Should Mormon women receive the priesthood? Mormon men are for it; Mormon women not so much

December 22, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 2:34 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

There was a fascinating post over at BeliefNet this week on attitudes among Mormons about women receiving the priesthood. Here is the most interesting part, quoting studies found in the book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by authors Robert Putnam and David Campbell:

Yet the most remarkable finding is that within Mormonism itself, there is a significant split by gender on this question. The number that looks the most extraordinary to outsiders–that only 10% of Mormon women want the priesthood–seems pretty predictable to those inside the faith. But the finding that 48% of Mormon men say they favor female LDS clergy is truly startling.

The blog author, Grant Hardy, goes on to give a long list of possible explanations for these survey results. Most of them seem fairly plausible as contributing factors at least. All of them are pretty nice to Mormon men and women I thought.

The cynic in me thinks Hardy danced around one obvious explanation. That is that 48% of men wouldn’t mind letting the ladies do more of the heavy lifting regarding clergy duties in church. In contrast, 90% of the ladies like the fact that they can be completely guilt-free when it comes to those difficult and time-consuming clergy duties.

What do you think though? Certainly there is some combination of reasons why Mormon men are nearly five times more likely to favor women receiving the priesthood and serving in clergy duties than Mormon women are to favor such a thing. But what is your guess about the primary reason for these results? Something Hardy said? The more cynical reason I mentioned? Or something else entirely?

Six Theological Challenges in Mormonism Brought Forth by Issues Related to Human Sexuality

December 19, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 11:32 pm   Category: Theology

This is not intended to be a position piece, but as I have had a couple conversations regarding LDS theology and Human Sexuality in the past 24 hours, I thought it would be best to articulate what I see as some of the theological issues that are repeatedly coming up. I am also trying to link to either good sources I am aware of that relate to these issues, or at least more fully articulate the issues.

1. The Problem of Determinism- If a human being can be determined in something as fundamental to human behavior as sexual preference, how free are they really? One could argue that if we are not really free, then we are not really accountable. This argument is used in Mormonism and Many Legal communities to deny accountability for infractions do to lack of willful intent. Perhaps the best theological path here is to accept a concept of limited free will, as articulated by Geoff J here.

2. The Problem of Evil- Why would a loving God allow something so fundamental to life to be so fundamentally off as sexual preference. This is the question that was excised from Boyd K. Packer’s talk. This is, of course, the most challenging question in all of Christendom. An excellent articulation by Rosalynde Welch of the issue in this specific context is here and I do my best to give my theodicy of the problem here.

3. The Problem of Sentimentality- How much of romantic love is merely chemistry and biology playing out within us, rather than the profound experience our society has set it up to be. Must sexual preference override all other forms of relational compatibility? This question is tightly related to the problem of determinism above, and I have attempted to articulate it in the past here.

4. The Problem of Scriptural infallibility- The New Testament has numerous scriptures involving homosexuality as a non-allowed sin. Wikipedia has a very complete list. This is above and beyond the more blatant statements in the Old Testament. Of course, the New Testament also calls women the weaker vessel, and says they should not speak in church. Thus appeals to the authority of scripture alone truly do need prophetic clarification.

5. The Problem of Doctrinal Non-clarity- With pseudo-doctrinal teachings of our eternal existence and purpose ranging from eternal sexual procreation to the necessity of a male and female to create a whole deified person, there is much confusion on what our sexuality infers upon our eternal existence. Add to this non-clarified doctrines regarding Heavenly Mother, viviparous spirit birth, and questions around what Joseph meant in terms of our spirits being Eternal, and we are left with a wide range of possible theological world views to pick from. I find myself most in line with Jonathon Stapley on these issues while perhaps taking a more apologetic view in regards to Heavenly Mother.

6. The Problem of Prophetic Fallibility- Perhaps the greatest challenge in the modern LDS worldview that has been high lighted in terms of the church’s doctrine regarding human sexuality is that it has and does change. Up until the 1980s Birth Control was incredibly frowned upon, and then there was a major shift, with one statement from Gordon B. Hinckley. Polygamy ended with a prophetic proclamation, institutionalized racism like wise. These massive doctrinal statements make it more difficult for church members to solidly anchor themselves to any single teaching of the church, leaving them to reason out for themselves with mixed results what is best. The Narrator best articulated this issue for an article for the SMPT journal Element, which can be read here. I am told there will responses to this article in another issue of Element, but I am not aware if they have been published.

So there you have it, these are the issues I could think of which come into play when discussing the theology of the LDS position in regards to homosexuality. I am not aware how deeply these issues impact the reasoning for the LDS position, but they undeniably have all come up as a consequence to it.

Are there other issues that you think are coming up at a theological level? Are there other posts you’d recommend on these theological issues?