Perspective and the Ordain Women “Problem”

woman-reading-on-computer-231x300I decided that, once the public action taken by Ordain Women (OW) at the April 2014 Priesthood session of General Conference was accomplished, I’d stay silent about the event. I figured there would be enough people talking about them and probably not enough people listening to them. In the aftermath, I read some very moving posts written by the OW sisters and their male supporters. Surprisingly, during and immediately after General Conference, my Facebook feed was almost absent of OW bashing. I was pleased.

However, about a week after the Priesthood session, a guest post from The Millennial Star, titled “Ordain Women: thanks for nothing” (sic), began appearing in my feed. I looked away the first few times it appeared, but its recurrence demanded I pay it some attention. Everything about that post stood in stark contrast to the things I’d read by OW supporters. It was angry when OW posts were reflective, jubilant, and sad. It was rude when OW posts seemed to go out of their way to forgive. And it was illogical, making claims about OW that were not recognizable to me and assumptions that should have been put on the Naughty Bench rather than online. But I haven’t an interest in discussing, much less debunking, the guest post. Read it here if you haven’t. Instead, I’d like to don my fiction writer/editor’s cap and discuss the difference between point of view (POV) and perspective, why and how that knowledge can help us, and what perspective has to do with the Ordain Women “problem.”

Heading Back to School on Perspective: Thanks to our English teachers, most of us  know the difference between first and third person points of view. But what we rarely get in our literary education is an introduction to the concept of perspective.

Perspective is a subset of point of view. Perspective is what writers are using when they focus the readers’ attention within the constraints of point of view, or under its umbrella. It’s sort of like where a filmmaker points the camera, what s/he draws your attention to. If you think about it, a novelist who is writing a restaurant scene in which two people are in conflict has a huge number of things she could direct your attention to: the stain on the tablecloth, the waiter’s cowlick, the murmur of voices, dishes being dropped, and so on. So many things happen simultaneously, and a good writer selects out the things that will subtly carry a desired meaning or emotion to the reader. In this way, the writer aligns the reader, who began as a detached observer, with the point of view character and his/her emotions, goals and desires. Without perspective, we wouldn’t care about the people in the stories we consume. With perspective, we begin to see the world through the eyes of another.

Of the two concepts, point of view is the easiest to comprehend. We understand that there are many points of view–an American point of view, a Marxist point of view, a libertarian point of view, a progressive point of view–and we have a general idea what these various points of view entail. A person needn’t be LDS to understand a Mormon point of view values family, personal responsibility and accountability, and a commitment to loving and serving others. We understand points of view that are different from our own in broad, stereotypical ways much like we understand in a basic way what it is to eat in a restaurant. It’s an intellectual understanding. Point of view allows a reader to see and comprehend, but perspective is what makes a reader feel and understand in an intimate way.

Perspective as a Life Tool
: Just as intimacy and alignment between character and reader are brought into fiction through the writer’s use of perspective, so it is in real life. In other words, if our goal is to align our hearts with others–especially with those who are markedly different from us–it isn’t enough to be able to tick off the attributes associated with their point of view. We must experience their perspective. We perspective1must look where that person looks and see what they see through their eyes. We must use the tool of perspective to unite our emotions with theirs, the same way a reader’s emotions are united with a character’s through the craft of perspective. Even if that union of perspective is as momentary as the flip of a page, it is essential to establishing the alignment we call brother and sisterhood.

It’s important to remember, however, that a well-crafted narrative changes its readers by broadening their world, not by changing their personal worldview. Acquiring the perspective of those who think differently than we do will not require us to become like them. Instead, it allows us to become better because we know them. This act of sharing another’s perspective is the foundation of Christ-like love. Perhaps its mastery is what makes God God.

The woman who dashed off the guest post in The Millennial Star seems to understand the LDS feminist point of view accepted by Ordain Women. She wrote: “I don’t disagree with OW’s basic tenets. I find their statements that Joseph Smith planned to organize a female priesthood compelling. I’m not against that. Nor am I against the greater influence of women in the church, in addition to the power we already have.”

Unfortunately, these sentences are buried in an avalanche of angry accusations that communicate, to me anyway, that the last thing she wants is a sense of kinship with the people of Ordain Women. It doesn’t sound like she can tolerate them, much less love them. She had an emotional overreaction to a tenet of LDS feminism that she understands intellectually, but was unable to identify with, to2-52 Open bookW feel an alignment with. That emotional overreaction seems to have lead her away from the love our Savior wants us–no, commands us–to have for one another. She has every right to reject any aspect of any world view she doesn’t share. However, she, like the rest of us, has been called to love all of God’s children. We don’t insult, degrade, demean or misrepresent those we love. Nor should we give kudos to those who do.

I know darn well I’ve been as guilty of this behavior as anyone. Those who know me well know it well. When my husband and I dated, he called me his lovely little Sherman tank because sometimes I was so sure of being right that I confused that confidence with being righteous. Add in my love of words and, well, let’s just say you could find several offenses of this nature in the wake of my life. But I’ve learned a few things.

I’ve learned that, in order to love, it isn’t enough to understand different points of view. I need perspective, or, as the cliche goes, “to walk in another’s shoes.” But here’s the trick. It isn’t enough to simply read the perspectives of the members of Ordain Women (or for Ordain Women to read perspectives contrary to their own). Our hearts have to be willing to accept that the other perspective is valid. The validity is found  in the fact that a child of God feels or thinks or experiences something in the manner they are expressing. The validity is confirmed by the knowledge that God loves us all and that He has placed each of us in the life that has made us who we are. Different. The same. All are loved in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and our Savior.

Perspective as a Blessing: I’d like to share a perspective with you, a lovely blog post written by a young Mormon feminist who stood in line for a ticket to the Priesthood session and was refused. If you do not share Ordain Women’s point of view, remember as you read this that perspective is a tool that can align very different hearts. Do not merely step into her point of view; step into her perspective. Do not evaluate whether she is right or wrong according to your thinking. I ask that you feel the emotion in her. It may not be the emotion you have felt in a similar situation (it wasn’t mine), but accept that the emotion is validated by the truth that she is your spiritual sister, a daughter of God, and that He loves her and understands her as much as He loves and understands you.

The question is, can you love her?

Carrying Emilia

By Amy Cartwright

  (originally published on April 14, 2014 at Young Mormon Feminist)

Baby BlessingA 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.blessing

 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.

I’ve had three children receive their infant blessings by my husband while I sat watching. I’ve never once felt any of the things Amy Cartwright speaks of feeling. I never thought to feel envious or shunned, but only happy that the man I love, who didn’t get to carry our children in the womb, got to lay his hands on their heads and bless them. I suppose, had it not been my husband pronouncing the blessing (and I have learned from Amy that her infant daughter would have been blessed by ward members), the likelihood that I would feel envy would rise. But does it matter that I haven’t felt what Amy felt? No. Because, you see, I have felt misunderstood, undervalued, and alienated at other times in my life. Amy is directing my focus in a way that may be foreign to me, but feels so true, so human, so lovely, both in its strength and in its weakness. How can I not love her for all she expresses here? How could a Heavenly Father not love her for the intense desire she has to communicate to her daughter her divine worth? Why would anyone think God would rebuke her for that instead of comforting her? The desire of Amy’s heart may be differently expressed than mine, but her desire for her child’s well-being is the same as my desire for mine. I can’t help but love her.

Many of us–most of us–don’t share Ordain Women’s point of view. We don’t think this way. But we all feel this way. Maybe not about the same things. But opening ourselves to the perspective of others–following their emotional gaze as it were–is what will align our hearts and allow us to love in the way God promises us will lead to joy.

The sister who wrote the guest post in question worries that OW is bringing “bad press” to the Church. I submit that a variety of points of view in any organization is the norm and nothing to fret over, whether or not the press notices. On the other hand, a Church which teaches the love of Christ, but whose members cannot manage it one for another, simply because they differ, is a much greater worry.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt 22: 37-40)




81 thoughts on “Perspective and the Ordain Women “Problem”

  1. amycartwright

    Before the haters come (which, hopefully they just don’t 🙂 ), I actually felt very much the same way as you did, Lisa, after the birth of my son. When my husband held him and gave him a name and a blessing, my heart soared. Emilia’s birth was very, very tough for me. I had prayed and tried with everything in me to have this beautiful natural birth. I had a lot of anxiety about it beforehand and my husband gave me blessing that I would feel like “a woman among women” through Emilia’s birth. After an anxiety-fraught pregnancy and an excruciating labour, I had a terrifyingly emergent cesarean. I was left feeling like a failure. To add insult to injury, my husband was also taking a break from the church. He found himself in a really tough spot where going to church was reopening life-long wounds and just felt that to feel God again, he needed a break. Unfortunately, because of this, our bishop did not allow him to bless her. I was left with the option of asking another man–not one of her parents–to bless her or not having a blessing at all. We chose to go the latter route. It was just too painful to know that neither of her parents could not pray for her blessing or even hold her. I just couldn’t imagine that God would take away the birth I had worked and prayed so hard for AND take away the opportunity for one of her parents to be the mouthpiece of God on such an important day. It threw me headfirst into a faith crisis, one that was largely tamed through a study of women in the early LDS and Christian churches and the incredible experiences they had of serving the Lord in a greater capacity and of healing through the laying on of hands.

    Anyway, your post is beautiful and I thank you for really working to help us all to gain better understanding and perspective. Much love to you!


      1. Rachel

        Yes, thinking is bad.
        Then again, I guess the true question would be a simple one. Is Amy content sitting and enjoying the blessing of or child or not? Not being content, feeling “banned” from holding her child, is envy. Desiring to hold her child when it is a time for her father to hold that child is another piece of coveting. What Amy’s letter describes is coveting. Not being able to enjoy her child’s blessing because she wants something else so bad…I see that as selfish. I wonder how the Lord sees it.
        Look up what CS Lewis about two kinds of people and answer honestly where you see OW fitting in.
        Finally, I see people who go places they aren’t invited and have been asked not to go as disrespectful, but maybe that’s just me.
        I just want to give you some things to think about. I feel sorry for Amy and the devils she’s dealing with, but if the Lord wants them to have the Priesthood more than they already do (as I know of women exercising the Priesthood) then they will have it. They have asked, now is the time for obedience, respect (not going where they’ve been asked not to go) and listening to their leaders.
        Good luck, but don’t let it distract you from other things the Lord would have you do and focus your time and energies on!


    1. Rachel

      Covet: yearn to possess or have (something).
      Amy’s writings are emotional, but stupid in multiple ways. I’m not name calling, I’m stating a simple fact.
      1) She wants a power but doesn’t understand a basic commandment about coveting.
      2) She’s coveting so bad it’s hurting…and the one she’s hurting is herself and in turn her family, because she yearns to possess something. Right or wrong doesn’t make the pain go away. In fact, if it’s wrong for her to want it her pain only grows as she feels slighted and wronged.
      THIS IS WHAT SEPARATES PEOPLE: Some hurt themselves wanting the priesthood while others do suffer for a few moments not being able to hold their child during a blessing, but don’t let it destroy them long term.
      3) She doesn’t understand the priesthood doesn’t come from the church or it’s leaders, it comes from God. They’re talking to the wrong people. If they don’t believe in the church, then the Priesthood his meaningless. If they believe in the church, then they know the leadership gets instructions from Lord, not the Prophet, so all this protesting when they should be on their knees praying shows ignorance.
      I don’t mean to be rude, but instead of whining about what they don’t have, the intelligent thing is to start being grateful for what they do have and seek to understand more.
      Coveting is still a sin and it still hurts them far more than it hurts you or me.
      I apologize if common sense is offensive, but there is a time when “stupid” can be properly used, and when you are sinning while hurting yourself seeking something not yours….if it were an object how many of the Ordain Women would steal it just to try it out? Crazy, I know, but that seems to be the attitude of many.
      The demons of “want” just won’t get out of their heads.


      1. Rachel

        At what point are they going to be obedient to the laws of the Lord and accept His decision? If their prayers haven’t been answered and the intermediary, the prophet, has said, “no”, at what point do they stop rebelling against the Lord and be thankful for what they have? If they don’t have an answer to this, then they have resigned themselves to walk a path other than the one offered and directed by the church to which they claim to be disciples of. I’ve heard plane analogies about this, about being a few degrees off and ending up in a totally different place, and that is what comes to mind with minor things like this that people allow to separate themselves from everything they once believed to be true. In this case it would be because they didn’t get what they want. Truly sad that they only way this ends for so many of them is they get what they want or they walk away because they can’t have everything.
        And if they feel they are being treated less, they are listening to the demons instead of doing, because there is a LOT for a woman in the church, more, in many ways, than a man. Men have leadership, women have everything else, especially teaching their children and being examples for them.


          1. Roberta

            Wow! How fast it turned. I think when the first sentence has the word “stupid” in it, it invalidates what follows, even if a valid response.


        1. hellmut

          QED, Lisa. This is what happens when we allow others to think of us as children. You are enabling judgment and domination. At the same time, you are prohibiting the victims from standing up for themselves.


          1. Oh brother. No. This is what happens when people are allowed to think. I better shut down the comment section entirely in case someone says something judgmental and dominating, like … well, like this.

            Earlier I tried to control what was said here. I’ve repented. People can hang themselves if they want. You included.

            I’m judgmental and dominating… Its a good thing there’s chocolate in the house. I’m going to take my caboose to Mutual and align myself with your perspective … 😉

            And in case you didn’t notice, Kay didn’t sound this way. I hesitated to approve this, but as I said, I decided to let people show their colors.


          2. One more thing. And I think its good news. This particular post that Amy and I share had nearly 4,500 hits before we had a comment like the one above, one that resorts to calling another’s view “stupid.” I’m pleased. The comments have, for the most part, been respectful. I hope that keeps up.

            In truth, I’m not sure how I’m going to handle people who offer up this kind of tone in the future. I’m thinking it over. What I do know is that its not going to be reasonable, within the constraints of my life, to moderate this as fully as some would like. As maybe I would like. Not unless someone wants to pay me a living wage for it. And I don’t think that’s gonna happen. 🙂


  2. The way you felt during this blessing, Amy, is lovely. The insight you add here only makes it more so. We don’t need to experience life the same way to love one another.

    I don’t know what your husband’s “faith crisis” entailed, but it suggests to my mind the notion that maybe men in our culture need their own form of revolution. We (all of us, men and women) are measured by a checklist instead of by our hearts. We tend to be excluded when we doubt. Ironic, isn’t it? When we doubt is when we need most to be included and embraced.

    I predict no haters.


  3. “I submit that a variety of points of view in any organization is the norm and nothing to fret over, whether or not the press notices. On the other hand, a Church which teaches the love of Christ, but whose members cannot manage it one for another, simply because they differ, is a much greater worry.”

    I could not agree more with this statement. Please, people, stop the hatred. We are destroying people we should be loving. We are screaming when we should be listening. This is so much more destructive to our church than any one, ten or even a thousand women asking for the priesthood. Hate-blogging is thousands of times more destructive to our church than are the actions of women who think differently. I’m not one of them, but can’t we just listen and learn instead of rage and yell? I can’t get over the amount of vitriol spread about by women who claim to “unequivocally support the prophet”. Didn’t the prophets tell us to love each other? Or did they encourage us to verbally and cybernetically stone others of our own faith who have different opinions? I think not.


  4. It only took minutes before I had to go and delete some comments made on my FB page in response to this. FTR, I’d like to keep the commentary here, that way if I get accused of saying something (that I *didn’t* say) I can refer them to my original comment. I didn’t call anyone haters. I said there was a lot of “hatred”. That is a true statement, not an opinion, I’m not calling anyone names. The vitriol that I could copy from numerous sites because of this issue could fill volumes. Hatred is destructive. Differing opinions are not. Lisa, maybe you should blog about the definition of the word “malign” next. I think that jumping to any conclusion about “what these women REALLY want” is much like hearing music one cannot understand, and assuming that it’s message is to do drugs and kill people, and therefore, it is bad.

    Some of the things that people are accusing the OW of are getting silly. Reminds me of my kids. When one of them (true story) comes to me and tells me that a brawl broke out simply because, “I saw the way she looked at me and I knew that she was going to hit me, so I just hit her first.”….

    Anyway. Moving on.

    I will say that I anxiously awaited what, if anything, would be said to address this at conference. To me, this quote from Oak’s PH session talk was the most interesting. “With the exception of the sacred work that sisters do in the temple under the keys held by the temple president, which I will describe hereafter, only one who holds a priesthood office can officiate in a priesthood ordinance.” For the first time, it is publicly acknowledged that women use the priesthood in the temple.


    1. Well, women use the priesthood in the temple in a tag team sort of way. The thing about all these negative voices is that they’d change their tune on a dime if the first presidency offered them the priesthood.

      This post, in a way, shames those who get angry and people don’t like that. We are emotional creatures. It was very tempting to attack the MS post because I had an emotional reaction to it. You’ve probably noticed that its women who seem more likely to get worked up over this. May have something to do with my observation that LDS women are encouraged to be emotive rather than rational (and women tend to that anyway). But emotion darn near equals spirituality in some cultural ways.

      Maybe I will spend some time on logical fallacy, particularly the slippery slope. Good idea, Rebekah. You come on back anytime, you hear. It seems we think alike.

      And thanks for being brave enough to share this. Stay loving.

      And speaking of brave, isn’t Amy an amazing young woman to so publicly share intimate feelings she knows will be scorned? Well, not here. Here I celebrate brave women with big hearts. You included.


  5. hellmut

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” Mahatma Gandhi.

    Congratulations! Aggressive and angry responses show that you are almost there.


  6. Laura

    It is really interesting to hear about all perspectives, I appreciate that. My personal perspective is one of concern for those in the Ordain Women group. I don’t hate them, of course not! We shouldn’t do it and I have not seen much hate spewed other than members expressing a lot of frustration, dissatisfaction and disappointment (which sadly has been called “hate” or “judgement”). I have looked at the OW facebook page and from my perspective, the OW side is sarcastic and rude and snarky towards those who question them. I am saddened by those of the OW group who are calling those who stand with the Church as judgmental. Perspective and tolerance is two sided.

    Also, and most importantly, perspective is eternal. When we have an eternal perspective, we realize that this life is not completely understood and all answers will come in the next life. For now, however, it is our responsibility as active, faithful members of the Church to follow our Church leaders with faith–not finding holes or things to look for to criticize.

    There are many times over the course of the year when I get to raise my hand, pledging to sustain the leaders the Lord has chosen for us. There is great beauty and wisdom in this process. It gives perspective and is eternal.

    When I sit down and engage in General Conference, I listen to my leaders with a desire to learn more. Why? Because I voted to sustain them, and have a spiritual witness that they are who they claim to be.

    Because of those two things, I am able to accept their teachings with an open heart, and a desire to figure out how to apply the counsel it in my life.

    If I lack this witness, and a sustaining heart, I will listen with a jaded ear, a jaded perspective – searching for things I can disagree with, and ways to excuse myself from following their counsel. Instead of agreeing with the principles they teach, I will find fault, murmur and share my discontent.

    There are many voices out there who are more than happy to lead us.

    Thankfully, the voices we can trust will be front-and-center, and we just heard then a few weeks ago at General Conference.


    1. hellmut

      That would be fine, Laura, but I am afraid that it is irresponsible to follow people who hurt our gay children and neighbors today and who have discriminated dark skinned people for generations.

      In the end, God will ask us what we have done with our talents and we cannot hide behind the brethren when we support those activities. We all have the light of Christ and can tell the difference between right and wrong.

      Unfortunately, what the brethren do is often narrow minded and harmful to others. At that point, we can choose whether we follow Christ or follow mortals.


      1. San Tan Heights

        Hellmut, thank you for your response to Laura. Beautifully put. I love the point that we are taught that we are accountable for our own works and that is why some of us deviate from the mainstream line of thinking within the Church yet stay in the Church.


      2. Laura

        “Unfortunately, what the brethren do is often narrow minded and harmful to others. At that point, we can choose whether we follow Christ or follow mortals.”

        Really? Wow. I’m having a hard time understanding how you could possibly be in the church and feel this terribly about our church leaders. Apostles and Prophets are special witnesses of Jesus Christ unto all the world. I couldn’t imagine any active, converted member of the church and actually state what you just described above. Frankly, I am shocked and saddened at this mentality.

        I love and sustain our prophet and apostles. I couldn’t imagine being a member and NOT sustaining them. I also cannot imagine sitting in a temple recommend interview and having the question about whether I sustain our prophet and apostles, and have that attitude that you just described above. I just don’t see it. I don’t see how someone could actually feel so critically of them and their words.

        We have a prophet of God here on this earth and twelve apostles. I sustain and support them. What will matter most in the end when we meet the Savior and make an accounting of our words and actions in this life? Will you be as proud to stand by those above statements then? Or will He be severely disappointed in such criticism of His apostles and prophets? Just hypothetical questions.


        1. hellmut

          It’s more important to me, Laura, how I treat my neighbors. That seemed to be Christ’s priority. So if I have to choose between following the brethren by discriminating my gay relatives and neighbors, for example, or following Christ by loving my neighbors, I gladly speak up for my neighbors.

          I think that God will be OK with that.


  7. At the risk of being accused of being an “angry voice,” let me add a little perspective that seems to be lacking in your post. I think you overreact in your conclusion and make some assumptions that are uncharitable and unsupportable. You see only hate on one side and love on the other, but as someone who has watched this very closely, there is plenty of hate and love and both sides of this issue. It gives the appearance that you aren’t taking a balanced approach to proclaim such a contrast, and it isn’t quite so simple.

    You hold up Amy’s hurt and pain as something we should try to understand and empathize with, but the hurt and pain OW is causing to others through their actions doesn’t seem to be worthy of understanding. Likewise, it never crosses your mind, or you never mention it if you did, that most of us who oppose OW are more keenly concerned about the individual souls of the members of OW than you care to acknowledge. Many of us are also keenly concerned about the souls of those who might be tempted to join the OW crowd and weaken their ties to the Church as a result.

    You see, OW women says on the one hand “we’re faithful, believing sisters who support the brethren;” and then they say on the other hand “we believe that the entire Church is wrong on this issue of fundamental doctrine, and has been since the earliest days, and the brethren clearly aren’t talking to God about this or they would agree with us.” It has nothing to do with whether or not ordination may be in the cards at some future date, it has everything to do with steadying the ark and refusing to follow the lead of the Church. This type of activity generally leads people out of the Church, and I’m concerned about people who will follow them out of the Church.

    Having said that, I don’t hate anyone at OW. I do hate some things about their movement and what they are doing. I think that their activities fall within the Church’s definition of apostasy and that their local leaders should call the leadership of the group (at least those that are, or are still, members of the Church to begin with) in for disciplinary hearings as a result. I’m not alone in this belief. This is not a result of any hate of any individuals.

    Please don’t make the overly simplistic assumption that opponents of OW hate individual members of OW simply because they disagree with their ideas and their methods. Please don’t be so close minded about individuals so as to judge their feelings about people by their feelings about those peoples’ actions and words.


    1. Thank you for commenting, Michael. I have, in fact, come across OW supporters who are snippy. Some of them, in fact, have been snippy with me. Not so much here on the blog, but out in the FB world. The thing is, I stopped worrying about whether or not other people are “falling away” a long time ago. Their relationship with God is their concern. That’s not to say I don’t care. I care greatly. But I have no way of knowing how God may or may not be working with a fellow human being. People have worried about me, for instance, because I’ve read deeply in church history. They were wasting their time. What I read lead to a strengthening of my testimony, but that’s a story for another day. My point in this and other similar posts is that we remain civil to one another and loving, that we make the attempt to find the good and noble in our sisters and brothers. OW is not a front for Satan. I reject that thinking. No matter what issue an individual has with the gospel, the Lord, or our leaders, salvation is their’s to work out. I just want to encourage members, who in this case are the majority, to be careful that we don’t become the stumbling block that trips any of our sisters and brothers so that they fall out of the church. That’s my responsibility. To help the Church organization and culture become inclusive enough so that those who have questions, doubts or “issues,” will stay. I don’t think we help anyone stay if we don’t make the effort to understand.

      I appreciate the tone of your comment. You speak for many members. Please come back and chime in again.


    2. amycartwright

      Michael, I’m concerned by this dichotomy that was constructed, “You see, OW women says on the one hand “we’re faithful, believing sisters who support the brethren;” and then they say on the other hand “we believe that the entire Church is wrong on this issue of fundamental doctrine, and has been since the earliest days, and the brethren clearly aren’t talking to God about this or they would agree with us.”

      I guess I just don’t see the world in black and white anymore, but in a lot of colour. I don’t think the Brethren are wrong, I just think that without strong female voices in the highest levels of leadership, there’s some perspective that is lost. I don’t believe anyone sincerely seeking truth is wrong or right. I think we all have a measure of truth, a degree of the Whole, and that together, we come to greater understanding. I don’t see my involvement with OW as well as my continued activity in the Church to be in conflict with one another. Instead, I think that as a member with different thoughts, opinions, experiences and insights, the Church is made stronger for working to understand that perspective, and I am made stronger by working to understand more orthodox perspectives. At the heart of the entire conversation, at least in my mind, is this belief that there are opposing sides of the conversation vs. different degrees of the same conversation–all of which are needed for us to gain greater understanding.

      My greatest concern, however, is this suggestion that your opinion should thus punish all of the women who are currently active in the Church whose thoughts align with Ordain Women. I have seen many, many women and men who have 1) come to be intrigued about the church (in a GOOD way) because of Ordain Women. In a lot of ways, I think this may be an incredible missionary opportunity for those for whom complementarian rhetoric and rigid gender roles feel so incredibly wrong in their soul. This is a conversation that is happening not only in Mormon circles but in the world in general. We are watching a revolution happen as women are working to claim power as equals throughout every corner of the world. People are inspired to see that happening in the Mormon community as well. Which brings me to 2) this has been an incredible retention effort. When women do not feel so alone for having their opinions and feelings regarding gender roles in the Church, they feel there is space made for them as well. I find Ordain Women is doing a lot to reach out a hand to those who are trying to navigate the borderlands and are saying, “you are not alone. Please, stay. Do not make our faith weaker by leaving but help us in building Zion.” Punishing these women for reaching out hands to those who would be leaving anyway (we should note that those who are joining OW are not ones who are firm and happy in the traditional Mormon box. It would be incredibly misguided to suggest that those women would be led “astray.” The ones OW are reaching are the ones who would have been on their way out anyway and instead, are finding a way to stay. In that respect, I believe OW (and Mormon feminists in general) should be applauded as one of the greatest missionary/retention efforts we have seen in years.


      1. davidsonlaw

        Amy, I appreciate your comment. The difference in our perspectives seems to be in the nature of truth, or perhaps “THE” truth. Often we hear about people seeking their truth, as if something that is true to them, individually, is just as true as something which is contradictory to something that is true to someone else. I don’t agree that truth is a matter of perspective, though I agree that our perspective colors our interpretation of the truth. I accept that my perspective of truth is limited by my finite perception and wisdom. The only individual to whom I have access that doesn’t suffer from these limitations is God. Even then, the ability I have to hear and understand answers I get from God is largely dependent on how receptive I am to Him, which in turn is largely related to the care and attention I am putting into being in tune with Him.

        I set up the dichotomy the way I did with some thought for two reasons. First and foremost, because there is a tension between supporting the leadership of the Church as inspired on the one hand and demanding on the other hand that certain doctrines, practices and policies be changed on the other. If we define faithful members of the Church, at least in part, as those that sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 as prophets, seers and revelators, then it isn’t up to the regular, ordinary members of the Church, like you and me, to make demands and ultimatums. To make demands, no matter how well intentioned, is to say that First Presidency and the 12 are not capable to guiding the Church properly. It suggests that the members and leadership of OW believe that their wisdom is greater than that of the Church’s leadership. To a faithful member of the Church, this is tantamount to suggesting that OW believes that its wisdom is greater than what has been revealed by God.

        I don’t think that you would see it quite that way. You suggest that through the merging of female and male perspectives, a greater light is shone on truth. I would still disagree, in that the search for truth isn’t profitable done simply by a collaboration of multiple voices of imperfect and fallible humans, no matter the diversity or quantity. The search for truth is best pursued through appeals to God, and where God has set up the Church, and guides it certainly at the highest levels and broadly at the local levels (where the leaders are wise enough to listen), we can be assured that God doles out enough truth and to spare.

        I am a bit skeptical about your suggestion that OW is a retention effort. To the extent that I am correct in my reading of OW as not truly being supportive of the brethren, and don’t sustain them as prophets, seers and revelators in word and deed, then OW is undermining one of the foundations of the Church, at least in the minds of those who are persuaded by what OW is saying. If the brethren continue on as they have, or in the vein of Elder Oaks’ conference talk, which is most likely, then the rank and file in OW will be faced with a pretty profound question. They will have to say, “I may not like it, but they are the Lord’s anointed,” or “they’re wrong, but I’ll bite my lip,” or “I’m out of here,” or “am I missing something? Do I need to adjust my thinking?” It seems to me that any gains in membership (or a reduction in attrition) will be short lived. People who care about these things more than other matters will realize, sooner or later, that Kate Kelly is on a quixotic quest. Once that realization settles in, they’ll have to ask, “what now?” If people are coming to the Church or staying in the Church based on a vision set forth by OW, if that vision doesn’t come to fruition then there’s nothing there to hold them. Missionary work and retention work have never been about saying whatever is necessary to get people in the door, it has always been about bringing people to Christ and getting their foundation there. Anything else is just not sufficient.


        1. amycartwright

          I guess at the end of the day, Michael, you and I just have very different approaches to the gospel. Liahona vs. Iron Rod. I believe that all of us walk around this planet with finite minds and limited understanding, even those in the offices of prophets and apostles. I don’t believe I know more than they do, but I do believe that I’ve had experiences that they have not, and they experiences that I have not. I cannot adopt a position of prophetic infallibility (nor do I believe that at its essence, the gospel requires us to do so). In fact, I would suggest that it’s a very low-level form of spirituality to suggest, “when the prophet has spoken, the thinking is done.” For many, many years, this was my way of thinking and frankly, I just read too much church history and scripture to believe that anymore. My faith had to change to remain.

          I recognize the current 15 men who lead this church as very inspired. I believe they are the only ones authorized to lead the church. I do not believe them to be infallible, which is why we are all needed to build Zion and to bring our insights, experiences, and spiritual witnesses–not to solely to confirm what these 15 men have stated, but to add and expound upon them. When the church was smaller and more intimate, this seemed to be the understood structure of revelation-getting. It wasn’t so much, “what does the Prophet say?” but “We have this concern, we see this problem, we offer this solution. Could you please see if God has anymore to expound upon that?” But today we believe prophets and apostles as harbingers of tradition and protectors rather than prophets, seers, and revlators.

          I believe in an expansive gospel and an expansive God, not one that is limited. In the end, I don’t really feel it does anyone any favours to shut down the conversation around Ordain Women. It forces Mormonism into a smaller space, a smaller understanding of God. Maybe I am wrong for believing women should be ordained. If that’s the case, I still believe that as one traversing the planet and continually working for understanding and spiritual knowledge, that it does better to engage in the conversation than it does to simply put me in time out for asking questions and following as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated a few conferences ago, being “as candid about my questions as [I] need to be.” I continue to revel in President Uchtdorf’s pronouncement that there is room for me here. I revel in a God and in a faith that can be incredibly expansive, that isn’t afraid of questions, that isn’t afraid of change or women asking if there isn’t a greater role for them in the governance of the church.


  8. Marie

    I agree that there is too much anger. In fact I’m so tired of this topic because I feel like it has caused a lot of contention and both sides share the blame. Of course, it is always the most outspoken ones who tend to claim to speak for a whole group; which is where I think a lot of misconception and hurt comes from. I thought that your article took a great approach to reminding us to not only see something from a point of view but also from the other perspective.

    I will say one thing that I thought while reading the excerpt you published from a member of OW movement. If these women want the priesthood they need to learn more about how the priesthood works. As I was reading the thoughts/blessing of this mother I saw a lot of “I bless” and I constantly see a lot of “I want” in many of the movement’s commentary. What she wanted for her child was beautiful. However, a priesthood blessing is not about what “we want” to say. It’s about the inspiration that we receive from Heavenly Father and what He wants to bless our children or us with. I have a good friend who recounted to me that when her husband was blessing their youngest child he wanted to bless her to be able to find a worthy spouse to be sealed to in the temple but he felt compelled not to. That there were blessings that his youngest wasn’t going to receive in this life. And so he left out so much of those adult life blessings like children, etc. I realize that there are also men who currently hold the priesthood that also need to learn about their priesthood duties and responsibilities (but that’s one of the reasons for priesthood sessions and meetings on ward and stake levels right?) I just think for all of the reasoning of showing church leaders and the Lord that they are desirous enough to ask there is that other effort of being desirous enough to become educated about the priesthood and how to administer in the Lord’s way. It’s something that we can all learn. How to receive spiritual promptings from the Lord and do things how He would have us do them, not just how we think it should be done. That’s a little of what Elder Oaks meant, I think, in his talk. That we have that authority to receive revelation and guidance for our calling. We can now serve others the way He would have us do.


    1. Marie, I literally felt the spirit wash through me as you spoke of the brother who withheld naming certain blessings for his child. How difficult–and moving–that must have been.

      As one who writes posts, I want to point out that we writers can’t say everything that we want to say in the relatively short bursts of words we send into the world. I suspect Amy understands that the blessings come from Heavenly Father, though she didn’t say that specifically. The post was about her pain and longing to be an instrument in the hands of God. I’m sure she, like the rest of us, understands that she is an instrument without the priesthood. And yet there is that longing in her … To me, it sounds like a longing to be closer to Heavenly Father, not farther away. I doubt He begrudges her such a longing and I trust He will comfort and guide her. As well as the rest of us.


      1. Marie

        I am sure that you are right Lisa. Like you said in your post, I think that we can all think of a time when we have had similar feelings though perhaps about a separate issue and understand where these sisters are coming from. I am sure that many of us can think of something that we have had to gain a testimony of in terms of gospel principles. It is easy to judge a person who has a hard time following gospel principles that come easy to ourselves and yet we expect understanding in our weaknesses. I am truly grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who can truly understand our challenges and bring us peace and comfort.

        Thanks for offering me this reflection on Amy’s words as well. I’m sure if we tried to write footnotes to clarify each statement when writing we would constantly be working on novels to express our ideas.


  9. Amy is very brave to share her feelings about this. I think that many women identify with it, whether or not they care to admit it. I think that this is just the way it has been done for so many years that we just accept it, because it IS.

    Every time I have a baby and he/she is consequently blessed, I feel the same. I wish that there was some way I was included. I know that it seems silly to feel ‘excluded’, but it is exclusionary to have to hand over your child and not be allowed to be anything other than another spectator during this sacred event.

    I don’t understand why the big deal. I don’t. Does holding a child during a blessing make it no longer valid in the eyes of God?

    I had a friend tell me that he couldn’t believe that a woman would cry over this. Pretty understandable, actually. You have a woman who has spent nine long hard months (more, if you are like me and got super sick with shingles afterwards) culminating in a hard, painful process that is more difficult than most men can really understand. The hormones and the exhaustion are enough to make lots of women cry without being given bad news. Then you tell her that not only can her husband not bless the child, but she can’t so much as hold her own child while she’s being given a name and a blessing? The emotion and disappointment are understandable.

    To me, this just sounds like one more thing that we’ve always accepted because it hasn’t been done, (like not letting women pray in General Conference) and I’m left wondering (probably along with a lot of other people) why this is even an issue. Why shouldn’t a woman be allowed to hold her own child while it is being given a blessing? As a very young child, I remember several times when my mother held me and my father and home teachers gave me a blessing when I was ill. Does this mean that blessing was never valid, because my mother was holding me during it? Is a woman’s touch really so offensive? Make no mistake, that is the message that the church is sending when they refuse to just let a woman hold her baby during a baby blessing. It seems a bit paradoxical in a church that claims that women have no higher calling than that of a mother.

    BTW, it’s taken all of the self control I have not to pass on several personal anecdotes proving my point, but they are singular examples of misunderstanding and do not really paint the church I love in a good light, so I’m refraining.


    1. Melissa

      Rebekah, I have followed this very closely and read all the information I could get my hands on, just so I could get a better perspective. It seems to me that wanting to hold your baby during it’s blessing would be more of a change in policy, not a doctrinal change. Maybe no one has ever asked for this policy to change. Instead of using this as a reason to obtain the priesthood,and changing doctrine, why not leave the Priesthood out of it and just ask for a policy change? I have never cared that these women want the Priesthood, however, I have questioned some of their tactics in “agitating for it”, therefore I could never support the movement.


      1. Ms. Reynolds

        Melissa, I am grateful that you have read a lot about this issue. I have found when discussing OW that so many people have heard a few snippets and form their opinions without a lot of knowledge. Let me address your point about a policy change versus a doctrinal change. The truth is, there are so many policies that exclude women and could be changed without doctrinal changes. I will include a link to a list of those at the bottom. The point for me, as a faithful LDS woman who belongs to OW, is that these policies were made, which exclude women, because no women were there when the decision was made. Men, even apostolic, righteous men, can never understand a women’s perspective so it is wrong to me that all major decisions concerning finance, theology, doctrine and policy are made without a woman’s voice. She might be consulted, but she will never be able to make the decision. It is because of that exclusion that I think a doctrinal change of female ordination is necessary. We need the priesthood to share the authority and voice, or we will always be subject to exclusionary policies.


        1. Melissa

          I completely and utterly disagree with you that an apostolic righteous man can never understand a woman’s perspective. If they have a stewardship over me they absolutely will receive inspiration and revelation for me and be able to understand my perspective. The spirit doesn’t communicate my perspective to only a woman, because I am a woman. If an apostolic righteous man desires to see things from a woman’s perspective, I believe it absolutely can be done. If the authority and voice are coming from a servant who is called of God, I really don’t care if the servant is a man or woman. They will have the spirit to guide them and they will do what the spirit tells them to do.


          1. Molly Mormon 2.0

            Melissa, the question begs then, why only men who serve in these callings? If men can understand a woman’s perspective then the reverse should be true–that women can understand a man’s perspective. Why, then, would the only perspectives that are consistently available at all levels of leadership be male? Why not have women in those roles?

            This is a tricky issue. On the one hand, we believe that it doesn’t matter if the vessel is male or female, truth is truth. On the other hand, we suggest that those positions, offices, and keys be held by men because that is God’s role for men and a woman’s is different. Different roles, different perspectives, different needs, etc. It’s incredibly tricky when we divide issues down gender lines one moment and then blur the line the next.


          2. Melissa

            Molly Mormon, of course a woman can understand a man’s perspective! That, however, is not the qualifier for receiving the priesthood. Right now, and since the BEGINNING, the qualifier was that you were a worthy male. And God also had to want to give it to you. I am going to go back to what I stated earlier, a lot of these changes could very easily be POLICY changes. This doesn’t have to be tricky. We don’t have to kill this issue with overthinking. It is very simple. Women do not have the priesthood because GOD has not given it to them. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. Does there need to be policy changes? Absolutely! Do women need the Priesthood here at this time, to ensure the Plan of Salvation, so that everyone can make it back to Heavenly Father, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Truth is never a tricky issue. I love this quote by Einstein,” If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”


          3. amycartwright

            Melissa, the current narrative in our church about who holds priesthood and the importance of offices is not as constant as commonly believed. It was an in-depth study of the priesthood through both a biblical and an LDS historical lens, that helped me to see that our current rhetoric about how priesthood is confirmed as well as the use of it is quite reductive. I absolutely believe there are women who have “held the priesthood” and I think that Elder Oaks’s most recent conference talk is the beginning of a very important and more expansive conversation on the matter. I don’t believe that is the end of the conversation however (as some would suggest) but the beginning.


          4. Melissa

            Amy, I would absolutely love to read this information, if you have sources. As for now that is not taught doctrine in the LDS Church, so like you say, it is YOUR belief. On a purely factual basis, women in this day and age cannot hold the priesthood and if God wants to change this I believe he will reveal this to his current Prophet.


          5. amycartwright

            Melissa, I can’t quote to everything but one really good blog post that shows how priesthood administratin has changed throughout the history of the LDS church is this post

            Note, I wasn’t pushing back on the statement that today women do not hold priesthood offices, simply pushing back on the statement that it has always been so.


          6. amycartwright

            “Can’t quote to everything”…ugh, so much mommy brain today. I cannot *link* to everything. Right now, that is, as diapers await me 😉


      2. I’m not OW, but it looks like they have responded below to say why they are doing what they are doing.
        I am a faithful lifelong member who has experienced a LOT of gender bias from the church (and when I say this, I am referring to the culture and policies of the church).I could give numerous examples. I’m tired of being treated like a woman. I’d like to be treated like an equal.

        I’m not personally advocating for ordination. I do feel however, that this bias towards women is so strong, so ingrained in almost every part of our LDS culture that it will take some major action to remove it, not just a minor policy change here or there. We need a major change in how we view and treat women.


        1. Melissa

          Rebekah, it is amazing to me how people can have completely different experiences in this church. I never realized many felt like this. I have never felt any gender bias in any ward I have been in, and I have been in a lot. It is my hope that the good that will come out of the OW movement will be major policy change. It looks like it is already happening. I don’t think it will happen overnight, but I am glad to see it happening.


    2. Nick Crilley

      Rebekah wrote: “Every time I have a baby and he/she is consequently blessed…I wish that there was some way I was included. I know that it seems silly to feel ‘excluded’, but it is exclusionary to have to hand over your child and not be allowed to be anything other than another spectator during this sacred event.”

      Rebekah, and all other potential moms and dads, I respectfully suggest that you counsel with your husband BEFORE the blessing is given and encourage your husband to write down both of your inspired feelings together. Your husband can then pronounce the blessing you have written together, as led by the spirit. That way 1) you can be certain that the sacred promptings you’ve received for your child are reflected in the blessing pronounced upon the child jointly and 2) the child will always have a copy of the sacred, tender blessings that their Heavenly Father extended to them at the hands of their beloved mortal stewards. As is nearly everything in the Church, we’re better together even, in the “simple things.”


  10. EM

    Thanks for writing this! In my work as a therapist with a full substance abuse caseload, I have come to the same conclusion. In order to help, in order to make progress, in order to be a more complete person, we need to understand that what other people are experiencing is just as real and important to them as what we are experiencing is to us, even if we’re a world apart. I don’t have to agree with everything my clients say. But if I can’t follow their thoughts and feelings and experiences, I’ll never be able to help them.

    Outside of the clinic, I don’t have to agree with either OW or its opponents. But I believe that if they and I can’t have REAL empathic understanding for each other, then progress and harmony are impossible


    1. Exactly! Thank you for chiming in with this analogy. I’m not asking anyone to accept or agree with OW any more than you would ask someone to become a drug addict … Whoa! To my friends, at OW: I AM NOT COMPARING A DESIRE FOR FEMALE ORDINATION TO DRUG ADDICTION! … You get my point.


  11. I read Amy’s post several days ago and was moved to tears by its open honesty and loving spirit. To now have the sense of “perspective” is a further blessing in my life. I left the church many years ago but am a firm supporter of OW. Thank you, Lisa, for your words of reason and understanding. It would be great to gain more supporters for the cause, but it must begin with a willingness to understand–on both sides.


    1. Of course I have no idea why you left the church, but I hear so often from others who have left that they felt the membership was cold and exclusive. My experience has not been like that, but I’m (as I say in this post) kind of a tank about some things. I bull through where others are walk away. If Heavenly Father wants us all in the fold, then we need to broaden our emotional, spiritual and social support system. The problem is, you can’t organize that kind of support the way you organize welfare. Visiting and home teaching can that emotional, spiritual or social support system, but only IF the individual teacher has this stuff figured out. Its a lot easier to hand out canned food than gain to gain a loving perspective. 🙂


  12. Kay

    Thank you Lisa for your thoughtful response. I feel much the same way. I don’t agree with the OW movement or it’s methods but I don’t hate them.
    So are we to sit by and watch without voicing a concern for what we are seeing from our perspective or do we do what is courageous and let them know how we feel? Sadly if we share how we feel we are instantly branded haters or judgmental. If I were to look up and see my child playing on the train tracks with a train just coming into view would it be hate filled to shout out a warning to him? Would talking to him about why it was dangerous and helping him to stay safe be seen as judgmental?
    This is a very dangerous pathway that many of these Sisters are on and I believe we will be held accountable if we fail to signal a warning to them and urge them to safety. If doing so means being called names but reaching even one or two then so be it. — Sincerely, a “Hater” who loves these Sisters


    1. Nothing you say here sounds hateful. The Millennial Star guest post, however, sounded hateful. The writer may not hate OW, but her tone and manner of speech should not be condoned, nor should The Millenial Star have published such a sarcastic and derisive piece. I don’t agree that all who “signal a warning” are being branded haters. Nor do I agree that OW is rippling with people about to fall into apostasy. We need to be careful–all of us–that we don’t cross certain lines.


    2. hellmut

      “If I were to look up and see my child playing on the train tracks with a train just coming into view would it be hate filled to shout out a warning to him?”

      Kay, Ordain Women are not your children. They are not yours. They are not children. They are your peers.

      When you tell another adult: “This is a very dangerous pathway that many of these Sisters are on and I believe we will be held accountable if we fail to signal a warning to them and urge them to safety,” it is domineering and condescending.

      It is, of course, very well possible that you are right and they are wrong. If that is what you want to say, do not think of those who you disagree with as children or as your possession. You are not our mother. Please, stop acting like it.

      Without respect, you will never be able to appreciate other human beings who think differently than you.


  13. Anne

    This was a great post. This is a topic that I’ve wrestled with since I was a teenager. I am still figuring out exactly where I stand on everything but I love reading the different perspectives and stories from other women in the faith. Thank you both for sharing your voices.


  14. Folks, as much as I hate to censor–and I really do–I just had to take two comments down because they contained an interaction in which one person basically “explained” what another person truly meant, based on his/her word selection. It’s not fair to trap people like that and to distort their intent to prove a point. I don’t like it when people tell me what I think, and I’m sure no one else does, either. That said, its fair game, I suppose to do that to me. I’m a professional writer. I can take it. But do not do it to my guests. Thank for your co-operation.


    1. hellmut

      You can do on your blog as you please, Lisa, but I find it problematic when you expect people to tolerate it when others treat them like children.


  15. Kay

    Lisa your Blog your rules but I would ask that my first post be removed if I’m not to be allowed to explain myself nor defend myself to the personal attack from Hellmut. If she is allowed to change my meanings and call names then I should be able to clarify or defend, other wise it is just an attack. I find this very ironic given what this post started as. My comments were neither hateful nor judgmental and I believed I was allowed to share my perspective here safely. seeing as how that is not going to be the case please remove my posts. Thank you.


    1. hellmut

      I am afraid that referring to other adults as your children is actually judgmental. I respect your opinion but it is uncivil to establish a parent-child relationship with those who disagree with you.


      1. I’m going to let this post, but this is the kind of comment I hope we can steer clear of. I figure at this point, I better allow an example of what I want us to avoid.

        Hellmut, Kay did not intend to refer to OW or feminists in general as children. She made an analogy and, not being accustomed to having someone use her own words to trap her, she opened herself to this sort of intellectualization. But its unfair.

        What is fair, however, is to call attention to the fact that her choice of analogy could be interpreted to place women and children on equal footing. I suspect she never noticed that and that it is far from her intent. It is not the spirit of her comment. Calling attention to the way we use words is fine, but arguing that she is judgmental because of the analogy is out of bounds.

        Thanks for your future co-operation.


        1. hellmut

          I am sorry, Lisa, but it is a disrespectful statement for which Kay should assume responsibility. Instead you are burdening those whom she disrespects.

          That is unethical.


          1. I stand on the claim that this is a word game. As I said, you are welcome to point out that a person’s words may have meaning beyond what they intend. Furthermore, I suspect that those you think she is disrespecting with her unfortunate analogy are grown-up enough to handle it. You needn’t defend them at the expense of another.


          2. Kay

            Please feel free to read the words “child playing” as “sister standing”. The intent is %100 the same.
            It is a sentiment of compassion for those who are hurting. I should know I made the statement and I have been there myself.


          3. My apologies, Kay. There was no foul in your self-defense. I made a call to take them both down because, if I took his down, yours made no sense. Then I made another call to let Helmutt’s return. I hoped you’d come back. I sort of muddied my own waters, but his tone in his repost is slightly better. Slightly.

            Look, folks, what Helmutt is arguing is a logical fallacy: Person warns child. Person warns woman. Therefore, the woman is a child. … Um, what? Two warnings. Not one.

            Maybe I need to just let people hang themselves. I’m learning here, folks


    2. Kay and Hellmut, I understand what both of you are saying, and while Hellmut’s logic was a bit of a jump, I think I can understand why. I’m not defending him/her, but let me just share this thought. Kay, if you have been on any number of sites that are discussing this topic (the “problem” of OW) then you maybe have had a chance to see just how many people out there who really are spreading a LOT of bad feelings.
      Here are a few random comments:
      “they should be ashamed of themselves, no respect for sacred property, and I’d better stop here before I say something I shouldn’t say”
      “My very very immediate thought was that they should be disfellowshipped”
      ” I believe that satan takes advantage of groups like this and uses them as a vessel”
      “I hope they have enjoyed their 15 min. of fame..they can never again say they love their religion”
      ” They should be released from any calling involving the youth”
      “You either jump board and accept the gospel the way it is or jump out”

      Sooooo…. I am just wondering now if you’ve seen this much meanness spewed out during your reading. Because I have, and I am shocked that it has produced “faithful” members to behave so hatefully. You first aligned yourself by calling yourself a “hater”, but is this how you truly feel? I know you may be worried about them and I can appreciate that. If you are worried about them, I’m thinking the best thing you can do is to also try to be a bridge and just listen and hear where they are coming from.

      I don’t know if you have ever done anything that other people might also consider “wrong” (my guess is yes, since you are likely mortal and likely have sinned like the rest of us) but how helpful would it be to have thousands of people on the internet screaming judgmental phrases and telling you that if you can’t live the gospel up to their standards you should just leave…. ? Would you find that it had been super helpful? Would you find it helpful at all if a friend of yours saw a flaw and decided to tell you all about it and try to “teach” you to be better? Me personally, I know I wouldn’t. I’m not sure it’s your neighbor’s job to warn you about all the things that are going to happen to you if you don’t jump off the train tracks. I also love that you seem to be very genuine in your concern. You feel accountable. The best thing you can do when you see anyone doing something you feel is dangerous is to love them and be a true friend.


  16. Becky Bennett

    I always can appreciate another’s perspective. I don’t always agree, but I defend their right to feel it, to say it, as long as it is not done in a way that belittles another’s views.
    My thoughts an Amy’s experience. I see the frustration in her experience. I personally value my husband’s opportunity to bless my children. I respect her choice not to have her baby blessed by a non family member. My message to Amy is this- while I cannot give an official priesthood blessing, as a mom, I give blessings for my children daily , through my prayers to Heavenly Father. I don’t feel the need to stand up and have others hear my prayers. I know Heavenly Father hears them, and answers them. As women, we have great powers given to us by virtue of being women! I cannot claim to understand why the OW feel the need to push their agenda, but then again, I have not lived their lives, and experienced what they have experienced.


  17. Charlotte Z

    Lisa, I came to your blogg via OW whom I support but stayed for the understanding you offered me. Not in regards to the issue of hating one another or not, nor priesthood for women or not, but for teaching me to fully understand the difference between view and perspective! I realize, I’m sad to say, that to me they have been synonyms. Not ever again! Thanks!


  18. Sarah d'Evegnee

    As a university English Professor and an LDS feminist, I enjoyed a lot of what you said, Lisa. However, the irony came splashing off the page as I read your remarks about the guest post at The Millennial Star. What did you do to try and appreciate HER perspective? Do you feel that you could love HER? Just a thought. . .


    1. Leave it to an English professor. (Ah, how I love my people!) Yeah, I went through all that in my head. There were many times in the writing of this that I had to delete because I found myself coming much too close to saying things about her perspective that could be misconstrued. I considered not linking to the post, not mentioning it, but then I thought, “it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things.” I didn’t see how I could entirely avoid calling attention to her faux pas and still make a salient point. But touche. That is always the danger. I’ve never heard anyone call out hypocrisy that wasn’t being hypocritical in doing so. Myself included. Life–and writing–is messy. Thanks for chiming in. Now, go grade a paper. 🙂

      PS. I should probably also come clean. There was a time in my life when I might very well have reacted like the MS guest poster. So in that sense, I get it. I’m a very different person than I was twenty or thirty years ago.

      PSS. (Suddenly I feel like a 2nd grader with all my PSing) I’d love to take the guest poster to lunch, learn about her life and family. She’s a passionate and brave woman. But I’d like to take whoever let her post go out in its very emotional state to the woodshed.


      1. BobFloat

        Just because nitpicking English majors has become a meme in and of itself, would it not be P.P.S. instead of P.S.S.? Post, post script, instead of post script script. I tease because I love.


  19. BobFloat

    I try very hard to understand an argument from both sides whenever I am in one. I don’t always remain unbiased, but I do try. Your post has expanded my understanding on that front in some ways. Giving value to the emotions felt behind an experience is something hard for me. I’m an engineer, and am much more prone to approaching experiences analytically and the weight of emotional significance often escapes me.

    I can hear the emotional pain as she describes feeling exluded. I can commiserate with that feeling. I don’t think anyone wants her to feel that way. This raises a point, or question in my mind. Does this good sister feel that the priesthood officers in her ward intend for her to feel this way? I think that we could all agree that no offense was intended. So my question would then be, where do those feelings come from? I would say they come from the enemy of all happiness. I’m cautious in saying that, lest someone think I’m calling this good sister “evil” in any way, shape or form. I merely see her as being beset by negative feelings from a negative source. If anything, the devil would prefer to do so to one who is good, and it would speak to her inherant goodness. I can also see an argument along the lines of, “No, her feelings were the logical result of an injustice and the one acceptable way that she could feel. They are not from the devil, but from wisdom and a conscientious mind.” I would disagree with that line of thinking, because it is not inclusive of other views, and it ignores the reality of a malicious being actively trying to pull down happiness. I detect no malice, in her story, from herself or the officers of the priesthood. I can only see it from an external source.

    All that being said, knowing the source of a feeling does not remove its effects or negate it in any way. I’ve learned from my wife that feelings are not subject to logic but exist in self. They are a reality and one can even consciously recognize the irrationality of one’s feelings, without changing that reality. As she has taught me, those feelings must be recognized and addressed and, in some way, validated.

    Amy’s feelings are valid. All our feelings are valid. We can discuss whether feelings are accurate or correct in other posts, but she has a right to recognize the validity of her feelings. My encouragement would also to be to recognize the source. Doing so won’t necessarily change the feeling, but might influence the reaction to it.

    I admit that I’m interested in the OW movement, though I find myself disagreeing with it. I’ve tried my best to understand why and to put it in terms that aren’t condemning, but show love towards others. The thought that came to mind is Nephi and his “O, that I were an angel” speech. I’ve often wondered, “What exactly was his sin?” His desires were all for good things. Preaching to others, sharing the word from the housetops. In fact, this desire matches with things prophets have foretold would happen. Angels would/do do this. As I’ve contemplated this, I’ve concluded that at least part of his sin is not being satisfied with the calling that Heavenly Father has already given him. It is not my responsibility to aspire to a calling where I think that I’d be able to use my talents, but rather to use my talents in the calling I have now. Almost never have I received the calling that I would’ve chosen myself. That has the potential to be saddening for me and make me feel excluded from those positions. If/when I do feel that way, I do not direct those feelings at priesthood officers, but at Heavenly Father, from whence those callings come. When I find myself directing those feelings there, I must also come to the conclusion that I am in error, because I’ve never once seen one of my plans go better than His. I’ve switched to the “I” format here to describe my experiences, because I know that my experiences aren’t the same as others, and that it isn’t my place to dictate what someone else’s experiences should be. I do feel my experiences can have common application to others, though, and that is why I’ve shared them. I would hope that all of us, OW members inclusive, could ask ourselves how Nephi sinned in his wish, and whether we find in ourselves that same sin.


    1. Bob, I cannot help agreeing and disagreeing with what you say. 🙂 I totally agree that we are always supposed to be happy with what we’ve been given and that we should be content to use and share whatever blessings God gives us, no matter how small they seem to us.
      Then I wonder about the blacks and the priesthood. Just speculation here: I wonder if any blacks who aspired to the priesthood would have been told to quit aspiring and that to do so was a sin. And yet, they eventually received the priesthood, didn’t they?
      Would any of them say that they felt that they “knew” one day that they would eventually receive it? Would God consider that a sin? If women some day receive the priesthood, will those who wanted it feel vindicated or sinful? Would the membership eventually see these women as ‘defenders’ of our true faith, or would they continue to be demonized as ‘dividers’? It’s these questions that keep me listening, and prevent me from judging. It’s these concerns that keep me trying to have an open mind.


      1. BobFloat

        I’ll be the first to admit that there is a lot that I don’t know. It wouldn’t shake my faith to have new revelation that women were to be ordained to the offices of the priesthood, though I would be glad to feel the confirmation of the spirit on it (as we are encouraged to do with all direction/revelation given to us from the prophets).

        This being said, I would say that there is a rather significant difference, at least in my mind, between blacks and the priesthood, and the organization of Ordain Women. That difference would be access to the ordinances of salvation. In that time, blacks did not have access to the ordinances and covenants that we are taught are necessary to exaltation. I find it hard to imagine what it would be like to believe in the doctrine of a church that teaches the covenants that are needed to return to God’s presence and then also says you cannot have access to them. I admire the faith of those early saints who steadfastly held to the truth, and awaited necessary blessings with just hope for the future and faith in God and His timing. I imagine that you would agree with me in saying that there are no covenants or ordinances which are necessary to reach the highest degree of glory that are denied to righteous women. Also, in all ordinances, we must receive from someone else. Being ordained to a priesthood office doesn’t help me get ordinances (excepting those where it is a requirement, such as those in the temple), but I must receive them, as does each child of God, from someone else, one of His authorized servants. If women were ordained to offices of the priesthood, they would still need to receive all their ordinances from another officer of the priesthood.

        I want to give an example, but I am concerned that it might be considered overly simplistic, or missing the point. I think it is illustrative of at least one part of the point I’d like to make, and so I will share it. Sister Amy mentioned how she felt excluded when only being allowed to watch, and not participate in a meaningful way in the blessing of her child. To me, this seems similar to me being frustrated at not being a bishopric member to be able to present my child with a Faith in God award or at not being a sealer to be able to seal my child to her future spouse. Let me stop here and say that there are a few things I get (and doubtless many that I don’t) that are left out of this example. Not the least of which that my being able to present an award or to perform a sealing ordinance are not perceived “rights” the same way that blessing a child is. There a whole host of feelings not represented in this example. But, at the core, there is the similarity in wanting to hold an office that one doesn’t have to perform a service for someone that is beloved. I don’t think that wanting to serve a loved one is wrong. I do think that we COULD be wrong for wanting a calling we don’t have, so that we would be the one to be serving our loved one and not someone else. I emphasize “could” because the miracle of this gospel is that we are judged individually, and perfectly. And two people could do the same act, at the same time, and one would be guilty of bitter sin, and the other not. Lucky for me, I’m not in a position where I need to judge anyone but myself, and I am very thankful for that. We all, as well, have a responsibility to reach out and help our brothers and sisters, so that is what I hope to do by sharing my opinion. My caution for all, and no one more than myself, is to avoid seeking callings we do not have, at perhaps the expense (of energy, if nothing else) of the ones we presently have. What we can do is operate as best we can, in the light and revelation that we presently have, while earnestly seeking out further light and truth, in the Lord’s way and the Lord’s time.


        1. Thanks for participating BobFloat. You write: “What we can do is operate as best we can, in the light and revelation that we presently have, while earnestly seeking out further light and truth, in the Lord’s way and the Lord’s time.”

          This is precisely what Amy and others in OW are doing. The Lord’s way is through revelation to his prophet. They are trying to be a continued presence to continue urging the top leaders to pray. And they are waiting. So much has been written unfairly about their “demands.” That language does not come from them.

          You make good points that we all need to stay mindful of. I’m confident Amy’s desire stems from a heart that desperately wants to serve the Lord however He will allow.

          Again, thanks for chiming in!


  20. I feel this nagging desire to thank those of you who are participating in this discussion, particularly for the respectful tone you have maintained. For what its worth, this little post Amy and I shared our thoughts in had nearly 4,500 hits before anyone used the word “stupid” to describe another’s way of seeing OW. I’m pleased to know that. Very pleased and I hope you are as well. Of course, I’d rather not see that kind of language at all, but … what’s a blogger to do?

    The truth is, I’m relatively new to all this and don’t think I’ll be able to moderate to the extent some would like. Maybe that I would like. But the idea of becoming part of the thought police … It bothers me. I’m figuring things out here, but I did want to chime in on this particular post and tell readers and those who commented how much I enjoy the respectful exchange of views. Thank you for visiting. Thank you for responding. Thank you for trying on another perspective.

    And go ahead. Keep chatting if you’d like.


  21. mandy

    Thank you for writing this. It doesn’t matter really what I agree or disagree with regarding topics covered. It is a joy to be loving and kind to all people, regardless of our differences. So well written and so many good thoughts. Thank you for writing this! The divide between good and evil does seem to be widening, but if we all truly felt more love for our spirit brothers and sisters we could do such great things in our small spheres of friends and loved ones. Thanks again! I don’t even know what OW is, but again, the difference isn’t the point. Love and compassion is the point and “perspective”. We are all children of God. I am grateful for the gospel and it’s fullness. I need to do a better job living it. Love is the greatest commandment.


  22. Roberta

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. In the last few years I’ve decided I don’t need to understand another’s point of view, I just need to love them and their point if view. I discovered this as I was dealing with extended family members and I found myself saying to myself, “I don’t understand them/what they are doing/how they feel” that’s when I decided, I don’t have too. I only have to love them, care about and for them, mourn with them, comfort them…. Nowhere does The Lord say we have to understand them (whomever “them” are in your life).


  23. Holdylady

    I thought your article was insightful and I enjoyed it. Left me thinking of some things about showing love and kindness even when we may not understand other opinions or struggles, and also about kindness.
    However… I did not like the part where you torn apart and name called the other writer you don’t know her. Particular points in the article, fine. But don’t stand up for truth and non-judgmental love toward all women and their struggles if you can’t get through your article without making assumptions about her personally. It seems a little hypocritical.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this subject.


  24. Pingback: In Response to Kate | Segullah

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