Guest post: The UP movement

By Jeffrey Collyer

Jeffrey Collyer says about himself: “Not much to say really. I’m a middle-aged member of the Church, married to a fabulous woman with whom I do my best to raise 4 children, living in the UK. I’ve been writing my own blog about the Atonement for the last 6 months or so – www.allthingswitness.wordpress.com”

If you pay any attention to the LDS blogosphere (and let’s face it if you’re reading this you probably do), then you will have noticed that again as we approach General Conference there has been an upsurge in the number of OW-related posts.

While I wouldn’t say I have actively followed the various arguments on either side, I follow a wide range of LDS blogs, and have therefore read countless posts on the subject. Unfortunately I am now at the point of inwardly groaning every time there is another post about OW, and after some pondering on this, I have identified why that is, as well as a proposal for an alternative “Movement” (so if you don’t want to read about OW skip to the end).

So firstly, why I don’t want to read anything about OW anymore (and yes I appreciate the irony that I am writing about something that I don’t want to read about):

Firstly, I find it boring. I don’t mean that in an insulting way; it’s just that I can’t find anyone saying anything new on the subject. One of the reasons I follow the blogs that I do is that I like to read thoughts and ideas from others that are fresh to me, giving me new insights and different perspectives. But all of the arguments that proponents of OW make basically boil down to variations on, “It’s not fair”, which makes neither the argument nor the counter-argument terribly enlightening. I still tend to read OW-related posts because, I think, “Maybe this one will be different. Maybe this one will actually have something new to say.” But invariably I’m disappointed and end up wishing I’d spent the 2-3 minutes doing something else. So, could anyone wishing to post on the subject of OW please SAY SOMETHING NEW!

Secondly, I really can’t see what they’re trying to achieve. Anyone who knows anything about how the Church works will know that confrontational campaigning just isn’t going to do anything to further the cause, so I have to assume that the leaders of OW either have a different agenda to the one they are publicly espousing, or they’re not terribly well informed on how the Church functions. Either way, it doesn’t suggest to me that this is a “Movement” either from or on behalf of faithful members.

That is not to say that I don’t think faithful members can or should have serious questions about issues that affect either the majority or minority groups within the Church. It is also not to say that I don’t think that cultural conditioning has shaped some of our Church policies. After all, if we really ignored our modern-day cultural demands, then the injunction to be like the Saviour would mean that all LDS would men would wear dresses and have beards. On the subject of beards, certainly here in the UK there are plenty of very well respected public figures with beards, and it’s frankly bizarre that they are essentially taboo in the Church. But to be honest there are more important things for me to worry about in my life than growing beards, or wearing plain white shirts to Church, or any of the other cultural norms we follow.

Finally, I can’t help but think that the OW agenda simply misses the point, and is a distraction from the real questions we should be asking. For a start it seems to conflate Ecclesiastical Authority and Priesthood Authority. I think we already do that too much in the Church. But as the Doctrine and Covenants makes clear, the purpose of the Priesthood is not to fill an Ecclesiastical structure, but rather to bring us into the presence of God. I’m sure that many members have been in Wards or Branches where the Ecclesiastical leader has exercised unrighteous dominion as described in D&C 121, but they still retain the Ecclesiastical authority until they are released from their Church calling. So while I think there could be a genuine discussion to be had about Ecclesiastical structures, I think it’s a mistake to assume this is the same as having a discussion about who holds the Priesthood.

And in terms of Priesthood authority, there are some really interesting questions we could be asking. So for example, in our Temples women officiate for women and they are given authority to do so, without having any Priesthood conferred upon them. But if one of the key purposes of the Priesthood is to officiate for Priesthood ordinances, then this throws up a load of questions such as: What authority are women using in the Temple? And if (for example) that is something like delegated Priesthood authority, then what else could members do if Priesthood authority were delegated to them?

In reality, I don’t think we really understand the Priesthood terribly well, and rather than campaigning for greater access to something we don’t understand, perhaps instead we should seek to understand it better. Then we might just see how the opportunities for us all expand as we gain the greater light.

So, I have a proposal that a new “Movement” be started, to be called the Understand the Priesthood (UP) Movement. Let’s start a discussion about that instead, and see if we can’t all use the Priesthood which we all have access to, in order to get closer to God. After all, that is ultimately what the Priesthood is for.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

17 thoughts on “Guest post: The UP movement

  1. Members of OW will be knocking on your door soon to offer to give you six discussion in order to explain the priesthood to you. Problem solved …. right?

  2. In all seriousness, I first started reading through the OW website because I (incorrectly) thought that if these people are so confident that they are going to take the steps they have been taking, then they must have some compelling argument to make. I’ve been disappointed in this, because I think I was looking for the same thing you were looking for, which is a substantive discussion or an exploration of something that I hadn’t been exposed to before. Instead, it was a rehash of previously plowed and barren ground. Their only innovation is in their tactics, and even that is merely being borrowed from others and applied to the LDS context.

  3. I was wondering if maybe what these OW women think have anything to do with the priesthood ban situation, and they rationalize that if the brethren were wrong on this one and God allowed that to continue for over a 100 years, then they could also be wrong about women not holding the priesthood and God for some very odd reason had allowed this to happen from the beggining of life on earth. There, maybe that could be a new angle.

  4. Hi Kareen. Yes I think you’re right that such an argument surfaces occasionally, but it doesn’t tend to last long because we know that Joseph Smith ordained blacks to the Priesthood while women were not ordained as you rightly say. So it’s a convenient analogy on the surface, but doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny – hence my own observation that the argument tends to quite quickly fall back on “It’s not fair”.

    The point of my post, of course, is not to say whether I think it is “fair” or not – it is that the argument now is tediously repetitive, and I think totally misses the point of what would and should be a genuinely useful discussion about the purpose of the Priesthood and how we should be using it to bring us all back to God. Thanks. Jeff

  5. I’ve got an old InfoBase disc from 1997 that contains thousands of articles, books, talks, etc. It’s fun to occasionally pick a topic and see what leaders had to say about some subject. I could be wrong, but it seems that today, most leaders don’t go too deep into the fundamentals, instead dwelling more on the perfection of the saints. I do wish we’d go back to more in depth discussion of some things in the Ensign, conference talks, etc. We actually do have some very important fundamental truths laid out at the beginning of Handbook 2. Still, I’d like to see some more discussion on the priesthood.

  6. JeffC I agree with you. I am totally bored and tired of the OW subject. I think we should stop giving them so much bloggernacle space. Maybe we are just contributing to their cause by talking so much about it. Hey! any publicity is a good thing, I hear. By the way my previous comment was my kind of sarcasm

  7. JeffC I agree with you. I am totally bored and tired of the OW subject. I think we should stop giving them so much bloggernacle space. Maybe we are just contributing to their cause by talking so much about it. Hey! any publicity is a good thing, I hear. By the way my previous comment was my kind of sarcasm.

  8. I would substitute “priesthood power” almost everywhere you used “priesthood authority”.

  9. I believe the opposite. Authority does not equal power. We tend to use the terms interchangeably. But they are unique. Many have authority, but not as many have power. I believe that priesthood blessings should be given by the authority of the priesthood. The power comes from the faith of the receiver and the giver. If I state by the power that I have, it seems a bit self-righteous. How do I know if I have power and how much power? If I think I have power, do I lose it because I think I have it?

    rc

  10. RC at 7.55pm. I agree. Authority is conferred and remains in place as long as I don’t do anything that would take it away (D&C 121). Power, on the other hand, is ultimately what will enable my wife and I, side by side, to walk back into the presence of God; and enables me to exercise the Priesthood Authority more meaningfully.

    While I believe much of that needs to be learned individually, I think there is plenty we could learn from a discussion about it….

  11. “Anyone who knows anything about how the Church works will know that confrontational campaigning just isn’t going to do anything to further the cause, so I have to assume that the leaders of OW either have a different agenda to the one they are publicly espousing, or they’re not terribly well informed on how the Church functions. Either way, it doesn’t suggest to me that this is a “Movement” either from or on behalf of faithful members.”

    The OW movement’s real purpose is pretty obvious. It’s not to convince the church leaders to given women the priesthood. We’ve seen (from my previous post on the subject) that Kate Kelly, the OW founder, isn’t willing to answer questions about her belief in the priesthood. This almost certaintly means she believes all religions “have the priesthood” because “priesthood” is, in her mind, simply what our church calls ecclesiastical authority. So there is no real desire for the Church leaders to pray about it or make a change and she doesn’t believe revelation about the priesthood comes like that anyhow.

    The real target of OW is the members of the church itself, especially (but not only) the women of the church in the rising generation. This makes a great deal of sense from within the doctrinal viewpoint Kate Kelly is coming from. If the priesthood is not something God gives or doesn’t give, then clearly the way you get ecclesiastical authority is by convincing enough of the Church to ask for women to receive it such that the Church can’t effectively grow and thrive unless they do. Then, so goes this view point, the Church leaders have no option but to give women ecclesiastical authority.

    So I do not see what purpose an Understanding the Priesthood movement would hold given that OW doesn’t “misunderstand the priesthood” in the first place. They literally disagree with the current doctrine that we have the sole priesthood on earth in the first place. They don’t misunderstand, they disagree. So there is no point at all ‘educating them’ on the subject. They believe they understand the priesthood correctly and you’re believing in a false doctrine.

  12. Sadly I think you’re right Bruce. It all has the feel of something akin to a Korihor campaign, “O ye that are bound down under a foolish and vain hope, why to ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things?…. Behold, these things which ye call [Priesthood authority], which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers…. behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so…” (Alma 30:13-16) Let’s try and whip up a storm where none exists.

    The “UP Movement” is obviously a little facetious, but I do think that we could all genuinely benefit from greater blog discussion about how we can better understand and use the Priesthood.

  13. “Foolish traditions of the fathers”?

    You mean, as in “patriarchal bull[doo-doo]“?

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