Sunday, October 6, 2013

Conference, Priesthood, Community

Dear #,

I struggle with discussing religion in most settings, unless I'm with close friends or family (and even then, depending on the family). My own personal experience with religion and spirituality is complex, tied up in my upbringing, my faith crisis and two years outside the church, and my relationship with my heavenly parents. My family's experience is also varied and unusual in a number of ways, and it ultimately results in silence from me more often than not, particularly in the vast and tumultuous sea of the internet (even within the narrow confines of the "bloggernacle" I tend to stay quiet).

I have found an issue that matters to me, though, and I think that spreading awareness of this issue trumps the fact that it comes from me. I also have some deep concerns about it, and feel the need the share those, as well.

This weekend, women were turned away from the General Priesthood Session of conference - not for failing to hold the priesthood, but simply for being the wrong gender (as both non-ordained and non-member males were permitted to attend). Worse, last week men lined the balcony of the General Relief Society session, resulting in a blistering double standard (Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that the Relief Society and Young Women sessions of conference aren't available through the official LDS resources app?). Depending on which doctrines you accept (How cafeteria mormon are YOU?) and which you reject:

  • Women used to hold the priesthood (based on early commentary by Joseph Smith and the common practice of females giving blessings),
  • Women have always held the priesthood (based on certain aspects of the temple ceremony)
  • Women currently hold a technical version of the priesthood but are not currently Ordained to offices within it
  • or Women don't hold the priesthood at all and never will.  
This is a pretty extensive spread of beliefs, and I'm probably missing a few regardless. Still, a group of women is working toward the goal of female ordination: Ordain Women. I haven't made a profile ,but reading through these is an amazing inspiration. Before you say anything about what might potentially be motivating these women, read through their profiles, see what a few of them actually have to say.

Anyway, I want to say this: I support the ordination of women. I think it should be happening immediately.

I do have a few concerns:
  • There is a strong division by gender within the LDS church, and I'm concerned that if we ordain women and then maintain the two groups as separate organizations, this gap could end up widening and becoming an absolutely male organization and an absolutely female organization. This could result in a situation worse than the one currently existing.
  • There is massive male privilege in the church today, and those who can't see it are blind to it. However, male activity and membership in the church still falls far below that of females. If we increase gender equality, how will that effect male membership? On the other hand, perhaps men will appreciate a more balanced power balance. I don't know. 
  • The current recognition of a Heavenly Mother is amazing. The complete absence of worship, doctrine, teachings or understanding of Her is heart breaking. However, I don't think female ordination will effect this at all, and could easily result in an attitude of "We gave you the priesthood, that's enough for this century." I believe additional understanding and worship of her is far more important, especially since it would almost certainly lead to Ordination anyway (so maybe we're putting the cart before the horse). 
  • Excommunication. For me, for these amazing sisters, for anyone who wants to be part of the Church but refuses to be a blind and foolish follower. 
I hope this makes sense. If you have any questions, I'd love to talk about them, but if you flame or troll, I will moderate as I see fit.

All my love,

PS #, I hope this is all settled by the time you are old enough to hold the priesthood.


  1. Well, let's see, perhaps their gathering as a group and trying to attend appeared to be an attempt to make trouble. And the doorkeepers were caught off guard. If this happens again in six months it may be handled quite a bit differently.

    The broadcast is now opened up to be watched at home or anywhere, so there is apparently no reason for the women not to see it. I listen to the Priesthood Session right along with the others when it comes out on CD's, just as men can listen to the Relief Society or Young Women's meeting.

    In our stake, a man and woman came in and sat down in Priesthood Session and nobody stopped them. It turned out they were actually looking for a meeting at a different church.

    I have attended Priesthood Meeting in a Utah ward, as part of a different calling. Nobody stopped me or even said anything. I have also attended High Council Meetings but only when invited--which would be true of any church member, male or female I suppose.

  2. I've attended Priesthood session before-all I got were some off looks. I think the way those women were turned away reflects either concern they were trouble makers (as Lynn said) or a hardening of the stance on gender division, as one could infer from a few of the talks given during the general sessions.

    Personally, I'm of the idea that equal is equal-not separate but equal. I see plenty of evidence that women are as able to hold the priesthood as men.