A View of Keys

[This is the first time I am adding a podcast of a post. To listen, click on the left side of the bar below, and the mp3 will load, then start to play. To pause, simply click the left side of the bar again. I think this isn’t a very good skin, but it works…]

 

A Graphic of Elder Oaks' address on Keys

A Graphic of Elder Oaks’ address on Keys

I thought it might be useful to put up a graphic representing my understanding of Elder Oaks’ address at Priesthood Meeting. My apologies that this graphic isn’t beautiful.

Clearly I’ve adapted the traditional astrological symbols for Mars and Venus here. The little plus sign at the bottom of the circle derives from the distaff, the tool women traditionally used to support flax before it is woven – a symbol of the creation of products that has been a traditional role of women. Obviously women also perform the primary labor of producing children (gestation, birth, lactation). Plussing up the population of mankind, if you will. I made this symbol gold because it is wonderful.

The arrow in the traditional symbol points off to the side and represents a spear (vary male and phallic). In this graphic, however, the arrow is a sort of umbrella pointed towards God, representing both the umbrella under which all Church service is performed as well as the salvific ordinances that can reunite mankind with God. I made this blue. No reason.

What I heard Elder Oaks describe as well was the vast middle ground that is neither uniquely salvific nor uniquely related to creation. This is represented by the large green sphere and is shared by both men and women. The activities in this sphere are conducted under the umbrella of priesthood, but are only possible because there are individuals (necessarily added to the race and nurtured by women) who can perform the activities.

So a useful conversation that might occur on this topic regards the extent of this great middle ground where both men and women may serve, and whether there are pockets that rightly belong to this great middle ground that have been relegated to one gender or the other due to folkways unrelated to the keys unique to salvation or creation, respectively.

That’s all. For example, does folding the chairs in the chapel necessitate salvific keys? Does preparing food for funerals require the keys of creation? Is taking out the trash a task that requires the salvific keys? Does changing a diaper require the keys of creation?

As we examine ourselves, do we find that this separation between salvific keys and creative keys frees us to challenge our traditional notions regarding the vast array of common responsibility that can appropriately be taken on by any member of the body of Christ?

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for over four decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation, and is working on a midrashic treatment of the events in Nauvoo associated with early polygamy.

33 thoughts on “A View of Keys

  1. Wasn’t blue the colour representing Priesthood in ancient Israel? Very well arbitrarily chosen if so.

    Great image which I may well just copy and keep somewhere as I think it visualises beautifully the complementary roles of men and women.

    At the same time, though, is there a danger that we confuse the different roles of men and women, with the different roles of those who hold Priesthood keys and those who don’t? The gender roles that the Proclamation on the Family talk about don’t reference Priesthood as influencing those, and while I don’t think there is anything inherently gender specific with the examples you use (my wife probably takes out more rubbish – sorry UK wording – than I do; and I have changed plenty of nappies in my time), the Proclamation defined roles of Providing Necessities for the family versus Nurturing I think are well supported in the scriptures.

    Now I think that is an interesting and useful discussion, but I also think it’s a separate discussion to what must be done under the direction of Priesthood keys, versus what have we culturally assumed must be done under Priesthood keys.

    Or have I misunderstood?

  2. I meant this discussion to focus on the keys, as so distinctly described by Elder Oaks.

    When it comes to gender, there are very few tasks that must necessarily be relegated to one gender to the exclusion of another gender. There may be folkways, but most cultures and businesses these days are aggressively dismantling barriers that inhibit women from contributing.

    Brigham Young was very aligned with this idea of maximizing the role of women. He’d actually get angry with men who were manning desk jobs and such he believed women could do, because he wanted men out doing the stupid hard physical labor that isn’t appropriate for the women. This was back before mechanization eliminated many of those barriers.

    The discussion is Church and how we re-envision the way we serve to align with the delightfully clear model presented to us in Conference.

  3. Audio didn’t work for me but I liked your graphic and the description of its meaning. I think part of the problem is the perception that having the priesthood means being the boss as opposed to being the one who serves.

  4. Useful clarity.

    Thought I don’t see why a lack of sex-specific keys in any one specific area means that assigning that area predominantly to one of the sexes is problematic. Specialization doesn’t have to be inherent or involve inherent advantages to be efficient. Same goes for the way specialization functions to reinforce complementarity.

  5. I’m not sure I quite know how to phrase this so it will be clumsy I’m sure, but maybe if I use an example….

    I was in a Stake Council meeting a few months ago and I think the Stake President had asked a fairly generic question on how we could be more effective leaders. I made a few comments, but of relevance to this discussion one thing I said was to the effect that I thought the women should spiritually aspire to become latter-day prophetesses just as Eliza R Snow was – full of confidence, eager to speak out, teach doctrine, and to really lead. Interestingly, the Stake President seemed quite happy with my comment, but the women in the room were aghast.

    So I know it’s stating the obvious, but it is a question not just of which formal Church “tasks” could be performed by who, but also of the informal interactions and roles performed by men and women in the Church – by those who “hold the Priesthood”, and those who don’t.

    Why can many LDS women not see the potential to be an Eliza R Snow (Ok – she was exceptional, but you get the general point)? And how do we change it?

    Is it a lack of modern LDS women role models? Have 20th century cultural ideals been too powerful? In the workplace my best managers (and to be fair also my worst) have been women – how can we get the same level of confidence in women in the Church. Can Elder Oaks’ talk truly become a landmark moment for us?

  6. Meg, please excuse me if I am not capturing your point, but I think one of the points you are making is that there are things we can change in the Church that do not have to do with priesthood keys (such as having women giving prayers at Conference) and there are things that cannot change. This is one of Neylan McBaine’s points, and I think she is right on. For example, it is the custom in every ward that I have been in for the husband to give the last talk in Sacrament meeting with a new husband and wife move in and introduce themselves. I can think of no good reason why this custom can’t be changed (I am open to the possibility that there is a good reason, but if there is I don’t know what it is). It is the custom that the young men hand out programs. Why not have the young women do it? There are changes like this that (could) be healthy for some wards. Is that a point you are trying to make?

  7. Meg, you remind me that there seem to be a great many callings in the Church that don’t make sense to me as Priesthood specific. By my count, its the callings that are directly related to ordinances and the presiding/holding keys over those ordinances that require the Aaronic and Melchizedek. So, the membership clerk , for example seems to only be a man because of notions about men and women co-working in the Church (and the proposed dangers therein). In other words, I think your green area is a great big missed opportunity for women to have more voice in the institution without any major changes.

  8. In my ward we have both men and women (not youth) hand out programs. In my ward we have had a large number of single women who’ve served as Relief Society President.

    I don’t know what the handbook says now, but in past women did not even give talks in Sacrament Meeting, or give prayers. They do both now, but at least initially they could only participate at the beginning of the meeting, which would theoretically provide the man a chance to correct any errors the woman/women might have (inadvertantly?) introduced during their participation. If the handbook still specifies that a man must voice the closing prayer, that is a holdover from the earlier policies where it was presumed that any man would be more capable of voicing correct doctrine and supplications than any woman.

    One interesting thought is whether it would be possible to have High Councils that were composed of both men and women. High Councils have traditionally been staffed solely by men, but the function they fill is an advisory role and a “village elder” role, when it comes to disciplinary councils. There is nothing (as far as I know) about the activities of the High Council that is so fundamentally salvific that women would not be acceptable before God as participants in that Council.

    Women serving as High Councilors would then be sent to wards to give the keynote sacrament meeting address on third Sundays. These women (dear Lord, let them be good speakers) would then be in a position to serve as role models for the other women.

    The Relief Society has long been the female arm of the Church, and it would be entirely possible for members of the Relief Society to be called to minister at the various levels of Church administration, as complement to the organization of Priesthood holders that currently exists.

    One obvious problem over time is the attraction individuals come to feel for those with whom they serve. However I think that there are ways to mitigate this risk other than buckling a figurative chastity belt on all who are female, by denying them any role that puts them in a position where they serve alongside men.

  9. Meg, I think one issue you’d run into is that, per my read of D&C 102, a high council must consist of ordained high priests.

    You might set up a “Stake Relief Society Board” and have those women function as you suggest, and I think you could even have them meet with the High Council into a “Stake Coordinating Council”. But scripturally, I don’t think you can put a non-high-priest on a high council.

  10. I understand the desire to connect the “Keys of Creation” to women, but I didn’t get that at all in the talk. It was mentioned, but he did not say that women automatically have these keys. He did say that these Keys had not been part of the giving of the Keys of the Dispensations. I do think it likely that the Keys of Creation will be eventually given, but that the creation of bodies is only a foreshadowing, most of the work done by women with some help from men.

    I do very much agree that we need more Elizas (and Emmas), more visible ones. We’ve had many, many women who have had the strength and gifts, but have suffered from the culture that tells them they are “only women” and must take what the world sees as important. We’ve also had many who did expand the people and world around them, and were quite content being nearly anonymous.

    There is so much more we can all, men and women, be doing together, despite who has what keys. Yes, it’s not equal, but I do know that all inequalities will be compensated for and we can both work our best with what we have and do our best to prepare for what more we will be given.

  11. In disciplinary counsels, High Councils act as judges in Israel and can terminate ordinances. Here, it seems to me, you have a function that requires priesthood office.

  12. Interesting to review D&C 102.

    I understand that it says the original 1834 high council was composed of high priests, and that the high council was assembled by revelation. However it does not seem to me that this revelation was necessarily prescriptive of using high priests in that council, but rather descriptive.

    I don’t care, and I don’t hanker to be a High Councilor. Actually, being called to serve as my ward Relief Society President at age 17 pretty much cured me of hankering to serve in “high callings.” I’ll serve if called, but I don’t hanker after Church positions. It was just that, lacking an eidetic memory, I didn’t think of D&C 102. And unconstrained by the thought that D&C 102 exists (and still unconstrained by the conviction that it is prescriptive), I was struck by how powerful it would be if women were made equal partners in high council affairs. If I am right that D&C 102 might only be descriptive, this is one area traditionally barred to women, that might legitimately be part of the great field of green where all may serve.

    When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, my stake arranged for buses to take as many as wished to volunteer up to work the holiday weekend after Thanksgiving. I remember there was some concern when I volunteered (my husband and children were content not to spend that weekend shoveling muck). They wanted to make sure there was another woman from the ward, so I would not be a lone woman amongst the men. Turned out there were plenty of women from the stake who volunteered, so it became a non-problem.

    There was another interesting phenomenon. Most of the men only know me as the lady who sings and waves her arm in front of the congregation during Sacrament Meeting. They might have noted my pointed and unusual contributions in Sunday School. But their main view of me is as wife of my sweet but atypical husband. He leads choir, but is content to be a stay at home father. He once found a book he’d read to be not only enjoyable as science fiction, but also a ripping great romance novel. So he sought out those women in the ward who he had reason to think would enjoy that kind of romance novel and recommended it to them. (I myself quite enjoyed that book (A Civil Campaign) – I laughed so hard at the banquet scene that I any noise I was making was only squeaking.)

    For those who had made the logical assumption that I, as the female in a marriage with this sweet, atypical man, must therefore be sweet but potentially ineffectual myself, it came as a surprise to see me ably holding up my end of the demolition work the Sandy clean-up required. Not only was I holding up, but I was taking delight in ripping down sodden walls and tearing up rotted flooring.

    One of the men made a comment, which evoked for me both his new regard for me and the implied lack of regard he had previously held.

    I trust those who lead us. They will discharge their stewardships in ways that will continue to surprise and delight me. Meanwhile, I look forward to exploring the vast territory in the green field available to all members.

  13. “In disciplinary counsels, High Councils act as judges in Israel and can terminate ordinances. Here, it seems to me, you have a function that requires priesthood office.”

    Do they themselves terminate the ordinances, or do they make a recommendation to the Stake President, who then terminates the ordinances?

    To be fey, women are very good at judging…

  14. Both, I think (I don’t know for sure). D&C 102 says that the President issues his decision and the high councilmen sanction it by vote. V. 22 seems to say that its the majority vote that is decisive, but I don’t really know.

    I’m not really buying the ‘descriptive’ only interpretation of D&C 102. The revelation isn’t recognizing a practice that was already existing; the revelation instituted it. D&C 107 refers to the high council as a quorum in some sense. Certainly the Church interpretes D&C 102 as prescriptive: you have to be ordained a high priest when you are called to the high council. See the Handbook.

    Its also pretty clear from the D&C and the Handbook that the Stake Presidence/High Council is meant to parallel the First Presidency/Quorum of the 12, and there’s not much doubt that the Quorum of the 12 is a priesthood office.

    Lots of stakes have sisters sit in on high council meetings, though. I know my poor wife gets dragged off to them once a month, the poor thing.

  15. In practice I don’t think there is anything a woman couldn’t do on a High Council; in principle I think it would be difficult, both because of the specified requirement in D&C (which may or may not be descriptive only, but could easily be a slippery slope in terms of what is “only descriptive” in the scriptures), and also because the current roles of the High Council are far different from what they should be (I believe the D&C says the standing High Councils are equal in authority to the travelling High Council or Quorum of 12 – in practice I think if the Brethren permitted this there would be chaos as most High Councils simply aren’t up to it; that’s spoken as one who has served on several High Councils incidentally so finger pointed squarely at self as much as anyone else).

    In terms of final speaker, our “High Council Sunday” last month had the Stake Relief Society President attend and give the concluding talk.

    In terms of specific callings – I agree that I don’t see why a woman couldn’t serve in Clerk positions, or Exec Sec, or Sunday School Presidency. I also can’t see why a man couldn’t serve in Primary Presidency.

  16. I kind of like your suggestion about High Councils, but it is somewhat problematic. The leadership structure of every Stake of Zion is to mirror that of the whole church. Thus, having women as High Councelors would be like having women in the Quorum of 12. And that is unlike to happen any time soon.

  17. “Thus, having women as High Councelors would be like having women in the Quorum of 12.”

    However there is no reason the Relief Society at the different levels couldn’t surge to mirror the priesthood callings at different levels.

    At each major level, it would be sufficient to ensure that the Relief Society president was supportive of the correlated member of the priesthood. Joseph and Emma are an obvious example of that, once one understands that Emma was working with Joseph (rooting out the seducers and bringing victims to an understanding of their folly and protection) rather than working against Joseph (telling everyone to be virtuous and monogamous even though her own husband was “secretly” covenanting with way more than zero women).

    Thus the General Relief Society President could preside over a quorum of twelve sisters called to assist in the apostolic work (service overarching all, but with a sub-focus on missionary work, strengthening the membership, and finally redeeming the dead).The same could be true of all levels, particularly the stake level.

    Similarly the ministry for the young ladies could be recognized as being a part of Relief Society – separate, with their own dedicated leaders, as the young men are separate from the more mature men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, but from age 12 seen as members of the great Sisterhood of Relief Society, dedicated to serving the Lord.

    If the Relief Society surged to provide this parallel structure, mirroring the structure of the priesthood, it would be possible for the presiding priesthood authority at each level to assign whichever individual, male or female, was the best fit for those tasks that are part of the great circle of stewardship appropriate for all members of the Church.

    Of course, any such structural modifications would not be within the purview of us, as members, to effect.

    However we can effect changes in our own worldview, and rather than behave as though the handbook of instructions from 1950 is still operative, we can study the most recent handbook and ensure, as leaders, we are taking advantage of every opportunity to utilize all the human power available to sustain and support the mission of the Church. As non-leaders, we can prepare ourselves and those around us for service in the great cause of the Lord, whatever the required tasks might be.

    With each generation, we remake the Church into a vital organ that speaks to us. In the 1800s a major activity of Relief Society was quilting. It brought the ladies together to produce a necessary item that was has hard to create alone as a barn would be for an individual man. However when we get to the 1900s, the young women felt themselves too sophisticated for an organization that (as far as they could tell) just met and made quilts while chatting, not understanding the role Relief Society had played in health, civil rights, humanitarian service, and education.

    As we move into the future, we will have a vast army of sisters who have served at the side of men who were their age-peers in the service of God. Their entire experience teaches them that women are equal in the sight of God. They will wish to continue service of that God as they move forward into mature life. However many of these view our current Relief Society with as much enthusiasm as the young Belle Spafford viewed the glorified quilting circles she associated with Relief Society in her youth. There is ample room to shift the organizations we do have to capture the energy of our day as Belle Spafford shifted the organization to capture the energy of her day.

  18. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. There is no written rule in the handbook that a priesthood holder must be the concluding speaker or that the priesthood holder must give the opening prayer. In fact, in my ward, we sometimes have women give the concluding talk, and certainly give prayers (both opening and closing). It depends on where you want the emphasis because the concluding speaker should have more time for his/her talk (usually about five minutes more) if everything goes as planned. The exception is that if the person presiding is speaking, they are always the concluding speaker. This gives them the ability to correct anything that was said if needed.

    Also, women do participate in councils (hopefully). At the local level, they are part of the stake council and ward council, and hopefully are raising their voices to help carry this work forward.

    Disciplinary councils are different, as they are restricted to as few people as possible (the bishop, his counselors, and the clerk at the ward level, the stake president and the high council at the stake level and any witnesses) and are guided under the direction of priesthood keys. Excommunications can happen at the ward level and stake level depending on the keys the presiding authority holds. While a bishop must seek the permission of the stake president to hold a disciplinary council, once that permission is granted, the bishop can take any disciplinary action the Lord impresses upon him (excommunication, disfellowshipment, formal probation, informal probation, or no action). Of course, the stake president who granted authorization to hold the council is notified of the council’s decision.

    Normally, if a melchizedek priesthood holder’s membership may be called into question, the matter is brought before the stake disciplinary council. Only the stake president can excommunicate a melchizedek priesthood holder because he holds the keys of the melchizedek priesthood as the presiding high priest. If the stake president has decided that excommunication is not proper for the misconduct of the melchizedek priesthood holder, the melchizedek priesthood holder’s matter may be considered at the ward level, but excommunication is off the table (the bishop holds the keys of the Aaronic priesthood, and cannot, therefore, excommunicate one holding the Melchizedek priesthood).

  19. Meg,

    I would welcome the Relief Society taking on more and more. Our young women used to go through the chapel and put the hymn books away, as well as pick up any programs. Families are assigned to clean the building. After Wednesday night activities, young men and young women help set up the overflow for sacrament on Sunday. I do agree that some of the roles we have placed on men or women have nothing to do with the priesthood keys, and are just cultural habits. Ward councils are an excellent place to discuss where more can be done to help further the work and make the communities in which we live a better place for all. Relief society sisters could meet and go about doing many good things. I think in the Church we too often wait for “permission” from the bishop before taking any action. Our default seems to be, I can only do what the bishop says I can do. Instead our default should be, I am going to go ahead and do these good things unless someone tells me I can’t. I don’t think as members we realize the real freedom we have to affect how the work is carried out in our wards and branches. You don’t need permission to get some people together and start performing service. As Elder Christofferson said in a meeting not to long ago, the Church has progressed about as far as it is going to progress on the backs of good bishops and stake presidents.

    We all need to lengthen our strides. We shouldn’t wait for an assignment to visit someone we know is struggling–even if he/she is not on our visiting or home teaching route. We just need to go serve (keeping in mind that we should not neglect our own families in so serving).

  20. Joseph and Emma is a great example Meg, and I think mirrors our archetypal examples of Abraham and Sarah, and Adam and Eve. Interestingly each of these are, of course, Husband and Wife service partnerships, and not just one male and another female – is that significant in the context of this thread?

    I’ve noticed that often when GAs visit (certainly over here in Europe), they will often have their wives with them, who will also address the congregation as if they are a Church Authority, and I wonder if at that level at least there is some part of the calling that extends to both husband and wife equally. Mission Presidents also serve very much with their wives.

    Is this the ideal pattern of Church service? Could we apply that more at a local level?

  21. When my husbands parents went on a mission my mother-in-law had a picture in her mind of how life would be. She saw her husband with an assignment for him and she saw herself with her own assignment. It would be something she could do on her own. It would be something her husband would have no say about. When she got there she discovered that she had completely been mistaken in her belief. She saw all the married women working with their husbands and the only ones who had the kind of assignments she had imagined were either single sisters or widows.

    She was very disappointed. It took her a while, but she adjusted and she learned to love the mission experience.

    It seems to me, and probably only me, that what matters is that women and men, find enough kinds of work in the church to keep them busy and feeling fulfilled in whatever task they are doing. I think it would be wonderful if women could speak and pray often as long as everyone who wanted to be able to either pray or talk had the opportunity as often as those who are called on to speak two or three times a year. It is my opinion that general fairness would take care of a lot of problems and make everyone feel better about some of the issues that will never go away.

  22. Meg,
    I have no doubt that the changes you suggest speak to you, but they don’t speak to me. The notion that we are obligated to treat men and women in an undifferentiated way except only where clear revelation has provided for some specific priesthood function, and then provide parallel institutions there, buys into the same false view of the sexes that underlies the Ordain Women movement. The difference is that you are a faithful believer, so where the conflict between that worldview and what the Kingdom requires can’t be avoided, you make an unprincipled exception to that worldview in favor of the Kingdom, whereas they do it the other way around. I honor you for it. But the worldview itself is flawed.
    Men and women are different. They have roles. They are complementary. There is nothing suspect about them falling into different patterns or habits of service. It isn’t mandatory, either, but its nothing to be lamented.
    I reject the notion that the 1950s were an intrinsically inferior time that we’ve since outgrown and out to keep outgrowing.

  23. JeffC: As I understand it, all of the high councils in the Church theoretically constitute a collective quorum which is equal in authority to the Twelve Apostles. They, in turn, were initially equal in authority to a standing “high council in Zion”–a sort of central high council of the center-place stake, which has since been more or less discarded. See D&C 107:36-37.

    Meg, I agree with you re the possibility having a stake relief society over a quorum of sisters–the general RS Presidency has a general RS board; and the idea of local organization structures mirroring the general organization structure was why I floated the idea of a “stake relief society board”. I kind of wonder what all they would do–I can see them taking a more supervisory role over local primary and young women’s programs; but I imagine the stake high councils (or at least the stake president) would also want to continue their nominal supervisory/supportive roles and at some point you’ve just got too many cooks in the kitchen. My wife is currently in a ward RS presidency, and it strikes me that there’s already a good bit of playing ward-level auxiliary leaders off against the stake auxiliary leadership, the ward bishoprics, and even stake high councils/presidencies.

    Also, I don’t mean to threadjack, but is your position that Emma Smith always agreed with/accepted plural marriage? If so, have you written an exposition somewhere on the internet that outlines your views; or is there a specific installment of your ongoing series on Bennett that deals with this? Thanks–

  24. Adam,

    I tend to be nostalgic about the time period I never knew–the 1950s. The problem is not that the 1950s were a terrible time. The problem is that there were some terrible things going on in the 1950s, but there were also some great things as well. Once the counter culture started its revolution, however, it through out the baby with the bath water. The time-honored traditions that make the 1950s life seem ideal (clean TV, family values, honest work, etc.) went out the window with the racism, sexism, bigotry, etc. The latter needed to go, but the former didn’t. Unfortunately, the lines were not drawn very carefully by the counter culture. They rejected all of it instead of seriously considering the values that made a difference to a happy, moral society.

  25. Ryan Black,
    that’s too antiseptic a narrative. We’d like to think that the things that modern progressives like about the 1950s can easily be unbundled from what we don’t like and it was just back luck or malice that they weren’t, but my gut says it isn’t so, especially on the ‘sexism’ angle. The good things and the bad things about the sexual revolution and feminism–the increased opportunities and respect for women, especially women towards the upper end of the intelligence and social class bell curves–can’t be separated from the bad things–divorce, family breakdown, the decline in marriage, the drop in birth rates, the reduced opportunities for male providers, and the worsened familial circumstances of women on the left hand side of the intelligence and social class bell curves. I don’t think the 1950s were a golden age and I’m not particularly nostalgic for them, but ‘because thats like the 1950s’ is an argument without merit.

  26. Meg,

    In addition to the issues you have posed, the blue portion of your diagram is getting larger. Healing rituals are now exclusively priesthood ordinances, as are blessings for women approaching childbirth. Also dedications of graves. Such didn’t used to be the case. This priesthood creep further relegates women to subservient roles.

    Your list of chores that could be available to women, as well as men, could include passing the sacrament. Nothing in our scriptures forbids it (unlike the specific prohibition against priests blessing the same). Both the blessing and the passing are cultural practices.

  27. JimD: I hadn’t read those verses quite that way before, but re-reading them yes it does make sense being read form that perspective. I know the Salt Lake Stake held a kind of supremacy over other Stakes for many years (which always felt eerily like the idea of the supremacy of the Church of Rome to me), but I hadn’t connected it.

    I’m not aware of any of the early Missouri Stakes being considered particularly superior to Kirtland, though, and thought that all of the Stakes at that time (albeit there were only 2) were largely independent of the Quorum of 12 or travelling High Council – that could easily just be my ignorance though.

    If you (or anyone else) are aware of any good articles or books that would provide some insight into the roles and relationships of the early High Councils that would be great :-)

  28. Adam G.

    I’m not saying they can be neatly unbundled. Rather, perhaps too simplistically, I was trying to explain why the good things were thrown out with the bad. During the counter-culture revolution, the idea was to question everything. Being responsible husbands and wives kind of gets in the way of the desire for free love, so family values went out the window with everything else. I concur with your sentiment that men and women are fundamentally different, yet complimentary, and equal in importance.

  29. @Jeff C: Sadly, all I can find online is Wikipedia (“Presiding High Council”), and some extracts from a book by John Tvedtnes called “Organizing my Kingdom” that were available via Google Books. I think it occasionally comes up in some of WVS’ posts on priesthood at By Common Consent; but they’re usually references made in passing.

  30. To continue the threadjack, I plan to address Emma in the post titled Emma’s Ultimatum, as well as in several of the remaining posts where the primary theme of a post significantly involves interaction with Emma.

    Here’s a fun exercise. Now that you have a perspective that Emma possibly knew about Joseph’s plural marriages and some of those women (e.g., Eliza Snow) were likely victims of Bennett and his Strikers, re-read Mormon Enigma (the second edition, that isn’t corrupted by Mark Hoffman’s forgeries) and take a yellow highlighter. Whenever authors Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery infer an abusive or deceptive Joseph from the circumstance, highlight the passage in yellow. We can compare copies. Though maybe we shouldn’t do that until I finish writing my series, just so you can explicitly know where there is an alternate view of that history.

    Back to the great green field where all members may contribute. I have my points where I want it to stay the same, even if it could become integrated. For example, I really like it that the young men and new male converts get to administer the sacrament. I’ve been a Primary leader, and I’ve seen how much those eleven year old boys chafe at being still considered children.

    Did you know Primary was originally proposed as an organization for solely male children? The dear lady who came up with the idea was very concerned about the young boys she saw growing up, often with little guidance from male role models because so many of the women were plural wives, and men were often off in other locations settling the territory or serving missions.

    However just as Primary went from an all-male concept to an integrated reality, I do think there are there are spheres of activity that could benefit from being made integrated and diverse.

    I would say that it’s awesome that John Taylor didn’t insist on placing one of his wives in the role of Relief Society President when he became the President of the Church. Then again, to put one of his wives in that role would have meant displacing Eliza Snow. After Eliza’s death, Wilford Woodruff continued the tradition of picking the best woman for the organization, irrespective of her marital connection to the prophet. In this case, the selection was Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young, who had been Eliza Snow’s first counselor. Zina had also been one of Joseph’s plural wives and a wife of Brigham Young. By which I mean to say that she’d been schooled in the theology of the kingdom by the formative prophets themselves, and was therefore in an excellent position to solidify what Emma and Eliza had put in place.

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