SL Trib Op-Ed Open Thread

I wanted to offer a space for interested parties to comment on my op-ed for The Salt Lake Tribune.

I am a single mom to a (mildly disabled) 7 year-old and a baby under the age of 1, and my daily commute for work takes me away from the home from 6:30 AM until 6:15 PM Monday-Friday. This means that I have precious little time to comment on blogs these days, even though I really, really want to.

So, please feel free to post your thoughts and feedback on the article. I won’t be able to respond to many comments, but I will read them. Thank you.

Questions for Ashley Isaacson Wooley

I don’t know if you will ever find my humble little corner of the Web, Ms. Wooley, but assuming you do, I have two questions in regards to your recent op-ed with The Salt Lake Tribune. You wrote:

As a member of the church, I have committed to sustain its leaders. “Sustain” need not mean “always agree with,” but to my mind, surely it means not creating a publicity-seeking organization in direct opposition to the church’s position, inviting members to openly oppose both the church’s policies and its reasonable requests. It is possible to air concerns in a productive, straightforward, and private (rather than divisive, symbolic, and purposefully public) manner.

How would one go about “airing concerns” on the church’s treatment of women in a “productive, straightforward, and private” manner?

You also wrote:

Members of the church may appropriately advocate change, but not demand it as one would demand a civil right or insist that leaders accept their personal views.

Again, what is the “appropriate” way to advocate for change within the church?

I’m genuinely curious here. I hear a lot of people telling organizations like Ordain Women and All Enlisted “You’re doing it wrong,” but few have been willing to lay out pragmatic suggestions as to what the right way is to advocate for changes in the church’s treatment of women.

A brief reply to Michael Otterson’s missive on (not) ordaining women

Thus saith the Managing Director of Public Affairs:

I suppose we do not know all the reasons why Christ did not ordain women as apostles, either in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon

Yes. If only we had some passages in the New Testament or the Old which suggest that women served in “priesthood offices” such as apostle, prophet, or deaconThen maybe we could consider ordaining women to the priesthood. 

But as we all know, no such passages exist, so there’s no reason to consider ordaining women to the priesthood.

. . . matters of personal worthiness must remain a matter between the member and the bishop who is a “common judge” . . .

Yes. If only we had some passages in the Old Testament which suggest that women served as “judges in Israel.” Then maybe we could consider ordaining women to the priesthood.

But as we all know, no such passages exist, so there’s no reason to consider ordaining women to the priesthood. Continue reading

Ordain Women: Some thoughts and encouragement

If you read this blog, you probably know my story. You know I’m something of a feminist, that I believe women should be ordained, that I attend a church that ordains women, and that I began studying the Mormon church at age 16.

You may or may not know that 16 year-old me actually felt pretty drawn to the LDS church’s system of prophets, apostles, elders, and deacons. That I liked the idea of things like blessings of healing and parents participating in their children’s dedications and baptisms. And that finding out that I would never, ever get to do any of those things if I became Mormon because WOMAN was a lot like finding out that there really is a Santa Claus, but he only brings presents to boys. [*]

You probably don’t know that, had a movement like Ordain Women existed back when I was a teenager, I probably would have come a lot closer to joining the church than I did.
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Kicking the missionaries out

The missionaries tried to stop by a week or two ago. I was home with just my two children, wearing a strappy nursing tank top, and probably covered in baby spit. These were male missionaries, so of course they couldn’t come in. They said they were looking for my husband, I said he was at work, and they said they’d come back some other time.

Come Sunday afternoon, my husband said to me, “Oh, the missionaries are coming over tonight.” “What do they want?” I asked warily. “To share a message,” he replied. “Don’t worry, I warned them that this ‘message’ better not be an attempt to convert you.” “Thanks,” I said, and relaxed a bit.

Continue reading

You’re doing it wrong

You're Doing It WrongThe Right Way to Win the “Mormons Aren’t Christians” Argument

Like this:

“Mormons, we think you are not Christians and say you are not Christians in the same sense that your church says and teaches that other churches that hold to the teachings of Joseph Smith are ‘not Mormon.’ When it comes to, for example, The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other groups that follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and practice polygamy, your church dogmatically asserts that these groups are ‘not Mormon’ and should not be known as ‘Mormon’ churches, even though these groups ‘strenuously object‘ to your efforts to label them as not-Mormon. You do this because their theology and teachings are different enough from your own to cause you concern, and you want to disassociate that from the ‘Mormon’ name. Likewise, your theology and teachings are different enough from our own to cause us concern, and we want to disassociate you from the ‘Christian’ name.” [1]

Not like this.

Any questions?

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[1] This argument does not represent my own personal position on whether or not Mormons are Christians. It is just one argument that a person could use. But that person would win.

You’re welcome, Mormon women!

In the fall of 2010, I published an article in Mutuality that critiqued the opportunities available to women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that article, I said (emphases new to this post):

On the ecclesiastical level, where Mormons practice a lay ministry and church responsibilities are shared among all members, the male headship pattern continues. LDS men are ordained to the lower priesthood starting at age twelve and the higher priesthood at age eighteen, but women are restricted from ordination altogether. Because of their non-ordained status, women cannot serve in a large variety of leadership callings including: apostles, prophets, bishops, stake presidents, and adult Sunday School directors. Similarly to complementarian church structures, most of the callings available to women revolve around leadership of other women and children. Church disciplinary councils are entirely handled by men, and men oversee almost all of the clerical work and management of church finances. Males perform virtually all of the ritual ordinances including baptisms, blessings of healing, and administration of the LDS version of the Eucharist. The only ordinance women are permitted to perform is a washing and anointing ritual on other women as part of temple worship, and even that is restricted to women who have no minor children living at home. Finally, missions work is considered a primarily male responsibility, with all capable men being expected to serve a two-year mission, typically at the age of nineteen. Women are allowed to serve an optional eighteen-month mission, but the minimum age required is twenty-one. In 1997, the president of the Mormon church plainly stated that the age limit is held higher for women for the purpose of decreasing the number of women who serve. [1]
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This pattern of androcentrism surfaces again in the church’s official Sunday School manuals, where female speakers and leaders are rarely cited, even when the topics concern women specifically. Twice a year, Mormon leaders gather to broadcast a series of messages meant as counsel for the entire church, but out of the twenty-nine to thirty talks that are usually given, only two of the speakers are women. Likewise, women are not invited to give the opening or closing prayer for these sessions. In the LDS church, women clearly have far fewer opportunities than men to offer spiritual guidance and admonishment to adults of both genders at the church-wide level.

In the past six months, the bolded things have been changed in favor of women. Women may serve missions at age 19 now, thus the number of women going on missions has increased dramatically, and a woman just offered a closing prayer in General Conference. Here’s hoping one will offer an opening prayer soon.

Obviously, church leaders are working through my list and gradually amending the inequalities that I was kind enough to point out to them.

You’re welcome, Mormon women!

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[1] The source I cited in my article was Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, November 1997, 52.