How dare you even mention women and ordination on national television? Or, inside the NBC Rock Center special on Mormons.

“Nice job taking a hit on your church by complaining about ordination. Did God discriminate against men when he gave women vaginas?  Why can’t men have babies?  So why can’t your daughter pass the sacrament? Or be a prophet?  I guess that too must be oppression of the woman right?”

We could call this installment of Ask Mormon Girl the “Inside NBC Rock Center” edition.  Because questions like these are the ones I’ve gotten aplenty after my three-soundbite appearance in the Mormons in America special.

As for the behind the scenes scoop—All throughout the process, I found the producers very kind and gracious and sincerely interested in humanizing our faith.  I will say that I wish they hadn’t shown garments on television, or given quite so much time to Abby Huntsman, as beautiful as she is to watch.  I wish they had included the footage they took of my family praying at our dinner table.  And I wish that the three soundbites they used from the two hour interview they did with me had drawn more broadly from my description of the joys of growing up Mormon, the experience of interfaith families, and the broad-ranging concerns of Mormon feminists and not just focused in on the question of ordination and the threat of excommunication.  It’s too often that Mormon feminism gets put in the ordination-excommunication box.  And it’s not a comfortable box in which to live.

I worried that might happen.  My gut told me so before the program aired. I even reached out to my friend Mitch Mayne, an active and out gay LDS man who also appeared on the program, to see if he was feeling okay.  We were nervous nellies.  And when I saw that out of the two-hour interview I recorded, the three soundbites focused on ordination, my nervousness compounded ten-fold.  And then my inbox started filling up with aggressive and grouchy email from people lecturing me about how “God gave women vaginas” and therefore not priesthood.  Some folks on Twitter even called for my excommunication.  Just because I observed that ordination is important to some Mormon feminists. Which is factually true.

The lesson I take from my experience this week is that just raising the question of ordination brings out incredible anxiety and defensiveness and even meanness in LDS people, even though it is an honest question that women of Judeo-Christian faiths have been asking for centuries.  And it is a question our boys and girls, young men and women, will come to naturally as they develop and grow and learn more about our faith tradition.  My six year old and eight year old ask me this question.  I refuse to make them feel that it is wrong to ask.

I’ve searched myself, and I will say that women’s ordination in the LDS Church isn’t really a driving question for me.  It doesn’t cause me personal pain or struggle.  I can’t remember a time when it has.

But there are many LDS women I’ve met who have told me plainly, “Yes, I think women should be ordained.”  They’ve done so with a simple sense of conviction that has stunned me.  Most of the women who have told me ordination matters to them are temple-attending and fully active.  They’ve been Primary Presidents and Young Women’s Presidents.  This question is important to women I care about and love.

That’s why when Rock Center asked me to characterize Mormon feminism, I wasn’t about to leave those women out.  I told them, yes, ordination is important for some of us Mormon feminists, and that for some of us questions of decision-making and institutional participation and visibility take priority.

I find myself more in the latter camp.  I can’t recommend highly enough this recent article by the Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack, in which she interviewed a spectrum of Mormon feminist activists who made an eloquent case for advancing the status of LDS women in ways that don’t center on ordination.  The article even presents a list of suggestions for advancing the visibility of women in the Church without doctrinal change, including having more women speak at General Conference, appointing women presidents of Church-owned universities, allowing women to serve as Sunday School presidents, ward clerks, and in other leadership positions that bear no priesthood keys, allowing women to serve as witnesses as the baptisms of their children, lowering young women’s mission age to 19, and even including Relief Society or Young Women’s Presidents in personal interviews with young women—which personally seems like a smart idea to me.

Stack’s article also included quotes from Pulitzer-Prize winning historian and Mormon feminist Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who observed that the women of the LDS Church today are nowhere near as visible and active in leadership as our pioneer and early 20th century foremothers.  Before correlation put most church programs and functions under an office of the priesthood, Mormon women developed their own curriculum and managed their own budgets for Relief Society.  They practiced the gift of healing by laying on of hands.  They led hospital building drives.  They led suffrage campaigns.  By comparison, Thatcher concludes, our era is “The Great Disappearance.”  When I read that, my stomach hurt.

I think we can do better.  In fact, I think Mormonism is capable of providing some uniquely powerful answers to that question of women and priesthood.  Gender has a uniquely powerful symbolic role in our faith tradition, and a complicated one.  It’s not an issue of black and white, “vaginas” vs. priesthood.  I do think LDS women hold and exercise a form of priesthood in our temples.  And I think that Mormon history provides us plenty of evidence that the “men have priesthood, women have motherhood” rationale is not even faithful to our own doctrine.  It’s not even correct. Last night, when I was reading my copy of The Beginning of Better Days—a Deseret Book-published collection of minutes from the first meetings of the LDS Relief Society in 1842; please buy yourself a copy and study it—I about dropped my book when I saw how and how much the Prophet Joseph talked to these early women about priesthood.  He told them that the Relief Society “should move according to the ancient Priesthood,” and, yes, he “turned the keys” to them to govern their own Society.  And I cheered when Emma Smith declared that Relief Society would “expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls”—that “when a boat is stuck on the rapids with a multitude of Mormons on board we shall consider that a loud call for relief.”  Her boldness was instructive and exemplary.  Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in these sermons did Joseph Smith tell the Relief Society that their capacity to gestate and bear children was the equivalent of a male-only priesthood. So I don’t think that simple answer reflects doctrinal truth, and I won’t be using that explanation with my own daughters.

I think of Emma Smith’s grand sense of the Relief Society’s purpose—her bold “ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no river wide enough” attitude–and I do believe that as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich observes LDS women today are operating in an constricted sphere of activity.  In his sermon to the Relief Society, Joseph Smith himself noted that women tend to be “contracted in their views” and should be more “liberal in [their] feelings.” I wonder if in our post-Proclamation on the Family LDS world there has been a contracted overemphasis on narrowly-defined gender roles, an emphasis that doesn’t fit the reality of many women’s lives and can in fact distract us from the “extraordinary occasions and pressing calls”—as Emma Smith put it—of our  times.

So starting today, I have a new definition of Mormon feminism.  A Mormon feminist is a person [updated:  from "woman"] who thinks that all people should have the opportunity to love and serve God with all their might, mind, and strength—regardless of gender, race, or sexuality.

That means that women and girls around the world and regardless of faith tradition will have access to the basic rights and resources (including freedom from abuse and access to contraception and education) they need in order to exercise agency and stewardship in their own lives and the lives of their families.  This means that women and girls around the world and regardless of faith tradition will be able to use the full range of their skills and abilities—not just their reproductive systems–to advance the work of God on earth.  And this means that men and boys, women and girls will be supported when they ask the very basic questions about God and gender that people have been asking for millennia—the questions that allow us all to disentangle human culture and philosophy from the workings of God.  At the very least, no one will get shamed, or isolated, or subjected to excommunication—real, virtual, or imaginary—just for asking honest questions and factual observations.

My experience this week tells me that we’re not there yet.

What do you think?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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218 Comments

Filed under feminism, Women

218 responses to “How dare you even mention women and ordination on national television? Or, inside the NBC Rock Center special on Mormons.

  1. Love this so much. You so adequately expressed my feelings about rock center, and your examples of how priesthood doesn’t equal motherhood made me cheer out loud. From now on, when someone asks me what it means for me to be a feminist mormon, I will give them that exact description.
    Keep on writing pages in history, Joanna. You are such an inspiration to so many of us.

  2. I liked the program. I agree with your observations. There was a bit too much of Ms. Huntsman but she was positive.

  3. Rosemary Weiland

    How dare so many Mormons still falsely understand that caffeine is a part of the word of wisdom and rejoice in welfare square yet vote so atrociously to the right which would eliminate any sort of programs for those needing a helping hand. Apparently institutionalized charity is unacceptable — until Sister How Dare You Needs it for herself or for her family.

    Joanna, I’m not always comfortable with you but I can honestly say you may have more charity in your little feminist finger than Sister How Dare You. Isn’t the “greatest” attribute we can have love? Where is the love Sister How Dare You?

    Sent from my iLicious iPhone 4S

    • La Wanda Hatch

      First of all, Latterday-Saints aren’t against welfare, they are against how it is implemented and how it keeps people from striving for their full potential. The government programs actually encourage people from striving to stand on their own two feet. The church’s program as stated was to get people up as quickly as possible. There is no free ride. When Christ was asked why a blind man was born blind, was it because of the sins of his parents or himself, Christ answered , “So the glory of God could be made manifest.” In other words, as individuals it is a test for us on how we react to those in need. Governments don’t go to Heaven, individuals do and I can testify that when I’ve reached out and helped my member and nonmember neighbors, what I do is more effective and more magnified and they are much more appreciative and more likely to then turn around and help someone else when they are in need then when government programs come in. It seems that government programs are more about politics and elections and whose votes they can buy with taxpayer dollars then it is about truly helping the individuals. Look at how much is spent on education, welfare, and inner-cities to much avail, but when I’ve volunteered to help teach children at the public schools, I’ve been able to individually help children learn their math facts without the pressures that a teacher feels. Individuals can make a greater impact then government every time.

      P.S. Why does it bother you that they don’t drink caffiene?

    • Amy

      Agree. Sister Jackson certainly didn’t represent the average mormon mom. I kind of threw up in my mouth a little bit as she was talking about the “one” coke she drank in her life. Perhaps it is because I am a total sinner and have been most of my life. I’m super glad the atonement is there for me. Christ doesn’t give a hoot in “spooky mormon hell” that you drink a coke.
      Joanna: You are my Book of Mormon Girl Hero! Glad for your voice and for your message of love. I’ll try to find love and tolerance in my heart for Sister Jackson and her “one” coke.

      • I still remember the only Pepsi that I ever drank, over 35 years ago on my mission because a poor member had paid for it. Haven’t had one since.

    • Alisha

      Feeling guilty for drinking caffeine, Rosemary?

  4. Beautiful, Joanna. It’s definitely time.

  5. I love everything you wrote. The people calling for your excommunication need to take it down a notch.

    And it’s not just little girls who ask why things are the way they are. A few months ago I was sitting behind a family during Sacrament meeting where the little boy (about 4 or 5 years old) turned to his very devout, Orthodox, former Mission President’s wife grandmother, and asked why girls don’t pass the Sacrament. I didn’t hear her answer (boy, would I have liked to), but it made my heart happy that it’s not just the girls noticing those things and asking those questions anymore.

  6. I loved your segment on Mormon in America. You said what I feel when it comes to the priesthood. Thank you!

  7. I loved you on Rock Center. I’m not sure why traditional LDS people get so mean about the concerns that more progressive members have concerning gender roles. I was just thinking about this tonight… I read Mormon Enigma this summer, and like you, was flabbergasted at how much autonomy and POWER the original members of the Relief Society had. What changed? Yes, the Proclamation for the Family, is frequently cited when I challenge the view of prescribed gender roles. However, something like those gender roles hd to be in place beforehand. What was the relief society like after it was reinstated in Utah? Why was it disbanded?

    I think we must be aware of our history and not afraid of it. Also, if gender roles cause pain to individuals, how on earth can they be universally expected? It just makes no sense to me.

    Joanna, I loved you on rock center! Will you be writing about your thoughts/experience on Imus?

    • The Church is the Lords church and so it is set up perfectly!

      WHAT CHANGED?????? The fact that women spend do much time working that they have no more time to give. Picture if we lived the basics like the early latter day relief society?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Their is your answer!

  8. Carl Smith

    I’m very sorry to hear how much backlash you are getting from people in a faith that prides itself for kindly natures. I can’t imagine the complainers were listening closely because I’m pretty sure I recall you saying that priesthood ordination isn’t a personal issue for you, but you’d like to see more female involvement in decision making, an idea which should be acceptable and easily swallowed. Indeed most of the ideas you post here seem pretty good to me

    I think a lot of LDS folk watching that special were very nervous about any negative connotations. I think the constant reminders of trials of the pioneers makes a lot of Mormons worry that they might get tarred and featherd and such again someday. They watch this kind of exposure wondering if it will be complimentary to their religion, or abusive. Thus, you may understand why they may react badly to what they think is one of their own creating bad press for them. Still, the vitrol of these messages is quite uncalled for.

    I saw your appearance on the Daily Show, and I appreciated your view that the LDS faith is based on tough questions. I like that notion, that its an important duty to struggle with the seemingly unanswerable questions and problems of this church. Like the struggle I’m sure Mitch Mayne must encounter all the time, the split between being Gay and being a faithful member of a church and culture that isnt always friendly GLBT people. The fact that this may outwardly make sense doesnt mean he should stop one or the other. Its important because its a tough question one must re-examine constantly.

    I especially dig the notion of actively questioning your faith. I believe the kind of person who can’t have any healthy religious doubt is the kind of person flies planes into buildings, or shoots abortion doctors.

    You are a wonderful inspiration. Keep up the good work!

  9. symphonyofdissent

    Joanna

    I think you have some very interesting thoughts and I love that even when you are critical I do see your love and faith.

    I am a convert to the church, and I am very sympathetic to giving women a more visible role in the church. With that being said, I do not like the focus on ordination.

    The pew study on Mormons found that

    “The survey finds little support for the notion that women should be eligible for the Mormon priesthood… One-in-ten Mormons (11%) believe that women should be ordained to the priesthood of their church, whereas 87% think the priesthood should be open only to males. Large majorities of both men and women express this view, but Mormon women are somewhat more likely than Mormon men to say the priesthood should be open only to males (90% vs. 84%). ”

    As such, the push for ordination is a marginal position among active women of the church and seems to me to be a no-starter. We don’t know exactly why in this life only men have the priesthood, but as you mentioned Joseph Smith envisioned a very active and substantial role for women organized under the priesthood. We can work to expand this role and allow women to have greater roles in wards and branches. The leadership of the church has made a big push in this regard emphasizing in recent worldwide leadership training the importance of having women as real participants in world councils.

  10. Oy, I have not been moved like this when it comes to my church for a long time. Thank you so much for these beautiful and brave words. Wish that article of Peggy’s would be our rallying cry as women of the Mormon world.

  11. Joanna, you are an inspiration. Enjoyed watching you on “Mormons in America” and also your recent video interview with John Dehlin. Keep up the good work! Women need your voice (and not just Mormon women!). Thank you!

  12. elizarsnow

    I’m so sorry that people are saying such unkind things. I know it’s these kinds of comments that make me fearful to speak up as much as I want to–my skin is just not that thick! Thank you for being such a powerful example that it’s okay to talk about what you think and feel, even for a national audience! You’re seriously inspiring!

    You know, as a single mid-30′s LDS woman, there is so much pain caused by the continued encouragement toward rigid gender roles. When a woman’s role is reduced to simply bearing and raising children (not a small or unimportant role, to be sure!), then what’s a never-married, no children LDS woman to do? Take comfort that no blessing will be denied the faithful in the next life? What role does that leave for me here? To just bide my time until I’m dead and can get on with my real work? Often in church I feel that I am seen for what I am NOT (a mother), rather than what I AM (a capable, intelligent daughter of the Almighty, with lots to contribute).

    Of course, I don’t let this stop me from leading a life filled with purpose, but the pain of invisibility is real.

    Anyway, thanks Joanna–way to represent!

    • Such a great point. I’ve often been annoyed when people in church leadership say that the greatest work a woman will do is in the home. Not everyone gets to be a mother in this life. That doesn’t mean you won’t be doing your greatest work.

    • Chareine

      The church must of necessity speak in the ideal because that is perfect and the “benchmark” that we are to reach for. However, the Savior knows where each of us are and through His Atonement and through our faith and efforts, He makes allowances for us as individuals.

      I was not married until I was 30. I struggled to know why. Now I am widowed and struggle again to know why I seem to need to spend so much of my life alone. When I was 30, it would drive me crazy to listen to talks on marriage and family. Now, I understand that that is the perfect standard that we need to reach for. Like everything else in life, we fall short of the ideal, but also like everything else, the Atonement makes it “doable”.

      • Mrolandday

        “The Atonement makes it doable”. I like that saying. Can be applied to many parts (or all) of our lives.

    • Scott

      Too many people misinterpret the Proc on the family and parallel sentiments. There is a huge difference between talking about a pattern, a generality, an ideal and talking about each isolated situation. If you are a mother, from an eternal (and even much narrower) perspective, what could you do that is more important than rearing the next generation? Same thing for a father. How they partner together to do it, given how society functions now, can vary, but the principle behind such decisions is to play to the design. I can appreciate that not everyone fits the design well (may not play to their strengths), and that not everyone gets an opportunity to act as a partnership. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for the exceptions to get a chip on their shoulder and sometimes knock the design. Of course that will receive backlash. There is also a tendency by the masses to be insensitive to and honor the exceptions. Of course there will be backlash to that. Both “sides” need to chill a bit, focus on the actual revelations and teachings and not extreme interpretations of them, stop being offended by what others do, and try to make the best decisions you can based on revealed truth and try to support others in such an endeavor. It is just extremely challenging to do so without establishing negative precedent for others, but too many probably err too much on the side of caution with this, at times (but I can understand the caution). A woman who is not a mother does not make meaningless contributions to society (look at Sherry Dew–she certainly is respected inside and outside of the Church). I feel for her who feels that way, but I will also become defensive if in an effort to make herself feel better she publicly demeans the importance of motherhood. That’s not a helpful reaction for anyone, even if the bitterness is understandable given the insensitivity of others around her.

    • Rachel

      “Often in church I feel that I am seen for what I am NOT (a mother), rather than what I AM (a capable, intelligent daughter of the Almighty, with lots to contribute).” Oh my goodness, I think I might cross stitch that on a pillow.

      I honestly think Mormons don’t realize how much they talk about being married and raising children as the standard for life. So many talks and lessons focus on nothing but that, even though there is always at least one person in the audience who is not currently married or doesn’t have children. Just this last Sunday our entire Sunday School lesson was on raising children. (I am happily married, but we have been unable to have children.) The teacher kept asking, “What do you do when your children _____?” I sat there thinking, “Why are we focusing on this when there is SO much more in the story of the Stripling Warriors to focus on? There is nothing in this lesson for me.”

      There is so much more in the gospel beyond family. Is it important? Absolutely. It is very important? Absolutely. But is it infinitely more important that we develop a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and our Savior? Yep. That we gain a true appreciation for the atonement and learn how to actively apply it to our lives? Yep. That we gain a testimony of our personal mission and work everyday to fulfill it? Yep. All of these things are more important and will serve us better in our striving to gain eternal life than knowing how to land a husband or get your kid to eat all of their dinner…

      And, as it so happens, if we personally focus on these things, then being a good wife and mother will be no biggie, because we will already be striving to be a good person.

  13. Chrisdiam

    Thank you for helping me more fully understand the role of women in the church. I have always admired Emma Smith and love that you pulled in her own passionate words to explain our purpose as divine daughters of God. Stay strong, even amist all the negative comments, whomever they come from.

  14. Knowing that the early members of relief society practiced laying on of hands was conforting to me as equality always is. I was told by my wife that Emma Smith gave something like a mothers blessing and that the LDS sources on the matter seem to be good. Its a shame more members dont know that aspect of our faith or our history.

    • Yes, it is a shame. You can read more research on this topic in a few books such as “Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism” On-line at http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?=840. Also in the book “Sisters in Spirit” and in numerous articles in Dialogue and Sunstone and in various blog posts on Feminist Mormon Housewives and other feminist blogs.

  15. After reading various comments all over the internet, I am inclined to agree with you about us as LDS persons not being “there yet.” I think maybe people were so blinded with rage about garments being shown on TV, that they didn’t see the rest of the program in an objective way. I am sorry about the backlash you are facing, but I am so grateful that you were interviewed, as I feel you are a great representation of myself and other LDS women I know.
    We can hardly claim to be following Christ while at the same time spewing forth these hateful comments I have been reading this evening. And if nothing else, maybe we can learn to have more respect for others religions sacred practices, beliefs and objects, because now we know how it feels to have our underwear displayed on television.

    • Liss

      Jennifer,

      Too true. When I see the sort of mistakes others have about my faith because of what they’ve seen on television makes me wonder what sort of assumptions I have about others’ religious practices and beliefs that isn’t true. Relatedly, I certainly wouldn’t want to hurt someone else’s sense of the sacred but I might just not know what is or isn’t a big deal to them. I think the same is true for many other audiences. On the other hand, don’t know how innocent producers are.

  16. Eliza

    As always, I am amazed at your honesty and insight. You have so much to teach, and I am just soaking it all up. Thank you for being brave.

  17. Kim

    I appreciate your perspective and the fact that many of us Mormon women have a voice now in the media through a few strong smart women. It’s high time we started to consider other points of view in this great church.
    Free agency is a great thing.

  18. Joanna, your comments provide a well-balanced, thoughtful entre to a serious conversation that needs to be ongoing within our Mormon family. And many of the responses so far also reflect the kind of serious, searching reflection that gives me hope. Thank you.

    A question: Your definition of a Mormon feminist would exclude me because I’m a man. I’d prefer to be included. But if this is to be a women-only designation, then I’ll need a new term for myself and guys like me.

  19. Maria P Sanders

    I didn’t agree with everything on Rock Center, but i feel like it was fair. For example, I don’t like that it was said that Mormons don’t drink caffeine since I would say that 99 in 100 Mormons that I personally know drinks caffeinated drinks (and living in utah I am surrounded by Mormons). I know Bishops and Stake Presidents who drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis. I felt uncomfortable when the garments were shown but I’ve seen them displayed in much more disrespectful ways. And I’m actually glad they showed them because it takes some of the mystery out of them. I enjoyed your portion of Rock Center. And I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Huntsman’s portion of Rock Center. I might have liked hearing more from her (perhaps that’s because I am more similar to her than I am to you). I didn’t like her family being referred to as Mormon royalty. But I am never comfortable when members of the church speak about any authority as though they are some sort of celebrity. I guess because I don’t feel like its the people who should be exalted, but their message. I am sorry so many people are saying such awful things to and about you. As a woman who cannot have children the argument that I don’t need the priesthood because I can bear children doesn’t sit well with me. Anyway, I just wanted to say that while I don’t always agree with everything you say, I enjoyed your portion of Rock Center. I think you did a great job as did everyone else. You’re in a tough spot. I don’t find many members accepting of people who ask questions and demand real answers. Thank you for being a good example of a strong Mormon woman. Maria.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Mrolandday

      Perhaps the reasons they state that Mormons do not drink caffeine is because the prophet has said that on more than on occasion on national TV.

      From Larry King interview:
      Gordon B. Hinckley: Oh, I don’t know. You’ve read a part of the word of wisdom. The word of wisdom covers many things. It covers the excessive use of meat, as I see it. It covers, in a very particular way, the use of tobacco and alcohol.
      Larry King: By saying no?
      Gordon B. Hinckley: By saying, by proscribing those things.
      Larry King: No to caffeine?
      Gordon B. Hinckley: No to caffeine, coffee and tea.

      Video from Mike Wallace interview.

  20. “This means that women and girls around the world and regardless of faith tradition will be able to use the full range of their skills and abilities—not just their reproductive systems–to advance the work of God on earth.”

    Amen, sister! And I give you major credit for tackling the question of speech suppression head on. You are far more courageous than I am.

  21. Sarah

    Thank you for all you do for ALL of us in the church. What a wonderful opportunity we have right now to share the gospel with the world. I am thrilled to have an intelligent, articulate, progressive member out there in the limelight, representing our diversity. And yes, your love for the church comes through in your interviews. The fact is, there are some members who feel women should be ordained to the priesthood on earth. You did not claim to speak for all members or even all feminists. If NBC chose not to discuss the issue in further detail or represent other viewpoints, it falls on NBC, not you. And of course the fact that we are voluntarily part of a patriarchal organization does not mean we cannot work to improve policies or programs if we feel like they damage some of our members. Good grief, we absolutely should work to improve them. And we should be able to do so without the threat of excommunication. I don’t agree with all of your viewpoints but I think you were clear that you were not speaking for all of us. Thank you, again, for having the heart and brain to be out there shining a light on our beloved (if imperfect) tradition.

  22. I agree that it’s time. After all, the initiatory ordinance in the temple is performed by women to women, and the spirit there is beautiful. I would love to feel the gentle comfort of a feminine priestesshood in my church attendance – not just in the temple.

    • It is unfortunate if you have not felt gentle comfort from the men in the church who hold the priesthood and feel it necessary for women to hold the priesthood to feel it at Sunday meetings. Ideally, men, as fathers, husbands, and LDS leaders, as well as women, are free and able to convey the perfect love of our Father, no gender assignment needed.

  23. Sue

    You were honest. You honestly did your best. Unfortunately, the media will take comments out of context and hone in on the bits that support their agenda. Therefore, we must be very careful not to use their negative verbiage when being recorded.

  24. Camille

    I’m sorry I missed the program, but there has certainly been a lot of discussion about it which is valuable. I really love everything of yours that I’ve read, and thank you for your frankness. I’ve been reading opinions about mormon feminism lately, and feel engaged in the discussion as an active mormon woman and mother of 3 girls.

    Here’s what came out in a recent discussion of the issue with my mother and sister: why are women concerned about having the priesthood? It seems a very cultural and societal need, rather than Gospel oriented. The need to be seen by the world as equal seems to be more the driving force, rather than a desire to serve; in other words, self-serving rather than serving others. If Chirst would have me always looking outward, can I not do this just as well as a woman, in whatever capacity, as a man? I don’t see how being ordained would change that ability to love others. Why would serving as Sunday School President or as a ward clerk be more empowering in true outward facing service than inward need to hold a position? Notice this has nothing to do with my vagina :) Am I missing a key arguement here? Thoughts?

    • Liss

      Camille,

      I think the argument is actually a lot more generalized. There’s this underlying assumption – however conscious or unconscious – that if women held the priesthood they would know more about their roles in the pre-mortal and post-mortal worlds. There would be more scripture from a woman’s voice because she would have authoritative keys to speak for the Lord in a more expansive way. That Heavenly Mother would somehow enter our doctrine in a way that would tell us something of her role in the heavens. That somehow the having of the Priesthood would make the odd silences in our knowledge about women historically, and in the pre-post mortal sphere would lift.

      Concerning this mortal sphere there’s this feeling that by having the priesthood we would be more empowered to be bold and fearless. It’s like how those who are called on a mission are more likely to talk to strangers about the gospel, or how someone who is regularly speaking in wards is more likely to study the gospel to prepare for their talks. Obviously anyone, male or female, can do those things without the calling but there’s a certain license or responsibility felt with the calling. Additionally there’s a feeling that women could be used to their strengths – in a more generalized way – if they held positions in the ward or stake that are currently covered by those holding the Priesthood. A woman with great gospel knowledge would have a wider sphere of influence, a woman with organizational capacity could keep records more orderly. There’s, I think, a bit of a feeling “well, God gave me these great abilities so why can’t I use them in His church?”

      And, of course, for some, it is evidence of God’s love or trust in women. A sort of, “if He is the same yesterday, today, and always, and He does love us all equally then we would have the Priesthood”.

      Hope that helps.

      • Liss

        To be clear. I don’t feel a need to hold the Priesthood.
        Though I would like to know more about Heavenly Mother.

        And the statement that “men hold the Priesthood women have babies” is doctrinally false. Just like it is not “free agency” it is “moral agency” (the ability to act for ourselves to bring ourselves in line with God or in opposition to God); and caffeine isn’t part of the word of wisdom (we actually don’t know the underlying reason we don’t drink coffee or tea made from the tea plant – we do drink hot cocoa and that has caffeine in it and we do drink herbal decoctions but they are usually called tea, e.g. chamomile tea instead of chamomile decoction); and Mary didn’t “chose the better part” she chose “that good part.”

        I don’t know the doctrinal reason for why women don’t hold the Priesthood visibly. Obviously they must hold it – or operate within it – in the temple. Clearly from the history of the early Saints many women were doing laying on of hands, and calling down the powers of heaven, and receiving much revelation for their families and their enterprises and were talking in tongues and speaking with angels; and it was of their opinion that they were doing so under the influence – or again while operating within – the Priesthood. However, they weren’t apostles or deacons; they didn’t go on missions or bless the sacrament. There’s this heritage of at least operating within the Priesthood that women feel they no longer have.

        Lastly, when looked at historically, before world war II, and at least in the United States, women who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often felt that they had more privileges and rights and responsibilities and influence than other women in other religions or in other spheres. They taught in openly in church, they had the right to vote decades before women in other parts of the country did, they ran successful businesses (the making of silk was one of them), they were midwives and doctors, they ran the extensive welfare program which included hospitals. Over time, as the outside culture allowed more women out of the home, and as the organization of the church centralized much of what the Relief Society did (like the welfare program) women of the church found themselves instead of being viewed as liberal and broad-minded about the roles of women being viewed as conservative and narrow about the roles of women. I think deep down in the heart of every “Mormon feminist”, male or female, is the desire for the women of the church to again feel that they have more privileges and rights and responsibilities and influence than other women in other religions or in other spheres. They do truly want” to be seen as distinct and different–in happy ways–from the women of the world” and they don’t. They maybe don’t know what else to do other than ask for the Priesthood.

        And thus I end my essay.

      • Camille

        Thanks for your comments Liss–some things I hadn’t thought of or heard before. I think I understand the position better now. I like the thought of changing the way we view or speak of womanhood in the church (especially in the Young Women program), but I think, in the end, so much of it doesn’t matter if we are individually focused on love and our personal relationship to God, rather than the nuts and bolts of the way the church is run, and who does what. I do really want to learn more about women of the early church now–I’m sadly undereducated in church history and RS history.

      • Liss

        You’re welcome.
        Absolutely the end result should be to serve God and build up the Kingdom of God. There are so many ways to do that.

    • Thank you! Most women in the church (myself included) feel no need to be ordained to the priesthood because it’s just a means to serve, and we can already do that.

      • Tammi

        Thanks Camille, Liss & Hillary,

        It nice to read other thoughts of open minded LDS members.

        My feeling for holding the Priesthood is why. Women have so much more powers! We let men think they are the boss, but all the time we are planting seeds of what is best!

        Heavenly Father does not think less of me because I am a Women and do not hold the Preisthood keys. I feel women have a very important roles (keys) in Heavenly Father’s plan. The example of Emma Smith, women crossing the plains, wonderful women chosen from Heavenly Father to guide the women and Young Women and don’t forget the Primary children of today, yesterday and future.

        I also feel the prayers of a mother, wife, women are very special to our Father in Heaven. And we are blessed with a special spirit!

        When all said and done as long Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the center of our lives showing love, charity, compassion for all our Brothers and Sisters on earth should come natural!

    • LDSwoman

      I would ask the question: Why are men concerned about having the priesthood?

  25. Tyler

    This is an issue I’ve given thought to because I’m a scientist, I work with scientists, and they tend to ask very good questions. Questions that growing up in the Church we sometimes leave behind or just accept after awhile. Female family members in the church are not concerned about it and so haven’t been much help. My current thinking on the subject goes like this:

    Firstly, just because we don’t have an answer doesn’t mean there is not one that is not yet revealed. Not a satisfying answer and maybe a trivial observation to this group, but maybe bears repeating.

    Secondly, and far more interesting, is Moses 4:22: “Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” God must be just or he would cease to be God and disobeying a direct commandment from God personally is pretty serious. So perhaps Eve’s punishment was proportionally harsh. The interesting thing to me is what was the relationship between the sexes before the Fall. That relationship will be reinstituted eventually, after we’ve all been redeemed from the Fall. That and the temple ceremonies lead me to believe that the institutional relationship between the sexes in the Church is a temporary state (and challenge) in this life.

    Further, I’m sure that nothing that happened in the Fall was outside of God’s plan. In fact I suspect that Eve knew or volunteered to take this huge hit, which makes it a great sacrifice so that the human race could exist. That is why I believe we honor Eve so much.

    Lastly, I have no standing to say so, but I hope everyone in their quest for truth doesn’t forget the first principle of the gospel, faith. Just because we don’t understand something lets not let it part us from the what we know is true. Prophets and the institution are not perfect – prophets have made mistakes throughout the scriptures – Jonah and Moroni yelling at Pahoran in Alma 60 – they are also being tested in their stewardship. But I still suspect 99% of the time their actions regarding the Church are the right step at that time.

    Regarding negative comments – have mercy on simpler souls who are fighting to keep their faith in the face of things they don’t understand. The church is for everyone, even those who weren’t blessed with the intelligence you have been blessed with.

    That said, I’m glad to see your promotion of tolerance and love and hope they learn from it.

    • Diana

      Unfortunately the scripture just quoted and others like it have led to, in my opinion, the extreme subjugation of women through the years. In western society we have come a long way but in many countries and cultures around we see where this is still very sadly evident.
      Joanna – I haven’t seen the program yet but have it recorded. Thank you and amen!

    • Scott

      What happened to “We believe man will be punished for his own sins, and not Adam’s (Eve’s) transgressions”?

      I personally find the idea that all of womankind is “suffering” the loss of the priesthood due to Eve’s sins as repugnant as the idea that the African American community is suffering the fallout of Cain’s.

    • Tyler, please check out this great article that explores the role of Eve in the Fall, entitled \”The Two Trees.\” (http://empoweringldswomen.blogspot.com/2011/09/two-trees-revisited.html)

      Also please take note that modern GAs have clarified that the scripture you referred to is misinterpreted and actually should read \”rule with.\” Elder Hafen stated: \”Genesis 3: 16 states that Adam is to \’rule over\’ Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. . . over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over. The concept of interdependent, equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel. Eve was Adam’s \’help meet\’ (Genesis 2:18). The original Hebrew for meet means that Eve was adequate for, or equal to, Adam. She wasn’t his servant or his subordinate.\”

      Also, please refer to this page with many relevant, doctrinal quotes about Eve: http://empoweringldswomen.blogspot.com/p/mother-eve_01.html. Our leaders have made it clear that it is doctrinally incorrect that Eve was punished, or that woman in general has been put down by God as a result of her transgression (Which is different than a sin– she didn\’t willfully disobey God, she chose to follow the more important commandment he gave her, of two commandments which contradicted). I\’ll conclude with a couple excellent quotes that further clarify:

      Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.
      –Elder Dallin H. Oaks

      The incorrect idea in Christian history that wives should be dependent began with the false premise that the fall of Adam and Eve was a tragic mistake and that Eve was the primary culprit. Thus women\’s traditional submission to men was considered a fair punishment for Eve\’s sin. Thankfully, the Restoration clarifies Eve\’s — and Adam\’s — choice as essential to the eternal progression of God\’s children. We honor rather than condemn what they did, and we see Adam and Eve as equal partners.
      –Elder Bruce C. Hafen, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners.”

      Eve became God’s final creation, the grand summation of all of the marvelous work that had gone before. Notwithstanding this preeminence given the creation of woman, she has so frequently through the ages been relegated to a secondary position. She has been put down. She has been denigrated. She has been enslaved. She has been abused.
      –President Gordon B. Hinckley

      Thus we see that any interpretation like the one you\’ve communicated above is actually in direct contradiction to doctrine as taught by our current leaders. Though it is common to believe that culturally, and indeed while our Temple film might mistakenly imply it– Eve was not punished in the manner you describe, nor are her daughters. I’m writing this very directly not to be rude, but just to be clear because this story is too often misunderstood.

      • Bryan

        The problem comes (and the confusion is intentionally propagated by Satan) when anyone, man or woman, supposes that the priesthood makes men superior, or dominant. Those who truly possess power in the priesthood lower themselves below all others, and make themselves servant to all others.
        The sad truth is, if the desire to obtain priesthood for any purpose other than the humbling of oneself and the service of others exists in a person, they will never really have it.
        Authority in the priesthood is necessary for the ordinances we perform in this life to maintain their validity after this life, and must exist for the ordinances to be in effect eternally, but no man has ever successfully used the priesthood on himself. Women are as much the recipients of the blessings of the priesthood as men, oftentimes more-so. I can’t see why any woman who understands divine roles would choose the “power to bind” over the gifts and responsibilities that are given to women, namely the power to create.
        When the thought “just a mother” crosses the mind of any woman or man, Satan has succeeded in belittling the most important and sacred power God ever gave mankind, which is the safe passage of His children into this world. Satan’s been battling for generations to trick women into giving it up for something more elusive; the power of man. But the priesthood isn’t the power of man; that’s something the world created. The power of man is found in dominions, and rulership, and priest-crafts which entice the prideful, but which the world concocted as an imitation to the power of God. Sadly some try to infuse that power of man into Christ’s church, but that isn’t what the priesthood is.
        Again, the erroneous idea that righteous men are trying to horde the priesthood for themselves in order to keep the “power” out of the hands of women is spawned from a paradigm where God is misogynistic, oppressive, and favors men, which is doctrinally unfounded. He’s shown much more confidence in women than he has in men which is why you have the greater trust placed on you (no ordination or further proving necessary) to bear his offspring; don’t give it up for a worldly definition of “power.”
        Sadly some women have lost the desire to be mothers; I’ve seen it belittled several times even in this thread. Women, if you want to take back your power, start with that. It’s well-worth fighting for.

    • Liss

      Tyler,

      Others have already cleared up some doctrinal things I won’t reiterate. There’s an even simpler issue though – which is that Priesthood and motherhood are not correlated “assignments” – in the context of Moses 4, yes in verse 22 the Lord gives Eve the consequences of her actions, namely “in sorrow though shalt bring forth children” and in verses 23-25 the Lord tells Adam the consequences of his actions, “in sorrow shalt though eat of [the ground]…by the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”. The consequence of having to leave the garden was sorrow. The difficulties of mortality. The Priesthood has nothing to do with it. If anything it was given as a way to overcome the sorrows that were now attendant because of mortality. The scriptural record is unclear as to when Adam receives the Priesthood, I think though it was probably while he was still in the Garden.

      • Adamo

        The opposite of motherhood is not priesthood it is fatherhood. The opposite of womanhood isn’t priesthood it is manhood. This is a great question to ask to understand what God is trying to teach us. I think it is possible to miss a beautiful symbolic lesson if our question comes what we see as a policy that is offensive to our modern sensibilities. The priesthood is proxy authority. Its holders don’t have power, they stand in proxy of Him (the Man) who did. I think the only reason only men officiate in the ordinances and certain priesthood organization callings deals with this proxy concept. Christ was a man. Men stand in proxy. Women, not men, receive ordinances in proxy of deceased women. Ordinances are symbolic teachings of covenants we make. The symbols are precise. A man represents Christ, who was a man. In some ordinances, men stand in proxy for other men. I many ordinances, women are required to stand in proxy for other women (i.e. in proxy for deceased women). Men would no more be able to stand in proxy for those women, than women could stand in proxy for men. I don’t know if there is really more to it than that. But I think it’s actually an wonderful thing. We have these beautiful images and symbols that are precise down to the gender specific detail to remind us and teach us wonderful things about the same covenants we all make to live by our faith.

      • David Briscoe

        This seriously are just questions: What happens if a group of Mormon women are isolated in a place without men, such as at a girl’s camp, a retreat for a girl’s school, a plane crash, a lifeboat after a shipwreck, a natural disaster when someone among only women may be injured or dying and in need of priesthood blessing or anyplace where the only Mormon available to act for God is a women? Do women then have any priesthood power or authority? Can they pass the sacrament or even hold a sacrament meeting. Can they act as a proxy for God or Christ when no man is available? Also, what about an isolated Mormon family with no male? Where does it get the essential and necessary priesthood blessings and leadership? Non-Mormons may not realize that the significant duties of priesthood bearers start at 12 years old, and girls can’t even break the bread for the sacrament, collect fast-offerings or say the sacrament prayer, or invoke priesthood powers when someone is dying. And is there any instance where a woman alone might invoke priesthood powers to bless her own or another’s baby before it dies in her arms for want of a male priesthood holder?

      • Adam Belnap

        @David Briscoe – A blessing of healing is a symbol. Proxy’s for Christ annoint a symbol of Christ’s blood on the head and give a blessing. Healing comes from faith. I think the symbol and priesthood blessings when available aid in building faith, but faith heals. I don’t see how a prayer of faith would be less effectual than a priesthood blessing, when a priesthood blessing isn’t available. When available those with faith trust not in the holders of priesthood but in the source of the priesthood. They see the holders as channels of power. Asking for a blessing when available is just an excecise of faith in the power of God that is always available even when a priesthood holder is not. I don’t see an issue.

  26. MW

    I am sorry to hear that you have had backlash, but you are a smart woman and I believe you know how the media is. Did you really not think that the media would pick and choose what they would play? The media can be extremely harsh.
    Reading this post makes me wonder if something is wrong with me because I don’t want to the priesthood, I don’t want to be “in-charge” more than what is already there. So does that mean I am lazy? Does that mean I don’t care about others or want to raise strong women?
    For those of you that really struggle with not being able to hold the priesthood or believe things aren’t ‘equal’, I feel for you. It isn’t fun going to church when you feel something is amis. I hope you find the peace you are looking for.

  27. Nae

    I thought you were great. Nothing you said offended me or made me squirm. I read & discuss your blog all the time & enjoyed having a little peak into your life. As an “orthodox” member, married to agnostic. I would’ve liked to heard much more about part-member families, too.

    No mention was made of sister missionaries, either. Just like the elders, mission make a great impact on women. I loved the actor at the end talking about his mission. I appreciated him sharing his genuine & tender feelings.

    Recently my mother was called to be our stake’s geneology director. I was a little surprised, as was she. I just assumed that because the position had been traditionally held by males that it was a calling that required the priesthood. Maybe some progress is being made.

    Keep up the great work, JoAnna. I don’t always agree with you, but I’m glad that you have the courage to say it.

    P.S. Ms. Huntsman was the most off putting part of the that show (besides showing old people garments). Just imagine the hate mail she’s getting. ; )

  28. ssj

    What a great post. I thought you did wonderful on the show, and I’m so glad you are able to represent us Mormon feminists on national television. The only thing I wish, was that you had more airtime.

  29. my only question is/are….what WILL you do if you are called to a Court of Love? Will your message remain the same? Will you remain “active”? Will you work to rejoin the Church that kicked you out?
    i doubt that you will be a Sept 6′er although what the corporate Church does and says surprise me all the time.
    You must have thought about this….you have to had contemplated the potential fallout. While you make the Church look great to outsiders and please a segment of the LDS population, your liberal views are still by and large not accepted by any mainstream TBM’s that i know and believe you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • Ted Olsen

      I don’t see Joanna’s stance as being “liberal.” It’s not a question of whether one wants to be liberal or Luddite. It’s a question of integrity. The Church will do what it does. No doubt Savonarola also had a burning drive to save souls. Our duty is to decide what is fair, right, and honest and stand by those principles. Martin Luther set the standard for modern Mormons, and Joanna to me exemplifies his position: “Here I stand.” (What has always inspired me in our religion’s founder was his insistence on maintaining that same level of personal integrity.)

  30. Sarah

    I’m sorry grouchy Mormons yelled at you. That sucks. Keep telling the truth and someday we will all get used to hearing it.

  31. Betty

    I appreciate your thoughtfulness and thoroughly enjoyed your interview on NPR the ” On Being ” show.

    One question, do you think all Mormons will vote for Mitt Romney because he is Mormon ?

    • I know you are asking Joanna, but for me, I don’t agree with Romney’s politics so I will not be voting for him and
      I am very Mormon. I am even attending BYU right now.

    • One thing I agree strongly with Joanna on is that the church teaches us to ask hard questions and think for ourselves. While there are certainly Mormons who will vote for Romney because he is LDS, I’m thinking for myself here, and many others will too. Voting is a political issue, not a religious one.

  32. Tabitha

    AMEN Sista!!!!!! That’s what I think.

  33. Why… Why do people even toss out angry, “you should be ex-communicated” threats? Good Heavens, we already have the insane rumors running around about how we are all brainwashed. The reality is, that your views are valid, important, and God given… I am insanely traditional, and what you are saying makes total sense to me. I just shake my head knowing that Pride is what makes it impossible for us to communicate openly about these issues. Why is it that the old crotchety members and the non-members and anti folks both see you as a threat and insist that you will soon be ex-communicated?

    The reality is that this is a gospel of love. I am sure that much like Mitch Mayne, you will make some headway with your ideas. The reality is that nobody broke any rules for Mitch, they just used love and understanding. I am positive that there is room for your ideas within the Handbook of Instruction. It doesn’t take anything earth moving to help everyone feel important and included. It just takes love, insight, and creativity.

    This is coming from a very conservative male priesthood holder that is unequally yoked with his beautiful wife, because I suck at being a priesthood holder and I have less faith than she does, so I rely on her ability to live better than I do and her insights, because she lives closer to the spirit than I do, and she is just as conservative as I am…

  34. I feel so defensive of you, and when I see people calling for your excommunication (even if it’s just a few people with rude emails or tweets), it stuns me and saddens me. You are doing a beautiful and brave thing by sharing your story and seeking to represent yourself/Mormons/Mormon feminists/unorthodox Mormons all at once. You are doing it with a lot of grace. Good job.

  35. I thought the show was fine, much more fair than I imagined a network news show to depict. I remember a few years ago Katie Couric ridiculing Mormon women…this was much better. And of course you are going to be misquoted or taken out of context, that is the way of news today. I thought Mitch Mayne was wonderful…it is important for people to see we are following the Savior’s pattern of inclusion.

  36. Tyler, I’ve always wondered why Eve would be used to justify a lesser role for women (even temporarily) when we espouse the belief that man will not be punished for Adam’s transgression. We are not accountable for Adam’s choice in the Garden of Eden…so, why should women be accountable for Eve’s?

    • Sara P.

      I don’t think Tyler is saying that we will be punished for Eve’s sin. I think he is observing that mankind and womankind suffered effects from the fall. these effects are not sins, they are just a reality that we have to live with as a result of the fall: pain, sweat, work, death, etc. The article of faith declaring we will not be punished for Adam’s transgression delineates the Mormon faith from the Catholic faith, which believes that all people born into this world are sinful because of Adam’s transgression and thus infants need to be baptized.

  37. NR

    Joanna, I was born and raised a member of the church but am no longer a practicing member. But, having been an orthodox member for most of my life, (and having most of my family and friends still orthodox members) these issues are still very important to me. I just have to tell you that I LOVE you and what you do. Thanks for being a voice of reason when so many people are afraid of reason. It took me a long time to listen to my own voice and realize that I had the ability to reason things out and come to my own conclusions. I think you might help more women do that in the church… to know that, hey, It’s okay to have these opinions, to question, to ask, even that it’s actually okay to let your mind think of this stuff. And that you’re certainly not damned for doing so. Because it can be downright scary to let you mind even go down these paths. That’s why you’re getting these ridiculous emails, etc. These people need to think about David O McKay’s observation that Mormonism was like a great tent with room for everyone. The amount of social control currently being exercised against women frankly turns my stomach, but I think things can get better and they will get better (and I’m not even talking about ordination necessarily) with an open dialogue for starters. So thanks for being part of that.

  38. In regards to the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich piece. I don’t think that this paradigm allows for the most accurate discussion of women’s history in the LDS church.

    If we are talking about prominence of women in the church today (though this may not have bearing on her article directly) it does not paint an accurate picture to ignore all of the positive differences such as women speaking in general conference.

    Also, the change that correlation had on church organization (budgets etc.) effected the autonomy of more groups than just relief society organizations. I am not sure why people complain about correlation, I personally am happy to get all my meetings done on Sunday.

    And lets not forget that ordinances are different in a lot more ways than women practicing the laying on of hands. We don’t do multiple baptisms anymore and blessings are much more prescribed for everyone involved. Back them women still didn’t perform ordinances outside of the temple, so I am confused as to how exactly laying on of hands determines women’s influence in the church.

    I am sure you are not claiming that you’d wish things could be like they were then. I don’t think you’re particularly fond of polygamy if I remember a earlier post of yours.

    Sometimes I just wish you’d give some meaningful and applicable solutions to these issues for your readers.

    • Homer

      I think you’re confusing correlation with “consolidation” –for some members putting all the meetings in a three hour block on sunday was the most revolutionary change they have experienced in their church life. The correlation movement of the 70′s on the other hand was a church-changing reorganization that affected all aspects of church organization and hierarchy.

      • ScottC

        Homer, that correlation removed an enormous amount of redundancy, expense and most importantly insured that the doctrines of the gospel were being taught consistently around the world.

  39. Eldoon Feeb

    As you get farther from the Mormon Corridor, the more male participation in the church declines. All over the world, the church has a hard time finding enough worthy males to fill all the leadership positions. So I foresee a time in the not-to-distant future when various positions will be “de-priesthood-ized.”

    • Homer

      During the period of history in the late Great Depression era of the 1930′s and then during WWII the Church felt the loss of males in it’s membership acutely. Because of the loss of a generation through war and the stresses of unemployment some areas of the church were hard-pressed on sundays to even have enough males to manage the sacrament duties. There were adaptations to this situation in the church just like rosie the Riveter picked up the slack in the factories for the American Economy. The 1950′s did have a renewed emphasis in the church on getting the men and priesthood back to functioning.

  40. Thank you for your courage, your voice, and your love! I appreciate your thoughts and your willingness to give ALL Mormons a voice. Keep up the good work!

  41. Lori

    Is everyone on here forgetting that this is Heavenly Father’s church and therefore His choice on how it is ran and not the mortal man? The Prophet, or anyone else, can not make changes on Preisthood, or who is a ward clerk. If God wants only men to hold the Preisthood, which he obviously does, then who are you or anyone else on here to complain? How is this “living the gosple to it’s fullest” if you are questioning it so much and almost up in arms about it? Yes, I understand having questions, but saying the Church Leaders should change the fundamentals of it is just wrong. I don’t agree with this in the slightest.

    • mountaingirl

      “which he obviously does”. I struggle with this comment because I don’t understand how anyone can be certain that we as a church and individually are all that God intends us to be. Aren’t we supposed to struggle, search, ponder and ask? I admire Joanna her courage to search, ponder and ask. Church leaders, other members and God. And I don’t think it is mutually exclusive to ask and to love and honor our leaders and God.

    • Moss

      I don’t think God cares who the ward clerk is. Yes, this is his church, but I doubt he instructs us in all things. A great deal is left to our own judgement, and the judgement of our leaders, who are just people. He gave us all gifts and talents so why shouldn’t that female CPA in my ward (or that SAHM for that matter) be called to ward clerk? Or give a prayer in General Conference? It is not about power, it is about women serving in more ways within our existing fundamental doctrine.

    • Duderad

      almost all changes to church policy and yes revelation over it’s history have come as a result to a pressing need or questions, often from within. It very often DOES flow from the bottom up. The leadership doesn’t live in a vacuum. they will respond to issues the best they can, asking for the Lord’s confirmation of decisions they make.

      • ScottC

        Actually, revelation never, EVER flows upward. Revelation flows downward ALWAYS.

        Sorry to be blunt and to the point, but it is this line of thinking that gets many members in trouble with the doctrines of the gospel. I have been in too many councils with people who started off with this sort of thinking and belief and then it morphed into outright apostasy.

        It is sad to see so many LDS members being duped by Satan and trying to incorporate the philosophies of the world into church doctrine. These “mystery” questions are fun to throw out but have absolutely no bearing on our salvation.

        The gospel is simple and yet too many get bored with the gospel principles and feel a need to wander into the mysteries and end up getting lost.

        Hold to iron rod and you won’t get lost.

      • Liss

        Scott,

        I could be mistaken, I think though that what Duderad is saying is that revelation can occur from someone not possessing the stewardship asking someone with the stewardship for revelation on a particular issue. Or in other words someone “from the bottom” asks for the revelation. This is well-documented scripturally.

        From Deuteronomy we have the story of daughters who went to Moses asking that their father’s land inheritance be able to pass through them because he had no sons. Moses went to the Lord and the answer came back that in the case that no sons were born to a man his land could stay with the daughters, it was however, requested that they marry within their tribe.

        From 1 Nephi we have the story of Nephi going to Lehi to ask where he should go to find animals for him to hunt. Lehi goes before the Lord, is chastened, and then tells Nephi where to go to find food.

        From Ether we have the story of Jared asking his brother to ask the Lord to not confound their language. He asks, the Lord agrees. Jared then asks his brother to ask the Lord about whither they should go, even implying that maybe the Lord will have a promised land for them to go to. Brother of Jared prays, the Lord does have a promised land for them and will guide them to it.

        From Church History. Emma was tired of cleaning up all of the tobacco juice when the apostles (and others?) met with the Prophet in an upper room of their home (store?). She asked Joseph if the Lord had a revelation on such practices. Joseph goes to the Lord, we receive the Word of Wisdom recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants.

        Yes, revelations come to those with the proper stewardship. Yes, they come as that individual asks the Lord questions on behalf of others.

      • Homer

        very insightful comment, Liss. Sometimes people throw out some absolutist response to end a discussion, sometimes implying that the mere act of asking a question is apostasy. It’s hard to respond to what is essentially a call for passivity and do nothing faith. You gave good examples of vital men (and women) of God who weren’t so passive that they couldn’t struggle and strive to reach for more light and understanding and help and solutions.

      • mountaingirl

        Yes, what Liss said.

    • Kristi

      I was thinking the same thing when reading all these comments. Everyone saying it should be done this way or that way. How about we trust in the Lord to do what is best for His church.

    • Deann

      Lori,
      You are getting an AMEN from me! I absolutely agree with your comment. I ran across this blog as a friend of mine posted it on Facebook with an energetic “YES!!!” above it. My curiosity got the best of me, and I began to read. I’ve only read the most current post, and I’ve been up most of the night completely boggled by it. The part that really got to me was the list of suggestions by Peggy Fletcher Stack. This blog and that article makes for a slippery slope. Blogs like this, and articles like that (which I’m seeing here with many of the comments) are quite polarizing.

      Q: Why don’t women have the priesthood? A: I don’t care.

      As a woman, I don’t feel less intelligent, or that I’m lacking in personal progression because I don’t sit around all day pondering thoughts and questions that DO NOT have answers. That’s what stirs up anger, and feelings of inferiority and inequality. I have female friends who have left the church because of the “motherhood vs. priesthood” topic.

      Who are we to offer suggestions on how the church of Jesus Christ should be ran? That article clearly shows a lack of faith. With regards to the priesthood, here are a few versus to study (Lori, this is not necessarily aimed at you): Doctrine and Covenants 121: 36-44. Please pay particular attention to verse 39.

      Are we free to question church policy and procedures? Absolutely. But pondering, wishing, hoping, and over-analyzing why things aren’t run the way we (not God) would prefer things to be run can, and most likely will, create feelings of doubt. I don’t think this is what Joanna wants, but I’m having a hard time understanding her angle.

    • geoffrey power

      agreed.
      isn’t it clear to educated people – that ANYONE can start a religion. (L.Ron Hubbard)
      so – start your own… with all women leaders! i can guarantee the meetings will start on time & the bearing witness will include more tears.
      -or-
      sustain the LDS church & it’s leaders… and shut up

      • Molly Fehr

        Geoffrey, your comment made me very sad. Your tone comes across as condescending and misogynistic, in addition to being doctrinally unsound. Where would we be today if Joseph Smith had ignored his misgivings about the churches of his day? If he had simply “sustain[ed the] church & it’s [sic] leaders… and shut up”?

        We are encouraged to ask difficult questions and pray about the answers. Allow me to quote 3 Nephi 27:29 “Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

        The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us to ask questions and seek answers and promises us that God will not punish us for asking, even if close-minded blog commenters do. D&C 42:68 “Therefore, he that lacketh wisdom, let him ask of me, and I will give him liberally and upbraid him not.”

        Joanna, thank you for sharing your thoughts and opening yourself up to the scrutiny and occasional condemnation of the masses. I have been inspired, comforted and edified by your words.

    • Thank you thank you thank you Lori. I believe people need to take into account the differences of questioning. Questioning in the scientific sense as in actually wanting to find the answers and questioning as far a criticizing, and not wanting to find the answers. Not only that I would say that questioning the role and the validity of the Proclamation on the Family is not only insidiously undermining the divine role that women do have. For someone who is ok with the gender roles, criticizing the Proclamation on the Family negates her statements. I think if people were truly questioning because they want to know it’s an easy fix. Kneel down and ask, Hey is the PotF a divinely inspired proclamation? If the answer is yes, then people need to start looking at themselves and their criticisms. I think Joanna rubbed people the wrong way because where she professes to be ok with gender roles she directly criticized them as well. She calls it questioning, I call it criticizing. If it was a genuine question there’s an easy way to get an answer. Then to problem becomes how to we qualify our lives to live/accept the divine.

    • Follower of Christ

      Thank you, I have read so many and not a mention of the fact that JESUS CHRIST is the HEAD of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a female adult convert and I don’t have any desire to label myself traditionalist or feminist or any kind of “ites”
      However Heavanly Father wants the kingdom run is okay by me and if and when things change it will be on His terms and timing. I am happy to be a child of God as we all are and don’t wish to make it any more complicated than that. I don’t want a church created in my image. I already know I am equal to His other children regardless of gender or responsibilities. If ye are not one ye are not mine. The scriptures are clear for those who have questions about the church, about the priesthood and the roles and responsibilities we share. Why just because they are different should we feel they are more or less important? Aren’t we all members of the body? God will touch each of us and let us know our value and it has nothing to do with what we can or cannot do. I want to stay on the Lord’s side of the line and leave the running of His church to Him.

  42. Claire Ford

    I am curious to meet a woman that wants “more responsibility and visibility” within the church. I have been a member all my life, although inactive for a time over 10 years ago, and lived all throughout the US but mostly along both coasts. I now live in Germany and I have never met an LDS woman in any of my (well over a dozen) wards, and that’s saying something because we move nearly every 18 months. I am always eager and willing to accept callings but I truly do not look forward to the hours and hours of meetings involved with auxiliary presidencies and leadership meetings. These often leave me feeling that sometimes the “church” takes up more time than my time with my husband and children and it is a constant balancing act. I am completely content with the responsibilities God has placed on women. Unfortunately, “the church” doesn’t choose whether or not to ordain women or give them more visibility, it is God, and I have had enough trials, tribulations, and life experience to trust that he knows more than me in what I need. I feel that these women who desire more visibility should perhaps seek the reason for wanting this…could it be more attention? Could it be that they are seeking something other than truth and light and knowledge from God? They can gain all of these things through greater study and devotion to the Word. What is it driving them to want more visibility and responsibility, when those of us who have served in so many leadership positions would actually be happy with less?

    • Ronda Osburn

      I totally agree with you Claire. I have plenty of responsibility and “power” and duties to perform in my callings now. If I were given any more I’m afraid I would fold under the weight of trying to do everything “Right”. God knows what I am capable of and sometimes makes me stretch, but not far enough to break. I am 55 and never married, teach Primary, and am grateful to go home on Sunday to finish my ‘day of rest’ in a quiet, peaceful way. At times I am very sad about not having a husband and babies, but I know the Lord knows what is best for me. I would probably be a blithering basket case if I had to herd kids 24/7! I trust in the Lord over all things and know he will give me the rightous desires of my heart someday. Until then….I do my duty with a heart full of song.

    • Red

      I understand your comment and mostly agree: I’d love to do less. But I am great at leadership callings and I like giving talks in sacrament meeting. Better (for sure) than a lot of the High Council members who bumble into our ward with ill-prepared thoughts and ramble for 15 minutes about… nothing. As a woman, shouldn’t I be able to use my God-given leadership/speaking talents at our Church? Why not? Wouldn’t it actually HELP our Church to use my talents in this way?

      I’m exaggerating a bit, of course, as I think our Church runs well without “good” speakers and even without men with innate leadership skills. I believe much of the structure of our Church is man-made and not eternal. If this is the case, why not try to nudge the structure towards a more inclusive structure now?

    • RT

      Joanna’s argument on callings isn’t that we need to be holding priesthood callings, but what about the callings that don’t need priesthood keys? What about the prayers or closing talks that are always given by a priesthood holder? You don’t need the keys to do that. Where is the explanation that women can’t do these seemingly basic things? They aren’t even that “high standing” so the argument that women just want attention is ridiculous.

      I remember when women couldn’t be the employment coordinator or the public relations specialist. Why? Who knows. Because women hold those callings now.

      I was just talking to my mom the other day about my work with the young women over the past 6 years. I’ve held 4 different young women callings in that time and the tendencies of our youth trouble me. They are great kids. They follow the church teachings. They also aren’t much else. They don’t have any outside interests beyond church. They don’t have any friends outside the church. I live in a big city. These kids go to 4 different high schools- they play sports, are in plays, and choirs. But nothing follows them home. They are disrespectful to other religions, to people who live differently than the church teachings, to moral upstanding youth outside the church who date before they are 16 or wear clothes that are “immodest.” I am nervous about the future of the church- specifically about the culture which every year feels more and more stifling for those people who aren’t so drunk on the kool-aid. I want to see the youth asking questions- the hard questions. I want to see them grapple with their faith and really truly internalize it. But all I hear are the same dogmatic, non-doctrinal cultural answers week after week. And it makes me sad.

      Will women being more obvious on Sundays make that happen? Maybe.

  43. janae

    I saw the program and I thought it was going to be a disaster, but it was fairly good. Although I think Ally Huntsman is a total bitter idiotic, out of all 9 huntsman children they chose the innaction one? The media is brainless. and showing the sacred garments was totally inappropriate! Would the news anchor show me his underwear if I asked him to? I don’t think so. The huntsman girl just wanted an excuse to get out of committing to church, I have many friends who actively come to church and their spouses are not members.
    I think it is rather immature of those accusing you of excommunication and junk like that. come on guys really? For voicing an opinion? I don’t think so! Although I will admit I was bothers by your opinions of the priesthood. I used to feel the same way you do about womens equality in the church. So I sincerely prayed about it. The lord comforted me and told me that he knows what he is doing and to trust him, so I had to let those issues go and follow the path my heavenly father has provided for me.
    I also think men need the priesthood to keep them in line spiritually and morally, and most women already have the light of the spirit in their lives and kind nature.
    I’m glad we have our freedom of speech to voice our concerns.
    Good luck to you

    • geoffrey power

      great comment & great approach to answering questions.
      a close study of the the words used in the temple will re-inforce your understanding and give you answers that most people commenting here are ignoring.

  44. My personal experience, as a 31-year-old single woman who has been a Mormon all her life, has been that women are not lacking in visibility, leadership or decision making in the church. I’m sure experience depends on your ward, stake, leadership, and other specifics, but where I grew up in Bellevue Washington, women are respected and have important leadership roles. I found the same to be true at BYU. My voice has been fully heard in ward councils, I’ve held leadership callings, and I find few if any women who feel that we do not experience equity with men. I’m sorry that so many seem to not have this experience, and I hope it will soon be shared by all.
    I have no need to be ordained to the priesthood, as it is simply a method to serve, and I have plenty of those already. As a bishop and good friend put it: “If it’s truly God’s work, then He’s in charge and there’s a reason. And if it’s not, then it doesn’t matter.” (I do, however, agree that the argument that women don’t hold the priesthood because we bear and rear children doesn’t make sense).
    Also, please remember in discussing the acts of Joseph and Emma Smith that we have current prophets and continuing revelation for a reason. Just because something was right in their time doesn’t mean it is right in ours. I see modern LDS women as strong, powerful women who are taking charge and making changes in the world. I’m curious to know what evidence people have that we are not strong and powerful, or why women are dissatisfied with their role in the church.

  45. Abarthow

    Amen! You are an educated, well spoken woman….person, that uses her brain. Thank you.

  46. Sandy Gullable

    AND I believe in Santa Claus, too.

  47. I view myself as a very forward thinking woman, and because I can think for myself I can agree and disagree with some of the opinions that you expressed. Personally I have always felt that because of women’s natural divine nature, MAYBE we don’t NEED to hold the priesthood the way that men do. My husband has expressed many times that the priesthood is a way that many men learn to be more selfless (a quality that I personally think comes more natural to most women.) I also have never felt that my contributions to the church were solely based on my ability to bear children, but with my faith I am able to accept many things the church does without having to understand it.

    Do I think women are important in the church? Absolutely. I also think that many times it is women themselves that limit what roles we take on in the church. It is easy for me to think myself too busy to play a more active/visual role in my own ward, but then I have to be careful if I complain that more women are not front and center.

    I also do NOT think that the church needs to change their policies, but maybe we, as members need to do a better job finding ways to serve our Lord, whether or not it is in a “visual” way. I am saddened by the people who get angry over other’s opinions and questions. Each of us have a right to seek answers to things we don’t understand.

    • Claire Ford

      Totally agree Tiffany. I esp love this: “maybe we, as members need to do a better job finding ways to serve our Lord, whether or not it is in a “visual” way…” Very well put – thank you for commenting. I feel like this group is really only a very vocal minority.

  48. revknits

    First time commenter here. I just found your book and your blog, and want to thank you for sharing your life and the LDS world as you see it.

    I am an ordained clergywoman who has a friend who converted to LDS as a young adult. While I applaud the emphasis on family cohesion, it appalls me that basic things protestant women took for granted in the 19th century (having control over their own fundraisers and projects in the church) are denied women who run corporations in their professional lives. That the gifts of women that St. Paul clearly said were available to all the people are being ignored. Just unbelievable. Yes, this is the work of a century to overturn the marginalization of women.

    The capture of the tradition to the Republicans is also unfortunate, because it feeds that same marginalization in this period.

    As a sister in faith, please know that those of us who are the current inheritors of the struggles of our foremothers wish for your daughters and granddaughters a future in the faith that is equal to their personhood in God.

  49. xenawarriorscientist

    It’s my belief that the “multiplication of meetings” happens *because* women aren’t involved. When you leave meeting scheduling up to men, many of whom have traditional households where they aren’t expected to do much, of course you’ll have them asking the other men (who may have more home responsibilities) to spend excessive amounts of time on church meetings. As far as the traditional men know, there’s no loss when men aren’t home.

    Now, let’s put some experienced mothers in charge of running church meetings and see how fast we actually start walking the talk of “Family: isn’t it about time?”

    I think this is just a small example of the direction and light that we lose when we separate adults into “Women = In Charge of Families” and “Men = In Charge of Everything Else.” You wind up with well-meaning individuals not knowing anything about how families and households work, and they make all these decisions that disrupt home and families not out of malice but well-intentioned ignorance.

    *****

    I do know many women who would not like to have priesthood responsibility. Of course, I also know many men who feel the same way. But we don’t call those men “humble servants.” We call them lazy and irresponsible. What a fascinating double standard.

  50. mark J

    many questions were asked in the 60s and 70s as to why not all worthy male could hold the priesthood, The prophet Joesph did not have issues with ordaining all men to the priesthood and in fact it is not exactly understood why, The church has not doctrine on the curse of cain and worthiness, just because it was printed in a book not published by the church does not mean it is true, We don’t read that Jesus called women to the apostleship but yes i agree doctrine can change just like it did in the 70s with the revelation for all worthy male men can hold the priesthood
    it is the lords church and he will guide and run it as he needs

  51. Lilly

    I feel sick that you’ve experienced such negative feedback. Please, remember that there are many of us who are so grateful for the work you are doing and for the classy and faithful way in which you do it. Thanks for being my sister in the gospel!

  52. Sometimes I prefer to respond directly before I read all the comments (or even instead of reading any of the comments). From what little I’ve learned about the early days of the church, I agree with you about women having been very visible and active then, but my perception is that this is still true. I suppose there are ways in which women in the church today may be less “visible,” but as far as how I am ministered to by my church leaders, my Relief Society and Primary and Young Women’s leaders and my visiting teachers love and serve and help and influence me and my family just as much as do the bishop and his counselors, the Sunday School presidency, the Young Men and priesthood quorom leaders, and my home teachers. So these wonderful women are just as “visible” to me as the wonderful men in my ward. And in sheer numbers, women out-represent men in the church, and I’ve also heard that in most religions devout, practicing women outnumber men. (I’m not sure if this is true worldwide or not, but I feel comfortable asserting that it’s true in Western/European Judeo-Christian religions.)

    Likewise, in America women’s academic accomplishments are starting to outstrip men’s achievements, and professional accomplishments are likely to follow suit (or already have). I sometimes wonder whether the current designation of priesthood leadership callings to men isn’t partly to help keep men from lagging where women would achieve naturally–to help men see that they, too, are needed and important in matters of religion, and that faith and religiosity are not exclusively a woman’s domain. I do NOT mean that men are naturally less good or religious than women, only that cultural attitudes in modern Western culture seem to influence men more than women against being faithful and religious.

    I also remember watching a Leadership Training meeting a couple of years ago where ward and presidency councils were emphasized as an extremely important part of decision-making and leadership, with what I thought to be a pretty unmistakable underlying message of “Men, listen to the women.” Elaine Jack, who was the General President of the Relief Society at the time, was one of the leaders of this training meeting, and I enjoyed the very visible respect and support that the other church leaders showed toward her. And I believe it was also at this leadership training meeting, or perhaps in a General Conference talk, that President Jack also said something along the lines that many cultures don’t have a tradition of men listening to or respecting women, but that in the church we have to develop our own culture when our local traditions don’t reflect gospel principles.

    All that said, I thought your wording was fair and accurate, although I do think it’s a shame that’s all the program chose to focus on. I know that some women have experienced being made to feel inferior to men in the church (although I never have) and it’s also true that there are women in the church who question why women don’t hold priesthood callings–and although I’m not among them, I like and care about these women. (Usually, anyway.) :)

    By the way: Hi, Joanna! I’m Zina, and we had one or maybe two English classes at BYU together a long time ago, including one with Cynthia Hallen.

  53. Aaron

    I read by talk by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in which he elaborated on how power in the kingdom of God comes from an interplay of faith and priesthood. Some scriptures say the universe was created by faith; others seems to indicate priesthood. It seemed to me that he could not, and did not want, to define power as only a principle of faith or only of priesthood. In my view, God’s power can only come from His perfect attributes, nothing else. He does not have power because somehow He received the priesthood from another. He has power because of what He is. Thus, ultimately, our power will stem from what we are, not from (to use a poor phrase) “who we know.” The priesthood, as we know it, seems to be an artifact of imperfect, progressing people. Personally, I think most men need the responsibility, while most women do not. I’m sure it’s a sexist statement to make, but women, in general, are much further along the “what we are” rather than “who we know” path. If my wife and I are blessed with a Celestial inheritance, I fully expect her to have all the power (D.C. 121) that I would have. Some men may be surprised by this, and it will do them good.

  54. blackwatertown

    Another first-timer here. I feel considerably more enlightened about the spectrum of views on women’s participation in Mormonism. Your insight into working with TV producers was interesting too.

  55. I’ve always considered myself a Mormon feminist (by your definition), and I have young college-age friends who feel similarly, but I always thought it was a philosophy unique to our generation, something we would have to work at and and learn from as we forged ahead alone. When I read “Daughters in My Kingdom,” I was surprised to learn that the early women of the church held the same progressive role of equal involvement that I now wish for. But it hasn’t been until the recent discussion in the media about all this that I’ve realized there are generations of women, older than me but still alive and active, who have felt similarly all their lives. It makes me feel a sense of connection to the women of our faith that I’ve been missing, but it also makes me ask myself, “Why has it taken me so long to discover them?” They are all around me and yet, I never knew. I think finding the answer to that question and solving that problem is going to be the beginning of the progress so many of us hope for. I sense this discussion itself is part of the solution.

    Thanks for your voice, Joanna. You’re a young female Mormon journalist’s idol. :)

    I wrote more of my thoughts on my blog:
    http://www.scarlettcalledscout.com/2012/08/19/daughters-in-my-kingdom/

  56. Mormon Girl, thank you! thank you! thank you! for being able to put into words what so many LDS women feel. I LOVE this gospel with all that I have, and a huge bonus is my membership in a sisterhood containing so many wonderful, diverse women. I think in this post you touched on a question that I have never understood in my entire life as a member. Why is it that if you are female and you ask questions about why women don’t have the priesthood some men, not all, get all u in arms? Its a simple question and one obvious enough that a child can ask it, so why does that cause such a hoopla. I love that you answer your girls questions about the priesthood! You are a great example!! Thanks again for using your voice for good :)

  57. Fashion Chavez Rabe

    “How vast is our purpose, how broad is our mission,
    If we but fulfill it in spirit and deed.” Thanks for expounding a little bit more directly upon the purpose and mission that is ours to claim.

    I’m a big fan. So glad to have your voice contributing to the dialogue going on by both Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

  58. I’ve now read all the comments, and enjoyed them. I especially enjoyed the ones that said more-or-less the same things I said, but I enjoyed the other points of view, too. :)

  59. Michael Peck

    I like the definition given of a mormon feminist. I also agree that the argument of “men have priesthood and women have motherhood” is doctrinally unfounded. The definition that I think many of us still lack is the definition of what priesthood is. When we understand that, genders don’t seem to be differentiated in their participation anymore. Part of the misunderstanding, I believe, is in the way we use the English language to talk about the priesthood. We talk about it as something that one “has” or “holds” or “uses” and we talk about “priesthood power”. But the scriptures never talk about the priesthood in those terms. The scriptures rather talk about “receiving” and “coming unto” the priesthood. And ultimately, the priesthood is not defined therein as a power, but as an oath and a covenant. My understanding is that this is an oath and a covenant that both men and women already participate in. That’s the definition I have in mind of Priesthood. It is an oath and a covenant. I don’t know that women are really left out of that oath and covenant.

  60. Adam Belnap

    I think that viewing the priesthood as a right not given to women misses the underlying lesson. The reason women don’t have it is because Christ was a man. By this I mean that ordinances of the priesthoods are symbolic representations of Christ’s blessings. So a man playing the part of Christ plays his part, like a play. In ordinances that require someone to stand in place for a woman (like ordinances for deceased women), only women can stand in proxy for women. I don’t see a man not being able to stand in proxy for a woman as God’s discrimination, but just God teaching through precise symbols about the covenant made and the service being rendered. There will come a day when we can have actual power in stead of standing in proxy of Him who actually had it. In that day, we won’t represent anybody, we’ll just have it equally. Let’s not miss a beautiful teaching because we want the Kingdom of God to be subject to an HR policy.

  61. I am so grateful to have someone asking these questions in a way that is heard. Sometimes I feel very alone as I find the balance between my faith and my feminism and seeing so many women who believe what I do, but have many of the same questions and concerns is so very comforting. And strengthening. So, Thank you.

  62. Mike

    Well-said. Thank you for speaking up and speaking out.

  63. Tina Moss

    You make me want to cheer out loud as well and pass this article on to my teenage daughter of the type of women that I admire and appreciate having a voice in our community, and the strong yet respectful voices we are capable of contributing. You Rock! :)

  64. Kim

    Article of Faith #9 states, “We believe all that God has arevealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet breveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

    We are a church of continuing revelation. What was once appropriate and commonplace in the early church is not necessarily the case now. Latter day prophets bring latter day revelation. (Dare I even bring up polygamy . . .blah) Why is it that so many people want to pick and choose doctrinal teachings from the early church to follow and totally disregard those right in front of us.

    I have a very strong testimony in the work we are called to do right here, right now. Those women who feel that people view them as baby machines while the men make the decisions are only putting themselves in that box. I have never once seen myself this way.

    I see myself as a strong, smart, talented person. Who is BLESSED with the opportunity to stay at home and teach my children. BLESSED with the opportunity to serve in church positions where I can help teach and serve others. BLESSED to be involved in community affairs and service opportunities.

    I don’t need a piece of paper with “my” priesthood line of authority to make me feel important. Perhaps many of these woman are aspiring for greater power for worldly reasons. Or because they just haven’t realized their own worth and potential.

    • Liss

      The difference between the doctrine of polygamy, or the doctrine of consecration for that matter, and women operating within the priesthood is that there is clear and well-documented revelation on the cessation of these practices whereas revelations regarding the role of women operating within the Priesthood is less widely available. It is therefore less clear if it is a cultural issue, a procedural issue, or a revelatory issue.

      I agree that the doctrines on womenkind are beautiful and divine. However, cultural beliefs can be mixed up with religious doctrines. Mormonism has its own “oral traditions” which can include that women are, to use your phrase, “baby machines”. If someone is taught that this is her religion its much less an issue of “putting themselves in that box” and more an issue of understanding the doctrine. Even if it means standing up to others within the church to say, “no, that’s not the doctrine.”

  65. Alisha

    I have read your post, and I have thought about what you said for the last hour or two. I am a woman. I am LDS. I am not a “feminist” but I firmly believe that men and women are equals. Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said, “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1916), 475.)
    I believe that. I also believe that Jesus Christ is the leader of our church. And I believe that President Monson is his chosen Prophet today. I have a testimony of that. It is vital to have a testimony of the Prophet, because either this church is the true church or it isn’t and if it is true (which I believe that it is) that means that the Lord is directing this church through His Prophet.
    So tell me how the Lord can be the “champion of womanhood,” yet at the same time deprive woman of their full potential in His church?
    Sometimes the Lord requires us to do things that don’t align with what the world (or even some of us Mormons) see’s as acceptable or even fair. For example, Joseph Smith Jr. was “reluctant to engage in this new practice” of plural marriage. But he did what the Lord asked even when it was hard. This life and His church are not about us, it’s about doing what the Lord has asked and doing it in the way He has asked us to do it. We don’t see the big picture, but Christ does. So in the end It’s not about what you or I want. It’s about doing what the Lord has asked us to do, it’s about building His Kingdom on the earth and bringing Salvation to the people of the world.

  66. I agree with alot of what you say. As a male in the church, I don’t have any problem with women having a broader role in the church, in fact, I welcome that. Much of it is we are engrossed in tradition so much. We forget what is true doctrine and just tradition. Why aren’t women made the ward clerk or Sunday school president? I don’t know, doesn’t make sense. Goes the other way though. Why aren’t men named to the primary presidency? I think that would be a fun job! That is just more tradition in the church. I don’t know why girls shouldn’t be able to go on missions till they are 21. I understand the concept of needing to get married, but in this day and age I think it would be better to put the age at 19 so that women could go on their mission and they would still have plenty of time to do other things in life. Seems to me that on my mission the sisters were usually the better missionaries anyway, so it wouldn’t hurt to get more girls serving missions.
    Women being ordained to the priesthood is an entirely different matter though. I think men have the priesthood and women don’t because men need it in order to be saved, but women don’t. The necessity to magnify your priesthood is an additional responsibility for exaltation that women are exempt from. Women have it made through the temple ordinances, but men have to earn it. The preisthood is about serving others not power to lead. Christ taught that the greatest among us is the servant. I wish more members of the church understood that.

  67. Michael Peck

    I, as a man, having held some of the callings mentioned as could-be responsibilities for women, have never felt more empowered or appreciated because of holding those callings and assignments. I have never been taught to feel that my position or the title of my calling defined the importance or influence of the service I was fulfilling. On the contrary, I have been taught again and again that the most important service I do in the Church is NOT done from a pulpit, in a council meeting, or in a committee. I have rather been taught that the most important work I can do as a man in the priesthood is the work done in homes and in hearts. I don’t know that giving a woman the opportunity to be a clerk or a sunday school president would increase her influence. When I have served in those kinds of responsibilities, I have always had to work hard to make sure that my influence extended beyond those things, by doing things that all of us have the opportunity to do, male and female.

  68. David Lindes

    My wife and I were having a conversation about gender last night, and this captured some of our feelings. Gender roles are so complex. They are today, and I think they always have been. I believe there is some parts of gender that have eternal significance. Even some part of gender roles that have eternal significance. However, it’s important to remember that many of our current practices are based on our own culture and Church policy. We do not have a perfect culture. Neither is the Church’s current policy perfect. The Lord is still figuring out how to work with us. The Great Restoration isn’t done yet. We’ve a lot to learn.

    I think these are great questions to ask. I think we must ask them. The Prophet Joseph taught us to ask tough questions. He didn’t hide from his, and I think he’d be disappointed if we hid from ours. My hope is that we can approach these questions with both study and faith. I believe as we do so, the imperfections of our many cultures will fall away, we will receive further revelation (both personally and collectively), and we will better understand what God wants from us. We will better be able to serve all of God’s children in fairness and love. And I do know that’s what He wants.

    • Well put, David. Thank you.

    • Michael Peck

      I suppose I only know of one plan that offers complete equality, and that was the plan of Satan in the premortal life.

      • Homer

        I completely disagree–God’s plan is absolutely about equality. God exists to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men (and women)–ALL of them. No one is excluded, everyone is offered the same chance. And God loves ALL his children equally and perfectly. With Him there is no white and black, male or female, bond or free. ALL are alike unto God. He also fully respects EACH one of us to give us our moral agency, the freedom to choose and direct our own lives, knowing full well we will make a mess of it. He doesn’t give this power only to the few ones He likes, or the ones who “handle” it, but rather to everyone. No favorites, no exclusive gold club memberships for the chosen few, and

        Satan on the other hand wouldn’t be one to respect those ideals of equality any farther than would serve his needs, or his ultimate plan. If making humans feel like he wants ALL to be saved will convince them to give up their freedom to choose then he’ll say it–he is the father of lies you know. That lie will seem to be his plan, but his ultimate plan is to remove the moral agency and freedom of mankind and thereby gain ALL power and glory.

        We need to stop thinking like little children–being equal doesn’t mean getting everything the same or ending up all the same. It means being respected as an individual with equal consideration.

  69. Julie

    Joanna, I agree there is some room for change, (especially in church employment!) however I have never felt the need for ordination. I once heard Sister (Marvin J.) Ashton teach a lesson in a ward that has stayed with me. She was serving as the Stake Relief Society President at the time. She used the analogy of the Priesthood and a power plant. She stated “I don’t have to own the power plant to turn on the switch.” I feel just that way!!

  70. My life was greatly impacted by a talk by Patricia Holland several years ago. Here is a link to it: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/10/one-thing-needful-becoming-women-of-greater-faith-in-christ

  71. LorieWS

    In a church that began with a question, how and when did questioning become apostasy?

  72. Melanie

    Thank you! I have been struggling with my faith in the LDS gospel and my view of my higher power and I love hearing that God’s actual view of women is much more liberal than the cultural mormon views. So much of what you say resonates with me. I want you to know that while there are those rigid mormons that cannot allow for differing opinions, you are truly an answer to my prayers. Thank you again!

  73. geoffrey power

    sad for you.
    with our prophetic knowledge and understanding of eternal things… you came off idiotic.
    the priesthood is/has always been shared.
    sad for you.
    luckily, you have places like this to make-up some ground – and the atonement to cover-up the mess.

  74. Beautiful put, thought provoking. Just as you have redefined Mormon feminism above (which definition I quite like, even though I never before considered myself a Mormon feminist), I have begun to broaden my own personal definition of “motherhood.” Given that Eve was the “mother of all living” it certainly seems to me that we drastically underestimate the scope of the term when we define it as strictly the bearing and raising of children. One of the things I love about the gospel is the opportunity to work our way through challenges to unexpected epiphanies and strength, painful as that process may be sometimes.

  75. Holly

    While I do agree that the language used in GC sometimes puts a heavy, heavy emphasis on motherhood (to the degree that I have sometimes questioned whether women were made for anything else), I do think that God, and, yes, even the male leaders of the church want powerful women who take more involvement in serving God’s children.

    A careful study of the doctrine of the priesthood in the scriptures will give one a sense that women have an important role in its functioning. Add that to the fact that all of us, essentially become “priests” in the temple (read the Bible Dictionary definition of “Priests” if you want more clarification on that) shows to me that God doesn’t discriminate.

    Yes, I do believe that we do, perhaps, have some inherent duties that come to us as a consequence of our gender, but what unites us is more and more important than what divides us.

    That being said, I think that when it comes to service to God and the reasons we women don’t seem to have as many opportunities, I would suggest that we place the blame largely on ourselves. Nothing says that women cannot engage in some of the practices you mention above–from feeding the hungry, to answering the very deepest desires for calling and higher service. Instead, we have Relief Society meetings where we learn how to craft and what color to paint our toes. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for this type of meeting as well, but it seems to me that the people who limit us the most are ourselves.

    Why not organize something big and grand for the women of the church to participate in? The Relief Society is supposed to be a powerful companion to the Priesthood quorums and, yet, so many times we sell ourselves short. I think this is what Sister Beck always tried to encourage the women of the church to do.

    I’m also not saying that there aren’t local priesthood leaders who do not understand this principle. I feel like my mission president was one–I think he loved the sisters in his mission, but I don’t think he had had a notion about what we were capable of.

    That being said, I think the structure of the church may be shaken up somewhat in the near future. Many of the singles wards in Utah also have “nontraditional” hierarchies with a structure that is focused on chairs and committees, rather than individual callings, and women are just as likely to be called as chairs as men. In my ward, the Relief Society and priesthood quorums essentially act on a level commensurate with other committees–the ward council is one big, melting pot of ideas, and the two most “important” committees are often family home evening and activities (this is a singles ward, after all), both chaired and co-chaired by female leadership.

    I think the future priesthood leaders who interact in this type of male/female environment are much more likely to go on to respect the opinions of the Relief Society president one day in their future ward or to extend “non-traditional” callings to women.

    What I’m saying is, why don’t we fully take advantage of the opportunities that we have to serve and grow the church in real and powerful ways instead of waiting for “permission?” There really doesn’t need to be an official declaration about the proper role of women because it’s always been there–we can and should lay claim on our calling to be powerful women, now.

    Yes, there’s still a ways to go within the church as far as everyone recognizing and respecting women, but it’s not doctrine that’s holding us back, and I don’t even think it’s even current practice.Have the courage to stand up, yourself, and be powerful.

  76. Janna

    How dare you be so awesome! Thanks for another non-attacking, well thought out post.

  77. While I do not subscribe to your religious beliefs, I must applaud you for speaking your mind while taking the “high road” when dealing with such an attack on women in general.

    So, women are given the most important thing pertaining to procreation of our species and “that is all you get”??? Bull!!! The fact that any religion (yes I am opening Pandora’s Box) treats women as less than that of other members is a profound “shot in the foot” to that belief system. Here is a news flash “The world is also round…….not flat”!!!

    The overall strength of any society rests with the talents of the individual members. To ignore that fact is to take the path to the ultimate demise of the system; those that have been slighted WILL begin to speak up (with intelligent rebuttal as you have displayed in your post).

    We can always use an intelligent, articulate and expressive person such as yourself on the ‘dark side’. :)

    Great post.

    Aleister Nacht

  78. Unknown

    First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about all of the cruel emails that you have been receiving. Although I don’t agree with what everyone said in their Rock Center interviews, I do have to realize that we all come from different backgrounds and experiences; nevertheless, varied opinions are expected.

    Like most Mormons I’m sure, I grew up asking questions about Polygamy, about why the blacks couldn’t hold the Priesthood for a time, about why women weren’t passing the sacrament or giving blessings. It was never.. “Why am I NOT doing these things?!”, but a sincere question as to why. I’ve come to realize that just like with Polygamy, the Lord always has a reason for doing things. We may not understand everything that we are asked by the Lord to do, but I have seen so many miracles in my young life to know that God knows what he is doing and I shouldn’t challenge it.

    Yesterday we had a lesson in Relief Society on the blessings of the Priesthood, and how we can help our husbands fulfill their duties. It is a HUGE responsibility to take on. I don’t think most men understand their responsibility, nor understand what a blessing it is. As women, we have so many responsibilities within the church, to lead, to serve, to nurture, bear children, and help our husbands. HELP our husbands, just as the husband should look after the wife. There is no man over woman, or woman over man. They are equal partners. I think some men try and live up to the stereotype that society has put onto them. “I have to be a manly man, I have to look out for my wife, I never want my wife to work, I have to provide, I have to win….” and it is because of this that women start saying, “I don’t have to work because my husband does, I have to take care of the kids because I bore them, I have to clean the dishes because my husband works all day, I can’t get my degree because my husband’s is more important…” You might as well say, “Sports are for boys and dance is for girls,” but we all know that that isn’t true. Men and women are built to lead. The women I know are great organizers, intelligent students, fantastic communicators, compassionate, kind, open, strong, etc. I just don’t think that the most women live up to their potential. It is my belief that men were given the priesthood so that they could be able to better serve their wives, children, and those around them. The priesthood allows them to SERVE us. I don’t think it is an open invitation to exercise dominion and power over everyone. Women in the Relief Society have a large responsibility as is, we just don’t fulfill it. Emma Smith was a good example of a hard-working leader, a mother, a faithful servant of God. There is not enough confidence going around. We were all born to lead in different ways, and in different capacities.

    Thank you for saying what you believe. I don’t necessarily agree that women are at a disadvantage by not holding the priesthood, because like I said, God has his reasons, but I do believe that if anything, you will empower many women to take a good look in the mirror and I say, “I can do more than I am doing now.”

  79. Thanks for being willing to keep your shoulder to the wheel, Joanna! You’re doing a great job. [I liked your sound bites on Inside Rock Center. I didn't like Abby's make-up.]

  80. Ben Page

    Tradition is a reflection of the people; past and present – flaws and all. It’s a mistake for anyone in the church to think it’s traditions (policies and procedures) are perfect and to resist/resent necessary changes towards perfection. After all, damnation is when we choose to quit progressing – most often caused by a resist to change out of pride (or a belief we’re already perfect).

    I absolutely love that Joanne has the courage to ask questions, seek answers, and live with the results – all with a spirit of love and acceptance to those around her (including dealing with traditions that might take some time to change).

  81. Your tiny soundbite during the NBC program was my favorite part of the show because it seemed to me the most REAL representation of a person trying to live her faith despite the concerns she has with the construction of that faith. I wish they had shown more of your interview. The “women have motherhood” bit has always been offensive to me, even though I really don’t feel a need to be ordained. In my mind that idea It suggests that fatherhood is less important than priesthood—is it?

    Thank you for this essay, as it put into words some of my own ideas.

  82. Very good comments. I wonder, though, if we might not be pressing for a temporal decision on a spiritual matter? What of patience?
    I joined the church 15 years ago partially because they stuck to the doctrine and were not subject to the winds of change, as it were.
    I am certain the Lord’s will is being done. Many of the ideas above are not without merit. But should we not wait for our prophets and apostles to speak on the subject?
    Thanks for tour thoughts. I appreciate the honesty and open dialogue.

  83. Rick

    “A Mormon feminist is a person [updated: from "woman"] who thinks that all people should have the opportunity to love and serve God with all their might, mind, and strength—regardless of gender, race, or sexuality.”
    In all honesty, I’m not sure how anyone could honestly disagree with this, so I’m not sure how the term “feminist” fits in, other than as a discuise to push for ordination. Personally I don’t see the drive for ordinatioin (I note that Joanna mentions little interest) – I appreciate Camille’s comments about the desire for ordination. In actuality, the striving for ordination really disqualifies someone for it. I get really worried about people striving to become a Bishop or Stake President – I served as an EQ President, and that made sure I would be happy never being called on that kind of leadership position (I would serve if asked, but I have no mental need to serve as a judge in Israel). As Camille said, I think that’s more of an outward desire. As to why only men hold the priesthood, I don’t know. I just know that God’s ways are not man’s ways, and I have a testimony that the Prophet is indeed a Prophet, so I’ll trust him.
    Personally, I think the biggest limiting factor for women serving in the Church (or anyone really) is themselves. They create a box about which we feel we can’t step outside. I don’t need the Bishop’s permission so serve. I will receive assignments in the way of calls, but I have the Holy Ghost and the right of revelation to serve where needed. The Priesthood is about administration of the Church. Serrving God and my fellow man is personal and needs no calling other than my own. Let me explain my comment about women limiting themselves. Take for example the Young Women’s program. I’ve been involved in the Young Men’s program for years, and always hear young women complain they don’t get to do any fun stuff like the boys. I tell them tell your leaders and make it happen. So many Young Women leaders waste this valuable time working with the girls. They talk about Personal progress and water it down so much that there’s nothing to it. They make another painted word block with diecut letters to say “Believe” and think they are building testimonies. This is the most important time to teach them to be powerful women of God. They need to do ecxiting things, plan their own outings to beuild skills, not just in doing the activities, but in planning and leading them. I have a hard time seeiing Emma Smith (or even imagine Lucy Mac Smith) making all these wallhangings when they they have neighbors in real need. Obviously, the same goes for Relief Society. I’d sure like to see some more pioneer Spirit.
    Obviously, this is not just a women problem, and it’s not a specifc problem. Men are just as guilty, and many women are powerful and lead that way. Culturally, though, we tend to limit ourselves and wait for people to tell us what to do. We believe in personal revelation – we should use it.

  84. Cristina

    I was so excited to see you included in the Rock Center program. Like you, I wish they had included you more. Overall, however, I thought the entire show was pretty good. A little less Huntsman, but everything was fairly positive. I liked the emphasis on taking care of the needy. Thank you for continually holding your own in a very reactive mormon world. I was recently told to “go join another church” just for expressing my concern over the inequality of women in our church. they didn’t even want to ask more questions or reach out to me. They just wanted me to leave. So sad. I don’t know how you can take all the ignorant “vagina” comments from people. I admire you. I firmly believe that our feelings about women in the church come from a place where God resides within us and to suggest otherwise is damaging and wrong.

  85. I served as the first female physical facilities representative for the SLC institute building for our stake, and I can tell you it was the most fulfilling calling I have ever had. Many people (including some members of the stake high council) questioned whether or not I could fulfill this calling, but the high councilman whom I reported to said he had never had a more efficient, responsible assistant. I now have a stake calling in the DC-area also traditional held by a man, but I will never forget that first experience breaking the gender traditions (not doctrine) in my stake.

  86. Barbara

    Thank you for this post! I have been disappointed by the outrage of many members of the church because of the Rock Center program. Most of what I have seen has been directed towards Abby Huntsman’s segments but some towards yours as well. I wish they would have spent less time with Abby and more time with you sharing more thoughts than just on ordination. I am not a Mormon feminist, I do not call for ordination and I embrace the Proclamation and the roles defined within it. I have never felt like my role in the church was an inferior one. However, I feel there are many members of our church who struggle with, hope for change or don’t fully understand certain practices and doctrines. Aren’t we all here to learn and gain understanding as we go along? Isn’t it our responsibility to try to teach and influence others for good? I admire men and women who continue to practice the faith even though they have questions. We all bring different backgrounds and beliefs (within our shared belief system) to the church. As members of the church we should embrace the differences and learn from one another. I am sad so many people would say hateful things to you and even call for your excommunication. We all need to be a lot less judgmental and more concerned with our own standing with God.

  87. Sara

    I echo what others have said in that I am sorry that you received so much criticism because I think topics like these deserve an open dialog. I don’t see a problem with being a feminist and a Mormon, especially given your definition of such. My experience has been different than yours in that I feel that I am more respected at church than I am in my neighborhood where I am frequently street harassed or even at where I work (a private college). Generally speaking, at church I see more men taking responsibility for their children, and consulting more with their wives than men outside the church. It has never bothered me to not hold the priesthood. It has not affected my self worth or day-to-day existence. I can see your viewpoint and it makes me wonder, do you think having the priesthood would make you a better person than you could be through your own efforts? Why do you feel that this is a “gift” (not a responsibility) that makes you “less-than”? This is not meant as an attack, rather honest questions.

  88. Vinniecat

    I don’t feel at a personal disadvantage for not holding the priesthood – I feel very confident in accessing the power of God through my own petitions. What I do feel is a terrible lack of input from women in the decision-making processes of our church. I have had my input readily dismissed in councils where men always make up the majority. I have prepared Primary budgets where the lion’s share and then some went to fund programs for boys and met with great resistance when I suggested more parity. I am now wincing each Sunday when I attend Sacrament meeting and women are no longer allowed to give the invocation nor be the final speaker in the program in my Stake. Some may say these are silly, little things but to me they speak to a serious problem in our faith. Some see ordination of women to the priesthood as an answer. How can women be fully included when our opinions/suggestions/inspirations/revelations are continually held to scrutiny by a priesthood-holder presiding over us?

  89. Lara

    Amen Joanna, A Freaking Men! As a member of the church who has 5 brothers it is fantastic to read this.

  90. Steve

    For all those who feel that a woman doesn’t need the priesthood in order to contribute and have a positive influence in the church, let me ask you this:

    Suppose a boy just turning 12 decides he doesn’t need the priesthood to have a positive influence in the church and declines ordination. Would it be possible for him to still have a positive influence in the church? Why or why not?

    • Sara

      Steve,

      I am interested to hear your response to that question.

      • Steve

        Sara,

        I threw this out as a hypothetical, but I do have some experience with this. I wasn’t ordained a deacon until I was nearly 13. I was worthy to be ordained a deacon and receive the priesthood when I turned 12. Really, when it comes down to it, the only thing you need to be worthy to be ordained a deacon is to be a 12 year old boy. Most boys at that age will not have had much of a chance to do anything to jeopardize that especially if they grew up in Utah, but I digress.

        I just didn’t want to be ordained. Admittedly a big part of that was laziness, but I was a very sober, serious child and I took the priesthood responsibility very seriously. I didn’t want to take that on if I didn’t need to.

        But I eventually caved into pressure from my bishop, parents and other boys. My parents were really looking forward to me receiving the priesthood, and my dad in particular took it hard that he couldn’t ordain me. Also, I couldn’t stay in the primary once I turned 12 and had to start attending the deacon’s quorum at the start of the next year because there really wasn’t anywhere else I could go. Many of the other boys were resentful that they had to collect fast offerings and wear white shirts to pass the sacrament while I didn’t and made my life hell as a result.

    • Ryan

      I think having any meaningful influence on the church (at least from within the church) is unlikely, as once you break from the roles, structure, or mainstream beliefs of the church you become an outsider and are more inclined to become inactive.

      I am a socially liberal (I believe in gay rights), introverted (I didn’t go on a mission, dislike public speaking, and generally am uncomfortable in leadership positions), feminist (under the new definition) –ultimately the trifecta of Mormon alienation– which makes me feel quite ncomfortable going to the church. Hence my inactive status and ineffectual influence. (and yet even after 15 inactive years I still love the church and most of the things it is and stands for)

  91. Homer

    We tend to get caught up in the “ordination” bugaboo when it’s mentioned but the real question involves real issues of voice and status. Those within the power structure tend to think things are fine. In a recent stake meeting I brought up a complaint from some mothers (women) about the scheduling of stake baptisms at 9:00am. My feeling was that this made sense for old men who would like to get some things done like mow the lawn so they want to get the baptisms out of the way early. But it creates a real burden for people getting ready for that baptism with relatives coming in from all over, and getting hair and clothes done and ready at that hour and ensure a sweet beautiful spiritual experience all at the same time–a burden, which generally falls on the woman in this case since the man is getting into his white clothes.

    The response I got from the HC member, was “huh, well, I haven’t heard any complaints”. (in my mind I wanted to say, well, yeah, you just did) I just answered, “well, I don’t see any women in this meeting right now”.. There was some silence, but it was the truth. Then I explained, If our priesthood is going to mean anything like we say it does then it requires us to bring women’s voices into these meetings. We are their advocates in our callings. Many people have expressed the idea in these comments that the priesthood is to help men serve better, be better–I think that may be true to some extent.

  92. I’m glad you mentioned in this piece that women serve as they do in the Temple. I never said anything, believing I couldn’t. But it was one of the most amazing parts of my endowment–at age 61–to realize that these wonderful sisters were indeed equal, and so was I. I had become an adult during the age of the hippies and protests and feminism. Maybe it was me, or my parents’ histories, but being feminist–or personist–seems normal. I still am so grateful to know what I learned that day. I would like to find out more about early LDS women, it seems that there were a lot of feminists back then who would be just “doing what they felt called to do” if they were here today.

  93. Your definition of “Mormon feminist” works equally well as a definition for “feminist.”

  94. Ryan Reeder

    The thoughts expressed below should not be considered as official pronouncements of Church doctrine (of course).

    The idea that “men have the priesthood, women have motherhood” is true as far as it goes, but the doctrine is much more expansive than that.

    The priesthood is without beginning of days nor end of years (see Hebrews 7:3 (note JST), Alma 13:7, Doctrine and Covenants 84:17). The priesthood can exist independent of the Church; the Church cannot exist independent of the priesthood.

    The Church is organized after an ecclesiastical order. The Temple functions after the patriarchal order. An ecclesiastical order is temporary; the patriarchal order is eternal. If the organizations of the Church were stripped away, the priesthood and the family would remain. But, in order to serve and help our Father in Heaven’s children progress on their journey towards eternal life, the Church exists. In certain functions, callings, such as Bishops, Stake Presidents, and General Authorities are filled by worthy, priesthood-holding males. However, it is noteworthy that these callings are filled by those who have been sealed to a wife in the temple under the patriarchal order of the priesthood. (Speaking further than this on the matter outside the temple might not be appropriate).

    In our day-to-day lives, we perceive men and women as separate individuals–and to some extent, we are. However, from the eternal perspective, or from God’s perspective, “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). The purpose of the priesthood is to exalt men and women together, bound eternally as husband and wife, with their children sealed to them in an unbroken, eternal chain. Perhaps this is one reason why the Hebrew word “Elohim,” translated as God, is plural. They are plural. God could not be God without his wife. “Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one” (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:8).

    This is why a discussion of women holding the priesthood in a manner like men do misses the point. Yes, in the Church, men sometimes function in certain ecclesiastical roles that women don’t. But remember, the Church is only a temporary (or temporal) entity. The true order of the priesthood is seen within the family (and glimpsed in the temple, as you alluded to). There we see that women and men do not have dominance over one another; their separate roles are essential and vital to one another within the order of the priesthood. Men cannot progress without women; women cannot progress without men. And that’s actually pretty much what this life is all about (Doctrine and Covenants 49:15-17).

  95. Margaret

    I watched the show and agree with you on the show and in this article. Well said.

  96. “A Mormon feminist is a person who thinks that all people should have the opportunity to love and serve God with all their might, mind, and strengthregardless of gender, race, or sexuality.” Isn’t that supposed to be “serve Jesus,” at least until Mitt gets elected?

  97. FocusOnWhatYouHave

    I fully expect to be torched for posting this; either way, here I go.

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “We know so little, brothers and sisters, about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. We are accustomed to focusing on the men of God because theirs is the priesthood and leadership line. But paralleling that authority line is a stream of righteous influence reflecting the remarkable women of God who have existed in all ages and dispensations, including our own. Greatness is not measured by coverage in column inches, either in newspapers or in the scriptures. The story of the women of God, therefore, is, for now, an untold drama within a drama…Just as certain men were foreordained from before the foundations of the world, so were certain women appointed to certain tasks. Divine design—not chance—brought Mary forward to be the mother of Jesus. The boy prophet, Joseph Smith , was blessed not only with a great father but also with a superb mother, Lucy Mack, who influenced a whole dispensation.”
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/04/the-women-of-god?lang=eng

    It suffices me to say that it is a tough sell for me to accept “And I think that Mormon history provides us plenty of evidence that the “men have priesthood, women have motherhood” rationale is not even faithful to our own doctrine. It’s not even correct”

    What I would point out though is this: it never ceases to amaze me that in the quest to elevate the position of women it always comes down to making women do the things men do. Why do we never focus on glorifying things that women alone can do or that historically/traditionally/whatever have been performed by girls? Why do always have to make girls do what guys do? Why not make the glorification of female roles be the focus as opposed to “we have to be able to do what guys do”?

    I leave you to think about what Sis. Hinckley said, not in a spirit of “stay put where you are” but as she meant it: women who excel in traditionally feminine roles have nothing to prove and deserve only admiration. You don’t have to be a like the men to be valuable.

    “We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.”
    ― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

  98. Elle

    Congratulations to the women in my former ward who may now say the closing prayer in sacrament meeting—14 months AFTER I pointed out to the bishop where it states in the Bishops’ Handbook that women may say opening and closing prayers in any church meeting. We have such a long way to go…

  99. myboynoah

    Sister Joanna,

    I thought you were pretty awesome and feel badly that some of our co-religionists felt compelled to respond so negatively. At some point in their lives I’m sure they will look back and regret it.

    Stay strong.

  100. Jonathan

    The premise for your Mormon feminist argument is spiritually flawed. You say that “for some of us, questions of decision-making and institutional participation and visibility take priority.” The very nature of the priesthood, and any church calling for that matter, should never be for want of ‘decision-making’ (i.e. power) or for ‘visibility.’ (see Matt. 6:1-7) Also, the priesthood is not the reason anyone has power in the church, it is because they are called of God. Bishops are not bishops because of the priesthood, they are bishops because they were called to be, by God. (see Hebrews 5:4) The Spirit is the greater gift from God, and both men and women can be blessed and guided by the Spirit to influence others and and exercise Godly power in the Church. And I do agree that priesthood and motherhood are not equal. Motherhood is a much higher calling. President Heber J. Grant said: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” The whole purpose of the priesthood is to serve others, especially women. Sadly, some men take it as a way to exercise power, but ironically they lose the power when it is used incorrectly. We should all be thankful that our doctrine is not created by Pulitzer-Prize winning historians, but by modern-day prophets called of God. And back when women were exercising the priesthood in the ways she mentions, Mormons were also allowed to chew tobacco and drink alcohol. Asking questions is encouraged in the Church, but it is not our place to make demands for the Lord to change the way He leads us.

    I highly recommend everyone read this chapter from The Teachings of Heber J. Grant:
    http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-22?lang=eng

  101. ap

    I posted a link to this article, which I very much enjoyed, on my fb page, and I started a family controversy. My sister is now “distraught” and her husband has taken up the defense, and my mom is trying to mediate. Just curious what you would say to one of his arguments: The premise for her Mormon feminist argument is spiritually flawed. She says that “for some of us, questions of decision-making and institutional participation and visibility take priority.” The very nature of the priesthood, and any church calling for that matter, should never be for want of ‘decision-making’ (i.e. power) or for ‘visibility.’ (see Matt. 6:1-7) Also, the priesthood is not the reason anyone has power in the church, it is because they are called of God. Bishops are not bishops because of the priesthood, they are bishops because they were called to be, by God. (see Hebrews 5:4) The Spirit is the greater gift from God, and both men and women can be blessed and guided by the Spirit to influence others and and exercise Godly power in the Church. And I do agree that priesthood and motherhood are not equal. Motherhood is a much higher calling. President Heber J. Grant said: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” The whole purpose of the priesthood is to serve others, especially women. Sadly, some men take it as a way to exercise power, but ironically they lose the power when it is used incorrectly. We should all be thankful that our doctrine is not created by Pulitzer-Prize winning historians, but by modern-day prophets called of God. And back when women were exercising the priesthood in the ways she mentions, Mormons were also allowed to chew tobacco and drink alcohol. Asking questions is encouraged in the Church, but it is not our place to make demands for the Lord to change the way He leads us.

  102. sweetcruz

    I so greatly appreciated your explanation and unfortunately, I believe that there is an emphasis on priesthood because large numbers of priesthood holders do not understand their responsibilities, sit on the sidelines, and do not internalize nor act on what it means to give the service that they are ordained to do. All people are free to do good, and practice their religion according to their conscience, so it may also be partly to blame to relief society presidents and relief society members not rallying to accomplish great things. I am a woman, I am married, I am a member, and guess what, I’m in medical school to become a doctor so that I can do great things. I don’t need anyone’s permission to do something great with my life. Three of my sisters are stay at home moms and they do great things with their lives. People everywhere are so quick to judge.

  103. BOakey

    I’m not at all impressed with the post. It is teeming with contempt for the fundamental and undeniable doctrine that men and women have different roles in the kingdom of God as evidenced by your scornful and repetitive mocking of the “priesthood vs. vagina” dichotomy. Any sap who has read the scriptures (and believes them) would have to admit that it’s God’s order that men administer in the church. Yet, Mormon women have not only read and professed a testimony of the scriptures, but have also any many instances been endowed wherein they have heard God’s very clear explanation of the proper relationship between men and women and God. So, let’s be clear about who you’re petitioning for ordination; so-called “feminist Mormons” can only be disgruntled towards God himself. Mormon feminists are in effect saying that God doesn’t know how to run His own kingdom. It’s unmitigated absurdity. Thus, even if you are not personally pushing for ordination as you claim, you ought to be smart enough to see how foolish it is to stir up and nurture this sentiment in other LDS women. You should use your audience to build up the kingdom, not to plant seeds of discontent.

    • Sara

      Boakey,

      I don’t interpret this post as a woman stirring up the seeds of discontent. I struggle with some issues that this post, and these commenters in particular, have helped me to grapple with. I am glad that there is a forum, a community of people who are willing to discuss unpopular opinions and beliefs because by having an open expression of ideas we can actually come to the truth.

      I think in some ways you are right about a person’s feelings about God when the person is conflicted regarding a woman’s role in the church and the Priesthood. I will admit that part of the reason I began to wonder why there were such obvious differences between gender responsibilities in the church was because I so closely believed that the organization of the church equaled God’s ultimate opinion on the world. Thus, I started to equate the inequality that I saw in the church as God’s inferior view of me, a woman.

      I am relieved that God does not feel this way about me, and without people who did not go through the same struggles as me voicing it–on the Internet or elsewhere–I may still believe that God thinks I am inferior.

  104. David Briscoe

    One question, Marvelous Mormon Girl: Is this forum monitored and all dumb stuff removed, because it’s remarkably constructive, sane and useful for a discussion of Mormonism. I confess to not reading all of the responses to this excellent posting but I have only one way to describe my reaction to what I did read: It’s downright inspiringly positive and renews my faith in Mormon mankind and womankind. Congratulations.

  105. ReNee McDonald

    I have been a member all my life, I have never ever felt limited in my role in the gospel simply because I am a woman, and the Proclamation certainly didn’t make me feel limited to the labor and delivery floor…although I am now expecting my 9th child! I have always felt that that the Lord limits for each one of us is only what we set for ourselves…and your definition for the new feminist person…has always been my creed. Maybe it isn’t the church or culture that holds us back but the knowledge we each have to attain for ourselves…though I would acknowledge there are members out there that often would hold other members back because of their own lack of knowledge….but that should never be an issue…Let your light so shine!

  106. Just another guy in the pew

    A sister in my ward gave the concluding talk in sacrament meeting this past Sunday; it was a very good talk. I’m afraid I don’t see why it matters what order the speakers go in. Is there some kind of “double-dose” of The Spirit that’s supposed to kick in for the concluding speaker? Am I supposed to pay more attention, or give greater consideration to their words than those of the preceding speaker? Who cares? I went to ward council after church. The Relief Society President gave the invocation. After this, the council got to hear the points of view of 3 different women representing 3 different auxiliary organizations. The heads of priesthood quorums and young mens auxiliaries were not given priority over them in any way. When I was called to serve as the ward Sunday School President a few years back, I wasn’t sure at the time whether or not I could have sisters as counselors. I know of no reason why, except that that is not how those called of God have seen fit to organize that part of the kingdom. It’s not the first time I didn’t have an answer for why that was so, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I listen to the talks by General officers of the church, including all the sisters who currently serve in these callings. I’m not unwilling to consider what those sisters say when moved upon by the spirit as scripture–in fact, I expect that I can depend on what they say as scripture in that case. I believe the same is true of my wife when she is moved upon by the Spirit, and within her sphere of responsibility as the matriarch of our home. She leads our family in a myriad of ways, and supports my leadership as the patriarch within it as well. I think perhaps there’s more than one way to understand the scripture regarding marriage warning against “being yoked unequally”. A yoke of oxen pull side by side.

    But I’m afraid I don’t understand why some within the church feel that women should be ordained to the priesthood. If the Lord revealed through his prophet that women were to receive the priesthood, and I was able to receive my own testimony of that, GREAT. I know of no reason why they don’t, other than that it’s what the Lord has revealed to his servants, the prophets. If The Lord saw fit to change things, fine, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d revealed something new, would it? And I’d happily do my best to do exactly what I’m already doing–striving to build up the Kingdom of God as best I can (and screwing up as much as anybody else). Forget about whatever doctrinal question it’s about–it comes down to whether or not this is a church with Jesus Christ at the head, and is in truth, directed by a living prophet of God.

    If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is really led by a prophet today who speaks the will of The Lord, what’s the problem? If you believe that this is true, than isn’t your problem with The Lord, and his will? If The Lord felt that women should be ordained to the priesthood, why would his prophet not carry that out? Do these people feel that President Monson is purposely trying to frustrate the purposes of The Lord? Do they feel that he is unintentionally frustrating the purposes of The Lord-just doing a bad job as a mortal man within his calling as a prophet? Let’s say the latter is true: what are you to do with a fellow church member whom you have promised to sustain, when you feel they are not doing their calling according to your satisfaction? It doesn’t seem to me that The Lord is displeased with President Monson’s fulfillment of his current calling; certainly not to an extent warranting his release from that calling. What of that?
    It seems to me that either the church is really led by (yes, mortal and fallible men) who nevertheless really are prophets of God, or it is not. If it isn’t, well, then who cares? The church is then just one more human institution, and hence free to distribute its priesthood according to the whims of the people in charge of it.

    Given the following:

    1. The church is led by the Lord’s living prophet, who is charged to act in accordance with the will of the Lord.

    2. The Lord reveals his will to the living prophet.

    3. Faithful members of the Church covenant to sustain the living prophet.

    4. The will of The Lord as currently revealed to the prophet is that men are to bear the priesthood.

    If those who believe that women should hold the priesthood believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does in fact, have Jesus Christ as its head, what other conclusion is left to them except that they know the will of the Lord better than the Lord’s prophet, and that the living prophet is not carrying out the will of The Lord regarding who is ordained to the priesthood? Let’s say for the sake of argument that they are right. If that’s true, its also true that The Lord doesn’t seem to feel that it’s important enough to remove the current prophet from his calling; maybe we should consider that in our decision to sustain him or not in that calling.

  107. Robin

    It is very often that the clerk and/or assistant clerks are alone with a member of the bishopric.
    If the clerk was a woman, there would need to be a lot of changes. For example: a bishopric member and the clerk would never be able to close the door. It would make confidential work more difficult, such as counting tithing. And, it may cause spouses to become nervous with
    long hours.

    A male clerk is easier. It is practical.

  108. Anna Davison

    Two years ago I read ‘Daughters of Light’ and was thrilled to come to understand that I too have access to ALL the gifts of the Spirit through my personal faith, because I had been baptized and confirmed in the LDS Church, and had the gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed on me; and I did not need the priesthood to do so.

    I had occasion to be with my daughter and son-in-law when their first child was born shortly after that reading. One evening the baby was being particularly fussy, her parents exhausted, and frustration was running high. I sent them to bed around 9pm with the offer to stay up and sooth their daughter. While I held her in my arms, the stories of wonderful blessings given by women came to mind. I thought to myself ‘If it was permissable for those sisters in the early days of the church to bless and heal as needed, why couldn’t I do the same’. I cuddled her close and invoked the Spirit to bless her with a soothing spirit to calm her, and to help her parents feel the joy of being parents, to not be overwhelmed by their responsibilities. The baby quieted immediately. I felt we were eneloped in a blanket of warmth and love. After sitting quietly for a while, I placed her in her bed next to her sleeping parents.
    The next morning I was told she slept through until 5am, nursed and went back to sleep. Her parents were well rested and ready to face the new day.
    Interesting that after returning home, I was aked to speak at the March Relief Society anniversary social and shared that experience. NO ONE commented on it!

    • Anna, this is the first anecdotal description I have seen of this, and, considering that I had never even heard of women doing this for their families at all until this discussion online, nor did I know about any powerful things women could do until I took out my own endowments, I actually believed it was all confined to RS and some callings to teach classes. It was actually in the Temple I discovered a hint of what we were, and how literally we could be daughters of God. Now I am learning more. I think too many of the sisters have paid too much attention to the wrong things in society and not looked at the reality of what there is for us. It seems that it’s more than a matter of who has what authority. It’s a matter of the authority to do what, and who does or doesn’t need keys to use it. Is that making any sense to you?

  109. Joanna,
    I liked the Daily Show program and thought you came off very well. My only complaint–and it is a complaint–is that you were too kind to the church. I don’t think that the church is as kind as you made it out to be. And I’m pretty sure that you’re not having the same experience as the rest of us. You married a non-LDS person and you are an educated journalist, facts which put you in a different category than those women who were constrained to marry in the temple at a young age, not completing their education so that the husband could complete his instead, women who also dutifully began having babies immediately while still living in student poverty.

    I think you have deconstructed Mormonism in a way that fits you well and you can do it because of your notoriety, such as it is. I applaud you for this, as it takes something a lot of Mormons don’t have. Many cannot do that , and instead pursue a different path that they are more or less forced to take. Their attempt to deconstruct would not be tolerated. I’m not trying to be catty or anything here, but am merely pointing out the inconsistencies and arbitrary nature of Mormonism.

    I admire you and John Dehlin very much for being in the positions you are to illustrate what you do and for being voices of change within Mormonism. Do I believe that Mormonism will change? Actually, Mormonism has done nothing but morph from one thing into another, always from outside pressure of one kind or another. So, yes, I believe it will change. But it is run by people who are not in the best of touch with the outside, old entrenched self-serving men who feel threatened, in fact. Change will be painfully slow and late.

  110. Bethany

    I believe that our purpose on this earth can be very simply framed. We are here to return to Heavenly Father. Our paths are different, but each of us want the same end goal – to return to Heavenly Father. For me, I believe that women and men both play an essential role in accomplishing this goal. Without women – men would not be returning to the Lord and vice versus. I say this generally speaking – as a gender role versus a marital role.As a feminist, I am comfortable with my responsibility as a female to return to the Lord. This is my primary focus and goal. I have chosen to let some of the issues I don’t understand now rest – - for now. When I keep my focus on my Heavenly Father, I see through him that I am equal in his sight. I am a member of an imperfect church but I follow a perfect God. That being said, I do believe that the gospel (not the church) is the only place in this world that women and men are seen as perfectly equal.

    • Homer

      Not to pick at a sincerely stated view of life’s purpose, but I have to disagree with this “simplified” way to view the purpose of life. Our simple one sentence “answers” to life’s Big Questions sometimes mask the unease we feel faced with our inability to fully comprehend the infinite and awesomely amazing possibilities of existence. “To get back” seems a pretty lame goal when apparently we jumped for joy and rejoiced at the prospect of leaving in the first place. Why would we be so joyful if the point was to do a quick U-turn and make it back. Why go through everything and all this craziness in life when none of that matters? Seriously, as cool and grandiose and as “simple” as that sounds “returning to Heavenly Father” just begs the question–for what purpose? Hey, I’m back . . . now what.

      And by the way, the reality is, it’s a done deal. Through the mercy of God’s grace and the power of Christ’s infinite atonement, we ALL return to our Heavenly Father. Every single one of us. We don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it, and we certainly don’t accomplish it through a risk-averse approach to life. That said, as we return to God’s presence the eternal question again presents itself–now what? There is a judgement, an evaluation to explore that fundamental question of our existence. After returning to God’s presence it’s not over. That’s not the end, nor the end goal–it’s actually just the beginning if you believe in Eternal Progression. For what purpose do I continue my existence?

      We live this life in a constant state of stress and change as we face a world that constantly surprises us, respond to uncontrollable trials, and uneasily coexist with other unpredictable human comrades, co- travelers in this crazy mortal existence. As we scramble along this path of life we get to figure out how we want to live (and prove it by doing it), and ultimately, hopefully, figure out what kind of person we would like to be. Learning how to purposefully walk away from the natural man and co-create ourselves as a “new creature” in Christ I believe is a much deeper conception of life purpose.

      The atonement is transformative–it isn’t enough to just “be” saved. Being saved just begs the same old question: great,”I’m saved”, now to what purpose? People make it sound like this life is just a scary game of hide and seek and if we can only get to “homebase” without getting tagged we can be safe. As if safety and comfort were the end all of human possibilities. No, this life is where we live, not just exist, but live. It’s the arena where we choose, explore, act, assert, risk, try, fight, face challenges, evaluate, create, and love. It’s also where we hide, run, avoid, fear, destroy, and hate. Wow, life is crazy. And when we say the atonement makes this all possible we are not just lightly praising the atonement. It allows for this whole chaotic messy experience, then gets us back to God’s presence as well as providing the framework for creating ourselves, becoming something different or more than we are at any given moment. In fact, I don’t believe we ever stop this process of becoming.

      The possibilities for each of us as humans on this journey are infinite and eternally opening up to us. The glory is found in the journey, not the end, because there really isn’t any end.

  111. Michael Carpenter

    Joanna, I thought you ROCKED Rock Center. Same for Mitch Mayne. The people who criticize you from underneath rocks have no idea how hard it is to express your ides to a TV camera and then let the editors decide what to present in the final cut.

    The thing that was obvious to me (maybe because I read and loved your book) but other people seemed to have missed is that your comments, even if they seem critical, are coming from a place of love for the church. You love the church and so you want to make it a better place. If you didn’t love the church so much it would be easy for you to just walk away and not say anything at all. I wish more people could see that.

    So, I say Kudos to you (and Mitch and everyone else on the show) for being brave enough to put it all out there.

  112. David Briscoe

    The opening sentence of my comment just posted should read: THESE seriously are just questions.

  113. Mack

    The male equivalent of the vagina is the priesthood? I thought it was the penis. Silly me.

    Perhaps the good sister who emailed you that might consider that men don’t need the priesthood, since they’re also capable of reproducing and raising children.

  114. Janer

    I appreciate what you are saying for women feminism, but I guess I do not feel the same way at all. I have to say I love my role in the eyes of the church. I am content in what I do. No way would I ever want the priesthood, I have enough responsibility without it. I don’t want to add more. Who wants to be a Bishop anyway? Never have I felt less than appreciated in the church. During Womens Conference I go away feeling amazing and proud to be who I am. Again, I appreciate your view and how you feel as a woman in the church.

    • This is long, but here it goes. What I see personally, more of a move by women to judge themselves, how they feel that they need or deserve what others have without the sacrifices that go with those responsibilities. What is stopping you? If you think women need more responsibility then just step up and do it. Why do you need a man to tell you, or give you permission to go and visit the sick or the needy or for the love, why in the world do you need permission to get together and do the kind of service that Emma had going? NO ONE is stopping you. Stop thinking that men are limiting your capacity to serve. We are told as RS members that enrichment classes/groups can be organized according to the needs of the women. Well, heck, get off you tush, stop waiting for direction from the men, go to the RS president say, “several of us want to do XYZ” and DO it. Somewhere in the last century the attitude of women has changed. As evidenced in this article, women have gone from a “we can do this, let’s get this done” to “can we? Please? I don’t know if we can”, wishy washy people who think that men are belittling them because they don’t think they have the same role or responsibility that the organizers of RS had. However, I propose that unlike Emma and Eliza who said “we need this, let’s get it done” and being proactive about serving women nowadays, and I want to specifically call out those feminists who believe they are being marginalized, that you are not being proactive.
      Ok so I personally think I am a feminist in that I think women are just as good as men in most things and that if I want to do something no one is going to stop me. That being said I don’t understand some hang ups other feminists have.

      I am one of those people who thinks, “Stop complaining about something and do it.” You want a woman to be president? Do it. I don’t see anything standing in the way except your own limitations /hang-ups (read: do I really want to go through the trouble…) If we haven’t done something as women then it’s only because we haven’t really wanted to or haven’t been willing to fail a bazillion times to succeed that one time or realize that there are better, more worthwhile things we can be doing with our time. I’m not talking about women as a collective, I’m talking about any one woman. I have yet to see anyone say “Hey I want to be president of the US so I’m going to do it,” and go through the process of getting it done. There have been 33 women who have run for president. 33. How many men have run for president? Statistically speaking that’s a huge disparity, and it’s only because women have not done the work, put themselves out there. Feminists talk about ceilings, yet I don’t see any, I see statistics but no ceilings. I tell my daughter you want it, go get it. If you don’t do it the first time how many times are you going to keep going for what you want? How badly do you want it? Lincoln tried to run for office and failed something like 16 times but he PERSONALLY kept trying. Where is the woman that has tried that many times? Show me the woman that kept trying. I see feminists say there is a glass ceiling and yet who has tried? A woman tries once maybe twice and says “oh there must be a glass ceiling, I can’t do it.”

      If you want it bad enough though, there are sacrifices, but there are those sacrifices that men give up too, pick your poison. When did women become victims? I’m sure as heck not going to tell my daughter that there “might possibly be a glass ceiling because no woman has succeeded.” What will you sacrifice for the success you want? Men sacrifice family time, families in general, why don’t women have to make that same sacrifice? You want it, fine go get it.

      What is it that feminists want? I don’t seem to understand this key tenant. To me I feel that most feminists are bitter women who want other women to do the work so they don’t have to, or they want men to bow to their aims, even though those same women are unwilling to give up or sacrifice on behalf of those aims, and until someone with enough fortitude to make those hard decisions for her own personal life, these feminists are just going to whine about inequality because they want the cake but don’t want to bake the cake, or put themselves out there.

      The women who have gone on to the highest levels have sacrificed things. I never hear about Condi’s family life or Nancy’s. These women, even though I don’t agree with some politics have made it. I think if Condi ran for president she would be elected, she has worked and sacrificed that much. She has said repeatedly, she doesn’t want it. With Nancy she was a stay at home mother first. Going from volunteer to deep in the politics as far as putting herself out there AFTER her children were mostly grown. What a commendation to her name! To everything there is a time and a season.

      I don’t think this failing to ascend to the highest echelons of government or business is a lack of fortitude on behalf of women, but I think our nature is more contemplative and giving. As I wrote the last sentence I thought to myself “what a croc!” Women have made it to the highest levels of government and business, goodness there is a woman as secretary of state, former Speaker of the house. Just because there hasn’t been a POTUS or a VP that’s been a woman… but then only 33 women have run for the presidency. I think our not rising to the presidency is directly related to our nature.
      I present the following. Woman is intuitively sensitive to families and the need of them. Eve, thinking about life, realized that should she not give up herself, society would not happen. She gave up herself to provide for a family. Isn’t this the same thing that happens today? It is the women who think about giving up themselves in order to provide the opportunity to others, more specifically our families. Oftentimes it is thinking of starting a family that causes women to leave certain fields. In leaving, even for a few months to have a baby, may cost you the job you so desire. Those are a few months that men do not give up. “What about the equality?” Feminists proclaim. Why should they (women) be penalized for doing something noble that they want. And yet, that’s just it. It is something that women WANT. I think this is innate in us, something we cannot fight or battle. It is something we want. I stress want because we don’t have to have children, we don’t have to be pregnant or for that matter take time off to be with the baby. So for the sake of argument let’s look at bearing children as a WANT. Ok, let’s see a man take a couple of months off for personal reasons and come back expecting the same level of respect or position. Would that happen? Of course not. Sacrifices must be made in order to have the job/life you want. For anybody to achieve that level, most often it is the family that is sacrificed. Women in general, I feel have this sense/drive to provide or to have that family. I think it is something in our nature, an inheritance from Eve that we feel the need to bring children into the world, often sacrificing ourselves and our careers in order to do that. I feel that many women who are in careers do not want to be penalized for taking the time off, that is why we have maternity leave. And yet even though there is legal maternity leave where women are not to be penalized for taking time off, in high power jobs we know they are. Why? What would happen to a man who decided that he is going to take 2 months off because they want to do something, will that man receive the same treatment? Will that man receive the accommodation of taking those months off and be able to come back to his same position? I think not. I think many a woman would be upset should a man decide to spend 2 months golfing and come back to the same position/respect while a woman was working away. Why should we not grant men the same privilege we are demanding? Equality and all that. Again certain things are sacrificed, it’s either you and you desires, or you and your career.

      How much good would come about if women stopped thinking about what men thought of them and did their best to whatever aim/goal desired? What would happen if women in general, as a collective looked around them, saw poverty or something that needed to get done, got their friends together then did it, recognition be damned. We are taught if you are only doing something for recognition, you have your reward. So the question becomes, do you want recognition or do you want to better the world like Emma and Eliza? You see, they didn’t do it to beat their chest and say “I am woman, hear me roar, respect me.” They did it to help others. By helping others, people recognized their good works and honored them.

      The way Satan operates in this world is to take the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture to manipulate to make the perception of bad things to seem good. For example he takes something that is good and marginalizes it until it seems not of worth. I feel this is what he has done with families, with women, and with abortion. All in the name of “women’s rights”. Small things. He marginalizes them, babies are not babies anymore but fetuses. Or the sanctity of marriage by instigating a joke “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Yes, yes there is. But you see this is how Satan works. But to what end?

      I feel the reason for the gospel is families. Plain and simple. Our kind and loving Heavenly Father has sent us to this world so that we can have families, the things that make us happy.

      If the purpose of this life, is to attain happiness and the way we do that is through families wouldn’t that be the main goal of the devil, to destroy families in whatever capacity he was able? What is the surest and fastest way to destroy families? The mother.
      I want to illustrate what I’m saying with an analogy and a question. This past weekend we went to go see the space shuttle Discovery. As we were looking at it we noticed certain things on the shuttle. We saw the thrusters in the back, the black and the white on the shuttle and it was all really really cool. If you think about the space shuttle I want to ask a question. What is the most important part of the shuttle? Name a part, any part. What is the most impressive? To many it is the thrusters on the bottom and the wings. I mean seriously spectacular. Amazing. If I was to be part of a space shuttle I’d want to be either the thrusters or the wings, because that’s what you see the most, the coolest parts no?
      I propose that neither the thrusters nor the wings are the most important part but the black little tiles on the bottom. Not the most glamourous. Yeah, definitely not glamourous, impressive but not glamourous. You see the black part of a space shuttle is made up of thousands of little tiles, each one different.

      And yet without these little tiles everything would fall apart. Everything would explode. You see these little tiles are the heat shield. They protect the shuttle from the fiery reentry. These little tiles are what make it possible for the shuttle to come home. And yet if Satan could get even one of these tiles to loose sight or faith as to how important she is he can cause a chink in the tile. All he needs is for one tile to become weak, angry, resentful for being a tile. It just takes one chink to make the reentry impossible. It just takes one break of one tile stating “I want to be a thruster or the wings so I can have power and direction…”

      Eve, knew in the garden of Eden that she would need to sacrifice herself to bring about humankind. She gave up herself. This is our divine inheritance. I believe Eve knew she would be mocked belittled and marginalized for making the decision to give up herself, and yet she chose to be firm. She chose to enable us to come to earth. She chose to be a shield, to give herself to the heat in order to protect the family. This is our divine inheritance.
      Satan will always seek to belittle that sanctity. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich stated that the decline in apparent responsibilities of women in the church after WWII should be called the “great disappearance” of women in the more visible roles of the church.
      And yet if this historian fails to recognize the publication of Daughters of the Kingdom, WRITTEN BY WOMEN which states that the role of the RS was shrunk after WWII because the need to protect the family was utmost in importance.
      Jana Riess said,
      “For the last 90 years, everything has been channeled through the priesthood — all decision-making, rituals, everything that goes on in Mormon life,” Riess says. “Women are completely shut out from having input into decision-making that affects their lives and their families.”
      Riess is reconciled to the idea that she doesn’t need the priesthood to enjoy the rituals, but is deeply troubled that “women are so systematically underutilized.”
      She sees two paths forward: Women either get the priesthood or the priesthood is expanded to accommodate greater involvement and visibility for women.

      I’m sorry but this is a load of crap. Women are completely shut out from having imput?! Underutlilized?! How so? Since when was a restriction put upon women in the church? Aren’t we asked to go a visit and give and administer to others? If you feel you need more after caring for those around you maybe you need to open your eyes a bit and see all the good that women could and should be doing. You see Satan is very insidious. If he can convince the Daughters of God to question their divine nature and develop a need for the approval of the world for them to know how special they are Satan is hammering away at the shield of the family. If Satan can convince a woman that she is marginalized he can convince her that maybe the church isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If he can convince her of that he weakens the shield of the family, the protector of the family. If Satan can weaken the shield of the family he can destroy the shuttle when the fiery darts of the adversary comes. We NEED the heat shield. We are divine. As Eliza R. Snow (one of the founding RS women) stated
      “Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters?….The greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities.”

  115. mommcc

    This post got so many comments, which is evidence that there are strong feelings about this issue! Thank you from me, just one Mormon girl trying to do my best to keep my covenants and fulfill my calling, but a lot of times feeling alone with my questions. I think it is necessary to talk about issues that cause hurt and frustration for people and cause them to question their faith, which is why I’m very grateful to Joanna for organizing a place for people to express their ideas.
    It is a mistake that this blog will “plant seeds of discontent” so you should “build up the kingdom” instead. These feelings are out there already, just left unaddressed maybe because people are afraid of being judged. It has strengthened my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ to talk about all of this and know that I’m not the only faithfully serving person in the church who has anguished and felt so much pain over this issue since my college years where I took a, yes very liberal, women’s studies course.
    I don’t agree with all that was said in this course and I consider myself conservative, but I am so glad that I was woken up to a lot of gender issues that I hadn’t had the chance to examine previously so that I’m more sensitive to others and able to be a greater influence for good. Even though it has been very hard to do so, I know I’m better for examining these issues. By not only reading what I was given to read as part of the class but also every piece of scripture including words of the General Authorities I have come through much more educated and aware!! Ignorance is never better than learning and shaping thoughts and ideas into what becomes greater wisdom. We are taught in the scriptures to search, ponder and pray, not to just accept what we are told. This is part of doing that! Every idea expressed, even though they seem to be based on doctrine in most of these posts, is not going to be right or perfect but that’s what it’s all about, people will know truth and use others’ ideas as a way of shaping their own. It is not bad or taboo to talk about things in the church!
    I have talked to my husband and many church member friends about this and the consensus seems to be that we don’t understand why things are the way that they are but we should follow the prophet and our church leaders. This always seems to come along with a feeling, whether stated or not, that if we’re more righteous we will just listen to what our husbands or other men say and do it. My question has always been, “How can we follow prophets when there seems to be such a chasm between the doctrine that is taught, our sacred temple ordinances, and a general knowledge among church members of how to apply this in our lives, the church and in our homes?”
    We are taught very lofty ideals about our roles as wives and mothers and how it is the nearest thing to divinity but then we see so many areas in our lives and in the church where women are not as respected, taught or revered as men. “Different” roles sometimes seems to equate with “not as much” or “not as good” in actual practices. We know from scripture that men aren’t supposed to exercise unrighteous dominion but men in the church tend to be very dominant and don’t seem to understand that it’s the same thing. Men presiding in families and in the church isn’t supposed to mean that they just get everything their way. I think they know this in theory but it is not very well practiced. I know we’re all doing the best we can and I don’t mean to criticize, I know I don’t do my role perfectly either. Also, it is just as much women’s fault if we don’t know or practice our roles how we should. It just seems that we are told one thing about how we are to view women but there is so much evidence that it’s not necessarily the case in practice that I think it becomes hard to believe.
    I don’t mean to presume to tell church leaders how to run the church. I know there is so much to take into account and I don’t have all the information. I would like to understand better and express what seems to be going on in my little world.
    For instance, my main reason in writing this is for ideas on how I might answer my 9 year old daughter, who asked me why scouts (for boys) is every week and activity days (for girls) is only two times a month. This doesn’t seem to concern most people but to me there is such a strong message sent to girls that they aren’t as important and don’t get as much time and energy focused on them in the church. That’s not to mention all the achievements and recognitions that go along with it. Many say this isn’t important but if it’s not important why do we do so much of it for boys? Scouts is so all encompassing with it’s requirements and opportunities for growth. If motherhood is so important, which of course it is, then don’t girls need to be prepared also? Maybe it’s up to us at home to be doing the preparation there. But, to do it for one and not the other leaves girls and boys with powerful impressions about their entitlement and importance not only in the church but also, if we believe God is in charge, then in the world. This seems to set girls up for subordination even if what we teach is against it.
    This is not the only example. There is the focus for young men with priesthood advancements and preparing for missions. We prepare young women for motherhood and getting married but in order to be the best mothers and wives don’t we need some of these opportunities for learning and growth that young men are constantly receiving?? This leads to a whole series of situations where girls aren’t as prepared. They don’t know how to do as many things in general, except of course cleaning and cooking and taking care of others. So, they seem to define themselves that their job is to take care of others and boys or men get to have fun and do what they want. Girls are seen as selfish is they want to do things that boys just take for granted that they can do. For instance, most people that are married have had the conversation that the husband needs to help out more with kids and around the house instead of doing things for themselves so that the wife can have some time for herself. They aren’t raised with the idea, at least not as often.
    There is other evidence of this constantly, at least from my perspective. In social groups, women most often are automatically assigned the care of children and cooking and cleaning while men are able to relax and do what they feel like doing, i.e.: watching the game or out chatting in the yard.
    I have had many experiences where my opinion wasn’t as valued as my husband’s. For instance, once in tithing settlement my husband and I expressed a difference of opinion in whether to pay on gross or net income. The bishop heard us both and then looked to him for our final decision. Is this really how disagreements are supposed to be handled? The husband just chooses or gets his way? Mine was the more generous way! If he is the head of the home, what does this mean exactly?
    My point is just that there are powerful messages sent to women and girls as well as to men and boys based on how we react and act in respect to them. I don’t know how to answer some of these questions from my three daughters so that I can help them to see how important and equal they are supposed to be.
    I am very thankful that I have the gospel in raising my children and in life in general because it provides such a strong force for good and I don’t want to diminish that by voicing these concerns. I just basically want to understand better, and see the correlation between what is taught and how we do things.
    I come from an affluent, educated area where there is a strong Mormon community. I have lived in Utah and other places and, for the most part, people in the church seem to be about the same all places I’ve been. I am grateful that my husband sees himself as the provider because I cherish that I can stay home and raise my children, that is very important to me. I don’t unrighteously want status, position or any type of glory. I just see a lot of instances where there are still such double standards in a negative way toward women and girls and hope that we can all eventually get it right. Any ideas on this and how to explain it to kids?

  116. I think your ideas are valid, but when it boils down to it; it isn’t a Church led by the ideas of ‘man’ and so many people seem to forget that. The Lord runs the Church, that’s what makes it true.

  117. Rick

    @tweedmeister, You talk as if mormon teenagers are brought to the temple as prisoners. You’ve stripped them of their ability to think and act on their own. That’s pretty disrespectful of LDS women everywhere. No one is dragging them to the altar (if anything, men are usually the ones compelled to the altar) and forcing them to do anything. They make choices – whether you agree with the choice or not. If a young woman chooses to get married and give up their career, it’s disingenuous to say they were forced. All of us make choices with the knowledge we have at the time. I may choose something that will limit my further association with a group – that applies inside or outside the Church.
    Constraint, along with force and compulsion are interesting words. They have no real meaning – they are flexible. You can use them to make inflammatory statements, and when someone reacts you can hide behind some lesser meaning. These words are typically used to dodge responsibility for actions, and can place the blame on some agressor.
    I think many people have a misconception about the Church and it’s motives, operation, etc. For example, the discussion about the Church “changing” in any substantive sense beyond cultural mores (such as acceptance of facial hair) in some ways is to deny the very nature of the Church. The real question there, Is the Church truly the Church of God headed by a prophet or not. If it is, then whether the Church is out of touch with the outside world is of little imprtance. It it is not, then it’s all moot. It’s nothing more than any other Church, and if it doesn’t fit, why struggle?
    Of course, no one’s going to turn away someone who is just associating (or at least rarely) as long as they maintain the behavior standards of the community (just like any other community).

  118. Alice in Wonderland

    What is shocking to me is not your use of the word ordination, but rather the response that has ensued. Your statement that there are some women in the church who seek for ordination, as you stated, is factually correct. Indeed, this is so true. So true. It is baffling to me that anyone could suggest you are advocating for women to be ordained to the priesthood. Anyone who watched your segment can easily derive that. I could only wish someone would be advocating for ordination. Anyone want to step up to that task? Someone?? Anyone??? No…we are all shamed into silence.

    The most interesting part of it this all is that your mere mention of the word ordination and the suggestion that there may be some women who desire ordination, has created this storm. As I have been reading of late about women working for the vote, I can’t help but see the parallels….Quoted from the Feminine Mystique:

    “At every step of the way, the feminists had to fight the conception that they were violating the God-given nature of woman…Did women want these freedoms because they wanted to be men? Or did they want them because they also were human?”

    “The myth that these women were “unnatural monsters” was based on the belief that to destroy the God-given subservience of the women would destroy the home and make slaves of men.”

    “When women are considered to have no rights nor to deserve any, what can they do for themselves? At first it seemed there was nothing they could do but talk. They held women’s rights conventions every year….They could talk till doomsday about the rights they did not have…Even when they tried to change conditions that were within their power to change, they met ridicule. When they decided to petition for married women’s rights to own property, half the time even the women slammed doors in their faces with the smug remark that they had husbands, they needed no laws to protect them.”

    “The wonder is that the feminists were able to win anything at all—that they were not embittered shrews but increasingly zestful women who knew they were making history.”

    No, this response to the word ORDINATION isn’t shocking. This is the response that should be expected, anticipated and rejected. And perhaps this response should be a marker that what is occurring has historic potential.

    To Elder Oaks, I say, your privileged male prayers to your male god about the divine female, I wonder if you should direct those prayers to our most Heavenly Mother.

  119. Robin

    I feel most comfortable with feminism in knowing that they really don’t know what they are talking about.

    Until we talk with God again, we really don’t understand equality, or fulfillment. We don’t know if there is a woman in heaven who wants to hold the priesthood (we know there are some on earth). We don’t know if Heavenly Mother wants us to pray to her. We don’t even know if she can hear us.

    Feminists assume too much and fill too many unknowns with worldly wisdom.

    I think it is right to ask the question – why don’t women hold the priesthood. I think it is wrong to assume it is unfair. We don’t yet understand unfair. We don’t yet understand equality. And, we certainly don’t understand unselfishness and love. It would take a perfect person who sees all, knows all, and who has descended below all things to understand.

    Can we stop pretending we understand?

  120. I don’t love this for one very simple reason…it is not worthy of the limited time and energy of LDS women.

    Raised as a California Mormon who went on to live for 12 years in Utah, then back to California, I have NEVER experienced a feeling of sexism in the church. I just don’t understand this call to make women more visible. We are tremendously visible where it counts. Is this really a call to cater to the media and put on a dog and pony show to prove what we already know…that women are the backbones of their homes and wards? While I imagine there are legitimate complaints out there, in my experience, there are far more people who are persecution-complex riddled crusaders who don’t feel important unless they have something to rail against, even if they have to fabricate it.

    We have been given so much to do. Why are we focusing on what we don’t have? Why are we insisting that to be equal, we must have the same responsibilities as men? Why are we not focused on ensuring the tasks we are called to do are elevated in recognition and value if, indeed, there is a discrepancy in equality? The female role as defined in the proclamation is what you make of it; every bit as challenging, interesting, important, and lofty as any other in the world, if not more so. I am already so busy. I don’t want to be called in the middle of the night to give a blessing or meet with a couple in crisis or to be Sunday School president or sit in an interview with a young woman whose parents are hopefully nearby. My plate is too full for me to be asking for second helpings.

    And, if you have any doubt as to the what the gospel teaches men about women, pull out your conference Ensign and read the priesthood session. Men who elevate themselves above women are not living the teachings of the LDS church.

    Quit your belly-aching and get to work, sisters!

    • mommcc

      I agree with you on most of your points but I’d very respectfully like to ask you a couple of things, I hope that’s ok! I too am a busy person and want to do the things that I’m asked to do, and faithfully! I agree that there has always been much to do but don’t you think it’s ok to ask about things that we have questions about? It’s good that so many don’t seem to be upset about these things but for those of us that are more sensitive, isn’t it ok to ask for an explanation or wonder if there is anything that can be offered to help understand? Don’t you think that women who argued for suffrage were told the same thing? I’m glad they didn’t just settle with having better things to do. This is a different situation of course and I don’t mean to suggest I am like them, but it is the answer of so many to say that it just isn’t worth worrying about. To me it is!!! I do not want to be a man, and think the role of women is wonderful, but would like more of the men and women to stop trivializing and address the damaging double standards and the messages these send to children as well as all people. If not, then aren’t we nurturing what is actually unrighteous behavior and not what we are taught in theory!! That is what this is all about! When we just say we don’t care, can you see that might not help? I’m just again, trying to understand not wanting to put you on defense.

  121. Rick

    I think there is another misperception about the Gospel due to Mormon Culture. Mommc hit it – in a disagreement, the husband wins. I don’t believe this is what the Gospel teaches (while many individuals may mistakenly preach this). A little research on how the Prophets and Quorum of the 12 make decisions would be instructive. My understanding from a member of the quorum, was that they reached concensus prior to making a decision. They do that through mutual respect and communication, and striving to have the Spirit with them. In all fairness, they set the Bishop up. They should have had the discussion about what constitutes a full tithe long before the settlement, and having the disagreement there in the Bishops office put him in the place of having to be a referee between a husband ad a wife, which is not his job. Can you really see the Prophet saying “that’s the way it is because I say so?” That is unrighteous dominion. I suggest wives have a sit down with their husbands and review their family decision making process. That doesn’t mean to play power games in reverse either.
    It’s hard not to see what appears as resentment in so many of the posts at the Church and its leadership, and so much of it is misplaced. I understand the frustration, but I think it’s too easy to look for some culprit. The “boxes” that people feel they are put in are completely imaginary. I teach Young Men Map and Compass skills at Scout Camp, and I also teach it at Girls Camp. The difference I see is that the Young Women leaders and the Young Women themselves don’t take it seriously and don’t ever do it outsied of camp. I sure don’t believe the Young Women’s Camp program has the resources devoted to it just so they could pencil whip it at camp. I honestly believe the camp program is there as a target for an annual program of activity where camp is the culminations (much like Scouts). I look at the Church’s YW Camp manual, and I just can’t agree that the Church doesn’t want the girls to learn the same skills as the boys. It’s there.
    I attended a small predominantly LDS college, and had a really wise Organic Chemistry professor. He told a story of a father complaining about his daughter spending time (and his money) studying advanced sciences to then “waste” it to become a stay-at home mother. His answer was “My God, man, what better gift can you give your grand children than an educated mother?” I think he was exactly right. All of us, not just mem or women, have a responsibility to continue to develop ourselves – including educationally.

    • mommcc

      Hi Rick,
      Thanks for responding to so many of my concerns. I really appreciate your respectful thoughts. I agree, we did set the bishop up there, lol! But my point there was that when it came down to it, we saw the way he thought the disagreement should be handled. I just used this as a small example of how our actions can be somewhat different from how we are taught to think of women and decision making. By the way, I love this bishop and am so grateful for all he did for my family. I know bishops aren’t perfect and I can’t say how much I really don’t want to criticize him. We are called and don’t volunteer for these callings and all of us do the best we can.
      Also, I went to camp and still go every year as a leader. I love Girls Camp and I know it is so worthwhile and rewarding for the girls. I don’t mean to say that it isn’t great, but can you see at all how there’s a little more offered to young men than women overall? Young men have campouts all year long and then scout camp and YM camp. I’m so glad for the great things girls have, and I don’t want to split hairs. It is just an example of the tendency of the weight to be so much more towards the boys in instruction and time and energy spent. True, maybe girls are a little less likely to love camping but there are other worthwhile things that we need and would enjoy to be exposed to. Can you see this at all?? Young men don’t always love camping or compasses either but they still need to learn a variety of things so that they can have the experience and build on it. I’m not resentful, I know I probably sound like it! Is there any way to be heard without making someone naturally want to just defend how things are done?
      I know the leaders of the church are prayerful and completely inspired and I don’t mean to try to tell anyone that I know better. I just sometimes wonder if they understand our perspective as women, is there anyone who wants to be the one to tell them?? Bishops are also prayerful and inspired but don’t they still need to hear from us? Don’t we need to think about it so we know what our perspective is?

      • As a currently serving bishop I want to hear from you!! I’m lost without our Relief Society, Primary and Young Women Presidents. I would have thought that would be the case for every bishop. I’m very happy for other sisters to also approach me with their suggestions and thoughts. Maybe living in the UK and not living in SLC makes a difference to my approach? Whilst I have been a memeber since 1976 maybe I don’t have quite the same cultural baggage here? I’m sure we just have our own different church baggage to deal with.

  122. Thank you Joanna for your article. I spoke up at my single-adult FHE (Family Home Evening). They were discussing what they needed in order for them to be suitable for a husband or a wife. I raised my hand and said that its ok to be single and that it doesn’t make us a second-class citizen in the church. I’m a gay mormon who is still active. I don’t plan on marrying a woman. I know I can still contribute my abilities and know that I am of worth and a voice that should be heard. I’m now a feminist mormon with that new definition! :) Thanks Joanna!!

  123. Incidentally, I finally began watching the Rock Center thing about Mormonism. Being a great fan of Rock Center and all things Brian Williams, we recorded it when we were unable to watch it on that day. I notice that they made a claim that “77% of Mormons go to church regularly.” How did they come up with that number, and why aren’t people questioning it? Was it spoon-fed to Williams & Co. by church handlers?

    The LDS church has about 4 million members who “attend once per month.” The number of Latter-day Saints who attend all their meetings, pay tithing, and attend the temple stands at, according to cumorah.com, only 2.5 million souls. Roughly one-third of the alleged 14 million members are (using the LDS euphemism) “less active.” And some 4.5 million of the magical 14 million cannot be traced. Many have joined other religions, which is an excommunicable offense in Mormonism. If these untraceable individuals die in obscurity, the church keeps them on the rolls until the individual’s 110th birthday. So the 77% claim is an imaginary number. With 2.5 million active members, the LDS membership books already appear to be cooked enough.

  124. Chris

    I turned on the radio this morning and heard your voice and I’m like “hey, that’s Joanna Brooks.” So I guess I know your voice. I had a terrible thought when you mentioned fear of excommunication. I thought to myself, “It would be great if she got ex’d. Then I would no longer be conflicted about the church. I could just leave with a totally clear conscience.” I immediately realized how horrible that is, but then again not wanting to be part of an organization that doesn’t want you in it has to be some sort of compliment, right?

  125. abelyss

    The idea that “having a vagina” is equal to having the Priesthood is absurd to me. Compare a physical characteristic to a spiritual power? Compare a few months or years of a woman’s life spent in pregnancy to a lifetime of Priesthood service? As a female I have deep anxiety about childbearing in general and do not want my spiritual status to be dependent on such a personal, life-altering ordeal. I am willing to believe that women have something unique to contribute to the church and to the world, but I will never accept that it is the presence of a uterus that bridges the gap.
    (Well anyway, I liked YOUR comments, Joanna:)

  126. anne arnold

    You just rock, Joanna!
    Keep talking … you are saying all the things I think.

  127. By your definition, I’m proud to say I am a Mormon Feminist. And, I’m a Roman Catholic.

  128. I guess that the “correlation” change was due partly to a few extremely conservative leaders, like Joseph Fielding Smith and his son-in-law, Ezra Taft Benson, Packer and Petersen who come to mind first. They had a backlash against feminism, which they felt a threat; possibly they were also threatened by the Civil Rights campaign.

    Myself, I am partly glad that Correlation did get rid of teaching the wildest folklore doctrines. Partly, I am sad that Relief Society can’t plan their own curriculum, say, even conditionally, but everything comes down from the Priesthood-controlled curriculum dept. Relief Society currently does plan how to use its allocated budget, but it is naturally not the same as deciding the whole deal. OTOH, the current payment system is much easier on families, and at least where I’m from, it is a general habit to have RS and Primary along in the Budget meeting, IOW it is allocated to different auxiliaries by the Ward Council, not the Bishopric alone.

    I do not wish to undermine Church authorities, but I would like to see women as presidents of Church universities or other not specifically priesthood callings. As you say, no doctrinal change required for that.

  129. Melinda L. Brown

    Brown, Melinda L. , I’m not sure what a “feminist” is anymore. But, I really do not want it assumed Joanna Brooks speaks for me as an LDS woman. She represents HERSELF, not me.

    I’m certain that personal agency, not someone else’s opinion, is what matters more and I can speak for myself.

    I do agree you’re disrespectful about the garments and the priesthood. But that’s your view and where you’re out in life at this time.

  130. Amy

    Joanna, I agree with others that I was a little uncomfortable with your responses being the only thing shown on Rock Center. I appreciate your clarification that you had shared so much more. I felt that the program focused too much on the skeptical or negative areas of the church and not on the wonderful things that are happening in our church or the strong faith that members have.
    I am with you on how strong the early women of the Relief Society were. It is very frustrating to me to work in the R.S. and to feel micromanaged by the men. Our stake has a rule that women can not enter any of our church buildings without two priesthood holders present. It makes me feel like we are either too fragile to take care of ourselves or we are not trusted. Like I don’t go everywhere else by myself all day? Whether I think that it is necessary or not really doesn’t matter. I do trust that our stake leaders just have our best interest in mind, and I don’t let it stop me from doing the things that need to get done to make our R.S. a great place to be.
    I personally think that we spend too much of our time worrying about what we don’t have (i.e. the priesthood) instead of using the talents, abilities, and personal revelation that we all have regardless of being ordained to the priesthood. Mary Fielding Smith did not say “Oh well, I guess my ox is going to die because the men aren’t going to stop and give it a blessing.” Instead she knelt down and said a fervent prayer to God and healed her ox. No one is exempt from having the faith to do that. I have not discovered yet why women do not get the priesthood, but to me it does not feel right for the time. As a teenager I visited the Restored LDS temple in Missouri. I remember the tour guide telling us that they have now given the priesthood to women, and I felt that sick feeling that comes when the spirit is letting you know something is not quite right. I am not sure why it is that way, but I felt peace with letting go of the idea that it is not fair for men to have the priesthood.
    In defense of the Proclamation to the World, I think it is very important to remember that the early pioneer women were committed to their religion and their families. I think that the proclamation is supposed to remind us that our families come first. Often we are absorbed in too many other things to remember that. Women in the early relief society took control of a lot more religiously, but they weren’t trying to juggle a profession on top of that. Not saying that a woman can’t work, but we have to keep it all in perspective. How much can you do and still make your family your first priority? I also think that is why women are not seen as much in the leadership of the church. It would be very difficult to raise a family while traveling around the world leading a worldwide church, and it is very difficult for a man to do it when he can’t bear them.

    • pieface

      Just to clarify a couple of things about our pioneer ancestors. Many of the women DID work and in fact some were called by Brigham Young to go out east and learn to become doctors and midwives while leaving their children at home (usually polygamous situations.) The women also ran the Exponent magazine which later became the Ensign. In fact, LDS women back then were far more active in politics and business than we seem to encourage them to be today

  131. M

    Joanna – You are totally right. But the same people who complained are going to read this and still say “how dare you think that women should be ordained?”.

    The problem is that you gave an opinion that requires a certain depth of brain power to understand. And if they didn’t understand it the first time you said it, this longer, deeper version sure isn’t going to help!

    As always… Kudos to you! And keep it up!

  132. Perfect response to this whole issue! Thanks!

  133. vicki

    Amen!!
    i, too was a nervous nellie about the program–and i had nothing to do with it. i was so relieved as i watched and thought it was very well done and appreciated everything we heard you say.

    In my not-so-well-read opinion, I think the 1950s were very unkind to women in the US, and especially our Mormon culture. The whole “Donna Reed-Betty Crocker—and especially that creepy Fascinating Womanhood” thing that flourished right through the 60s (when i was coming of age) was devastating to female individuality, creativity, and personhood. i’m still angry about it and how i let myself be held back because of it.

    Found your blog via some link or other on the Mormons for Obama FB page…
    Thank you! for writing for us!!

  134. Pingback: Big Table Mormonism: A Response to Joanna Brooks’ _The Book of Mormon Girl_ | A Motley Vision

  135. Jason Cronin

    Thank you for bringing a voice of reason to the current discussion. The first counselor in my bishopric recently stated that it is wrong to bring up these things, but I point to the fact that it wasn’t until people talked about it extensively that blacks were given the priesthood. This needs to be talked about, and the minority needs to be represented.

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