Of course personal revelation is our ultimate epistemological trump card!

April 21, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 7:47 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

I have been diverting myself by debating with several of Zelophehad’s Daughters and their friends over the past few days. The ZDers are mostly a group of intelligent and well-educated Mormon women (many of whom are actually sisters) who like to talk about, well, Mormon women’s issues. After two too-long threads we arrived at a disagreement on what what the ultimate “trump card” (their term) is when it comes to understanding metaphysical truths (aka the ultimate realities of existence).

The general topic of the latest debate specifically was this subject: Is God a sexist? In other words, does God see women as the property or possessions of their husbands?

(No, I’m not kidding. Some of them really are deeply concerned that this is the case. I can only imagine how distressing taking such a metaphysical nightmare seriously would be.)

Anyway, I suggested a simple solution to find the answer to this question: Go ask God. You know — take James 1:5 seriously when it says:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally

That is of course what the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, did when he had deep metaphysical and theological questions and I submit that turning directly to God with our questions and problems is the Mormon way. In other words, we’re all about personal revelation in this church.

Now I recognize that actually breaking through the veil to even get answers to yes or no questions can be hard for some people so I suggested in that thread (as a back up to seeking the answer to this question directly from God) that there is nothing in LDS scriptures or liturgy that must be interpreted to mean that women are in any way second class citizens in the universe (though clearly several of the ZD gals prefer to read them that way for whatever reason). I further suggested that reading something other than equality between men and women in the eternities requires one to deeply discount the repeated statements in recent decades by modern prophets and apostles on the egalitarian nature of the relationship between men and women in marriage in the eternities. It seemed to me that the response I got back the that line of thinking was something along the lines of “we prefer thinking we are oppressed…” — but maybe that is just my jaded impression.

Anyway, the latest beef they had with my position was that they don’t think personal revelation really is our ultimate trump card on these sorts of things. In other words, a few people basically said “Even if God does tell me that he is not a sexist and that women hold an equal place in the universe in the universe as men I don’t think I could really trust that personal revelation”. Specifically, Ziff (a literal brother to the sisters I believe) said:

personal revelation does not actually function as the ultimate trump card, as you seem to be arguing that it does.

I don’t think Ziff and others who expressed this opinion could be more wrong.

Let me explain…

Everything in our religious lives must come back to personal revelation or our religious effort is largely in vain. Jesus made it clear that life eternal is to know God, not to know about God. We can only know God through dialogue and personal interaction — just like we can only know each other through such interactions. Of course lots of people live religious lives without ever actually personally getting to know God, but of such people Jesus said:

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt 7: 22-23)

In other words, living religiously is not good enough in this life. We have to develop a personal relationship with God and Christ while here and that requires revelation and inspiration.

Now rather that focus all sorts of energy on how we all can get better at receiving answers to hard questions about women directly from God, the ZD folks like to occasionally spend time griping about the so-called sexist language of our scriptures and liturgy. But what makes any of us feel certain that our scriptures and liturgy are anything more than pure fiction to begin with? What makes any of us even deeply believe there is a God? Answer: personal revelations on these subjects. How can any of us know if we are being taught truth in General Conference or in Sunday School or anywhere else? Only through personal revelation. And of course personal revelation usually comes to us in the form of inspiration from the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.

So of course personal revelation is the ultimate trump card. If Joseph Smith didn’t treat it as such he would have just become a good Methodist rather that the prophet of the restoration. How many converts would this church have if personal revelation wasn’t the ultimate epistemological trump card? Very few I imagine because people usually only join us weird Mormons after God himself has made it clear to them through his Holy Spirit that he wants them to join us.

Yeah, yeah — I know our inspiration can be vague and confusing at times. But we can get more revelation/inspiration and thus more clarity every single day of our lives. When we take the sacrament weekly what is God’s promise to us if we keep our covenants and always remember Jesus? That we can always have his spirit to be with us. If we don’t have that spirit with us then we are largely wasting our Mormonism in my mind.

So yes — personal revelation is the ultimate epistemological trump card for us.

410 Comments

  1. Geoff, when you are a woman and you have a revelation (let’s say about about the topic for a RS meeting under your jurisdiction) and a certain male priesthood holder above you in the hierarchy has a differing opinion which he is also calling revelation, he will often pull the priesthood card on you.

    “You and I both claim to have revelation on such-and-such a matter, the two conflict, but I have the priesthood, and thus we will do it according to my revelation, not yours.”

    For many years I have called this the priesthood card, and it trumps all others. After the priesthood card is thrown, the discussion stops. If you as a female do not agree, you are disrespecting the priesthood. There is no possible way to win the hand by an appeal to your personal inspiration or revelation.

    Sad, but true.

    I challenge any of you to give game strategy for a female when the priesthood card has been pulled.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 21, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  2. Geoff, I don’t think you were fair to Ziff. The rest of his quote makes his point clearer.

    As long as we believe the Church is at least somewhat inspired, personal revelation and church experience are going to be reinterpreted in light of each other.

    Of course we all want to have the Spirit with us. Of course we all want to know that God values us as much as he does a man. But, like Ziff said, it’s hard for men to understand the bombardment of messages women receive to the contrary at church for their entire lives! Hearing about equality from church leaders and feeling peace through the Spirit probably helps a lot of women through the day.
    But, so does Prozac.
    In my personal quest for answers to these difficult questions, I often feel peace. But, it is hard to interpret that peace, “keep putting up with an incomplete system,” or “You are unequal but it’s okay” or “You’re equal but the men in the church haven’t figured it out yet.” Any one of these could bring me peace. For me it’s not as easy as you say to find satisfying answers to these heart wrenching questions, but I keep trying, I really do. I appreciate your testimony on this issue, but it’s not as meaningful to me because you haven’t really acknowledged the difficulties women in the church face in these areas. The comment above about the priesthood card is a good example of the difficulties women face in the church.

    Comment by Jessawhy — April 21, 2007 @ 8:39 pm

  3. BiV,

    First, my post is primarily about where we need to turn for answers to deep theological and metaphysical questions.

    But in response to your comment — what you are complaining about is not so much priesthood as it is hierarchies in the church in general. Let me show how your example applies equally well when priesthood is taken out of the equation:

    Let’s say you are a RS instructor and you have a revelation on the subject you should teach in RS one Sunday. Your RS president has a different opinion which she is also calling revelation. She will often pull the stewardship/hierarchy card on you and say.

    “You and I both claim to have revelation on such-and-such a matter, the two conflict, but I am the RS president, and thus we will do it according to my revelation, not yours.”

    Or here’s an even better one:

    Let’s say you are a High Priest who is serving as a primary instructor and you have a revelation on how to handle an activity for your class. Your primary president has a different opinion which she is also calling revelation. She will often pull the stewardship/hierarchy card on you and say.

    “You and I both claim to have revelation on such-and-such a matter, the two conflict, but I am the primary president, and thus we will do it according to my revelation, not yours.”

    See — priesthood is not the problem you are complaining about. Hierarchies are. Now I understand that the priesthood-hierarchy issue gets much more pronounced the higher we move in the hierarchy of the church, but I am simply pointing out that you are overreaching with your example.

    Now as to how to cope: In any congregation 95% of the members (male or female) will have no one they could veto in the church besides themselves or their own kids. We all live with the occasional veto power of those above us in the hierarchy — whether they are male or female. I handle it all by not getting too worked up about any of it. We are all volunteers and so I never get too bent if one of my great or inspired ideas gets shot down. The main unit of the church I am concerned about is my own family and the only person who can veto my ideas there is Kristen and that would only happen if I tried to make a family decision without her (which pretty much never happens.) So the short answer is we cope at church by offering to help and not getting worked up if our offer isn’t accepted 100% of the time.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 21, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  4. Geoff, that’s an interesting theory, but I have never heard a RS or Primary pres trump anybody. It sounds like it could happen (and perhaps someone has an experience where it does) but the Priesthood Trump card does happen. There’s the difference.

    Comment by Jessawhy — April 21, 2007 @ 8:57 pm

  5. it’s hard for men to understand the bombardment of messages women receive to the contrary at church for their entire lives! …you haven’t really acknowledged the difficulties women in the church face in these areas.

    jessawhy, I know you struggle, and I’m sorry you do, but please don’t generalize your struggles about “messages women receive” or about “women in the church” as if the struggles discussed on the ‘nacle are somehow universal. They aren’t. There are many women who don’t share the struggles you are facing right now (we have others instead for which we have to seek personal revelation and help and peace and guidance!) :)

    I don’t say this to pour lemon juice on your wounds. I understand how difficult it is to try to find peace in personal struggle. But I really am uncomfortable when anyone wants to make a statement about women in the Church as though we all feel ignored or repressed or second-class, and that simply isn’t true.

    Comment by m&m — April 21, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

  6. Jessawhy: it’s hard for men to understand the bombardment of messages women receive to the contrary at church for their entire lives!

    First, the idea women in the church are actually bombarded with messages telling them God values them less than men is anything but a proven fact. Certainly some women (a minority it would seem) interpret the messages they receive in Mormonism to say that but others (the vast majority I would guess) don’t interpret the messages they get at church to be saying that at all. So it would seem that these messages from church are largely in the eye of the beholder.

    Second, if the question is about how God feels about you, who are you going to believe — God himself or some perceived messages you are getting from the church? Doesn’t God know best if he values women the same as he values men?

    Once again, I think this just shows that personal revelation is the final solution to such concerns.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 21, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  7. Jessawhy (#4): It sounds like it could happen (and perhaps someone has an experience where it does) but the Priesthood Trump card does happen.

    The hierarchy trump card happens in every hierarchical organization in the world. If you think it only happens with priesthood holders is in our church you are fooling yourself. Heck, we even have a scripture about it.

    There’s the difference.

    Oh really? Please explain what the significant difference is.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 21, 2007 @ 9:06 pm

  8. Jessawhy (#2): I appreciate your testimony on this issue, but it’s not as meaningful to me because you haven’t really acknowledged the difficulties women in the church face in these areas.

    This is at heart a revelation issue, not a men/women issue. Revelation issues (like philosophical issues) apply to all of us equally.

    Geoff, I don’t think you were fair to Ziff. The rest of his quote makes his point clearer.

    I don’t really see how the rest of his quote changes the meaning of the sentence I quoted. He doesn’t think personal revelation is the ultimate trump card on these sorts of things and I do.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 21, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

  9. i am going to have to be brief here, as my daughter is asleep in my lap and i am using the wii… anyway, revelation is the ultimate source of truth, except when i don’t understand the revelation exactly, or when it wasn’t really a revelation, it was just gas, or when it really was a revelation, but i think it wasn’t. thus we are still left with a problem.

    Comment by matt w. — April 21, 2007 @ 9:40 pm

  10. Jessawy (#4),

    I have been trumped by a member of the Primary presidency (not even the President, who agreed with me) within the last 6 months. I was the Primary chorister, and the matter had to do with the Primary program, for which I had quite a bit of responsibility, obviously. However, there is one member of the Primary presidency who has direct responsibility for the program, and she trumped me quite directly by telling me I could not do something because she thought it would be inappropriate for a Sacrament meeting. I disagreed, but let it go since she was in charge.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 21, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

  11. Geoff, I understood the focus of your post, but I don’t think you realize how much the experiences with the (male) hierarchy affect the way (some) women identify and interpret revelation. In the case of the male, his revelations and inspirations are almost always affirmed. Especially when he has a priesthood calling in the Church, his intimations are acted upon by others. In my experiences as a part of the *very limited* female hierarchy, any revelation I recieve must always–always! be subject to some sort of *approval* by a male. He gets to tell me whether my revelations are meaningful or not. I’m afraid that this has had a bit of an effect on my feelings about personal inspiration and revelation upon theological and metaphysical questions.

    Your hierarchical model breaks down because of the fact that women do not report to a hierarchy of women. Why doesn’t the RS President submit her ideas to the Stake RS instead of the Bishop? When two Priesthood holders disagree, they are on equal footing. But it is quite different when one has the Priesthood and one does not. The trump card is being held by the male, whether he uses it or not.

    Your explanation of the hierarchy cannot come close to capturing the absolute frustration and helplessness a woman experiences when the Priesthood card is played. As a man having an idea that is shot down by the Primary President, he is not placed in the position of having to spit in the face of the power and authority of God on earth in order to recognize that what he had was actually revelation. If it’s a difference between me and the Primary President, I can talk it out, present my views, use persuasion, and perhaps submit by virtue of her position. But when a man says, you must do it my way because I have the Priesthood, it is a force play that pits you against the power of God on earth and what you thought God was whispering in your ear. You must admit one of two things–either your revelation was wrong, or you are an apostate who does not respect God’s agent on the earth.

    It’s very nice that your marriage and many others in the Church are based upon equality. But the fact is that my marriage is often quite troubled. Since both of us appeal to the Spirit to help us make decisions, when there is conflict, the Priesthood card is very frequently used. And yes, we can say that this might be an abuse of the Priesthood power, but realistically for me it comes down to this: do I stick up for what I believe was inspiration, and thus place myself on the “wrong” side of the Priesthood? Or do I deny my small revelations for the sake of obedience and peace in the home?

    Sorry, but your “short answer” just doesn’t work when the Priesthood card has trumped all.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 21, 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  12. Um… BiV, so this is all about you wanting to be the Bishop? I’m not sure I understand?

    The only ideas my wife needs to get “approved” as YW president is who she wants as her counciilors and advisors, and that’s only really because the Bishop is keeping track of who’s in what callings where, and not because he is preempting his hierarchal revelation over her. Otherwise my wife has complete autonomy. Heck, the YM president has had to change his schedule to bow to my wife because, honestly, my wife’s ideas were better.

    I have sat in on bishopric meetings in the past (as an executive secretary only) and I have never had any indicator that it was man’s rule in any case. Also, all male leaders within a ward have to look to the bishop in the same capactiy as administrator as do female leaders. so I am not really sure what you are getting at that the man is almost always affirmed.

    Oh, and I have never heard a man say “you must do it because I have the priesthood.” But if I ever did, I’d probably open up D&C 121, read it to him, then kick him in the balls. I think that’s dumb, but I also have never seen someone do that.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 21, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  13. Oh and Geoff, you are obviously sexist because only Jacks can be trump cards. Why can’t the queen ever be the trump card,ya sexist pig!

    Comment by Matt W. — April 21, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

  14. Why do men always feel they have to put down women’s legitimate concerns by saying, “so you want to be the Bishop?” Next time be a little more creative.

    Anyway, I’m pleased that things work the way they do in your ward, and in many others around the Church. But the trump card is always there, whether it is currently being played or not. You just don’t realize how quickly things can change.

    Of course no man has ever told you that you must do something because he has the Priesthood. You are on equal footing with every other male in the Church. You have your own trump card. I wish you could just try for a few seconds to read my last comment as if you were a woman, and powerless, and trying to figure out what revelation was all about.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 21, 2007 @ 10:54 pm

  15. See? Matt’s putdown was so much more creative.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 21, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

  16. BiV,

    I just want to say that I am sorry you have to struggle with this in your marriage. I can understand why this would make your feelings quite strong and personal. I don’t mean to take away from that in what I have to say.

    When I was at the MTC, I had my priesthood leader tell me he would send me home if it was in his power because I would only be a problem for my mission president as a missionary in the field. The circumstance that led to this assessment of me was that I had stayed up past the curfew talking with a missionary in my district who had just confessed to something and was getting ready to pack his bags the next morning to go home in disgrace. Obviously, it was a pretty tough time for him. This missionary and I had some things in common and so we had connected in the short time we had been at the MTC.

    When asked why I had stayed up past the curfew, I explained and said that I thought Jesus would have done the same thing in my position. Certainly this friend was more important than the curfew. Apparently, this was not the opinion of my leader. I was worried (and confused) that I might get sent home, but more than that, I was deeply hurt that this was his assessment of me. I was trying very hard to become a missionary, and I felt then that I was failing. Directly following that interview we went to Sacrament meeting and as I was walking to that meeting the spirit poured over me as I have rarely experienced. I was left with no doubt that the Lord approved of me even if my priesthood leader did not. I learned that day, in a very powerful way, that my priesthood leaders are not always in sync with the spirit. Not two months later, a misunderstanding led to my mission president getting an unfavorable report on me from a member in the ward I was serving. For the duration of my mission I swam upstream against the pronounced distrust of my mission president.

    So, when you talk about people playing the priesthood card, I feel like I have had plenty of experience with that sort of thing. You said that “When two Priesthood holders disagree, they are on equal footing.” In my experience, I have never been on equal footing with the priesthood leaders with whom I have disagreed. You are saying I can’t understand what its like, and maybe you are right, but I feel like I have had plenty of experience with being pitted “against the power of God on earth.” I have never sought to make it me against a priesthood leader, but such an experience has been thrust on me on multiple occasions. I am still unclear on why these experiences do not qualify me to understand the problem as intimately as a woman.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 21, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

  17. You must admit one of two things–either your revelation was wrong, or you are an apostate who does not respect God’s agent on the earth.

    Wow. That’s seems intentionally pessimistic. There are lots of alternative ways to perceive the situation. How about: You truly did receive revelation but the person who makes the final decision is imperfect just like the rest of us and didn’t realize that God was trying to speak to him through you. Unless you want to claim that you have clearly received and followed every message God has tried to give you, it would be wise to show some charity.

    Comment by Ryan — April 21, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  18. [crying] like a dumb girl.

    Because even as a lowly missionary, pitted against a Mission President who did not understand, you held “the keys of the ministering of angels,” and the priesthood which “administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” When you have that kind of card in your hand, how can you doubt that the Lord approves of you even if your priesthood leader does not?

    When you don’t have those keys you can never be sure if you are entitled to the ministering of angels. Can I ever claim the knowledge of God? Is my revelation really a communication, or is it just my foolishness and pride?

    Can I use the power of God to receive revelation about epistemological matters? Can I touch the face of God myself, or must I rely on someone else to be my intermediary?

    If you knew how sad I was right now you would know I am not trying to seize power or be the Bishop or be all smartmouthed on this blog. I’m just trying to understand.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 21, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  19. Bored,
    I know you have a tough time on many issues, but once again, I’m a woman, and I don’t share your pain on this. I understand logically where some women might feel pain, but you can’t simply ask a man to walk in a woman’s shoes or try to see this from a woman’s perspective when it’s not a general woman’s perspective. I don’t see the priesthood as a trump card. I’m sorry it feels that way for you.

    You said, “If it’s a difference between me and the Primary President, I can talk it out, present my views, use persuasion, and perhaps submit by virtue of her position.”
    I see the way the ward functions in general with the men and the women…we discuss, we share, sometimes we might even push back if the negotiation phase is still going on, and then we submit, “by virtue of [a leader's] position.” This isn’t just a male-vs. (or over) female situation that demands such respect. I watched my hubby have to learn the same lesson (as a man with a man — same priesthood, different position) when in a bishopric. He realized that he could voice his opinion, but once a decision had been made, it was time to support and sustain, even if he disagreed. I have had to do the same thing with my RS pres. (She is a woman, and has made decisions that I didn’t agree with, but I supported her because of her position.) Male primary teachers are left to respect the position of their leader, as was mentioned above. This ISN’T just a male-over-female thing. We each at some time are “subordinates.” That’s just part of the system of service we have. And most of the time, it works pretty well, at least in my experience. I’m sorry yours may have been different.

    It breaks my heart that your marriage is hard, by the way. Having seen something like that with someone close to me, my heart goes out to you. I hope you can find some peace within the struggle. Wish I knew what more to say on that….

    Comment by m&m — April 21, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  20. When you don’t have those keys you can never be sure if you are entitled to the ministering of angels. Can I ever claim the knowledge of God? Is my revelation really a communication, or is it just my foolishness and pride?

    Can I use the power of God to receive revelation about epistemological matters? Can I touch the face of God myself, or must I rely on someone else to be my intermediary?

    Oh, dear BiV, you have access to God just as much as any man. You do!!! I really am surprised to hear you ask such questions as I have seen a side of you abounding with knowledge and understanding and insight. Nothing is holding you back from receiving light and knowledge. It’s available to all of us through the ordinances we receive. Please, believe it! I simply cannot understand how you could think otherwise. I’m so sorry you do. :(

    Comment by m&m — April 21, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  21. I’m sorry, but if women have those same privileges, then please tell me what is the use of the priesthood? I mean, why do the scriptures tell us those are the rights of the Priesthood if I can have them too?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 21, 2007 @ 11:45 pm

  22. But when a man says, you must do it my way because I have the Priesthood, it is a force play

    How often does this happen? I have been a member for 30 years and married for 25+ years, and I’ve NEVER had anyone say this to me.

    In varous ward and stake callings, I’ve worked closely with priesthood leaders, and found them reasonable and supportive. There were a few times where I had proposed major changes and wondered how they would take it, but I had prayed about it and was sure the course was correct; they also felt the promptings of the spirit or just respected my opinion, because each time it was accepted with no problems at all.

    So I think the “lack of understanding” is not based on gender per se, but whether we have ever experienced the priesthood card ever being played. I am so sorry for you, but it is hard for me to wrap my brain around this and imagine what it must be like…and I wonder how common it is for women?

    Comment by Naismith — April 21, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

  23. BiV,

    It is axiomatic that I cannot understand what it is like to be a woman because I am a man. I accept that. But, doesn’t that principle reciprocate? Your characterization of my experience presupposes that you understand what it was like for me, but you cannot possibly know what it is like for a man to be pitted against the priesthood because you are not a man. Right?

    The reason holding the “keys of the ministering of angels” does not assure me that the Lord approves of me is that I must always self-assess and wonder if I am worthy of such a priesthood. And in the ways that I am unworthy, I am told that I am under greater condemnation for having the priesthood than if I did not.

    It seems that you are trivializing my experiences, but I have not attempted to trivialize yours.

    I am hearing the following messages said to me at once:

    (1) Your experiences don’t count.
    (2) It is not within your power to understand.
    (3) (and paradoxically) Why are you so stubborn that you won’t try to understand?

    And now, I will return to my self-imposed ban. You can have the last word in our discussion. I am sorry for your sadness, honestly.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 21, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  24. BiV,
    I don’t know exactly why the men are the ones who have the priesthood. But its purpose is 1) stewardship of servant leadership (with accompanying responsibility on their shoulders) and 2) performing ordinances that bind us to heaven. But it’s not in the performing of the leadership or the ordinances that they get more power. We ALL have access to the power and blessings of the Atonement through the ordinances we receive.

    D&C 84:19-20
    And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
    Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

    It’s not in the preparing or cooking of the food that you get to enjoy the nourishment and sweet flavor. We all are invited to eat the feast provided for us by the Savior and His gospel. We all have the privilege of seeing the “power of godliness” if we live according to our covenants.
    We can all also pray and attend the temple and receive instruction through the Holy Ghost and the scriptures. The ordinances bind us directly and individually to God. Each week as you partake of the sacrament, you are covenanting with God, directly. The priesthood opens this up for ALL of us. The priesthood itself is a vehicle or means, not an end. The end is in the ordinances and covenants and if we are true to them. As Elder Maxwell said, “How could we have any greater recognition…than that of being a spirit son or daughter of God? or of finally deserving to be known as a man or woman of Christ? How could we possibly ever be given more than “all that my Father hath”? There isn’t any more!” If we believe His servant, then that “all” is available to all!

    Comment by m&m — April 21, 2007 @ 11:58 pm

  25. oh, wow, Jacob, remember I adore you from afar and I will just shrivel up and die that I got you angry. I’m not being facetious. In fact, I was quite affected by #16. It really touched me and there is no way that I would ever trivialize what you were trying to say.

    And I’m glad you violated your retarded self imposed ban to discuss this because actually what you said about the difficulties of feeling worthy and being under a greater condemnation made a lot of sense to me.

    I wasn’t telling you that you were too stubborn to understand what it’s like to be a woman. Those remarks are reserved for Matt! :)

    M&M Thanks for the try but I still just don’t get it. Are you sure women get “all that the Father hath?” Think about it.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 22, 2007 @ 12:17 am

  26. Are you sure that they don’t? I think sometimes you want to impose mortal constructs on an eternal Being. We can’t fully “get it.” I don’t fully get it. No one does. But I trust in the promises and I know that the gospel makes me happy, as a woman. I understand your logical concerns but this isn’t supposed to be a logical endeavor. :) I’m sorry I can’t help you. I wish I could, I really do. I can’t package what I feel and know, unfortunately. I wish I could. My one thought would be this: don’t put your mortal bounds or definitions or expectations on God. Let Him define the rules of the game. Maybe you are the one holding the trump card and all you need to do is let it go and you will win. :)

    Hugs to you, dear sister. If you are a hugs type of person, that is…. I hope you can understand my heart about now. And if I say any more I will sound cheesy, so I’d better be off to bed….

    Comment by m&m — April 22, 2007 @ 12:28 am

  27. I’m entering this conversation against medical advice, so I’ll try to be brief.

    Geoff, your model seems to propose personal revelation as the zero point from which all our religious knowledge originates. In a sense I agree; without personal revelation we certainly are nowhere. But that fact doesn’t make personal revelation trump everything else. That’s the step I think your argument glosses over; epistemological necessity doesn’t entail epistemological totality or finality.

    The very fact that we have scriptures, prophets, and the temple suggests that personal revelation is not enough, and that it’s subject to checks from these other sources of authority. A major problem I see with your model is that it precludes apostasy. If anyone can validly play the personal revelation trump card–if personal revelation always trumps scripture and prophetic statement–then we have no grounds on which to criticize someone for radical departures from basic church doctrine. The very concept of apostasy becomes incoherent.

    And from the empirical end of things, there’s just no doubt personal revelation is fallible. Exhibit A: the Lafferty brothers. Exhibit B: people I’ve known of whose appliances talked to them about their food storage. Exhibit C: certain statements of past prophets we would now like to repudiate, such as Bruce R. McConkie on race, Ezra Taft Benson on communism, and Brigham Young on a whole lot of stuff (not that he wasn’t a prophet; just that he had a pretty darned big Journal of Discourses to fill).

    If the prophets’ personal revelation sometimes fails, who are we to think ours is infallible?

    P.S. Thanks for so kindly characterizing us as intelligent and well educated. As for your other observations, trust me on this one (dare I say I’ve had a personal revelation to this effect?): we don’t maintain the positions we do simply to “gripe” for unfathomable reasons. Ya’ll like to discuss a lot of topics around here in which many of us have little interest. But we graciously grant you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your convictions and passions for those topics are genuine. We don’t show up on your blog and suggest that you redirect your intellectual energies in what we deem are other, more productive directions. We ask only that you extend us the same courtesy.

    BinV, I wish I knew what to say other than that I’m sorry. I think your situation painfully illustrates the real and profound problems with our current hierarchical model of marriage.

    Comment by Eve — April 22, 2007 @ 12:34 am

  28. BiV,

    The MOST IMPORTANT revelations aren’t to do with church governance, at any level, but can come to every individual, man and woman, concerning the reality, nature and personality of God. The most important of those communicate to us Charity, His love for us, and plant in us a seed of that same love: so that we become partakers of the divine nature. The BoM assures us that at some point along the way this love is bestowed upon “all those who are true followers of His Son.”

    The Priesthood has responsibility to safeguard and administer ordinances. Since women don’t currently hold the Priesthood, in the sense that they are ordained to offices in it, they are without some of the responsibilities ordained men are given – but they have complete access to _all_ the vital Priesthood ordinances, and are entitled to ALL the blessings and spiritual gifts that flow from them, conditioned, as with everyone, on a genuine striving to keep the covenants that are alays attached to them. Period.

    You won’t receive revelations for the ward body as a whole, neither will I – but, frankly, who wants to? We don’t aspire to positions in the church. And from what I understand of my own burdens, I don’t need to have the ward on my shoulders. My last bishop once told me he sometimes prayed 45 minutes a day, thinking of individuals in the ward and their problems. Not surprisngly, he was a very good Bishop. But on top of the endless time requirements, I know that he felt considerable emotional burden. Are those things gateways to blessings for him? I’m sure they are … but not blessings we need or need to want. Sufficient to our day is the evil thereof, eh?

    In an ultimate sense, it doesn’t matter one iota if you’ve been the Prophet or a RS President, or have never held a position in the church at all. It matters that we come to know God, and what is neccesary for that is that we have faith, repent, are baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. If we then endure in thse principals, we each and all individually receive revelation on revelation, in an increasing and constant flow, until we come to know our Savior and His Father as perfectly as any man or woman can know another.

    Along the way, life is a bitch. They don’t call it the lone and dreary world for nothing. We see through the glass darkly. We fail to understand one another. We hurt one another, both accidently and sometimes on purpose. One of the great tests is to see whether or not will will, in the face of all this, “harden our hearts.” The BoM says that those who harden their hearts receive the “lesser portion” of the word, and know less and less concering the mysteries of God, until they nothing of Him at all. Otoh, those who do not harden their hearts “receive the greater portion of the word” and they know more and more concering the mysteries of God, until they know them in full. No difference is made here between men and women. Those who know the mysteries are then, we are told, “under strict command” that they only speak of those portions that are given … in effect to the general public.

    This process is going on unseen all around us in the church, with both men and women, in every position and in no position at all. We are often quiet about it, but learn to see signs of it.

    My very best to you in your difficulties. My heart goes out to you in your often troubled marriage. :(

    Let me give it as my very strong personal opinion, and I think also that I have the Spirit as well as the 121st Sec that there is no Priesthood card to play in a marriage. My feeling about what you’ve written – and of course I don’t know – but my feeling is that there is some troubling thing at the foundation of that misunderstanding. Your husband doesn’t get to have the final word simply because he holds the Priesthood. Rather, the Priesthood requires that he serve, and be gentle and humble.

    We tend to project on to heaven a model of how we view things in the here and now. When they beleived that marriage was husband with his property, they spoke using that langugage and also projected on to our Heavenly parents that model. Now that we have a far more egalitarian view of marriage, we tend to speak using language that supports that view, and we project on to heaven our preferences. Nothing about how things actually are there can be known without personal revelation. The prophets lead us to it like the proverbial horses, they can’t make us drink. They can’t receive those revelations for us. The scriptures likewise.

    By the way, the ward I lived in in High School was across the border from you in Craig, CO. I hated it. Was bored out of my gourd. Went to California first chance I got. But, it doesn’t seem nearly so bad at this distance. We drove through Vernal many times.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — April 22, 2007 @ 1:50 am

  29. Say you’re a black member before 1978, and you receive personal revelation that blacks should have the priesthood. The Church preaches that blacks should not have the priesthood. Your personal revelation that you as a black member should be treated equally to white members still doesn’t allow you to receive the blessings of the priesthood and temple. What do you tell this black member? God loves you as much as white members?

    You lack empathy and foresight when you cavalierly dismiss these issues as ultimately being resolved by the individual – thus absolving the Church as an institution from any responsibility to change. As we’ve seen in Church history, these policies and doctrines do change. The people who receive personal revelation and advocate for change in the Church’s policies/doctrines regarding women may just well be proven to have been right all along.

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 5:02 am

  30. Say you’re a black member before 1978, and you receive personal revelation that blacks should have the priesthood.

    The black members I knew back then were faithful, and understood that they did not have the stewardship over the entire church, and weren’t entitled to revelation on church policy.

    Some of them did know that they personally would receive the priesthood: Elder Martins, the first black General Authority, had a patriarchal blessing assuring him that he would “live on the earth” after being sealed in the temple; his son was told that he would serve a mission. The family believed the patriarch and opened a missionary savings account.

    They had several sacred experiences which prepared them for the change in policy. But he said, “We carefully tried not to let the promises in our blessings upset the tranquility of our lives…I simply went on with life, continuing to take care of my family.”

    So from his point of view, it was an issue he had to resolve as an individual. I can’t find anywhere in his book or in my discussions with his famiy members where he “advocated for change.”

    Comment by Naismith — April 22, 2007 @ 6:51 am

  31. The people who receive personal revelation and advocate for change in the Church’s policies/doctrines regarding women may just well be proven to have been right all along.

    Yes, and the people with the keys to receive revelation and advocate for change in policies, etc. for the church as a whole are the prophet and the 12 (as in your example of blacks and the priesthood). How can it be otherwise? Do you suggest that you, or Geoff, or I, or any one of the 10 million or so members has the ability to receive revelation for the whole church?

    A church already exists that, while honoring Joseph Smith, somewhat discounts the role of a prophet, and gives more weight to social justice concerns as advocated by “the world”. I personally don’t want to see the church go down that road.

    I understand that you feel strongly about certain issues, but as m&m points out, not all of us, or perhaps even many of us feel the same way. For example, the portion of the endowment that some women object to is something I am grateful for. I believe that humility and submission as exampled by Jesus Christ are vital to my eternal progress. I am grateful for any reminder to submit my will before God and his plan for me.

    Finally, I agree with Geoff’s premise here because I have done just what he said and over about a 3 year period of prayer and temple attendance with questions in my mind I now have the answers and peace that I needed.

    Comment by C Jones — April 22, 2007 @ 7:07 am

  32. Hmmm…this is not one of your better posts, Geoff.

    Your dismissal of others’ positions (that “could not be more wrong”) as merely “griping about the so-called sexist language of our scriptures and liturgy,” as a “beef” or as simple “complaining” sounds more like a rant itself than a rigorous argument.

    Comment by Peter LLC — April 22, 2007 @ 7:20 am

  33. Geoff, from my perspective, you misrepresent the nature and purpose of the Spirit. I know that sounds severe, but you’ll see that it actually isn’t as confrontational as it sounds up-front, so let me explain.

    Your perspective suggests that the presence of the Spirit as our companion, as promised in the sacramental prayers and elsewhere, is wasted if we don’t get propositional knowledge about theological claims from it. I think the Spirit rarely gives propositional knowledge; it instead gives experience and comfort. The Spirit primarily reveals God as a being, we get to know God and Jesus Christ through the Spirit, as the New Testament suggests — note that the phrase is know as in become acquainted with, not know about as in have propositional knowledge regarding. Knowing someone involves joint emotional experience and the development of empathy, not the acquisition of true sentences. The Spirit likewise is called the Comforter because we receive God’s love, compassion, and comfort through it. Again, none of these involves propositional knowledge. We sometimes also receive personal commandments through the Spirit; these often have limited or no explanation and certainly very scarce theological content.

    Other passages involving the Spirit and truth claims need careful reading, but they are convergent with this perspective. For example, Moroni 10 seems to support Geoff’s position that the Spirit provides access to true propositions about God:

    And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (4-5)

    Placed in context, however, this passage seems to be about the Spirit providing an experience of the goodness and mercy of God — who is the truth of all things — rather than propositional information. Consider, first of all, the chapter’s operational definition of “truth,” in verse 6:

    And whatsoever thing is good is just and true…

    In other words, true here is a synonym for goodness; any good thing — regardless of logical status — is defined as true. So the Spirit will reveal the goodness of all things — not the logical status of all propositions.

    Furthermore, what are the things that Moroni urges the reader to pray about and gain a confirmation of? Isn’t this passage encouraging us to obtain a spiritual witness of the facticity of Book of Mormon events — a clear instance of the Spirit providing propositional knowledge?

    In fact, this may be a decontextualized misreading. Verse 3 explains what the reader should have in mind when turning to prayer:

    Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

    This instruction, to think about the mercy of the Lord is the immediate context for the invitation to pray and receive witness. That the witness we are to receive involves knowing the Lord and His mercy — not the logical status of propositions regarding Book of Mormon events — is supported by verses 6-7:

    …wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost…

    So, in the end, even this toughest case for the hypothesis that personal revelation through the Spirit is fundamentally about personal connection rather than propositional knowledge is consistent with the less-common reading. (It can certainly be read in other ways; all texts can be.)

    If the Spirit’s essential purpose is to provide a personal experience of and connection with God, rather than propositional knowledge, several problems are resolved. First, the problem of false revelations to rank-and-file members and church leaders is accounted for. These revelations give a non-rational (perhaps supra-rational) mystical experience of the divine, and are therefore profoundly subject to human interpolation when rendered as propositions. Second, issues of inconsistency in the details across canonized revelations become less pressing. The revelations retain their divine power even if we accept that humans are responsible for the details at the margin. Third, the subjective experience of many people — in which the Spirit seems to witness to different and even contradictory propositions over the course of a lifetime — becomes sensible. The Spirit isn’t witnessing to specific propositions, but rather the character and being of God.

    I am sure that Geoff and some others will not share this perspective. Furthermore, the readings that Geoff et al. offer of the scriptures in support of their position are generally internally consistent and therefore in no danger of disproof. The difficulty is that my reading has the same characteristics. This situation is fine; we can all be Saints together, even with different understandings of all this. But it does have a tricky logical implication for Geoff’s hypothesis of personal revelation as a trump card. Some members rationally adopt hermeneutics of the Spirit like mine, which leads them to count propositional information originating in the still, small voice as a sort of spectral evidence — persuasive in its account of God’s character, less so in support of propositions about His characteristics. If some listeners have this perspective and others have Geoff’s, personal revelation can never be a trump card because the logical status of propositions it is supposed to support depends on readings of the purpose of the Spirit, about which there is a diversity of views.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — April 22, 2007 @ 8:15 am

  34. RT–That was awesome.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 22, 2007 @ 9:24 am

  35. Without having waded through the comments, let me venture a comment on the post. What, exactly, constitutes a trump card? That something is least fallible or least corrigible?

    It seems to me that the ZD’s would probably grant that personal revelation is quite incorrigible, but that this gives little reason to suppose that it is any more reliable than any other source of info. If this is their view, then I have to agree with them.

    Indeed, the very incorrigibility of personal revelation is exactly what makes its reliability so suspect in my opinion. Since there is little, if any external criterion to measure it against, it is all too tempting to rate the reliability of our personal revelation however high (or low) we want it to be rather than how high (or low) it actually is.

    Comment by Jeff G — April 22, 2007 @ 9:34 am

  36. “I’m a woman, and I don’t share your pain on this.”

    That is not the way to comfort anyone. That is like walking up to an amputee and intentionally pointing out your two healthy, working legs. You don’t have to agree with BiV’s assessment, but how about if you courteously refrain from rubbing in her face that you are blissfully unaffected by that which she struggles with? Should we not ALL share each other’s pain, regardless of whether we are currently experiencing that exact condition in our own lives? If one Mormon woman suffers, do not ALL Mormon women suffer with her? Apparently not.

    BiV, I am a woman, and I share your pain.

    Comment by Beijing — April 22, 2007 @ 11:07 am

  37. Wow. I take 12 hours off and things are hopping around here… I’ll respond to a few comments.

    BiV (#11, 14, 18) — It sounds like you have some very heart wrenching situations you are dealing with regrading a wide range of subjects that this post touches on. I must admit that I wrote this post partially for people is you position. I am absolutely certain that God loves you as much as any of his sons and that your potential as a woman is as great as the potential of any man. But of course I realize that you can’t take my word for it even if you wanted to. So I can only point out the sole path to finding out whether this is true or not: personal revelation. If you want to know where you stand in God’s eyes you simply must find out directly from him. And he can answer — Mormonism is founded on the principle that he can give people such answers.

    While it is true that some men do think they are superior to women, I think they are wrong and I am certain God thinks they are wrong too. So what you are calling the priesthood card I still call the hierarchy card. Claiming that priesthood puts all men on equal footing in this church is like saying being male puts all men in the same footing in a corporation. Being male does not put the mail-room guy on equal footing in the corporation with the CEO; Holding the Priesthood does not put a male missionary in the mission organization with the Mission President.

    Jacob(#16) – Thank you for this powerful and personal example. It makes my point far better than I could with analogies. And with BiV apologizing for being dismissive of your experiences I hope you will contribute more here.

    m&m, Naismith, C Jones — Thanks for your comments. It sounds like we are largely seeing eye to eye on this topic.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 12:31 pm

  38. I think there are two arguments going on here. Geoff is saying that ultimately God will tell you personally how he feels about you and it is your job to go to him to find this out. I believe that is true.

    BiV is saying that there are men in the church who use the “priesthood card” to get what they want. As a woman who can not hold the priesthood she has no access to a “priesthood card” which doesn’t seem fair. I can’t argue with that either, it happens.

    I have served under church leadership where this happens and it was an extremely frustrating experience.

    I’ve served under very innovative and forward thinking church leadership and had a blast.

    It has more to do with individuals I think. Personal revelation becomes even more important in a situation where someone is using the “priesthood card” unwisely. Sometimes my own personal revelation has been the knot at the end of my rope that I’ve clung to while serving under difficult leadership (both men and women).

    I don’t want to just say to BiV,”Sucks for you! Just hang on to the end of your rope!” I think there are things you can do to make your situation better. I’m sure you know that and I don’t want to come across as condescending. I just want you to know that I’ve appreciated your comments and insights you’ve brought here to the thang.

    Oh yeah, once upon a time I worked on a unit in a State Mental Hospital where one of the Lafferty brothers was “staying”. He was one of the biggest A-holes I’ve ever met. I’m sure you guys are glad to know that.

    Comment by Kristen J — April 22, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  39. To BiV and others – a few years ago I was in a training being conducted by a general authority who posed the question, “if a bishop and his counselors cannot agree on a course of action, who makes the decision?” About half the men in the group (this was a priesthood leadership meeting) responded in unison “the bishop!” The Seventy appeared shocked, and then guided us through a discussion of what might be referred to here as “the priesthood card” or the “hierarchy card”. He quoted D&C 107:27, which requires decisions of the 1st Presidency and the Twelve to be unanimous to be valid and powerful, and encouraged us to use that model in decision making in all our roles. He flatly stated that if there is not consensus within a bishopric, a Relief Society presidency, or a marriage, the decision should normally be delayed until consensus can be achieved. He supported this idea with D&C 121:37, which forbids compulsion in exercising authority. My point in sharing this is to suggest that when “the priesthood card is played”, it is done so contrary to the thinking and practice of the current senior leaders of the church and represents a faulty understanding and application of authority.

    I doubt any of this is very comforting to someone who is struggling with a leader (or partner) with such a faulty understanding. I just hope we can distinguish between institutional flaws and local morons.

    Comment by J. Michael — April 22, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  40. Eve – Thanks for rebelling against your doctor and commenting. Here are a few response for you.

    The very fact that we have scriptures, prophets, and the temple suggests that personal revelation is not enough

    I don’t think it actually suggest that personal revelation is not enough. Rather, it simply means that we don’t have to start from scratch and that we can learn from the revelations others have had before us. (And frankly, it is easier to get a redlight/greenlight type of revelation about someone else’s written revelation than to start from scratch so it has practical benefits.) But if we were stuck on a desert island without any scriptures, prophets, or temples I think personal revelation would be plenty to keep us in close touch with God — close enough to even become one with God and become exalted I’d say. (Personal revelation had to start somewhere — look at Abraham. He did just fine without prophets and temples…)

    A major problem I see with your model is that it precludes apostasy.

    No it doesn’t. We should always follow real revelations from God. Joseph Smith was an apostate from creedal Christianity for soing just that. The problem you are talking about is not with real revelation — it is with false revelation which I fully admit can be hard to discern at times.

    So your Exhibits A-C are not what I would call real personal revelation from God at all. Those are examples of false revelation. There is always a danger of false revelations. But just because some people mistake their own psychosis for revelations from God does not mean there aren’t real revelations from God available to us. Sorting out the difference can be arduous but it also can be done.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  41. J. Michael, while I appreciate your sentiments (your thoughts on how decisions should be made), I have a hard time accepting that 50% (half! not just one or two!) of men in a ward believing in the Priesthood “trump card” is a result of their being “local morons.”

    Comment by Seraphine — April 22, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  42. If some listeners have this perspective and others have Geoff’s, personal revelation can never be a trump card because the logical status of propositions it is supposed to support depends on readings of the purpose of the Spirit, about which there is a diversity of views.

    Excellent summation of this issue, RT.

    In the context of blacks and the priesthood, just telling someone to “pray about it” or that “I know God loves you” does nothing to resolve the very practical effects of being restricted from participating in or performing important spiritual ordinances. People who have access to these opportunities for spiritual growth should be more empathetic and less condescending towards those who are denied the blessings that you enjoy.

    Not only that, as I mentioned, it may soon be revealed to the Church authorities that the particular tradition/policy/doctrine must change. Given this history, we need to acknowledge that our beliefs confirmed through personal revelation can be and are subject to change (“trumped”?) by revelation given to Church authorities. Therefore, emphatic pronouncements declaring that you are right and others are wrong are unhelpful at best.

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  43. Geoff J (#40), generally, the way I find that works the best for sorting out whether or not my personal revelations are from God are whether or not they are in line with church teachings (and this is the measuring stick that church leaders often give us–we are repeatedly told that if we get personal revelation that is in conflict with church teachings on a particular matter, we can assume that it is not the spirit that is giving us this message).

    This is the context in which we women (the ones who struggle) are trying to make sense of things. Although our church leaders affirm personal revelation, they also tell us that any revelations that are contrary to the teachings of the church are not from the Spirit. How do we then make sense of personal revelation that tells us we are equal to men in the sight of God in the context of church teachings and experiences that make us doubt this. Should we accept the words of the GAs that tell us that our personal revelation is what’s in error?

    Comment by Seraphine — April 22, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

  44. Seraphine -

    You’re right. (I regret the “moron” comment, by the way, – a bit gratuitous.) My memory is the Seventy was acknowledging that the problem had been quite widespread historically, but he was surprised the collective understanding hadn’t matured, at least in our group. And it might have been less than half the group, which was small – maybe 15 people. But the “spring butts” who responded were so confident they fairly shouted their answer, making their number seem disturbingly large.

    Comment by J. Michael — April 22, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

  45. Thomas Parkin — Nice comment.

    ECS (#29) — As C Jones and Naismith pointed out, you are conflating the personal revelation issue with the stewardship issue. We can all receive revelation over that which we have stewardship but not beyond. Obviously we all have stewardship over ourselves so those who wonder where they stand in the eyes of God can get the definitive answer to that question privately.

    Peter LLC — I know your comment is mostly a criticism of this post, but since I don’t really recognize your name all I can think about is that I’m flattered to learn you’ve read other posts of mine before this…

    RTI am sure that Geoff and some others will not share this perspective.

    Why would you think that? As I read your comment, you are not precluding the concept that God can give us propositional knowledge; you are only saying our receiving propositional knowledge is the exception rather than the rule. I don’t disagree with that at all. Heck, if we always have the spirit with us the notion that we are always receiving proposition knowledge doesn’t even make sense.

    Beijing — You could have been more charitable in your reading of m&m. She simply was saying she didn’t share BiV’s experiences. But if you read her other comments she was trying to comfort her.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 1:08 pm

  46. I see. So even if you are locked out of the temple based upon the racist prejudices of Church leaders, you should find comfort in the truth that God loves you and all is well in Zion.

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  47. ECS (#46),

    What is your point? I am not getting it at all… particularly as it relates to this specific post.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

  48. My point (and I do have one!) is that personal revelation is not a cure all for all the ills that plague our religious community. As others have pointed out, personal revelation is extremely limited and subject to interpretation/re-interpretation. Personal revelation does not help someone who is refused access to spiritual benefits based upon arbitrary, man-made policies instead of on divine inspiration. If the remedy of resolving all concerns is to tell someone to pray about it until they feel comfortable with the status quo means that we may be complacently accepting of unfair policies and false doctrine.

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  49. Geoff J, if I’m reading ECS correctly, she is echoing the point I made in comment #43.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 22, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  50. Yes, thanks Seraphine.

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  51. Yes, actually you should find comfort in the truth that God loves you.

    Geoff’s not saying that once you find out how much God loves you life will suddenly turn into a wonderful, adversity-free Utopia. Life will always be hard. Take comfort in that fact that you have the ability to go to your Savior and find out how he feels about you. Which in turn will help you rise above the crap. Maybe not as much as you’d like, but even just a little bit is good.

    Everybody sing with me…”You’re not alone!”

    Comment by Kristen J — April 22, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  52. J. Michael, thanks for thanks the acknowledgement. And I did appreciate the point you were trying to make that things are changing (albeit slowly).

    Comment by Seraphine — April 22, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  53. Hi, Kristen-

    Thanks for your response. Just because God loves you doesn’t mean He wants you to be treated like crap :)

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  54. 36 Bejing (and to BiV as well).
    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to throw the pain in her face. As Geoff said, I DO care and am very sorry for the pain. He summarized my point — that my experiences and perspectives differ but I am sorry you (both of you, all of you who do) hurt.

    Comment by m&m — April 22, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  55. Kristen J, I do find comfort in the fact that God loves me. It’s hard, however, for me to sort out that one of the adversities in my life is figuring out how to be a member of this church and stay sane at the same time. Which is not to say that my own personality and behavioral proclivities, etc., do not play a role in this. But I guess I’d love the whole church teaching of “you may encounter trials in your life, but coming to church will help you deal with them and make you happy” to actually be true for me. And I’d love it if my difficulties with church didn’t influence in any way my relationship with God (which, thusly, interferes with the comfort I can get from that relationship).

    Comment by Seraphine — April 22, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

  56. I’m a lowly assistant primary pianist (my second favorite calling — my all-time favorite being full-time primary pianist) and as such I must answer to the, er, “primary” primary pianist, who is female. I also must answer to the primary chorister, who is female; and to the second counselor in the primary presidency, who is female; and ultimately to the primary president, who is female.

    Now should I suppose that God loves me less because the stars seem to be against me ever holding a position in the church that involves some kind of administrative influence over others — none at all whatsoever?

    I should add that, as an extraction specialist (my second calling) my superior is female.

    Comment by Jack — April 22, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

  57. I have enjoyed reading these comments.

    Kristen #38
    I think there are two arguments going on here. Geoff is saying that ultimately God will tell you personally how he feels about you and it is your job to go to him to find this out. I believe that is true.

    BiV is saying that there are men in the church who use the “priesthood card” to get what they want. As a woman who can not hold the priesthood she has no access to a “priesthood card” which doesn’t seem fair. I can’t argue with that either, it happens.

    Thank you for that concise summary. You’re right, I’m really not at odds with what Geoff is saying.

    J. Michael #39
    The teachings of the Seventy you mentioned are very welcome. I hope it is clear that I don’t believe “playing the Priesthood card” is in any sense the way the Lord intends the Priesthood to be used. I know that. I just see that in a situation where one gender has it and one doesn’t there is so much potential for abuse and there is nothing that can be done about it when it happens. The only suggestions that have been made so far are: read the offender D&C 121 then kick him in the balls, ignore the problem since most women don’t feel that way, and make a figurative “knot” from the intimations of the Spirit that one can receive and hang on.

    I still don’t see this problem as purely hierarchical but I suspect no one is about to change their views on this, oh well.

    Beijing, I appreciate your comment. I know M&M means well and is offering comfort, but to take Beijing’s analogy a bit further sometimes I feel that all of us women are limbless and half of them are saying that it is perfectly ok with them to go about life without legs. The brethren will carry them anywhere they want to go, and who would want to have to run a marathon anyway?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 22, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  58. I totally agree with ECS that Jesus wouldn’t want you to be treated like crap. The “martyr syndrome” that plagues quite a few Mormon’s is a post in itself.

    I had a friend who was totally against a calling that was made to a leadership position once. She felt so strongly about it that she went and discussed it with church leadership. The leadership disagreed with her and sent her on her merry way.

    She really struggled for a long time with this situation. Eventually she had to decide if this particular battle was worth her church membership. She decided that it wasn’t and while she still struggles with it she has let it go (kind of).

    Honestly, I was thrilled that she went and talked with the church leadership. That way they learned that not everyone was thrilled with their decision and they now had more information. If nothing else, she planted a seed.

    ECS: I guess I’m just curious about what you think should happen with something like that? She can’t really sit outside the church leader’s home and march around with plaques (well she could and lose all of her credibility in the process).

    Everyone else sustained the calling she was against. Should the leadership say, “Well, Sister So-and-so doesn’t like the calling so I guess we better not go forward with it.”

    Personally, I think that if you are in a situation where you feel like someone is using their priesthood authority unrighteously then you need to speak up.

    If my husband comes home to me and say, “Kristen, as your priesthood holder I feel that we should never have chocolate ever again.”

    First of all I would look at him and shout, “Are you insane?!” Then I would pray about it.

    If I still felt like he was off his rocker (which I would) and we couldn’t come to some type of agreement then I would take it to the next level: Talk to a marriage counselor, my bishop, my stake president, what ever.

    In reality they would say, “Geez, let the woman have her chocolate!” But, if they agreed with my husband then I guess I would have to decide which I valued more, the chocolate or my relationship with my spouse.

    Sorry, this was a hum dinger of a response and probably makes no sense at all.

    Comment by Kristen J — April 22, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

  59. Oh, and if Geoff ever did say anything like that to me I’d probably kick him in the balls too.

    Comment by Kristen J — April 22, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  60. I like your picture of the trump card. :) But I’m still not convinced. I’m not at all discounting the vital importance of personal revelation in our tradition, but I think it functions in a dialectic with what I might call external revelation (the kind contained in scripture and prophetic teaching and so forth) in which both sides inform our understanding of the other.

    You’re right to note that we believe in the scriptures and in prophets on the basis of personal revelation. But I would note that this goes in the other direction, too. What makes us even think that that God might communicate to us through feelings or experiences? What criteria do we use to judge those impressions? How do we interpret them? External revelation clearly plays a role in answering these questions.

    So while our personal revelation does indeed inform the way in which we read and understand scripture, it’s equally true that scripture influences how we interpret our personal revelation. One danger I see in attempting to make this relationship unidirectional (using one’s personal revelation as a lens to interpret scripture, but not the other way around), is that I think it then becomes far too easy to read scripture as simply confirming what we already believe, instead of examining what our texts actually say.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 22, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

  61. I think J. Michael’s perspective is correct – government by consensus building is the doctrinally mandated mode of operation. I also think there is a real historical tension on some of these issues. For example, traditionally members have been taught to unconditionally yield to a priesthood leaders sense of inspiration in extending callings, leaving members feeling that it would be illegitimate (and that they lack testimony) if they decline a calling for any but the most hard clad reasons.

    Now that is clearly not consensus based leadership. Not only that, it appears that convention has had a net negative affect on the church by burning out a small number of faithful to the extent they go inactive rather than admit they do not have perfect confidence in the nature and timing of the callings they are given.

    In addition, traditionally there is a cultural prohibition on volunteering for just about anything without a specific request. So no one can even ask to participate in the areas they are interested in serving in without appearing to be second guessing the leadership’s sense of inspiration.

    There are signs that this has changed somewhat, but ultimately, the issue is how does one best propagate such a change in presumption so that prior mistakes can be corrected?

    A general conference talk is really too limited of a forum. Training sessions will not reach those not currently in the proper callings. Books authored by church leaders but published outside church auspices do not carry the necessary authority to overcome previous tradition.

    That leaves one thing in my opinion – church sponsored publication of sufficiently in-depth treatments of these issues, authored by a general authority, but explicitly endorsed by the institutional Church as an authoritative (but not canonical nor last word) exposition of best practices in this area. Then issue a new edition every ten years or so until the time comes to have a new authority write a new book from scratch, with the same imprimitur from the Church.

    The advantage of course would be that every moderately serious gospel scholar would feel obligated to study any sufficiently comprehensive and originally authored treatment of the subject that was formally endorsed by the Church (in the manner of Jesus the Christ or Articles of Faith) and the principles contained would pass more quickly into wide circulation.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 22, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  62. Kristen J, your chocolate example made me laugh. But I was left in suspense by your conclusion:

    I guess I would have to decide which I valued more, the chocolate or my relationship with my spouse.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 22, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

  63. Hey Lynette, I liked what you had to say on your comment by the way.

    Geoff would have to have a very good reason for me to give up chocolate ie. “Cleaning your fat rolls has become and full-time job and no one in the family has time to do it.” or “You have used all of the mortgage payment money on chocolate for the last time!”

    If he could come up with a logical reason then I would probably give it up.

    If he wanted me to give up chocolate just so that he could exert his power over me than he could just forget it.

    I guess the ball would then be in his court. He would then have to choose which he valued more a chocolate-filled, happy wife, or winning the power-struggle.

    Comment by Kristen J — April 22, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  64. Ok I’m back…

    ECS (#48): My point (and I do have one!) is that personal revelation is not a cure all for all the ills that plague our religious community.

    Oh good. Well I completely agree with that point.

    You’ll notice that I only claimed that personal revelation is the ultimate source of our knowledge about our relationship with God and where we stand in the universe. I have not made any claims regarding personal revelation and a desire to change the various policies of the church.

    Seraphine (#43): Should we accept the words of the GAs that tell us that our personal revelation is what’s in error?

    I suppose that we should cross that bridge if we get to it as as a church. If the GA’s of the church start telling us that women are less worthy of God’s love in the eternities and they have a lesser potential than men then all of us who have had personal revelation to the contrary will have to decide what to do about that. Thankfully I suspect the chances of that happen are basically zilch.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

  65. Jack (#56),

    What? You’re not pulling your priesthood card to get everything you want in primary?? (I guess you don’t like the idea of being eviscerated by your current church bosses better than any of the rest of us do… ;-) )

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  66. Kristen – you are hilarious! I loved the chocolate example. And with respect to your friend who talked to the bishop (or whomever was in charge), I think she did everything she could have to voice her concerns and to change the decision. At the end of the day, the only reason to be in this Church, warts and all, is if you receive a personal confirmation from God that this is where He wants you to be. Crap or no crap.

    That said, we also know that our leaders are only human, and we all operate within our own cultural “filter” of how things should be. I don’t like the idea of personal revelation being the ultimate trump card, because it seems to deemphasize the fact that building God’s Church – building as close to a perfect Church that we can build on this earth – takes a lot of hard, painful work – both physically and spiritually.

    We can’t grow complacent when we think we have found the answers – we have to be willing to re-examine our beliefs and be willing to consider that we may be wrong – personal revelation or no. I think that’s where faith comes in. Maybe faith is the ultimate trump card.

    Comment by ECS — April 22, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

  67. Lynette (#60),

    I don’t see much to disagree with in your comment #60. The one thing I will note though is that it seems you are basically making the old “which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” argument with personal revelation and scriptures. But I think it doesn’t really work here because we know very clearly that personal revelation came before any scriptures (since all scripture is the result of someone’s personal revelation). So if there were no scriptures in existence there could still be personal revelation from God, but if personal revelation never existed there would be no divinely inspired scriptures.

    Now I am not saying that having scriptures doesn’t help with our personal revelation. They help us a great deal in learning how to have dialogue with God. We start with redlight/greenlight revelation and if we get good at that we can get to more advanced forms. But in the end the goal is for us to have a personal relationship with God and that requires personal revelation.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 4:39 pm

  68. I felt I needed to apologize for sounding condescending in one of my comments above, and I still will. I don’t want to approach conversations in that way and looking back, I think my last comment from last nite didn’t come across well. I’m sorry.

    I feel that all of us women are limbless and half of them are saying that it is perfectly ok with them to go about life without legs….
    …I totally agree with you on that one. The “martyr syndrome” that plagues quite a few Mormon’s is a post in itself.

    BUT these comments come across as condescending to women like me. It feels a bit like “you” (the collective you – women who struggle and think the church insitutionally needs to change for “all of us women” – this shows up a lot in the ‘nacle) are patting women who don’t struggle on the head, as if to say, “oh, you poor dears, you don’t realize how oppressed you really are.” I don’t feel limbless, I don’t feel the men think we are, I’m not ignorant, and I don’t expect the men to carry me/us. I feel we carry the workload of the Lord together as men and women. Please leave room and respect for other women to feel happy with the way things are without minimizing, patronizing or even criticizing their point of view.

    Comment by m&m — April 22, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  69. ECS- Thanks. Just so you know that while I do have a nasty chocolate habit, now that I’m in my mid-30′s I’ve had to develop a nasty exercise habit so that my family will not be forced to clean my fat rolls.

    I totally agree with you though. I think that a lot of the issues we are talking about are based more in culture and less in spirituality and these things need to be examined.

    Now that we live in AZ Geoff and I live around a lot more Mormons than we ever have in our lives (except the college years). Let me tell you, I have really struggled with some of the Mormon cultural aspects here. It would take me all day to cover it.

    I think a lot of the Mormons are starting to feel growing pains. The younger generations are really starting to have a different perspective than the older generations.

    I’ll give you a quick example: One of my friends mothers was visiting her. This friend had a passel of young children, including a newborn who was keeping her from getting any sleep.

    At the end of her mother’s visit the mother looked at her daughter and said, “You really should try and serve your husband more.”

    The daughter looked at the mother and said, “Geez mom. He has two hands, what the heck?”

    I’m sensing a change in the air.

    Comment by Kristen J — April 22, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  70. “You have used all of the mortgage payment money on chocolate for the last time!”

    LOL. Now I’m imagining how such a thing could in fact happen in my life, were I forced to choose between mere temporal concerns (e.g., having a place to live) and that which brings true happiness (e.g., chocolate) . . .

    (Yes, clearly I need help. ;) And apologies for threadjacking away from the discussion of epistemology and the nature of the universe and all that; apparently I’m easily distracted by words like “chocolate.”)

    Comment by Lynnette — April 22, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

  71. ….sometimes I feel that all of us women are limbless and half of them are saying that it is perfectly ok with them to go about life without legs.

    That’s NOT what I am saying. I am saying that I don’t feel limbless. I’m very sorry that you feel limbless, but I don’t.

    I feel valued and respected by my ward leadership, a full partner with my husband, and nothing but positive things about women from church leadership when I re-listen to all the general conference addresses on my Sunday afternoon walks.

    And it is this difference among women that make it difficult to come up with any blanket statements about women this or women that.

    I was impressed with this woman from the scriptures in a recent Sunday School lesson, a women from Canaan who is mentioned in Matthew 15:

    24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
    25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
    26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
    27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
    28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy afaith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

    So here is this woman who doesn’t just meekly give up the first time Jesus tells her no. She speaks up to him TWICE. But she does it respectfully, acknowledging him as “Lord.” And he grants her desire. So I don’t think the church is constantly telling women that they shouldn’t speak up for themselves.

    Comment by Naismith — April 22, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

  72. Mark (#61) – Good points.

    ECS (#63): At the end of the day, the only reason to be in this Church, warts and all, is if you receive a personal confirmation from God that this is where He wants you to be

    Amen.

    I don’t like the idea of personal revelation being the ultimate trump card

    Just in case it isn’t clear yet, let me again point out that I never made such a broad claim. My claim was that personal revelation must act as our ultimate source of metaphysical or theological truths though.

    m&m
    (#68) and naismith (#71) — Good points.

    Kristen (#69) — As you know, stories like that infuriate me as much as much as they do you. But I agree with you that change seems to be in the air (as it apparently always has been and always will be).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 22, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  73. Geoff, I love you! I’m so glad somebody came out and said it!

    (PS: I’m a girl, and the feminist bloggernacle weirds me out for just the reason you just hit.)

    My perception on a lot of this discussion is not that they’re necessarily always worried about their own personal relationship with God, but what *other* people in the church must think of women. Sure, my personal revelation is fine for me, but it won’t mean anything to other people!

    So what? If you know X is true, who cares if your bishop is a so-and-so? That’s his problem. Joseph Smith himself knew a lot of things were true, and there were a lot of people who didn’t just think he was funny for it- they thought he was nuts, a con man, etc. Come to think…. a lot of them still do.

    But you and I know better, don’t we? It’s amazing what you can know on your own as long as the way other people take it isn’t your top concern.

    It’s not better teachings we need, it’s men and women with the guts to believe the ones we’ve got. Or as I like to think, the arrogance to do it. Feels more distinguished. : )

    Comment by Sarah Taber — April 22, 2007 @ 9:28 pm

  74. Wow. Quite the discussion, and there seems to be a lot of baggage. It is a pretty wild ride to read through all the twists and turns of the post.

    I want to defend Geoff’s original point about the ultimate trump card. All of the discussion about whether a particular personal revelation is correct or not is pretty meaningless. At the end of the day, you hold the entire responsibility for your beliefs and actions. That is the core fundamental belief (free agency) of the Gospel. Personal revelation is the key to everything. If you only do things because a Church leader told you, you are giving up your responsibility. You have a duty to seek out personal revelation to verify the teachings of our leaders. To do otherwise is to surrender your free agency to someone else. In my mind, there just aren’t any men that great (see Job 32)

    Being a convert, I sometimes forget about BIC members and the fact that they may not necessarily have made a conscious choice, and may be partaking of the Gospel as a matter of culture. For converts, we had to choose. You can join because you like the missionaries, or you can join because you want to be part of the social aspects. Without the specific personal search for the truth, you are tossed about by the whims of the group. With converts, they simply slide out where they came from, but I bet that’s pretty hard when this is where you came from.

    For me (and that’s all I can really say, anyway), I did the search for the truth, and learned that the Church is the Church of God on the Earth at this time. The rest of my family didn’t, and are not active in the Church. But in the end, when faced with a Bishopric who suggests I might be apostate for suggesting we shouldn’t hold Scout Camp over a Sunday (true story), I look into my heart, and know the feelings I had. It doesn’t matter if my personal revelation matches, or is agreed upon by anyone else, it is in my heart that I base my decisions.

    Will I agree with everything suggested by my priesthood leadership, no. That’s ok, not everything in the running of the Church is the Gospel. Some things are just decisions made to meet current needs. For example, do you really think it is the Gospel that men can’t teach primary children (at least alone) – no – it is a need due to circumstances of the world we live in. I feel somewhat insulted by that guideline, as teaching children is my favorite task. While I’m not suggesting it is the same as BiV’s issue, I suggest I might share some of that indignation. But, in the end, I still have the Holy Ghost to confirm to me that the Gospel, and the Church are true.

    In the end, that is how I base the decisions of how to live for myself and family. So, it is the ultimate trump card. No one can take that away from me.

    Comment by Rick — April 22, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  75. BIV-

    ….sometimes I feel that all of us women are limbless and half of them are saying that it is perfectly ok with them to go about life without legs.

    I have to echo Naismith and m&m and say that this does come across as condescending. I won’t bore you with my own religious history, but you can’t know how I or anyone else came to the peace we feel now. Please don’t assume naiveté.
    It is a chilling image, however, and I believe you when you say that this is how you feel. I can only tell you that Christ is the One who invites us to arise and walk. He does reveal His love for us.

    Comment by C Jones — April 23, 2007 @ 7:46 am

  76. Sarah – if it weirds you out to listen to feminists on the bloggernacle, try _being_ one! :)

    Kristen – you’re awesome. I’ve forgotten how much I’ve enjoyed reading your posts/comments here. Your post on being stalked by the Living Scriptures sales guy is one of my favorites ever.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 8:00 am

  77. Sarah Taber — Thanks. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in suspecting there is some straining at/out gnats going on with this subject.

    Rick — Amen brother. Well said.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 8:24 am

  78. If I may offer two comments. I couldn’t help but think of Job while reading this discussion. His problems were of three main kinds – those tragedies that mortality too often foist upon us; his personal feelings of despair; and Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. These three “friends” represent people who thought they understood how things with God should work. Job, however, was bouyed up by his personal revelation and, through patience, able to function in spite of these. There are great blessings specified in the scriptures for those who wait upon the Lord. (“Wait,” as in patience and as in service.)

    One aspect of my personal revelation about the holding of the priesthood came, oddly enough, from reading a news article in the Houston Chronicle nearly 30 years ago when the Lutheran Church was having a big discussion about women in the clergy. There was a picture in the article of a young, female acolyte in her first church service who was holding a candle lighter/snuffer. She was pristine, immaculate. Not a hair out of place. Dressed beautifully. Nails done. Any mother or dad would have burst with pride. As I looked at that and thought of my own daughter, the Spirit whispered, “There’s too great a peril to abandon that duty to the sisters and then how would the men ever learn?”

    Comment by Mondo Cool — April 23, 2007 @ 8:27 am

  79. C’mon, Geoff. Most of the difficulty in communication here is you think people’s concerns are “gnats” – and keep swatting us away! Comments like your #77 are pretty effective insect repellant, though.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 8:48 am

  80. ECS,

    I fully recognize there are camels here too. My complaint is only with the confusing/conflating of the camels and the gnats. As Sarah said, the real truth of how God views us is “the camel”; once we have discerned the real truth on the big questions, the annoyances we have with the false opinions of others are “gnats”.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  81. ECS,

    For what it is worth, I think the day might come that there will be institutional changes that will allow women participate again in healing ordinances and whatnot like they did 100+ years ago in the church (seemingly contra the comment by Mondo Cool). But again, this discussion is not about institutional changes over which we individually have very little influence (as you seems to want to bring in to the discussion) — this discussion is about where we turn for our answers to the ultimate questions about God and ourselves in the universe. We certainly shouldn’t turn to the opinions of other people for those answers. We turn to God for that.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  82. Geoff, I realize that’s the topic here. I might be misinterpreting you, but it seems like you are saying personal revelation is all we need. While I agree that personal revelation is KEY, our responsibilities borne of being a member of God’s Church absolutely do not end by receiving personal revelation of God’s love for us. Isn’t _everyone_ entitled to feel God’s love? Mormon or not?

    I worry that your approach encourages people to overlook some serious problems that we can and should rectify in the Church. We are human, our leaders are human, and we all make mistakes in receiving and acting upon revelation. Receiving personal revelation that God loves us does not entitle us to complacency.

    See Ronan’s most recent post at BCC for ways that we could improve the experience of many women in the Church. We can’t merely rest on our personal belief that God loves women just as much as He loves men, we need to put our beliefs and our personal revelation into action.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  83. but it seems like you are saying personal revelation is all we need

    All we need for what? I think this is the piece where you are misreading me…

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 9:41 am

  84. G.J. (#81):

    FWIW, I, too, wouldn’t be surprised at that day; but, not before the menfolk of the church were fully ready. Sisters do administer some ordinances now, anyway.

    Job didn’t turn to the opinions of others.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — April 23, 2007 @ 9:43 am

  85. Here’s what I think you’re saying. ECS, if you ever wonder if God loves you as much as he loves me, then you should ask Him in prayer. If you ask with a sincere heart, He will no doubt confirm to you through personal revelation that He loves women as much as He loves men. After you receive this personal revelation from God, don’t worry about disturbing scriptures that say women are the property of men. Additionally, don’t worry too much about (for instance) you being unable to give a blessing of healing for your children. You know God loves you as much as any man, so it’s not important that you’re prohibited from performing these ordinances.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  86. Well we are at least in the same ballpark it seems like.

    The question this post is designed to answer is “what is my ultimate source of knowledge about where I stand in God’s eyes and what my ultimate potential and standing is in the universe?” The answer is simple: The ultimate source for that particular bit of knowledge is God himself and we must all learn that for ourselves through personal revelation.

    Ok, now let’s say ECS has done that already. God has revealed to you that you have potential to become as he is and that no other being on earth has more potential than you. If that is the case then there are no more “disturbing scriptures” on the subject for you because you have been told by God himself what the proper interpretation of our scriptures is. Sure, those ambiguous scriptures might be disturbing to people who don’t know the metaphysical truth behind the subject because said people are filled with anxiety over the possibility that the ultimate truth is that God is a sexist and women are no better than glorified pets of men. But you know better so you are left to bear testimony to them about their fears and invite them to go ask God themselves like you did.

    Now on a completely different subject — you are disappointed that the current policy of the church does not encourage you to participate in the ordinances of anointing the sick by the laying on of hands. However, since you are tight with God you also know that you can heal (as a gift of the spirit) as well as any priesthood holder right now so you get busy healing (the camel) rather than getting caught up with the parts that you aren’t encouraged to do (the gnat).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 10:13 am

  87. Geoff,

    Thanks for the explanation/clarification. Your comment #86 reminds me of Bob Dylan’s classic song, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)“.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 10:28 am

  88. Exactly ECS. It does remind me of my kids coming to me with a boo boo. They think it is the end of the world when I know a kiss on the boo boo and a Band-Aid will do the job just fine. Of course in this case the parent we need to turn to is in heaven.

    Until one receives personal revelation from God on where they really stand in the universe, these anxieties can become mentally/emotionally crippling. That’s why I am so vigorously recommending getting through to God on this subject. It’s not the sort of thing we should just take another person’s word on.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  89. Ok, now let’s say ECS has done that already. God has revealed to you that you have potential to become as he is and that no other being on earth has more potential than you. If that is the case then there are no more “disturbing scriptures” on the subject for you because you have been told by God himself what the proper interpretation of our scriptures is.

    But in this scenario, has God revealed the “proper interpretation” of sacred texts, or the “truth” (an important distinction)? In the face of an unequivocal, unambiguous revelation to this effect, I agree there would be no more disturbing scriptures–I would have some grounds for separating inspired from uninspired passages. I would conclude that the temple ceremony and much of church doctrine is equally uninspired, indicating wrongly as it does that righteous women attain the status of Heavenly Mother rather than becoming Gods themselves and heads of Godheads. I would conclude that any talk about becoming a priestess to my husband, for example, is sheer nonsense and utterly contrary to the divine will. (Given such information, I can’t say that I would necessarily remain a member of the Church, but that’s probably a separate issue.)

    Comment by Kiskilili — April 23, 2007 @ 10:38 am

  90. Hmm. Well, instead of thinking of these issues as “boo boos”, try thinking of them as a Class IV hemorrhage.

    Not that I would dispute the effectiveness of your kisses, but these wounds run deep – well past the Band-Aid stage. (i.e., BiV’s posts).

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 10:41 am

  91. overlook some serious problems that we can and should rectify in the Church

    What “should” be rectified, and according to whom, though? I personally don’t feel there are serious problems to rectify and change. For me, there’s the rub. I’m not overlooking, I’m just not agreeing.

    86: Geoff especially in your second paragraph you may have come closest to hitting the mark as to why women like me AREN’T worried about gender issues in the Church. Thanks.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 10:42 am

  92. But in this scenario, has God revealed the “proper interpretation” of sacred texts, or the “truth” (an important distinction)?

    I believe He has.

    And I really, really have a hard time when someone who doesn’t like the temple ceremony or other things she/he thinks are sexist wants to declare them uninspired. That isn’t your job to do.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  93. m&m, I’m so glad you have the peace you need to be happy in the Church. I mean that with all sincerity.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  94. Sorry, M&M–I’m evidently not making myself clear. I meant this only as a thought experiment; I’ll rephrase it in general rather than specific terms to make it less offensive: an individual believes she has had a revelation that doctrine x is true, whereas her institution’s liturgy is proclaiming doctrine not-x. I’m not convinced it’s appropriate to use personal revelation to explicate the meaning of a text–I was trying to illustrate, rather, how personal revelation might be used critique the text itself.

    (If personal revelation is at the heart of the Mormon experience, then using our own experience of God to fumblingly assess the inspired nature of a text most certainly is our job to do.)

    Comment by Kiskilili — April 23, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  95. Geoff, I dunno if you missed my other comment (This post has exploded so much since the last time I commented. It was in the teens then. I am not even going to attempt to wade through the 70 comments since then.) BUT the concern I see with personal revelation as the ultimate trump card is relative uncertainty in what is and is not a revelation. (I am not here directly the women’s issue, but would like to discuss the epistomological issue underlying it.) It requires faith on our part to discern what is revelatory and what is merely wishful thinking. personal revelation likes to be supported by “the mouths of two or three witnesses”. You yourself say that you believe revelation comes to us via a filter, so we have the worry of what is God in the revelation, and what is just us filtering God. Plus on top of that, revelation is very dependent on timing and numerous other factors.

    For example, when september 11th roled around, I was on my mission in the philippines. (I was 24 at the time.) Afterthat I prayed about it and thought I should join the military. I felt spiritually assued this was a good path for me. I got home, got married, and my wife and I went to the temple and prayed about whether we should still follow that path and the answer was yes, we should. We felt very confident it was revelation to us, especially in that we both felt good with it, and I felt strongly it was what the Lord wanted. Then about a year went by while we got all of our paper work done and I was about to go into the military. In a miraculous fashion(not like Jesus, but the miracle of it is a story for another time.), my wife became pregnant and it turned out that the baby would be born at the same time I was supposed to go to training for the military. While I sat in room, waiting to swear the oath that would make me a member of the military. A prompting came to me to ask my wife what she felt spiritually speaking. As we discussed it, we recognized a revelation in that moment of what we needed to do, and it was to NOT join the military. So we got up and left.

    So was my first answer filtered by my desire to serve my country in it’s moment of need, and my second answer filtered by my desire to support my wife in her moment of need? How much of the answers where God then, and how much was me, being the filter? Was God’s answer always really just “It’s up to you whether you will do this or not.”?

    Comment by Matt W. — April 23, 2007 @ 11:03 am

  96. m&m, for what it’s worth, I think those here who are troubled by the temple ceremony are troubled precisely because they take its claim to inspiration so seriously.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 23, 2007 @ 11:16 am

  97. Kiskilili,
    One must also keep in mind that there is more than one way to interpret the scriptures and liturgy. Some of us have personal revelation both that God loves women and men equally and that the Church of Jesus Christ is led by true prophets. That helps some of us interpret the scriptures and liturgy in non-disturbing ways.

    Comment by Tom — April 23, 2007 @ 11:20 am

  98. If that is the case then there are no more “disturbing scriptures” on the subject for you because you have been told by God himself what the proper interpretation of our scriptures is.

    I see this as an example of the unidirectional approach that I raised concerns about earlier, in which personal revelation is used to interpret scripture but not the other way around. As I said before, I think it’s problematic to read the scriptures with an assumption that we already know what they mean (e.g., that men and women are equally valued by God); if we’re going to seriously engage our texts, I think we have to be open to the possibility that they might challenge some of our previously held beliefs, not simply confirm them.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 23, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  99. m&m, for what it’s worth, I think those here who are troubled by the temple ceremony are troubled precisely because they take its claim to inspiration so seriously.

    Just to clarify, because I looked back at this and realized that it might have come across wrong–I’m not at all meaning to imply that only those who take it seriously are disturbed by it. :) Only that someone who could easily dismiss the whole thing as uninspired would probably be less likely to spend a lot of time grappling with concerns about it.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 23, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  100. Kiskilili (#89): But in this scenario, has God revealed the “proper interpretation” of sacred texts, or the “truth”(an important distinction)

    In that scenario God revealed the truth. I would be interested in hearing more about how/why the distinction you made is so important though.

    I would have some grounds for separating inspired from uninspired passages.

    The issue here is not over inspired or uninspired passages of scripture or liturgy — it is over the truth. I hold that an inspired interpretation is of the texts will reveal the truth to us. (I am ultimately only interested in the truth on these things after all).

    I would conclude that the temple ceremony and much of church doctrine is equally uninspired,

    How do you know what you would conclude if you have not yet had such an unambiguous revelatory experience as you described? I recommend that all the saints seek such experiences as all the prophets have before us. As Moses lamented:

    And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! (Num 11:29)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 11:54 am

  101. ECS (#90): Not that I would dispute the effectiveness of your kisses

    The effectiveness of my kisses for my children is not the issue. The issue is that when they approach me with wounds they fear are serious I can immediately tell if they are hemorrhaging or if they simply misunderstand the situation. Similarly, when we all approach God he can tell us if we have a major problem or simply misunderstand the situation.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  102. Kiskilili (#94): an individual believes she has had a revelation that doctrine x is true, whereas her institution’s liturgy is proclaiming doctrine not-x

    That’s the point here isn’t it? Our liturgy doesn’t proclaim “not-x” as you claim. True, it makes rather ambiguous statements that could be interpreted as “not-x”, but it certainly doesn’t claim clearly the things you read into it. So in order to read the liturgy the way you do someone like m&m would have to completely ignore a) here personal revelations on the subject, and b) the statements from modern prophets on the subject over the last few decades. In other words, it takes some hermeneutical gymnastics to read our liturgy the way you do (meaning to read the idea that God is a sexist and women are less than men in the universe).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  103. Matt (#95) — You bring up an important topic but it is something that ought to dealt with in another thread in my opinion. I have dealt with that in the past already as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  104. Lynette: I see this as an example of the unidirectional approach that I raised concerns about earlier

    First, see my comment #67.

    Second, unidirectional isn’t quite the right term I think. However I am saying that in the hierarchy of our list of resources to seek truth the buck does indeed stop at personal revelation. I haven’t seen any arguments that really undermine that claim of mine. Yes, there are other sources we lean on but in the end our personal revelation must tell us whether those sources are reliable or not to begin with.

    I think it’s problematic to read the scriptures with an assumption that we already know what they mean

    I agree, but we can read them with the assumption that God knows what the mean, and more importantly that he knows the real truth. So if God can talk to Moses he can talk to you too. He can tell us all what he told Nephi and what he meant when he said it.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  105. The effectiveness of my kisses for my children is not the issue. The issue is that when they approach me with wounds they fear are serious I can immediately tell if they are hemorrhaging or if they simply misunderstand the situation. Similarly, when we all approach God he can tell us if we have a major problem or simply misunderstand the situation.

    When I approach God, he tells me that my wounds (the ones you want to dismiss as boo-boos) are serious. Which gets to what I think ECS was trying to say: many of us who take our wounds to fellow church members are told that our wounds are just boo-boos (or not wounds at all) and we should just pray to God and listen to the church leaders and those boo-boos will be better. I’ve done both (take my concerns to God and listen to church leaders), and while the hemorrhaging has been stemmed (through feelings of peace), the deep wounds are still there.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

  106. Seraphine,

    Re-read my comment #88. I said “Until one receives personal revelation from God on where they really stand in the universe, these anxieties can become mentally/emotionally crippling.” I suspect you are referring to those anxieties as the wounds. In my analogy the perceived wound is the incorrect notion that women are the glorified pets of their husbands — if it were true it would be great cause for concern, but if it is false then the deep anxieties are over a false alarm. I suggest the way to get over those anxieties is to talk to God.

    I have yet to see anyone claim that they have spoken to God about it and have received revelation informing them that God is indeed sexist and that women are nothing more than the glorified pets of their husbands. Do you know of anyone who has received such a revelation?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

  107. LOL, Geoff – I had a feeling you were going to say that. Not to conflate you with God, but I was talking about _your_ response to someone coming to you with what _you_ view as a boo-boo, but what _they_ view as a serious wound. Certainly you can’t claim omniscience to know upon immediate inspection whether someone else’s concerns are deeply held? Likewise, telling someone they have a boo-boo when they’re bleeding to death (spiritually or literally) is not helpful.

    I need to work on communicating a sense of irony in my comments. My reference to the Bob Dylan song (which is awesome, btw) was also supposed to be ironic – i.e., it’s not “just” bleeding :)

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  108. I have yet to see anyone claim that they have spoken to God about it and have received revelation informing them that God is indeed sexist and that women are nothing more than the glorified pets of their husbands. Do you know of anyone who has received such a revelation?

    Geoff – this woman seems to have had similar concerns (perhaps revelation) sufficient to write to Pres. Hinckley and for him to have thought these concerns serious enough to publicly address them in a fireside broadcast:

    Only the other day a letter came to my desk from a woman who wrote at length of her troubles. In a spirit of desperation she asked, “Does a woman have any promise of some day being a first class member of the human race? Will she always be a piece of chattel wrapped in a chuddar acting only by the permission of the man who stands at her head?” (A chuddar, incidentally, is a very simple shawl worn by women in India.)

    She then continued, “To me the answers to these questions are no longer important, but I have daughters. If it is possible for a woman to look forward to an eternity of anything than being barefoot and pregnant, I would like to be able to teach them this.”

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

  109. And then Pres. Hinckley goes on to say:

    I fear there are many others who may feel that way.

    Clearly, there is some reason why “many” (GBH’s word) faithful LDS women are feeling like they are “glorified pets” or “property” of their husbands. Why do you think this is the case?

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  110. Geoff, heh. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone claim they’ve had a revelation that God is sexist (except for sexist people who are trying to justify sexism). :)

    However, you are misinterpreting my wounds. I have full confidence in God’s love for me, and I do believe in an egalitarian God. That does not mitigate (or erase) the wounds that have come about trying to negotiate the difficulties I’ve had with church practices and discourse (wounds which God acknowledges, but which you want to dismiss as boo-boos).

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

  111. ECS: Certainly you can’t claim omniscience to know upon immediate inspection whether someone else’s concerns are deeply held?

    Well I can claim to know the difference between a hemorrhaging wound and a false alarm in 3 year old… That’s why the analogy works — in the analogy we are the three year old and God is the parent who tells us if we really have deep cause for concern or not.

    (BTW — I got the irony of your Dylan comment; that’s why I responded in kind with my mildy snarky “boo boo” retort… ;-) )

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  112. ECS,

    I’m glad you brought up that quote from President Hinckley. My short research indicates it came from Elder Hinckley in 1984. Do you know where the full text can be found online?

    Anyway, I have never once claimed that people don’t worry about this stuff. The post acknowledges that such worries do indeed exist. The point of this post is that ultimately the answer to such concerns must come from God. Seem like a pretty innocuous claim to me…

    Anyway, even in the absence of direct personal revelation, President Hinckley’s point seems to be clear and emphatic: Women are not chattel or property of men. That is why I think reading our scriptures and liturgy to mean otherwise is unwise and unsupportable. It requires one to take an ambiguous text and read in a way contrary to the teachings of modern prophets.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

  113. Seraphine: I have full confidence in God’s love for me, and I do believe in an egalitarian God.

    I must be missing something here.. If you are certain you are not less than men in the universe and in God’s eyes what are your deep wounds over that subject?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

  114. “…overlook some serious problems that we can and should rectify in the Church.”

    What “should” be rectified, and according to whom, though?

    This is exactly where I am stuck.

    I have great sympathy for the pain of stories like BiV’s. Can I feel her pain? No, because I’ve never had that experience. Do I care about her pain? I absolutely do.

    But I am not sure what she wants (or other women in pain, not to pick on her personally).

    If she was able to live as I live, with a husband who views her as a full partner, and in a ward where women are respected and whose views are sought, would that be enough to heal it? In other words, keeping the current system, but with everyone living it as we are counseled in General Conference, etc.?

    Or for her to feel she has limbs, would she have to receive the priesthood, or have all scriptures erased from the LDS versions which refer to women as possessions, etc.?

    It seems to me that in the latter case, she might not be any better off. Men who understand and live the gospel don’t view their wives as possessions, so such scriptures are irrelevant. Men who understand and live the gospel don’t “play the priesthood card.” And if she gets the priesthood, she probably can’t be called as a bishop or whatever if she doesn’t have a supportive spouse.

    So how would her life be any better?

    Comment by Naismith — April 23, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

  115. Geoff, I agree with you that ultimately, the only answer you can give is to pray and receive personal revelation. I understand that. But the scriptural texts are not ambiguous. Read Section 132 again. Think about the temple liturgy. Think of the differences between the way we treat men and women, especially young men and young women, in the Church. It’s certainly not surprising that “many” faithful women in the Church feel they are second class citizens and ultimately not in control of their own destiny. These beliefs are not constructed out of thin air – and they’re certainly not “boo-boos” to be kissed away with Band-Aids.

    Here’s the link to Pres. Hinckley’s full fireside address, “Cornerstones of a Happy Home“, which was widely distributed in pamphlet form.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  116. I am not sure if it is the full talk, but certainly a longer extract is at

    http://www.ldsces.org/inst_manuals/marriage/f.htm

    Comment by Naismith — April 23, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  117. Geoff J: Here ya go.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 23, 2007 @ 1:27 pm

  118. Think of the differences between the way we treat men and women, especially young men and young women, in the Church.

    Other than going on missions at different ages, how is this so very different?

    Comment by Naismith — April 23, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  119. BUT the concern I see with personal revelation as the ultimate trump card is relative uncertainty in what is and is not a revelation.

    I have to agree with this to a degree.

    I think we have to be open to the possibility that they might challenge some of our previously held beliefs,

    I think this kind of thinking has limits, though. We each can’t get revelation for the “shoulds” of the church. The only previously-held beliefs that personal revelation can alter are our own. That is the limit of personal revealation — it’s personal (and/or for one’s personal stewardship at the time).

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

  120. I have a question here.

    Acknowledging that the injury is real for purposes of argument, what could the church leadership do to mitigate it that they have not already done?

    Un-canonizing scripture is not very practical. Does anyone feel qualified to edit every questionable artifact out of the Bible?

    About seventy years ago, we almost had a new version of the D&C with lots of stuff removed. There was an abbreviated selection of revelations published as Latter-day Revelation. But some “fundamentalists” immediate charged the Church with changing the scriptures. So Heber J. Grant decided that the abbreviated selection would be withdrawn, eliminating any pretense of replacing the D&C that we now have.

    You can read more here, about half way down.

    I imagine if the same thing were attempted, there would be a similar outcry. D&C 132 is hard to dispense with, it would be a disaster to change the verse numbering, and so one would be left trying to re-write a few verses, with the subsequent issue of complete new editions of the scriptures to everyone everywhere, causing a widespread and indelible controversy over whether Joseph Smith was competent to record scripture or not.

    Isn’t it easier to leave the scriptures as they are, say that Joseph Smith was just writing in the occasionally insensitive vernacular of his time, that modern prophets do not interpret it that way, and that we shouldn’t either?

    Comment by Mark D. — April 23, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

  121. 115
    ECS, this is an example where I think it’s important for people who struggle to draw a line and recognize that what “you” (general you) are talking about consists of *your perceptions* of what is “not ambiguous” about things like D&C 132, or the temple, etc. You are stating things as though they are facts, and they are not…they are *perceptions* — based on your worldview or experiences or whatever. If they were facts, they would be shared by a lot more people, and a lot more women would be upset or frustrated. (Do you really WANT others to share that view?)

    If “you” really are happy for me in my peace, can you not see how hard it is when I hear someone say that they think the church is wrong and needs to change, rather than owning that pain and saying, “I need you to understand where I’m coming from. I hurt and I want to feel peace.” I’m all for understanding each other (!!!) but just as you don’t want me to assume that everyone shares my view and treat it as obvious that everything really is fine for us as women (which is how I basically feel), I think it’s important that those who struggle not assume that it’s so “obvious” why some women do. Fair enough? :)

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  122. m&m #121 – Modern prophets say that men and women are equal, and I’m willing to accept the premise that we need to follow what the modern prophets say. The actual text of the scriptures, however, says very plainly that men control (“rule over”)women.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  123. The actual text of the scriptures, however, says very plainly that men control (“rule over”)women.

    What text says that?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  124. 122
    ECS, OK, so if the prophets teach us what really is, why worry about what might have been said (or incorrectly translated) in a scripture or two? I don’t understand this.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  125. Hi Geoff, honestly, I have been somewhat confused with LDS friends over what is the final trump card . . . standard scriptures, General Authority revelation, or personal revelation, etc. on core issues for the religion. And it seems from a practical standpoint in all my discussions with friends, LDS personal revelation is indeed the final trump card. I think you are spot on for the ultimate confirmation or affirmation arrived by my neighbors.

    But it is interesting how all the various trails of discussion in the neighborhood are very subjective, rooted in personal impressions. Which experiential leading of the Spirit to the heart of Christ is right? Which testimony of Father of for that matter mother among my friends is the closest to the truth?

    I won’t bring up the topic of “What Sex is God?” I am sure a good post for Blake sometime on NCT.

    #123 – I just studied a phrase about “ruling women” in Isaiah. It wasn’t a very fun context. Depressed me actually.

    But to bring humor to the feminists in bloggernacle, my good wife has trumped me many times. :) And it has always been a good thing.

    Comment by Todd Wood — April 23, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  126. ECS: But the scriptural texts are not ambiguous. Read Section 132 again. Think about the temple liturgy.

    What is the unambiguous message you get from section 132 and the temple liturgy? Surely you are not saying they claim President Hinckley was wrong that that women are indeed the chattel of their husbands…

    Also, while I am aware of the one instance in the Genesis account that refers to Adam ruling over Eve (repeated in the JS expansion of Genesis — aka The Book of Moses), I see no reason whatsoever to read that to mean that such a condition is the destiny of exalted women. Rather, the clear implication is that it was a new condition that resulted from the Fall (and our existence in a fallen world — and history has certainly borne that prophesy out) but that our goal is to move out of a fallen, telestial existence and into a Celestial existence where such a condition would no longer weigh us all down. Clearly modern prophets have tried to teach us that such a telestial law is beneath us. The sermon you pointed to from President Hinckley is an example of such teaching. So I must ask with m&m: “if the prophets teach us what really is, why worry about what might have been said (or incorrectly translated) in a scripture or two?” It is stuff like this that led me to suspect the answer is really what I cynically mentioned in the the post — it sounds like you are really saying “we prefer thinking we are oppressed…” The restored Gospel is literally restored “good news” — part of that good news comes from prophets like President Hinckley. Why reject the good news he has for all women about the truth behind these scriptures and this subject? And why not trust God when he tells us the same thing in person?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  127. it sounds like you are really saying “we prefer thinking we are oppressed…”

    Geoff, if you think this is what I’ve been saying, then you haven’t been listening very well.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  128. Alright ECS — I was hoping that is the case. But in the face of the testimonies of modern prophets why do you still insist on interpreting our liturgy and scriptures to mean that women will be oppressed by men for all eternity? And if that is not what you are arguing for what are you arguing for here?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  129. Not much to add. It seems to me that some people look at things through “class” colored glasses. That is if there isn’t someone ahead of them who is like them in some aspect then they are excluded. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand that way of thinking. Especially in religion. But clearly it isn’t uncommon.

    Personally I doubt I’ll ever be a Bishop let alone something “higher” in the hierarchy. Which doesn’t bother me since I have 0% interest in leadership. But it certainly doesn’t bother me if the Bishop, Relief Society President, Stake President or someone else disagrees with me. To me religion is primarily a personal matter between me and God.

    While I fervently believe one can’t separate out Church from gospel, as some believe, neither do I worry about things as much as some seem to. I mean take a step back. Does the quality or nature of music at Church really matter that much? Does it really matter if a lesson is done the way you’d do it? Church is a place where a bunch of incompetent screw-up sinners get together and try to help each other. As soon as we conceive of it in terms of my individual power we’ve missed the point and will always be disappointed.

    I remember on my mission feeling quite upset at the MP because of some misinterpretations on his part of me and some failings of his. Then I realized one day that despite all my trying, I was not exactly the best tool the Lord could use. I’d been wanting power – that is that feeling of power. Once I stopped focusing in on that I started baptizing up a storm, despite all my inadequacies. I also suddenly saw my MP in very different light: as someone who wasn’t sure what he was doing, who was trying hard, and who occasionally screwed up. Just like me. At that moment I felt enormous love for him.

    I’ve never quite looked at Church the same way since.

    Comment by Clark — April 23, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

  130. ECS (#115):“many” faithful women in the Church feel they are second class citizens and ultimately not in control of their own destiny. These beliefs are not constructed out of thin air – and they’re certainly not “boo-boos” to be kissed away with Band-Aids.

    If a woman who believes this turns to God and receives a clear revelation that she is in fact a first class citizen in his eyes and she is in fact in control of her own spiritual destiny (as much as any man is) that would make her fears go away on those subjects. God can indeed “kiss away” our false beliefs and replace them with pure truth. That is why the heavens being open is such “good news”.

    Clark (#129) — Well said.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

  131. Just to add, the focus appears to be on personal revelation vs. implementing the revelation. Heavens, Joseph Smith struggled with that too. Look at what he tried to do versus what he was able to do. So it’s as much a problem “downward through the heirarchy” power as upwards. So the Bishop trumps your “revelation.” Guess what, all those guys (including me) who didn’t do their home teaching last month trumped Pres. Hinkley’s revelation. Get over it.

    Regarding fallibilism and personal revelation, I think we do have to be cautious. We aren’t always sure what is us and what is God. A little humility is often wise. I also think keeping things to oneself is typically in order. Lots of scriptures and GA comments in that regard. A common thread in Church is that those capable of keeping secrets get more revelations than those who don’t. As soon as you “play” the revelation trump you’ve probably already lost IMO. It’s one thing to be inspired. It’s quite an other to portray yourself as a prophet. That doesn’t typically work even for the prophets.

    Comment by Clark — April 23, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  132. Mark (#120): Isn’t it easier to leave the scriptures as they are, say that Joseph Smith was just writing in the occasionally insensitive vernacular of his time, that modern prophets do not interpret it that way, and that we shouldn’t either?

    Yes it is. And more prudent too. Well said.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  133. I just did a reread over D&C 132 to review the wording. I guess I can understand how it could be read in an unflattering way, but you really need to look at how Heavenly Father thinks of each of us and how He views marriage covenants.

    We are literally like his children, and He gives us to each other through the covenant of marriage. It is like the Father of the Bride “giving” away his daughter (if that doesn’t fan the fire). The possessive is not meant to show ownership. It is used to show responsibility. I don’t “own” my kids, but I am responsible for them. Similarly, when my wife was “given” to me through the new and everlasting covenant, she wasn’t given to me as a possession, but to be in my care. I have a responsibility (as explicitly stated in the scriptures) to provide for her.

    This doctrine shows up throughout Church literature. Over and over we are taught that the Husband’d first and most important responsibility is the care of his wife, and hers is the care of her children. Notice, it is not the care of her husband (they are both duty bound to honor their covenants to each other).

    I have often heard women lament their lack of priesthood. I’m afraid this is due to a misunderstanding of the priesthood (this is all my opinion – after all, who am I). Holding the priesthood does nothing for the individual. I can’t use the priesthood I hold to do anything for myself. I can only use it in service of others. Sure, I may receive blessings for my service, but that is secondary.

    If we use that perspective and look at the roles of men and women, women are given the direct power to bless other lives, through birth and nurturing children. Men are given a secondary, external source to bless the lives of others.

    This certainly doesn’t mean women are nothing but baby makers. As a matter of fact, I find that terminology repugnant. When we are given children, it is a trust from Heavenly Father, and is sacred. What more important purpose is there in this life? Think about it, you are actually fulfilling the Plan of Salvation by bringing new Spirits to the earth so they can gain their bodies.

    And going back to the subthread, ultimately, anyone who uses the priesthood as a trump card, is not using the priesthood. It went bye bye as soon as they did that.

    But that also doesn’t mean that those in leadership position don’t pull that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, in this also are the scriptures accurate – “many are called, but few are chosen.” Heavy emphasis on the word “few.”
    We then have the choice to be wounded by their actions, or to realize they are acting wrongly through meanness or ignorance. In that case, then we need to let the Lord judge between thee and me. It’s turning the other cheek. It doesn’t necessarily stop the behavior nor make us feel vindicated. When we are mistreated by someone who doesn’t understand but we do, it can be quite frustrating, and lonely. I imagine Jesus was very lonely while on the earth.

    Not to mention, we need to let that person grow. We can help them by sharing our hurt with their actions, but in many cases personally, it hasn’t been that effective.

    Comment by Rick — April 23, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  134. Rick,

    I avoided making those types of arguments about the role of women in the church today in this thread because I think most of them wilt under scrutiny. (You’ll notice that I have stayed on the topic of the status of women in the eternities and in the eyes of God.) I think another thread could be about the status and power or lack of power women are afforded in the church today on earth.

    I actually think that there should be more equity in the church than there is. I think women should have more power in the organization. I think we should go back to preaching that women can heal as well as men and even letting women participate in the laying on of hands in healing ordinances like they did 100+ years ago. Despite what some of the feminists here think — I tend to agree with them on all sorts of things. But I also think that when the subject is a woman’s actual status before God, there is no other source of that data that matters more than personal revelation.

    (Maybe I’ll write a post on the changes I’d like to see in my lifetime in the earthly church regarding the role of women… but for now I’d rather not have this thread get off the subject of epistemology.)

    I do fully agree with you about your “priesthood card” comments though. You are right that when any man tries to pull to that there is no priesthood power behind such claims.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  135. I’m not sure how to respond to this thread anymore. I seem to be asked the same questions over and over. I might not be clear, or you might not be reading my answers carefully enough. Let me try again. First, the texts of the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets disagree. The _interpretation_ the modern day prophets have of the words of texts themselves (i.e, that women are equal to men) are not the same as the words of the actual text (i.e., men rule over women). You need to choose between (1) the prophets’ interpretation of these texts, or (2) the words of the texts themselves.

    Second, hopefully, you will choose to listen to the words of the modern prophets and then also receive personal revelation confirming to you that the interpretation the modern day prophets give of the texts is true. You may or may not receive this personal revelation – God gives no guarantee that He will answer every question put to Him. If you don’t receive answers or personal revelation confirming an interpretation of the scriptures, then you must go on faith that the prophets are interpreting the scriptures correctly. This can be a difficult task, however, since many prophets use words like “preside” to describe the relationship of a man to a woman. (and on a related topic, prophets have often used scriptures to justify racist teachings and policies). Words like “preside” indicate a hierarchical structure, not an egalitarian relationship. How exactly men should “preside” over women while being equal to women at the same time is a confusing concept for many people.

    Third, the most important personal revelation one can have is that revelation that this is God’s church and He wants you here no matter what. Even so, this personal revelation you’ve received confirming that you are in the right place does not mean that you should accept everything the institutional Church does or everything a Church leader says (or does) just because this is God’s Church and He wants you to be here. We need to be aware of our own cultural “filters” and those of our leaders in order to make sure we’re not perpetuating dangerous stereotypes about men and women (or racial minorities). Along the lines of what Mark said in #120.

    Finally, President Hinckley addressed the woman who anguished about her status in the Church with empathy and took her concerns seriously. We should likewise show compassion and empathy for those who struggle to find peace in the dissonance in Mormon culture, scripture, and modern day interpretation of those texts. As Pres. Hinckley acknowledged in his fireside address, these concerns are legitimate, and should not be dismissed as contentious “bellyaching”.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

  136. Geoff, I’m not so sure we can make such a hard distinction between the nature of relationships between men and women in the eternities vs. the nature of relationships here on earth. The covenants made in the temple sealing men and women together for eternity are not reciprocal or egalitarian.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  137. ECS,
    Thanks for your clarification. It helps me understand you a bit better.

    Your last point, however, I think needs to be clarified. Pres. Hinckley legitimized a woman’s pain when she is in an abusive relationship, not in terms of her status in the Church. I think it’s clear that he doesn’t believe women have a lesser status in the Church.

    He also counseled women who look on the dark side of things always to be more optimistic. “Rise above the shrill clamor of rights and prereogatives and walk in the quiet dignity of a daughter of God.”

    I don’t think he would agree that women need to be clamoring for anything more in the Church than just the typical respect that is inherent in God’s plan and God’s order, within both the church and in marriage. I think in that light we ought to be very, very careful about assuming that teachings or structures or organization are simply cultural.

    But this gets to concepts that have been hashed and rehashed over and over again. I think too often people are quick to assume that something they don’t like must be wrong (e.g., “oh, priesthood or temple language or words like preside must be cultural goofs rather than truth to be sifted through and pondered over”), but others think I am too quick to accept what our leaders do or say. An impasse, perhaps, that is not worth approaching once again. :)

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  138. ECS,

    First, the texts of the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets disagree.

    No, no they don’t. You keep assuming as facts the very things we are disputing here. As a result we aren’t making much progress. Yes, a small number of the texts can be interpreted in a way that has modern prophets openly disagreeing with the canon on some women’s issues, but like most scriptures those texts are vague enough to be interpreted as agreeing with modern prophets as well. Now if you have specific direct contradictions on these women’s subjects (like the “rule over” text) you would like to discuss I am happy to discuss those. But this blanket assumption you are running with is one of the things I and others disagree with.

    Second… hopefully, you will… receive personal revelation

    I obviously agree with this sentiment. In fact I hold that we must start receiving personal revelation regularly if we ever hope to be exalted as a result of this mortal probation so it is not just one of those nice optional things for us. (But I do fully agree that people who don’t receive personal revelation will find themselves in all sorts of theological trouble as you note.)

    Third, the most important personal revelation one can have is that revelation that this is God’s church and He wants you here no matter what.

    I’m not sure that is the most important ever but I do agree that is a useful revelation.

    this personal revelation you’ve received confirming that you are in the right place does not mean that you should accept everything the institutional Church does

    Amen sister. I agree that there is lots of cultural change that we could and should make regarding women (see my #134)

    President Hinckley addressed the woman who anguished about her status in the Church with empathy and took her concerns seriously.

    Right. So have I. I think it is so serious that a woman should not take the word of any living person on her eternal status. She should settle for nothing less than a direct revelatory answer from God.

    these concerns are legitimate, and should not be dismissed as contentious “bellyaching”

    Right. And I have not once dismissed legitimate concerns as bellyaching. Of course in addition to the legitimate concerns over the metaphysical truths there are also less legitimate gripes that some people like to make. Not all concerns are created equal despite the volume of the complainers.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 6:08 pm

  139. m&m – the temple ceremony and Church practices have changed many times to become more egalitarian in recent decades. I think it’s fair to identify other policies and practices in the Church and wonder whether they are a product of our culture rather than direct inspiration from God.

    As for Pres. Hinckley’s fireside address, Pres. Hinckley doesn’t believe that women hold a lesser status to men, but, as he noted in his address, “many” faithful women wonder if they are truly equal to men in the Church and in the eternities.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

  140. Geoff, you seriously can’t see how the text of Section 132 directly contradicts the modern day principle of equality in marriage?

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  141. I have not once dismissed legitimate concerns as bellyaching.

    I don’t think anyone here has.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 6:23 pm

  142. ECS,

    I can see how you could read Section 132 in a way that would show women as mere chattel, as objects to be divied up amongst righteous priesthood holders.

    I can also see how you could read Section 132 in a way that shows that Heavenly Father has great love for each of His children, and has provided them a gift to enable them to acieve all that He has.
    So, then, you have to look where it came from. Do you consider the D&C to be true scripture? Either it is, or it isn’t. If it is, then we have to look who wrote it.

    In this case, Heavenly Father authored it and Joseph Smith penned it. How do you picture them?

    Do you envision Heavenly Father as loving each of us, men and women, or does He love men and consider women as lesser beings.
    Now envision Joseph Smith. Was he a true prophet? Do you believe that he felt that women were possessions to be passed to the righteous?

    If you think of Heavenly Father as loving each of us, and that Joseph Smith had the Spirit of Revelatin and penned the scripture correctly, then how can you truly believe the first interpretation? I might suggest that if you truly do, there is a question in the other two issues.

    To bring it back to the epistemology thread, here’s the crux (and it ties right to Geoff’s original assertion about personal revelation):

    Is God real?
    Was Joseph Smith a true prophet?

    Each of us has to rely on personal revelation to answer these questions.

    ECS, my suggestion is that your concern is not so much the interpretation of the words in the scripture, as much as some people’s interpretation of the scriptures. You’re not alone in that concern. Nor is it just a problem of womanhood. I think that concern is shared by many who find themselves out of the mainstream for one reason or another (I have similar concerns when it comes to handicapped members – I have a 20 year old Autistic son – I could tell you some stories about inept priesthood leaders).

    Comment by Rick — April 23, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  143. Geoff (#134)
    I’m looking forward to that post. If you start it, let me know in case I don’t see it. I think there’s some questions about status and power that could be interesting to discuss.

    Off the subject of womenhood, I find it interesting that reliance on personal revelation seems to ebb and flow woth the times. I joined the Church in the late 70′s (my first general PH was Pres Kimball’s “Don’t Shoot the Little Birdies” talk), and the subject of reliance on personal revelation was really going strong. It lessened a bit in the 80s. Then, there were a bunch of new resources coming out stressing it again (new missionary videos like “Our Heavenly Father’s Plan” and “Together Forever”). It ebbed for awhile, and if pay attention, there is a bigger puch on it again. It is particularly evident with materials such as the “Preach My Gospel.” The whole concept of the Preach My Gospel is to force the missionaries to rely on personal revelation and the Spirit when teaching.

    Now, I don’t believe the importance of the principle has changed, just the discussion level. But I get really nervous when people discount personal revelation. I recently heard a counselor in a Stake Presidency give a lesson to a combined youth group, where he counseled them against trusting personal revelation, and rely on their leaders. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it the way it sounded, but it was very uncomfortable.
    Personal revelation is what sets us apart from the rest of Christianity. We rely on that when we ask a member to read Moroni’s Promise and put it to the test.

    Instead of discouraging reliance on personal revelation, we should be teaching how to recognize it and discern when it isn’t.

    Comment by Rick — April 23, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  144. ECS: Geoff, you seriously can’t see how the text of Section 132 directly contradicts the modern day principle of equality in marriage?

    I would like to see you be more specific. What are the specific offending passages you have in mind?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  145. ECS: The covenants made in the temple sealing men and women together for eternity are not reciprocal or egalitarian.

    Again, vague allegations like this don’t help much. Which specific covenants are you talking about? Are you saying the wording of the sealing ordinance makes the wife the chattel of the husband and no other interpretation of the wording could be acceptable?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

  146. Section 132:

    61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
    62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

    As for the temple covenant, the woman gives herself to the man. He does not give himself to her.

    Comment by ECS — April 23, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  147. ECS, you forgot my favorite verses:

    63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to amultiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be bglorified.
    64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
    65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take aHagar to wife.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  148. Ok ECS and Seraphine, so now we have the verses you have in mind. How do you back up the claim that these verses should (let alone must) be interpreted to mean that women are simply chattel or the sub-human property of their husbands in the eyes of God? Are you really trying to say that these ownership-related terms shouldn’t or even can’t be read very figuratively rather than literally?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  149. The term Geoff used wasn’t “bellyaching” but “griping.” Equally dismissive, in my opinion.

    Now rather that focus all sorts of energy on how we all can get better at receiving answers to hard questions about women directly from God, the ZD folks like to occasionally spend time griping about the so-called sexist language of our scriptures and liturgy.

    Comment by Beijing — April 23, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  150. Geoff, not sub-human property. Human property. You’re not really listening, are you? When a person really listens, they are able to say to the person they’re disagreeing with, “So what you’re saying is _______” and fill in the blank such that the other person would actually respond, “Yes, that is what I’m saying.”

    I wager you will not get far with your attempts to persuade Z’s Daughters until you can at least paraphrase their views in a manner that they would actually stand back and say, “Wow, Geoff J, thank you for listening to us and respecting us enough to formulate that accurate summary of our views.”

    Comment by Beijing — April 23, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

  151. Geoff (#113): I must be missing something here.. If you are certain you are not less than men in the universe and in God’s eyes what are your deep wounds over that subject?

    I’m not certain I’m not less than men in the universe. I’m certain in the love that God has for me, and that is all I am certain about. I *believe* in an egalitarian God, but I don’t know exactly how certain I am about it or even what that means (I believe there’s quite a lot we don’t know about what the eternities will look like).

    As for the wounds, I have had experiences with this church that have been difficult, and at times, quite painful. More generally, I have a hard time sorting out the whole equality issue because when I go to church things don’t feel equal to me. I see practices and decisions and behaviors that feel unegalitarian to me being explained as evidence of egalitarianism, and it makes my head spin. I see scriptures and temple liturgy that make me wonder if the things that feel unegalitarian to me will continue in the eternities (since they are cited as practices of “God’s kingdom on earth”), and I worry.

    I don’t have the easy time that you think I should putting my relationship with God, the peace I receive from Him, my difficult experiences in the church, and my understanding of scriptures into neat little categories that can be examined separately (Exhibit A: My experience with God, which is eternal but positive! Exhibit B: My experience with church which is temporal but sometimes negative!). They all interact in messy ways, and how I experience this church affects my relationship with God and my anxieties about the world to come.

    In the end, although God has not seen fit to give me answers, He has granted me a certain amount of peace on the matter. So I trust in his wisdom and love. But that doesn’t solve the struggles I have in the here and now.

    Which is why I blog. I don’t post on the bloggernacle primarily to “gripe” or be “peevish” about nonsensical issues. I come to discuss issues that worry me and have, on occasion, prompted me to question my membership in this church. I blog about these issues because I hope that in discussing them with other like-minded individuals (which discussions, admittedly, often can turn into complaining sessions or arguments that don’t get anywhere), I can make sense of them in the context of my religious beliefs and figure out how to remain a faithful, feminist Mormon.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  152. This may just be a re-hash of RT’s excellent comment earlier in the thread, but I have a hard time framing religious experience in terms of answers to binary questions (e.g., either God values men and women equally or he doesn’t), because that doesn’t at all match my experience with personal revelation. I don’t see it as a kind of oracle which one consults to get yes/no answers to metaphysical questions, but as a relationship which changes and grows. I find that talking to God is more akin to talking to one of my sisters than to consulting a computer for answers about something.

    I’m thinking about how I get to know other people. I hear what other people have to say about them. I notice how they act in various situations. I read what they write. And, of course, I spend a lot of time talking to them directly. While I may put the most weight on that last one, I still give some credence to all these sources. Through all this, I get an impression of who they are, one which is constantly being revised as I get to know them better. And that’s at least somewhat analogous to my relationship with God. I can’t make a statement like, “I definitively know that God values men and women equally, end of story.” Because my knowledge of God, like my knowledge of other human beings, simply isn’t best expressed in terms of metaphysical assertions or propositional statements. It’s a relational kind of knowledge, and as such it’s not static.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 23, 2007 @ 9:37 pm

  153. m&m (#119), I think you totally misunderstood Lynnette’s comment. She was arguing that we should put our own beliefs in dialogue with prophetic revelation and the teachings of the church, which is something I think you would agree with. In other words, if I had a personal revelation that said “you need to go and bomb Disneyland,” I would hope that I took this personal revelation back to the words of the prophets and said, “Hey. The prophets and scriptures tell me I should kill and commit violent acts. Is there a possibility that I may be mistaken?”

    Basically, Lynnette was saying the same kind of things happens when we read scriptures. We have to be careful not to just read the scriptures through an interpretive lens that confirms the things we *want* to believe. We have to figure out what they really mean (which, of course, is in no way easy).

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 9:40 pm

  154. To me the first question here is: Are we to think that God is more progressive on these questions than President Hinckley or less?

    And second: Why should anyone be dead set against the idea of continuing revelation on these matters?

    And third: Why the assumption of revelatory infallibility? Especially on a section that was never published in Joseph Smith’s lifetime?

    There are numerous cases where sections in the D&C had substantive changes from their predecessors in the Book of Commandments. Joseph Smith’s understanding deepened, and he intensively edited accordingly.

    Does anyone think that if Joseph Smith were alive today that his feeling regarding the mind and the will of the Lord would be as severe as he recorded in a time when this was all a state secret?

    Comment by Mark D. — April 23, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  155. Of course in addition to the legitimate concerns over the metaphysical truths there are also less legitimate gripes that some people like to make. Not all concerns are created equal despite the volume of the complainers.

    This strikes me as a rather difficult, and highly subjective judgment to make; just how does one definitively distinguish between legitimate concerns and less legitimate ones? Certainly there are concerns raised by others which resonate with me more and less, but I’d be hesitant to assume that the ones which don’t strike me personally as being terribly important must therefore be less legitimate. It seems to me that this is an area in which we’d be better off simply giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 23, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  156. Wow, Beijing, thank you for listening to me and respecting me enough to formulate that accurate summary of my views…

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 10:16 pm

  157. Bejing,
    I get the sense that Geoff is seriously trying to understand. Try to cut him some slack. :)

    Seraphine, you said:
    she was arguing that we should put our own beliefs in dialogue with prophetic revelation and the teachings of the church,

    Forgive me if I don’t see that. Try to understand that from where I sit (which is on the outside, so that is all I can see, so take this for what it is worth), I don’t always feel that women who struggle really do put their beliefs in dialogue with prophetic revelation and teachings but instead continue to insist that things really aren’t OK and aren’t equal and really should be different (even when prophets say it’s all OK, it’s all under God’s direction — the whole package, including temple, patriarchal and heirarchal order, marriage language, etc.) It confuses me and is really hard for me to understand. The prophets keep saying, “It’s ok, don’t worry about it, God loves you, you are equal in His eyes, the order of things is His will, be happy.” And the response I keep reading is, “It’s not OK. We need to change it. Those who don’t see this way are blind or stupid or playing the martyr and making life more miserable for women.” ???????? Either the prophets are teaching us truth or they are not, right? These aren’t isolated teachings. We need to trust their bottom line messages, and I feel that those messages are JOYful, wonderful, hopeful and make womanhood in God’s plan a wonderful blessing NOW, as things are NOW. So it baffles me that there can be a continued insistence that things really are awful for women, that we are limbless and contributionless and powerless. I just don’t get it. I’m sorry, I really don’t. I think the prophets show us how to read the scriptures and are here to help us see God’s truths, even more important than what we *think* we see in the scriptures. I will never understand reading something into the scriptures that they are teaching the opposite of. It seems like a sort of spiritual self-injurty to me. ??????? I’m sorry, but I’m truly befuddled. I care deeply about your pain, but I am not sure anything but a change of perspective and, like Geoff said, a true revelatory sense of God’s eternal love and our eternal potential, can really take that pain away.

    I’m so sorry you hurt. I really am. If I could take that pain away, I would. Instead, somehow it seems I only add to it. What should someone like me really say? Help me understand better what you would like me to do.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  158. Seraphine (#151),

    Sounds like you have very legitimate concerns about your standing in the universe still. I hope you see that the point of my post is to take those real types of concerns very seriously. I think they must be taken so seriously that we can trust the word no human being, including prophets living or dead, with such crucial metaphysical questions. We must receive answers to those kinds of questions from God.

    I very much agree with the comment Lynnette (#152) made about how our relationship with God works. In my experience it really is like a relationship with a loving sister or parent and the type of knowledge we get is usually relational. Still, it would be easy to sense if your sister viewed you as less than a peer. I think it would be easy to tell if God saw you as something less than half of the human race too. And on top of that you could always come out and ask him. He is pretty good at giving us what we need. As I mentioned to RT, God can and does give us propositional knowledge even if that type of knowledge is the exception rather than the norm.

    7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
    8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
    9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
    10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
    11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matt 7)

    Lynette (#152) – Thanks for your insightful comment.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  159. Geoff J, I will confess that I read some of your comments as putting my concerns in the category of “gripes,” since I’m a feminist blogger who blogs about difficulties I have with the church. Also, despite my many worries, one of them is not that women will literally be property in the next life (lucky me, I guess!). So thank-you for the kind words and the clarification.

    I have talked quite directly about all this stuff with God, and I have a feeling I’m not going to get any propositional answers in the immediate future. But, for the time being, I’m mostly okay with that.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

  160. It is easy, but trivial, to state that revelation is the ultimate epistemological trump card, if by revelation we mean “that which God declares”. Of course an unambiguous declaration from God trumps all else. However the real question is this: “Is my own understanding of what God has told me through personal spiritual impressions an epistemoligical trump card?” How can I reasonably hold to that conclusions when:
    1. I am clearly not in infallible interpreter of those spiritual promptings. I have been wrong before, and I can still be wrong.
    2. Experience has shown that other people sometimes have conflicting understandings of God’s revelation, based on spiritual impressions that are indistinguishable from my own.
    3. Privileging my own interpretation of personal revelation xometimes means that I must ignore or dispute canonized texts or interpret them in a way that I believe is indefensible.

    What evidence is there that one’s own personal revelation is or was ever intended by God to trump all else?

    Comment by Gary — April 23, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

  161. Lynette (#155): just how does one definitively distinguish between legitimate concerns and less legitimate ones?

    Well there certainly are all sorts of legitimate concerns out there. Any concern one has about his or her standing before God is among the most important concerns I am aware of.

    But others are certainly peevish. For instance, let’s say there is a statement by a general authority that someone doesn’t like the wording to. They say “yeah I know what he meant, and I don’t disagree with his meaning, but it annoys me that he said it that way”. Then they go on to beat that drum loudly and openly to see if they can get some “amens” regarding their pet peeve with the way something was said by the leader. That is what I would call peevish bellyaching. It seems to me to be a fine example of what the scriptures call making one an offender for a word.

    And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught. (Isa. 29: 21; 2 Ne. 27: 32)

    I would definitely call something like that griping and I think when self-proclaimed Mormon feminists engage in that kind of talk it hurts their cause more than helps it.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 23, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

  162. I wanted to comment earlier, but I had to make a diorama on Tuck Everlasting. I hope I get an “A” on it.

    Re #114:
    I am strongly tempted to pull the “age card” now. Naismith says, “If she was able to live as I live, with a husband who views her as a full partner, and in a ward where women are respected and whose views are sought, would that be enough to heal it? In other words, keeping the current system, but with everyone living it as we are counseled in General Conference, etc.?”
    Many men of my generation feel that when they set up their marriages they were in full compliance with Church teachings. ETB’s “To the Mothers in Zion” told them their wives were to stay home and forsake her career. Church leaders at the time counseled strongly against birth control. The temple ceremony had not yet been changed.
    Some of you younger couples are speaking of your egalitarian marriages as if they are that way because you are “living the gospel,” but in reality these attitudes have been influenced more by political correctness than changes in the way the family is presented by the Church. My husband feels since he has followed the brethren at every step, he is “living the gospel.” Now if he and I have an irreconcilable difference in the way the Spirit leads in any situation–say, the way our children should be schooled–his Priesthood card will give him the final word on the matter. He has been promised in the temple that as long as he is righteous, I must abide by his counsel. That is why I continue to say, the Priesthood card trumps the Revelation card.

    I brought up the “Priesthood Card” because the way the Church is structured now is conducive to this kind of abuse. It speaks well of most leaders and members that they treat women’s revelation as valuable and equal to men’s. However, a situation exists where the one who has the Priesthood may always take the upper hand if they choose to do so. Yes, hierarchy plays a part in this also, but is not the full story.

    I have strong views on Priestesshood which I will perhaps post on my blog one of these days. But my personal feelings are that women will not receive the Priesthood as it is now practiced as a vehicle for ordinances, blessings, and Church governance. However, I see much room for change in the way the Priesthood functions as pertaining to women. On Ronan’s post at BCC, Kris in comment #30 invites us to focus on a woman’s endowment with the words “take yourself to the temple” rather than encourage women to keep themselves clean until some young man can “take them to the temple.”

    You may see little harm in this convention, or in President Hinckley’s comment, “she is your most valued possession,” the words in D&C 132, or the way that the marriage ceremony in the temple is worded, but to some of us they are of deep concern.

    In order to heal some of these deep wounds, I would say that revelation is indeed important. I don’t want to discount it. Neither do I advocate radical changes in how the Priesthood functions. I do feel that improvements could be made in attitudes and organization– (changes in organization often take place without too much upheaval.) Women once had much more autonomy over their own auxiliary. I would like to see more of this as well as a hierarchical structure where women report to women up the chain. For example, RS to Stake RS, to Gen RS. Primary Presidency to Stake Primary, to Gen. Primary. When women’s revelations are officially given full sanction by the Church, perhaps the Revelation card can finally be seen as Trump.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 23, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

  163. m&m, I really can understand how it might not seem that I am putting my own beliefs in dialogue with the teachings of the church. I think that’s one of the unfortunate things about blogging. It’s difficult to represent the fullness of one’s spiritual life through this medium. And I fully acknowledge that my doubts show up here more often than my beliefs (mostly because I have other places, such as church, where I go to talk about my beliefs, and this is one of the only safe places I have to talk about my doubts). So, I’m guessing I probably come across as more dissatisfied and upset and critical than I really am.

    Still, I do realize I am critical at times. However, my opinion is that a certain amount of criticism in an institution is healthy and necessary. There are lines that I do not cross, and I’m guessing we’re going to have to disagree about where the line in the sand is when it comes to what is too much criticism.

    Also, I do realize that my perspective is just that–my perspective. I am actually quite happy that my experiences are not shared by all women in the church. While I often wish that others had a better understanding of my emotional world, it’s not a state I would wish on anyone. I certainly can’t speak for anyone else, but I try to be very careful to not insult or condescend to other women who hold different perspectives than my own (i.e. say they’re deluded or not seeing things clearly).

    I only ask that I be given the same kind of consideration. I think one of the hardest things to deal with as a feminist Mormon is not the feminist issues themselves but the constant barrage of comments I get from church members along the lines of “if you just prayed about things, you concerns would go away,” “you must be sinning/delusional/etc. to be so unhappy,” “President Hinckley says women are important, so you shouldn’t feel the way that you do.” For whatever reason, President Hinckley’s words aren’t enough for me, God has not seen fit to answer my prayers, and while I fully confess to being a sinful person, I don’t think my sins are the cause of my distress. What helps me to deal is (a) finding other like-minded people to help me make sense of things, and (b) finding people who may not necessarily emotionally understand, but who are willing to say “hey, although your experiences are different than mine, I’m willing to listen, empathize, and try to understand.”

    While we often have miscommunication problems, I do appreciate your attempts to empathize, so thank-you for this.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 23, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  164. BiV,

    It seems to me that if there is a disagreement about whether a husband’s determination is “righteous” then the wife has just as much ability to deadlock until a consensus is reached as the husband does. No priesthood authority imagined or otherwise is effective unless it is honored.

    That is the whole point of 121:36-42. There is no such thing as a priesthood trump card. A leader who supposes he has one is operating unrighteously by definition.

    And finally, due to the administrative incoherence caused by having unintegrated and overlapping organizational structures, I think a restoration of quorums with both male and female membership (like the original Anointed Quorum) has a significantly greater likelihood than a return to disjoint lines of authority going all the way to the top. The latter has been tried and it didn’t work very well.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 23, 2007 @ 11:22 pm

  165. I think they must be taken so seriously that we can trust the word no human being, including prophets living or dead, with such crucial metaphysical questions. We must receive answers to those kinds of questions from God.

    I have a bit of a quibble with the specifics here. My experience has been, almost without exception, that rarely will God communicate things like this to me directly, without intermediary help. In fact, the only answers I get without any prophetic help, is when I have had personal decisions to make (like what to major in or whether or not I should marry this person or whether I should go on a mission). I think He works differently with each of us perhaps, but for me, the peace that I have found with things that could be confusing to my brain (including the painful inequities of life, and even some of the gender issues could be concerns if it was just my brain at work) has come through repeated experiences with the Spirit as I have studied and pondered scripture (particularly words of the living prophets on gender-related topics). Elder Hales said in the Oct. Conference that “For when we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures; for His words are spoken through His prophets. He will then teach us as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” I have found that this is completely true for me — that revelation and peace comes as I study prophetic words, not simply just by praying.

    Does this mean I don’t have questions still along the way (even about gender issues)? Nope. But I always can go back to the foundation of answers and insights and peace that I have gotten as I have read and pondered truths from prophets, living and dead. So, for me, personal revelation is tied in a significant, even inextricable, way to prophetic teachings. I do and have received specific direction wtih decisions and such, but when it comes to understanding the tough questions of life, I find God’s mouthpieces have been critical resources in gaining understanding and receiving personal revelation.

    Also, I think that one of the best ways to understand things and have the Spirit teach us is to LIVE what we want to believe. So, for me, if there is something that I don’t understand, I seek to live according to the principles being taught, in faith and hope that sometime they will make more sense, assuming they are true to see if the Spirit will ratify their truth to me. I have tested this approach and it works for me. I think there is also scriptural support for such an approach. (We do His will and then we can know of the doctrine John 7:17; We obey the commandments and then we receive light and knowledge and comprehension (e.g., D&C 93:20, 28-29) And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. Does that mean answers/clarification/peace always come immediately? Nope. Sometimes our faith will be tested for a long time. But with some pretty tough issues, I have found bits of light and peace and udnerstanding come as I hold to prophetic teachings and principles and respond to them in faith. I have not felt I have ever suffered by so doing, and have instead benefitted greatly. This is part of why I’m so passionate about their teachings — because they have consistently WORKED in my life, and brought peace and understanding. That has required me sometimes to suspend what my personal struggles and understanding might be without such leaps of faith.

    I want to reiterate that in all that we have talked about, it’s not that I haven’t had or don’t have questions. But the above things have helped me find peace and a confidence that things are more than OK, that the things that may seem to the brain to be unequal are actually part of a wonderful plan greater than what we can really fathom, and that there is great joy to be found in accepting and living the things we are taught. It is by so doing that I am actually excited about concepts like “presiding” and “patriarchy” and temple covenants (yes, even those that can make a brain alone spin). I feel they all has a place in a bigger picture (that I don’t believe will leave me, as a woman, disappointed eternally in ANY way, even if I don’t know what it will all look like specifically), and while I don’t pretend to understand it all, I feel it is right and good.

    That, to me, is what personal revelation can do (make me excited about things that may seem completely opposite to the brain), and it involves more than just prayer. It involves an acceptance in faith, a leap of faith if you will, and trying to live it. And really, really trusting in what our leaders say about the big picture. I wouldn’t be able to feel the way I do on my own, just with prayer and seeking answers only on my own without some doctrinal/prophetic anchors to “test” experientially and spiritually. (Prayer without relying on any scripture at all seems like a doctrinal vacuum to me. That wouldn’t work for me. FWIW.)

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

  166. It seems to me that if there is a disagreement about whether a husband’s determination is “righteous” then the wife has just as much ability to deadlock until a consensus is reached as the husband does. No priesthood authority imagined or otherwise is effective unless it is honored.

    That is the whole point of 121:36-42. There is no such thing as a priesthood trump card. A leader who supposes he has one is operating unrighteously by definition.

    EXCELLENT point.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  167. Seraphine,
    Just saw your comment — thanks for your patience and the fact that you are hearing that I DO care. This is a very limited medium. Hugs to you.

    Comment by m&m — April 23, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

  168. Whatever. That is not an excellent point. There is nothing I can ever say that you people will understand. If there wasn’t a priesthood trump card, why would there even be such a covenant? Why wouldn’t the two parties just covenant each to follow the counsel of the Lord?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 23, 2007 @ 11:58 pm

  169. BiV,
    It seems that you will only acknowledge understanding by agreement. It’s pretty clear to me that Geoff, m&m, and others do understand, at least as much as anyone can understand another’s concerns.

    I will tell you that unrighteous dominion in not purely a man’s problem, and that women are not the only victims.

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2007 @ 12:26 am

  170. BIV’s last question is a good one. What meaning do we give to the temple covenant (and other similar teachings) if there is no set of circumstances when a righteous priesthood holder trumps his wife? Why does she agree to hearken to his counsel if, in realisty, she never has to hearken to his counsel and always has direct accesss to God’s will?

    Comment by Gary — April 24, 2007 @ 6:23 am

  171. I echo Gary’s and BiV’s points. The temple covenant and the scriptures clearly set up a hierarchical structure for marital relationships. Certainly, the married couple may choose to interpret the words of the covenants and the texts of the scriptures in an egalitarian light, and we are encouraged to do so by modern leaders to some extent, but the words themselves set up a structure with the man at the head of the woman and family. And, although modern leaders may encourage men and women to view themselves as “equal partners”, these leaders continually reinforce that a man “presides” over his wife and family. While some people may understand precisely how one person can “preside” over an equal partner, this language is problematic for many others, because it reinforces the hierarchical structure we find in the plain words of our scriptures.

    Finally, I’d like to hear more from Geoff about why the words of Section 132 do _not_ directly conflict with an egalitarian model of marital relationships. We already noted some problems with the text against that interpretation here and on the original thread at Z’s Daughters: women are seen as possessions of men, women are “given” to a man, etc., etc.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 6:56 am

  172. ECS, please tell me who gives the women in Section 132? please sight where it says such. Isn’t this language merely indicative of the culture at the time? Is there any such language in the current practice of sealing within the temple? Has it not been shown over and over again in the teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley that he does not see women as possesions and that his most recent statement used possession in a different sense? Has it not been show that the “most prescious possession” colloquealism has been also applied of husbands to wives, of children to parents, and of family to all?

    I recently read that Marvin J. Ashton said “Friends are possessions you earn.” Christ calls his disciples his friends in the D&C. Thus Christ views us all merely as his property?

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  173. Matt W. – see Verse 62:

    And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

    The language in the temple is that women are given to men.

    As for your other questions, you should check out the thread at Zelophehad’s Daughters, which include an extensive discussion of the words “possession” and “treasure” in the most recent General Conference.

    From President Hinckley:

    Husbands, love and treasure your wives. They are your most precious possessions.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 7:58 am

  174. Gary (#170)
    I think you’re leaving part out. Specifically about the conditions when she would harken until his will.

    For example, I will harken unto the guidance of my bishop, until such time as he would lead me astray. If your bishop was to become apostate, you would have a duty to not follow him.

    There has been a lot of discussion about presiding and priesthood authority. I’m not sure everyone truly understands the principal. Just because I have been ordained to the Priesthood, I do not automatically have authority to do whatever. I only have the authority to do God’s will on earth. When I am acting on my own, without the aid of the Holy Ghost, I am not acting under the priesthood. Period. By definition, the priesthood only exists when used in accordance with God’s will. Refer again to Section 121.

    The same applies to presiding. Yes, presiding does place a certain amount of authority on the presider. Again, it is only valid as long as that person is acting in righteousness. Yes, a husband is required to provide over his family. Remember, his assignment is to do it as Christ would preside over His Church. When he does not, his precedence is not valid nor binding.

    Albeit this understanding is not necessarily practical when dealing with the nuts and bolts of real life. Unfortunately, we are living and dealing with the real, mortal world, in which Satan has influence. Seeing how we haven’t been translated yet, we can expect imperfection.

    In the end, all we can do is decide how we will live and act. As for me and my house…and all that.

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2007 @ 8:17 am

  175. Rick, I’ve enjoyed your comments, but I think you are leaving out a crucial piece in your analysis of presiding and priesthood authority. The model of marriage presented to Mormons is, at best, mildly hierarchical in favor of the man presiding over his family (if “presiding” means anything at all). I agree with you that a man “unrighteously” exercising his authority over a woman is not exercising priesthood authority.

    Even though a man may not “unrighteously” assert his authority over his wife and family, however, it’s extremely difficult to determine who is “right” and who is “wrong” in any given situation – especially in a marriage. Who decides (and when?) whether the man is exercising his priesthood authority over his family “unrighteously” or “righteously”?

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  176. Rick #174
    That would all be very nice if it were crystal clear to both parties exactly what the will of God was. I’m pretty sure we all “understand the principle.”

    I believe the Lord gave me direction to start a scripture study group among the sisters here in Vernal. The Bishop told me I was not to do it. I followed the Bishop’s counsel. I still believe very firmly that I was led to do this. It had been approved by the RS President, and even announced in the ward. Is it “my duty” to go against the Bishop in this situation? I strongly believe he was wrong. But he played the Priesthood card. Since I value my membership in this Church I humble myself and do what he says. If I don’t, I place myself in apostasy and against the Priesthood. If I don’t start the group I put myself in opposition to what I feel the Lord wants me to do. When this happens enough, a woman begins to lose every bit of integrity and trust in the promptings she has ever had.

    As for me, I will follow the Lord. Except when my priesthood leader tells me not to.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 24, 2007 @ 9:12 am

  177. Nice example, BiV.

    (How about an on-line scripture study group? I’d be up for it.)

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 9:22 am

  178. BiV,

    I think that you make some excellent points and that there is no question that abuses and unrighteous dominion happen in the name of the priesthood far too often. (I’m glad you use a fake name because the way you describe your husband makes him come off as rather abusive… I hope you are alright there.)

    I think Mark’s point is mostly a technical clarification that unrighteous dominion in the name of the priesthood ought not be labeled a “priesthood card” since there is no actual priesthood involved in the abuse of power. But that is only really a technicality. You are clearly right that even though the priesthood power is not involved, the priesthood name can be invoked to unrighteously dominate another. Our scriptures and modern prophets make clear that invoking the priesthood for unrighteous dominion is a grave sin, but that is little help to a person who is the ongoing victim of such abuses.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 9:24 am

  179. Matt W. #172
    The exact wording in the current temple ceremony for males is “receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife…”

    For females it is “give yourself to him to be his lawful and wedded wife…”

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 24, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  180. m&m (#165),

    Nothing you described disagrees with my comments. You still rely on personal revelation to understand the important truths — you simply use the “redlight/greenlight” method of personal revelation mostly in your life. That is, you read or study things from prophets, you study them out in your mind, and you let God tell you if how you are interpreting the message is accurate or not. It is the D&C 9 pattern of personal revelation.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 9:30 am

  181. Gary (#170): Why does she agree to hearken to his counsel if, in realisty, she never has to hearken to his counsel and always has direct accesss to God’s will?

    Seems pretty simple to me. Neither can be exalted as a result of this mortal probation unless both are worthy of exaltation. She only hearkens to him if he is doing just what God wants. She only knows what God wants through direct personal contact with God. He likewise only knows what God wants through a direct personal relationship with God. If the both are in a direct personal relationship with God there is no problem agreeing together and with God. They become one with God and one with each other at the same time.

    Now if one or both of them are not in direct personal contact with God then they won’t be exalted as a couple anyway.

    (One of the reasons I think progression between kingdoms is a must.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 9:41 am

  182. ECS:

    Judging by your comment to Rick, I still think the underlying issue here is one of epistemology. How do we know what is truth? How do we know right from wrong? etc.

    on the thread at ZD, I put up a few quotes from President Hinckley as well…

    Hinckley, 2002

    In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.

    She is not your servant, your chattel, nor anything of the kind.

    Also see my #82 on that thread, as well as #84, and #86, and #90, and #109. I think looking at President Hinckley’s comments as a whole is very helpful in easing the worry that women somehow are less than men, property of men, etc.

    I still think D&C 132 doesn’t denote what being given means, what belonging means, or who is giving.Maybe the same person is giving that is giving in the Temple?

    Anyway, I will have to think about the Temple a bit more. From what little I know, the woman “gives” herself, and is not given by her father, God, or anyone else. I believe this has to do more with organization than with authority, but that is only my opinion. Does that make sense?

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 9:45 am

  183. Dang, you all comment fast…

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  184. I have to be done with this. Too much stress. :) I wish I could explain what I feel and have learned re: presiding, temple, etc., but it’s probably not something that can be explained. Just has to be experienced, perhaps. Best to all.

    Comment by m&m — April 24, 2007 @ 9:50 am

  185. ECS (#171): The temple covenant and the scriptures clearly set up a hierarchical structure for marital relationships.

    I think that you are right that we can’t entirely get around the “presiding” language from the church regarding our earthly relationships. But as I said in #181, in a true Celestial relationship there is no presiding — there is only oneness. So perhaps there is presiding when we are living telestial or terrestrial laws and working toward living a celestial law. At least in those lesser relationships we still have section 121 to short circuit unrighteous dominion.

    But let me again point out that this post is not about the way things work here on earth in our fallen condition. It is about learning from God what the potential for women is in the eternities. If being exalted was no better than being in the fallen world why would we even want it? So I hold that a Celestial marital relationship is entirely egalitarian and that is the ideal our prophets have us striving for.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 9:56 am

  186. Geoff, I’d still be interested in how you read 132 in an egalitarian light. I can do a more in-depth reading of what I see as unegalitarian if you’d like.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 24, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  187. There is a group of people that were “given” to Christ by the Father which pop up from time to time in the scriptures (cf. John 17:24, D&C 84:63). My understanding is that the word “given” here draws on wedding language and goes along with the idea of Jesus as the bridegroom.

    This illustrates one reason why language can’t be altered willy-nilly to accomodate the cultural feelings of the time. If we change it, we lose connections and theological implications.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 24, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  188. Geoff (#181): If she knows what God wants by communicating directly with God, and she only ever does what God wants, then how can we read the temple covenant language in a way that gives any meaning at all to the language which clearly suggests that she is to hearken to her husband? That language is entirely meaningless under your interpretation. I prefer your approach, but I think it renders the temple covenant meaningless. I rather doubt that is what the author intended.

    Comment by Gary — April 24, 2007 @ 10:08 am

  189. Gary: That language is entirely meaningless under your interpretation.

    I disagree. If she can’t be fully exalted without an exalted husband (just as he can’t be fully exalted without an exalted wife) then it provides all sorts of incentive for her to lift him closer to God just like he has all sorts of incentive to lift her closer to God. The system seems quite effective to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 10:17 am

  190. ECS and Seraphine,

    Re: Section 132–

    As others have pointed out here, it is a easy thing to do to read the language of wives being “given” to husbands as entirely innocuous and figurative. It is just as easy to see the “possession” language in the same light — where we are all the “possessions” of our friends, families, and loved ones. In a figurative sense don’t we all “belong” to our parents, our spouses, our children, our communities, our God, etc?

    So since that reading is so easy to accept, I am wondering what arguments you have that we should not or even must not interpret section 132 and other similar scriptures in that light — especially in the face of the sermons supporting such an interpretation from President Hinckley and other church leaders in recent decades.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 10:25 am

  191. Geoff, could you point me to any scripture that states women possess their husbands? It’s not so easy to accept a benign meaning of “possession” given all the scriptural texts that state husbands preside over their wives, that wives are their possessions, etc., when we have no scriptural texts stating that women possess their husbands in this manner.

    Pres. Hinckley’s interpretation of Section 132 – that women are equal partners in marriage – seems to conflict with much of the language of 132. So what’s left of 132, if anything, in 2007? Again, specific examples would be helpful.

    Matt, even if the wife consents to the “giving”, she is still giving herself to her husband without her husband giving himself to her.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  192. (Or, even if Pres. Hinckley is not interpreting Section 132 specifically, he has stated many times that men and women are equal partners – and this statement seems to conflict with the language of 132.)

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  193. ECS: Pres. Hinckley’s interpretation of Section 132 – that women are equal partners in marriage – seems to conflict with much of the language of 132.

    Only if one reads it through the lens you use. Most of us aren’t wearing the particular pair of specs you have. Do you even have any arguments why we should put them on? You’ve provided none so far.

    Geoff, could you point me to any scripture that states women possess their husbands?

    I couldn’t even find any scriptures that specifically say men “possess” their wives. Do you know of any scriptures that use the word possess or possession in this way?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  194. ECS, a rather smart lady pointed my to a scripture where women possess their husbands. (comment #83) It says:


    Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken. (D&C 83:2)

    There is Also

    “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8).

    What I think is relevent here is the culture of courting practive involved in the giving and receiving of a spouse. The man in this is the one who asks the woman to marry him. So he has already “given” himself to her. She then has the opportunity to receive him by accepting, or to reject him by declining. In the wedding, then, she formally gives herself to him in return, and he formally receives her in return.

    So, is it weird for a woman to ask a man to marry her? (maybe this ought be another thread?)

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 11:02 am

  195. Geoff: I am not sure if I followed you. Do you mean that the temple covenant language whereby women covenant to hearken to their husbands should be interpreted to mean that women should lift their husbands toward God? I like the sentiment, but I don’t know how you can get that out of those words.

    Even though I agree with you that the church does not teach that women are mere possessions, wouldn’t you at least agree that our temple ceremony and our scriptures are extremely difficult to reconcile with an egalitarian view of marriage? The only way I can do it is to accept that our previous teachings are wrong. That opens up its own can of worms, I know, but I just cannot do the mental gymnastics to allow me to interpret certain scriptural passages as being consistent with true equality of men and women and husband and wife.

    Comment by Gary — April 24, 2007 @ 11:27 am

  196. Geoff – Let’s use the words in verse 61, Section 132:

    Verse 61: And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

    In Section 132, the woman “belongeth” to the man in marriage. She belongs to her husband and to “no one else”. I’m looking for a scripture where the man “belongeth” to the woman in marriage, and that he belongs to her and to no one else. I’m also looking for a scripture where the man is “given” to the wife.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 11:39 am

  197. Matt #194, that’s a nice sentiment, but I don’t see the man giving himself to the wife in marriage – especially not in Section 132. How can the man give himself completely to one wife when he’s got lots of wives to whom he must give himself? There’s only so much of him to go around.

    This thread is waay off topic now, and I’ve got some work to do. Thanks for the lively discussion!

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 11:47 am

  198. ECS,

    You are doing it again. You are assuming your reading of section 132 is correct but you have not yet provided arguments as to why your reading is correct. We all know that the section says wives “belong” to their husbands — quoting it more won’t help your case. I (and others here) have briefly explained how that kind of language can and should be read as completely figurative and innocuous. I have defended that reading by citing the clear position on the subject from our living prophet.

    You have not yet provided arguments here why we should read the language regarding possession of wives in section 132 as literal and harmful. Arguing for your position based on the lack of canonized scripture specifically stating husbands “belong” to their wives is hardly an argument at all — especially in light of Matt’s comment #194.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

  199. Geoff – come on – now you’re being obstinate. You don’t like my reading, fine. But who’s to say yours is any better? I suggest you pray about it a bit harder, and perhaps someday you’ll finally get it right.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

  200. What makes 132 even worse in my eyes is not only that a woman “belongeth” to her husband, but that

    (A) in verse 44, we learn that Joseph through the “power of the Holy Priesthood” can take a woman and “give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.” In this verse, women are objects that can be handed around by priesthood leaders to righteous men.

    (B) in verse 63 we learn that women are not “given” to men so that they can provide the men with children: “for they are given unto him to amultiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men.” This verse tells us that the reason women are “given” to men is so that they can be eternal baby-machines.

    (C) verses 64 and 65 tells us that if a woman does not accept the law (i.e. the law of polygamy, which is discussed throughout the chapter and in verse 65), she shall be destroyed. So, basically, if her husband decides to “receive” other wives, if she doesn’t accept it, damnation on her head.

    Please tell me how this can be read figuratively so as to create an “egalitarian” meaning.

    Comment by Seraphine — April 24, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

  201. If there wasn’t a priesthood trump card, why would there even be such a covenant? Why wouldn’t the two parties just covenant each to follow the counsel of the Lord?

    Because of what the priesthood holder can learn from his stewardship. That is pretty much my answer to what priesthood is, a tool for men to learn things like compassion and caring, that they might not elsewhere.

    I first saw this in my husband in the first years of our marriage when he served in an Elder’s Quorum presidency. And that’s why I have been willing to support him through years of demanding callings (bishop, high council, etc.).

    Because of how it has changed him and helped him grow.

    Comment by Naismith — April 24, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  202. BiV (#176) You gave this example “I believe the Lord gave me direction to start a scripture study group among the sisters here in Vernal. The Bishop told me I was not to do it. I followed the Bishop’s counsel.”

    Would you consider this a similar situation – our Boy Scout Council was organizing a council-wide Venture Committee (not a Crew like the local unit, just an advisory board) to identify some activities for Ventures around the Council. In reality it would be similar to what scouting Dsitricts do for Camporees. A local Stake President has forbade any Venture or leader from participating in any way shape or form.

    I would suggest that these kind of pronouncements are outside of their authority. I don’t really know the specifics on the Venture case, but use it as an example. There could be justifiable reasons, and it may be that the source I heard it from wasn’t entirely accurate, so I’m not really passing judgement.

    I don’t know the specifics in your case either, so I can’t pass judgement (even if I had the authority to do so, which I don’t).

    Now, I can see circumstances where the ban on the study group might be appropriate. For example, if you portrayed it as an formal official group or organization under the ward. The Bishop would have a right to disallow that, just like a business would disallow you from holding meetings in their name.

    But if your plan is to invite fellow sisters over to study with you on a regular basis, I would sugest that is outside the bounds of his authority. Under this case, the most that would be appropriate would be to counsel of the potential dangers of doing something like this. As a matter of fact, isn’t that part of our counsel as Home and Visiting Teachers – to study from the scriptures.

    Now that doesn’t help a lot from a practical standpoint. I understand. We each have to strike a balance with the little hypocrasies that exist in our daily lives. Just because a person is called to act in the name of the Lord, doesn’t mean they are always acting for the Lord.

    “As for me, I will follow the Lord. Except when my priesthood leader tells me not to.” I understand the sentiment. You have to pick the “hill you want to die on.”

    I believe that it isn’t right to have to choose between following the Lord or your Priesthood Leadership, but unfortunately it happens. If you study, pray, discuss it with the leader, and there is no change, you have to pick. The good thing is that the leader will be judged for that as well.

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

  203. ECS — see #200. All I wanted was a few actual arguments to defend your position.

    Seraphine — First, Thank you! (This whole thing of asserting readings of our scriptures without providing any arguments to defend that reading is driving me bonkers — I can’t tell you how happy I am to have some actual arguments to respond to finally.)

    Regarding (A) — That’s not a bad argument actually. The thing that undermines it is that I know of no evidence that women of the early church have no right to refuse to marry anyone to whom they are “given”. It is certainly not that way today and I believe women had to agree to any marriage proposals back then too… So based on that I think we have to read the possession language there figuratively.

    Regarding (B) — Again, I think we could take the “given” language seriously if women didn’t have to freely choose to accept marriage proposals. Since women do (and did, as far as I can tell) have to freely choose to accept a proposal of marriage then how can we not take such language to be completely figurative?

    Regarding (C) — First, I think there is some question about what law must be accepted — Celestial Marriage sealings (like we practice today) or plural marriage. If it is the former then there is no problem. In any case I read the “destroyed” language as being a rather generic version of “damned” which applies in the section to anyone who rebels against the actual commandments of God. Of course such a threat of destruction die to rebellion against God applies to men and women equally as it does throughout all scripture.

    Now I can fully understand the problems people have with the language of section 132. It is archaic to our ears. (I suspect the language sounded archaic in 1832 too since Joseph was fond of putting these revelations in King James-like language.) But I think that the underlying meanings can be read to be in harmony with President Hinckley’s later clarifications on the proper order of marriage.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

  204. As others have pointed out here, it is a easy thing to do to read the language of wives being “given” to husbands as entirely innocuous and figurative. It is just as easy to see the “possession” language in the same light — where we are all the “possessions” of our friends, families, and loved ones. In a figurative sense don’t we all “belong” to our parents, our spouses, our children, our communities, our God, etc?

    Geoff, what exactly is the figurative reading of 132–”give” metaphorically means “exercise agency to choose”? (A) What hermeneutical key gives us licence to read metaphorically, and (B) what metaphor is appropriate?

    The problem is that it’s as easy to support a literal reading with statements of modern prophets as it is to support a “figurative” reading. The position of the modern prophets is anything but clear–these are people who say “preside” does not indicate hierarchy.

    And while it’s true we belong to each other in a sense, this does nothing to explain the differences in wording for men and women. Have the prophets ever told us to ignore such differences?

    This approach–”it’s just as easy to read things figuratively”–results in havoc. If circumcision is read figuratively, a “sign” of faith rather than a literal commandment, then could not the sabbath or the law of chastity or the Word of Wisdom be read equally so?

    Seems pretty simple to me. Neither can be exalted as a result of this mortal probation unless both are worthy of exaltation. She only hearkens to him if he is doing just what God wants. She only knows what God wants through direct personal contact with God.

    So the wife only interacts with God to evaluate the husband’s behavior. But if God’s interaction with the wife is sufficient authorization for her behavior itself, why is she not simply commanded to “hearken to God”? Your reading is convoluted and relies heavily on unstated assumptions. There’s a much, much simpler reading.

    I think that you are right that we can’t entirely get around the “presiding” language from the church regarding our earthly relationships. But as I said in #181, in a true Celestial relationship there is no presiding — there is only oneness. So perhaps there is presiding when we are living telestial or terrestrial laws and working toward living a celestial law. At least in those lesser relationships we still have section 121 to short circuit unrighteous dominion.

    In other words, God instituted a hierarchical system to help prepare us for a future egalitarian model? Why would that make sense? And why is the hierarchical model set up as though it is the celestial model?

    Two further questions:
    How is unrighteous dominion short circuited, in practice?

    Words such as “preside” give men authority over women–even if unrighteous dominion is condemned, what makes righteous dominion appropriate?

    Comment by Kiskilili — April 24, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  205. 3rd attempt t post this:

    “no one else”

    D&C 42:22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

    “belongeth”

    Another Common Usage for “belong” In the Scriptures is belonging to the church. Such as in Alma 6:2And it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church who repented of their sins were baptized unto repentance, and were received into the church. Are we all, man and woman, possessions of and subordinate to “the church”? Also, you life belongs to God, per Mosiah 4:22. Does this mean he owns all, men and women? If women belong to God, how can they “give” themselves in marriage?

    And of Course there is 1 Cor. 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

    And the ever popular 1 Cor. 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  206. The thing that undermines it is that I know of no evidence that women of the early church have no right to refuse to marry anyone to whom they are “given”.

    In other words, the actual practices of the culture in which the text was written tell us what the text means? How do we know the text is not at odds with other cultural mores and laws and was simply never put into practice?

    If we operate using your suggested hermeneutic, we can also reinterpret D&C 124:23 metaphorically:

    23 And it shall be for a house for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein; therefore let it be a good house, worthy of all acceptation, that the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord; and the corner-stone I have appointed for Zion.

    No such house was ever built. Therefore, we can easily interpret the passage to mean we should simply show hospitality to strangers.

    Comment by Kiskilili — April 24, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  207. I slugged through over 200 comments to get to a point where I could input, only to find that Naismith has already said what I wanted to.

    Oh well. :D

    Comment by SilverRain — April 24, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  208. 205
    I am just going to add my thoughts to this:

    I think the order and purpose of covenants is important to note. A woman choose to marry and can then, after marriage, fully trust her husband only as he is righteous, which means, for example, that no trump card can or would be played. There is no unrighteous dominion at all, just stewardship and service in a righteous relationship, either in marriage or in the hierarchy. If there is unrighteous dominion, there is no priesthood anyway. It’s all part of the test for all of us…will men fulfill their stewardships? Will women seek to be partners or be independent actors? Will women and men work and act together as though they can’t live and work without each other, or as independents?

    I think the way things are designed are to create marriage units (or men and women working together in the church), rather than two separate individuals/genders pursuing their own path independently. I think that is the reason we (women) don’t report up the chain just to women — why or how would we need men if we could do our work all alone? The Lord wants us together in the Lord, and these things that seem to some to be institutionalized inequality are what I see as insitutionalized togetherness, if you will. I don’t want to be alone in my relationship with God. I don’t want to work independently as a woman without the man/men in my life/the church. Do you? What I have come to feel is that our ultimate covenants bind us to God together, not separately. In addition, our different but complementary roles in the church and in the family create an interdependence that is essential to the Lord’s work and our eternal potential. That is a key part of the plan of salvation, IMO. It all depends on the lens you have on. Try to look at it not with cultural or personal lenses, but with an eye toward understanding why God might want things the way they are and what His ultimate purpose in our creation is. It’s not to have us separate but equal. It is to have us bound as one, working together as an inseparable unit. If we are each self-contained, can-do-it-all individuals, there is simply no point in or need to come together. And how we respond to our stewardships here (which are a bit different for each gender) will affect what happens later. Man’s stewardship includes creating a place of safety for wife and children, which makes it possible for a woman to be a full partner in full trust. If a man’s loyalties and priorities aren’t in place then a woman can’t fully trust in a full and unrighteous-dominion-free marriage (since it is the nature and disposition….) Patriarchy, presiding, providing, protecting are precursors to true partnership, not preventors of such.

    Comment by m&m — April 24, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

  209. makes righteous dominion appropriate?

    What does dominion over the earth mean to you? Is it there for you to exploit or to care for?

    Comment by m&m — April 24, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

  210. Geoff, why do I need to give arguments? After all, I’m playing my own epistomological trump card of personal revelation! And, in this hand, I’ve got a royal straight flush.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  211. Kiskilili (#204): This approach–”it’s just as easy to read things figuratively”–results in havoc.

    Wow. I never would have taken you for a scriptural hyper-literalist… So I take you you believe that Eve was literally created from Adam’s rib too? And that the Earth was literally formed in seven days?

    If not then I suspect your objections to taking some texts figuratively based on all the evidence ought to be ratcheted back a few notches.

    So the wife only interacts with God to evaluate the husband’s behavior

    Those are your words, not mine. My view is that under the structure of the covenants the wife is under no obligation to hearken to her husband unless he is acting directly in harmony with God’s will. That means she is required to have a direct personal relationship with God — if not she would have no way of knowing independently what God’s will is. She hopes her husband also has a direct personal relationship with God too because they can’t be fully exalted without each other. He hopes she has direct personal relationship with God for the very same reason. The whole system is genius in my opinion. It leads to oneness between spouses and with God.

    In other words, God instituted a hierarchical system to help prepare us for a future egalitarian model?

    According to our scriptures the fall caused it all — not God instituting these things per se. The gospel is the plan to get out of this mess we are in and back to living a Celestial law (with all the joy and peace that are connected with it)

    How is unrighteous dominion short circuited, in practice?

    Only unrighteous dominion using the actual power of the priesthood is short-circuited in practice. Unrighteous dominion by virtue of being bigger, stronger or having other forms of dominance over others is always a part of our fallen world. The gospel is designed to stamp that vile sort of thing out among our people.

    what makes righteous dominion appropriate

    Depends on what you mean. If you mean in the sense that God currently has dominion over us then it is righteous because he never compels us to do anything — rather he uses gentle persuasion and all the other good stuff described in section 121. If you mean dominion in any other sense than that then it is not “righteous”.

    (#206) In other words, the actual practices of the culture in which the text was written tell us what the text means?

    Yup — the culture in which the verses is given is an important piece of hermeneutical information for any scripture — ancient or modern.

    If we operate using your suggested hermeneutic, we can also reinterpret D&C 124:23 metaphorically

    I certainly never claimed that we should never read scriptures literally (though I am certainly not the hyper-literalist that you are suddenly seeming to be…)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 2:15 pm

  212. ECS, as I said somewhere else, trump cards are in euchre or bridge (or even pinochle, I think), not poker. royal straight flushes are in poker not euchre or bridge.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

  213. ECS,

    You never even played the personal revelation card. You simply have been plowing forward taking as a given your assumption that President Hinckley contradicted the true meaning of section 132 and other texts when he preached egalitarianism in marriage. You are free to argue for your reading based on personal revelation if that is what you want of course… Are you now saying that God has revealed to you that President Hinckley was indeed contradicting our scriptures?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  214. Matt – The best thing about _epistemological_ trump cards, however, is they’re good no matter which game you’re playing :)

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  215. You can explain away words suggesting ownership as being figurative, and I am willing to go some ways down that road. However, I still have not seen a good explanation for why, if God meant “equal” and “mutual” he used language that, no matter how you slice it, on its face connotes some kind of subservience. Women and men are spoken of differently, their covenants, rights and obligations are not always reciprocal. There must be a reason for that. It may not mean “possession” but I don’t see how a reasonable person would read those words and find support for the notion that women are entirely equal in every respect. As a result, we are forced to reinterpret those words by importing other teachings which leave us scratching our heads wondering why those words were used at all if God really meant the opposite. Women are in some sense given to men that does not seem to be reciprocal. Women must hearken to men in a way that is not reciprocal. We can’t just dismiss these distinctions with a wave of the hand by saying it is all figurative. We have to give meaning to these words, and I have yet to see anybody do that. But maybe I have missed something.

    Naismith: I have trouble seeing how Priesthood is a tool for men to learn compassion that they might not learn elsewhere. I think I have learned something about compassion by being a husband, a father, a son, a brother and a friend. I have learned something about compassion by observing and being inspired by examples of compassionate people. I have learned compassion by some of church callings which were not priesthood offices. In none of these roles does the Priesthood play an essential part. I have also learned something about compassion from my current calling, which is a priesthood office. But to be honest, I just don’t see how holding the Priesthood has made me compassionate or has the potential to make me compassionate in a way that a large number of other activities or roles does not. And even if you are correct, I am not sure why similar opportunities to learn compassion would not be afforded to women.

    Comment by Gary — April 24, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  216. I will offer my own solution to the problem. I believe that the authors of the language that so many find objectionable actually intended that those passages would be interpreted pretty much in the way that we now consider objectionable. I don’t think they meant that women were possessions in the way that a grapefruit is a possession, but they did believe that women were subservient in a meaningful way. The language was not intended to be figurative except perhaps in a limited sense–women were not, strictly speaking possessions, but they did not enjoy the same rights as a man either. We are kidding ourselves and torturing the language to argue otherwise.

    We no longer accept those notions. We believe that they are just wrong. But we are stuck with what we have. So I say, toss out the stuff that is offensive. Admit that it says what it says, but it is wrong.

    And then figure out some way to deal with the ramifications of acknowledging that scripture and temple ceremonies sometimes teach false doctrine. Not sure what that way is, but that is the only way out that I can see.

    Comment by Gary — April 24, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

  217. Can I recap a bit?

    We have two sides to an argument, which are both making appeals to authority to support their argument. They are both making appeals to the same authority, by the way.

    Side one holds that the LDS church views women as inferior and appeals to the authority of:
    1. Their personal experiences
    2. The Wording in D&C 132
    3. The Wording in the Temple Endowment and Temple Sealing (And in Genesis Chapter 2 or 3…)
    4. A most resent statement by the President of the Church amd Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley.
    6. Women not having the priesthood, as they define it.

    On the other side, the other group are saying that Men and Women are equal in the Church and appeal to authority in the following ways.
    1. Their Personal Experience
    2. The Wording in D&C 83 and D&C 42
    3. The Wording in the Temple Endowment and Temple Sealing (And Genesis Chapter 1)
    4. A most recent statement by the President of the Church amd Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley.
    5. The Language used in Paul’s Epistles something or other (1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians)
    6. Women having the priesthood(or the equivilant thereof), as they define it.
    7. A representation showing that some of the “negative language” from the other side as been used in other contexts to show it is figurative, such as “most prized possession”, “Dominion” and, “Belongs to”

    Anything I missed on either side?

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

  218. Gary (#215) “I have trouble seeing how Priesthood is a tool for men to learn compassion that they might not learn elsewhere.”

    I guess that is something you’ll need to find out for yourself.

    I will say that I have been invovled with Deacons in and out of 25 years. It has been long enough to see the actual effect of mantles of leadership. I see 13 year old boys get called to serve as the President of their quorum and watch them become different people. I’m not suggesting that they become spiritual giants, but in every case in my experience, they become more than they were. And usually, the go back to what they were before when they are released and ordained a Teacher.

    Eventually, the idea is that some of this begins to stick after a while. Sometimes, it may take a long while (please don’t ask my wife her thoughts on the matter).

    I would suggest that the ultimate compassion builder is childbirth. I love my children more than I could ever say, but I’ll never have the bond or connection that my wife does after what she went through for them.

    I guess it’s just not fair.

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  219. Rick: I take your point. But I have witnessed the same phenomenon with girls taking leadership roles in the Beehive class and boys in non LDS scout troops. Being thrust into a position of leadership and being tutored by wise leaders does give opportunities to grow in compassion. There is no need to throw Priesthood into that mix–it adds nothing that was not already there.

    Comment by Gary — April 24, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  220. Gary (#216)
    “And then figure out some way to deal with the ramifications of acknowledging that scripture and temple ceremonies sometimes teach false doctrine.”

    I think that is a very slippery slope.

    Because we do not understand a doctrine, does not make it false. It boils down to this:

    The Lord decides what doctrine is true or false.
    The Lord speaks to us through His appointed mouthpiece.
    The Lord confirms to us that His appointed mouthpiece is exactly that.
    We choose to believe or not.

    I don’t believe that any of the appointed mouthpieces have ever said or suggested “that scripture and temple ceremonies sometimes teach false doctrine.”

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2007 @ 3:20 pm

  221. Gary (#219)
    I’m really talking about more than that.

    I will agree that the opportunity to serve and be montored is a great teaching opportunity, and can’t help but provide growth. I guess I’m saying that I’ve had a few “tender mercies” that have shown me the difference.

    I refuse to discount the blessings of the priesthood. To do so would be to deny what has been given me.

    Comment by Rick — April 24, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  222. “And then figure out some way to deal with the ramifications of acknowledging that scripture and temple ceremonies sometimes teach false doctrine.”

    Nope, sorry, I’d rather assume that those who don’t like these things are wrong in their understanding. :)

    Comment by m&m — April 24, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

  223. Geoff-

    I don’t know what else we can say about this. You asked me for an example of the text of the scriptures contradicting the words of modern day prophets. I gave you the text of Section 132 as contradicting the model of egalitarian marriage given to us by modern day prophets (egalitarian, that is, in the context of men “presiding” over women). You then asked for specific verses in this Section. I pointed out the verses in Section 132 that state women are “given” to men, and speculated that this is some evidence that women are viewed as possessions of men, which, if true, would make women unequal to men. You rejected this example as a possible contradiction with the model of egalitarian marriage, however.

    Even though I’m terribly hurt that you rejected my example, I find it a bit difficult to believe that you couldn’t possibly see how Section 132 creates “problems” with the ideal of egalitarian marriage until Seraphine spelled it out so very clearly and articulately to you, but there you have it. So, now we have Seraphine’s enlightening explanation of Section 132, do you still disagree that the _actual text_ of Section 132 contradicts the model of egalitarian marriage (i.e., women and men are equal partners)?

    You can certainly contend that the modern egalitarian marriage model is preferable to the model presented in Section 132. I agree with you! But it can’t possibly make sense to say that the text of Section 132, which outlines an authoritarian marital structure, is consistent with, or at least doesn’t contradict, the principle that men and women are equal in marriage.

    So, this of course all leads back to personal revelation. Even though you received personal revelation that the modern egalitarian model of marriage is preferable to the authoritarian model presented in Section 132, this does not change the actual words of the text of Section 132. The words of Section 132 indicate women and men are far from equal partners in a marital relationship. To accept the model that men are equal to women in marriage, you have to disregard the actual text of Section 132 that, among other things, states men use women to build their (i.e., men’s) eternal kingdoms. K’s new post on Z’s Daughters sums this point up very nicely.

    My use of the “epistemological trump card” concept in my earlier comment was to blithely acknowledge the fact that I already know you are going to disagree with every single thing I’ve just said about Section 132. So I’m going to have to play my trump card, and say that, yes, I’ve received revelation that the words of Section 132 directly contradict my belief that men and women are equal in marriage.

    Comment by ECS — April 24, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  224. Geoff (#203), just because a woman can choose not to participate in the order of marriage set out in 132 does not mean the order is an egalitarian one. I read the section as setting out two choices: (1) either you accept this law, become an eternal baby-machine, and allow your husband to have other wives, or (2) you can refuse the law and be damned/destroyed.

    But anyway, ECS responded to you much better than I could have in #223.

    Gary (#215), great comment!

    Comment by Seraphine — April 24, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

  225. Seraphine,

    First, I think the notion of viviparous spirit birth is simply not true so there is no such thing as an eternal baby-machine in my opinion. (The scripture says only “bear the souls of men” which can be interpreted to mean all sorts of things other that viviparous spirit birth).

    Second, I believe for several reasons that polygamy is only an earthly institution.

    Third, men also have two choices when it come to the new and everlasting covenant of marriage:

    (1) either you accept this law and bear the souls of men in the eternities to come, or (2) you can refuse the law and be damned/destroyed.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

  226. ECS (#223),

    I’m amazed at how much we have been speaking past each other as of late. I’ll try to back up and recap our conversation on this subject as I’ve understood it.

    1. The topic is where women stand in the eyes of God and in the universe in general.

    2. My contention is that
    a) God knows that women are equal to men in the eternities,
    b) God can tell us that himself,
    c) The scriptures are ambiguous enough to be read to imply (c1)that women are equal to men or (c2)that women are lesser than men,
    d) Since our living prophet says women are indeed equal to men then that is the way we ought to interpret God’s intent with our ambiguous scriptures.

    3. As I understand your comments, you are saying that interpretation (c1) is simply untenable and therefore our scriptures like section 132 cannot be reasonably interpreted to mean (or even be compatible with the teaching?) that women are equal to men in the universe and in the eyes of God. (In #135 You made this claim: “First, the texts of the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets disagree.”)

    4. I challenged you in #148 to back up your claim that section 132 must be read to support (c2) and cannot be read to support (c1). I’m still waiting for those arguments from you to support your bold claim. (Seraphine provided a few but the mostly seem to show me that 2c. is correct and section 132 could be read to say women are lesser creatures. But that is not evidence to say they must be read to mean that — especially not to mean that’s what God had in mind when inspiring that section.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

  227. I’m going to assume then in #217, i didn’t miss anything. To add to Geoff’s point then, the arguments for “egalitarianism” include an argument to explain the contradictory statements of the arguments against sucha view. However, is there such an argument from the otherside. Is it possible to say that when president Hinckley said Women are not chattel, he was being metaphorical and he didn’t really mean it. Is it possible to say that when God said he created man male and female in his image, the equality there was figurative? When Paul says the the woman has authority over the body fo the man, equal to the authority the man has over the body of the woman, was that a figure of speach? When D&C says a man must cleave unto his wife and no one else, and that wives have claim on their husbands, was that PR talk only? While we have direct statements that clearly denote the facts, why are we focused on some ambiguities? Why are women compplaining about being called “most precious”? or about the figure of speech associated with marriage of giving and receiving? (By the way, the Wiki article on this is an embarrassment.It doesn’t even attempt to find the history of the concept, which seems to be older than David’s time at least, judging by the bible.)

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

  228. Now that I’ve had a day or two and 227 comments to ponder this issue, I think that what we’ve proved is that there is no trump card when searching for answers to epistemological questions. We’ve had commenters appeal to scriptures, prophetic statements and personal revelation. None of these seem sufficient to authoritatively settle the question of where the female sex stands in relation to the universe, God, the Church, or man. One might feel satisfied that they have solved the question to their personal satisfaction, yet the attempt to “trump” someone else’s understanding of the issue proves insufficient when that other person has reached different conclusions using the same cards.

    …of course, no one has played the priesthood card yet… :)

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 24, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  229. BiV,

    The point is that personal revelation is personal and in the end it trumps other truth claims for us when it comes to where we stand in God’s eyes. So you should always believe what God tells you directly and so should I. (It is not about trumping someone else on their beliefs about themselves or about some random topic… In the end we need to figure out what God is really telling us personally and then trust him.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  230. I’ve been playing the priesthood card all along: Patients, Long Suffering, and Persuasion.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  231. patience, not patients (Now I’m playing the embarrassed card…)

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  232. 230 Matt aren’t you cute.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 24, 2007 @ 8:16 pm

  233. Just call me nermal.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 24, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

  234. I can see the complaint about D&C 132. It is extraordinarily severe, written as if the world was going to end if polygamy was not practiced.

    However, the text does not internally justify the Brigham Young model of each exalted couple having 100 billion children by viviparous pro-creation. The scriptural precedent rather for an eternal increase is Abraham and Sarah – and their endless posterity was here on the earth, in a pattern of familial patrilineal presidency and nationhood well documented in the Old Testament.

    That would give some explanation for the enormously severe urgency to practice polygamy in the here and now – that ones exaltation in the next life depended not on some future spiritual posterity per se, but rather on presiding spiritually over ones own temporal posterity in the eternities.

    The scriptural precedent for exaltation has nothing to do with post-mortal pro-creation and everything to do with pro-creation in the here and now. I don’t believe there is any evidence that Joseph Smith believed in any sort of vivaparous spirit birth. Brigham Young did claim however, that Joseph Smith introduced him to the core concept of the Adam-God theory, namely that Adam presided over us in heaven. Jewish mysticism holds that too.

    So the Adam-God theory as presented by Brigham Young is sort of a grand reconciliation of a massive patriarchal order presided over by Adam and Eve (which Joseph Smith definitely believed in), plus the idea that exaltation entails having a very large number of spirit children by viviparous procreation (which appears to be the innovation of Brigham Young) in the concept that each exalted couple becomes an Adam and Eve to a new world, thus becoming both the viviparous spiritual parents, and the biological grandparents of a whole world.

    Especially considering that the Church has formally rejected the Adam-God theory for over eighty years, it might help a little to read D&C 132 through Joseph Smith’s eyes, instead of through the remaining non-canonical assumptions of Brigham Young.

    Ultimately though, one has to decide whether D&C 132 is an accurate rendition of the will of the Lord at the time. There is a principle of charity here. Why should one assume the worst about the will of the Lord? I cannot help but imagine Joseph Smith would rather you blame all the problems on him. Does anyone seriously believe that the Lord is a monomaniacal narcissist no matter how the scriptures portray him, or the theological rationale for why he should be represented that way?

    Comment by Mark D. — April 24, 2007 @ 10:06 pm

  235. The scriptural precedent for exaltation has nothing to do with post-mortal pro-creation and everything to do with pro-creation in the here and now.

    Not sure I can agree with this, or else all righteous people would be allowed to procreate in this life. We know that doesn’t happen, and prophets teach of ALL blessings being available in the next for those who are righteous, so I would have to disagree with your assertion, at least the absoluteness of it.

    (I know I said I was done. But here I am still. Funny how that works.) :)

    Comment by m&m — April 24, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

  236. I believe the Lord gave me direction to start a scripture study group among the sisters here in Vernal. The Bishop told me I was not to do it. I followed the Bishop’s counsel. I still believe very firmly that I was led to do this. It had been approved by the RS President, and even announced in the ward. Is it “my duty” to go against the Bishop in this situation?

    I think “going against” the Bishop is always a bad idea, but I see a h_u_g_e space between “going against the bishop” and simply accepting that counsel.

    And there is no way that I would simply give up if I felt that I was led to do it. We’re not mindless sheep. Think of that Canaanite woman who repeatedly refused to accept Christ’s “no” and persisted in her request.

    You haven’t explained *why* he told you not to do it. There might be some room for negotiation. For example, you might ask to organize it as an adult institute class, so that there was ovesight from the CES and stake, and he knew you woud be using church-approved materials.

    I have heard that in some areas there has been examples of teaching of false doctrines in scripture study groups, such that there is great concern about supervision and accountability. If this is the case, you should really be upset with the previous folks who caused a climate of distrust rather than the bishop per se.

    And I hope your RS president will bring this up with the stake RS president who can talk to the stake president, who can talk to the bishop and assure him that other wards have held such groups and it has been a blessing.

    Comment by Naismith — April 25, 2007 @ 3:03 am

  237. I’ve been thinking a great deal about this discussion, and have come to the conclusion that I no longer know what is being argued any more.

    I wonder, however, if some of the “wounds” that are felt are more because legitimate concerns about a person’s place in life and the eternities are discounted as ridiculous. I suppose I’m in an odd position. I don’t believe that women are any less than men, but I can certainly understand how one could be concerned about it.

    In the end, there is no real “trump card” that applies to everyone until we all stand before the bar of God and speak with Him face to face. Until then, we can’t all know the exact same things in the same way. Uncertainty is part of the purpose of this life. We have all proved faithful when we had full knowledge of God, now we are to see if we can be faithful without full knowledge. In the end, the only thing that can confirm truths is the Spirit through personal revelation. That can be scary, because each individual person can speak only for what he or she has felt. It is common for people to feel that somehow their feelings are invalidated when another’s feelings contradict them. That simply isn’t true. Whether the Spirit is confirming the prophet’s words, communicating reassurance of God’s love for us, or communing directly with our souls, that Spirit is the only way we can come to a knowledge of the truth in our hearts. I cannot feel that confirmation for anyone else, but neither can anyone expect that their confirmation will be enough for me.

    Jessawhy and Seraphine have both expressed previous feelings of peace on the subjet. It seems that they are expressing difficulty in actually living with things the way they are. It is common in my life, at least, that I feel peace on an issue, and then have to turn and try to live up to that peace. They have received confirmation, but have not yet come to terms with what that means in the real world. There is no shame or unrighteousness in that.

    Spirits that yearn for all that is good or holy will always struggle with injustice and unholiness in the world. Rest assured that justice will be served in the end, that mercy is a fulfillment of justice, not a cheater of it. There will be nothing about your status in the eternities that does not exceed your every hope for joy. For now, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

    Comment by SilverRain — April 25, 2007 @ 6:19 am

  238. Geoff – I think we’ve been understanding each other all along. I don’t believe there’s much ambiguity in Section 132. I believe Section 132 sets up an authoritarian marital structure. I’m almost tempted to spend today going line by line through this Section to show you the absence of any discussion that women are equal to men, and instead show you that Section 132 clearly means that men control relationships with women into the eternities. But I’m afraid that would be a waste of a beautiful day, because you’ve already dismissed Seraphine’s excellent comments illustrating that Section 132 does not stand for the equality of the sexes.

    Again, I think you do understand my general point, but I’d like to clarify one thing. I do agree that we should follow what the living prophet says. He now says that women and men are equal. But I disagree that the prophet is “interpreting” Section 132 when he reaches the conclusion that men and women are equal. Men and women are _not_ equal in Section 132.

    As you say, personal revelation is personal, and, ultimately, irrefutable by anyone else on this earth. I just don’t see how verses 64 and 65, especially, can be reasonably interpreted as setting up an egalitarian structure for marital relationships. But you’ve apparently received personal revelation that these words mean men and women are equal, or that the living prophets have interpreted this Section to mean men and women are equal. Given the personal nature of your conviction that Section 132 can be interpreted as standing for the equality of the sexes in marriage, I can’t persuade you otherwise.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 6:35 am

  239. Mark D- you make an excellent point in your final paragraph. A few commenters have already speculated that because Joseph Smith wrote Section 132 when women were still legally controlled by men, we should take his written words with a grain of salt.

    I’m curious, though, as to what remains of Section 132 after we acknowledge that Joseph Smith wrote this Section influenced by his own cultural beliefs that women were secondary to men.

    What do you think God was _really_ trying to tell Joseph Smith in Section 132? If God was in fact trying to communicate to us through Joseph that men and women were equal in marriage, then I submit Joseph failed to relay this message to us in Section 132.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 7:00 am

  240. I don’t think God was trying to communicate the equality of the sexes in 132. I think he was trying to commuicate that the bond in marriage sealings lasted for eternity, and yes, as an aside, that Joseph Smith was permitted or commanded to practice polygamy. Of course, the only portion that is relevent to us in the now is that marriage sealings can and do have eternal union.

    I do think Gender equality is directly specified or indirectly implied in other scriptures, as I have enumerated elsewhere. Of course, you could not that gender inequality is directly specified and indirectly implied in other scriptures as well.

    Perhaps a key issue here is what we should do when we detect a conflict in our scriptures. I think that is where modern prophetic revelation and current personal revelation come into play, just like Geoff is saying. And I think our prophets, from Joseph Smith until now, have been much more on the side of Gender Equality than on the side on Gender Difference.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 25, 2007 @ 7:31 am

  241. Matt W – you’re exactly right about personal revelation revealing God’s message to us. But personal revelation cannot transform the actual words of the text. If the actual text says that women are to be given to righteous men with no mention of the woman’s consent in the matter (see verses 43 and 44), then we can’t reasonably say these words _really mean_ that men and women are equal partners in marriage.

    What we can say, though, is that we’ve chosen to believe that God loves men and women equally and that men and women are equal partners in marriage.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 7:46 am

  242. ECS: What do you think God was _really_ trying to tell Joseph Smith in Section 132?

    This is the very question I have been asking all along here. My claim is that President Hinckley on other sources have revealed to us much of that answer.

    I’ll probably post on this specific subject later. As I see it there are a few questions relating to section 132 and the marital relationships:

    1. What does God really think and what did he mean when he inspired this section?
    2. How did Joseph understand this inspiration and where might he have been off track based on his own cultural filter?

    Again, in this discussion I have mostly been interested in God’s opinion (then and now which presumably is the same). Given my personal conviction that God sees men and women as equals and the clear preaching of that principal by our living prophet, I suspect you can see why it is natural to assume God meant that when he inspired the text too. But this overall subject clearly deserves its own thread so I hold off on digging in further here.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  243. Silverrain: I’ve been thinking a great deal about this discussion, and have come to the conclusion that I no longer know what is being argued any more.

    This discussion got into so many tangents that nobody knows what is is about anymore. It has become “about” 50 some odd topics at this point it seems. But it did begin being about just one at least… things started derailing almost immediately. (It tends to be that way when discussing hot topics though…)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 8:39 am

  244. ECS, I feel like I am having this conversation accross multiple threads now. But I am excited because I think we are getting closer to some sort of central agreement. Here is what I hear you saying: Personal Revelation can give us God’s message, but it can not erase the problem in the scriptures. (You have defined the problem as sexism, while I have defined this problem as different scriptures giving contradictory messages, which I believe to be the case. I am uncertain if you conceed this point or not, as you seem to have not addressed it in our conversation.) I hope I am understanidng you correctly.
    My take on this is that when we have a problem like this in the scriptures we have not just personal revelation available to us (Which is challenging in that it does go through our filter, as has been discussed.) But we also have prophetic revelation. Thus we can look to the leadership of the church and seek their guidance in these matters.

    Also, while personal revelation or prophetic revelation do not change the text, and thus do not erase the problem, they can offer us the solution to the problem.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 25, 2007 @ 8:54 am

  245. LOL, Matt. I was with you until the very last line. I guess I’d say I’m in complete agreement with your comment if you can tell me a bit more about what you mean by personal/prophetic revelation offering a “solution” to the text.

    In my view, the “solution” is for us to officially acknowledge the problems in the text and not to gloss over them. In other words, the solution to understanding difficult, potentially contradictory, texts in light of revelation is not to say that we’re _translating_ the text through personal/prophetic revelation such that X is magically translated into Y.

    For example, it’s not reasonable to say that verses 43 and 44 of Section 132 that state a man can accept a number of wives according to his righteousness “really mean” that men and women are equal partners in a marital relationship. At least not in the context of what “equal partners” and “marriage” means in 2007.

    The solution, however, would be to look at the text of Section 132 and decide which verses apply to us now and which don’t, based upon our own personal revelation and prophetic statements. I submit that not much remains of Section 132, given Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley tells us that polygamy is not “doctrinal”. Be that as it may, it would be helpful to officially recognize that we’re decanonizing sacred texts, so we can move on to more interesting discussions.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 9:12 am

  246. I don’t understand the reluctance to admit that certain texts actually do say things that we now believe are wrong. This seems much easier than trying to force fit scriptures like D&C 132 into an egalitarian view of marriage. That section does not teach an egalitarian view of marriage. You can quibble about whether that section teaches that women are mere property if you want to, but there is no doubt that it is not consistent with the view that men and women are equal in every respect. The ancient Israelites did not believe and teach that women and men had equal rights, and they did not believe in egalitarian marriage. The model of Abraham and Sarah and Hagar is a model we reject today as abhorrent. Similarly, we reject some of the teachings of 19th century prophets on that topic as well as others. We have rejected all kinds of doctrines that were once taught in the past. So why not just go with President Hinckley, affirm that we believe in egalitarian marriage, and admit that those who believed and taught otherwise in the past spoke with limited light and knowledge, and we now know better. What is the point of modern revelation if always feel constrained to give tortured interpretations of our previous revelations in order to make them fit with our current understanding?

    Comment by Gary — April 25, 2007 @ 9:35 am

  247. Gary,

    You (like many people in this thread) are conflating the notion of egalitarianism between exalted men and women in the eternities and egalitarianism between men and women in practice on earth. The two are very different subjects. This post was intended to deal with the former (the eternities) and not the latter. So when I have claimed section 132 does no harm to the notion that there is equality between an exalted husband and wife in the eternities to come I mean it. I never claimed that there is, or was, or even will ever be equality between couples living lower laws (telestial, terrestrial, etc.)

    This thread has gotten so squirrelly that these important clarifications have been completely lost.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 9:56 am

  248. Gary, I am the one who did suggest alternative readings to the terms “given” and “belongs to” that are in Section 132, based on the way these terms are used in other scriptures. But let’s move beyond that.

    ECS, I think we are not too far from one another. From my point of view, President Hinckley has already said that Men and Women are equal and that that polygamy is not doctrinal, so we have already passed the solution you are looking forward to, unless you would like to actually see a redaction or “retranslation” (ala Joseph Smith’s work on the Bible) of these offending verses.

    Anyway, my concept of the solution is that when vs. A says something and Vs. B seems to contradict, and prophetic and personal revelation ascribes meaning and relevance to only Vs. B, then I go with B = correct truth and A = nothing. A does not need to be erased, it just needs to be understood as meaningless to the value under discussion.

    I don’t think my solution is far of from yours.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 25, 2007 @ 10:17 am

  249. Geoff, why do you think that Section 132 is of no force and effect in the eternities? The text of Section 132 is ambiguous enough to read that polygamy and authoritarian marriage carries on into the eternities. I haven’t heard any official pronouncements from prophets that state polygamy will not be practiced in the eternities. In fact, our current temple ceremonies indicate that polygamy will continue.

    Matt, right. Ideally, it would be helpful if we could officially recognize that scriptures like Section 132 were no longer doctrinal. If they aren’t doctrinal, then having them still on the books without annotation creates needless confusion.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  250. My question (and it relates somewhat to ECS #249) is:
    What eternal “truth” is being addressed by Section 132?
    What is the eternal truth regarding marriage?

    Comment by SilverRain — April 25, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  251. ECS: Geoff, why do you think that Section 132 is of no force and effect in the eternities?

    What do you mean? Did I say I think this somewhere?

    The text of Section 132 is ambiguous enough to read that polygamy and authoritarian marriage carries on into the eternities.

    I agree that the text is ambiguous to be read that way. It is of course ambiguous enough to be read otherwise as well. People are of course free to believe that polygamy exists in the eternities if they want. The final word on that has not been given to the church from God. But I happen to not believe it based on my synthesis of the the evidence I am aware of.

    Regarding the “doctrinal” thing y’all are discussing… Somebody needs to unpack what “doctrinal” means in this context. I take it to mean that we don’t practice polygamy anymore in Mormonism — not as a metaphysical or eternal theological claim of any kind.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 11:13 am

  252. Geoff, you answered my question in #251. Thanks!

    I’m still curious as to how you read the text of Section 132 as egalitarian and not authoritarian(either on earth or in the eternities). If you’re taking requests for future posts here at NCT, I’d like to request a post specifically on that topic. (SilverRain seems interested, too)

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  253. ECS,

    Since I may not get around to that section 132 post… My basic take is that there is nothing in section 132 that precludes the possibility of egalitarianism between exalted couples.

    Now I can fully see how the language used regarding wives is offensive to modern ears. I don’t disagree with that idea. But I believe the point of scriptures is to get a better idea what God thinks on various subjects so I try to separate out the cultural baggage of the language (be it from Paul or Moses or Joseph) and figure out what the unchanging truth behind the revelation is.

    As I read section 132, and as I synthesize it with the other evidence I am aware of, I see it as compatible with the notion that exalted couples (who are by definition living the Celestial Law) are indeed fully equal. I don’t expect equality among men and women to exist among those who are living lower laws though. (All the more reason for all of us to live the Celestial law in my opinion.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 11:48 am

  254. Geoff, okay. You’re just repeating your convictions again, though. You believe there’s nothing in Section 132 that would preclude egalitarianism between exalted couples, but you provide no textual support in Section 132 that agrees with this belief.

    I hope your personal conviction on this issue is correct, but I wish we had more concrete evidence in Section 132 and from our prophets to show that women won’t be traded around among righteous men in the eternities. I mean, we’ve been given clear direction not to tattoo our skin or wear multiple earrings, but our liturgy and scriptures leave open many questions about how our most important relationships will be structured in the eternities.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion!

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

  255. I should also note that section 132 was recorded in 1843 and section 121 was recorded in 1839 so it seems highly likely to me that despite the rather harsh (even offensive) language used in the wording of parts of section 132, the ground rules for Celestial relationships had already clearly been given in section 121 and those ground rules largely require egalitarianism in order to live a Celestial law.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  256. Why wouldn’t the latter scripture (Section 132) supercede the former scripture (Section 121)?

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  257. Oops — missed your 254.

    The key word here is “preclude”. I can’t prove section 132 supports egalitarianism among exalted couples. But my goal has never been to prove that. The text is too ambiguous to “prove” that. But that ambiguity works both ways. No one can prove the text of section 132 precludes egalitarianism among exalted couples either — not even you. The text is too ambiguous for that as well.

    Do you disagree with that?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  258. ECS,
    For what it is worth, I don’t believe that our prophets looked at 132 and said, ‘Oh, men and women are equal.’ I believe they are teaching those truths as prophets. I guess I don’t understand why it really matters what we might read into 132 if our prophets are teaching equality in marriage. And I would agree with Geoff that there is plenty in there that could be read through egalitarian language.

    I also don’t think decanonization doesn’t have to happen because polygamy *was* a part of the doctrine for a while. And there is a lot if 132 that applies to the blessings of eternal sealings, which apply to us in 2007.

    We don’t believe in or practice animal sacrifice but it’s still in the canon. I guess I don’t understand why we think we have to directly address every line of scripture that may not apply to us now. We can rather take a bigger picture approach and realize that modern revelation trumps past revelation, esp. when relating to specific, time-sensitive practices like animal sacrifice or polygamy.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

  259. I think if you read 132, you see a lot that speaks to the blessings that come to THE COUPLE, not just to men. For example:

    19: it shall be said unto them–Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths…..it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness [sealed upon THEM] and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

    20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

    Note other verses talking about the sealing of BOTH husband and wife by the Holy Spirit of Promise. These verses, in my view, reinforce the teachings that NO ONE can reach the blessings of exaltation alone…and it also underscores that God deems to give ALL to a man AND a woman (equally, together), sealed together, to receive ALL that God has TOGETHER.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

  260. Geoff – Not even me! Wow. I thought I was making some progress here. Again, if you think women being traded around among righteous men without the woman’s consent is egalitarian, then I think we might need to find a better definition of “egalitarian”. :)

    m&m – thanks for your comment. Polygamy is still part of our doctrine. Section 132 was not repudiated in OD1 or OD2, and polygamy is still practiced in our temples. I’m fine dispensing with a technical reading of Section 132, but I’m having difficulty finding use for its language within our current LDS discourse that men and women are equal in marriage.

    The difference between animal sacrifice and polygamy is that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses so that animal sacrifices are no longer necessary. We don’t have a similar tradition/event that fulfilled of the law of polygamy (as I said, OD1 and OD2 do not claim that polygamy is no longer doctrinal). Since temple marriages still recognize polygamy, how we can say that polygamy is not an acceptable practice in the eternities?

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  261. how we can say that polygamy is not an acceptable practice in the eternities?

    I would submit that we don’t KNOW exactly how the eternities will work, so we probably ought not worry too much about it. I look at the sealing ordinance as not being wholly individual-specific. For example, if a woman divorces, she doesn’t receive a sealing cancellation until and unless she is sealed to another man. A sealing doesn’t mean that one will be “stuck” with a spouse that ends up being lousy and unrighteous. There is way too much unknown, IMO, to get too worried about the specifics of how things all work. I watched a friend of mine struggle through this as she was dying. She finally was able to just let go and accept God’s love and perfection and know that all will be well. I think that should be enough for us, rather than assuming that our limited viewpoints (which can often be upsetting) will somehow translate to upsetting arrangments in the next life. Why stress about what we really don’t understand? :)

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

  262. What I was trying to get to about the sealing re: divorces, etc. is that I am not convinced that the ordinance is all about absolutely binding two specific people together. I see the sealing as an ordinance to receive, not necessarily a set-in-stone person-specific, everything-will-play-out-exactly-as-we-do-it-here kind of ordinance. It simply can’t be in my mind, unless the sealing implies that anyone who receives is is automatically exalted, and we KNOW that one not to be true. Thoughts?

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  263. Again, if you think women being traded around among righteous men without the woman’s consent is egalitarian

    I think the point is, ECS, that NO ONE can really know what things will really look like in the eternities, so you are imposing your understanding on something that really isn’t well understood. Kind of seems like a kind of self-torture to me. :) Why fret about something that you don’t know details about, with a mortal perspective that is obviously limited for all of us? Why isn’t it enough that the prophets say it really IS equal and we really DO ALL have God’s fulness awaiting us if we stay true? What more do we really need to know?

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  264. ECS,

    Again we are talking about two different things. I am talking about exalted couples — what life is like for a woman after she and her husband have fully lived the celestial law and have become one with each other and one with God. You are talking about the language used regarding various administrative aspects in earthly marriage as viewed in 1843 (verses 43-44). They are two very different things I think.

    Let me also point out that no couple is actually “sealed” when they are married in the temple — they are rather given a conditional promise of a sealing. The conditions are that the both live the celestial law here and thus become celestial people — only then are they granted the promised sealing for eternity. (I bring this up to further show that verses 43-44 are about earthly administrative issues rather than commentaries on eternal status.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

  265. Geoff,
    That was sort of what I was trying to get at re: the sealing.

    And I don’t know that it’s possible to commit adultery in the next life, so I’d second the assertion that 43-44 are about earthly stuff.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

  266. p.s. When I asked: “Why isn’t it enough that the prophets say it really IS equal and we really DO ALL have God’s fulness awaiting us if we stay true? What more do we really need to know? ” — I’m not trying to shut down discussion but to ask what else you really think we need? If God promises His fulness (ONLY to a man and wife, bound and sealed and equally true), what further evidence do we need of the equality in God’s eyes…if He gives ALL only to a partnership, isn’t that the ultimate underscoring of His feelings about marriage?

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  267. ECS: women being traded around among righteous men without the woman’s consent

    Wow. I missed this humdinger. What verse is that in? Did you just make this part up or is there something I am aware of in section 132?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

  268. m&m, thanks for pointing out those verses. It would be great if Section 132 stopped there :), because it does sound like the blessings are given to both men and women (especially in verse 20). These verses don’t mean that men are equal to women, however, only that men need women (and vice versa) to be exalted.

    The rest of the Section is also difficult to understand in an egalitarian context – because verses 41-44 indicate that the women are passive actors and may be given and taken without much regard for their preferences. It also says here that the man will be ruler over many. Is the wife ruled over by the man, too? These verses might indicate that she’s not an “equal” god to the male god.

    Furthermore, the Section doesn’t say anything about the woman’s role as a god, but it does say that women are to bear souls to glorify the man (see verse 63).

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

  269. Geoff – see verses 41-44. There’s no mention of the woman giving consent here. Only that Joseph may give married women to men who are more righteous than their current husbands.

    41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.
    42 If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.
    43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.
    44 And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

  270. Geoff – so are you saying Section 132 does not tell us anything about the celestial order of things?

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  271. the Section doesn’t say anything about the woman’s role as a god

    I would say that “Then shall they be gods” (speaking to both) would cover that quite nicely actually.

    You seem bound and determined to determine that God has less held out for His women. I really don’t get it. What kind of God is that? I can’t have faith in a Being that doesn’t hold us all to the promises He has offered to us. You still haven’t answered my question: why take *your understanding* of some verses and assume that therefore you will be miserable eternally…which seems to ignore what we are taught and what I think faith demands us to believe?

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  272. These verses don’t mean that men are equal to women

    If God’s fulness is available to both, I would say that means we are equal, because we each have His fulness offered to us…to me, that is the ultimate evidence of equality. Again, I ask, what else do you want than all He has to give? Really, like I said, I don’t get it.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 1:12 pm

  273. ECS,

    The absence of specific words about women giving consent in those four verses is not evidence that it is not required at all! Is there any evidence that consent was not simply assumed? Verses 41-44 also don’t mention women should continue breathing but we can hardly use that as evidence that it was assumed they should choose to do so.

    Further, the bigger point is that this all has to do with earthly administration of marriage and plural marriage. It has nothing to do with the eternal condition of a women as part of exalted couples (the topic at hand).

    Further, it seems to me that verse 44 is in response to the teachings of Paul that seem preclude a divorced woman from remarrying altogether — the verse is granting a woman who’s husband commits adultery the opportunity to marry another without coming under condemnation from the Lord (as Paul indicated she would.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  274. I guess I don’t understand why it really matters what we might read into 132 if our prophets are teaching equality in marriage.

    I think I can see what you’re saying, and I’d agree, at least to an extent. I know that if I see particular scriptural practices as in no way being currently endorsed by the Church and by modern prophets, I’m less likely to lose much sleep over them. For example, Paul famously says that women shouldn’t speak in church. But since no current prophet is teaching anything like that, and in fact our current practice flat-out contradicts it, I can fairly easily conclude that this is at most a culturally-specific directive, and not something binding on me. (Though I’m still left with the question of what it means that it’s canonical.)

    But when it comes to section 132, I see the questions as rather more acute. It’s certainly true that current prophets are explicitly teaching equality. But it’s also true that they continue to teach that the patriarchal order is eternal, and that the man is the head of the family. Formal subordination of wives to their husbands continues to exist in our religious liturgy. Given this, it’s not quite as easy for me to set aside concerns about the picture of eternal relationships being portrayed in this section. The equality advocated by modern prophets is an equality that is somehow compatible with patriarchy and hierachy. Because of this, I’m not convinced that explicit statements about equality necessarily rule out the kind of read of 132 that Seraphine and others have mentioned.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 25, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

  275. ECS: so are you saying Section 132 does not tell us anything about the celestial order of things?

    Not at all. Some parts of section 132 have lots to say about the Celestial order of things — especially verses 12-27 in my opinion. But the verses you are concerned about right now (41-44) don’t.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  276. The equality advocated by modern prophets is an equality that is somehow compatible with patriarchy and hierachy.

    Doesn’t that suggest that thinking about these things requires a different model than the dictionary understanding of these concepts?

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

  277. m&m,

    I think Lynnette’s point is a good one. Hierarchy and equality are simply logically incompatible. It is sort of like describing a round square.

    My take is that that hierarchy between couples is allowed to exist in lower laws for expediency, but that under the celestial law we are working toward as couples there is no hierarchy. Rather than presiding or a hierarchy there is oneness.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  278. Doesn’t that suggest that thinking about these things requires a different model than the dictionary understanding of these concepts?

    That’s exactly my concern. I have a hard time feeling reassured by comments about “equality,” because I’m honestly not sure what “equality” in this context means.

    Comment by Lynnette — April 25, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  279. Is there any evidence that consent was not simply assumed?

    Yes. Consent is explictly mentioned in verse 61. Because consent is not explicitly mentioned in verse 44, it’s not unreasonable to assume consent is not required in this circumstance.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  280. m&m, I’m not ignoring your comments, but I’m not sure how to respond to you. You keep saying that you just don’t “get it”, and that I shouldn’t stress about things I don’t understand. Okay, thanks.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  281. Actually, ECS, I’m trying to understand you better. I’m trying to understand why you stress about things that none of us can fully understand…why the concept that we can receive the fulness of what God has to offer — to be gods ourselves! — is not enough to allay some concerns that are based on mortal reasoning. I’m not trying to be patronizing…I’m really genuinely befuddled.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 2:01 pm

  282. Of course it’s not unreasonable to assume the consent in 61 applies to 44 either…

    Geoff, I am somewhat confused by your statement about hierarchy and equality being incompatable. Perhaps we need to work towards a better understanding of what we mean by equal. I hope we do not mean “without any difference”. And when we say hierarchy, I am assuming we don’t mean kings and peasents.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 25, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  283. Hierarchy and equality are simply logically incompatible.

    I don’t believe they are experientially incompatible, though. Which means I can’t explain logically what I mean. :) What I think about discussions like this is that it’s too easy to impose too much logic and wordly thinking on these concepts, and that is where we can run into trouble. Live the principles and partnership and oneness can be the result. It sounds weird but that is the way I see it…not as the world sees things (equal = same job list, same ability to perform said job list items), but in a true partnership, a melding of two people working toward one goal, a melding of roles and responsibilities that are equally as important working as a unified partnership. My feeling (and a strong one at that) is that if we impose mortal definitions of equality on God’s order, we will have disorder.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  284. Matt W. – maybe, but we’re talking about two separate circumstances. In verse 44, Joseph Smith is given authority to terminate the married woman’s marriage and give her to another man because her current husband is unrighteous.
    In verse 61, the virgins are marrying for the first time. Also, as we see in verse 65, the consent of the first wife is not required for the husband to take additional wives. If consent is explicitly discussed in verses 61 and 65, then there must be a reason the issue of consent was omitted from verse 44.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

  285. it’s too easy to impose too much logic and wordly thinking on these concepts

    Aside from the fact that I misspelled the word worldly, in rereading, I realize that could come off wrong. So change the world to “mortal ways of”

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

  286. ECS,

    In those verses in section 132 consent is only mentioned in a context where it is new and unusual to the readers — namely the consent of a wife to allow plural marriage. The custom of the time was that when a man proposed marriage to a woman she had to give consent so why would that have to be explicitly spelled out? It was assumed for new marriage proposals. Therefore your argument based on the lack of specific mention of consent on the part of the new wife completely fails. As I mentioned in #273, expected and assumed things need not be spelled out to get the point across, and the custom then (like now) was that women had every right to refuse a marriage proposal. That is why I think your rather outrageous claim about “women being traded around among righteous men without the woman’s consent” is not at all justifiable. There is no evidence I know of that women were ever “traded around among righteous men” in practice and the text itself doesn’t actually support it.

    Also, these are administrative verses at the latter half of section 132 on how the plural marriage system was to work. Therefore it makes no sense to try to project this on to the status of exalted women in the eternities (the real subject we are trying to deal with here).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  287. No, I think you’re confused. I’m talking about the lack of consent in verse 44. This verse and subsequent verses discuss the process by which a wife may be taken from her current husband by Joseph and given to a more righteous man (who may or may not have additional wives). This process of a layperson nullifying legally recognized marriages, then taking the woman and giving her to someone else (i.e., Joseph taking Zina Huntington Jacobs from her husband for himself) has never been a custom in the U.S. So why should consent be implied?

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  288. Consent should be assumed because, as I said in #273, a woman consenting to marry a man was the custom of the time. The instructions spell out all the parts that were not customary at the time and those non-customary parts only. (Like the need for consent from a wife in the cases of plural marriage.) It does not spell out the parts that were in line with the customs and were thus assumed (like the fact that the woman had to consent). Again I ask — do you know of any examples of women who were forced to marry a man against their will/consent as a result of this practice? If there are such examples (and they were deemed acceptable based on section 132) your case would hold a lot more water. In the absence of any such evidence you are simply arguing for “women being traded around among righteous men without the woman’s consent” basically out of thin air.

    And of course there is absolutely no connection here with these earthly administrative issues to the status of exalted women (the real topic of this discussion.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  289. And isn’t the word “consent” used pretty loosely here anyway? I mean, how is a young woman freely giving her consent when the prophet of the Church tells her an angel with a drawn sword appeared to him and will kill him unless she marries him?

    “19 year-old Zina remained conflicted until a day in October, apparently, when Joseph sent [her older brother] Dimick to her with a message: an angel with a drawn sword had stood over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose “his position and his life.” Zina, faced with the responsibility for his position as prophet, and even perhaps his life, finally acquiesced.” (In Sacred Loneliness, page 80-81)

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  290. Geoff – Section 132 completely blew “customary” marital relationships out of the water. On what basis are you saying that it was customary for a layperson to break up a legal marriage and give the woman to someone else? (which is the situation described in Verse 44)

    If you’ve never heard of Zina Huntington Jacobs Smith Young, I suggest you start here.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

  291. Or Helen Mar Smith Kimball Whitney. She was 14 years old when she was given to Joseph Smith by her father.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  292. Thanks for the example ECS. It’s a good one. Still it doesn’t really support your rather extreme claim about “women being traded around among righteous men without the woman’s consent”. I would go as far as “women being pressured to marry” but that is a far cry from being passed around without their consent isn’t it? (You made an outrageous claim and seem unwilling to back down even an inch on it…)

    Now it sounds to me like Zina was unrighteously pressured in that situation. I don’t think that is a statement on the veracity of section 132 or on the status of exalted women in the universe though.

    On what basis are you saying that it was customary for a layperson to break up a legal marriage and give the woman to someone else?

    It appears you did not understand my point in #288. I said the reason it is even described is because it was not customary. The things that remained according to custom (like a woman needing to consent to a marriage) were not spelled out there.

    Again, the fundamental subject behind this side discussion is whether any of this reflects on the status of an exalted woman in the eternities who is part of a sealed and exalted marriage. How do you see it being related?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  293. I don’t think that is a statement on the veracity of section 132 or on the status of exalted women in the universe though.

    How can you be so certain of this? We’re not told anything definitive about the status of exalted women in the universe.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

  294. As an aside – In the interest of providing sufficient facts about Helen Mar Kimball to anyone unfamiliar with her story, Todd Compton (Author of In Sacred Loneliness) said:

    The Tanners made great mileage out of Joseph Smith’s marriage to his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball. However, they failed to mention that I wrote that there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. (p. 638) All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.

    (The last thing I want is to veer into a discussion of polygamy here so let’s leave that subject alone for now and try as we might to stay on track)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

  295. ECS,

    I’m beginning to feel like no one really wants to hear from me in this discussion, but I’m going to say this anyway:

    You don’t think the following says anything about the eternal status of women?

    “they shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

    This doesn’t sound anything remotely close to the picture of what you want to paint for what women might have waiting for us.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  296. Hi, m&m, We’ve already talked about this. I answered you in #268. I assume our Mother in Heaven is a god according to Section 132, but what does she do? I don’t think I’d like to be a god if I wasn’t allowed to speak to my own children.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

  297. ECS (#293): We’re not told anything definitive about the status of exalted women in the universe [in section 132].

    Exactly! Thank you. This is the point I have trying to make all along. (See #226, 2c)

    You were the one the said D&C 132 disagreed with President Hinckley when he preached that women are equal to men in the eyes of God. (“the texts of the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets disagree.”) My point all along is just what you finally just said: We’re not told anything definitive about the status of exalted women in the universe in section 132. Therefore it makes no sense to claim that D&C 132 contradicts the statement by President Hinckley and the other church leaders on egalitarianism in God’s eyes.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  298. Okay. Sounds good. I’m glad we can finally agree that we can’t prove that men and women are equal partners in marriage in the eternities.

    But how does this relate to the fact that Section 132 provides an authoritarian structure of marriage in direct contradiction to the egalitarian model given to us by modern prophets? That’s what I meant by the text of the scriptures and the words of the prophets disagreeing. According to Section 132, women and men are not equal partners in marriage. According to Gordon B. Hinckley, men and women are equal partners.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  299. By the way, I did not say we’re not told anything about the role of exalted women in Section 132. I just noticed you added “[Section 132]” to my quote.

    We _are_ told in Section 132 that women are not equal to men in marriage. We get conflicting messages from modern prophets, however. Therefore, because of these conflicts/contraditions between Section 132 and the words of modern prophets, we are not told anything definitive about the status of exalted women.

    Also, if our Mother in Heaven is an example of the status of women in the eternities, I’d venture a guess that men and women aren’t equal in the eternities, either.

    Comment by ECS — April 25, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  300. ECS (#239),

    I don’t know. It seems to me that verses 1-33 teach important doctrines that are often quoted and still valid today.

    I think everything from verse 34 onward was pretty much made moot by the 1890 Manifesto. It wouldn’t bother me if a new edition came out that omitted those verses or said they were no longer pertinent today.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 25, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

  301. I think to answer this question, ECS, you have to ask yourself what God may be trying to accomplish in each set of revelation. This, of course, can be nothing but supposition unless God’s mind has been revealed to you, but I’m about to suppose.

    At the time of polygamy, it could be that God used strong language because the people were rebelling against the principle. They (men AND women) needed to be told harshly that they had to be obedient, or be cut off from the presence of the Lord (destroyed.) I doubt that the verses you mention as being particularly oppressive were in any way intended to comment on the eternal status of women. Rather, they were to address a specific difficulty with obedience that feels rather more aimed at the men than at the women.

    Now, people (and women, especially) are struggling with feeling loved by the Lord. Harsh language would be counterproductive to the Lord’s message of love. Hence, the prophet speaks words of reassurance.

    The first addresses the ultimate truth of obedience, the second addresses the ultimate truth of Fatherly love. One must remember that Truth as God understands it cannot be comprehended by us. “My thoughts are not your thoughts . . . . ” Thus, an appeal to the exact verbiage of any given revelation (particularly as that revelation ages) cannot be comprehensive without including changing times and changing problems. Different words speak differently to different people at different times. (Do I get a prize for using a multisyllabic word multiple times in a sentence?) The important thing is to read/listen to prophetic counsel using the Spirit to bring your attention to the things you need.

    Comment by SilverRain — April 25, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

  302. M&M (#235),

    That may be the case. My point is that it is an extra-scriptural assumption. Verse 19 says “continuation of the seeds” in a chapter that uses Abraham and Sarah for its cardinal example.

    The scriptural precedent is for lineal natural or adopted posterity. Post-mortal adoption could answer your objection about those who were not able to have children here.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 25, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  303. ECS (#299): Also, if our Mother in Heaven is an example of the status of women in the eternities, I’d venture a guess that men and women aren’t equal in the eternities, either.

    Uh uh. You’ve read my take on that subject.

    because of these conflicts/contraditions between Section 132 and the words of modern prophets, we are not told anything definitive about the status of exalted women.

    Hurray! We’ve come full circle now. So since you see conflicting info, you ought to do what Joseph Smith did if you wonder what your potential is and where you stand in God’s eyes: Go ask God. God knows the answer and can tell you and anyone else who approaches him in faith and sincerity that answer.

    On the question of our standing before God, The buck does indeed stop with personal revelation.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

  304. I think the “Poor Heavenly Mother” can’t speak to her own children bit is assinine. Heavenly Father has never talked to me. I’ve felt the spirit. I’ve had personal revelatory experiences via the spirit. But considering we can count the actual manifestations of Heavenly Father (Not Jesus, Not Jehovah, not an Angel.) on our fingers and still have plenty of extra fingers. Even Jospeh Smith, who saw over 100 different angels and spiritual beings, only saw Heavenly Father once that I know of.

    The whole point of our mortal probation is that we’ve been cut loose of our mother’s apron strings.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 25, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  305. ECS,
    All I can say is that you and I have a very different view of God and His promises for us — all of us. I get depressed (agitated, actually, bordering on offended) even considering what you consider is (or isn’t) the destiny for women in eternity. The God you paint seems unfair at best, and that’s just not the way I view Him or His promises. And that isn’t what the Spirit teaches me about Him or about His promises, either.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  306. I’m not personally offended, btw, just feeling astounded that you could paint God in such a light. It flies in the face of what I feel about Him and what I feel He feels about us as women.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

  307. …that’s just not the way I view Him or His promises. And that isn’t what the Spirit teaches me about Him or about His promises, either.

    It flies in the face of what I feel about Him and what I feel He feels about us as women.

    M&M–Welcome to feminism!

    Comment by Eve — April 25, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  308. I have a friend who has watched Bergman’s Seventh Seal something like 70 times. Oh my, is there a God? Is there an afterlife? What a dilemna we are all in!! Of course, he has no intention of discovering if there is a God. Becuase he is addicted to the drama of his existential dilemna. If gives his life meaning, strangely enough, gives it a charge. Who would he be if his question could be resovled??

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — April 25, 2007 @ 10:52 pm

  309. Eve, I can’t tell if you are mocking me or what you are trying to say, because I don’t feel the Church does this, either.

    Comment by m&m — April 25, 2007 @ 11:16 pm

  310. Oh, M&M, no harm intended, truly. I’m just trying to goof off a little at the end of an extremely long discussion.

    My only point was this. If you find ECS’s picture offensive (a picture she’s getting straight out of our most sacred texts and rituals, and before we start playing wild interpretive games again let’s please not pretend that these texts and rituals don’t say what they most obviously and patently do), then you’re beginning to see the incredible tensions between parts of our doctrine about women and your wholly appropriate passion to believe in a God of justice who is no respector of persons.

    If you believe in a God of justice, who does not set men above women as some of our sacred texts and rituals do, then you just may just be a closet feminist!

    Thus, the hearty welcome. ;)

    Comment by Eve — April 25, 2007 @ 11:28 pm

  311. Eve,

    I took an online survey that told me I was “The Perfect Feminist”.

    (I guess it was because I believe in equality but am no man hater…)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 25, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  312. Geoff, there seem to be feminists leaping out of closets left and right! Perhaps it’s partly the result of the late hour, when our defenses come down and the suppressed parts of our personalities crawl out. My heartiest congratulations to you as well.

    (And, for the record, I really doubt I’m the Perfect Feminist myself, even in an online survey. There are some feminists who wouldn’t even let me have the label because I’m in this patriarchal church and even think it’s true.)

    Comment by Eve — April 25, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  313. Eve,
    This thread has gone round and round showing that we each can get different things “straight out” of the text. I fully accept that some “feminists” find troublesome things in our scriptures and rituals that you *think* are obvious, but they are bound up in your perception, your worldview, your experiences, your struggles. Please don’t try to convince me out of my place of peace (it won’t work), or suggest that that place is not valid or real or meaningful (it’s not simply about wild interpretation, it’s about real and meaningful experiences with the Spirit). Remember: I read the same scriptures and participate in the same rituals you do. I’ve even run into similar questions as you have, in my own mind. I have come to different conclusions, feelings, perceptions and beliefs (sometimes drastically so) that nix the idea that what you see is “obvious” to everyone else. I don’t feel your comments respect my different views and beliefs, but rather declare that if I don’t see what you see, I’m somehow “blind to the obvious” or “wildly imaginative.” You know as well as I do that if the tables were turned and I tried to convince you of what *I* see as obvious and criticize your views as you have others’, you would object most strongly.

    We need to give each other space to see and believe as we do.

    Sorry to rain on your light-hearted late-nite parade. :)

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 12:33 am

  314. m&m, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. (Clearly at comment 313 not much new is going to be said!) I guess at this point I’d just suggest that your point about “perception, worldview, experiences”–while certainly true!–applies to your perspectives as well. Since we’re all human and limited and all of our views are interpretations, reducing someone else’s view to an “interpretation” just gets us back to square zero. Since none of us are God, we’re all offering interpretations. I tend to think we need to move beyond that observation and start offering reasons for our interpretations so that we can consider which interpretations are more likely to be valid.

    FWIW, I wasn’t trying to accuse you personally of wild imaginings, etc.–I meant that comment as an attempt to fend off the usual direction these arguments tend to take at this point, at which people sometimes want to persuade me that texts actually mean the opposite of what they literally say. It’s an argument I suspect we’re all a little tired of, and I just didn’t want to have it again. (in the middle of my late-night parade, so to speak). But I didn’t mean it as an attack on you.

    I would definitely acknowledge that intelligent people can reasonably disagree about these issues, which certainly are anything but clear. You absoluately have the right to your point of view, in my book. No one’s trying to persuade you out of your “place of peace.” (I guess if in your book personal revelation is the ultimate trump card, then we couldn’t even if we wanted to, right?) Honestly, I was just trying to tease you a little, somewhat lightheartedly, but also somewhat seriously, propose to you that what peace you have found on this issue may just be due, at least in part, to a feminist perspective.

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 7:40 am

  315. 314 notes from the beginning, we are still at the impasse on a basic principle.

    Some declare one interpretation of the scripture to be the only valid reading, while others disagree.
    It all sounds a bit familiar to me:

    “…some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!”

    :In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

    “…used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error.”

    “…it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.”

    Gee, what’s a person to do?

    Maybe we should follow the teachings and example of a 14 year old boy when in the same position.

    Which berings us back to Geoff’s original point. The scriptures say “it shall be given him,” not it may be given him. You have to be open to the answer. I can’t speak for anyone involved in this discussion, but I can’t help but wonder if some have their minds made up and don’t allow the Lord to answer.
    We’ve shared our differing interpretations of the scripture. We can all quote the statements of the Lord’s appointed spokesman declaring the truth. It reminds me of the Christian in the flood. When the truck comes to rescue him, he says “No thanks, the Lord will save me.” When the boat comes, he says “No thanks, the Lord will save me.” When the helicopter comes he says “No thanks, the Lord will save me.” Then when he drowns he askes why the Lord didn’t help him. The answer is “I sent a truck, a boat and a helicopter.”

    I’m not sure what more you can ask or expect. Do you really want scriptures that have every part that offends an individual stricken? That smacks a bit of priestcraft to me.
    Not to mention, do we really want to counsel the Lord? Peter told the Corinthians “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
    We all know that there is no way to convert someone by proof. Only the Holy Ghost can communicate that truth.

    Comment by Rick — April 26, 2007 @ 7:48 am

  316. You know as well as I do that if the tables were turned and I tried to convince you of what *I* see as obvious and criticize your views as you have others’, you would object most strongly.

    Well, not exactly. As long as you stay away from criticizing me personally, you’re certainly welcome to criticize my views (as I believe you have, and as I’ve criticized yours), but you have to give me some reasons I’m wrong, since I don’t accept personal revelation as the ultimate trump card. Really, in a deep intellectual and moral sense, I need you and others who disagree with me to criticize my views. Isn’t that what the Bloggernacle and other forms of discussion are all about–honest cricism, with the end of better understanding all around? So here you have it: Force me to rethink the issue! Make me a better scholar and a better human being! It’s your divine commission to save my soul, m&m–you dare not refuse!

    So get bloggin’, all you nacclers. We have not yet begun to blog! Let’s go for a thousand comments! My soul is in your hands!

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 7:51 am

  317. I’m not sure what more you can ask or expect. Do you really want scriptures that have every part that offends an individual stricken? That smacks a bit of priestcraft to me.

    Personally, no, I have no interest at all in striking offending scriptures out (obviously I can’t speak for everyone else on this thread, but I haven’t seen anyone argue that.) I just want us to admit that they say what they say–or at the very least, get some pretty darned good reasons why they should be interpreted differently. I tend to think we can’t get anywhere until we take that first step.

    Ironically enough, I think it’s actually those who want personal revelation to be the ultimate trump card who are opening the door for scripture to be nullified.

    We all know that there is no way to convert someone by proof. Only the Holy Ghost can communicate that truth.

    Very true. But what do we do when the Holy Ghost tells us conflicting things? How do we adjudicate among those conflicting interpretations as a religious community? I don’t think anyone’s asking for proof of anything–just for a more complex epistemology that grants scripture and prophetic authority their appropriate roles.

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 7:58 am

  318. Eve (#316)
    I think you will be sadly disappointed. Discussion and intelleactual understanding are great, and will create scholarship and understanding of the knowledge of men. But nobody has a devine commission to save your soul.

    (I do realize that was written tongue in cheek – at least I hope so).

    Comment by Rick — April 26, 2007 @ 8:01 am

  319. Eve (#317)

    “no, I have no interest at all in striking offending scriptures out”

    - no you haven’t that I’ve seen, but there have been numerous calls for that in the thread.

    “I just want us to admit that they say what they say–or at the very least, get some pretty darned good reasons why they should be interpreted differently. I tend to think we can’t get anywhere until we take that first step.”

    Herin lies the problem. The text does not say what you are alleging. You are looking through a belief window just as we are (as everyone does). I can admit to seeing your point, and I could see how you might feel that way (I can put your “glasses” on), but I don’t agree that is the only way to read it, which is what you demand. Sorry.

    “But what do we do when the Holy Ghost tells us conflicting things?”
    I don’t have that experience, so I can’t answer that question. My understandign of the Holy Ghost is that I wouldn’t get conflicting information.
    I believe you are talking about the collective we in that question, and the answer is there, that you can’t. You will never know what the Holy Ghost communicates to me. Only what I communicate to you. And I think we all know how ineffective that is.
    “I don’t think anyone’s asking for proof of anything–just for a more complex epistemology that grants scripture and prophetic authority their appropriate roles.”
    Again, I think you’re out of luck. We have scriptures, a living prophet, and personal revelation. I don’t think anything more would help.

    Well, we do know of one plan where there would be no question…

    Comment by Rick — April 26, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  320. Rick, OK, I’m thoroughly confused. I haven’t even brought up any specific texts, so how can you know that some text doesn’t say what I’m alleging it does, or that I’m arguing that there is only one way to read it? I haven’t yet brought up any text, let alone alleged that there is only one interpretation of it–an allegation I’m extremely unlikely to make as a literature student.

    (Is it possible you’re mixing me up with someone else?)

    Again, I think you’re out of luck. We have scriptures, a living prophet, and personal revelation. I don’t think anything more would help.

    No, on the contrary, I’m in luck! That’s my whole point–that we have scriptures and a prophet in addition to personal revelation. I’m not calling for anything more.

    Is it possible we agree on at least that much?

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 8:23 am

  321. I think you will be sadly disappointed. Discussion and intelleactual understanding are great, and will create scholarship and understanding of the knowledge of men. But nobody has a devine commission to save your soul.

    (I do realize that was written tongue in cheek – at least I hope so).

    Rick, I’m heartbroken. My entire purpose in blogging is to find someone to save my soul for me. (And since we all know women are so much more spiritual than men, I’m turning not to the knowledge of men, but to the knowledge of women, for that salvation, good feminist Mormon that I am.)

    Sadly, I confess it’s generally safe to assume that my tongue is lodged firmly in my cheek. It’s a terrible but entertaining disease of which I may not be cured until the Resurrection. This disease means I will probably never be a real scholar because it’s so much more fun to be a smart-aleck.

    Sorry to be confusing.

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 8:28 am

  322. Wow. I never would have taken you for a scriptural hyper-literalist… So I take you you believe that Eve was literally created from Adam’s rib too? And that the Earth was literally formed in seven days?

    Actually, I most certainly am a biblical literalist, in a sense. The first rule of hermeneutics is looking to the text itself to understand the text. I see no reason from the text itself to think the author of Genesis 2 intended the creation of Eve to be understood in any way other than literally–in fact, I see no reason to believe this author even made a conceptual distinction between the literal and the symbolic.

    I personally doubt the existence of Adam and Eve, but my doubt does not arise from an honest reading of the actual text and I see no reason to read my own doubt into the text.

    My view is that under the structure of the covenants the wife is under no obligation to hearken to her husband unless he is acting directly in harmony with God’s will. That means she is required to have a direct personal relationship with God — if not she would have no way of knowing independently what God’s will is.

    My point is that, even in this reading, her relationship with God apparently only centers on her husband’s behavior. Why is she not asked to hearken to God on other occasions besides when her husband tells her to? This reading is thus problematic, either because (a) this completely unstated assumption is read into the text, or (b) God’s relationship with Eve is mediated through Adam.

    According to our scriptures the fall caused it all — not God instituting these things per se. The gospel is the plan to get out of this mess we are in and back to living a Celestial law

    I’m still not getting it. The Celestial law for marriage, you suggest, is egalitarian. And yet the gospel instructions for marriage are hierarchical. Why would the gospel perpetuate the situation of the fall (hierarchy) rather than pointing us to the celestial principle?

    Comment by Kiskilili — April 26, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  323. I certainly never claimed that we should never read scriptures literally (though I am certainly not the hyper-literalist that you are suddenly seeming to be…)

    In a sense, I am a hyperliteralist in that I feel that responsible reading is accountable to the text itself above all, and this is perhaps where we should agree to disagree:

    I take the Bible seriously and often literally but don’t necessarily agree with it. Rather than eisegeting the Bible I prefer to critique it on the basis of other sources of knowledge.

    I believe metaphorical readings should be constructed with licence from the text itself, not outside sources. I further believe that the currency of metaphorical readings derives from their literal implications, and thus that reading figuratively cannot possibly neutralize or render irrelevant the literal reading.

    My position is that revelation is one valid way of critiquing the text, not reinterpreting the text.

    Comment by Kiskilili — April 26, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  324. Kiskilili,

    Regarding the literalism discussion, here is my position (which I also posted at the thread in your blog):

    with the scriptures from dead prophets there are two distinct questions to be answered:

    (1) What does God really think about the subject being discussed.
    (2) What did the author (Paul or Joseph or whoever) mean/believe when the texts were written.

    In my experience it appears that most people assume (2) is always the same as (1). I think that is not a safe assumption.

    I should also mention that I believe (1) is incredibly important in the end whereas (2) is only a means to trying help us figure out (1).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  325. Kiskilili: Why is she not asked to hearken to God on other occasions besides when her husband tells her to?

    She is implicitly. (Eve must necessarily have a personal and independent knowledge of God’s will if she is to know when Adam is hearkening to it or not.) But she can’t be exalted (as a result of this probation at least) unless he is too so it is sort of moot if she is exaltation-worthy and he isn’t. The same is true for him though. So it is apparently literally a “buddy system” — no one can be fully exalted without their spouse and the system put in place gives each spouse more incentive to help the other while they both must develop a “oneness” with God at the same time.

    (Again, the possibility of progression between kingdoms and chances for full exaltation after this life is a must because none of us can choose for our spouses in the end. We can only try to persuade them a la section 121)

    Why would the gospel perpetuate the situation of the fall (hierarchy) rather than pointing us to the celestial principle?

    I suspect it is a practical matter. The lesser organization (hierarchy of sorts in marriage) is preparatory for the higher organization. That is a oft used pattern by God.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 9:51 am

  326. her relationship with God apparently only centers on her husband’s behavior

    Hogwash. Or in other words… I REALLY don’t agree with this.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 11:16 am

  327. Er, m&m, you were right the first time :)

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 11:23 am

  328. The “buddy system” I see here is the school field trip buddy system where you were always “buddied up” with the girl who was constantly sneezing and wiping his nose with her sleeve.

    Like this forced “buddy system”, I see the woman being required to listen to the man and the man being required to listen to God. Nowhere, I repeat, nowhere, is the man required to listen to the woman. It’s a system where the man is required to have a buddy (wife), but he is not required to listen to his buddy (wife).

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 11:31 am

  329. It’s a system where the man is required to have a buddy (wife), but he is not required to listen to his buddy (wife).

    Hogwash!

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 11:33 am

  330. LOL – I have a sneaking suspicion that certain people are trying to keep this conversation going just to see if we can hit the 400 comment mark :)

    On a serious note, if we’re talking about the “obey/hearken” covenant, there’s no reciprocity. We can import reciprocity from other sources, but it’s not stated in the covenant itself.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  331. I have no motives directed at upping comments. Really and truly. If anyone cares. :)

    We’re not supposed to take things in a vacuum, ECS. Everything in the gospel interrelates and creates a big picture. That picture is a HAPPY picture. You keep wanting to wash it in black. :)

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 11:41 am

  332. I have #332 covered. Who else can pitch in to get us over the hump? 400, here we come.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 26, 2007 @ 11:45 am

  333. I see the woman being required to listen to the man and the man being required to listen to God.

    This really misses the point ECS. Eve is only required to hearken to Adam if Adam is acting in accordance with God. How would she possibly know if he was acting in accordance with God unless she had a direct personal line of communication with God?

    Neither of them get to boss the other around in this system. Both of them must obey God if they wish to become like God. Yes the system does seem to place Eve in a bit of a monitoring role over Adam — but it could be argued that the role of monitor is the more dominant position.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 11:49 am

  334. [Edited]

    That’s a nice interpretation, Geoff. I see some problems with it (surprise). [Let's substitute the word obey for argument's sake.]

    While I can see the reading that “as her husband obeys God” to mean that she has some sort of judging role to play here – that she can decide when her husband is obeying God and choose when to follow him or God – I find that reading problematic because a woman is never placed in a judging role to a man anywhere in our liturgy or in our practice. Everywhere in our liturgy and practice, the man presides over the woman.

    So, given the absence of a judging role for women, the words “as her husband obeys God” could mean that Eve will obey Adam as Adam obeys God – i.e., Adam obeys God and Eve will obey Adam. In other words, this covenant is showing us the order of who obeys whom – which seems to fit within the hierarchical structure of our liturgy and practice where the man presides over the woman.

    Therefore, requiring the woman to obey her husband in the same manner that her husband obeys God forecloses a need for the woman to communicate directly with God. Why should she need to? She’s covenanted with Adam to obey/hearken to Adam, she does not covenant directly with God. Changing the word “obey” to “hearken” doesn’t create a new avenue of communication from the woman to God.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  335. In 310 Eve says:

    . . .let’s please not pretend that these texts and rituals don’t say what they most obviously and patently do. . .

    I think quite a few people in this thread have given compelling explanations of other ways to read these texts and understand these rituals. I can’t recall any readings that are an alternative to what Eve and ECS are arguing that seem like “pretending” to me.

    That said, lets assume that your reading is the only possible correct one. I mean this in the politest way possible, but so what? If we all agree that, yes, ancient texts written by men living in one of the most patriarchal of societies have sexist language, or that more modern scriptures use traditional marriage language in symbolic ways, then what?
    If modern prophets have added further clarification and a more recent and clearer message of equality, what does hand-wringing over the outdated message accomplish?

    Comment by C Jones — April 26, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

  336. So as I understand your argument ECS, you are saying that the term “as her husband obeys God” could mean “in the same manner which her husband obeys God” rather that “only if her husband obeys God”.

    Is that right?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

  337. Speaking of the trump card of personal revelation and the role of Women in the Church, I wanted to share this awesome type #4 revelatory experience as shared by Patricia Holland.

    I have heard it said by some that the reason women in the Church struggle to know themselves is because they don’t have a divine female role model. But we do. We believe we have a mother in heaven. May I quote from President Spencer W. Kimball in a general conference address:
    “When we sing that doctrinal hymn … ‘O My Father,’ we get a sense of the ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained, queenly elegance of our Heavenly Mother, and knowing how profoundly our mortal mothers have shaped us here, do we suppose her influence on us as individuals to be less?” (Ensign, May 1978, p. 6.)
    I have never questioned why our mother in heaven seems veiled to us, for I believe the Lord has his reasons for revealing as little as he has on that subject. Furthermore, I believe we know much more about our eternal nature than we think we do; and it is our sacred obligation to express our knowledge, to teach it to our young sisters and daughters, and in so doing to strengthen their faith and help them through the counterfeit confusions of these difficult latter days…May I share an experience I had [in the temple] a few months ago… [I] took the opportunity of going to an initiatory session. I left there with greater revelatory light on something I had always known in my heart to be so—that men and women are joint heirs of the blessings of the priesthood, and even though men bear the greater burden of administering it, women are not without their priesthood-related responsibilities…I quote to you from Abraham 4:27 [Abr. 4:27]: “So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female, to form they them.” They formed male and they formed female—in the image of the Gods, in their own image.
    Then, in a poignant exchange with God, Adam states that he will call the woman Eve. And why does he call her Eve? “Because she [is] the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20; Moses 4:26.)
    As I tenderly acknowledge the very real pain that many single women, or married women who have not borne children, feel about any discussion of motherhood, could we consider this one possibility about our eternal female identity—our unity in our diversity? Eve was given the identity of “the mother of all living”—years, decades, perhaps centuries before she ever bore a child. It would appear that her motherhood preceded her maternity, just as surely as the perfection of the Garden preceded the struggles of mortality. I believe mother is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words—with meaning after meaning after meaning. We must not, at all costs, let that word divide us. I believe with all my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about our nature, not a head count of our children.
    -Patricia T. Holland, “‘One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ,” Ensign, Oct 1987, 26

    Comment by Matt W. — April 26, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

  338. #336 – yes. Thanks for clarifying.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  339. Ok, so here is the problem you still face, ECS: How will Eve know the manner in which Adam actually obeys God?

    In order to know the manner in which Adam actually obeys God she would still need a direct personal conduit to God. Only then could she know if Adam was completely obedient to God or if Adam ignored God’s will and commandments. If Adam ignored God she would have full license to ignore Adam. So even with your proposed alternative reading she acts in a monitoring role who is only required to obey God’s will.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  340. Eve never makes a covenant directly with God. So you’re right – she might not know how Adam is supposed to be obeying God. This makes the covenant even more problematic, because Eve is covenanting to obey Adam without being able to directly covenant with God. There’s nothing in the covenant itself that shows us Eve has a relationship with God. In the covenant, Eve has a relationship with Adam only.

    The covenant does not give Eve assurance that Adam will in fact follow God, and the covenant does not give Eve a “judging role” over Adam. Such a judging role would place Eve above Adam – a position for a woman which has no scriptural or liturgical precedent.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

  341. ECS,
    But God does interact with Eve directly. What leads you to believe that she is cut off from God? I tend to subscribe to the position that the covenant (at least in its post-1990 phase (the only one with which I am familiar)) implies a mutual judgment, between husband and wife.

    Comment by HP — April 26, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  342. [edited]

    I think not ECS. [The contract we are speaking hypothetically about] assumes and even requires that Eve have a personal relationship with God. If such a communicative relationship were not assumed then it would be asking her to do something that is impossible: Hearken to Adam “as” Adam hearkens to God without knowing how or if Adam was hearkening to God to begin with. She must have the tools to know independently if and how Adam hearkens to God or the covenant itself is incoherent.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

  343. HP – sure. That’s probably the preferred reading of the covenant today. The woman’s judging role, however, is not obvious from the text and has to be implied. Given that there’s no scriptural precedent for a woman to judge a man, the implication of a judging role here is anomalous.

    As far as Eve being cut off from God, I don’t think Eve is cut off from God completely (although some people might make this argument), but here, in this covenant, she does not communicate directly with God. She covenants to obey/hearken to Adam.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  344. Geoff, your emphasis is noted. The text itself does not require your reading, however. The language of the covenant tells Eve that she must obey Adam in the manner in which Adam obeys God. In other words, Eve observes Adam – and then Eve follows Adam. Sure, Adam could say he is obeying God when he really isn’t obeying God, but the covenant itself doesn’t tell us what Eve should do in this contingency. Eve isn’t given a direct line to God in this covenant to check up on Adam, because Eve does not directly covenant with God. In this covenant, Eve must trust that Adam is obeying God when Adam asks Eve to obey him.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 12:55 pm

  345. ECS – in the temple marriage ceremonies, the wife covenants with God. Is it possible that Eve covenanting with Adam is misleading?

    Comment by SilverRain — April 26, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

  346. [edited]

    HP – [For argument's sake here, we are assuming] the women were required to obey the law of their husbands, which would suggest that Eve might be cut off from God…

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

  347. [Edited]

    [Just for the sake of discussion here, let's say that] in this covenant, Eve does not covenant with God. She covenants with Adam.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

  348. [Edited]

    ECS,

    I’m afraid you are wrong. The [terms we laid out for this discussion do] indeed require the reading I am giving here.

    Eve observes Adam – and then Eve follows Adam

    If Adam is not obeying God, and Eve obeys Adam absolutely then Eve is breaking her covenant. She covenanted to hearken only “as” Adam hearkened to God. So this scenario make Eve a covenant breaker in either reading of “as” that we have discussed. It breaks the covenant if we read “as” to mean “only if” and it breaks the covenant if we read “as” to mean “in the manner which”.

    Also, the fact that Eve did not make that particular covenant directly with God has absolutely no bearing on her direct communicative relationship with God. Eve was baptized too in our scriptures you know — she made plenty of other covenants directly with God.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  349. ECS, of course the text doesn’t require Geoff’s reading. But it isn’t as implausible as you make it out to be (especially in an open-canon church). In other words, the text doesn’t require your reading either. But we all knew that right?

    Comment by HP — April 26, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  350. Geoff, I’m afraid YOU are wrong. The text does not require your reading. Adam obeys God. Eve obeys Adam. End of story. Adam’s relationship with God as it applies to Eve in this covenant is irrelevant. Eve must obey Adam, just like Adam must obey God.

    God tells Adam what to do
    Adam obeys
    _______________
    Adam tells Eve what to do
    Eve obeys

    That’s what I mean by “in the manner which”.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  351. HP, right! But Geoff keeps telling me I’m just flat out wrong. I don’t like that.

    Thanks for piping up. :)

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  352. Eve must obey Adam, just like Adam must obey God.

    And if Adam refuses to obey God, who must Eve obey then?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

  353. Geoff, ECS, may I suggest a simple test? Go through the Temple in another language that you understand and return and report. It may help clarify.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 26, 2007 @ 1:27 pm

  354. Adam.

    There are two separate lines of communiation here.

    1) God to Adam. Adam obeys.

    2) Adam to Eve. Eve obeys.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

  355. Wrong ECS. The answer would only be Adam if the concept of “as he obeys/hearkens to God” were not part of the wording of the covenant in question. If Adam does not obey God then Eve is bound by covenant to not obey Adam. (Both by the covenant at hand and by her baptismal covenant.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  356. Geoff, “as he obeys/hearkens” does not confer substance on the _act_ of obeying. As you already noted, the covenant does not say, Eve must obey Adam “only if” Adam is obeying God. The covenant says Eve must obey Adam _in the same WAY_ as Adam obeys God.

    Meaning: God tells Adam what to do. Adam obeys.
    Adam tells Eve what to do. Eve obeys.

    In the Adam-Eve exchange, Adam represents God and Eve represents Adam.

    Adam is free to disregard God and thus break his covenant to God. Eve is free to disregard Adam and thus break her covenant to Adam. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that Eve must obey Adam “only if” Adam is obeying God.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  357. The covenant says Eve must obey Adam _in the same WAY_ as Adam obeys God.

    Exactly. So if Adam totally disobeys God, Eve is required by covenanted to obey Adam “_in the same WAY_”; that is, she is required to totally disobey Adam.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  358. Um, no. If Adam totally disobeys God, it’s between Adam and God. If Eve totally disobeys Adam, it’s between Eve and Adam. Eve’s covenant to Adam is separate from Adam’s covenant to God.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  359. Your reading of the covenant would be correct if it said Eve covenants to obey Adam “only if” Adam is obeying God. Then, while unprecedented, it would make sense to imply a judging role for Eve. As it is, the covenant’s wording is ambiguous and open to numerous readings. Some more authoritarian than others.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  360. Sorry, but you can’t get around the “as he does” concept. Your last comment tries to ignore it but it is there still.

    Administrative Note: To anyone who happens to read these comments so deeply buried in this thread — please note that ECS and I (and others) are trying to discuss the basic concepts of certain sacred covenants without reciting exact language.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  361. The “as he does” language has no bearing on whether Eve must obey Adam. Eve covenants to obey Adam. Adam covenants to obey God.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

  362. ECS,

    The reason I was so bold in my in #348 is because the “only if” concept has the exact same effect as the “in the same way” concept you are pushing. There is no logical way to get around it as far as I can tell.

    If Adam disobeys God, and Eve disobeys Adam, then Eve is totally in compliance with her covenant even by your “in the same way” reading.

    Here is the chart of acceptable and unacceptable pairs based on your “in the same way” reading:

    a) Adam obeys God, Eve obeys Adam = Compliant (obeying in the same way)
    b) Adam disobeys God, Eve obeys Adam = Not Compliant (not obeying in the same way)
    c) Adam obeys God, Eve disobeys Adam = Not Compliant (not obeying in the same way)
    d) Adam disobeys God, Eve disobeys Adam = Compliant (obeying in the same way)

    Can you show us any example where this is not the case?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  363. IMO, covenants are always with God. He is the only one who can be bound by our obedience. No mortal could fulfill the promises side of the covenant relationship. I don’t buy into the idea that a covenant in the temple is anything but a covenant with God.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 2:36 pm

  364. #362: Look at where Eve is left in situations b and d. When Adam disobeys God, Eve is given a choice to follow him or not follow him (Adam). There is no explicit line to connect her to God when Adam is disobedient. I realize that M&M and others will say it is implied. But why should it have to be implied? When Eve is disobedient, Adam always has his direct line of communication to God. Whether Eve is obedient or disobedient makes no difference to Adam in his direct relationship to God.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 26, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

  365. mmm. I didn’t explain that very well.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 26, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

  366. There is no explicit line to connect her to God when Adam is disobedient.

    What do you consider all the covenants you make with God to be?

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  367. ECS – if you are correct, what are the implications? You seem so hell-bent to prove that women are not equal or have no direct communication with God, despite the contrary views of our living prophets. Why? It goes against all intuition and practical experience. Should all women be instructed not to pray? I mean, what’s really the point then.

    Comment by ajax — April 26, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  368. BiV #365/364
    - It sounded like you’re trying to say that Eve is dependant upon Adam for her relationship to God, but Adam is not dependant upon her for his relationship to God.
    That ignores the fact that Eve, like everyone is required to have a relationship to God. This particular covenant doesn’t preclude other covenants, but only describe the one of Adam and Eve’s relationship.
    You could allege that Eve is to hearken to Adam, but not the reciprocal (even though we have discussed ad infinitem the alternatives), but you can’t legitimately use this to show a required non-relationship with Eve, because it’s not there, real or imagined.

    Comment by Rick — April 26, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  369. A bunch of you have stepped up to the plate in response to my #332 and I just want to say thank you. We’re within striking distance, keep ‘em coming.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 26, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

  370. Here’s a better example:

    God tells Adam to give him $200. Adam gives God $100 instead.

    Adam tells Eve to give him $200. Eve gives Adam $200.

    Eve is obeying Adam “in the same way” that Adam obeys God, even though Eve is fully compliant with Adam’s instructions, while Adam is only partially compliant with God’s. “In the same way” means that God tells Adam what to do, in the same way Adam tells Eve what to do. Meaning God speaks to Adam and tells him what to do. Adam speaks to Eve and tells her what to do.

    As BiV said – whether Eve is disobedient or obedient to Adam does not impact Adam’s relationship with God. Eve made the covenant with Adam. Adam is the enforcer. (and probably God too, since He can do whatever He wants). Likewise, whether Adam is disobedient or obedient to God in any particular instance does not impact Eve’s covenant to obey Adam.

    Comment by ECS — April 26, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  371. I think you may be hearing something that isn’t there, ECS. Listen closely next time. Wish I felt comfortable saying more. Think “direct object” when you do your comparison between Adam and Eve.

    I know of nothing — nothing — in our teachings that would ever support the idea of making covenants with anyone but God. I think you are reading into this too far.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  372. I also see NOTHING that would indicate that a husband can “enforce” a wife’s obedience in ANY way.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

  373. Likewise, whether Adam is disobedient or obedient to God in any particular instance does not impact Eve’s covenant to obey Adam.

    That’s simply untrue, too. Seriously, sista, you are creating problems that don’t exist.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

  374. Eve is obeying Adam “in the same way” that Adam obeys God

    No she isn’t. If Adam obeys by giving 50% of what is asked then the way for Eve to obey “in the same way” is to give 50% of what is asked. If Eve gave 100% she would be giving in a very different way than Adam did so by even by your definition of “as he obeys God” she would be out of compliance with the terms of the agreement. If you don’t believe me, try paying 50% of your mortgage payment this month and tell your creditor that it is ok because it is “in the same way” as paying the full amount due…

    And as we keep pointing out — Eve was baptized so she had a separate direct covenantal relationship with God in place.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 6:30 pm

  375. m&m: I know of nothing — nothing — in our teachings that would ever support the idea of making covenants with anyone but God.

    Been to the temple lately? There are instances of covenants to someone other than God there.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

  376. Jacob J (369) I disagree, It is IMO, a requirement to be within 10 comments of the goal to be in striking range. Striking is obviously a bowling term, and a strike is knocking down ten pens only.

    Here’s a better example:
    Matt tells Geoff to give him $200. Geoff gives Matt $100 instead.

    Geoff tells Jacob to give him $200. Jacob gives Geoff $200.

    In either scenario, Matt gets a free $100, and go goes home happy.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 26, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

  377. There are instances of covenants to someone other than God there.

    If you are speaking about this topic of discussion, I am not convinced that is a correct assertion.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

  378. Some of you are asking the purpose of arguing this point. Can we not just interpret these problematic scriptures and covenants in the best light, you ask? Can we not just give the prophet the benefit of the doubt when he uses archaic language? Why do we have to paint everything in black? I would like to address this from my viewpoint, not speaking for any of the women of the Church other than myself. (so please don’t reply by saying, “That’s not how I feel.” I already know it is not how you feel.)

    I would hypothesize that some of those who see no problem interpreting everything in an egalitarian light have experienced mostly egalitarian relationships in the Church and in their personal lives. They may not have encountered husbands or priesthood leaders who use these very scriptures and covenants to force compliance. In my scripture study example quite a while back I attempted to discuss the matter with the Bishopric. I presented my reasons why it would be advantageous to the sisters. Respectfully I asked for reasons why it was being forbidden. I mentioned that I felt inspiration from the Lord to do this, and asked if they had received any inspiration negating this. It was at this point that the priesthood was invoked. The bishop made it known that he was giving me instructions, that he had the priesthood, and that if I continued to mention the matter further I would be going against the priesthood.

    Now, according to the comments made above, if I truly felt I had received inspiration, I should have gone against the Bishop’s counsel. This worked for an Elder Quorum President above. However, this did not work for Janice Allred. This was not the only experience I have ever had with the priesthood trying to “trump” an individual’s revelation. I knew better. Because the Bishop had power to affect my Church membership, I was being forced into submission.

    I have also seen this in my marriage and in the marriages of many others of my generation. Those of you who think it is simple to invoke Eve’s privilege of not following Adam because he is not listening to the Lord don’t realize how it works in a marriage which is less than egalitarian.

    M&M says she sees nothing to indicate that a husband can “enforce” a wife’s obedience in ANY way. That is nice for her, but I have seen the opposite. Many women want to be righteous and to make the marriage work. With the wording in the temple as it stands, a man can easily use it to browbeat the wife into submission. The wording works for you because you don’t have someone using the priesthood unrighteously. It does not work to encourage someone with male dominance tendencies to recognize their mutual dependence on their wife to enter into celestial glory.

    Geoff says that if Adam does not obey God then Eve is bound by covenant to not obey Adam. I don’t see how that helps the couple come to a mutually satifying conclusion. It is light-years away from the model of a Quorum which requires unanimity before proceeding.

    ECS finds the “as he obeys God” reading problematic because a woman is never placed in a judging role to a man anywhere in our liturgy or in our practice. Everywhere in our liturgy and practice, the man presides over the woman.

    I agree. I submit that the language of presiding by the male does not encourage a female’s direct relationship with God unless she ignores it in favor of other teachings, or reinterprets it, as has been done above. I further postulate that this wording is only supportive of an equal male/female relationship if the philosophy is already in place on the part of the male. Otherwise, the precedent set by liturgy and practice will favor inequality.

    PS–Maybe I should have written each paragraph of this as a separate comment. That would have taken us to #386!

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 26, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  379. Sigh. I guess my capactiy for stupid jokes has been exhausted. (News which, I realize, may come as an immense relief to some….)

    m&m, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable with the stridency your tone has taken on lately. A few comments up you took me to task for asserting that my view of things was “obvious.” You insisted, quite rightly, that we all need to honor each other’s points of view and each other’s right to think as we do. I wholeheartedly agree.

    But when you denounce others’ points of view as “simply untrue” and as “hogwash” and call others’ motives into question for “creating problems that don’t exist”–aren’t you asserting your point of view in the strong terms that you didn’t want me to use to assert mine? When you say “I see NOTHING that would indicate that a husband can enforce a wife’s obedience in ANY way,” aren’t you refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy–or even existence–of any other way of thinking about things?

    You claimed earlier that you’re at peace about these matters. But to my ear, anyway, you’re not speaking in the tones of peaceful, calm conviction. You sound increasingly angry and frustrated and unable to see other points of view. Let me hasten to add, I have no doubt that you have very good reasons for feeling this way. Personally, I’m afraid I’ve often been a soure of anger and frustration to you, and I owe you an apology for being curt with you earlier in this thread and at other times, as well as for being underhanded in some of my responses to you. At times I’m ashamed to say I’ve gone for subtle jabs rather than honestly acknowledging my own anger and frustration with you. I’m really sorry, m&m. I’ve often been very much in the wrong in the angry feelings I’ve harbored toward you.

    You and I have some profound disagreements, and those disagreements will probably continue to exist, but I do hope that the peace you spoke of earlier might not be an impossibility between us. And, indeed, among all of us around here who so wholeheartedly disagree about important issues but who, I think, share a conviction of the gospel of Christ and a commitment to live our lives accordingly.

    I’ll be the first to say I need to do better in living up to that commitment.

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 8:45 pm

  380. Eve,
    I’m sorry, too. I have become too strident in the past few comments. I am frustrated. And I’m dealing with some hard things in my life right now aside from this that I think are also taking their toll. I’m sorry that I have let that frustration from all sources come out in my comments. I’ll work on taking a few steps back before commenting, or backing off from commenting until I can calm down a bit. Thanks, Eve, for being willing to kindly call me on it, and also for helping me see that what I felt from you wasn’t all in my head. :) Like someone said to me recently, we NEED to find a way to interact and communicate with each other in a loving way. Our faith demands it. Our community needs it. I am recommitting here to do better, especially by not commenting when I’m frustrated. Once again, I’m sorry. :(

    BiV,
    I would suspect that your hypothesis about experience affecting our points of view is probably very likely. (It’s almost the making of a an interesting study.) Once again, I’m sorry for the experiences you have had with trump cards and feeling forced to comply. I’ve never actually have someone vocally declare that their priesthood demanded submission, but I have had a couple of experiences where I felt that unrighteous dominion might have been at play, and it was very difficult.

    BTW, just to clarify, when I said I saw nothing to indicate that a husband could enforce any obedience from his wife, I meant in the “should” doctrinal category. I realize that in practice this happens. But when I comment, I’m seeking to address the rule. I don’t know that we can assume that because there are abuses, there should be a change in the rule. (If that were the case, we would have to do other things like require all couples to be sterilized, because some parents abuse their children. The abuse of a rule, IMO, does not prove that the rule is wrong.)

    If there is ever compulsion, from a man or a woman in any position of any sort, that is unrighteous dominion in my mind. I don’t believe that every time we are asked to fall into step with a leader that such is unrighteous. There have been examples of this with both male and female leaders in this thread. With regard to a marriage, given all that our doctrine demands, I don’t see anything that suports a husband compelling a wife to do anything. She has agency just like he does. (Compulsion really has no place in our doctrine, given agency as a central role in the plan of salvation.)

    Incidentally, I see a marriage more like a mini quorum where unanimity should be the goal. I know that perhaps doesn’t mean much coming from me, but that is what I expect and aim for in my marriage (and sometimes I have had to push back a bit on that principle to keep the dynamic in this way. It’s a process, not an event, for most of us, I think). If either spouse dominates, things are not as they should be, IMO.

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  381. m&m, thanks for your kind and heartfelt words. I’m really sorry to hear there are some hard things going on in your life right now, and I do hope they lighten soon.

    Take care.

    Comment by Eve — April 26, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

  382. I’m pretty sure we all already agree that unanimity should be the goal, and that unrighteous dominion should never happen.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 26, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  383. Eve,
    Thanks.

    BTW, that apology was meant for all. I am sorry for being abrupt or whatever else I might have done along the way to offend. I hope you can forgive me.

    BiV, I am not sure what you want me to say. I realize that sometimes the ideals aren’t met, but I guess where we differ is you think the rule is the problem and I think the people who don’t follow the rule are the problem. Am I on the right track?

    Comment by m&m — April 26, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  384. ECS,

    The Constitution is not a suicide pact. Neither are sacred covenants.

    If you look up “as” in the Random House Unabridged dictionary, the first three conjunctive senses are:

    1. (used correlatively after an adjective or adverb prec. by an adverbial phrase, the adverbial as, or another adverb) to such a degree or extent that: It came out the same way as it did before. You are as good as you think you are.
    2. (without antecedent) in the degree, manner, etc., of or that: She’s good as gold. Do as we do.
    3. at the same time that; while; when: as you look away.

    In this case, by choosing manner over degree, extent, or temporality it appears you are violating the principle of charity to purposely read the promise in the most objectionable way possible.

    Geoff is right – covenants do not come in a vacuum. The other ones that are made both at baptism and in the temple must be given due consideration in cases of ambiguity.

    In this case, “in the same manner” violates common sense, nearly every other covenants, and the principles of charity and good faith.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 27, 2007 @ 12:37 am

  385. Mark D – I may be violating your definition of the principles of charity, but you’re not the one placed in a subordinate position by the covenant. The woman who covenants to obey her husband with no reciprocal covenant made in return by him to her should know exactly what she’s getting into.

    As for the covenants Eve has made elsewhere mitigating the harshness of this covenant, I think you have a fair point. I’d feel more comfortable accepting this “judging role” for Eve, however, if we could find any precedent for it in our scriptures and practice. Whenever the marital relationship is discussed, Eve is placed in subordination to Adam. Although it might be charitable to read the covenant in an egalitarian way, this reading is not supported by the nature of the marital relationship described in our scriptures and our practice (where the men always preside) or by the text of the covenant itself.

    Of course the covenant is not a suicide pact. But I’m not so concerned with extreme cases where the husband invokes his priesthood power to tell his wife to jump off a cliff. I am concerned, however, with the very real and very common situation BiV mentions in her comment above where men decide not to read the covenant as charitably as you do.

    Finally, I’m not sure how many of you have studied the evolution of this covenant, but I’d suggest that reading through the changes – especially the changes made in 1990 – might shed some light on why people find this covenant not so obviously egalitarian.

    Comment by ECS — April 27, 2007 @ 1:16 am

  386. ECS – “with the very real and very common situation BiV mentions in her comment above where men decide not to read the covenant as charitably as you do.”

    I think this is part of the problem. It doesn’t matter how a man decides to read the woman’s covenant. It is up to the woman to keep her covenants as she feels the Lord wants her to. She decides what is and is not keeping her covenants, and, ultimately, she answers to God for her choices. I don’t fully understand the wording in the temple, but I do believe that covenants are made only with God, not with man. I have promised nothing to my husband through covenants, but I have promised everything to the Lord. Naturally, that is only my interpretation of my covenants, but I feel that interpretation has been guided by the Spirit.

    Comment by SilverRain — April 27, 2007 @ 5:55 am

  387. I should add to end of the above “. . . for me.”

    Comment by SilverRain — April 27, 2007 @ 6:00 am

  388. Geoff –

    The covenants are completely separate. Adam can choose to pay God or not to pay God. If he pays – he’s complying. If he doesn’t pay – he’s not complying. God isn’t asking Eve to do anything. Adam is the one who asks Eve to pay him. I don’t see how Adam and God’s relationship necessarily impacts what Adam tells Eve to do. Eve covenanted specifically with Adam here – not with God. If God wanted to talk directly to Eve, then He would have set up the covenant so that God tells Eve what to do.

    Which is my basic problem with this covenant – why doesn’t God communicate directly with Eve? Why does Adam get to communicate directly with God to tell Eve what to do (according to your reading), but Eve does not communicate directly with God to tell Adam what to do?

    Comment by ECS — April 27, 2007 @ 8:13 am

  389. God isn’t asking Eve to do anything.

    ECS, I do not hear this and I really don’t agree. This is another one of those situations where it would really, really be helpful if you would own this as your interpretation, not as absolute fact. I realize that you feel you have support for your concerns, and I realize that, but this is another situation where it feels to me like you leave no room for anyone to disagree. I think you have missed something really potentially important in the way things are worded. And I have never gotten the sense (spiritually speaking) that I am making covenants with anyone but God.

    Think carefully about who gives the covenant to Eve (hint: it’s NOT Adam!) and think about the difference between what Adam says and what Eve says. There IS a difference and I think it might be significant.

    Comment by m&m — April 27, 2007 @ 8:26 am

  390. It doesn’t matter how a man decides to read the woman’s covenant. It is up to the woman to keep her covenant to hearken to her husband as she feels the Lord wants her to. She decides what is and what is not keeping her covenants.

    You still have the woman’s covenant put through the filter of her relationship with the man, but the man’s covenant is independent of any relationship with the woman.

    It’s great that people can come to peace with this. It’s great that women can make this covenant while still maintaining an egalitarian marriage relationship. However, the covenant itself is inherently unequal. No interpretation can change this simple fact.

    Man + covenant = relationship with the Lord

    Woman + covenant + following the man’s counsel = relationship with the Lord.

    The two are not the same. Neither are they “separate but equal.” Neither are they “two different but equal roles.” The woman is clearly placed in subjugation to the man.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  391. The other problem I see with your logic is that it leaves a yea verily big vacuum for women who aren’t married. If they aren’t covenanting with God all along the way in the temple, how could they be making covenants at all if they have no husband?

    Comment by m&m — April 27, 2007 @ 8:41 am

  392. a problem indeed.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 8:42 am

  393. [edited]

    When I took out my endowments in 1983 …

    I was going through for my endowments in preparation for a mission, and was not to be married at that time.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 8:46 am

  394. One thing I really liked about the book the “saviour and the serpent” is that it notes that at points in the Adam and eve Drama, Adam does not represent Man, but represents Jesus or the Prophet, and that in those instances, Eve represents all of mankind. While I don’t agree with every jot and tittle of the book, I think that is an interesting point to make.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 27, 2007 @ 8:47 am

  395. [edited]

    [In the Adam and Eve narrative we a considering] Eve covenanted with Adam and Adam covenanted with the Lord.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  396. Matt, That’s a wonderful point. Perhaps it would help if that was being taught to the general membership of the Church.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 8:53 am

  397. ECS (#388): The covenants are completely separate.

    This is the fatal flaw in your argument. The word “as” that we are discussing obliterates the claim that the contracts are separate. Now if that pesky “as” clause weren’t there you’d have a case, but since it is there your argument here crumbles.

    So let’s say we have three people: Dusty, Lucky, and Ned.

    - Dusty promises to obey/follow Ned. Period. No caveats.
    - Lucky promises to obey/follow Dusty as Dusty follows Ned. That is a massive caveat!

    It makes the two promises inextricably connected. Saying otherwise is totally missing the reality of the terms here. Surely you must see that, no?

    why doesn’t God communicate directly with Eve?

    I’ve already answered this several times so if you won’t address my responses I see no reason to make them again. (If you forgot my responses they were basically: A. God does communicate directly with her (and all women), and B. The as in the terms absolutely requires such communication for the contract to even be coherent.)

    BiV — This response applies to you #390 as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 27, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  398. Geoff, so you’re saying: God does communicate directly with Eve. Her job is to get revelation to tell her if Adam is listening to God, or not.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  399. BiV (#396)- I’ll do my part to teach it to the general membership I come in contact with. I’ll have to go back and look at the book and see where Gaskill get’s the idea from. Perhaps it already has been generally taught. A problem, of course, is that very little is “generally taught” in regards to the content of the temple.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 27, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  400. #393 Yeah, I knew you would edit me. Can we say that [some of us heard things that made it clear] that Eve covenanted with Adam, and Adam covenanted with the Lord?

    And I went through the temple in 1981, oops.

    Gee, I’m old.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 9:12 am

  401. BiV (#398): so you’re saying: God does communicate directly with Eve. Her job is to get revelation to tell her if Adam is listening to God, or not.

    Among other things, yes. She has a personal relationship with God which lets her know when he is actually doing God’s will. She can then use the principles of section 121 to righteously influence him for good if she sees him go off track. Likewise he uses his personal relationship with God to know what is right and he can use the principles of section 121 to righteously influence her for good if he sees her go off track. They become a safety net for each other in their journey together toward oneness with God and with each other. If it didn’t work this way the system would be totally ineffective in my opinion. (And what kind of God would put together a totally ineffective plan for our salvation/exaltation?)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 27, 2007 @ 9:13 am

  402. Just a fun little quote to support Geoff’s view: (not that I agree)

    There is no patriarchy or matriarchy in the Garden; the two supervise each other. Adam is given no arbitary power; Eve is to heed him only insofar as he obeys their Father—and who decides that? She must keep check on him as much as he does on her. It is, if you will, a system of checks and balances in which each party is as distinct and independent in its sphere as are the departments of government under the Constitution—and just as dependent on each other.

    (Hugh Nibley, Patriarchy and Matriarchy)

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 9:21 am

  403. How’s that for “spiritual blogging?”

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  404. Geoff, you can certainly imply the communication from Eve to God. But it simply is not written into the covenant itself. God does not make a covenant with Eve. God does not communicate with Eve in this covenant. Eve covenants with Adam to obey Adam. Where’s the part in the words of the covenant where Eve covenants with God to talk to God to determine whether Adam is keeping his covenant with God? God himself is not a party to Eve’s covenant with Adam.

    According to your reading, Eve sits in judgment of Adam and determines whether Adam is complying with his covenant with God. According to your reading, Eve inserts herself into the covenant between Adam and God, when (1) neither God nor Adam have asked her to, and (2) when there is no precedent in all of our theology that contemplates a woman ever sitting in judgment of a man.

    The issue here is that you’re assuming that everyone agrees with you when you say it’s illogical for Eve to have to follow Adam without Eve being able to communicate with God and to judge Adam’s righteousness. What you perceive to be illogical, however, is the way the covenant was written pre-1990, and I don’t think the revisions seventeen years ago substantially clarified the relationship between Adam and Eve so that Eve is now Adam’s equal.

    Comment by ECS — April 27, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  405. And my problem with it is that giving Eve responsibility for determining Adam’s spirituality is not the same as developing her own spirituality completely independently of a relationship with a spouse (as Adam is).

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  406. Good point, BiV. I’d like to agree with Geoff and Hugh Nibley (quite the combination!), but the covenant’s placing of Adam as the mediator between Eve and God is problematic.

    Comment by ECS — April 27, 2007 @ 9:35 am

  407. And now that we have made it over the #400 mark, I’m going to go get something accomplished.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — April 27, 2007 @ 9:37 am

  408. ECS: Where’s the part in the words of the covenant where Eve covenants with God to talk to God to determine whether Adam is keeping his covenant with God?

    It’s right there in that pesky “AS” clause. The “as” clause is totally incoherent unless Eve can independently act as a check on Adam. As Nibley points out (thanks for finding that, BiV; I knew it was out there but didn’t hunt it down) the system outlined is one of checks and balances.

    According to your reading, Eve inserts herself into the covenant between Adam and God

    Not really. She instead monitors her own contract. She must know where Adam is in his relationship with God in order to adhere to the terms of her contract. It’s a lovely system of checks and balances.

    there is no precedent in all of our theology that contemplates a woman ever sitting in judgment of a man.

    The endowment has been around for a loong time in our church. It is the precedent. In all of its versions that I am aware this same principle applied. (Nibley published that article in the 1980 after all).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 27, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  409. Note: With regard to my editing here… We are walking a fine line here of saying too much (some surely will think we have crossed that line) and I don’t want to get any closer. Therefore, please do not use references to dates or specific wording changes regarding the temple. We all know what you mean when you are vague or speak in hypotheticals.

    In fact — I plan to close this thread in the next hour or so. So if there are any parting words, get them in now.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 27, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  410. Ok, no one took me up on the parting words offer so we’ll close things here. Thanks to all who participated. (With 410 comments this thread beat the former champ by a full 40 comments!) Feel free to email me if you have additional thoughts or questions.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 27, 2007 @ 11:03 am