Fascinating Priesthood

A book sits on our shelf in our home: Helen Andelin’s infamous tome on marital manipulation, Fascinating Womanhood.  The book details for women how to get a man (if they don’t have one) and how to control the one that they do have.  It includes helpful tips such as dressing and acting in a childish manner, nonsensically flattering your husband’s superiority [intellect, strength, driving skills, etc.], and deliberately playing dumb, even sabotaging household items for your husband to fix, so that your husband can feel proud of his manliness.  It also condones marital rape and domestic violence.

This book made quite a splash in the church in the 1970s and 80s as women were either outraged or thrilled by its effectiveness.  Amazon reviews today are no different, that range from the ebullient to the effluvient.

5 stars!

“Besides the Bible, this is the most life-changing book I have ever read!” [1]

“I am a Christian. This book restored life to my marriage. I was concerned that the author is Mormon. I asked my husband if he saw anything wrong with the book as I was practicing it. He has not read it. He has been so pleased with the new me that he describes the book as “speaking the truth in love”.”

1 star :(

“Her ideas encourage women, already weak in this area, to make men the center of their world, vision, mind – to replace God with their husband.  It is commendable to remember we, as Christians, are called to serve one another – thus a wife is to serve her husband. But this book encourages an unhealthy obsession with the husband, in turn encouraging the husband to developed an unhealthy pride and self-centeredness. I also objected to the advice that encouraged woman to ignore bad behavior or questionable morals in the husband.”

“I’m a stay-at-home wife from a conservative background and I still found this book to be horrid. It mouths the spirit of this age that says the domination of women is normal.  I found The Surrendered Wife to be a way better book.” [2]

In the spirit of this book, I thought it would be helpful to create a list of tips for those who wish to advance in the priesthood.  What’s holding you back from moving up the ranks of leadership?  Here are some things you need to do if you want to climb that Priesthood ladder.

Amateur Level

  1. You’ve got to not want it.  Desperation is an unattractive cologne.  Don’t do anything that sounds even vaguely like campaigning.  Don’t give any concession speeches in fast & testimony meeting.
  2. Bear your testimony.  Nobody wants a rogue in leadership.  You should be comfortable enough bearing your testimony extemporaneously that they won’t worry you’ll be at a loss for words whenever they call upon you to do so in the myriad meetings that are your chosen future ecclesiastical career path.
  3. Don’t be afraid to cry, but don’t make a career out of it either.  Well up enough to be seen as spiritual, but not so much that you make others uncomfortable.  If you experience grief or sadness, go away until it gets better.
  4. Have a firm handshake.  A firm handshake says “I’m comfortable greeting other men in a business-like fashion.  I have confidence.”  It probably also says “I’m an RM.”
  5. Don’t wear white socks.  You’re embarrassing yourself.
  6. Make enough money.  You don’t have to be Mitt Romney (although obviously that doesn’t hurt), but you have to be wealthy enough that your eyes won’t bug out when you see tithing figures, making the wealthier members of the ward uncomfortable.

Intermediate Level

  1. Never contradict those above you in the hierarchy.  But don’t be a total kiss up either.  You want to make them think you are smart and that you think they are smart, smarter than you.  Then it’s flattering for you to agree with them.  If you come across as too much dumber than they are, your praise is devalued.  Getting the smart/dumb balance correct is critical.
  2. Have a hot wife, but not too hot.  She should be reasonably attractive and fit, but she shouldn’t make people tongue-tied. [3]
  3. Quote hierarchy freely.  You’ll send the subtle message that you are a company man, but also that you listen to what your leaders say.
  4. Don’t get pigeonholed as a “doer.”  Elders Quorum is for doing.  You want to skip right past that to sleeping on the stand.

Advanced Level

  1. Protect your superiors from experiencing the feeling of being wrong.  Good subordinates make things easier for their bosses.  Rocking the boat, steadying the ark, and being the smartest person in the room are unsettling qualities, and feeling unsettled is of Satan.
  2. It’s who you know.  We wouldn’t tell stories about the relatively unknown person getting called as bishop if it weren’t such a rarity.  The reality is that you’ll be called into leadership when someone you know is making the callings.  This is how they keep their risk to a minimum.
  3. Be their product.  Leaders love nothing more than elevating one of their own.  If your conversion is in any way influenced by those above you, they will eat that up with a spoon and reward you with increased responsibility which has the benefit of making them feel influential.  The worth of souls is great after all.
  4. Make benevolently sexist comments.  This shows that you preside, but not to the extent of being abusive or disrespected by your wife and children.  Joke about how your wife is really the boss so people see that you aren’t sexist.  Wink, wink.

If you follow these simple tips, putting your leaders ahead of you, submitting to their natural authority, you will improve your chances to be promoted in the priesthood.  It may be unsavory, but it has a high probability of success.


[1] Have you noticed that people who say the Bible is the most life-changing book they’ve ever read have invariably never read it?

[2] Nice that at least one of the reviews felt it was too empowering to women.  Uppity wimminz.

[3] This one’s my priesthood career downfall.  But given the alternative, I prefer my hot wife to more tedious church meetings.


  1. The first rule of the unwritten order of things is never write about the unwritten order of things.

  2. This is excellent, Steve!

  3. I’m a fail. I’m with you in fn3 and I’m doing everything I can to steady the ark at every opportunity.

  4. New Iconoclast says:

    Geez, if I had only known this so I could have planned better. As it is, I was weighed in the balance (served as exec sec and ward clerk) and found wanting (released to be Primary chorister and Sunday School teacher for the 11-12 year olds).

    At least now I’m free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last, to say what I really think. Not that I ever stopped.

  5. MLK, really? C’mon.

  6. Wow. This is so true.

  7. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Unfortunately, you should add:

    -Never reveal that you read BCC.

  8. melodynew says:

    Fortunately, since I’m a woman, none of this applies to me. No need to unnecessarily burden myself with any of these tips for success. But I’m so grateful for all the men who are willing to wield the power that God clearly intended to be wielded only by men. These tips are invaluable for my eternal companion.

    And I’m entirely content in my role as a woman, the sex endowed from on high with (what did Elder Christofferson call it?) inherent moral authority. Because, obviously, that is the power and authority by which worlds were made and by which matter is organized into physical form from its spiritual state via my womb. It just can’t change church policy or heal the sick.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    As a sports fan, I also see a phenomenon in priesthood leadership advancement somewhat analogous to “coaching trees.” In 1998, for example, fully half the active coaches in the NFL could be traced to either Bill Walsh or Tom Landry. If you’re in a priesthood leadership position, my guess is that one consideration in making callings is thoughts of one’s legacy and the idea that the qualities in the callings you make ultimately reflects on you. Certainly in high church leadership there are notable leadership trees, Elder Packer being an obvious example.

  10. Okay, I know this post is about priesthood and women, but let me just say that Fascinating Womanhood was obviously written for couples WITH NO CHILDREN. Purposely break stuff around the house? Try having kids, and then you’ll be drowning in piles of broken stuff, more than you and your husband combined could ever hope to fix! Problem solved.

  11. This was very well-done, Steve. Great lists. Oh, and this one, in particular, made me howl: “Don’t get pigeonholed as a “doer.” Elders Quorum is for doing. You want to skip right past that to sleeping on the stand.”

  12. Not to detract from an excellent post, but I just wanted to point out that Helen Andelin’s husband, Aubrey, wrote a male counterpart to “Fascinating Womanhood,” titled “Man of Steel and Velvet.”

  13. I thought Man of Steel and Velvet was a graphic novel about Superman teaming up with Liberace.

  14. I apologize.

  15. Reminds me of another book, “Man of Steel and Velvet”.

  16. Bro. Jones says:

    I prefer your hot wife to tedious meetings, too. WHOAAAAA

  17. Pistols at dawn!

  18. Or the more recent Mormon version: “Man of Steel and Velveeta.”

  19. Too late to add another piece of advice?

    “Humbly” add social capital to your family by praising your wife in meetings and she in turn should praise your super spiritual qualities. Dont worry, it will come off looking like gratitude. Try phrases like, “best eternal decision I ever made…”, “I married up…”, “my spouse brings so much spirituality into our home (for which I am so grateful), and “I am so grateful for my dear spouse who (insert Molly mormon or Peter priesthood qualities). Don’t over do it, but dont leave important things unsaid either.

  20. The truth of this post is particularly discouraging for the Ordain Women movement. Don’t contradict the hierarchy. Protect your superiors from the feeling of being wrong. Maybe it really is all about tone.

  21. This is so helpful. I’ve been going about this completely wrong! Thank you for this. While I’m not yet at amateur level I believe that by setting goals (by writing them down, because a goal not written is only a wish), by keeping a positive mental attitude (as attitude determines altitude), and by keeping my goal in front of me (I’ll put up pictures of leaders on my wall to remind me of of my goal), and by staying on task and not doubting, I will become a leader! I will!

  22. Stuart Smalley would be proud.

  23. Thank you so much for this, I can now make sure to teach my son and therefore ensure his future. why aren’t they teaching this in Scouts?

  24. Cordelia Vorkosigan says:

    This reads like a manual of “why we never get called for anything but clean-up”. I will show this to hubby to see if he wants advice or if he’d rather continue believing that the church means what it says it means, rather than what this list clearly articulates and substantiate.

  25. Looks like Evans was passed over for Bishop again . . . : )

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