Women, Priesthood Authority, and the Holy Ghost

stake-relief-society-training-480x270-AV100921cah0056In his April 2014 General Conference talk entitled “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks asked one question that has caused me many sleepless nights. He said, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be?” He then answered himself, supposing LDS women must receive a portion of priesthood authority through the men presiding over them. Mormon feminists who hope for female ordination were pleased, if not appeased, by his words, while many traditional Mormons were appeased, if not pleased, by them. I, however, was deeply troubled by his idea and have spent months seeking peace through prayer and pondering. But I can’t find it. The truth is, the prompting I keep receiving is very different from his answer. As a committed, practicing Latter-day Saint, this is an uncomfortable position. Continue reading “Women, Priesthood Authority, and the Holy Ghost”

Moving from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion

mormon-church-meeting3Many faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been deeply invested in “the defense of traditional marriage” and find themselves mourning the recent Supreme Court refusal to hear same-sex marriage cases in five states. These Mormons had hoped the church’s campaign against gay marriage would cause the walls of Jericho to crumble; instead, the Court’s decision has likely opened the gate for nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Although I’m a practicing, politically conservative Latter-day Saint, I have disagreed that a church should be waging such a political battle. Furthermore, unlike many mainstream Mormons, I don’t see this ruling as evidence of increased evil in the world. In my view, the SCOTUS decision should free traditional Mormons from the battlefield and enable them to return to the field that is ready to harvest. It is time to transition from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion; it is time we pour our energy into making the Mormon world safe for all. Continue reading “Moving from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion”

False Measures and the False God: A Problem Born of the LDS Modesty Canon

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In Mormondom, fitting in is often confused with living rightly. By living rightly, I mean living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned, however, that many Latter-day Saints see the relationship between fitting in and living rightly as a tit for tat. In other words, they suggest that dressing according to the Mormon modesty canon proves our willingness to obey all God’s commandments. I don’t see it that way.

You may be expecting this post to veer into a diatribe against modesty standards, but it will not. Organized groups of people may establish any model for appearance that they desire, and individuals may choose to follow those standards or not. The problem I wish to address isn’t the LDS dress code, but the predictable waste product that occurs when it is exalted as a measure of individual worthiness. Continue reading “False Measures and the False God: A Problem Born of the LDS Modesty Canon”

The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us

Church-with-sunflowers I’ve never understood the concept of the Angry God. I suppose that’s been a function of my religious privilege. Normally, I dislike the word “privilege” because it strikes me as a term progressives wield like a Bowie knife in a bear fight they bring on for the fur alone. But I’ll borrow it here because the term has successfully taken on a meaning that combines arrogance with naiveté. The term suits me because I have been both arrogant and naive in the practice of my faith. After all, my God has loved me: I found Him; I’ve obeyed Him, honored Him, and served Him. [Arrogance.] And I see His love in the blessings He gives me: I have an amazing family, a beautiful home, vehicles to drive, and friends galore. [Naiveté.] Continue reading “The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us”

On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints

butterflyThis morning, I awoke in our cabin, nestled in the piney woods of east Texas, and found, on the floor, the same beautiful black and blue butterfly that had, only yesterday, fluttered by me each time I stepped outside to enjoy the natural world. Somehow, she is trapped inside this morning, motionless, with her wings outspread in the attempt to camouflage against a maple-colored plank floor that will have none of it. I know from the experience of capturing butterflies in my childhood that if I touch her wings, I condemn her. Instead, I find a piece of paper and lay it before her. Although it doesn’t seem natural to her, the butterfly steps onto the paper and  I carry her outside, where she flutters back into the trees.

I love symbols. I look for them all the time. As I have struggled to come to terms with the pending disciplinary action against leading LDS feminist Kate Kelly, I couldn’t help but find an imperfect symbol of her predicament in this butterfly. Continue reading “On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints”

To the Girls of Wasatch County ISD

yearbookphoto4logoYou are beautiful. You are beautiful in your original school photos, and you are beautiful in the doctored yearbook photos that appeared in the 2013/2014 Wasatch High School yearbook, which isn’t to say I think the “editing,”  or photoshopping, the school did in order to cover more of your bodies than your tops and tanks did was appropriate. It shouldn’t have happened. You should’ve been given full opportunity to represent your personality through your attire. Some may say you forfeited that right by not adhering to the dress code. But a dress code that is not enforced on a daily basis hasn’t the respect of the people who created it and who are charged with enforcing it. By default then, it isn’t reasonable to expect those over whom it alleges power to take it seriously. Each original photo I saw of you depicted a young woman who was dressed modestly and appropriately for school. Your parents should be very proud of you for the brave way you are standing up for yourselves by addressing this in front of Fox 13 News cameras. Continue reading “To the Girls of Wasatch County ISD”

The Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model

5340be6672844.preview-620Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experienced what some are classifying civil disobedience when Ordain Women took public action at the past two Priesthood Sessions of General Conference, all with the intent to call attention to perceived gender injustice within the church structure. After going on record suggesting OW refrain from demonstrating at Conference, I was invited by a male supporter of OW to once again review Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (full letter found here and an abridgment, here). After having done so, I am more puzzled than before over why OW has chosen this particular secular model to agitate for change in the LDS Church.

Before I proceed, I feel obligated to point out the obvious, that any conversation about civil disobedience in the Kingdom of God will bifurcate according to the belief system of those involved in the conversation. Continue reading “The Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model”