The Woman of Caanan: The Saviour’s Model for Dialogue
Yesterday, Michael Otterson, managing director of the Public Affiars arm of the Church, sent an open letter to some of the prominent LDS blogs regarding conversations about women in the Church. While there are many points of conversation addressed in the letter, there is one I would like to specifically speak to.
Mr. Otterson writes:
“Yet there are a few people with whom Public Affairs and General Authorities do not engage, such as individuals or groups who make non-negotiable demands for doctrinal changes that the Church can’t possibly accept. No matter what the intent, such demands come across as divisive and suggestive of apostasy rather than encouraging conversation through love and inclusion. Ultimately, those kinds of actions can only result in disappointment and heartache for those involved.
We might wonder what the Savior’s reaction would have been had the many prominent women in his life taken such a course. If Mary Magdalene, or Mary, his mother, or Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, had demanded ordination to the Twelve, had spoken publicly about their insistence and made demands such as we hear today, how would Jesus have felt, who loved them every bit as much as he loved the Twelve? Some of these women were closest to him in life and in death. One was the first mortal to witness a resurrected Being. There was nothing “lesser” about these women in his eyes.”
It’s interesting that we do have account of the Savior’s reaction when a woman entreated him for that which was seen to be improper and outside of the realm of previous practice.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
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 fal from their masters’ table.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
It seems even God himself changed his mind from time to time when the person asking petitioned with great faith…and kept asking.