Equity and Justice in Church Courts

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Seminary students are currently studying lesson 107, which covers D&C 102 as an exploration of the church courts.  D&C 102 provides the handbook for our actual Church Handbooks.  It outlines the whys and hows church courts are set up (at least for men) and declares “In the Church of Jesus Christ, disciplinary councils are to be conducted according to equity and justice.”

Equity and justice.

Yet the church’s spiritual judiciary system does not involve women at any level, unless they are on trial. 

D&C 102 was written in 1834, at a time when those writing it could not even imagine women being on a jury, witnessing legal matters, or sitting in judgement.

Women in Utah were among the first to vote in the United States, in 1870.  But their suffrage was revoked in 1887 as a federal condition of Utah becoming a state.  In the broader United States, women did not sit on juries until 1898.  They did not vote until ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.  Also in that year, Florence Allen became the first woman judge.

That was 100 years ago.

Yet still in the church, women do not serve on disciplinary councils, do not witness ordinances, and cannot sit in judgement of others.

This is just wrong.

Especially when it comes to sexual “sins,” the exclusively male perspective’s lack of understanding and empathy has proven many times to be deeply problematic.

To be clear, women’s inclusion should not change because of outside pressure.  It should change because it is fundamentally wrong to treat men and women, each beloved children of God, without equity and justice.  It should change because of it’s wrongness.

Omitted from the the seminary lesson is the further disparity about how discipline for women proceeds. Women who are summoned to disciplinary councils are called in front of a bishopric and his counselors while men who have been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood are called in front of the entire High Council and State Presidency.

Men, due to their priesthood office, are not disciplined until they sit through a full court where half of the male stake leaders are assigned to prosecute, and the other half are assigned to advocate for and defend the accused man.  Women sit with no advocates, and instead have only three men announce their fate.

This is also wrong.

The church is currently discussing what it means to have priesthood power.  Leaders like President Oaks are pushing the narrative that women hold the priesthood through the temple and in their callings.   But promoting women’s access to priesthood power while using men’s priesthood as the justification for the disparities in our spiritual judiciary system smacks of lesserness.  It is neither equal, nor just.

Even at Kirton McKonkie, the church’s professional legal arm, there are few women lawyers and even fewer who work on church cases, but that is perhaps a different discussion.

In sum:

Women should be able to witness all church documents, ordinances, and proceedings, including blessings, baptisms, and sealings.

Women should sit on church juries.

Women should speak as both accusers and advocates.

Women should serve as judges in the church, perhaps especially in matters of sexual sin.

Women should not be subject to a lesser church legal system reserved for themselves and children.

I’ve long thought that in addition to necessary gender-equity changes throughout the temple and other church policies, the church judicial system needs an overhaul.  We have the revelatory means to fill in the details, let’s get to it.

Let’s focus on equity and justice.
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*Photo by Luke Michael on Unsplash

Comments

  1. Exactly. A thousand times over. Not holding my breath though. Excellent post.

  2. “Men, due to their priesthood office, are not disciplined until they sit through a full court where half of the male stake leaders are assigned to prosecute, and the other half are assigned to advocate for and defend the accused man.”

    This is a common and incorrect misconception. It’s not a tribunal.

    D&C 102:12-23 for further reference.

  3. @TimJ: If only women were allowed to read the Handbook, or were ever present at these proceedings, so they could more accurately describe what happens.

    As for me, every man on a high council I’ve ever discussed the topic with has referred to them as disciplinary councils or disciplinary courts. So EmJen calling it a “tribunal” seems accurate to me.

  4. Thank you EmJen – well said. Even though the different treatment for women is left out in the seminary lesson, it’s hard to imagine today’s young women not asking about the details for proceedings against women. They notice when they’re not represented. At least I hope that’s what happens.

  5. JDM, as the lesson is set up, it seems that they wouldn’t even know there was a disparity to ask about it. It’s one of those cases where “men” are seen as all men, I’d imagine.

  6. @Carolyn, I don’t necessarily disagree. What I am referring to is the notion that half the high council “procecutes” the case. That’s not how it works.

  7. Tim J., in reading the seminary lesson, that seems to be how it is taught.

  8. @TimJ: I mean this genuinely. How would you describe what happens? You’re telling me what it’s not — but what IS it? (I’m assuming you have experience in the room where it happens on which which to base any description as an answer. On the off chance you don’t, please admit that and let another commenter fill in that gap.)

  9. I think we tend to infer that since 6 of the High Councilor are to defend the accused that there must be 6 that prosecute.

    The 6 that defend the accused are simply to make sure arent really acting like a traditional lawyer. Instead, they’re simple preventing insult or anything untoward being mentioned.

    The other six often don’t speak other than those appointed at the beginning of the council.

    I get that it’s confusing.

  10. Tim J. I do appreciate clarifications as I am going off of scriptures, lessons available, and the handbook to which I have access.

    But regardless, the main points still stand.

  11. @Carolyn,

    So I’ve never participated in one that was contested in any way. They’ve only been based on confession which I think is how 95% of them turn out.

    Note that this is why it should be referred to as a council and not a court.

    Basically, the evidence and confession (if there is one) is presented before the council and accused. The accused is given the opportunity to make comments and the questions are asked.

    Once all relevant information is presented, those appointed High Councilors make a summary to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    The Stake Presidency then moves to the office for a short discussion and a prayer. They return and share the decision with the High Council who sustains it and then the accused returns to the room to hear the decision.

    If it’s being done at the Stake level it’s usually a serious offense by a MP holder, thus the council is usually only deciding between disfellowshipment or excommunication. Generally.

  12. EmJen – indeed. And I didn’t want to derail things either. Apologies if I came across that way.

  13. @carolyn: Tim may be speaking from his own experience, I can’t tell, but what he says is not necessarily accurate as a general statement. I have sat on many of these, and the six assigned to defend did exactly that. As the other six spoke not as prosecutors, more like promoters and defenders of whatever doctrine or policy was at the center of the court, the defenders on the other side of the table spoke of possible mitigating circumstances and “what about” type questions. They were clearly advocates, although not as zealous as a courtroom lawyer, nor should they be. The quest was to be even-handed and ensure the interests of the church and the person in the hot seat were both represented. As a result, all are protected. I’m speaking only from my own experience, and I suspect there are local differences as to how it plays out.

  14. Bob – I think that’s the way it’s been done by tradition is some places but again, you will only find what the “even-numbered” high Councilors do. It doesn’t say anything about the odd-numbered.

    We are simply inferring that because there are six defenders there are six prosecutors, but you won’t find that in the handbook nor the scriptures.

  15. And I apologize for the further derailment but one last thing. The procedures for the high council in Handbook 1 simply refer you to the passage in D&C 102 I referenced earlier. It’s right there.

  16. Women should have the priesthood, not merely access to the Priesthood. What a level playing field that would be!… A few years ago I had a discussion with a male relative about the disparity between women and men in church courts. “Why the difference?” I queried. He explained that because men have the Priesthood, they are held to a higher standard. Where much is given, much is expected/required… which is exactly my frustration with this imbalance. We can’t continue to tell women (and men) that things are simply “different” but still equal and just, when clearly they are not. When the men have been given more. The heart of my concern with this topic isn’t necessarily about things being “fair” but more about the eternal potential for God’s daughters. If God is male and He shares his power with his sons (not merely gives them access to it), then eventually they can one day be like Him: all knowing, all powerful, all loving… what about the women and our potential? What’s left for the ladies? … all pretty? all supportive? all funny? Those don’t sound very God-like to me.

  17. Tangential to the post’s main point, but a quick factual clarification re this: “Women in Utah were among the first to vote in the United States, in 1870. But their suffrage was revoked in 1887 as a federal condition of Utah becoming a state.” Their suffrage was revoked as part of the anti-polygamy persecutions, in hopes of reducing the LDS voter pool relative to other voters, not as a condition of statehood. In fact, at the 1895 Utah Constitutional convention, delegates voted overwhelmingly to restore suffrage to women in the new constitution, which took effect with statehood in 1896.

  18. So the only place the YW theme of “we will stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” doesn’t apply is at church, apparently.

  19. Bar women from decision making in the Church.

    Criticize women for not understanding the minutiae of decision making in the Church.

    Sounds about right.

  20. This does make me wonder how many people who have not served in church leadership, both men and women, know that women have a different and lesser disciplinary council set up. As I said above, the seminary lesson makes it sound like it is the same for everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if many many men didn’t know about this.

  21. so I remember a similar discussion during Kate Kelly’s council.

    But would you really prefer the Stake Disciplinary Council over the Ward one – especially if it’s of a sexual nature? You’d rather be in front of 16 men instead of 4?

    I suppose you always want to appeal to the higher authority but I can’t imagine many women preferring the Stake version over the Ward.

  22. 2 points I think are worth remembering:

    1. Section 102 is not even presented as a revelation, but is simply the minutes of the organizing meeting of the first high council. There’s no reason why the pattern the first high councilors adopted needs to be taken as unalterable.

    2. We already do things much differently from the way it was done in section 102. Today high councils only followed the pattern of section 102 to decide questions of church discipline. But section 102 sets up a judicial body to decide cases; it’s not limited to church discipline. (Just as bishops were in the early days full judicial officers. “Common judge” meant a judge like those on the courts of common pleas that existed (and to some extent still exist) in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.) And of course there are lots of policies re disciplinary councils that are in the handbook only and not in section 102. So there’s no reason to assume that the pattern of section 102 absolutely has to govern disciplinary counsel procedures.

  23. I like the idea of having women in a disciplinary council. But is there a way to do this by only changing policy and not doctrine? That is, would a change to DC 102 be required, for example? Given the changes of the last five years or so, I could see a *policy* change that might allow women to sit in. But if it requires a *doctrinal* change to our scriptures, I think that might be a much tougher road to hoe.

    Obviously all this obviated by giving the women the priesthood or getting rid of disciplinary councils, but let’s assume that neither of these likely to happen anytime soon. Are there changes that could be instituted now?

    Related question: which women would you ask to participate and how many? In a bishop’s council, there are usually only four men present anyway (bishopric + clerk), so maybe the RS President in addition? Or the presidents of some/all the female-led auxiliaries? Or would you want one or two women who only had this as their calling?

    At the stake level, you’re talking about a room of 16 at least. If you were to replace half of the high council with women, you’d need to draw from somewhere. Maybe all the female auxiliary presidencies?

  24. I could see a shift at the Ward level which is slightly less revelation-based.

    And I have no inside info on this, but I could see in the near future greater emphasis being placed on EQ and RS Presidents as a sort of governing body and deemphasizing Bishopric counselors. So the EQ and RS Presidents would sit on the stand, participate in DC’s, etc.

  25. It STILL shocks me that it wasn’t until a series of court cases in the 1970s that women were required to serve on juries in the same ways as men. They were often allowed to opt out of the jury pool (argument was that if they were required to leave home, it would hurt their children and husband), leaving many juries all-male well into the late 1970s.

    And it still shocks me that women’s membership in the church can be decided by a couple of guys in her ward.

  26. “I like the idea of having women in a disciplinary council.”

    This just made me giggle today. I mean, I’m glad you like it. But it’s actually a neccesity. One that we’re ignoring because of scriptural precedence that, as JKC nicely explained, doesn’t need to be anymore.

    And it’s above my paygrade to decide how to go about it but I probably would lean towards RS councils being formed from which can be pulled members of the disciplinary council (a sort of standing jury pool) as well as the RS stake presidency having authority to also serve as judge in place or in conjunction with the Stake Presidency.

    Women officially witnessing/signing church ordinances can just start to happen, imo, and will soon, I predict.

    Regardless, everything needs to happen as I outline. Women need to be included in every part of the system if we’re going to have a system of equity and justice.

  27. So far as I can tell, the disciplinary council rules are tradition codified in the Handbook. Tradition that is derivative of Section 102, but also challenges in Winter Quarters, and the operation of a entire theocratic legal system in the Utah territory, before 1896, and studies done in the 1980s. And I think I see President Oaks’ hand in the current rules as well. My shorthand is that current practices are tied to Section 102 sort of like current Word of Wisdom rules are tied to Section 89. (Also, hat tip JKC at 10:54am.)

    That means to me that we (collectively) have latitude to make the process work. Although I as a private individual with no current calling have nothing but a BCC comment to make my contribution.

    The OP’s suggestion that women be included in all phases makes sense (almost trivially, but I don’t mean that to make light of the current problem and the importance of making changes).

    But I would back up a step or two further, and propose something like this:

    1. In the rare and unusual case that discipline is for the protection of the Church–where the question on the table is whether the Church needs to separate itself from the person to minimize or prevent further offense to the body of the Church–there should be process and deliberation at the Stake President level or above, that should include men and women in full participation.

    2. In the much more common case that discipline is for the benefit of the individual, the manner and form should be directed by the individual and on their request (only). In that case, I’d probably open requests to “all men” or “all women” because it’s the request of the individual governing. (But I’m still thinking on that last point.)

  28. Mr. Schmidt says:

    @Anon, Isn’t it a mischaracterization to imply that a woman’s membership is decided by a couple of guys in her ward? I guess that question also applies to the OP, asserting that women don’t get consideration by the full high council.

    Bishop’s court is appealable to the High Council court with no gender restrictions – the jurisdiction of the high council court is all stake members. I recognize that that does not address the overarching concern of it just being guys. But can’t we at least approach this in a more nuanced and accurate way?

    Further, just seeking some clarification on the aspect about men being primarily judged in the high council court. Recognizing that this cuts at the probable base argument that women should be given priesthood office, it would seem to be missing some nuance in this statement: “Men, due to their priesthood office, are not disciplined until they sit through a full court where half of the male stake leaders are assigned to prosecute, and the other half are assigned to advocate for and defend the accused man. Women sit with no advocates, and instead have only three men announce their fate.”

    The OP states that it is wrong, but I think it is wrong at the least because it is inaccurate. (1) Melchizedek priesthood holders can still be judged by the Bishop’s court – it is just limited in scope. see https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-instructors-guide-religion-324-325/the-principles-and-purposes-of-church-courts-lesson-41-section-102?lang=eng. (2) it would seem to be more a matter of jurisdiction than anything else – as a Melchizedek priesthood holder, the president and presiding officer over that priesthood is the Stake President, not the Bishop. Again, that begs the question of ordaining women to offices in the priesthood to begin with, but it does seem to be a distinction that the OP does not either appreciate or choose to recognize.

    I know I’m going to get piled on with this next question (if anyone even notices my comment, as most aren’t), but I must ask: if the concern is that no women on the council means that equity and justice fundamentally cannot be served, what does that mean with respect to the foundational aspect of the Atonement? If Christ is our advocate with the Father, (1) does that mean women won’t be properly represented and therefore that is invalid, unfair, not truly representing, etc.? and (2) does that mean that the Father’s hearing of that advocacy is likewise invalid, unfair, not truly representing, etc., if Heavenly Mother is also not sitting in judgment? (on point (2), I must point out that this is more of a conjectural aspect, since mentioning Heavenly Father sitting in judgment does not preclude a council doing so on His behalf; but for (1), it would seem to be pretty clear doctrinally that the atonement was wrought by a single man, not by a man and a woman, so isn’t that a fundamental problem for all eternity?)

    And I ask these questions in all sincerity – I legitimately am curious about thoughts on that, since it would seem that the logic in the OP (which is of course not new) would apply in those aspects – and indeed, are even more foundational and weighty than any imperfect, earthly disciplinary council.

  29. LSmith- As far as I can tell are are made equal in the celestial kingdom. In Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants it states:
    94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;

    95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.

  30. Jack Hughes says:

    Even beyond the obvious gender disparities, the Church system of “justice” is inherently broken, as evidenced by its fruits. We regularly excommunicate people over differences of opinion and social issues (feminists, so-called apostates, same-sex couples) but have a poor track record when it comes to properly disciplining and expelling abusers, predators, criminals and other real threats to the Church and its members.

    I don’t know what the best solution is, but more gender equality in the process (in terms of representation and decision-making authority) would be a good start. I’m aware of enough instances of disciplinary councils being misused, weaponized, handled poorly or otherwise producing disastrous results to conclude that God’s hand is not in that process at all.

  31. Jack Hughes, thank you for this insight. In my experience abusers, predators and others escape punishment. Sad.

  32. I think the lack of “piling on” for comments is more to how tired many of us are after dealing with some of the same things over and over. The odd mood I’m in has caused me to catalog what we’ve got thus far:

    – You’re wrong because you’re using the wrong word
    – You’re -technically- incorrect
    – Do you really want it worse than you have now? (aka, you’re better off)
    – It’s not really revelation anyway
    – Let’s solve the technical issues this would cause!
    – Y’know, it’s better than it was
    – Are you calling GOD/JESUS sexist for being male?
    – We know it’s imperfect

    I’m glad we’re seeing more posts like this, especially when there isn’t any specific impetus. It’s a specific, long-standing problem that we can easily fix and will benefit of everyone, even the organization as a whole. Brava.

  33. “We regularly excommunicate people over differences of opinion and social issues (feminists, so-called apostates, same-sex couples) but have a poor track record when it comes to properly disciplining and expelling abusers, predators, criminals and other real threats to the Church and its members.”

    I suspect this is a largely anecdotal observation, which makes sense since there is no way to actually quantify the results given that they tend to stay confidential. Sometimes we take the high profile outlier cases and extrapolate that to represent the whole, which is understandable but not necessarily accurate. My experience is far different, particularly as it relates to abusers; most cases I’ve been associated with have disciplined the abusers very hard. But again it’s just that–my experience.

  34. Color me a little dubious that Section 102 can be contextualized to only apply to that high council at that time. As has been discussed here many times, much of DC comes from a fact specific question being posed and then a response back from the Lord directing a process that the Church adopts as doctrine (e.g., Section 89). How is Section 102 different?

  35. @jimbob Our ward has two callings specifically reserved for women — Advisors to the Bishop — that act as a third and fourth counsellor in the bishopric (they oversee auxiliaries, give announcements in Sac. meeting, etc). This is unique to us, as far as I know. But they fit into the leadership of our ward fairly seamlessly and would make very obvious additions to ward-level disciplinary councils. Imagining my ward, I can see them being a very welcomed addition in this setting and their addition to such councils being a relatively easy adjustment.

    Personally, I would prefer something like this, because it feels more impartial than adding the RS pres in, and it would give women more than one female advocate (or prosecutor! or one woman trying to wear both hats!) in ward leadership. Not only is the RS pres. calling already very time-consuming and expansive, it might be hard for women to reach out to the RS pres for support if they were afraid she was also responsible for some portion of their church discipline. Granted, this is already/still a conflict of interest for bishops, but I can’t imagine — especially for women — that bringing the RS president into this conflict would help any.

  36. Mr. Schmidt says:

    @Frank Pellett, assuming that is in part a response to my comment, I find it unfortunate. I cannot help that I am not one of the core BCC bloggers, those who have been here from the beginning. I cannot help that I have not been able to join such discussions in the past. I’m here now, though. And all the interaction that is offered, when it is even offered at all, is dismissive at best and contemptuous the rest of the time.

    I quote from the “About” section of this very blog: “By Common Consent (or BCC) was started in 2004 by a group of Mormons to provide a thoughtful, enjoyable, and reasonable place to post and discuss Mormon topics. Over time, we have added new contributors who share this vision. We seek truth, reason, and honesty with our perspectives on faith.”

    How can it be a thoughtful place to post, if those why try to reason their thoughts out on the pages have their comments distilled to a gist that ignores the substance of their thinking, and then dismisses those comments? Has BCC really morphed that much that those who are earnestly seeking to better understand cannot be anything but dismissed, without the merits of any questions addressed? I find that disappointing. I apologize for unloading here, in this particular thread, but arrggh.

    One cannot be thoughtful, one cannot be reasonable, unless one has a chance to think, to reason, and to discuss. There is no discussion if there is only one accepted view. There is no opportunity to think, reason, and discuss if viewpoints are not shared and understanding increased.

    For example, I shared my comment above, and I thought I was pretty clear that I was trying to address what I thought were mischaracterizations, as well as try and understand the logical extent of where the reasoning would go. I did not say the OP or Anon was “wrong” because of a technicality. Rather, I was asking whether a mischaracterization was occurring – and I would assume that posters here, of the myriad types out there, would appreciate that mischaracterization can lead to wrong conclusions, results, and so forth (right now the poster from a few days ago comes to mind, who was mischaracterized to stake presidents, who in turn mischaracterized him themselves).

    And I was not asking about God/Jesus being sexist because they are male, and using that as a tool to prove that the OP is wrong. I was not being facetious when I wrote that it was an earnest question. I would appreciate an earnest engagement in response.

  37. Mr. Schmidt
    “if the concern is that no women on the council means that equity and justice fundamentally cannot be served, what does that mean with respect to the foundational aspect of the Atonement?”

    It means nothing. I can’t equate the judgement of a council of very fallible mortal men to the judgement of two perfected Gods (hopefully it’s three including Heavenly Mother). The point is that we can/should change and improve the earthly system to be fair and equitable to women (and men), but we are subject to the inertia of tradition and quasi-doctrine of an institution that is very resistant to change, despite preaching reliance on continuing revelation.

    According to Wendy Nelson, her husband has been ‘unleashed’ and can now do what he wants, so hopefully many shibboleths will go away.

  38. Mr. Schmidt says:

    Pete, thank you for that answer. That’s a fair point about comparing fallible people with perfected Gods. Many problems with that comparison.

    As I re-read my question, it sticks out to me that my question is trying to get to the logic of the statement that women must be added to make things more equitable. Is it limited, as your comment implies, on focusing on improving the earthly system, and adding women is the answer? It may well be the answer – I’m not actually taking a position either way on that here. Or is the logic of the statement that women must be added a fundamental theory of equality that transcends this particular example? And if so, I was trying to square that with what doctrine we do know of at this point.

    Which, admittedly, there is so much that we do not know still. So I admit that my ranting is probably pointless, anyway, since there are so many things we don’t know yet, so why would I demand that we have a real discussion about it.

  39. “We regularly excommunicate people over differences of opinion and social issues (feminists, so-called apostates, same-sex couples) but have a poor track record when it comes to properly disciplining and expelling abusers, predators, criminals and other real threats to the Church and its members.“

    You really think the church is more regularly excommunicating feminsists and apostates than abusers and predators? Really?

    That’s absurd.

  40. Let’s not get off track here. I claim (rightly) that the church council system was setup at a time when women were not seen as possible judge/jury/witness etc. It was unimaginable to do differently.

    We have further light and knowledge now. The church moves toward equality every day as we shine these lights and understanding dawns. It’s time to do so with church court councils.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    EmJen, I realized something from reading this post. When Kate Kelly was excommunicated, in my head that was adjudicated by a SP/High Council. I certainly know *intellectually* about the distinction between that council and a bishop’s court. But I’ve never had the kind of calling that would put me on such a council, and I’ve never been subject to discipline myself. And since Kate’s case was not just a local matter but would have had significance church-wide, without even thinking about it I imagined it as taking place in the high council room with a lot of men present. But reading your post I realize that was just an assumption I made without thinking it all the way through.

    My mistaken perception notwithstanding, the argument certainly could be made that some other deliberative body besides a Bishopric *should* have been employed for something like Kate’s disciplinary proceeding. The issues at play were not really personal to her, but were global issues affecting the entire church. Even a Stake/High Council court would perhaps not have been adequate for such a proceeding. Yes, the person involved is local, but the issues involved affect the entire church. The Church may need to rethink how it approaches the phenomenon of the “high profile” disciplinary proceeding involving big picture issues affecting the Church as a whole.

  42. Mr Schmidt – Your comment was the next-to-last point in my list, and not any of the others. I almost put a bonus point for “this is a sincere question”. The points are endemic to internet discussions, not just the “core” (of which I may occasionally long to be but certainly am certainly not). It’s slightly interesting to see the same thing through varied posts, but mostly it’s tiring, even from people who are new.

    I’m glad someone felt up to answering your question.

  43. Kevin,

    I may have missed a discussion on it, but I did look through the posts here about Kate Kelly’s excommunication and everyone who wrote on it focused on the news of the excommunication and/or looked at the need or not for excommunication, not the disparity in the process itself.

    So I don’t think most people in the church think about it at all. And as the councils themselves are supposed to be kept in confidence, the only times we really talk about the process is things like these seminary lessons, which allow (or again, aren’t thinking about it) for people to think everything is equitable. Or if you are part of the process and have had training as a bishopric member or high council member, which no woman has ever been.

  44. The underground man says:

    Ok I am not against any of these proposals. But the notion that a woman would be fairer to another woman in a church court seems like the very definition of an unexamined assumption. Ever heard of the notion of women being there own worst enemies. Would anyone here want the woman who write for Mormon women stand on your disciplinary council.

  45. The underground man, I should just ignore your comment, but in an effort to show others that those kind of comments are so probelmatic, here’s a headline from after women became jurors just to show the prejudice of your statement.

    “Women jurors convict one of their own sex: Find defendant guilty of child abandonment.”

  46. @ The underground man: Sometimes when I read comments like yours, it’s interesting to reverse the pronouns and and see if it sounds at all weird to you:

    “But the notion that a man would be fairer to another man in a church court seems like the very definition of an unexamined assumption. Ever heard of the notion of men being their own worst enemies?…”

    Personally, I think that sounds ridiculous and sexist. But I dunno, maybe we *should* examine our assumptions here, and consider the idea that disciplinary councils involving a man should be led and “staffed” (for lack of a better word) solely by women. I mean, in the interest of fairness and all. ;)

  47. jimbob, you ask: “…much of DC comes from a fact specific question being posed and then a response back from the Lord directing a process that the church adopts as doctrine (e.g. Section 89). How is Section 102 different?”

    Because section 102 is not a revelation. It doesn’t make any claim to be an answer from God to a question; it’s just organizational minutes.

    I don’t think that means it’s worthless. I’m generally one to preserve tradition, all things being equal. And even revelation can change, but tradition is obviously a lot more easily changed than revelation.

  48. It’s not about women being fairer to women, it’s about the fact that revelation comes more easily and more effectively when we counsel together. As Elder Ballard has taught us repeatedly over the past several years, iit is impossible to righteously exercise the priesthood without counseling with women. It only makes sense to update the structures of our councils to make that possible all the time, not just in ward council/stake council.

  49. The underground man says:

    Emjen Michele if it’s sexist to take note of something that is a problem in our society ( women being there own worst enemy’s) then I plead guilty. The unexamined assumption is that having women on these councils will make them more fair equitable as if women are free from the biases and prejudices that infect men especially members of this church. Remember that study that referenced internalized sexism as being a problem for women in Utah. I am not saying that women would be more unfair to other women just that it would probably not change much leadership roulette would still apply. Once again i will repeat the question would it be a good thing or a bad thing to have the type of ultra conservative women who write for a website like Mormon women stand serving on a disciplinary council yes or no

  50. The underground man says:

    Jkc I agree with that I am just pointing out that it’s not going to solve all problems and could end up making some things worse and before someone says I am seeing things that are not there well what am I supposed to see in a discussion like this

  51. If things change and disciplinary councils include women, I hope they don’t change the name to Disciplinary and Family Councils.

  52. Women should be judges/witnesses in the church for the same reasons they are judges/witnesses elsewhere in society. It doesn’t mean that women will always judge fairly, any more than men will always judge fairly. But we are half of the population, so we deserve to be part of the process. Whether or not the process or the specific individuals involved is/are fair will continue to be a crapshoot, for the usual reasons.

  53. James Stone says:

    “D&C 102 was written in 1834…”

    D&C 102 was *revealed* in 1834.

    Maybe if Emily updated her perspective on where the revelation came from (Jesus) and not from man, she understand why things are set up the way they are.

    Well, here’s to hoping.

  54. James Stone, Here’s hoping you’ll read D&C 102 and its intro and discover that nothing there even purports that it was *revealed.* Instead, it is minutes of a meeting. The references in it to revelation are to the appointment of certain persons by revelation and to authorizing the president to seek revelation. It seems Section 102 was accepted by the Church when proposed for canonization as binding on the Church. Nothing in it makes it immutable to change by the Church even without revelation. At least one other section once canonized has been removed and replaced with a contrary section. Why could that not happen with aspects of this one? Maybe if you updated your perspective by reading Section 102, you’d understand why Emily wrote that “D&C 102 was written…”
    Well, here’s to hoping.

  55. Mr. Schmidt says:

    @James Stone, I think the others have a point that this section is a collection of minutes – here’s the heading of the section:

    “Minutes of the organization of the first high council of the Church, at Kirtland, Ohio, February 17, 1834. The original minutes were recorded by Elders Oliver Cowdery and Orson Hyde. The Prophet revised the minutes the following day, and the next day the corrected minutes were unanimously accepted by the high council as “a form and constitution of the high council” of the Church. Verses 30 through 32, having to do with the Council of the Twelve Apostles, were added in 1835 under Joseph Smith’s direction when this section was prepared for publication in the Doctrine and Covenants.”

    The section details the different votes those present cast on different deciding matters. But the phrasing of other sections, “revelation given through Joseph Smith,” is conspicuously absent.

  56. really excellent and so true. Thank you.

  57. “Let’s not get off track here. I claim (rightly) that the church council system was setup at a time when women were not seen as possible judge/jury/witness etc. It was unimaginable to do differently.

    We have further light and knowledge now. The church moves toward equality every day as we shine these lights and understanding dawns. It’s time to do so with church court councils.”

    That is a very prescient observation EmJen.

  58. wreddyornot says:

    I am for equity and justice.

    As I see it, in God’s world of evolution, we change. Revelation implies evolution. The Church changes. It has, it does, it will. It’s by design, isn’t it? It can be and is competitive and harsh, with ugly results, at times. We are all flawed, of course. But evolution’s end, it seems to me, is for us to learn how to love. To really love and to care for God and for each other.

    Some change turns out well; some doesn’t, etc. Isn’t that right? Evolution is complicated. Yet evolution, overall, is how God created the world that we live in to work. It seems to me that evolution involves a foundation of agency, which is, it seems to me, the core of love. In 2013, a few ladies and a very few men in Ordain Women started asking Church leaders to make inquiries of God regarding inequalities related to the patriarchy. As they persisted and adapted, their leader got exed. Harsh.

    About that same time, I evolved. When asked at church to pray, I started by addressing God by saying, “Dear God in Heaven” or “Our Dear Heavenly Parent” instead of the usual “Our Dear Heavenly Father” or “Dear God.” It turned out to be a good strategy if you’re one who doesn’t like to pray in public that much. Those with “authority” quit calling on me to pray.

    I submit unless we, as moved by the Spirit, attempt to change for the better and adapt to what will show love to and for everyone, we will not show a sincere commitment to the Gospel.

    I am for equality. We need to change. Also, addressing something alluded to in the comments. We need to evolve to recognize that God means not just someone, but a perfect pairing of love. I’m also not above wanting to ask why (if) our Savior was a man. Ask, seek, knock.

  59. Geoff - Aus says:

    Laura B, Are these 2 women advisors to the Bishop, called and sustained by the congregation?
    Does this happen throughout your stake?
    I like the sound of it.
    Are you in Utah?

  60. I was date raped but thought I was at fault because I froze when the man started crossing my boundaries. Boundaries we’d talked about earlier and I thought he agreed with. I confessed to my bishop Without any knowledge of what was to come, other than a few fabled stories I’d heard third hand. The whole experience was traumatic, from them serving me papers at church (I thought the counselor wanted to get to know me better when he pulled me inside the room), to having to answer detailed sexual questions in front of a room full of men. I still get extreme anxiety anytime I get a call from the bishop. I’d like to think that with more women in the room, someone that understands female vulnerability and sexual assault, could have sensed something wasn’t quite right. Could have seen past the fact that I was alone with a man late at night, hence it must be her fault kind of thinking. Could have reigned the bishop in when he said I was more responsible in the matter than the man, because I have the power to birth life from my own body and I should have done more to protect it. Sure, I could have appealed to the stake pres, but that would have meant sitting through another council with 4x’s the men (or so I thought cause I’ve never really been taught the process). And I just couldn’t bear it. So, I put my head down and jumped through all the hoops. It was deeply wounding and difficult, but it gave me eyes to see that some things need to change.

  61. OftenPerplexed says:

    AnonE, you have given me courage to share my thoughts. I too was assaulted on a date. I was 17 and he was 18 getting ready for a mission. I went to the bishop and after being persuaded to keep the assault “in house,” I demanded that at the very least this young man should face church discipline. The bishop and his counselors (and it seemed to me every other man in the ward except my dad) were good friends with my assaulter’s father. They went hunting and fishing together; they were in church leadership positions together for years and years. They just couldn’t quite seem to believe what I had to say. It seemed as though the men erected a protective fortress around my assailant. Excuses were offered up for him and even though I went in and bore my soul, I felt invisible. It was clear to me that in their eyes I had less value than this young prospective missionary. I don’t think it was malicious. With the benefit of time, I look back and can see that because of the way the church is structured their inclinations to support a fellow leader’s son were natural. Perhaps if a young woman leader or my YW advisor had been in there to break the spell, the outcome would have been different. He went on his mission without missing a beat. He served his 2 years, came back and assaulted another girl from our ward. He was diagnosed with a severe mental illness and he has been in and out of treatment for 2 decades. I should have gone to the police. I should have been encouraged to go to the police. I was a fairly new convert and I was so convinced that “the Priesthood” was inspired and nearly perfect. I took my Bishop’s counsel like it was from God. Now I realize that there should have been women in the room with me and in the room with him during his disciplinary council. Moreover, women need more leadership roles in the church so that it isn’t such a gosh darned boys’ club.

  62. Side issue. I wish that in the case of a married member, either the bishop or someone appointed by the stake president would personally call the spouse and question them about what happened.
    I could have saved everyone decades of heartbreak if only a priesthood leader had picked up the phone and called me to ask some probing questions. Any one of them, bishops, stake presidents or general authorities. Someone realizing the story made no sense. Someone trained to recognize mental illness. We can do better. We might save not only the mentally ill person, but their marriage and their children. Even if only men judge. They cannot judge well if they do not seek the full truth from people who might know more.

  63. OftenPerplexed, did anyone apologize to you for misjudging? If it matters to you, you might persevere until you receive an apology.

  64. The $64,000 Answer says:

    “OftenPerplexed, did anyone apologize to you for misjudging? If it matters to you, you might persevere until you receive an apology.”

    I can think of an even better solution. If it matters to other LDS members, they might persevere until OftenPerplexed receives an apology. That way, she will not be placed in the intolerable position of having to plead as a petitioner for what ought to be hers as a right. It will also mean that other LDS members will acknowledge their personal duty to see to it that their sister who has suffered injustice does not continue to experience it in the form of the indifference of her faith community to her victimization and subsequent revictimization.

  65. Carolyn says:

    @Emily: my one concern with the pick-up-the-phone issue is in cases of domestic violence. Contacting the other party could put the vulnerable party in physical dangers

    But yes, generally, as a church we rely waaaaaaay too much on biased hearsay to make decisions with serious ramifications.

  66. Left Field says:

    As a high priest I was once asked to substitute for an absent high councilor. The stake president distributed the relevant instructions from the handbook and it was stated that those who drew odd numbers would speak on behalf of the church and those who drew even numbers would speak on behalf of the person appearing before the council. I pointed out that neither the handbook nor the Doctrine and Covenants designated anyone to speak on behalf of the church, and neither gave any specific assignment to those who drew even numbers. According to the instructions, six are assigned to “stand up in behalf of the accused, and prevent insult and injustice,” and presumably the other six can speak however they choose.

    The stake president seemed startled, as if he had never noticed that before. He agreed that that is what it said, but still insisted that having six members speak on behalf of the church is “how it is supposed to be done.” No doubt the tradition of “six prosecutors” is widespread, but it’s not in the scriptures or in the handbook.

  67. Left Field says:

    Correction: “neither gave any specific assignment to those who drew ODD numbers”

    I should emphasize that I’m not making any particular point here beyond the specific points I’m making, but (1) I don’t think “minutes” and “revelation” are necessarily mutually exclusive; (2) Section 102 is canonized scripture, which carries some substantial weight. The exact Venn diagram of “revelation” and “scripture” could be up for debate, but arguably, scripture might carry more weight; (3) Scripture and revelation can both be superseded by additional revelation, so the whole question might be moot.

  68. After reading all these comments, I would like to add that I appreciate the exploration of ideas and a forum to openly discuss and challenge. I appreciated what Mr. Schmidt and the undergroundman said. They were provocative. And that is the point – to think even when controversial, regardless if we agree or not. And I appreciated the rebuttals to their ideas. But in no way do I want them silenced. We learn together.
    There is an underlying question in all this discussion, and that is, are there inherent or innate differences between men and women, and do those differences matter, and if yes, how and in which ways or circumstances do those differences matter? I believe firmly that there are innate differences, that in some circumstances those differences matter, and in other circumstances those differences do not matter. Sometimes the differences are used to justify inequity, in both directions. Sometimes the differences are used to justify equality. The church continues to struggle with this question and I do not believe the end has been determined. I think we will see more changes.
    I have no interest in women serving on disciplinary councils only because I do not believe in disciplinary councils, and men shouldn’t serve on them either. But, if we have to have the councils, then having a woman serve could possibly break the group think of the high council.
    I have sat on three councils, and all were very uncomfortable for me as the leaders asked probing questions about a man’s sexual activity. Each time I thought to myself, “Why are we here? Why are we interrogating this man about his sex life? This should be between him and God. If he wants help then he should seek a therapist, or even his bishop if he wants spiritual guidance. But, having 15 men sit in judgment of his sex life (no abuse involved) is crazy.”
    ChristianKimball made a valid point, with which I agree, about 2 types or reasons for councils. I might support a council in the case of protecting people or the church in cases of clear abuse and harm. To make these councils “fair”, I don’t think it is so much the gender of the council, but more about clear guidelines and freedom of the council members to speak and act without pressure to be yes-men (or yes-women) pawns of the stake president.

  69. Old Man says:

    If endowed women can be set apart to administer saving and exalting ordinances in the temples, why would they require priesthood ordination to serve on any council?

    Any person who has abused the children of God or struggled with God’s laws should be presented before a council representing the fathers and mothers of Israel.

  70. A little late, but there is a persistent rumor that all stake callings will be dissolved in Spring conference. I find this dubious, but it has caused me to imagine a beautiful resolution in replacing current stake auxiliary callings (RS, YW, Primary stake presidencies) with a “quorum” (12) of women from the stake to serve in exactly the same way as the high council: assign them specific responsibilities for tasks that now fall to the stake auxiliary leaders, assign them to speak with the high council in wards around the stake, and ASSIGN THEM TO PARTICIPATE IN CHURCH DISCIPLINARY COUNCILS. The idea of more stake callings is onerous, but the idea of better representation by women in stake leadership sounds delightful, and long overdue.

  71. If a member of the church has seriously abused another person (now, we could debate all day the definition of abuse, the degrees of abuse, the types of abuse, etc.) then I think it could be appropriate for the church to convene a council. The church has the full right, and expectation, to determine its own membership standards and to protect its reputation and standard before the public. As such, I would expect the church to want to distance itself from child abusers and sexual predators, or any other person whose actions could damage the mission of the church. So I even understand why the church excommunicates people who publicly and repeatedly teach false doctrine or malign the church. To me that makes sense.

    But I am not comfortable with disciplinary councils for private matters. None of us are perfect and we all fall short of God’s laws. We have all struggled at some point, and continue to struggle in some regards. As I referenced, having sat in on three separate councils where a single adult man (ages 18, 27, and 62) was interrogated by 15 men about his sexual activities with his girlfriend seems excessive if not ridiculous.

  72. Arganoil says:

    If I hear of a LDS woman being assaulted I wilk advice her to go straight to the police, not to her bisshop.

  73. Another Roy says:

    There are many disparities for women in our church. I still have not received a coherent answer to why a man is required to hang out in the church building during relief society activities. One speculative suggestion is that it is to protect the women from outside attackers. Even if this were to be true it just highlights that we believe women need protection from men. The totality of the evidence suggests that women are not perceived as being as valuable, trustworthy, or capable as men are.

  74. Yes, men/fathers are to preside, provide and protect women and their families….everywhere I guess.

  75. Left Field says:

    The handbook does not require a man in the building during RS activities. Some local leaders require it, but they’re freelancing their own rules.

  76. You are correct. The handbook was designed to give local leaders more freedom to care for their members in a way needed in their area. What is right for one unit may not be needed in another.

  77. TC, please be careful with assuming there is no abuse involved with consensual sexual activity. I spent most of my adult life in singles wards. People differ greatly in their ability to recover from sexual sin. Some feel dirty and betrayed. Others walk away seemingly unscathed to repeat their actions again and again. At what point does one become a predator? The Church needs to act to protect the vulnerable, which in the end is most of us. Fear of Church discipline keeps more people in line than you would imagine. And keeps those they date safer than they otherwise would be. And allows divorced and widowed members, who are used to an active sexual life within marriage, time to redraw behavioral boundaries at a time when they are hurt and angry.

  78. Another Roy says:

    Thank you Left Field and Roy. It helps at least to know that this is local benevolent sexism and not church wide.

  79. I never implied there can’t be abuse within consensual sex. Well, here we can debate the finer points of language and what is really meant by consensual and abuse. My point, and my belief, is there is no need for a 15 person disciplinary council when two adults have consensual sex, as a rule. The Mormon church obsession with sexual behavior has to go. If a member seeks ecclesiastical counsel for a problem then great. But we don’t need a sexual inquisition. Don’t conflate healthy sexual activity between two consenting adults with abuse or predatory behavior.

  80. As a stake president once explained to me, by the time an issue gets to the stake president and high council, the decision has already been made.

    The only times a high council court is required to be held is for a M priesthood holder who has committed murder, incest, child abuse, apostasy, predatory behavior, a pattern of serious transgressions, and a serious transgression that makes the news. If a high council disciplinary court is convened for a sister at any time, they are doing it wrong (unless for some reason the Bishop was unable to participate at the ward level and kicked it up to the Stake President).

    I also wholly support Arganoil above – for criminal behavior, you go to the police. The only reason to go to the Bishop would be if the Bishop is also a law enforcement officer, or to ask for a referral to LDS Family Services for competent and licensed counseling. President Hinckley remarked on the Elizabeth Smart case “where there is no consent, there is no transgression”. I’ve quoted that line myself more than once when assisting a Bishop.

  81. As someone who has been through this ata stake level – my naive self thought that it was supposed to be about compassion

    It ended up being about how much damage had been done to the Church’s name. That question in various forms was asked at least five different times

    Once that was determined that no one knew – the punishment was extremely light and my spouse was instructed to forgive despite going through extreme trauma

    At the time I was relieved – but looking back it was extremely unfair to my spouse

  82. Anon2, as a former wife of someone who cheated on me and was excommunicated at the time of our divorce, may I say that it might have been harder for your wife if you had been excommunicated and then others had known. The public humiliation of having ward members know is extremely painful. In addition to the searing pain of the betrayal is the knowledge that others are discussing your private life and often speculating on the causes. The leniency might have been for her sake, not yours.

  83. anon for this for the sake of others says:

    There are interesting assumptions in the comment of Anon2 and Wanda’s response. One is the assumption that forgiveness implies reconciliation by pretending the event never happened. That is a common, but nonsensical assumption in many cases. The second is Wanda’s assumption that Anon2’s spouse is a wife. That is also a common assumption (and perhaps with reason), but there is nothing in Anon2’s comment that indicates the gender of either Anon2 or the spouse.

    Interestingly, when we had a bishopric member ex’d for his sexual sin, most of ward never knew but presumed his release had to do with a stake calling. Public humiliation is not necessary; perhaps it is more a function of leadership roulette and possibly the couple’s behaviors. The couple then in our ward made things work; his blessings were restored; they appear years later to be happily married.

  84. James Stone says:

    @JR and @Mr. Schmit

    Instead of just reading the introduction, read the first verse. It was revealed to Joseph Smith how to organize the high council. See verse one.

    1 This day a general council of twenty-four high priests assembled at the house of Joseph Smith, Jun., by revelation, and proceeded to organize the high council of the church of Christ, which was to consist of twelve high priests, and one or three presidents as the case might require.

    In addition the official church’s official position is that it is also revelation.
    https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual/section-102-the-constitution-of-the-high-council?lang=eng

  85. James. I did read more than the intro. In fact the first verse tells us just what I wrote that the section itself says about the extent to which revelation was involved. Frankly, I decline to look to a 2002 D&C Student Manual quoting an unattributed 1955 Improvement Era article as a statement of the Official church’s official position. I’d rather look to the first presidency for that. The student manual seems fully consistent with my earlier comment except for the single reference by the unidentified 1955 author to Section 102 as a revelation, and except for the addition of the report that those involved in that early high council “voted … that they desired to come under the present order of things which they all considered to be the will of God.” That is useful evidence of their understanding. The quoted testimony attributed to JS is that the order of the council [not every detail of Section 102, as I understand that] had been shown to him in vision. Sometimes things printed in Church magazines and study guides have been changed or even repudiated by the president of the church. I will continue to believe that the First Presidency is authorized to change or repudiate the 1955 off-hand reference to Section 102 as a revelation if they were to choose to do so. Thanks for the reference and the link.

  86. Anon for the sake of,
    You are correct in that I made the assumption Anon2’s spouse was a wife. That was not made because of some commonly held assumption but from equating Anon2’s experience with my own, a wife.
    But I see no one making the assumption anyone’s forgiveness equals reconciliation, let alone that this can possibly occur by pretending something did not occur. I forgave my former husband. I did not reconcile with him. No one ever suggested to me that I should.
    And everything I have ever read about reconciliation and rebuilding a marriage following adultery says the erring spouse’s life is forever different, that reassurances and checking in and eliminating any behavior that reminds the betrayed spouse of the adultery is required the rest of one’s life. One woman wrote that her husband has to check in every day now while he travels for business and they have dropped all friendships and eliminated all movies containing older men/younger women or adultery. His mistake, his price to pay.
    People I know had to sell their home and quit their jobs in order to move.
    I guess there would be no public humiliation if no one knew. But skipping the sacrament and turning down invitations to pray generally prompts questions and guesses that are later confirmed. My former husband was exposed after marrying his girlfriend following our divorce and moving to the other side of the country. My best friend, who had served a mission in his new ward, visited his sacrament meeting one Sunday. As he said when he called to tell me, “You can run but you cannot hide.” Also, the young men he taught in Primary following his rebaptism asked pointed questions one day that forced a partial public confession from him. Adultery has such a high price it is surprising anyone would commit it. Perhaps no one would if they could experience the consequences prior to the sin.

  87. I am amused by the revelation/canonization discussion about Section 102. Going by memory supplemented by Church publications and Wikipedia (see the “Presiding high council” entry), Section 102 records the establishment of a “presiding high council” or “standing high council,” distinct from the “traveling high council composed of the twelve apostles” (see verses 30-32 which were added later). Originally the standing high council (the subject of Section 102) was supervisory to the Quorum or traveling high council. Brigham Young’s position in the succession crisis of 1844 was that the Quorum should be primary, which led to the decline and eventual elimination of the standing high council in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Looking it up, I learn today that) There was a standing high council in the central Salt Lake Stake for a while that had some form of jurisdiction over other Stakes, but even that vestigial role was ended by a letter sent by the First Presidency in 1877.

    Apparently there still is a standing high council in the Community of Christ, although not the supervisory council one might expect reading Section 102 in isolation.

    As a result, in a formal sense (having to do with revelation and canonization) Section 102 might be considered a dead letter in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Clearly we refer to Section 102 for guidance about the operation of Stake High Councils, but that is by analogy and for principles, not by original intent or dictate. Furthermore, I have no doubt the General Handbook of Instructions (volume 1 especially) supersedes anything found in Section 102, to the extent there is a difference.

  88. thechair says:

    As a High Councilor, I wish often that women were invited to sit on stake church courts. Most of the victims of male offenders (adultery, porn addiction) are women. The status quo leads to lopsided empathy for the sinner. Also, sometimes the aggrieved wife attends the court, but finds herself the only woman in the room. It’s just obvious we need women to be part of this process.

  89. I realize that this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that except in cases where serious harm has been done to the community (sexual abuse, for one example) we need to discontinue the practice of excommunication altogether.

  90. Excellent post, EmJen. It’s too bad the comments are a derailment train wreck.

    Also, I largely agree with James’ comment just above mine.

  91. Finding neither Justice nor Equity, how does one go about resigning their membership?

  92. Name Retracted says:

    James (05:35), I agree with the sentiment, but not sure I would blanket that. There is a member of my current ward that I argued should be subject to a disciplinary council, with excommunication being an option. This member had a long history or boorish and what I considered abusive behavior, and it seemed that the threat of excommunication was about the only that could motivate them to repent. The stake president disagreed, no council was held, and this member is still as much of a jerk as ever.

    That being said, I wouldn’t contemplate excommunication for someone if I didn’t believe it would prompt a change of heart (unless I was trying to protect the community against a threat).

  93. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Wow! If we’re using the threat of excommunication to stop people from being jerks, Stake High Councils are going to need to quit their day jobs.

  94. A Turtle named Mack,
    Agree!
    As far as the OP, I honestly do not care who serves on a church disciplinary court. As a woman ,I am grateful I do not need to know such things about ward members. I just want to be free to love them all.
    I do think they are sometimes necessary. I do think consensual sex can be one of those times. I have seen the lives of friends destroyed by what the men saw as consensual but the women later saw as emotionally manipulative. And yes, the men did not stop with one woman.