Zelophehad’s Daughters

I Don’t Hear Any Complaints

Posted by Kiskilili

Caller: Since we’re getting into the 21st century, President Hinckley, what is the chance that women may hold a priesthood in the Mormon church?

Gordon B. Hinckley: Well, they don’t hold the priesthood at the present time. It would take another revelation to bring that about. I don’t anticipate it. The women of the church are not complaining about it.  They have their own organization, a very strong organization, 4 million plus members. I don’t know of another women’s organization in the world which does so much for women as does that, as this church has. They’re happy. They sit on boards and governance in the church. I don’t hear any complaints about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      (Larry King Live Interview, September 1998)

As I read this comment (in the context of broader Church claims), it contains two implicit messages constituting a catch-22:

(a) Since women aren’t complaining about their lack of priesthood, there’s no reason to ordain them. (If read straightforwardly, this statement would seem to suggest that if women did rasie objections to the current policy, ordination would be a very real possibility.) 

(b) “Complaining,” a negative term, is inappropriate. Righteous women are happy with the current situation.

In other words, no one should complain, and since no one complains, there’s no reason to reevaluate the policy. It’s a self-reinforcing system.

53 Responses to “I Don’t Hear Any Complaints”

  1. 1.

    The church is loathe to be seen as responding to public pressure. This is in large measure a cultural inheritance from the Manifesto, which was extremely traumatic for the church and resulted in schism (witness the 37,000 fundamentalists kicking around the intermountain west, Mexico and Canada).

    So public agitation will usually almost insure that a group isn’t going to get the result it wants from the church. At least not right away.

    But if the church isn’t subjected to pressure, its fundamental conservatism suggest that it will never change. If the ambient society hadn’t shifted markedly in the civil rights era, the 1978 revelation never would have happened, because SWK wouldn’t have spent months on his knees in the temple pleading to the Lord on the subject.

    So pushing for change in the church is very tricky business, and normal measures don’t work, at least not in a straightline way. Private, back channel critiques and concerns from faithful members receive an audience, but I don’t get the impression that many women are sending that sort of thing up the chain.

    Public criticism can have an effect, but the church will only act when the criticism has died down. The ERA thing in the 70s could have had this effect, but realistically the pressure wasn’t sharp enough and the church wasn’t isolated on the issue (witness the Catholic Church).

    So I’m really not sure what the best route would be to try and nudge the church in a particular direction. It’s a big ship and doesn’t nudge easily.

  2. 2.

    I think (a) is definitely implied, but I’m not seeing (b) so clearly. How do you see that as implied?

  3. 3.

    Brian- I think B comes his use of the word complain.
    He said “The women of the church are not complaining about it.”
    Where he could have used more neutral words such as:
    “The women of the church are not concerned about it.”
    “The women of the church are not talking about it.”
    “The women of the church are not asking about it.”

    In our church not complaining is a virtue. Complaining (murmuring) is highly frowned upon.

  4. 4.

    I completely agree, Starfoxy. things are changed when people continue to pray, ponder, study about those things such as with the example of the ending of the priesthood ban in 1978 or with polygamy. That’s where many of the revelations in D&C come from…lots of pondering, etc.

    It’s frustrating, but have no idea what to do about it…

  5. 5.

    Private, back channel critiques and concerns from faithful members receive an audience, but I don’t get the impression that many women are sending that sort of thing up the chain.

    I don’t know how to send a message up the chain. And I don’t think my status as a SAHM would give them any reason to listen to me, even if I did find the chain.

  6. 6.

    Yeah, how do we send it up the chain sort to speak when if we do ‘complain’ we’re on the verge of apostasy and unfaithfulness??

  7. 7.

    kaylana, you bring up the 1978 revelation and I think the comparison is a good one. The difference might be—meaning, I’m not really sure about my “facts” here—that most if not all black members pre-1978 lamented being deprived access to the priesthood and temple. Are most women in the church concerned about not holding the priesthood?

    (My question is in no way meant to belittle the concerns of the minority. Rather, it is to highlight something that Kevin alluded to: big ships move because a) one person pulls on the rudder or b) all the passengers lean to the same side.)

  8. 8.

    I am 40, raised in the church, have a master’s degree, work outside the home part-time, vote middle to left of center.
    And, I have no interest in holding the priesthood.
    Is that a function of my age? Possibly. If you were to poll 10 years older, or 10 years younger, I bet you’d find very few takers in the older ranges, and considerably more in the younger.

  9. 9.

    In an important way, I think the issue of female ordination is something of a red herring. Let me explain.

    There is much the church could do right now, without female ordination, without new revelation, and without compromising our doctrine, which would improve things greatly. And if women became priesthood holders without some changes already in place concerning the way we think about gender, I think much of the pain would remain. Consequently, I think female ordination ideally should simply be the natural and final step in a process. I also think this process is already taking place.

    I don’t know how to understand Pres. Hinckley’s response. He was concerned about member retention and he surely had to know that we are losing tens of thousands of women a year because the church isn’t meaningful in their lives. They may not be complaining, but they are voting with their feet.

  10. 10.

    The thing that I’d never really thought about, despite having heard this quoted on many occasions, is the seeming implication that the reason women don’t have the priesthood is that they aren’t agitating for it (i.e., “complaining”). I do think–as a couple of the comments have mentioned–that those who would like to see change on this issue are in the minority. But it does raise the question of whether the primary reason a change in policy isn’t being seriously considered is more because people don’t seem to be objecting, by and large, rather than historical or theological justifications.

    The Lester Bush article seems to have played a significant role in creating an environment where the 1978 revelation was possible. But what do we make of the fact that those who have done research on Joseph Smith and female ordination have been excommunicated? To be fair, I don’t know that the historical argument in this case is quite as compelling. But the lack of a clear theological justification–in particular the silence of scripture on this issue–is striking, especially given that people were appealing to (disturbing) scriptural passages about race to justify the pre-1978 priesthood/temple ban. The argument for not ordaining women seems largely an argument from silence (e.g., Jesus didn’t do it).

    One of the observations Kiskilili made when we were discussing the Sunstone session on female ordination in the Community of Christ was that it was perhaps easier to implement because they don’t ordain everyone. Does the LDS situation require an all-or-nothing approach, I wonder? Or would it be possible to have something along the lines of women going on missions–not expected of everyone, but open to those who were interested?

  11. 11.

    I also have to add that I can see a lot of potential complications in a policy change in this area (changing the liturgy, for example, seems like it would be much more straightforward), and I do take seriously some of the concerns I’ve heard. But I find this statement horribly depressing, not even so much because of the female ordination issue, but because of the comment that the women of the Church aren’t complaining and are happy. What I’m hearing isn’t even that women like me are wrong–it’s that we don’t even exist, that we’re not a real part of the Church. That’s a tough pill to swallow; it’s not easy to stay active in an organization that doesn’t even acknowledge that you’re there.

  12. 12.

    There is much the church could do right now, without female ordination, without new revelation, and without compromising our doctrine, which would improve things greatly.

    I agree.

    I also think women’s ordination is a different problem in Mormonism than in other religions with professional clergy. It wouldn’t just be about whether women could hold the priesthood, it would also be about re-evaluating the structure of the leadership and the role of the Relief Society. Adding women to all-male committees, giving the RS more autonomy, and having more women speak in General Conference would start changing the structure of things and pave the way to women being ordained.

    Then we could have couples called to be bishops, stake presidents, & etc, which would be a much more Celestial model, in my opinion.

  13. 13.

    Kiskilli: It’s well-established that “complaining” has a negative connotation in our society. But, I agree with BrianJ that the OP doesn’t do a great job of making the case that President Hinckley is trying to say that complaining is bad. (I’m just saying this quote doesn’t seal the deal for me.) Rather than seeing Pres. Hinckley as casting complainers in a bad light, I see it as a fascinating insight into that prophet’s mindset: evidently a part of him viewed his role as prophet to be open to the needs of the church, and that revelation could come to rectify issues. I think it’s a hopeful worldview.

    Like Kevin Barney, your comment about how the Church is loathe to be seen as responding to negative public pressure reminded me of what Armand Mauss said about the priesthood ban. He basically had to tell people publicly complaining about the priesthood ban in the 1960s and 1970s to shut up, because he knew that the more vocal pressure that came, the more digging in of heels in the Church might occur.

  14. 14.

    My most recent temple recommend interview the councilor to the stake president asked if I had any questions. I took a leap and told him I had a problem with gender and the church. I didn’t want to go too much into it all, but focused on the “preside” problem in the Proclamation to the family. It was the first time I had mentioned my gender issues outside of the safety of my husband and the relative obscurity of the internet.

    Is that the right channels? Does it go anywhere?

  15. 15.

    President Hinckley had as his assignment dealing with letters from women who were not happy — one of the reasons he spoke so often in priesthood session about how any man who abuses his spouse verbally or emotionally or otherwise is not fit to hold the priesthood or to be a member of the Church.

    BTW, on complaining, I’ve written on the subject about how to do it successfully:

    http://adrr.com/living/ss_5.htm

  16. 16.

    Let me add that I wrote about the perspective of General Authorities over at Mormon Matters, the last post in the series is at http://mormonmatters.org/2009/07/30/understanding-general-authorities-part-three/ and it helps.

    I don’t know much about President Hinckley’s assignment or when he had it, other than he talked about it once as the basis for his remarks. But it got my attention.

  17. 17.

    How could he possibly think women are not complaining, if that’s what his assignment was?

  18. 18.

    Miles,
    What was your bishop’s reaction? Was he understanding?

    I’ve never even thought about writing a letter to the GAs….

    It’s not that I want the priesthood, sort to speak, but I want the opportunity

  19. 19.

    How could he possibly think women are not complaining, if that’s what his assignment was?

    He believes that women are complaining, but not about not having the priesthood. He had a lot of talks aimed at things he heard complaints about.

  20. 20.

    One thing to consider is the whole reason why “the personal is political” became a catch phrase. For some reason trouble in the relationships between men and women are always classified as individual problems.
    It is for this reasons that someone can read letter after letter after letter of dissatisfaction with women’s lot, and abuse at the hands of unrighteous leaders and husbands and see every case as a failure of an individual man. And imagine that the way to fix these problems is by changing the men rather than the structure of the system we all operate under.
    This is a huge part of why I’m reluctant to identify as feminist among my ward, friends and family. Because my concern/unhappiness/confusion will be blamed on the men in my life.

  21. 21.

    #19, Stephen
    “He believes that women are complaining, but not about not having the priesthood.”
    Women are complaining about actions that are sexist. The current structure is sexist and we want a solution.
    One of the solutions that would address sexism would be to allow leadership roles to be held by either gender, which helps address the problem of sexist actions by the church leadership.
    Individual rights for all members would help and an oversight process that would address concerns by members of the Church, composed of both men and women, having equal authority.
    Starfoxy #20 is correct that when a woman is not in total agreement with church leaders, her husband is placed under scrutiny. I grew tired of having men ask me, “And what does your husband think?” , rather than answering the question posed in the discussion.
    My response was “You may ask him when you see him.”
    That question is always to evade an answer or stop the conversation and it works, because the women then understand that they are not held in enough respect to even be provided an answer to a routine question. They might as well ask where our “owners” are. Hillary Clinton had the same experience at a press conference recently.
    The priesthood leaders need some skill training to help reduce their, probably unintentional, sexist attitudes/actions when interacting with women.

  22. 22.

    kaylana,

    He asked what I thought about gender and when I described my issues with “preside” he seemed understanding. Appropriate eye contact, head nod, etc. He said he had others, I can’t remember if identified them more, that had similar issues. This was a counselor in the stake presidency who I did not personally know, and he was talking both to my husband and I. I said I did see generational differences among both the men and women and equality in the home and in church. I was nervous and I am sure my nervous chatter diminished my argument some, but I got it out. I felt OK about it, my husband thought the guy was creepy.

  23. 23.

    Here’s my problem with the whole “most women don’t want it” apologetic: as soon as a woman enters the conversation and declares that she does want it, people start sharing anecdotes about the evils of “coveting” the priesthood and/or callings. They start talking about some woman in their ward who wanted to be Relief Society President and then when it happened, she made everyone’s life a living hell. Or the guy in their ward who wanted to be in the bishopric and turned out to be the most authoritative, controlling counselor they’d ever had. Citations of Hebrews 5:4 abound. I agree that Hinckley’s statement does not in itself make it clear that complaining in this context is bad, but he doesn’t have to. The idea that only sinful, covetous women desire the priesthood is already firmly embedded in LDS culture and the unwritten order of things.

    It’s a Catch 22. You can’t desire the priesthood because then you show that you’re covetous and thus unworthy of it, but if you don’t make some noise and get the message across that you want it, you get comments like Hinckley’s. You’re apparently supposed to sit back and play it coy until the church leaders decide, free from external pressure, to give it to you. I don’t envy you, Mormon women.

    Here’s my question though: if the priesthood is as wonderful as Mormonism says it is, why would anyone not want it? Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:31 says to eagerly desire the greater gifts. I realize priesthood isn’t on the spiritual gift list, but the principle still seems to apply.

  24. 24.

    I totally agree with that thinking Jack. One of the big deals in the temple is to go there to seek further light and knowledge. So why wouldn’t I want any opportunity that could bring it to me?

  25. 25.

    You make good points, Kevin–the Church is loath to be seen as capitulating. I’ve often thought that the bigger obstacle to fuller participation in the Church for women isn’t prejudice against women–it’s prejudice against change. (And by the way, it was really fun to hang out with you again!)

    In the original post, the reason I added the phrase “in the context of broader Church claims” is that I don’t think this quote in particular stresses that complaining is considered inappropriate. But it undeniably is, especially when it comes to Church-wide policy: it’s viewed as verging on evil-speaking of the Lord’s Anointed. The women who have complained publicly haven’t gotten the priesthood; they’ve gotten the boot, and it seems unlikely President Hinckley was entirely unaware of their existence.

    Like reader Rachel, I have no idea how to send my opinions “up the chain” or why they should listen to me if I did. There isn’t even really an official capacity in which members, but particularly women, can give feedback. But kudos to miles for being brave enough to at least articulate her concerns to local leaders!

    Like rachel, I have very little interest in holding the priesthood personally at this point. (I consider this something of a failing on my part: we are commanded to seek after what’s of good report and praiseworthy.) But I’d love to see hard empirical data on the demographics of Mormon women concerned about priesthood. One of the things I really enjoyed about Sunstone this year was interacting with sisters old enough to be my grandmother who were quite open about the fact that they thought women should be ordained. It challenged my stereotypes.

    Like Mark Brown, I’m not at all convinced that female ordination is the feminist lynchpin. As my sister Eve has pointed out before, we could easily ordain women and go on blithely in a patriarchal structure (in fact there are numerous examples of religions that do just this, including, arguably, 19th-century Mormons). It was interesting to hear from a female member of the Seventy of the Community of Christ discussing the challenges women continued to face even after ordination was offered them.

    Like Emily U, I’ve always liked the model of co-bishops etc.–couples called into leadership positions. I think there would be a lot of practical advantages, not to mention the fact that it fits our theology. (Maybe.)

    Hunter, while it’s true that the Church may become even more obdurate in its position if pressure is applied, on the other hand if there’s no pressure whatever the Church will do nothing. This is the problem with having no paradigm for change. Lynnette once suggested to me that Catholics will have to ordain women first, and I’ve come to think she’s probably right. If the manner in which black men were ordained is any indication, the social climate will have to be such that not ordaining women is virtually unthinkable, and then the Church will wait at least another decade before even giving the issue serious consideration. That’s not going to happen any time soon, if ever.

    I agree completely with Starfoxy that Church leaders construe all issues women raise as individual, not systemic problems. Unfortunately I think this only exacerbates the problems: individual men are unfairly berated under the assumption that men’s righteousness justifies a system putting them in positions of power to the exclusion of women. It seems difficult to convey the message that even righteous patriarchy is problematic.

    I agree completely with Jack. Righteous women aren’t supposed to want the priesthood, since that would be usurping male authority and coveting power. So it seems disingenuous for President Hinckley to suggest that since women don’t want it (women who are socialized all their lives not to want it), there’s no reason to give it to them.

    (And reese, I really enjoyed hearing you at Sunstone–you spoke with so much enthusiasm! And it didn’t hurt that I agreed with everything you said. :) But that’s a topic for another thread.)

    Thanks for the comments and the thoughtful discussion, all!

  26. 26.

    I don’t completely agree with Jack. It’s one thing to desire the priesthood for oneself, but another to simply desire that women (in general) be allowed more leadership opportunities. Maybe that’s easier to suggest from my position (as a man) because if I said, “I think it’d be great to have a female bishop” then no one could accuse me of seeking power.

    Kiskilili:

    Like reader Rachel, I have no idea how to send my opinions “up the chain” or why they should listen to me if I did…. But I’d love to see hard empirical data on the demographics of Mormon women concerned about priesthood.

    I’m interested in what you would do with that info. Let’s say you get that data and you find that you’re in a very small minority of members with this concern. Do you drop it (“don’t rock the boat”), privately try to sway others to your side (show them why they should be concerned), or forge ahead (if it’s bad for even 1% of members then 100% should be concerned)?

  27. 27.

    Is the desire to actively hold the priesthood limited to women within the United States? How does this issue appear in Middle and South American countries that have a strong culture of machismo?

  28. 28.

    Well, I’m fairly confident that is in fact that situation. :) But I’d love to know the demographics–what are the ages, backgrounds, education levels, etc. of the women who express interest? How many women withdraw from participation in the community over feminist issues generally?

    From a practical perspective, I think there’s little possibility I can sway anyone, either those around me or Church leaders. Dropping it–giving up–for me means dropping any possibility of a relationship with deity at all. That’s intensely painful, but in many respects it makes the most sense, and it’s the route I go much of the time for the sake of my sanity. But there are ways in which I intensely miss being religious: I miss the hope that God might one day find it in his heart to acknowledge me as a person. So to the degree I want to engage that hope that religion still has something to offer me, I can’t not struggle with what to me is the central issue: in short, whether or not women have souls. Our theology is horribly inconsistent on this matter, and our claims about women’s value don’t follow at all logically from our policies, which is where I believe we need to rethink doctrine–it’s the inconsistencies in statements such as the one in the post that I consider appropriate entrees into discussion. I recognize church just isn’t an appropriate venue to voice such concerns, so blogging is essentially my only outlet for exploring the implications of our doctrine on women. From the big perspective, I wish I could believe blogging played a role in raising awareness of important issues among members, but I doubt that it does to any significant degree. And from the individual perspective, I’m not sure how healthy it really is for me to keep that hope alive. In other words, except for blogging–which is my private space–I drop it, and while I would be delighted if blogging had an effect on the broader community, I have no expectation that it will. I’m not even convinced that it plays a positive role in my own personal efforts to renegotiate my relationship to religion.

  29. 29.

    as soon as a woman enters the conversation and declares that she does want it, people start sharing anecdotes about the evils of “coveting” the priesthood and/or callings.

    They bring up that or the idea that the blessings of the priesthood already are available to everyone.

    Here’s my question though: if the priesthood is as wonderful as Mormonism says it is, why would anyone not want it?

    Something I’ve found useful to prove the above point in the ‘coveting power’ conversations is the YM Aaronic Priesthood manual. The early chapters in that manual make it clear that righteously holding and using the priesthood is it’s own blessing, and that good people should want to have it.

  30. 30.

    BrianJ, when you’re a woman, even if you talk about women needing the priesthood generally, people still view it as a covetous desire (i.e. you must want the priesthood for yourself, rather than just thinking it might be a good move for the church structurally) and accuse you of wanting to be a bishop, etc.

  31. 31.

    GAs will listen to grass roots commentary. That was why I talked about women sending their wishes “up the chain.” Of course, the problem is that the women they listen to are women who are in their orbit, who are usually married to high church leaders and are unquestionably faithful. And women in that group aren’t asking questions about why they don’t have the priesthood. So I was making more of a theoretical comment than a practical one.

  32. 32.

    Well, it’s perfectly practical if one of us wants to try to . . . marry a GA! :P

  33. 33.

    Seraphine,

    If you were ever accused of coveting the priesthood you could say you are are trying to be like Abraham or that you are simply following the instructions in 1 Cor 13:31

    31 But covet earnestly the best gifts:

    (imagine the appropriate emoticon here)

  34. 34.

    Ah, I see Geoff and I had the same thought.

    Whenever women who raise questions about ordination are accused of being power-hungry, I always think of Abraham 1:2.

  35. 35.

    Haha. Those are good scriptures–thanks.

  36. 36.

    Kiskilili no. 32, great plan! I nominate you to make this sacrifice on behalf of LDS women everywhere. (But if it were Elder Uchtdorf, I guess it wouldn’t be a sacrifice after all…)

  37. 37.

    BrianJ ~ I agree that they ought to be different in principle, but when I was investigating the church and I brought up the topic of women not having it, people often fired back at me, “Well, why do you want the priesthood?” I think that the two are pretty solidly linked in the minds of a lot of Latter-day Saints so that it’s difficult to discuss the one without being accused of the latter.

    Kiskilili ~ Well, it’s perfectly practical if one of us wants to try to . . . marry a GA!

    Seducing a General Authority is a stiff request, but I am a professional Mormon-seducer. I’ll see what I can do.

  38. 38.

    Jack, it would be so awesome if you could seduce a GA. Except then I might feel kinda sorry for your husband.

  39. 39.

    That would be such a twisted reprise of the Zina D.H. Young life story that it would almost be worth making it happen.

  40. 40.

    Go Jack!

  41. 41.

    E ~ Well, I have long been a polyandrist at heart.

    My husband helpfully quips, “Sweetheart, all we have to do is get them to make me a GA.” To which I responded: “I have a better chance of being allowed to practice polyandry than you do of becoming a GA.”

    We’re fond of brutal honesty in this family.

  42. 42.

    There were two more things I wanted to say:

    1) I really like Emily U.’s suggestion (#12) that couples could serve as bishops and stake presidents. The Salvation Army has been ordaining women since 1865 and they require that married couples be ordained, so their ratio of male-female clergy is nearly 50-50. They do ordain single men and women, but if their ministers get married, they can only marry other candidates for clergy—i.e. no marriages to non-members for clergy.

    2) I completely agree that there’s a lot more to female ordination than just technically giving it to them. I just did an article on evangelical churches which are egalitarian in creed but not in practice. They say they ordain women, but only a small percent of their ordained ministers are women and even fewer of those are serving as pastors and evangelists.

    Alternatively, the LDS church could do a lot to improve the status of women without technically giving them the priesthood. I predict that it will do some of those things before it ever gives women priesthood.

  43. 43.

    Until recently I hadn’t considered the possibility that women could be ordained and still effectively ignored, but I’m now quite convinced that it’s possible.

    So I wonder what changes the Church might make that would fit into the category of things that could be done without ordaining women. I think I’ve seen Mark Brown make some interesting suggestions about (relatively) easy changes on some other threads. One random one that occurs to me: Why not bring back assistants to the Twelve and make them all women? Assistants to the Twelve were a made up calling that ended, when, in the late 1970s? (I don’t know when they started.) But since they’re not defined in the D&C, or probably in the Handbook, then there would be no requirement that they hold the priesthood. So there’s no reason they couldn’t be women, be called for life (or at least for a long time like Seventies), and perhaps have real decision making authority at the general level of the Church.

  44. 44.

    I apologize if this was said and I missed it, but…

    The only way I see women receiving the priesthood is if pressure is applied by well-respected men (read: men who are otherwise loyal and lockstep). When someone “complains” on their own behalf, it becomes very easy to dismiss them as prideful or selfish. But “complaints” on someone else’s behalf has a better chance as being taken as a compassionate appeal.

  45. 45.

    Of course, the problem is that the women they listen to are women who are in their orbit, who are usually married to high church leaders and are unquestionably faithful. And women in that group aren’t asking questions about why they don’t have the priesthood.

    Do you know this for a fact?

    A while back, my former stake president was called as an AA70, and it was a real eye-opener. Living outside of the intermountain west, I’d never known a GA family before, and I have to say that it taught me that GAs are all real people. His wife is a very real person, with a real job and real complaints about various issues.

    It is insulting and dismissive to assume that those who don’t want the priesthood are “lockstep” and unthinking about it.

    I have thought long and hard about it. I don’t think it would change much and I see many benefits to having men serve (or at least having had my husband serve) in the church.

    This doesn’t mean that I’m a weak-willed woman always deferring to men. I complain all the time. I’ve never been in a ward that didn’t allow women to give prayers in one spot or the other, but if I did, I would not hesitate to speak up about it. I do remind the bishop each year to include women’s history on the sacrament meeting agenda. As RS president, I shed a bunch of jobs that seemed to be assigned only because of a perception that women have more time (e.g., buying paper plates, etc., for ward functions, which should be done by the activities committee). I don’t defer to men in Sunday School or Institute classes–my opinion is just as valid as theirs.

    Fact is, Mormon women without ordination do a lot of things that women in other faiths can only dream about. We perform ordinances in the temple, serve missions, give public talks and prayers. I am not sure how much priesthood per se really matters.

  46. 46.

    Naismith, you seem to have taken some offense from my comment that I did not intend. The sniippet you quoted was not intended as a criticism for those women who prefer the status quo. It was rather a possible explanation for why the issue does not appear to be on the GA radar screen.

    No, I do not know for a fact that women in sufficiently high positions to be in the GA orbit are not asking questions about why they can’t have the priesthood. That is simply an assumption on my part. But if you or others have information to the effect that the type of women with access to GAs (SP wives, MP wives, AA70 wives, GA wives, Auxiliary presidencies, Church workers) have been privately pressing for women’s ordination, I would love to learn of it.

  47. 47.

    That’s a good point, Clay. Just the other day I was discussing with my sisters whether Lester Bush would have been excommunicated for his famous watershed article had he been black. In the end, I do think you need someone in the privileged position advocating for you.

  48. 48.

    #45, Naismith: re:
    have thought long and hard about it. I don’t think it would change much and I see many benefits to having men serve (or at least having had my husband serve) in the church.
    Good points:
    1. Our voices are not given audience or heard publicly, and when we do bring up a concern, we are called unfaithful. The leadership (in general) does not wish to share their elite positions and will not discuss the topic publically. The women, like myself, who do voice complaints about unrighteous dominion are subject to retaliation.
    2. We should care about the ethics involved, that of wishing our sons and daughters to know that all of his children are equally competent and equally worthy of dignity and respect. If we do not care, we are creating and transmitting deep seated bias in our children by disallowing women in leadership roles in our church.
    Asking for discussion and specific change is met with hostility, so we aren’t allowed to get to the tranformative stage of learning about equality.
    Equality has a significant degree of consistency and fairness to individuals. For example, if both male and female are required to pay equal tithes, but the benefits granted to the males are significantly greater, and values are consistently favored to the males by the males in power, then one is not likely to call the system fair, if one is female. Think of the requirement of Rosa Parks, on the 1954 Alabama bus, to sit in the back of the bus, and give up her seat to a white male, if the bus became overcrowded. She and the white male both paid a quarter to ride the bus. Should they receive equal access and treatment on the bus?
    Jesus was a social reformer and a Jewish mystic. Walter Brueggermann, a Hebrew Bible Scholar noted that the social structure that Jesus was born into had the following characteristics:
    1. A policy of oppression. These societies were hierarchical and patriarchal. Ordinary people had little voice in the structuring of their society.
    2. An economics of exploitation.
    3. A religion of legitimation. These societies were commonly legitimated by the claim that the social order reflected the will of God. Kings rules by divine right, and the powers that be were ordained by God.
    Jesus was a social reformer, and engaged in a radical critique of the domination systems of his day which included both Jerusalem and the temple as a center of the ruling elites.
    Like racism, sexism becomes even more disturbing as a society transitions to a more rational and equitable way of treating a group subject to prejudice.”
    I appreciate that you are bringing this up for open discussion as that is the first step in any change process.

  49. 49.

    (By the way, reader Rachel, if you’re the Rachel I met it Sunstone, it was great to see you! I wish we’d had more opportunity to chat–next year, perhaps. :))

  50. 50.

    Naismith, you seem to have taken some offense from my comment that I did not intend.

    I was not offended, I just questioned whether that was an accurate assumption.

    The sniippet you quoted was not intended as a criticism for those women who prefer the status quo.

    I got that. But my point was that I am not sure we know whether or not those women in a position to be heard are lobbying for that, or not. Their lobbying tends to be done quietly, I would think. At least I know that in my tenure as a bishop’s wife, mine was.

    For example, my ward has a tradition of standing for intermediate hymns. This is because some time ago I hurt my hip and sitting was uncomfortable, and my husband (just because he could and it was a valid option) directed that we stand during such hymns. After that, it just caught on and remained a tradition. I don’t think anyone else knows the impetus for starting it.

    And I lobbied for other things more important. But I didn’t tell anyone except maybe the RS president about it.

  51. 51.

    Our Bishop visited with my husband and I last night for 3 hours! He was very patient with us and respected our concerns. I talked a lot about gender issues. In particular we discussed my issue with sexist wording in the temple. I discussed the inequality of the sealing ceremony (where I am required to ‘give myself unto my husband’ but he is not required to make the same promise). Initially he said that this would never be changed. By the end of our conversation he said that it may be changed one day. We discussed the changing of ‘obey’ to ‘hearken’ etc.

    I also expressed concerns with my testimony of the Restoration and made numerous comments that could be considered apostate. He even articulated my apostate leaning himself. However, he still very much wanted me to accept a calling as a cousellor in Relief Society. I don’t intend to give up my search for answers and equality and it would seem that my Bishop is ok with that. I am surprised. Well, I guess I will now be on the RS Presidency and I have his support to continue seeking out the truth and lobbying for change.

  52. 52.

    You go, Maureen!

  53. 53.

    [...] Ongoing discussions of President Hinckley’s statements about the possibility of priesthood ordination of women continue to encourage me. The most commonly quoted are [emphasis mine, and if you know of better links to the transcripts, please let me know, these were just the easiest ones I found.]: [...]

Leave a Reply