The official Church position on the OW movement

I hope this will be the last post on M* regarding the Ordain Women movement. The OW movement has been relatively quiet since the last General Conference, which is probably a good thing. Hopefully the people involved with the movement will come to the realization that there are Church-approved channels for bringing up requests for change within the Church.

In the meantime, a private letter from Church Public Affairs Managing Director Michael Otterson surfaced on another blog. It was posted here in a comment, and I wrote to Church public affairs to confirm its authenticity, which was confirmed.

I also asked for the Church’s official position on the OW movement and received a response, which I will detail in this post.

But first, I think it is important to make it clear the Church Public Affairs is definitely speaking for the Brethren on these issues. I asked public affairs this question and received the answer: “yes.” In addition, the private letter from Bro. Otterson says the following:

Please also understand that no Church spokesperson – whether Cody Craynor, Jessica Moody or myself – issues statements on behalf of the Church that are not either initiated or approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, by the First Presidency.

I really need to drive home this point because it appears some people, even faithful latter-day Saints, are not understanding this: public affairs is not some rogue group. All of their statements are approved by the leadership of the Church. In effect, their statements are statements from the modern-day prophets who lead the Church.

So, what is the Church’s official position on the OW movement?

I asked this question of Church public affairs representative Lyman Kirkland and received the response that there are two letters that outline the Church’s position. The first can be read here.

The second is the private letter from Bro. Otterson to “Sister Reynolds” that was published on another blog and confirmed as authentic by Church public affairs. That letter says the following:

“Dear Sister Reynolds:

Thank you for your email addressed to me. I am genuinely sorry that you are upset by the reports you have received about the women’s protest on Saturday evening.

I note that you were not present. I assure you not only that many of us were, but that video of the event shows very, very clearly the repeated attempts that were made to remind the sisters at the head of the line in a very kind but clear way that they had been asked not to bring their protest on to the sacred ground of Temple Square, and to kindly leave. The marchers entered Temple Square by opening the closed East Gate, and subsequently ignored the Church spokeswoman in a very deliberate way. It seemed clear that the leaders wanted to be seen to be rebuffed my male ushers to demonstrate a point. It was extremely manipulative on their part, and no doubt the hired documentarians that were brought onto the square by the group will edit the proceedings to make that point. However, no objective person could possibly argue that this was not a protest and rejection of a plea from Church leaders. That request was communicated in writing to the group ahead of time and repeated in the news media. It is not surprising that the overwhelming response from Church members so far is disappointment that such an event would occur at that place and on that particular weekend.

Please also understand that no Church spokesperson – whether Cody Craynor, Jessica Moody or myself – issues statements on behalf of the Church that are not either initiated or approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, by the First Presidency. We stand by the statement that was issued on their behalf, and which was accurate in every detail.

We are glad that you found Kim Farah’s actions kind. So did I. Kim, who is a valued member of my staff, did a fine job of lowering temperatures once it became clear that the women were not going to leave, but only then. As to your comments about creating division, I’m afraid I can only ask you to reflect on what is actually causing divisiveness at a time when most people are coming to General Conference for spiritual uplift, many carrying great personal burdens.

Conversations about how best to value and enhance the amazing contributions of women in our Church and to educate all our members continue to occur at the highest levels, as they have for some years. I am privileged to be in those meetings along with our sister leaders, and have had long and numerous discussions with wonderful women drawn from the body of the Church. Unfortunately, the leaders of the group about whom you write have removed themselves from any possibility of involvement in those conversations by their confrontational tactics and uncompromising positions on doctrinal matters.

I do hope that you will try to understand how disappointed Church leaders are over the staged event of last weekend, and that you will find peace, comfort and confidence in the apostles and prophets who lead us.”

I wish you the very best.

Michael R. Otterson
Managing Director
Public Affairs
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I would like to emphasize a few points from these two letters.

1)The Church sees the OW movement as a public protest movement in opposition to the Church. Notice the continued and purposeful use of the words “protest” and “demonstrate.” In fact, the Church feels that the OW movement is “manipulative” and trying to bring publicity to their cause in opposition to the position of modern-day Church leaders. This is why the Church, very symbolically, told the OW movement to protest in the same areas that the anti-Mormons rally for General Conference. The OW movement represents “differing viewpoints.”

2)Male priesthood ordination comes from God and will not be changed because of public protest. “Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His Church.”

3)The Church is and always will be interested in discussing issues with members and non-members but feels there is a correct procedure for doing so. Public protest is not the correct procedure. Note the following: “Unfortunately, the leaders of the group about whom you write have removed themselves from any possibility of involvement in those conversations by their confrontational tactics and uncompromising positions on doctrinal matters.”

4)Divisiveness is being caused by the OW movement. “As to your comments about creating division, I’m afraid I can only ask you to reflect on what is actually causing divisiveness at a time when most people are coming to General Conference for spiritual uplift, many carrying great personal burdens.”

I find the Church’s position on this issue very straightforward. Jesus Christ is the leader of the Church. He inspires modern-day prophets who speak for Him. Protest movements like OW are not appropriate for faithful Church members and in fact are manipulative, confrontational and divisive.

I would like to reiterate that just about everybody I know, including “orthodox” Mormons, agrees that there are some changes that the Church could consider. It is worth pointing out that the Church is reaching out to various women in the latter-day Saint community more than ever. But public protests will not succeed, and it is clear that faithful Mormons should not participate in such activities.

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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.

102 thoughts on “The official Church position on the OW movement

  1. The line has been drawn poltely but clearly. Any further attention seeking activities from OW could be viewed as tantrums.

  2. Geoff, thanks for chasing this down. This is something that should make serious and faithful members of the Church take notice and should allow individuals inside and outside of OW to make an informed decision regarding their involvement.

  3. “In effect, their statements are statements from the modern-day prophets who lead the Church.”
    But of course these “statements” are not issued by either the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve. So they are *not* technically binding, nor even statements from the Church’s governing authorities.

    I absolutely agree that these two letters you reference reflect the current thinking of the First Presidency and Twelve on the matters at hand; but they don’t necessarily (although they might) reflect revelation on the matters at hand. The Church has just recently “admitted” that it got the policies on the Blacks and the Priesthood wrong precisely because of the then current thinking of the Prophets and Apostles on the matter at the time. Notwithstanding the fact that the Church published First Presidency Statements on the question and held Church Courts at the Council of the Twelve level (to determine if the black descendants of a black priesthood holder could receive the priesthood, or if the deceased black elder and his wife could be sealed) it (the Church) got it wrong. In that case the Church published and implemented policies through far stronger statements, yet in hindsight the Church admits it was wrong.

    As a result of that history it is difficult for some faithful Saints to see the current less definitive letters as revelatory statements regarding the questions of what type of administrative or ordinance authority women could be given in the future. Rather, I think some faithful Saints simply see them as a pragmatic response to a very uncomfortable situation.

  4. The Church has just recently “admitted” that it got the policies on the Blacks and the Priesthood wrong

    They made no such admission. Nothing in the recent statements of the Church indicate that the policy was not revealed.

  5. JSH, sigh. I asked the question “What is the Church’s position on the OW movement?” and got the answer that the two letters represent the Church’s position. I completely disagree with your take in the comment above. The official Church position is what it is.

  6. Another thing that’s interesting about this is that these women wanted to be acknowledged directly through priesthood channels — not by Church public affairs. But since they went the media root to get attention, that’s what they get in return. If they wanted a direct, private response from priesthood authorities, they should have gone through priesthood channels.

  7. I lament that the total number of words that have been worthlessly devoted to this epic wilfull misunderstanding are so far disproportionate to the numbers involved and the legitimate concerns they represent. Nice to read something short and to the point. I honestly hope the OW protesters appreciate how well-served they are by these efforts.

    I have never been so circumspect. If it had been up to me, they would have been invited to take their peculiar hobbies elsewhere long ago.

  8. John Swenson Harvey, if you pair these responses with Elder Oaks’ talk, along with a couple of others from this most recent conference, it does make a formidable deterrent to any faithful member getting involved. Elder Oaks set forth the doctrine, and the PR pieces applied it to a specific group. It is also pertinent that Elder Oaks did not announce anything new, but rather consolidated and restated the current state of the teachings and doctrine on this point. I believe that this was a conscious decision on the part of the brethren to do it this way to soften the blow to OW.

  9. JSH:

    “I absolutely agree that these two letters you reference reflect the current thinking of the First Presidency and Twelve on the matters at hand; but they don’t necessarily (although they might) reflect revelation on the matters at hand.”

    I disagree with this sentence, but let’s presume for a moment that it is accurate. Are you then willing to put at risk your salvation by publicly advocating for the OW position, necessarily also taking the position that to do so you must also assert that you understand the mind and will of the Lord better than:

    President Thomas S. Monson
    President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
    President Henry B. Eyring
    Elder Boyd K. Packer
    Elder L. Tom Perry
    Elder Russell M. Nelson
    Elder Dallin H. Oaks
    Elder M. Russell Ballard
    Elder Richard G. Scott
    Elder Robert D. Hales
    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
    Elder David A. Bednar
    Elder Quentin L. Cook
    Elder D. Todd Christofferson
    Elder Neil L. Anderson

    To say that you know the mind and will of the Lord better than that list of faithful men (who have spent a lifetime in the service of God, and who have been placed in a stewardship position entitling them to revelation), is hubris.

  10. It’s interesting to see the difference between the governing of Christ’s church vs. the governing of a Republic. As US citizens, we try to problem solve and make changes to public issues by vote and peaceful protests. The LDS Church is not governed this way so it’s hard sometimes for people to consider a different method for change. Considering political affairs both locally and federally, I have found myself in the middle of several peaceful protests and sought to make change by making my voice heard through educating the public and voting. I think that’s the RIGHT thing to do in these situations. I am not in favor of the OW movement. Not to be trite, but good heavens, why would I want more responsibility than I already have. No thank you. To say that public protest is not the “correct” procedure is kind of harsh to swallow as US citizens. Consider the Nevada Rancher, Cliven Bundy, who is hailed as a patriot in his protest against the BLM. Therefore, I propose that the use of public protest to change things within the private organization of the LDS church should not be considered incorrect but ineffective; because doctrinal issues aren’t changed by vote and protest. Things change within Christ’s church when and only when Jesus Christ says its time for a change. And this happens, as far as I understand, only through asking in prayer, fasting, pondering and patience. Being willing to accept a “No” answer to your protest is not giving up or losing a battle, it is a demonstration of humility and an opportunity to be taught deeply the truths Heavenly Father wants to share with you through the Holy Ghost.

  11. Apparently some of you (OK, basically all who have commented) assume I wrote far more than I did. I did not condone anything the Ordain Women movement/group did. Nor did I advocate for their group. What I said related strictly to how faithful members might respond to the letters the original post seemed (to me) to elevate beyond their apparent status. I said regarding the letters: “It is difficult for some faithful Saints to see the current less definitive letters as revelatory statements regarding the questions of what type of administrative or ordinance authority women could be given in the future.”

    To be clear, while I personally see parallels between the Church’s actions on the Black Priesthood Ban and the female priesthood issue I have no official say, or influence, in the matter. I have expressed my opinion on the matter through proper priesthood channels and I’m pretty sure that my opinion didn’t make it out of that room – and I’m generally OK with that. I continue to pray and ponder the issue and know that conversation did make it out of the room, but what ultimate effect it might have is not up to me. I understand that i am a member of a “top down” Church. (There is no real logical reason to be a member of any other type of Church, other than for purely social reasons.)

    What I’m not OK with is people assuming that anyone who is sympathetic to the idea of women receiving additional priesthood authority (see Elder Oaks’ talk for why I say “additional”) can’t be a good Church member. Rather I think just like many faithful members of the Church were truly horrified that the Black Priesthood Ban existed prior to 1978, I think many today have serious concerns and questions about the status and role of women in the Church. These members would like to see additional *official/revelatory* guidance.

    In the case of the Priesthood Ban the Church court held at the Council of the Twelve level found that there was no existing record of *any* revelation *ever* being received to support the Ban (obviously a negative can never be “proven” so a finding of no evidence to support the Ban being from God, does not conclusively prove it was not – but statistically it does strongly suggest that). Obviously we have a wonderful record of the revelation received to lift it. I am not saying I know the mind of the Lord better than the Prophets and Apostles, I’m simply saying the Church has not yet issued a binding/signed statement from the those Prophets and Apostles on the question.

  12. JSH, you write:

    “What I’m not OK with is people assuming that anyone who is sympathetic to the idea of women receiving additional priesthood authority (see Elder Oaks’ talk for why I say “additional”) can’t be a good Church member.”

    I would agree and have expressed this repeatedly on this web site. The issue is, as I mention above, *how you decide to express this sympathy*.

    “Rather I think just like many faithful members of the Church were truly horrified that the Black Priesthood Ban existed prior to 1978, I think many today have serious concerns and questions about the status and role of women in the Church. These members would like to see additional *official/revelatory* guidance.”

    Asked and answered. The question has been asked and it has been answered by the Church. So, public protests: bad. Prayers and private petitions to priesthood authorities: good.

  13. I marvel at how well the Church has handled this difficult situation. I see how the Church is stepping up to giving sisters a greater voice in the Church on all levels, and yet there is a small minority that insist on having their own way.

    As for the priesthood ban, Darius Gray told me back in 2004 that the First Presidency had authorized him to say, “we do not know how the ban began, but we know it ended via revelation.” The Church has only stated that discussions of curses, etc., are wrong (being nothing but speculation). However, they have not stated that the ban was wrong, or that God never created the ban – on this, we do not know. That is a very important distinction, whether you recognize it or not.

    I thank Elder Oaks for expounding on the doctrine of the priesthood: explaining keys, authority, power, and the effects of the priesthood that both men and women in the Church can use in righteousness.

  14. JSH:

    I apologize if my post was uncharitable or unfair to you.

    “What I’m not OK with is people assuming that anyone who is sympathetic to the idea of women receiving additional priesthood authority (see Elder Oaks’ talk for why I say “additional”) can’t be a good Church member.”

    I don’t hold that position at all. I just worry for those who have been and continue to be led out of the Church through these machinations of the movement. What you described (prayer, talking to your Priesthood leaders in private) are absolutely the right way to deal with things. Good Church members have disagreements with the doctrine from time to time (even Paul and Peter disagreed). And good Church members deal with those disagreements in the manner you described.

  15. The curse or pre-existence denials really is a co-out though. The pre-existence stuff really “was” doctrine. Maybe it wasn’t really taught, or focused on, etc. And it’s easy to see how it was doctrinally extrapolated from our limited understanding of the pre-existence. And it would even be correct to say it’s doctrinally not correct now. There could be no fence sitters now since they all could receive the Priesthood if desired and worthy.

    Could there have been fence sitters 100 years ago? To say “no, that was just wrong” is certainly to leave open the option that the FP is wrong on this issue.

    I say this fully believing and accepting that Women will not and even further, based on my understanding and experience, should not officiate in the Priesthood roles like Men do. I wouldn’t oppose change if it came from the top, but I would recognize it would carry additional burdens that would get shifted on to all members of an already fractured family unit.

  16. Geoff, thank you for putting all of this up. I sincerely appreciate it.

    In all of the OW noise, I have been most upset and concerned by the contention and the divisiveness that they have caused. I know there have been mean comments coming from the other side as well, but I think people are lashing out because they feel betrayed and hurt by OW’s actions. I know I feel that to an extent with my friends and with some family members who have chosen to align with OW. I feel betrayed by them.

    I want to hope that this will be the end of OW, but somehow I doubt it. I think these women have let their doubts fester to the point of ruining their faith, and they are trying to take others down with them.

    As a woman I am comfortable with my role as outlined in the Family Proclamation. I am happy with the way the church is moving in regard to male/female roles, responsibilities and so on in the church. And I know, at least in my ward and stake, women are valued and a necessary part of the functioning and operation of our little corner of the vineyard.

  17. I don’t recall where it was asked, but someone parroted the question: “If we took all the women out of church on Sunday, could church still administratively take place? If the answer to that question is ‘Yes’ then there is something wrong with the status quo.”

    I’d like to take a moment and expose the flaw in the line of thinking here. Right from the start, I’d like to showcase the fact that there is a vast world of difference between something taking place “administratively” and something taking place communally. With the women gone, there is absolutely a difference. *There would no longer be families sitting in the pews, because missing mothers and sisters and daughters renders the family missing*.

    So the argument itself is specious. No one who is an active LDS would pretend that with the females missing, church would be the “same”. It wouldn’t be. Sure, the ordinances could go forth, the bishop would preside over half the flock, etc. But does the asker of the question really believe that it would be the same church service with real families missing?

    Women present at church — whether as single sisters in Christ, or mothers in Christ, or daughters in Christ, or wives in Christ — make the communal/sacramental experience at church complete because while we make covenants individually, God is in the business of saving families. And God wants women at church.

  18. Thank you, thank you for this post. I can’t say anything more than I agree and appreciate this post. I stand by Church Public Affairs. They are authorized to speak on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. I sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators. I also stand with any statements they initiate and request via a spokesperson. There are many issues out there that statements have been made on behalf of the Brethren, but I don’t think the average Church member realizes how the statements come about. Everything he outlines regarding this issue is so clear that it cannot be misunderstood.

    Excellent post and excellent letter!

  19. Interesting that M* would confuse a private, unconfirmed personal response as an “official Church position.” I think that says a lot more about M*’ than it does OW.

  20. Unlike you, MollyMormon, the faithful saints here believe the church is being direct and honest in its private AND its public letters…If the Church affairs department were to put out a private letter that wasn’t part of the church’s official position, it wouldn’t be very much of a public affairs department.

  21. I will say that Molly Mormon does have a point — the Church has an official position, but a private communication does not make that stance any more official than it already is.

    I suspect that Molly Mormon would have us believe, however, that there is nor official response. However, I think that the many talks, sermons, and public statements are plenty official, plenty clear, and perfectly direct.

    That said, Otterson’s claim that no public statement is made by his department without vetting by the Twelve is interesting and noteworthy.

  22. Molly Mormon, did you miss the part where Geoff wrote to Church PA and asked for confirmation, and they said that this letter was for real? Did you miss the part where the Ms Reynolds letter reiterated the points from the first letter from Lyman Kirkland, who is a spokesman for the LDS Church. What will it take for you to “get” it? What will it take for the supporters and members of OW to “get” that what they are doing is divisive, and causing contention and rifts within the church? When?

  23. I guess I don’t take one person’s supposed confirmation of a private correspondence reflective of official church doctrine. I believe “official” doctrinal answers look like what the Church has stated they are:

    “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. ” http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    So, while the correspondence may have been real (and it probably was), that doesn’t mean it’s “official.” It means it’s Michael Otterson sending an email.

  24. Molly,
    It actually wasn’t a private email. He’s a PR employee. He wrote the email from a company account, signed it with company signature. It’s not his opinion, but the opinion of his boss he’s sharing. Have you missed the various news reports of people being fired/disciplined for sending private emails from company accounts? In the big leagues that kind of thing is taken very seriously.

    The email was anything but private when it comes from a PR manager who’s sole function is to represent and be the official voice of his employer to the public.

    If it came from [email protected] and was signed, “just my personal opinion and does not reflect my employer’s position” you’d have a point.

    But the way your interpreting the letter is wrong. Why try to circumvent the issue? Just say you disagree with the position of church leadership on this issue and leave it at that. Or even better, humble yourself and decide that even though you don’t know for certain what’s right you’re going to trust in the Lord’s authorized servants and sustain this position as well.

  25. I’ve just upgraded to a much better version. I’m feeling a lot better now about the Church’s position on female priesthood ordination.

  26. Aaron, I never said I agreed with OW. I said that I didn’t take private correspondence to be officially binding on the Church. Again, per the Church’s website, statements by individuals (and certainly, statements issued by employees rather than called servants of God) are not officially binding and shouldn’t be taken to be as such.

  27. Molly:

    The text of the article reads:

    “So, what is the Church’s official position on the OW movement?

    I asked this question of Church public affairs representative Lyman Kirkland and received the response that there are two letters that outline the Church’s position. The first can be read here.

    The second is the private letter from Bro. Otterson to “Sister Reynolds” that was published on another blog and confirmed as authentic by Church public affairs.”

    You allege it is not doctrine in your later posts (and you would be correct), but you also have multiple misstatements.

    “Interesting that M* would confuse a private, unconfirmed personal response as an “official Church position.” I think that says a lot more about M*’ than it does OW.”

    The article clearly delineates that the letters represent official Church position. It has also been confirmed, and was no longer private because the recipient published it — not the Public Affairs department. Public Affairs merely confirmed it and confirmed that it represented the official position of the Church.

    “So, while the correspondence may have been real (and it probably was), that doesn’t mean it’s “official.” It means it’s Michael Otterson sending an email.”

    Again, this ignores the plain text of what Geoff has written. Deviating from doctrine is, of course, more significant than deviating from official Church policy. But deviating from official Church policy is more significant than deviating from the position laid out in a private, unconfirmed email. I think a large number of members would be uncomfortable deviating from the official Church position, so it is important not to allow the situation to be characterized as something less significant than it is.

    This does represent official Church policy, and it is up to each of us to exercise our agency to follow or not.

  28. It becomes a lot easier to understand why the Israelites murmured, continued to worship idols and were stuck wandering around the desert for 40 years when you look at the nitpicking that some people (erroneously) engage in. When it comes to following the prophets, it appears a lot of people are lawyers looking for a legal caveat that allows them an “out.” As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.

  29. Let’s just think of this from a much grander perspective for a minute. Can you imagine members of the Church in Ecuador, Africa, or the Philippines participating in something like this? What would they think of the pampered Americans? I shudder to think.

    If they do, than consider me humbled.

    But the point is, if you have given everything up for the gospel, and you still have to claw your way through this mortal life, relying on hope and faith in Christ, these trivialities melt away.

    What is the background of the OW women? Are they American, coming from an educated and relatively easy life? Are they fighting to raise their children to be better then themselves? Do they have kids? Do they have jobs? I’m sure they come from all walks of life.

    It is the curse of our time, as Saints, to have all of our basic needs met. With so much time on our hands, it is easy to let our minds wander, and to create an inflated image of ourselves.

    It is humbling to be up in a plane and look down. You realize how small you are, and insignificant. Yet, how many of us have had specific prayers answered by a loving God?

    I guess what I am saying here is: no wonder we are commanded to get out of ourselves and serve others. By focusing on giving Christ’s love to others, we forget about our petty whims and envyings and begin to recognize the blessings in our lives.

    I think that is what is going on here. A failure to understand His plan for us. It’s not about trophies and achievements, or even number of baptisms or high level callings. It’s about being willing and obedient, and about helping others to feel and recognize Christ’s love.

  30. The Church Public Affairs Department is SUPER IMPORTANT AND ALWAYS SPEAKS ONLY OFFICIALLY AND SOLELY ON BEHALF OF THE APOSTLES AND CHURCH.

    Don’t believe me? Just ask the Church Public Affairs Department.

  31. Again, my insistence here is on truthfulness and honesty. While the email correspondence may have been legitimate, it doesn’t constitute an “official” response from the Church per the church’s own declaration as to what is “official,” which is what the title of this post implies.

  32. Michael Otterson’s clearly gone rogue. What can we do about this travesty?

  33. Molly Mormon 3.0, maybe someone could show the Q15 the video of the event and then they could get Michael Otterson fired. Pretty sure they wouldn’t want someone to represent them that was certifiably lying about events to the news outlets.

  34. Well Cera, I am fully aware that you and your fellow OW clonettes have a rather jaundiced view, to the say the least, of Michael Otterson. But why stop there? Let’s get Q15 fired too!

  35. FWIW–an “official position” of the Church isn’t necessarily binding on its membership. Its support for Prop 8, for example, was about as official as you can get–but we were also told, in no uncertain terms, that Church members could disagree with Prop 8 without threat of formal sanction.

    The PR department doesn’t make official policy; but I think it takes a whole lot of straining to pretend that it doesn’t reflect it with an extraordinarily high degree of accuracy.

  36. Molly:

    “Again, my insistence here is on truthfulness and honesty. While the email correspondence may have been legitimate, it doesn’t constitute an “official” response from the Church per the church’s own declaration as to what is “official,” which is what the title of this post implies.”

    If your insistence here was on truthfulness and accuracy, you would acknowledge that the email does constitute official Church policy when the email is referenced in response to the question, “what is the official Church policy.” Furthermore, you would not be condemning the title of this post (“Official Church Policy”) because it does represent official Church policy. Finally, you would not be trying to dispute official Church policy by conflating official Church policy with doctrine, then disputing that official Church policy based upon doctrinal standards.

    JimD is right, you may depart the official Church policy. But it is important that you are aware of what you are doing when you do so. You are putting your wisdom, your knowledge, and your spiritual understanding in opposition to (and superior position to) the combined wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual understanding of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. You may, ultimately, be right and the Brethren may be wrong. But I counsel against this course for two reasons:

    1) Were I a betting man, I would expect that the Brethren are right on this issue (they are almost always right); and

    2) If the Brethren are wrong and you follow them, you are entitled to the protection of the Lord according to His promises. If the Brethren are right and you depart from them, you are entitled to no such protection. So staying with the Brethren is safe — there is literally no downside. Departing from the Brethren is risky — there is limited upside and significant downside (let’s call this Oaks’ Wager, in honor of Pascal).

  37. Jessica…thank you for your excellent comment. I served my mission in a 3rd world country. There were many members of the church who only came to church once a month, because they could only afford train fare from the neighboring towns once a month. When you think of what we need to be doing as Latter-day Saints, we’ve got to get on with that. Thank you again!

  38. Geoff: I think we need to be very careful when characterizing what is written on Church websites or in correspondence from Church leaders. I’m specifically thinking of this statement you made:

    <>

    I don’t think this is an accurate description of what Bro. Otterson described when he said (as you quoted):

    <>

    Nothing in the letter suggests that “All of their statements are approved by the leadership of the Church.” It only goes so far as to indicate that statements issued are *either* initiated by *or* approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, the First Presidency. I presume many statements are initiated by one or more members of the Twelve without ever being approved in their final form (including extemporaneous oral statements). My guess is that the letter to the Sister above, as well as the response to you, did not receive approval from anyone above Bro. Otterson. At least, I would never assume so.

    There are some other comments made in the comments that follow that I think also misrepresent what the statement on “Race and the Priesthood” under the topics section at lds.org can be confidently made to say. Specifically, I’m assuming the wording of the statement that “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past…” was done with purpose and care. If one examines the definition of “disavow,” it means:

    dis·avow
    transitive verb \?dis-?-?vau?\
    : to say that you are not responsible for (something) : to deny that you know about or are involved in (something)
    [see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disavow ]

    To say one is not responsible for or involved in something is not the same as making a dispositive statement on what is being disavowed. I would be happy for the Church to clarify, but the statement as it exists cannot be read to state that all the speculations are false, only that they are not official doctrine that “the Church” is responsible for or participated in (as opposed to individual speculations). It is also not clear to me that it is a disavowal of First Presidency statements in 1949 and 1969 which specifically invoked premortal planning as relevant to understanding priesthood restrictions, though they certainly never approached anything like the “fence sitting” assertion so prevalent in speculations and which is contradicted by both scripture and statements by presidents of the Church, including Brigham Young.

  39. The 2.0 version is a beta that clearly has significant coding errors. The 3.0 version is going rogue, showing strange avatars and creating new words like “clonettes.”

    I am eagerly awaiting the upgraded version.

  40. Resubmitted, as the comments evidently disliked a couple of characters I used and deleted the text in between them.
    ———-
    Geoff: I think we need to be very careful when characterizing what is written on Church websites or in correspondence from Church leaders. I’m specifically thinking of this statement you made:

    [[“All of their statements are approved by the leadership of the Church.”]]

    I don’t think this is an accurate description of what Bro. Otterson described when he said (as you quoted):

    [[“Please also understand that no Church spokesperson – whether Cody Craynor, Jessica Moody or myself – issues statements on behalf of the Church that are not either initiated or approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, by the First Presidency.”]]

    Nothing in the letter suggests that “All of their statements are approved by the leadership of the Church.” It only goes so far as to indicate that statements issued are *either* initiated by *or* approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, the First Presidency. I presume many statements are initiated by one or more members of the Twelve without ever being approved in their final form (including extemporaneous oral statements). My guess is that the letter to the Sister above, as well as the response to you, did not receive approval from anyone above Bro. Otterson. At least, I would never assume so. My guess is that he has been authorized to respond to such requests and that that counts as being “initiated” by one or more leaders.

    There are some other comments made in the comments that follow that I think also misrepresent what the statement on “Race and the Priesthood” under the topics section at lds.org can be confidently made to say. Specifically, I’m assuming the wording of the statement that “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past…” was done with purpose and care. If one examines the definition of “disavow,” it means:

    dis·avow
    transitive verb \?dis-?-?vau?\
    : to say that you are not responsible for (something) : to deny that you know about or are involved in (something)
    [see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disavow ]

    To say one is not responsible for or involved in something is not the same as making a statement on the accuracy of what is being disavowed. I would be happy for the Church to clarify, but the statement as it exists cannot be read to state that all the speculations are false, only that they are not official doctrine that “the Church” is responsible for (as opposed to individual speculations). It is also not clear to me that it is a disavowal of First Presidency statements in 1949 and 1969 which specifically invoked premortal planning as relevant to understanding priesthood restrictions, though they certainly never approached anything like the “fence sitting” assertion so prevalent in speculations and which is contradicted by both scripture and statements by presidents of the Church, including Brigham Young.

  41. John M, you are doing a lot of assuming and lawyering. If it makes you feel better, go for it. But the message from Church public affairs was pretty clear to me.

  42. It’s not assuming anything, Geoff. It’s pointing out the same mistakes others have made in the past and that you are making now: assuming things NOT in evidence in what is actually included in the text. I have a problem with that, especially given how “faithful” and “unfaithful” urban legends start and get propagated in the Church. You are free to assume the statements of the Church say what they do not, but I will not. Feel free to lawyer your way out of that.

  43. You are assuming, as well, that I stated that the statements were unclear, which I did not. I was extremely specific and careful in what I felt we need to be careful about. I think the Church has been very clear about what they say about OW, and I agree with the import of your whole post. You jump to unnecessary assumptions where none were made.

  44. So have we fully parsed out the Church’s official position on official Church positions?

  45. Both this blog post and the letter are significant in many ways in helping us stand with the Church and our leaders! Michael Otterson did a fantastic job of being bold, kind, firm and direct in standing with the prophets, seers and revelators. It’s great example to me of how to communicate on these tough issues in standing for the Church. There are some valuable lessons to learn here! The content of this letter is so significant on many levels. One being it reflects what special witnesses of Jesus Christ want said and known to church members. I don’t think that the general membership knew exactly how this works, but they will have a wonderful understanding of it now.

    Otterson’s letter was signed as a representative from the church—acting on behalf of the church and therefore the Brethren (not a personal email or personal opinion). The author of this blog post contacted Church PA and they responded indicating there were two official positions, one was the previous position from a few weeks ago and the second is this letter. They both represent official Church policy. I love how clear and direct this is! I noticed in General Conference that the speakers were more direct than ever before and I appreciated this. I sustain our prophets, seers and revelators whether they are speaking from the pulpit at General Conference or through spokespeople. I appreciate that statements from Church PA are “initiated or approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, by the First Presidency” and will reflect exactly what the Church leaders have asked to be communicated. I love this! It gives me a lot of confidence in the way our prophets and apostles communicate with the members (and the world ) on all issues

  46. I am the Sister Reynolds to whom the letter was written.
    First, there was this blog post that discussed a hurtful press release:
    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/04/lds-church-pr-and-ordain-women-amputating-the-body-of-christ/

    Here is the hurtful press release:
    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57778960-78/women-church-square-ordain.html.csp

    Then, here is my personal email to Mr. Otterson in regards to the press release:
    Mr. Otterson,
    I am writing in regards to the press release written by Cody Craynor Saturday evening concerning the Ordain Women group gathering on Temple Square. Mr. Craynor states in his release,
    “Despite polite and respectful requests from Church leaders not to make Temple Square a place of protest, a mixed group of men and women ignored that request and staged a demonstration outside the Tabernacle on General Conference weekend, refusing to accept ushers’ directions and refusing to leave when asked.”
    I want to express my disappointment in Mr. Craynor’s inaccurate representation of the event. I did not attend the event, but many of my friends did and each one denies that any usher asked him/her to leave. Additionally, my friends have expressed that they politely and respectfully followed the ushers’ directions to peacefully line up around the Tabernacle so as not to impede any men wishing to enter.
    Mr. Craynor’s depiction of OW members staging a demonstration isn’t accurate, unless he considers reverent Church members standing quietly as staging a demonstration. Additionally, he states that Church leaders had requested that OW not enter Temple Square, which is true, but he excludes the fact that OW leader Kate Kelly was notified the evening before that our group would be allowed to enter Temple Square. Mr. Craynor’s words create a perception of defiant protest, when, in fact, OW’s gathering was peaceful.
    Additionally, Mr. Craynor’s letter creates the divisiveness he is himself condemning. He states, “While not all the protesters were members of the Church, such divisive actions are not the kind of behavior that is expected from Latter-day Saints and will be as disappointing to our members as it is to Church leaders.”
    Mr. Craynor is a spokesperson for Church leaders. But he isn’t a spokesperson for Church members. When he tells other members they will be disappointed in OW, I feel he is out of line. He can certainly state the Church’s position on this matter; but it isn’t appropriate for him to state how Church members are to feel about that matter. That creates divisiveness. And this divisiveness is particularly hurtful as President Monson emphasized we should be considerate and sensitive to those around us the next morning in his talk, “Love – the Essence of the Gospel.” I can’t help but think Mr. Craynor’s assertion that Church members be disappointed with OW could be a reflection of his own personal bias, which is hardly appropriate in a journalistic context.
    My biggest complaint, though, is the conflicting messages that the PR Department has given OW. Kim Farah, who greeted OW members individually to turn them away, was incredibly kind and loving. She hugged many people and told them she wanted them to know they were welcomed and heard. That was her message to OW – that we were welcomed and heard. Yet, a member of her own department, hours later, told the press we weren’t. Such conflicting messages hurt members like me who already feel exclusion in the Church we love.
    I would hope that the PR Department can follow Ms. Farah’s lead; she concurrently maintained the company’s line while extending fellowship. She was inclusive, not exclusive. I ask you to consider a retraction of Mr. Craynor’s comments, as they are both inaccurate and hurtful.

    Respectfully,
    Meredith Reynolds
    Bridlegate Ward
    Gilbert Highland Stake
    Gilbert, AZ

    Mr. Otterson replied personally to me, as you have read above.

    Here is my reply back to him:
    Brother Otterson,
    I genuinely appreciate your personal reply to my email. Thank you.
    You are right – I wasn’t there last Saturday and can’t speak firsthand about the events. I wrote because many friends in attendance and also women on this blog post related a different version from Mr. Craynor’s and I wanted to represent their perspective.
    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2014/04/lds-church-pr-and-ordain-women-amputating-the-body-of-christ/#comment-1257023
    It isn’t productive to further dispute the event’s happenings, but I would like to offer a portrayal of the women in OW for you to consider.
    Your rhetoric in describing the event – marchers, ignored, manipulative, protest, confrontational tactics – suggests you perceive our group as combative. Most participants would find that characterization hurtful and untrue. If you read our profiles on ordainwomen.org, you will find that most of us are faithful, active and devoted members. However, we are pained at gender inequality in the faith we love and feel like we have little recourse with leaders to discuss it.
    I could list at length that gender inequality, but that isn’t the point of this email. The point is to emphasize there is pain and heartbreak. (A sick daughter kept me at home on Saturday, but I attended the event in October and feel like I can address our motives last week.) Our group gathered – from far-away distances and at great financial cost and with fear of the unknown – to show our hope that our leaders would see that pain. We came with hearts full of love, not rancor. We came not to protest, but to reach out. We came not in sedition, but in faith. We are not rabble rousers, but your sisters in the Gospel. When I think about my experience in October and read about others’ on Saturday, the words are reverent, Spirit-filled, hopeful, peaceful, happy – not manipulative and protest. You disagree, I know, with the method, but many of us came because we desperately feel like our voices couldn’t be heard otherwise.
    Please forgive my delay in responding: I took a week to ponder because your letter alarmed me. When I learned just how harshly you and Church leaders perceive me, I had to assess my motives – am I being seditious to God and His prophet? Please understand I have been a member in good standing my entire life. I am active, attend the temple, served a mission, wear garments, pay tithing, fulfill my calling, do visiting teaching, and love my neighbor. I am, and always have been, a faithful Mormon. So to be characterized as defiant was distressing. But I have spent the week praying and studying and have truly felt God’s love and Spirit affirming that it’s important for me to be a part of OW, that I need to vocalize the inequalities that wound me and others. You say members of the 12 approve all press releases, which signifies they agree with Mr. Craynor’s words condemning the action. I don’t entirely know how to respond to that. I do sustain the prophet. And do I feel God’s peace about my involvement with OW. This is the truth I know, that I can concurrently hold these convictions.
    Mr. Craynor said that members are disappointed in OW. It’s true that many are. But in discussing OW extensively the past six months, I have learned that when I clarify our mission, few agree that women should be ordained now, but almost all agree that gender inequality needs to be addressed. A devoted Mormon friend just emailed me this: “My wife and I both read your profile on the OW site. We had a nice chat before conference about you and about the beliefs OW espouses. I wanted you to know that you are representing a lot of people who, for one reason or another, have chosen to stay quiet on this. But I think there are many who are nodding from the sidelines. I hope you are getting a lot of support in addition to the occasional bile.” There are so many women who feel marginalized, whether they are vocal or quiet about it, and I think an outstretched hand from leaders would ameliorate much of that pain.
    It’s regretful that discussions on gender are taking place and none of us have a voice at the table. That is where much of our pain originates – that we aren’t heard. I don’t know who the women leaders are in these discussions, but so many members are leaving the Church and one of the biggest reasons is gender inequality. I would hope those leaders would want to hear from faithful feminists to ascertain what our issues are and how we can give women more voice. For example, feministmormonhousewives.org has thousands of followers and I think founder Lisa Butterworth could articulate those issues well. And, of course, I think OW members could characterize the exclusion we feel.
    Thank you, again, for your personal response. In lieu of President Monson’s assertion in his Sunday morning talk that we be kind and considerate of others, I am grateful for this thoughtful exchange.
    Your sister in the Gospel,
    Meredith Reynolds

    I have to weigh in with Molly Mormon, in that his personal email to me wasn’t official. If he wanted to make his points official, he could have done so in an official context. It just so happened that I posted his reply in a comment on a FeministMormonHousewives post, or otherwise, no one would have seen it but me. Consequently, because his intended audience was me, and me alone, I posit his comments don’t represent an official position. (I did notify him I was posting it and told him I would remove it if he wanted, but he didn’t respond.)

  47. We can safely ignore this message while we deliberate on more important matters. Careful deconstruction of who said what to whom is a vital consideration on which our faith must rest.

    Clearly, tt all depends on what “is” is.

  48. Jim, you are clearly correct. And the more important matters include ridding the world of heteronormality and celebrating third trimester abortions and same-sex pre-teen marriage.

  49. During the latest conference I was struck with the realization more than ever that there are 15 men on the earth who we raise our hands and sustain as “Prophets, Seers and Revelators”. To me that means that there are 15 men who can say, without equivocation, “THUS SAITH THE LORD”. So when such a question as “can women be ordained to the Priesthood? is posed the answer is NO, THUS SAITH THE LORD. End of conversation.

  50. Geoff, great post it’s clear and to the point, I just cannot see how can anybody get confused about the meaning of church position or policy regarding OW.

  51. When something like this happens it reminds me of Laman and Lemuel. They saw an angel and yet they were not convinced. So it is with people who will pick apart Elder Oaks’ talk and the official church correspondence through the PR department. Their refusal to accept plain and precious truths will lead them to the same disastrous ending as Laman and Lemuel.

  52. For my part, I don’t care what Newsroom says, what the current Church curriculum materials say, or what the public sermons and writings (including Conference talks) of three, or five, or ten apostles say. I know that, deep down, in the recesses of their hearts, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve all agree with me in my personal unorthodoxies.

    I know it!!!

  53. The letters regarding OW are in no way any statement of policy or doctrine. They are a response to a request to attend the Priesthood session, which was denied. There is also a request not to disrupt the sacred peace of Temple Square, which was ignored.

    The doctrine on the Priesthood is pretty clear at this point.

    – Restored to the earth by the Savior through his servants
    – Currently conferred upon males at the appropriate time
    – Priesthood Power shared equally by men and women as outlined by Elder Oaks and in the scriptures.

    What else is there?

  54. Jeff Spector, the letters speak for themselves, and are more than what you indicate. As for your summary, it’s misleading to put “currently” in front of “conferred upon males.” It suggests that there was a time when this was not so, and suggests that there will be a time in the future when this will not be the case. There’s nothing in the doctrine to support either position.

  55. “The letters regarding OW are in no way any statement of policy or doctrine. ”

    Jeff Spector, you may want this to be so, but you would be incorrect. As has been pointed out several times in this post, the Church Public Affairs department, when asked what the Church policy is, referred me directly to the two letters. And when challenged as to whether the Church Public Affairs department speaks for the Brethren, the public affairs group said “yes.”

    So, the letter ARE the Church’s statement of policy and doctrine.

    As other people have said above, you can try to lawyer your way out of it all you want, but I wouldn’t rely on legalize for my salvation. My feeling is that Jehovah would see right through it.

  56. Michael,

    I used the word currently because I am open to the possibility that a revelation could be received. I am certain that history shows that many did not think Polygamy or the Priesthood ban would end, but revelation was given in those cases.

    Doctrinally, I do not anticipate that change, but frankly, if it happened, we’d deal with it just like those before us. It does not suggest any such thing.

    Please do not attempt to read into my statement any more than I meant by it

  57. Geoff,

    “So, the letter ARE the Church’s statement of policy and doctrine.”

    Well, I am not trying to pick a fight because I do, in fact, agree with your post, but I do not see any policy in the letters and I certainly see no doctrine. I see no scriptures, nor do I even see a reference to the handbook, which is a policy and practice document. I see an response to a request with an explanation and I see a request being made back, again with explanation.

    I have no quarrel with how the Church handled this situation.

  58. Jeff Spector,

    Let’s reason together and see if we can find common ground on this issue.

    Problem: a faithful latter-day Saint wants to know what the official Church position is on the OW issue. How do you do it?

    Well of course you can go to your bishop or stake president or perhaps even your quorum leader or home teacher. The bishop may consult the manual, which defines apostasy as repeated public acts of speaking out against the Church. That should be alarm bell number one. Repeated. Acts of speaking out against the Church. Hmmm.

    But it is very likely, especially in Colorado where I live, that the bishop or stake president would have no real knowledge of the OW controversy. You would be amazed at how many people in my ward have no idea that OW even exists. So, relying entirely on your bishop or stake president is not a bad idea but may not help you arrive at the answer to your question.

    So if you want to be really, really sure, who do you consult with? Well, it turns out that Church public affairs handles these types of questions all the time. In fact, that is one of their main purposes, to answer questions from members regarding public policy issues.

    So you write an email to Church public affairs, and you ask what is the Church policy not the OW movement, and you get an answer immediately back referring you to two letters. And when you ask Church public affairs, just to be sure, if they speak for the Brethren, they say, “yes.” Without hesitation and without any weasel words.

    It seems to me you have gotten your answer. And then you think back to all of the General Conferences where the Brethren say things like, “be obedient” and “follow the prophet” and “your salvation depends on it,” and things like that. And you consider the talks in the April conference when Elder Oaks very clearly spelled out what the priesthood means. It all seems to make sense.

    So, as I say, if it makes you feel better you can continue to say that the handbook doesn’t address the OW movement, but considering it was written before the OW movement existed, you would have to admit that is a pretty weak position.

    Here is a suggestion: why don’t you, Jeff Spector, write to Church public affairs yourself and say, “I am writing about the OW movement and I notice that the handbook does not mention the OW movement. What is the official Church policy on this issue?” It would be interesting to see if you get a different answer than I got.

  59. I can see the Primary hymnal rewrite now:

    “I’m trying to be like Jesus;
    though parsing His words away.
    Contending with His Apostles, in all that they do and say.
    At time I can feel that I make the wrong choice,
    But I silence that feeling with Kate Kelly’s voice, shouting,

    Treat one another exactly the same.
    To your opinion, the doctrine must change.
    Public protestation will change the Lord’s thoughts.
    This was what Jesus should have taught.”

  60. Jeff, I don’t think I read anything into it, just making a suggestion to make it more accurate. I’m open to revelation like anyone else, but it’s like saying “currently fornication is prohibited by the law of chastity.” Is it possible that the fornication ban will be lifted? (Those teenagers have it rough!) It’s not likely, but some would have us believe that women will have the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon them as well, so who knows!?!?!

  61. A Primary hymnal rewrite? Not bloody likely, but maybe for the church of K. Kelly… But if they have a Primary there, then the non-ordained men will be in charge of that. Nice rewrite, by the way!

  62. Geoff B: I’m trying to find the original FMH post where the Otterson letter was first shared. Can you point me to it?

  63. R, I have not been able to find the post and must assume it was deleted. However, I saw it when it was posted and it certainly exists on some server someplace. As I said, I confirmed the Otterson letter’s authenticity with public affairs before publishing this post.

  64. It’s not surprising that it was removed. I’ve checked Google Cache and the Internet Wayback Machine, but oddly, FMH has opted out of those services. I get that their tagline is that they are “angry activits with …” and you should never blog while angry, but do they really have that much to hide?

  65. What an ugly comment. I found the letter on FMH without any trouble. Seems to me there is nothing being hidden.

  66. Really? I’ve used the search feature on the header to search for Otterson and various phrases in the letter to no avail. I’ve used google, yahoo and a variety of other searches, including the Wayback Machine and have received no results. Do you care to provide the link to this readily available page?

  67. So Jeff also believes the following and would state marriage doctrine this way: currently men are only permitted to be married to on living spouse.

    Men are ordained to the priesthood. Full stop. No currently. Men must be ordained in is life to receive exaltation in the next(proxy work included). Full stop. Not so for women.

    Whatever happens in the hereafter is not for you or me to say on this matter. It’s wrong. Especially when doing so holds out the impression that the change is within reach, or even necessary.

  68. Out of curiousity, I checked the FMH site and only found two posts mentioning Otterson:

    One written by Joanna Brooks on March 2 about the Times article on women.

    One short post about how women went to anoint Jesus’ body and were therefore the first to see the resurrected Christ.

    I’m not going to bother to repeat the effort of using extraordinary means of finding the letter.

  69. If it helps anyone, it was in the *comments* of one of their posts, not in the post itself.

  70. The search finds things in the comments as well, or seems to. Meg, no need to look further, your results were the same as mine. I just found those same results over and over again.

  71. Thanks for the link. I spent a long time reading through the post and all the comments. I will never align myself the FMH because their tag line includes the word “angry”. Anger is the opposite of all the attributes we are trying to acquire in this life time. Even God looks on the vilest sinners with love. I love the church and support the leaders. I firmly believe that Bro. Otterson’s letter does represent the current position of the church in regards to the OW movement. I found it extremely interesting how Bro. Otterson’s depiction of what happened so clearly aligns to many of the OW members’ accounts of what happened that day.

  72. Sorry to disappoint you, but you’ll get no tantrums from me. Just a calm, quiet, dignified exit from your organization as many are doing, in droves. The words spoken in this conference (not just regarding OW) have settled things for me. I have prayed and gotten my answer and I will not break the first commandment, by substituting the words of fallible men masquerading as “apostles” and “prophets” for the word of God. Jesus Christ is not part of your organization in any way, shape or form. I will continue to pray for you all.

  73. What strikes me about all of this is the similarity to Balaam in the Old Testament. Balaam knew the truth, I believe, and he was compelled not to bless Balak or curse Israel. His instructions were clear on that regard. But the instructions that he received were not the instructions that he wanted.

    As a result, Balaam began to tease at the instructions given to him, and to parse them. Perhaps he couldn’t bless Balak or curse Israel, but there was nothing that precluded him from teaching Balak how to get Israel to sin and thus curse themselves. And so he set about trying to actively destroy the people of God — all justified by a legalistic response to a clear instruction from the Lord. Rather than learn from the Lord, he sought instead to see how he could accomplish his own will within the confines of what the Lord had prohibited.

    Of course, this led to Balaam’s destruction. Along the way, it also led to the destruction of more than a couple Israelites who were trapped by Balaam’s lure of whoredoms. The lesson to take from this is that when the Lord speaks (whether by His own voice or the voice of His servant), we should obey and modify our behaviors and opinions rather than seek out ways to hold to our opinions in defiance of the Lord. If we do not, we will be the source of suffering to both ourselves and to others.

  74. Kate Kelly is not asking anyone to worship her. She is not claiming to be the voice of God. The only ones I see doing that are the leaders of the Church, including the PR department. Just because the 12 or even the Presidency signs off on something, doesn’t make it equivalent to God speaking. To believe that and then to be blindly obedient to some PR department’s statement is idolatry of the most dangerous kind. Kate Kelly has no power. The Church leadership does and to claim the PR department is channeling God is arrogant, dangerous and blasphemy. It’s interesting how this idolatry gets projected onto anyone who dares to question the proclamations of fallible men and PR departments.

  75. So, to extend the logic, instead of blindly following the proclamations of fallible men, we should blindly follow the aspirations of fallible women?

  76. Monica, your post is not logically sound. Should those on the Earth after Christ’s death have followed Peter, James, and John, and the others who knew? Was it idolatry for Paul to follow Peter (especially when they vehemently and once violently disagreed)? Was it idolatry for their converts to follow them? How would you have known the name of Jesus Christ save it were the efforts of those fallible 12 men established as the leaders of the early Church then. Those same positions are filled by fallible men today striving to follow the example of the Savior and those who pushed forward His work in the past.

    No one claims the Church Public Affairs department is ‘channeling God.’ What we claim is that the Church Public Affairs department is relating the position of those who are in authority, as was Moses. During the time of Moses, there were those who sought to reject his authority as a Priesthood leader, and it had disastrous consequences for them (as it has countless times over the centuries that followed). We recognize a similar disastrous consequence for those who kick against the pricks and fight the modern chosen of the Lord. They are fallible men, but they were picked by God and to put our wisdom before them is to be puffed up in our own pride and wisdom and to become unteachable.

    We have seen where that road leads, and so we invite you and everyone to follow the Lord’s anointed (rather than speaking evil of them). May I suggest that your post alleges that we worship the Apostles, they claim to be the voice of God, that we expect blind obedience, that we practice idolatry in doing so, and that the Apostles are arrogant, dangerous, and blasphemous. A cursory understanding of the Gospel and the Church would demonstrate that none of these are true characterizations of our beliefs. Whatever religion you are fighting against, it isn’t ours — the actions and beliefs you described are nowhere to be found in our doctrine.

  77. Boy,

    I know you guys are hard on folks who disagree with you, but I didn’t realize that you are equally hard on folks who agree with you but have different word choices than you do.

    Geoff B, I am also in Colorado and in our ward, this stuff is pretty non-existent. We didn’t have any women wearing pants on “take your pants to church” days 1 or 2 nor is there any outward sympathy for the OW movement.

    Aaron, “currently men are only permitted to be married to on living spouse. ”

    Why would I state that when it is not part of the discussion and why would insist on speaking for me? Seems weird.

  78. Jeff Spector, yeah, I had a conversation yesterday with a man who lives in Provo and was visiting his family here and he was much more aware of all of the OW controversy than anybody in my ward. It seems like those of us in Colorado (where the Gospel is especially true) have been spared the contention of Utah. :)

    Do you agree with my view about how you find out what the Church position is on this issue?

  79. Geoff,

    “Do you agree with my view about how you find out what the Church position is on this issue?”

    I have done that in the past when I’ve been in SLC on business many years ago when researching Anti-Mormon claims. So, yes, it is a good option.

    I just felt that I already knew the Church position based on doctrine, which to me the letter wasn’t designed to address.

Comments are closed.