The recent upset over YW General President Elaine Dalton’s BYU devotional address on January 15 (see Lynnette’s piece here, fMh here and here, and an interesting letter at Young Mormon Feminists here) centers upon a specific comment directed to LDS young women: “You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.” (full video here)
As many have mentioned in the articles linked above, part of the problem with these two sentences is that they are vague. What form of lobbying is President Dalton referring to? To whom, specifically, is she directing her comments? After all, BYU students come from all over the world. Is she talking about political rights? “Rights” within the LDS church? Within BYU? Her use of the word “lobbying” gives the sentence a political feel, but it’s hard to be sure.
This got me thinking: President Dalton’s speech, and the confusion and careful analysis of her language that ensued, are not exactly rare occurrences in Mormonism. We often hear imprecise phrases and ambiguous references in talks from our living leaders. Why is this?
Why don’t our leaders clarify their remarks more often? For that matter, in an age of incredibly effective and speedy communications technologies, and in a church that believes in modern revelation through leaders who are called of God, why don’t our leaders clarify points of doctrines more often?