My sisters, please speak.

For my birthday we went to the beach, not a sandy beach, but a secret rocky beach down a path rife with poison oak that we jumped over. The day was a little bit foggy, a little bit colorless, a little bit cold. I walked along behind my husband and two children, stopping to pick up a fossil of a shell, a piece of abalone, a memory of my son looking out into the vast ocean. We had been collecting quietly, sliding over wet rocks, filling our pockets with treasure for almost an hour when my two and a half year old daughter came and sat next to me. I noticed her little palm was tightly shut and when I asked her what she had, she opened her hand to reveal a dozen carefully selected round pebbles. She has a propensity for small round things, and I welled up with intense pride and love as I went back over in my memory that devout little girl searching, examining, holding on to the very best things without even the intention to show me unless I had asked.

Today, in a devotional, as Elder Nelson talked about the process behind the recent policy change,  I couldn’t help but feel deep disappointment as he spoke.  I knew I was hoping for something I would not hear. In no way did the workings include the voice or mind of a woman. I do believe in prophets, and I do believe in revelation, but that does not mean I am not disheartened to again and again see the absence of a female voice as decisions are made.

After Thea was blessed, I wrote this in my journal: One of my favorite lines in Thea’s blessing was that she will ‘find her voice and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.’ I’ve been thinking so much about how to teach a little girl about finding her voice in this world, and not just finding it, but using it, speaking with it, letting it rise and fall and speak again until it is heard.  I want her to know that the voice she finds will not be perfect for a long time, it will be clumsy, wrong sometimes, in need of trimming and shaping and re-saying a thousand times over, but I also want her to know that if she works at it hard enough, there will be times when that voice does have the perfect thing to say, at just the right moments.  I want her to know that her voice will turn into actions, and those actions will be the stories that shape the world around her.

Lola was nice after all, 8x10While I am in the blessed place to have so many, so many, good men who give my voice a space, who take time to let my thoughts sit between us without ever making a move to make me feel less, regardless, so much within this church that is also mine is devoid of my voice, rather is devoid of a feminine voice at all. This lack does not just hurt women.

I believe what I wrote in my journal for my daughter, that you must use your voice, let it be wrong and clumsy at times, until, at some moment, many moments, it will have just the right thing to say to heal and change, but I am saddened that so often, that feminine voice gets no practice. There is no playing field for practice, and relief society, where we must teach and discuss from the manual of a male leader does not count. So often, when the voice gathers courage, it more quickly pulls back into quiet places out of intimidation, out of fear of saying the wrong thing, of not being up to speed, out of tradition.

If I were ever to make a plea out into the space of the Internet, let this be it: Women, please speak. Speak about meaningful and deep things amongst yourselves; let your spiritual wanderings take shape, even if they happen between the odd hours of making casseroles and bathing the children, or in the hours of feeling alone and without direction, in a workspace or sleepless nights. Speak, even when you are sure there is someone smarter and more informed than you in the room. Give credence to your spiritual ideas. Allow a bit of chaos to reign within your thoughts and then let that wildness spill into this ordered religion you belong to. The feminine voice is more than a female saying words, it is honesty, deep hurt and deep joy, and beautiful complexity that create families and friendships and relief society and primary lessons. I don’t mean angry, fighting words, though use them if you need. I am talking about that voice that lives deep inside your heart, the ancient, wise voice that must be unlocked and coached with patience, fervor and faith that it will have something to say when it surfaces. Speak in your home, in classes, amongst friends, in writing, to children, at work, to your leaders, as leaders.  Your story carries power.  Your experience is valid.  Your voice is vital.

It becomes more and more clear to me that while what is said from the pulpit, “We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices,” may be true, our voices were not the ones consulted in making decisions that very much affect this church we are trying to raise the next generation in. And so, I suppose my plea is not actually that different from Elder Nelson’s, except let this be a plea from a woman—me. A woman who has spent much time feeling inadequate to speak and is finally finding steady ground in her voice, if for no one else than my son and daughter.

I think back on that moment on the beach and I want so much for Thea’s first impulse to not be to simply siphon away the palm full of precious and strong pebbles that miraculously tumbled to her from a vast and completely wild earth. I want her first impulse to be to open her hand and talk about how she found them, let them shine out like rising firelight on a dark hillside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Yes. So much yes.

  2. “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” (Muriel Rukeyser)

  3. I too noticed the lack of women’s voices in his description. How can the silence of women be so loud to some of us?

  4. There’s a melancholy to the irony that Nelon’s own talk at the most recent conference was all about how we need women’s voices: “A Plea to My Sisters.”

  5. This was powerful to me. I am sharing this with friends and family.

  6. If we as women truly believe that the church is led by people called and qualified by God, whether they be men or women, why does it matter who delivers the Lord’s message? Your post makes it sound like these decisions made by church leadership are made without revelatory guidance, but by out of touch, misogynistic patriarchs that have no consideration for women. Is that what you believe? If it is, you are no different than the rest of the “world.” Have a little more faith in God’s annointed.

  7. SarahD, your approach to reading and commenting, which misrepresents the post and puts uncharitable words in the author’s mouth, is not appropriate to this venue. Please up your level of discourse or find another venue.

  8. your tone here sounds harsher than Sarah’s—do you only want to hear the voices of women with whom you agree? She said “makes it sound” which is her impression, not a label, and she asks you to clarify. Where is your patience and charity???

  9. What do you believe about Inspiration through prophets and apostles. It seems as though you are discounting also all the women who serve in counsel with the brethren. Are you disregarding THEIR voices??? Any of you who agree with the post?

  10. Francois, Part of the problem is that the brethren do not consult with those women enough. That was clear in Nelson’s telling of the events surrounding the policy change, which is the specific incident addressed in the post. It has also been true on numerous, numerous other occasions. For example, no female leaders were consulted at any time in the preparation of the Proclamation on the Family.

    My tone is not harsh it is business-like and factual.

  11. SarahD, to be frank, yes, while I do believe in the power of of anointed people to deliver God’s messages, it does matter to me that almost never have I seen a woman be a part of that process. But more importantly, I would say, please be careful and charitable when you throw out the phrase, “have a little more faith.” I have sincerely spent my whole life in the pursuit of “a little more faith,” and while the way I work through that may not look exactly the way yours does, or would like mine to look, it is not fair to simply chalk up our differences to you having faith and me not, it does not help us as a sisterhood of diverse women who are trying very hard, to simply discount people because something is difficult for them when it is not for you.

  12. Powerful, in part because beautiful.

  13. Oh Ashmae, thank you. You give me courage. I have indeed felt so stifled and have shut myself up of late. I vow to do better, regardless of my fickle movements, clumsy words, or the inevitable stumbling that will no doubt occur. Thank you.

  14. melodynew says:

    This essay is a work of art. Thank you, Ashmae. Thank you for your voice.

    I realize that if I am to use my voice, I will, at times, share personal thoughts and feelings to clarify my position about things like this policy change (where women’s thoughts, impressions, and voices seem, as you’ve perfectly stated, Ashmae, to be absent. The silence is deafening.) Please bear with me.

    Here’s my voice, at some risk, and with all fervor:
    If someone had asked me to indicate by raised hand how I felt about the policy change to exclude children of same-sex couples from the LDS ordinance of baptism at 8 years old (with its accompanying confirmation of the gift of the Holy Ghost in constant companionship) I would have waited for the familiar, “All opposed, by the same sign.” I would have bowed my head, raised both hands high and said, “Please, God, no. ” That’s where I stayed for a few weeks: head bowed, reaching for something better.

    Then one Sunday morning I woke up and decided to write down my thoughts. For anyone who is interested, here’s how I feel: I believe the policy is erroneous. I believe Jesus would baptize the children. I believe Alma, at the Waters of Mormon, would baptize the children. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should baptize any 8 year-old who wishes to be baptized and whose parents are gay (or not) and who consent to their daughter’s or son’s membership in the LDS church.

    Furthermore, for anyone who is interested, here’s how I came to this place: I pondered and prayed about my own internal discord and about the public discord I’ve observed. The following is the crux of what I heard in my mind in response to my plea. I’m quite peaceful with where I am. (By the way, I’m peaceful with whatever answers others have received to their pleas, even if our answers differ. So no need to argue about it.)

    1) Watch and wait. Pay attention. Love.
    2) Trust your own judgment. See what you see and name it. (The Emperor Has No Clothes) This policy is wrong.
    3) Know that Jesus will do His work — regardless of policy, regardless of baptism, regardless of what I or any person or institution believes. Jesus can and will go about the work of salvation. Always has. Always will.

    Here’s my voice: Jesus loves the children and so do I.

  15. Sirdidymus24 says:

    Melodynew, your answer to prayer echoes what I myself have felt as I searched and prayed for answers after the policy change. Thanks to ashmae for this beautiful post and the supportive comments; they uplifted me this morning.

  16. Thanks for this. Cannot express my disappointment at reading Elder Nelson’s words. I’ve never doubted the word of a leader like I do today. Feeling very lost right now.

  17. I taught a relief society lesson yesterday and the kind of sharing that went on was “rising firelight from a dark hillside”. It was like I was watching little fires start to burn, eyes lighting up, hands reaching out. It was such a beautiful thing- hearing those feminine voices. Thank you for writing this.

  18. I’m a little bit confused. If “spiritual confirmation” was received as to the policy, why was it significantly revised just days later?

  19. @ Tim
    And if it was revelation, why was it quietly written into a manual and not taught from the pulpit? Why not send out a general letter to the church or introduce it in general conference?

  20. This is the crux of my struggle over the last 10 years. How can a newly baptised man, who learned the gospel, literally from listening to me teach it to our children, be ordained the Sunday after his baptism, and suddenly have more voice than I ever did in 30+ years in the church?
    It would take some time to be able to see the rest of the inevitable clash play out in our home and ward, but the reality is that it did not take long for him to be told that my voice shouldn’t be influencing him, or his decision in his new leadership calling. Even in our own home, my voice was expected to give way, and it took several years to be able to name what was happening, and why it was wrong. It is still a large part of why I am happy to play in the nursery and help out with “cultural” activities, but why I don’t go to classes with deep discussions. My spirit is too raw, my voice is not welcome, and I have become too used to being seen as an equal, in other religious settings.

  21. As to the question about why it was “quietly written into a manual”, I’m supposing that the manual in question is the one to which only the Priesthood leaders are supposed to have access and is not supposed to be available online, thus being a revelation only to the leadership who needed to know and was not intended for the whole church. I’m not in a leadership position, so this is purely supposition or an educated guess on my part.

  22. There is an implied assumption in this article that the apostles did not (and do not) receive revelation from God. And if they do not, then really this is church led by pretended prophets.. so what difference would it make if women were consulted or not? Honestly, call a spade a spade. I think the question you really need an answer to is this: Is Jesus Christ leading this church or not?

    Sorry to be blunt, and I know you’re struggling with your faith & testimony.. but, I think it would help to focus on asking the right question.

  23. I agree Mark N., too much revelation being delivered to members of the church is recipe for chaos.

  24. Tomw,
    It seems to me that all humans experienced the effects of the fall which includes a separation between us and our heavenly parents. We are all (including our hard working, wonderful prophets) imperfect and fallible receivers of God’s inspiration and revelation. The revelations we receive are coloured by our experiences/culture/personality/biases etc. God helps us to understand him in ways that we can comprehend. Women can bring additional perspective to these revelatory experiences because they can bring new viewpoints to the table.

  25. @Talon
    I don’t disagree with Mark N., necessarily, but too much revelation? We’ve hardly been inundated with it. There have been no significant changes since the lowering of the missionary age. And if some revelation is meant only for priesthood leaders, that opens up a lot of uncomfortable questions about the role and voice of women in this church as brought up by the OP. Particularly since women (lesbian parents, daughters of gay couples, moms and sisters and aunts) are impacted in a big way by this policy change.

  26. The implied assumption is that if God had something to tell a woman, he would have told it to a man.

  27. Ashmae… I find it amusing that you post these poignant stories about your kids (the Son/Joseph Smith post being the other) usually with the message “to question, shift paradims, and to speak about meaningful and deep things amongst yourselves; let your spiritual wanderings take shape” However when I have posed questions to do those very things, the posts are deleted; why is that? Could it be, that active members who control this forum and even the Church itself will stop at nothing to prevent “anti-Mormon” propaganda as they put it? Because, anything that is written or said that challenges the Church in any way is treated thusly; members need to stop blaming “anti-propagandists” or Satan for every issue because it’s neither… it’s the Church’s fault for their whitewashing and out-right lying about its history.

  28. I think it would help to focus on asking the right question[:] Is Jesus Christ leading this church or not?

    Let’s assume we all agree that Christ is leading the church. What then? What does it even mean to lead in this context?

  29. Not-Fred, with all due respect, why are you here? to be amused? I didn’t delete your posts, and I don’t know why or who did, but I suspect it is because you don’t come here to be productive, constructive or in the least bit kind. Please, go find something more useful to do, as the church and the people who are trying to work through their personal faith are clearly not your interest or worth your or our time.

  30. Attack the messenger rather than the message… right out of the Mormon handbook, bravo. I really hope members wake up to this type of control and fear… it is absolutely ridiculous and as someone who has seen both sides, quite an interesting study in cult like behavior. I am astonished how people can be controlled this way-allow themselves to be controlled and then ask for more. If you question anything, you are shunned, continue to do so and you are ex-ed… this is a fact, I have seen it for myself. How is this acceptable from a Church of God; oh that’s right… its acceptable because members choose to be controlled through fear and guilt.

  31. Ashmae, if commenters are accusing you of being an apostate and a shill for the institution at the same time, you must be doing something right. Carry on!

  32. Not-Fred, find something to say that is related to the post, or move along.

  33. tomwheeler says:

    Mary Anne, when an apostle speaks in the tone that Elder Nelson used last night – and explains that they spent many hours working on this issue, fasting, praying, discussing all the ramifications and possible scenarios, pondering in the temple, and then claims emphatically that direct revelation was received by the prophet of God.. that to me is a pretty clear statement. If you want to chalk it up to infallible and imperfect leaders, or culture/bias, I guess feel free. Obviously leaders make mistakes from time to time, but I cannot think of one (of the rare mistakes) that was made after following the careful process he described.

    Peter – “What does it even mean to lead in this context?” My answer – that Jesus, a living breathing resurrected being, who knows his church and is aware of all the issues (far more aware than we are), seeing from an eternal perspective both pre-mortal and into eternity speaks by the spirit to his prophets who hold the keys. He chose them, he raised them up.. and when they follow the correct & diligent process of counseling together & researching and pondering and praying and fasting, as Elder Nelson says they did in this instance (and also encouraged strongly all of us to do).. Then the word of God comes. That is what I mean by Jesus leading the church.

  34. Rachel: “I’ve never doubted the word of a leader like I do today.”
    That pretty much describes how I feel.

  35. The difficult spot is for the thoughtful Mormons.

    The mindless faithful, they have plenty to bolster them from Mormon pulpits.

    The disbeliever seeks his or her fulfillment outside of Mormonism, and can go on without regard to the movings of Mormonism.

    But those thoughtful few who are neither in nor out, oh how they suffer. God bless you noble soldiers.

  36. tomwheeler says:

    “Women can bring additional perspective to these revelatory experiences because they can bring new viewpoints to the table.” They can bring additional perspective to the counseling process, which can lead to the revelation.. but if the revelation has been received – from the Lord – it seems silly to me to bemoan the fact that women didn’t have voice (and who’s to say they weren’t consulted?).

  37. I am not sure that Mormon women are homogeneous enough that consulting with a woman would necessarily give voice to all of us. A few years back, I expressed displeasure to a bishop about a decision that had been made, and remarked that clearly women must not have been consulted. Although he expressed kind sympathy at my disagreement, he corrected me about women being present; this was back when there was an activities committee of which the chair was a woman, and he had invited the RS presidency to weigh in as well.

    So just because they didn’t explicitly state that women were consulted does not mean that their voices were not heard during their research phase. To me, the talk was about seeking spiritual confirmation, which is the same process whether the decider is a male or female.

    I would have appreciated a link in the OP to the devotional being discussed. I finally found it, if we are talking about the CES devotional, and was interested to see that (1) all the church leaders wives who were in attendance were introduced by name and (2) the devotional also included a talk by Wendy Watson Nelson. So the overall event was one that was very respectful of women, and gave more voice than one would assume from reading the OP.

    As noted in my conversation with the bishop above, it never occurred to me to NOT speak up. I’m a convert and never got the message that women should not. I welcome any explanations of the kind of intimidation or tradition or whatever that other women suffer so that I can look for it. I admit that I may be missing it.

  38. tomwheeler: From the D&C it seems abundantly clear that revelation comes in response to the questions we ask. Counseling with other people is important because, left to ourselves, we don’t always know what questions to ask or how to frame them. Lehi, for instance, didn’t notice that the water in his vision was filthy, because his mind was on other things. That failure to notice doesn’t cast Lehi’s prophetic calling or the reality of the revelation into question, but the episode does suggest the value of other perspectives. Women comprise just over half the human race, and, as I understand it, an even higher proportion of church membership. Women aren’t monolithic, but that’s a lot of perspectives not to take into account. How might the questions that the leaders of the Church bring to God change if women’s perspectives were brought to bear? What further revelations might come in response to those questions? What spiritual riches are we missing? (To their credit, the leaders of the Church have made recent strides toward including women more fully in their councils. There’s still room to grow, though.)

    As for women not being consulted about the Family Proclamation, see Greg Prince’s interview with Chieko Okazaki a few years back in Dialogue. She was in the General Relief Society Presidency at the time, so she speaks from first-hand experience.

  39. One more thing, Tom: when Ashmae says that she’s been spending her whole life in pursuit of a little more faith, you might consider, I dunno, believing her instead of casting aspersions on her faithfulness. Leave that judgment in the good hands of the Lord.

  40. tomwheeler says:

    I’m not trying to argue with anyone or cast aspersions on anyone’s faithfulness. Just pointing out that all these questions boil down to one thing – is the church true or not? Is Jesus leading the church or not? If you have that settled, you don’t need to worry about the direction the brethren are taking. He is in charge, and if there needs to be a change, He will make it. There’s no need for us to try to steady the ark. The Lord is in charge, I trust him.

  41. Tom, I think you’re missing the point.

  42. I tend to agree with Naismith on this one. “I am not sure that Mormon women are homogeneous enough that consulting with a woman would necessarily give voice to all of us.” Generally speaking, we need more diverse viewpoints. We need less group think. We need fewer (or no) yes men and women. We need more empathy and sincere questions.

  43. Tom D. B. says:

    tomwheeler, take it from a fellow Tom: I don’t think you’re really hearing Ashmae. I can’t speak for her, of course, but I’ll tell you what I think I hear. Here is why, in this thing, she speaks for me. I know and love the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have done so all my life. But my testimony is not as simple as you seem to think it should be. I have learned by long experience that it is not enough to say, “Well, I know Jesus Christ is in charge, so I’ll just take my lumps as they come.” I make no progress with that attitude. On the contrary, whatever small good I have done in my life has come from taking suffering seriously and sharing some of other people’s pain. I’m really grateful for the times I’ve managed to do that and for the times when others have done that for me. Ashmae is expressing some real concern here – concern that’s felt by many others too. Maybe your experience has been different from mine, and your experience has led you down a different path. If so, that’s fine with me. But please don’t dismiss Ashmae because you think she’s not “asking the right question.” Your path and your questions are not the only ones that lead to Christ.

  44. Tom: when you say, “There is an implied assumption in this article that the apostles did not (and do not) receive revelation from God”; and, “Sorry to be blunt, and I know you’re struggling with your faith & testimony.. but, I think it would help to focus on asking the right question,” you might reasonably be taken as saying that you do not consider Ashmae a faithful member of the Church.

    Granting the premise that Jesus is leading the Church, the question remains of how. Your last comment implies that any human involvement amounts to ark-steadying. I don’t think that such a conclusion comports with Mormon teaching about agency. The D&C says that it is not meet for us to be commanded in all things, but that we ought to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, of our own free will. If learning how to exercise our agency well is a major goal of our mortal existence, God’s over-involvement would defeat that larger purpose (see: the usual assumptions about “Satan’s plan”). So, yes, Jesus leads the Church, but he uses imperfect people to do it, which means that mistakes are inevitable. The history of the priesthood/temple ban suggests that Jesus is pretty patient in tolerating mistakes when they happen, but that history also suggests that folks like Darius Gray and Lester Bush were instrumental in the process that led to the revelation. Were these men ark-steadiers, or were they faithful instruments in Jesus’ hands as he sought to work the necessary correction? I submit that they were the latter, and that the Church is much better for what they did. I don’t believe that trusting in the Lord comports with sitting back and waiting for him to sort everything out. To be sure, we will always need the Atonement to make our efforts right in the end, but I think that things will on the whole be more right if we get involved than if we don’t. Put your shoulder to the wheel, as the hymn says.

    (Also, if you want to read an account of what I consider the most thoroughgoing attempt in Anglo-American history to settle a religious question in a manner entirely inoculated against human influence, see if you can get your hands on a copy of Robert S. Paul’s The Assembly of the Lord (Edinburgh, 1985), about the Westminster Assembly of Divines. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out.)

  45. @Tom
    I wish it were that black and white. Many of us are grappling with an enormous dissonance between what we believe is right and what the church/prophet is telling us. The gospel teaches us to listen to that still small voice and stand up for what we believe is right. It teaches us that God works through the prophet – but that the prophet isn’t perfect and can make mistakes. At the end of the day it is because I believe Jesus is at the head of this church that I feel so strongly this policy is wrong. If that sounds confusing to you, then maybe you have an idea of what the rest of us are feeling right now.

  46. tomwheeler says:

    I didn’t comment on all of what Ashmae said, I do sympathize with her some of her feelings. I agree that there is much more we can do (especially at a local level) to include women and learn from their perspective. I am aware that many are struggling and “grappling with dissonance” as you say – I’ve spent a lot of time discussing and talking about these issues with friends and online. I’m not new to this debate, but I honestly believe it really is that black and white.

    When I made that comment that it appeared to me that she was struggling with her faith – I meant it as an outreach to help – not to judge her. I assumed she was being open about that struggle. But this groundswell effort to try to push for change, and point out all the places where we think our leaders might be erring – is not the right approach. It does not help the church, if anything it damages the testimony of the weak.

    The right approach is to continue in patience. To pray, to talk to our leaders in personal interviews, to serve faithfully, and to trust the Lord.

    Greg Smith just posted this article – which connects to some of my feelings here: http://blog.fairmormon.org/2016/01/11/what-should-i-do-if-i-think-ive-received-revelation-different-from-apostles-and-prophets/

  47. David Day says:

    One interesting aspect of Elder Nelson’s relatively brief comment regarding the policy is that it is part of a much broader point about receiving personal revelation (Point #3, Learn how to access the powers of heaven, learn how to recognize truth). The overall talk included several nuggets, including nuggets about how we need to ask questions and wrestle with difficult issues. That strongly suggests to me that we should not only tolerate but expect situations in which we are trying to seek out the truth because it is not all clear. The policy change is for me and many others a difficult question that requires that we wrestle.

    While I think the Greg Smith (FAIR Mormon) article linked above makes some good points, I do have a couple of basic concerns with it. First, I think it’s actually quite difficult to determine exactly what constitutes “the united voice of the First Presidency and the twelve apostles” as compared to a statement or opinion of one or more apostles. Even in the present case, it’s unclear to me as to exactly what “was revealed to Pres. Monson”. I assume that it’s the revisions to the policy, rather than the policy itself, but that’s only an assumption. Elder Nelson did not actually tell us what was revealed. I also point out that Elder Nelson’s talk cannot be considered the “united voice” of all 15 apostles. My other issue (and this is a question that I think requires “wrestling”) is trying to adequately answer this question as phrased by JR Clark: When are the writings and sermons of Church leaders entitled to the claim of scripture? http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/ClarkWhenAreWritings.pdf. The immediate contextual answer to Pres. Clark’s question in short was that JF Smith’s recently released book and comments on evolution were NOT scripture, and the Pres. Clark had been sent by the current prophet, Pres. McKay, to “correct” want JF Smith (then the current lead apostle) had taught. At least for me, determining when an apostle is teaching something that is not the doctrine of the Church, and dealing with the implications of that, is a difficult question that requires spiritual wrestling.

    The comments have taken a predictable turn from the overall point of the OP, but let me circle back for just a moment there. At least for me in circumstances where I “preside over” others, I’ve learned that for most matters I have not “studied it out” in my mind until I have sought the words and thoughts of at least a few women and at least a few people who are not like me. If I go to the Lord before doing that, then I’ve took no thought except to ask just assuming that an answer would be given to me, and that process generally goes about as well as it did for Oliver when he tried to translate.

  48. “I’ve never doubted the word of a leader like I do today.”

    I see this comment here. I’m hearing it elsewhere. I feel it. You can say these are the words and feelings of the faithless, but I don’t think that is correct. Rather, there is such a divide between what people (like me, and obviously others commenting here) are feeling and sensing and receiving as answers to study and prayer compared to what the leaders are saying, that there is a credibility gap widening. That should concern our leaders. A lot. They can flog the “follow the prophet, he will not lead you astray” all they want, but in the end we all choose to listen or not and they have to stay credible and reliable. Simply demanding attention and obedience is not enough. In some rather important ways they have to earn it.
    To tie this comment to Ashmae’s OP . . . more voices–including women and men, including multiple cultures and colors–would be a good step forward in the credible and reliable challenge.

  49. This is why we need the voices of women at every level of leadership in the church, found in our very own Bible, Mathew 13:16-17…

    16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
    17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

    … because sometimes God reveals things to “prophets and righteous men,” but they fail to understand it’s meaning.

  50. Thank you, Ashmae. A beautiful and provocative meditation on what we have to offer this church and this world as women. I appreciate your honesty and love your soul. Thanks for writing. Keep talking. I need this.

  51. pconnornc says:

    I struggle with a perspective that I often think I’m hearing in forums, that was expressed in this comment: “The difficult spot is for the thoughtful Mormons. The mindless faithful, they have plenty to bolster them from Mormon pulpits.”

    I think there is a bit of arrogance in this thought. I know many people who are deeply thoughtful about what prophets and other leaders have said, find personal revelation and insight, and great comfort in accepting things. Just because they agree does not make them “mindless faithful”, they are deeply contemplative, prayerful and maybe even progressively faithful.

    Just because someone does not take you point of view does not diminish them.

  52. pconnornc says:

    Side note, right after the policy was released we had a general authority who spoke at our stake conference. He suggested that there was in fact a broad group that worked on the policy, but at the end of the day their recommendation was sent to “the brethren”. The final result was not exactly what the broader group had passed up, but he expressed faith that they were heard and supported the final policy.