. This our duty as Christians. Go thru the scriptures yourself pick several out. Take a list to your Bishop and HP group leader. Tell them that their wife kid(s) are one big heart attack from being in your situation. If that does not soften their hearts then woe unto them.

  118. Mark, #101, you asked: “CW, can you tell me where this policy is written? Because it isn’t in the handbook.” Look at page 26 left column, middle of the page. It says “When meeting with a woman, he should ask a priesthood holder to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. He should avoid circumstances that might be misunderstood.” In a February 23, 2006 letter from the First Presidency the same statement is made, but is broadened to include “meets with a child, youth, or woman” and the requirement is also changed from a ‘priesthood holder” to a “a parent or another adult in the adjoining room, foyer, or hall.”

    Tanya Sue, #103, I agree your HF doesn’t want you to confess your sins to whomever may be walking by. So pull your chair up to the desk and speak softly. Or better yet, follow the guidelines Father has so lovingly given us to help us from falling into the kinds of sin that needs to be confessed.

    TNS, #108 You said “So far as I know, Jesus never commanded us to live so that no one can tell lies about us. In fact, He said we’d be reviled for His name’s sake. And we are not responsible for others’ decisions to bear false witness against us – that’s their sin, not ours.” Please note that I said: “My rule, for me, that I enforce on myself,”. Just because others may revile us, doesn’t mean we should want to be reviled. I choose not to ever be in a situation where I can be falsely accused. That is my choice. Others can do whatever they want.

  119. I am having a hard time understanding those who seem to have no idea why we would have rules placed on the majority because of actions/inclinations of the minority. Perhaps anarchy would be a better answer? It would be great to think that, left to truly govern ourselves, all would be well. You might do fine, but your neighbor might not. Because the church has neither time nor resources nor ability to “weed out” those who may have a susceptibility to certain behaviors, the rule is in place for all. Which missionary will fornicate if given the opportunity? Which member might seduce a missionary? Which member of your ward might like your wife a little too much? Who knows? How about we just try to avoid finding out (rules) and get on with our lives and callings.

    Can we make rules for every situation? No. Nor should we need them. Many church policies feel reminiscent of a people wandering in the wilderness and following strict laws. They shouldn’t have required that law, and we as a church shouldn’t require all this governing. Fact is, some do. And we really can’t separate them out, so everybody gets to wander together. This is generally how life works. It happened to you in school and it happens to you in the workplace. It happens with the security cameras at WalMart. Are they there because of YOU in particular? Hopefully not. But SOMEBODY is thinking about stealing really cool underwear and this may dissuade them.

    As to the original post, I don’t see how any of this is one-sided. As to the comment you linked to, again, he was speaking regarding both genders. Your thought on not regarding women as objects is completely valid and, again, I think can go both directions. How about writing a post on women seeing men as pigs, men seeing women as objects, women presenting themselves to the world as objects, and men presenting themselves as pigs. That would be really interesting.

  120. #118,

    Are you a bishop? You’re response to #103 was so uncalled for. Someone who is confessing to their bishop obviously understands they shouldn’t have being doing whatever it is they were doing in the first place. Is that your response and counsel as a priesthood leader? “Well, you shouldn’t have done that.” Um, thanks. Also, you do recognize she was probably using confession as an example of one of the MANY reasons a person may want confidential communication with their priesthood leader? Is the response the same? “Well, you shouldn’t have lost your job…had wayward children…married a spouse that would eventually leave the church…come here as the Relief Society president and asked to discuss confidential information about ward members…”. Just wondering.

  121. JNS, #113, thank you for your response.

    I however don’t see the similarity between being “reproached for the name of Christ”, and having a false accusation made against you because you willingly put yourself into a situation that could be misinterpreted. If however, you see a similarity, by all means you should conduct your life in a manner that meets your approval. But surely you would extend the same privilege to me? To conduct my life in a manner that meets my approval?

    I did state that this is “My rule, for me, that I enforce on myself,” a point that your lovely wife seemed to miss as well.

    Being reproached for the name of Christ is when you are pedaling down the street on your 10 speed as a missionary in 1974 in Las Vegas and somebody drives by in a car and throws some empty pop bottles at you while calling you names. Which did happen to me. Being reproached for the name of Christ is not having an emotionally unstable 15 year old female make false claims about you, because you were foolish enough to be behind a closed door with her. Which DID NOT happen to me, because I refuse to give a 15 year old power to make my life miserable, but did happen to somebody I know, and years later he is still paying the price for the lies of that girl.

    So I live my life in a way that makes sense to me, and I certainly allow you to do the same.

  122. FWIW, Kristine, I’m all for not making women sex objects, but I’m not a fan of suggesting that rules like this reduce us in that way. It’s like the modesty conversations. I think it’s too simplistic to say that rules of modesty or two-deep safety nets or whatever are just about objectification. I think sometimes (usually) these kinds of issues are more multi-faceted and complex than perhaps we want to admit. Simply removing the rules would not remove the objectification problems. Those problems are deeply embedded in our society, and men and women contribute to them.

    Within the Church, I think there is plenty of doctrine to help us all get past that. Our leaders teach it and we should, too. The problem is not in having the rules, imo. The rules, as someone said above, are a symptom to a problem that obviously hasn’t been fixed yet. So rather than try to change the rules, why not just keep doing what we can do focus on and internalize and teach the doctrine while the rules are in place? That’s a collective responsibility that we can actually do something about. I’d love to see ideas people have on how to help our youth and others internalize the doctrine of chastity.

    (BTW, I don’t think this no visiting single people thing is supposed to carry over into home teaching, is it?)

  123. I think the discussion of rules for the weak and all that has totally lost sight of the problem being described in the OP–namely that this the burden of these ideas and policies often falls heavier on women, to wit:

    learning to regard women as human beings, and not always first and foremost as potential sex objects (who are, weirdly, also more “naturally” spiritual and righteous than men) might be an important step in the establishment of Zion?

    When the vast majority of missionaries are men, these rules impact single women disproportionately.
    When only men have the priesthood, and concerns about spending too much time together in mixed-company presidencies is (evidently?) an argument against them getting it, these rules impact women disproportionately.
    When only men have the priesthood, and single moms struggle to get missionaries and others into their home to provide those blessings, these rules impact women disproportionately.
    When I was being courted by BYU for a faculty position, I was constantly reminded of the fact that in addition to being a star PhD student coming out of a top-10 program, I’m also a woman-gasp! and must have various special accommodations made. It was humiliating and that humiliation inevitably has subtle-but-impactful effects on performance in interviews, etc. These rules disproportionately affect women (all the other contenders for the job were men, and every single faculty member in the department was a man).

    We are operating in an environment that has an inherently unequal power structure. #112, #119, I want to agree with you, but I’m uneasy. What if during the potato famine era, the church said that the word of wisdom only applied to people with red hair? Operating in an environment where Irish are an underclass in the US, and they are associated with drinking too much in the culture (just as women are viewed as sexual objects). It goes from “all of us are sacrificing a little bit together” for the weaker among us, which I’m totally comfortable with, to something I’m much less comfortable with.

    This is a really, really tough issue for me. Would my interviews have been any better if somebody had hit on me given a moment alone? No! Of course not. I feel like these rules come from a sincere place, and were born of a real problem. But I think that in the implementation of them, it too often acts as a sexualization, isolation and humiliation of women.

  124. Agreed, Sol (119).

    When I was the ward financial clerk and would get audited every year I was always amazed at the questions that were asked and the rules that were imposed. I would ask the auditor “why”? And he said that each rule and question was the result of somebody screwing up in that particular area.

    Why wouldn’t the church do it’s best to not, as an institution, contribute to placing people in harms way? Especially in the modern world where families are valued and lawsuits are prevalent.

  125. I don’t know Sol, #120. You ask: “Is that your response and counsel as a priesthood leader?” This isn’t counseling. This is a discussion, about Church policies that some are claiming are unnecessary. I think my comment very clearly made the point that I wanted to make. These policies exist to help us. The very fact that people have to come in and confess these types of sins is the point. How many of them do you think say, “I knew I was getting into a bad situation, but I went ahead anyway.”?

    Most people talk about a gradual course made up of innocent choices. Those choices form a chain that eventually drags them down. In most cases, no single choice was damning. But added together, they often feel like the accumulated choices and the situation that developed, essentially deprived them of their choice.

    In almost all cases, they state that they wish they had followed simple rules of the type we are discussing here, because it would have kept them from ever getting into the bad situation that now brings them to the bishops office.

    So if my facetious comment wasn’t beneficial to you, I apologize, but I hope the point I was making was not lost.

  126. Tanya Sue says:

    CW-Actually, I haven’t been in the position of needing to confess. However, in my mind should I ever be in that position my heart would be breaking. Most people who are confessing sins feel that way or they wouldn’t bother confessing-they would keep sinning.

    I have never had a leader be concerned about being in their office alone with a woman so that has never been an issue. And to be quite honest, I wouldn’t trust a man who didn’t feel like he could trust himself. It would be creepy to me. I am not saying anything about you, just what I feel.

    Don’t forget, we all need the Atonement equally-whether it is a sin that is considered big, or something little, like being judgemental.

  127. Well Tawnya Sue, #126 I don’t keep the door cracked because I don’t trust myself.

    And yes God is great, and he does forgive, and that is the neat part.

    And I just would rather focus on the incredibly neat parts of this gospel, such as the fact that I am carrying a very light load, because He does lift my burden, while all around me I see people struggling to carry heavy burdens, rather than focusing on simple rules the Church devises from time to time, to help us avoid problems.

    I am so exuberantly happy, that such minor rules and inconveniences as being discussed here, just aren’t on my radar screen.

  128. CW, I appreciate your points. I think it makes sense to avoid putting oneself unnecessarily in harm’s way. But being accused falsely because you are trying to live the gospel is just exactly what this thread is about. People are talking about how, if we are given callings that lead men and women to work closely together in building the kingdom, people might accuse them for that.

  129. Kevin Barney says:

    m&m raises an interesting question. Exactly why is it that it’s ok for two male home teachers to visit a single woman, but it’s not ok for two male missionaries to do the same thing? How would we articulate the policy rationale behind that distinction?

  130. Well let me state the obvious and get that out of the way so that the deep thinkers can get to the real answers.

    Although there may be exceptions, in general home teachers are older, sometimes married, and possibly more mature. Also they are being sent to a home with the bishops approval and forethought, and some bad situations might have already been eliminated. They are going to a home in their own community, where they are generally known.

    Missionaries on the other hand, are generally younger, less mature, in an area far away from home, and they are going to homes that are not necessarily approved by the bishop, perhaps not even known by the bishop.

    In the case of single home teachers, they have usually been sent to the single sisters home, because the bishop is hoping one of them will develop a romantic interest in the sister, because it is the appropriate time in their life for that to happen. Missionaries on the other hand are not at a point in their life where romances are desired.

  131. I have to say, had any of this come up pre-baptism, I would never have joined this church, and would have written you all as a bunch of wackos.

    My missionaries visited me regularly- sometimes daily. My bishop had confidential meetings with me- no one cracked a door or invited a witness in to prevent misconduct- that would have sent alarm bells off in my head. I could never have poured out my heart to a bishop who needed to let passers-by eves-drop on my confession.

    Anyone who doesn’t understand that hasn’t been in the shoes of an adult convert. I’m grateful for the people who used their own God-given brains in dealing with me and my quest for the Gospel. Living your life out of a rulebook rules out motivation of the Spirit.

    Grrrrrr.

  132. non-mormon-observer says:

    Doesn’t the “other LDS church” (Community of Christ – RLDS) have female priesthood holders?

    How has it worked out for them?

  133. Tracy M- How neat that you know “Living your life out of a rulebook rules out motivation of the Spirit.”

    And yet people continue joining the Church in droves, professing changed lives. Perhaps we should ask those new converts to quit the Church, if their missionaries were following the rules, because obviously they weren’t motivated by the Spirit, if I am understanding your point.

    The Law is a school master to bring us unto Christ.

    It is a common conclusion, that following the law gets people in harmony with the Spirit and then they feel moved to continue obeying the gospel.

    Your conclusion seems opposite of that. You state that following a rule book, rules out the Spirit. Indeed my experience is that obeying the “rules” is how one gains the Spirit, in most cases.

    Oscar McConkie did make the point that it can be either way. You can follow the rules and you will get the Spirit or you can get the Spirit and the Spirit will then inspire you to follow the rules.

    But your point appears to be the opposite of this. “Living your life out of a rulebook rules out motivation of the Spirit.” I know Nephi cut off Laban’s head because the Spirit told him to. But didn’t Nephi obey the commandments in every other respect and that is why he was in tune with the Spirit enough to get the message? Didn’t he say that he knew God would give no commandments with out giving us a way to obey? Indicating that he did value obedience.

    But you feel obedience rules out the Spirit. Can you clarify this?

  134. CW, that comment is an inch (at most) away from being the sort of personal attack that gets deleted. Watch it.

  135. Obviously, Kristine, you never paid attention to When Harry Met Sally. Or, if you did, you didn’t believe it.

    Last I checked, that was an R-rated movie. I hope none of you have watched it. Sinners.

  136. n the case of single home teachers, they have usually been sent to the single sisters home, because the bishop is hoping one of them will develop a romantic interest in the sister, because it is the appropriate time in their life for that to happen.

    ??!!!!!!!!

  137. I live in one of the fast-growing wards of the Church, where we have nowhere to park if you show up later than 15 minutes early and too many people for callings.

    For us, the Primary regulations now on brothers are a godsend. We can tie up two brothers for one class. If we split the classes (as we’ve done with every class from 5 to 11), in some cases you can give 4 brethren a calling from just one age group.

  138. Kristine, #134-I will be glad to watch it. If that is an inch away from being censored, than I would suggest that I am on the wrong side of the issue. Other comments have been equally personal, but were on your side. Stating that following the rules deprives one of the Spirit is a very pointed, personal and incorrect statement. Yet it tends to support your position and no threat of censorship came. A polite response was made to it and you threaten to censor. Interesting.

  139. Not to get caught in the crossfire between Tracy, CW, and Kristine, but … the idea that adherence to rules lessens our ability to be guided by the Spirit has been rejected by generations of youth leaders and general authorities.

  140. Am I really the only one who noticed the spectacular Freudian slip in paragraph 1 of #85? :)

  141. CW, I haven’t read all the comments yet. Yours happened to catch my eye because it specifically went to Tracy’s personal experience–just be careful, please.

    And, as far as censoring folks on “my” side of the question, I haven’t actually stated my position on how rules and the exercise of the Spirit are related. Moreover, part of the reason for my frustration here is that I do keep the rules, even when they seem unreasonable and unjustified to me. If I didn’t care about the rules, I wouldn’t bother thinking about them or hoping for them to change, I’d simply flout them.

  142. 20somethingCA says:

    #140–priceless! Let me be the first to stand and be counted as being 110% in favor of mixed-gender pregnancies. How oft did I curse call to my husband, asking if he wouldn’t please take over the pregnancy shift for a few hours now and then…

  143. ok, reading backwards–sol in #120 was also way over the line. Sorry I wasn’t around then. sol, watch it.

    Everyone, play nice.

  144. Steve Evans says:

    CW, you’re proof positive that one can be perfectly polite whilst treating people in an undignified manner. It’s entirely possible to be correct and yet be quite wrong — and you’re the evidence. What does it matter to have your deep and majestic insights if you are unable to express them in ways that are not insulting or at the expense of others?

    That question wasn’t rhetorical. The answer: around here, nothing. You’re not here to teach us. You’re here to participate in a friendly conversation — emphasis on friendly.

  145. Name (required) says:

    I agree with Tracy M.

    Strictly following all the rules kills the spirit. Perhaps if you understand the rules as things that are supposed to be broken sometimes, then its OK. But if you just follow the rules all the time, the spirit dies.

    There are lots of examples in the scriptures of not strictly following the rules. David and the bread comes to mind as an example.

    My (perhaps liberal) interpretation of D+C 46:2 is that you can freely set aside any rule that gets in the way of the spirit.

    “But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit.”

  146. Steve, if you’re going to start ripping CW, you’ve got a whole list of other targets to get after, if you’re going to be consistent. (You can always start with me.) I, for one, didn’t really enjoy the implied “wackos follow the rules” gambit that he was responding to. Use your permablogger hammer as you will, but at least be fair.

  147. Kristine if I was going to threaten people with statements such as “Watch it” I would probably at least read the stuff first. However I must say your last post to me (“just be careful, please”) had a much nicer feel to it. And I will be careful.

    You say you haven’t weighed in on the issue yet but the discussion isn’t about following rules and stifling the spirit, the discussion is about the validity of these rules, a discussion you started. Tracy made the point that following rules stifles the spirit in support of your general position you started this thread with, and in rebuttal to my statements that following these rules is no big deal and in fact some of us choose to set a much higher standard for ourselves.

    So you have weighed in on the question, you started it. I disagreed and she rebutted my statement, suggesting I was “a bishop who needed to let passers-by eves-drop on my confession.” And suggesting that I (or somebody) wasn’t using their “God-given brains” and closing with the statement that following the rules was inimical to the spirit.

    I think that my response to her was polite. Anyway I will use my “God-given brains” and do a better job.

    Thank you for your patience.

  148. m&m raises an interesting question. Exactly why is it that it’s ok for two male home teachers to visit a single woman, but it’s not ok for two male missionaries to do the same thing? How would we articulate the policy rationale behind that distinction?

    First note that I was asking if that was indeed the case.

    If it is, one thing that comes to mind is frequency. Missionaries are usually visiting daily or every other day. ?? Just a thought.

    I also think age and experience has a lot to do with it. And probably just experience in the Church. Statistically speaking, I suspect that there isn’t a lot of reported trouble that happens with home teaching relationships. On the flip side, we all probably know of trouble that shows up on missions when these kinds of rules are violated.

    Tracy, FWIW, I understand why you feel so strongly about this. Your personal experiences were obviously meaningful (that sounds too trite for what conversion is and entails, but I hope you understand what I’m saying), and I shudder to think that you think you would not be a member had things not happened as they did (I would hope you still would have felt the wonder of it all in spite of the rules, though. : )

    But by the same token, I feel that it’s an unfair generalization to suggest that one cannot follow the Spirit while being a rule-follower. (That’s a grrrr point for me. :) ) My experience with rules is that the Lord has provided a way to follow through within their bounds, and indeed blesses us for being obedient. Exceptions, when and if they do come, should be just that — exceptions. I bristle whenever someone seems to be suggesting that living by exception (or putting one’s reason above rules) is somehow a higher way of living. Maybe I’m misreading you, but it felt a bit like you were heading in that direction. If so, I disagree. If not, then sorry for misunderstanding you.

  149. queuno, good point. To be fair to CW, I must say that I only read Tracy’s comment and his reply to her — I haven’t been following this thread, and no doubt there are a multitude of people that need a hammerin’. Any reader of BCC knows that consistency is not exactly my forte…

    CW, I don’t mean to single you out unfairly; if there are wackos on the other side that say that rules are bunk and we should be nudists living on the commune, you have my sanction to belittle them. But not Tracy — she’s one of the best and brightest I’ve ever met and I just won’t stand to see one of my friends insulted.

  150. Steve in #144. Are you referring to me personally? When you say the part about being “perfectly polite”? Because I must confess I don’t feel the same way about your post. Accusing people of not using their “God-given brains” is OK by your reasoning but defending the idea that following the rules is OK, you consider that a problem? My but this is going to be tough crowd to get along with. Hard to know exactly what the rules are in this world.

  151. Is anyone really arguing that rules should generally be disregarded? Everyone, including Tracy, is basically saying the same thing, viz.: obey rules, but follow the Spirit. I fail to see any controversy, and humbly suggest that those who are arguing over this point are simply looking for a fight.

    If that’s the case, please let me know and I’ll save you the trouble by banning you forthwith.

  152. CW, see my #151. I don’t think you’re reading Tracy very carefully. For a bishop, you’re not very charitable! You’re right that this is probably going to be a tough crowd for you to get along with — I suggest that you either start getting along, by knowing when to hold your peace, or that you move on to somewhere your genius will be more appreciated.

  153. “Grrrrrrr!” was prophetic, was it not? Wait; it was titled by a woman, so it can’t be prophetic. Wait; incorrect thread. Wait; incorrect doctrine. Wait; confusing comment. Now it finally fits. :-)

  154. Steve in #149, I did not insult your friend. Your friend did make a statement that was quite pointed, and rude, and at least by my understanding, and apparently others, was wrong. I responded in a nicer fashion than she did, and asked if she could offer clarification. Perhaps I misunderstood her point (“Living your life out of a rulebook rules out motivation of the Spirit.”) and I asked for clarification. I used terminology such as “if I am understanding your point” to leave open the possibility that I had misunderstood her.

    In any event I am sorry to you Tracy if you took offense. If you didn’t take offense, well apparently all of your friends did on your behalf. And to answer another implied question in your post, yes I am an adult convert.

  155. “In the case of single home teachers, they have usually been sent to the single sisters home, because the bishop is hoping one of them will develop a romantic interest in the sister, because it is the appropriate time in their life for that to happen. Missionaries on the other hand are not at a point in their life where romances are desired.”

    For several years I was home-teaching four or five single women at the same time without a companion. Not sure which one I was supposed to have developed a romantic interest in, but it was much more convenient not having to coordinate schedules with an extra busy person.

    Also, it’s my experience that bishops are usually quite happy to leave the home teaching assignments to the EQP or High Priests leader.

  156. #155-Not if they are following the rule book. All home teaching assignments are to be approved by the bishop. Granted most wards don’t follow that particular rule, but it is in the book.

  157. Aren’t there times that as parents we make rules for our children to circumvent the possibility of a problem b/c we heard that such and such happened to so and so? I know many parents are making a “no sleepover” rule b/c some kids sometimes get into trouble during sleepovers. Your child may not ever do anything wrong and their best friends may also never do anything wrong, but to avoid the awkwardness of having to say no to some invites but not others, many parents choose to say no to all invites.

  158. m&m, I have a sneaking hunch that much of what we “know” about missionary misbehavior is urban legend. There was a good article in Dialogue not so long ago (Justin, are you in the house??) about missionary folklore. My suspicion is that what we think missionaries do has as much to do with our own fears and weaknesses as it does with any real-world data.

  159. Steve in #152- You come across as a real friendly person.Is there anything I should do to get on your good side? So far I have been abused by your friends and responded in polite fashion. But maybe there is more I should be doing?

  160. Kristine, From what I have observed in the past few years, the incidents with missionaries are going down quite dramatically, but there are FAR too many serious incidents still to chalk up what we hear to urban legend. Of course, there are urban legends, but, from my own viewpoint, the basic rules were written for specific problems that were widespread enough to qualify as serious – not just reactionary to rare exceptions. I hope they are loosened in the future, but I don’t question their need in the past and still in the present.

    For adult members, the issue is significantly different, but there are certain recent rules (like the team teaching in Primary) where the Church really has little choice within our current political and social environment.

  161. As scintillating a turn as this thread has taken, may I go back to the original post for a moment?

    Kristine, though not in your same situation, I can understand your frustration. I can also understand the other side of the coin because of certain experiences of my own. As a missionary I saw another missionary leave his mission to marry a ward member who was a single mom. Seducing the missionaries in front of preschoolers? Apparently it can happen. Maybe he seduced her. Doesn’t matter. The point is that it happened and that it had occasion to happen. We could say that this elder may have made trouble anyway if he couldn’t have found it so easily, but we should also account for the fact that sometimes people don’t “seek out” trouble, but will easily participate when the opportunity is there. I think these types of rules are there mostly for the second sort. Again, is it fair to those adversely affected by the rules? No. But it is how most things operate.

    Second example, as a youth my family was generally close to missionaries, male and female, serving in our area. This was a great blessing. As a teenager I had only a vague understanding of missionary rules. For instance, I did not know that it was not cool for Elder Touchy to sometimes rub my shoulders in that “I’m just a friendly big brother sort of way”. One day he offered to help fix something on my bike. I rode to his apartment (his tools were there) at which time he asked me repeatedly to come inside. I did know this was wrong. He got a little forceful. I knew enough to leave. Point: sometimes these rules are in place to protect the innocent or ignorant. This is also illustrated by the comment above by the girl who made out with a missionary because she trusted him.

    Also, I think the last part of your post should be seriously addressed. These rules are not a solution to the heart of the problem, only a band-aid for what we know exists in the hearts of men (and women). I would really like to see some attention given to that matter. Is the objectifying we do of ourselves and one another something that can be changed here in mortality? I have my opinions, but I’d like to hear yours and others. You proposed the ultimate solution to these problems. Is there a way to it?

  162. oh, yeah, I meant to comment on the team-teaching thing–I don’t like a policy that treats men as suspects solely on the basis of their sex, either. I think women should team teach, too.

    And, you could be right, but so could I–we’re both speculating on the basis of limited personal experience. I don’t imagine that the statistical department or the missionary department will be publicizing the results of a comprehensive study any time soon, so there’s really no point in a “but in my mission…” back and forth.

  163. CW: For what it’s worth, I learned the hard way to dial it back at first and not make assumptions about a forum like this. When I first started commenting, I stepped on toes that really needed no crunching. I was too heavy-handed and assumed a familiarity that I actually did not have. I forgot that people reading my comments didn’t know me – and couldn’t see my body language as I typed.

    I have no idea if this applies to you, but many new bloggers come here assuming that we are a bunch of liberal members agitating for change and just a bit subversive. That preconception colors how they read many comments, which prompts them to try to “defend the Church”, which makes their comments sound harsh to those who read them, which sometimes spirals into personal battles and the new people leaving in a huff – when it all could have been avoided with a little patience and lurking and careful commenting until people get to know you. Most of the regular commenters here are dedicated members just trying to figure everything out a little better, and many of those who are not members fit that description, as well.

    Don’t know if that helps, but it’s my experience.

  164. Um, that last comment of mine was written before Ray and others commented relating to the original post. My “scintillating” comment was in reference to argumentative tangents of abysmal proportion…in which I briefly participated and would now like to apologize for. On second thought, I would like to propose a Fight Night between CW and Steve.

  165. CW–Way back in the day when I first ran across BCC (aka October) there was a very helpful post on the expected rules of behavior here: http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/10/how-to-fit-in/

  166. Kristine, for some of us it’s not a “back in my mission” discussion, but a “in the here and now” discussion. As I said, the incidents I have seen in the last few years make me optimistic that “raising the bar” really has had a significant impact on these types of issues, but it has not eliminated them completely – or even enough to loosen or eliminate the rules *yet*, imo.

    Also, many of us commenting on this thread are doing so from a North American perspective. There are countries and areas still where marrying a missionary is seen as a HUGE achievement – a way out of poverty – an ideal for which to strive – etc. The vast majority of missionaries “fall in love” with the people they serve – and it’s all too easy to fall in love with a person they serve. Combine those two realities, and it can be a combustible situation. We can’t ignore that reality as we discuss rules for missionaries

  167. Wow. See what I get for having family night with my husband and children…

    First and foremost, thank you to Steve and Kristine for standing by me and defending my words. You both know me, and- and I appreciate the defense of my character and friendship.

    To anyone else who thinks I was advocating anarchy, I reiterate:

    I’m grateful for the people who used their own God-given brains in dealing with me and my quest for the Gospel. Living your life out of a rulebook rules out motivation of the Spirit.

    My bishop, instead of only referring to the rule book, consulted with the Lord, listened to the Spirit, and bent some rules. He met my needs, thought about me personally, and listened to how best serve me. He could not have found that in a rule book. Instead of chasing away a wary, flighty investigator, he ended up with a baptism.

    Of course rules are necessary. I do not advocate the abdication of rules- I follow the rules, almost always- I have a temple recommend, I pay tithing, attend meetings, hold a calling, pray, read the scriptures and defy my obstinately anti-mormon mother- the same one who told me I could not be a Mormon and her daughter.

    But, like a parent who sometimes bends a rule in order to teach a higher principle, we have to use our own agency to decide for ourselves what our personal situation merrits. I will always be grateful for the missionaries and my bishop for being so sensitive. Because of their willingness to part from the strictness of a rulebook, I have the Gospel in my life, and the hope and joy contained therein.

    If that makes me a renegade, I think I’m cool with that. I know where I stand.

    Thanks one and all for the lively discussion.

  168. sol, those are good questions, and I don’t have good answers. Thank goodness I don’t hold the priesthood or have access to decision-making in the church ;)

    I understand that it is difficult (and Ray, for the record, my experience is not just ‘back on my mission’ either–I’m closely related to a fair number of bishops and bishopric members and stake presidents, so I have conversations that at least broaden the scope of my anecdotal observation), but I wish there were a rule that respected the Elders’ ability to govern themselves. So that, in the case of a hot young single mom, or a family with teenage daughters, the missionaries would be counseled to take prudent precautions. And conversely, in the case of someone older than their mother and decidedly not hot, they could feel comfortable going and being a good example for an impressionable 10-year-old son who idolizes them (speaking only in generalities, of course ;))

    In the case of adults working too closely with members of the opposite sex, I just think we have to trust them to be adults. It seems apparent to me that building Zion is about achieving unity in the face of difference, and that working with members of the opposite sex is the most ubiquitous opportunity to practice that. And if, in that endeavor, we are forced to live up to our covenants to bridle our passions, well, what are covenants for if not that? Many Stake Presidents have female colleagues at work; a few Stake Presidents run off with them. We don’t therefore tell men that they shouldn’t have female co-workers, or, worse, advocate discriminatory hiring practices (oh, wait…I guess we do, at least in CES and at BYU and in the COB).

    Probably I should write a more detailed and constructive post one of these days. Maybe I will, when I get smarter.

  169. #168 – Well said, Kristine. Very well said.

  170. Kristine, I think you have made some really good points. It seems we buck at these rules because they are made to keep people from doing things most of us know not to do in the first the place and, along the way, those who never needed the rules get the short end of the stick. I think we are in agreement that there is a “good side” of the rules (protect the innocent, keep a few bad apples from doing harm, etc.), but we simultaneously realize they are in some way almost advocating the problem. It’s kind of like putting a safety net out for someone who puts themselves in danger instead of giving them the expectation to keep themselves out of danger. It is frustrating. DH and I have had this conversation (in a different context) much as of late. I have come to the conclusion that the church leaders really must make decisions this way when working with such a vast and varied congregation. It is unfortunate and frustrating. I have been frustrated by this same thing in other contexts. However, I don’t know a better way. I know a better ideal, but it is not reality. The same with adults working together in the church. There are some that require these protective rules. It would be great if we could all behave as we should, but it seems a “better safe than sorry” policy may be the best way to avoid at least some heartache. Or, heck, I don’t know, maybe we should just let people work out their own salvation, so to speak. I really don’t know the answer here. It’s just that so many people have really crappy boundaries…aaargh! What is the best way to handle a worldwide organization?

  171. m&m, I have a sneaking hunch that much of what we “know” about missionary misbehavior is urban legend.

    Well, since we are sharing hunches, my guess is that this decision was not made in a vacuum of ignorance. If the decision were only local with the rule only executed here and there, I might be more likely to agree with you or at least think your hunch is possible. But that for me will be a hard sell, particularly since this is a universally applied rule. Perhaps you will think me naive, but my suspicion is that it was made based on actual, real data and actual, measurable, tangible problems that have arisen.

    My hope is that problems have decreased with the raised bar, but I still have seen enough and know enough about the havoc that is raised by missionaries who do dumb things (my parents presided over a mission…good grief, it’s hard enough job without moral issues coming up) that I rather prefer the rules. I think the concept of choices and consequences is important, but the consequences go far beyond just the individual missionary. The Church, in my mind, has every right to try to practically minimize the serious challenges moral problems raise for missionary work and then for leadership back home. In the end, a little inconvenience for me serving dinner to the missionaries (this rule affects me also because hubby is rarely home early enough to meet the schedule for the missionaries) is a lot less of a problem than what the moral problems can cause.

    I wish there were a rule that respected the Elders’ ability to govern themselves.

    I’ve actually been amazed at how much trust and autonomy is granted to missionaries. Every day they are trusted to plan their day, minute by minute from start to finish, and are trusted to teach, preach, testify, and help people resolve concerns enough to accept the gospel. That’s pretty awesome, in my mind, to expect and trust young men and women with. I felt that trust when I was a missionary, in spite of the rules. A few rules to prevent problems that can cause great heartache for the missionary and family, headache and heartache for mission presidents and other leaders, and so on, seem not out of the realm of reason.

    BTW, Kristine, back to your original post, I think it’s awesome that your kids want the missionaries for dinner. Do you have some friends (member or not) you can invite over too and make an evening out of it? :) (This is something I might consider as well, because I would love my kids to have that experience.) Not too hard to do, and fun because it would kill two birds with one stone…fellowshipping and experiences with the missionaries.

  172. Kristine, just an observation: Your post has been a runaway hit, while it’s “mother post” has fallen all but dead. I can’t help but notice that while women and the priesthood is a fun and sometimes controversial subject, it was quickly overshadowed by such eye-catching phrases as “seducing boys half my age” and “potential sex objects”. Just another example of how a woman uses her wiles to distract men.

  173. It is unfortunate and frustrating.

    I have a hunch that our leaders share these sentiments. I don’t imagine they relish the idea of having to impose rules for people who should know better. I am sure it breaks their hearts.

  174. Oh my gosh! What if someone took that last comment seriously! Ack! Sorry, newbies probably shouldn’t joke. Especially newbies who don’t know how to use emoticons.

  175. Mr brother served his mission in Brazil and it was common for mothers to try and set up “alone time” with their daughters. Sometimes he’d be over for a meal, and the mother would leave the room to get something and never return. Meanwhile the daughter was dressed to the nines and quite engaging with the elders.

    As another poster mentioned, more people are outside of the US than in it. Some of these rules may be in effect for the populace living outside of the realm of US/UK where their level of societal norms are different from ours. I don’t know.

  176. in ref to 715 I meant more members are living outside of the US than in it

  177. I spent my mission in Nevada and Arizona and quite a few of the parents there seemed to think the same way about fixing their daughter up with a real live missionary. For example when I was released, the WML’s daughter just happened to be on the same flight as me, in the seat next to me, because she had to hand deliver some of her dad’s important business papers to the same city I was flying to. And just in case I believed that cover story, her letters she began sending cleared up any confusion I had.

  178. If we had abided by the rule to never teach single women alone when I was on my mission in NYC(90-92), our ability to teach would have been severely frustrated because a)the church was so small that there weren’t enough able members who had homes we could teach in, and b) single women seemed to be the most common type of investigators we had. Thank goodness for the Spirit.

  179. Sorry for the extremely long sentence there. It’s late.

  180. BTW, Steve, I wanted to address your comment about people possibly picking fights. I want to make it clear that that is not my intention. I jumped in the conversation to respond to Tracy when she encouraged Kristine to just go ahead and have the elders over. I understand Tracy’s experience, and Kristine’s frustration and desires to serve and respond to her children’s desires. This is all significant. But still, I think we need to take a step back and think about the responsibility missionaries have to their leaders. I don’t think any of us would have another parent’s child over at our home and deliberately violate rules that we know the child’s parents have, even if we think the rules are dumb or we think we know better or our experiences differ. We just don’t do that, out of common respect if nothing else, and to encourage the child to respect his/her parents. I think mission presidents and general leaders and the missionaries deserve that kind of respect, no matter how silly we may think the rules are or how noble our intentions might be.

    We want to make missionaries out to be fully free and independent adults, but truth be told, they are representatives of and stewards to the Church. This isn’t just about them. Any organization will put limits on behavior to protect its work and name. (Think of financial travel rules, or computer use rules, or dating on the job rules, or any other myriad rules that are designed to protect a company. The Church is an organization, too, even though its purpose is spiritual and eternal.)

    I also think that the fastest way for rules like this to change is for missionaries to be as obedient as possible to show they are trustworthy. I think we as members need to keep that trust, too. In a sense, the leaders have to impose rules because missionaries (and members) haven’t always been trustworthy. So I say let’s help the missionaries be obedient, to engender that trust, because especially when it comes to member meals, this is an easy rule to follow, albeit sometimes inconvenient.

    I’ll say again that mission presidents have a hard enough time keeping their heads above water even with the good stuff without needing to hear about missionaries who are breaking rules and members who are encouraging it. How does a mission president trust and know that other rules aren’t also being broken? It’s just not worth it in my mind to go against things like this.

  181. Tracy, I’m glad you weren’t aware of these perplexing procedures and rules governing male missionaries’ relationships with single female investigators or members that seem to have arisen from a desire to prevent past abuses from happening again if you really mean it when you say that you would not have gotten baptized had you known of them — that would have been tragic. I am glad that you have the Restored Gospel in your life and I certainly know that the Church is a better place for having you in it.

    As a missionary, my companion and I taught numerous single females in their homes or at the Church even though we were vaguely aware there was a policy that missionaries shouldn’t be alone with single female investigators, although at the time and in my mission it was allowed if we met the investigator at the Church and left a door ajar in the room where we met. Feeling ourselves responsible representatives of Jesus Christ with nothing but good intentions, we never let this policy get in the way of actually teaching single females if the chance came up while tracting or if it was the only option (technically there was a rule that we should call in a sister companionship to teach the single female investigator in her home). In one case we taught several discussions on successive weeks to a teenage female investigator alone in the apartment of our landlord. What we didn’t realize is that we were putting ourselves in danger of accusations of impropriety that we would never be able to refute in the community (because it would just be the word of one cultist in support of another). Of course, there was no impropriety and there were no false accusations (surely the thought of bringing such never even crossed the mind of our investigator) so it ended well but the current rules/procedures might reflect the fact that it has not ended so well for others (investigator or missionary).

  182. Peter LLC says:

    #118:

    Or better yet, follow the guidelines Father has so lovingly given us to help us from falling into the kinds of sin that needs to be confessed.

    Now that is a cheap shot, CW, since you know very well that a confession of sin is not the only thing to be keep confident between a bishop and his sheep.

  183. m&m, thanks for the practical suggestions in 171. I was just going to hire a bodyguard.

  184. Tanya Sue says:

    Peter LLC (#182)-I was beginning to think that I was the only one that caught that.

  185. I was a divorced mother of two (ages 12 and 6) when this rule was first put in place. The ward was supposed to feed two sets of missionaries daily, but our ward was about 75% single and divorced women. The option that was given to us was to team up – invite over a friend, and feed the missionaries together.

    The missionaries agreed that it was best that way. “Why should only one of us have a date?”

  186. Kevin Barney says:

    CW #177, wow, that’s a great story! I got quite a laugh from that one.

    Kristine #168, I’m afraid I have to strongly disagree with your generalized characterization of the mom as “decidedly not hot.” Perhaps she needs to buy herself an actual mirror some time…

    Regarding bishops, rules and the spirit, my experience as been that if bishops are really doing their jobs well they have all the latitude in the world. When new bishops have questions and go up the chain, more often than not the response comes back down that hey, you’re the bishop, follow the spirit. My understanding is that that is a big part of the reason that the CHI is not circulated, because we don’t want “jailhouse lawyers” citing chapter and verse when there may be situations where the bishop feels constrained by the spirit to do something a little bit differently (as in Tracy’s case, for example). So I think what we’ve got now works about as well as we could hope in the context of bishops and local leadership.

    Personally, I don’t think that having mixed-gender local leadership would be a significant problem. Young, often goofy, hormone-addled missionaries are probably a special case and should be considered sui generis with respect to the need for special rules.

  187. Wow,

    I’m way behind on this site. My post at Mormon Matters was on this very issue of mixed-gender presidencies.

    http://mormonmatters.org/2008/01/22/got-gender-a-modest-proposal/

  188. Really interesting post. Having just been released as RS president, I personally spent many hours alone with the Bishop – sometimes we were the only people in the building too. And despite our close proximity and many opportunities for making a mess, we were completely appropriate. Hmmm, and I am single and called attractive by most, no less. I fail to see why being in a bishopric with a couple of other people there would be any more challenging in this area

  189. SCW #188, sounds like you have the experience and that counts for something. But is it always wise to generalize from your own experience and assume because it worked for you, it will work for everybody?

    Or the reverse: if you failed at something, would you assume everybody else would fail too?

  190. No one in our mission is allowed to have the missionaries for dinner, not even if investigators are present. We are only allowed to have a meeting for investigators in our home and serve dessert. The missionaries around here may be getting too hungry to initiate or accept improper behavior.

  191. taking a brief survey, this policy does not currently exist in the cebu philippines mission, the ghana coast mission, or the provo utah mission…

  192. Or the reverse: if you failed at something, would you assume everybody else would fail too?

    But CW, that is exactly what people are doing when they say that mixed-gender presidencies are inherently dangerous: Because *some* people *might* fail/have failed the test and succumb/ed to temptation, *nobody* will get the opportunity to experience the blessings that will arise only when both women and men serve together in presidencies and bishoprics.

    We haven’t abandoned the HT program because our friend’s married HT had an affair with said friend’s spouse – and the HT visits didn’t even involve the whole “single sister” dilemma. If we followed the rule suggested (catering to the weakest of all saints) to its conclusion in this case of our friends and scrapped the HT program because two people sinned, millions would miss out on the good the HT program does.

  193. millions would miss out on the good the HT program does.

    I dunno; given the work ethic of the bums who do hold the priesthood, maybe only hundreds of thousands. 8)

  194. LRC, #192 Well good point, but after thinking about it for awhile I think you put the shoe on the wrong foot.

    This discussion is about a rule that apparently has been promulgated by priesthood leaders based on experience, and inspiration and utilizing the keys of their calling. (I am not aware of the specifics of the policy.)

    I think the presumption is that the Church is inspired and knows what it is doing. Based on our inferior situation, (not having the knowledge of what has happened in the past, not knowing how much money the Church has paid to settle cases, and not having the inspiration that comes with the calling) we should support the policy. To use our experience to say the Church is wrong seems unwise to me.

  195. Mark Brown says:

    I’ll disagree respectfully, CW.

    I think one of the points of the post is to illustrate the ways in which a general guideline become a hard and fast rule, and also how we have a tendency to embellish a guideline with rules of our own making. One way of showing disdain for church policies is to ignore them, but I think we are also on thin ice when we add to them. I challenged you before about where in the handbook it was written that a bishop should always have somebody sitting in the hall outside the door, and the citation you came back with shows that it doesn’t need to be immediately outside the door in the hall. If somebody is in the foyer that’s OK. Maybe I misread you at first, but I got the impression that you don’t do interviews unless somebody is sitting right outside the door, which is also left ajar.

    But I think the real reason for this post is in the last sentence. Our ultimate focus should be the building up of Zion, and a place where petty jealousies drive policies and where men and women can’t be friends without the ward gossip machine going into overdrive doesn’t sound like Zion to me. In fact, it sounds more like a very telestial level of existence. If that is where we are, fine, it is always best to face the facts. But let’s not make excuses for ourselves, and let’s not pretend that this is the very best we can do.

  196. Mark Brown #195. “When meeting with a woman, he should ask a priesthood holder to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall.”

    Note use of the word “adjoining”. In the foyer doesn’t satisfy this criteria if the foyer is down the hallway from the bishops office.

    This may sound like much ado about nothing, but let me give you the following scenario, which is true BTW. About 6 years ago we had a 1st counselor in the bishopric who was self employed and had a fairly flexible schedule. He would schedule interviews with the teachers and miamaids, that he was over, in the afternoon when school was out and during the business day.

    One day I was at the building in the parking lot getting some stuff out of the scout storage shed, when a miamaid shows up for her interview. The counselor who was already there comes and opens the door to let her in, because the building is locked up. It is during the business day, and there are no activities going on at this time, and he is alone in the building, except that now he has a 15 year old girl with him, alone in the building.

    Even given that we all have our own points of view, I think we all have to agree that was not a good situation. (or do we agree on that?) And so you have to come up with some type of guideline to prevent these situations from happening. I am sure you could come up with a guideline to cover that type of situation. But my point is why don’t we just support the reasonable policies the Church has in place already?

    Here in our immediate locale we have had bishops and a stake pres excommunicated. We have had other bishops who were released and immediately divorced. A recent bishop was separated 6 months before he was released, and then divorced immediately after his release. All the while rumors swirling about what is going on.

    I know at least 2 people who are on the sex offender registry list, whom I believe are innocent, falsely convicted. (I know others who are on the list for good reason)

    I think these policies are extremely important, to protect all the parties, but others can draw their own conclusions.

    BTW I must respectfully AGREE with your statement about adding to the Churches policies. Recently we planned a combined youth activity at the beach. Swimming, canoes, BBQ, the whole works. We had to head off an attempt to get the activity canceled. The person who wanted to cancel the activity said “it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a mixed gender activity, when everybody is wearing swimsuits.”

  197. CW, when a thread gets up to 200 comments, the comments tend to start becoming tedious, but what the heck.

    It seems that you are construing the word _adjoining_ very strictly. I’ve probably been in at least a hundred church buildings in my life, and I have never seen one where a bishop’s office opens directly onto the foyer. Have you? Are you taking the position that a bishop who holds interviews when the nearest third party is in the foyer twenty feet away is in violation of guidelines?

  198. cw

    Thanks for your comment. I think my point is that – the position of RS President MANDATES meetings AT LEAST MONTHLY – all ALONE (GASP) with the Bishop – no counselors present, etc., etc. Yes I have heard stories of Bishops and RS presidents getting it on. I have also heard stories of Bishops having sex with 13 year olds they interviewed, etc. All this is really beside the point. The point being – that unless we go back to veiling and confining all women to the home (or alternatively, confining all men to the home)- you can’t really prevent this kind of thing from happening – and even then, what is to prevent incest in such a situation?

    My point is that – the church already provides AMPLE opportunity for affairs to happen (if you want to call it that) and in some cases even promotes a woman being alone with a man – so I don’t think this is a good reason for saying that cross gender Bishoprics are a bad idea. Others have already pointed up the absurdity of this idea in regards to closet homosexuals serving in the Bishopric.

    What about “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves” as a protection.

  199. Well Mark we don’t want to get tedious, so I will get the last comment in before we hit #200. No I am not interpreting the policy, I simply quoted the policy, and it says “adjoining”. You figure out what that means. I know how I apply these things in my life, and you can make your own choices about what they mean in your life.

    And SCW, Quite respectfully, I DON”T GET YOUR POINT!!!! Mainly because you are obscuring the point. I am not up on my terminology so I may have it wrong, but when you equate simple policies (missionaries not going into the home of single women) with absurd policies (veiling and confining all women to the home) you are setting up straw man arguments. Deal with the issue at hand.

    The initial post on this thread complained of the policy against missionaries going into her home when her husband was not present. My comments have dealt with that. My position is simply that when the Church adopts these policies, we ought to support them and not generalize our own experience as justification for setting aside Church policies. GOT IT?

    I am happy to have you disagree. Fine with me.

  200. Peter LLC says:

    My position is simply that when the Church adopts these policies, we ought to support them and not generalize our own experience as justification for setting aside Church policies. GOT IT?

    It seems odd to counsel others not to generalize from their own experiences when generalizing from our own (bad) experiences seems to drive the creation of new policies in the first place–or?

  201. Peter, you sir are the 200th post and so we are now being tedious. I really should drop out at this point, but I can’t resist answering your question.

    OK here is how I see it, however I will be glad to be corrected if I don’t have this right.

    I think it is the difference between inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Somebody will really have to clean up what I say, because I am sure I have this wrong.

    When you take your own individual experience and say this should form the basis for a rule to apply to everybody, you are generalizing, and the weakness of that approach is you don’t really know how closely your experience, based on your weaknesses, strengths and unique situation really are representative of the group. You might come up with a rule that is perfect for you, but terrible for the group. And you might come up with a rule that isn’t even good for you, let alone the group, because you have poor judgment or relatively little personal experience to draw upon.

    On the other hand, when you are in the situation that the Church is in, you have the experience of, what is it now, one million missionaries to draw upon? And you are actually doing the opposite of generalizing. You are not calling on the experience of one to set rules for the group, you are drawing on the track record of the many to suggest guidelines for the one, the individual to follow.

    Plus the Church leaders have the inspiration that comes with the calling when they set these policies. We do still believe that don’t we?

    Generalizing is OK with water molecules, because they all behave the same. What you observe on do, all the rest will do. However people are not homogeneous and what will work for one, may not work for others.

    Having said that, I do believe that the spirit will guide you as to when to set aside a certain policy. The spirit guided Nephi to cut off Laban’s head. But Nephi didn’t rail against the rule, he did what he was inspired to do with out criticizing Moses and his stupid rules.

    But an individual not liking a policy is not the same as the spirit telling you to go deviate from a policy in a given instance. And the spirit telling you to deviate from a policy is not the same as generally criticizing the policy in all instances.

    Now that you see my frail and faulty reasoning you are free to enlighten me.

  202. GOT IT?

    CW, do you talk that way to everybody? There’s no need for the attitude, and no need for all caps. We’re just talking here, right?

    I’m having a hard time understanding your position. On one hand, you just quote the CHI, as though it were self-explanatory with no room for interpretation, then on the other hand, you do go right ahead and embellish the guidelines by leaving the door ajar.

    My position is simply that when the Church adopts these policies, we ought to support them and not generalize our own experience as justification for [adding to] Church policies.

    Based on your comments here, I would say that you have done exactly that. You know somebody who was falsely accused, so you decided that the CHI wasn’t good enough and added a rule of your own.

  203. Mark, #202, My caps was responding to SCW #198 who used all caps. Some reason you didn’t notice that post with all caps?

    You are missing a key issue. I clearly said “My rule, for me, that I enforce on myself,” (#100 if you would like to check it) to try and make it clear that this is what I do. For me. I don’t know how I could have said it to make it any more clear.

    An individual setting a higher standard for him or herself is not the same as advocating eliminating a policy for others.

  204. Hi CW, did you get a chance to follow that link I posted? It’s really very helpful.

    It’s hard to see up there, so I’ll post it again.

    http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/10/how-to-fit-in/

    Really, there are so many helpful insights contained in the OP and following comments. Hope you find them helpful too.

  205. Wow, that was three helpfuls. Please don’t hurt me, people with the red pencils.

  206. Steve Evans says:

    Jami, want me to temporarily ban you again?

  207. No, I’m good. Thanks for the offer though.

  208. Steve’s just being helpful.

  209. Steve Evans says:

    I aim to please!

  210. I noticed the caps but didn’t object, because scw didn’t seem to be taking the condescending tone you seemd to be taking, in my entirely subjective opinion. But that gets to the crux of the problem here, doesn’t it? Texts from the CHI and policies don’t simply interpret themselves.

    And when you set what you call higher standards, you’re not just setting them for yourself. You’re imposing them on others as well, including people who would prefer the door to be completely closed.

  211. CW, I think you’ve comported yourself admirably admirably here. I’ve enjoyed your concise and lucid explanations of your position and I had no trouble understanding the many, many times you’ve repeated that this is only how you choose to conduct yourself.

    As for the reaction that has stirred and the not so subtle antagonism it has provoked…welcome to BCC.

  212. KLC, I loves you man! You’ve earned an official “heh” of appreciation.

  213. cw

    sorry my point wasn’t clear. i will try again.

    my point is not that women should serve in bishoprics. my point is that the opportunity for sexual misbehavior is not necessarily a reason for keeping them out for the following reasons

    1. there are already mixed gender presidencies
    2. there are already opportunities for bishops to misbehave with females with whom they meet one on one and alone

    personally i do not believe that most sexual misbehavior in the church occurs or even starts in the bishoprics office – even when the misbehavior is between a bishop and a ward member. however, i do make an observation that there are a variety of studies that do show that women are attracted to power – and having a man in a powerful position meet alone with a woman who may be a supplicant in any of a number of a ways is potentially open to this sort of behavior developing.

    hope you noticed no caps in an attempt to be unoffensive.

  214. Well SCW, #213 thank you for your attempt to actually be nice. Dually noted, and KLC too. I am sure you are right that most of the hanky panky doesn’t start in the bishops office. BTW, what are the mixed gender presidencies that already exist?

  215. Mark Brown:

    Random tidbit to one of your questions– the last two places I’ve lived the bishop’s offices have opened directly into the foyer. Since these were both standard LDS-built buildings, I assume this is the case a lot.

  216. Congratulations to Kristine for her big win!

  217. Kristine:
    I would like to be your new best friend. I left the church as a young adult for feminist reasons, and of course now have found myself madly in love with a good Mormon boy at the age of 36. I’m having to renegotiate my sociology and spirituality. Can I find a way to meet him back in the middle?

    John:
    I’m certain you understand perfectly the sanity behind the rules. However, it’s the broad encompassing overgeneralization of the sexes that is at the heart of all sexism debate. How do we respect our gender difference, without requiring it?

  218. Jeni, the short answer to the question of meeting in the middle is yes. The real answer,though, is very long and not as easy. If you’re (carefully) open about your questions, you’ll find lots of friends within the church who are navigating the same shoals. Given the title of the post, maybe we should form a club–Mormon Pirate Girrrrrls.

  219. FANTASTIC idea! Can there be t-shirts in our club?

    I’m not surprised more Mormon women arent jumping on the priesthood band wagon. I mean, we’ve known we couldn’t be Bishop since primary. Duh. Where’d you get this crazy notion from anyhow? Didn’t you notice the 3 important people sitting on that special pew up at the front in sacrament meeting? Since you’re new, I’ll tell ya a secret. They’re always boys. Me and my brother fought that out when I was 8. You must not be from around here. I’m just sayin’.

    Seriously though, it’s scary to be considering becoming active in the church again, because I am very involved in my current church. It’s full of bleeding heart liberal tree huggers, and I really like it. I have a vote. My voice carries equal weight wether i’m on a commitee about church finances, mission work, or redecorating the nursery.

    Thats whats the hardest for me. I dont want to lose my voice in church. I want to feel equally qualified to be a part of the important spiritual decisions being made by church leaders.

    There is simply not equal leadership opportunity, or even equal access to leaders, for Mormon women.

    Even worse, there are no visible female leaders to serve as role models for our daughters who dream of blessing the sacrament, or who desperately want to baptize someone someday. It reminds me of how textbooks used to have only pictures of white families in them. and male doctors.

    Besides, I dont want my husband to have to represent my interests by way of the priesthood. Why can’t I go to the top secret man meetings? What if I don’t have a husband? How will I know what they talk about?

    Dude. You can TOTALLY come to Relief Society. We don’t care. You might have some good ideas.

    SO the Good news is….I LIKE relief society. I like teaching nursery and young women. I might not even LIKE a priesthood meeting. and I may not have the right temperament to be useful in the bishopric. I dont know. sigh.

    Bad news is….I have no choice.

    My daughter though, would be an AMAZING bishop.

  220. Hey, Jeni,

    I just want to know which tree hugger church you go to? I might just give it a try. I really long to have an equal voice in a church – true or not!

  221. Presbyterian. You know, Joseph Smith almost joined. Good thing he didn’t, I guess.

  222. hmmm, I too am dating an ultra mormon man, who totally believes the church is true, etc., etc., and wants to marry me in the temple – problem is, I don’t like the temple – too sexist for my feminist leanings

    he thinks he can help me with my admittedly shaky testimony – problem is I’m not sure I want to be helped

  223. Fwiw, chimera, the temple is the least sexist part of Mormonism, imo.

  224. Steve Evans says:

    Word up, Mi. In many ways it is a pinnacle of female power in this church.

  225. I’d like to speak up for the third gender – and I will, as soon as I discover it.

  226. Tanya Sue says:

    Chimera-I am totally with you. I can’t handle the temple because I feel it is sexist as well. Not all of it, just parts-but enough parts that I am not ok with it.

  227. If the temple is the pinnacle of female power in this church – we females are in deep, deep trouble. Wow, it is amazing how we accept so much discrimination and unrighteous dominion without even thinking about it. I find more power, acceptance and validation as a contributing human being in one day at the office, than I have found in my entire life in the church. Just finished a stint as RS president too.

  228. Steve Evans says:

    chimera, what do you want people to say? To agree with you that the Church is awful and sexist? To award you power, acceptance and validation? That’s probably not going to happen here. This is not a forum for venting complaints about the Church. If all our religion is to you is a bunch of sexist complaints, no wonder you feel in deep, deep trouble. With your experience as an RS president, I would have hoped there’d be more to your churchgoing experience than repressive sexism. If not… then I wish you luck in your quest to find an equal voice in a church, “true or not.” As for me, I’ll stick with the true one, thanks.

  229. Steve, I expect more from you–it’s exactly that sort of response that makes women who feel unfairly treated in the church feel that Mormon men cannot even hear them, let alone work together with them to change the things that need changing.

  230. Steve Evans says:

    Kristine, you’re right to expect more from me, of course. Perhaps I have been hearing too much lately of the kind of simplistic criticisms of sexism that seem utterly ineffective in terms of moving the ball forward for women. It’s one thing to express frustration in ways that can promote change; it’s another to treat the church as irretrievable dross. I believe that regardless of its flaws, this church is still true and worth working with from within rather than sniping at from without.

  231. Steve, you’re right that it’s important to move past anger to constructive critique and work, but often that can’t happen until the anger is authentically expressed and sympathetically responded to. In some ways, the church is terribly sexist (as are many other valuable organizations worth belonging to), and saying so is not remotely the same as “treat[ing] the church as irretrievable dross.” People who don’t care tend to walk away without a second glance–it’s the people who care a lot who bother to stick around and try to articulate the problems as a first step towards fixing them.

  232. I know that some had trouble with it, and perhaps it is easy for a man to say, but I liked Sister Beck’s talk from conference Mothers That Know:

    There is eternal influence and power in motherhood.

    She proceeds to give multiple ways in which mothers can have tremendous power, and that is by teaching, working with, nurturing their children, and by preparing them to make and keep covenants.

    Admittedly this is not what some women would choose, but this is God’s way. And certainly there is much that women can and do contribute outside of the home, but given the tremendous power and influence that mothers have within the home, why do some seem so determined to seek that power and influence elsewhere, even to the exclusion of the power and influence that lies easily within their reach?

    Whether man or woman, our power and influence (the type that Heavenly Father wishes us to develop) is limited by our own righteousness and desire to seek and do God’s will.

  233. my2cents–we’ve had ample discussion of President Beck’s talk around here–you may want to check the archives for October.

    The question of direct or indirect exercise of power and influence is thorny, and probably not usefully discussed at the bottom of a 200+ comment thread, so I’m going to close the comments at this point. Don’t worry, if you wait ten minutes, there’s sure to be another chance to spout off about women’s roles somewhere in the bloggernacle.

    But, since I’m the boss around here, I’m going to wield my power to have the last word on the subject of women’s power: last week, a discussion of some arcane baseball rule came up at our dinner table. I explained the rule, gave three instances in which it had been invoked recently, and detailed the history of the rule’s adoption. My 10-year-old said, “well, I’m going to ask Dad.” I asked why, since we’re very clear that I’m the freakish baseball fan of the family. His response was “well, Dad was an umpire once [in Little League, 30 years ago]. He has a uniform.” You can have all the spiritual, moral, and intellectual power you want, but institutional power still matters.

    The End.

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