Guest post: but will they come without purse?

This is a guest post by Michael Davidson, who describes himself as a “father, husband, lawyer and family history consultant living in southern Nevada. Being a family history consultant ties with nursery leader for third on my list of all time favorite callings.”

By Michael Davidson

As I write this, we are just a few days away from the Ordain Women action, in which they intend to get themselves turned away from the Priesthood Session of General Conference. Will they be met on the sidewalk and asked not to continue? Will they be barred from entering Temple Square? It hasn’t even happened yet and I’m already annoyed because I know that this will be a distraction against my favorite conference tradition. I’ve always come home after Priesthood Session and read my notes to my wife and discussed how we will apply that counsel to our family. Last year I found myself distracted by the OW circus, even though I wasn’t even on Temple Square.

This year, I will probably get distracted again … and I hate that, but a lot of the blame there goes on me. At least the OW crowd has indicated that they won’t be doing this again next conference, but that doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of them. In her podcast over at FMH from March 24, 2014, Kate Kelly pulled back the curtain a bit about OW’s next big plan and they are not content with merely making a spectacle of themselves on Temple Square. Here’s what Kate had to say:

[The transcription is mine, and I take responsibility for any errors. This portion begins at about 50:12 in the MP3 I download from FMH] “One of the things we are doing directly after the action is a set of 6 discussions specifically about women’s ordination, and so we’re going to be creating discussion packets. All you’ll have to do is literally, like, print out the PDF, all of the articles and everything is going to be less than ten pages for each discussion, so there will be excerpts from articles, there will be scriptures, there will be other things that you can study. You can take this packet that you have in your hands and invite a couple of your friends over and have a discussion about it. It doesn’t have to be people who already agree with us. It can be anyone who has ideas about ordination or about the priesthood who wants to learn more. So we’re hoping that women will engage in those [There is a noticeable break here, at about 50:50 in the MP3, and it is clear that some content got missed either deliberately or accidentally.] you know leaders in the Ordain Women movement will go through the discussions as well so if you are, in Tajikistan, and don’t have anyone who is a Mormon feminist in your area you can get together with, you can join with us online.”

First, this was the most interesting part in the 2 hour podcast, and I’m disappointed that just as things were getting interesting, someone exercised a little editorial control and removed part of that discussion. I would like to ask the proprietors of FMH in the interest of transparency, what exactly got removed here, and was the removal at Kate Kelly’s request? Was there anything else removed from the podcast after the fact? I’m not holding my breath for a response.

Second, how many people will be clamoring to be instructed by the missionaries of Ordain Women on topics related to ordination and the priesthood?

Third, anybody want to set odds as to which discussion will include a challenge to join OW and begin advocating their cause? Under the old discussions, each discussion had its own challenges that we would give to investigators. The second discussion included the baptism challenge, and I wonder if OW will be so bold in following the pattern that they will include some fundamental membership or commitment challenge in discussion 2.

Fourth, am I the only one here who thinks that members of the OW crowd will be significantly increasing the risk of Church discipline if they engage in active proselyting of members of their own wards to the doctrine of Ordain Women? I’m not a Bishop, but if I were I imagine that I would take a very dim view if a member of my ward were calling on the homes of other ward members and actively arguing for female ordination in a very explicit way.

The Handbook of Instructions defines apostasy, in part, as members who “repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders” or who “persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.”

What say you? Which is worse, making a spectacle of General Conference, or entering the homes of individual members to persuade them to adopt a doctrine that is at odds with the accepted practices of the Church?

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

28 thoughts on “Guest post: but will they come without purse?

  1. A few comments:

    1)This is the cleverest post title in the history of M* and is the work of Michael Davidson.

    2)Regarding OW’s next steps: private discussions with members are certainly better than public protests and may (or may not) be OK according to Church guidelines. My take is that private discussions do not clearly and unavoidably violate the Handbook warnings about “public” opposition to the Church, whereas the protests against the Church in Temple Square clearly do. Think of it this way: what if you are meeting with a group of friends and you say you favor priesthood ordination and you convince a few other people? Personally, I cannot see anything wrong with that. We are not a church that discourages people from expressing opinions — we are a church that discourages public and open apostasy, which is a very different thing. So, if the OW movement follows through on its promise not to protest any more General Conferences and instead moves to privately convincing people, I have no problem with it (personally). In fact, I would probably congratulate them on following the teachings of the prophets and moving to private discussions rather than public ones.

  2. I’m on the record with my opposition to OW’s public protests.

    But I’m not ok with them privately proselytizing either. They’re preaching doctrines that are contrary to the revealed doctrine of the church. In my mind that’s not good, it’s not bringing people to Christ and is contrary to the mission of the church. Leading people away, fomenting dissent — whatever you want to call it, is bad. And will they seek out people who are struggling, or those who are the weakest among us? Will they prey on these people and will they be there to support each other in their unbelief? Will they rally around those who end up being ex’d or disfellowshipped? I think the private meetings will be much more dangerous and damaging than the public protests.

    I do think, eventually that the OW people, at least the organizers will face church discipline. I wonder if they are willing to fall on their swords for this? And when or if they realize the error of their ways how will they make reparations for the damage they have done to the Lord’s Church, but also to the individuals they’ve suckerd in.

  3. To Joyce’s point, I think that individual proselytizing efforts will prove far more dangerous for the OW adherents, and not just from a disciplinary angle. It forces people to take sides. Ms. Kelly is adamant in the podcast and elsewhere that people involved in OW have to take concrete, in person steps to further the cause and their commitment to it. She recognizes that taking concrete action solidifies the commitment of the individual to the cause. But it should be recognized that every concrete action taken by an OW sympathizer is a step into the OW fold and a step out of the mainstream of the Church.

  4. Michael, I guess it depends on what the OW movement is asking its “supporters” to do. If they are asking their supporters to privately pray and privately petition for priesthood ordination, I just can’t see a problem with it. If they are asking their supporters to question the prophets, join public protests and move toward leaving the Church, then there is a big problem with it.

    Quick story: in my stake in Miami there was a “movement” in one ward for people to form an alternate church of people opposed to the bishopric. Several dozen people “joined” this alternate church. Of course this alternate church lasted about a month while the bishopric continued on its way. I do not know if anybody was excommunicated, but I am guessing some of them were.

    My point is this: there is nothing wrong with privately discussing ideas and positions and questioning why women should not have the priesthood. In fact, I think God likes it when we ask these questions, as long as we are motivated by a desire for faith and greater understanding. And if we feel our position is correct, there is nothing wrong with petitioning local leaders, praying for the priesthood and encouraging other people to do this. It becomes a problem when you try to form an alternative movement separate from and in competition to the Church, and if the OW is doing this, there is a problem.

  5. New Testament Apostasy means mutiny… does creating an alternate missionary or home teaching program that teaches contrary to the church count as mutiny.

    In my opinion Yes. But then… so also is By Common Consent and Times & Seasons…

    Apostasy is as apostasy does…

  6. I think its a positive development when the believers in a syncretic Mormon-Progressive religious sect recognize the fact and start to act like their own church. Godbeites are harmless when they’re just Godbeites.

  7. I was reading all of the most-likely April Fool’s posts on MA today. This was 3rd on my list. I am still suspicious. I do not know if my wife would like the visiting teachers from another ward to come over to give me the new discussions.

  8. I have an honest request. Has there been an official statement published by any quorum of the church stating, to the effect, that “the brethren have petitioned The Lord about ordaining women to the Priesthood and The Lord has responded thus and so”? I’ve tried various searches on and via Google without much success. The statement from a couple weeks ago directed at the OW leadership ignored the basic issue and addressed tactics. I’m looking for something directly on point regarding OW’s specific request/demand. Looking for anything that directly addresses their request.

  9. One of my concerns is that OW will misrepresent parts of church history and proof text scripture to support the idea that women have been ordained in the past, and but for a bunch of old octogenarians, they could be again. Unfortunately, there are plenty if gullible people who will not thoroughly research the information and swallow it whole.

  10. Geoff, the proof, as always, is in the pudding. It will be interesting to review these discussions once they are posted, assuming that OW makes them public. I anticipate that they are going to attempt to make them as innocuous as possible, or not make them public at all.

    El oso, if you don’t believe it, feel free to check the podcast. I’m pretty sure I got that transcription right, but feel free to post corrections if any are needed.

    Paul M, I’m unaware of a statement saying “we’ve asked God if women are supposed to be ordained, and he said no.” I’m also unaware of a similar statement saying that any quorum asked God if we’re supposed to go to Church on Sundays or that we’re not supposed to use crack cocaine. I’m not being flippant, so please don’t take it that way. There are just certain details that are self evident, or at least have been self evident. I’m not saying that is a reason by itself not to ask.

    I was reading the transcript from the 2006 General Relief Society Meeting, and in it Pres. Hinckley made the following statement:

    “Now, my dear sisters, just a word in conclusion. I remind you that you are not second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. You are His divine creation. Men hold the priesthood. Yours is a different role, but also extremely important. Without you, our Father’s plan of happiness would be frustrated and have no real meaning. You are 50 percent of the membership of the Church and mothers of the other 50 percent. No one can dismiss you lightly.”

    There are lots of other similar quotes, but that was one I happened to read last night. Does he say, “God told me women are not to be ordained?” No. But please remember that Pres. Hinckley was likely the principle author of the Proclamation on the Family and had lots to say over the years regarding male and female roles in the Church and eternity. I expect he pondered and prayed a lot about the topic generally, and if God wanted that change made, it seems logical to me that Pres. Hinckley was as likely a man to announce such a revelation as any.

    H-nu, it almost like they want to set up a shadow church within the Church, but that would be crazy.

  11. Great post Michael.

    Revelation for the church as a whole is a top-down rather than a bottom-up process. I will concede that prophets regularly receive revelation in response to their questions and petitions to the Lord. But it is hard for me to understand a perspective that suggests revelation should be influenced by popular opinion, negative media attention or demonstrations that span the spectrum of sublime to ridiculous.

    It is interesting to postulate how the church would respond to a top-down directive that supported all the demands of the OW movement. OW and the world would be amazed (but probably still not satisfied) at the rapidity in which the rank and file membership of the church would support a change announced by the prophet in General Conference (just like they did with priesthood ordination for all worthy males). But the church and OW seem to have irreconcilable differences of opinion on whether this is a top-down or bottom-up church.

  12. IDIAT, your concern will almost certainly be realized. On the OW website and elsewhere, they point to Juniah and Deborah as historical examples and the minutes of the organizational meeting of the Relief Society to show that Emma Smith and others were ordained. What they fail to mention is that these leaders were not ordained to any priesthood office and that there is no record of the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood on any of them. To what were they ordained then? Emma, at least, was ordained to “expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.” D&C 25:7 Interestingly, she was also told that it was her “office” and “calling” to “be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.” The OW crowd usually skips over verse 5 it seems.

  13. In the letter the Church issued last week (10 days ago, now?) asking OW to not protest and to back down, they referenced “the revealed doctrines of the Church”…to me that is enough, and there is no need to ask further. But you have to wonder as well, if they did come out and say that they did pray and ask, and the answer was still no, if OW would accept that. I think they are so convinced of their rightness, they are unwilling to accept that there is a different answer.

  14. Thanks Reid. I don’t think an announcement that women will be ordained to offices in the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood would satisfy OW. Their stated goals won’t be reached until the President of the Church is female, and a majority of all of the governing counsels of the Church are female as well. It will only be then that females will be in positions of sufficient authority to affect the types of changes to doctrine and practice that the OW crowd continues to think are necessary.

  15. Joyce, my last comment addresses yours as well. To further respond to you post I would add that having read the profiles up at, I think that some would accept a no, others wouldn’t, while a majority would accept it grudgingly, thinking that the Prophet was mistaken or that the timing wasn’t right because we, as a Church, couldn’t handle it. Many of the OW crowd really seem to believe (if you take them at face value) that the Church is not aligned with God on issues of gender and priesthood, and so it is not surprising that they don’t feel particularly concerned with contradicting the established church doctrines, because they view them as wrong.

  16. I for one would take serious issue with ordaining of my wife to a priesthood office with the responsibilities of the priesthood. I quite frankly think sometimes the callings are enough strain on our family, between the two of us, visiting and home teaching, church callings, work(travel), and civic responsibilities (we are both engaged in civic volunteer positions at the local level). Our family and house is too stretched thin as it is. Personally, I don’t have the heart to ask my wife to scale it back and even get close to the perception of being “that guy”. But again, quite frankly every meeting and activity planned puts the stress back in the family(children, spouse relationship).

    There is a lot of flexibility in all our lives and we can juggle these things we’ll for limited periods of time. Making it an extended ongoing responsibility really does adversely affect my family. If someone were to suggest my wife be ordained and asked to administer in additional roles, I’d seriously question whether or not they could possibly be inspired. Children, families, husbands, wives, and society have suffered as women have shifter and expanded roles in an attempt to have more and more “to do”, in addition, or often substitution of, their ideal responsibility. Men certainly bare blame as we’ll for a plethora of other social problems, so I’m not blaming all the women here by any means.

    Just feel like the farther we get from divine design the more we all suffer, sometimes without knowing it or connecting the dots. To me the ideal balance sees Mothers primarily in the role of family and child reering, husbands are a helpmeet in this effort. Fathers and provide for the family and administer the church, where called. Mothers are a helpmeet in this area, but given the superior placement of family to church it makes zero sense to pull away from family to administer in the church to me.

    I realize my opinion is poorly expressed and exposed to criticism depending on how you read it. But it’s a viewpoint I think is overlooked to our peril in these areas.

  17. I think we often miss the mark on what is really important. Our A1 priorities should always be towards living our individual lives in accordance with the Gospel as much as possible and to assist in helping our families do the same. Callings of any kind or import should be secondary to that. By and large, the people at OW have bought into the feminist ethos that informs them that their value is determined in society by their ability to compete with men in the workplace and every other arena outside of the home. In other words, many of them have primary motivations that are not centered in the home. Those that do express concerns for their daughter’s ability and right to find her primary motivation outside of the home.

  18. Michael…

    H-nu, it almost like they want to set up a shadow church within the Church, but that would be crazy.

    Or perhaps it’s a cancer growing in the church trying to “fundamentally change” or “improve” it.
    Kind of like the Star Trek Borg, or Dr. Who’s “Cybermen”. It always involves violence and force…

  19. I’m not sure how to feel about this new strategy. On the one hand, I want to agree with Geoff. On the other, private meetings and discussions like this are part and parcel with Mormon splinter groups that crop up within the church. How different is this from holding prayer circles in the good old fashioned apostate sense? What if a priesthood leader takes it upon himself to privately start ordaining women? I worry that once we have an organization with a hierarchy of its own and proselyting, it tends to take on a life of its own and as such will not willingly submit to outside constraints such as the church. It all reminds me of the warning (I forget which apostle it was) that holding private meetings outside of the church channels is a sign that apostasy is not far away.

  20. Jeff G, like all startups, some of these groups go and some of them don’t. These folks seem better organized than most, and a lot of people in the background have been swinging this particular ax for decades.

    Bookslinger, I agree that there are heretics that are not necessarily apostate. It’s a question of what they do or don’t do with the disbelief or their heterodox ideas. OW has decided on a course of organized and public advocacy for their heretical ideas, and will be bringing it to your living room once they’ve had their say at Temple Square this weekend.

    I read through the link you posted and think that the neo-darwinian model it describes with respect to churches generally is not entirely applicable to the LDS context. I read the post quickly, but Bruce seems to argue that a church needs an element of heresy from “creatives” in order to stay vital, but the LDS Church has never been vital as a result of the creative genius of any of its members. It is vital (“true and living,” to quote D&C 1) because it has a living Christ at its head. While other churches may live or die based on the creative force of some carefully balanced critical mass of heresy to spur innovation, we don’t look to the heretics to force adaption that will better set us up to compete in the marketplace for congregants.

  21. Per an article currently featured prominently on the Trib’s website, they will most certainly have purses with them this Saturday. Five hundred women will be coming from such diverse places as Germany and Mexico, and they have paid the SLCPD to accompany them to the Main Street Plaza.

    Sure seems to be a lot of cash being spent by a group of ladies who claim they just want to minister to the poor more effectively.

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