You Didn’t Fail at Church Checkbox Parenting

One of the worst things I’ve encountered online among church members is the idea that if your children leave the church it’s because of you, their parents, did something wrong.

It’s obvious that this is awful in so many ways, but I want to talk about the fear and shame and church conditioning that underlies it.

Because let me tell you, as a mom of young adults and teens who is looking around at the other parents my age with their kids, pretty much every single church family I know is dealing with the loss of expectations that all their children will grow up to be church members who marry in the temple. Church checkbox families are no longer the reality for really any family and we need to confront that as a church.

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You Can’t Listen to Women If They Aren’t Invited to Speak

“Sincerely asking for and listening to the thoughts and concerns voiced by women is vital in life, in marriage, and in building the kingdom of God.”*

This quote was given by Elder Neil L. Andersen during the Saturday Afternoon Session**, which, ironically, had no women’s voices included. No prayers, no speakers. Nothing.

In total for the April General Conference, two women gave talks: outgoing Primary President Joy Jones and Relief Society Counselor Reyna Aburto. And one woman, Relief Society Counselor Sharon Eubank, gave the closing prayer to the final session of conference, surprising me, because I wondered if we were going back to the 1970s where women were not allowed to give prayers in mixed-sex meetings.

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Apostolic Decree on the Wearing of Masks

Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife Sister Ruth Renlund have coronavirus, and I send them best wishes and prayers for a full recovery. Before this was announced, Elder Renlund participated in a video series (alongside Elder Stevenson and Elder Bednar) that announced the shift of certain temples to Phase 3, which re-engages limited work for the dead and seems, for all intents and purposes, to be a safe and cautious fuller re-opening.

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“Mission President and His Wife;” or Why Titles Matter

President, Bishop, High Priest, Priest, Mission President, Assistant to the President, Deacon, Teacher, Seventy.

Titles matter. Titles matter in the church, but only for men.

Because in the past few months, we’ve lost (or in one instance not gained) titles for women in the church.

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Women Learn in Silence

This week’s Come Follow Me Sunday School Lesson includes 1 Timothy 2. It’s short. Read it here.

Ok, now I’m going to give you the gift of reading it as if you were a woman or young woman in the church who loves the scriptures and wants to find meaning therein no matter what because it’s scripture. This woman/young woman believes that the church values women highly but understands that there have been changes lately to help women and men better understand women’s roles in the church, so is feeling a bit wobbly.

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The Presiding Authority of President Eubank


Photo from Church News profile of President Eubank.

President Sharon Eubank gave a masterful sermon this morning on being Christlike. She effortlessly spoke with power and authority, quoting scripture (while adding gender parity), admonishing us to lift and light together, and reminding us that Jesus Christ reached out to all.

President Eubank is a force for good, both as a member of the General Relief Society Presidency and as the Director of LDS Charities (the first woman to hold that position). When she proclaims: “You are making progress. Keep going. He sees all your hidden sacrifices and counts them to your good and the good of those you love. Your work is not in vain. You are not alone. His very name, Emmanuel, means God With Us. He is surely with you,” she knows of what she speaks.

A few weeks ago, President Eubank also spoke as the featured guest at a stake women’s conference. Her message was a similarly powerful one on the themes of love and service.

And yet who presided at this stake meeting?  As listed in the program, it was the stake president. [Read more…]

Equity and Justice in Church Courts


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.  [Read more…]

Avoiding Holier-Than-Thou Ministering

In a recent episode of Mormon Land, historian (and BCC blogger) Matt Bowman talked about the brand new changes to the home teaching/visiting teaching and looked at the history of the program. Matt explained that the home teaching program, under Harold B. Lee’s correlation, used to be more of a guardianship priesthood thing, with each home teaching companionship tasked with making sure the family to whom they were assigned, were completing the various church programs and ordinances, and came to their visits ready with a list of questions to complete their watchcare. Here’s a good Ensign article from 1973 that captures the old program’s aims.

Bowman, in comparing this to the new program and in explaining that in the intervening years we’ve moved farther and farther away from a list-based approach, noted that perhaps the new ministering program will allow for needed flexibility so that people can cater the ministration as the Spirit dictates.

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Mothers Who Know: Julie B. Beck and Political Prayer

You may have heard that Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society General President, offered the opening prayer at the Trump/Pence rally held in Utah last night.

This is problematic, but not for the reason you might first think: [Read more…]

Re-imagining our discourse on Heavenly Mother

So it’s been several months since the essay about Mother in Heaven was released. Now there has not been a general conference yet, so I reserve the right to be happily surprised that Heavenly Mother is often referred to right alongside Heavenly Father, but today’s BYU devotional with Elder Marcus Nash was the perfect opportunity to talk about Heavenly Mother, as he spoke about eternal marriage, the partnership of attaining godhood for men and women, and the eternal power of the plan of salvation.

So I’m going to show how little it actually takes to include Mother in Heaven. Where I bold is where I make the changes to his talk.

Each of us here is a beloved son or daughter of Heavenly Parents and we lived with them prior to our mortal birth. Motivated by perfect love, and a desire to give each of us Their children, the opportunity to receive all They have, our Parents in Heaven instituted a plan before the foundation of this earth whereby we could obtain eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God. Put simply, eternal life is the life God lives.”

This now puts Elder Nash right in line with what Elder Ballard has said that “We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us.” Think about just making that change in talking about the plan of salvation, as designed by our Heavenly Parents who sent their Son down to atone for our sins. It would cause us to change some artwork, but that’d be worth it.

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Passive-aggressive presiding post

20020For consideration of the Church Magazine Committee:

“Julie, wake up! It’s time for scriptures and morning prayers!”

Julie stared blearily at the clock and sighed. Already 6 a.m.? Her mom’s voice came again from downstairs, “Now!”

Julie shrugged out of her blankets, salvaging one to wrap around her and made her way downstairs. Her siblings sat sloppily eating their cereal and her dad rushed in to grab some toast.

“Honey?” Her mother said to her dad as he slathered the homemade jam across the top. [Read more…]

It’s time

Courtesy Julie de Azevedo Hanks

Courtesy Julie de Azevedo Hanks

Young Women Theme pink flower

WE ARE DAUGHTERS of our Heavenly Parents, who love us, and we love Them. WE WILL “STAND as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:

Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue

WE BELIEVE as we come to accept and act upon these values, WE WILL BE PREPARED to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

Meeting Elder and Sister Renlund #ldsconf

Screenshot 2015-10-21 at 3.53.09 PMThe 2015 November Ensign is shooting towards homes across Mormondom and inside there are the normal makings of a conference issue, which is mostly made up of the talks. What deviates, of course, is the inclusion of the leadership changes and with that one finds handy biographies starting on page 135 of the three new apostles as well as six additional biographies (including the presidency of the seventy changes, presiding bishopric changes and the new counselor in the Sunday School).

Why does this matter? It’s interesting to meet these new leaders, see what they’ve been up to in their lives, and for the most part, eight of those biographies follow the formula of most one-page biographies we’ve read in the magazines for years: a short testimony or a testimony-building anecdote about their lives to catch interest, followed by basic biographical information of where they were born and raised and educated, then marriage and sometimes an extra sentence about their wives, and church service throughout the world that prepared them for their calling today.

renludg1fThere is one amazing exception. One that made me say “whoa, I didn’t know I was craving this type of biography.” And that is Elder Dale G. Renlund’s biography. Because you not only get a biographical glimpse into his life, but his wife Ruth is in the very first paragraph and pretty much by his side, metaphorically (and from what I read, in actuality) throughout the biography. It’s a wonderful rhetorical use of bringing these women into spotlight along with their husbands. It matches what needs to happen as these women are just as invested as their husbands into these callings if not as visible. Sister Ruth Renlund is portrayed as a real and active partner by his side. I just love it. [Read more…]

Empty seats: Black, White, and Mormon Conference

bwmormon“Make sure to get there early and save me a seat.” I texted my husband.

See, I figured that a free conference on the important and sometimes controversial topic of Black Saints in the Mormon fold would have filled the Utah Museum of Fine Art auditorium.

Turns out I needn’t have worried so much. And in a conference full of heartbreaking stories, the fact that there were so many empty seats ranked up there as the saddest thing I witnessed.

But we can change that. We must change that. We can virtually fill those empty seats and sit back and listen and learn from our Black Brothers and Sisters because the Tanner Humanities Center just released the videos to the conference.

Why is this important? Because these men and women are, as they explain “speaking truth” and opening their mouths and hearts in the most vulnerable ways and giving us a glimpse at shared and individual past pain so that we can work together to do what we can to avoid future pain.

And we must do it quickly. Because amidst the spiritual power, the eloquence, the laughter, the anger, the intellect, the creativity, I witnessed something else:

Fatigue. [Read more…]

Footnote 2 #ldsconf

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. – Alma 37:6

There was a small, tiny really, and simple footnote in the October 2015 conference talks that were just released in print form that succeeded in taking my breath away. It was in Elder Maynes talk: “The Joy of Living a Christ-Centered Life” footnote 2.

2. Matthew 13:44 (Revised Standard Version).

[Read more…]

No electronics, no food at sacrament meeting

I’m still waiting to see what happens now that we’re (allegedly) raising the Sabbath bar. –Rebecca J in her latest post

When I first started covering the blogs I would get questions every now and again about whether or not the church would ever come down against electronic-device usage at church. Would there be special scramblers so phones/tablets could not access the internet in church buildings. I’d pooh-pooh these questions, the church is smart enough to realize that forcing the members to not access electronics would be unneeded censorship and we believe the importance of teaching good principles but ultimately let the members govern themselves.

And the church has been on the forefront of providing amazing options/media for learning and growth to be accessed at church. Just last week, I loved showing the 5-year-olds who huddled around my phone two different versions of Jesus Christ talking about the importance of the sacrament.

Well I think that might change. Maybe. I just heard of a stake in Oregon who read a letter to their congregations that now forbids food and electronic device usage in sacrament meeting as an outgrowth of the sabbath day worship instruction coming down from the general leaders. And then I heard of another in Utah County. Ok, well this a local interpretation, you might say. Well to that I say, watch the next few minutes of the sabbath day worship instruction video here: [Read more…]

The Morning After

(ok, posted in the afternoon MST, but who could resist a title like that!)

A lot of wards/branches landed on the “Keeping the Law of Chastity” lesson yesterday in RS/PH and from online reports, it went interestingly.

So what did Sex Education for Mormon Adults look like in many wards?  Well via twitter….

[Read more…]

“Youth” and the BSA

VenturingCrewThe real news of “Church to Go Forward with Scouting Program” press release is that Young Women will be participating in the BSA Venturing Program. How do I know that? Because of this line: “As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.”

And as we know, youth in the church = boys and girls. See here, here, here and you know, the big one: Strength of Youth.

Since the youth leadership arm of the BSA is the venturing program, which does accept boys and girls, it only makes sense.

[Read more…]

Changes to PEC coming?

Today I witnessed another significant moment – I received an invitation to participate as a member of the Missionary Executive Council. I am honored. This is one of three key councils of the Church, each led by members of the Twelve. Sister Linda Burton will now serve on the Priesthood and Family Executive Council and Sister Rosemary Wixom will be on the Temple and Family History Executive Council.

And with that President Oscarson’s Facebook announcement lit up the internet as news of this historic event spread. I’m delighted. Women’s voices as a permanent part of these general executive councils is obviously needed. Yay!


But my next question is this, does this open up the way from women becoming a permanent addition to the ward and stake priesthood executive committee that happen throughout the world? [Read more…]

Defining the Family

MinifigFamily01If you were asked in a church setting to define the family, how would you respond?

Probably you’d go to the Proclamation on the Family. It implies that the family is a husband and wife with children.

But in the 2016 Elder’s Quorum/Relief Society President curriculum, President Howard W. Hunter defines it a bit more broadly:

“In seeking after the welfare of individuals and families, it is important to remember that the basic unit of the Church is the family. However, in focusing on the family, we should remember that in the world in which we live families are not restricted to the traditional grouping of father, mother, and children. Families in the Church today also consist of [husbands and wives] without children, single parents with children, and single individuals living alone. … Each of these families must receive priesthood watch care. Often those which may need the most careful watch care are those families of the non-traditional structure. Caring and committed home teachers are needed in each home. None should be neglected.” [Read more…]

Not making fun of other religions

The newsroom just released (or re-released as I’ve seen parts of it before) a video “Explaining How Members Can Defend Their Religious Freedom.” As I was watching it, specifically the quote below, I became a bit uncomfortable:

Why? Well just a few months ago, in May 2015, Elder Robbins of the Seventy gave the CES Devotional. In it, he says this: [Read more…]

Defending Our Foundations

There's a sad story about a Nauvoo temple guard accidentally shooting someone. I hope that person didn't die, the record doesn't say. However, the "defend at all costs" mentality fits what I'm trying to get at here.

There’s a sad story about a Nauvoo temple guard accidentally shooting someone. I hope that person didn’t die, the record doesn’t say. However, the “defend at all costs” mentality fits what I’m trying to get at here.

There is a note at the front of the new Institute manual “Foundations of the Restoration” that says “Comments and corrections are appreciated.” I’m going to take that seriously here. There are some things to recommend this new Institute manual, namely the frequent use of the Gospel Topics Essays and the question “How can we improve what we say about women in the Church to reflect the true significance of their contributions?” within the Relief Society chapter.  And this good reminder after the question “What does it mean to you that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is  ‘the only true and living church’ on the earth? (Before students respond, you may  want to remind them that this doctrine is not intended to mean we should feel superior to others.)”

However there are a few things that stand out of which I will take umbrage. Besides the aforementioned Relief Society chapter, there is so little, too little, practically nothing that I saw wherein women were mentioned or quoted until page 39 (first mention of a woman by name is the infamous Mrs. Hubble story). And then after that, few and far between. Ironically, this manual does not take  that “how can we improve what we say about women” question seriously. This lack of women’s voices should not happen in a 2015 manual of the church.

But more to the point of this post. I found the framework of many of the chapters, especially the ones dealing with the more “controversial” aspects of church history to be roundly negative in tone. Almost like the writers felt like they needed to over-defend aspects of church history before bringing up the issue.

Our college students deserve so much better. This framework teaches them to be afraid of our church history in a brace-yourself-fashion that is not going to be helpful in the long run. Let me show you what I’m talking about with cherry-picked examples from the new manual (note: all bolding is directly from the manual):
[Read more…]

A new YW lesson on shaming/bullying

How do I stand up to shaming/bullying?

lindsShame is one of the most powerful emotions we learn as children. We pretty much all can remember times when we were embarrassed by something we did or said and another or others made fun of us. That hot feeling of shame can stay with us a lot longer than other emotions and can fester into feelings of low to no self-worth. When we see people being shamed publicly, that is a form of judging others, or bullying and we can, as President Ucthtorf has implored us, do what we can to “Stop It.” [Read more…]

Can members support same-sex marriage and remain in good standing?

Taking a cue from Doctrine and Covenants 6:28, I thought I’d pull together and transcribe some of the recent discussions about whether or not members can support same-sex marriage and still remain in good standing.

And, if you need it, here is a temple-recommend, wallet-sized printable that you may want to laminate for easy reference:


Now for the longer versions of the answer to the post title. [Read more…]

Charming sister missionaries

Sister missionaries need to be colorful and cute but can’t wear flower bras. Men respond to them anyway. #myozbituary

The #myozbituary is trending right now, a riff on the unfortunate wording of author Colleen McCullough’s obituary in The Australian which begins “COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: ‘I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.’”

Now what does this have to do with Mormons? Well also this week there was a ABCNews Nightline Interview with some sister missionaries in Florida. Titled “New Wave of Mormon Missionaries Is Young, Energetic and Female” the article and accompanying video spend what is, in my opinion, way too much time on what these young sister missionaries are wearing. [Read more…]

“Brethen, we welcome you to the General Priesthood Session” Priesthood Session

President Henry B. Eyring conducting.

Elder Paul E. Koelliker to give the opening prayer. If the prayer is any indication, this is going to be an extra priesthood-y priesthood session.

Elder Tom Perry followed by Elder Gerald Causee, and then Elder Randy Funk.

Elder Perry: tells story about how his Primary teacher encouraged the boys in her class to prepare for the priesthood. She also taught him the doctrine behind the Articles of Faith.

There is power in the simplicity of the doctrines found in the Articles of Faith. [Read more…]

The “Choir of Many Colors” Saturday Afternoon Session

When we say beaming it out to 97% of the church we mean it.

When we say beaming it out to 97% of the church we mean it.

[Read more…]

A new (but actually old) list of suggestions for increasing opportunity for women and girls in the Church


Look at that beautiful missionary choir! How about filling in some of the seats below them as well?

Quiz time!

When was the following suggested?

“Within the Church, changes in four key areas would create increased opportunity for women and girls:

1. Improve women’s access to decision-making forums.

—Examine meetings from which women presently are excluded. If women were to contribute, would it help the decision-making process? If so, open such meetings to women’s auxiliary heads or other relevant women leaders at the ward, stake and general levels of the Church.

—Within the corporate offices of the Church, employ more women in a greater variety of positions.

—Develop and emphasis leadership training skills for women so that they can more effectively participate in meetings.

2. Increase access to ward callings and duties. Several ward callings and offices have evolved into priesthood callings. Such callings should be reevaluated to determine if priesthood is a necessary prerequisite. Where it is not, women should serve in those offices equally with men. [Read more…]

I thought we didn’t choose Satan’s plan

Not_Even_Once_Certificate1 [Read more…]

Live-blogging the Special Broadcast: The Work of Salvation

Hopefully you are already at the stake center, on your way, or, like me, are comfortably lounging at home hoping the internet video link (found here) works great. Or you can click on over to Mormon Channel to see if it works via both video and radio as well.

Ok let’s see who wins the title of being the most prophetic about the “Changes to the Missionary Program.”

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