OUCH! How do I deal with cruel Mormon Facebook reaction to Ordain Women?

Dear AMG:

I’m slowly coming out of the Mormon feminist closet.  I don’t know where I am yet with the ordain women movement.  I’m still in the process of praying.  So far, all I know (through sweet, personal revelation) is that it is OK to ask God things.  He loves it when we come to Him with questions.  This is as far as I’ve gotten.  I’m still reading, praying, listening.  

But I’m so heartbroken over the general reaction to what these incredibly brave women did last Saturday.  Friends, family, people I know, people I don’t know, people who claim to be disciples of Christ have been downright nasty about these women and their motives and who they are, and what kind of testimonies they have and where they should go shove their ideas.  

For one, thing, I’ve sworn off Facebook until eternity is over.  But here I am, (in the heart of Utah) with my “radical” views and opinions and all around me are people waiting with sticks and a match to burn the witch. How do you get over this?

When things get murky, I really do try to get into that “what would Jesus do” boat.  Which is why my heart is hurting so much.  Where is Jesus in these Facebook exchanges and comments sections?!  These people wear their Mormon membership like a badge, but tell those searching for honest answers to go start your own church, no room for you here is Christ’s church? Or immediately discount my testimony and voice because I have a few questions about policy vs doctrine?  My heart seems paralyzed with fear and sadness.  I absolutely get why people leave the church.  The gospel is true, but the people aren’t.  

Help?

PK

Dear PK:

(The short answer to your question:  read pages 184 – 185 of The Book of Mormon Girl.  A longer answer follows.)

A web design genius friend made two word clouds last week.  One was composed from the profiles of the men and women on Ordain Women.  It was a nimbus of loveliness:  words like “faith,” “prayer,” “revelation,” “hope.”  The other was composed from the comments pasted to the Ordain Women Facebook page, ostensibly by defenders of the Mormon faith, and it was a miasma of mean:  words like “apostasy,” “leave,” and so forth.

We saw similar behavior during “Wear Pants to Church” last December.  Nothing new here, of course—except to newbies like yourself.  And there are so many of you, now, arriving everyday in the precincts of Mormon feminism.  Welcome, sister, welcome, and please don’t feed the trolls or mind the haters.

What you are seeing on those flaming Facebook walls and pages is this:  Mormonism has an autoimmune disorder.  Ridiculed by segments of the American mainstream for 150 years or more, encouraged to see “the world” today as hostile to their faith, lots of Mormons move through life with their defenses up. Way up. Problem is, at times Mormons become so inflamed, so tender, we turn those defenses onto people within our own community.

Women’s issues have the power to provoke particular inflammation within our community.  And part of the reason (aside from general human misogyny) is that 160 years ago in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith told the women of the early Church that he’d make of them a “kingdom of priests.” He set into place elements of the endowment ceremony:  an initial articulation of a connection between women and priesthood.  And then, he was martyred. Fragments of Joseph’s vision survived through the years in the women of Mormonism’s first and second generations, in practices like washings and anointings before childbirth, in the institutional independence of the Relief Society.  But many of these have disappeared almost entirely from mainstream Mormon memory:  drummed out by correlation.  And 160 years later, we have no idea what Joseph meant.  Ordain Women is placing full faith in the doctrine of continuing revelation and asking Church leaders to try and figure it out. Which is scary. For everyone.  Especially for people who have been raised on a Sunday School curriculum that insists we already have all the answers tied up in neat, correlated columns.

That historical perspective may be of little comfort when one is actually faced with straight up in-box cruelty in the name of Jesus. Jesus himself, of course, has a lot to say about these kind of situations in the New Testament.  Matthew 5 is always a favorite. That’s a chapter I resort to when, sometimes, I have to mosey out of a church meeting when an ill-thought sacrament meeting talk gets off into the anti-gay and anti-feminist weeds, and sit with my kids on the steps out back and read the scriptures. Everyone has limits, after all.  Know yours, and gently honor them.  I applaud your Facebook hiatus.  Spare yourself reading the comments on most blog posts about women’s issues in Mormonism.  And fortify yourself with lots of Matthew 5.  Dig even deeper into the New Testament. Lots of the early Church apostles knew what it was like to put up with pernicious meanness.  And if you’re going to be in it for the long run, as I hope you will, you may have to supplement even further.  Memorize the prayer of St. Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, the truth;

Where there is doubt, the faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled, as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Perhaps you’d like to start committing long passages from President Uchtdorf’s talks to memory. I myself must admit I find my mind going time and time again to this opener from Adrienne Rich’s poem “Integrity”:  “a wild patience has taken me this far.”

Patience, yes, indeed. Because it has been 160 years and we still have no idea what Joseph Smith meant when he told the women of early Mormonism he was going to make of them a kingdom of priests.  And I’ve had two very devout women I love and admire tell me that they’ve had personal revelation that someday priesthood ordination will come.  I have not had that experience. “How long until women’s ordination?” non-Mormon friends ask.  “I’m on the five hundred year plan,” I tell them. I do not know that I am joking.

What I do know is that we have a long road to Zion, we Mormons, especially if one reads the comments on Facebook as revealing something about the inner states of Mormonism.  Because yes, those comments absolutely do reveal more about the innards of their authors than they do about the objective merits of the cause they purport to contest.  And imagine, if it hurts you to read them, those comments, can you imagine how it feels to live with a corrosively bilious form of “righteousness” (or abject terror and defensiveness) pumping through your veins every day?

But here’s the most important thing:  God is merciful, God loves surprises, God roots for the underdog.  For every caustic “righteous” commenter on Facebook, there are two more in your own ward who have the same questions you do but are afraid to speak them out loud, and three more who really don’t care what you think about women’s ordination.  They’re just trying to nurse a fussy baby through Sacrament Meeting, or make it through another week of a soulkilling job they hate.  They’re trying to get through the day, by the grace of God, as are we all.  And perhaps if we can love one another, every day that passes will take us all one day closer to figuring out what Joseph meant, or to working our collective fearful defensiveness out of our collective system, or to an even fuller version of the marvel that is Mormon theology.  Even if it takes five hundred years.

You are going to need courage, and patience, and love.   You’re going to have to see the nastiness for what it is:  fear, mostly, but also ignorance.  Along the way you’ll find allies.  You’ll find your heart, your mind, your voice, and your soul.  Courage, sister.  You’ve got MoFems on your side, and believe me when I tell you there are few braver women in the western world.

Now, who has words of courage for PK?

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74 Comments

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74 responses to “OUCH! How do I deal with cruel Mormon Facebook reaction to Ordain Women?

  1. Beth T.

    How about this? Remind yourself, “This is my church, too”. Simple, right? Good mantras usually are. That small phrase gets to the heart of why you are struggling through this, and why your aspirations for the church matter at least as much as those who are afraid to see the church change. It is your church, too.

    I also hang on to my favorite scripture: 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

  2. Miriam

    PK, I am in the same boat as you. I’ve been putting things “on the shelf”, so to speak, for years. But this vitriol, outright hatred, that I have seen since Wear Pants to Church Day, has me seriously questioning whether I want to be in a church with these people.

    And I’m tired of hearing, “the church is true, the people aren’t” and other such platitudes. I don’t want to go to church. I don’t want to attend the temple. My fellow church goers are mean.

    • Debbie

      @Miriam Something I learned a long time ago: You don’t go to church for the people. You go for the truthfulness of the restored gospel, for your love of the Savior. You attend to take the sacrament and renew your covenants. Be an example to those that are “mean.” Who cares what others think or say? What is important is your relationship with Christ. I attend each week by myself and the above advice is what gets me there.

      • sarah

        But it’s the *people* giving the talks in Church. It’s one of the best parts of Mormonism — the lay clergy and hearing from the members themselves. But that also makes it hard to separate the entity and members from how the Gospel is taught.

  3. Eliza

    Love this response, Joanna. Once again, feel like you are writing directly to me. Be of good cheer, PK. Our diversity is what makes us strong.

  4. bitherwack

    I love Joanna’s advice. If I were to add something, it would be to contemplate on the fact that if, “We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church,” then we will eventually come around to the idea of prophetesses and priestesses… both of which are mentioned in the bible.
    Just as the prejudicial thinking became institutional, and then mistaken for doctrine when it came to the priesthood for all men, I believe we will come to realize that the same thinking exists in regards to women. Until our leaders recognize the need to bring this to the Lord, they have no reason to think otherwise. President Hinckley, when asked by Larry King why there were no women in the laity, said that there was, ‘no agitation for it.’ I believe that was a backdoor invitation to agitate for that kind of change. Until we can ensure through scriptural persuasion, etc, that the general authorities feel a need to ‘bring it to the Lord,’ there may be a long wait. Nevertheless, we know there is a scriptural precedence on our side, and therefore it is simply a matter of time… and endurance. (OK, maybe not so simple…)

  5. I had a very similar experience in 2008 when I was struggling to come out of the gay Mormon closet at BYU during proposition 8. I felt like all of my friends and loved ones had turned against me and my social communities online (and in person) were not safe for me. It’s been a few years now, and suddenly the tables have turned and the very facebook friends who once persecuted me for my support of gay marriage have now embraced gay marriage themselves and have nothing but sweet things to say to me. You might not have to wait 500 years. If we work hard, we can turn this around too.

  6. Kim

    I think there are a few different issues that are being hit upon. The first is the negativity of others that are LDS. Just like in any other religion, we have people who love, people who hate, and people who are somewhere in between. There are hateful comments on facebook and always will be as long as someone disagrees with you. It isn’t a Mormon thing, it’s a human thing. However, these specific “negative comments” falls into different categories. There are some who just attack others. They either feel superior (holier than Thou) or are so caught up in their own shortcomings that they love to point out what they see as flaws in others to make themselves feel better (think middle school/high school mentality). You also have to understand that there is a difference between LDS doctrine and Utah culture. LDS doctrine is true and comes from God. Utah culture comes from imperfect man. LDS doctrine says Love your neighbor, Utah culture created the U of U/BYU rivalry. There are LDS people in Utah and out who will see women wear sleeveless shirts and judge them harshly. There are LDS people in Utah and out who will see women wear sleeveless shirts and accept and love them as children of God. We’re all on our own journey. When I heard about the “movement” with women going to try to get into the Priesthood Session, I was not against them having questions, but I don’t think the manner in which they went about it was the way to do it. If you have questions, you absolutely should take them to your Loving, Perfect Heavenly Father. We’ve been taught to study, ponder, pray, ask, have faith. I have some questions too. I think every LDS person does. I think that there are some questions that could even be asked to someone who you feel could better help you understand. Whether that be a parent, friend, or leader. Heavenly Father does answer our prayers. Sometimes He answers yes, sometimes He answers no, sometimes He doesn’t give us an immediate answer. I don’t have an issue with women receiving the Priesthood. I don’t have a problem with women wearing pants to church (I feel that when you worship in the Chapel and partake of the Sacrament, you should show your respect to God in how you dress and act, so I wear my “Sunday Best” but that could mean different things to different people and the bottom line is that the person is there. I believe that Jesus wants us to come as we are, which is as imperfect sinners that need His Atonement to make us clean and whole so that we may be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and one day return to God’s presence). It’s not that I feel bad feelings towards those who participated in the “movement” over conference weekend, but I felt like it was kin to a political movement. When people don’t like the Government, they form rallies and marches. They urge the leaders of the country to do what the group feels in best for them. The prophet is not an elected leader. He does not create laws and bills based on what the people want. He is an instrument of God and tells us what God wants us to know (Amos 3:7). I feel like when you take your questions and your agenda so publicly, you aren’t helping anything or anyone. There are people outside the church (and maybe even some in) who feel that our church oppresses women. There may be some members of our church who do oppress women. They will be judged by God when that time comes. I would submit that overall, the members of the church are not oppressive towards women. I realize that some argue about women wearing skirts/dresses, traditional gender roles, men having the majority of the leadership roles, etc. I think some of it may be more of a cultural thing than a doctrinal thing. At the end of the day, you have to decide if you believe that the prophet is called by God, if he leads the restored church of Jesus Christ. If you do, then accept it, embrace it, love it, do your best to live it. If you don’t, then I humbly submit to you to pray. It’s really all between you and God anyways. I really like what Middle-aged Mormon Man had to say on his blog http://middleagedmormonman.com/home/2013/09/i-am-mormon-and-i-have-questions.html. It’s ok to have questions, but we should try not to let our questions be someone else’s stumbling blocks. The church is not a place for politics. It is a place for us all to come together, be accepted, and be loved.

    • Jessica

      There is no way to have questions without opening up the possibility that someone near us will find those questions to be a stumbling block. I can embrace the gospel without embracing the cultural curiosities that have grown up around it in certain geographic locations. This will appear, to some folks who *have* embraced the culture, as if I have *not* embraced the gospel. This was a challenge for the early apostles, there is no reason to believe that we should be immune from it in modern times.

    • Claire Weston

      I don’t know who you are, but I really wish we were friends. You’ve expressed perfectly how I feel about this. I think many of the men and women involved in Ordain Women are good people, but I think their methods are quite misdirected. The questions aren’t wrong. They don’t need to leave the church. But public protesting isn’t going to do anything but cause division, and for people trying to work toward Zion we really need to choose a higher way.

    • Bravo ~ well thought out and constructed post.

    • @UtMormonDemoGuy

      Kim: I agree with much you have to say, and really appreciate your respectful tone. Sharing contrasting opinions in a constructive way is an important skill to develop, and your comments are a good example of that.

      I read the Middle Aged Mormon Man’s post and felt much the same way about his post as I do about your comment. Then, I read a post at Modern Mormon Men, which resonated more with me. I think it addresses the issues of doubt and unity. I think it might be helpful to PK and others interested in this topic. In short, the idea is that it is ok to have questions, and that we really cannot “be of one mind” with our brothers and sisters in the gospel if we do not understand (which is not the same as agree with) their questions and struggles. Here is a link:

      http://www.modernmormonmen.com/2013/10/asking-questions-in-zion.html

  7. Lindsey Hicks

    Thank you Joanna for this great advice on spiritual fortification. I’m also going to memorize the prayer of St. Francis.

  8. Color me strongly in the camp of “it will never happen” but I am also inclined to see the correlation between the discussions on the fringe today and those same kinds of discussion in the late 1960s and early 1970s on a similar and related priesthood topic.

    That correlation makes me less certain about it than I would have been 25 years ago. It makes me ponder what would I say and would I sustain an announcement of doctrine were it to come? I guess with God nothing is impossible, so the discussions have caused me to think about how would I react.

    I am pretty sure that the method to cause the discussion and to keep it going is not appropriate but then how would you get this subject to really get discussed otherwise? All things to ponder.

    Reality is there are things I should be doing now that are clearly defined and even commanded and not doing those very well. Church as a whole isn’t getting much new direction because we seem to have a hard time doing what we been directed to do for a lot longer than feminism has been around. There are lots of things we KNOW are coming and going to be revealed, and all that is required is obedience to existing doctrine. We gotta be faithful in doing what we have now before we can expect to get anything new. Can you say you are doing all you can do? I can’t.

  9. Sara E.

    Thank you PK for this question! It represents where I’m at as well. I’m working through this privately but have been hurt by the vitriolic comments to thoughtful dialog that I may or may not entirely agree with. It’s incredibly disheartening. Thank you JB for your advice. I feel fortified!

  10. Rick

    “Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church….With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us!” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct. 2013 General Conference). What a great message. Balm for the soul, especially the soul that may feel marginalized within the church. Great answer Joanna.

  11. Andrew

    I have to say that from the sidelines, the Ordain Women movement seems to be trolling for emotional reactions. If you’re trolling, you can’t be surprised when people overreact.

    • Clint

      I agree. It seems like there is a small core of people who are trying to turn themselves into victims. I realize that some people are rude on the internet, but that doesn’t represent the whole of the church. I think those behind the Ordain Women movement would like nothing more than to be persecuted, because they can garner more support when they cry bully. So the rude comments are being plastered everywhere and the craziness is inflated.

      • Clint: reread your comment and reflect on its tone.

      • Kathy K.

        “Judge not that ye be not judged”; they aren’t necessarily “trolling for emotional reactions.” Have you considered the possibility, Andrew and Clint, that the Ordain Women movement might have legitimate concerns about the subordinate, subservient place women take in the church? When you are told by the prophet that the only role you should take as a married female is stay-at-home mother, then you find yourself divorced or some emergency financial situation arises and your family is just out of luck, because you’ve been popping out too many babies since your early twenties–the BYU tradition–and you have no career skills; when your control freak (or neglectful or cheating or abusive) husband is playing the priesthood card in your home to rationalize his behavior, and your bishop naturally sides or more fully empathizes with your husband because he identifies with the male point of view; then you ARE a victim to the indoctrination. In R.S. presidencies, I’ve seen the pain these women endure time and time and time again (and yes, I’ve seen multiple bishops respond this way with multiple women; these aren’t isolated cases).

        Then there’s the problem of rampant depression among women created by any institution promoting their subordination–including the church. This is FairMormon’s pat answer to the dilemma:

        “While Utah does have the highest rate of antidepressant use in the United States, there is no evidence that this is because of stress from the LDS lifestyle and culture. Credible research has shown that LDS women are actually more likely to identify themselves as ‘happy’ than non-Mormon women.”

        Of course they *claim* to be happy! They’re afraid their neighbors or ward members will discover the truth! It’s all about painting on a smile, setting an example, acting “as if”–they might be rejected by their husbands and/or their bishops (judged as unrighteous), or even their lds girlfriends, if they get the least bit real! So many of them are in complete denial about how the church’s very doctrine pounds on their self-esteem, until some stressful life event hits them between the eyes and they have a meltdown. Or here’s another perspective: maybe all that Prozac is actually gorking out women in Utah to the point that they are genuinely happier–just don’t ever take away their meds, because then they might have to leave the church to find that happy place again. Maybe they should forget about ordaining women and just replace bread with Prozac in the sacrament trays (they could serve the sacrament in R.S., to avoid making the priesthood excessively happy).

        These women accepted the indoctrination, of course, so they’re only victimized to a degree. But indoctrination is indoctrination; it victimizes its subordinate members and fills them with fear of rocking the boat to get their needs met. These sisters did what they were told, genuinely trying to do the right things, only to discover that path led to pain, heartache, and regret directly associated with their former acceptance of female subordination in the church. There are some lds males out there who actually get this (please come forward; I know you’re out there). Sometimes, people “cry bully” when they’re actually bullied. I cannot count the number of times my husband has come home from general priesthood meeting to tell me that “yet again [yawn]” the brethren were admonished to cease taking unrighteous dominion over their wives. This issue clearly goes on and on. How long will it continue before the church wakes up and recognizes that its own doctrine, the temple ceremony, the hierarchy in general, perpetuates it, at least in part?

        I’m not active in the Ordain Women movement; I was never one to care that much about women holding the priesthood, because personally, I didn’t need any more church tasks than I already held on top of all my childcare responsibilities. And I’m not holding my breath about the effects of female ordination; maybe 500 years from now when women might hold the priesthood, the same subordination will still exist in the church’s culture, and women will go, “Wha-hat?? I thought we’d finally be respected, now, but no!” Maybe holding the priesthood isn’t the magic panacea some lds women hope it will be, but it might be one of several paths to finally having a voice in the church. I really don’t think this movement is fueled by a persecution complex; I think they want–no need–a voice that is actually heard and validated once in a blue moon.

      • Clint

        I don’t see a problem with the tone of this comment. I think I stated my opinion in a completely rational and honest way. I didn’t call any names or put anybody down. I’m not judging. I didn’t say anybody was going to Hell for questioning the church. I simply think I have a right to question the motives of “Ordain Women” just as they have the right to question church policies and doctrine. If this isn’t a public forum that is open to dissent, then feel free to delete my comments.

      • Kathy K.

        We clearly diverge on how “judgment” is defined, Clint; my view is that one might judge or put down someone without having to consign his or her soul to hell. I don’t see how it isn’t a putdown that the women in this movement like persecution, that they’re just victimizing themselves. Questioning current church policies and doctrine, trying to instigate change that would affect millions of lives, is completely different from deciding that a group of women you’ve never met all carry the same self-serving motive. Merely questioning their motives might entertain all possibilities, including the chance that their movement is fueled by genuine concern about the incredibly vulnerable position into which the church’s hierarchal expectations plunk many women. Sure, you have the right to disagree with the movement, but you’re not actually in these ladies’ heads; the presumption that you have the lowdown on their motives isn’t mere dissent–it’s judgment (at least by the less constrictive definition of the word). They are human beings with feelings, just like you, and they might be making huge, heart-wrenching sacrifices to support a movement that speaks to not only the depths of their own integrity but also the words and actions of Joseph Smith.

      • Andrew

        Kathy K.–I didn’t read the whole comment (it was too long), but yes, I have considered the possibility that the Ordain Women movement might have legitimate concerns about the subordinate, subservient place women take in the church. And I agree that there are legitimate concerns. I just don’t think that trolling is the right way to win hearts and minds.

  12. SLSDM

    It sounds like these members saying such ugly things on fb and the like need to go back and re-read Matthew 15:10-20.

    There are those of us out here that feel love and support, the same as you do, for these brave women, even if we haven’t yet fully decided where we stand on the issue enough to step out publicly yet. Take comfort in knowing we are definitely here…. with you…. carefully & respectfully offering an alternative perspective, one that shows more understanding, if not full on support, to consider for those who would be inclined to quickly rush to judgement on our sisters from Ordain Women. My experience is that these opportunities come in person, and never on places like fb. So it’s good for you to rid yourself of those places. Just remember they are 1 voice giving one opinion, but they are not the only one. Far from it.

  13. Twila Warner

    Thank you, PK. You are honestly seeking, which is a beautiful thing. I have been doing the same for, give or take, 20 years. I am “out” as a Feminist, in my little community at church but, this time, I went slowly. I spent many years trying to get people at church to understand and accept my Feminism as a valid point of view. That simply didn’t work for me and caused me considerable pain and frustration. So, in the past couple of years, I have tried and continue to try (not always successfully) to focus on honestly connecting with people. I look for the safe places where I can express my sincere love and appreciation for them as an individual daughter or son of God and try to listen and understand their point of view even if it is very different from mine. As I’ve approached it this way my frustration with the institutional limitations is less important than the connection I feel toward the individuals who are part of my local church community. I have found people, here and there, with whom I can be totally frank and who find my frankness a relief. But I also try, as Joanna said, to be aware of the fact that my views often make people feel unsafe in a place that they come to for safety and reassurance. It helps me approach those friends with compassion rather than a need for them to understand me. What I have found is that most people are tolerant, if uncomfortable, with my Feminism because they love and appreciate me as a person. I am confident that as you are true to yourself, God will lead you along the path you are meant to follow and you will find other people who are also seeking and, if you want to, find connection with people who are on a very different path than your own. God be with you on your journey.

  14. Anna

    Fantastic advice Joanna. I do wish the Ordain movement was using more a tone of “please pray about and address these issues of inequality between men and women” and less of pushing a particular answer. I think their tone often comes as demanding a creating solution – and that puts MANY Mormons on the defensive because it seems to push aside the role for prophetic revelation. Still, just because we have specific differences of opinion is no reason for the unchristian behavior I am seeing. Personally, I want to hug those Ordain participants and go have lunch to talk strategy. And agree to disagree if we must on some particulars. My personal mantra is “Be the change you want to see in the church.” and it has served me well through a lot of the recent years of chaos.

  15. D. Linders

    This is an interesting discussion I have been following. More and more the church will be confronted with ‘progressive’ issues. We had stake conference last weekend and while driving back, we started chatting about homosexuality, for one of the sisters in the car is a lesbian. She is open about it, so I can talk about it freely. A fact that has given her many challenges. She went on a mission, married a man and gave birth to a son (who is leaving on a mission in three weeks). After a while she couldn’t handle it anymore, stepped out of the church and struggled with finding her identity for over 10 years. About four years ago she was rebaptised by her son (who got baptised the same day) and is now one of the strongest women I know and a faithfull follower of Christ (which she always has been, even when away from the church).

    We spoke about the topic very openly. One of the women (25 years old, masters degree in neuropsychology, and a convert to the church about a year and a half ago) said it was her main doubt that had the potential to refrain her from being baptised. She spoke openly about her doubts and ideas. We all spoke very openly. When I was dropped off at my home, the lesbian sister expressed her appreciation for the positive feeling she had during the conversation.

    What I’m trying to say is that there are also many LDS who ARE willing to speak about difficult, maybe controversial, topics in a positive way. Maybe I’m lucky that I am Dutch and live in the Netherlands. We are kind of forced to talk about these topics as my country is a strongly emancipated and progressive country.

    I have never been to Utah, so I don’t have an opinion about Utah mormons, but they definitely have a reputation here as fundamentalists, ignorant and narrow minded here in the Netherlands. And many people tend to think of their behaviour as the behaviour of all mormons, but it really isn’t. You should remember that many people are the way they are because of their surroundings. So when somebody reacts in a negative way, it is because of the person’s past. It is hard to break out of a system. You should be proud you were able to do so, and as such it is now your responsibility to help others to do so. And I will tell you… this takes a lot of love and patience. Ow and did I say it takes a lot of patience? I like the scriptural word ‘longsuffering’. We all have our challenges and questions which make us suffer long.

    In the moments when I feel that I have to suffer for a long time, I remember my lesbian sister who is the greatest example of longsuffering in my life and I remember I am actually really blessed by the Lord. And above all, I remember my Lord and Saviour who has suffered it all. Ridicule and negativity… even by the people He gave all of His love, people he called friends.

    • As a American living here in The Netherlands I agree!!!! My husband and I have seen how “Americanized” the church is. I’ve lived in several other countries and it is always the same. This is an international church and NOT the church of UTAH which is what it can seem like at times.

      It seems to me that fear has fueled much of the church (not the gospel) and its psyche since the beginning. Hatred of others and a blatant disrespect for diversity is something I experienced at a young age. I remain a member because of my testimony. Ultimately that is all you really have to go on. It is all about he atonement.

      Historically within the church ignorance, fear of the unknown, and a lack of understanding of how radical the church organization was has always played a a part in the cultural make up of Mormonism. We must now address what Joesph Smith restored in an honest manner. WE are paying a price for neglecting these issues.

      The fact is that had Joesph lived, had events been different, maybe women would have been ordained with priesthood authority. This IS a radical gospel and many people are scared by the radical. One of the lessons I take from the life of “J.S.” is that you have to explore it all. Question everything by studying and then prayer.

      I am working on “coming out” as a feminist and while I am not a part of the Ordain Women movement I do understand. I do wish that it were not framed in the style of a political movement. It is time to agitate and that means that many different types of agitation are needed. Revolutions and their participants come in all shapes and sizes.

  16. Justin C.

    While I’m not a woman, and while I do solidly believe in the doctrine and revelation defining the roles of men and women in the Church and in the family units, one thing we all know or should understand from history is that necessity has always bread change. Now my belief in the standard roles does not mean I disapprove of a woman who works and a man who nurtures, far from it, but no revelation regarding Priesthood Ordination for women has come to me or my wife that suggest change is as of yet necessary, and my wife could speak for hours on why things are the way they are and why they should be, albeit in a much more loving and less authoritarian tone than it seems you’re used to hearing. Neither of us would ever tell you to go form your own church, but we might respectfully suggest the possibility that when Joseph said he would make of the women a “kingdom of priests” that the language of the times might suggest he was speaking of their male descendants, like when God said to Abraham “And I will make nations of thee, and kings will come out of thee” – this of course with the understanding that as none of us have the privilege of speaking directly with Joseph, that we obviously can’t be 100% sure. My views now being clearly understood, let me say this – anyone who throws hostility and intolerance at you in this manner for a view as benign as this is, to my estimation, demonstrating a severe lacking of a testimony in the area of modern revelation. Who of these wouldn’t immediately praise God and the Prophet if he suddenly in the next 5 minutes revealed that he had been told by God that the time had come for women to receive the priesthood? What I mean to say is that these people do not reflect the good and holy spirit of the Church or her people, and that any discussion over policy vs. doctrine should be met with the spirit of discernment and understanding. Growing fearful and angry over it is not how we should deal with the situation. I assure you that, though we probably at this moment disagree on ordination for women, that any discussions you and I had on the subject would be full of love and understanding. This is not to say that we would agree or that either would come to the other’s understanding of the concept, only that the discussion would be respectful and had in a spirit of coming closer to God and His will, as should be the case when the conversation is had with anyone anywhere.

    • Amy

      I am a fairly traditional Mormon woman, temple-worthy and defined by my faith in every way that is important, and I want to say that I love you for asking your questions with honesty, and for having the courage to stay in the church while your answers are worked out. I agree with Joanna about taking heart in President Uchtdorf’s encouragement, and with Beth about claiming your place among the faithful within this church. That is a powerful mindset.

      I relate to your discouragement about the ugly comments. It helps me to try and remember that someone acting in charity will not demean, ridicule or gossip about another person. That is part of the natural man that we are called to put off. Nobody practices that ideal perfectly. But if I can see meanness as a reflection of the critic, I can love them and have empathy for their spiritual struggle, rather than be damaged by their negativity. I feel responsible for keeping that less-than-loving reaction where it belongs and trusting people to reject it as they find their higher selves through the Atonement.

    • Melissa

      Well said. Thank you.

  17. Sarah

    Joanna, I went back and read pages 184 & 185 of “The Book of Mormon Girl”. I got choked up, because the feelings you expressed are familiar. I’m so glad you listened to the voice that told you to keep writing. I read “The Book of Mormon Girl” at a very critical point, and I think it sustained me long enough to keep going. Keep writing! Your voice is so, so needed!

  18. PK,

    I’m a recent convert to the church (5.5 years now) and I have struggled with people making inflammatory and hateful comments since the moment I joined. For a time I really struggled with whether or not to stay in the Church. I kept hearing racism, sexism, bigotry, and SO MANY negative and derogatory comments about other religions – even from teachers in gospel doctrine class – that I finally took my concerns to my bishop. I tried to explain to him how people looking at our congregation would see these “fruits” and legitimately question whether this could be Christ’s church. The response I heard was more or less that the Church is perfect and the people are imperfect, etc. It took years of prayer and temple attendance before I finally was able to reach the point where I had such a strong testimony of the truth of the restored gospel that I could endure those sort of comments with love. I look beyond the words to the human being behind the words. I think of how much pain that person must be feeling in order to lash out at others. I try to show compassion, love, and understanding. I found that with practice I stopped feeling my own hurt and instead felt their hurt.

    Know that there are sisters and brothers out there who understand your pain and frustration. We love you. We love the haters as well.

    In the end I follow the disciples when in John 6 Christ asked them, “… Will ye also go away?” And Simon Peter answered him, “…Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” As imperfect as the people in this Church are (and I am one of those imperfect), the words of eternal life are here.

    • JR

      I went to my bishop about political comments and he went into classes, even RS for a lesson on the Constitution, and made the most inoffensive and beautifully phrased comments to keep things on track. No one brings up politics anymore. Well, except for the lady who loves to quote Reagan The church is a local experience. Any broadbrush applications are not likely to be representative of anything but your own experience. The lesson is that if you want something to change, you need to do it. Start politely providing another way to think about things within Mormon cultural limits, and our culture does require at least a show of love and lack of judgmentalism. You don’t just have to go to the bishop. Every time a negative comment is made about another religion, I say something positive about it. No one wants to be seen as unChristlike in church. But if no one is giving alternatives to such remarks, why would anyone realize they are inappropriate? I have been disarmed in some not so thoughtful comments and there is nothing more effective than being gently called out on it by another member.

  19. sammie

    Blessings to PK for articulating well the pain and difficulty in the face of fear and loathing. And to AMG. I am warmed and surprised whenever I hear voices calling for and demonstrating empathy and compassion. Warmed by it’s beauty because I believe that all Godly solutions require both. Surprised at how utterly rare empathy can be. Thank you both and all with such voices.

  20. Kathy K.

    I feel your pain, PK–literally. I’ve seen this blatant lack of tolerance in the church, and from what I’ve experienced, it’s closer to the rule than the exception. I cannot offer a more eloquent answer than AMG has given (love her auto-immune disorder analogy!). I respect (yet worry about) those who attempt to stay in the church and endure the nastiness/fear/ignorance. I likewise respect those who ultimately find that their own integrity demands leaving the church behind. This latter group recognizes that fear and ignorance can infiltrate “modern revelation”–the actual doctrine trickling down from GA’s. Yes, “it’s [your] church, too” (Beth’s point), but only to a degree. While I agree that “go find another church” is an insensitive, hurtful response, it acknowledges the awful truth: no woman possesses genuine ownership of a religion promoting female subordination from its highest jurisdiction.

  21. Thank you for putting words to my same thoughts. I took great comfort in Pres. Uchtdorf’s general conference talk: “In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth.”

  22. melodynew

    In addition to Joanna’s and everyone else’s great responses, I would add this:

    PK, some of what you are describing sounds not only like sadness and disappointment, but loneliness and fear of the rejection you will or have encountered. My experience has been that loneliness is part of exploring new truths. It comes and goes. However, I also want you to know, you’re really not alone. There are many good women and men who question and struggle every day. Pay attention and you may find friends right where you are who share some of your same concerns. I hope you do. (I’m in the heart of Happy Valley myself, so I get it).

    And, trite as it may sound, I have found a friend in Jesus. For real. Take time to deepen your relationship with Christ and you will feel great support and confidence amid your questioning.

    I also love this quote from Mark Twain:
    “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce [woman], and brave, and hated and scorned. When [her] cause succeeds, the timid join [her], for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” Those facebook meanies may, very well, have a change of heart in days and years to come.

    We are privileged to be part of the beginning of significant change in the church. (I could argue that it began several decades ago) Women’s issues, issues related to homosexuality, institutional church policy vs. gospel doctrine –these are all vibrant, volatile topics right now. I’m personally excited to be a part of it. Gird your loins, sister! It’s gonna be a wild ride.

  23. Ronda

    Important question and wonderful answer! Joanna, I have been missing your posts and was so glad to see this beautiful and important answer to the vitriol that results from efforts to draw attention to the pain of feeling less valued that so many women in the church feel.

    I do not want to ever again her a prophet say when asked in an interview about women and the priesthood — We don’t here much from our women about that as Pres. Hinckley did a few years back.

    While I prefer to push for change more less publicly, I applaud and am deeply grateful for the courage of all in the Ordain Women movement.

  24. AJH

    You should read the talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen “Power in the Priesthood” (Sunday afternoon session) was well done in regards to the priesthood and church members roles.

    I believe strongly that it is okay to ask questions. I ask lots and lots of questions. I pray about those questions, research answers from scriptures, church information, and I talk to others. I am of the mind that it is more important to understand your faith than it is to be worried about offending others. I cannot grow and learn if I cannot ask questions.

    Finally, I have been studying how the Isrealites and the Nephites fell the way they did. I have determined that part of the problem was members not questioning when other members began doing things that were not necessarily appropriate. Yet rather, they kept quiet. Eventually they may have caved to the same misdeeds. We cannot allow ourselves to become complaicent in our faith. We must always be willing to question ourselves, be willing to admit when we are wrong, and be willing to continually change and grow.

    So keep asking faith building questions. Learn from them, adjust as you learn, and press ever forward in the cause of Christ.

  25. Roger That

    Your message of patience was wonderfully written. I think it’s important for us to think, ponder, and pray and as you suggest be patient on issues we don’t understand. I think it’s also appropriate for our leaders do the same on issues that concern many church members, since we know the only witness that can change the course of church doctrine is the prophet and apostles.

    That said, it’s important to avoid the risk of allowing our focus on the gospel to be replaced by a focus on changing an aspect of the church that concerns us, in this case Priesthood ordination for women.

    My father shared a story about a ward brother, prior to Priesthood ordination for all men, that almost weekly, for 20 years, bore testimony at the pulpit and in classes that all men deserved the right to be ordained to the Priesthood. I’m sure like those campaigning (may not be the right choice of word) for women ordination today he was faced with a bevy of hecklers and naysayers. Undoubtedly, this good man was right in his view and sincere and passionate in his approach. In fact, my Father, felt that his words helped soften the hearts of other ward members, including his own, and prepared them to accept the revelation when announced by the Prophet. Unfortunately, for this particular brother once the revelation was announced he lost his faith. Suddenly, his objective had been reached and with it his purpose had vanished. Over the years “change” supplanted the gospel as his religion and now that the change had happened his religion was no more.

    My message, live the gospel and stay the course. Continue to pray for answers and even request that our leaders do the same regarding women ordination. The change may come in this life or it may not, either way we can’t allow ourselves to be consumed by it only to lose our faith and true purpose in the process.

    • “Over the years “change” supplanted the gospel as his religion and now that the change had happened his religion was no more.”

      That is one way of looking at it. The other is that the problem he wanted to fix seemed like THE problem. Until it was fixed, he never stepped back to see that though the apple had some sweet spots, it was essentially rotten to the core.

  26. The vitrol following the OW demonstration has me seriousl questioning whether or not I still want to be Mormon. Thank you, Joanna, for these beautiful words.

    Unfourtuneately, I don’t have any further wisdom for PK. I wish I did, I need it for myself.

  27. Richard

    I am reminded of one of our faith’s most respected writers on culture, leadership and human relations, Steve Covey. He wrote, I think about seeking first to understand, before demanding that we be understood.

    As an active LDS male priesthood holder, and being aware that anciently, there were ordinations of women to the priesthood, I am not threatened by this topic or the conversation which attends it.

    I won’t suppose to know the will of the Lord in this matter, but suggest that having a cultural conversation about it. would not be offensive to Him whose love unites us all.

  28. I’m so glad I came across this today. Thanks everybody. I’m not alone!

  29. David

    PK,
    I don’t do facebook I have enough in life to deal with then old highschool girlfriends hunting me down,then answering to my Wife.I am a member of the Church and have Faith in God. It wouldn’t make a particle of difference to me in my Faith in him wether women became ordained or not. “oh, my! but so much has been said by leaders how can this be?” I repeat, it wouldn’t make a particle of difference to me. Agitation is not necessarily always a bad thing in the full spectrum of things, Despite man’s understanding God purposes will come forth, continue in Faith.
    “Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;” – D&C 3:3

  30. Melissa

    I feel really bad for all the women who are being verbally abused. Nothing justifies that; they are our fellow sisters in the church, and fellow children of God. But one of the questions in the temple recommend interview talks about whether or not you sustain the prophet. If you sustain the prophet, then you believe that he truly is God’s “mouth piece”. If you really do believe that he is God’s mouth piece, then you believe that his words on whether or not the women should receive the priesthood, are actually God’s words. So isn’t saying that women should receive the priesthood the same as saying God’s wrong? If you don’t support the prophet’s choices, then you don’t sustain them, which means you wouldn’t be able to answer that recommend questions with a “yes”. I understand women having questions or doubts, but once you start protesting and “fighting for your rights” you’re pretty much giving up receiving the blessing of being able to enter the temple. Is it really worth it? Honestly, I’m pretty sure the reason some women want it is just because the can’t.

    • Jen

      Sustain means strengthen or support. It doesn’t mean that you have to believe that every word he says is an eternal truth. There are way too many instances of our leaders being wrong (and even admitting that they were wrong) for that to be the case. If the Ordain Women didn’t sustain the prophet, they wouldn’t be asking him, they would be leaving. I sustain President Monson and the other apostles, but I also disagree with them sometimes. That absolutely does not make me unworthy of the temple.

    • Q

      I don’t think asking church leaders to consider a doctrinal question implies lack of support for those leaders, but it’s clear many members do. I would only point out that there is a precedent for this, going all the way back to Emma Smith asking her husband to find out the will of God concerning the use of tobacco. I do believe that such questioning ought to be done in the right way, and that honest people can disagree about what the right way is. It seems there is agreement among the commenters here that the verbal abuse is wrong, but I think we should take it one step further and agree also not to question the faith or validity of the church membership of those who see things differently than us. This is a more subtle and pervasive form of judgement that makes many feel unwelcome in the church.

    • Eve

      “If you believe this, then you must believe that” is not dialogue, it’s an attempt to manage someone else’s mind. Let people make up their own minds what they believe.

    • David

      after reading scripture’s as pertaining to common consent (wich is how it says to do things in D&C) and all the footnoted verses pertaining to the specific subject I honestly can’t say I see it happening,(Woman ordination) not to say it can’t happen, just an educated guess.
      but in the full scope of the temple interview question the majority of it is pertaining to the Senior Apostles right in excersising all the Key’s in wich he delegates to others in carrying out ordinances wich are accompanied by covenants made with the Lord and in living in those covenant’s is(his work and Glory) I’m sure you’ve heard people many times praying for the Prophet to give him strength, he is in just as much need for people’s prayers as you and me, his role is not meant to be walking mouth piece. Some members when they say, “no, we’re not a cult” actually do mean it.

  31. Trys

    @ Clint: I, too, found nothing wrong with your comment nor its tone. As you said, you stated very straight-forward your thoughts, you called no one names, and you had every right, in my humble estimation, to say exactly what you did. I thought that was wrong of JB to call you out like that. You have my support. :)

  32. Leslie

    That’s the beauty of being LDS, we are all on our own personal journey here on this earth. Some of us may or may not struggle with church doctrine, for me having the Priesthood isn’t one of them. With that said, I think there is NOTHING wrong with anyone asking, in faith, from our Father for answers that they are struggling with. He wants us to! I find it wrong in so many ways that some of these women feel fear or hatred for their own personal journey trying to find their answers to their prayers. I’m sure if one of their fellow ward members was having a word of wisdom problem or struggling with their visiting teaching that they wouldn’t be chased down and bad mouthed. Why these women? Jesus taught us to love everyone and this is something LDS members know and are taught. A sweet Primary teacher once told me, “Show it if you know it!, meaning if you are taught to love one another, then show it.

  33. Ashwood Caesar

    you are in my prayers

  34. Melvin Brandenburg

    The thing is, when we hear something we disagree with we often think it is mean. Oh well. Sometimes the answer we get is no. The LDS church is Christ’s church, not the church of mankind because mankind is so quick to bend and twist with the winds of change. It isn’t that I’m being mean, I am not, I am sending this in love. It’s that Heavenly Father wants us to love Him and order our lives around that, rather than what is expedient or what we want at the time. This I think is the central issue. I am sorry that some people aren’t good ambassador’s of this message, but I assure you, that Christ is in charge and it is He who determines how the church is organized.

    • Jen

      There have literally been death threats from people on Facebook based on these issues. Accusations of consorting with Satan. And of course, plenty of calls to leave the Church. This post isn’t about polite disagreement. It is about seriously hateful comments from members of the church.

      • Steve in Millcreek

        I suspect that many, perhaps most, of those mean and inflammatory comments are from anti-M people pretending to be active M. Comments?

  35. Anya

    As I read your post I was thinking about myself. I also came out of the MoFem closet a little bit ago. Still have fear and at times my heart also hurts. But, I need to try. I need to be happy and sure that I´m in the right church and that includes to handle rude comments and try to build a better place to live in.
    I try to think about Jesus every time I´m sad. I remember his love and everything gets better. Because I want (when my time arrives) to see Him and tell that I try to show my love the way He taught us. So be brave. As Joanna told me once, you are not alone. We (as mormons) know how to stand alone when everything and everyone is against us and our beliefs. Pray and ask for help. We´ll be here if you need someone to talk to. I send you a lot of love from Mexico.
    Ten fe, se valiente. No estás sola. // Have faith, be brave. Your not alone.
    Anya

  36. Colleen

    Hi PK,

    I am in South Africa and let me tell you it’s not just in the heart of Utah that the echo’s of “burn the witch” echo in halls when you have questions that the member of the church as a “norm” don’t ask.
    My story is a long one, and not for this forum, but basically I went through what you are going through about 12 years ago, all I can say is be sure that this is YOUR journey, know that knowledge is NOT evil, and keep on keeping your end goal in sight…. I found that the person I wanted to be pulled me through more hard times than any other living soul, the person I wanted to be became my best friend (sound a bit schitzo :) ) And above all know that the journey you are following will give you peace and love bigger than you have ever imagined!

    CW

  37. I applaud your efforts, and am in full support of your cause. I am a recent convert, and an active Melchezidek Priesthood holder.

    To my mind, my personal opinion & feeling is that the Priesthood, and Ordination, ought not be gender specific. I feel that the critical defining characteristics of true disciples of Christ, and thus those who should ultimately be able to be ordained, are as follows, and again not gender-specific:

    A deep and sincere love for all of God’s children, and a fierce desire to serve them, uplift them, strengthen them, bless them, and devote serious time on bended knee in heartfelt prayer for ALL people.

    Willingness to sacrifice time, selfish desires, and self-control to be not only be worthy and keep the Commandments, but again be willing and actively praying for and pursuing all opportunities to rescue, to serve, to love, and to live for all our Brothers & Sisters. I strongly feel that these above qualify not just man, but of course women too! To be ordained and blessed with all The Father hath, to the Priesthood. I fail to see why this is only for men. I feel that drive to live for, serve, uplift, and love ALL The Lord’s children, coupled with worthiness, is enough to earn the right to bear the Priesthood. Why should Sisters not have access to this wonderful and special gift? Women are often in my opinion stronger than men, and blessed with greater compassion for others.

    I have served in the EQ Presidency in 2 Wards, and see every month the utter failure of so many Elders to not only grasp the importance of the rescue effort, but very often I see an absence of sincere and driven desire to go out and bless ALL with their Priesthood. And the average 20% Home Teaching, and how few truly dedicate at least a portion of their lives to serving others outside of their Families.

    Tell me why our beloved and precious Sisters should not be ordained? I for one would LOVE to see the magnificence of Sisters with greater power from on High out there in the trenches, serving with equal power that the Brethren have.

    My 2 cents. God bless you brave Sisters! I for one fully support your efforts to be ordained. Again, what qualifies one to be ordained is worthiness and hard work and love! Not gender.

    Sincerely & respectfully,

    Brother Ben Tucker

    • PS: I do not have a Facebook account, as I personally found it more often a waste of time, and rarely an effective tool or use of my time. I have a phone with which I can text, call, or E-mail anyone in my life or from my past. 2 years ago when I DID have a Facebook account, I had a close friend suggest to me that I start keeping track of how much time I was spending on Facebook, and ultimately what that time was accomplishing. I for one found that:
      1. I was spending much more time Facebooking than I THOUGHT I was…
      2. It rarely was an effective use of my time; more often chatting with people, posting or looking at pictures, or playing games –
      3. And finally, it brought me anxiety when I realized I’d have a better quality of life if I deleted my Facebook! It can definitely be an addiction. I can’t judge anyone else – yet I will venture a guess that many more Facebook users may also be alarmed if they began timing their Facebook minutes / hours per day / week, and what portion of that time was absolutely necessary and truly the best use of their time? Only you can determine that. Just my suggestion – to try that test.

      Regards,
      Brother Tucker

      • Another thought regarding Facebook ~ in my opinion, even amongst well-intending good people, something about Facebook, the Internet, and social media at large, doesn’t always bring out the best in people. The reactions may not always match the civility and respectful dialogue that actual face-to-face human interaction does… just another reason I chose to delete my Facebook :)

  38. Mark

    I’m sorry if this is a repeat, but what about all of us being priests AND priestesses?

  39. What a wonderful answer! Thank you for your insight.

    I’m personally not at all interested in being a female Judge in Israel in this day and age. I have enough responsibility on my combined church and family plate here in our small Upstate NY branch and I’ve been very lucky to live in a district where the last 20 years or so have seen men and women working together fairly equitably. So I’m not really worried about having an official ordination for women. Having said that, I know plenty of women who have had experiences with the brethren that were less positive than mine or who feel that they do want a greater or different scope of responsibility. I respect their sense of urgency for progress. And I do share their desire for greater light and knowledge regarding our role as queens and priestesses in the kingdom.

    Sadly, I worry that nothing more will happen in that direction until more sisters follow through with the responsibilities we already have. For instance, the Visiting Teaching statistics for our district are dismal – less than 10 % success in some units in some months. Based on that fact – are we women who need greater accountability for performing the work of the Lord. Probably not. Would we do any better if we had an official ordination before performing that work? If you look at our Home Teaching statistics, probably not. The hateful attitude and words some members who feel the need to attack those supporting the Ordain Women movement also indicate that we have a long way to go before we all learn how to behave like Christ. The 500 year plan may not be very far off the mark.

    But progress will happen. We’re seeing it already – a Women offering invocation for Sunday morning’s session of General Conference?!?!?! Yay!

    In that spirit, I will share a verse of “Follow the Prophet” that we invented in our home. It is a good reminder that that our current understanding about men, women and the priesthood is still very incomplete:

    “Deborah was a prophet in a wicked day
    She stepped up to lead when men would not obey.
    She helped win the war by counseling Barak
    He was not afraid when Deborah had his back.

    Follow the Prophet … “(Cue that Klesmer band, sisters! Sing it when you’re feeling down!)

  40. why me

    I am trying to understand what OrdainWomen has to do with feminism. I am also trying to understand why the organization needs to go to the media for support. I am also attempting to understand why women wish to have the priesthood and why OrdainWomen believes that by going to the press and by using social media, the lds church will change its policy. I just see it as counter productive.
    If the church allowed women to have the priesthood, it could not be an opt enterprise. Like the boys who receive the priesthood at 12, girls would also have to receive the priesthood at 12. They would be deacons, teachers, and priests. And they would be expected to accept it as the boys do. And then all the women would need to get the priesthood also, just like most of the men have the priesthood. Thus, relief society would be history. All would be in priesthood meeting. Likewise, no more young women’s or young men’s groups. No need to separate the sexes since all will have the priesthood. The entire church would be turned upside down and many women would flee the church. Why? Because all the women that I have talked to do not want the priesthood. Nor do they want the responsibility. And yet, they would be expected to get the priesthood.
    We could not have two groups of women: those with the priesthood and those without the priesthood. It must be the same for the women and girls as it is for the boys and men.
    I just don’t the lds church becoming like the Community of Christ (formally the RLDS).

  41. why me

    My last sentence should read: I just don’t see the lds church becoming like the Community of Christ (formally RLDS).

  42. CortM

    There’s a real danger in taking a Conference talk out of context. President Uchtdorf’s Saturday talk has to be read in consort with Elder Christofferson, and Elder Oaks, and President Uchtdorf on Sunday: he offered an olive branch, but it was held in the firm grip of orthodoxy.

    As for the central question — how do you respond to unkindness from people who disagree with you” — Section 121 offers a reliable primer on the way men think. There are a lot of bullies and jerks in the world, and a lot of ignorant people (I once heard, with my own ears, a guy at BYU say, “I don’t read anything religious, not even the Scriptures. I don’t want anything messing up my testimony.”)

    Having said that, there is no way the Ordain Women stunt can be perceived as anything more than a rather obnoxious publicity stunt. I’ve been going to Priesthood sessions for a long time, almost always in stake centers far, far away from Temple Square, in places where getting to the meetinghouse requires a fair amount of travel. In these worlds far removed from the Zion Curtain. wives frequently accompany their husbands to Priesthood session. They sit in the chapel, and listen, and nobody cares.

    It’s the same with the pants thing. In my mostly poor, mostly Black and Latino ward, women wear pants to Church all the time. We once had a guy come to Sacrament meeting in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey. It’s never been an issue. It’s never been a big deal.

    The problem isn’t leadership. The problem is that a huge chunk of Mormonism is clumped along I-15, like a knot of uncooked dough in a bread loaf. And when they do leave Utah, they clump in these bleak, mostly White, mostly middle class master planned communities, and attend wards that are just like Utah, only more so, terrible Epcot versions of the Church.

    I can’t speak for Utah, but where I live, amazing things are happening, I think it’s fair to say that Sister Brooks has not been to a ward council meeting in the last 10 years. The sisters have a voice and provide direction in those meetings in ways that just didn’t happen even a generation ago. And I don’t know a bishop – I’ve known a lot of them – who doesn’t consider his wife his true first counselor. A new understanding of the partnership between men and women is evolving, and it’s a powerful thing to witness. Stunts like crashing a meeting, and the silly counterattacks to that stunt, are a sideshow.

    So if you want to take Pres. Uchtdorf at his word, recommit to orthodoxy. Then move. Get out of Epcot Mormonism. Go someplace where you are really needed, like Detroit, or Memphis, or Buffalo, New York. There will be so much work to do, so much need, so many ways to serve God by serving your fellowman, that you won’t have time to worry about who wears the pants, metaphorically or otherwise.

  43. Linda

    Love the bread analogy. Yeast provides the lift, salt the balance, and followers of Christ have been compared to both. Neither can do its job until you mix it in with the flour, and a little of each goes a long way.

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