As an active LDS woman of a mature age, I’ve participated in many lessons on the LDS concept of priesthood, even taught them. Several weeks ago, I participated in two lessons about priesthood, the first having been taught by my wonderful Relief Society president and the second by a male Sunday School teacher who I consider a friend. The lessons were excellent and the content similar. Yet, each was also vastly different from lessons taught ten, twenty, even forty years ago. In the past, priesthood lessons presented to women centered on ways women can support men in their priesthood calling. These days, the focus (at least regarding women) is the apostolic message taught by Dallin H. Oaks at Priesthood Session of the April 2014 General Conference which reasons that the power and authority women use in the exercise of our callings is priesthood derived through the priesthood key holder who presides over us. In both of the recent lessons, the teachers emphasized an identical question: “Sisters,” they asked, “do you understand that you have priesthood power and authority in the exercise of your callings?”Continue reading “LDS Women [don’t really] Have Priesthood Authority”
LDS LGBT+ Youth are Watching: A Gay Man’s Reminder to Speak Up
GUEST POST: Growing up in primary, it was ingrained in me that I always needed to live like Jesus because, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was special. People are always watching so we need to be an example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. That lesson has stuck with me. I’ve always tried to be like Jesus, which is hard when the authorities of your church and others who love you tell you living as a gay man is incompatible with discipleship.
I was raised in Salt Lake City. As I grew older, I realized that I was having “evil” thoughts, some would say “unnatural,” about other boys. I became especially careful at about not doing anything that would give away that I was battling “demons” on the inside. After all, people were watching. They’d see. They’d treat me as an aberration and maybe an enemy of the Church. At some point, my actions became less about setting an example and more about not letting anyone know my secret. I was afraid that my community wouldn’t accept me. So I hid my true nature and pretended to be someone that I’m not.Continue reading “LDS LGBT+ Youth are Watching: A Gay Man’s Reminder to Speak Up”
On Elder Holland, the BYU Speech, and Error
ON THE SAME DAY THAT BYU announced the creation of an Office of Belonging, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland took the pulpit at BYU’s annual conference for faculty and staff and delivered an address in which he takes imprudent aim at gay students, student allies, and allies on the staff and faculty. He gaslights those present who have embraced the Church’s occasionally kinder, softer rhetoric on homosexuality and inclusion, accuses them of disloyalty to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and blames them (and BYU students within the LGBTQIA and ally community) for divisions in the Church. The new Office of Belonging would do well to build moving sidewalks throughout the campus to facilitate transporting the alienated employees and students from wherever they’re found directly to it’s door. After this talk, it’s going to take some hard labor to convince queer students they belong at BYU (or in the Church for that matter) or allies that there isn’t a target on their backs.
To recap in brief, Elder Holland made homosexuals (particularly in gay marriages) out to be enemies of the Church. He called members to figuratively bear muskets against those who don’t see gay marriage as a disruptor of the plan of salvation. He blatantly misrepresented the facts surrounding Matt Easton’s 2019 valedictorian address, accusing the graduating senior of “commandeering” the pulpit to come out when he had received university approval for every word he said. Thick was the indirect accusation that Easton’s coming out was an attack on Church doctrine. It wasn’t a good look for an apostle.Continue reading “On Elder Holland, the BYU Speech, and Error”
Energy Healing and the Update of the LDS General Handbook
Someday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have to recognize how eager many of its women are to access all the spiritual gifts delineated in scripture and, thereby, realize their full spiritual potential. We saw this hunger most clearly during the apex of the Ordain Women movement, which was often unfairly labeled a misguided group of sisters who without the humility to understand their role as servants to and under the priesthood. What the Church does recognize, however, is its ability to deny women access to any spiritual gift it likes. All it takes is a few lines inserted into the Church Handbook of Instructions. This time, the power of official disdain is aimed at a much less vocal, seemingly less organized, set of LDS women–our energy healers.Continue reading “Energy Healing and the Update of the LDS General Handbook”
Dear LDS Woman, on Discovering Joseph Smith Deceived Emma
You aren’t alone. Many of us have been exactly where you are. When you called, you didn’t have to say much before I understood. You’d encountered the Fanny Alger story. You’d been taught Joseph Smith’s polygamy began in Nauvoo, not Kirtland, and with Emma’s consent, not behind her back. Your image of Joseph Smith is shattered, and with it, your trust in the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These men who pushed a scrubbed clean narrative of Joseph no longer seem incorruptible. You feel broken. What was certain no longer is. With each breath, your pain reminds you of Emma’s pain.Continue reading “Dear LDS Woman, on Discovering Joseph Smith Deceived Emma”
The Indecency of Female Confession to Male Church Authority
Some faces I can’t forget, like the girl from my freshman ward at BYU who habitually confessed her sins to me after she confessed them to our bishop. I barely knew her. She was my age with piercing blue eyes and, when she spoke, her voice sounded as southern as any I’d ever heard. The first time she asked to speak to me privately, her demeanor revealed I shouldn’t decline. I soon found myself sitting outside on a bench with her as she sobbed a confession of sexual indiscretion. My hand reached for hers, and I wondered why she had come to me.
Over the next months, she and I met several times, always at her request and usually soon after she’d interviewed with our bishop. The sins she confessed to him—and then to me—were typical sexual sins for single, LDS people our age: masturbation and “allowing” a boyfriend to grind himself, fully clothed, against her until he climaxed. Fearing I’d misunderstand, she stated emphatically that she remained a virgin. Continue reading “The Indecency of Female Confession to Male Church Authority”
When Jesus is Outside the Boat
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” ~Alexander Den Heijer
LTD: I have an abiding interest in helping LDS people understand the perspectives of those who leave their fellowship. What follows is a guest post, written by a dear friend, explaining what began her journey away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
As everyone in my life knows, I was 100% dedicated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrine before I left the Church. In the LDS Church, I developed a close relationship with God and Jesus. I read scriptures diligently and the spirit taught me. Some might think anti-Mormon literature got to me, or I succumbed to a progressive agenda. Most may think its “the gay thing,” because I’ve come to terms with my own sexual attraction. If I’m honest, the Church itself is what propelled me to where I am now. The Church is its own worst enemy.
You see, I would go to church, and the lesson that was taught was the exact opposite of what I had just read in the scriptures or what God had spoken to my heart. Continue reading “When Jesus is Outside the Boat”
From Error to Apology, or The Path to Grace in a Homophobic Faith
IN 1980, I BECAME A STUDENT at Brigham Young University, not long after the American Psychiatric Association reportedly removed “homosexuality” from its list of mental and behavioral disorders. To say the declassification had caused a stir on campus would be an understatement. Religious ire was up, and, throughout my years at BYU, both student and professor alike interpreted the change as “the world” normalizing sin and as Satan “winning over the hearts of men” in the last days. In my campus congregation, I was often reminded I’d been reserved for the spiritual battles to precede the second coming and to figuratively suit up.
So I girded up my loins just like my peers, full of devotion to God, even though I’d given the topic of homosexuality exactly as much thought as was held within the pages of Spencer W. Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness.Continue reading “From Error to Apology, or The Path to Grace in a Homophobic Faith”
The Problem of Externalized Authority: A Response to the Mormon Gender Binary
To all the transgender Mormons, post or present, I want to make something clear: there are some things wrong in contemporary Mormonism, but you are not one of those things.
Our nearly 200-year history has bloated with one particularly harmful idea, namely that authority is external rather than internal. By this I mean that, as Latter-day Saints, we accept and celebrate the idea that someone else has authority that we don’t have. It starts in the family where tradition places the father as patriarch and final word. The bishop has authority we don’t have and the Stake President out-authorities him. Ultimately, we accept that one man (the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) holds the keys to the Kingdom of God on earth and in him rests all authority. The preference for external authority is so deeply ingrained that internal authority is viewed as highly suspect and we’re cautioned that it leads the “very elect” astray. Continue reading “The Problem of Externalized Authority: A Response to the Mormon Gender Binary”
The Struggle for LDS Unity
A recent Sacrament meeting in my ward focused on developing unity. Unity is a topic that often occupies my thoughts because, when I look around my ward, what I notice are the faces I no longer see. Unity isn’t what’s happening in today’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Division is increasing. The orthodox stay. The heterodox leave. As an openly heterodox member, I’m getting more and more lonely in the crowd. Continue reading “The Struggle for LDS Unity”