It is morally wrong to call for ‘civil disobedience’ against the Church

There have been some truly absurd things floating around the Mormon blogs these days. The single most absurd has to be this post, in which the writer calls for “civil disobedience” against the Church on the issue of women and the priesthood.

Make no mistake: the writer is a supporter and promoter of the Ordain Women (OW) movement, which seeks to force the Church to take a stand on the priesthood that 90 percent of Mormon women do not support.

But the post is especially silly because the writer apparently does not know the difference between civil disobedience against the government (very often a laudable thing) and civil disobedience against a private, voluntary organization.

The writer is correct to point out that disobedience against unjust laws is often necessary in a republic like ours. The civil rights movement provides a classic case of just disobedience: Rosa Parks truly is a hero for refusing to give up her seat to a white person. But Rosa Parks was disobeying a government law that forced her into second-class status. It was the government of Montgomery, Alabama, which is a monopoly institution enforcing monopoly laws, that was oppressing her. There were no other busses in Montgomery for her to take. If she wanted to get from one part of town to another via the bus system, she was forced to submit to unjust laws.

The contrast with the Church should be obvious. Nobody is forcing you to go to Church, and when you go to Church, you are not forced to do anything. I address this in the post “Us” vs. “Them.” If you do not like the way the Church is run, you can go to another church.

A private organization that is run by its members in a voluntary fashion is simply nothing like the oppressive government Kaimi Wenger claims to hate so much. When you join a private, voluntary organization, you are agreeing to certain terms of participation. Common courtesy and basic ethics imply that you accept the structure of the organization and its terms of participation. If you want to change the organization, you follow the procedures inside the organization to institute change.

I address this in this post called “The parable of the chess club.” This post tells the story of dissidents who join and chess club and use the system — and the media — to successfully change it into a checkers club. It is obvious that these dissidents could have, from the beginning, started their own checkers club. It would have involved less conflict and would have respected the will of the people who wanted to play chess. But this is not the goal of the activists — their goal is to use bullying and force to ruin the organization for other people.

The same principle applies to Kaimi Wenger and the other activists in the OW movement. Many of the primary leaders of the OW movement are inactive or excommunicated members of the Church. They have clearly shown that they do not like the Church as it is and have decided to change it into something more in line with their vision of what the Church should be. They have rejected the idea that God and modern-day prophets lead the Church and feel that, instead, they should lead the Church.

Make no mistake: there is no significant difference between the OW members and the long, long line of Church dissidents who have felt they know better than Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the other leaders of the Church. All we have to do is study Church history to see that Kate Kelly, Kaimi Wenger, Margaret Toscano and the other OW supporters are the modern-day versions of John C. Bennett, Sidney Rigdon and Thomas Marsh.

And like early Church dissidents, the modern-day dissidents will always claim that they want to “improve” the Church. Many of them will claim they are faithful latter-day Saints but then will refuse to answer questions about whether they believe in the primary truth claims of the Church.

There is a process for disagreeing with Church leadership. If you have suggestions for change, you can discuss with your bishop or stake president or even write polite letters to the prophet and the apostles. You can also pray for change that you think is important.

I would like to mention the example of Neylan McBaine, who has worked with Church leaders to make changes that she feels are important for women in the Church. Her participation has been to use existing channels within the private, voluntary organization that is the Church. She agrees with the OW movement on some of its goals but not on its methods, and this is crucial: within a private, voluntary organization you effect change by working within the structure of the organization.

The OW movement is completely uninterested in the majority of men and women who are perfectly fine with the Church the way it is. They show a complete moral blind spot when it comes to what other latter-day Saints want. Does the will of the majority count for them? No, because they simply know better. They are the all-knowing, all-seeing elites who know better than the millions of rubes who accept that the Church truly is led by modern-day prophets who might be more inspired than the inactive Church members trying to change the Church.

I want to be clear that I am not encouraging Kate Kelly and her followers to leave the Church. Thomas Marsh eventually realized he was wrong and rejoined the Church. So did Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. The Church will be fine through this ordeal and will continue to grow and spread the Gospel through the Earth. I want Kate Kelly and Kaimi Wenger to be part of the Church and to return to the Gospel. I want them to accept the inspired role of modern-day prophets who are leading the Lord’s church. The Church and people who follow the prophets will be fine — the only ones who will suffer are those who lead rebellion against the Church because they are rebelling against God.

But I do worry about people who may be inspired to follow the Church dissidents. People can often be swayed by causes that may appear good (“equality”) without analyzing the end result (apostasy).

Go to and look up all of the talks reminding us to obey modern-day prophets. This is the secret to our eternal salvation, not following small movements led by people opposed to the Church.

As Elder Hales said:

With the restoration of the priesthood in 1829, there was a restoration of prophets in this dispensation. Living prophets are leading this church today. The greatest security of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes from learning to listen to and obey the words and commandments that the Lord has given through living prophets. I would hope that the world would understand the importance of having a living prophet on earth today.

Follow the prophets, not the dissidents. This is the key lesson from history and the key message for faithful latter-day Saints today.

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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.

100 thoughts on “It is morally wrong to call for ‘civil disobedience’ against the Church

  1. Geoff B.,
    I appreciate this post. These folks want space to claw at the Church, but for too long have gotten away with claiming that we Mormons aren’t free to think that they’re wrong and to say so. I appreciate you speaking out.

  2. You and they are both missing the point protesting against the church, but against Jesus Christ. He leads the church and it is His doctrine

  3. I think one of the basic premises of your post is a bit questionable though. You say that Rosa Parks had no choice for another bus company, but then go on to say/assert the women (or men) who want to see women ordained to the priesthood have plenty of choices (other churches) where they could go to see that happen. But there is *no* other “true” church they could “go” to. So for those members of the Ordain Women movement who actually *are* active believing members there is no alternative.

    Your example of Neylan McBaine is a good example of how one might work within the organization to spur change. Hopefully the Church (and Church inspired culture) adopt many of her suggestions. There are a lot of changes to procedures and policies the Church could make which would be more inclusive without treading on doctrinal toes.

  4. In civic society civil disobedience is only appropriate in cases when the government is systematically irresponsive to the demands of a movement (ex. Jim Crow laws preventing blacks from voting and participating in government).

    Civil disobedience also involves accepting the consequences of ones actions.

    If OW feels a need to engage in civil disobedience it is a sign that they do not truly believe the prophet and apostles are receiving needed revelation to improve the church. They are showing a lack of faith in the divine nature of the church. By expressing the view that they are systematically excluded they show their lack of faith. They will face the consequences for their conduct either in this life or the next.

  5. John S Harvey, I am glad you see there are channels within the Church to effect change if that is your desire. So we can agree on that.

    If you accept that the Church is led by modern-day prophets, and that Joseph Smith really did see angels and receive the Book of Mormon, which he translated, then you accept the role of prophets as leaders of the Church and would accept their decisions on the matter. Taking your disagreement public and calling for civil disobedience indicates that you want to lead the Church, not the prophets. For leaders of the OW movement who claim to be active believing members, the alternative is to use channels within the Church instead of channels outside of the Church.

  6. I think the aspect of this argument that James is reacting to is that just as it is incorrect to equate the Lord’s church with earthly government (that we all have a claim on), it is also incorrect to think its place in society is similar to a chess club’s (that we all can ignore).

  7. John M, that is a decent point. A parable is nothing more than a way of using a teaching tool to help people understand a principle. If it doesn’t work for you, no biggee.

  8. There was never much question about whether advocating “disobedience” is worthy of consideration by the faithful.

    James E. Faust, Oct 1993 General Conference:

    Among the activities considered apostate to the Church include when members “(1) repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders; (2) persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority; or (3) continue to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority” (General Handbook of Instructions, 1989, p. 10-3).

    Those men and women who persist in publicly challenging basic doctrines, practices, and establishment of the Church sever themselves from the Spirit of the Lord and forfeit their right to place and influence in the Church. Members are encouraged to study the principles and the doctrines of the Church so that they understand them. Then, if questions arise and there are honest differences of opinion, members are encouraged to discuss these matters privately with priesthood leaders.

  9. Thanks for this post. We fought the war in heaven to preserve our agency, mortality is an extension of that fight. No one is making anyone stay in the Church, which is why you are right on the whole issue of civil disobedience. We have a choice here, we’re not being oppressed in the church. Another point about OW is that I see in their rhetoric that they are very convinced in the rightness of their position, and that’s why they keep pressing the issue, even after they have been asked to back down. They are also falsely assuming that the church leadership has NOT asked about women in the church. Clearly the answer is no, but they press on anyway.

    You’ve given some good examples here of when people have dissented … I think of examples of when people keep pressing the Lord even after He has said no. Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon translations that were lost by Martin Harris — Joseph had to pay dearly for that mistake. And I also think of Ancient Israel in 1 Sam 8 starting in verse 6 — the people want a king to rule over them like other nations. They have Samuel ask the Lord, who says no, repeatedly. The Lord even warns them what will happen if they have a King. But still they persist. In verse 18 it says, “And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” I wonder if all of the dissenters that are currently fomenting dissent in the Church realize that they are heading down this same path? And if they do, do they even care? For me, I am angry with the dissent, but more than that, I am deeply sorry and sad that people feel the need to stir up trouble when there is so much work that needs to be done.

  10. You know, if I am remembering correctly (and I’m probably not due to the veil), there was a group in heaven who just wanted to change a few things, too. The leader(s) of that movement also thought they knew better how the organization of heaven ought to be. I seem to remember that things didn’t turn out too well for them.

  11. I was surprised that the post at T&S didn’t anticipate this rather obvious objection to it. They already have a word for civil disobedience to voluntary organizations: boycott. Or as Mormons call it: inactivity.

  12. I don’t believe we have the right to pick and choose which laws we obey. That is anarchy. The 12th Article of Faith in-part states: We believe…in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law. End of discussion. There is no such thing as “just disobedience.” We don’t change laws we dislike by breaking them, including Rosa Parks. We use our system of government. What ultimately changed the bus laws in Montgomery was the boycott of the city buses by the black population, and the loss of revenue that resulted. To change a law we don’t like, we use our system of government. We contact elected officials, we inform the public, we use the news media, we vote, and we are patient. There are many ways to bring attention to our plight or concern, without taking the law in our own hands. If a law is truly unjust, it eventually will be changed, without civil disobedience—especially in America.

  13. Scott, your comment raises some interesting issues: in the 19th century, Church leaders, including prophets and apostles, openly and brazenly broke laws against polygamy and were completely unapologetic about it. The prophets and apostles openly practiced civil disobedience. There is a lesson there for us to ponder. I don’t think we can say that civil disobedience — breaking unjust laws — is always wrong when it is aimed at the government.

    Would it be just for a latter-day Saint in Nazi Germany to refuse to report a Jewish person? He is breaking the law, right?

    Laws are not always moral. Latter-day Saints should generally uphold the law while being aware that there is a higher law that governments do not necessarily obey.

  14. Geoff, in my view the foundational premise justifying the disobedience approach stems from the idea that Church-related issues are a mere “social construct”, and that protests and demonstrations and other such special pleading are legitimate means to reconstruct them. This seems in diametric opposition to the concept of Divine revelation.

  15. Government’s have long used Romans 13 and other similar scripture to promote the idea that the Law (government edicts and statutes) is everything and that it is immoral to disobey the government. Similarly, there seems to be a prevailing notion among Latter-Day Saints that the 12th Article of Faith is saying what Scott says it is saying above. But, when you do a little more searching of the scriptures, including the D&C and Book of Mormon, you find several places that seem to completely contradict this interpretation of the 12th Article of Faith. It is my belief that what the 12th Article of Faith is really saying is that we believe in being subject to Kings, Presidents, Rulers, etc. as long as THEY are honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law. Not the law of man, but the laws of nature or of nature’s God. Now there may be times when it is prudent to obey the ‘law’, however tyrannical, for mere self-preservation, at least to the point where it is no longer tolerable to live under such law, but if a person decides to disobey an unjust and tyrannical law, I do not believe there is ANY moral condemnation for it. As Geoff pointed out, there are many instances where to NOT disobey the ‘law’ is immoral and the person NOT disobeying is justly punished for it.

  16. Wow, Geoff. Did you even read the post? I made very clear that I _do not_ think that OW or PANTS are cases of civil disobedience, because I don’t believe that they’re disobeying any rules. Heck, that’s the title of the post: This _isn’t_ civil disobedience.

    I expect better from you.

  17. Wow, Kaimi, I expect better from you than not even reading your own post, which includes the following:

    “A right to disagree is deeply embedded in the structure of the church. The ability to say no is what makes consent meaningful, and if public consent is a foundational principle of the church, then church members must also have the option to to publicly express disagreement. Any other configuration would destroy the legitimacy of the entire organization.”

    Your post clearly calls for people to protest against the Church. There is an easy solution for this, Kaimi: publicly stop supporting a group that is calling on members to disobey the Church. Would you be willing to do this?

  18. My argument is as follows:

    1. Women of OW are often cast as being protesters or engaging in civil disobedience. I do not think this is an accurate characterization.
    2. Specifically, the principle of common consent, mandated by D&C 26, requires that “saying no” is an option available to church members. We have a scriptural duty to express disagreement if we disagree. This option is part and parcel of the church framework itself as set out in D&C 26. Therefore, expressing disagreement is not an act of disobedience.

    Do you agree that D&C 26 sets out a structure of common consent?

    Do you think that the answer is always yes? I mean, how meaningful is it to ask for a vote when the only answer is yes? That’s like North Korea, or Cuba. What’s the _point_ of asking people to publicly disagree — “all opposed, by the same sign” — if you’re not allowed to disagree?

  19. In the meantime, I have some questions for you Kaimi.

    1)Do you still go to church? If so, how often, and when was the last time you went to Church?
    2)Do you hold a temple recommend?
    3)Do you accept that Joseph Smith really saw God the Father and Jesus Christ?
    4)Do you accept that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon?
    5)Do you accept that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church on the Earth today?

    On your Facebook page, you describe your religious views as the following:

    “Feminist Universalist Heterodox Mormon with eclectic Neopagan and High-Church-Christianity leanings” What exactly does this mean?

    Considering that Elder Faust has said the following regarding people who are apostates, “Among the activities considered apostate to the Church include when members “(1) repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders,” would you consider yourself an apostate?

  20. Anticipating the common dodge that one cannot ask these questions of a leader of an opposition movement, I would point out that you have called for great transparency within the Church. Will you provide greater transparency about your belief (or lack thereof) in the truth claims of the Church?

  21. Kaimi, regarding the content of your post, Elder Faust has clearly set up the correct way to disagree in the Church, which is to bring it up privately with priesthood leaders:

    “Among the activities considered apostate to the Church include when members “(1) repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders; (2) persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority; or (3) continue to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority” (General Handbook of Instructions, 1989, p. 10-3).

    Those men and women who persist in publicly challenging basic doctrines, practices, and establishment of the Church sever themselves from the Spirit of the Lord and forfeit their right to place and influence in the Church. Members are encouraged to study the principles and the doctrines of the Church so that they understand them. Then, if questions arise and there are honest differences of opinion, members are encouraged to discuss these matters privately with priesthood leaders.”

    Kaimi, do you think you are a greater authority in the Church than Elder Faust? Your comments are in direct opposition to Elder Faust’s counsel. Why are you directly rebelling against Church leaders and calling for other people to do so?

  22. Kaimi, before I will post another one of your comments here, I would like some answers to the above questions so we have complete transparency on where you are coming from regarding your beliefs in the truth claims in the Church. In addition, I would like you to answer whether you think you are more inspired than Elder Faust, who has clearly laid out the process for disagreement within the Church.

  23. If one doesn’t want to call it civil disobedience, I guess one could call it just plain old disobedience. Often people say “I sustain the brethern but I disagree with them.” How does one disagree with the brethern? In his mind? Okay. You don’t have to agree on SSM or the ordination of women or any number of things. But the moment you open your mouth in disagreement, or put it into printed word, or stand somewhere holding a sign or ask for entry into a meeting you’ve already been told would not allow your admittance, you’ve gone beyond simple disagreement. I don’t see a right to disagree deeply embedded in the church. Quite the contrary. We’re to be unified and one, with no disagreements.

  24. Just because a mob is in formation doesn’t mean it’s moving in the right direction.

  25. Kaimi, you stated, “1. Women of OW are often cast as being protesters or engaging in civil disobedience. I do not think this is an accurate characterization.”

    Because they ARE protesting. Because they have been asked to stop and yet, have stated they will persist in showing up at Temple Square on April 5th. Take off your rose colored glasses and see OW for who they truly are — a group of people who are willfully rebelling against the revealed doctrines of the church and of the direct request of the Church.

    If that is not protesting and rebelling, than what is? And how much time and resources of the Church and the Bretheren do these women waste by their continued protesting? The only people that end up being hurt by kicking against the pricks is the person doing the pricking. It seems that OW as yet to realize this.

  26. For myself, I would say that D&C 26 sets out a principle of common consent, but not a structure for it. Moreover, that principle is but one of a quartet of principles including revelation, faith, and prayer. Additionally, “common consent” arguably deals with how a decision is made; not with whether a decision, once made, can be second-guessed and even condemned by individual Church members in perpetuity.

    And “common consent” is an interesting argument to deploy in context of female ordination, where 80-90% of Church members disagree with it. If four out of five Mormons doesn’t get you to “common consent”, what does? At what point do we say “OK, this is the policy of the Church, and further attempts to revisit it are going to be viewed as a distraction and will not be entertained at present”? Indeed, a secondary argument I’ve seen from the OW folks seems to undermine the principle of common consent by suggesting that if the majority of LDS haven’t received a revelation in favor of female ordination, that just goes to show that they aren’t asking the right questions yet. (What other Church policy proposals should we try to push on the grounds that the majority of Church members are likely to oppose such an action? A re-institution of polygamy, perhaps; or the public disavowal of the June 1978 revelation?)

    Finally, I think it’s wrong to view sustainings primarily as democratic votes. What they are, is an opportunity for each Church member to publicly put him/herself under covenant to sustain the individual being called; or to express (either publicly or, if preferred, privately) why the individual whose name has been submitted is not worthy of the confidence and sustaining vote of the body of saints.

  27. A few hours have passed, and Kaimi has decided not to answer any questions about his position on the truth claims of the Church. Nor has he answered the question of whether he is more inspired that Elder Faust.

    For new readers, here is the reason this is relevant: the leaders of the OW movement claim to be faithful Mormons, yet when you examine the movement the leaders appear to be people like Kaimi (who apparently is inactive and does not believe in the Church), Margaret Toscano (excommunicated), John Dehlin (in open rebellion against Church leadership) and the one possible member who actually goes to church, Kate Kelly, who refuses to answer questions about whether she believes in the Church or not.

    In short, the people trying to change the Church are not active members of the Church yet claim they are. If they were honest, they would tell the press this fact when discussing their direction opposition to the Church. The narrative they are claiming (“we are active members of the Church making a simple request for equality”) is completely at odds with the reality (“we are not active members of the Church and we are trying to change an organization that we have very little to do with and do not believe in”). I hope readers can see how the truth of the OW movement is extremely relevant and why Kaimi chooses not to answer questions about his (non) belief in the Church.

    Church members should not be fooled into thinking the OW movement involves believing members of the Church when it clearly does not.

  28. Geoff, I find my views in enthusiastic agreement with the comment from Scott Fife about supporting the laws in the US. Our Church leaders are a good example. They are unanimous in their patriotism and support for sustaining the law.

    I realize that there are groups within the Church who assert that the 12th Article of Faith gives them justification for civil disobedience, rebellion, and sedition against the US Government. They generally seem to overlook the fact that Church members sustain the leadership of prophets, seers, and revelators. If the day ever comes that we are justified before heaven in suspending our loyalty, it would have to come as instruction from Church leaders.

    Until that time, I am satisfied to work within the framework of the law in our efforts to establish justice.

  29. There is a world of difference between the dissent which is warmly accepted by the church and the publicity seeking dissent which goes by the name of protest.

    It’s funny how so many of these people are big on painting themselves loyal opposition within or to the church, but make no room at all for loyal opposition to feminism.

  30. Jim Cobabe, you are trying to create disagreement where there really is none. I support obeying the law. But I also know history well enough to recognize that there may come a time when resistance to the law will be justified. Church leaders may encourage resistance, but it is also possible that individual members will not receive such guidance and will still be justified. In my county in Colorado, the sheriff has announced he will not enforce state laws for gun control. So, which law has precedence, the one that my sheriff enforces or the one that the Colorado state legislature enforces? I choose to side with my sheriff, as do every single person I know in the county, including my bishop, stake president, HPGL, etc, etc. Are we all lawbreakers in your eyes?

    Here is a hypothetical: the federal government passes a law saying that everybody named “Jim Cobabe” must immediately take all of their family members to concentration camps. Do you obey or do you resist?

    The point I am trying to make is that of course our default position is that we should support all laws. But if we cannot imagine a possibility where it would be immoral to support certain laws then we know nothing about the world’s sad history of tyranny. Remember, some of the worst law-breakers were the Founding Fathers who rebelled against the “just” laws imposed by the British. Were they bad men in your eyes because they broke the law?

  31. Geoff,

    While I agree in principle, I believe that any prompting for civil disobedience must come from an authoratative voice in Church leadership. And I would posit that law which is “not enforced” is a suggestion rather than a law, violation of which does not fall under the definition of civil disobedience.

    Quoting from Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

    Our whole society really rests on the capacity of its citizens to give ‘obedience to the unenforceable.’

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks unambiguously delineates the responsibility Church members bear for sustaining the law:

    At a clear and extreme level, violations of inalienable rights by a government might excuse citizens from the performance of some obligations of citizenship. But the history of Latter-day Saints’ relations to their governments shows that any such exceptions would have to be far more extreme than anything we have experienced in this country.

    Even when victimized by what they must surely have seen as very severe government oppressions and abridgments of freedom, the Mormon people and their leaders have remained loyal to their government and its laws. Think of the persecutions in Missouri, the expulsion from Nauvoo, and the repressions suffered in the Utah Territory. As long as a government provides aggrieved persons an opportunity to work to enlarge their freedoms and relieve their oppressions by legal and peaceful means, a Latter-day Saint citizen’s duty is to forego revolution and disobedience of law. Our doctrine commits us to work from within. Even an oppressive government is preferable to a state of lawlessness and anarchy in which the only ruling principle is force and every individual has a thousand oppressors. (See D&C 134:6.)

    Church members who seek to use LDS doctrine as a basis for concluding that government infringements on inalienable rights have excused them from obeying the law seem to have forgotten the principle of following the prophets. Until the prophets invoke this principle, faithful members will also refrain from doing so. We remain committed to uphold our governments and to obey their laws.

    I expect it will be quite interesting to see how this principle plays out over the next few months, as the Supreme Court deliberates about state DOMA laws.

  32. Jim, that is a really, really good comment, and I am glad we both can see that comments that quote prophets are the best kind of all. I predict there will be many cases in the coming years where the vast majority of faithful latter-day Saints will resist government overreach and will be justified in doing so. I have given you the example of gun control laws in Colorado. I literally do not know anybody in my county among the thousands of latter-day Saints where I live who supports this law, and it will not be enforced. Prophets cannot be aware of every law in the world and cannot pronounce their opinions on every law. But of course Elder Oaks is correct that our default position should be to follow the law. I agree 100 percent.

    I also predict there will be increasing clashes between governments and the Church as government increasingly try to force gay marriages in chapels and temples and force latter-day Saints to approve of laws that they consider immoral. We will see this issue play out during our lifetimes, and I predict the Church will not obey immoral laws. But of course I could be wrong.

  33. The actual civil disobedience topic is of some interest to me. This OW is just a long line of tragic, prideful misjudgements by those who organize it.

    But disobedience. Do we suppose the brethren would ally with the sons of liberty or the Tories? I’ve often pondered this, and I can’t help but feel pretty strongly the church’s position would be to avoids bloodshed. Isn’t that the Christian position?

    Of course, let’s go back further. Would the brethren support partaking the fruit or abstaining. There’s a good question, that I assume no one should be in doubt of. Abstain would be the answer, as I can think of no example that would hint otherwise that doesn’t rely on Monday morning quarterbacking so to speak.

    And yet we praise Adam and Eve and yet we praise the revolutionaries.

    So, while I find the OW movement tragically misguided, I also can’t help be see even their opposition in all things serves a purpose. The devil and his followers after all, make our choices so much more consequential. OW is no where near that degree, but in its own way can serve a purpose for those who faithfully reject them.

  34. My real question for the OW women is:

    If the prophet stood on the pulpit at either the Gen. Women’s broadcast or General Conference and said:

    The Priesthood is given to man to bless the lives of others. Women share that priesthood with their husbands. Women are not ordained…

    If he said that, then what is your next course of action:

    1. Refute it.
    2. Accept it.
    3. Justify it with the philisophies of women, mingled with scripture.

    In other words, what is the TRUE longterm goal of OW? I submit that there is much more than meets the eye.

    The scripture about how Satan leads them carefully down to hell comes to mind. Im saying that I believe while you think your movement is “virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy”, it is in fact tearing the church apart from within.

    Finally, the words from a GA (I forget exactly who) said in essence:

    In the latter days, even the very elect will be deceived

  35. The question whether Kaimi or anyone else who supports Ordain Women is active in the church is short-sighted and accusatory, attempting to discredit the characters of individuals rather than engage with the substance of the issues they raise. Read through the profiles on Ordain Women. Some of them clearly explain that they are active believing members. Some of them refrain from doing so. In some cases those who refrain are doing so because they are inactive or no longer believe. In other cases they refrain simply because they don’t think it’s relevant, and in fact it’s not.

    If you can’t see past the messenger to listen to the message, you’re missing out on the chance to engage in honest self-reflection on an important topic.

    Similarly, even if you disapprove of the group’s methods, if you can’t look past the methods and engage with the issues despite their methods, you’re closing yourself off to better understanding of _why_ the issues matter because you are more concerned with protocols than the possible negative outcomes of current church practices.

    No matter what OW supporters believe theologically, and no matter how they approach their attempts to change things, they deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt on this important point: that they care about the church enough to want to make it better for everyone. And yes, it’s still possible to care about that even if a person is not currently attending church. To get hung up on whether a person is or is not attending is a convenient attempt to sidestep the questions they raise without giving the issue it’s due respect. There’s a reason why they label as hominem attacks as a logical fallacy. It’s a distraction and a diversionary tactic.

  36. Mathew 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

    There you go Rick. I think in the end the OW members will fall away or be excommunicated if they continue down the path they are taking. History has time and again proven that. Besides, there is already a liberal “Mormonism” out there that has everything that seems to be agitated for in its organization. Its called the Community of Christ. When issues like ordination of women or acceptance of homosexual marriages come up, I am tempted to hand out CofC pamphlets and ask them why they don’t join that Church.

  37. Typo on the last line of my previous comment: it should say “ad hominem.” It looks like my phone auto-incorrected it for me. If you could fix that, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

  38. Paul, given that 90 percent of Mormon women oppose the position taken by OW, it is not true that they simply want to “make it better for everyone.” In fact, they want to make it worse for everyone by adopting a position that virtually nobody in the Church supports. When you look at the Pew poll and correct for church activity, it turns out that 95 percent of active church members (as opposed to inactive ones) opposes giving the priesthood to women.

    The poll is here:

    So of course it is highly relevant whether or not the people behind the OW movement are 1)active members of the Church or not and 2)believe any of the major truth claims of the Church. And you will notice that when questioned the leaders of the movement refuse to answer questions regarding number 2).

    I would also repeat that it is is immoral to try to bully a private, voluntary organization to change when the members do not favor such change. And it is doubly immoral for people who do not even believe in the Church to do this. What you have here is a movement of people who mostly do not even go to Church or do not believe in it trying to bully the people who actually do go to Church into making changes they don’t want to make. A more unjust cause would be difficult to imagine.

  39. Although seldom given consideration in such discussions, it is obvious that the ad hominem approach is not a logical fallacy when it goes to the question of establishing standing and personal character “of the man” proffering personal testimony. It is relevant to know where that testimony is coming from. Invitation or challenge to disclose personal details in such an instance is vital to understanding the credibility of a witness.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  40. Jim, you are of course correct.

    The ad hominem argument becomes a logical fallacy when personal attacks are used to attempt to sidetrack the discussion or raise completely irrelevant personal details.

    Example of ad hominem:

    Argument: global warming alarmism has never made a correct prediction. The following 10 predictions have been made and none of them have come true.
    Response: you don’t care about the Earth and are in favor of polluting people so they die.

    Example of an argument that is NOT an ad hominem logical fallacy:

    Argument: I am a climate expert and believe that we all are going to die because of global warming in 15 years.
    Response: I am looking at your credentials and it appears you falsified your PhD research and got kicked out of your doctoral program and have never been published by a peer-reviewed publication.

    Note that in the second example the climate expert is introducing his expertise as a relevant issue in his argument.

    The second example is exactly relevant to this issue. The OW movement claims to be led by faithful Mormons. Kate Kelly has publicly said “we are the Church.” This is a central element of their claim to be able to petition change in the church. Therefore, it is completely relevant to examine whether they really are faithful Mormons or not. The evidence clearly indicates that the movement is NOT led by faithful Mormons. And when questioned on whether or not they believe in the truth claims, the leadership refuses to answer.

    Therefore it is NOT an ad hominem to examine the church activity and beliefs of the OW movement. It is a central part of their argument and therefore relevant to the discussion and definitely not a logical fallacy.

  41. You truly do espouse a “holier than thou” attitude while spewing hate and judgment toward those you don’t agree with. I read your posts when I need a good reminder that self – righteous ignorance is still alive and well in this church.

  42. I am reminded of the time my eldest daughter, then a toddler, told me she wanted to be a boy.

    It turned out that some kid at K-Mart had told my daughter she couldn’t ride the motorcycle on the 25 cent mini carousel because only boys could ride the motorcycle.

    I cleared that up for my daughter.

    Later, my daughter, perhaps 4 years old by then, asked in Stake Conference why women couldn’t have the priesthood. I explained that even though her father was no longer a part of our family, any priesthood blessing she might seek could be provided by her uncles or our home teacher or our bishop. Tears of joy filled her eyes as she realized she was not cut off from priesthood blessings merely because her father had constructively deserted our family.

    By the way, my daughter, now a married woman, is peeved at OW, because she has a really attractive purple outfit, and now she feels she can’t wear it, because she vehemently disagrees with the OW stance.

  43. Dallske, you are under moderation at M* because you are incapable of leaving a comment without spewing judgement and hatred. I am letting this one through so readers can see the “quality” of your comments.

    It is a truism that those most quick to accuse others of intolerance, unrighteous judgement and “hatred” are the least tolerant, most judgmental and most hate-filled people.

    Dallske, thanks for helping me confirm this truism.

  44. And, Dallske, thanks for providing a great example of an ad hominem logical fallacy. Your comment has proven doubly useful!

  45. Even the law recognizes that examination of the person is important:

    ” A character witness usually is required to live in the same community as the person they testify about. Such testimony is given in civil and a criminal cases, usually when a person’s morals or honesty is at issue, such as in a charge of fraud or theft.”

    I assume that the same kinds of questions about morals and honesty can be asked the person directly. I see OW participating in the court of public opinion and therefore all questions about anyone should be game.

  46. Well my guess is the Ordain Women movement ends (or just fades into practical oblivion while still existing in some form) with no change to the Church’s current practices/policies and with a lot of frustration (possibly on both “sides”, but more so on the Ordain Women side). I truly do wish though that the question of: “Why are only men formally ordained to the priesthood?” would be addressed in an explanatory manner through revelation, or at least through the informed opinion of the Church’s most capable leaders. What we tend to get is simply pronouncements that the policy of the Church is that only men are ordained to specific offices in the priesthood – not any explanation as to *why* that is the case.

    Historically (from the earliest days of the Old testament writings to the present) the question of who ought to be ordained to the priesthood has been an ever changing standard. Certainly the structure of priesthood offices today (and the “races”, “nationalities”, or genetic “types” of who can be ordained) bear little (or no) resemblance to the practices in the earliest extant records. We have a lot of lay theories on why the priesthood has been restricted from the many and various groups of people over the various dispensations we have records for, but no explanations of *why* from an authoritative Church source.

    The Church has now published a document which explains a bit of the history of both the current dispensation’s priesthood ban (for the blacks) and the subsequent 1978 lifting of the ban, but it does not offer any eternal (or principled) reasons for the actual existence of the ban (in fact it even admits there was no revelatory reason/justification for the ban). Given that history and change it would be really nice if the Church’s leaders would consider asking for (and then providing to the membership at large) an explanation of the eternal principles that govern the priesthood and an explanation of the principles that determine which humans are allowed ordination in this life.

    Regarding disobedience (civil or otherwise) versus non-consent, I don’t think signifying a “non-consent” opinion when the question is asked in a sustaining situation (public or private) is a problem per se, nor do I think it constitutes disobedience. However, holding up signs, crashing gates, rejecting direct requests from the Church, etc. do constitute a problem. But I do not equate the two situations/responses at all.

    For example, a Church member prior to 1978 could (in my mind) legitimately oppose the Church’s policy and practice with respect to the Black priesthood ban while still believing in the fundamental “truth claims” of the Church. In such a situation one simply believes the President of the Church, and all of the prophets and apostles, are called of God – but for whatever reason they are making a mistake with respect to this issue. This was exactly the position of myself and my parents at the time. While we did not publicly vote “against” the Church leadership, we made it clear in interviews with our local Church authorities that we felt the policy was incorrect and not of God. Did that have any effect on the Church’s policies? I highly doubt it, I suspect none of our concerns where ever passed up the line of command in any way, but it did allow us an avenue to express our concerns.

    I apologize for rambling for so long. I’ll conclude with the following: I wish the Church leaders would ask for an eternal principles based explanation of *why* priesthood restrictions (beyond the obvious worthiness requirements) have existed and continue to exist.

  47. John S. Harvey, I think you need to have faith that the leadership may not have received an answer that would satisfy you. If the Church truly is led by the Savior (which it is), and if He inspires his servants the prophets to speak out on issues (which He does), we know that sometimes the prophets will simply not be given all the information we would wish they would have. And sometimes the prophets do not impart all of the information for reasons we cannot understand.

    Elder Anderson addresses some (but certainly not all) of your concerns in this talk from October 2013 conference:

  48. John Swensosn Harvey (your middle name always makes me question if I’ve made a spelling mistake), have you asked the Lord privately why men hold the Priesthood leadership and women don’t? My experience is those who want the leadership to pray about an issue and give an answer to the membership don’t take the time to do more than make political assumptions without doing their own spiritual research.

  49. 1. What has happened to other churches/denominations that ordain women? My understanding is that they have shrunk even faster than before they ordained women. In other words, the LDS church will lose more people if it -does- ordain women. Therefore, I believe Geoff B is justified in his vehemence, and in calling out the OW crowd; they are actually working to reduce church membership while claiming to do the opposite.

    2. I’ll repeat a phrase I recently learned: “Progressives… are henchmen of the devil.” Full quote:
    The Progressives in their smirking self-righteous piety and grotesque self-imposed ignorance are henchmen of the devil. Some know it, most do not. They stand between a woman and her human nature, her happiness, her children, and they speak the selfsame lie. The source of your happiness is the barrier to happiness. Destroy the source of your happiness, toss happiness aside, and you will be happy.” John C. Wright, at
    agreeing with David Warren at

  50. I am aware of the poll results that you cite, and I’m sure it’s true that most women within the church would not currently stand up and say “I want the priesthood.” There are reasons for that though, that go far beyond their personal preferences. The church has a culture of submission to authority, and to say “I want the priesthood” is to openly challenge authority. I think the poll results are an accurate reflection of the Mormon culture’s culture of authority more than anything else.

    If you were to ask women: How many of you would joyously accept the priesthood if the prophet were to declare that all worthy women should receive it? I think that same 90% would answer in the affirmative. They would follow the prophet.

  51. Paul Bohman, that is precisely the point. Whether you like it or not, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a top-down church, i.e. major revelations come from the prophets inspired by the Lord. Active church members have almost unanimously accepted this reality. There is a process for church members to make suggestions, and it is outlined by Elder Faust in the comments above. As a reminder, that process is to make private suggestions to local authorities. I would add that most GAs would also have no problems with polite letters to the prophets and apostles and certainly would have no problems with private prayer supplicating change.

    There is simply no room in the Church for public agitation along the lines of the OW movement.

    You may call this “submission to authority,” but the overwhelming majority of active latter-day Saints would call this “the way the Church works.”

    There are other churches that have different structures and different processes for asking for change. The Community of Christ is one such church. It is morally wrong for people, many of whom are not even active members of the Church, to bully the LDS church, using public propaganda methods, to make changes that are in direct contradiction to the accepted process of revelation and that are opposed by 95 percent of active church members.

  52. Re ad hominems:

    As I pointed out earlier, decision-making within the Church (per D&C 26–thanks for the ref, Kaimi!) is a process rooted in four principles: common consent, revelation, faithfulness, and prayer.

    If you disagree with a Church decision, then per our doctrine you can’t help but argue that a) the above-stated process should be engaged, but hasn’t been; or b) the process was engaged, but misapplied. Thus, the critic is making one or more of the following claims:

    1) The critic is more attentive to the Church’s needs than the decision-makers.
    2) The critic has received better revelation than the decision-makers.
    3) The critic has been more faithful than the decision-makers.
    4) The critic has been more prayerful than the decision-makers.
    5) The critic’s position is closer to reflecting the “common consent” of the Church than that espoused by the decision-makers.

    Every single one of these assertions involves an attack, of varying degrees, against the Church leadership; and a critic shouldn’t be surprised to find his own personal qualities come under the same level of scrutiny. Those who have not received the same revelation the critic purports to have had will naturally and inevitably ask the critic “shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18). And that’s especially applicable when questions of priesthood ordination come into play, due D&C 121:36 (“That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.) and D&C 121:45 (“the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon [our] soul as the dews from heaven” if only we will “[l]et [our] bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly”).

    If you’re spending your Sundays blogging about why the Church leadership structure is “patriarchal bull-excrement” or suggesting that porn/masturbation isn’t such a big deal or arguing that tithing should be discretionary or encouraging would-be Church leaders to fake their way through a testimony–that’s your prerogative; but I’m going to be more inclined to listen to claims of revelation by the people who have spent those Sundays doing their home teaching, spent their weeknights ministering or participating in Church twelve-step groups, spent (after taking a deep breath) 10% of their income to pay an honest tithe, and spent sleepness nights wrestling before God in their own personal Gethsemane before finally coming to know the Savior by personal experience. It is they, our scriptures tell us, who are most eligible for revelation; and quite frankly it is their dedication, sacrifice, and hard work that make the Church go.

    Despite our intelligentsia’s weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth–in Mormonism, personal righteousness matters. Always has, always will.

  53. Petitioning is not the same as bullying. Dissent on a specific topic is not the same as rebellion against the whole. How many spouses have disagreed on something specific, but still remain 100% committed to each other and to their marriage?

    The OW members actually go to great lengths to police their supporters, telling them to not engage in negativity or personal attacks against individuals or the church. I know because I am in on some of those discussions, at least the ones that occur online among supporters. Individuals will still be individuals, and may engage in offensive behavior or conversations, but that is not the intent or tone among the core group.

  54. Paul Bohman, I would encourage you to re-read the post and the comments because you simply are not getting it. To repeat: there is a process for asking for change, and the OW is not using that process. The Church has asked them to use the existing process, and they are refusing to do so. This is bullying and is unethical. Please go back to your OW friends and ask them to use the existing process for petitioning for change. Thank you.

  55. I know what I “get,” and I understand your perspective. I also have some misgivings about the methods, but mostly in the sense that I fear the methods will solidify resistance among church leaders; that they would not want to appear to cave to social pressure, and so would prolong the issue until long after Ordain Women is out of the picture. When I mentioned this fear to Kate Kelly, she responded that she was more optimistic than I was on this point. She had faith that the church leaders would prioritize the substance of the issues over any possible PR consequences. I hope she’s right.

  56. Geoff, I strongly disagree with your characterization of the supporters of OW, but I respect you and you remain one of the people I most like and admire in the bloggernacle. But I think you make good points and your feelings are very legitimate and should not be dismissed. I also strongly disagree with the tactics (and some positions) of OW (this is no secret), but I respect them and those whom I know personally are among the people I also like and admire most in life and in the bloggernacle. And they make good points, and their feelings are legitimate. From where I sit, these are very difficult issues and the feelings run very deep. My sense is that God and the leaders of the church understand this, and are striving very hard to listen and make righteous changes and sensitive replies and statements and interractions. And their listening (God’s andthe Church leaders’) includes taking into account feelings as expressed in your post, as well as those of OW. And I support them in this. I also think that most people on all sides of this issue really want the best for everyone concerned, that hearts will be softened and that we may all be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” I know you do, because based on our interractions, I know you to be kind, openminded and caring with a big heart. Namaste and shalom and salam and aloha. 🙂

  57. Paul, since you have a direct line to Kate Kelly, I would, if I were you, ask her to stand down on this issue, just as the Church PR department has asked her to do.

    I want to reiterate that women with concerns about the Church have some legitimate issues. Neylan McBaine has raised some of these issues with Church leadership using the existing process inside the Church and has had some success.

    Kate Kelly’s public agitation will only succeed in separating her and other church members from the Church. It will do nothing to effect the change she claims she wants. As I indicate in this post, there is a long line of dissidents taking disagreements public, and in each case the dissidents have suffered while the Church continues on its path. If you really care about Kate Kelly and the OW movement, urge them to rapidly change their methods. Nothing good can come from the current course.

  58. For whatever reason, I have undertaken the task of reading the entire OW website, including the approximately 270 profiles that have been posted there. It was a very disappointing process. I hoped to find some substance to discuss the uncompromising demands of the group. What I found instead was a lot of highly emotional and political arguments with a sprinkling of misconstrued scriptural citations and misunderstand quotes from Pres. Hinckley and others.

    Almost exclusively, the profiles talk about how an all-male priesthood makes the author feel unequal, and that being a mother doesn’t make up for that feeling of inequality. There is considerable discussion about how females are limited in their life choices as a result of not holding the priesthood. While there is some discussion of limited options for serving in the Church, this is generally part of a larger concern about gender roles outside of the Church context as well. Many authors state that if women were to hold the priesthood, they wouldn’t be constrained to the roles set forth in the Proclamation on the Family, but would be free to be doctors, lawyers, politicians or any number of vocations that would limit their time and effectiveness as mothers. There’s a lot of complaints that its unfair that our sons are encouraged to go out and conquer the world, while our daughters are told that their conquests are closer to home. This is all very standard feminist fare, dressed up with some piety.

    In addition to all this, I was disappointed that the OW folks haven’t made public what they see as the practical impacts of such a change in policy would be. On the OW facebook page, I attempted to raise this point in response to a post where it was postulated that women would not be compelled to be ordained, but that it would be somehow voluntary with no consequences for someone who chose not be ordained. In response I asked whether ANY male go to the temple (even for baptisms) without holding the priesthood? No. According to the Doctrine and Covenants, can ANY male have ANY place in the Kingdom of God without holding the Melchizedek Priesthood? No. Can ANY male in the Church be considered active AT ALL without being ordained to some office in the Priesthood? No. I then asked them to stop this silly nonsense about how they’re not advocating that any women be forced into holding the Priesthood, because to do so is to argue against the doctrine of gender equality which they exalt above all others. If female ordination is to be simply a matter of personal preference, there would be no equality. If you want equality, then you would have to take the position that any women not being ordained would face damnation. In order to be consistent, OW either needs to advocate for universal female ordination, or OW needs to advocate for major modifications to the Temple ordinances and half of the Doctrine and Covenants to remove the compulsory priesthood ordination of men as a condition of exaltation. I got no response to this.

    The difficulty for each of us is that we naturally feel sympathy and want to help others come to the Church and stay in the Church. I am willing to put up with a lot to try to help those who are marginally committed to stay in the Church. I think most of us are. However, OW, the Kaimi’s and the Dehlin’s of the world are using this tendency to a wicked end, IMHO. At some point, their leaders will reach the end of the patience and they will be excommunicated. Geoff, you are right, and I applaud you pointing out that this isn’t some harmless event occurring in a vacuum. It does have an impact, and while we are trying to be compassionate who are really struggling with this issue, we need to be careful to not overly accommodate these types lest we give them an air of inappropriate acceptability. That’s what I love about the Church’s letter denying tickets to the OW crowd, and why OW hated it. They can no longer hide behind the veneer of being faithful while pursuing this course of action.

  59. Michael, another great comment. I applaud you for actually reading the OW profiles. I have read several of them myself, and your characterization appears accurate.

    One thing I noticed is how seldom members of the OW movement mention the names of the prophets and the Savior and express their testimonies in the truth claims of the Church. Again, I have not read all of the profiles, but from the ones I have read the people involved appear to be part of a universalist unitarian church instead of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. (As I said, I am willing to be corrected on this, Michael: you have read all of the profiles and I have probably read 10-12 of them).

  60. Petitioning is not the same as bullying. Dissent on a specific topic is not the same as rebellion against the whole. How many spouses have disagreed on something specific, but still remain 100% committed to each other and to their marriage?

    Interesting analogy. But what happens when a husband deliberately films himself asking his wife for something he knows his wife does not feel free to give, and then releases the video of the refusal to the six o’clock news? What if he habitually turns up at a semi-annual family reunion wearing a black armband, “civilly” and “respectfully” telling anyone who asks that he’s wearing it because his wife is stuck in the past and isn’t in tune with his husbandly needs?

    A marriage where one spouse thinks it’s OK to use these kind of tactics, is a marriage that’s on the high road for divorce. Because a marriage isn’t primarily about who’s “right”. It’s about the way the parties involved perceive, and therefore treat, each other.

  61. Geoff, there is no correction necessary. One of the profiles was actually written by a self described unitarian universalist (Julia), and it’s a great example of the standard OW profile. There are what I would call a small percentage of the profiles that appear to be generally sincere by sincere believers. I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, but even those are largely tinged by this mindset.

  62. I just wanted to add my two cents to this discussion (and I do see the female comments above also . . . )

    I do not have a profile on Ordain Women. However, I am an active, temple recommend holding member of the church. I currently teach Gospel Doctrine. And I fully support Ordain Women. The push back against OW has me scratching my head. Why wouldn’t/shouldn’t women ask for this great blessing? Why wouldn’t/shouldn’t it be given? Of course women should hold the priesthood, both outside as well as inside the temple . . . it is a totally righteous desire.

    I will not be there April 5, but someone will be carrying my name as proxy. I hope God – and the prophet – hears our prayers.

  63. Cheryl, there is a difference between public protests against the Church — which the Church has told faithful members NOT to do — and private petitions for change, which are certainly OK.

    So, my question to you would be: if you are a temple recommend holding member of the Church, you have said you support church leaders. You have also said you do not support groups that oppose the Church. The Church is asking OW members NOT to protest publicly. How can you claim to support the Church and at the same time violate your temple recommend?

    In addition, we have Elder Faust clearly saying that actions that are apostate include people who “repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.” The OW movement is clearly and openly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the Church and its leaders.

    So, you claim to have a temple recommend, but you support a group that violates the temple recommend. You claim that you are an active church member but support a group that is defined as apostate by Elder Faust.

    Can you see how this would be a problem for you and the OW followers?

  64. Cheryl – Have you considered that God has heard your prayers and that the answer has been given as “No” or even “not right now”?

    If that is the case, do you still support additional agitation for ordination of women?

    How has increased agitation worked out in the past? I think that we are told the story of the lost pages of the Book of Mormon for a reason. Some times God does have his reasons to say no, even if they do not make sense to us within our cultural worldview.

  65. RE Jettboy: “John Swensosn Harvey (your middle name always makes me question if I’ve made a spelling mistake)”

    No, I made the typing mistake and then the auto fill proceeded to re-make it every time I used the same computer. 🙂 I have a mild form of dyslexia, not only do I occasionally switch letters, but I tend to see what I think I typed instead of what I actually typed. Thank you for catching (and mentioning) it – as a result I could correct it. 🙂

    I include the middle name simply because there are a lot of people named “John Harvey’ and I don’t want any of them getting blamed for what I say.

  66. I hope God – and the prophet – hears our prayers.

    Cheryl: Will you also listen to and hear what living prophets and apostles have said about this matter?

  67. The push back against OW has me scratching my head. Why wouldn’t/shouldn’t women ask for this great blessing? Why wouldn’t/shouldn’t it be given? Of course women should hold the priesthood, both outside as well as inside the temple . . . it is a totally righteous desire.

    What would you say to a group that agitates for polygamy on the grounds that large families are also a “great blessing”?

    And, from a theological standpoint: is priesthood, or continuation of seed, the greater blessing? It would be interesting to compare the relative fertility rates of women who desire priesthood ordination, with the women who do not desire it.

  68. (Actually, I would modify that as follows: It would be interesting to compare the relative fertility rates of Mormons who desire female priesthood ordination, with that of Mormons who do not desire it. Are both groups really putting their theological money where their mouths are?)

  69. JimD:

    “(Actually, I would modify that as follows: It would be interesting to compare the relative fertility rates of Mormons who desire female priesthood ordination, with that of Mormons who do not desire it. Are both groups really putting their theological money where their mouths are?)”

    I don’t think that is a fair comparison. There are a variety of reasons why family sizes are the way that they are. Not sure it is constructive (or wise) to frame your argument in this manner.

  70. Thank you to everyone for responding.

    Before I enter the conversation again, I would also ask again.

    Why shouldn’t women ask for ordination?
    Why wouldn’t this be given?

    That is, is the problem for many of you the way the question is asked, but not the question itself? (aka the title of this blog piece?)
    Would anyone be unhappy or is anyone certain that the answer should be negative?

    Also, just to lay it on the table, perhaps a comparison with civil disobedience against earthly governments is not the only one, or the most correct one. Another comparison might be with those women who wanted a seat at the table during the antislavery movement (not a perfect comparison either, I know). 8 women sailed for England to participate in the June 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention. This was hugely controversial, but also supported by American men in the group. William Lloyd Garrison said: ‘the woman question will inevitably be brought up,’ and he anticipated that the female delegates might not be seated. ‘It is, perhaps, quite probable, that we shall be foiled in our purpose;—but the subject cannot be agitated without doing good.’ The British men and many American male participants worried that the women would prove a distraction and undermine the proceedings . . . So the issue was debated, and 90% of the male participants voted against including the women. As a result, the eight had to observe the proceedings from an area curtained off from the main hall, invisible and silent. . . . (see McMillen, Sally (2008). Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement)

    Now, I know this is also not a perfect comparison, and I would compare no movement to our call to be focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but this does provide an example of action that was not civil disobedience, but rather a statement and a presence asking for things to change. In a way, such actions, as is our action knocking at the priesthood door to show we are ready and willing and desire the priesthood, is prophetic, in the Old Testament sense. We prophecy with our bodies, and voices, our minds, our whole beings, and risk a lot doing it.

    And actually, participating here is not so risk free because we are obviously on such different sides of this issue. But . . . it is worth it, because if we can become friends, and come even a little closer in our thinking, and learn from each other, we become closer to that love Christ talks about that is given so freely.

    I don’t know if Mike Parker is still reading, but I wanted to let you know I enjoy your work on the Interpreter round table – I listen to those when I prepare by GD lessons.

    Okay, here are my comments for the day . . . and then on to a very busy evening . . .

    Geoff, I don’t feel I am violating my temple recommend. I know you don’t get that, but my conscience is clear and my spirit is comforted regarding this issue. I am not apostate. We are doing important work and we are members of God’s church. OW has already said it will not repeat this action after this conference and they said it before that letter came from the Church.

    But even more importantly, we can throw GA quotes and scriptural references at each other all day and all night. I am not interested in doing that – it has been done ad nauseam all over the internet. I am just interested in laying some things out on the table, and offering myself as an example of someone who desires ordination. This is not about who can argue the best, but rather, this basic question:

    Is it right for women to ask? If not in this way, what way would you suggest that can be heard? I will tell you right out – private petitions do not get answers. We are the widow bothering the judge into the night.

    Mike, when a prayer is earnestly prayed, I have learned that any answer is on the table. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes it is not yet. And sometimes it is something transcendent – something unexpected and wholly transforming. I have experienced all those, as probably you have too.

    You talk about the lost pages – it seems God used that particular folly for his good. But why only the negative example? There are surprisingly many scriptural examples that ended well, and using only the comparison to asking for the priesthood to the lost pages is not really fair. But even so – God used it for good. I think much good has come from OW already, actually.

    Brian, what loaded questions you ask. Will you listen to what the Prophet Joseph said about this matter? . . . . but . . . . I am asking for our current prophet to pray about it. I feel good about making this request. It is a righteous request.

    And thank you Brian for responding to Jim D’s comments. Jim, I’m not sure where all that is coming from. . . so many single women (and men) in the church you need to be used in powerful and empowering ways . . . and if you are asking about me (surely not such a personal question (;->) ) . . . I have surely done my part . . . many children, over 15 grandchildren.

    How I hope my granddaughters will know what it is to have the priesthood. AND be mothers in Zion, if given that opportunity.

    But for this group, my point is this: you may totally disagree with OW, and you do. But we are the grandmother that sits in the seat next to you, the teacher in Sunday School, the woman who visit teaches your wife. We are not just the profiles, and I think we are in every ward.

    We are not evil, and not apostate. The answer may be “no” but the call to pray for this blessing is for me, at least, very real.


  71. I dunno, Brian. I’m probably opening a Pandora’s box with this observation (just helping GeoffB to break the 100-comments barrier, perhaps?); but it strikes me that aside from biological explanations (a not-insubstantial proportion of cases, but I daresay still a minority), most small family sizes have to do with the relative priorities of the parties involved. Which is fine, as far as it goes; but the principle of stewardship and the parable of the talents still apply. The principle of exaltation through continuation of seed still applies.

    Children are the ultimate blessing that God can provide; and it seems odd to me that someone (male or female) who is deliberately disclaiming this particular inheritance would then turn around and accuse the Church of “withholding blessings” from them by denying priesthood ordination.

  72. Cheryl, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I would agree with you that by discussing things rationally with people with whom you disagree you can perhaps find common ground and see the other person as another human being.

    To be quite frank, I personally would be ecstatic if the Brethren came out and announced that women could have the priesthood. Women are, in general, better organizers and more in touch with the Spirit. There is only one problem with this: almost all of the Mormon men I know would become less active in the Church, and they would simply let the women do all the work. I hope you can see that this would cause some problems. But for the record, I have no problems with an eventual announcement along the lines you appear to be calling for. But given that it would cause total chaos within the Church (not because of the women but because of the lazy men), I predict it will simply never happen in our lifetimes (perhaps it will in the Millennium).

    Cheryl, I want you to continue to be active in the Church and to listen to Mike Parker’s GD lessons and continue to teach your class and continue to be a wonderful child of God. But I honestly think: 1)you haven’t really thought through the consequences of what you say you want 2)you haven’t really considered who the leaders of the OW movement are and really thought about whether you may be associating with an apostate group and 3)haven’t really thought about what will happen when the Brethren say “no.”

    What I want most in the world for you and people like you (i.e., people who sympathize in the OW movement who actually go to Church) is that you remain in the church. That is why I have written about this so much, because I fear that many of you will end up leaving when you don’t get what you want. So, if I could leave you with one main message: follow the prophets and continue to rely on them. Don’t let yourself be dragged away from the Church by the people in the OW movement. Rely on the prophets, not the dissidents.

  73. @ Cheryl:

    FWIW–My beef with OW is primarily the method, not the aim. I think, theologically, worthy women are destined to become priestesses; and it could even happen in the here-and-now–provided that the oath and covenant of the Priesthood and conventional family roles were redefined; which would be difficult but not impossible.

    That said, the way you worded your response to me makes me curious: as a mother in Zion; and also as a member of the body of Christ; what would formal priesthood ordination give you in the here-and-now that you haven’t already been able to draw upon? Is it important that “power” and “empowering” of one’s ministrations be publicly visible, or just that they are present? And, if the latter, do you truly feel your lack of ordination has made your work as a mother and in the Church to date, neither powerful nor empowering?

    And I would repeat my question: theologically, “polygamy” is supposed to be a great blessing as well. So, how would you respond to a group that used OW’s tactics to ask the modern Church leadership to re-institute that practice?

  74. JimD,

    That is definitely an invitation to open Pandora’s Box. 🙂

    As someone who has dealt with issues of age, infertility, and health issues, etc., I find that type of conversation to be unhelpful as it involves judging others without knowing the full story as to why they have the number of children that they do. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with what you have to say, but I am cautioning against pursuing this line of questioning. There are so many other lines of disagreement to pursue with OW, I would pick something else.

  75. Since it apparently matters here, I have a profile on the OW site, I was at the conference action in October and I have been an active calling and recommend holding member of this church since I turned 12 (over 30 years ago).

    I think a bit of background is in order. Women concerned about the position of women in the LDS church have been trying to gain an audience with church leaders for several years now with letters and emails. The response has been stony silence. The actions at conference have come about only because nothing else we have done has seem to gotten their attention. We’ve tried working through the channels beginning with local leaders, but most of them either don’t care, tell us we shouldn’t be raising questions to begin with, or as even my sympathetic bishop says, “I hear you but I’m not changing anything until I hear from Salt Lake and I’m not carrying your concerns above me.” LDS church leaders could stop this action at conference with one simple step. Let us know you are listening to us.

    Why won’t they?

  76. Cheryl,

    I agree with most of what Geoff just said. I am ecstatic whenever the Prophet announces something new. I don’t have as pessimistic view of the negative consequences of allowing female ordination that Geoff describes, but I do think that there would be other potential problems. For instance, can you imagine how Kate Kelly would react if women got ordained, and ten years later she would look around her stake and not see any female bishops? Simply ordaining women will not mean that women will then get called into positions of authority, but if the Church were to begin ordaining women at any time in the future, the folks who are in ordain women will continue to complain until such time as they believe enough women have been installed into the hierarchy, and then they will complain that there haven’t been further doctrinal changes to further reshape the Church into what they see as appropriate. For instance, OW’s FAQ page states “The Church’s Proclamation on the Family declares that men preside over their wives and families, thus preserving an antiquated and unequal model in both the domestic and ecclesiastical realms.” And that isn’t the end of the criticisms.

    As for your questions: “Why shouldn’t women ask for ordination?” On a basic level, there’s nothing wrong with it. Anyone should feel free to pray to God and ask for the things they desire. I’m of the opinion that we’ve already got an answer, though it’s not been packaged into a clear and concise statement that we can beat each other over the head with. As a result, I don’t think that there’s much utility in asking, just like I don’t think that there’s much utility in asking the Lord to reverse the direction of the earth’s orbit. It is what it is.

    However, once someone gets an answer, and especially if one or more of the brethren come forth with a strong statement on this, then continued petitions will only serve to push the petitioner away from the Church. It’s better then to ask the Lord for understanding and acceptance.

    The second question is more speculative: “Why wouldn’t this be given?” The easiest answer is simply that men and women are different, and we don’t know the extent of those differences. Again, the Proclamation gives a clue by affirming that gender is eternal, and there are differences in the identity and purpose of males and females. It seems that OW’s central doctrinal claim is that men and women are equal and should be treated similarly. I don’t think that this claim is consistent with the doctrine as summarized in the Proclamation. As a result, I wouldn’t expect to see any convergence of male and female roles in church teachings and practice anytime soon, or at all, though I could be wrong.

    I would suggest that the more germane question may be “If it is to be given, why hasn’t it been done yet?” Joseph Smith was no shrinking violet in defying cultural norms and probably spent more time in the presence of the divine in mortality than anyone since. He has observed the eternal realms, and yet there’s nothing in his teachings and actions that would suggest that he did, or ever intended, to confer priesthood on any female or suggested that it was ever to happen in the way being demanded by OW.

  77. Cheryl,

    As others have mentioned, I likewise appreciate you taking the time to respond. Sometimes with comments it is difficult to get a full understanding of positions and concerns as we have minimal background information in many cases of the people we interact with, their situations, and experiences.

    I do not think that there is an opposition by men about whether or not women should hold the priesthood. We (not that I can speak for everyone) do not view it as some old boys club where we get it and you don’t. Rather, we view it as a blessing and responsibility that God has chosen to restore in a specific way for His own purpose. Whether or not we truly understand or realize that purpose is a separate issue. Why he chose to do it in the manner that he did could be for any number of reasons, including cultural issues related to the early 1800’s. I don’t know, but I know that he has not yet provided any additional clarification on it.

    However, I do not believe that you really answered my question. I realize, as do you, that sometimes answers are yes, or no, or wait, or are answered in ways unexpected. Sometimes the questions give answers about completely different issues. But my question remains, if the prophet says that the answer he has received is some variation of no, or not a yes, will you (or the OW members) accept that and cease agitating? A secondary question to that is, if your answer to the previous question is yes, because you sustain him as a prophet, why would said members of OW not likewise agree to demonstrate in the area as requested by the church rather than directly on the conference center grounds?

    Why the lost pages example? Well because it was the first that came to mind. However, I fail to see how it is not fair. You call it negative and then say that good came of it. Regardless, how do you know that the prophet(s) have not already prayed about this? You seem to indicate that you do not think that they have. How do you know? Do they need to tell us of every “no” that they receive or even tell us what they are praying for?

    I guess I could flesh this out more, but to bring it to a point, are we interested in “my will” or “thy will”? I am not saying that women having the priesthood is not part of God’s will. I am saying that it has not been revealed as such as far as I know. Is OW going to continue to press this issue if a statement is made concerning what the prophet has received and it indicates that women are not being ordained to the priesthood? In my opinion, to try to force our cultural worldview or our timetable upon God’s time or will is an act of hubris. And the scriptures and life are full of examples on that beyond just the lost pages. Yes, further light an knowledge comes from asking questions. I guess I am trying to convey that our reasons for asking are sometimes as important as what we are asking. Personally, I am also really bad with dealing with answers that I do not necessarily like or want. And that is why we are agents unto ourselves, to an extent to learn for ourselves who we are and how we choose to relate to God.

    I won’t pretend to know all of your concerns or to understand all of your feelings. But, I do hope that you realize that most men do not view this as an us versus them issue or an attempt of suppression. We know that much has been revealed and that more will be revealed with regards to the Gospel and God’s Kingdom on Earth. Until further light is revealed, I plan to try to respect and follow the prophet and allow God to work on his timetable in his way. Not that I do that good of a job at it…

  78. Lori, I find your comment above extremely uncharitable. You feel that you can *demand* that prophets and apostles of God answer you? Your beef is with the Lord, not the Church leaders. The Lord is the head of the Church, not the people who speak for Him. My impression of you based on your comment above is that you are like one of Isaiah’s clay pot arguing with its maker and telling the maker how it should be made (see Isaiah 45:9). Such a course is destined for folly. Be still, know that the Lord is in command and that all things happen for good and for a reason.

  79. Cheryl, a few more questions. You write:

    “OW has already said it will not repeat this action after this conference and they said it before that letter came from the Church.”

    So, if OW decides to protest the October 2014 conference after they do not receive the response they want, you will stop supporting them, right? Otherwise, you would be supporting a group that is *repeatedly* protesting against the Church, which Pres. Faust calls an apostate group.

    You write, “Is it right for women to ask? If not in this way, what way would you suggest that can be heard? I will tell you right out – private petitions do not get answers.”

    Err, yes they do. The answer if somebody doesn’t write back to you is, “no.” And the truth is that I have seen many letters back and forth from Church public affairs to the OW movement, and the letters have been sincere and charitable. And the answer has been “no.” So, you definitely have gotten an answer — you just don’t like the answer you have gotten and want to direct the Lord on how He should direct His own church. I would suggest to you that this is hubris.

  80. Cheryl, your last comment really touched me. I’ve been surprised at how many of my friends and family are supportive of OW. Good, faithful, temple recommend-holding people. It would do us all a lot of good to spend more time humbly, patiently, and prayerfully considering the substance of the matter, and less time criticizing the people asking the question or how it was raised.

  81. Karla, you ask people to consider “the substance of the matter.” I am not sure what you are referring to, but let’s consider the possibilities.

    1)Should women have the priesthood? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not really for you or me or Cheryl or John Dehlin or Kate Kelly to decide. It is for the Lord to decide, and he doesn’t really respond to public protests.

    2)How should women who want to have the priesthood ask for it? This has already been made clear by the GAs in several talks and the Church PR department (who speak for the Lord), and the answer is in private talks with church authorities, letters to the GAs and private prayers. Public pressure is a sign of apostasy. Presumably you believe in the power of prayer, right?

    These are really the only two things of “substance” to consider. The answer has been given, and the OW movement, no matter how sincere and heartfelt, is rebelling against the Lord’s church by taking their protest public.

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