Which is it? Did Jesus say so, or are you going to use your Jedi mind tricks?

In Peggy Fletcher Stack’s recent article on the Ordain Women movement, she quotes Church spokesperson Jessica Moody on the question of whether women could receive the priesthood:

But a male-only priesthood “was established by Jesus Christ himself,” Moody said, “and is not a decision to be made by those on Earth.”

This argument stands in contrast to Relief Society General President Burton’s comment on the same issue in the Church’s new video:

I don’t think women are after the authority; I think they’re after the blessings and are happy that they can access the blessings and power of the priesthood. There are a few that would like both. But most of the women, I think, in the Church are happy to have all the blessings. That’s what matters most to them, and it doesn’t matter who holds that umbrella. They’re happy to let someone else hold the umbrella because we have different complementary roles and are happy with that.

So which is it? Did Jesus command the priesthood ban be put in place? Or is going to be that Church leaders will send their female spokespeople to wave their hands and try to convince us with a Jedi mind trick that real Mormon women don’t actually want the priesthood? (President Dalton’s “[you] will see no need to lobby for rights” comment fits perfectly here.)

It seems like if Church leaders were really convinced that the female priesthood ban was God’s very will, they would just stick to that message. For example, consider that GAs pretty much never try to convince men that we don’t really want porn. They don’t wave their hands and say, “Mormon men will feel no need to look at naked women who are not their wives.” They just say it’s bad, God doesn’t like it, so we should stay away from it. When the Jedi mind trick approach gets used to argue for the priesthood ban, it sounds like they’re less sure of themselves. When both “Jesus says” and the Jedi mind trick get used, it just sounds like they’re making up anything to defend the status quo. And I think there’s good reason for their response to be so scattershot: I don’t think GAs have ever seriously considered ordaining women. As they are so fond of telling us, women and men are just different: they have different roles, and women’s role doesn’t include holding the priesthood. They would no more think of ordaining women than they would think of ordaining robots. That’s why I think their response has been made up of what Julie M. Smith called “self-contradictory ad hoc rationales” in her post at T&S.

I look forward to hearing any comments GAs make in Conference this weekend about women who want to be ordained (or to wear pants, or to pray in Conference), even if such comments are intentionally vague. I wonder if once we hear from the GAs directly, and not just from their spokeswomen, they’ll deliver a more focused argument against ordaining women. I’m not betting on it, though.


  1. I suspect one f the brethren will say something to marginalize women and make certain that we trouble-makers understand that we are flirting with apostasy. I’m betting on Elder Packer.

  2. I wonder what the temple work obligations would be if the church started ordaining women. Proxy ordinations are required for men, I wonder if they would be for women as well, and if so, whether we would do proxy ordinations for deceased LDS women.

  3. “This is not the priesthood you are looking for. You want to go home and rethink your life.”

    “I felt a great disturbance in the Priesthood, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

    I ended up leaving the room last night as my wife listened to the Church’s new video. I loved that they were acknowledging the issue but was frustrated that they seemed to be dismissing the idea that women would want the priesthood, especially since the real reason they seemed to be releasing the video was in response to some women saying they wanted the priesthood.

  4. After many years of watching the mistreatment of women in the Church, I have concluded that the only way women can be heard, respected, and valued is for them to receive the priesthood. Deborah was a described as a prophetess. Paul describes Phebe as a servant of the Church, which is also translated as minister or deaconess. When Joseph Smith was prophet, women had complete control of the Relief Society, administered to the sick, and performed other priesthood-related responsibilities.

    Clearly, the Church’s racist doctrines have evolved. Passages in the Book of Mormon have been changed. Blacks have received the priesthood, which they were allowed to have when Joseph Smith was prophet.

    Surely, if the Church can embrace a race that it marginalized and mistreated, it can do the same for women. Women have been treated as an underclass with no real voice or authority. We are treated more like slaves than people, given callings that often exceed our physical and mental health capacities and also expected to fully support our husbands while doing so.

    I pray for the day when Church leaders will value, honor and respect women and treat them equally as men. Our patriarchal culture abuses women and has done so from the foundation of the Church. Look at how Emma Smith was treated by her husband, who took wives without her consent or approval, a practice that clearly defied the revelations that he espoused. Women are asked to do a tremendous amount of work in the Church but have no real voice on Church councils. Today in General Conference we will hear primarily from men who have no idea how it feels to be a women suffering under the patriarchy in the Church. I pray for the day when the leaders of our Church will recognize the pain they have inflicted on the women in the Church and will pray to receive revelation about how they can correct this horrific injustice. Surely, God must weep when he sees his daughters suffering so.

  5. I . . . was frustrated that they seemed to be dismissing the idea that women would want the priesthood, especially since the real reason they seemed to be releasing the video was in response to some women saying they wanted the priesthood.

    Yes! This is the ultimate irony.

  6. I just got the idea to make up stuff and say it’s a quote from Joseph Smith “Teachings of the Prophet” which I took a class on and most people haven’t read.

    Just to play with peoples’ heads.

    That’s the idea I got from this.

  7. I hope not but I suspect it might take a generational change before women can be ordained again. 10 of the 15 are over 80 and then there are 3 who are 72, Uchtdorf is one. If we could have a retirement age of 80 for Apostles, that would do it.

    In D&C 25 v 7 Emma is told by the Lord she will be “ORDAINED” by Joseph.

    We know women performed blessings for the sick until 1946.

    I noticed in the temple last week that both the women and the men place the robe on the left shoulder so they can “officiate in the ordinances of the Aaronic P’hood” and then the same for the M P’hood. Officiate in the ordinances, seems like having and exercising to me.

    Perhaps it is just a matter of the Men in charge accepting/recognising that women do now hold the p’hood?

  8. Geoff – your word choice is ideal. I have raised that very point on more than one occasion with people, and every time they have said something along the lines of “I’d never noticed that.”. Time after time we go to the Temple and hear the words, said to the women just as much as to the men, “officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood”, without it ever really registering. It can’t register, because we’re taught only men have the priesthood. We somehow particpate in a long ritual in which women receive clothing, signs, tokens of the priesthood, etc., told they can OFFICIATE in the ordinances, and still cannot hear the words – the words of D&C 84 being told to our sisters as well as to our brothers.

  9. .

    I suspect that asking for the priesthood is the wrong question.

    I suspect we should be clamoring to learn more about our Mother.

    I suspect that’s a question that would be more respected beyond the veil and that would lead to answers clarifying what else, besides knowledge, we should be asking for.

  10. The first answer, by the PR professional, was the better answer, and she probably gave a better answer because she is in PR and her very livelihood depends on strong soundbites. That said, I disagree that we must only ordain the same demographics of people Jesus did, because Jesus himself told his successors to expand the priesthood.

    The answer by President Burton was just a mess, for the reasons you described. She’s not a PR professional and she may be too honest to give a neat and tidy answer “Jesus says so” when no one is so sure that he did. I actually take the video as a good sign, because at least they are talking to us about the status of women in church governance, instead of going off-topic to sing praises of female wonderfulness/nurturing skills/whatever or worse, reprimanding and threatening the murmurers. Reminding us what “most” Mormon women care about is a bit of a passive aggressive rebuke, but the rest of the video, while defensive, was at least on topic. I don’t expect leaders to agree with ordination proponents right now, but I do want them to listen and to dialogue, and they appear to be attempting that.

  11. Not sure there can be a lot of change because of the age/condition/culture of the leaders. Of the 15, 10 are over 80. In Third Nephi the lord tells the 3 nephites they will be retired from their ministry at 72. Perhaps with medical advances we could extend this to 80.

    There is nothing except precedent that requires Apostles to die in office. In fact making people work when they are dying is elder abuse.

    If the over 80s retired the next lot would be 72 Uchtdorf , and a couple of others. If we were choosing on merit Uchtdorf should be the prophet ASAP.

    Can you imagine the spirit and power of the church with Uchtdorf as Prophet and if the 10 others could be replaced with more Uchtdorfs. We could roll forth, we could ordain women, we could accept gay marriage we could unite behind such leadership.

    How do we make it happen? Can someone like the Ordain women group start a retire Apostles at 80 bid too?

  12. No, the 3 nephites were changed to something more than mortal at 72, not released from their work. They (and John) are still out there working, probably inflicting first century morals on us poor mortal folk. Even in the scriptures, we have no precedent for releasing apostles for anything aside from apostocy or death.

    I don’t think we should try “retiring” apostles. It could introduce the idea that if we don’t like what some apostles are saying, we can just chnge the age to make them retire, so we can have apostles that will tell us what we like.


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