not in Primary anymore

carrying emilia

A year ago, I could not hold you. Despite carrying your body for nine months, despite enduring hour after agonizing hour of labour, despite sacrificing my body and hopes on an operating table, despite the endless nights and postpartum tears, despite laying down every piece of me—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—to provide you breath, I was not allowed. I was not allowed to hold you or to speak to you. I was not allowed to feel and hear of God’s words pertaining to your life. I was not allowed to pronounce your name.

These are the duties of the male. The priesthood.

I was told my prayers were mighty. I was told my faith was strong. I was told I was of equal value.

And yet, I could not hold you, could not speak to you, could not pronounce your name. On a day meant to be a day of blessing, it promised only to be a day of exclusion and pain. I could not bless you. I could not even touch you at the moment your name would have been pronounced to our community.

All because I am woman and I am your mother.

And so, a year later, I held you tight as I used that body, my female body, the one that had been banned from holding and blessing, to offer up the prayer of my heart.

I carried you with me as I proclaimed my desire and readiness to hold you a year before. I carried you for the right to hold my own child. I carried you for the power to bless. I carried you because I wanted you to know that you are the authority in your life and not auxiliary to it. I carried you because I want you to know that you can be a leader, not simply one who is led. I carried you because I hope for a better, stronger, more loving faith for you.

I carried you because I do this for you. I do this for me. I do this for the grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters. I do this for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

And as I carried you, I held your blessing in my heart. I blessed you with courage and fortitude, with love and passion, with determination and steadfastness. I blessed you with love of God and humankind, with understanding and foresight. I blessed you that you would find your voice early rather than spend your life fighting it off because of fear. I blessed you that you would always know you have a place at my table so long as you live. I blessed you that you will know you have choice in life. I blessed you that you might know you are not presided over by another but are the presiding authority on your life. I blessed you that you would covenant to God rather than to your husband. I blessed you that you, my sweet Emilia, would know that to be woman is not to be secondary, beneath, pedestaled, or excused. To be woman is to be wholly human.

You are my daughter, flesh of my flesh.

May this be the beginning of better days.

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58 Responses to “carrying emilia”

  1. Dan Madsen

    I don’t know if I understand the word preside, but doesn’t it mean to lead somehow or hold authority over? I am sympathetic to your cause (I don’t know if women should be ordained, carry the priesthood through their husband or how it should work in detail.) I think you should have had the opportunity to participate in the blessing. My problem is your problem with someone presiding. I understand that you or your daughter have the ultimate say in your lives, but wouldn’t it be fair to say that someone should be in authority?

    Reply
    • Eliza

      Dan,
      Why would it be fair to say that someone should be in authority? Particularly when that authority it determined by cultural norms based on a gender binary. Yes, the priesthood is the power of God to act in his name, but in the early days of the church, women were ordained, so why not today? Perhaps because our leaders, although I absolutely acknowledge to be called of God, are stuck in their cultural paradigms, rather in the divine paradigm.

      Reply
      • JL

        Eliza,

        Wait, women were ordained in the early days of the Church? This is news to me, what are you referring to?

        As for our leaders being stuck in cultural paradigms rather than divine paradigms, didn’t Elder Oaks clarify that only men holding Priesthood office is a “divinely decreed pattern”? When Christ was on the earth and chose to only ordain men and call male apostles, was he stuck in the cultural paradigm of his time?

    • amycartwright

      Dan, I believe that God is a God of order and yes, at meetings and whatnot, someone needs to be in charge. But as a woman, when you are always presided over, never the one presiding, it is easy to believe that you never have authority over yourself. I spent the majority of my life looking for answers outside of myself–from Bishops and Stake Presidents to historians and philosophers. While their words and teachings do, of course, impact my life, *I* am the authority on my life. It is I who can pray and know what is right for me. I want my daughter to learn that early.

      Reply
      • Dan Madsen

        I didn’t mean it had to be men presiding, just that order is needed, so I think we agree :). I haven’t investigated this enough to have a qualified meaning other then, “It just feels right” to give women much more influence.

    • amycartwright

      JL, interestingly enough, we have evidences that Jesus did ordain women, Mary Magdalene being considered foremost among his apostles. The fact that she was the apostle to the apostles, the one chosen to first testify of the resurrection, adds credence to this assertion. From the words of the New Testament, we can be pretty sure that Jesus was a radical feminist. Between teaching a woman at his feet, a place reserved solely for men who were training to be spiritual authorities, to speaking to the Samaritan woman, to telling Martha that Mary had chosen the better part in choosing to want to be a spiritual teacher rather than a homemaker, I think it’s difficult to suggest that Jesus is the author of sex-separate roles.

      Reply
      • JL

        Amy,
        Mary being told to testify of the resurrection to the apostles indicates she was ordained to a Priesthood office? That’s a big inference isn’t it? And when he did, none of the New Testament writers mentioned it? His apostles didn’t continue it? Those who wanted him dead didn’t add it to their list of blasphemies? When Joseph Smith was re-translating the Bible God just forgot to mention that part?

        I don’t know anything about Jewish law and I thought the story of Martha and Mary was about choosing the spiritual over the temporal but I’m not saying that Christ wasn’t a feminist (if by that term you mean he believes men and women are equal). However, he certainly seemed to be the author of sex-separate roles when it came to the Priesthood. He ordained 12 men to be his apostles and 0 women. If he was a radical feminist why didn’t he make a single woman an apostle? Why did he never command Joseph Smith to make a woman one of his apostles? Did Joseph Smith just ignore those commandments? Or were they never given?

  2. Laura Pennock

    love. Love, love, love. How many more ways must we say that we have the right to citizenship in our spiritual communities? How long before the condemnation of the Lord weighs heavily enough on those who have the stewardship to lift the ban?

    Reply
  3. Mungagungadin

    I could have written this, but I didn’t. This is beautifully sung. Thank you.

    Reply
    • amycartwright

      Imrnobles, I understand this desire for men to have a greater role in the lives of their children. I really do. In my particular case, my husband was unable to bless our baby. He was taking a break from the Church at the time so I was left with the option of having someone in my husband’s family bless her, thereby shaming my husband because our bishop chose to not allow him to bless her (not because of worthiness, just because of inactivity due to some emotional issues. He felt he needed some space), or having a ward member perform the blessing. We live outside of our country of origin (we’re Americans currently live in Canada), and far away from family, so all of this is even more complicated.

      As for “what will the guys do?” Why could the parents not bless their child together? Why could they not BOTH bless their children? Yes, I carried and birthed our child, but why should those hours of labour somehow invalidate my contribution to our children’s spiritual journeys? Why should my husband (or another man, perhaps not even connected to them) be their conduit for God and not their own mother?

      Reply
      • erincita33

        You both could have held her in your arms at home and prayed and blessed her. It could have been a very special and sacred experience and you didn’t have to have the other blessing at the Church. It’s not necessary for salvation.

        You could have had any conversation you wanted with her and recorded it and written it down for her to read later.

        You still can.

  4. LaurenB.

    Nobody is replying to JL’s last comment? Wow. They really brought up some interesting dialogue. I’d be interested to hear what someone in OW would have to say to that, if they had a stance on it. If not, that’s cool, just curious.

    Reply
  5. amycartwright

    I can’t respond directly to JL but here are a few of my thoughts.

    We have suggestions from the Gospel of Mary that Mary Magdalene was indeed one of Jesus’s apostles and considered foremost among them. Note that the Gospel of Mary is not canonized, however, we do know that it is of ancient origin and the dating takes it back to the time before the four Gospels of the NT were written. So, whether or not someone accepts it as a part of our holy books isn’t so much the issue as what it tells us about history. It tells us that Jesus ordained at least one woman.

    As for Joseph Smith, when he organized the Relief Society, he told the leaders that he was going to “make of this society a kingdom of Priests as in Paul’s day, as in Enoch’s day (see the Relief Society Notebook, which can be viewed at The Joseph Smith Papers Project).” I actually see Joseph’s suggestion that Emma had been ordained (which he mentioned separately from “setting apart”) as a fulfillment of the restoration. Sidney Rigdon is quoted as saying Emma Smith was the first woman *in this dispensation* to be ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. The Gospel of Mary had not yet been discovered so I find this to be one of the things that bears testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet.

    We also do have Junia and Phoebe in the New Testament who are mentioned as apostles and deaconesses, respectively (Note that per Junia, it depends on which translation one reads as to whether she is “of note” among the apostles vs. an apostle. Many of translations suggest that Junia was, in fact, and apostle. We also have women in the new and old testaments who are prophetesses. Of special note is Deborah in the Book of Judges who is a judge in Israel (note how this is the same way we refer to priesthood leaders today), a prophetess, and who is a mighty leader of armies. She is who Barak comes to for advice and counsel. While some suggest that Deborah did not hold the priesthood, it’s a difficult case to be made. If the same limitus test is applied to Deborah (any mention of the ordination process) then we’ve also ruled out the majority of the prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament by the same limitus test. Most Biblical scholars agree that Deborah was, in fact, a prophetess on par with Daniel, Malachi, etc.

    Reply
    • JL

      Amy,
      1) I read the gospel of Mary. She talks about the soul passing through seven powers or forms but I couldn’t find anything about her being ordained to a Priesthood office. Could you please quote for me what you are referring to when you say “it tells us Jesus ordained at least one woman”?

      2) I’ve read that quote from Joseph Smith. Once again, it seems like a pretty big inference that he ordained them to a Priesthood office. In addition, I think I found that Sidney Rigdon quote you’re referring to. It was given 20 years after his excommunication and it was in reference to the Endowment, right? There’s no doubt that women receive Priesthood authority in the Endowment (see Elder Oak’s latest general conference talk), but does that really mean they were ordained to Priesthood offices?

      3) I read up a little on the Junia and Phoebe and you’re right, that evidence is kind of a wash since there are interpretation going both ways on what is meant by “of note” and “apostle.”

      4) Isn’t it another big inference to believe Deborah was ordained to a Priesthood office because she is referred to as a prophetess? Isn’t it more reasonable to think that it means she had the gift of prophecy? Having the gift of prophecy doesn’t mean that you have Priesthood keys to direct God’s Kingdom on Earth does it?

      5) True, we don’t have record of the ordination of all of the old testament prophets. However, we do have modern prophets and modern revelation. I don’t know for sure but I’m going to venture and say that some modern prophet in our dispensation said those prophets were ordained to the Priesthood. I’m also going to venture and say that none of them said that Deborah or anyone else was ordained to a Priesthood office.

      In summary, all of the examples you’ve provided seem very circumstantial at best. We have 4 gospels confirmed by modern prophets that Christ ordained 12 men and 0 women to be his apostles. If full equality is what God wants and what’s good, why didn’t he ordain 6 women to be apostles? Or even 2? Or 1? Was it because Christ was stuck in a sexist cultural paradigm or because Priesthood ordination to men only is a divine paradigm?

      Reply
      • JL

        It just seems unfair to me when supporters of OW allege that Church leaders are sexist bigots or “rooted in sexism” when they are doing what Christ himself did while on the earth.

  6. amycartwright

    JL, is it possible that every single one of us is reading these passages and example with the lens through which we desire/are accustomed? We could go back and forth on these ad nauseum but the reality is that the real hurdle for women’s ordination is that we do not have a precedence for female ordination to the offices of the priesthood in the LDS church. While we can debate whether or not women were ordained in Jesus’s day (which, I believe there are enough evidences that *had* to stay in the Gospels after the Council of Nicea stripped women of their claimed power, namely the account of Mary being the one to testify of the risen Lord. Definition of apostle: special witness of Christ. If Mary was the one to be THE witness of the Christ, that seems to suggest she was a pretty special apostle), but the reality is that the world has changed, and so has the church, in the last 200 years, let alone the last 2000. This is why the claim on prophetic calling and continuing revelation is so important. The purpose of a prophet is to receive revelation, not necessarily to be the harbinger of tradition.

    When the daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses and proclaimed that they saw a problem with inheritance rights in their culture and religion–land ownership being very, very tied to power, authority, and “God’s will,” Moses did not simply excuse them and say, “show me where prophets of the past have given women land! See, they weren’t sexist, it’s just God’s will.” Instead he took their plight to the Lord and received a revelation for them, one that went against all prior tradition. It’s this element that I believe is missed in all of these discussions. While I do believe there is amble evidence of female priests, prophetesses, deaconesses, etc. (which, if one doesn’t need the priesthood to receive revelation for the entire body of Israel, as did Deborah, then why *couldn’t* someone like Kate Kelly say she had received revelation for the Church as a whole? Which is more challenging to our narrative? That a woman held the priesthood and acted in a presiding office or that one does not need the priesthood or a specific office in order to receive revelation for a people as a whole?), I don’t believe history is really going to be a pivotal part of these conversations. It’s an issue of prophetic revelation.

    Reply
    • JL

      In response to your question on Deborah I think the Institute Old Testament manual is enlightening.

      “Israel was sorely lacking in leadership at this time. The regular priesthood leadership was not in effect because the covenant had been broken. Deborah did not direct Israel in any official sense; she was a prophetess who possessed the spirit of prophecy, one of the gifts of the Spirit (see Revelation 19:10; Moroni 10:13; D&C 47:22). She was blessed with spiritual insight and leadership qualities that were not being put to use by any man. Barak would not lead an army against Jabin until Deborah promised to be present (see Judges 4:8–9).

      “No special ordination in the Priesthood is essential to man’s receiving the gift of prophecy; bearers of the Melchizedek Priesthood, Adam, Noah, Moses, and a multitude of others were prophets, but not more truly so than others who were specifically called to the Aaronic order, as exemplified in the instance of John the Baptist. The ministrations of Miriam and Deborah show that this gift may be possessed by women also.” (Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 228–29; see also Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 3:66.)”

      It seems that Deborah could not have been ordained to a Priesthood office and had the keys to the Kingdom of God on earth when that Kingdom was in disarray and apostasy. Women receive revelation for people as a whole today (Mothers, Ward/Stake/General Relief Society Presidents, etc) that is nothing new, it does not mean they have the keys of the Priesthood. And you’re right, Kate Kelly could have the gift of prophecy and say she received a revelation for the entire Church. But then it would a question of whether she really has that gift and whether that revelation is really from God. Not everyone who claims to have received revelation from God really has. One way to know for sure if the revelation is from God is to see if they’ve received Priesthood keys.

      But you’re right, we could go back and forth forever. And I completely agree, if there was enough evidence of prior ordination of women this wouldn’t be such a hurdle (but it is a hurdle because the evidence is seriously lacking). I also agree that the prophet could go to God today and receive a new revelation that women should be ordained if that’s God’s will (I think its unlikely given everything we know about the past but possible).

      However, my problem is with the claim by OW that the current status quo was not set up by God himself and that Church leaders have been following sexist tradition all of this time instead of a divinely established pattern. OW’s best argument that women should be ordained is that God is good and so God wouldn’t be sexist by having only men ordained. However, it seems that the evidence is strongly in favor that God did create the current status quo (as evidenced by our discussion above, scriptures, 200 years of Church history, and modern prophets and apostles i.e. Elder Oak’s talk).

      That leaves OW in a sticky situation. They can walk three paths: 1) Stick to their feminist paradigm and reject God because they believe that their moral belief of any gender separation being bad is more important than Him. 2) Accept God and keep the good parts of feminism (that men and women are equal and everyone deserves love, respect, etc) while rejecting the extremist parts in contradiction with God’s will. 3) Try as you have to harmonize the radical feminist view with everything we know about God and what I think (and I know its only my opinion) is the weightier evidence of His nature and will.

      But thank you for all of your help and discussion Amy. You have been very kind and polite in answering all of my questions. I really appreciate your willingness to spar with me as I try to figure out what OW believes and why they believe it. I originally came onto youngmormonfeminist.org to 1) see if what I believed was really right, 2) understand what you guys believe, and 3) try to see where are differences are and why.

      I think this conversation has helped me answer all three of those questions. I don’t think we differ on whats possible, just on what’s likely and what evidence is more weighty and significant in making that conclusion.

      Although I think the second path is the better, I applaud you for taking the third path over the first. I know many women who have chosen the first and I think it was for the worse in their lives. I think the third path is hard but keep up the hard work, stay close to God. I’ll pray for you as I know you’ll pray for me. And God bless little Emilia. Thank you.

      Reply
  7. mofembot

    JL, although his treatment of women was extraordinary, Jesus was nonetheless constrained by the norms and customs of His time. It makes no sense to assert that Jesus was somehow perfectly free to ignore the cultural realities of his milieu.

    Jewish women could not act as witnesses, had very few legal rights,* faced severe social impediments, and were regarded as inferior to men in virtually all respects. The initial reaction of the apostles to the women’s testimony of Christ’s resurrection serves to underscore the assertion that had Jesus tried to include women among the 12, the men would have had a virtually impossible time accepting them as equals— it would have been aberrant and unthinkable far beyond the way Jesus Himself behaved.

    Thus to claim that the Savior’s behavior and acts which were wholly appropriate to first-century Judea are meant to serve as a blueprint forever after denies the possibility of human moral progress and continues to hobble the modern day church (and not just the LDS church, of course).

    Interestingly enough, Junia and Phoebe (among other notable NT women) were Gentiles, and likely Romans at that. While the paucity of the records makes it impossible to know for certain that Jewish women were not called to leadership, I’d nonetheless be willing to wager that this was the case — that the only women who could thus serve were those whose cultural milieu made it possible to be on a more equal footing with their brethren.

    The same is absolutely true today in both the secular and religious worlds: where patriarchal religion permeates society generally, women are decidedly unequal and disadvantaged in all walks of life (and especially in religious life).

    *Incidentally, the fact that women were in a similar disadvantaged position in 19th century America also precluded their being among those who could be legally recognized wrt the LDS church’s founding in 1830.

    Reply
    • amycartwright

      Mofembot, I’ve also wondered if women’s ordination isn’t the exact thing that is needed for a “restoration of all things.” We have finally made a space for equality in the West. Our society is finally recognizing the equality of women and the accomplishments and insights they can bring to the table. It’s no wonder we are experiencing a renaissance of technological, social, economic, and other developments…we finally have the other half of the human race at the table and in equal partnership. There is still much to be done but the fact that we can even have this conversation today–that of women’s equality and potential as spiritual leaders and authorities–tells me that only now could it be a possibility.

      Reply
      • mofembot

        I have often thought that the church has followed long-standing tradition in its apparent interpretation of God’s words to Eve after the Fall as some kind of prescription or commandment, rather than as a description of consequences. Sad to think of so much time and effort spent upholding a telestial model of women’s and men’s relationships to one another rather than striving for a return to the equal relationship our first parents had before the Fall.

        While I follow the issue with interest — and am willing to admit that perhaps ordination will have a far greater impact beyond what happens in LDS churches, I also find myself wondering if perhaps we all need to devote more time to working to save ourselves from or better yet, to prevent the coming ravages of unmitigated climate change (for example) — but I digress. (Or do I?)

    • JL

      Mofembot,

      Christ was proclaiming to be the Son of God and was about to strike down the Mosaic Law, he seemed hardly constrained by the cultural realities of his milieu. As Amy pointed out, he had no problem teaching women or talking with Samaritans. He came in with the game plan of being crucified and all of his apostles hunted and killed. I just can’t follow the logic that he would feel too constrained to do what is right.

      Further, are the cultural realities of His time any justification for the sexist act of ordaining only male apostles? By claiming that Christ would constrain himself to a sexist cultural, are you not then claiming that his actions were rooted in sexism? Is sexism sin? Did Christ then root his actions in sin?

      Reply
  8. mofembot

    JL, to say that Christ would have lived outside of and uninfluenced by his cultural milieu is a form of docetism. Jesus was as non-sexist as it was possible for Him to be and still live as a mortal. (I also point out that while there were no women counted among the 12, the lack of records does not at all preclude the possibility of His having ordained women.)

    Reply
    • JL

      mofembot, it seems like there are a lot of contradictions here. You say he was bound by his cultural milieu not to ordain women, yet you say he ordained Phoebe and Junia (and Amy says Mary also but she was Jew). You say Phoebe and Junia could be ordained because they were part of the gentile culture but weren’t the 12 apostles still part of the same culture as Christ? If they wouldn’t be fine with a Jewish woman being ordained, why would they be fine with gentile women being ordained? Further, if Christ was ordaining gentile women and maybe Mary to some office of the Priesthood, why not ordain them to the office of an apostle?

      I don’t think you mean it, but your last statement sounds like you’re saying that Christ wasn’t perfect but that’s all right, he was as perfect as he could be as a mortal. Does that same standard then apply to me too? I know the right thing to do is teach my children that sexual impropriety is a sin but our cultural reality is that people will view me teaching them that as over the top, archaic, traditionalist. Am I now excused from doing it?

      I just can’t follow the logic. It seems like a big stretch to say Christ was constrained by his cultural milieu. Isn’t it more likely that he was constrained by divine truth and eternal laws? That gender is an eternal characteristic and for whatever reason we don’t understand Priesthood ordination is attached to that and women giving birth to children is attached to it as well. Couldn’t have God made it possible for both genders to give birth? It seems unfair to only put one through all that pain. It seems sexist to make men and women unequal on that front. He’s God, he can do anything, right? Or is He also constrained by eternal truth and universal laws, gender and what accompanies it being one of those laws?

      Reply
  9. mofembot

    No, I did not say Jesus ordained Phoebe and Junia. Paul calls Phoebe a deacon (KJV’s translation of “deaconess” is not warranted by the Greek) and refers to Junia as “of note among the apostles.” Who ordained Phoebe is not known, but given that she was a Gentile, it wasn’t Jesus. Paul greets other women in passing whom biblical scholars believe may have been leaders in home-based congregations.

    The book of Acts shows that the inclusion of Gentiles as part of the chosen was not easy for the 12 to deal with. Even after Peter’s paradigm-shattering dream, the apostle Paul (who may not have ever been part of the 12, by the way) had to constantly battle against the “Judaizers” in Jerusalem who wanted to impose circumcision on new Gentile male converts… “entrenched thinking” if ever there were any.

    As for Mary (sister of Martha, not mother Mary) and Mary Magdelene, some of the pseudepigraphic works from fairly early times portray the Jewish women’s relationship to early church leaders in Jerusalem as fraught, with Peter and others still jealous and unhappy that the resurrected Jesus appeared first to women instead of to them.

    I did not say that Christ wasn’t perfect. I am saying that he lived His perfect within the bounds and limits of his culture in the same way that we must strive to follow Him within the bounds and limits of our cultures.

    It is a far easier to believe in this than to believe that women, regardless of their individual innate talents, intelligence, and gifts that go far beyond their biological reproductive capacities — and who say *exactly* the same thing as to pass through the temple, invoking priesthood upon themselves as individuals, and not as “appendages” nor through their husbands, by the way — are to be denied full access both in heaven and on earth to what Bruce R. McConkie described as “”the power and authority of Deity by which all things exist; by which they are created, governed, and controlled; by which the universe and worlds without number have come rolling into existence; by which the great plan of creation, redemption, and exaltation operates throughout immensity.”

    What is the eternal destiny of women? Is it the same as men? Do we become like Christ? (“In Christ there is no male nor female,” per Gal. 3:28, but that’s not a verse that tends to get cited a lot in General Conference; the “male and female” in 2 Nephi 26:33 is ignored even when the same verse is cited to show that the 1978 revelation about equality of “black and white” is scriptural.) I see a lot of “traditions of men, mingled with scripture” — men who are perfectly happy to define women’s roles for women, but very little that one can attribute to a God described as “no respecter of persons.”

    (“Gender” is a social construct that varies widely even among contemporary societies, and it’s rather a shame that the committee that authored the Proclamation on the Family apparently felt squeamish about using “sex” — the accurate term — in the document.)

    Reply
    • JL

      Sorry, my mistake in saying you said Jesus ordained Phoebe. But I don’t think I quite understood your answer as to Mary. Do you think she was ordained by Christ? If so, I thought he was constrained by his culture? Was he just constrained by his culture as to ordaining women to the office of apostle?

      And the 12 did eventually accept the revelation for gentiles, right? Weren’t they part of the same culture as Christ? If their culture forbid the ordination of women why would they be all right with Phoebe’s ordination? Aren’t the 12 constrained by the same culture as Christ? If they weren’t all right with it, then wasn’t it invalid because whomever ordained her didn’t have the authority? As I recall a lot of the later books/letters of the New Testament were trying to stop apostasies occurring in the various congregations . Was this perhaps an example?

      Modern day prophets and apostles have been pretty clear that women do have full access to Priesthood authority and blessings, ordination is not required for that access. (See Elder Oak’s latest talk)

      While absolute truth and God’s morality does exist, what is “moral” is also a social construct that varies widely even among contemporary societies. Mormon feminist seem to believe that any difference of gender roles is immoral. This is certainly in line with the moral beliefs of our current society, but is it in line with God’s morality? Does he really view different gender roles as to the Priesthood as immoral? Maybe that’s why Christ ordaining only men to be apostles needs no justification, because it was not immoral. Maybe the Proclamation on the Family and Christ’s own action of ordaining only men to the 12 apostles is a better indication as to whether God thinks separate gender roles as to the Priesthood is moral.

      Reply
      • mofembot

        I did not say that Christ ordained Mary. Nor did I say that Christ ordaining only men to be among the 12 was immoral — on the contrary, I believe it was a moral act *given the context of the time and culture* in which women’s position made it impossible for them to serve (at least publicly) as equals with men in Judea. And again, women’s disadvantaged positions in earlier times even in American society made it impossible for them to serve in the same ways as their brethren.

        Such barriers to women being treated as fully adult human beings as men — fully enfranchised, no longer hobbled by fanciful notions of “biology as destiny,” are thankfully being lifted in many places. As currently defined in the US intermountain west, “gender roles” — and I am *not* speaking of the biological roles of father and mother— do not take into account the individual characteristics of those many, many righteous women and men who simply do not fit the stereotypes on which these roles as currently defined rely.

        No Mormon feminist fails to recognize that there are differences between men and women. But the fact of the matter is that apart from biology, there are more differences between two individual human beings, regardless of sex, than there are between the two sexes themselves. And no human being ought to prevented from fulfilling the measure of his or her individual creation simply because of their sex.

        This is the objection: historically and contemporaneously, women’s sex has been and continues to be used as an excuse to refuse them access to being treated as adult human beings who can have the very same aspirations and capacities as men. Such inequality flies in the face of any notion of a just God — particularly when LDS are occasionally reminded (usually on Mother’s Day, and often only via Eliza Snow’s “Invocation, or The Eternal Father and Mother” long since renamed “O My Father” — but I digress)… that our God is a Father and a Mother who work in tandem to further humanity’s immortality and eternal life. (Why their respective roles have been reduced in popular culture to post-war stereotypes, rather than than to working and worshiping side by side as Adam and Eve per the first several verses of Moses… but again, I digress.)

        Although lowering the age for missionary service has staunched the outflow a bit, when the demographics catch up, more YW than YM will again leave the church in droves (and indeed, missionary service may even exacerbate the problem in the long run). Why? Because they cannot reconcile the idea of a God who treats them as lesser than their brothers… and the church’s “separate but equal” position simply cannot respond to those feelings and observations. (It doesn’t help that girls simply are not treated on par with the boys across the board in terms of funding, activities, etc., thus giving even more reason to discount the rhetoric about “equally important” as facile lip-service.)

        Leaving more than half of the adult members of the church without a direct voice in its governance at all levels simply cannot hold forever. Perhaps as with black men and priesthood, we as a church need to be at a point where such a change can occur. Pres. Hinckley didn’t see anyone “agitating” for women’s ordination (although many of us have been studying and discussing and publishing on the matter for years even before his presidency)… but that is no longer the case. Will the current prophet (or a healthier successor) act as Moses did in Numbers 27 and ask God? Or will the church continue to be hobbled because male leaders already think they know the answers, are satisfied with the status quo, and therefore don’t bother asking God? (The brother of Jared comes to mind here.)

        I am interested in your take on Galatians 3:28 and 2 Nephi 29:33.

        [PS: I need to get to work here in France; then I have community choir practice this evening, and then I am driving about 200 miles tomorrow after work to spend Easter weekend at home, so it may be a while before I can respond further.]

  10. mofembot

    Correction to 4th paragraph, second sentence: “{Christ] lived His perfect *life* within the bounds and limits…”

    Reply
  11. TrueFemenist

    Sorry to burst your bubble people, but women will never, EVER get the priesthood. Point blank. Period. Now why don’t we all stop wasting our time discussing this and help out our brothers and sisters in need instead.

    Reply
    • mofembot

      If you believe this, apparently you haven’t been through the temple — or if you have, you certainly haven’t grasped the implications of what women do and receive therein.

      Reply
      • erincita33

        Women are never promised to be Priests. Priestesses, yet. Not Kings, but Queens. Why have different titles if it is the same thing?

        Why were we given different bodies if “equality” means all purposes the same?

        Why are there even 2 genders if there is no difference in nature?

    • amycartwright

      TrueFem(i)nist, the surest way to ensure that something will change is to insist that it will not.

      Reply
  12. erincita33

    Along those lines why do people not protest at the Queen promise? Why does no one say- a King is superior to a Queen, we should all be Kings?

    We DO have different and sacred roles to play in mortal life and in the Kingdom. That is why we are different. If everybody had the same nature and purpose we would all be unisex. The design of our bodies and nature of our spirits IS different. Each from each other but in broad terms men from women. There are variations within each group, but everyone is clearly in one group or the other. If someone is here in the wrong body- their eternal identity is the gender of their SPIRIT. They are one or the other. There can be no neutral child of God. According to my understanding that gender is an essential part of eternal identity.

    Why do we resist this so much? Why do we want to run from our specialness and blend everyone together in a mushy oneness? Why do we not celebrate the differences?

    A friend of mine had a quote that said- The more like a tree a tree is the more like God it is. In all of nature we see differences. Different animals. Different plants. Different kinds of rocks. Different elements. If there weren’t any differences in the elements- there would be nothing.

    Reply
    • mofembot

      It is not “mushy sameness” to insist upon treating people as individuals rather than as members of a category whose generalized characteristics they may not or cannot fit. If God knows and loves us as individuals, surely we would do well to pattern our interactions and our institutions after that same deference to person over category (especially stereotyped categories whose definitions we rarely have a say-so in).

      Reply
      • amycartwright

        Far West Journal,

        This idea that all authority should only be exercised based on one’s reproductive organs is the most arbitrary. My husband and I are far more alike than I am like my neighbour’s wife or my neighbour like my husband. Suggesting that all women are the same and therefore should serve the same function and all men are the same and therefore should serve the same function seems to me the definition of “mushy sameness,” whereas saying that individuals have different gifts that are not necessarily defined along gender binary lines seems to be allowing the greatest opportunity for tapping into our divine nature. Surely if Deborah could prophesy and Barak could seek her counsel, a woman could preside and a man follow. We have scriptural precedent that challenges this idea of divine nature and gifts along the lines of gender, so why do we work so hard to undo that with our language around sex-separate roles that far more resembles the hyper-domesticity of the 1950s than it does ancient scripture?

    • mofembot

      PS: In modern times and cultures, at least, queens and kings are functionally, linguistically, and legally equivalent (as are priests and priestesses). The phrases “to [one’s husband” vs “to God” is problematic, however (but beyond the scope of a response to your assertion here).

      Reply
  13. mofembot

    Far West, even taking into account “leader roulette” (in which some local leaders are more evenhanded than others) t takes a considerable amount of willful blindness not to see the disparity in treatment of women and men (and boys and girls) in the church. There is no “mushy sameness” in desiring that our daughters have equal opportunities with our sons and to enjoy the same level of resources and efforts expended on them as on their brothers. The girls notice the inexcusable differences and the consequences for both them and the church as a whole are grave. As much as many would like to pretend otherwise, the imbalance is real and measurable: http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/category/columns/equality-is-not-feeling/

    I have been a student of the scriptures for well over 50 years now, and I have yet to find a verse in any of our problematically androcentric scriptures in which God has commanded that women be forever placed in the “non-priesthood” category. (Indeed, there are numerous scriptures which point to inclusivity — up to and including the notion of “the priesthood of all believers” and even more pointed ones.) Here is one of the few analyses (if not the only analysis) of women in LDS scripture: http://66.147.244.190/~dialogu5/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V27N02_197.pdf

    OW is following the pattern of the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27: they are asking the authorized leaders to ask God for revelation. The “assumption of revelation” granted to church leaders offering their own opinions is not the same thing, nor is a compromised and flawed document such as the Proclamation — written by committee over the course of many contentious months, by the way — any kind of adequate substitute for the real thing.)

    Reply
    • FarWestJournal

      –Contrarily it takes considerable blindness to see disparate treatment where none exists…much like the race baiters of today who in the name of fighting racism, actually propagated racism in order to remain relevant. Those who understand the doctrines as revealed by God see no disparate treatment, and no inequality in God’s eyes, with any actually different treatment being based solely in God’s divine assignment of roles and not value or equality.
      –The Doves and Serpents link is not helpful in that it is clearly the work of a self-deified human, who admits not knowing what to think about God, while seeking to be the god who gets to decide what equality is and is not. More evidence that the real issue here is not objective equality, but the desire of the OW movement to fire God, and to be their own source of truth. OW is by that means nothing more than a Mormon version of societies move toward relativism, in which as scripture records humans seek to become gods unto themselves. For such who seek to impose weak mortal judgments on God, it would be good to remember Isaiah’s God quote: Isaiah 55:8-9
      –The Dialogue link only serves to remind us why it is a bad idea for humans to attempt to supplant God’s judgment with their own. Dialogue represents many within the Mormon faith who are self-defied and who value human reason, flawed as it is, over revelation, the spirit, and absolute truth. The Pharisees were students of the scriptures for many years and knew them intellectually very well, yet they denied Jesus and sought to kill him. Meanwhile a mere fisherman, who by comparison was a scriptural neophyte, embraced absolute truth and worshiped the true Savior.
      –It seems hypocritical to infer flaws and fraud on the part of Church leaders all the while supporting a cause that seeks to have that same “committee” get a revelation from God. The difference between the Daughters of Zelophehad, and the OW movement is that the former recognized Moses as God’s true prophet and were willing to accept whatever God revealed, while the OW movement will only accept the Church Leadership as inspired, if they get a revelation consistent with the OW women’s private views. They are not asking God what His will is, but telling God what His will should be. They do not want to KNOW truth, they want to BE truth.

      Reply
      • amycartwright

        FarWestJournal–I’m curious how you feel the OW is so different than the request of the Daughters of Zelophehad. If there is a difference on any end, it seems to be the variable of the PR department. The reality is that the Daughters of Zelophehad could go straight to Moses’s tent and request revelation while the women and men who desire for women to be ordained have no such option. Despite requesting audience, despite decades of prayers, despite trying to move the conversation upwards, they have been ignored. Not denied–ignored. There is not a disparate difference between the way the daughters of Zelophehad vs. OW feel about the prophet, the difference is in their access to him. When the PR department becomes the “voice of God,” dictating who gets audience and what messages move higher up and what message is sent to the membership at large, I believe that it’s perfectly reasonable to continue to question things. It would be like Aaron deciding what requests Moses gets to hear based on his own personal biases. Thankfully, the Daughters of Zelophehead didn’t have to go through a third party to get audience with the prophet.

      • amycartwright

        I also want to note that as an active, believing member of the Church who also hopes for women to one day be ordained, I find your characterization quite inaccurate. I am not a-member-of-the-church-so-long-as-women-are-ordained. I’m currently active, participating, and serving despite the fact that women are not currently ordained. I will continue faithful whether or not women are ordained. I believe this is true of the majority of the members of Ordain Women. Please take the time to learn the people and their desires before attempting to simply dismiss them.

      • amycartwright

        Far West Journal,

        Ad hominem attacks display the weakness of the argument on behalf of the one doling them out. Your assessment of OW vs. ZDs is entirely based upon perception. I happen to know the majority of the members of Ordain Women while you do not. I know their hearts and I know their love of God. I know my own heart and motivations. You suggest you know their reasoning and their relationship with God as well as their faith. The reality is that it is not random internet strangers who use aliases who will be my judge in Israel. It is the (currently) men who are called who are my leaders and it is my Lord and Saviour. I am at peace with both.

  14. mofembot

    Far West, you don’t like the statistics that Doves & Serpents’ “Equality is not a Feeling” author has compiled, so rather than check out their accuracy, you attack the messenger? (Statistical compilations are evidence of “self-deification”? Who’d’ve thought?)

    Fine, simply do a little very easy research of your own, then: take a look at what goes on in your own ward or branch’s Primary. How much money is budgeted for the girls? How much is for the boys? How many and what caliber activities do the girls participate in? How about the boys? … In just this one area alone, with almost no exceptions church-wide, the disparities are stark. And they are not trivial matters — they do have a significant impact on member retention and activity rates, especially among YW and older.

    As for the Dialogue article you skimmed, you are welcome to do your own research there, too, to refute the author’s findings and analyses rather than attack yet another messenger whose findings you so clearly dislike. And conveniently enough, the scriptural references and contexts are right there in the text.

    I’ll grant you that ad hominem attacks are far less work. — But on the plus side, reading such always makes me feel grateful that it is the Savior who is our judge — someone who can truly see into people’s hearts, rather than someone who simply thinks they can.

    Reply
    • farwestjournal

      –Actually I like statistics, but I do not worship them. I have learned over time that you can prove whatever you want with statistics, they are, in the pursuit of absolute truth, only marginally valuable at best. It is impossible for those gathering statistics to account for every variable. Attacking statistics therefore becomes a pursuit that seldom leads to anything but battle of figures. On the other hand, pointing out errors in the reasoning process, and the fruits of the OW movement as they are perceived spiritually, is much more effective for those who really want to know the truth. That is why Jesus spent time pointing out the true nature of the scribes and Pharisees, Matthew 23, rather than spending hours in fruitless debates.

      –Those who self deify often claim “research as their God, and I have often replied that revelation trumps research. In this case, given my current leadership assignment, I can tell mofembot that there IS NO DISPARITY in our primary program. Having been in the military and leadership in many areas, wards and stakes, I also should point out that her claim that the disparity is church wide is false, and something she could not possibly know. Even if it were somehow true, the underlying premise is still in error. In other words, it assumes a correlation between money being spent, and the value of the group it is being spent on. If such a premise were true, mofembot could make the argument that food stamps and welfare recipients were the most important and highly valued people in our nation, since that is where the majority of the government spending is placed. Of course such a premise is false, because it excludes other possibilities, like perhaps the greater funds are spent based on real need and not on value of the recipients. For example, what if the Young Women have great, spiritual, powerful leaders and programs, but the young men are suffering. Perhaps there might be a temptation for a concerned Bishop to spend more on the young men, not because they are worth more, but rather because they need it more.

      –I have read enough of both Dialogue and Sunstone magazines, and personally known some contributors and authors, to know by the spirit that they are apostate. The Pharisees had their own scriptural cites, and were the learned ones, but they still rejected Christ. The Spirit, that which revealed the truth of Jesus to the relatively unlearned Peter, is what OW , and all truth seekers should focus on, not some human based, biased, arguments offered in an apostate magazine.

      –It is always strange to me how I am often accused of making ad hominem attacks in blog posts that are just that. It reminds me of those who intolerantly attack others for being intolerant. Thankfully, the Jesus who will judge mofembot, me, and the OW movement, does judge perfectly, and is perfectly able to make the truth about such movements known to the pure in heart. My position is to point out what the spirit has revealed to me, and then to hope that the sincere truth seekers, will not embrace the God of Google, but the real God…..will not choose to place research over revelation, but rather will seek from God to know the truth, and in that way they will be set free from apostate organizations, and flawed human reasoning,

      Reply
  15. farwestjournal

    I am assuming that Amy Cartwright’s reference to ad hominem attacks also includes mofembot’s, the OW Movement’s and her own. I also assume her reference to aliases includes mofembot. It is seldom the case that the philosophically entrenched can be moved by blog posts, but it is also true that the still undecided and sincere truth seeker can be blessed by considering the other viewpoint, and that is really why I post.

    Reply
    • amycartwright

      My reference to ad hominem attacks was directed at those who would call those they do not know or seek to understand apostate, challenge their claim to testimony, or attacking their faith or character as a way to discredit them. These sorts of dialogue do no one any favours and they certainly haven’t seemed to sway people’s opinions. I am one who comes sincerely seeking truth and sincerely seeking answers to my questions and concerns. I’ve said elsewhere that I am not above considering the fact that perhaps I am wrong in believing that women can/should/might be ordained. The reality is that what I see in many of these conversations is lack of substantial arguments as to why women should *not* be ordained and instead a lot of attacking of character and/or faith instead of the issue at hand.

      Reply
  16. amycartwright

    Far West Journal, I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree about the fruits of OW. It was actually the conversation about women’s ordination that brought me back to a place of faith after a terrible faith crisis. I can’t make anyone understand how or why, but I tried to capture a little bit of it in my post last month. If “by their fruits ye shall know them,” then I think OW has really helped a lot of women (and men) to find faith in God and a place at the table once again.

    https://youngmormonfeminists.org/2014/03/15/ordain-women-a-journey-of-faith/

    Reply
  17. amycartwright

    My overall point is this: talk about the issue, not the people. The weakest arguments are ones that attack the person delivering the message rather than analyzing the message itself. I, personally, have spoken with my leaders about my feelings. They do not agree with everything that I feel and say, but they know my heart and know that I am a sincere seeker of truth, not someone in apostasy. Random internet strangers aren’t the ones who get to judge someone’s personal worthiness or testimony. As someone who claims to believe the structure of the church is perfect, it would seem you would be among the first to realize that you cannot determine another’s faith or worthiness unless you are in an ecclesiastical position to do so.

    Reply
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