Preside

I’m a little bit tired of Latter-day Saints telling me that I don’t “get” what preside means in an LDS context. See the comments on this post starting about here.

Here’s your chance to fix that for me.

If you are a Latter-day Saint who believes that the proper role of a husband and father includes presiding over his household, please explain what “preside” means in ten words or less. [EDIT: I've since realized that ten words really isn't very much when it comes to defining theological concepts. Use more if you need to, but don't go over a small paragraph. "Brief" is the operative concept here.] Pretend that you are writing a theological glossary of terms with the goal of helping non-Mormons understand your religion better.

Please do not spend any time explaining what preside does not mean.

I’m listening.


Comments

Preside — 56 Comments

  1. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a very useful word in our modern context.

    It comes from a time period where it was assumed that the man was in charge (hard-patriarchy), and the main concern was how to get him to do it nicely. But I don’t think it conveys the right meaning in a modern context.

    As such, the word “preside” frankly doesn’t have much particular meaning to me as a modern Mormon male. I simply don’t find it to be of use.

    I can tell you what the Priesthood means to me however.

    For me, the Priesthood is an invitation for me to participate in relationships – both in my family, and with society. It’s something that provides a well-defined purpose and goal for my life, and invites me to reach out and influence people, and in turn be influenced by them in righteousness.

  2. I just asked my wife for a definition of preside. She said that preside means “To watch over.”

    She asked what my definition was, so I told her. She said that for her “To have final decision making powers” is part of watching over something in the sense that the presiding authority is the leader and corrects things that go wrong.

  3. Uh, I hate to be a buzzkill, but saying that preside isn’t useful in our modern context is BS.

    It’s important enough that every single Sunday, they announce over the pulpit who is conducting and who is presiding. Yanno, in case we forgot how it works.

  4. If I may elaborate on what David and his wife said, the person who has final decision-making power also has the final responsibility. The Buck Stops There, as it were. I’ve seen this from my vantage point as a counselor’s wife. Whoever is presiding at a meeting has the opportunity *and* responsibility, at the close of the meeting, to stand up and correct misrepresentations that may have been made over the pulpit by the speakers of the day. Given how many members are called upon to speak, and how few of us have any theological training beyond early-morning seminary, the task of tactfully correcting doctrine is not to be sneezed at (and not always successfully accomplished).

    I’m a weekday single mother, so I’m the presiding authority at home. When my husband is home on the weekends, he usually (but not always) follows the pattern I’ve set during the week. Theologically, however, it is his responsibility to correct course if I have gone astray. I’m not entirely comfortable with that, but it’s the deal I made, and I was careful about the man with whom I made it; it is working so far.

  5. Very interesting question! I’m curious myself.

    That1girl — OK, so it’s important enough to announce who’s doing it, but you haven’t answered the question and defined what he’s doing…

  6. I didn’t answer because while I know what I think of it, I don’t know what it means for other LDS people.

    I just wanted to point out that the word is still very relevant to the mainstream LDS population.

  7. For me, to preside in the home means a couple of things

    1) To “exert control or authority over” certain ceremonial matters of little or no consequence, e.g. who says the prayer at dinner, etc.

    2) To take an active interest in and get involved in matters of great consquence to the family, raise questions and address issues, e.g. why are we not having FHE regularly

    In the average home where the father is away for most of the day, he will miss a lot that goes on and the role of “presider” helps to integrate him in with the family and prevent him from being marginalized in his own home.

  8. Presiding in the church and presiding in the family are different animals. For example, when we say the father presides we shouldn’t infer that the mother doesn’t. After the Family Proclamation lists the parents’ separate roles, it says, “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

    You won’t find a statement like that when it comes to the presidency of the Elders Quorum or Relief society. D&C 107:21 says “Of necessity there are presidents, or presiding officers…” I think that “of necessity” refers to the conditions of a fallen world, where disagreements are going to happen and need to be settled by someone who has the “last word” for there to be order and efficiency. And even then, the teachings of the church is to strive for unanimity as we counsel in our councils. But in the family there is no presiding officer in this sense.

    And I think the vast majority of Mormon families operate this way in practice even if they have difficulty articulating it to others.

  9. In small government, “preside” means to call to order, and make sure everyone else who wants a say gets heard.

    In LDS families, “preside” (to me) means (10 words or less?): Call the Family to order, be responsible, and make sure everyone gets included, subject to the provisos in http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/121/37#37

    That one is really important “When we undertake to… exercise… compulsion upon the souls of the children of men in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the… authority of that man.”

  10. that1girl,
    Sure, people do it. But, at present, it is really only defined negatively. For instance, I can think of reasons to object to both David’s definition and his wife (neither really casts them as equal partners, does it?). So we know it isn’t unrighteous dominion or unequal power within the family. Beyond that, who knows? There really isn’t a definitive positive description of it out there.

    How about it means “to have the duty to ask someone to say a prayer and to sit in the front during worship services”?

  11. I don’t like a lot of these “Mormon” answers.

    I think you guys are trying to basically trivialize the role men play in the Church in order to avoid the accusation of being too domineering.

    The proper solution is to correctly define the ways in which men have a uniquely IMPORTANT role. Not to say that the role they have is stupid.

  12. I don’t plan on responding in full until tomorrow night so that I can give people more time to post their answers to my question if they wish.

    I do want to ask one clarifying question though. Mephibosheth, you said as one of your definitions of “preside”:

    To “exert control or authority over” certain ceremonial matters of little or no consequence, e.g. who says the prayer at dinner, etc.

    If these matters are of little or no consequence, then why is it important that the husband be the one to do them?

  13. Exactly. If what the husband uniquely does is of little or no consequence, then what’s the point of having one?

    Anyone will do – is that it?

    Makes me feel really special Meph, let me tell ya…

  14. If these matters are of little or no consequence, then why is it important that the husband be the one to do them?

    It’s not. I’ve never heard anyone say #1 was important, or even heard it explicitly taught, for that matter. I just listed it because it’s been my observation and most Mormons would consider this to be part of a husband’s presiding role.

    Seth R., you can’t say that the solution is to define the ways in which men have a uniquely important role, and then not have an opinion on what those ways are. Also, if you consider my #2 trivial and/or stupid I would appreciate elaboration.

    On the contrary I think that the whole point of having separate roles and responsibilities is to teach us that not just “anyone will do,” and that it takes both parents working together to meet the ideal.

  15. I can’t define it, because I think it means different things depending on who is speaking and who is being spoken to. I think the word has taken on so many meanings because it is being used to counter so many different threats (and perceived threats) to the family that center on fathers becoming less engaged in family affairs and less interested in religion. So a word comes along that can be directed at fathers and get their attention, etc. There would be no problem at all with the word “preside” if there weren’t also some/many LDS who resist (for various reasons) using egalitarian language.

    Does that last part make sense? I think that’s the most important point: The only reason our use of the word “preside” is at all problematic is because we don’t apply it to mothers as well.

    Thus, most of the time I think it just means: Man up and take responsibility for what goes on in your house—and of course, make sure your daughters appreciate Led Zeppelin.

  16. 11: “Presiding in the church and presiding in the family are different animals.”

    Says who? The word is being used in the same cultural context, introduced by the same people, with the head male (however identified) being the one doing the presiding. The dual use of preside just occurred to me the other day when I was typing my first comment, but I think it makes an interesting comparison, and one I’d like to explore further.

    Unfortunately, my lack of manhood precludes me from Priesthood meetings, where I would learn what presiding actually is. Any menfolk out there who care to explain what a priesthood presider does in meetings?

  17. The guy who presides at a meeting has the right to receive inspiration and revelation on how that meeting should be conducted. Like if he suddenly felt that Brother so-and-so ought to come up and bear his testimony, he’d have the right to call for it. Of if he felt we were all going to sing a hymn spontaneously…

    He also has the right to revelation concerning whether the speakers are preaching apostasy, or just generally out to lunch, and has the right to take the stand and correct what has been said.

    This is the problem with the bloggernacle being full of fairly young guys – you don’t get the sort of venerable Priesthood experience that would be able to fill you in on stuff like this.

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  19. People have had almost two days to consider the question now, so I guess I’ll weigh in.

    If I were to explain what the church intends when it says fathers and husbands are supposed to “preside,” according to my understanding of the church’s teachings, my answer would most closely match those offered by David Clark and his wife (#4 & #5) and Jessica (#7). Fathers are supposed to preside in the home in the same way that a bishop or other priesthood leader presides over a ward or a sacrament meeting. They’re supposed to provide leadership and direction for their families, and they’re also supposed to stand as guardians of the family’s course and correct it if it goes awry.

    So what about that “equal partners” stuff? Well, that is precisely one of the reasons this topic is so confusing. The idea of “equal partners” where one of those partners “presides” over the other is logically incoherent. It’s like having a round square or a bird-amphibian.

    I think Mormons are aware that these ideas are logically incoherent, so they consciously or subconsciously reconcile them in one of four ways:

    (1) They acknowledge that “preside” has no meaning for them and is not a part of their marriages. They would rather fully embrace the “equal partners” stuff.
    (2) They re-define “preside” so that it means non-hierarchical stuff that isn’t even remotely connected to what the word means in English.
    (3) They trivialize what “preside” means, i. e. “Why is it such a big deal if the father gets to choose who says the prayer at dinner?”
    (4) They embrace the “preside” part, defining their marriage in hierarchical terms in some way and ignoring or re-defining the “equal partners” part so that it becomes meaningless.

    In any case, I don’t think my original complaint that started all this—that the Family Proclamation prescribes hierarchical gender roles—was an unreasonable interpretation of “preside” at all.

    #18 BFF ~ I agree that “preside” is only problematic because the church does not apply it to mothers. If the Family Proclamation stated that fathers and mothers are tasked with lovingly co-presiding over their families, you’d see little complaint from me.

    I also agree that there are many who are resisting egalitarian language, so long as among those “various reasons” for it we mentions that there are still plenty of people who are resisting egalitarianism, period. “Preside” gives them a way out.

  20. I’m kind of torn because I feel like I could argue both sides. On the one hand, I think the relationship between God the Father and the Son is the perfect example of a hierarchy between equal partners. So I’m not really sold on the idea that it’s logically incoherent.

    On the other hand, I don’t think the Proclamation teaches that. The key phrase being the one I quoted above, after listing the separate responsbilities of parents, of which presiding is one, it says “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are to help one another as equal partners.”

    I wouldn’t be opposed to changing the language to “co-preside” because I don’t think it would change the meaning, and it would fall in line with what church leaders teach and what the members practice anyways. And it would prevent people from thinking you should run your family like you would run a Sunday School presidency. However, I do think there is a benefit to having separate roles and responsibilities delineated, as I mentioned before they underscore the ideal of a two-parent home.

    For more information on the similarities and differences between presiding in the home and presiding in the church, see this talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Thank you for the engaging discussion.

  21. I think the relationship between God the Father and the Son is the perfect example of a hierarchy between equal partners.

    I don’t. But given all the ink evangelicals have spilled over Trinitarian subordinationism and whether the Son can truly be both equal and necessarily subordinate, I doubt we’ll settle this here.

    Concerning the talk you linked to by Dallin Oaks, I don’t see any contradiction between his definition of “preside” and mine. He says:

    “In contrast, the authority that presides in the family—–whether father or single-parent mother—–functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding priesthood keys. This family authority includes directing the activities of the family, family meetings like family home evenings, family prayer, teaching the gospel, and counseling and disciplining family members. It also includes ordained fathers giving priesthood blessings.”

    The only real “contrast” Oaks gives between presiding in the church and presiding in the family is a contrast between ordination and priesthood keys, not a contrast between directing the family and leadership. This fits my understanding of “preside” to a T.

    I’m thoroughly confused by how Oaks tries to make a distinction by calling family presiding “patriarchal” v. church presiding that is “hierarchical.” Does he not know that patriarchy is a type of hierarchy and that the LDS hierarchy is a type of patriarchy?

    Where have you heard LDS leaders teach that the wives of righteous and living LDS men share in presiding? Elder Oaks makes it pretty clear in several places of that talk that women only preside if there is no worthy husband in the family. I know L. Tom Perry once said husbands and wives are “co-presidents” in the home, but that’s only one time. I’ve heard far more stuff along the lines of “mom only presides if dad is dead” as with Oaks.

  22. The only real “contrast” Oaks gives between presiding in the church and presiding in the family is a contrast between ordination and priesthood keys, not a contrast between directing the family and leadership. This fits my understanding of “preside” to a T.

    No, the most important contrast is the one that Elder Oaks gives concerning the type of partnerships in the church and the home with the hierarchy/patriarchy part of the talk that you find so confusing. First, he says they are different (“The concept of partnership functions differently in the family than in the Church”) and then explains how by quoting the same part of the proclamation I did above, and then by quoting President Kimball:

    When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner

    Elder Oaks doesn’t spell anything out about leadership in the church, but since he has said it is different than the home, we can infer that those who “preside” in the church do not have equal partners, but do have silent or limited partners. And I’m sure that would line up with our experience in the church where sometimes the president has to trump their counselors for there to be order and efficiency. The partnership is hierarchical, with the president above the counselors. And Elder Oaks says presiding in the home is not this. In conclusion, his definition of preside fits yours to a T up until the point that you say it’s hierarchical, and then you part company.

    Does he not know that patriarchy is a type of hierarchy and that the LDS hierarchy is a type of patriarchy?

    Apparently not.

    Where have you heard LDS leaders teach that the wives of righteous and living LDS men share in presiding?

    Like I said before, and like Elder Oaks also says, in the Family Proclamation, after listing the separate responsibilities of mothers and fathers, of which “preside” is one, it says they “help one another as equal partners.” I take that to mean that the mother helps the father preside (and provide, and protect, etc). And the father helps the mother nurture, etc. It’s not as explicit as your “co-presidents” quote, which I would be interested in seeing. And it’s not as explicit as Pres. Kimball’s quote above, or President Hinckley’s quote about being co-equals and not walking ahead or behind, etc.

  23. Mephibosheth ~ In conclusion, his definition of preside fits yours to a T up until the point that you say it’s hierarchical, and then you part company.

    I don’t agree. He says presiding in the home is “patriarchal.” Patriarchy = rule by males. While I’m sure this could kick off a fascinating discussion on how when Latter-day Saints say “patriarchal” they don’t really mean “patriarchal,” I think my verdict is that LDS leaders will either have to start using the Dictionary like the rest of us or prepare to be misunderstood.

    The quote from L. Tom Perry is:

    There is not a president and vice president in a family. We have co-presidents working together eternally for the good of their family . . . They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward. ~ L. Tom Perry, Church News, 10 April 2004:15; as cited by Valerie Hudson in pretty much in every article she writes on Mormons and gender.

    I haven’t seen the entirety of this talk, only the Church News excerpts here.

    In any case, thank you for taking the time to have a calm and reasoned discussion about this with me, Mephibosheth.

  24. I think my verdict is that LDS leaders will either have to start using the Dictionary like the rest of us or prepare to be misunderstood.

    I concede the point that the dictionary supports your interpretation. On the other hand it contradicts Mormon teaching, doctrine, and practice. Other than that it’s a fine interpretation. :)

  25. Thanks for the references guys, and I also appreciated the chance to re-think and discuss this topic again.

  26. BFF: Your #26 is rocksolidspoton.

    “I also agree that there are many who are resisting egalitarian language, so long as among those “various reasons” for it we mentions that there are still plenty of people who are resisting egalitarianism, period. “Preside” gives them a way out.”

    Agreed. Although I think it’s worth defining that more: Definitely those who resist egalitarianism use the word “preside” as “a way out”—as you put it. But they needn’t do so. They could just as easily point to the priesthood as the non-egalitarian linchpin they need. Or, in other words, even if the Proclamation used the word “co-preside,” thus depriving anti-egalitarians of that word, they would still have the priesthood itself as an excuse.

  27. Mephibosheth ~ On the other hand it contradicts Mormon teaching, doctrine, and practice.

    Yes. So long as “preside” doesn’t mean “preside,” “hearken” doesn’t mean “hearken,” “patriarchal” doesn’t mean “patriarchal,” “obey” doesn’t mean “obey,” “submit” doesn’t mean “submit,” “leader” doesn’t mean “leader” and an “equal partner” can be a “subordinate partner,” it totally contradicts LDS teaching, doctrine and practice.

    Eric ~ I didn’t know that; thanks for sharing.

    Not the first time correlation has correlated all the progress out of the published version of Conference . . . Remember President Sister Lant?

  28. #32 BFF ~ Or, in other words, even if the Proclamation used the word “co-preside,” thus depriving anti-egalitarians of that word, they would still have the priesthood itself as an excuse.

    To some extent I agree, but there is one problem with this.

    I’ve tried to limit this discussion to merely “presiding in marriage” and not “women and the priesthood” because even though they’re related, they’re different. If an active, temple-endowed Mormon woman is married to a non-member, the church would still say the husband presides in his home even though he doesn’t have the priesthood. It’s a male thing, not a priesthood thing.

    If the gender hierarchy were hung on priesthood alone, traditionalists would be forced to admit that our hypothetical non-member husband doesn’t preside.

  29. “obey” doesn’t mean “obey,” “submit” doesn’t mean “submit,”

    How did those get in there?

  30. BFF: I didn’t say their new argument would be a good one! ;)

    No, seriously, you make a good point—and I totally agree, as you know. That’s the problem with trying to defend the indefensible: no where to run.

  31. Prior to 1990, the “hearken” covenant in the temple ceremony was the “obey the law of [your] husbands” covenant.

    As for “submit”:

    “One would think that no intelligent woman would hesitate to submit herself to her own truly righteous husband in everything, but sometimes we are shocked to see the wife take over the leadership, naming the one to pray, the place to be, the things to do.” ~ Spencer W. Kimball, “Address to Religious Educators in the Assembly Hall,” 12 Sept. 1975, pp. 3–5.

    This is quoted in the New Testament manual, which admittedly was last updated in 1979 (though it’s still the NT manual used by the church today). A commentator at fMh said that it was taught in her 2010 BYU religion class and used in another manual that was last published in 2004. I haven’t found the 2004 manual yet.

  32. I don’t want to get into the temple but suffice it to say I would answer it by pointing back to the relationship between God the Father and the Son.

    As for the “submit” quote, not much wiggle room there. I take solace in the fact that it’s old and that it came from the same guy as the “full partnership” quote we’ve already discussed. Next time lead with that.

  33. I take solace in the fact that it’s old and that it came from the same guy as the “full partnership” quote we’ve already discussed.

    I don’t know what SWK had in mind with his “full partnership” teaching, but I’d say the fact that both quotes came from the same guy shows that he didn’t interpret “full partnership” to mean “women share in leadership and presiding in the home” as you do.

  34. Just for fun, I decided to type the word “preside” into the scripture search function over at LDS.org and got this:

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/search?search=preside&do=Search&anonymous_element_1_changed=search

    I went through the entire list, and not once is the word “preside” or “presidency” or the like mentioned in connection with the home (except for a single instance where the passage appears to be a prayer to bless the “presidents” and their families). And among all our scriptures, “preside” and its derivatives is ONLY found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

    And you can sum up the spirit of almost all uses of the word with this passage in D&C 90:16:

    “And this shall be your business and mission in all your lives, to preside in council, and set in order all the affairs of this church and kingdom.”

    It’s basically about establishing a human hierarchy so that stuff can get done in an orderly fashion. But this only adheres at the institutional level. It’s never applied to the family level.

    The Book of Mormon is utterly silent on the issue of family hierarchy or roles. It’s just my own pet theory, but I honestly think that Nephite society was so coldly, thoroughly, and unapologetically patriarchal that they didn’t even think the matter needed mentioning. You almost never find women mentioned at all in the Book of Mormon. Except for Nephi’s company – who were more Israelite than Nephite, and in connection with the Lamanites (who ironically seem to have had a much warmer attitude towards women than the Nephites). You see this with really hard patriarchal societies – they never discuss the subject of patriarchy, because it’s simply a given.

    So the Book of Mormon is no help here.

    Which I would guess means that if a Mormon wants to make an argument for male patriarchy – he or she is going to have to do it FROM THE BIBLE.

    Jack, I think you might see the irony here that if LDS wish to argue male patriarchy – they pretty-much have to do it on even footing with Protestants (by reference to the Bible alone). I don’t think we’ve got any scriptures that are uniquely Mormon that really make this case.

    Now, of course we do have an awful lot of “rabbinic commentary” from LDS General Authorities throughout the years. But it then becomes a question of whether you think they were really interpreting the scriptures correctly in making their arguments – or if they were simply speaking as men who are products of a certain social context.

  35. he didn’t interpret “full partnership” to mean “women share in leadership and presiding in the home” as you do.

    I disagree. In light of other gospel teachings about leadership and presiding (his and others), I find it much less reasonable to torture the word “equal” than I do to “preside.”

  36. Seth is moving along nicely towards protestantism. He is already a one point Calvinist. Now he’s asserting sola scriptura (even better scriptura = Bible for this case) for arguing theological positions.

    And, the living prophets of God are now some bizarre equivalent of rabbinic commentary, and the worth of their arguments seems to hinge on proper exegesis (more sola scriptura?) and not on any revelation from God.

  37. Ms. Jack said:

    Not the first time correlation has correlated all the progress out of the published version of Conference . . .

    I’m not sure how much progress you’d see in the talk in its entirety. There is the language of both patriarchy (in fact, the word is used) and of equality. But while “co-presidents” isn’t in the official version (even though it remains implicit), this is: “They [mother and father] are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.” [Emphasis added.]

    I make no attempt to reconcile the conflicting strands of thought. I’m not sure it’s possible without stretching the meanings of some words and/or the intent of the writer beyond recognition (and, like Seth R. suggested, the same is true if I were to try to argue an egalitarian position from the Bible).

    And that’s one reason we’ve been given personal revelation.

  38. #40 Seth ~ Jack, I think you might see the irony here that if LDS wish to argue male patriarchy – they pretty-much have to do it on even footing with Protestants (by reference to the Bible alone). I don’t think we’ve got any scriptures that are uniquely Mormon that really make this case.

    I would agree that Mormons lack much scriptural basis for patriarchy (in fact, my “submit” quote from SWK is him commenting on Ephesians 5). The one exception is that I think a pretty strong case for patriarchy in the home can be made from the temple liturgy, and I think that’s virtually a canonical source, but it’s also a source Mormons are unlikely to openly appeal to. As far as teachings on marriage and the family go, I’ve long noted a strong similarity between Mormonism and what might be called evangelical soft complementarianism.

    David Clark and I were talking about this in e-mail a little bit the other day. I think part of the problem is that Mormons have never had to face a serious internal challenge on this issue; when feminists rose up to challenge patriarchy in the church in the 1970s and 1990s, the leaders just excommunicated them and forgot about them. With evangelicals, up until the mid-1980s, male headship advocates were calling themselves “traditionalists” and “hierarchicalists,” neither of which are very attractive or compelling terms for describing one’s movement. Egalitarians were making good inroads in the movement and “equality” was obviously a much easier sell than “hierarchy” or “tradition,” so something needed to change.

    In 1986, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was formed and “complementarianism” became the new name for the movement. It was no longer about hierarchy or tradition; it was about men and women having God-given, different-but-complementary roles. Exact same product, much better marketing strategy.

    Mormon leaders never realized that words like “patriarchal,” “preside,” “hierarchical,” etc. were losing tickets. They never had to revise this stuff to meet serious and competent internal challenges. I think what the church currently teaches about marriage is equivalent to Protestant soft complementarianism, with some Mormons straining very hard to make it equivalent to egalitarianism, but the whole thing is a mess because it’s firmly mired in the language of hard patriarchy.

  39. The easiest answer lies in D&C 121:34-46 It is very concise and comprehensive.

    Somewhere recently I heard the priesthood being compared to a shovel more than a crown. It reminds me of King Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. How he labored with his own hands so as not to burden the people with his support. (Alma 30)

    It also reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples. That he who would be greatest among them should be the servant of all.

  40. #43 Eric ~ I would say that the strongest way to argue egalitarianism from the Bible is to argue that the patriarchal passages are contingent on their present situations and not absolute. I agree that any egalitarian who goes through the Bible and tries to massage every patriarchal text into egalitarianism is going to get into trouble.

    I think that the good egalitarian scholars acknowledge that the Bible has conflicting data on the matter. For example, here’s William J. Webb, explaining why the Bible can be used to support women in leadership roles but not homosexuality:

    “Within the biblical canon as a whole there is considerable variance among the texts that address women’s roles in a patriarchal setting, while canonical variance is entirely lacking in the homosexuality texts.

    “Consider first the women texts. Sometimes the husband has the prerogative of making unilateral decisions that overturn his wife’s decisions (patriarchy; Num 30: 1-16), yet sometimes the husband is instructed to make decisions in the context of mutual deference and mutual consent (egalitarianism; 1 Cor 7:3-5). Sometimes women are not permitted to inherit property (patriarchy), yet sometimes they are given property rights along with men (egalitarianism; Num 27:1-11; 36:1-13; Job 42:15). Sometimes women are not permitted leadership roles (patriarchy; 1 Tim 2:11-12), yet sometimes they have significant leadership opportunities within the covenant community (egalitarianism; Judg 4:4-5:31; 2 Kings 22:14-20; Acts 18:1-4, 18-19, 24-26; Rom 16:7). For egalitarians, this canonical variance conveys a sense of God’s latitude in blessing women with various leadership gifts and opportunities.

    “While patriarchalists may not find this evidence as compelling as egalitarians do, one thing should be reasonably clear: there is a major difference in this regard between the women texts and the homosexuality texts of Scripture. Unlike the women texts, a canonical survey of the homosexuality texts fails to reveal one shred of variance.” – William J. Webb, “Gender Equality and Homosexuality,” Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy p. 409-10; Google preview here.

  41. David, I suppose you’re joking around a bit, but to clarify, I’ve never advocated the concept of total depravity (that “one point” of Calvinism you mentioned).

    I would also take issue with calling any sort of evolution within a religion as “going Protestant.” Could it not simply be that good things are good, and both Mormons and Protestants are simply proceeding toward those common goods at their own pace and fashion? Why cannot a religious person simply proceed toward the things he or she finds good without being accused of being a copycat?

    Or are you trying to shame Mormons into becoming more backward for some perverse reason?

    At any rate, my position cannot be properly described as sola scriptura, since there are many positions I hold that are not solely found in scripture. Especially when it comes to the teachings of Joseph Smith. However, I do consider probably the majority of what goes on in General Conference to be rabbinic commentary on the scriptures that has to reference to those scriptures for its validity.

    Much of the other authoritative activity in General Conference is not of a theological nature to begin with – but rather of a practical (this is how we ought to apply general principles) advice sort of nature. That’s my own view. It’s not really shared by a lot of active Mormons, but I don’t care much.

    I’d say my view is not sola scriptura, but rather prima scriptura with occasional bouts of prima ecclesia. If I had to pick a label, I’d classify my fellow active LDS as prima ecclesia with definite undertones of prima scriptura.

  42. Jack, the temple ceremony evolves into whatever the brethren seem to feel best evokes the symbolic meaning to Mormons who attend.

    As such, I don’t think it fills the same functional space in our religion that scripture does.

  43. Seth,

    No, I was completely joking, not even a little bit serious. I’ve pretty much decided against ever trying to have a serious conversation with you again, given your raging personal hatred of me and everything I believe. So, for future reference, if I ever appear to engage in what you are saying, rest assured I am doing it for laughs and giggles.

  44. I left my last post as a response to the OP. One of the things I hear Jack saying is that a man cannot preside and also be co-equal with his wife. In the ideal I see it as both presiding and co-equal. In John 17 Jesus prays that we be in Him as He is in the Father.

    “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

    This is the unity we are working towards. In Helaman 10 Nephi is given power like unto God because God trusts him not to ask that which is contrary to His will.

    To me in practice, in means that we work together. If my wife has a strong feeling about how something should be, I yield to her. When I do, we go with my plan. When we both do, we stay the course of what we have been doing until we both go back to the Lord and mull over what is the best thing to do. Once we agree then we proceed.

  45. David, we didn’t mesh very well because you seemed rather angry and bitter in tone at times, and I don’t usually respond well to that kind of stuff. Call it a personal failing.

    But I don’t particularly hate you. Matter of fact, you don’t even annoy me half as much as a lot of the regular characters I encounter in my travels. And on another positive note, you clearly aren’t incorrigibly stupid or clueless like others I’ve met.

  46. David, we didn’t mesh very well because you seemed rather angry and bitter in tone at times, and I don’t usually respond well to that kind of stuff. Call it a personal failing.

    OK. I’m not angry person, just extremely sarcastic, though perhaps on the internet they look the same.

    But I don’t particularly hate you. Matter of fact, you don’t even annoy me half as much as a lot of the regular characters I encounter in my travels. And on another positive note, you clearly aren’t incorrigibly stupid or clueless like others I’ve met.

    Thanks? Perhaps I can add that to my resume. “Not incorrigibly stupid or cluelss” should look nice right in between “Programs Java” and “Speaks Spanish”

  47. For what it’s worth, every time we have a decision to make at home these days that I don’t feel like making (what to have for dinner, what days we should go out vs. stay in, which school picture package to order, etc.), I have told Kullervo that as the man he is the presiding authority in our home and thus has to make the decisions. I think it’s driving him crazy. Hee!

  48. For what it’s worth, every time we have a decision to make at home these days that I don’t feel like making (what to have for dinner, what days we should go out vs. stay in, which school picture package to order, etc.), I have told Kullervo that as the man he is the presiding authority in our home and thus has to make the decisions. I think it’s driving him crazy. Hee!

    It most definitely is. but as a proud pagan man, I feel a heavy responsibility to care for my wife and family, and to assume a position of leadership when appropriate. So even though I don’t believe in “preside” I still have to pick which color background Oliver’s school pictures have.

  49. I agree with many posters here that “preside” means to exert control over. While my husband and I are no longer LDS, my brother is. He is in the bishopric of his BYU Idaho student ward. He said part of his job is to preside over the Relief Society block meeting. Because women left to their own devices for an hour every Sunday will overturn the whole church.

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